Friday, February 29, 2008
She said she regretted giving up alcohol for Lent. I told her to hold on to the hope that after every Good Friday comes an Easter.
Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows,
pray for Bernadette, and for all of us.
Now and at the hour of our death.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
(The little cutie here is my friend Denise's little girl, whom she was bringing home from Ukraine when this picture was taken. Adoption reflects in a special way God's love for us.)On Catholic Exchange today I found a link to this article, in which artist Emma Beck committed suicide after aborting eight-week-old twins, at the insistence of her boyfriend. She left a note, saying in part, "My babies need me now ... I want to be with my babies."
It is a triple tragedy, of course ... a woman feeling so wracked with guilt that she would kill herself after aborting her children. I've had two women, on separate occasions, tell me their own abortion story; one of them is related to me.
As I listened to these two women pour out their profound regret, I struggled to not to let judgment or horror show on my face, or escape my mouth unchecked. It was all too clear that both women had been scarred for life because of their choices. In one case, the woman had had four abortions (such stories are not uncommon), and to this day struggles alone to reconcile her faith -- what she knows to be true about God -- with her lasting sense of shame and guilt that from which she could not get relief, no matter how often she went to reconciliation or "Rachel's Vineyard" retreats. She simply could not forgive herself.
On one occasion, after listening to the "confession" of another dear sister, I spent weeks afterwards chastising myself for not being there to help her, for not being the sort of person she felt she could turn to for help. What if I had offered to open my home to her, help her get herself back on her feet? Instead I had to sit there and listen as one of the women I love most in this world told me the dark secret she carried inside her for almost twenty years.
How many of us have made choices that we would give ANYTHING to be able to make over again? I imagine most of us have these kinds of regrets. In the Lenten issue of Canticle, I tell one such story about my own life ... how I lived through a time of profound regret, and how I found peace through God's mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation.
It was not easy to write this story, but it was a story that needed telling simply because of the women I've encountered in my life who feel as though they are beyond God's mercy, beyond the reach of grace.
Women like Emma Beck.
In reality, the ocean of Mercy that exists in the heart of God is deeper, and broader, and wider than the most hellish pit of despair.
In my article, entitled "Tender Mercies," I go on to recount the true story of Rudolph Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, who purportedly confessed and was reconciled with the Church shortly before his execution, making prophetic the words of Maximillian Kolbe, who just before his own death at Auschwitz admonished his fellow prisoners: “Let us pray for the Nazis, because no conversion is impossible!”
By the Mercy of God, there is grace for Rudolph, and for Emma. For each of my struggling sisters. Even for me. Even for you.
And so, I ask you to join me in praying for the repose of the soul of Emma Beck, that God would shower her with His great Mercy. And pray for the doctor who performed this "procedure," that this great tragedy would bring about a change of heart ... and change of vocation.
If you would like to read "Tender Mercies," call the "Canticle" order line at 800-558-5452 and ask for Issue #38.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Nominations for the 2008 Catholic Blog Awards will open this year at 12:00 Noon CST on Friday, February 15, 2008 and close on Friday, February 29, 2008 at 12:00 Noon CST. Voting will begin on Monday, March 3, 2008 at 12:00 Noon CST and end on Monday, March 17, 2008 at Noon. If you haven't already nominated your favorites, be sure to do so here.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
ONLINE PAYMENT SERVICE NOW AVAILABLE AT WWW.CHRISTIANWORD.COM!
I'm so excited about this ... and I hope you will be, too!
Do you know someone (a non-Catholic relative, perhaps)who has had difficulty thinking about Mary as her own spiritual mother? Does Mary seem too exalted ... too, well, pristine ... to bother with colic and potty training? I used to think so, too -- and I write about it here.
Behold Your Mother is a revised, expanded edition of a book I did years ago with Loyola Press (it used to be called "With Mary in Prayer"). Since the first edition, a significant development in my own life made me see Mary with fresh eyes:
I became an adoptive mother myself.
This book includes three real-life (mine) stories about Mary and me, as well as 48 meditations based on both the devotional titles of Mary and her story in Scripture.
Author Ann Ball wrote about the first edition: "Heidi's imaginative personification of the life of the Virgin leads us to understand the humanity of the woman while drawing us to the divinity of her Son.”
Preorder and Save! Bezalel Books will be releasing this book in time for Easter (makes a great Mother's Day gift, too). And if you order this book right now, I am offering a special pre-publication rate of $10 per copy (autograph is free). Plus, if you order by 3/14/08, I will spring for shipping and handling - no matter how many books you order! (Free shipping applies to continential U.S. only.)
To order either or both my new books by PayPal or credit card, click here.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Donna-Marie just returned from Rome, and you can hear her being interviewed on EWTN and other media sources through her blog "Embracing Motherhood." Despite her neck injuries and lack of sleep, she continues to be a joyful example of authentic Catholic womanhood!
Friday, February 15, 2008
Even for Craig and me. Which, the more I think of it, is really something because we have more control over our choices than our children have over theirs. But when Valentine's Day yesterday went to H-E-double hockey sticks in the proverbial handbasket yesterday ... we sat and talked. Till almost midnight. It's been a while since we'd done that. And at the end, just before he kissed me goodnight, Craig said to me, "You know, we hardly ever talk like this when the TV is on."
Hmmm... maybe my dad was on to something when he pitched our television set out the bedroom window when I was in first grade. (Not quite there yet. Sorry.)
Christopher is a "Stars Fanatic" now, though. Tonight on the way home from his piano lesson, he wanted to know if he could have a star sticker (which I've been giving for 30 minutes of reading) because he did well on his piano lesson. I about choked.
"Christopher," I said very seriously. "Those lessons are our gift to you, and you are very very blessed to be able to take lessons from someone as gifted as Mrs. Thoene. You should be giving ME a star for these lessons!"
That shut him up. Seriously, I was looking around the teacher's house tonight. In her living room she has a pipe organ, harpsicord, clavicord, and upright piano. Yes, that's right ... all in one room. And she charges the same as my parents paid thirty years ago for my lessons, which were done on a little Hammond electronic.
You know how you always want to give your kids what you didn't have? Jackpot.
It's not so bad, though. I still can sing every verse of nearly every hymn in my "Great Hymns of the Faith" by heart. And I was the only junior high (7th grade) student who had a regular organist/choir director gig at the local Lutheran church.
How is YOUR Lent going so far?
It's another opportunity to walk in grace, under the shade of Mercy.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Months had passed since I’d last seen him.
So, wrapping up a handful of his favorite fig-pies,
We made our journey to see the Nazarene.
Even a Miracle-Maker must take a break
to see his mother! Surely … wouldn’t he?
The crowds huddled thick as we approached.
“Andrew! Andrew! Tell him we’ve come.”
Returning, he did not look me in the eye.
“My Lady, I’m so sorry, he cannot see you now.”
Through the blur I saw him, and remembered.
“A sword will pierce your heart”
For more information about how to order a copy of this book, and take advantage of the pre-pub rate, click here.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
If you'd like to host a carnival one week, contact Jay at "Living Catholicism" by e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a Happy Lent!
Monday, February 04, 2008
Friday, February 01, 2008
Reason #3: She continued to love, even when it cost her dearly.
It would have been very easy, after receiving the first resistance from her superiors, to shrug her shoulders and go back to teaching her students as a Sister of Loreto. Clearly, the girls loved her; just as clearly, she experienced profound intimacy with Jesus in this vocation -- a sense of intimacy that, by her own admission, she did not recover for more than fifty years in the slums of Calcutta.
In the May 2008 issue of "Canticle" magazine, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle encourages mothers with the idea that, although we must continue to strive to find time for prayer, the fact is that the essence of the motherly vocation is one of making all of life an offering to God. This is doubly true for those who choose to raise children with whom they share no biological tie, and foster parents in a special way. We intentionally form attachments for the good of the child, putting our own emotional well-being at risk in the process. And we do it even when the child in question ...
* is angry,
* is resentful,
* won't sleep or cooperate,
* is messy or destructive,
* is profoundly ungrateful, and especially
* makes unfavorable comparisons between her "real" parents and your pitiful efforts (for the record, my children don't do that ... but I know other foster parents have experienced this).
Living with even one such creature is bound to put a fair amount of stress on a parent, interrupting sleeping and eating patterns and generally leaving that parent with a sense of impending doom. Finding five minutes to pray when an anxious toddler won't even let you go to the bathroom in peace sounds no more plausible than flying to the moon.
The thing is, God understands this. He understands that what you are doing, each and every moment of the day, is being done for love of God. It is a conscientous choice -- often a difficult one. The darkness closes in, the pressure builds ... and still, you take a deep breath and (miracle of miracles) find it in your heart to pick up that little bundle of snot and dirt and hug him (gently) while you both cry a little, then go for a ride on the swing.
There now, don't you feel better?
The single most important lesson I picked up from CBML is that one needn't feel close to God, or even feel particularly loving, to be love to a suffering soul. "Love Jesus, and take what He gives you with a big smile." If your heart isn't singing, detach from it a bit and paste that look of motherly serenity on your face. Act as though you have the grace ... and the rest will follow.