Monday, August 27, 2012

Introducing My New Blog: "The Back Porch"... plus a sneak peek at my new book!

Regular readers and listeners to the Among Women podcast will know that I've been wrestling with finding the best web formats for the Among Women podcast, blog, and for my personal website.

I'm on hiatus for a few weeks, but I'm announcing the blog switch that will happen more formally after the Labor Day weekend. From now on, you'll be able to find me at...

now found at 

As a special bonus for visiting over there, you'll get a sneak peek at the cover for my forthcoming book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, slated for release in 2013.

Honestly, I'm gonna miss it around here. Among Women as a podcasting ministry will continue, and the Among Women Facebook page is still open...  but I want to thank you for your faithful readership at this blog, and let you know how grateful I've been to have hosted you here...

So, please make the move with me, subscribe to the new blog... and come join me on the porch!

*located down a country lane in New England...

Monday, August 20, 2012

ON hiatus...

Summertime, or what's left of it, is calling me... and so I must answer.

The Among Women podcast will return the week after Labor Day, and the blog will likely show up around then too... although it will have a new look and new location. Details forthcoming about that change.

In the meanwhile, let us pray for one another.

photo credit: Henney Buggy via photo pin cc

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Among Women ReadHER 8.18.12...all the stuff we love: women saints, the rosary, Mary, and more!

Sorry for the late post, folks. I left this in draft mode. Silly me.

Among Women ReadHER 

Saints and Scholars --Meet some brilliant, bold and holy women
By Emily Stimpson at Our Sunday Visitor
Among Women fans will love this article about some awesome women saints.

Bill Buckley on Keeping the Faith
By Kathryn Jean Lopez at K-Lo at Large
A good read from the late Buckley on Lourdes and the mystery of faith, among other tasty tidbits.

10 Rosary Tips for Rosary Strugglers
By Rhonda Ortiz at Catholic Mom
Oh! This is g-r-e-a-t!

Violin for Sale
By Leticia Velasquez at Cause of our Joy
For the right person, this could be a find. (Leticia has been my guest on Among Women in the past year. Hear her talk about her book on this show.)

Creativity: What are You Creating?
By Jason Kotecki at Catholic Mom
Go make some fun!

After the Assumption
By Rebecca Teti at Faith and Family Live
A retrospective of highlights from different articles on the Assumption this week, including the Pope Benedict's homily.

Speaking of the Assumption...
So, you remember that I've written a book, now, don't you? One of my favorite homilies of ALL TIME on Mary from Pope Benedict XVI is the Homily he gave in 2005 on the Assumption... and yes, I actually quote a small segment of it in my book... but the reason I bring this up--not the book but Benedict-- is that while we are in the Octave of the Assumption, you really should read this homily. It will give you food for thought for a while. Mary loves us so very much. So, run along now. Go read.

Of course, two recent Among Women podcasts give you good stuff on the Assumption on AW 141 and AW 143 on the Queenship of Mary, the feast coming up on August 22.

UPDATE: Sorry for the incorrect link on Jason Kotecki's article, it is now corrected!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The F.U.N. Quotient... if you are musician, you'll love this!

Joy in the Congo - an amazing story of the dedication of Congolese musicians to learn and share classical music. (13 minutes of video on CBS' 60 Minutes.)

Among Women Podcast #143: Growing in Friendship with Jesus and His Queen

Mary's crowned statue in the plaza in Lourdes, FR

Among Women 143 features a theological look at the Queenship of Mary as a date (Aug 22) on the liturgical calendar and as a spiritual principle in our lives. Plus you'll enjoy a conversation with author/blogger/film producer Sr. Helena Burns FSP describing her latest book, He Speaks to You, and the forthcoming movie she's producing, James Alberione, Media Apostle. All that and more, plus a reminder about Among Women's hiatus until after Labor Day.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Remembering St. Pius X... the saintly pope that my childhood school and church were named after...

My latest over at Patheos talks about "the Pope of the Eucharist"... St Pius X...

Here's a sample...

I was a little girl in a white dress, with white Mary Jane shoes, (and yes, white gloves!) making her First Holy Communion at St. Pius X Church in Plainview, New York. It was the late 60s and I was in the second grade. For seven years I walked the halls of that parochial school, past St. Pius’ silent statue with his triple-tiered tiara, as was papal customary of the time. Though I saw his visage almost every day, I never really knew his history, or that he was the early 20th century pope who lowered the age norms for First Communicants, something benefitting me directly and so many modern generations who come to the Lord’s table at a young age.
 St Pius X taught: “Holy Communion is the safest and shortest way to Heaven.”
 Long before he became the first pope elevated in the 20th century, with the name Pius X, or Pio X, as the Italians call him, a young Father Giuseppe Sarto exerted a lively and holy influence in his parish. His pastor wrote of his zeal during his first assignment.
They have sent me as curate a young priest, with orders to mould him to the             duties of pastor; in fact, however, the contrary is true. He is so zealous, so full of good sense, and other precious gifts that it is I who can learn much from him.   Some day or other he will wear the mitre, of that I am sure. After that—who knows? (Lives of Saints, published by John J. Crawley & Co.)
There's more, here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Got Mary? Podcasts on the Assumption and articles too!

As we live the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I thought I'd offer a little recap and review of articles I've written and podcasts on Mary's Assumption for your consumption.

Among Women Podcasts:
AW 141: Assumptions, Adversity, and Grace with Woodeene Koenig-Bricker 
AW 106: A Pilgrimage to Mary's House, with Sarah Vabulas and readings from Christian Classics on the Assumption. 
AW 67: What I Love About Mary, Among Women Listeners share their Mary-love in this Special Edition.

From last year at Patheos: Dumping My Assumptions About Mary
And, finally, here's a reprise of an older article that once ran at Catholic Exchange... 
Mary in the Catechism: The Four Marian Dogmas 
The more I get to know her Mary as my Mother, the more I love her.  True love of someone is based on knowledge of him or her. With that in mind, this might be a good opportunity to refresh our knowledge of the person of Mary, as recorded doctrinally in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
All four of the Marian dogmas divinely reveal something of Mary’s personhood. Each truth helps us understand her role in salvation history.
The dogmas, in the order that they were declared as truth by the Church, are: Mary as the Mother of God, Mary as a Perpetual Virgin (“ever-virgin”), Mary’s Immaculate Conception, and the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into heaven.
Growing up Catholic, I never doubted the validity of these dogmas. That is to say, until I met well-meaning Christians who just couldn’t buy what the Church was selling about Mary.  In other words, I began to have my doubts about her too.
Sometimes those kinds of challenges are what we need to set us in the right direction. For me, I thought since the Church held most of these ideas for thousands of years, it might be worthy of some investigation. (And this was years before we had the Catechism in the form we have it today.)  I needed to get to the truth of what was taught about Mary, the real person behind the serene-looking statue.
Mary as Mother of God
One of the first attacks made on Mary by the naysayers I encountered was that, indeed, Mary was the mother of Jesus… but certainly not the Mother of God.  Little did I know that this was exactly the heresy the Church was trying to combat way back in the fifth century (431 AD) at the Council of Ephesus, when it declared Mary, the “Theotokos”, or “God-bearer”, hence, “Mother of God.” 
The Council of Ephesus, while correcting this heresy, was confirming what was already revealed in the New Testament writings, which reveal Mary as the Mother of God. Luke 1: 31, 35 give us Gabriel’s words to Mary at the Annunciation:
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus… therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. [Emphasis mine.]

Other scripture passages reveal Mary as the mother of Jesus, who, we know to be the God-Man. (See Mt. 2:13, Jn. 2:1, Acts 1:14.) And St. Paul vividly describes Mary’s role in the Incarnation in Galatians 4:4:

But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman…” [Emphasis mine.]

Even before Ephesus, Tradition formulated the words of the creed that declared: “[Jesus] was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary.”

When the Council of Ephesus decreed Mary as the Mother of God, it reaffirmed the two natures of Christ found in one Person: that Jesus is both human and divine. (Later known as the “hypostatic union.”) Anything outside of that unity makes Jesus into two persons, one human and one divine, which is heresy.  So we see in this instance, how a Marian doctrine actually flows from and protects the truth about her Son!

You can read more about this in CCC 466 and 495, but it all summed up rather nicely in CCC 509:

Mary is truly "Mother of God" since she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, who is God himself.

You may recall this overarching guideline regarding “all things Mary” from CCC 487 and Part 1 of Mary in the Catechism:

What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.
Mary, Ever-Virgin
The dogma about Mary’s perpetual virginity maintains that Mary was ever a virgin, before, during, and after the birth of Christ.  It is often here that Mary’s critics take exception, given our modern understanding of biology and human reproduction.
A virgin before birth.  The prophet Isaiah 7:14 foretold it:
“Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin will conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be Emmanuel.”
And the New Testament (Luke 1: 26-27) confirms it:
“The angel Gabriel was sent from God… to a virgin betrothed… and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
And then there is the dialogue between Mary and the angel at the annunciation that leads to the miraculous “overshadowing” of Mary by the power of God. (Luke 1:35.)
Tradition also reaffirms this in the Apostles’ Creed: “Born of the Virgin Mary.”

A virgin during the birth. CCC 499 reiterates, what the Second Vatican Council had previous taught:
The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ's birth "did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it.
Put another way, the birth of Jesus was a miraculous birth, just as his conception miraculous.  The “integrity” of Mary’s sinless body was never violated by this birth. This idea was held from the time of the early Church Fathers. Later, the Council of Trent (16th century) used this analogy to describe Christ’s birth: The newborn Christ came forth from the womb of Mary “as rays of the sun penetrate the substance of glass without breaking or injuring it in the least.”
It also follows that Mary’s childbirth would be exempt from pain, since she was a sinless creature (see “Immaculate Conception” below), and laboring in childbirth is a result of Original Sin (Gen. 3:16).
A virgin after the birth.  Many people take issue with the idea of Mary’s perpetual virginity, given New Testament accounts that mention the supposed “siblings” of Jesus (Cf. Mk 3:31-35; 6:3; 1 Cor 9:5; Gal 1:19). The Catechism replies in paragraph 500:
Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, "brothers of Jesus", are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls "the other Mary" They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.
Then, there are the words of Jesus from the cross giving Mary into the care of John (John 19:26-27). If Jesus had siblings, especially brothers, would not Mary’s care be entrusted to them?  Instead, John takes Mary in.
I admit this one was a tough one for me to fully believe, at first. I could understand that Jesus was Mary’s only son, but I was not so sure about the lack of marital relations between Joseph and Mary. Wouldn’t a holy marriage be consummated? Not necessarily, so I learned.
I admit my sensibilities, formed in part by modern culture, had trouble understanding this idea of a holy marriage without the marital act. I needed more information. And I found it, in learning the importance of mutual understanding and consent in a marriage.  Our modern catechism teaches that marriage is first based on an exchange of consent, and then, only then, it may be consummated physically. (See CCC 1639-1640.) But the consent is the heart of the marriage bond, not the consummation.
While the Catechism does not go into detail on this exact point of Mary and Joseph’s marriage, I offer this helpful explanation from Dr. Mark Miravalle’s Introduction to Mary, reflecting on their marital union:
Finally, some would argue that if the marriage between Mary and Joseph was never consummated, then it would not have been a true marriage or would have been unnatural.  However, the essence of the marriage bond between husband and wife is their complete and unconditional gift of self and union of the heart, of which the physical union is a concrete sign.  If for a good and holy reason husband and wife should choose to refrain from relations, either for a time or permanently (under exceptional circumstances), this would not invalidate a marriage or affect its true bond, which is rooted not in the physical but in the spiritual union of the spouses.
There are numerous examples in Scripture where God asks married couples to renounce [or abstain from] relations.
[See Ex 19:15; 1 Sam 21:15; 1 Cor 7:5.]…
These scriptural examples show that when men and women are near what God has sanctified, it can be also appropriate for them to respond by giving themselves directly and undividedly to God. If in these cases it was fitting that men and women should remain abstinent, it can hardly be surprising that present before the great miracle of the Incarnation, Mary and Joseph chose to remain permanently virginal as well.
CCC 506 alludes to Mary’s faith and undivided heart here:
Mary is a virgin because her virginity is the sign of her faith unadulterated by any doubt, and of her undivided gift of herself to God's will. It is her faith that enables her to become the mother of the Savior: [St. Augustine taught:] "Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than because she conceives the flesh of Christ."
The Immaculate Conception
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception was finally promulgated in 1854… but the seeds of it are found much earlier in a careful reading of scripture. When the Angel addresses Mary at the Annunciation, he does not address her by her name. Instead, he uses the title “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” This title might as well be her name, for it describes Mary’s true nature; her person is full of grace. Notice that she is addressed as “full of grace”, even before the Angel announces that she will be asked to be the Mother of God.
Know anyone that fits that description? Nope. She’s the only one. The rest of humanity is fallen.
Mary’s detractors what to know what makes her so special?  If she is human, she should be subject to all the pitfalls of humanity, and just as sinful are the rest of us, right?  Not quite. There’s more to Mary’s story, and it takes a very careful reading for Scripture to parse it out. Not to mention 2000 years of biblical interpretation and theological reflection.
What’s sooooo special about Mary is her Immaculate Conception. And it means this: Mary was redeemed by the merits of her Son Jesus at Calvary – who is God – at her conception, so she never received a fallen nature. The nature she received was like that of Eve’s before the Fall. And recall, that after the fall, the Immaculate Conception is implied, theologians say, in this verse from Genesis 3:15, that speaks of a woman to come:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

This is why we have references to Mary as the “new Eve.” And why St. Jerome (4th century) taught this about Mary: "Death through Eve, life through Mary." CCC 508 states:
From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. "Full of grace", Mary is the most excellent fruit of redemption: from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.
Mary, we might say, is the first person redeemed, by an application of the grace of Christ’s victory over sin and death on the Cross. And her sinless, loving heart, allowed her the perfect response to God’s call on her life: “Yes!”
Blessed Duns Scotus (d. 1308) called it “preservative redemption.” Preservative redemption addressed this question of Mary’s redemption taking place before her Son was even born.  Huh? The short of it is this:  God, the Creator of time, is also Lord over time, and can work outside of time.  And God can apply his graces throughout history (time) as He deems fit.  Therefore, God, in his divine plan of salvation, willed that Mary would be saved first, in her humanity, by the application of the graces won on the Cross for humanity by her Son, Jesus… providing a perfectly pure temple for the Holy Spirit to later “overshadow” and allow the Son of God to take on flesh in a sinless womb.
Whew! Got all that?
This is what the Catechism says in CCC 491 and 492:
Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:
The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

The splendor of an entirely unique holiness by which Mary is enriched from the first instant of her conception comes wholly from Christ: she is redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son. The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places and chose her in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.
Mary’s Assumption
(If you are still reading this far, especially after trying to understand the depth of the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption is almost easy to understand!)
We start back to Genesis 3:15 (above) where the enmity between the woman and the serpent represents the past (Eve) and the future (Mary) who will share in the victory of her Son over the Devil.
As we know, the effects of Original Sin were sin and death. Jesus, by his Cross and Resurrection has set us free from both. And by his merits, we see this perfected in the person of Mary.  First, her Immaculate Conception shows how Jesus conquered sin, and by his grace, preserved her from Original Sin. Second, we see how Mary’s Assumption, is a particular grace awarded to Mary, so she, who is sinless, does not undergo bodily corruption at the end of her earthly life.
The Assumption of Mary is a natural consequence of the Immaculate Conception. And, it is a unique privilege that the Son affords his Mother.
CCC 966 teaches:
Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.
Finally, Mary’s assumption serves as an eschatological sign (pointing to things to come in the afterlife)… she reminds us of the perfected Church we will become in heaven, as she is an icon of the Church both now and in the future. 
CCC 972 states:
The Mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God.
Mariology (the study of Mary) is a discreet field of study within theology. There is so much more that could be said on all these dogma. Today’s lesson is but a taste.
But I pray that you will come to love Mary in a deeper way, as you see just how intimately her life is bound to the life and grace of her Son, Jesus. Mary has no power in and of herself, save what comes to through Jesus.  By way of a final analogy… if Jesus is the sun, Mary is the moon… always reflecting Him!
©2009 Patricia W. Gohn

Monday, August 13, 2012

This makes me think... about taking more opportunities to invoke the Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit,
fill my heart with Your holy gifts.

Let my weakness be penetrated with Your strength this very day that I may fulfill all the duties of my state conscientiously, that I may do what is right and just.

Let my charity be such as to offend no one, and hurt no one's feelings; so generous as to pardon sincerely any wrong done to me.

Assist me, O Holy Spirit,
in all my trials of life, enlighten me in my ignorance, advise me in my doubts, strengthen me in my weakness, help me in all my needs, protect me in temptations and console me in afflictions.

Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit, 
and pour Your light into my heart, my soul, and my mind.

Assist me to live a holy life and to grow in goodness and grace.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Among Women ReadHER 8.11.12... Olympic Gold, Flannery O'Connor, NFP, and more

Among Women ReadHER 8.11.12

What I Learned from Having the Sikh Temple Shooting Practically in My Backyard
By Marge Fenelon at Catholic Lane
With Aurora's shootings still on folks' minds, Marge Fenelon reflects on this recent shooting at a Sikh place of worship in Wisconsin.

Clear Skies Reveal Messy Scope of Manila Flood
By Oliver Teves at The Boston Globe
This situation needs our prayer and our outreach. Two million people affected. 

Baltimore Bishop Lori: Catholic Voters Can't Vote for a Candidate Who Stands for An Intrinsic Evil
By Kathryn Jean Lopez, Editor at National Review Online
Stirring words from the Archbishop, sentiments from the Vatican, and more on the religious liberty fight here in the USA.

Flannery O'Connor and the Hardest Lesson of All
By Lorraine Murray at The Integrated Catholic Life
An author reflecting on author Flannery O'Connor's life of writing and suffering. (H/T Maria Morera Johnson)

Congrats and Mazel Tov to Aly Raisman
By Tony Rossi at Christopher Close-Up
All I can say is this routine is poetry in motion. It is fluid, graceful, and it looks like this young woman is flying and being borne on air. Congrats to Aly Raisman from Massachusetts! If you haven't seen it, enjoy the video of this Gold Medal-winning routine.

The Faith of an Olympian
By Katrina Fernandez at The Crescat
Cool photos of faith-filled Olympians... I especially loved the portrait of Our Lady whipped out from the Gold Medal Winner's shirt! 

Top 10 Reasons to Use NFP
Posted at IUSENFP
Very helpful reminders, especially if you are unaware of all the benefits of using Natural Family Planning methods. Speaking of this subject, Among Women has two shows in our archives on this: AW 46 on the Billings method,  and AW 42 on the Creighton method.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Among Women Podcast #142 The Ministry of Christian Counseling

This week, Among Women 142 delves into the mission of Christian counseling, and offers tips on finding it when you need it. My guest is Dr. Jean Lee, CEO and founder of Gabriel Outreach in Arizona. Together we explore how the spiritual life impacts healing in the mental health field. Also profiled in this episode is the life of St. Mary of Edessa, a fourth century saint, and former prostitute, whose heart is rescued and transformed by the love and forgiveness extended to her by a loving uncle, and ultimately, by Christ. Listen to  this week's Among Women podcast here.

Technical note: I almost didn't post this podcast because of some random static that attacked the recording and could not be erased or diminished without erasing the entire program. So rather than canceling the show, I chose to post it anyway, hoping you would overlook the flaw and still enjoy the content. 

The F.U.N. Quotient... an Ode to Joy

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I'm over at Catholic Mom, talking about fostering spiritual growth in the family...

My latest at Catholic Mom is somewhat a retrospective look back on 25 years of parenting. Spiritual Growth Within a Catholic Family, Part One gives the context for Catholic family life in the Gohn home. Part Two, coming next month, will talk about some of the family practices and attitudes that have worked to build up the spiritual life in each of our children.

Here's a snippet from the current article:

The spiritual milestones of our children’s lives began with their baptism. It slowly advanced with each of the sacraments that they made. In between those sacramental milestones, there’s a world of spiritual territory that we’ve traversed. And while we don’t make pencil marks on a door, or keep report cards, my husband and I were privileged to watch souls take shape and grow in our home. As parents, we spent a lot of time doing what we could to influence that growth both directly and indirectly. 
But every now and then, we see a shining moment -- a defining moment – when one of our children chooses Christ – growing as Catholic Christians – by yielding more and more to Him. These are the moments you pray for. Very few can be scheduled. Most are unpredictable, surprising, and happen as the Holy Spirit wills. But almost all of them can be prepared for. 
We’ve prepared our children as best as we can for such times, often deliberately. Just as we’ve been called to be role models for them, we’re called to educate them in three areas: daily life, academic life, and spiritual life. We often know what to do with the first two areas, but the spiritual life sometimes seems a little harder to articulate. This is the life of grace, of sanctity, of holiness. It is training a child not only in the basic knowledge of the faith, but calling them toward an interior life with Christ.
The rest is here. 

The new Roman Missal (click & learn about the coming changes):

Watch Catholic TV here! Find Women's programs: "WINGs" and "Woman at the Heart of the Church"

A Lovely Reminder for Every Day

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Ship a Cake, and Share a Blessing