“A gift we all need” Fr. John Riccardo on Sex and the Spiritual Life

New book from Ave Maria Press is the perfect gift for your favorite priest, deacon, or parish minister … or for anyone wanting to experience the joy of living a life of sexual integrity.

When I first asked Pat if she would tackle the subject of how sexuality informs and affects our spiritual growth, I never expected to find myself in Fr. John Riccardo’s office, listening to him tell the story of how he had been sexually abused as a young adult — and how that experience has informed his priesthood in beautiful and even miraculous ways. I never thought I would be moved to tears reading Eve Tushnet’s essay about the gift of spiritual friendship that she received from the gay community. And I was amazed to read about the gift that is celibacy both within the priesthood and religious life — not as a witness, but as a lived experience. Finally, and (for me) most importantly, I was deeply affected by the testimony of Tim and Karen Hogen, who spoke of the beautiful dance of intimacy that is married life, a dance that is experienced not only in the bedroom, but in the emotional and spiritual intimacy of daily life.

One of the reasons Fr. Riccardo and so many others who have endorsed the book recognize it for the gift that it is, is because it is such a rare and beautiful thing to find mature Catholic men and women who are willing to subject themselves to the scrutiny and criticism of the “uptight upright” about such an intimate part of their lives. (I particularly commend Tim and Karen Hogan for sharing their story as a married couple, which is one to which so many of us can relate). I am so grateful to each of them, for taking up the challenge … and I want to suggest to you to pick up a copy of this book — actually, two of them: One for you, and one for your priest or DRE, for whom this book will soon become a dog-eared treasure.

Thank you, Pat, for giving us such a beautiful testimony of truth, beauty, and goodness.

31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 29: “Yes” is a Powerful Word

water_security“Yes” is a powerful word.
Yell it or tell it or
speak it real soft.
Cry or create it or
raise it aloft.
Sing it, and bring it
alive when you’re lost.
Yes, “yes” is a powerful word.

“Try” is a weakening word.
Tentative tendrils of
uncertainty.
Like shimmering shells
‘neath a thundering sea.
I don’t recognize her,
this shadow of me …
For “try” is a weakening word.

And “space” is a magical word.
A silent expanse of
promise glides by.
Pushing aside every thought,
terrified. Amplified.
Till hope finds a home,
and expands on its own.
Says, “Absolutely. Yes.”

Maybe.

What is your powerful word?

Signs and Sacraments: When a Dress (or a Heart) Is Something More…

Parachute Wedding DressThe other day I came across this heart-warming story about a young Jewish couple, interred in one of the work camps during World War II. She wanted to be married in a white dress, and he wanted to make her dreams come true. Sixty years and dozens of brides later, the dress was showcased in the Holocaust Museum. Made from a parachute, the well-worn dress became a symbol of love and hope in a time when hatred and despair prevailed.

Like many of the signs and symbols of our lives, the worth of this sacramental of love far exceeded its monetary value. I recently broke down and replaced my three medallions — tiny silver likenesses of St. Teresa of Avila, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and St. Scholastica (Benedict’s twin sister). One was actually irreplaceable — I had purchased the original in Avila when my husband and I were in Spain eight years ago. I lost them in the move a year ago, and only now have reconciled myself with the idea that they are never going to materialize . . . So I got a new set when I decided to start blogging again. This time, I added a tiny St. Christopher medal. Somehow, he is never far from my thoughts these days.

The sacramental worldview — informed by the belief that God gives us extraordinary graces through the tangible universe — is an intrinsically “Catholic” one. The God who reached through time and space to relate to us through the Incarnation, by enfleshing himself as one of us forever altered the way the physical universe interacted with the metaphysical one — including the communion of the saints.

One of the most important ways we can lead our children to God is by making the family of God  more “touchable” — engaging all the senses in order to better understand who God is, and what he wants from us. These points of connection, like my faith medals and the heirloom wedding dress, are important signs of life and faith, pointing us not only to where we have been but to our ultimate destiny.

So, moms, what are you going to do this week to make signs of God’s presence come alive in your children’s lives?