Sunday, August 25, 2013

We Cannot Sleep Peacefully

Lisa Hendey

Catholic girlfriend, Lisa Hendey received a wake up call and shares it with us...

It was Pope Francis, tweeting again in the middle of the night. I have my Twitter account set to text me when the Holy Father tweets. He has a tendency to do so in what equates to the early morning hours here in Fresno. Typically I wake up, read his tweet, whisper a quick prayer, and roll back over and go to sleep. I’m a disgustingly great sleeper… I can fall asleep in less than a minute when I go to bed at night. I’ll choose sleep over just about any other luxury, including chocolate.
So imagine my reaction to this text, with these words. “We cannot sleep peacefully…”
Oh my.
Quite the wake up call.
I’ve been pondering Pope Francis’ tweet since then, trying to figure out how — for me — it is a personal call to action. This is not a call to drop an extra buck in the basket on Sunday at Mass and merrily go about my way. This is not a chance for me to think, “I give to Catholic causes xyz and abc…” and consider myself exempt.
It’s also not Pope Francis calling me to pack up my stuff, leave my family, jump on a plane, and go feed orphans half a world away.
We cannot sleep peacefully…
In fact, I don’t have to go looking very far to find babies who are hungry or elderly who are without medical assistance:
In 2012, the University of California, Los Angeles – Center for Health Policy Research identified that approximately 3.8 million individuals were food-insecure within California. The report also identified the San Joaquin Valley as having one of the highest rates of food insecurity within the state. Source
Ironically, this is happening in an agricultural area. There’s a great chance that some of the fruit in your refrigerator was grown in this Valley. Those planting, picking and processing all that food are among the underserved, the hungry, the medically untreated.
The good news is that there are structures in place to respond to many of those needs — but without my support and that of my neighbors, those structures remain understaffed, underfunded and overwhelmed by the daunting tasks they are charged with accomplishing in our community.
We cannot sleep peacefully…
The past few nights, Pope Francis’ call has been ringing in my head, messing with my sleep. His tweet wasn’t a “direct message” to @LisaHendey, but this one is hard to shake off as “Well, that’s a nice tweet…”
So I’m pondering, praying about what my response can be. Not just on the hunger issue, but also on the equally as challenging crisis of how we treat (or ignore) our elderly. One baby step towards that solution might be if each of us simply took more time each day to actively love the elderly in our own lives: our family members, fellow parishioners, and retired priests and religious.
I’ve set myself a mental deadline for turning pondering into a plan of action for this particular challenge from Pope Francis. Until that action plan is in place, I think I’ll be sleeping a little less peacefully.
The grace in this situation is the manpower we can muster, the change that we can bring about when we each wake up, lift a tiny portion of the burden, and commit to action.
We cannot sleep peacefully…
Let’s do this.
A question for you: How are you personally responding to the Church’s call to serve those around you with dignity and love?
~Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of and the bestselling author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms.

[This post appeared originally at Patheos:]

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Catholic Mom Ponders the Chapel Veil

Pros and Cons of Wearing the Veil 
by Gail Buckley, LHS

Gail Buckley, LHS, is the founder and president of Catholic Scripture Study International ( ) She also hosts “The Bible Lady” show live every Monday on Radio Maria and as well as a “Bible Lady” segment on The Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo on Ave Maria radio.  Gail serves on the boards of several Catholic apostolates and  is a Lady of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, an ancient order under the Papacy.  In 2009 Gail had a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI and presented him with a CSS study. To contact Gail, please email   


I had a profound conversion of heart at age 45, which in turn led to my conversion to the Catholic Church.  In hindsight, I believe it was the culmination of a journey Mother Mary started me on when I was 15 years old, maybe even younger, but that’s another story for another time. 

I grew up as a Methodist in a small southern town where there were many Protestant churches but only one Catholic Church. There was a Catholic school adjoining the Church and it was only 2 blocks from my house.  In fact, the Church was on the corner of the street where my best friend, Carol lived and so when we visited each other we would walk by the Church. Often we would stop and swing or see-saw on the school playground. 

Even closer to my home, just around the corner, was a Catholic convent that housed nuns who taught at the Catholic school. This was in the late 1950’s, before Vatican II when all nuns wore full habits.  I often saw the nuns walking to or from the school and Church and I was always in awe whenever I saw them.  I thought they were the holiest people I’d ever seen.  I don’t know why I thought this because I knew nothing about the Catholic faith but they had a positive impact on me, even though I never even talked to them. Just the fact that they wore those habits spoke volumes to me – they were not ashamed of their faith or their calling. As Jesus said, no one lights a lamp and then puts it under a bushel basket.  They were letting the light of Christ show through them just by wearing their habits – they didn’t hide the fact that they were brides of Christ. 

It wasn’t just the nuns who captured my attention by their attire though. I also noticed that Catholic women and girls wore veils on their heads when they attended Church. Again, I was very impressed.  Only Catholic girls did this and this set them apart and that made them special in my mind.  I thought it made them appear holy too. I certainly didn’t have any theological reason for my thinking – just that to me It just seemed like the right and reverent thing to do when attending the house of God. 

And that brings me to the topic of this article.  My husband is also a convert and a few years ago he started questioning me as to why I didn’t wear a veil. He said, “You’re the “Bible Lady” (my nickname and name of my radio show) “and in Scripture St. Paul says that women should cover their heads at Church.”  I replied r, “well, the Church interprets Scripture and the Church doesn’t require women to wear veils any longer and I follow what the Church teaches.” After a couple of years though he started challenging me about it.  To my response he’d say, “Well, the Church doesn’t require you to go to daily Mass but you do, right?  And the Church doesn’t require you to pray the Rosary, but you do that too.” True. “And the Church no longer requires you to abstain from meat on Fridays except during Lent, yet you abstain every Friday of the year, correct?” [Editor's note: we are required to do penance on Fridays if we don't abstain from meat during times of the year other than Lent when we are required to abstain.] That’s true too. “And the Church doesn’t require you to go to confession but once a year but you go on a regular basis.” Right again.  “So, he said, why is it that you don’t wear a veil?” I didn’t have an answer.

 So I decided I should pray about it and I believe it was from that prayer that I was led to make a list- a list of pros and cons for wearing the veil.  Below is my list:

Wearing a veil shows reverence for Christ and His Church
It gives a good example to others outside the Church
It feels like the right and holy thing to do
It shows my faith - that I’m Catholic
It’s a simple expression of my love for Christ, His Word and His Church
It’s a very easy way to show the reverence I have for Christ in the Eucharist.

I look like a drowned rat with it on my head; not at all flattering to my appearance
It’s old fashioned and the Church no longer requires it
It’s hard to remember to wear it and it’s not always convenient
I’m a lector and I’d have to wear it up on the altar where everyone would see me
People would probably stare at me and make me feel self conscious
People would think I was trying to appear “holier than thou”
I’d have to buy one and they’re difficult to find and also expensive
I’m invited to speak at Churches – It’d be embarrassing to have a veil on when giving a talk at a Church.
If I started wearing it, I’d have to do it all the time

As you can see, I had more arguments against wearing the veil than for it but if you’ll also notice that my arguments against wearing the veil are all based in pride.  It was obvious to me that I had no good excuses for not wearing the veil and many good reasons for doing so. 

I think wearing a veil at Mass is the LEAST I can do to show reverence for our Lord in the Blessed
Sacrament.  As a Catholic I realize that our outward actions reflect what is in our hearts.  Genuflecting, kneeling, crossing ourselves, using incense, dipping our fingers into the holy water when entering and leaving Mass – these are all outward actions that reflect our inward feelings of reverence, just as wearing a veil does. 

We are living in times when there is a lack of respect for our Lord and His Church. Atheism and Relativism has become the norm. Many fall away from the faith because they don’t understand it and don’t see people living their faith. We need to set examples of reverence for others.  Maybe they will be intrigued enough to start looking into their faith more and come closer to our Lord in doing so.

And you may be surprised to know that faithful Catholic men like to see women wearing the veil – just as my husband wanted me to do so.  I’ve been complimented by many good Catholic men and priests about wearing the veil.  One young priest said to me that he loved looking out at the congregation and seeing women wearing veils.  He felt that it was important to do everything we can to restore reverence in Church and  he wished that wearing the veil would make a comeback. 

I hope women who are reading this article will give this simple act of reverence more consideration.  Think about it -  what are your reasons for NOT doing so?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Where was Mary?

Converts often have a reticence about Mary. After my conversion, Mary fit theologically into the overall picture of the faith for so many reasons. As one Church Father noted, "You cannot have God as your Father without Mary as your mother." Of course. On paper "she works." Now as a person, she's another matter.

Like any person, time has to be invested in the relationship to build a foundation of love, trust, and understanding. This Easter will be my 29th as a Catholic — call me slow, but the foundation is finally in place. Years of rosaries, meditations, spiritual reading, theological formation, and, most importantly, personal prayer have allowed the relationship to blossom and deepen into a wondrous friendship. The abstract understanding of "new Ark of the Covenant" and "mediatrix of all graces" has warmed into the honest-to-goodness joy of knowing that she is "my mother!"

Therefore, this Holy Week I can't help but wonder beyond all my observance of the profoundly beautiful liturgies that lead to and mark the Passion — where was Mary?! What could she be doing at this intense time as her Son's earthly life comes to its climactic close? How could she be enduring this sword of all swords, piercing her heart and making its attempt to shatter her peace?

Once again — silence. Just as she is so quiet in the biblical accounts, she is all but absent in this pivotal week. But we know that she's there, most likely in Jerusalem already. Just as she and Joseph brought the Holy Child to the feasts each year, she made the trip alone this time. Alone or probably with her circle of women friends, mothers of key figures in the ministry of Jesus and those who provided for Him and His disciples over the years.

I picture now this subdued and apprehensive band of prayerful women. They know at the depths of their very beings that something powerful is about to occur. They've seen the anger, the threats, the attempts to silence and stone Jesus. They recognize the stirrings in the hearts of their sons. They also know that it is for them to withdraw and let the events pass; but rather than wring their hands over feeling "isolated" or "marginalized," they will pray intensely for the will of God to prevail, whatever that might be. Following the lead of the Mother of Jesus, they will all observe the demands of their Jewish faith at this important spiritual time while joining their every word and prayer to the intention at hand — the fulfillment of God's plan of Salvation.

I know her circle of women is focused; they are hidden — but not inconsequential. Every step of Christ is paved with Mary's prayers, His very flesh yearns for souls and thus so does hers. She models for us where our hearts should be and on what our thoughts should be resting. Amidst the tumultuous events of the week — when the very sons of the women in her circle betray her own Son — they will all remain fixed in prayer, in an attitude of forgiveness, and with hopeful eyes on their loving Father, Who will bring them all to the Resurrection in His own time, the time ordained since before any of us were.

Her prayerful silence and support mean more to me than ever this year as the Church continues along its path of purification. She is mother and refuge for all who weep and suffer, she is strength for those who find themselves weak or faint-hearted. We have found Mary and it is with her that we must be. A blessed Holy Week.

Monday, April 1, 2013

When Weakness Becomes Our Strength

I am happy to welcome, our guest blogger, Allison Gingras who is a Catholic writer and inspirational speaker. She founded Reconciled To You ministries in 2009, which seeks to awaken our response to God's abounding gift of grace by cultivating a Sacramental life. Allison is currently producing women’s events on topics of Forgiveness and Trust. She is very excited about her upcoming event, “A Taste of God’s Grace” in Danbury, CT on June 22, 2013. Allison's book: "Three Persons, One God: Growing in Relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit" encourages the reader to reconcile their idea of God, with that which is taught us in Scripture and Tradition.  She also contributes a bi-weekly column to TechTalk on - reviewing Android Apps and Technologies as they relate to the Catholic Faith. 

When Weakness Become Our Strength

As a mother, I make a lot of mistakes. It is probably what I do the most of, and am the best at.
While that may seem a negative assessment of one’s motherhood, I consider it a fair and accurate evaluation.   I see it as a frame of mind that keeps me humble, honest and always trying to improve. I am far from a failure as a mom, as I am blessed with three children who still do most of what is asked of them, come to me for advice, and participate in our Catholic faith without bribery or threats. However, I know that this admittance of my weaknesses and natural tendencies to get lazy in some area of discipline and parental involvement, are in truth my strengths. In order to keep improving as a parent, I must first admit that there is always room for learning and growing in my vocation.

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:10

     In this Year of Faith, I am taking my attitude toward parenting and applying it to my vocation as a Christian Catholic. Over the many years of practicing my Catholic faith, I have made many mistakes.  Practice, does not, as they say, always make perfect.  I’ve had phases of being lazy at spiritual things, and doing the bare minimums – or less.  I’ve had phases of excuse making about why I was not attending Mass regularly, was avoiding confession, and even giving up on praying.   Then the pendulum would swing, and I would experience times of arrogance of faith, sure that I had overcome all earthly bonds, emerging from the confessional booth to become -- (*you’ll have to add your own super hero theme music here for effect) – Super Catholic!  Scripture warns against being a lukewarm follower, as well as speaks of the dangers of self-righteousness.   

     To grow in skill as a parent, I have a many options. I can talk to more experienced moms about lessons they have learned in their own journeys of motherhood. I can pick up reading on proper parenting – such as magazines and books. I can hit cyberspace for advice, instruction, or just plain old fashioned camaraderie. Additionally, I can take my concerns, fears and present state of motherhood to God – seeking His grace, guidance and blessing, knowing His promise to never abandon or forsake me. Yet to make any true changes, I must first admit where I weak, so that I know what information I am looking for, what questions I need answered, and most importantly, what areas I need to change.  If I am not willing or able to admit weakness, then I will not be open to accepting guidance and I will remain stuck where I am as a parent, which for me would have meant being stuck forever with a non-sleeping, tantrum throwing, unpotty-trained child (or 2)!

     To grow as a Catholic, I have to my surprise, the same options.  I can talk to more experienced women (or men) of faith, and learn from their spiritual journeys. I can open up the Bible,the  Catechism, or any number of wonderful Catholic books available to enlighten and teach me. In addition, a plethora of wonderful magazine and newspapers are available to aid in education of the faith.  

     Cyberspace provides many fantastic resources for faith discovery – however, just as when someone uses it as a Pediatrician, the Internet as a Spiritual Director, requires prudence and common sense.  Nevertheless, I cannot help but marvel at how God has allowed the World Wide Web, in particular social media, to bring His Church together. As we continue to experience a decline in the number of Catholics living their faith, being able to connect with those who do, will become increasingly important.  

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deut 31:6

     Always, I can turn to God, seeking His grace, guidance and blessing--knowing His promise to never abandon or forsake me. If I can humble myself before God, admitting the areas of my spiritual life that are lacking, then I am open to receive the graces God has for me to fill those holes.  If I am not willing or able to admit weakness, I will not be open to accept God’s loving, merciful and gentle direction and I will remain stuck where I am, which for me would mean being stuck forever as a lukewarm, tantrum throwing, untrained in my faith adult!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

A New Year's Look at Mother's Work

I'm so happy to welcome Theresa Thomas as a guest to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. She shares "A New Year's Look at Mother's Work."

Last week, an ordinary mother not unlike you, in fact perhaps very much like you, went with one of her older children to Confession.

And when I say ‘one of her older children’ I actually mean ‘young adult’ because although the aforementioned person will always be his mother’s ‘little boy’, he is in his early twenties, lives many miles away and was only home on vacation, so he of course isn’t a child any more. And when I say ‘went with’ what I really mean is  ‘took’ because while this offspring of hers practices the faith of his childhood, he may quite possibly not have chosen to go to the sacrament that day, had the mother not said she was going and suggested that he tag along and that then they could stop for coffee afterwards. She is unsure about whether he needed this nudge or not but she is his mother and loves him fiercely and has a long history of risking nagging for the sake of the greater good. So she nudged.

This young adult, of course, is quite capable of managing his personal spiritual life, yet this mother still worries whether she is doing enough to support and encourage. You see she made a promise when the son was a newborn infant- a promise to help him grow in faith in every way she knows how, with all her strength until the day she dies. And she is not dead.

On that day she made that promise, she also begged God to watch over and protect this child morally, physically, emotionally, all the days of his life, and told God she will do whatever it takes – forever- to cooperate for this intention and help accomplish this. When she invited this son to Confession despite the fact that she had gone less than a week before, she was delighted that he had accepted.

Now, the mother and son are standing in line for Confession together:  

The wait is long and the line is slow and the mother is secretly worried that her son will want to leave because the wait is long and the line is slow and he is quick-thinking, quick-deciding and not unlike her, somewhat impatient. In fact, after awhile, the mother herself wants to leave because the wait is long and the line is slow.

But she doesn’t.

They stay.

As the mother stands there waiting with her son (her own impatience growing, now she has something more to confess), she catches a glimpse of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, there on the altar, also waiting…for her. And suddenly, unexpectedly, something hits her like a roaring train on the tracks of an unsuspecting small town:

He is here.

She remembers and realizes the reality of Who is there and why He is there and the significance of Him- the Son- being there …while he – her son- is there, with her.

And she recognizes the opportunity present, and has a sudden urge of inspiration to re-dedicate this child to God and renew the plea for His protection of him.

Spontaneously, she whispers in a wave of emotion:

 Here he is, Lord. I brought him to You today. Pierce his heart and soul with Your Love. Give him Your grace and courage and peace and strength. Keep him close to You and help him now and always…whatever it takes from me…whatever it takes….

This mother prays these ending words whatever it takes not because she thinks that God is a punishing God who only bestows gifts only for a trade-off of pain but she prays these words because she knows He is a loving God who allows His creatures the privilege of participation, and she knows the the beauty and restorative power of redemptive suffering that occurs when one, even if just a mother, unites her suffering to His. She does not know what her son needs but she knows whatever it is, God will provide it and she offers her life –spiritual and physical- again for him.

Because God is a loving and merciful Father, the mother who helps bring forth the physical life through birth to her children- is granted too the opportunity, indeed daily is granted the opportunity, to also bring them in part, in a very small way, to the threshold of God and eternal life, mysteriously, through her cooperation and merits. She and her life can become vessels of grace again and again.

Clearly, quietly and firmly in this mother’s heart she hears an answer to her spur-of-the-moment prayer: YES.

Yes! It is distinct and profound and quiet, very still. And she feels the warmth and presence and sweetness from the altar, the dwelling place of Him and she feels her heart will burst in the significance and renewal of this moment.

Then a door closes and the mother looks up. Her son has entered the confessional. Moments later she does too.

In the days that follow, the mother contracts the flu, just as the abovementioned young adult child is about to depart on a plane back to his place of residence and work thousands of miles away. She does not hug him goodbye nor stand and look face-to-face into his eyes before he leaves, as she normally does, for fear of exposing him to her illness and fever. Instead, she stands in the door of the room, 15 feet away, as he turns with his duffle bag and she ‘air hugs’ him. He air-hugs her back. She will probably not see him for months, but she remembers that even little sacrifices like foregone hugs can contribute to the good of those she loves when she unites these actions with Christ.

The days that follow her son’s departure are full of daily mundane challenges- and the now familiar thought of noble redemptive suffering punctuates itself in another inconvenience, when this mother discovers her email has been hacked.  Hundreds of people have received messages about discounted Rolex watches from her account. And because this mother didn’t catch this hacking for several days (she has been sick and offline you know) her Twitter account has also been compromised, and shut down.  But she deals with these problems, as well as mountains of laundry that have amassed in her illness, patiently and carefully, not because it is in her nature, but because there is a higher reason and an intention for which to pray, and she knows that work and suffering can be prayer. There is an acceptance because there is a purpose.

When the jury selection order appears in her mailbox, on the heels of this trying week right when she is scheduled to resume homeschool with her youngest three children, and when she calls the bailiff to ask for a deferral until summer so she can meet her state’s 180 day education requirement, and when the bailiff is cold and indifferent to her plight and is in fact rude when she finds out the mother homeschools, and denies her request, the mother does not succumb to frustration in the least. Because of an encounter earlier that week, in fact, she smiles.

This mother, this ordinary mother not unlike you, in fact perhaps very much like you, thinks about the new month of January, full of promise and opportunity and new beginnings. She thinks about the sacrament of Confession and its opportunity and new beginning as well. She thinks of Him, and him, and her. And how they are all intertwined in love and sacrifice. She thinks of how acceptance can be a gift.

And this mother ponders the turn of events in the previous week, amazed at the God who allows not just her but all mothers the opportunity to be living gifts to their families. They--we are not just gifts in physical ways such as doing the laundry and preparing meals and kissing boo boos of young children. No, they--we can be gifts in large and significant ways, united-in-redemptive suffering ways, in leading-our-children-to-Christ ways. We can be gifts to our families in eternal ways by dedicating, praying, leading, suffering, accepting, and uniting in Christ what we do. The profound can indeed be quiet. The significant can be simple. And we need to remind one another of this, as ordinary mothers. The consequences of what we do can be everlasting. 

Theresa Thomas, Co-Author Stories for the Homeschool Heart (Bezalel Books, 2010 & winner of About.comBest Catholic Book of 2010)
Family Columnist Today's Catholic News
Contributing Writer Integrated Catholic Life
Watch for BIG HEARTED: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families coming soon in 2013!