Saint Monica: Another Patron Saint for Alcoholics

saint monica
Saint Monica is patron saint of married women, alcoholics, difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of unfaithfulness, victims of verbal abuse.

Saint Monica was the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. She is honoured in the Roman Catholic Church where she is remembered and venerated for her outstanding Christian virtues, particularly the suffering against the adultery of her husband, and a prayerful life dedicated to the reformation of her son, who wrote extensively of her pious acts and life with her in his Confessions. Popular Christian legends recall Saint Monica to have wept every night for her son Augustine.

Monica was born a Christian at Thagaste, North Africa, around the year 331, the daughter of devout parents who educated her in the faith. Augustine gives only one incident from her youth, obviously relayed to him by Monica herself, of how she was in danger of becoming a wine bibber, but was corrected when her secret sips in the wine cellar were discovered and a maid, in a moment of anger, called her a “drunkard.” This stinging rebuke prompted her to change her behavior and develop perseverence. Perhaps this is why recovering alcoholics are among the many groups who intercede to Saint Monica.

Prayer for the Intercession of Saint Monica
Dear St. Monica,
Troubled wife and mother, many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime. Yet, you never despaired or lost faith. With confidence, persistence, and profound faith, you prayed daily for the conversion of your beloved husband, Patricius, and your beloved son, Augustine; your prayers were answered. Grant me that same fortitude, patience,and trust in the Lord. Intercede for me, dear St. Monica, that God may favorably hear my plea for (Mention your intention here.) and grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

She was married early in life to Patritius, who held an official position in Tagaste, He was a pagan, his temper was violent, and he appears to have had bad behavior outside the marriage. Consequently Monica’s married life was far from being a happy one. Her mother-in-law was as bad as her husband. Her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence.

Monica had three children: Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and she experienced much grief when Augustine fell ill. She asked Patritius to allow Augustine to be baptized; Patritius agreed, but on the boy’s recovery withdrew his consent.

Eventually her husband became a Christian but died shortly afterwards. She decided not to remarry.

All Monica’s anxiety now centered in Augustine; he was promiscuous and partied all the time. And, as he himself tells us, he was lazy. Augustine had become a Manichean and when on his return home he shared his views regarding Manichaeism Monica drove him away from her home. However, she is said to have experienced a strange vision that convinced her to reconcile with her son.

It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, “the child of those tears shall never perish.” Monica followed her wayward son to Rome, where he had gone secretly. She met St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after seventeen years of resistance.

In his book Confessions, Augustine wrote of a peculiar practice of his mother in which she “brought to certain oratories, erected in the memory of the saints, offerings of porridge, bread, and wine.” When she moved to Milan, the bishop Ambrose forbade her to use the offering of wine, since “it might be an occasion of gluttony for those who were already given to drink”. So, Augustine wrote of her:

In place of a basket filled with fruits of the earth, she had learned to bring to the oratories of the martyrs a heart full of purer petitions, and to give all that she could to the poor – so that the communion of the Lord’s body might be rightly celebrated in those places where, after the example of his passion, the martyrs had been sacrificed and crowned.

— Confessions 6.2.2

Mother and son spent six months of true peace and then he was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan.

At the port of Ostia, Monica fell ill. She knew that her work had been accomplished and that life would soon be over. She had such a joyful disposition that her sons were unaware of the approach of death. As Monica’s strength failed, she said to Augustine: “I do not know what there is left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled. All I wished for was that I might see you a Catholic and a child of Heaven. God granted me even more than this in making you despise earthly felicity and consecrate yourself to His service.”

The finest pages of Augustine’s Confessions were written as the result of the emotion he experienced after his mother’s death.

The “weeping” springs outside Santa Monica, California were named for Saint Monica.

3rd of Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary: Chastity

10 evangelica virtues of maryHere is the third article in a series I’ve been writing for Catholic Mom about the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.  This piece is on “chastity.”

According to Pope Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character.

The ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actual qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization: chastity, prudence, humility, faith, devotion, obedience, poverty, patience, mercy and sorrow.

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in virtue are a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize with virtue in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ.  Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son?

The first Evangelical Virtue of Mary is Chastity.

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How shall this be done, since I do not know man?” Luke 1:34

The word “chastity” is difficult to pronounce in the modern world, hardly evident except within religious circles.  Our children are exposed to all sorts of immodest dress and behaviors through media and through their companions. How can we teach our children the importance of being chaste? Why is this important?

Instilling the virtue of chastity in our children must start first with taking a look at it in ourselves.

Are we chaste? Do we follow the Church teachings on artificial birth control? Are we careful with the way we dress? Do we “like” immodest posts on Facebook? Do we “share” celebrity relationship gossip through our social media channels? Did we read Shades of Grey and recommend it to others?

You can read the rest of the article over at CatholicMom.com here.  Enjoy!

The Best Medicine

tumblr_mde4ncT1kk1qbzun1o1_500I have always been a big fan of modern medicine—maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing which implies the sciences are gifts to us from God’s grace, or maybe it’s just because I’m all about the quick fix to ease my aches and pains. I hold medical researchers, doctors and smart people in high regard.

If I’m completely truthful, I actually don’t hold the agnostic or atheistic researchers and doctors in high regard—those types think they are gods so I absolutely hope to steer clear of them. But the humble faith-filled smart doctor people have my complete affection and respect.

But today I experienced the most natural form of healing which involved no medicine, no research, no health studies, and no cardiovascular exercise: lunch with my mother.

I’m telling you, and I’ve said this before on my blog, that my mother is one of those people that lives her life the way the saints did: in self-sacrifice for the people God has entrusted to her and in complete obedience to Him and His will.

She would say, “Are you kidding me?”

And I would say, “No, I am not kidding, Mom. I want to be you…the same way I wish to be a saint but never will be.  You give me an ideal to strive for and you offer mercy and forgiveness before I even realize I miss the mark.”

I could write about how Mom goes to daily Mass, takes care of my father and mothered and continues to mother eleven children who never got hooked on drugs (ha ha ha why is that my standard, that none of us ever got hooked on drugs…ha ha ha).. and I could write about how when we were wealthy and then had hard times she went immediately to work to make ends meet; how she loves and forgives and loves and respects and loves and loves and loves her husband.  This is huge; because marriage is really hard.  Especially for me, lately.

I could tell you all that, but instead I’ll just talk about my lunch with my Mom today, which will give you an example of how to be a mother:

Me: Mom I’ve been in such a funk lately.

Mom: I know darling–you haven’t written any blog posts in almost two weeks and I miss them.

Me: I know. I’m a little worried after sending out all these resumes at the beach that some of my future employers might read my blog so I don’t know what to write anymore.  What if they read what I write and think I would make an awful employee?

Mom: Yes, maybe. But does it matter?

Me: No, it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t want to work for anyone long term who didn’t get it.  And Husband and I are like friends passing in the hallway.  After 15 years of marriage I don’t think he likes me.

Mom: Sure he does darling.

Me: And he does this and this and this.

Mom: Yes

Me: And this and this and THIS. And he did THIS!

Mom: Yes.

Me: And here I am 43 years old. And I have everything I ever wanted: marriage, children, family, house, blah blah.

Mom: Yes. (she holds my hand.)

Me: So how are the rest of the siblings?

And then my mom updates me on everyone… All of my ten siblings, what’s new and what every one is up to.

And then I take it back to me.

Me: So I don’t know. I’m just all crabby lately.

And she says, “We have to have lunch at least once a week.”

And I say yes, yes, we do.

And we will.

Because I need her. Because my mom doesn’t judge or try to control me. My mom doesn’t get focused on petty stupid things and she doesn’t engage in gossip. My mom doesn’t like to go shopping (I really hate to “go shopping,” like it’s some sort of special event) and she doesn’t use passive aggressive tactics to manipulate me.  She just LOVES ME.  And she loves her other ten children just as unconditionally.

Like God. None of us says she loves one more than the other. No favorites. Unconditional love available for eternity for all of us.  Just like God.  So that’s where I’ve learned my concept of God, from my mother.

And my mom is my medicine.

7 Quick Takes: 7 Greetings of “Happy Women’s Day” from a Politically Incorrect Full-blooded American Woman

Here we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

Solomon-with-babyInternational Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year.  Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc. In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. In the West, however, the political and human rights theme of the policies of the United Nations takes over—The UN as usual messes up a good thing.

1.  Happy Women’s Day to the American women that have been persuaded and lied to by a so-called “feminist movement,” which tries to convince them having an abortion will solve their “problem.” These women have suffered emotional and spiritual consequences because they believed the lie that abortion was a simple “choice,” one choice among many choices. Abortion is harmful to women. As a mother of two American boys, I re-commit today to raise them to support and love women. And instruct them if they God forbid get a young woman pregnant before marriage they are to encourage and love her, support her financially and never give her a reason to abort her baby.

WomenSaintsPoster6352.  Happy Women’s Day to the women in Africa who are being inundated with representatives from our country and the United Nations with slogans like, “Reproductive Rights” and “Reproductive Healthcare.”  The push to infiltrate developing countries with the “solution” of condoms and the morning after pill will no doubt create the same failed scenario we have here in the US—record numbers of abortions, children being raised without fathers, more poverty for women and children and deteriorating attitudes of men towards women sexually. And more importantly, these reproductive “rights” policies harm women emotionally and spiritually. Condoms have not solved America’s AIDS or STD problems, but we still push it on African women because we believe the lie.  I recognize the “good intentions” of these programs (to curb sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies) but the “results” are staggeringly unsuccessful.

3.  Happy Women’s Day to all the young girls and women here in Atlanta, who have been swept up into the sex traffic trade.  Atlanta is one of the top US cities for sex trafficking of young girls (and boys).  Despite valiant efforts of local and national authorities only a little progress has been made to stop this horrific situation. Prayers and money and an all-out assault on the organizations that engage and profit from this industry is greatly needed. And let’s publish the names of the men who are the “customers” of these abominable acts.

4. Happy Women’s Day to the underprivileged and poor women suffering real in-equality throughout the world. While money is funneled into “reproductive health care” initiatives for developing countries, real women are suffering real discrimination and inequality in places like Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East. Women are raped, murdered, beaten and suffering from forced genital mutilation by a sick misunderstanding of cultural and religious traditions. If only the enormous resources and funds that go to the abortion industry would be directed to the real suffering women we could possibly change minds and attitudes in other countries. We could save many of these women from these abuses.

5.  Happy Women’s Day to all the tireless women (and there are many of us!) who without resources continue to pray, fight and advocate for women against the formidable and well-funded opponents like the Obama Administration, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the women who grew up believing the lies that abortion is a “choice.”

6.  Happy Women’s Day to the working mothers in our country who struggle to balance work and family life. Tax policies in the US make it nearly impossible for single income households to survive and thrive, so women who would rather work part-time or stay home while their children are young are unable to do so and still make ends meet.  And Happy Women’s Day to the women who do want to work full-time but they stress themselves out and sacrifice so much to make sure their children have excellent, nurturing child-care; and they manage to give quality love and attention to their children despite the difficulties of balancing it all.

women friends7.  Happy Womens’ Day to my five sisters.  All of you are truly my personal heroes.  Each day you work and care for your families in ways that are heroic. Number 2, your tireless work with middle and high school youth to help them combat the pressures on them through your talents as a playwright and artist. Using art and drama, you bring these youth out of their shells so they can face and fight peer pressure and bullying. Number 4, your amazing courage and fortitude, leaving an abusive marriage and raising your son to be a fine young man despite his father’s shortcomings. Number 5, your hard work at the high school planning all the events, running the back end of your husband’s business, and running a household with three children, plus maintaining your ministry to encourage and instruct others on the Faith. Number 8, you amaze me. As young parents, you and your husband have relied on faith and hard work and have raised two amazing young adults who are sure to make a difference out in the world. At the same time you’ve moved up the ladder in your career, gotten a Master’s Degree and achieved so much success. And Number 11, oh my only baby sister! You are a brilliant doctor and your decision to stay home with your girls while they’re little took a lot of sacrifice but you didn’t hesitate to do it! You’re a natural and wonderful mother! You keep up with your continuing ed and are instilling your brilliance into your sweet girls—I am still blown away by how well they can read and their vocabulary at three years old!

7quicktakesSo that’s it. I know I’m not “politically correct.”  And I’m so glad I’m not. I’m so glad I didn’t believe the lie pushed at me growing up that feminism means abortion rights.  I credit my strong mother, her incredible example (she’s a doer–not a talker, like me) of devotion to her Faith, her children and her husband.  I watched you, Mom. I was always watching you. And I am so grateful for the gifts you’ve given me and the worldview you’ve instilled in me without saying a word.  I love you, Mom!

Number 9

Dear God

Iron Kids Triathlon, Alpharetta, Georgia

Iron Kids Triathlon, Alpharetta, Georgia

Dear God,

Hi. How are you? Thank you for keeping me sober yesterday and please keep me sober today, too–I keep following your instruction to do this sober thing one day at at time. I was surprised yesterday when I realized I will have six months sober on Easter. I’ve been counting the days and didn’t realize how many months had added up.  By your grace, I’ve been able to get back to my sober life.

After being sober for three years, I really didn’t think it would be a big deal to have wine on my anniversary. But since I hadn’t been to AA the last year and a half of those three years, I didn’t have the regular reminder that I can’t drink like normal people.  And it took me three years of trying really hard to get sobriety back before I have been finally able to. Please don’t let me lose this?

I look at those three years and see your lessons.  One of the things you taught me was that financial security isn’t something I can count on, nor should I.  And through all that, here we sit in a teeny house with our life downsized 2/3 the size it was before. I never want to go back to big.

The blessings in having this little simple life are enormous. The boys share a room. We all four share one bathroom!  What character you’ve built-in all of us from all this sharing and physical closeness.

In my downsized life I actually get the laundry done.  The laundry room is right there.  I walk past it every time I go to the bathroom or to my room, so it’s easy to just throw a load in or take a load out.

Remember in the old house, the 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom golf and country club house?  Remember how the laundry would pile up in the playroom so high that my Mom would have to come over and help me fold it all?  I felt like such an incapable mother that I couldn’t keep up with the laundry!

Waverunners in Perdid Key, Florida

Waverunners in Perdido Key, Florida

Working full-time then and trying to run and manage that big house and big life really was too much for me. Sure I could handle it. I won the sales awards and the sales contests. I made really good money and we had amazing benefits for our whole family.

But none of that worked for us. Husband, the boys and I were all always running around, low-level anxiety permeated all of us. It wasn’t until we left all that behind, on a whim almost, when we decided to purchase this 1300 square foot 1925 farm-house and renovate it, that life began to get simpler.

Not at first, though. All the work the house needed before we could even move in! We were still drinking, and I can still see some of the trim I painted drunk that needs to be touched up.

Settled now, for the most part, I started my own small marketing firm, took a few clients immediately and learned the ropes of my new endeavor. Then, I got pregnant–and the boys were out of school for the summer–I gave up the clients and focused more on our home and family.  I was really happy. Giving up drinking when I was pregnant was a no-brainer, piece of cake. It was fun imagining the baby would be a girl and finally having some pink around our house. I remember thinking how grateful I was to you, discovering we were pregnant at age 42–I thought this must be Your way of getting me back to sobriety. We had decided to name her after my mother, Elizabeth Claire.

But you knew there were other plans for me, the miscarriage and subsequent D&C–gosh all that was awful. All the blood and painfulness. I was so sad.  The boys were so sad.  But it wasn’t meant to be. And I was able to see that if that wasn’t your will for me then I am okay with that. There must have been a reason – beyond my understanding – for losing the baby.

I’m sorry I went right back to drinking. And it was worse, more. After two months of that Husband had had enough and he threw me out. And in those dark, dark days that followed, I quit you. During those days of unspeakable brokenness and tears, I finally, finally broke.  I even felt something break in my head, like a physical sensation. It was the moment I told you I hated you, didn’t want you in my life and that I had no use for you whatsoever and I meant it with my whole being. I completely 100% for the first time in my life ever hated you. I told you out loud that I consciously choose to kick you out of my life.

And then something broke.

family2But then you sent an angel. my sister Liz who took off work and took me into her home and showered me with love and all of her religiousness.  Everything in her house is touched by you–the crucifixes, the rosaries, the Mary statues, the prayer cards, all of it. She set me up in her son’s room for ten days and I remember staring at that picture of Jesus of the Divine Mercy that she had tacked up on the wall right next to my pillow at eyes height. I remember staring into Jesus’ eyes. And they penetrated me, warmed me, filled me. I remember telling you I was absolutely broken and scared.  And I started writing.

I filled two journal books in those ten days, and I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day LOL!  And my sister who hates smoking never said a word to me when I smoked full-time on her back deck! She even brought me an ashtray. And I wrote two full books full of talking to you, praying to you, begging you and reaching out to you.  Every day my journal started out with Dear God.  And you filled me like you had never filled me before.

Thank you.

Within two weeks, I was reunited with the family and within two months I’d gotten back into AA and started working the steps. And now here I am, dear God, writing to you filled with peace and gratitude for all the wonderful gifts of my life. If I had to plan my life, it wouldn’t have looked like this.  And thank you for that! Because if I had planned my life, I wouldn’t have the joy and peace that you give that surpasses my understanding.

Love, Reg

100 Followers!

Yay! Party! I just got my 100th follower!

Have You Had “The Talk” With Your Middle-Schooler?

“Look Mom, I’m Jack Sparrow!”

A few years back, when my oldest was seven, he was enthralled with Captain Jack Sparrow and Pirates of the Caribbean. He dressed up in a black cape (does Jack Sparrow even wear a cape?) and brandished a sword left over from the previous Halloween.  He then grabbed an empty milk jug, lifted it to his lips and slurred his words, “I am Captain Jack Sparrow!”

jack rumAnd that sword figuratively pieced my heart for a moment. No, no, no.

Not only was he modeling Captain Jack’s pirate skills, he had taken in the plot-line that glorified rum, that rum was a wonderful drink Jack had to have; and it made him act funny.

One of my fears is that one of my children will become alcoholic.  I worry about this because of heredity. I meet women in meetings who have been sober 20 years yet their grown child still gets become an alcoholic or addict.  These women modeled sobriety for their kids and yet, it wasn’t enough.

Isn’t that a mother’s fear—that what we do won’t be enough? That our children will makes our mistakes no matter how much we try to shield them?

jack rum 3There is no way to know whether my child will become alcoholic or not. And most of us don’t have to worry about alcoholism because only about 10% of Americans suffer from it. But aside from the disease, there are plenty of negative consequences when teens and alcohol mix. There has got to be something I can do to stack the odds in his favor in case he does carry the predisposition.

I remember drinking for the first time at 14. This was pretty typical for a middle class high school teenager in the 80’s.  I over-drank on every occasion, never having the ability to pace myself or moderate. High school is when our children will be introduced to alcohol outside the home. Have we prepared them?

The strategy my husband and I have taken with him focuses on the negative implications of drunkenness. We want to instill in him a disdain for excessive drinking. Here I list the five things we incorporate into developing our children’s attitudes about alcohol. I see this “Talk” as more important than the sex talk, because alcohol kills.

The Talk:

1.       Use real life examples.

Remember, son, when Uncle Bobby was asleep during Michelle’s wedding, and Dad had to help carry him out to the car? Remember you had to sit in the hatchback because he took up the whole back seat? You’re old enough now to know the truth. He wasn’t “asleep.”  He was drunk.  And his body couldn’t take any more alcohol so it shut down on him, causing him to fall asleep at the table even before Michelle and Tom cut the cake.

2.   Use “humiliation” or “shame”.

Shame definitely has its purpose. In my opinion the purpose of shame is to establish social norms in order that deviating from them causes one to feel shame, which in a healthy heart sparks a desire to change.

Sweetheart, when you’re out in the world without me or your Dad, I know you understand that you’re supposed to behave with good manners and conduct yourself in ways worthy of our family name.  When people drink too much, they’re unable to control what they say or do. Alcohol affects the limbic system of the brain, the part of the brain that controls speech and actions. We would really be disappointed to hear you had embarrassed our family by getting drunk or drinking so much you behaved badly.  What you do is a direct reflection on our whole family. You know this, right?

3.       Use facts, the law, and statistics.

In 2008, 11,773 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. The scariest part of drinking, for me and your Dad is the fear that either you or your brother will get in the car with somebody who has been drinking. Under no circumstances are you ever to get in a car with somebody who has had even one alcoholic drink. If we find that you did, then you will face severe punishment and loss of privileges.

Alcohol is a powerful depressant drug that slows down thinking and reaction time, as well as other activity of the brain and spinal cord. It rapidly enters the bloodstream and circulates to all parts of the body within a few minutes. When it reaches the brain it knocks out control centers, causing intoxication. Even small amounts of alcohol can reduce coordination and slow reflexes.

Regardless of age, driving while intoxicated is illegal. You will be arrested, lose your driver license and be sent to jail.

4.       Use Scripture.

Grab the iPad and google “Catholic Bible verses about drunkenness.”

Honey, look at what God says about alcohol. Of course, drinking alcohol itself is not a sin. But like with a lot of things, when we use alcohol illegally (before age 21) or recklessly (by drinking too much) we break God’s laws.

I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one (1 Cor. 5:11).

Neither . . . thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

. . . envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21).

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

Our Catholic faith doesn’t condemn alcohol, wine, or drinking in moderation, but the Church does caution against excessive drinking. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air” (CCC 2290).

5.       Use reverse-psychology.

What is the one thing teens want? To be treated as adults.

I know, son that you are very mature for your age and you’re growing into such a fine young man. But some kids are not as responsible as you.  It may be up to you to take care of a friend who is drunk. You may have to be the responsible one to protect your classmates, the girls from doing things they will regret. If Madeline or Catherine drank excessively and you noticed a strange boy leading them into a dangerous situation, you may have to be the adult who stands up and protects them? Being a grown up means you are responsible. It is impossible to act responsibly when drunk. So be sure never to drink to excess.

So, moms, let’s be sure to have “The Talk” with our children. We can’t leave their understanding of alcohol to their friends or Hollywood.

A wonderful resource for us comes from Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD). I typically like student initiated advice because it is more on target when discussing important matters with my children.  Click on this link for the “Opening Lifesaving Lines” brochure.

Cheers!

Discovering the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary

10 evangelica virtues of mary

According to Pope Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character. What are the evangelical virtues?

I first discovered the them when reading about one  of my favorite saints, Teresa of Avila. I googled the term “evangelical virtues,” and there was very little information out there. However, in a transcript on Vatican Radio,  Pope Benedict XVI mentions Teresa’s intense program of the contemplative life...which at its heart were the evangelical virtues and prayer.”

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in these virtues is a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ.  Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son?  How does Mary evangelize?

 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…1Peter 3:15

These ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actually qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization.

The Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary is a wonderful synopsis of Mary’s character:

1. Chastity (Mt 1:18, 20, 23; Lk 1:24,34)
2. Prudence  (Lk 2:19; 51)
3. Humility (Lk 1 :48)
4. Faith ( Lk 1:45; Jn 2:5)
5. Devotion  (Lk 1:46-47; Acts 1:14)
6. Obedience (Lk 1:38; 2:21-22; 27)
7. Poverty (Lk 2:7)
8. Patience  (Jn 19:25)
9. Mercy (Lk 1:39, 56)
10. Sorrow (Lk 2:35)

We notice in this list, there is no mention of being obnoxious when we evangelize others.  Quite the contrary, evangelical Catholics are to remain humble, be patient, prudent. Evangelizing to others is as simple as happily proclaiming our love and support for the Faith and the church. This is sometimes tough for cradle Catholics who grew up thinking “evangelism” was a sales tactic, associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Fundamentalist Christians.

The Catechism tells us, “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows us not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of ourselves.”

As Catholic mothers, we’re called to instill these virtues first in our children.  We don’t keep our love of the Faith to ourselves. We bring it into everyday activities.  We direct our focus into our own homes, become evangelizers in the midst of our work, the laundry, the dishes, diaper changes, the cooking, carpool, the cleaning and paying bills, our marriage. By pro-actively instilling these virtues in ourselves and in our children, we develop the character of Mary, rather than the character of the world—isn’t that our objective?

“It is far from easy to sum up in a few words Saint Teresa’s profound and articulate spirituality. In the first place St Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and human life.” Pope Benedict XVI

On the ceiling of the 18th century Marian Church of Gozlin, Poland, there is a ten-pointed star symbolizing Mary’s evangelical virtues dear to the Marians. Mary’s virtues are like the rays of a star enlightening our path and inspiring our behavior.

One way to integrate these virtues into your life is by praying the Chaplet to the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.  Let’s get started.

Intimacy Between Mother and Son

Jesus at Wedding of CanaLast Sunday’s Gospel reading is one of my all-time favorites.  So many good things in it–and there was wine!

Jesus performs his very first public miracle.  How cool is that?

And his mother Mary is involved. She instructs them to, “Do whatever he tells you.” Simple advice for all of us!

But mostly in this Gospel I especially love the interaction between Jesus and his mom–having two sons of my own, I imagine the underlying messages in Jesus and Mary’s exchange.

Woman, how does your concern affect me?”

This makes me laugh. I LOVE THIS.

“Woman.”  Many writers have made note that at first glance this sounds a little disrespectful.  But not willing to concede that Jesus was ever disrespectful to his mom, thankfully, more context is given which shows how the norms of the culture and language of Jesus’ day makes this address make sense.

To me, a mother of two sons ages 10 and almost 13, I don’t see disrespect at all—and I’m not an ancient culture or language scholar. I see humor, intimacy, a little sarcasm and a knowing smile behind Jesus’ chosen words to his mother in Cana.

Humor?  Sarcasm?  Where do I get that?

So, for example, my boys joke around with me all the time as a sign of affection.  I think they get this from their father.  When a boy teases a girl, it’s his way of showing her he likes her.  It starts way back in grade school.

The other day I mentioned to Ben, “Ben, we really need to rake the yard or the grass isn’t going to grow this spring.”

Ben answered, “Yeah, Mom, we really do. (pointing) The rake is right over there.”

Of course, he grins when he says this and we both know my little phlegmatic-sanguine child will comply with my request.  But he’s got to mess with me a little bit first.

Little boys—including Jesus—-love their mamas.

Jesus also uses, “Woman,” to address Mary Magdalene in John 20:15, saying, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  He knows why she’s weeping — she came to the tomb and his body was gone.  Next thing Jesus says in John 20:16 is “Mary!  Like, “Hello?  It’s me.  I’m here. It’s okay.”

Last Sunday’s Gospel John 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from — although the servers who had drawn the water knew —, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.