Vintage RCM: Called to Love

Vintage RCM: Called to Love

imageToday’s post originally appeared at Fleeting Photography last summer as a promo of sorts for the first Called to Love conference in Mobile, Alabama. I hope you enjoy.  -H

It all began with a picture. This picture.

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Actually, it was a painting. But my goodness; what a painting it was! Albertinelli’s Visitation literally stopped me in my tracks. As I gazed upon the Blessed Virgin Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth, I saw in the women’s embrace what I, instinctually, and at a very visceral level, hoped for myself, and for every woman I knew and even those I didn’t: unconditional love, acceptance, and support for one another. Tears streamed down my cheeks. “This,” I breathed to myself, “is what women need; this is the icon of genuine Christian sisterhood.” It was a revelation. As I shopped in the teeny Catholic bookstore in a suburb of Portland, Oregon that day, there was no way I could know that a painting would inspire and change my life.

My husband began a men’s conference in the Portland area in 2008, and every year, women would call to register their sons, husbands, and friends. Without fail, the question earnestly and repeatedly arose: “When is the women’s conference?”

It is truly a testament to God’s sense of humor and His omnipotence that I was the one who started a Catholic women’s conference in Portland. What I couldn’t have possibly known when I finally committed to putting together Catholic Women Rejoice for the summer of 2012 is that my husband would be living and working a contract position thousands of miles away for the five months leading up to the event date while I was pulling frequent all-nighters, working two jobs, and trying to hold things together with four children to care for. All the while, God showed me in ways big and small, “This is Mine. I got this. And you.

On July 14, 2012, the Feast of soon-to-be St. Kateri Tekakwitha, over 200 women converged on Resurrection Parish in Tualatin, Oregon to be encouraged, inspired, and supported in their Catholic sisterhood. In my mind, the painting that inspired me years before had come to life before my eyes that day. I cried several times throughout the event. I get choked up just thinking about it now – God is so, so good! Other than a hiccup with food service and the inconvenience of a very hot day, it was a resounding success. Now in its third year, CWR is still very close to my heart.

Our upside-down life with no husband and father finally came to an end when David accepted a full-time position with Archangel Radio here in the Mobile area and we dropped our nets to follow Christ’s call – away from friends, family, and all known things. It wasn’t long after our fifth child was born that one of my fellow parishioners approached me: “You started a women’s conference in Portland, right? You know, we really need one here.”

I laughed.

Slowly but surely, the wheels began turning, and Called to Love was born. It is still obvious to me that God’s quirky sense of humor insisted that I would have the blessing and privilege of working with such an amazing team of women to provide an opportunity to encounter Christ in one another here in my new home.

Because the Holy Spirit is in control, I know it is going to be phenomenal! The day includes Mass with Archbishop Rodi, breakfast, talks with Teresa Tomeo and Sr. Miriam James Heidland, catered lunch, live music from Kelly Pease Lombardi, Adoration, Confession, Catholic vendors, gift bags; a chance to pray, worship, and just be and rest in the gift of our Catholic sisterhood and the gifts that God gives us.

Wow – I can hardly wait. It’s going to be amazing! But you know what will be even more amazing? To see you there. I can see the picture in my mind’s eye right now, a smiling face greets you with these words: “Welcome, beloved of Christ. It is so very good that you are here.”

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{SQT} It’s never too late to Lent!

{SQT} It’s never too late to Lent!

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Since I’m usually running behind on most things (hellooo, recovering perfectionist/adrenaline junkie/busy mom of five/late bloomer), I thought there might be others who are struggling with what they can do this Lent and scrambling to choose easy yet edifying resources. I realize Lent has been blogged about to death already. But, if you’re like me, and you sometimes think, “I’m so late to the party, I might as well stay home,” this post is for you. While my list isn’t exhaustive, I’m not listing anything I wouldn’t do, haven’t done, or am not attempting to do right now. ‘Salright? ‘Salright.

7. ONLINE RESOURCES: Lenten goodies on the interwebz, part one

Best Lent EverWord on Fire

  • Lots of friends are signed up for Matthew Kelly’s Best Lent Ever program, and if it’s like the rest of Kelly’s offerings, it’s bound to be excellent and transformative.
  • Although not Lent-specific, Blessed is She offers daily readings and devotions directly to your email box. The great news is, once you’re hooked on the practice of meditating upon the daily readings this Lent, you can continue the practice all. year. long. Winnnnning!
  • Fr. Robert Barron from Word on Fire will send you daily emails this Lent to keep you on track, too. Really good stuff, and it’s free!

6. JOURNALS & MEDITATIONAL HELPS: 

ONLY-ONE-THING-cover

  • Blessed is She Lenten Journal – While the paper versions sold out, the super good news is you can still download a digital version for under $15! The other good news is, I think there will be another journal available for Advent. Woo hoo!
  • The Little Black Book – Maybe your parish already stocked up on these bad boys and is offering them for free. If not, you can order one (or many) for waaay cheap in regular or e-book format. About five minutes a day is all it takes to read the scripture and short meditation, and I love that it fits easily into a small purse or, let’s be real, my diaper bag.

5. BOOKITY-BOOKSYou know – the kind you read. 

consoling the heart of jesus

loved as I am

walking wtih purpose

I like to have a few titles available to read for Lent just in case one is awesome and I race through it or if, for some reason, God isn’t calling me to read one selection just now, or, frankly, I find I just don’t like one I’ve chosen. You may notice that the following titles aren’t even explicitly about Lent. And that’s okay. Pick what speaks to your heart. Here’s my short list:

  • Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. This do-it-yourself retreat has, sadly, been sitting on my bookshelf for months. I have picked it up a few times, yet never dove in. After being completely transformed by the 33 Days to Morning Glory consecration process in 2013, however, I know I can trust Fr. Gaitley’s material to bring me closer to Jesus and His Church.
  • Loved as I Am by Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT. I’ve been putting this off for several months now because, as I skimmed the first few pages, I realized I wasn’t reading the words of a typical memoir; rather, I was reading words that were going to challenge, pierce, and potentially convert me. Sounds like a good choice for Lent to me.
  • Walking with Purpose by Lisa Brinninkmeyer. The author’s last name might be tough to pronounce, but it’s easy to get ahold of this well laid-out book from Dynamic Catholic. It’s only $5.95 for shipping (U.S.), and there’s a free downloadable study guide here. Whether I’m able to do it this Lent or not, I’m reading this book. Oh yes, I am.

4. OTHER STUFF: Things I found helpful and/or pretty aka Lenten goodies on the interwebz, part twoglory of god bis

  • Lacy over at Catholic Icing always has amazing resources for families with children.
  • Kendra at Catholic All Year has a big, fat post chock full of Lent-y goodness right here.
  • Bonnie has some Sheenazingly beautiful graphics at her site. Not specifically Lent, but apropos all the same. Plus, she’s coming here next month (see below). Y’all better come!
  • Sarah wrote one of my most favorite posts on repentance (don’t be afraid; it’s probably not what you’re thinking – it’s about self-care and it’s completely awesome).
  • Last but not least, Sterling created this awesome worksheet – 40 days of suffering – that she kindly offered permission for me to share with y’all. It is BRILLIANT in its simplicity: indicate a person, organization, or cause for whom you’ll be offering up your suffering for each of the 40 days of Lent.

3. COMMUNITY Do something more, different, or new this Lenten season.

Power of PrayerRichard Lane Mission

  • Is your parish or one nearby having a Lenten retreat? Even Jesus had to take time away in the desert! Make plans now to attend!  Here’s one for women in the Pacific NW featuring my friends Bonnie Engstrom from A Knotted Life and Sterling from Beauty in Belief. I hope to see you there.
  • Here’s a Lenten mission for the whole family with my brother Richard Lane. I guarantee it will be Holy Spirit-filled!
  • Many parishes offer a light soup/supper and/or Stations of the Cross, especially on Fridays (that’s tonight, by the way). Find one in your area, and make it so. If nothing like these events are happening in your (Arch)Diocese, perhaps you’re being called to organize something for next Lent! Think about it.

2. CHURCH Go hang out there more.

  • Go to Confession. Too afraid? Tell the priest. There is an ocean of Divine Mercy awaiting you in the confessional, my friend. What better way to celebrate Jesus in all His resurrected glory than in a state of unblemished grace?
  • Add an extra daily Mass at least once a month, twice a month, once a week, or as often as you are able.
  • Adoration. Find the Adoration Chapel nearest you and go. to. there. as often as you can. I’m trying for a couple times a month, but hope to get to once a week. And, finally:

1.  FRIENDLY ADMONITION Here’s where I beg.

I implore  you: please, for the love of God and all things holy, do not attempt to do all of the things on this list. Lent isn’t about checklists, remember? It’s about rending our hearts and being in closer relationship with Christ. Put down the mental and/or physical checklist and pray. Ask your Heavenly Father to speak to your heart, and choose to do only one thing, like Mary in the Gospel.  And stick with it.

Peace!

heather