Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sister Mary Martha Says...

Congratulations to the first winner of the Mother's Day Tribute contest! This one is an anonymous submission ... I have posted the tribute here at my new blog for Extraordinary Moms. Enjoy!

Be sure to check out Sister Mary Martha's post today on the Memorare, and her mother's particular devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I was particularly touched by the woman who wrote to her and asked for a patron saint for children who have suffered abuse (in this case, from her mother).
Sister Mary Martha observes:

My mother has that list, too, but you can add "physically" to it. My mother will help you. Not because she is a saint in heaven. Because her patron saint is Mary the Mother of Jesus. One of our other readers suggested you turn to Mary, as well she put it, "Get out the big guns."My mother's particular "Mary" is Our Lady of Perpetual Help. You're probably familiar with the painting from which this devotion is derived.

When in doubt ... ask Our Lady!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mary's Daughters ... Women's Conference in Greenville, Michigan

Tune in to Catholic Connection tomorrow at 9:30; Teresa Tomeo and I will be talking about Behold Your Mother.

It was such a wonderful weekend, I hardly know where to begin. Aunt Katy took Christopher and Sarah, so Craig and I had two nights of uninterrupted sleep. Sheer grace.

The women of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Greenville, MI -- led by Christina Velie -- did an amazing job. Fresh flowers everywhere. Beautiful music. Hands-down, the nicest hotel room I've ever stayed in (jacuzzi AND fireplace). A refrigerator stocked with Diet Coke (and anyone who knows me understands how important that is). Dinner at the Winter Inn with my husband, where a group of four girls in prom dresses were having dinner. We sent over dessert anonymously, just to hear the squeals of enjoyment (goes to show there is more than one way to enjoy chocolate mousse cake). I just wanted to affirm for them that they didn't need dates to have unexpected fun!

The best part of the conference was the women. I got to meet Kathryn Mulderink, and spend time with Cheryl Dickow. I got to meet another extraordinary sister in Christ, Sister Sarah Doser, director of the Franciscan Life Process Center in Lowell, MI. But it was the kindness and the sincere devotion of the women that inspired me most.

I'll never forget it ... and I'll treasure always a gift from one of the participants: a rosary ring that fit my fat little finger perfectly. ("It's a mother's ring," my new friend told me shyly.) Just before my talk, I mentioned to Father that I often feel as though I haven't found the right balance between taking care of my family and taking care of everything and everyone else. "Tell Mary about it," he advised me. Rightly so. And so I did ... and was amazed at the results.

I so hope I get an invite for next year's conference...!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mary: Mother of All (Not Just Catholics)

This article appeared recently at "Divine Caroline."

Why would anyone who doesn’t consider herself a traditional Catholic be interested in a book about Mary, the mother of Jesus? The answers, and there are several, might surprise you.

Among the monotheistic world religions, she is a solitary feminine presence honored across faith traditions. In Islam for Today, Latino Muslim convert and journalist Juan Galvan writes, “In the Quran, no woman is given more attention than Mary. Mary receives the most attention of any woman mentioned in the Quran even though all the Prophets with the exception of Adam had mothers.”

As Mother of the Church, she is the personification of wisdom. As Queen of Heaven, she is the human being closest to the ear of God. For centuries people have been seeing visions of her, delivering prophetic messages to those most in need of the touch from the Divine. And in the gentle repetitions of the rosary, her spiritual children have derived comfort and assistance from her in their darkest hour.

The Mary of my childhood was an impotent figure, a silent figure in every Christmas pageant, or the kneeling figurine that was packed away every New Year’s day. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen so many women like me, hungry for the transcendent, turning to New Age solutions to satiate their quest for spiritual truth. Instinctively they know that there is more to this world than can be seen with the naked eye and it’s only natural that they long for a connection with the infinite that affirms and resonates with their lived-out experience.

For me, the reasons are even more personal. I love Mary because I love her son, Jesus. I love her because she is my own spiritual mother by adoption and I can relate to that because I too am an adoptive mother. I love her because, at a time in my life when I desperately needed to know that I was not alone and forgotten in this world, I turned to her, testing her the way my own foster son tested me—clinging and desperate, and I received the kind of answer only a mother could give.

Sure, there’s more to it than that. For thousands of years, Christians have been venerating Mary by hundreds of different titles: Star of the Sea, Black Madonna, Lady of Guadalupe, the New Eve, Seat of Wisdom. For a long time I avoided her because I was afraid giving her too much attention would deprive God of the honor that was due to Him alone. But the more I got to know her and the saints that counted themselves her spiritual sons and daughters, I realized I didn’t have to worry about that.

The hidden maiden of Nazareth draws us close to her in order to lead us to her Son, Jesus. But cuddled up close, like a child, I saw that the wisdom of the ages was there for the asking.

You can purchase Behold Your Mother at and

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Red Neck Woman reviews "Behold Your Mother"...

... at her blog for converts and seekers, "Postscripts from the Spitfire Grill." Enjoy!

My favorite quote of hers:

I'd be lying if I said I didn't still occasionally have some of those Protestant neurons fire and there is a flash of "Oh dear, what if I am wrong?" And so I pray for Our Lord to protect me from all error, especially my own. To give me all of the graces He would intend for me and take away anything that is wrong.

And so I am suggesting to those to all of those who read this, Our Lord answers prayer. Pray to Him and ask you to help you to have the relationship with His Mother that He wants you to have even if that means showing you that you've been wrong for a very long time. Even if it means, giving you a new mind and taking from you your prejudices.

Oh... she also quotes from a post I put on "Streams of Mercy" today (which lately has been more of a trickle than a stream). Be sure to check this out, too.

Still waiting for word on my mother, who was hospitalized Sunday with heart problems. Thanks for your continued prayers.

Blessings, Heidi

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Call of Spiritual Motherhood

Please pray for Heidi's mother, Sandy Hess, who was hospitalized on Sunday with heart problems.

"Mary's maternal heart, open to all human risfortune, also reminds women that the development of the feminine personality calls for a commitment to charity. More sensitive to the values of the heart, woman shows a high capacity for personal self-giving."

Pope John Paul the Great
December 1995 General Audience

Today at "Embracing Motherhood," Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle shares about her experience getting the MRI scan (please pray for the results). It reminded me of my own encounter with the constricting beast of a machine not so long ago ... and while I'm preparing for my talk at the St. Charles Borromeo Women's Conference this weekend, I thought I'd share it with you. (Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell a story on my dear friend, "Aunt Katy" Phelps, who volunteered to take my cherubs this weekend so I could take Craig with me to the aforementioned women's conference, and hopefully get a few hours of R&R in the process!).

Earlier this week I had an MRI (thank God for sedatives and praying friends). The worst part was the noise, which was only partly blocked by earplugs. My friend Donna O'Boyle suggested that I pray the Rosary while I was engulfed, my arms pressed against my chest, in this medical monstrosity.

Instead I sang hymns at the top of my lungs. Yes, "Be Not Afraid" and every other warm-and-fuzzy number that gives some Catholics the heeby-jeebies. I'm afraid Gregorian chant would have been just too much of an anachronism. (I did finish up with enthusiastic renditions of "Ave Maria" and "Ave Verum Corpus.") The technician might not have appreciated it, but I'm pretty sure I heard my guardian angel giggle.

The next day, I picked up a stack of books and ... long story short, I've been in the hospital for the past three days with a compressed nerve (the MRI showed a bulging disk in my fifth vertibrae). Three days without loading dishwashers or driving the kids to school. Three days without e-mail or phone. Three days without mounds of laundry. (No doubt most of these are waiting to herald my return.) Three days when my sheer lack of ... invisibility... was all too evident.

The kids have not taken kindly to my extended absence. Sarah walks into my hospital room and casts herself on my bed with the kind of weeping and gnashing of teeth you associate with a much ... hotter place. So we cuddle up, Christopher on one side and Sarah on my one good hip, and we watch cartoons and sip Sprite and catch up on what's been going on at school.

The look on Craig's face, as he watches this scene, is a cross between relief and an unabashed desire to escape. Poor dear. The brunt of my absence has fallen squarely on his shoulders, particularly the antics of our unhappy and disoriented children (who even on the best of days have been known to engage in spirited hijinks). The poor man needs a break.

Enter Aunt Katy. Katy is one of my dearest friends as well as Christopher's godmother. Katy was raised in a family of thirteen children, and regularly volunteers to help me tackle projects I've been wanting to do but never find time for. Painting the living room. Cleaning out and organizing the kitchen. Tonight she stopped by to see me ... and volunteered to take the kids home and put them to bed for us, so Craig and I could spend a little quiet time together.

Katy and her husband Todd have not been blessed with children of their own, at least not yet. And yet, she and her husband Todd are a truly generous couple. In Catholic circles, we tend to measure the "openness" and "generosity" of a couple by how many children they are raising. However, it is women like Katy -- and others like her -- who have come up alongside me and helped me to be the kind of loving and generous parent God wants me to be.

So today I'd like to remember the women who are "invisible in generosity." Those who have tried to remain open to all God has for them, and serve Him to the best of their ability, despite the fact that, for whatever reason, their minivan hath not exactly "runneth over" with carseats.Thank you to those generous women who continue to trust God even if it means conceiving and carrying children ... only to face having to send those children on ahead of you to heaven.

Thank you to those whose struggles with infertility means trusting God to open other avenues to practice your God-given calling to nurture other souls; some by choosing foster care or adoption, others (like Katy) choosing to support other parents in their vocations.

Thank you to those generous women who express your spiritual motherhood by taking into your home other people's children, despite the fact that you have not yet received the graces of the sacrament of matrimony (most notably a partner to share the load).

Above all, thank you to those women who continue to feel invisible -- and who recognize the gift hidden within that calling. The most delicate organs (such as the spinal column and the extended nervous system) are not visible to the naked eye. And yet where would the body be without them?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Enjoy "Tea with Mary" This Mother's Day!

Want to send Mom something more than a card this Mother's Day? Give her "Tea with Mary" instead -- because you truly do care enough to send the "very blessed"! (Sorry, Hallmark.)

This Mother's Day special includes an autographed copy of Behold Your Mother along with a sample of my favorite tea (Black Currant by Higgins & Burke), in a rose-kissed envelope. All for just $9.99 (+ S&H).

To order this Mother's Day special, click on the "request an autograph" link on my website; on the third line include the words "Mother's Day" after her name. Then place your order as usual on my website. I will mail it directly to her for you. (HINT: Send this link to your husband if you'd like Tea with Mary yourself!)

Special added bonus ... You can get a free book, too! On May 15 I will hold a special drawing for all those who took advantage of the Mother's Day Special between 4/20 and 5/14 ... Winner receives a free autographed copy of your choice of my three books (for a list, go to

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mother in the Night: Article at American Chronicle

Two more days to enter the "Thanks, Mom!" Mother's Day Contest. Turn in your essay by April 21 -- if your tribute is selected for printing during the first week of May, you will receive a free copy of any of my books! For more info, click here.

Today at American Chronicle I have a story about the Blessed Mother, how she comforted me during the early months of foster parenting ... and how I believe she watched over my sister when her husband was abusing her.

The Blessed Mother is a powerful advocate for women who are alone and afraid, no matter what the source of darkness. As the mother of Jesus, she stood beside Him as He faced and ultimately vanquished the powers of hell. And yet, it cost her dearly -- and so she understands a mother's pain.

Mother Mary, watch over your daughters,
both those of us who struggle in the night,
and those of us with tender hearts to walk with them.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Behold Your Mother: The Video

This YouTube video was just sent to me by my online publicist, and I thought you might like to see it.

Excuse me now while I go find a tissue to wipe my eyes... God bless you!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Holy Father!

We could not bring you a cake, dear Holy Father, but we have the candles from the Koln Cathedral and a traditional birthday song!
Hoch soll er leben!*
Hoch soll er leben!
Dreimal hoch!**
* "Long may he live"
** "Three cheers!"
Today as you celebrate your birthday in America, may you feel the warm welcome of those of us who have never met you, but love you still.
Mother Mary, watch over this your beloved son, Pope Benedict XVI, and grant him the intention closest to his heart on this his 81st birthday.

The "Last Apparitions on Earth"?

"True devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric, indeed, it is profoundly rooted in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity" (John Paul the Great in Crossing the Threshold of Hope).

Today Teresa Garcia at "The Apostolate of Hannah's Tears" sent me this link to Mark Mallett and his story about the apparitions at Medjugorje, which the Blessed Lady has purportedly declared would be her "last apparitions on earth." According to Mallett, in 1985 the pope told Bishop Paulo Hnilica that Medjugorje was a "continuation and fulfillment" of Fatima.

Thanks, Teresa, for sending the link!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Another "Behold Your Mother"

Although I've not yet had an opportunity to read this book as of yet, I do want to draw to your attention another recently published book about the Blessed Mother by the same title.

Behold Your Mother: Priests Speak About Mary, by Monsignor Steven Rosetti, is reviewed here at Vultus Christi. Just as Mary has a special attachment to mothers (in my case, adoptive mothers), she also dearly loves the men who uniquely represent her Son in the world. I'm referring, of course, to Catholic clergy (bishops, priests, and deacons).

I was particularly struck with one quote from Monsignor Rosetti's book, as quoted on the blog:

"I find it a consolation to know that Mary will remain with me, too, in these dark times. When she looks at us, she sees men who are configured to her Son, and thus she looks t us with a special tenderness and holy warmth. How could she
not love us with a particular love when she sees the face of Christ in us?"
I understand that Mark Shea is also publishing a trilogy by the same title, but as far as I can tell it has not yet been published in book form, but is scheduled to be released by Catholic Answers. I'm sure it will be worthwhile reading.

An "exchange" on CatholicExchange these past few days has reminded me of the fact that none of us -- myself included -- have a complete picture of the deep mysteries of the faith. By embracing the prescribed dogmas of the Church regarding Mary, we can avoid slipping beyond the pale of revealed truth. However, there is much about the faith (such as the early history of Joseph prior to his betrothal to Mary) that we simply cannot know for sure. To the extent that we hold our opinions loosely, always subject to the spiritual authorities over us, and treat one another with respect, these ponderings can be of great spiritual benefit. To the extent that we allow pride to get a toehold, truth is distorted, divisions are created, and evil wins.

Everything that is necessary for our salvation subsists in the Church, especially in the liturgy and sacraments, in the Magisterium (that is, in the continual, unbroken line from the time of the Apostles to the current bishops united under the Bishop of Rome), and in Tradition (including the Scriptures). While there are some things that shall always remain a mystery until we reach heaven ... these elements are crystal-clear. To grow spiritually is to become perfected in love -- the kind of love that embraces and transforms the entire person: body, soul (intellect, volition, and memory), and spirit.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us;
That as we seek to grow in understanding,
we might seek knowledge perfected in humility,
and wisdom perfected in love. Amen.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Join the Day of Prayer for Vocations!

Tomorrow, April 13, Catholic Converts is hosting a "24-Hour Rosary," for the intention of more holy vocations.

If you have not already signed up, please do so today! Thank you!

Blessed Mother, your Son predicted,
"I will build my Church,
and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it."
And yet the evil one has not given up the fight.
Pray for us, your children, that God would raise up
Holy young men, and wise men of maturity,
To gather under the mantle of your protection,
And become the beacons of truth this world is dying to behold.
Dear Lady of the Rosary, hear us now.
Hail Mary, full of grace...


Friday, April 11, 2008

In the News: Shrine Bombed, Miraculous Statue Saved

Today at Spirit Daily came this story about a shrine in Sri Lanka that was bombed shortly after a reportedly miraculous statue was removed for safety reasons.

The story reported that "Mannar Bishop Joseph Rayappu had earlier removed the statue of Our Lady of Madhu to place it in a more secure spot."

Holy Mother, whether or not your image is present,
you never cease to look over your children with love.
Watch over this good bishop, and his flock,
Who work for peace and justice for the "least of these."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mary Prayer: When You Need Sleep

In the opening chapters of Behold Your Mother, I share the story of how Mary's spiritual motherhood came alive for me when I became an adoptive mother. My first tentative efforts at motherhood would not have gone so well, I believe, had Mary not been watching over me every step of the way.

One of the more challenging aspects of motherhood, I've found, is dealing with kids who have sleep issues. Mornings tend to be hard ... all the bickering and picking drives me nuts, especially since my own sleep patterns have been disrupted as well!

This little prayer is for sleep-deprived mothers everywhere:

Good morning, Mary, you who never sleep!
Stay with me, be ever near
Sweetly whisper in my ear.
Pray that I might be like you
Patient, kind, and loving too.
Mary, Help of Christians, help me now. Amen.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Daily Prayer for Mothers to St. Anne

This week's "Catholic Carnival" is up -- and as usual, Sarah has done a great job with it. Be sure to check it out!

Dear St. Anne, you never tire of assisting those who recommend themselves to you. Trusting not in our merits but in your powerful intercession, we request your help through this present day with all its duties and responsibilities, all its situations whether happy or anguishing. And when "tomorrow" becomes today, assist us anew for God's glory and our good. Amen.

Good St. Anne, you were especially favored by God to be the mother of the most holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Savior. By your power with your most pure daughter and with her divine Son, kindly obtain for us the grace and the favor we now seek....... Please secure for us also forgiveness of our past sins, the strength to perform faithfully our daily duties and the help we need to persevere in the love of Jesus and Mary. Amen.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Keeping Company with Mary

Today at Vultus Christi I came across this beautiful reflection about how to "keep company with Mary," based on the example of Hermann Joseph, whose birthday is today. Father Mark writes that this "twelfth century Premonstratensian Canon, lived in such intimacy with the Virgin Mary that his relationship with her was compared to that of Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse."

How? This is the part that should encourage mothers of young children. Not through grand gestures of devotion, or through prolonged periods of silent reflection ... but through the simple offerings of daily life.

"Mother Mary, I love you so much that I am going to wash off this wall without a sour look or whisper of a sigh, just as you undoubtedly did so many times."

"Mother Mary, I can't keep my three-year-old in her clothes. Please pray for her, that she will learn (before she is a teenager, please) the joy of modesty and obedience."

"Mother Mary, I'm feeling lonely today. Please lead me a little closer to the company of your Son, that I might have the graces I need to walk the hidden paths of my vocation. Amen!"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thanks, Mom!

I'd also like to send out a special "thank you" to Karina Fabian, who recently posted her glowing review of Behold Your Mother on her blog. Thanks, Karina!

Is there a woman in your life who has been like a mother to you ... though she is not the woman who gave birth to you? It could be a godmother, favorite aunt or teacher, sister, or friend.

During the month of April, "Behold Your Mother" will be hosting a contest to honor these special women. Send me your 500 word-or-less tribute (picture optional but nice) by April 20, and I will draw from the submitted entries and post the best five online during the first week of May.

If your tribute is selected, I will send you a free copy of Behold Your Mother or Raising Up Mommy (or you can choose to send it to the honoree).

Thanks in advance for helping me spread the word!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mary: Virgin, Mother ... and Prophetic Presence

On this the anniversary of the homegoing of our beloved John Paul the Great, I'd like to share a quote from his Mulieris Dignitatem, which touches upon the gift of femininity, a gift that does not depend on biological motherhood:
When we say that the woman is the one who receives love in order to love in return, this refers not only or above all to the specific spousal relationship of marriage. It means something more universal, based on the very fact of her being a woman within all the interpersonal relationships which, in the most varied ways, shape society and structure the interaction between all persons - men and women. In this broad and diversified context, a woman represents a particular value by the fact that she is a human person, and, at the same time, this particular person, by the fact of her femininity. This concerns each and every woman, independently of the cultural context in which she lives, and independently of her spiritual, psychological and physical characteristics, as for example, age, education, health, work, and whether she is married or single.

The passage from the Letter to the Ephesians which we have been considering enables us to think of a special kind of "prophetism" that belongs to women in their femininity. The analogy of the Bridegroom and the Bride speaks of the love with which every human being - man and woman - is loved by God in Christ. But in the context of the biblical analogy and the text's interior logic, it is precisely the woman - the bride - who manifests this truth to everyone. This "prophetic" character of women in their femininity finds its highest expression in the Virgin Mother of God. She emphasizes, in the fullest and most direct way, the intimate linking of the order of love - which enters the world of human persons through a Woman - with the Holy Spirit. At the Annunciation Mary hears the words: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you" (Lk 1:35). (29)
These are comforting words to those of us who -- because we are unmarried, consecrated religious, or married but unable to conceive or carry children to term -- are not biological mothers. By virtue of our femininity, we embody an "order of love" that was first lived out in the life of the Blessed Mother.

My sisters in Christ, how are you being called to be a "presence of love" in the world today?