Category Archives: Interviews

Meet a Reader: Fr. Adam Stimpson {@TheCatholicPost}

Fr. Stimpson Reading

How you know me:  I grew up in Rock Island, IL, attending St. Mary’s Parish, and I am a ’98 Alleman High School graduate.  As a seminarian for the diocese from 2004-2009, I spent summers serving at the Cathedral, St. Philomena’s Parish in Peoria and Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington. 

After ordination, I served for three years at the La Salle Catholic Parishes, and presently, I reside at St. Philomena’s Parish in Peoria while I am the chaplain of Peoria Notre Dame High School.  Those of you who are avid Catholic readers may also be familiar with my cousin, Emily Stimpson, who is an author, blogger, and speaker.

Why I love reading: I love the power of the written word.  The greatest authors are teachers, and when I settle in with a good book, I become a student.  There are so many times in my life just sitting in a room, a coffee house, or a chapel with a good book, that I have been impacted permanently by the thoughts or imagery conveyed by an author.

What I’m reading now: I am currently a candidate for a Sacred Theological Licentiate degree in the New Evangelization, a high school teacher, and a daily homilist.  The books that I read then are usually within three categories: for study, preaching, or prayer. 

Most recently, I have finished All for Her: The Autobiography of Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C
 Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization by Scott Hahn; and In Memory of Me: A Meditation on the Roman Canon by Milton Walsh.  All of which I highly recommend.

My favorite book:  My favorite book is the one that saved my soul.  During a year of immersion in modern philosophy, somewhere between Descartes and Hegel, I began to seriously doubt whether God existed.  A dark, intellectual angst came over me as I struggled to reconcile how it is that I, a finite creature, could certainly know an infinite God. 


I then picked up Introduction to Christianity, 2nd Edition (Communio Books) by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) and on one miraculous page of that text he dispelled my doubt.  He discussed that it is normal for believers to doubt God’s existence at times and for disbelievers to doubt God’s non-existence at times.

He led me by the hand to realize that I was trying to comprehend God in the same way that I would empirically comprehend a physical chair I was sitting in.  Oh fool!  I then began to think about the beauty of faith. Which life is the life worth living: Friedrich Nietzsche or St. Francis of Assisi?  I then stopped trying to analyze God via interior monologue and started once again to commune with God via interior dialogue. May the Incarnate Word bless you all in the good words you read.

Promoting Vocations Within the Family {Talk Notes}

Following are notes for my portion of the talk that my husband Joseph & I will give to the “Wake Up the World: The Joy of Consecrated Life” conference in Peoria September 19.  Surprisingly, I am recommending a lot of books (ha), and so this post helps people recall the books without having to take copious notes.  Also, for those who are not able to attend but might care to see.

Joseph & I have discussed about the division of labor for this presentation, and I’m really looking forward to what he has to say.  He’s a much more experienced speaker than I, so part of me is also hoping to get my notes down here in a slightly more “polished” way so that I will be slightly more “polished” than normal for me.

I’d love to hear your book suggestions on this topic, as well as any other ideas you have on this.  The survey I reference very briefly below (I hope to do a longer post about it when time permits) reflects many perspectives, and I was so grateful for all those voices.  If you are interested in taking the survey I reference, let me know in the comments and I will send you the link.

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Quite a few months ago, a religious sister we know well asked my husband Joseph & I to give a talk at a vocations conference.  We were honored, but also felt un-equipped to speak on the official topic, “Promoting Vocations in the Family.”  After all, we only have two teens and a tween at our house. But Sister Sarah reassured me, (and I quote), “I have full faith and confidence in you.” So I’m hanging my hat on that.

We are each going to take different elements of “promoting vocations within the family.” We heartily believe that each of our children has a vocation—it may be to the priesthood, or religious life, or marriage. Helping them understand and discover that vocation, and being open themselves and being open to their journey, is a chief goal of parenting.

Here’s what I plan to cover:

*FAMILY AFFAIR:  how forming your family in faith, as individuals and as a family, is super unique, and there’s no formula to.  Related to that is that no family is perfect, and bickering and differences are  completely normal.  At least I hope so. 🙂

*BOOKS, BOOKS, and more BOOKS.  How books, and individual stories, can help anyone, young person, adult, or others, understand a little of how someone experiences a vocation to consecrated life, and how families and faith communities can be open and supportive of those journeys, wherever they lead.

*FINALLY, the MYSTERY of VOCATION.  I’ll share some thoughts from those who live out a vocation in religious life or the priesthood, and a survey I sent out to them and how it reflects on this mystery. We’ll also reflect on how we are ALL called to VOCATION, and how that will look for each person is very different.

I hope to expand on my notes for each category in either future posts or updating the posts, but right now here are just the highlights and chiefly, book links to my prior reviews, of the books mentioned.

  1. A FAMILY AFFAIR

*forming children in the faith

*looks different for every family: “Prayer is as individual as a fingerprint.”

*what works best for your family? Is it family Rosary? Night Prayer? Mass together? Separate?

*do what works best for your family.

*don’t be afraid to abandon what doesn’t work, or no longer works in this season, or to try new things.

Scripture from Night Prayer, Saturday night:

from Deuteronomy 6:4-7

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

2.  BOOKS, BOOKS, and more BOOKS

Yes, God!: What Ordinary Families Can Learn about Parenting from Today’s Vocation Stories by Susie Lloyd.

Here is my review. A quote from that:

“Each chapter of Yes, God! Susie Lloyd profiles one of ten priests and religious from families, large, small and in-between; broken, barely intact and robustly healthy. The book shares how each family shaped in some way each person’s vocation path, and what makes it unique.

Is there any similarity between the families, a formula that guarantees kids who grow up happy and whole, much less following a vocation? No, and that’s what makes Yes, God! so fascinating. The stories of five men and five women who followed religious vocations is fingerprint-personal to each of those featured.

Tolstoy (yes, in Anna Karenina) famously wrote that “all happy families are alike, and each unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion.”  But as I wrote in a college paper way back, I think he got it backwards. There are myriad ways to be happy and therefore holy.

Look at the saints. Aren’t you grateful there isn’t just one kind of saint or path to holiness? Most of us would be doomed, and I am grateful to hold dear the saints who most speak to my life and spiritual gifts. Yes, God! offers that kind of variety.

At the end of each biographical sketch/chapter, Lloyd offers a reflection of “Saying Yes,” to different virtues that informed the person’s path. For instance, “saying yes to patience,” “saying yes to strength,” and her own thoughts on how this quality helped the person say yes to God’s invitation, and how readers might adopt that virtue. She offers some interesting and quirky reflections from her own family, and offers a peek into the mystery of a vocation.”


Reflections from Rome: Practical Thoughts on Faith and Family by (local author) Monsignor Richard Soseman.

Here is my review: “Tapas for the Soul.” A quote from it:

“The reflections in the book are both realistic (as fits a rural Illinois native) and intelligent (as Monsignor’s many degrees attest, including canon law and Spanish, which is why I know Monsignor won’t mind me comparing his book to tapas).

The reflections are not written to talk “down” to people, but rather build them up. He offers such a wide variety of teaching, Catholic varia about the saints or some point of doctrine, and simple wisdom that he makes it look easy.”

And here is a Q&A with Monsignor Soseman, an old friend of our family.


The Grace to Race: The Wisdom and Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete Known as the Iron Nun by Sister Madonna Buder.

Here is my review,  and here is a Q&A with Sister Madonna.  The book is really strongest talking about how she came to know her vocation, as well as out she lived it out over the years. A quote from my review:

“Sister Madonna’s book is part fine spiritual autobiography, part triathlete war stories, and throughout, true inspiration to the rest of us to really “reach” for more in our spiritual and physical lives.

Born to a life of privilege in St. Louis, Sister Madonna Buder considers a vocation from her early years, but still dates and immerses herself in an active, happy family life. Her decision time approaches as she reflects during a summer trip to Europe:

“Once safely on the train coursing along the scenic Rhine, I began to collect my thoughts. My Irishman! Monsignor Doheny! My European adventures! The past, the present, the future! What was God really asking of me? Then, from the depths of my soul, came an interior voice, ‘Can any one man satisfy you when I alone dwell in the deepest recesses of your heart?’ The message was seeping in just as surely as the waters flowed along the banks of the Rhine. My true longing was becoming clear.”


He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.

Here’s a review from the Lent Book Series, “A Lesson in Letting Go.”


The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows by Mother Dolores Hart.

Here is my review (where I said she was much more interesting than another top book from that time, Lean In).  An excerpt from that review:

The Ear of the Heart offers space for pondering and reflection, no matter your age or life path, on living life fully and intentionally, on spiritual friendship, and on maturity.

Like all good spiritual autobiographies, The Ear of the Heart really takes off once the vocation begins. Struggles with early doubts, times of desolation, community struggles and more, make for fascinating reading.”


Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen


A Priest Forever: The Life of Eugene Hamilton


The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero


I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You: My Life and Pastimes

What other books do you recommend for learning about how vocation to religious life or the priesthood happens?

3. THE MYSTERY OF VOCATION

*my survey of several dozen: priest, religious, or lay people who had spent time in seminary or a convent, discerning a vocation.  Inspired by Susie Lloyd’s book, but more focused on how to foster an openness to vocation, whatever that means.

*questions included how supportive/surprised/ unsupportive was their family and/ or faith community, how the family can foster and support young people discerning what God wants from them, and how lay people can support those in consecrated life and priesthood. So many of the survey respondents were generous with their time and sharing their vocation stories and thoughts about this.  I hope to do a longer posts with more of their beautiful words.

*some common themes:

-prayer

-family members varied in their support, surprise (maybe parents supported, but siblings did not, or everyone surprised, except the dad)

-pursue holiness as individuals, as families

-be comfortable with religious and priests–invite into your home, visit their monasteries, etc. natural relationships

-pray for religious and priests

-recognize “the consecration of the baptized” & the universal call to holiness

-ongoing dialogue about vocation, whether religious life, priesthood, marriage

-openness to whatever God wants

-everyone in a community can be a support to vocation, not just the parents or siblings

-an active, dynamic relationship with Jesus

Renewal, and Books {Lent Book Series}

I had the great good fortune last weekend to go to the University of Notre Dame for a Catholic women’s blogging conference.

I have been scheduled and registered to attend at least three other blogging conferences in past years, but one thing or and another and another forced me to cancel plans.

So I was super grateful when local friend Bonnie of A Knotted Life invited me to attend, and even more grateful that I got a chance to ride along with Bonnie and Katie of Look to Him and Be Radiant.

I wish I could say this Lent has been all about renewal, but instead it’s more like the Lent you are given. Those are often the most fruitful Lents, but at the time it can feel like hard, hard work.

The opportunity to be with other Catholic women for an entire day, pray with them, learn from them, and just enjoy fellowship and great food, was a gift and a grace.

I must confess I enjoyed being the oldest at the conference, often by several decades.  But best is that I was the learner, and I’m still soaking up super helpful and encouraging presentations by Nell of Whole Parenting Family and Rhonda Ortiz of Real Housekeeping. I also loved the general conversations and input by the other bloggers, and getting to visit the Grotto, however briefly, and eat dinner with the group at this delicious restaurant.

As shared here before, I’ve been in blogging burnout, off and on, for several years.  I hoped the conference would help inspire and encourage.  It’s done that and more–here’s hoping that will be reflected here a Reading Catholic in coming months.  Baby steps.

No one will be surprised to learn that I spent much of my time in conversations with the other women suggesting … books.    And so, as part of the Mid-Lent Reset, I’m going to share books chosen specifically for the Catholic Women’s Blogging Conference.FullSizeRender

Some books are ones I individually recommended to women last weekend, and others struck me (on a scan of several bookshelves)  as apropos of last weekend’s the group.  I wanted to pick a range of non-obvious books perhaps off the radar of younger women, but are worthwhile reads.

Ralph McInerny’s memoir is a good fit since the conference was at the University of Notre Dame, and he was a longtime professor there. I wrote about it briefly here (and talk about what he thought about my chocolate cake).

This one just jumped out at me. So good.  Here’s my review. 

I’m only about halfway through this one–one of my sisters suggested it, and I am in tears about every other page. I want to be a Jesuit when I grow up.  Very good Lenten reading.

It turns out this book was updated several years ago as G-Dog and the Homeboys: Father Greg Boyle and the Gangs of East Los Angeles.  Adding that to the TBR list.

I mentioned this book as several “background reading” ideas to one of the bloggers who’s working on  a book. I’m not sure if her book plans are public, so I won’t name her or the topic, but I am very excited to read and review it when it does come out. Here’s my review of Gawande’s book.

Mary Eberstadt wrote what is one of the best, if not the best, retellings of C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. I re-read  The Loser Letters a few months back when my older teen was reading it, and I still loved it.   I reviewed the book here and interviewed Mary Eberstadt here.
I read this book in late 2013 or early 2014, and my younger teen and I did a modified version of her “seven” during last year’s Lent (seven foods, seven articles of clothing, etc.).  I was reminded that I still have not written about this terrific book and its impact on us yet when our family recently discovered re-runs of her home renovation show on HGTV.  Someday…

7 Quick Takes, Random Thoughts, The Humor (ish) Edition

Linking up with Kathryn at Team Whitaker, who is hosting 7 Quick Takes this week.  I’m very late in getting out my random thoughts, and now very late even in Quick Takes, as I’m still recovering from our very adventurous and eventful last week.    So I’m especially grateful to Kathryn for keeping entries open this late, and for hosting.  Her blog is so encouraging, interesting and fun.

1.  I’ve definitely needed humor lately–most recently when my middle child and I were on a weeklong excursion out-of-state that shall not be named, but was quite the adventure.  Before I left I had been needing humor, and began this, and now I really do.

Part of our excursion involved camping–actual sleeping in a tent for a week in a heat wave. (And that actually wasn’t the worst of it, for perspective).  As I told friends on Facebook as we were headed back, “As God is my witness, I’ll never take air conditioning for granted again.”  Not that I ever did.

2.  “Client Feedback on the Creation of the Earth” — Timothy McSweeney. This. is. hilarious.

“Realize it’s Saturday and you were planning to be OOO tomorrow to admire your creation and everything, but I’m hoping you can keep rolling on this through the weekend.”

One of my older nephews shared this on Facebook some time back.  He’s in advertising, so it was especially funny to him, but really, how can you not laugh.

3.  “Dora the Explorer Movie Trailer”– I know this is several years old, but my kids just introduced me to this, and I laughed so hard. “Hola, Dora, it’s been a while. I haven’t seen you this I was … this many.”

When middle child and I were on our adventure last week, we frequently shared lines from this. “I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map …. (crash) Where’s Swiper?” was oft repeated during rough moments.

4.  What You Learn in Your 40s — Paula Druckerman.  Tell me I wasn’t the only who found her book, Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, both fascinating and annoying.  This article is good, and even more true as you head into your 50s. “But you find your tribe. Jerry Seinfeld said in an interview last year that his favorite part of the Emmy Awards was when the comedy writers went onstage to collect their prize. “You see these gnome-like cretins, just kind of all misshapen. And I go, ‘This is me. This is who I am. That’s my group.’ ” By your 40s, you don’t want to be with the cool people; you want to be with your people.”

5.  The Teen Whisperer, Margaret Talbot, the New Yorker.   A profile of John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars.

I’m conflicted about The Fault in Our Stars.  I find it compelling and well-written, but not really that believable, and not just because of the international adventure the two teens have.  They are just too self-aware for teens.  More importantly, I just have to say how much I hate the language and casual sex in that book, totally taken for granted that teens talk that way and act that way. It just makes me mad, because it’s not true.

Anyway, the book is still well done, but even better is this profile of him.   HT to Emily Miller for sharing the profile on Goodreads.

6.  “Pediatrics Group to Recommend Reading Aloud to Children from Birth” –The New York Times.

I know this isn’t really humor (nor was the last one), but it made me laugh out loud.  I still read out loud to my children, and they can all read well.  It’s one of our favorite things to do together.  I am so glad to be ahead of the curve for once.

7.   “When People Choose, They Choose Wrong: The author of ‘The Giver,’ a wildly popular dystopian novel, imagines a community with no war, racism or gender roles. The result: a living hell.” –The Wall Street Journal, an interview with Lois Lowry, author ofThe Giver.

I’m sorry to end on an annoying take, but this is a great article that is behind the paywall.  We subscribe to the online New York Times, and so I often share articles.  The way The Times works it is that non-subscribers can read 10 or perhaps 15 articles a month, then are prompted to subscribe before reading more. I think this works well, is fair, and perhaps inspires people to subscribe.

But the WSJ theory–some articles for everyone to read, some behind the paywall–is just crazy.  I think it’s unfair especially to the author of the article, and to Lois Lowry–it’s such an interesting Q&A.

Here is how I came across the article: I happened to pick up the paper Wall Street Journal at a gas stop on the way home from our adventure/excursion last week.  I read it while another parent in our group drove.  When I read this article, I thought, awesome,  I can’t wait to share this with everyone.  Instead, I have to share a “preview” (the first sentence) of the article.

Here’s my suggestion: next time you are at the library, go look up last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, and read this article.  It’s worth it.

In the meantime, I googled around for some other Lois Lowry interviews and this one (surprise: from the NY Times) was easily the most intriguing I found on a quick search.

What are you reading/watching/listening to online these days?  I’m especially interested in humor.  I need to laugh!

7 Quick Takes: Bloggers I’d Love to Meet at Behold

Day 5 of 7 posts in 7 days…is exhausting, and so glad to hear others are having similar struggles getting through this blogging challenge.

Since I did blog twice this week (Tuesday and Thursday) in advance of the Behold Conference in honor of two of the far-away bloggers who will be there, I thought it would be fun to list seven other bloggers I wish I could meet at Behold.  I know I will be seeing lots of bloggers I know in real life already, like Marcia, and Marie, and Bonnie, and Katie, and Kelly, and I’m sure more that I’m forgetting. I don’t think of these women at all as “bloggers,” just as people I know and love who happen to have blogs.

Like many people, I have a like/love/hate relationship with all things online.  But I’m really struck by how connected I’ve become with women online that I’ve never met.  And while I know a few of them from yahoo -e-group days when there was a lot of conversation, I don’t really “connect” much with them, as I’m not a very-often commenter.  But I like getting to see what people are up to.

These are women (all women, it turns out) I’d love to have coffee with, mostly because they are just normal women with blogs, rather than Big Name Bloggers®  (not that there is anything wrong with that). I know there are more than seven, but I’m just going to quickly list until I get to seven, and maybe do this again.   They are not blogs one must follow, or even visit, they are just several of my particular online people.  There’s no particular order here.

1. Faith of Household Diary.

Faith is one of the earliest people I met online, on several now-defunct yahoo groups on children’s literature and homeschooling.  She is just real, and a kindred spirit.

2. Melissa Wiley.

Thinking of how I first “met” Faith, reminded me that Melissa should be listed here.

Well, okay, Melissa is a Big Name Author®), but I am adding her here because I also knew her through some old yahoo groups from years back (and a Maud Hart Lovelace e-list we’re both still on). I love the ways she writes, and I find her blog and all her writing, whether about tidal homeschooling, poetry, internet life, or books, so encouraging, uplifting and funny.

Back when we had a girls book group at our house, Melissa was slated to be a “virtual” guest author (we had several in-person visits and several “virtual” visits over the years), but it had to be cancelled at the last moment because my father was hospitalized and I headed to Ohio.  We never were able to reschedule and it’s a big regret.

3. Katie of Runs for Cookies.

Okay, maybe she is a Big Name Blogger® (I’m not sure what the criteria is), but Katie is really real.  I don’t even know if she’s Catholic or not, but she’d certainly be welcome at Behold.  I cannot recall how I stumbled across Katie’s blog, but I love her weight loss journey, her writings about running, writing about a family friend’s cancer treatment, and just her real-ness.

4. Nancy of And the Rough Places Plain.

I discovered Nancy shortly after I joined Twitter, when Dorian Speed (for my next list?) said, “Just realized that NancyO and Nancy Piccione are not the same person.”  We are both gray-haired, but she is more refined.

I am I keep forgetting about Nancy’s blog because I can’t figure out how to follow someone on tumblr or get e-mail updates without figuring out tumblr, and I can barely blog for seven days straight, much less figure out.  And I do see her comments around the Internet on different Catholic blogs.   Her photos and reflections on European architecture, travel and Catholic life make me feel smarter even when I only have a moment to skim.

5.  Mary Lenaburg of Passionate Perseverance.

I’m actually Facebook friends (one of a few I’ve never met)  with Mary, and I’m not really sure how that happened.  I think it may be because we have DC friends in common–my friends from way back when we lived there.  I really, really enjoy her both on Facebook and on the rare times when I can check in with her blog.   Her recipes look terrific, she’s really real about her life in general.  She’d be a fun coffee date.

6.  Colleen Swaim of Duel to the Death.

I “know” Colleen and Matt Swaim because I’ve reviewed books by both of them (and one, Your College Faith, written by both of them).  Matt is the new host of the SonRise Morning Show on EWTN, which I understand is terrific.

There are a handful of authors who I would love to meet some day, and I’ve even arranged to do that a few times (hi, Robin Davis!). Colleen is one of them.  She feels like a (much) younger sister to me, we are that similar, and yet different, in the way sisters are–does that make sense?  It does to me.

7.  Katie of NFP & Me. 

I featured Katie back when I reviewed Adam & Eve after the pill.  Again, I don’t keep up with Katie or her blog that much, but I thought of her when I was considering people I’d love to see at Behold.  This close-to -graduation med student is now expecting her first child and getting ready for residency.  She just seems like fun.

As I finish this, I am thinking of so many more people I’ve come to know online and would love to meet in real life. I definitely want to do this again!

Also linking up here with Jen’s 7 Quick Takes.

Musician and Pilgrim: An Interview with Matt Maher

Last week, I was privileged to interview Matt Maher, the best-selling and award-winning Catholic singer/songwriter.  Maher performed at a standing-room only concert, “An Evening of Worship” of more than 1,400 at Harvest Bible Chapel in East Peoria November 14, along with worship singer Meredith Andrews and Vertical Church Band.   Following is a longer version of our Q&A that will appear in The Catholic Post.  Tomorrow I will be sharing the “back story” behind the interview and more  about Matt Maher, including what books he’s reading these days.

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Q. The video of you singing “Lord, I Need You” during the Eucharistic Adoration Vigil at World Youth Day in Rio went viral among Catholics online. What was it like to sing at World Youth Day?

I’ve been to World Youth Day many times. The first was 2000 in Rome, and then 2002 in Toronto and then 2008 in Sydney. I missed Madrid because my wife was having our first baby.

I was actually on the fence about attending World Youth Day in Brazil, but the artistic director e-mailed me several times. The producer of the main stage events had heard “Lord, I Need You” and wanted to have the song sung there.

At first I thought I would be singing in the time before Adoration. I didn’t realize until about an hour and a half before that I was going to sing while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.

Q. Did you plan to kneel?

Well, that’s interesting, because some people were kneeling and some people were standing in Brazil.

And I did parish ministry for 13 years, and in the work I did with LifeTeen, and leading music during Eucharistic Adoration, was big part of the ministry. I had almost always knelt. At first, there’s a challenge to it—how do I kneel and sing at the same time?

At World Youth Day, I was waiting to walk up the stairs to go on. I said a prayer and then I said a Hail Mary, and all of sudden I felt the Holy Spirit say, “You should kneel,” and I said, “Okay.” And I knelt.

There were two million people at the Vigil. The two thoughts I had during adoration were the Lord saying, “I am the same. There’s really nothing different.” There’s no way for eye to the comprehend two million people, and they were behind me, so I couldn’t see them. And so it was the Lord saying to me, “You’ve done this before.” And the miracle of it was rooted back in the fact that the Lord chooses to come to His people in this way.

The other human thought was, “Man, I really hope I’m not bothering the Holy Father, because that would be a real drag.”

Q. Did you get a chance to meet Pope Francis?

No, I didn’t, but someone sent me the freeze frame photo of us very close together, and I’ve thought of maybe sending it to him along with a note saying, “Hey, we were really close, but we didn’t get to meet. Let me know if you’d ever like to have lunch.” Some of my friends have joked that he might call me, since he likes to do that.

Q. Do you have thoughts on or a favorite quote from Pope Francis?

He’s so prolific. I’m like everyone else in that I’m constantly digesting it. Every morning I read the Vatican News Service and he is saying something really profound.

My favorite theme from Pope Francis, what I’m hearing, is how he wants a church that is poor.

God is using him; He is casting a different vision for how Catholics are how to engage in the world.

There are some areas of tension in the United States. While we’re part of such a wealthy country, we forget that we’re really a very small part of the global Catholic Church. When you are the vicar of Christ, you are thinking about the entire world—Europe, Africa, Asia. Sometimes in the West, we can fall into the temptation to be self-obsessed, and we need to change that.

Pope Francis talks about how we’re hospital workers on a battlefield, and if you’re treating the wounded, some of it gets on you. It’s always a challenge for us in Western culture (which itself is narcissistic) to wonder, “Is the Church being narcissistic?”

I think that’s what he is talking about when he is talking about getting away from being self-referential. It’s considering what do you think about first, are you thinking about yourself, or are you thinking about the people you are called to serve? It’s going to take time (to fully understand all that Pope Francis is teaching). [John Paul II] preached the Theology of the Body, and we’re still unpacking it, and we will be for a couple of hundred years.

Q. You’re open about your Catholic faith, but in a way that is accessible to all Christians—your music & ministry strike me as realistic and healthy ecumenism. What makes you successful at that, and what can the average person learn from you?

There’s a couple of things to remember. Our understanding of Christians from other denominations has changed so much since Vatican II, and needs to change further. Jeffrey Gros was one of the leading Catholic experts on ecumenism—he died recently. Last April I met him at Mundelein Seminary, and he said something there that was very profound. He said that when it comes to ecumenism, we have to realize that we are a pilgrim church and we are on a journey to the New Jerusalem. So when we meet other Christians on the way, it’s not about coming back home, as much as it is the destination.

Before ecumenism used to be an academic endeavor, done mostly by debating and writing papers.

What God is doing now— and maybe I get to be a small part of it— is missional ecumenism. It’s ecumenism ordered around developing understanding in the middle of a common work together.

Ecumenism is Emmaus. To me, Emmaus is the model for evangelization, but it’s also a model for ecumenism. Emmaus was when two people were walking together on “The Way” and Jesus encounters them. And as early Christians, we were known as “the people of the Way”. So as Christians together, we’re really about The Way.

I’ve been reflecting on the charism of World Youth Day as pilgrimage. Prior to the Reformation, pilgrimage was a way that people to developed deeper in their faith and their relationships with each other, and learn about and connected to the history of the Church, literally through the ground by going to holy sites, and to the Holy Land.

And so missional ecumenism carries this whole pilgrimage spirituality of the “now” and the “not yet.” We’re building the kingdom of God, but it’s not finished. Because (all Christians) have a common goal of reaching culture, of helping bring restoration, you can start to dialogue about the differences.

Q. Some of the interviews with Pope Francis share how he felt a deep sense of peace, and absence of fear, when he was elected Holy Father. You seem to me similar in that you have no fear about sharing your faith or being open about it.

Sometimes I’ve gotten flack that I haven’t been “Catholic “enough, but I’m approaching from the part of the prayer of St. Francis, “not be understood, but to understand.” I’m not concerned primarily with trying to be right, as much as trying to understand the people I serve.

Q. I loved what you said on a radio interview before the concert (on a morning WCIC interview with Jill and Jeremy Tracey) in which you quoted St. Faustina and her vision of “the ocean of mercy.” Can you share that with readers of The Catholic Post?

Well, it comes from St. Faustina’s diary. Jesus talks about sinners, and he says, “bring them to my ocean of mercy.” I sort of elaborated on it by saying that God gives us an ocean of mercy and we tend to act like it’s a cup.

When we first encounter Jesus, we experience the ocean, and then we walk away from it. When we walk away from it, and then think, I can’t carry the ocean with me, so I guess I’ll carry a cup. But that size mercy would be exhausted rather quickly, on yourself and on others. Mercy is so needed.

I think there is a huge emphasis now in ministries in proclaiming the truth, standing for the truth. Some people amend this to say that you need to share the truth in love.

But before it all, in Scripture it says, “God’s kindness leads us to repentance.” The kindness that is talked about is God’s mercy, the mercy that he has shown us. And when you are walking in humility—which is a big aspect of this papacy— the reason you are humble is because you are aware of the mercy of God. There’s less time to cast judgment.

Q. You’re a new dad. How does parenthood affect your music, your faith, and your life?

My wife and I have a two-year-old son and a month-old daughter.

Marriage exposes all the things in you that are selfish, but you’re dealing with another adult so you don’t necessarily have to change.

Being a parent makes you realize that if you don’t, it will drastically affect the life of another human being, and they are counting on you.

So, first of all, marriage has changed my DNA, and then parenthood as well. Marriage is a sacrament and it changes you. It’s like the first time you go to confession or the first time you receive the Eucharist. Marriage is the same way. We need to help people understand that. And also, that the priesthood and marriage are mystically linked. You can’t have good marriages without the priesthood and vice versa.

For me, I think the parenthood thing is only settling in now, because my kids are so young.

Q. What’s next for you?

I’m working on something ambitious; it should come out in 2015. I’m just writing and reading and praying right now. The two things that I’m thinking about and praying about is World Youth Day in Krakow in 2016 and the fact that several years from now is 500 years from the Reformation.

I am so grateful to Matt Maher for being willing to do this interview.  He was very articulate and had much more to say than this Q&A.  I’ll share a few behind-the-scenes facts and more from our interview tomorrow, so be sure to check back.  Or you can just sign up to receive e-mail updates from Reading Catholic by using the box on the upper right of this page, and you’ll get updates when they appear here.

“Authentic Friendship in an Age of Social Media”

As I shared the other day, I’ve written a couple of articles for The Catholic Post’s last print issue.

One that didn’t make it to The Post website was a story about the terrific First Saturday gathering  covered for The Post the First Saturday gathering, “Authentic Friendship in an Age of Social Media” last month.

What a fun, lovely evening–I for one am so grateful to people like Marie from “Help Them to Heaven” and the First Saturday team, a group of great women, for organizing the event.  I very much enjoyed the real life time with friends, getting to meet some people I didn’t (including one that I taught when I was briefly a high school teacher!), and just having an all-around enjoyable time.

I’m going to share some photos, as well as a version of the print story.  As I mentioned yesterday, most of the photos I took with my husband’s very nice camera all came out looking like cell phone snaps, and I do promise to learn how to use it better before I use it again.  So be forewarned, but I think the smiles and the fun make up for it.

First, some photos:

Here’s Bonnie Engstrom of A Knotted Life and Lisa Schmidt of The Practicing Catholic (one of the evening’s speakers).  As you can see from the sidebar, I truly consider Lisa an honorary member of the Peoria diocese (along with Sister Helena Burns, the other speaker.  Lisa is just lovely in person.

Here is Lisa with Dianna Kennedy of The Kennedy Adventures.  She is one of a group of bloggers from other states who were hoping to make it to the Authentic Friendship talk.  It was kind of like Behold Conference “lite,” since there won’t be a Behold until 2014.  (Never fear–plans are already underway for the 2104 Behold Conference, and I’m delighted to be part of it).  Unfortunately, the weather was icy Friday night into Saturday morning, so the rest were unable to travel.
Again, Dianna is beautiful and so incredibly much fun to be with.  I’m not sure if it’s her southern accent, her spunky one-liners, or her high energy, but she was like a jolt of java to be around.
Dianna had asked before her trip if any of us local ladies were runners and wanted to run with her.  She’s training for a half-marathon, and so I and another local woman (who is also training for a half), made a plan to run Saturday morning on Grandview Drive.  The icy weather forced us to cancel, but I am definitely taking a rain/ice check on that one, since she would be a great running buddy.  The miles would fly by running with this gal.

 

Here are Bonnie and Marie.
I brought my teen daughter to the evening, and both of us were very excited to see Sister Helena Burns again.  I said, “Let me get a photo!” and my teen, in typical teen fashion, said, “Mom!”  So Sister Helena recommended they pose like this:
Because Moms who take photos are so embarrassing.

 

That’s better!  As you can see, teen is still exasperated by her mom.
Here is the dinner before the First Saturday gathering.

 

Dianna Kennedy and Lisa Schmidt
And Lisa Schmidt again with Marie.  Lisa is very photogenic!
There were also various other photos, including several funny ones of Lisa Schmidt and Sister Helena that inspired laughs on Facebook, but I will let Lisa Schmidt incriminate herself with those.

Finally, here is my article about the evening:

Online relationships offer the opportunity for “deep friendships” and evangelization, two new media experts told a group of Catholic women.

“Authentic Friendship in an Age of Social Media” was the topic of the February 2 program at St. Philomena Church in Peoria.  The talk was sponsored by the “First Saturday” program, a monthly gathering open to women of all parishes, ages and vocations.  According to Marie Meints, a member of the seven-women team from various Peoria-area parishes, First Saturday focus on fellowship and discussion for women seeking to grow in holiness in everyday life.

More than 60 women gathered for the February 2 talk, from around the central Illinois area and beyond.  About half that number gathered for a pre-talk dinner.

Sister Helena Burns, a Daughter of St. Paul, who is based in Chicago, IL, but travels the country speaking about media literacy, “Theology of the Body,” and online topics, spoke on how the Internet is a vital place for Catholics to be and to find friends.

“I was surprised by the deep friendships you can have in 140 characters,” said Sister Helena, referring to the length of Twitter status updates.

Sister Helena explained how Father James Alberione, founder of the Daughters of St. Paul, told his followers to “use the fastest and latest means” to spread the Gospel message.  In the 21st century, blogs, social media such as Facebook, and other online platforms, is the “fastest” means to reach people and foster friendships.

That doesn’t mean doing things perfectly all the time.

“You’ve got to make some mistakes online,” Sister Helena said, and shared times that she had been too hasty, or too trusting, in her online interactions with others.  Making mistakes is part of the learning process.

Sister Helena argued that while in-person communication is preferred because we are “incarnational,” those we interact with online have “real souls and real bodies.”  She quoted from Benedict XVI’s message for the World Communications Day: “The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young.”

Blessed John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” provides a template not just for married love, but every relationship, including and perhaps especially those online, according to Sister Helena.

“We want to be known at our deepest level, and know others at deeper level,” she said. And intimacy with God promotes deeper relationships with others: “The “realer” God becomes to us, the “realer” other people become to us.”

Lisa Schmidt, from Des Moines, Iowa, who blogs at “The Practicing Catholic,” (www.thepracticingcatholic.com), also spoke at the “Authentic Friendship” program.

Schmidt, who lives with her husband and two small children in Des Moines, Iowa, shared how “spiritual friendships” helped her conquer the loneliness that she felt when she left her career in city management in Iowa to stay home with her then infant daughter.

“And I don’t think I’m alone here, pun intended, in experiencing (this loneliness),” Schmidt said.  She revealed how the online world of Catholic “mommy blogs” helped her find like-minded friends and forge friendships based on “who God is calling you to be.”

Schmidt shared that “ambient intimacy,” the term used to describe the connectedness of the digital age, allows people “to keep in touch with a level of intimacy that you wouldn’t usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible.”

“Little by little, our spiritual friendships have the power to become apostolic,” said Schmidt. “A spiritual friend will lead you toward Christ, you then help your friends to be reconciled or converted and to grow in the life of the Church, those friends then go forth and do more of the same. Collectively, we evangelize and sanctify the culture in which we live. Could spiritual friendships be the key to the transformation of our culture?”

At the same time online life can be good for the soul, knowing when to “unplug” and connect in real life is critical.  Sister Helena argued that there are three “sacred places and sacred times” we don’t need “screens,” whether televisions, computers or mobile devices: at church, in the bedroom, and the dinner table.

Sister Helena explained a new tradition to promote real-life intimacy called a “phone stack” used by some young people while eating out.  At the beginning of a meal, all leave their phones stacked in the middle of the table.  The first person to reach for his or her phone pays for the meal.

Scripture offers the secret of what’s so great about friendship, both online and in real life experience, Lisa Schmidt argued, quoting from Sirach 6:16.  “A faithful friend is an elixir of life.”

“What’s an elixir?  It’s a life-saving medicine,” said Schmidt.  “Wow, a spiritual friend is like a life-saving medicine?  What a beautiful gift!”

A Tale of Two Books About …. Pregnancy

When I review certain books, I have often shared them informally with others–such as medical experts or even kids–to help me discern if they are good for the intended audience, or what their gut reaction is to a certain book.

I’ve decided to formalize this by sharing conversations to provide a perspective that’s unique, and give readers a chance to understand a little more about a genre of books from the intended audience.

First in this series of conversations is with an expectant mom and her unique perspective about two different books intended for new moms: the newly-released from Sarah Reinhard, A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism and Donna-Marie Cooper-O’Boyle’s classic, Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine-Month Novena for Mothers to Be.

Both books are a worthwhile gift for moms-to-be, but because they are so different, a Q&A about them seemed in order. I had the chance to sit down one afternoon recently with Grete Veliz.  Grete is a mom I’ve known for a long time, and admired for a grounded spiritual life, a healthy sense of community, and some of the cutest children around.

If you’re an expectant mom or looking for a gift for one, my hope is that this conversation may help you choose which one (or both!) of these worthwhile books would be best in your situation.

Q:  Grete, tell me a little more about you and your family.

Grete: Mark and I have been married for eight years.  We have four children living at home:  ages 7, 5, 3, and 19 months.  We have lost two to miscarriage and I’m pregnant and expecting a baby next March.

I’m just past the morning sickness part of pregnancy, but still tired.   I’m growing a person inside and it’s hard work!

Q:  Tell me your impressions of A Catholic Mother’s Guide to Pregnancy.

Grete:  When I first got it, I skimmed through the whole book at once to get a feel for it.  Then I started to read the week that I am in (right now, pregnancy (14 weeks).

The author starts each week with an anecdote or story from herself or a guest author.  This week I really liked, because it is a little about how it’s hard to be pregnant for some people.  You are struggling with not feeling well, with being tired.  She invites readers to ask for grace in carrying that particular cross.

I have a lot of good impressions about the book: each week is a different mystery of the rosary; there’s also a faith focus and “one small step.”  This week for me, the “small step” was to go to adoration, even for 15 minutes.  I like those practical ideas.

My only concern was that for many weeks, the chapters began with what I saw as a negative story to tell about pregnancy, either from the author  or a guest writer.  They covered things like unexpected pregnancy, eating disorders, miscarriage, depression, stillbirth, and so on.  I don’t feel you should leave those things out necessarily, but in my situation it became too negative.

I felt especially vulnerable spiritually because I am pregnant this time pretty soon after a miscarriage.  I was approaching this pregnancy with fear; I had a lot of anxiety at the beginning about losing the baby again.  What I really wanted was a book to help me pray daily and connect with our little baby.

Q.  I think I know what you mean.  After my first look at the book, I felt that if I had read it when newly pregnant with our oldest (after a miscarriage), it might not have been the best “fit” for me.  I’m pretty sure it would have intensified rather than soothed the new-parent fears that my husband and I were experiencing.  At the same time, reading it when I was pregnant with my third child would have been a truly great “companion,” like a friend commiserating with you on the good, the bad and the ugly about pregnancy and labor.

Grete:  Exactly!  I feel like A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy is more like talking to your Catholic “mom friend” who tells it like it is, and doesn’t hold back about the aches and the pains.  You can really relate to that, but it has to be the right time for those kinds of conversations.

Q.  So you took a look at Prayerfully Expecting.  What’s good about that one?

Grete:   Before I read through either book, I was really trying to figure out just what kind of book I wanted.    I wanted to deepen my trust that God would provide for this pregnancy and for the baby.  I really needed something to help me be more positive, because I was finding it hard to be positive at the beginning.

I love Prayerfully Expecting; it’s exactly what I need right now.  If A Catholic Mother’s Companion is your Catholic “mom friend,” Prayerfully Expecting is like your spiritual director.  It gives you specific guidance, by telling you to say these prayers to help you manage pregnancy, and reflect on these quotes, or this saint’s writing, based on where you are in pregnancy.

Every morning I want to read this one, and so I keep it nearby.  For instance, today I prayed the St. Anne novena prayer for this month of my pregnancy.  The author also focuses on different mysteries of the rosary; this month it is the Luminous Mysteries.  There’s no personal stories from herself or other, just a brief, what’s happening to your baby, development-wise.

This book is structured by month, not week, and each contains quotes from encyclicals, Scripture verses, or saints writings.  The author has a spot for notes and a journal throughout each chapter.  I’m not much of a journal-writer, but it’s a nice mix–a page or a page and a half for each month.

Q.  If you were a first-time mom, which would you choose?

Grete:  Honestly, I wish I could merge both books. Both have strengths and weaknesses.  For instance, Prayerfully Expecting doesn’t have anything about labor or after birth and A Catholic Mother’s Companion’s sections on labor and baptism are terrific.  The labor section offers practical advice on spiritual practices for labor.  Labor can be a lot of suffering, and Reinhard offers advice like praying the stations of the cross, using holy cards.  I found that really helpful.

She also reminds parents in the time after birth to prepare well for baptism; sometimes that can be overlooked, especially for more experienced parents.

For this pregnancy, I’m definitely drawn much more to Prayerfully Expecting, but I gleaned a lot from A Catholic Mother’s Companion. I know it would serve well other moms or even myself during a different pregnancy.

Guest Post: “A Beautiful Life Surrounded by and Knowing Nothing but Love”

I’m humbled today to present a guest post from Teresa Lutz, a local mom, on a book I reviewed this month, Karen Edmisten’s After MiscarriageHere’s my review of that book.

I don’t know whether to say it was coincidental or something else that when I first received my review copy of After Miscarriage, within a few days I learned of three women in my circle of friends and acquaintances suffered stillbirths or miscarriages.  I sent each of the women copies of the book, hoping it would provide comfort and support at some point, either now or in the future. 

Teresa felt ready to share some thoughts about the book with me, and when I asked her if she would guest post about it, she readily agreed.

Teresa is wife to Mike and mom to two beautiful boys.   She is a stay at home mom and works part time as an oncology nurse.

My husband and I were very excited to learn that we would be welcoming our third child into our family.  We were shocked and heartbroken to find out at our 20-week ultrasound that our baby had a fatal neural tube defect called anencephaly.  This meant that very early in my pregnancy her skull had not formed completely and as a result, she would be born with little brain tissue.
Her life expectancy was minutes or hours, if she made it through delivery.  We decided to celebrate the gift of her life while she was still with us and spent the remainder of my pregnancy cherishing every moment.  We were blessed with 36 weeks to love and care for our daughter before she went to Heaven.  Gianna Therese was stillborn on February 19th 2012.
I found Karen Edmisten’s After Miscarriage to be comforting and practical at the same time. It gave both an insight into what other women have experienced after the loss of their babies, but also offered suggestions and information for women who may have recently gone through a miscarriage or stillbirth. The quotes, prayers and Bible passages help to provide perspective and hope to the struggles one might be facing.
I was actually surprised to find that most of the chapters made a lot of sense – I almost felt like I could have written some of them!
For instance, Edmisten even includes a passage from her journal stating that she was dreading going to the dentist and having to explain that her baby had died. I have also been dreading my upcoming dentist appointment.
It didn’t occur to me that other people had experienced those feelings of anxiety when faced with explaining to practical strangers why we are no longer pregnant, yet don’t have a baby, either.
The book was easy to read through, but isn’t one that necessarily needs to be read cover to cover. I was given a different book by my doctor which was in a similar format, but almost too lengthy. I will definitely suggest After Miscarriage to him.
Although the author does touch on both the topics of stillbirth and miscarriage, I could see how some people having gone through a late miscarriage or stillbirth might feel like it doesn’t completely apply to them, especially if they didn’t make it through the first few chapters.
Overall, I found it was a very helpful book – especially as a Catholic mother. At a time like this, it is good to read a book that provides both practical and spiritual comfort.
Nancy again here: I recalled, though I was not able to attend Gianna’s funeral, that several friends shared that the reflection shared by Teresa and her husband at the funeral was beautiful.  Teresa also agreed to share this with Catholic Post readers:
——
Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Gianna Therese had a beautiful life surrounded by and knowing nothing but love.  She was surrounded by love in the womb and we believe was carried directly to the waiting arms of God.  We as Catholic parents, are called by our vocation of marriage, to strive above all else to work toward helping our children arrive in Heaven someday.  The Church and our faith tell us to have confidence in God’s unending love and mercy for even the littlest souls.  How can we not be filled with joy?
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly” – Sam Keen
Gianna was not “perfect” in the worldly sense.  She was not meant to be with us long on this earth and we knew that from early on. Some people have thought that we carried Gianna to term because we don’t believe in abortion, because we are Catholic, or perhaps we weren’t given the option to do otherwise.  While some of these factors might have played a part in our immediate refusal to “terminate”, this is not what it is about.  It is about love!  It was about our child that was given to us as a gift to love and protect! Gianna’s life had value from the moment of conception, just as every life does.
 We do not possess more strength than other people.  It is not because we can cope where others wouldn’t. There was no way to avoid the sad fact that Gianna could not live long after birth, but causing her death earlier would not stop this from happening.  Causing her death would have only taken from us the beautiful experience of knowing and loving her and allowing others to do the same.  We wouldn’t wish away the time we had with Gianna to save us the tremendous pain of losing her.  Was it worth it?  YES!  We had the chance to hold Gianna, to see her and to love her before letting go.  Love your children, and remember that they each have their own unique mission.  Children are always and only a blessing from God – even if they don’t stay very long.
Our daughter’s short life and certain death has prompted some wonderful things.  This is our prayer as a family.  “We gladly offer our baby back to You God, and endure the sorrowful pain of missing the soul we have come to love.  If our offering prompts just one soul to grow closer to You, we offer Gianna with greater joy than the sorrow we are feeling.”
We appreciate the love, support and prayers we have received more than we can ever express with words.  We have felt peace throughout this entire journey and although we are so sad and hurting, we know we are not alone.  May God Bless you all for sharing this journey with us!

Q&A with Karen Edmisten, author of "after miscarriage"

Thanks, Karen Edmisten, for being so open and willing to answer all my rambling questions.  You can read my review of After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman’s Companion to Healing & Hope in this weekend’s print Catholic Post or here on the blog.
 
Q. First, can you tell us little more about yourself, your family and your writing?
I’m a former atheist (I was baptized at the age of 30 and came into the Catholic Church at age 35), a wife (my husband came into the Church five years after I did), and a  homeschooling mom of three girls. Our oldest daughter will graduate this year and my other daughters are 15 and 9. I’ve always written in one form or another, but I began writing for publication about five years after I became a Catholic. I started blogging (at Karen Edmisten) in late 2005, and my first book (The Rosary: Keeping Company With Jesus and Mary) was published in 2009. My second book (Through the Year With Mary) came out in 2010.
Q.  Why a book about miscarriage?
I’ve had five miscarriages myself, so it’s something I’ve lived, something I’ve thought a lot about. I wanted to share the things that were helpful and healing to me over the years, and I wanted to offer a specifically Catholic resource to address some of the questions and misunderstandings that I hear about the Church and miscarriage.
And, the grief I experienced through my miscarriages, while devastating at the time, ultimately helped me to grow closer to God, so I also wanted to share some of that hope and encouragement.
I also wanted to reassure others that they are not alone if they feel the grief of miscarriage deeply and for a long time. We’re often expected to “get over it” fairly quickly, and while it’s important to heal and keep moving forward, I think we are often surprised by how shaken we are by the loss.
Q.  You are very candid in the book about your own struggles through multiple miscarriages, and even share journal entries.  What gave you the courage to share this, and were you at all concerned about sharing “too much”?
I don’t really think of myself as courageous – maybe I should be concerned about sharing too much, but that doesn’t usually occur to me! It’s more a matter of thinking, “If this is helpful to someone else, then it’s worth saying.” Maybe because I was, at one time in my own life, such a questioner of all things religious, and I deeply appreciated people who were willing to share their spiritual journeys with me, that I want to do the same for others if I can.
Q.  Having lost a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth is kind of a “sisterhood” in a way.   Do you find women more willing in the age of the Internet/blogs, to share about membership in “the sisterhood” and talk about these kinds of details about their lives?  Is that a good thing or not?
I think we’ve always been willing to share and to support each other in that “sisterhood” – it just seems a natural reaction among women. But I think the age of the internet makes it much easier to find help, support, understanding – and I think that’s a great thing.
Q.  I’m not sure if this is a question or an invitation to discussion about this.  When I interviewed Amy Welborn about her book Wish You Were Here, I was thinking of, but never got to a post about, good books for kids who might be going through grieving.  So many of the books “specifically for or about grieving” left us cold when my own kids were going through the loss of both sets of grandparents in just a few short years.   
Amy had a great response that it isn’t necessarily a book about grieving that helps when you experience a loss, but everyone finds different types of books (perhaps something completely different-mysteries, for instance) /coping mechanisms that are helpful.    It may not be the right time or healing balm to read about death and dying.
And yet the experience of miscarriage/stillbirth is so intimate and unique, I think reading After Miscarriage is helpful for most women who have experienced it, whether recently or long ago.  The resources you provide to places like Elizabeth Ministry and the like are also very helpful and pertinent.  Your thoughts?
Thanks, and yes, I do hope that After Miscarriage ishelpful to women (and men) at any stage of that journey. But I agree with Amy that there are a lot of things that can be helpful that aren’t specifically about grief. Sometimes the tiniest thing was a healing gesture for me – bringing fresh-cut irises from the garden into the house.
One of my miscarriages occurred when my oldest daughter was six years old. She was devastated. I didn’t find that books about grief were all that helpful to her – what helped her the most was just my presence. She simply needed to know that I was there, that we could play Candyland, or go out for ice cream.
When I did read books about grief, they weren’t about the specific kind I was experiencing, but they were what I needed. For example, in After Miscarriage,  I quote A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, and Two-Part Invention, by Madeleine L’Engle. Both of those books deal with the loss of a spouse, and yet both were extremely helpful and meaningful to me after miscarriages, simply because they so accurately captured the state of grief itself.
Karen and I corresponded about some of the resources that are available to families undergoing a pregnancy loss.  
 
Karen Edmisten and the owner of one resource, Heaven’s Gain, will be on an “After Miscarriage” show on the Catholic Answers Live radio show on May 28th.
 
In addition, Elizabeth Ministry International has a very helpful FAQ page for families undergoing miscarriage or stillbirth.