Who We Are & The Stories We’re In by Julia Harrell

Janel LewandowskiYear of the Pilgrim

I’ve been a member of a Well-Read Mom group outside Washington, DC for three years. During that time, I’ve discovered some new gems and reread some old favorites. I was thrilled when The Power and The Glory, one of my all-time favorite novels, was on the Well-Read Mom list last year, the ‘Year of the Contemplative.’ It’s fitting that The Power and The Glory was a ‘Year of the Contemplative’ selection since I’m still thinking about it now. Greene’s whiskey priest haunts me, and I think it’s because of the way Christ haunts him. The whiskey priest is weak and compromised. He has fathered and then abandoned an illegitimate child. He drinks too much. He fails even to pray the daily office. But for all that, he is not Padre Jose, living with a common-law wife and too terrified of the government even to offer a prayer for a grieving mother. The whiskey priest, at least, is on the run, offering Mass and hearing confessions from villagers in remote outposts of the Mexican mountains. What makes the whiskey priest different from Padre Jose? It isn’t great personal moral fiber. It isn’t natural courage or piety. The whiskey priest possesses none … Read More

Re-Proposing Well-Read Mom

NadineYear of the Pilgrim

By Marcie Stokman “I’m frustrated with my Well-Read Mom group,” Sarah informed me. “You know the one rule: ‘If you don’t get the book read, don’t apologize.’ Well it sounds good,” she continued, “but the problem is, many of the women in my group aren’t reading or apologizing. They are too busy!” Sara’s irritation is indicative of a broader cultural trend that keeps women spinning on the hamster wheel: FOMO—Fear of Missing Out. People joke about it, but it’s a real problem. Somehow we get the message that we’re not okay unless we accept every opportunity. But we can’t give our whole-hearted attention to everything, so we find ourselves living half-heartedly.  We overcommit in a non-committed way. Paradoxically by keeping all doors open, we end up missing out. We might not miss out on the activities, but we do miss out on entering into our commitments with a true yes! Last year, I joined too many actives and found myself half-invested. It is not a satisfying experience to not be truly present to what I have said yes to. All of the activities were good, but too much of what is good can become an enemy of what is best. … Read More

“Go and fear nothing… I will help you.”

NadineYear of the Pilgrim

I first heard about the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, WI in 2010, when I read about it on a Catholic news website, saying that it had become a Vatican approved Marian apparition site. I was totally amazed to hear that there was a Vatican approved Marion apparition site in the United States, and so close to where I was in Minnesota. I was then amazed that I had never heard of it before! How could I have lived so close to it, (only about six hours by car) and I had never heard of this shrine, or the history behind it. Being young and single at the time, I immediately dropped everything, gathered a few friends and said “We have to go there!” I will probably never make it to Lourdes or Fatima, but I could certainly make it to Wisconsin! So we set out on a road trip to see Our Lady. We still didn’t know anything about the Shrine or the history of it, but we had confidence that we would encounter Our Lady in a new and beautiful way. Once we arrived at the Shrine, we began to learn about the apparition … Read More

Hill Road

NadineYear of the Pilgrim

By Stephanie Beatty I had no idea how long I had been asleep, but day had turned to that hazy in between time when the November sky was beginning to close its eyes on the world. It was not quite the midnight blue of deeper winter, but the gray silvery dusk of approaching cold and shorter days. Her bed was still made up with the toile comforter that had been on it since I was a child coming for sleepovers, then permission, then advice and finally to say goodbye. The pattern was a scene of a woman with a parasol in a hooped dress with roosters at her feet in shades of crimson with a cream background. It was as if the bedspread held its own story. The very same scene accompanied the spread on the other twin bed across the room that she had once shared with her husband and on the heavy curtains that framed the windows that looked out onto Hill Road. A cherry nightstand sat between the two beds and still held items that reminded me of her: a nail file, hand cream that smelled of rose petals, Vicks vapor rub, licorice cough drops and a … Read More

On Prudence – An excerpt from the thesis: “Applying the Cardinal Virtues in Motherhood”

NadineYear of the Pilgrim

By Jacquelyn Barten St. Thomas Aquinas defined prudence as “right reason applied to action.” (55.3). The Catechism of the Catholic Church further states that prudence guides the judgement of conscience (1806). It perfects the mind so that it can discern the true good in all circumstances and choose the right means of achieving it. Prudence is also called practical wisdom, and because it is practical it must be carried out and lived (Kaczor & Sherman 16). Prudence is the first and most important of the cardinal virtues. It is what causes the other virtues to be virtues, because it is right reason in regards to the moral life. Prudence measures and informs the other virtues (Pieper). Mother Teresa summed up prudence when she said, “Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity.” Modern parent educators often use the buzz phrase parenting-in-the-moment in order to pinpoint and develop how caregivers parent on the spot – in the heat of the moment when they are at their wits end. Mothers everywhere are faced with this scenario countless times a week, a day, or even and hour. Although missing from the secular vantage point, a key factor in succeeding at this parental transformation is by acquiring … Read More

Journeying with Dorothy Day on Pilgrimage

NadineYear of the Pilgrim

By Lisa Bushey Oh how Dorothy Day’s words were balm to my soul! I started reading the book, “On Pilgrimage” (January’s selection for Well-Read Mom) and I put the book down after the first handful of pages. The reason was: my soul was satisfied with her words and my mind and heart had enough “good meat” to chew on for days. In fact I was elated to find someone saw me:             “…struggling with poverty and hard work and leading, as such families with small children do these days, ascetic lives. There are vigils, involuntary ones, fasting, due to nausea of pregnancy for instance… Here is her mortification of the senses: Her eyes are affronted by disorder, confusion, the sight of human ailments, and human functions. Her nose also; her ears tormented with discordant cries, her appetite failing often; her sense of touch in agony from fatigue and weakness. Her interior senses are also mortified. She is alone with her little ones, her interest adapted to theirs; she has not even the companionship of books.. So she has solitude, and a silence from the sounds she’d like to hear, conversation, music, discussion. Of course there are consolations and joys. Babies … Read More

Pilgrimage Reflection

NadineYear of the Pilgrim

Last August, WRM founder Marcie Stokman experienced a pilgrimage to The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, WI. The shrine is the only approved apparition site in the United States, and is growing to be a popular destination for pilgrims around the country. She shares her reflections on that experience: Ever since I heard about pilgrimage, I wanted to go on one. I have been to shrines but always by car. Walking to get there seemed important. This desire for sacrifice surprised me. I went asking to know Mary in a deeper way. The first stretch of miles I was surprised at the slow pace. “Are we really going to walk this slow?” I wondered, “This seems ridiculous with so many miles to cover.“ I never walk slow enough to read a small print prayer book with ease. The pace was hard for me in, at least three times I found myself ahead of the person carrying the cross. I knew I needed to accept the slower pace. I live life in a hurried way. I am used to rushing. On the pilgrimage time seemed to disappear and all that mattered was following the cross. I … Read More

Excerpts from “Image and Likeness” – Part 5

NadineYear of the Pilgrim

By Eric Cyr Continued from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 War Again, Don Pedro held council with Emmanuel and Father Juan José to decide their next move. The modest successes of their first two strikes and the relatively few losses they had suffered gave them courage. After spending a fortnight in and around the mountain, gathering what arms and ammunition they could, they decided to target the nearby State-controlled town of Tecalitlán in Jalisco. They planned to take hold of the town hall and church and ring the bells of victory from the high tower. After four days of steady but unhurried travel, they spent one night hidden just beyond the town as they prepared to attack. As with their two previous uprisings, they chose to open fire on the federales in the early morning before sunrise. In the growing darkness of evening on September 8, Father Juan José heard a long string of nervous confessions and prayed a quiet mass with the rebellious, silent militia. With the first glow of dawn intimating the coming day, ninety-seven cristeros approached the town from three sides in three battalions. Don Pedro in his bursting charro suit, Emmanuel with his … Read More

Excerpts from “Image and Likeness” – Part 4

NadineYear of the Pilgrim

By Eric Cyr Continued from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 The Call To Arms Back in San José, Emmanuel eventually accepted the unexpected alteration of his life and met with a few other young men who had been turned out of the Zamora seminary. They wasted no time in joining together with other youth of the village to start their own branch of the resistance. The Catholic Youth of Mexico had been growing rapidly throughout the country, and led by these former seminarians so desperate to find purpose in the lives they felt had been stripped of meaning by their own government, they began the agitation in earnest in San José. Emmanuel knew his father would never approve of such militaristic political involvement, so he worked hard to find excuses to get away from the ranch when he could and other ways to aid the movement when he could not. Juan Diego joined his brother as soon as he learned about the League, already calling himself a cristero and collecting all he would need for an armed rebellion. These boys had no experience of war and its damages, no understanding of the immutability of death, and as a result … Read More

Excerpts from “Image and Likeness” – Part 3

NadineYear of the Pilgrim

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2 A Lost Vocation Five months before the churches closed, on March 8, the State forced the seminary in Zamora to turn out its students and seal its doors. Among the devastated students sent back to their homes was Emmanuel Francisco. He had known that other seminaries had closed, and a part of him intellectually knew that the same could happen in Zamora, but he had never truly acknowledged that reality. In spite of everything going on throughout Mexico, in spite of schools and convents closing, priests being deported and shot, he maintained an almost supernatural certainty that Zamora would remain open and he would soon enough be ordained a priest. But that certainty was eventually broken, strong as it was, and became dismantled slowly in agonizing stages. As Emmanuel travelled the sun-blistered roads back to San José and his family on the ranch, he passed through phases of disbelief. At first he walked with an expectant sureness that at any moment he would be caught by a fellow student running after him, telling him that the priests had resisted, that the seminary would remain open. Every few steps he would look over his … Read More