The key to revolution is prayer; the revolution in the home will help the world.
May is a month dedicated to the Blessed Mother, and in a new book, When Women Pray: Eleven Catholic Women on the Power of Prayer, editor Kathleen Beckman presents ways we can better have Marian hearts in the Church, led especially by women in prayer.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: What do maidens and lamps have to do with anything practical in the world?
Kathleen Beckman: As referred to in the book, maidens and lamps have to with the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew’s Gospel (25:1-13). The parable of the ten virgins is about prayer, perseverance and preparedness. The maidens refer to two different types of women. There are five wise women who keep a prayer vigil (oil in the lamp) and thus, are prepared for the Bridegroom’s coming, and are admitted into His banquet. There are five unwise women who are found unprepared (without the oil of prayer) and thus, are not only excluded from the Banquet of the Lord, but are told by Him, “I do not know you.” Here, we see the value of prayer for relationship with Christ. To the worldly, prayer may be considered impractical. To the believer, prayer is the most practical reality in the world! “When Women Pray” emphasizes relational prayer that, as Johnnette Benkovic writes, “informs, reforms, transforms and conforms.” What I would consider impractical includes: the tyranny of relativism, collaboration with evil, the tragedy of sin, the sadness of selfishness, the loneliness of not knowing the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
How is daily Mass “the Church’s spiritual hospital”?
In the book I relate how I suffered a traumatizing event that caused so much pain, confusion, and shame that I did not want to live anymore. I wasn’t suicidal but I no longer had the energy for life, I was overwhelmed with grief, sadness, and futility. I didn’t know where to turn for help when I was in such a fog but grace led me to the memory of my own mother who consistently took me (and my 4 brothers) with her to Church in the middle of the week so she could “visit Jesus”. I began to attend daily Mass in my weakened, darkened state. I didn’t pray well but I showed up—day in and out. Slowly but surely I received healing grace through the liturgy and daily Eucharist, through communion with Jesus. Pope Francis has referred to the Church as a field hospital and this has been my personal experience. When I lead retreats throughout the USA and other countries, I urge people to become more aware of the healing power of the Church’s liturgy and Eucharistic life. In the book, in the Appendix, I quote the Catechism regarding Jesus the Divine Physician because I know that He healed me spiritually, emotionally and even physically.
How can your Pentecost experience in Rome in 1998 with John Paul II be relevant today?
In the book I relate a most defining moment that occurred in Rome at the Pentecost events in 1998 when I encountered St. John Paul II. I experienced Christ radiating through the Holy Father when we had eye-to-eye contact. With deep desire I silently prayed, “Lord, make me a saint like him!” – and I invited the Holy Spirit to fill me when I prayed the Veni Creator Spiritus prayer. I learned that holiness is extremely attractive and possible. That moment changed me from within and is still fruitful. Sometimes when I speak of St. John Paul II in my retreat work, I tear up. And more often than not, other people tear up also. He touched us deeply. That is what saints do—they touch us because they radiate the Christ-life. We are made for Christ, and in the presence of holiness, we connect with our true self. Is this relevant today? More than ever—we need saints; we need to encounter Christ. The whole world cries out—“We want to see Jesus!” History tells us that saints change the world for good much more than programs.
How are moms “who strive heroically to prioritize their prayer lives inclusive of spouses and children… a great witness to the Church”?
There was a time in my life when, as a young mother and wife, working part time in the medical field, I ceased to pray. I admit the truth of my failure in prayer in the book and the grace of God, who, through Mary and the Rosary, brought me back to the spiritual life. I also write to encourage all women to prioritize prayer in the family, inclusive of spouses and children because I now know the power of prayer. I regret that I did not prioritize family prayer when my children were younger. I learned the hard way that prayer between spouses is vital to a holy marriage. People of prayer, families who pray and worship God together are truly the best witnesses in the Church. We need to recognize the gift of prayer and those who pray who become gifts also.