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The Passion of Christ through female eyes: A Fast Take with Kelly Wahlquist


Ave Maria Press

Elizabeth Scalia - published on 06/07/17

On experiencing the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and the Pentecost, in the way in which we were created to understand.

The Lenten and Easter seasons are passed, but, as any Catholic knows, even Ordinary Time is an appropriate time to contemplate the Passion of Christ and in so doing gain insight into our own lives, our relationship with Christ, and with others. It was an appreciation of such spiritual value that led author and speaker Kelly Wahlquist, the founder of WINE: Women In the New Evangelization, to invite a number of prominent Catholic women to ponder the Passion through their female perspectives, and collect their thoughtful essays into one volume, entited Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ’s Passion through the Eyes of Women. Kelly answered our Fast Take questions on the book:

What inspired the book?

Without a doubt, the Holy Spirit! People often ask, how do you know when the Holy Spirit is talking to you, and my answer is, “I can’t write fast enough what is coming into my mind.” That is exactly what happened with Walk in Her Sandals.

On Good Friday, as I knelt praying after receiving the (previously consecrated) Eucharist, the choir was singing, “Stay with me…. Remain here with me… Watch and pray…. Watch and pray…” As I listened to the song, in my prayer I said to Jesus, “This is crazy! Why are we singing this song, Lord? This is so yesterday. This is so Garden of Gethsemane. You’re dead and buried. Who is watching? Who is praying?” And just as quickly as the questions came into my mind so did the thought, “There is someone watching and praying. It is Mary. She is watching over the apostles of Jesus and the women, who were His disciples, and she is without a doubt, praying with and for them.”

From there the floodgates opened wide and thoughts poured in one on top of the other: “Wouldn’t it be cool to experience the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus like Mary did?”

“We do. In the stations of the cross and the Rosary.”

“In The Passion of Christ we experienced Christ’s Passion and death through Mary’s eyes.”

Then I thought, “What if we could experience the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in the way in which we were created to relate to God? What if we could experience Lent and Easter in our giftedness as women? How powerful and life-changing that experience could be!” Within four minutes, I had the entire outline for the book. I left the church, raced home, and made a mind map of what the Holy Spirit had just put on my heart.

The next day, I called each author and told her what had happened, and then I invited her to work in her giftedness and be part of helping women experience Jesus’ Passion, death, and resurrection like never before.

What person in this book do you most personally identify with?

I wish my instant answer was Mary, the Mother of God, but it’s not, though that is a great goal to strive for! As I entered into the fabulous biblical fiction narrative, I found myself drawn to Veronica. There was something so real for me in seeing Veronica question who Jesus truly was in relation to her, and watching her struggle to understand Him as a man and as her Savior.

I loved that Veronica saw Jesus with her heart—a beautiful aspect of the gift of sensitivity— and was so moved that her reaction was one of courageous compassion. Veronica didn’t do anything grand by human standards. She simply wiped a face. As a mom and as a geriatric nurse, this is something I’ve done many times. What makes this simple act beautiful is when it is done out of love. Veronica did what she could do, and she did it out of love. At that moment, she became mercy on the road leading to the place where God would pour out His most merciful love for us. Veronica was mercy; she was love when it encounters suffering. I took great solace in seeing how Veronica’s small act was enormously powerful, because it was done out of great love. I, too, can do small things with great love.

Did writing this book teach you anything?

The lessons learned in writing this book are plentiful and will probably continue for years to come. One of the greatest lessons for me comes from St. Gregory Palamas, who said, “If your attention is occupied by what makes us holy, you make yourself worthy of being visited by God.” It isn’t lost on me that the Holy Spirit chose to speak to me after I had received Jesus in the Eucharist on Good Friday and was in prayer. The concept for this book came so quickly and was so clear, that it was evident to me that it was from the Holy Spirit.

Also, in writing this book, the Lord reinforced the beauty and importance of WINE: Women In the New Evangelization, a national women’s ministry that began two years ago. WINE focuses on recognizing the beautiful gifts of women and encouraging them in their gifts, such that we can complement one another and build the body of Christ. Each of the authors of Walk in Her Sandals worked perfectly in her gift, and in doing so a powerful book was created that combines Scripture, catechesis, a novel, lectio divina, and the small group dynamic into one seamless and transformational experience.

Not only did the authors give of their time and talent, they truly are living witnesses to the Gospel, as they each have donated all proceeds to WINE, to help seed and grow the ministry. WINE offers Walk in Her Sandals in their “Read Between the WINEs” book club. You can read the book on your own or use it in your women’s groups. WINE offers an accompanying journal that helps bring you even deeper into the experience, and guidelines that make it easy for leaders to implement and run a fruitful small group. To learn more about reading Walk in Her Sandals with your friends (and women around the country) visit and check out the 2017 Lenten Read Between the WINEs book club.

If there is one person you want to reach with this book, who would that be?

The person who is searching for peace, joy, and happiness.

What is the ideal beverage to have in hand while reading your book? 

That answer is as diverse as the women who will read it. The ideal beverage to have in hand could be a chai latte, a hot chocolate, a Diet Coke, or a dry Chardonnay. Whatever drink helps quench your thirst to know and love Jesus in a more intimate way—that’s the one to sip as you walk in her sandals!

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