July 23, 2015
As The Feminine Gift grows and changes, we will be welcoming new writers to our little community.  The following is a post written by Alexa. 

Dear Married Women,

Your single friends don’t want to hear comments like “I don’t know what I would have I done if I did not get married young?” Or “You must be so sad on Saturday nights, I mean you have to go on dates and they will probably be horrible?” I don’t think it takes a big imagination to see how these comments are hurtful.

Being single is not always easy I grant you, it comes with it’s own set of trials, but I did not ask for pity so please don’t pity me.  It sounds as if you have no compassion and no imagination, never mind the vulgarity of saying something so rude. I don’t go around saying “It must be so awful to change poop all day” or “It’s sad you can’t do whatever you want whenever you want.”

July 16, 2015
As The Feminine Gift grows and changes, we will be welcoming new writers to our little community.  The following is a post written by Dr. Christine Schingten, a Catholic wife and mother of three who teaches literature at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom in Barry's Bay, Ontario.  

This morning as I was hanging clothes on the line in our backyard, I was struck by the fact that what I was doing was environmentally friendly work. These days I don’t always get the clothes on the line to dry (something to do with son #1 who insists on wearing the same black outfit, which he calls his cassock, every day, which necessitates my doing laundry in the evening when he’s no longer wearing it), but when I do, I know I’m saving our home a lot of money, and the earth a lot of energy. That got me thinking about how many things homemakers do that are good for the environment.
July 10, 2015

A friend said to me recently, “I need you to be a saint.”

I realized I don’t know how to do that, and it was a sobering realization.

Oh, I know what it takes: a heart disposed to love and a will conformed to God supported by daily prayer and frequent use of the sacraments.  The difficulty I’m having is applying those things consistently in my own life.  After all these years as a Catholic, I still haven’t figured out the how.

It’s natural, I suppose, to have times of flourishing and times of dormancy in the spiritual life. But in order to grow in holiness, in order to be a saint (an ordinary saint), there must be growth in virtue which means spiritual discipline.  And discipline and I have never been closely acquainted.

In looking for advice, I’ve read articles on how to have daily prayer, the practice of offering up the duty of the moment, going to Adoration, the benefits of having a Spiritual Director, and plugging into a support system like a prayer group or young adult’s group. 

However. Some of the factors I’m dealing with (aside from being discipline-challenged which is something I just have to deal with) is that I live in an area with limited access to daily Adoration or prayer groups, and asking about spiritual direction results in puzzled faces. I’ve left young adulthood well behind and the only gatherings for people my age are separated and divorced mixers. As for daily prayer – the real heart of my struggle – my schedule varies so widely from day to day that establishing a fixed routine is difficult.

That sounds like a lot of moaning, doesn’t it?  You’re right.  It is a lot of moaning, and I’m moaning because I know that the stumbling block is me.  I’m the one getting in the way of daily prayer, Mass, and Adoration, and I’m the one who allows the distractions of other priorities to turn me away from seeking God first. Somehow those two factors are symbiotically linked because one always leads to the other in a continuing cycle.

I believe that God calls each of us to holiness; that His desire is for each of us to be saints. But how could it be meant for me when it would seem I'm the reason it isn't happening? I would have thought it was impossible - or at the very least painfully difficult - for me to overcome the obstacles until someone rather offhandedly reminded me that God created me. He does! He knows me, He designed me and gave me my personality and characteristics. He knows how I handle life and respond to situations.  And because God doesn't give us challenges He knows we can't handle, it must be that I have the ability to handle the challenges of 'being a saint'.  The trick is to discover how.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the years. I have had a good Spiritual Director in the past, have a good therapist now, and read as much as I can in order to understand myself. For example, I’m an introvert (INFJ in Myers Briggs typology) so I require a lot of downtime when my job has me interacting with the public for long periods of time.  I need long stretches of quiet in order to be able to pray well which means I have to be on guard against distractions like spending too much time online, or constantly having the radio on in the background. That's one key.

I've also learned that I access and understand my thoughts best by writing them down. For this reason, journaling has become a very important element in my spiritual life. It helps me focus on what is going on not only in my daily life, but interiorly as well. I find it easier to bring important matters to God after clarifying them first by writing them down. Writing helps me figure out what I am thankful for, want to pray about, need help with.  It helps bring me into the presence of God.
One of the questions I asked myself is, “What does the life of a modern saint look like?”
When I think of saints, I think about the Little Flower or Mother Teresa - two modern and very holy women I find very inspiring. But because my life isn’t anything like theirs, I could easily give up the effort. No way am I capable of being as meek and humble as Therese, or as indefatigable in service as Teresa! Or, what also happens is I despair because I try to live like they do but can’t sustain it and think I’ve failed. 

But we're not meant for failure! God asks us to be holy and He doesn't ask anything of us we can't handle so it must be possible.

An answer might be found in this wonderful quotation from St. Francis de Sales in his Introduction to the devout life:

“There is a different practice of devotion for the gentleman and the mechanic; for the prince and the servant; for the wife, the maiden, and the widow; and still further the practice of devotion must be adapted to the capabilities, the engagements and duties of each individual.”

What relief, what consolation in those words! St. Francis de Sales isn’t letting me off the hook here, because he writes very clearly that each ‘class’ of person has a duty of devotion, but he is just as clear that the practice of that devotion for each person is unique to their circumstances in life and what they are – practically – able to do.

In other words, my own practice of devotion is unique to the circumstances of my daily life and the quirks and foibles of who I am. Perhaps, then, the hour-long meditative prayer at dawn I was imagining myself doing isn’t realistic, nor what God is asking of me.  Perhaps, too, all the quirks of my personality are legitimate factors I need to consider as I work toward more established and consistent devotions. Those factors may be stumbling blocks, but perhaps they also include strengths God has provided in order for me to grow in holiness.

For example, I know about the need for silence, and I know that journaling is also essential for me.  God wrote those two elements into who I am as a person, so I can use them to draw closer to Him, to strengthen my prayer life, and, ultimately, to be a saint. Just as I am.

June 26, 2015

The Easter season is behind us, as well as several of the great feasts of our faith. Now we're back into ordinary time with all the obligations of daily life.  Sometimes we need a reminder that we are indeed an Easter People, and we have reason for joy.

Here is the culmination of our faith:  for God so loved the world that He gave His only son.  Isn’t it glorious? His son Jesus embraced the cross to atone for our sins, and in so doing, broke the chains of death so that we might enjoy eternal life in the heavenly kingdom.

When I think about the significance of that gift, it is so very tempting to respond as the women did when they come upon their Lord after the resurrection. Some translations have it that they ‘embraced His feet’. When I put myself in their place - so easy to do as their response seems to be the natural feminine impulse – I can imagine their relief and joy and reverence. All of Jerusalem had praised Jesus when He entered the city, then as ardently denounced Him not a week later. The women had witnessed His indescribable sufferings, which included betrayal and abandonment. And then, horribly, came His death. Where was the kingdom He spoke about? How was it possible that their beloved teacher who claimed to be the Son of the Living God had been put to death like a common criminal?  Still, their hearts were filled with love for Him, and they wanted to serve Him even then, so they went to visit His tomb only to find He was no longer there.

June 18, 2015

My mom’s birthday was yesterday and Father’s Day is on Sunday (my parents are doomed to always share at least one of their special days) and I was reflecting the other day about the words of “wisdom” parents tend to “share” with their kids.  You know what I’m talking about.  My husband’s parents used to tell him that he couldn’t have more ketchup because it was WAY too expensive, and that every time he turned the lights off and on it cost 25 cents.  When he grew up and moved out he was surprised, and delighted, to find out that neither ketchup nor light-switching were all that expensive. 

I suppose that all parents get to a point with their kids where they will just say anything to appease or pacify or make them stop doing what they’re doing (in my husband’s case, I think it was drinking ketchup and playing dance party).  Thinking back on my own childhood, I know my parents had a handful of one-liners that I thought were meant for pacification, but when I reflect on them (now that I’m grown and over the teenage angst and eye-rolling - mostly) the things they used to say were actually good. 

And surprisingly true. 

Allow me to share. 


What is a woman? What does it mean to be feminine? There is softness and hardness, compassion and ferocity. There is contentment and adventure, freedom and service. We're conundrums, especially to ourselves, but we all, in one way or another, possess beauty, creativity, intuition and love. We were made for love, and we are loved, cellulite and all. So sit with us a while and ponder the Feminine Gift.


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