February 4, 2016

Lent has snuck up on me this year - maybe because we moved and Christmas was a big blur.  The tree went up and came down before I knew what was happening.  And now Lent is bearing down upon us, fast and furious.  What to do, what to do...?

Taking the reasons for our fasting to heart

Time Magazine (of all places) posted this article for lent last year - the gist of which elaborates on Pope Francis' 2015 Lenten Message calling us to "reconsider the heart of our [fasts] this lenten season" because "fasting must never become superficial."  He goes on to quote St. John Chrysostom saying, "No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others.  So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor or eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great."

Sound familiar?  We just heard something similar at Sunday mass recently:

January 29, 2016

“…behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.  …Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say ‘Peace be to this house!’  And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you.”   Luke 10: 1-9

I spent a good portion of this week troubled - mostly because David Daleidon, the man who uncovered Planned Parenthood’s heinous scandal of selling fetal body parts, had just been indicted, whereas Planned Parenthood in Texas got off scott-free.  What kind of world are we living in - where the perpetrators of a crime get off and continue what they are doing, and the person who exposes the crimes gets indicted?  It’s crazy.  It’s mixed up.  It’s unsettling.

It seems to me that evil gets to triumph while good languishes and rots in prisons of one sort or another.  It seems as if everything is stacked against the good, and that there’s no way good can ever get out from under evil, or at least get out of the way.  It seems like no matter how many good things happen in our personal lives, or in the world at large, that evil is still lurking around the corner, just waiting to spoil things.  And this upsets me, and it wreaks havoc on my own peace of soul.

In Luke 10 Jesus is sending others out before him, to prepare the way for him in the surrounding towns and villages.  He fully realizes what he’s doing – sending these little lambs out into the midst of ravenous wolves – but he does so anyways.  And what does he instruct them to do? 

Carry nothing, be at peace and share your peace with other ‘sons of peace’.

Peace isn’t something to be disregarded or overlooked, you know.  It’s that mysterious something that every human person consistently craves and searches for, from the beginning of their lives to the bitter end.  Peace – that deep down, soul peace  - can only come from the Lord. 

Let me repeat that. 

That deep down, soul peace we all intensely desire can only come from God. 

The peace that surpasses all understanding can only come from doing the Lord’s Will, from being in right relationship with Him and with those around us, and from living within the moral and natural laws set out for us.  Those who have lived outside of God’s laws know the turmoil that doing so brings.  

My husband left the Lord for several years when he went to college.  He spent those years acquiring what he thought he wanted, but was mostly consumed by guilt, shame, depression, disquiet and restlessness.  The world would say that the guilt likely came from his Catholic upbringing, but this was not the case.  He didn’t feel guilt or shame because some nuns or priests taught him to do so; he felt it because there was something (or someone) more profoundly present in his heart, causing conscience-pangs when he did something wrong.  Call it the natural law or the Lord, either way this presence is in each of us to some degree.  Yes, those pangs can be ignored, but for my husband, it took quite a bit of energy to do so – and caused a whole lot of angst for him in the meantime.  When he finally made his way back ‘home to Rome’ – went to confession and came back into communion with God - he was so tired from all the discord he’d been living with for years, that he slept for several days.  

And he’s never looked back.  Often he will tell me about how he felt during those times, and how that life of sin wasn’t worth the peace he had to sacrifice for it…the peace of Christ that he now knows intimately, day in and day out. 

And the same goes for the people we see committing or abetting all manner of evil in today’s world.  Abby Johnson, the clinic director who left Planned Parenthood to become an outspoken advocate for the unborn knew that disquiet as well, as on her website she relates the growing unrest and confusion she felt (despite her attempts at justification) just before she left her job.  These men and women who don’t bat an eye when they see those baby parts in petri dishes are living in turmoil – they are deeply disturbed by what they are witnessing - but must rationalize, justify and excuse themselves for what they are seeing (or doing).  But in doing so though they are robbing themselves of peace – of hope and light and harmony within themselves – and this, my friends, should inspire our pity and prayers to God for them.  People like Cecile Richards (CEO of Planned Parenthood) are to be pitied, not hated as the enemy, and kept in prayer, because misdirected as they are, they are still human beings loved by God, despite the blood they have on their hands.  As long as they are alive, they can change and be won over to the heart of God – and finally know the peaceful rest he gives us, instead of the tumultuous chaos the world, flesh and the devil gives us.

We may forget it, but just as those disciples of Our Lord shared their peace with others, we can – and should - do the same, even with people we don’t know.  While we can’t force anyone to take what we offer, we can at least aim to be exemplary models of life in Christ, and through the Lord’s peace, we can attract and invite others to know and love him – or pray for them to receive it - so that they too can live in harmony within themselves.  Because nothing in this world compares to living in the peace of Christ.  

January 21, 2016
The following is a post written by monthly contributor Alexa. 

I really enjoy when people recommend movies on blogs. I am an old movie fanatic so I am going to try (hopefully I can keep it up) to pass on a few movies monthly that I think should be watched in that particular month. I warn you - many of them will be from the 1930-1950's,  but I will throw in a few newer ones here and there to add some spice. I also really believe there are certain movies that should be watched in order - to enjoy them at their best.

 So I give you six movies I recommend for the cold month of January.

1.   Holiday Inn

Now I know you may be tired of Christmas movies, but this one is appropriate because it begins around New Years and ends with New Years. The movie has Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, so I don’t think I have to say any more - but I will. This one is just plain fun.  After Bing’s character loses his girl to Fred (Astaire's character), he decides to open up a night club/restaurant in the country which is only open on holidays.  Hence it’s called Holiday Inn. Anyway, Fred ends up being dumped by the same girl (the one who left Bing - yep she is a real winner) so Fred comes to Holiday Inn and starts eyeing up the new girl that is in love with Bing.  It’s a classic chick flick storyline with wonderful musical numbers throughout.  If you’ve got the winter blues, try this movie.  It will brighten your spirits in no time.  "Start the New Year right” with this movie.

2. While You Were Sleeping

Now this one is also a Christmas-sy movie, but I like this one.  It's good especially for all you singles out there because it’s very hopeful, and January can be such a dreary month. I think you need a little hope and a little push to keep dreaming in January and this movie delivers on both. It’s more than your usual chick flick, it’s about family and community. I find sometimes chick flicks tend to be "all you need is your one true love and everything is perfect". I like While You Were Sleeping because it shows our need for community and family - not just a love life. I also like how the movie shows the fact that you really do "marry" the family of the one you love.  Something to keep in mind if you're still single ;) Also who doesn't love a good love triangle - am I right?

 3. Holiday

Now this one is not a very well known Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn movie. You have probably watched Bringing Up Baby and Philadelphia Story but likely not Holiday. It’s a mystery to me why this film is not more well known because it sure is fun! Cary Grant is also quite young in this film.  It is also one of the only films he really shows off his acrobatic talent.  Grant used to work in a circus before becoming a hollywood star - so in this film he does tricks and a great double somersault with Katherine Hepburn. His character is a young man who wants to seek out what he should do with his life, he thinks there must be more to life than just working and paying bills. Katherine’s character shares his lust for life, but it’s Katherine’s sister that Cary falls for first. All in all, a great film with some stellar lines, so take a little holiday with this film.

 4. Room For One More

This is another hidden gem with the great Cary Grant and his real-life-wife, Betsy Drake. This movie is my idea of Catholic family life. Although there is not a lot of mention of religion in this film other than prayers before meals, nevertheless this movie is bursting with the messages of pro-life, pro-adoption, pro-family, unconditional and sacrificial love. The story is a simple one about a husband and wife and their three children. The story begins when Betsy (the mother) is hoping to adopt a child because we are told their family was once a family of six but sadly went down to five. Betsy goes looking for a baby and ends up taking in a teenaged girl who came from a very troubled background and is no walk in the park. They end up taking in another child - a 12 year old boy also angry and who has a disability. The story is wonderful as it’s about loving people where they are at, and loving them because they are people, not because they are perfect or even because they always deserve it.

5. Stage Door

This is another star-studded film that is not very well known. It’s an almost all female cast with great actresses such as Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers, and Katherine Hepburn. You will have to be paying attention for this one though because the cracks and witty lines are non stop. It’s a story of a boarding house full of aspiring actresses, and the stories of their ups and downs. It is rather dark but it’s chock full of great acting and drama.  In January I feel we need a little dark drama - for those long, chilly nights - just to remind us that things could be a lot worse.

 6. About Time

About Time is a great, whimsical, British, romantic comedy about a father and son who can both go back in time.  Not go back to King Arthur time, but just go back over their own lives.  The son falls for Rachel McAdams and uses his new talent to win her heart. There are some inappropriate scenes and language, but overall I thought this film was really good for promoting family and community. It also has an overarching theme of living in the present moment, which is a good reminder in January.  Because if you're like me, sometimes you just don’t want to be living in the present moment of a dark and cold January.  But this movie does a good job of reminding us that every moment is worthwhile. Besides, who doesn’t love British humor and lush British landscapes by the sea?

So there you have it folks, six movies to keep those January blues away.
December 29, 2015
Photo Cred - Timothy Baklinski Two Trees Photography
2015's been a great year, hasn't it?  I love looking back on each year as it comes to a close, to be thankful for all that has happened, and then to look forward to the new year with anticipation and gratitude as well.

So what was 2015 like for The Feminine Gift?

Our lovely Tess moved on to greener pastures - but not without leaving us with some quality posts: like this one about being called to be a saint, or this one about exploring the gift of receptivity.  We miss her here at TFG but are happy for her in the new adventures she has begun.

With Tess' departure, we added a new voice to our little corner of the internet.  Ksenia joined us with her inaugural post, Grow up it's just a bus pass.  I know I love her quirky and smooth style of writing!  We also loved hearing from Alexa (whose most popular contributions this past year can be found here, and here) and occasionally from other writers like Christine, and from Becca- who writes at the blog Faith and Peanut Butter (who incidentally I had the pleasure of meeting IRL this year!  My first blogger meet-up!)  

We also updated our look, going with the fabulous design from Carla at Glam Blogs Design.  It's been a beautiful, and busy, year for us!

And as for me personally?  My husband and I changed jobs in 2015 - narrowly missing an opportunity to move to Europe. (Although we did move, just not that far!)  Not bad for starting the year NOT planning to do either.

I've also decided to keep The Feminine Gift alive and will continue to write with the mission to bring lovely back to femininity.  Such an important goal, isn't it?  Bringing lovely into more and more of our lives?

Here are the most popular posts from this past year:

A post about the Spirituality of Waiting

A post about my visit with my spiritual father, Padre Pio

This post about remembering death in order to live a good life.  

And lastly, a post about Wifely Submission.

My husband and I will be going on a week-long silent retreat in early January, and I ask you all for your prayers if you would.  I will certainly be remembering you all and your intentions - please feel free to write to me with anything specific!

And most of all, I hope you have a Blessed, Happy and Fruitful New Year of 2016.  May the blessings of the Father, Son and Spirit be with you, and the favour of the Blessed Mother always be with you.
December 14, 2015

Hope is a radical virtue.  I never thought much about it before now, but it really takes courage to hope. It takes courage to hope that the best things are in future. It takes courage to hope that God wants the best for you. It takes courage to hope that God will give you the strength to get through another day.  And it takes hope to believe that the desires in your heart will be fulfilled.

This last one is a real struggle - to believe that God will fulfill those desires, whether they are for a religious vocation to be fulfilled, a wife, husband, children, a dream job, the conversion of a loved one, the health of someone we love who is sick, etc.  Whatever the desire may be, the courage to hope that that desire will be fulfilled is a hard thing. 

It’s so much easier to give in to depression, to cynicism and bitterness. It’s easier to believe that the desires or dreams we long for will never come to pass. It’s safer to be the cynic then the dreamer. We risk nothing by not hoping. We risk nothing by believing chastity is impossible and give into the culture of contraception, porn, and abortion. We risk nothing by believing we can’t be better then we are, so why hope?  We risk nothing by hating the person who has hurt us, instead of hoping for our conversion of heart as well as theirs. Hope demands us to change, it demands us to be better, it demands we make a better world around us, it asks us to risk what we have for something supremely better.

Hope is a radical virtue because it takes away all our power, and places it in the hands of a power beyond us. Even if you did not believe in God the virtue of hope is the belief that there is something better, something more beautiful, something absolutely true, something beyond death. Every human heart longs for hope, they long for God even if they don’t know it. Every human heart calls out to a power outside themselves when they hope. Hope answers yes to the question, "Is there something better than the life I am living right now?" 

The most marvelous example of hope is Mama Mary.  She had hope that she would be okay, even when she radically said yes to being an unmarried, pregnant virgin.  She hoped that her Son was okay, even when she lost Him in the temple. She dared to hope that her Son could somehow make wine appear at a wedding, when it seemed impossible.  She had hope that death would not have the final say, even when she held the body of her dead Son in her arms.

Hope places trust in God.  It demands that we admit we don’t know what is best. It demands that we  trust in God’s will for our lives. It demands living a life that is different and demanding, but oh so joyful.  Because hope demands that we believe that there is something better around the corner. 

Living life like this is scary because we could look foolish, we could be wrong.  And yet living with hope changes our hearts, minds, and the people around us. It is a virtue that is always demanding yet rewarding yet rewarding at the same time. 

Hope demands that we wait on God’s timing.  It demands that we believe that tomorrow is not just another day, but that tomorrow is the day that we live a little bit better and change and grow a little bit closer to the person we want to be.  Hope asks us to believe that tomorrow we come a little bit closer to the fulfillment of our longings and desires, and a little bit closer to the One who has put this hope in our hearts. I can’t wait for tomorrow because it’s going to be a beautiful day.


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 some way, possess beauty, creativity, intuition and love. We were made for love, and we are loved, cellulite and all. Here at The Feminine Gift we aim to show every woman the richness and beauty of her own femininity and explore current issues relating to women in our world. We also wish to share our own experiences - exploring the joys and challenges of stay-at-home moms and single professionals and everyone in between. So welcome! Grab a cup of something hot and say hello.


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