Two articles about Lenten fasting and issues with body image and society’s expectations.

(Dreamstime/Andranik Hakobyan)

Should Catholic women give up fasting for Lent?

The tension between fasting and dieting in a culture that judges women’s bodies

When Lent arrives each year, I find myself in conversations about fasting with other Catholic women. We exchange plans for our seasonal food abstinence — small meals and no meat on Fridays, often accompanied by a fast from sweets, or alcohol, or snacking between meals.

Then, inevitably, someone voices what many of us have privately considered: “Hopefully this will help me lose another few pounds.”

Such admissions are often accompanied by some self-deprecating acknowledgement that weight loss is not supposed to be the goal of our seasonal penance. Nevertheless, sympathetic nods and similar confessions arise in response. Year after year, these conversations evince a tension between our perceptions of what fasting ought to be and our experience of it as Catholic women in the contemporary United States.

These conversations inspired my search for resources aimed at helping Catholic women fast in a setting where we face relentless pressures to conform to society’s young, white, able-bodied, effortless, slender ideal.

Click here to continue reading this article by Jessica Coblentz.

Why Lent can be a dangerous time when you’re recovering from an eating disorder

It took me a long time to believe that God was not disappointed with my body. It took me even longer to learn that Ash Wednesday was not my yearly diet launch date, that Lent was not a time for me to give all my food-related desires to God and come out the other end a better person, slimmer and with more self-discipline.

Unfortunately, Lent is the time of year where my Catholic faith threatens to derail my hard-fought healing—a years-long process of learning to accept my large body and to realign my relationship with food amid an eating disorder diagnosis. The whole “give up sugar and lose weight during Lent” impulse? That is the impulse of diet culture, and it is a problem when it surreptitiously slides into our churches unchecked.

Diet culture is the miasma of social expectations that to be considered “good,” a body must be trim and healthy. It is a message that saturates the cultural fabric, and no matter where I go, I witness its demands—in commercials, in online interactions, in the harsh whisper of my inner critic—that my very large body is a disappointment to God and that I need to change it. I am not even safe in church.

Click here to continue reading this article by Amanda Martinez Beck.

Pope on Women’s Day

Pope Francis meeting a delegation of the American Jewish Committee. (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis on Friday marked International Women’s Day, stressing the “irreplaceable contribution of women in building a world that can be a home for all,” through their efforts toward peace and love.  “Women make the world beautiful, they protect it and keep it alive.”  “They bring the grace of renewal, the embrace of inclusion, and the courage to give of oneself,” he told some 40 representatives of the American Jewish Committee who met him in the Vatican.

Click here to read the entire article. 

A Prayer Book For Catholic Women

 

 

Meet Jesus in prayer. Prayer lifts us up and transforms our lives and the lives of those we love. This beautiful prayer book is the perfect guide for women of all ages who want to deepen their personal relationship with the Lord. Through traditional and contemporary prayers, women will engage in conversation with a loving and compassionate God about their lives, their families, and the cares of their hearts.

A beautiful resource. Beautifully designed and easy to use, this book is an ideal resource for prayer each day. The selections bring together the bounty of favorite traditional prayers of the Church with original prayers that will provide inspiration and strength. Organized around the seasons of a woman’s life and her spiritual journey, it will enable all women of every age and at every stage of life to experience God’s deep love for them and the gift of his grace for each day.

About the Author
Agnes M. Kovacs, a native of Hungary, has lived in the United States for thirty years. She is a daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother, and grandmother who cherishes the relationships with her large, extended family spanning multiple continents. Agnes currently serves as director of continuing formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.

To purchase this book click here.

 

Feminine aspects of God explored

Lyla June Johnston, a Native American activist and speaker, left, spoke to Christopher Pramuk following his presentation during the 23rd Festival of Faiths April 25 at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Johnston and Pramuk presented during a session called “One, Not Two: Sacred Wholeness.” (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

 

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer

A diverse crowd — including Mercy Academy seniors — who packed a theater inside the Kentucky Center for the Arts April 25  heard from Dr. Christopher Pramuk that reclaiming the “feminine divine” would celebrate the fullness of God in all things.

Pramuk, a  professor of theology and spirituality at Xavier University in Cincinnati, was a speaker at the 23rd annual Festival of Faiths, which took place April 24-28 at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in downtown Louisville. This year’s theme was “Sacred Insight: Feminine Wisdom.”

Pramuk was one of several speakers at a session called “One, Not Two: Sacred Wholeness.” The speakers discussed how balancing the “complementary feminine and masculine aspects of divine wisdom” can lead to a better understanding of the interdependence of all things. 

To continue reading this article click here.

 

Representing the Feminine Voice (with Sarah Hart and Kate Williams, featuring Dolly Sokol)

Click here to list to this podcast from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

One of the major pastoral opportunities facing those of us in ministry is in the area of representation. With increasingly diverse membership, even in rural and outlying communities, there isn’t a parish in existence that shouldn’t be evaluating their practice carefully. As our cultural paradigm shifts from “believing leads to belonging” to “belonging leads to believing,” our success in gathering, leading, and ministering to a community starts with whether the members of that community feel they belong in the first place.

In this episode, we explore that challenge more deeply through conversation with two important voices: Sarah Hart and Kate Williams. In doing so, we consider the progress that women composers have made in liturgical circles, the barriers that remain, and we ask, “what, exactly, is the feminine compositional voice”?