Monday, December 30, 2013

Even More, God Is Our Mother

I don’t really follow Pope Francis; however, as a Catholic I certainly regard the pope with the respect and honor due his position as successor to Peter.

What I do read about him, I tend to get from my friends. He seems to be loved or hated and certainly has made people sit up and take notice.

I also don’t watch the news in general or read much on the Internet—secular, Catholic or otherwise. I am not on Facebook and I don’t do Twitter. I’ve made a conscious effort in the past couple of years to purposely reduce the chaos of the world by limiting my exposure to it so that my own world now feels purer and a whole lot more peaceful.

Amidst that peace, I’ve recently begun researching “Sophia” for my third and final fiction book in a series that started with Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. I share this because my research about this seemingly elusive, somewhat mystical, and definitely female Sophia/Wisdom/Mother keeps crossing paths with what I’ve read about Pope Francis. Francis continues to enter into my quiet world in a calm, wise, even motherly sort of way.

Let me explain.

At her essence, Sophia is the wisdom that runs throughout Scripture—yet that small acknowledgement leaves so much to be desired. King Solomon sought her and was richly rewarded; Hildegard of Bingen sang her praises; Mother Julian of Norwich wrote about her when she said that God is both our Father and our Mother. Echoing this mystical sentiment, Sophia was given passing credit in 1978 by John Paul I when he made an astonishing reference to the idea of divine motherhood. In a Sunday St. Peter’s Square address he said, “God is our Father; even more God is our Mother.”

Even more, God is our Mother.

It was a profound, brave statement; one that did not get the attention it deserved. One that wasn’t unpacked and contemplated like it should have been.

As I research Sophia, I can’t help but see Pope Francis as the possible embodiment of her. I keep reflecting on what I am learning about Sophia and the prophetic words of John Paul I: …even more God is our Mother.

Lacking the language to flesh out the idea of “God is our Mother,” we can still begin to see how Pope Francis may well be the prophetic fulfillment. In Pope Francis we see the possibility that “God is our Mother” is a truth whose time has possibly come. Is Pope Francis ushering in the manifestation of Sophia—the groundwork that was laid by Christian mystics and more concretely captured when John Paul I said “even more God is our Mother?”

I even marvel at the pope’s name which is both masculine and feminine.

The words and actions of Pope Francis in light of the “God is our Mother” possibility make us contemplate important questions: What is a mother if not a healer of relationships and a pursuer of righteousness for all? Isn’t the ideal mother one who wishes all her children to be in harmony? Does a mother not run to those most in need? Will a loving mother not admonish her children to be kind and prudent in their words and in their deeds?

Is it not in a mother’s nature to create a home where the spirit of the law prevails? She doesn’t throw out the letter of the law but her heart always reflects the spirit of it.

Indeed, we know that a mother is more apt to speak from her heart instead of her head. When she does, her words are not diluted by too much reason for they erupt from the love she has for her children. Often, she is raw emotion responding to the meekest and most in need. She reaches out to all from the depths of her compassion; everything she says and does is wrapped in concern, passion and love.

Sophia, Wisdom, Mother—known by so many names—is one of them Pope Francis?

(picture © |

Friday, December 27, 2013

Have Your Goals Overtaken Your Life?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In ten?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

If you win the lottery what would you do?

We get asked—and ask ourselves—lots of goal-oriented questions. It might be in a classroom or in a job interview. Wherever it is—or whatever causes us to identify goals—we find that we are always looking ahead. We vow to lose ten pounds and fit into a cherished pair of pants. We save our pennies for a new couch or a necklace.

Looking ahead can be a good thing; it can motivate us and keep us going forward. On the other hand, becoming too focused on a goal easily makes us lose sight of the journey itself—an important part of any achievement.

As the New Year approaches, we may feel we’ve failed because our hopes or thoughts for the year that just passed didn’t materialize; but if we’ve enjoyed the journey, there won’t be the sting of failure. Reproaches won’t haunt us if we found joy in our day-to-day living.

When I taught parochial middle school there was a home on my daily route to work that was in perpetual construction. At first it was an addition off the back. Then it was a large front porch. One summer it was a paved garden area and a gazebo. Another time it was a garage. This went on for many seasons; for many years. More than a few times, as I would pass the home, I would see the homeowner standing back and admiring his work. It seemed odd to me because the entire project was never done yet you could clearly see by his stance that he had a real sense of pride in what he was seeing.

A few weeks ago, when I drove past that home and saw that yet another new project was underway, I saw it with his eyes—and with a real Christmas epiphany. Here was this home, fifteen years later, still under construction, covered in Christmas lights! The man is much older now—as am I—and is still making choices to work on his house; and yet that work doesn’t seem to be a burden to him. He isn’t in a hurry. He didn’t need his home to be completely finished before adorning it with Christmas lights. It wasn’t about the final project but about the journey.

As this year closes and a new one dawns, the image of this man’s home will remain with me as an important reminder that even while my life often feels “under construction” it is important to step back and be proud of the progress!

Picture: © |

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our Jewish Roots...Free on Amazon

If you are looking for a great deal this Christmas, you can't beat free!

For a limited time we are offering a few of our titles for free to Amazon Kindle Prime customers. If you've been wanting to read Our Jewish Roots: A Catholic Woman's Guide To Fulfillment, now might be the time to get it for yourself or give it this Christmas.

It is currently ranked on Amazon:

#49 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Catholicism > Self Help

Another favorite for the tween or teen boy in your family, All Things Guy: A Guide To Becoming a Man that Matters is also free for Amazon Prime Kindle.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

God the Mother

If you are anywhere near my age (1976 high school graduation) and are a female, you may now be at a point where the aftertaste of radical feminism has started to disappear. You’ve also successfully waded through a culture that embraced new-age thinking and have now arrived at real truths.

Unfortunately, the result of the particular journey that many of us have been on is that we, in direct opposition to the false messages of radical feminism and the new age movement have really lost out on something that I have only recently discovered: God as Mother.


Years ago I wrote my first fiction book titled Elizabeth:A Holy Land Pilgrimage. In the book, Elizabeth’s daughter is named Sophia. At the time I knew no one with that name and it had no special meaning to me. I just knew that Sophia was supposed to be the name of the daughter in the book. The second fiction book I wrote is titled Miriam:Repentance and Redemption in Rome. Sophia, as Elizabeth’s daughter, is also part of the Miriam book.  Again, clueless about the import of Sophia.

After I finished Miriam, I knew—instinctively—that the third and final book was going to be Sophia. Plain and simple. In fact, the story of Sophia has already made itself known to me. From beginning to end it has already taken place in my heart and in my head.  Yet at that point the significance of Sophia was still unknown to me.

All that has since changed.

Sophia has now brought me front and center to the concept of Sophia as Wisdom. Sophia as a Mother, a Spirit, a Companion. A door opened, a word was spoken, and in an instant Sophia was revealed to me. A curtain was pulled back and I was invited to step inside.

Since that moment, I’ve discovered much about Sophia and Her works with God; Her desires to be found, to be welcomed. The more I learn about Sophia and welcome Her into my heart and into the book that is Hers, the more I see that the damages of radical feminism have made us push Her away lest we think we are entering some radical feminist frame of reference for God. Indeed, seeing Her in all Her glory may even feel a bit new-agey to us, so we’ve walked away. Using words such as “Goddess” makes us run; but Sophia isn’t “Goddess” as we would imagine some dark magic use of the word. Nor does Sophia invite us to an alternate spiritual world of new-age.

No, Sophia has been there all along in right relationship with the Father. Solomon sought Her and was handsomely rewarded for doing so; Christian mystic Hildegard of Bingen sang Her praises.

Unfortunately, it seems that in our day and age we no longer have the language with which to describe Her; thus we don’t seek Her or know Her. But there She is, throughout Scripture (Wisdom, Proverbs, Exodus, Corinthians, Romans). She seems to have been well-hidden and then further buried as a result of the fears we have to keep all things bad and “feminist” or “new age” at arm’s length.  

And yet She is within each of us; She willingly accompanies us on our journeys.

Sophia is the wisdom of motherhood and sisterhood and womanhood; and while She may seem elusive—She is patiently waiting to be found.

She is the treasure for our age. A safe-haven for those who call out to Her and seek Her guidance. She is the Holy Wisdom that reveals to us the connections between Heaven and Earth; She is order in a chaotic world and light in darkness.

I am excited to write about Her; honored that She beckoned to me.

I invite you to know Her as well; accept the gifts of Holy Wisdom, of Sophia.
(picture copyright Paul-andré Belle-isle



Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Light

Throughout history the word “light” has been used to portray goodness, charity, kindness, and salvation.

Light, after all, removes darkness—whether literally or metaphorically.

People say, “She lit up the room when she entered,” or “He is the light of my life.”

We understand the significance of those phrases.

During the Christmas season—when the amount of actual daylight is at its most limited—we are most fully aware that Christ is the light of the world. It seems rather fitting that in the long hours without light that we contemplate how He dispels the darkness in our lives. We are able to become keenly aware that He conquers the shadows that sometimes seem to overtake us. During the Christmas season we most fully realize that through the light of Christ we find our way to the Father.

A beautiful tradition during Christmastime is to light luminaries. The history behind luminaries is rich and beautiful—and varied. Shepherds marked the way to the Christ child with small fires. Centuries later, the Mexican people would gather around celebratory fires in the town square to sing and give thanks for the Lord’s birth. Elsewhere, small fires would mark the route to church for midnight Mass.

Christmas is the time to remember that, in some way, we each are called to be a light to another sojourner—to be a luminary.

 (image © |



Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Do You Put in the Collection Basket?

What you put in the collection basket says a lot about you and where you are at in your journey.

Some of us put in our 10% tithing without a second thought.

Some of us put in the few “extra” dollars we may have.

Some of us struggle with the need to “give”to the already “rich” church and so put in very little.

I remember once when one of my sons was quite young and had — unbeknownst to me — picked up all his change from his room and put it in the collection basket as it passed. I think it was about 19 cents.

But very few of us realize that when that basket passes, it is an incredible opportunity to give anything and everything to God.

Sure, it is about money and tithing; but money is only the beginning. That collection basket is a chance to empty yourself so that your gifts may be joined to those of Christ’s at the altar and used for God’s kingdom. They will be joined in the consecration and if offered with no strings attached can be appropriately dispensed by God, who sees all.

Remember that Mass transcends time and space and you are joining all the Masses said, at all moments in time, and that your gifts become priceless in the ways they can be given to others if you so freely give them yourself.

The next time the collection basket passes, along with your spare change or your envelope, make a point to put in your joy. God will use it to bless someone else who may need a bit of joy.

The next time the collection basket passes, along with your spare change or your envelope, make a point to put in your praise and awe of the mighty God we serve. God will use it to bless someone who may be struggling with their faith and in need of your beautiful gift of praise and awe.

The next time the collection basket passes, along with your spare change or your envelope, make a point to put in your sorrow, grief or despair. God will divide up those burdens among your fellow worshippers — across time and space — who are asking with a heart full of love to lighten someone else’s burden. Trust that someone’s heart is open to your needs and your load will be lightened or you will begiven courage and strength to carry it. In other words, there is no way you can put your sorrow or your grief or your despair into the basket and have it taken to the altar and it not be changed!

We simply don’t know the ways our offerings may be used; but we can be assured that they will be used in anointed ways. The point is to give everything over at that moment in Mass and trust in God.

Does God need this from us? Of course not!

Does God desire this from us? Of course He does! Just as He freely gave His Son, we, too, can give freely of ourselves gifts that can be blessed at the altar; gifts that can be joined at the foot of the Cross and used in blessed, anointed or even redemptive ways (reflect on redemptive suffering, for instance).

Consider some of the words and phrases said at Mass during the consecration and see your gifts collected in the baskets now placed at the altar being transformed with these words:

Through him we ask you to accept and bless these gifts we offer you in sacrifice…

Father, accept this offering from your whole family…

Bless and approve our offering: make it acceptable to you…

Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel…

Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven…

Let your spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy…

There is so much that we can freely give to God and an ideal time to do this is during Mass—when that collection basket gets handed to each of us. We can fill it with love and kindness and hope and pain and regret. We can ask our guardian angels to accompany it to the altar. We can allow ourselves to be transformed by what we can give at the altar as much as we can be transformed by what we take from the altar. God allows us, in so many ways, to participate in His goodness. Filling the collection basket to the brim is just one incredible way in which we work with God for His kingdom!

So the next time the basket makes its way to you, remember: Nothing is too big or too small to be taken to the altar — it only needs to be given wholly so that it can become holy.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Young Adult Books Aren't Just For Young Adults

Young adult books are big sellers…for the over 18 crowd.

This, according to a recent Nielson poll and reported by CBS news.

I’m not surprised by this "new" poll—and you shouldn’t be either.
And I would hazard a guess that the numbers are mostly women—or are even higher if only women were polled. After all, we want more than pornography and vampires. We want to be transported to that place of hope and kindness despite odds. Speak to us about the realities of our lives and remind us of all the great potential we have!

Long ago (okay, about 3 years ago), I reviewed Nancy Carabio Belanger’s “Olivia” books. What I couldn’t get over—and tried to get across in my posted reviews—was how much I enjoyed the books that were written for tweens and teens. Me, a slightly older than middle-aged woman truly loved them. I likened them to Anne of Green Gables: a timeless book that can be read by anyone of any age. Nancy’s books are that good. They take you back to a place filled with possibility and hope. They aren’t sugary sweet and so unrealistic that you gag; rather, they are just realistic enough to draw you in but still allow you to dream and grow.

Nancy’s newest book The Gate is out and I could not put it down when I read it. Again, another winner!

A number of young adult books come to mind that will definitely be enjoyed for the “over 18” crowd and will make excellent Christmas gifts to get and give.

To name a few:

Come see what all the fuss is about!

And enjoy a good book like you did when you were a kid!

Cheryl Dickow

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Penny Pincher's Christmas

We’ve got lots of great deals on our books for Christmas!

If you are pinching your pennies, you’ve found the right place to begin your Christmas shopping with presents that entertain and engage!

TheGreen Coat: A Tale from the Dust Bowl Years by Rosemary McDunn has been on Amazon’s best-seller list and is a favorite among homeschool families and Catholic classrooms. Right now it is available on Kindle for $2.99 and we know this will become a favorite in your home!

SaintsAlive: New Stories of Old Saints is hagiography at its very best! Endorsed by Catholic Editors and Librarians alike, this is a perfect stocking stuffer for the Kindle at $4.99.

FindingGrace by Laura Pearl and Hiding the Stranger: The Trilogy by Joan L. Kelly both have received the prestigious Catholic Writer’s Guild Seal of Approval. Finding Grace is now on Kindle at $4.99. Hiding the Stranger is $2.99!

If you are huge fan of devotionals, you can beat Tending the Temple by best-selling authors Kevin Vost, Peggy Bowes and Shane Kapler. The team that does a monthly spot on Sacred Heart radio about health and wellness Catholic style brings it all together in Tending the Temple now $7.99 on Kindle.

Peggy’s fitness manual that features our beautiful faith, The Rosary Workout, is also $7.99. And Peggy is a gal you really want to invite to speak at your next event. She’s the real deal and has something new and valuable to bring to everyone!

Speaking of fitness, if your son or hubby hasn’t yet read Jared Zimmerer’s TenCommandments of Lifting Weights, now is the time at just $2.99!

There are a lot more deals on our books but we hope this will get you started and on your way to a truly blessed Christmas and coming year.

Cheryl Dickow