On Saturday, I shared the first part of my interview with Pat Gohn. Today, I’m delighted to share some of Pat’s wisdom — written just for YOU — and more about her. Enjoy!
Of your pursuits — writing, speaking, and now podcasting — what’s your favorite? Or, if you can’t pick a favorite, what’s fulfilling about each of them?
Hmmm…. tough to pick a fav…. Writing is great when it’s going well, y’know? In my early years, before my children came, I wrote for broadcast radio and advertising agencies. Nobody knows who the writers are for those things, so there is a lot of anonymity except in your close professional circles. My writing now isn’t advertising, it’s evangelization and catechesis in the Catholic Church…. So, you could say, I went from selling Chevys and fast food to trying to make Jesus a household name! The other difference is that now my work is in the public eye on websites, or in print, and it usually has a byline that is publicly traceable to moi. So, I’m not used to the attention that comes with that. But what is fulfilling about writing is not seeing the byline. It’s that I’m using one of the gifts God gave me, in his service.
Public speaking is fine, when I have the opportunity. Mostly, I just love sharing about our Catholic faith, and that can happen anywhere. Any time. Whether it is sharing a cup of coffee with a friend and praying with them over a problem, or being renewed in our faith while on retreat or at a conference together.
I really like engaging the questions people have about the spiritual life and Church teaching, and having the opportunity to celebrate the riches of our Faith. Let me sum this up with this quote from Bishop Fulton Sheen: “Most people don’t hate what the Catholic Church teaches… they hate what they think the Catholic Church teaches.” I keep that taped to the wall in my office.
Podcasting is just a fun new media that I think has real growth potential for all phases of Catholic ministry. My particular niche, with Among Women, is delving into Catholic spirituality for women. In a culture where the Oprahs and Ellens of the world dominate women’s media, I’d like to see Catholic women bring their giftedness to the fore. Oprah and Ellen, while entertaining in the short term, are selling a lifestyle, and, a path to happiness that is fleeting, at best. Christians have joy, life-giving love, and purpose — that touches every aspect of life. The call to holiness is the ULTIMATE lifestyle! And it leads to eternal life!
What’s fulfilling about podcasting is not the podcasting, but sharing the content, that hopefully, is a source of encouragement and nourishment for daily life. And to help women have the confidence to be a blessing among the women they know, and among the men and children they know, too.
Pat, if you were to give me advice, as a young mom, what would it be?
1. Stay close to Jesus. Nurture that faith. If you are not growing, you are dying. Pray. Pray. Pray. Look to the Blessed Mother as a guide and helper for mothering. (I know for some of you reading this, Mary seems way too remote, or a tough act to follow. Ask Jesus to help you get better acquainted with her. He helped me — a hard-headed stubborn fiercely independent feministic woman. And I learned, and continue to learn a whole new way of life… of loving service, and surrendering to loving, by generously saying “yes” to life.
2. Love your husband. Laying your life down for him will be the hardest thing you ever do. But it is the closest thing to God-as-love you will ever do. There’s an old saying that the best thing parents can do for her children is to love their spouse. I believe that. (If your marriage needs help, get it. Saving your marriage will save the life of your children. If you’re a single parent, look to Christ as your partner, and find support from your church and wherever you can get it.)
3. Be a responsible parent. Stay involved in the lives of your children. Don’t leave their religious upbringing to others. Do it yourself. If that means you have to learn more about your faith, so be it. While I’m always praising my children when they bring home a good grade or some other special achievement, it’s more important for me to catch them in the act of doing good, and telling them that I see the good in them. Sometimes we are so busy disciplining our children, that we forget that the opposite is equally, if not more important.
4. Sometimes life is hard. There will be sadness, and cancer, and unemployment, and hardship, and difficult inlaws and outlaws, and crabby babies, and dog puke on the rug. Find ways to celebrate and delight in the ordinary.
We celebrated the days kids learned how to pump on the swing, or swim across the pool, or put a worm on a hook, or pass the driving exam. We also celebrated baptismal days as well as birthdays, saints days as well as holy days.
And every now and then: do something unexpected. I once took all three of my kids out of school after first period, because they had appointments with Dr. Slopes — the ski slopes that is! Another time, we picked them up after school and drove straight to the airport to say “goodbye” to their often-traveling father — and surprised them with all our bags in the trunk — and we all got on the plane with him! (Not work, a surprise trip.) Some night, it can even be as easy as having dessert first.
But delight, delight, delight, in all that you can.
Psalm 37:3-5: Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
Thanks, Pat, for sharing so much of yourself and your wisdom here and in the first segment of the interview!