Twenty years ago, I began writing about the feminine vocation. In the decade prior to that, having converted to the Catholic faith, I found that the air was thick with stereotypes and hyperbole about what women could and couldn't do. I wondered if there weren't a more organized way of discussing the subject that would encourage and unite women, rather than further fracturing their ranks.
As I criss-crossed the country, though, and spoke about my thesis—that women live as icons of Holy Mother Church—I found that one piece was missing. When I explained how that theme was applied to everyday life, and that each woman is free to live within that paradigm according to the unique landscape of her world (considering her gifts, her challenges, and her family situation) women were delighted. They were free from comparisons with others that frustrated them—especially comparisons with those whose lives and dispositions were so different from their own—and they were free to embark on a life whose only yardstick was how it measured up to what the mystical Bride of Christ was called to be.
Unfortunately, they still weren't entirely free to embrace God's will for their lives. Since the bottom line of every woman's vocation is to love, and the risk of loving in a fallen world is to be hurt, the fear of how to deal with injuries was still crippling many women who deserved to be liberated in the only real sense of the world—liberated in Christ. The last challenge was learning how to deal with a life-time of wounds, large and small, that sucked the joy out of living the faith. I found that it was still difficult to follow Christ's insistent call to “be not afraid!”
Our salvation hinges on our ability to forgive, and yet there is little practical advice on what forgiveness entails. We know Christ forgave us from the cross, Our Lady took us to her bosom while we were still deep in sin, and the prayer Jesus left us reminds that the forgiveness of our sins depends on our forgiveness of others, but what does that really mean? How is it actually done? What is enough? What follows? Is there anything we don't have to forgive? How do we proceed after the forgiveness is offered?
Thus it is with great joy that I announce that I'm now a “two-trick pony.” Set-Free: The Authentic Catholic Woman's Guide to Forgiveness will be available in mid-October, and I'm thrilled that I was invited to put these very practical ideas into print. If you will bear with me, I'll share a little of what Dr. Alice von Hildebrand said about the work:
This book—written for a very large public—if read with an open heart, will be a powerful help to those who with God's grace, realize that to forgive is to love oneself with a true love. Whereas the unrepentant forgiven person is still sick, the forgiving one is healed. Tolle lege.
Having found that healing grace myself, I want it for all women. You owe it to yourselves—and your loved ones—to break the chains and to love without fear. Forgiveness is the key.