A Golden Voice with a Word in Season

Every time I talk to Pat Gohn speak, I find myself marveling at the resonance of her lovely alto. She has one of those voices that belongs behind a microphone or a podium, and that — coupled with her ability to reason smoothly and articulately — makes her podcasts at Among Women such soothing, thoughtful programs.

She’s got a voice like rich honey.

This week’s podcast is not quite so soothing, however. Pat is mellifluous as ever but her guest is a bit on the hyper side and she can’t shut up.

Gohn does manage to rise above the challenge of getting me to say anything sensible, though, and she also begins with a brief, informative and inspiring look at St. Agnes of Rome (happy synchronicity: my confirmation name is Agnes and she is one of my favorite saints!) so I urge you to give it a listen. We touch on a lot of topics, ending on a whole question of how to balance justice with charity, and whether charity might — in the end — be the pre-eminent virtue.

Pat Gohn’s weekly column “A Word in Season” is a terrific resource for adult Catholic; Pat essentially follows the liturgical year of times and seasons and (via scripture, the Catechism and our own history) helps the reader become acquainted or re-acquainted with what we believe, why we believe it, and where that faith can take us. This week, her column takes a surprisingly personal turn as she brings us St. Francis de Sales (whose feastday is next Monday). St. Francis (of, Saint Frank, as Pat calls him) became the source of a deep well of hope for Pat when she was a young mother of three, facing breast cancer:

Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36, I was a young wife and mother to three children under age 9. To put it mildly, I was a mess over the news. And having a writer’s vivid imagination, the kind that often writes the end of the script in my head while the play is still the first act, I was tending toward pessimism. (I have since worked to suspend that habit, learning that God is the superior scriptwriter, and he already knows the end of the story.)

But back then, my pessimist’s wild imaginings coupled with a volatile pathology report brought misery. My believer’s heart needed a trauma intervention.

God’s rescue squad arrived in the form of my loved ones, my church, and a 16th-century saint I had heard about but never took serious note of. Until I read his words:

Do not look forward in fear
to the changes of life;
rather look to them with full hope
as they arise.
God, whose very own you are,
will lead you safely through all things;
and when you cannot stand it,
God will carry you in His arms.
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
the same everlasting Father who cared for you today
will take care of you then and every day.
He will either shield you from suffering,
Or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace
And put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

St. Frank’s words stopped me in my proverbial pessimistic tracks. I was either going to live this life as a trusting believer who happened to have cancer, or I was going to languish in my own pity.

St. Francis de Sales brought Pat “a word in season,” and all these years later, she tells the tale. Life is a kind of continuum. You’ll want to read the whole thing.

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