The 16th of March arrived very quickly and it was time for us at last to enjoy a lecture given by Dr Scott Hahn in person on the occasion of the inauguration of the Holy Rosary Shrine in Belsize Park, London. Here in England, we don't often have the privilege to listen live to the great Apologists of our time and have to make do with YouTube videos and podcasts so as you can imagine the excitement was high. I knew I would not be able to talk to him but I was determined to deliver a parcel with a letter on behalf of my Catholic Mothers addressed to Kimberley, his beloved wife.
I had nothing to lose...I had to try and see if I could arrange an interview with her for my group of mothers. After having managed to reach Fr Mike, thinking he would NEVER agree to be interviewed, my attitude of 'I have nothing to lose ...I can but try!' has become even stronger and more fearless!
( I hope to interview Bishop Barron too sooner or later... I have already spoken to him face to face at the Adoremus conference and am on the case... Will God surprises us once again?... I will keep you posted.)
So I prayed and asked my friends, the Saints and JPII in particular to help me somehow deliver the little Catholic Mothers tote bag I had carefully packed for Mrs Hahn.
My hopes were low as we arrived at the church a bit later than I had planned ... but as the doors opened and we were asked for our tickets, I realised one of the organisers was an old friend of my husband's... so I asked him kindly to deliver the bag... all my hope was in that bag and with him.
A few weeks passed and to my surprise (God never stops to surprise me when it comes to this) I was put in touch with the wonderful Kimberley Hahn whose kindness and patience towards me and my crazy little projects was infinite considering I was just a mother running a tiny group in the virtual Catholic world... and she a well known author and speaker. Yet again I was touched by the humility and spirit of service of these 'famous' Catholics, 'wasting' some of her valuable time for the littlest of their brothers and sisters.
Many members of the Catholic Mothers Facebook group submitted questions for the interview and I put some of them along with my own to Kimberley Hahn!
1. There are many Catholic Mothers out there who are waiting and praying for their spouse to join them in this journey of Faith to be able to walk this path together as one. What was your husband’s approach towards you in those 4 years as he waited for you to join him?
Briefly, he prayed a lot, shared when he could, begged God for insight, and challenged me. It was the most difficult time in our marriage. If faith matters to you – and it mattered SO much to us both – our differences were exceedingly painful. It was a time of a loss of dreams without seeing how we would ever be united truly again.
I’d recommend people read “Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism” which goes chapter by chapter through the same time frame from Scott’s perspective and then through mine.
2. How many children did you have at the time and how did they react to the transition and what did you do when only one of you was in the Church?
When Scott became Catholic, we had two little boys, ages 3 and 1 ½. I became pregnant soon after with our daughter, Hannah. When I became Catholic, they were the only children we had, ages 7, 6 1/2, and 3. I don’t know how much they picked up on the intensity of our struggles, but we presented as united a front as we could. Scott let me know the week after he became Catholic that he had committed to raising the children Catholic, but that he wouldn’t press that immediately. By the time our oldest was 5, he no longer wanted us to attend a Protestant service though I was free to go when I wanted. By the time our eldest was 6, Scott signed him up for classes for First Confession and First Communion. Again, it was my decision to remain Protestant or not, but I faced being the only Protestant in my Catholic family.
There are many more details about this journey in “Rome Sweet Home.”
3. What did you do to try to incorporate the Faith into your daily lives and to incorporate the Liturgical calendar too - Easter, Lent, Advent, Saints' days etc? (Patricia)
I talked with Catholic moms, gathered ideas from books, and tried traditions to see what would work well given our children’s ages, whether or not I was pregnant, and what Scott could assist us with. There are so many beautiful traditions – you can’t do them all. You want to do what can be meaningful without feeling like someone’s going to judge you for doing it differently than your neighbour. In my book “Graced and Gifted” I give more concrete ideas for liturgical celebrations.
4. How do you deal with and keep teens faithful when they pull away for independence? (Maureen)
Our youngest of 6, David, is now 19, so we’re almost through the teen years. I think they are a great age – full of deep thoughts about life, love, Godk, the world… Dads are key – they coral them for daily Mass and after-dinner Rosary. The dads help demonstrate that religion is not a “kid” thing. We emphasize how essential it is for them to reach for heroic virtue, to know their faith well so they can defend it, and to give Christ everything! Too often, teens are short-sold on faith, begging them to come with us to Mass rather than telling them what time we’re going. This is true for daily Mass while they are under our roof. We just decide to go and take them. If someone says, “Do we have to go to daily Mass?” I counter with, “We don’t have to, we GET to!” Often they chime in with me with a small smile and a shrug. Afterwards, they have been grateful they went. It’s a limited time offer, while they live under our roof. Don’t miss the opportunity to help them form habits which will help them in later life.
My husband always had a rule: If you need to go to Confession, just ask, and I’ll find you a priest to hear your confession, no questions asked. That was a great rule. And Scott followed through.
5. How does one "know" for certain that the number of children you have is it?
You know for certain when you hit menopause and can’t have any more. ☺ I’ve never heard of anyone saying in later life they wish they had had one less child – but I’ve heard countless people lamenting they were not open to one more.
Seriously, think about your whole life – how long will you live? How long will you be married? Of those years, how many times will you conceive? And how many of those children will you get to bear to delivery and raise? Again, it’s a limited time offer. I would really encourage you to get a copy of “Life-Giving Love: Embracing God’s Beautiful Design for Marriage” which I wrote years ago. The first half of the book explains the Church’s teaching and how beautiful it is. The second half deals with many difficult situations and how we can respond well to miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility, secondary infertility, and sterilizations, as well as quick answers to the 58 most common objections to being open to one more child.
How do you know you're done, or you've accomplished God’s will for family size? (Glynis)
God’s will is tricky to understand – he knows and we don’t. We pray, we seek counsel, we talk with our spouse to understand each other’s hearts, and then we act in good faith, only using Natural Family Planning if we believe we are not led to be open to another child at this time. Contraception for the purpose of not conceiving is always serious sin. No exceptions. That’s NOT God’s will. Ever.
6. How did you find your homeschooling journey? What would you do differently? (Annalisa)
I first heard about homeschooling from a radio broadcast called Focus on the Family. I looked up that author and began reading about it when my youngest was 1. I went to a conference to learn more and to see what materials were available. It was amazing!
I homeschooled all 6 of our children, most of them all the way through high school, for 26 years. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I highly recommend it.
7. If a parent does not have the option to homeschool or send their children to Catholic school, what are some things that parents can do? (Leanne)
You’ll need to really pay attention to what your children are being taught. Discuss it with them. Find out if Planned Parenthood (or some such organisation) is coming to your child’s classes to give them information and require your child not be present. They go to classes as young as kindergarten! They are the largest abortion provider networks in the US and as such, use their classroom presentations to work toward their future clientele for contraception and ultimately abortion.
8. “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of sons is their fathers.” (Proverbs 17:6) What role do Christian grandparents have in their grandchildren’s life?
Grandparents have a wonderful role to play – to delight in your offspring as parents and be their major support; to delight in their offspring and enjoy them without feeling the burden of disciplining them; to pray for them every day.
I have a journal for each of my grandchildren that I write in periodically. I didn’t have the time to do that for my children, but that’s something I can do for my grandchildren. I’m so grateful to be able to write about meaningful bible verses, challenge them in their faith, comment on funny things they’ve said or done, speak words of love and encouragement to them, and share how God is teaching me. I plan on giving them their journals sometime after they turn 18.
9. How do you support your husband as head of the family when you are a leader yourself?
Your husband is the head of the home; you are the heart of the home. Which is more important? Neither. You are both greatly needed. Yet in the dance of marriage, someone needs to lead, and the Lord has designated that role for the husband. In fact, the example is Christ and the Church – do they co-lead, or does the Lord lead the Church? This is not something that squelches a wife, because the husband’s leadership is to demonstrate the kind of service Christ demonstrated for the Church as he laid down his life for her – for us.
Both husband and wife are to submit to Christ and then work out the details of life together in a supportive role with a servant spirit.