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If They Only Knew

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About a year ago I applied for a grant to help my fledgling magazine, Embodied, that is grounded in Pope St. John Paul II’s writings about the human person. I was struck by one question: “For whom does your heart break?” This brought an immediate wave of deep sadness, but I now see it was a sweet moment of grace, a consolation from the Lord that I am on the path He wants me on.

You see, my heart breaks for all the young people who have walked away from or disregarded the Catholic faith of their youth—including some of my children. Granted, scandals provided many with a justification, but in my experience the choice is more often rooted in a failure to see any value in the Church, anything relevant to their lives…anything beautiful.

This breaks my heart! My breath is often taken away, and I am brought to tears by the indescribable beauty Christ has led me to know. If they only knew what they were walking away from!

I could fill numerous pages with stories of the many people and events that shaped my faith journey. However, several years ago I could no longer deny that it was Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that tied together so many faith-related elements and completely erased every remaining speck of doubt that God really loves me—And everyone else! My heart changed. Think black-and-white to color.

God raises up saints when He knows we need them, and praise God that in today’s gender-confused world we have Pope St. John Paul II and his beautiful explanations on the dignity of being made male and female, with the call to love as God loves through a complete gift of self. Of this, I am completely sure.

What I am much less consistently sure of is why He called me to help more people become aware of these teachings—to show others the beauty. I have felt unworthy because I lack a theology degree. But the call persisted for so long that my spiritual director finally said, “If you don’t try to make this happen—whether you succeed or fail—you are being disobedient to the Holy Spirit.” Yikes! So, I quit my job, started a non-profit, and we are now in our second year of publication.

But this is hard! On the magazine front, things are good. Readers love it, and we recently won four awards for excellence from the Catholic Media Association—including third place for Magazine of the Year! Yet, things remain a struggle financially. I lack the funding to grow at a quicker pace and worry about how long I can keep going, but at the same time I know how blessed I am for such opportunities to grow in trust that God will see me through, no matter what.

After I converted one child’s old bedroom to my Embodied office, my daughter gifted me with beautiful, framed quotes for inspiration, including, “In God’s plan nothing happens by chance,” and “Do not be afraid,” from Pope St. John Paul II My favorite is: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire,” from St. Catherine of Siena. I’m choosing to trust those words. Every day.

Ann Gundlach and her husband, Greg, are parishioners of St. Ignatius Church and have three children and four grandchildren. She is the editor and founder of Embodied magazine. To learn more and subscribe, visit: https://embodiedmag.org/


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