Women have a singular receptivity to God that makes their prayer life distinctive from men, explains author Kathleen Beckman.
The Orange resident is the author of “When Women Pray – Eleven Catholic Women on the Power of Prayer,” which was published in April. Several local book clubs have discussed the tome, including the Orange County Catholic Book Club.
“Women’s prayer is not more powerful than men’s prayer,” says Beckman, who also is the co-founder of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests. “Still, we have a maternal way of praying, a motherly response. Women pray from the heart.”
Beckman says she was inspired to contact Catholic women busy working in various Church ministries and collect their essays because she is fascinated by women’s internal prayer lives. Beckman says she selected specific women whom she calls “well-known Marthas,” women who are busy in ministry, to “bring out the ‘Mary,’ or the more contemplative part” of each woman. [Martha and Mary reference the Bible story of the two sisters.]
Essays featured in the books include authors Pia de Solenni, chancellor of the Diocese of Orange and a nationally renowned theologian; Lisa M. Hendey, founder and editor of CatholicMom.com; and Joan Lewis, Rome bureau chief for EWTN.
Several Diocese of Orange women’s organizations are dedicated to the power of women’s prayer, particularly Magnificat and Endow.
Beckman was part of the 1991 founding team of the Diocese of Orange chapter of Magnificat, the international ministry to Catholic women.
Magnificat began as a prayer meal for 200 Catholic women in 1981 in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and has since spread across the world. St. John the Baptist parishioner Karen Moses, coordinator of the Orange County chapter, says attending Magnificat meals has helped develop her prayer life.
“As we draw closer to the Holy Spirit and desire to hear His voice, if we open ourselves and are willing, we become all the more powerful as intercessors,” Moses says. “He needs our prayers. If we set aside the time in our own homes, going out to the Church and the world, we grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord.”
Endow, based in Colorado, began in 2003 when three women – Betsy Considine, Marilyn Coors and Terry Polakavic – encountered the teachings of St. Pope John Paul II on the nature of women and the new feminism. The more they learned, the more it called them to a truer and more authentic way of living and leading as women in the world endowed with unique gifts and their own particular genius.
In Our Lady of Fatima parish in San Clemente, an Endow group of women meet to read and discuss Church documents and to study women saints.
In the end
“When Women Pray” writers share their personal stories that magnify the Marian vocation of living as contemplatives in action, Beckman says. Each chapter ends with spiritual reflections, including the wisdom of female saints.
In the end, Beckman claims, it is difficult for women to grow in holiness in solitude. “When I entered into the communion of Magnificat, I felt mutual love, support and forward momentum,” she recalls. “It drew me into a great depth of intercession for my family, my community and my Church.”