Thank you for visiting Lizk.org. I’m glad you’re here.
First things first: Woman, you matter. You are needed—in your family, among your friends, in your work, the world, and the Church. I have absolute confidence that God wants to see you flourishing in all of these arenas, even as you struggle, fail, or fall. Jesus has his heart set—on you. And he has important work for you to do.
Saints and popes and fishers of men have been telling us this a long while. Pope Pius XII wrote in 1945 in an address to a Catholic women’s organization, “This is your hour, Catholic women and Catholic girls. Public life needs you. . . the fortunes of the family, the fortunes of human society, are at stake—and they are in your hands.” Twenty years later, in 1965, in the Second Vatican Council's Message to Women we read: “At this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do much to aid mankind in not falling.” One of my favorite authors, Caryll Houselander, said it this way: “Everyone has an absolute obligation to live, not merely to exist, not merely to pickle himself in piety like a gherkin in vinegar awaiting the Eternal feast. He must live, that is to say, he must recognize himself as part of the whole. He must realize that, as the world’s work and suffering are caused by our common debt to God, there is no one exempt from taking his share of the burden.” It cannot be clearer, that God has a plan for the way in which women in particular—as individuals and as a corporate whole—will participate in his plan of salvation.
But sometimes it’s still hard to believe that we are as important to God’s work as we are. It’s hard to trust that the Creator of All is keenly aware of and interested in my little world. If you struggle to believe, to hope, that’s all right. You can borrow my hope, my faith, or borrow the faith, hope, and love of the Communion of Saints, until your own returns.
God is up to something interesting and new—in you. Don’t doubt it for a minute.
I’ll see you in prayer.
Liz’s monthly column, Your Heart, His Home appears in some of the best Catholic newspapers and periodicals throughout the country. Your Heart, His Home, which features Liz’s story-telling style, works to strengthen one’s interior life with commentary and reflection on prayer, culture, and the spiritual life. For information on publishing Your Heart, His Home in your diocesan paper, inquire below.
+ Official Bio
Liz (Elizabeth) Kelly, a native Minnesotan, is a noted speaker, retreat leader and award-winning author, whose works include short stories, arts and music reviews, books on prayer and worship, and meditations on faith, spiritual struggle, and Christian womanhood. She has written seven books, including May Crowning, Mass, and Merton: 50 Reasons I Love Being Catholic, which won the Catholic Press Association first place award for Best Popular Presentation of the Faith in 2007. She is also the author of “The Wind,” a short story nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2001. Kelly contributes to various periodicals, including Our Sunday Visitor, and her written works frequently appear in the MAGNIFICAT’S Lenten and Advent Companions. Her monthly column, “Your Heart, His Home,” is published throughout the United States. Kelly’s newest book, Jesus Approaches: What Contemporary Women Can Learn about Healing, Freedom and Joy from the Women of the New Testament, is a compelling and practical guide to healing and immersive prayer. Jesus Approaches is the winner of the Independent Press’s “Distinguished Favorite” award and the Catholic Press Association’s award for Popular Biblical Studies, both in 2018.
In addition to writing, Kelly serves as a spiritual director, having received her certification as a spiritual director from the Cenacle of our Lady of Divine Providence School of Spirituality in association with the Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2015. She leads retreats using the Ignatian exercises, with a particular focus on helping women to flourish in their faith. Because of this work, she is in demand as a retreat speaker and has been a featured guest on radio and TV shows, including spots on National Public Radio, Relevant Radio, EWTN, The Christophers, and Salt and Light Television. (Two of her talks can be found on this website: click on Recorded Talks on the top menu bar.) Recently, Kelly was awarded the New Ulm Area Catholic Schools Humanitarian Award (2017). The award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional personal courage and whose faith and actions have served as an inspiration to others.
Another of her loves is music, in which Kelly has a long background, having performed as a jazz vocalist with some of the best artists in the world, in venues including the North Sea Jazz Festival and the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. She has recorded two CDs, It Seems to Me and Anima Christi.
Presently, Kelly works as managing editor for Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, a highly regarded academic journal published out of the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minnesota, while also serving as adjunct professor of Catholic Studies there since 2009.
+ Awards and Honors
- October 2018 title for the U.S. Catholic Book Club.
- Winner, Distinguished Favorite, Independent Press Awards, for Jesus Approaches, 2018.
- Winner, Popular Biblical Studies, for Jesus Approaches, Catholic Press Association, 2018.
- Featured appearances on EWTN, At Home with Jim and Joy, and Women of Grace, with Johnnette Benkovic-Williams, 2018.
- New Ulm Area Catholic Schools Humanitarian Award, 2017.
- Winner First Place, “Popular Presentation of the Faith,” Catholic Press Association Award for May Crowning, Mass and Merton: 50 Reasons I Love Being Catholic, Spring 2007.
- Winner First Place, “Features for Single Laity,” Catholic Press Association Award for “The S Word,” Our Sunday Visitor, Spring 2007.
- Guest on The Christophers, hosted by Dennis Heaney, New York, New York, March 2005.
- Guest on Living Proof, Salt and Light Television, Toronto, Ontario, March, 2004.
- Winner, Best Regular Column, Culture, the Arts and Leisure, OSV, Catholic Press Association Award, 2001.
- Featured entertainment, National Commission on Women, Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2001.
- Guest on Living His Life Abundantlyradio show with Johnnette Benkovic, April 1999, October 2001.
- Guest on The Abundant Life, EWTN, hosted by Johnnette Benkovic, February 2001.
- Nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Short Fiction, for the short story, “The Wind,” January 2001.
- Selected participant for Alaska Women Read, University of Alaska, Spring 1993.
- Recipient of the University of Alaska Student Showcase Award for the short story, “Sketching,” Spring 1991.
+ EWTN Interview - January 2018
1. One reviewer described Jesus Approaches this way: “Beautifully, tenderly written in a voice that draws the reader immediately and intimately into the heart of the Creator. The women of the bible provide a surprisingly meaningful link to the multi-dimensional experience of their modern counterparts.” Why is immersing ourselves in scripture so important?
Liz: I think there’s a wound in the feminine heart that only a living encounter with God’s living word can heal. As Catholics, we tend to be really good with sacraments and devotions and novenas and spiritual reading. But we cut ourselves off from one of the chief methods by which God has decided we should come to know him when we don’t immerse ourselves in scripture. Getting to know the women of the Bible, especially the New Testament, can help us to find our way to making the Gospel story our own—to see ourselves in salvation history.
2. On the website, Blessed is She, a reviewer said “Liz writes with an openness, honesty, and vulnerability that few books contain.” This same reviewer noted how needed your book was at this time. Why? Why do we need Jesus Approaches now?
Liz: Women have never been more needed to heal the wounds of the world, and we learn this first from the Healer. We learn it firsthand—as we are being healed—and this wisdom and grace we must extend to the hurting world around us. Part of our mission remains exactly the same as it was for Mary at the Visitation—to bring Jesus to the rest of the world and declare his healing majesty.
3. What was your favorite chapter to write?
Liz: Magdalene was the first chapter that really felt complete, the first piece that I showed to my friends who are writers and editors. And she became a kind of anchoress for the rest of the book and the patroness of our book study. I asked her intercession when considering who else to include in the book. I had a sense of these women wanting to be better known—not for their own sake but for the sake of expressing their gratitude for all that Jesus gave them. They wanted Jesus to be better known through their stories, through their compelling and very human interactions with him.
4. Your first publications were actually short stories. And you had planned to be a novelist from the time you were little. Jesus Approaches is a kind of melding of fiction and non-fiction narrative. Can you talk more about the style of the book and why you chose that literary combination?
Liz: I think it’s a sacred task to try to capture a person in writing. Some of my first non-fiction assignments were profiles of artists and writers, and later professors and researchers. It’s an incredibly difficult task to try to capture a person, their work, their vision in just a few hundred words and I love the challenge of that. I love interviewing people. But I also love letting my imagination create worlds around characters. I have done this with some of the women in these pages. How did the Samaritan woman at the well get to that point in her life? What brought her there? This book combines these genres that I love in a way that I hope is very natural and engaging—in a way that I hope helps us to tell our own stories about our encounters with the living Christ.
5. You’ve been teaching a course called Woman and Man at the University of St. Thomas in Catholic Studies for nearly 10 years. How did teaching that course influence the book?
Liz: One thing my work in the course has absolutely affirmed in me is how much the Church loves women, respects women, needs women, wants to protect them from every corruption and sin and attack on their dignity, wants to see women flourish. And she does so because Christ does so. She takes every queue from him. As we gather more vocabulary and understanding in the complementarity of the sexes—especially in their spiritual gifts—it becomes ever more clear: the Church needs women, prayerful women, courageous women operating fully in their charisms, women on fire for the truth of the Gospel.
6. What are some of the things you are learning about women as a spiritual director and retreat leader? Are their common themes moving through the feminine heart?
Liz: I led a retreat for women in Wisconsin earlier this year—200 came on this glorious fall day to this little church in the country—and it was so heartening. I don’t think we realize the power of a praying woman, of a woman of faith. We don’t make the headlines and we don’t make the covers of magazines so we might forget just how many of us there are out there—and how powerful our prayers, our sacramental lives are for the world. I wish women knew how truly powerful they are—in Christ. Many do not know, or do not know it well enough.
7. Women who took the 8-week study based on the book with you this fall commented that they read the Martha-Mary story, for example, in a completely new way. One woman said she’d been reading the story of the woman with a hemorrhage her whole life and it never came alive to her until she read your retelling of the story—giving the woman a kind of back-story. Another reviewer said it was like you knew them all personally, all the women in the book. How did these women “introduce” themselves to you? How did you get to know them?
Liz: Part of my training for certification in spiritual direction was completing the Ignatian Exercises. I did the 19th annotation—so a good nine months praying with the life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ, an hour a half or so per day. Not long after that, I got the chance to go to the Holy Land. As I was walking around Galilee, Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane, Shepherd’s Field, I had this very strong sense that I had been there before. “I’ve been here before,” I kept thinking. And of course, I had been—in prayer! In the Mass! In prayer with scripture! And that’s precisely how I got to know the women in these pages too, praying with them, spending time with them in prayer.
8. At one point in the book, you invite women to “fail,” you give them permission to fail. What do you mean by that? Why should we aspire to failure?
Liz: We should aspire to failure in the exact same way that Jesus failed. He was not interested in building a successful business, he was building a Kingdom for his Father. He was hated, hunted, and killed for it. I want to invite women to fail in appeasing too much of the world around them. I want to invite them to fail by rejecting perfectionism and so many other commonly lauded practices that are so oppressive to the feminine heart. They stand in direct opposition to the Gospel and we waste far too much energy on them.
9. At the end of the book, you invite women to inhabit their own queenship. You suggest that just as Mary was given a kingdom to govern and guide, every woman is given a kingdom to steward. What can we learn from Mary about queenship in our own lives?
Liz: Mary’s queenship was given to her—she didn’t go out and conquer a world. She received what God gave to her. Her first kingdom was the Christ child. Ultimately her kingdom was extended to the entire world at the coronation. She becomes queen by receiving. We do the same. We don’t become queen by force, by conquering, by amassing more arms or wealth than another. We become a queen for heaven when we accept what God would like to give us, the way in which he asks each of us to bring Jesus to the world. That’s the kingdom he wants us to rule.
10. One reviewer said this about the book: “An erudite study that is exceptionally inspiring and biblically grounded, Jesus Approaches is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to church and seminary Christian Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of clergy.” Should men read this book? Why?
Liz: I have been surprised at the number of women who read the book and their first response is, “My priest should read this,” or “My husband needs to read this.” The book was definitely written with women in mind as the primary readers, but if it succeeds in that, maybe that’s why women want men to read it—so they can learn more of the interior life of a woman, more of the way women believe and the ways their faith feeds who they are. Ultimately, we all want to be known, and I think women feel better known through reading the book. They want to offer that experience to the men around them.