Wedding planning can be a stressful time for a bride. After all, engagement is a unique era of intense excitement, anticipation, and preparation, all at the same time.
The temptation to live constantly in the future, in that blissful time when you and your beloved are finally living your vocation as husband and wife, is strong. I experienced this, and I watched the engaged women in my life go through it as well.
One unexpected resource that helped me recenter my heart and my focus during the year and a half I was engaged was a newfound technological affinity: podcasts.
My love for podcasts began at the end of college, when I was in the middle of wedding planning and trying to finish my degree program. I was insanely busy, and I needed something “restful” to break up my day and refocus me on the Lord in the cacophony of assignments, full schedules, and wedding checklists.
Even if it was just on the car ride home or walking between classes on campus, I discovered inspiration for my upcoming vocation and encouragement as a Catholic woman in several podcasts. And, every once in a while, a little treat for my bookish heart--at the time, there was no free moment to conquer my to-read list!
And so, here are my top five podcast recommendations (and two honorable mentions) for the busy, bookish Catholic bride who is looking for rest and inspiration for her upcoming vocation, femininity, books, or simply living the beauty of our faith in the midst of everyday life:
01. Daily Readings from the New American Bible by the USCCB
I’ve intentionally ranked this one first on the list. If you don’t already read the daily readings in some form: through daily emails, a missal, or through an app, download this podcast today. This resource, provided to us by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), helped me make a habit of listening to the daily readings, even if I felt like I had no time to sit and read them.
Each daily podcast is only around five minutes, and they post other days ahead of schedule. If you want to get ahead on reading next Sunday’s readings, just find it in the list of episodes! The daily readings are a beautiful gift from the Church that allow us to connect everyday with Scripture in a way that reflects the current season of the liturgical year (and, often, the current season of your heart). Discover this ancient tradition of the Church through your podcast player.
A good place to start: Today’s readings!
02. The Gathering Place by Blessed is She founder Jenna Guizar and Beth Davis
In The Gathering Place, Jenna and Beth invite you to “come chat with us about Jesus, prayer, community, and life.” In true Blessed is She style, the two co-hosts talk like you’re sitting in their living room having a conversation about the love of Christ, joyful sisterhood, and how it touches the everyday struggles of the Christian life, whether you’re married or living the single life. They bring guests on the show as well, like BIS writers, Ike Ndolo, and several of their closest priest-friends to drop some major truth-bombs--yes, including Bishop Barron! Each episode ends with an extemporaneous prayer to lift your heart to the Lord.
A good place to start: “Remember His Tenderness// TGP Episode 11”
03. Abiding Together Podcast by Heather Khym, Michelle Benzinger, and Sr. Miriam James Heidland
Abiding Together brings together three amazing Catholic women: two wives and mothers and one religious sister. Together, they provide diverse perspectives on what it means to live authentic womanhood and vocation in the Church. Their mission is to provide “a place of connection, rest, and encouragement for women who are on the journey of living out their passion and purpose in Jesus Christ.” Another fun aspect? They do book studies on spiritual books and Church documents! If you ever wanted three cool Catholic ladies to guide you on a spiritual read-along or encourage you in your feminine vocation, Abiding Together is a refreshing place to begin.
A good place to start: Check out their four-part series diving into JPII’s “feminine genius,” starting with episode 5 on receptivity.
04. Among the Lilies by Cameron Fradd
Cameron Fradd is the wife of well-known Catholic author and speaker Matt Fradd. In fact, they both host their own podcasts! (You may have heard of Matt Fradd’s popular Pints with Aquinas series.) Among the Lilies is Cameron’s little corner of the world for “ladies who are tired of pretending and are ready to be real.” I think of Among the Lilies as the “real talk” of Catholic podcasts for women. Cameron doesn’t shy away from difficult or challenging topics that can affect any Catholic woman, and she handles them with grace, spunk, and infectious humor. I have cherished her episodes on infertility, sex and marriage, sisterhood, and brokenness, to name a few. She also hosts some pretty amazing guests (including her husband) like Leah Darrow, Crystalina Evert, and Jackie Francois.
A good place to start: Check out episodes eight and nine, a two-part series on intimacy in marriage and intimacy in friendship with Elisa McLaughlin.
05. Fountains of Carrots by Haley Stewart and Christy Isinger
I have saved this gem of a podcast for last. Over the past two years, I have listened to almost every episode (there are over 100) of Fountains of Carrots, a show for “chats about faith, books, culture, and whatever strikes our fancy.” Not only have I received all my best book recommendations from Haley and Christy, they also began my obsession, for better or worse, with BBC period dramas. But it’s not all about good English literature and TV shows. These two Catholic mamas talk about marriage, kids, homeschooling, homesteading, and liturgical living. No other podcast helped me through the last stages of wedding planning and the early, emotional transition into newlywed life the way Haley and Christy did. Their voices have become familiar friends to me, and their discussions are downright charming.
A good place to start: Try any bookish episode (especially earlier episodes) where they discuss book recommendations and underlying Catholic themes in literature. Or check out episode 57: “From Catholic Single Life to the Altar: Relationship Wisdom with Christina Grace Dehan.”
01. Simple by Tsh Oxenreider
Although Tsh is Anglican, not Catholic, that doesn’t stop her from regularly inviting Haley Stewart from Fountains of Carrots to come on her show and discuss Catholic liturgical living for each month, as well as good books. Simple is a show all about “living well and ignoring the rest.” Tsh talks about Christian themes like cultivating silence, fasting, feasting, marriage, and family. But she also has great interviews with women about their interesting careers in her work series. And throughout the whole show, she gives tips on how to cultivate a beautiful, simple life.
02. A Good Story is Hard to Find by Julie Davis and Scott Danielson
A podcast on books and good storytelling hosted by two Catholic friends? Yes please! A Good Story is Hard to Find talks about “books, movies, and traces of “the One Reality” below the surface.” If you’ve ever wanted a “book club” feel in a podcast and the opportunity to discuss Catholic themes in pop culture books and movies, join Julie and Scott in their reading and watching adventures. They’ll review and discuss anything from Dante’s ancient Divine Comedy to 2018’s A Quiet Place.
So, as you plan your wedding, anticipate your marital vocation, and strive to find God in the busyness of everyday, remember the importance of refocusing your heart and soul in the present moment--the “now” where God lives.
May you’ll find a little rest, inspiration, and joy in these podcasts, like I did—and still do! Let that joy flow into a strengthened prayer life and encouragement in your journey towards marriage and, through the graces of the sacrament, sainthood.