Be Delighted

The Lord delights in you.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The Lord DELIGHTS in you. The Lord delights in YOU. Today, I invite us to reflect on the responsorial psalm and the way we can emphasize these two words in our lives: delight and you.

First, delight. Merriam-Webster defines delight as “to take great pleasure.” The Lord takes great pleasure in you. Our God is a God of great, big, unending, unfailing love. He loves us so much that He couldn’t imagine a life without us, despite the consequences of the fall and original sin. And, out of love, God sent His only Beloved Son to live among us, to suffer and die in order to reconcile us to the Father, to return us to His love and to eternal life with Him in that love.

When we live our lives according to His ways, His heart, His desires, He takes great pleasure in us. When we accomplish His works of sharing the Gospel and building the Kingdom of God here on earth, He takes great pleasure in us. When we work to bring others into the kingdom, He takes pleasure in us. When we remain faithful to Him in prayer and in the sacraments, He takes great pleasure in us.

But what about those other times when we are broken, bruised and damaged from sin, from the darkness that creeps into life? Can He really take pleasure in that?

Yes. He takes pleasure in our return to Him when we seek a way out of the messiness and into the light of His love. When we return to the open arms of a loving Father, no matter how slow and no matter how painful it may be, He takes pleasure in us. All He wants to do is to show us how much we are loved, to show us how He sees us in the eyes of love.

Second, you. Our identity is rooted in God. We are a beloved son or daughter in His eyes, nothing less. God wants to show us how much more He loves us, values us, cares for us than we do ourselves. There is nothing that we can do that can destroy our identity in Christ. The biggest, worst sin we could commit is nothing compared to the cross, to the sacrificial love that the Father showed us in Jesus Christ.

Many of us struggle with affirmation, with being told how good we are or how strong we are or how (insert anything here) we are. If we struggle to hear these words on a human level, what happens when we hear it from our Heavenly Father?

Take some time in prayer, brothers and sisters, before the Blessed Sacrament if you can. Sit before Him and bask in His love. Be affirmed that you are good in His eyes. Open up those spaces in your heart that have been hidden in darkness and self-condemnation and begin to delight in yourself as the Lord delights in you.

Contact the author

Erin is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. Following graduation, she began volunteering in youth ministry at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Her first “big girl” job was in collegiate sports information where, after a busy two years in the profession on top of serving the youth, she took a leap of faith and followed the Lord’s call to full-time youth ministry at St. Peter Church. She still hopes to use her communication arts degree as a freelance writer and statistician, though. You can catch her on the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

Come and See

I love the sweet simplicity of today’s Gospel. Philip was looking for Nathanel and as he finds him, shares that one whom the Jews were waiting for is here, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth. But Nathaniel said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip responds, “Come and see.”

Nathaniel’s response shocks us into remembering the complete humility of God. Nazareth is not a place anyone would expect the Son of Man, the Messiah, to come from.  It is not high class, but ordinary. By Nathaniel’s response, I think Nazareth is even a bit below an average town. Philip doesn’t debate this with him but responds with a request for him to see for himself. All of us as Christians can take note of this simple response.

How often do we get into lengthy conversations when trying to evangelize? How often do we feel the need to defend and prove? We should be more like Philip and simply request others to come and see for themselves. When Nathaniel goes, he meets Jesus. Jesus greets him, and Nathaniel asks, “How do you know me?” Jesus goes on to say that he saw where he was before Philip went to get him, under the fig tree. Nathaniel then proclaims, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Let us be like Philip today, bringing our friends closer to Jesus in simplicity. In the simple request of “Come and see.” Let us remember that Jesus sees us in every moment of our day, like Nathaniel under the fig tree. He sees us in every moment of our day. We are fully seen and fully known, may that bring you peace today.

Contact the author

Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

A Blueprint for Love

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I’m going to guess that most of you reading this post today believe you have the first and greatest commandment down pat. Love God. It’s the “with all our heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” part that I question. I also question it in myself. Is my love for God whole? Or are parts of me still holding back? I ask because if we truly did love God wholly, do we really need the second commandment? Think about it. Perhaps it depends on our definition of what it means to love wholly. But this will not be the focus of today’s reflection.

Instead, let’s look at “The Greatest Commandment, Part II.” Or, the Sequel. Love of neighbor. For this, I’d like to offer you a blueprint for love of neighbor, one that I’ve used often in prayer and when delving into my understanding of how to love others. I hope this will help you also:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”   -1 Corinthians 13:1:7

There – the blueprint. The road map. What I most like about using this passage in my journey to loving others is that I can take baby steps. The first part reminds us that loving is more important than anything else we do. But the second part – this part lets us take those small steps. We can pick this apart and work on each of our shortcomings.

Perhaps we can start with patience if that is your downfall. Maybe it’s arrogance or irritability. Rudeness is a big one; jealousy, or perhaps too much rejoicing when someone you dislike experiences hard times. Are we happy in that? Or can we instead say a prayer for that person to help them? You must know that if you have not yet moved forward in your efforts to love, it cannot be done all at once. Dissect the blueprint. Pick one step and take the time necessary to improve this act of love. You may have to bite your tongue along the way. Try not to! But if you do, step back a bit on the road and look just ahead of you. What could you have done differently? Then, step forward and try again. Each time, with practice, should be easier. One – step – at – a – time!

Note that Jesus says we must love our neighbor, but often, I am asked how to define a neighbor. Well, look up from your phone and texting and social media and glance around you. You will find no shortage of neighbors to love. Whatever their race, creed, ideology, nationality, age, sexual orientation, body type or hair color — these are your neighbors. These are the folks you are commanded to love. Jesus also said that we should love these neighbors as we love ourselves. Love of self must be in the likeness of Jesus’ love for us, not in self-centeredness. Understanding how Jesus loves you will move you forward on our journey to loving your neighbor. Then, perhaps one day, who knows when our love of neighbor will also include those enemies whose only goal is to destroy us. An outlandish idea? Not in the eyes of Jesus. Yes, perhaps one day! Perhaps —

God Bless.

Contact the author

Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at

An Invitation of Love

I have written about this before, but I absolutely love when God’s love for us is described with marital imagery. As most of you know, having been recently married, it is a time in my life when I can relate to marital themes. It has been said that God wants to marry us spiritually and is sending us a proposal; what we must do is say yes.

Today’s Gospel seems very dark and strict, but it’s not if we really enter into the marital imagery that Jesus is using. Put yourself in the proper mindset here. Imagine your best friend was getting married and you wanted more than anything to attend the ceremony and be there with your friend. You wait for months hoping to receive an invitation, wondering if you are among the list that will be accepted. Finally, the invitation comes, and without a second thought, you get on their website and RSVP, giving what food you would like and how many people will be attending. You let them know you care by quickly telling them you have set aside the time and want to support them.

Now imagine this friend is more of an acquaintance from college or a distant cousin that you don’t really talk to. You know they exist and have been in your life before, but you’ve let that relationship go by the wayside. Now you get the invitation and you may think that this is an inconvenience because at the very least now you need to get them a gift and at the most you are attending another wedding. Maybe you wait to fill out the RSVP in hopes that something else will come up and you will have an excuse or maybe a better friend will invite you to their wedding and you would rather attend that, leaving your friend unanswered.

Now imagine you don’t know this person at all. You get an invitation in the mail, and you wonder if it has been misaddressed because you don’t even recognize the couple in the pictures. You try to find them on Facebook to see if you maybe met through mutual friends, but you can’t find them there either. You have no recollection of ever meeting the couple, and so you tear up the invitation and throw it away.

My simple question for you and myself today is this; which scenario most depicts yours when God sends us his invitation. Do we accept, do we wait for something we think may be better, or do we reject it completely? Let’s pray for the grace to be prepared when God sends us his invitation of love. From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

Tommy Shultz is a Solutions Evangelist for Diocesan. In that role, he is committed to coaching parishes and dioceses on authentic and effective Catholic communication. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. Contact him at

A Joyful Celebration

Are you someone that gets to Sunday Mass ten to fifteen minutes early? Are you someone that seems to make it right on time? Or are you always running late, getting there after Mass has already started? Well, this may sound odd to you, but I love watching the faithful who run late and sneak in after the entrance song or First Reading. I love to observe the faithful around me, the variety of expressions on people’s faces. The grandma staring down the new young family that has a noisy child, the people who roll their eyes as others come in late… 

Jesus shares with us today in the Gospel, a pretty lengthy parable.  The landowner hires laborers for his vineyard and some have been working all day in the heat.  The landowner runs into more laborers who are just standing around late in the day. He asks them why they aren’t working and as he finds that no one has hired them, he does them a favor and sends them into his vineyard.  At the end of the work day, everyone was given the usual daily wage. The laborers who started early in the morning were upset they did not receive more, since they worked far more hours in the hot sun then those who were hired later in the day. The landowner said to them, “My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

I absolutely love the message Jesus gives us in this parable.  Here we find the absolute generosity of God! Today, I believe we’d all have the same grumbles of the first workers if we were in their shoes.  We’re use to clocking in and clocking out. Maybe many of us would be offended if an entry level worker went home with the same paycheck as the top earner.  The landowner reminds them that he is free to use his money as he wishes and calls them out on being envious. 

I’d like to challenge you to think of this story in the context of God’s grace. How many of us act like the grumbling laborers spiritually?  Perhaps you work so hard day in and day out to please the Lord. You have countless holy hours, daily rosary & Mass… Perhaps you see other’s blessings and tend to feel jealousy since you “work harder”. All those spiritual efforts and works are so good and bring the Lord much joy, but we must be as generous as He is.  When the family that has a new baby arrives late to Mass, we should smile in joy that they still decided to come! When someone sneaks in the back after the Gospel reading, we shouldn’t look at them with judgement, but offer welcome and hospitality. When multiple toddlers are being noisy and distracting, may we praise God for them. The Church is our Mother and should be flexible and generous to all families. We, as the Body of Christ, must cultivate that same attitude of generosity! I believe it’s important to remind ourselves that we don’t know the hearts of those around us. We don’t know their crosses, pains, and circumstances. May we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ with the generosity that the landowner had one his laborers and remember that the last will be first, and the first will be last.

Contact the author

Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Seasons of Hardship

Have you ever gone through a period of great suffering in your life, a time when you felt like enough was enough and just couldn’t go on? I mean, how many things can snowball into a stark reality before you go absolutely crazy?

In today’s first reading, Gideon wondered the very same thing. Begrudged by the oppression of the Midianites, he was an unhappy man. So God sent HIM to do something about it. As I type, my body is wracked with soreness and exhaustion, my soul is bruised from wounded relationships and unexpected realizations, my mind is whirling with a hundred things that crush my thoughts. How long can this go on?

Faced with the eviction of close relatives who trashed a living space we owned, we have been forced to spend countless hours and thousands of dollars that we don’t have just making it livable again. We count on the rental of this space to pay our bills and every month it lays vacant we go more and more in the hole. So each night, after working all day, my husband and I trudge over to our “side job.” Most days the to-do list is so long we can see no light at the end of the tunnel. Now, with most cosmetic aspects in place and a smaller list of practical details to finish we feel a certain amount of relief. It is short-lived, however, as we realize how much work we have to do on our own home, all projects abandoned in a rush to finish the rental.

To top it all off, my husband has begun a new venture that he loves, but that also entails a certain amount of stress and takes up a good portion of his time. The kids are fighting and cocking attitudes. School is about to start. We have family visiting for a week. Did I mention we are EXHAUSTED?…the words of the Psalm come as a balm to my weary soul.

“I will hear what God proclaims; the LORD–for he proclaims peace to his people, and to his faithful ones, and to those who put in him their hope.” (Ps 85)

“For everything, there is a season, even a season to suffer, to be tired and to wonder why. And in every season God is there and there is hope. For every season there is a reason. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19)

Someone once told me that it was kind of nice being in the depths of the pit because you knew the only direction you could go from there was up. So here’s to moving forward, to ascending the heights, with my sights on the eternal goal, my final climb heavenward. “For God, all things are possible.”

Contact the author

Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling home improvement projects, finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on and, runs her own blog at and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for almost 20 years.

Fulfilled Hearts

As a young adult, I recognize myself in the young man that we read about in today’s Gospel. We want to know the rules, the step-by-step instructions, the exact path to walk down for perfection. I’ve talked about it before, how as technologically advanced people, we want to be able to perfect the art of being happy and of being holy.

Today, the young man follows the rules, the Ten Commandments, and yet he does not feel like that is enough. He is correct.

Living out a faithful life is more than simply going through the motions. Most of us are not murderers, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, don’t lie, and we honor our parents. We treat others kindly. Yet, we still feel empty.

I think back to when I was depressed and yearning for God’s presence in my life. I was going to church and following the commandments, but I didn’t feel the faithful joy that others were experiencing.

Finally, I realized that going through the motions of being a Catholic is not the same as living out your Catholic Christian duty. Both your actions and heart must be in it. Also, even if you want your heart to be in it, it’s not that simple. You have to understand what you’re gaining. You have to value yourself and your place in God’s world.

I find it comparable to the workplace. You can like having a job and the financial/health benefits that it gives you, but that is not the same as having a job that you find fulfillment in.

For me, working for the Catholic Church through technology gives me everything that I need to be fulfilled. I love knowing that I am helping the Catholic Church be more relatable and accessible to this generation. Without knowing what I am doing this all for, I’m not sure the work that I do would be fulfilling.

All the emails, all the meetings, and all the stress wouldn’t be worth it if it was only about emails, meetings, and stress. It’s the problem solving and lightbulb moments that give my job meaning. It’s about the bigger picture and my role in it that makes it worth it. It’s knowing that my actions are in line with my goal of heaven and service to My Father.

The same can be said for being Catholic. We can go to Mass and do all the Catholic “work,” but if we don’t understand why we’re doing it then it won’t be meaningful.

I ask that you not give in to being complacent with your faith. Ask what your God means to you and how you allow him to play a role in your daily life as you “go through the motions” of your life.

Is your heart fulfilled with the service you’re providing to God and his people?

Contact the author

Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Michigan. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various articles in the Catholic Diocese of Austin’s official newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, and other local publications. She now works as the Content Specialist in Diocesan’s Web Department.

Set the World Ablaze

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” -Luke 12:49-50

I can still distinctly remember standing in my scout uniform at attention while the casket of President Gerald R. Ford passed by. The faces that day were a mix of honor, sorrow, and patriotism. I remember the flag waving in the breeze and even at a young age, I knew that this day was important. I was blessed to be able to attend the funeral of a past president as a Boy Scout. This was one of those times we all experience where we have an urge to change the world, be better than we are, or to fight for a noble cause. It was a tangible moment that I can remember made me want to do something big.

Another such moment came when I walked across the stage at graduation. My parents brimming faces and those of my friends, most of which never thought I would actually graduate, and the feeling of accomplishment took me over as I knew I was made for something great.

The most recent time that this inner pursuit took me over was on my wedding day. As I saw my bride walking down the aisle, I knew I wanted to be the best man I could be for her. I wanted to fight as hard as I possibly could to be my best self for my bride.

Fast forward to today and these beuatiful readings. Jesus says it very; clearly, he has come to set the world on fire, and he wishes it was already blazing. Then he mentions the importance of baptism. While all of these moments I recounted were very special to me and changing points in my life, none are so important as the day of my baptism, when I became part of God’s family.

I think it is hard, especially for cradle Catholics, for us to remember our baptism and the power we still receive every day from God. This day should make us want to fight the good fight and run the race. It should make us want to set the world on fire. But fear, despair, loneliness, the day to do of life, and time seem to erode the power of what happened so many years ago. It’s as if God’s grace was on a timer, and every day, the sand comes closer and closer to running out.

Though it can seem this way sometimes, it couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to realize and claim the power that we received on that glorious day when we were made new. We need to remember that it was on that day that we were called to be witnesses to the Gospel and share the love of Christ with the world. It was on that day that we started our journey to sainthood.

So here is my challenge to you. Look up your baptismal records and figure out when exactly you were baptized. Then pray to God and ask him for the grace to always remember that beautiful day and to thank him for the grace he has given you ever since. And finally, let’s all ask God how he has chosen for us to set the world on fire. We all make up a different ember in the fire of faith, what does your ember look like and have you made sure it doesn’t go out? The world needs your light.

From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is a Solutions Evangelist for Diocesan. In that role, he is committed to coaching parishes and dioceses on authentic and effective Catholic communication. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. Contact him at

Wholehearted Trust

Do you ever miss being a child? Some of you may read that question, roll your eyes, and say, “Who has time for questions like that?” Or maybe that seems so long ago, that you’ve forgotten that time of life. Perhaps you read that question and automatically responded with a head nod, longing for what it’d feel like to not have a mortgage and laundry list of responsibilities.

Personally, I don’t think I miss those days as much as I like to reminisce upon them. Reminiscing upon the days that were filled with imagination and play. A time in which all of us needed much help. We were incapable of doing simple tasks on our own – a time in which our day to day required trust. We trusted wholeheartedly, whether we realized it or not. Day in and day out, we trusted our parents.

In today’s readings, I am reminded of the littleness I’ve felt in my life and of how little I am today. I don’t mean physically little, although I am an astounding five-foot-tall Italian who always feels small. I mean that I, as a human person, am pretty small in this great big world, and I am pretty small in comparison to the vastness of God.

In today’s Responsorial Psalm, we are told our inheritance is the Lord. We state this four times as we proclaim that the Lord is our refuge, our portion and cup, our counselor, our guide, and our joy. The Gospel today is short and sweet, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”

I believe it’s important to reminisce on what it means to be a child, to think about yourself as a child again. For me, it’s a way to keep a part of my heart child-like. Jesus is completely straight forward with us that we must be like children to enter Heaven! Those beginning years of our lives were VERY important! Of course, this does not mean any adult should be acting like a child because that would not be good nor appropriate. But God calls us to be child-like, looking at the beauty of children and taking the lessons to heart. I believe Jesus calls us to trust again like children, to remember that He is bigger than the challenges we face. He is bigger than us! Trust our Heavenly Father in our needs, our wants, and in our future. Wholehearted trust that He brings us comfort, joy, and guidance. Trust that He has our back. Trust that He is faithful to His promise, the inheritance He has waiting for us, life everlasting. May we trust like children trust their parents. May we trust our Heavenly Father completely today. Amen.

Contact the author

Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Seeds of Gratitude

“I gave you a land you had not tilled and cities that you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.” -Josiah 24:13

Josiah is addressing the people of Israel, standing in ranks before him. From the chief priests to the judges, to families. Josiah is reminding them of God’s mercy. He is telling them to be grateful for all God has done for them.

How much do we need that same reminder today!

For most of us, we worship in churches that we didn’t build. We eat food that we have not tilled and live in cities that we couldn’t begin to conceive of building.

I attend Sunday Mass at a beautiful little mission Church in West Michigan. When our Church was first started over 150 years ago, 3 families mortgaged their farms to buy the land. I have told this story 100 times, but it wasn’t until I read today’s passage that it started to sink in. They mortgaged their farms. At that time, farms weren’t just the roof over their head; their farm was their livelihood; it was their source of income, of food, and their shelter.

This is more than just a story from the past; it is a challenge for the future. What am I willing to mortgage to further the kingdom of God? What am I planting for the next generation? What will I be leaving behind? Am I planting seeds of gratitude? Am I taking care of my little corner of the world so that it is in good condition for those who will come after me?

I feel challenged today to stop and say extra thanks. To live in a heightened awareness of just how much I am given. That God’s mercy doesn’t only extend to my the state of my soul but also to every breath of the life I live.

God is good. May you, to plant seeds of gratitude today.

Contact the author

If you catch Sheryl sitting still, you are most likely to find her nose stuck in a book. It may be studying with her husband, Tom as he goes through Diaconate Formation or figuring out a new knitting or quilting pattern. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

We Are Made For Heaven

Today’s official liturgical celebration is “The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” This is significant if we understand that there are three categories of celebrations throughout the year: Solemnities, Feasts, and Memorials.

Solemnities” are the highest degree of Catholic celebration and so we are obliged to participate in Mass on these days – Sundays, Easter, Christmas, Pentecost, and other Holy Days of Obligation are solemn celebrations of the most important mysteries of our faith.

These are higher than “Feast Days,” which are not days of obligation, but are set apart as days to honor special saints and events of salvation history, such as the Apostles, the Archangels, the Visitation, the Presentation, and the Baptism of the Lord.

The final level of importance on the liturgical calendar, and the one we encounter most often, are “Memorials,” which usually honor the saints, though there are Marian Memorials as well, such as Our Lady of Fatima (May 13) and the Queenship of Mary (August 22).

With that little liturgical lesson done, it is worth asking: Why do we rank the Assumption – a dogma that was not “official” until 1950 – as a solemnity, along with Christmas and Easter?

Pius XII, in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, stated: “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

Mary’s Assumption into heaven, body and soul, means that the resurrection is not limited to Jesus alone; where the Head has gone, we are called to follow, body and soul. Knowing with the certainty of the Church’s infallible teaching that Mary’s whole being, body and soul, was taken into heaven, we have the certainty of knowing that there is a place for our glorified bodies as well.

So, onthis Solemnity, we are called to participate togetherinthe Eucharist and look to Mary ina particular way: as one like us (a creature, thougha sinless one) who exists to bring Jesus to us andto bring us to Jesus, andwho is alreadyfullyin heaven.

There are two human bodies in heaven and they are our BROTHER and our MOTHER, whose two Hearts beat as one with love for us! In our participation in the Eucharist we are joined already to those in heaven and to the Body of Christ on earth, and we are reminded that our destiny is beyond what we see and touch right here and now, that we are called to an eternity of love and belonging and peace beyond all understanding.

And that is a solemn celebration indeed.

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is

A Saint for our Times

“The most deadly poison of our time is indifference.”
-St. Maximilian Kolbe

In this beautiful creation, there is much to be grateful for – community, nature, and wonders of the world that we can contemplate. Amongst all the things we have to be thankful for, we must acknowledge the injustice and hurt that exists in our time. When we watch the news, we can’t help but be torn apart by the devastation we see, the disrespect of human dignity, and ultimately a message of hate. The news makes me so anxious – it makes me sad to ponder all of the hurt other brothers and sisters are experiencing – murder, genocide, persecution.

While I do not like to ponder these issues, I become part of the problem if I live under a rock and do not stand for what is right. How do we learn from history if we don’t know history? How do we know if individuals in our world need an advocate if we are not aware of the current persecution they are facing? Christ calls us to stand by our brothers and sisters. When I am unsure what to do, I think back to the acronym WWJD (What would Jesus do?) to guide my actions. If Christ saw individuals being tortured, persecuted and looked down upon what would He do? We can read throughout Scripture that Christ was not afraid to speak the truth, to stand up for the dignity of others.

Christ is love, and He loves the entire human race. His love has no bounds, all He asks is the conversion of heart and for all of us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Every human being is our neighbor – no matter their background, beliefs, sexual orientation, race, etc. We are called to love all, for love is what will conquer any evil in this world. As Catholics, we must be beacons of love amidst these times of dispute and trial; we must be united to stand for the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. We must meet our neighbor where they are and teach the truth of Christ through our actions, through our love.

An essential saint of our times, whose feast day we celebrate today, has shown us exactly what this love of Christ looks like, in the love that he shared with a stranger. St. Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish priest that gave His life for a fellow prisoner in Auschwitz. A prisoner from his barracks had escaped, and so the SS Guards lined up the remaining men for selection to death by starvation. As Fr. Kolbe watched the selection, one of them began to cry because he was a father and husband. Fr. Kolbe knew that this was the time he had prepared for, the time that he would share the lasting impact and meaning of loving our neighbor. He stood up to the guards and said he would take the man’s place – without protest the guards let Fr. Kolbe replace the man in the line of people to die by starvation. It took weeks before St. Maximilian Kolbe passed away, and as he died he is said to have great love and joy upon his face, singing praises until his last moments before dying by lethal injection. Looking back to the early times of St. Maximilian Kolbe’s life he had a vision of Our Lady holding two crowns – one white (purity of the priesthood) and one red (martyrdom). When given a choice, he took both crowns and accepted his life’s mission, living the love of Christ in all he did and sharing this with everyone he encountered.

St. Maximilian Kolbe’s story of martyrdom may seem extreme to many in their daily lives today – how can we all live out this radical love? While we may not all be called to martyrdom for the faith, we can live with a love on fire like Fr. Kolbe by not being indifferent when we see injustices in our world. When it comes to global and national human rights issues in our world, we must not be lukewarm but stand for the love that the Church is built upon – love for every human life, no matter where they are in the spectrum of life or what background they come from. As we grow to love others, they will learn the true teachings of Christ, for Christ is the ultimate teacher and the ultimate lover. When this task seems daunting, we may ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother, someone that St. Maximilian Kolbe had a great devotion to – she will hear our prayers and stand with us, alongside Christ, as we live out the lives of Catholic discipleship in Jesus Christ. God bless you as you face times of speaking out, as you face times of injustice in your own life, and may the Holy Spirit give you the wisdom you need as you stand for all human life.

“For Jesus Christ, I am prepared to suffer still more.”
-St. Maximilian Kolbe

Contact the author

Nathalie Shultz is a joyful convert to the Catholic faith and a competitive swimmer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  She loves to share her passion for Catholicism with others, including her conversion story and how God continues to work miracles in her life through her OCD. She is the Director of Religious Education for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative of parishes. Nathalie is married to her best friend, Tommy Shultz. Her favorite saints include St. Peter the Apostle, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II.  She is also a huge fan of C.S. Lewis. If you have any questions for Nathalie, or just want her to pray for you, you can email her at