Love and Devotion

It’s odd, isn’t it, that you can read something many times, over many years, and miss the obvious. That’s how today’s Gospel appeared to me. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus had Jesus and his 12 over for dinner after Lazarus was raised from the dead. 

How amazing to have dinner with Jesus, let alone with someone who had been dead. What did they talk about? Despite the tradition that Lazarus never smiled after he was restored to life, I imagine this dinner was a foretaste of the last banquet of the Lamb, where the redeemed will sit at table in the heavenly kingdom. 

The Gospel continues with Mary’s act of love and devotion, anointing Jesus with oil. She pours out her love for him, over the objections of Judas, who thinks it too extravagant. 

I always think that everyone in the New Testament who followed Jesus was so poor they barely had enough to eat, but here there’s a dinner thrown for 15 or more. I always picture the stories in scripture like those images from Sunday School where Jesus is on one side, and the crowd is across from him, listening to him, but with a definite divide between them. Not Mary– she’s kneeling at Jesus’ feet, massaging them with scented oil.

How could I have missed the story that was written? Probably because we hear God’s word, then file it away in our memory. Next time that passage comes up, it’s ‘oh yes, I know that story. Isn’t it …sweet or quaint or powerful–fill in the adjective.

But this year, as we begin the final days of Lent, and enter into the Triduum, all of the external busy-ness of life has been put on hold. The days have run together, making it hard to know which day this is, exactly. We have the gift of sitting with Jesus in this present moment and listen carefully to his love story. We can marvel at God’s mercy and experience his grace in a more intimate way. We long for the Sacrament of his Body but offer our act of Spiritual Communion until the time when we can receive him again.

The important thing is to know Jesus is with us, even as we engage in self-isolation and social distancing. We don’t live in the despair of the days between the Crucifixion and the resurrection. Jesus is with us now.

In the movie, Risen, a Roman officer, Clavius, is charged with finding the body of Jesus, which mysteriously disappeared from its guarded tomb. Pilate needs to produce the body to stop the rumors of resurrection. So he searches Jerusalem, coming to a house where he suspects Jesus’ followers are hiding. He breaks in, and finds the apostles joyfully gathered around a man–the man he is searching for. Jesus is engaged with them—looking, listening, smiling–fully present with them. Their fear of the Jewish authorities and the Romans doesn’t matter. Jesus is with them. As he is with us.

Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy… 1 Peter 1:8

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Pamela joined Diocesan’s staff in 2006, after a number of years in the non-profit sector. Her experience is in non-profit administration including management, finance, and program development, along with database management and communications. She was a catechist in her parish RCIA program for over 15 years, as well as chairperson of their Liturgy Commision. Received into the Catholic Church as an adult, Pamela’s faith formation was influenced by her Mennonite extended family, her Baptist childhood, and her years as a Reformed Presbyterian (think Scott Hahn).

What is Holding You Back?

If you missed the last two posts, here they are. They were accidentally posted out of order. We apologize for the inconvenience.

April 3rd

April 4th

Today’s readings are among the longest and most rich that we experience at a Sunday Mass. It is sad that we can’t all experience Mass in a normal way during this Palm Sunday, but we can still dive into the living word.

Instead of writing a novel to start to unpack the rich teachings in the readings, I wanted to include a video reflection that I was asked to record for the Diocese of Kalamazoo on today’s readings. I hope this is a blessing to you as we enter Holy Week. Know of my prayers for you and for health. God Bless!

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Tommy Shultz is Director of Evangelization for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative and the founder of Rodzinka Ministries. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. 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. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.

And We Continue

In today’s Gospel reading, the Pharisees determine that they will kill Jesus. Jesus no longer traveled with big crowds surrounding him. He no longer visited the big cities to preach. Reading only today’s Gospel makes it seem as though Jesus secluded himself and hid in fear of being captured and killed. If we continue reading in John’s Gospel and the others, we know that Jesus does not stop sharing the word with His people. He just has to be careful and creative.

The same concept applies to where we stand now, amid all the fear and possibility of disease. Yes, we must limit our contact with others. Yes, we must no longer visit with our friends and family. Still, that does not mean that we seclude our faith. It does not mean we stop living by the Word of God. It does not mean we stop living as Christians. We just have to be more careful and creative.

Maybe you know how to be careful but aren’t sure how to be creative with your faith. Below are some ideas of how you can continue living (and growing in) your faith:

  • Tune In For Daily & Sunday Mass Online
  • You can watch with Pope Francis (view)Our Lady of Mercy in Aurora, IL (view), or check your local parishes’ websites to see when they are celebrating their Masses online.
  • Pray Together, Online
  • Pray a Rosary, Novena, or the Divine Office with your friends over the phone or in a video call. The Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist (view) record daily Mass, the Divine Office, and the Rosary.
  • Pray At Home
  • Set up your own prayer altar at home. Not sure where or how to start? This link and this link, as well as YouTube (view playlist), have many Catholic ideas and tutorials to DIY your own sacred space not only for you, but for your family or roommates as well.
  • Read or Listen to a Book
  • While you probably have a bible in your house, you also have many online resources to read daily reflections, eBooks (view), and other free, community resources without having to have anything physically delivered to your house. Also, I know that I am having to re-learn the patience to read. Traditional Catholic (view) offers a list of books to read via PDF, Kindle, ePub, online, or even the audiobook version.
  • Stop. Look. Listen. Appreciate. 
  • As easy as it may be, take the time to count your blessings and enjoy the simple yet beautiful wonders that God has given you. The breeze, the sunlight, the plants that continue to grow, the beauty in a sunrise or sunset. Take this time to see your world with child-like wonder.
  • Faith with Family
  • With schools closing, a lot of parents find themselves spending more time with the children (view) and young adults (view) than they’ve ever had to do before. Other than telling your children to clean the house, now is the time to learn more about them and guide them in their walk with Christ.

Need more ideas or want to prepare for Palm Sunday and Holy Week? Click here for a folder of resources and ideas that my friend Lexxus and the Diocese of Austin, TX, shared and here for some ideas from the Catholic All Year blog.

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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.


We mixed up our posts. This is the correct post for 4/3. You can find today’s reflection here:

God Bless!

I’m in my second week of shelter in place and remote work. It’s taken me several days to get into a routine that allows me to be productive on the job. I have come to realize how much more I need to lean into God for support, for focus, and for inspiration. I have forgotten the acronym I learned during my days as a youth minister. FROG: Fully Rely On God.

I wasn’t doing that at the beginning of the shelter in place order. I was too caught up in the juggling of assembling a remote setup for work, checking my cabinets for food and prescriptions, reaching out to family and friends, the slight panic and fear due to the quickly changing world events. My prayer was as similar as in my youth. It was scattered throughout the day, sure, but not in the routines I’ve come to rely on. The prayer routine that helps to keep me focused on God working in and through my life on a daily basis. (If you haven’t developed a good prayer routine, now is a great time to establish one especially if you have some extra time in your days; see the resources below).

The verse before the Gospel today, “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life,” has been in my mind since I began praying with these readings. The bible is our guide to the words of life, strength, love and hope.

Where I can really be challenged is in the words of today’s Gospel. Jesus says, “believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”

I know the Father is in me because of my reception of the Eucharist and my digesting (reading and listening to) His words in the bible. I get hung up on the above quote. Do my works (my deeds, words, and actions) reflect that the Father is in me, and I am an extension of the Father?

I am thankful for the examination of conscience at the beginning of Mass. I consciously try to remember to review my day as I lay my head on my pillow at night. I need to make note of what I have done and what I have failed to do while not beating myself up about my mistakes. That’s why I need to FROG.

I also need to open my window in the evening, so I can hear the peepers. It reminds me that I, too, am a little voice in the wilderness, so very loved by God, my creator. He loves me and all the whole world.

Please pray with me the words below to help us remember to rely on Him this day and hopefully, each day going forward.

Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace,
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.


Beginning Catholic

Four Womens’ Routine

Catholic Gentlemen’s Routine

Starting a Prayer Routine

Is There a Correct Way to Pray


Liturgy of the Hours

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here

In The Waiting

During my Lenten devotions, I have stumbled across several ideas that I have been mulling over.

I was watching Fr. Mike Schmitz’s live-streamed Sunday Mass and was taken aback by his observations. People are living perhaps the hardest times they have ever lived, and death is all around us. He said that death is one of the most difficult things to get through, to watch a loved one die, to grieve the death of a family member, or even face our own impending death. It is heartbreaking and heart wrenching. But there is something even worse than death, and that is to lose heart.

Our hearts can break from sadness and sorrow, they can be ripped from our very chest, but much worse than that is to be discouraged. To despair is worse than death because we have lost our hope in God.

In the same vein, I have been reflecting on the difference between concern and worry. Obviously, we are all concerned about the outbreak, how it has yanked us out of our routines, and made a horrible illness way too close for comfort. Many of us are also worried. Worried about our finances, our health, our children… Will normalcy ever return?

The difference is that concern moves us to action. We put on our rubber gloves, avoid going out of the house, and wash our hands. On the other hand, worry drives us to anxiety, and eventually, despair.

In today’s First Reading, God poured out blessings upon Abram. He made him the father of a host of nations, made him exceedingly fertile, promised to maintain His covenant with him, and gave him the whole land of Canaan. This new reality was so great that God even gave him a new name.

But let us recall that God did not give him these gifts instantaneously. He waited. Abram endured many hardships and suffered seemingly endless infertility before this great moment. God waited and chose His moment to act.

We are in this time of waiting right now. We are concerned, yes. But let us not fall into worry because Jesus is right here. He is right beside us, ready to raise us up, but He is choosing to wait.

And here’s the clincher. After God showered Abraham with abundance, He said: “On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”

Could it be that God is waiting for us to turn our hearts back to Him and keep His covenant once again? I recently saw on social media this phrase: “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” Hmmmm…

Fr. Schmitz encourages that even if God does not deliver us, may our hearts be like His. No conditions. If He saves us, we are His, and even if He doesn’t, we are still His. “Our hearts can be broken without being lost.” We want the miracle. We see others who were miraculously cured, but whether we are cured or not, we are still his. Daniel was spared the lion’s den, but Stephen was not spared stoning. Jesus begged that this cup would pass, yet was not spared crucifixion. May we say as Jesus did, may our hearts be like His and proclaim “not my will, but yours be done.”


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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.

If You Can’t Say No, You Can’t Say Yes

What is freedom? The world’s idea of freedom is an absence of restraint so that we can do what we want, when we want, in the way that we want. But reason tells us that this is a false “freedom” that simply makes us slaves to our whims and emotions and selfishness (like toddlers, really). True freedom is the power to say yes to what is good and true and beautiful, and realize the profound potential in each of us, to enter into the great adventure that is God’s calling in our lives.

Most of us feel that we could be better people, but something is holding us back – some habit, some wound, some lack of understanding or talent. We could be so much more, but our fallen nature finds itself stuck in a mediocrity that has us comparing ourselves to others and wishing for more. We are not fully free to be what we sense we could be.

Can “truth” set us free? Only if what enslaves us is “not truth,” right?

Freedom is not just the ability to make any choice at all. Freedom is the potential we possess to reach the excellence we long for by intentionally choosing what is in accordance with the truth. This is why we must abide in God’s word and walk in truth in order to be truly free.

This is the message Jesus gives the Jews in today’s Gospel. He tells them the truth will set them free, but they do not understand, because they do not think they are enslaved in any way. Jesus tells them that everyone who sins is a slave. A slave of sin. Because sin is an act against truth, a choice against truth. They are slaves to sin because his word has “no room” in them. They are filled with their own ideas and their own pretensions, their own understanding. They have no room or patience for the ideas and words of this itinerant preacher who is turning their way of life upside down and stirring up trouble.

The freedom God gives us is so complete that we are free to say NO to Him. Because if we can’t say “no,” we can’t really say “yes.” A forced YES is meaningless.

What must we do to be truly free? Jesus tells us the way to walk as children of the Father: if we accept Jesus’ word (which comes from the Father), we will be his true disciples; in following him, we will come to know the truth and be truly free.

Freedom is in the heart and spirit, even when we are not physically free (whether from illness or circumstances or disability or quarantine!). If we carry the love of the Lord in our hearts and desire His will and the good of others, we remain in the truth and in profound interior freedom.

It is this profound freedom that gives true meaning to our YES.

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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

Desert Times

Uncertainty. That seems to be the only constant nowadays. Times are uncertain and have been for a little while now. What I write today, Friday, March 27, will not be the same on the day this blog post is published, Tuesday, March 31. What is going on in my home state of Ohio is not the same for readers from (insert state name here). But, yet, we all share similar experiences, thoughts, and feelings about this COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are working from home. Our children are doing online distance-learning. Our cupboards are stocked with essentials, and grocery store shelves are bare. We are worried about our own health and the health of those we love. We can list the COVID-19 vs. common cold vs. flu symptoms. Our eyes have been glued to our screens anxiously waiting for the latest information, whether it be from social media, news media, or straight from our governors’ mouths.

I see similarities in these times and these feelings to today’s first reading from the Book of Numbers. The children of Israel, their patience, being worn out by the journey compares to us being sick of “social distancing” and quarantine. There is complaining. We see complaining all over our social media feeds and probably hear it enough with our own ears in between the four walls of our houses. Lacking food or water compares to the empty shelves we see when we go shopping, looking for the bare necessities to get us through this time. COVID-19 could be the seraph serpents that are biting the people, many of whom died. And, yes, of course, we have been praying that this virus comes to an end, much like the Israelites prayed that the Lord take the serpents away from them.

While we are all sharing similar experiences, readers, one thing we also share, another link we have in common, is our faith. This faith may be a source of comfort to you during this time, or it might also be struggling in the face of darkness, like everything else in the world. It may be easy to see Churches locked and public celebration of Mass suspended as a sign of despair and of hopelessness – that God has abandoned His people in the midst of crisis. Brothers and sisters, we are in the midst of Lent. Yes, liturgically and in the sense of dates and the calendar, but also literally.

We are in the desert, side-by-side with the Lord. We hunger and thirst for an end to this terrible illness, for the opportunity to hug our family and friends and, most especially, for the Eucharist. And we can take a small bit of comfort in knowing that Christ hungers and thirsts for these things right alongside us. The Lord does not want suffering, sickness, and death. He does not want to be torn apart from those that He loves, and He wants to be present with us and to us in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. For all these reasons and more, not wanting to spend life without us, God sent His only Son into the world to become human and redeem humanity through suffering and death. This is what we prepare our hearts for during Lent. This is what we are preparing our hearts for in this time of pandemic-induced crisis. Our greatest desire is for certainty, for hope, for joy, and for light. We desire the Easter Resurrection that is to come, and we will rejoice again at the Table of the Lord. We will rejoice in social gatherings and groups of our families and friends.

For those who are feeling distanced from the Church – as someone who works for a local parish, let me be the first to tell you – the Church is adapting. The Church is overcoming. The Church is finding new ways to reach its flock. Many individual parishes have started recording or streaming Masses for their faith. And if your parish hasn’t gotten there yet, I can guarantee you that they are working on it. They are desperate to meet you where you are at – which is at home, “social distancing” and under quarantine. Other parishes have already reached steps even beyond that, with Eucharistic holy hours, Bible studies and discipleship all taking place in the digital realm. The Pope has brought the worldwide community of the faithful together at appointed times for prayer – the rosary, the Our Father, the Urbi et Orbi blessing, and probably more to come – for the eradication of this virus and healing for those affected by it.

The Church will be there, waiting for you when we are able to return. We just need to be patient until we can get to that “Easter morning.” May we return with much rejoicing, with a heart that has been sufficiently prepared for the moment and with great faith in the hope of Jesus Christ.

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Erin is a Cleveland native and graduate of the 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.

Now More Than Ever

“Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”

Psalm 23 has to be the most well know psalm ever written. And how appropriate that it would show up as our Responsorial Psalm in today’s readings. The world is traveling through a “dark valley” right now, wondering if it will ever find its way out. But I believe for many of us, the lack of Masses or any other Christian services is a dark valley in itself. We feel disconnected from our worshiping communities, and perhaps even from the Lord in the Eucharist. What we need to remember is that Our Lord does not distance himself from any of us, just because we can’t gather in the church or any large group.

As with many of you, I have always had a great love for this psalm, and have always used it in times of trouble, sorrow, doubt, pain, loss, or illness. It gives comfort. It uplifts. It so beautifully tells us of a God who is always looking after us, always looking for us when we need him most.

As we fast approach Easter, with all services canceled, we may find ourselves feeling as if the church has abandoned us. When in any of our lifetimes have we experienced this? When? We haven’t. And as with all uncharted territory, we are trepidacious in moving forward.

Open your bible to Psalm 23. Read it every day. Read it several times a day and let the words of comfort swell in your hearts and souls and then move on to the rest of your day. If you get a little down or feel somewhat claustrophobic, reread it. It will not, just as Our Lord will not, let you down.

“He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.”

I wish all of you courage. Courage to move forward toward the far end of this dark valley that will soon open up to those verdant pastures of hope, comfort, and peace. All will be well!

God Bless.

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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

Risen, Body and Soul

One of my favorite books growing up was, “We Thought We Heard the Angels Sing.” It’s the heart-wrenching true story of a group of soldiers during WWII who were stranded on life rafts in the Pacific Ocean for weeks. Throughout the story, some of them die, some come very near to death, and some find God out there on those rafts. I always wondered what it would be like if you experienced something like that, but it never changed you on the inside. If your body came near to death and was miraculously saved, but it had no effect on your soul. I wondered if that was possible. This brought me to the thought that it would have been better to die out there lose to Jesus than to live without a relationship with Christ. This brings us to today’s readings.

These readings speak about the beauty of resurrection, not only of the body but of the soul. We need this message of resurrection now more than ever. Lent is always difficult because it’s a waiting period before we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This year, Lent has been particularly difficult, as we hear and witness so much pain and suffering around us. With a massive pandemic like this, it’s easy to ask for physical healing, but this is also a great time to ask the Lord how we need to be saved spiritually, how we need to be spiritually resurrected.

Most parishes are still offering confessions during this time, with proper social distancing measures in place. If we are willing to quarantine for weeks for the health of ourselves and others, how much more should we be willing to do for our souls? Maybe it has been a while since you have been to confession. Maybe it’s a terrifying aspect of the faith to confess your sins to someone else. I don’t know where you are at in your relationship with God, but I do know that we are given a chance to be made new at every confession we make.

If you are unable to make a confession during this time, then I encourage you to make a perfect contrition. Perfect contrition is where we ask God for forgiveness not because we are scared of hell, but rather, because we are sorry we have hurt God. This is a time that we can make sure we are healthy physically by taking necessary precautions, while also taking necessary precautions to make sure we are spiritually healthy as well. The closer we get to God during this time, the stronger we will be when we make it through.

I want to share this Youtube video of a song from the popular musical, “Dear Evan Hanson.” I like to listen to the words as if God is singing to me. He wants to give us His mercy; we need only to ask. God Bless you during this time!

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Tommy Shultz is Director of Evangelization for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative and the founder of Rodzinka Ministries. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. 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. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.

A Time of Germination

In today’s Gospel, we are brought face to face with a plethora of opinions about Jesus. There are those who think he is the Messiah. Those who think he is just a guy from Galilee. Some are afraid of him. Others worry he will upset their place in politics.

And the thing is, this passage from John doesn’t resolve the dilemma for us. We are left to make up our minds as to which opinion reflects our heart.

Here we are, just over halfway through Lent, in a crazy, mixed-up, upside-down world where every day we are asked to decide what we believe is true and the role we will play in the common good, and now, the Gospel brings us an example of more confusion? I can get that from Facebook, thank you very much!

But wait, what if that is exactly the point? What if, in a world of confusion, we are being called to be a beacon of perseverance and stability? What if, when all those about us are losing their way, we become even more committed to The Way?

What a relief! This means I don’t have to get it all at once. I don’t have to figure out what is happening in our world. I don’t have to have all the answers, because I know the one who does. I know which opinion reflects my heart; I belong squarely with Jesus. Believing in Jesus isn’t just something I say; it becomes part of who I am. The same me who feels so inadequate to lead, who isn’t sure about much right now, is transformed by God’s mercy. I can think beyond how what is happening around me impacts me to seeing how I can impact how all this affects others. I can choose to take this time of enforced slow down as an opportunity to open myself up to God’s grace and allow him to replace my heart of stone with his own heart. I can take time for phone calls. I can write letters. I can finish my nephew’s long-awaited quilt. I can slow down the prayers with my husband so that they aren’t a hurried part of a morning routine but a true reflection of my soul. I can make my bed in the morning and polish my sink at night. All those little things I have sacrificed at the altar of doing other important stuff is now the heart of my days. And in those little things, I feel Christ’s peace and connect with the Father’s mercy even in the midst of so much unknown.

In this time of deprivation and withdrawal, let us be like germinating seeds, soaking in the moisture and nutrients so that when we break through the soil and reach the sun again, we will be ready to thrive.

“Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.”

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Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. 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.

New Priorities

As I write, the governor is on live shutting down our state. Many have already succumbed to the quarantine, and surely the rest of the country will follow soon. People keep saying we are living in unprecedented times, and surely that is true, but my mind keeps wandering to other unprecedented times.

What about the people of Israel that wandered in the desert for 40 years? What about those who survived the flood? What about those who lived through the plagues? What about those who went through the potato famine or droughts or pestilence?

My husband and I were reading up on the Great Depression over the weekend. I remember my grandmother, born in early 1929, saying that a piece of fresh fruit was such a treat that she would even eat the peel of an orange. I could never imagine such a time… until now. 

While we didn’t buy into the hysteria, we did get two weeks’ worth of groceries, and it is yet to be seen whether we have enough TP. We’ll get through it, just as so many people got through other major trials and tribulations throughout history. 

We will gather strength from each other, we will help each other, we will lift each other up when we are down, and we will grasp desperately to our God and depend fully on Him. 

Many people have their theories about what we are living through. Some think it may be the end of the world. Some think it’s a wake-up call. Some think it’s all a hoax. Some think it is a gross exaggeration. Others are scared to death. 

I tend to look at it as an opportunity to turn our hearts back to God. We have gotten so off track, so self-centered, so technology-centered. And while up until now most of us still have access to the internet and our devices, I would like to extend an invitation. Turn them off. Stop checking for the latest news every 5 minutes. Stop driving yourself crazy worrying, wondering, and complaining. Be present in the moment. Spend time in silence. Still your heart. Commune with your God. We are being allowed this time to get our priorities straight, namely, God and family. 

“When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.”
(from Psalm 34) 

Let today’s Psalm assure you: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

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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.

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places

I did something difficult this past week: I wrote my will. (Yes, of course, I should have done it ages ago; let’s take that as read.) While I am naturally hoping it won’t come into play in the near future, the truth is I have a significantly increased chance of dying now than I had a month ago. Hence the will.

Not, mind you, that I own a lot. My mortgage company and I co-own my cottage. I have a cat. That’s pretty much it—I thought. And then I got to the page where it discussed intellectual property, and I think I actually exclaimed “whoa!” out loud.

I have intellectual property. I write mystery novels. Not the Great American Novel, not even an ephemeral bestseller or two; but still, I write novels that, I am told, make for satisfying entertainment. On one hand, this doesn’t matter much, since there aren’t torrents of money coming in from them. On the other hand, who do I name as literary executor? Who is the person I trust with all my aspirations and dreams, my mistakes and my successes, my old outdated articles and my not-yet-published potential masterpieces?

Who do I trust?

It’s impossible to reflect on Scripture without seeing it through the lens of the present moment. It’s impossible to hear the word of the Lord and not also hear it echoing through our own lives and our own experiences. So, like everyone reading this, I am aware of the challenges of living and thinking—of everything I do, in fact—in the midst of a global pandemic. How can that not influence how we hear God’s voice? Every Biblical writer looked around themselves and said, “Look at the world! What are you doing? What am I doing?” It’s a cry for the ages.

And we find ourselves taking it up anew today.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is telling us who he is. He emphasizes how the Jews are looking for the meaning of life in the wrong places. Their thinking cannot make the connection between what they know and who they see before them; they lack that light. And the reality that shines through this reading—and to some extent also through the previous readings, the passage from Exodus and the psalm—is that we persist in looking for meaning in the wrong places. It’s the ongoing story of humanity.

Who do we trust? In Exodus and Psalm 106, we trusted a golden calf. In the Gospel, we trust in the things that point toward Jesus—the words of Scripture, the life of Moses, the appearance of John the Baptist—rather than in Jesus himself.

There’s a country song that bemoans the singer’s tendency to be “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Isn’t that what we do when we’re looking everywhere but at God? We look at the divisions and issues in the Church and we accuse God of not taking better care of us. We create pollution in our streams and earth and ask God why he allows children in those polluted areas to die. We listen to the promises of politicians and follow them even when it means moving away from our faith. Why are we looking everywhere but to Christ?

That’s how I resolved my dilemma, by the way. I asked myself where I should be looking. I looked at the people closest to me and asked myself, who loves my work? And once I asked the right question, the answer became immediately clear; I knew right away who it should be. Who I could trust. I had broken the issue down to its most basic reality, stripped it of all the extraneous “stuff” I’d put there. I finally asked the right question, looked in the right direction.

If we ask the question, who loves me? then our answer becomes clear, too. In the words of another song, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” Who do I trust? This I know.

It’s so easy in a time of chaos to let fear take the wheel. Fear makes us turn away from the right questions and the right road. Fear sows divisions and hatred among us; it helps us make bad decisions and turn to the darkness. We have to experience fear, but we don’t have to stay there. We can write our wills. We can take health and safety precautions. We can turn away from the golden calf, stop looking for love in all the wrong places, and instead rest in the love of the Lord.

This I know.

An optional prayer over the people from today’s Mass seems a fitting prayer for a time of pandemic:

O God, protector of all who hope in you,
bless your people, keep them safe,
defend them, prepare them,
that, free from sin and safe from the enemy,
they may persevere always in your love.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Jeannette de Beauvoir is a writer and editor with the digital department of Pauline Books & Media, working on projects as disparate as newsletters, book clubs, ebooks, and retreats that support the apostolate of the Daughters of St. Paul at