Declutter Your Troubled Heart

In today’s Gospel, the crowds ask John the Baptist, “What then should we do?” In reply, he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise” (Luke 3:10-11).  John also tells the tax collectors to “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you” (Luke 3: 13). Interesting to see this reading at the time of year when many people amass more than probably needed. However, it is also a time of donating our extra clothes and food, both to make room in preparation for incoming gifts and the spirit of giving.

Regular decluttering is an excellent habit of keeping our homes in order; I have learned it is simply impossible to organize clutter. The more belongings I try to contain or control, the greater chaos I seem to create. This phenomenon can be said of the state of my soul as well. During an Advent reflection, the young transitional deacon at my parish encouraged us to declutter our souls to make room for Jesus this Christmas. Finding time during Advent for a good Sacramental Confession among the card writing, decorating, present buying, and cookie-baking is a wonderful gift to give ourselves. For it is important to remember, we are body and soul, and we are baptized “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). The baptism we receive, instituted by Christ, involves the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit and the divine capacity to forgive sin (CCC 696).

Today, the Church celebrates the apparition of the Blessed Mother to Juan Diego with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Juan’s faithfulness to the Catholic faith opened his heart to the miracle of the rose-covered tilma and the subsequent conversion of millions of people. Contemplate what God could do with our fidelity in living out the grace of our baptismal promises? 

We are not making this journey of faith alone; Mary is our mother, guide, intercessor, and model of a life filled with grace. We too can take comfort in the words Mary spoke to Juan Diego, “Listen and understand well, my son, smallest of all, that you have no cause to be frightened and worried, let your heart be troubled no longer, have no fear of that sickness, nor of any other sickness or sorrow. Is this not your mother here next to you?”

Here on the Third Sunday of Advent, as St. Paul reminds us to have no anxiety in anything but pray about everything, and we will have reason to rejoice! Let us declutter our souls, unburden our hearts, draw near to God, who will draw all the nearer to us! To come to seek His mercy in the confessional, so to make room in our hearts for Him to come, not only on Christmas day but every day.

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Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

Great Expectations

One way to discover where God is working in your heart is to notice themes happening around you. Often, we think of these as coincidences. This has been happening to me recently. God keeps bringing up the topic of expectation into my life. I wrote a blog post about the attitudes we adopt when it comes to gift-giving, highlighting the problems with giving with expectations attached to the gift (you can find it here). Then, at Bible Study, our leader accidentally played the wrong video for the week. We ended up having a lively conversation about the joys and sorrows that come into our marriages due to realistic and unrealistic expectations that we weren’t supposed to have until mid-January.

When I began preparing to write this reflection, I was at a loss. I did not feel inspired and was not sure what the Holy Spirit was asking of me. I read it to my husband to get his take. You’ll never guess what he pulled out if it – the blindness of the Jewish leaders due to strongly held expectations about the Messiah and His forerunner.

Jesus says that Elijah had already come, as the prophecies had foretold. But the people “did not recognize him.” The prophet Malachi foretold that Elijah would return before the day of the Lord (Mal 3:23). Knowing the Scriptures well, the people of God knew that God keeps His promises. However, by the time of Jesus, many of the leaders were more concerned with establishing and maintaining their positions of power and authority. They believed they were to be praised for how well they were performing their religious duties. They expected to be brought front and center as exemplars for all the people when Elijah came.

What did they get? To be called out for hypocrisy and compared to a brood of vipers. Their expectations of praise and honor clouded their hearts. They were not able to see John for who he was in his mission as Elijah. Then, when Jesus came, they were unprepared to receive Him as the Messiah.

Have you noticed how expectations can be troublesome? Especially when they are intended to be fulfilled by others. We get let down, hurt, and have all sorts of unwelcome feelings. Sometimes, the other person doesn’t even know what they did wrong, especially when our expectation of them was unrealistic.

We might have unrealistic expectations of who Jesus is, like the Jewish elders did. Jesus is in your neighbor who rakes your leaves when you can’t get to them, yes. But Jesus is also in the person who cuts you off on the highway. Jesus is in the generous donor to the homeless shelter. But Jesus is also in each and every person who walks through its doors. We are called to see the face of Jesus in every person we encounter, not just those who meet our expectations.

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Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She is blessed to be able to homeschool, bake bread and fold endless piles of laundry. When not planning a school day, writing a blog post or cooking pasta, Kate can be found curled up with a book or working with some kind of fiber craft. Kate blogs at

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Divine Teacher

What do you think of when you hear the word teacher? Do memories rush forward of some great role models in your life who propelled you on the path to success? Maybe you had a negative experience with a teacher at some point. For me, with my wife being a teacher, the word evokes emotions of joy, love, and thankfulness. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, the reality is that no teacher can possibly compare to the Divine Teacher, Jesus Christ.

Whenever I am giving a talk on faith I try to remind those listening that whatever I say is all well and good, but the real work happens after they leave, and I have no control over that. This is to say, Jesus is the one who does the work of walking with us day in and day out, guiding us, loving us, and not just being there for a quick 45-minute discussion.

This is precisely why we can call Jesus the Divine Teacher, because he is teaching us at all times, not just during a specific moment of pontification. The First Reading for today sums it up well by saying, “I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.” With this model of teaching it’s not just about conveying ideas, but it’s journeying with the student to make sure the ideas stick.

In the ancient world there were people known as pedagogues, who would be tasked with tutoring the children of a household, but beyond that they would make sure the teachings that were presented, were lived out in the family. Jesus is the divine pedagogue for us in that he is journeying with us to make sure his teachings are applied to his family.

How is your relationship with the Teacher? Sometimes it can be hard to apply human terms to God because we can have negative experiences with human beings, but how is your relationship with the Divine Teacher? Have you talked lately? Not just about your grades or how much you are able to memorize but have you recently sat down and just enjoyed the presence of Jesus, allowing him into your very heart? If it’s been a while, Advent is the perfect time and if it has been recent, Advent is the perfect time to be present more. More than presents on Christmas we should be asking to be in the presence of Christ. From all of us here at Diocesan, God bless!

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Tommy Shultz is a Business Development Representative for Diocesan. In this role he is committed to bringing the best software to dioceses and parishes while helping them evangelize on the digital continent. Tommy has worked in various diocese and parish roles since his graduation from Franciscan University with a Theology degree. He hopes to use his skills in evangelization, marketing, and communications, to serve the Church and bring the Good News to all. His favorite quote comes from St. John Paul II, who said, “A person is an entity of a sort to which the only proper and adequate way to relate is love.”

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When Fear Takes Hold, Turn to the Lord

Fear is something that seems to come a little too naturally to me. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being alone. Fear of loss. In this season of Advent, we are so focused on preparing for Christmas, yet I oftentimes find myself dwelling in this fear as the nights seem too long and the days too short. 

Christmas is just a few weeks away. I’m supposed to be happy, excited, and joyful. Now don’t get me wrong, Christmas music can still cheer me up from time to time. I love the get-togethers and gift exchanges that are getting so close, but the winter can be hard. The holidays have a tendency to remind us of what we are missing, or even worse, who we are missing. 

The last two years have been a real challenge. Whether you’ve lost loved ones, missed out on experiences, or simply have spent a lot of time being afraid, many of us have come to realize how good we had it before Covid. 

In the Gospel today we hear “The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.” That violence seems so real and even literal at times. My family is from a place north of Detroit called Oxford, Michigan. All my Aunts and Uncles went to school there. My parents met there. My uncle is the varsity basketball coach there. My brother teaches at Clarkston about 10 minutes from there. So, when I heard of the tragedy experienced in Oxford last week through horrible violence, fear set in. Stress, anxiety, and helplessness took hold. I think about my 5-year-old and 6-year-old children. The fear of them experiencing an unimaginably horrible situation like that seems too real. And it’s hard.

Today’s First Reading from Isaiah quickly says do not be afraid (which usually makes me think about my fear, and thus be more afraid). Fortunately, Isaiah spends much more time focusing on why we shouldn’t be afraid. Simply because God can do anything. 

I remind myself that God can do anything and God can do everything. It is important for me to remember that I can’t do anything, and most importantly I can’t do everything. We all experience stress, anxiety, trauma, and tragedy in many different ways. As much as I wish I could lift the heartache from everyone affected by the tragedy in Oxford, I can’t. As much as I wish I could ensure tragedies like this would never happen again, I can’t. 

I’ve found in my life that when I trust in the Lord, rejoice in the Lord, and let the Lord help me, that is when the stress and anxiety lessen or even disappear. The loneliness, the trauma and the fear will still find ways to creep in, but with God they never take hold. 

Whether it’s the little things or the big things, the tragedies or annoyances that consume you, remember that God is with us as we experience our hardships and that we can do anything with him on our side.

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Dave Laidlaw spent 6 years working in youth ministry and has spent the last 6 years serving parishes across the country with different technical and administrative issues they have. He is the Founder of Antioch.Solutions. Antioch.Solutions is a company that helps Catholic leaders learn new skills to spread the good news and enhance their ministries. Along with the Church, Dave loves his family, good coffee, sports, history, Star Wars, and being outside. You can find more about Dave at www.Antioch.Solutions

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Our Fiat to God

In today’s Gospel, as we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we are reminded of Mary’s obedience to God. After the Angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her she would be the mother of God, Mary said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Her fiat—her yes—should be a lesson to us all.

Mary said yes because she trusted in the Lord. Trust in the Lord means that we don’t spend time fretting about the things in life we have no control over. As St. Padre Pio said, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.” We pray. We tell God what we need and what we want, and we do our best to work toward that goal if it’s something we can do. Then we have hope. 

But hope isn’t just a wish. Hope means that we understand that Christ walks with us through our trials, that He carries us in times of extreme difficulty, and that He will never leave us. And then we put the situation in God’s hands. When we have done all we can do, we trust that His will will be done. Giving up that control and giving up that worry are hard things to do. But, as we say in the Our Father, “Thy will be done.” 

Trust is telling God that we are okay with whatever He decides and that, if it’s the opposite of what we wanted, we understand that He will help us through it. 

Mary understood this. She trusted in God, and she told Him yes even though she was very likely confused. 

Giving our fiat to God and living our daily lives with a trust in Him like Mary’s can be really difficult at times. Sometimes we just don’t understand what God is trying to do with our lives. We feel hurt, lonely, isolated, rejected, or confused, and we begin to lose hope. Maybe we even begin to feel worthless. 

That is when trust is of vital importance. When we trust that God walks those difficult times with us, we become stronger. When we talk to God in prayer, we strengthen our relationship. When we surrender to Him, we feel at peace.

Just as Mary understood that she was a beloved daughter of God, so must we, for we are all beloved sons and daughters of God. And we must have faith that He wants what’s best for us. 

So, today, let us ask for Mary’s help and intercession as we grow in faith. Let us ask her to help us say yes to God—no matter what He asks of us. When we do so, we will discover the unbelievable fruits of this trust.

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Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.

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Sheep on Shoulders

In today’s parable, Jesus holds up a gentle image of the love of God for each one of us. A love so great that it leaves the 99 who seem to be holding their own in order to go in search of a single one who went astray.

Why did the one stray from the flock? Was he confused, or belligerent, or determined to seek something outside of the pasture? Was he lured away, dragged away, coerced away? We don’t know, and it doesn’t seem to matter. The shepherd does not ask why the one strayed, so we need not either; it is enough to know that sheep stray. But we might ask, as a point of reflection, why the shepherd goes out to search for it!

In purely practical terms, one lost sheep is not a big deal. After all, 100 sheep is a lot, but 99 is almost as many. The economic value of the flock hasn’t been affected; a 1% loss is factored into these calculations, surely. And isn’t leaving the 99 a bit of a risk? They need shepherding too. They are at risk too. And yet he leaves them in pursuit.

Not only does the shepherd leave the 99 to go in search of the one who strayed, when he finds it he rejoices MORE than over the 99 who did not stray. Again, we might ask: Why?

The answer is always LOVE. The shepherd knows and loves each sheep personally. When one sheep strays, the shepherd knows it is in danger, it is suffering, it is in peril of eternal death. And love does not allow one who loves to remain complacent or use superficial cost-benefit calculations before deciding to act. Love acts. Love always has the good of the beloved in view, and not the personal cost. Love pours itself out for the good of the other. And the Shepherd pours Himself out for the good of each and every sheep.

When we stray, Jesus knows that we are in danger, we are suffering, we are in peril of eternal death. And so, no matter why we have strayed, he uses every means to reach out to us and bring us back. As Pope Francis said in a General Audience (5/4/16): “In Jesus’ vision there are no sheep that are definitively lost, but only sheep that must be found again. We need to understand this well: to God no one is definitively lost. Never! To the last moment, God is searching for us.” What a consolation and assurance for us! And when this Truth sinks into our being, we can assure others who have strayed that God is holding out His forgiveness.

“God never tires of forgiving us… Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love” (Evangelii Gaudium, 3).

We are borne on the Shepherd’s shoulders. That is the Good News.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is

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Christ is Lord

The Pharisees react understandably to Jesus in our Gospel. As He is teaching, Jesus sees a man being brought down through the roof on a stretcher, and He immediately forgives his sins. It must have been a shock to hear Jesus claim divinity. After all, as the Pharisees point out, only God can forgive sins.

But of course, as we know, Jesus is God. The Pharisees are correct in thinking that any mere man claiming divine powers of His own authority is blaspheming, but they did not realize that Jesus, the Son of Man, truly does have this authority. Those he healed did realize this, and they returned home glorifying God.

Though it is easier to see in hindsight, it was often difficult for Jesus’ listeners to understand that the Messiah was to be divine and human. If they never understood it, they resisted Jesus as a blasphemer, as one who deeply offends God by claiming His authority and powers. They plotted His death, because in their mind He was sacrilegious, and was quickly leading the multitudes to worship a man. If they did understand who the Messiah was to be, they fell down and worshiped Jesus as God incarnate. 

This is important for us to reflect on, because although we know that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, true God and true man, we do not often treat Him as seriously as did the Pharisees and disciples. Jesus claimed to be God, and was right. That changes everything. Isaiah has this note of significance in His description of the Messiah’s reign in our First Reading: “Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you” (Isa. 35:4).

The coming of God into the world is something of the greatest significance, bringing with it both natural and supernatural wonders, as Isaiah says. And as Jesus shows in His ministry, the Messiah truly sets the captives free and works miracle after miracle. God has visited His people.

He has done this as the God-man. Bringing God and man together in His very Person, Jesus Christ is holiness. Holiness is union with God, and in His very being Jesus Christ is the intimate union of God and man. If we want to be made fit for heaven, where we experience the joy of this union eternally, we need only to become incorporated into that same union.

Christ, in His Person, shows us the way to finally be free from sin, to be saved, and to lead a holy life, achieving the purpose for which we were made. Nothing else could have achieved this in so perfect and glorious a manner as God Himself taking on our flesh. 

Not only this, but He adopts us into that same relationship using means which we can understand and physically connect to. In the sacraments, Christ’s grace comes to us and incorporates us into His hypostatic union of God and man. We are initiated into His New Covenant and perfected along the way so that we can be with God in heaven. Let us realize the significance of Jesus Christ’s divinity and of His hypostatic union, looking forward with great anticipation to the day when He first graced the earth with His infinite presence.

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David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at

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Acting Human

Before we know how to act we must first know who we are. This is a basic philosophical tenet that shaped the thought of great minds such as St. John Paul II. If we look at the world today I think we can pin a majority of the problems, if not all of them, on the fact that we have forgotten who we are and therefore have failed in the ways we act.

Today’s First Reading should have hit you in the face a little with the reality of who we really are. “For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever.” This doesn’t sound like empty words from a distant God, but personal words by a God who loves us and knows us. So the question becomes, what do we do with this type of information?

When we are hit with the reality that we are made by a God who loves us and has created us with unmatched dignity, that must affect the way we act. The bird who is made to fly does not sit and dream about the clouds. Often, faith can become a laundry list of rules and regulations, but more than just avoiding sin, God is calling us to live in virtue.

What’s the difference? Well, virtue is seeking the good. It is to look at every moment in our lives and strive to not only recognize the good, but to do it. This is what is proper to the human person because we are made by God as good. Genesis tells us as much when we hear that we are very good. 

Sin, on the other hand, is a lack of good. This is why it bothers me when people make excuses for sin and say things like, “Well, I’m only human.” It is precisely because you are human that you are called to seek that good and avoid the lack thereof. It is the very fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God that should inspire us to live virtuous lives as opposed to just avoiding evil. This is why St. Augustine could be so bold in saying, “Love and do what you will.” This is not a blanket acceptance of sin or an affirmation to not try, on the contrary, it is a higher calling to love rightly. When we love in the way that God loves, we no longer desire sin as much and we start to seek the good.

During this Advent season, let’s all try to focus on growing in virtue and arriving at Christmas as the types of human beings who when we act like a saint we say, “Well of course, that’s exactly the type of behavior a human being would have, we are made in the image of God after all, and that means something.” From all of us here at Diocesan, God bless!

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Tommy Shultz is a Business Development Representative for Diocesan. In this role he is committed to bringing the best software to dioceses and parishes while helping them evangelize on the digital continent. Tommy has worked in various diocese and parish roles since his graduation from Franciscan University with a Theology degree. He hopes to use his skills in evangelization, marketing, and communications, to serve the Church and bring the Good News to all. His favorite quote comes from St. John Paul II, who said, “A person is an entity of a sort to which the only proper and adequate way to relate is love.”

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What Does It Cost?

“Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give” (Mark 10:8b). Gratitude. Humility. Thankful. Sacrifice. Share. Prayer. Authority. Heal. These are all words that come to my mind as I read the Gospel. And I ponder what I have received without cost. 

And then it hits me. Everything I have I have received without cost. How can I say that? On the surface it does not seem to make sense. I, like most people, regularly trade my time and talents for money; it is called work, career, or ministry. Our talents and time though, are gifts that we received from God Most High. We can choose to put those at His service and for the good of others. 

I often find myself at odds with the second part of the verse, “without cost you are to give.” In fact, I can spend lots of time thinking about how much it costs me to give. How much does it cost me to give love, care, concern, kindness, mercy? It costs as much as I want to believe it costs. 

When I remember that all I have received has been without cost then I can give without counting the cost. But when I start to tally up when I have given and what I want in return, I am not the person God created me to be or the person I want to be. Does that ever happen to you? 

During this season of Advent, it is a good time to reflect on what we have received. Make a list. It can include intangibles like faith and hope, people you love, your talents, material goods, where you live. Try not to judge your list. Then, each day, pray for a few people from your list, ask God to help you grow in a talent or use material things for His glory. 

It is not easy to give without cost but that is what we are asked to do. The Incarnation, which is upon us, is the beginning of Jesus giving to us. By virtue of that gift, we receive salvation. My prayer is for us to embrace the gift of salvation that we have received and share it with others by the way we live our lives without counting the cost.

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Deanna G. Bartalini, is a Catholic writer, speaker, educator and retreat leader. She is the founder of the community, a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith through interactive Bible studies, courses and book clubs. Her weekly podcast,, gives you tips and tools to live out your faith. At  she writes about whatever is on her mind at the moment.

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Enlighten the Eyes

The imagery in today’s readings reflect the joyful promise of what is to come at the end of Advent.

The reading from Isaiah tells of the deaf hearing, the blind seeing, no more tyrants, the arrogant gone as well as those who want to do evil. The people who make errors in spirit get understanding and others who point out faults receive instruction. What a wonder-filled world this would be!

The Gospel has two blind men asking Jesus to heal them. The men are healed, their eyes opened according to their faith in Jesus as Lord. Yet Jesus warned them not to tell about this miracle.

The two previously blind men literally and physically experienced an epiphany. The First Reading also describes an epiphany. The text illustrates how divine insight obliterates darkness. It brings light to the prophet Isaiah’s vision of dwelling in the house of our Lord.

I am also reminded however that a sudden burst of light or insight can also create blindness. My eyes or mind need time to adjust to the brightness. How many times have I stumbled into something right in front of me or into situations where my awareness had been shrouded in the dark. Then all of a sudden l find that I am smack dab in the middle of something that is potentially destructive to myself or worse yet, in a ripple or tidal wave effect to others.

The season of Advent allows me the time to adjust to the coming of Jesus’ divine light. I need to be intentional as I reflect during this Advent time of preparation and waiting. I must try to become aware of the things my eyes, my conscience and thought process don’t, can’t or refuse to see.

O Divine Light, please fill my mind, my heart, my subconscious. Illumine the situations I need to see. Help me let go of each area to be enlightened with your love and guidance. Allow me to adjust to the obstacles before me so that I may have nothing to be ashamed of when I come before you. Grant me the grace to be a light for others to come to know the glory and joy of your kingdom. Amen.

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Beth Price is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She is a Secular Franciscan (OFS) and a practicing spiritual director. Beth shares smiles, prayers, laughter, a listening ear and her heart with all of creation. Reach her here

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Doing God’s Will

Every now and again, we hear something in Scripture, as in our Gospel today, that reminds us to not just listen, but act. We need to be doers of the Word, not just hearers, as St. James says (James 1:22). Easy, right? It seems that way, but we have to recognize that this is something Jesus thought was worth emphasizing to His own listeners. It would be worthwhile to look at exactly how we can carry out this admonition.

We first need to listen. Notice that Christ praises the one who “listens to these words of mine and acts on them” (Matt. 7:24). There is a difference between listening and merely hearing. I noticed this recently in my own life. I had been preventing myself from listening. While engaged in conversation, I found myself either passively doing something else, like listening to a podcast, or paying just enough attention to be able to repeat what the other person said, but no more. I heard what was being said, but I did not internalize, process, or integrate it.

For me, this was because I was not paying enough attention, dropping both my external and internal distractions in order to be a true listener. As part of this process, I have begun to return to conversations in my down time, reflecting on what was asked of me and how I can implement it. For example, if my spouse or friend expresses a desire to go camping soon, how can I take concrete steps to make it a reality, rather than simply agreeing before moving on with my own concerns?

Christ asks us to listen. That means during Mass and while meditating on the Word, we must eliminate those distractions within our power: our thoughts of errands, our cell phones, noise. With distractions minimized, we can be receptive and attentive, which takes its own kind of energy. Then, we ought to return to the Word throughout the day, perhaps during the time that we’d normally be scrolling social media or letting our mind wander. What does it really mean, and how can we carry it out in our lives?

This will help us to listen, but then we need to act. How do we do God’s will? It’s a good step to do our own reflection on the readings at Mass and read Scripture consistently. Things like the Homily and the lives and writings of the saints can be helpful here as well. It’s good to see how others are making God’s Word practical, especially when those others are now praising Him in heaven.

Once we have listened to and reflected upon the meaning of the Word, we should actually do it. Understanding what to do is not quite doing God’s will; we need to make a practical plan. What concrete things will we do, today or this week, to make Christ’s words a reality? How will we turn the most significant resolutions into consistent, lasting practices? Who can help us do this?

The only thing left, then, is to start doing. Let us pray that the Lord will give us the grace to listen, understand, and act.

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David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at

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Long for Advent

Ah, the early days of Advent and a new liturgical year. There is so much anticipation in the air of the great upcoming feast, the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. Our Church is brimming with hope as we, her people – the Body of Christ – ready our hearts for the coming of the Lord Jesus at Christmas. 

Advent serves a two-fold purpose for us. I just mentioned the first as a time of remembrance of Jesus’ birth at Christmas, but that’s not the only one. Advent is also a time for us to turn our hearts and prepare for His second coming at the end of time. 

We see themes of hope and longing, repentance and preparation during this liturgical season. We celebrate a Sunday of joy in Gaudete Sunday. There is so much that the season of Advent can do for our spiritual lives if we fully embrace and enter into these next few weeks, and that could be its own separate blog post. 

Let’s take a look at the theme of longing, though, through the eyes of today’s First Reading. The Book of the prophet Isaiah is laden with prophecies of the coming Messiah in addition to many words about how much the people of Israel long for said Messiah. With that being said, Isaiah is a frequent flier in the Mass readings during Advent and today’s First Reading is no different. 

Everything that is spoken about in the First Reading points to Jesus Christ as the long-awaited Messiah. The mountain on which he “will destroy the veil that veils all people” and on which he “will destroy death forever” points toward Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified. The veil of the temple was indeed torn in two when Jesus became triumphant over death and opened the gates of Heaven for us all. It is that same crucified body that he offers us in the Eucharist – his whole Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – which points toward the feast of rich foods and choice wines. There is truly no better food for our souls than the Eucharist. 

How can longing direct your Advent? Are you longing for consumerism, for the things of this world or are you longing for the Lord? How will you act on your longings? Turn them over to the Lord as you prepare your heart and make room for Jesus in this holy season. 

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Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is passionate about the Lord Jesus, all things college sports and telling stories and she is blessed enough to get paid for all three of her passions. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter@erinmadden2016.

Feature Image Credit: Robert Thiemann,