“And the truth will set you free” is a phrase we often hear thrown around in movies but did you know it came from Jesus himself? I didn’t. 

It wasn’t until I was reading today’s Gospel reading in which Jesus says, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” to his believers (John 8:32).

Their response, much like my response would have been, is one of confusion because they have never been enslaved.  Weren’t they already free? Aren’t we already free? But Jesus goes on to explain that it is through sin that they, and we, are slaves. 

As we sin, we become slaves to the actions, the inactions, and the impulses that cause us to turn away from God. It is through Christ’s goodness, our Heavenly Father’s favor, that we find ourselves more free than we could possibly imagine. 

Living a life of love and mercy provides us with a joy that will pervade all of our actions. We know this is true because how many hearts have we met that are on fire for the Lord and have that bright glow around them? Just being near them, you feel joy in the Lord. Just by joining in prayer and praise to God with them, you can feel the freedom of peace and of love. 

So today, as we stand only days from Holy Week, I ask you… 

Will you choose freedom?

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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.

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Winter Waves

The wind today is particularly aggressive and our little portion of Lake Michigan is turbulent. As I drove up the lakefront after work I noticed how violent and unsettled the water was. I could see the whitecaps all the way to the horizon and the waves breaking closer to shore reminded me of the ocean, crashing into each other at improbable angles. They seemed to be approaching from both the southeast and the northeast. The water was the color of coffee with just the right amount of cream. 

It wasn’t the first time I sat in that lot and took a crummy phone video of the waves to show my family. There is something that pulls me in there whenever they are active. 

I wasn’t alone. Several photographers arrived with cameras with long lenses around their neck. One squatted down to get the perfect angle. Another set up a tripod. Over on the beach, surfers were rejoicing. A mother shivered next to her son who pointed at the breaking waves. A father called his daughter off the rocks. Couples walked past and a runner stopped and sat on the rocks for a few minutes. People in work clothes jumped out with their phones for a few shots and people in sweats posed for pictures with the waves behind them. We were all pulled to the water. 

I realized the waves looked like how my heart feels – unsettled, at odds, moving in different directions. I wondered if others’ hearts felt the same. 

In this time of an unsettled heart, I am consoled by the plea heard in today’s Responsorial Psalm. “Let my cry come to you. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress.” (Ps 102: 2-3) Yes! This is our cry when the waves are crashing.

I wonder if God sees the same beauty in our turbulent hearts that we see in the turbulent lake. I think he does. I think it is in those times when we feel out of control and we cry out to him that he smiles, not because he is glad we are troubled, but because we go to him. At any moment he can still the water and our hearts. 

And he does. “The LORD looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth,

To hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die.” (Ps 102: 20-21) He hears our cry, he sees our distress, and he rescues us. He sent his Son to save us from death and he comforts us when the waves in our heart are churned up. He is so very good. 

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Merridith Frediani’s perfect day includes prayer, writing, unrushed morning coffee, reading, tending to dahlias, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids.  She loves finding God in the silly and ordinary.  She writes for Ascension Press, Catholic Mom, and her local Catholic Herald in Milwaukee. Her first book Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Eucharistic Adoration is expected to be released summer 2021. You can reach her at

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Silent Trust

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

What do you think of as you hear these words from today’s Responsorial Psalm? 

Trust? Courage?

Trust and courage, two essential virtues, go hand in hand through today’s Responsorial Psalm, readings, and Gospel, which is rather a fitting theme as the dangers of COVID-19 still surround us. 

Trust is complete surrender to the One who knows what the plan is, whereas courage is the guts to actually do it.

Courage, in its simplest form, is the guts to trust in the Lord, the one who holds everything in the palm of his hand. In the readings today we have examples of two women who display both of these virtues.

 In the First Reading, we read about a young woman named Susanna, who was unjustly accused of adultery. Susanna, as we all know, was completely innocent of this crime, but notice that she does nothing to contradict the elders who accused her, save pray to God.

“Here I am about to die, though I have done none of these things which these wicked men  have charged against me.”  She does not even ask to be spared from execution, she trusts the Lord completely, that only his will will come to pass, even if it results in her death. 

Trust. She trusts that the Lord’s plan will shine through in the end, and so she is not afraid. She is brave in the midst of dangers because she knows that “You are at my side.”

In the Gospel, again, we come across a woman accused of committing adultery. She, too, was to be sentenced to death (though the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus into condemning her, which, of course did not work). For a second time we see men testify to a crime with little to no evidence as proof. 

Jesus is not a man to be taken lightly in the matters of condemning someone. He is also not a man to be tricked into condemning someone. Notice that this woman, too, does not say a single thing except answering Jesus. “No one, sir.” 


Like Susanna, she did not ask for pardon. She does not blurt out her story, or even demand to be heard. I wonder if  she was praying. Jesus ultimately saw in her something that the Pharisees missed: courage and trust. The woman, silent yet brave, trusted completely. That is why she stayed silent. It was not that she did not value her life, it was because she knew that God was in control. She did not have to speak to be saved. Courage does not need words; neither does trust.

Both women had courage, they both trusted in the Lord, and as a result they were delivered from death. 

“Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil, for you are at my side.” These words are very true, as outlined in the readings of today. Be brave. Trust in the Lord. And above all, do not fear any evil, for he is at your side.

Perpetua Phelps is a high school student residing in West Michigan and is the second of four children. Apart from homeschooling, Perpetua enjoys volunteering at her church, attending retreats, studying Latin and French, and reading classics such as BeowulfThe Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc. She also spends much time writing novels, essays, and poetry for fun and competition. A passionate Tolkien fan, Perpetua is a founding member of a Tolkien podcast.

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Death is Victory and New Life

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus and his disciples are worshipping in the temple for the Passover feast. We hear that some Greeks are there as well, and are wanting to see Jesus. In the temple, the Jewish people were allowed in a courtyard that was closer to the Holy of Holies, but any Gentiles had to worship from a further out courtyard. When the disciples ask him to come and see these Greeks, Jesus strangely starts to talk directly about his own death, instead of addressing the disciples. Jesus’ reflections on his coming sacrifice turns into a short prayer to the Father, who speaks back. What???? I don’t know about you, but if I heard “thunder” or “angels” in response to a prayer that Jesus made, there would be no doubt left in my mind of His divine mission. 

“The hour has come…for this purpose I came to this hour…Now is the time of judgment.” Jesus is trying to tell the people that something is going to happen immediately, it is imminent! This is also true for us, as we’re a couple Sundays away from Easter! But for these people in their time, it’s not the kind of action that they think. The disciples and Jewish people likely still believe that Jesus would come as an earthly, conquering King and Messiah. The imagery that Jesus gives of being “lifted up”, perhaps they believed to be similar to a Roman general returning from a campaign. Being lifted up in praise on a glorious earthly throne. But Jesus’ victory was not against Rome or any kingdom; rather it would be against the sinfulness of humanity itself.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” Jesus mentions this in parallel to his own mission, and thus further reveals the kind of “victory” he would need to win; His death. But he also calls his servants to follow Him. So, are we all called to die like Him? Yes! But this death is not the end of our life; rather it’s the end of sin and the end of death itself. Death is a new beginning for us, and we are “baptised” into Christ’s death so that we will rise with Him at Easter. So how do we truly follow Christ and put our old self to death? Through the Lenten practices we’ve already been doing; fasting, almsgiving, and prayer! Let’s all keep walking strong on the road to Calvary, and meet Jesus there. Let’s receive new life from the waters of mercy that are flowing from His side.

Songs for Reflection

I Will Follow – Chris Tomlin

New Wine – Hillsong Worship

Here’s My Heart – Chris Tomlin

Lead Me to the Cross – Hillsong Worship

Yes and Amen – Housefires

Lord of Lords – Hillsong Worship

Called Me Higher – All Sons and Daughters

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Brendan is just your average Millennial hipster: He likes playing guitar, throwing frisbees, sipping whiskey, and grooming his beard. But he also has a passion for walking with teens and young Christ-followers, hearing every person’s story, and waking up the Church. Brendan works at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Lenexa, Kansas (near Kansas City) as a Youth Music Minister, fusing together his two loves of sharing Christ and sharing the power and need for good and beautiful contemporary praise.

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In the Silence

“God speaks in the silence of the heart, and we listen.” -St. Teresa of Calcutta-

In today’s Gospel we hear of the doubts many people harbored against Christ. Jesus’ three years of public ministry were not easy. Of course He performed many miracles and convinced many people of the Gospel of Truth but, many people derided Him and He was faced with an immense amount of skepticism. If our mission is to continue to carry out Christ’s earthly mission – that is, to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth – then we should expect to face the same criticism and doubt from others that Christ did. If we are to authentically and whole-heartedly seek holiness, we must first listen to the word of God. He speaks to us through the word and actions of His Son in the Gospel and continues to speak to us in our hearts. It is His voice that should guide our thoughts, words, and actions. By listening to God’s voice and following His Will, we will serve as witnesses of truth to all those we encounter. Like Christ in His own mission from the Father, we are called to share the Good News with a humble heart and willing spirit. I think today’s Gospel is reminding us that sometimes that will mean confronting critics who look at the Gospel with contempt. We must, however, remain steadfast in our love for God and His Word so, like Nicodemus, we can continue defending Christ and the Gospel.

The Gospel antiphon for today is “Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance”. Even in this short verse from Luke, we are reminded that it is only through perseverance in our mission of evangelization that we can reap a rich harvest.

May we have the courage to hear God’s word, keep His word, and share His word with all those we encounter.

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at

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Joseph Moments

Today is the Solemnity of St Joseph, the husband of Mary, the man who is called “just.” To call a person “just,” is like saying “he who is virtuous in all things.” Joseph was faithful to listening and responding to the voice of God. He was courageous in carrying out his yes. 

To be “virtuous in all things” makes me visualize a day-by-day, moment-by-moment ascent of a mountain range of choices, trials, unexpected changes, upset plans, new discoveries and challenging opportunities. Every aspect of Joseph’s life could be said to be an unexpected, upset, redirected, turned around…mystery.

Do you have these Joseph moments in your life? 

Moments like moving, changing jobs, starting out on your own….

Saying goodbye at the moment when a loved one or friend walks into eternity….

Discovering that what you thought was true about someone actually wasn’t…

Being challenged to consider a vocation or ministerial possibility for which you don’t feel prepared…

Having to enter into a situation that compromises what others think of you without the luxury of explaining or defending yourself…

Trying hard to do what needs to be done only to have the plans completely changed for an unknown reason, leaving you only with the faith that God is still here whatever happens…

Joseph moments.

Stay close to Joseph in order to in all things live virtuously. 

Joseph will inspire you to silence so that you will hear your angels when God sends you direction for your life.

Joseph will give you the courage of discernment and prudence so that you can listen for God’s voice alone and set aside all the other voices of self-interest, entitlement, or fear.

Joseph will show you the wisdom of openness to change so that you can show up fully and responsibly for your vocation as it unfolds throughout the years of your life.

Joseph will bless you with the trust needed to witness to your faith that God is at work in whatever confusion or reversal life may throw your way.

Joseph will remind you again and again that all his preparations for the birth of the Son of God went to naught as he left for Bethlehem during a census and fled to Egypt to escape the jealous wrath of King Herod. He surrendered all that was his and provided for the Holy Family “on the fly,” so to speak, so that we would know that it is God who does all things, and everything God does he does well. When things fall apart on our end, the failure simply manifests what God had intended all along. Joseph’s story was an endless discovery and embrace of the mystery of God’s plan for him and Jesus and Mary. This father of the Holy Family willingly leaned into mystery no matter what the cost to himself rather than relinquish the vocation given him.

Joseph moments. Our lives are full of them. May this great saint help us be faithful in all things.

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Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: Public Facebook Group: For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community:

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Alert and Aligned

Did you ever spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince someone of something that seems so obvious you shouldn’t have to explain it? You may have been tempted to say, “What is wrong with you?! It’s so obvious?!” Maybe Jesus felt that kind of exasperation with the ruling Jews.

Jesus is still trying to help “the Jews” see what should be obvious to them. They know the Scriptures inside and out, and so they should easily recognize the One Who IS the fulfillment of the Scriptures. In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks their own language to them, as it were. He “presents his case” in the format they are familiar with, citing witnesses and testimonies. But then Jesus cuts right to the heart of the matter, as he usually does: “You do not want to come to me to have life… (Y)ou do not have the love of God in you.” The true reason that they cannot see Truth before them is that their hearts are closed.

What has closed them off? In the next sentence, Jesus names their blinding fault: “you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God…” Wow. Because their desire is only for worldly acknowledgment and gain (what I call the “5 P’s” of popularity, prestige, power, pleasure, and prosperity), they have closed their hearts to real spiritual gain.

Even as Jesus dialogues with them in a way they should understand, even though he presents “an airtight case,” they cannot see because they are seeking something else and looking elsewhere.

We can be like that too. Our lives are a stream of busy-ness and distraction, scrolling and trolling, so that we forget to seek the ONE THING that matters. And yet the Lord keeps calling us to Himself.

Have you ever been doing something that seems “not religious” and suddenly been moved deeply by something so beautiful or good or true? These are blessed moments in which the Lord is speaking to us in a way that we can hear, getting our attention, and they don’t always happen at church! The Lord is always coming to us in ways that are familiar so that we can hear him: a song, a friend, a prayer, a story, a walk, even a movie. We may be tempted to dismiss it as nothing, or chance, or fatigue! But we should learn to recognize that these are often ways that Heaven breaks through and reminds us that there is more.

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts!” (Heb 3:7).

During these last days of Lent, let’s work to keep our hearts alert and aligned to God’s will, open to whatever he is calling us to do.

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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

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There is a Time for Every Season

The first signs of spring are a reason for rejoicing in the colder, northern regions. Here in West Michigan, all the snow has melted, the birds are singing as morning dawns, and although the nights are still crisp, the days are growing warmer. There is no telling when that white stuff might randomly fly a few more times between now and early May, but the promise that spring officially starts in just 3 days fills us with hope. 

The sun’s welcome rays warm us longer and longer each day and the kids start asking to get their bikes and scooters out. Just a week or so ago they were complaining that there was too much snow and they wanted to play soccer on the grass, and now they ask, “Can I just wear my sweatshirt today?” when it’s barely 45 degrees out. Yet, mommy is excited too and starts putting away winter gear and getting their Easter baskets ready. 

We celebrated Laetare Sunday this past weekend, so we know we are closer to Easter than we are to Ash Wednesday. In just two weeks, we will be in the midst of Holy Week. And just as the promise of spring brings us hope, so does the promise of Easter, the highest feast of the whole Liturgical Year. 

Perhaps you’re like me and love to anticipate special times and special days. Perhaps you book your vacations months in advance and already have your Christmas presents bought and wrapped by October. But the truth is, we still have work to do. Lent is not over yet. And the most intense days are still to come. 

Today’s Gospel foreshadows Jesus’ death with these words: “Jesus answered the Jews: ‘My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.’ For this reason they tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.”

It is so easy to get angry with the Jews and exclaim, “Don’t they get it?! Why don’t they understand?! He IS equal to God!!” Yet in our own hearts we may still deny him. That little white lie, that burst of unnecessary anger, that silent treatment we gave our loved one, that busyness we allowed when we should have taken time to pray…

Yes, it is tempting to look ahead to the sunshine after the storm, yet we are still called to endure it a little while longer. Let us continue to weed out what prevents us from getting closer to him, remembering all the while that “The Lord is gracious and merciful.” (Today’s Psalm)

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Tami Urcia 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 her parish, is a guest blogger on and, runs her own blog at and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for almost 20 years.

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Striking a Balance

I am a child of two very disparate worlds.

My mother grew up in the American South, raised by staunchly Southern Baptist relatives, and she absorbed some odd practices: no drinking, no dancing, church services lasting for hours twice on Sundays. 

My father grew up Catholic in Angers, France, a medieval city with a cathedral dedicated to St. Maurice; his family had been part of the fabric of the city and of the cathedral for, literally, centuries.

It was an odd space in which to grow up, even after my mother’s conversion and my going to a Catholic school. Because every parent carries baggage their children must make sense of. Both my parents’ religious backgrounds came with rules. Sometimes the rules overlapped, and sometimes they diverged. For my father, it was about strict adherence to Catholic practices; for my mother, it was about behavior (no idleness, no activities without a moral purpose, no pleasure for the sake of pleasure).

When I was ten or eleven, I did what many girls of that age do: I fell in love with horses. My family had the means to indulge me, and I spent every free moment around stables. I started riding, getting good at it, competing in horse shows. And then an opportunity came along to be in a really significant show. On a Sunday.

My father shrugged it off. Sundays start with the vigil; all I had to do was go to Mass on Saturday evening. My mother was deeply shocked; she carried with her the indelible memory of sermons that lasted for hours, and we’d always as a family gone to Sunday Mass. 

They argued about it. And I was thinking of those arguments when I read today’s Gospel story, in which Jesus dared to cross the line, cross the boundaries, do something he wasn’t “supposed” to do—out of love and caring.  

There was good reason for the Jews, then and now, to keep the Sabbath. God had ordained it. It was a day of refreshment, of recollection, a day unlike the other six days in the week. A Jew himself, Jesus knew the value of such a practice and its connection to his Father.

So why did he heal on the Sabbath? He must have known he was crossing a line. He must have known his action would come back at him in some way.

What we can see clearly throughout Jesus’ life and ministry is a call to being genuine. His message was simple. Whereas the Hebrew Bible is filled with specifics—measurements, times, what is and isn’t acceptable—the New Testament is notable for its simplicity. Love your God and your neighbor. Return good for evil. Turn the other cheek. Feed the hungry. And it all comes back to one thing: love. Through love of humanity God sent his son. It’s all about love.

God’s laws were given to help people love him with all their hearts and minds, but centuries of history tend to create distortions. By Jesus’ time, religious leaders had turned the laws into a confusing mass of rules. The point of the rules—a loving relationship between God and humanity—had been lost. By example, then, Jesus is showing that the rule of keeping the Sabbath only makes sense insofar as we don’t lose that point, as long as it does not exclude love. The sick man needed love and help, right then, right there, not when it was more convenient. 

When Jesus talked about a new way of understanding God’s law, he was actually trying to bring people back to its original purpose. Jesus wasn’t challenging the law itself. It’s a matter of striking a balance—or, perhaps, of perspective. If the greatest law of all is to love, then taking risks to put that love into the fabric of our daily lives is what we’re called to do. He showed it was better on the Sabbath to help someone in need than it was to stand around looking holy.

Because it really is that simple. It’s about love.

I ended up going to that horse show, where I ignominiously fell off after the third fence. And my parents were both there to support me, having overcome their differences… out of love.

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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

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Actually, I Have a Better Idea

Does it seem like your prayers are unanswered, or your petitions are tossed into a void? Do you weary of asking for things because it seems you will never receive them? Do you ever wonder whether Christ’s Heart can be moved toward you?

What moves the Heart of Christ?

In today’s Gospel, a royal official who is concerned for his dying son travels 20 miles to ask Jesus to come and heal him. Jesus seems to brush him off, but the official is undeterred and asks again. Then Jesus tells him that he can go, his son will live. What moves Jesus to grant this healing? Perhaps the answer is found in the next line: “The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.” The man believed. Clearly, he believed from the beginning or he would not have left his dying son to find Jesus. He would not have insisted when Jesus seemed to dismiss him. He would not have headed back home without Jesus, if he did not believe that Jesus’ word is also ACT. He must have also had a level of humility, as his traveling to find Jesus would have been ridiculed by many.

On his way back, the man’s humility and faith were rewarded when his slaves met him with the happy news that his son was recovering – and had begun to recover at the precise hour of Jesus’ word to him. This miraculous healing was the catalyst for conversion for the whole household!

So, is Jesus’ Heart moved to act for you?

What do you have to do to make sure God hears your prayers?

It’s important to remember that this is the oldest temptation on record! In Eden, the Enemy convinced Adam and Eve that God was not really FOR them, that He was holding something back from them, and so they reached for something that was not meant for them. They seemed to forget every good thing God had poured over them, and grasped for more, letting trust in God shrivel up in their hearts.

This Lent, we again have the opportunity to focus with the whole Church on the many and great gifts God has given us in Christ, and to see anew that Jesus really loves us and gave himself FOR US. This should feed our loving trust, strengthen our faith, and embolden our prayers, knowing that God gives us everything we need and more. But He does not simply give us everything we think we need; He gives us everything He knows we need to fulfill His will for us.

So it can be helpful to remember that God has three answers to prayer:

  1. Yes!
  2. Not right now.
  3. Actually, I have a better idea.

How is the Heart of Jesus answering your faith-filled prayers right now?

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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

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Basketball Evangelization

Is anyone old enough to remember the guy that traveled from pro basketball and pro football games around the country for many years with his favorite sign: John 3:16? One thing he did was to raise awareness of that Bible verse. People around the country talked about him a lot. And most of the conversation was not very complimentary. Anyone that speaks openly about God or Jesus Christ is looked at as it’s being way outside the box. I am speaking here about conversations with friends and family members, not about giving talks at places of invite. 

I am sure you remember Saint John Paul II’s words on the “new evangelization”. I believe that he knew how much it was needed around the world. We can write all sorts of books on the subject but, are we as Catholics really evangelizing? The man at the basketball / football games was doing what he felt he was supposed to do, promote John 3:16. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” I applaud the man who had the guts to promote his God. To promote John 3:16. He was a fool for the Lord. When I heard people talk about him he was looked upon as some kind of Jesus freak. I heard that term for the first time back in the 60’s. It was about the same time the phrase God is dead was born. Also, about the same time that Madalyn Murray singlehandedly convinced the Supreme Court that there could no longer be prayer in public schools. How is that possible?? I was in the 6th grade in 1956 and Miss Mary Ewing read Bible passages to us almost every day! It was wonderful. 

The Church gives us this time of Lent to make sacrifices and to pray more to clear our minds on the state of our spiritual lives. Pray about it. The Lord will tell you what He wishes you to do. Let’s be in eternity together!

Serving with joy! 

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Deacon Dan Schneider is a retired general manager of industrial distributors. He and his wife Vicki recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They are the parents of eight children and twenty-nine grandchildren. He has a degree in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University. He was ordained a Permanent Deacon in 2002.  He has a passion for working with engaged and married couples and his main ministry has been preparing couples for marriage.

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Mercy, Love and Knowledge

The book of Hosea is a beautiful love story full of mercy, faithfulness and forgiveness. Hosea 6:6 says, “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Some translations have mercy, not love. Either way, the point is the same. We are to give out love and mercy and know God rather than focus on sacrifice. Which is odd to think about during Lent, as we sacrifice in preparation for Easter.

The key, of course, is told to us in the Gospels, where Jesus speaks. Today we read the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector and their approach to prayer. I ask myself this question, “do I need God’s mercy?” and then, “do I want God’s mercy?”

The Pharisee is certainly not interested in God’s mercy, he’s too busy being self-righteous. I could make a list of virtues the Pharisee needs. And then, I would be just like him! Let’s not indulge ourselves in that behavior, either about this particular Pharisee or the people around us.

Instead, look at the tax collector. He knows who God is, he knows who he is, and he knows who is not God. He is in need of God. His mercy. His love. His forgiveness. He humbles himself out of love (cf Hosea 6:6) not out of obligation or fear or lack of self-esteem. 

This verse, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ (Luke 18:13b) is part of the Jesus prayer used in the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches: “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. It is a beautiful prayer to use throughout the day, especially in those moments when we have sinned or need help in making the decision to avoid sin. 

When we acknowledge our need for mercy, it overflows. As we continue our Lenten journey let’s not hesitate to ask for mercy, let’s make our sacrifices out of love and grow in our knowledge of God. That is what my prayer is for all of us today.

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Deanna G. Bartalini, MEd, MPS, is a Catholic educator, writer, speaker, and retreat leader. She has served in ministry for over 40 years as a catechist, religious education director, youth minister, liturgical coordinator, stewardship director and Unbound prayer minister. For all of Deanna’s current work go to 

Feature Image Credit: James Coleman,