A Resolution to Make Haste Slowly

Happy New Year! By now, you have likely considered a new year’s resolution and maybe even tried a few.  If I’m honest, I have a long history of falling headfirst off the new year’s resolution wagon by about January 2nd.  

I tend not to follow through on new year’s resolutions because my resolutions are usually completely arbitrary and decided hastily at about 11:00pm on December 31st. Instead of being intentional about what I should do each year, I tend to toss around ideas, both noble and not-so-noble, about what I could do:  Keto diet! Volunteer for the PTA. Organize my closet. The list of good ideas goes on and on.  

Unfortunately, an arbitrary resolution, even a decision to do something good, is not necessarily the right resolution. So if you haven’t already, I propose that we re-examine our resolutions and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on what we should resolve to do this year. To this end, I’d like to invite you to take a walk with one of my favorite saints today: St. Katharine Drexel. Katharine’s life provides a great guide for discerning resolutions, and really, any decision in your life.

Katharine was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family and had the financial means and influence to do almost anything she wanted. But she did not take action arbitrarily. People around her urged her to do all kinds of good things:  get married; use her fortune for philanthropies; become a cloistered nun; or live a single life in service to the poor. However, Katharine’s spiritual director urged her to “festina lente” – make haste slowly. Festina lente – I find these words encouraging in the new year. Take time to choose the good to which God calls you.   

Always drawn to serve the poor, in 1887, Katharine attended a private audience with Pope Leo XIII and urged him to send missionary priests to the United States to Native Americans.  He responded, “Why not my child, yourself become a missionary?” This interaction helped to lead Katharine to her vocation. But Katharine made haste slowly. It was not until four years later, in 1891, that she became a missionary and founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She subsequently spent her life supporting missions and schools throughout the United States. In all, she and her sisters established 145 missions, 50 schools for African Americans, and 12 schools for Native Americans. Some described her as an “apostle to the poor.”

Katharine took time to discern how God wanted her to live out her vocation. What would have happened if Katharine had jumped at all of the ideas that she could have done, instead of truly discerning what God asked of her?     

Meditating on Katharine Drexel clarifies my new year’s resolution, or at least my approach to it. My resolution is a prayer to festina lente – to make haste slowly – to avoid that instinct to accomplish all the things I could do, and instead, listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit that reveal the things I should strive to accomplish.  

2022 is still new, and as the adage goes, it takes 21 days to form a habit. St. Katharine Drexel, perfected her vocation of missionary service through over fifty years of active ministry.  I’m going to need more than 21 days and a lot more practice to festina lenta. Did you plunge headfirst into an arbitrary resolution or are you still looking for that perfect resolution? If so, perhaps you could make haste slowly with me.

Contact the author

Elizabeth Tomlin is the author of Joyful Momentum: Building and Sustaining Vibrant Women’s Groups and contributing author to the Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Mothers. She is General Counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. Elizabeth is an Army wife and mother of three and currently lives in the DC area. She blogs at JoyfulMomentum.org or @elizabethannetomlin on social media.

Feature Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/wine-glasses-toast-holiday-6688901/

The Clock of Salvation

Welcome to 2022!!! Likely you are exhausted from staying up late to celebrate a new year with your friends and family. This day always brings to mind resolutions, diet programs, calendars, time, and beginnings. Though the secular world sees this as a day for starting anew, the Church sees it as the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. I think all of these themes tie together in a beautiful way through the Second Reading, where we first hear that Jesus became man at the fullness of time.

Have you ever wondered why calendars count time according to roughly the year that Jesus was born? It’s as if even the secular world can’t help but commemorate the importance of that historical event so many years ago. When we read further in Galatians we hear that Jesus is born of a woman. So he comes in the fullness of time and he is born of a woman. There are probably many different ways to interpret that, but the way I see it, the clock of human salvation started ticking the second that Eve took a bite of the apple. The first woman doomed human nature to a life without grace while the “second Eve” said yes to God’s plan for salvation.

All those years in between we wondered and waited at the plan that God had promised throughout the centuries. Time ticked on and many new years came and went, but God’s salvation clock brought us to the simple yes of a woman and the birth of the Savior. He always had the plan, but he waited for the precise moment when, instead of rejecting him, a woman would cooperate with him. Notice that grace, though it is freely given, requires cooperation for it to bear fruit. If we reject grace, God is not going to force us to take it. In the beginning Eve made the choice to fall and in the fullness of time Mary made the choice to say yes to God’s plan for her life.

So I guess the question for today and for the rest of 2022 should be, how are you allowing the grace of God to work in your life? You might have a new diet or exercise plan you are starting or a list of rules you are going to follow this year for your mental health, but what are you going to do in this new year to more fully imitate Mary who gave her yes and accepted the grace that God had to offer? Do you believe, as St. Paul did, that when God became man we became adopted sons and daughters of God? We are not slaves, but sons, and not just sons, but heirs. What are you going to do in this new year to cry out, “Abba, Father!” From all of us here at Diocesan, God bless and Happy New Year!

Contact the author

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.”

Feature Image Credit: Thomas Bormans, https://unsplash.com/photos/JsTmUnHdVYQ

In 2022 God Will Never Stop Loving You

Today we stand on the threshold of 2022, breathing a sigh of relief that we are another few months through the general crisis that the world is collectively living. 

 …the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… (Jn. 1:5).

As you enter the new year, remember: No darkness within or without, past, present or future will ever overcome the Light of the World. No war will overthrow the sovereignty of the Prince of Peace. No sin will be stronger than the love of the merciful King of Glory.

Oh, friend, remember who you are…

…dust and glory…

At Christmas we celebrate how we have received among us, in our home, in our flesh, the Word.

…And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us… (Jn 1:14).

You have seen the glory of the Father’s only-begotten Son…

In the words of my favorite Italian Christmas carol, Ninna, Nanna:

Those who walked in darkness
Now rejoice in the King’s splendor.
All sorrow will flee,
And those whom He shall ransom,
Will be crowned with everlasting joy.
Love has made Himself our Brother,
Come to us in the arms of a Mother.
Sing, O angels, sing praise to this Child,
The holy One, the Son of God, Emmanuel.

You have come to love and to save,
Come to lead us all in Your Way.
Sleep on, my Jesus, sleep on, my Lord.

In 2022 God will never stop loving you. God sees the darkness and the darkness doesn’t surprise him. He sent his Son to be with us in the midst of the darkness. He sent his Son to be the Light, to show us the Way, to illuminate our minds with Truth, to be Life for the world. He sent his Son to overcome the darkness.

Perhaps you are not convinced. How could the memory of the birth of the Christ-Child just celebrated at Christmas influence the trajectory of the forces of history through which we are living? 

That is precisely the illusion: that the Christ is a memory

No. Love has made himself our Brother. Pope Benedict XVI reflected: “Hope marks the journey of humankind, but for Christians it is enlivened by a certainty: the Lord is present in the events of our lives. He accompanies us and will one day dry our tears. One not-far-distant day everything will reach fulfillment in the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of justice and peace” (Homily, November 28, 2009).

It is time to stand up in this hope. To walk into the darkness assured that it is the Kingdom of mercy toward which we walk, our steps made sure in the Light that dispels the power the darkness could have over us, beckoning us ever to look up, to believe, to trust in God’s fidelity.

…[for] we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son,  full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14).

Contact the author

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: www.touchingthesunrise.com Public Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/ For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community: https://www.patreon.com/srkathryn.

Feature Image Credit: Myriams-Fotos, https://pixabay.com/photos/a-book-pages-open-heart-book-pages-1950451/

Turning Ourselves Toward God

I hope that your Christmas season is full of joy! As I read today’s readings, I was struck by the last verses in both the First Reading and the Gospel. They both point to doing the will of God is what ultimately fulfills us, both in this life and the next.

“Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.” 1 John 2:17

For many years I have struggled with overeating. In the last few months, I have participated in a group to help me with this struggle. And I have found such truth in this program which is based on Theology of the Body. One of the most important ideas I have come away with is that it is hard to get enough of something that almost works (Dr. Vincent Felitti). It helped me realize that food, for me, is “the world and its enticement,” and while I of course need food to care for my body, it can substitute for doing the will of God. You can put in place of food whatever it is that you cling to instead of God. 

When we cling to God, go to him first, we are like Jesus, in this verse from the Gospel, “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” Luke 2:40

We are meant to grow in strength and wisdom all our lives, turning ourselves toward God. I am grateful I have my whole life to do this. Like many people I did not always understand this concept when I was younger. Now, while I have a better grasp of it, I can still get derailed. Thankfully, God’s grace calls me back and sets me right. And I can begin again.

Our intention matters in this life. As we approach the end of this year, consider asking yourself two questions: Did I fulfill my intentions for the year? And what are my intentions for the coming year? Not a New Year’s resolution list; an honest review of the past year and what you want to have happen next in your life.

Growing in wisdom and following God’s will are great places to start. 

Contact the author

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

Feature Image Credit: David Wirzba, https://unsplash.com/photos/1xWIRQzBzKE

Radiate Joy

In the First Reading today, John tells us: “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. . . . The world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.”

This is a great reminder, especially as we just finished with a holiday that’s very much focused on things. 

It’s great to receive gifts. They make us feel special, loved, valued, and important. Giving gifts is even better because we can make someone else feel special, loved, valued, and important. 

But there’s so much more to life and to our world. The happiness that things bring is fleeting. The joy we get from a life of faith never goes away. So let us always strive to remember that things come and go, but Christ is always there with us, even when we can’t see or feel Him. 

And there will be times when the things of this world get in the way of us seeing God or feeling His presence. The devil makes sure of that. It doesn’t have to be bad things or times when we feel alone. We can fail to see God during the good times too.

We tend to forget that all we have comes from God. Our families, our friends, our homes, our possessions, our abilities—all those are gifts from a heavenly Father who loves us immensely. Do we thank Him for those gifts? Do we acknowledge His goodness in giving us so many wonderful things? How many of us actually took time this Christmas to slow down, think about Christ’s birth, and wish Him a happy birthday? Or did we get so caught up in our world and in the craziness of the season that we only sort of remembered why we celebrate?

God wants us to remember Him during the good times and the bad. He wants us to wake up with a prayer, fill our days with prayer and good deeds for others, and go to bed thanking Him for another day and asking ourselves if we glorified Him in all we did.

Do we do that? If not, let us start today! It’s never too late to change our priorities. It’s never too late to allow the Word of God to fill our lives and our hearts. 

A new year is coming; let us ring it in with a renewed sense of joy in the Lord. When we do so, we will realize the difference between joy and happiness. And we will understand that, while happiness waxes and wanes with our circumstances, joy in Christ never wanes. It becomes more radiant with each passing day.

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: Cathopic, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/5318-dicha-naturaleza

The Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents

Today, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, we remember the massacre of young boys in Bethlehem by King Herod the Great in the time of Jesus. Herod orders the death of innocent children out of envy, anger, and fear. He does not want His dynasty to end and allow a new Kingdom to come about. Herod’s heart was closed to the Kingdom of God and evil only occurs when we, God’s creation, close our hearts to Him, our Creator. In His attempt to prevent the will of God, Herod kills the most innocent of God’s creations, fails in his attempt to kill Jesus, and shows the world that the will of God can be accomplished despite man’s sinfulness. 

This has always been a difficult celebration for me to understand. Why would God allow something so evil and so tragic to happen? And why would we celebrate this event? In preparing to write this reflection, I came upon a beautiful passage: “The Holy Innocents died in Christ’s stead so He could die in ours.” It was in reading this that I realized we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents for the same reason and in a similar manner, that is solemn, as we celebrate Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection during Holy Week. Although God does not will evil and although evil is a result of man’s sin, God can still do His will through the evil that persists in our earthly world. We celebrate the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents because, in a profound way, during their very short lives they were able to do that for which all of us should strive: die for Christ. It is because of the Holy Innocents that we have the privilege to know, love, and serve Our Lord, Jesus Christ. The deaths of the Holy Innocents, and Herod’s ultimate failure in his attempt to kill Jesus, brings to mind the verse from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: “O death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory”? There is no sting of death; there is no victory of Hell. Christ has already conquered death.

Important to contemplate, as well, is the fact that Jesus did not enter this world to the sound of trumpets and praise. Rather, He entered this world with only His mother and father present, in a lowly manger. Very soon after His birth, His family fled to Egypt in exile. From the beginning, His life was not easy and He and His family were faced with persecution. So what do the lives of Christ and those of the Holy Innocents tell us about our lives? They are not meant to be easy. It is inevitable that living a life for Christ will bring about persecution and hardship. But there is hope!

We hear about that hope in John’s epistle. He tells us that Christ is the Light that came into the world. In order for Him to light the darkness of our lives, we must accept Him and we must live in His truth. When we bring Christ into the darkest corners of our lives, He dispels all our darkness and we are able to live in His Light. 

Contact the author

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 https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

Feature Image Credit: geralt, https://pixabay.com/illustrations/all-saints-christian-holy-faith-2887463/

Can We Do This?

What a great day! It is the feast of John the Evangelist. John’s passion for the Lord is what I call “all in”. He gave his whole self to the Lord Jesus.

In the First Reading, John mentions fellowship twice. Looking up the Greek term for fellowship, we find the word koinonia. That word evoked a flashback to many years ago, a young adult group called the same. Several of our children met regularly with this group. The group was tight knit and were good friends. They did a lot of things together including attending retreats. Some weddings came from that group including one of our daughters. Why is that important? Because, it shows we are social people. We don’t do well when we isolate ourselves from other people. We learn from each other, the good and the not so good. If we have a good friend or two we can hold each other accountable. Now, before you try that, remember we are living in a time when no one likes to be told what to do. It takes a lot of love for this to work between friends. Better to deliver the message as a suggestion than as a command.

I have a feeling that John in today’s reading was pretty good at that. Perhaps you have discovered in your spiritual walk that the closer you get to God, the clearer your idea of who God is becomes. In that “awakening” you find that He whispers words to you that have great meaning. I believe that the older disciples noticed things about John that helped them grow in their love for God even though he was much younger. Remember, John was one of the three who were picked to be with Jesus in some very important times like: The Transfiguration and the Agony in the Garden. Did his brothers notice that? Of course, they did. I wonder what they thought when they saw John lay his head on Jesus’ chest at the Last Supper?

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have koinonia (fellowship). In my last fifty years of ministry I have seen people that isolate themselves get into some very serious emotional distress.

Perhaps you have noticed that John never says his name in his writings. He says, “the other disciple” or “the one that Jesus loved”. An act of great humility.

Commentaries have said that it does not mean that Jesus loved John more than the others (you would have to ask Jesus about that). But, John was the one that was “all in” and opened his heart wide open to receive God’s love the most.

Can We Do That?

Enjoy Your Merry Christmas Season!  

Contact the author

Deacon Dan Schneider is a retired general manager of industrial distributors. He and his wife Vicki have been married for over 50 years. They are the parents of eight children and thirty 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.

Featured Image Credit: marga lopez calbacho, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/8640-procesion-con-san-juan-apostol

What Once Was Lost

The parish where I grew up, where I made all my sacraments and where I first became a youth minister is called Holy Family Church. So, for the longest time, this Sunday’s celebration was my parish’s patronal feast day. They wouldn’t do anything crazy to mark the feast day – maybe a special blessing for families, if anything – but, for some reason, this celebration of the Sunday after Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family, always felt extra special to me. I like to think it’s because the readings and the homily were more relatable to me as they tended to center around family life. 

Today’s Gospel from Luke is no different – the story of Jesus being lost and found in the temple. Here, the struggles of family life are very real and very apparent, even for the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I mean, what parent wouldn’t panic if their child was lost in a grocery store for five minutes, let alone lost in a different city for three days? Upon realizing that Jesus was not in the caravan, I can only imagine the anguish and worry Mary and Joseph must have felt. 

For the longest time, I’ve been reflecting on this story as the joyful mystery that we pray in the rosary, as the finding of the boy Jesus in the temple. And, yes, it is easy to picture the joy and relief that Mary and Joseph must have felt upon finding Jesus in the temple. Lately, however, I’ve been reflecting on the other side of the story – not on the finding but the losing. 

I recently went on a retreat where God didn’t feel present in those days and in that space. In fact, He felt very, very absent. I felt like I had lost Him, especially since the Lord had been so present and so abundant in His workings in the weeks leading up to my retreat. Toward the end of that retreat, I found myself begging Him to move, to show up, to do something so that this time spent with Him wouldn’t be a waste. What I didn’t realize at that time is that He was actually calling me to move instead

When we lose something, we go looking for it – our keys, our wallet, our phone, etc. So I can’t help but wonder if the Lord was allowing me to feel His loss so that I may ever more desire to seek Him. Something – or someone – must have been lost in order to be found again. 

Seeking became the pervading theme for the rest of my retreat and the focus of my prayer coming off of it. So it is now the theme that I share with you today – do you seek the Lord in your daily life? How do you seek Him? Are you asking Him to move without putting forth any of your own effort? I encourage you to ponder these questions in your heart as Mary did after finding Jesus in the temple. 

Contact the author

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: Aron Visuals, https://unsplash.com/photos/3jBU9TbKW7o

The Grace of Christmas

Christmas morning, we wake to gifts under the tree, gifts nestled into stockings, and the celebration of the greatest gift of all—Jesus. God’s gifts are abundant; there is no spending limit. He does not budget His generosity. God, the Father who wants for nothing, out of pure love, bestows an abundance of gifts upon each and every one of us. His innumerable gifts include life, faith, hope, joy, and of course, love. However, the gift that stands out most during this time of the year is the gift of grace, exemplified so beautifully in the Blessed Mother. 

Grace, in essence, is the undeserved yet freely given gift of God’s Holy Spirit living within us, which moves and animates our being. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the One who knows God so perfectly, because the Spirit is God, sent as our Counselor. If we cooperate with the indwelling of the Spirit within us, if we abide in the Word and accept these beautiful gifts of God, we too will experience the mystery and magnitude of a life of grace. We merely need to look upon Mary’s fiat to understand the power of a life full of the grace of God!

Mary, on the birth of her Son, Jesus—God incarnate—kept all these things in her heart. She bestowed with an unmatched outpouring of grace at her conception, so to be born without the stain of sin was prepared to receive Jesus. From this example, one can ascertain the importance of grace necessary to prepare one’s heart to receive Jesus. However, we cannot forget nor underestimate the importance of free will and the significance of one’s willingness to cooperate with this supernatural gift. Although God, out of love for all his children, may have bestowed this gift upon Mary, yet she still needed to receive, open, and cooperate with this incredible gift. Ponder the words, “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you,” and consider this profound example of how we, too, can be touched by grace and carry the Lord within.

Let us wrap up our reflection with a contemplation on the workings of gift-giving. Gifts are only useful if they are, simply put—used. Left wrapped under the Christmas tree; each would remain a mystery, never accomplishing their intended purpose, perhaps even considered wasted. With the wonder and enthusiasm of a child, let us tear into the gifts of God, beholding the beauty and strength found in presents of love, faith, hope, joy, and of course, grace. With faith and wisdom like a child,  filled with uncontainable expectation, who would never leave a gift unopened, let us rejoice and receive all the gifts God has prepared for us this day!

 Contact the author

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 CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

Feature Image Credit: articgoneape, https://pixabay.com/photos/baby-baby-jesus-bethlehem-birth-4258530/

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.