Follow Me

My family just moved to a small town outside the city. My boys now enjoy abundant playtime outside in our expansive backyard, and we sleep better at night without all the cars and motorcycles passing by. We love the house and are settling in. We put up curtains last night, filled the bookshelves the night before, and put down area rugs the night before that. It is starting to look like a cozy home.

Our new location also triples my commute into work. I have a whole hour to take in the huge trees that line the highway and enjoy the silence as I collect my thoughts. At home there is the noise of my rambunctious children and at work there is mental noise with all the “to-do’s”. I don’t even turn the radio on. I just let my thoughts wander or sometimes I don’t think of anything at all.

However, my desire is to utilize the drive as quality prayer time. I want to praise God for the beauty of His creation, ask Him to lead my children to sanctity, beg his mercy for family members who are struggling and ask Him for the grace to be a good example of discipleship throughout my day.

Today is the feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. Reading the Gospels of the calling of the first disciples quite frankly floors me. Listen to this: “As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.” Just like that! He got up and followed him. No questions asked. No ifs, ands or buts. No looking back.

I would have to take a long, hard look at my soul to discern whether I was capable of such detachment. While I like to think I live simply, if my rage at being without internet for a week is any indication, I have a very long way to go.

I yearn to live out the words of St. Paul and “live in a manner worthy of the call [I] have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love…”, yet those seem to be the virtues I lack most. Sigh…

As we continue to adjust to our new normal in our new town, I hope to work on these virtues through participation in ministry. I love how St. Paul goes on to mention that we all have different gifts: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, equip-er of others for ministry, builder-upper of the Body of Christ. I look forward to discovering my unique gifts in order to help draw others closer to God.

May we all begin to recognize Christ’s gift of grace given to each of us and become just as willing as Matthew to follow Him.

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

So What’s In It For Me?

“Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why should you be envious because I am generous?”

As a cradle Catholic, I’ve found myself getting envious of people who are non-Catholic. Watching non-Catholics get to do whatever they want starts to wear on you if you’re not careful. The devil deceives us to think we are somehow disenfranchised by living a moral life.

At parties we’re the only one out of our friends who feels guilty for drinking too much. We don’t get to use birth control like other couples who “have it together” and get to do “whatever they want.” We must stay chaste while dating (and while married). We’re required to go to Mass on Sunday so we have to take off work or miss the pre-game tailgate. We don’t get one of those juicy burgers that the company bought everyone because it’s a Friday in Lent.

Everything in life has to be fair. As small children, we want our turn on the swing. As adults, we don’t want people cutting in line outside of the Apple Store.

Being a Catholic isn’t a punishment. We are the ones who are free. The rest of the world is a slave to their passions. They don’t get to live the life they want. So many people struggle with addiction, broken families, and habitual sin. Many of them don’t know there is a God who created and loves them. Can you imagine struggling without the Sacraments? We are the ones who are free. The rules of the Catholic Church are a gift, they are a universal Truth and it is when we follow that order that we show God we love him.

It’s a tendency of human nature to begin thinking we are held captive to God’s rules so we check the boxes grudgingly. It might be something small, but before we know it we start to think we’re hot stuff. It’s easy to get into an elitist mindset. We begin to think we are God’s chosen people: Look at all these holy things I do.

From there, our next step in our flawed human logic seems to be: so what’s in it for me? So God, I’ve been good. Now what special thing do I get?

Putting in more “hard time” of following the laws of Christ doesnt mean we’re the only ones who get to heaven. If we go to Church more than our friends that doesn’t make us holier. We should hope and pray that God’s Mercy showers down upon them and they too are granted heaven in spite of their ignorance and sin.

Love doesn’t expect anything in return. It gives freely. Do we only love God because of what we hope to get out of him or is it because we’re in love with the Creator of the Universe? Do we attend Mass to avoid Hell or because we want to be with Him forever?

We often apply human attributes to God. We turn God into someone like ourselves. Someone who gets jealous or prideful. We are stingy. God is not. It’s a good thing God is as merciful as he is, because we all need it. Especially if we don’t have the Truth of the Gospel.

Having the Truth of the Gospel is a gift and it’s our responsibility to share that gift with others whenever we can. We have no business keeping it to ourselves.

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Patrick produces YouTube content for young Catholics on Catholic Late Night and Overt TV. He loves using humor to share the Truth of the Catholic faith with anyone who will listen. He resides currently in Chattanooga, TN and is a parishioner at The Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. Patrick graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a degree in Communication Arts and a Minor in Marketing.

Listening and Learning

“Let everyone who has ears attend to what he has heard.”

Jesus invites everyone present in this Gospel reading to listen and learn. He desires all of us to be with him in Heaven and to share the message of the Kingdom of God throughout the entire world.

The seeds in the parable were spread on many different types of soil with a variety of results. The most fruitful result is when the seed of the word of God is received in a spirit of openness, and nurtured through perseverance.

In life, we are called to prepare our souls for these amazing graces the Lord has to offer us. He desires each soul to hear the word of God through humble prayer, scripture, and openness to His Spirit. Without God’s seed, we can fall victim to the stresses, pleasures and riches of the world which prevent us from bearing fruit and growing closer to Christ.

Jesus can bring us peace through all our trials and stressful circumstances. He wants us to allow the tense moments of this world to be opportunities to bring us back to our faith. Nothing should hold us back from the love of God. In good times, we praise the Lord, we thank the Lord, we honor the Lord. In times of great trials, we offer this back to Christ so that we can carry our cross and be more like Him.

We are called to live in the world, but not of it; not attached to the stresses, anxieties, worries, and pleasures of this world, but seeking to bring greater Glory to the Lord.

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Emily Jaminet is a Catholic author, speaker, radio personality, wife, and mother of seven children. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mental health and human services from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  She is the co-founder of and the Executive Director of The Sacred Heart Enthronement Network She has co-authored several Catholic books and her next one, Secrets of the Sacred Heart: Claiming Jesus’ Twelve Promises in Your Life, comes out in Oct. 2020. Emily serves on the board of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, contributes to Relevant Radio and Catholic

How Will You Serve In The Body Of Christ?

When Jesus traveled from town to town, proclaiming the Good News, He was rarely alone. In addition to His twelve apostles, who usually accompanied Jesus in His travels, women were also present. In today’s Gospel, we hear about the famous Mary Magdalene, as well as Joanna and Susanna. Their role in the group was two-fold: they were invited to listen to the preaching of the Master, and in exchange, they saw to the physical needs of the group, ensuring that everyone was fed and cared for.

Jesus Christ accepted all kinds of people into His group. It didn’t matter what kind of baggage you brought with you, or what you had done in the past. It didn’t matter what kind of job you had, or how much money you made. Tax collector? Not a problem. Made some poor life choices? Don’t let them stand in your way. Homemaker? There’s room for you here too. Formerly possessed by seven demons? Welcome home. All are welcome here, even you and me. Especially you and me.

There is room for all of us in the Body of Christ. Jesus knows what is on our hearts, and as long as our repentance is sincere, our past sins will never be an obstacle to walking with Christ. Christ’s love of us is transformative. He can turn a hotheaded fisherman into a leader, a possessed woman into a devout disciple, a tax collector into an evangelist. We are washed clean, our sins are erased, and we are born again in Christ. We are a new creation, and our spot in the Body of Christ is already paid for. We just need to claim it as our own.

In today’s Gospel, we see that Christ has called all people to follow Him. Men and women become brothers and sisters. Sinners become saints. The rejected ones become the redeemed. We are all children of God, and we are all called to be disciples of Christ. We are all invited to play our role in the Body of Christ. Some of us will preach and teach. Others will heal and protect. Still others will serve and nurture. There is a place for all of us, no matter what our talents and abilities might be, and no matter where we might have come from. We are all needed. We are all wanted. We are all loved. We are all called. The remaining question is, how will you serve in the Body of Christ?

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Shannon Whitmore currently lives in northwestern Virginia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, John and Felicity. When she is not caring for her children, Shannon enjoys writing for her blog, Love in the Little Things, reading fiction, and freelance writing. She has experience serving in the areas of youth ministry, religious education, sacramental preparation, and marriage enrichment.


When I was a child preparing for my first confession, it seemed to me that Jesus had “superpowers” in the Gospel stories I heard. I was amazed that the people walking down the street at the same time as Jesus saw an ordinary man, and they would even argue with him. But then he would, like all superheroes, engage his superpowers at just the right time, and in just the right way. His power is never destructive or, well, overpowering, but it is dazzling just the same.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses several of these powers. The Pharisee says something to himself – thinks something in his mind – and Jesus REPLIES to his thought! Not in a condescending or reprimanding way, but in an inviting way. He asks a question so that Simon can think a NEW thought, if he chooses. Jesus knows that his thought is negative and judgmental: “Doesn’t Jesus know what kind of woman this is?” In place of that, Jesus gently encourages the Pharisee to look beyond superficial appearances and look to the heart. In place of judgment, Jesus encourages the Pharisee to understand mercy. The Pharisee is busy mentally condemning the sinful woman and Jesus’ lack of prudence, and Jesus gently points out that in many ways, the woman is more generous and loving than the Pharisee.

Jesus expresses another “superpower” in this scene when he turns to the woman and tells her that her sins are forgiven. The others at the table are astonished at this bold statement. How can he forgive sins?! Only God can forgive sins! Exactly. Jesus is making clear Who He Is, if they will accept it. He is here to “make all things new” – our hearts and minds, our actions and our relationships. He is here to heal and enlighten and invite each of us to a new thought, a new way of seeing, a new way of being.

In the Church, He does this in a direct way through the sacraments. We are baptized into the Body of Christ, into his very life in the Trinity. We become one with him when he gives himself entirely to us – and we give ourselves entirely to him – in the Eucharist. And when we fall short, like the woman who was a sinner, we go to the confessional where he says the same words to us that he said to her: “Your sins are forgiven…go in peace.” These are the words that free us anew and set us on a renewed path. Let us pray to be filled with the same loving gratitude for the gift of mercy and peace that emboldened the sinful woman to weep at Jesus’ feet and cover them with kisses and precious ointment!

Jesus, I trust in You!

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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

How Old Do We Sound?

Sometimes you just can’t win.

My friend recently lost both her cats to illness and old age, and I’ve been trying to be supportive of her… but some days that’s more difficult than others. If I say, “maybe you need to grieve your loss before you adopt a new cat,” she snaps back about how lonely she is. If I say, “you’re a person who needs to have a pet,” she’ll accuse me of not allowing her space to grieve.

Like I said, sometimes you just can’t win.

You can feel that notion simmering just under the surface of today’s Gospel reading. Jesus, too, seems to feel there are people who just won’t get it. “You didn’t like John the Baptist because he didn’t eat or drink; you don’t like me because I do eat and drink.” I can picture Jesus smiling a little ruefully as he watches people perform the mental gymnastics necessary to try and impose order on a world rife with cognitive dissonance.

Our brains aren’t crazy about cognitive dissonance: we want predictability. My friend, I reason, can’t have it both ways; yet somehow she does. We want patterns. When we can’t find them, we invent them. Even if it means performing the aforementioned mental gymnastics.

It had been decided at some level that John the Baptist was to be dismissed out of hand. A crazy man living in the desert, pointing to Scriptural antecedents to his mission? He eats—locusts? No, no: if we’re to have a new prophet, let’s make him someone presentable. (Never mind that figures like Jeremiah and Amos and Isaiah in their day weren’t exactly the people you wanted to bring home to meet Mummy.)

Along came Jesus, and for a while he was presentable. He gathered something of a following but then he started doing uncomfortable things, too. Hanging out with the wrong people. Talking about forgiveness and love and prayer and peace. Challenging the way we’ve always done things. So he couldn’t be judged acceptable, either.

And because both couldn’t be true, people struggled. There was no one criticism that could apply to both John and Jesus. And when people struggle to make sense of their world, they sometimes behave—badly.

I’ve been there. Recently, even. I live in a country that feels very out of control indeed, ravaged by a mysterious virus and climate change and still dealing on its streets with its sins from the past. Feeling less and less control in the major facets of my life, I’ve begun asserting it in the smaller ways, becoming petulant about the grocery store not stocking my favorite brand of bread and annoyed when a client questions my work.

Jesus is looking at the unsuccessful ways in which we try to make sense of things we don’t understand, and what he’s seeing is childishness in the way some adults subsequently behave.

Listen to the news. Spend time on Twitter and Facebook. Check out what your neighbors are talking about. So much of the social commentary of our age is like the children shouting in the marketplace—transitory, inescapable, momentarily engaging but ultimately shallow. It draws us in because it gives us a sense that there may be one event, one theory, one candidate, one vaccine that will make all the bad things go away. I go on Facebook and listen to people who believe the same things I believe, saying the same things I’m saying, and we’re all ultimately just children in the marketplace, calling to one another with our petty grievances and limited worldview.

Is that who we want to be? How old do we sound? Six, seven, eight years old? Bickering instead of finding solutions, because it’s too difficult to balance all the contradictory information we’re given every day. Easier to have a tiff on Twitter, a meltdown on Facebook. Easier to demonize those who have different beliefs, different priorities, different backgrounds. “I’m right and you’re wrong…”

Jesus would say not, I’m afraid. In fact, what Jesus is doing in this brief passage is holding out a hand to us, making us an offer. Come with me, he says, and experience fullness of life. Let go of the pettiness and the petulance. Look ahead to the Kingdom. Grow up.

Grow up. I’m telling myself that, even as yet another grievance rises in my head. If I don’t like what’s going on in the world, the most powerful way to change it is to change myself. Stop the pettiness, the arguing. “Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

If I can take the time, today, to let the surface chatter go and to listen for God, who speaks in the depth of my heart, then the cognitive dissonance recedes. I realize it’s not on me to make sense of the world, just to respond to it—to have a part in making it a better place for everyone. As a Christian, I can connect with a lasting, truer message than anything I’ll find on social media.

And when that happens, everyone wins.

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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

She Cries With Us

The Catholic Church has always fostered a devotion to the Mater Dolorosa, or Sorrowful Mother. It is actually one of my favorite days of the year. The Tradition of honoring Our Lady of Sorrows is rooted in Scripture. In Genesis 3:15, God foretold Mary’s role in salvation history as He addressed Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel” (Genesis 3:15). After the fall of Adam and Eve, God promised to send a savior to redeem mankind from their sins. With this, He immediately included the Blessed Mother in this promise by saying that she would oppose the devil along with her Son. This is the first instance of Mary’s intimate participation in her Son’s Passion. Isaiah 53:5 prophesized Christ’s future suffering as a physical one, but we know that Mary’s participation is spiritual and emotional. However, any parent knows that the sword of anguish can be just as piercing as a physical sword. In the book of 1 Maccabees, a woman witnesses her seven sons being martyred. This imagery gives us a glimpse of the pain Mary will feel as her Son is killed. God uses this immense love between a mother and a son to measure the grief that one will have upon beholding Him who has been sacrificed, as we see in today’s Gospel.

Mary’s sorrowful journey began with the ridicule she felt as an unmarried pregnant woman, continued through the poverty of Jesus’ birth, reappeared when Herod sought his life, extended when Mary thought she lost her son for a day in Jerusalem when He was 12 years old, and culminated as she stood underneath the cross as He gasped for air and breathed His last.

In many depictions of Our Lady of Sorrows, we see arrows piercing the Blessed Mother’s Heart. This imagery comes from Simeon’s warning during the Presentation in Luke 2:35, “And you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

In this passage, we find that the tradition of Our Lady of Sorrows intersects with another Marian belief: that of her participation in her Son’s Passion and cooperation in the redemption of humankind. Simeon tells Mary that she will experience a sword piercing her heart along with her son. The wording of this passage emphatically states that she will be intimately involved with her Son’s passion. He wasn’t saying it as a metaphor; he meant it quite literally. The pain Mary felt, beginning with her pregnancy and culminating as she watched Christ be crucified, was a very real, poignant sword, forged with the hatred and rejection of men towards Jesus. She pondered these words of Simeon for the 33 years leading up to her Son’s death. From her very conception she was chosen for this special role, and God set her aside for His Son. She would, in turn, suffer a spiritual martyrdom as her Son suffered a physical one.

​Mary’s participation in the Passion of her Son has its source in her divine motherhood. In a 1997 general audience, Pope John Paul II references Lumen Gentium when he says, “By giving birth to the One who was destined to achieve man’s redemption, by nourishing him, presenting him in the temple and suffering with him as he died on the Cross, ‘in a wholly singular way she cooperated…in the work of the Saviour.’” Although we are all called to participate in the work of salvation through our suffering, Mary’s role in her Son’s Passion is unique and unrepeatable because of the maternal bond between her and her Son. The climax of Mary’s role as in her Son’s Passion takes place at the foot of the Cross, where the total suffering of her motherly heart was united to the suffering of her Son’s heart in fulfillment of the Father’s plan of redemption. As she looked upon her dying Son, the anguish she felt because of the sins of mankind was so strong that it literally pierced her heart as His was pierced with the lance. “These wounds which were scattered all over the body of Jesus, were all united in one heart of Mary” (St. Bonaventure). That is the proof of the strength of maternal love. Thus Simeon’s prophecy was fulfilled as Mary stood beside her dying Son at the foot of the cross, the true Mater Dolorosa.

“Mary meets her Son along the way of the Cross. His Cross becomes her Cross, his humiliation is her humiliation, the public scorn is on her shoulders. So it must seem to the people around her, and this is how her own heart reacts. The words spoken when Jesus was forty days old are now fulfilled. They are now completely fulfilled. And so, pierced by that invisible sword, Mary sets out towards her Son’s Calvary, her own Calvary. Although this pain is hers, striking deep in her maternal heart, the full truth of this suffering can be expressed only in terms of a shared suffering – ‘com-passion’. That word is part of the mystery; it expresses in some way her unity with the suffering of her Son” (St. Pope John Paul II).

Without Mary’s “fiat” to God, our redemption would not have occurred the way it did. Therefore, we can call her “Co-Redemptrix,” because her act of silent martyrdom and submission to the Will of God contributed to humanity’s ransom. Her sacrifice occurred through her compassion, (com-passio, to suffer with), which was the sword destined to pierce her heart. As Christ suffered in the flesh, Mary suffered in her heart. “The heart of Mary became as it were a mirror of the agonies of her Son, in which were seen the spitting, the scourging, the wounds, and all that Jesus suffered” (St. Lawrence Justinian).

Devotion to Mary as Mother of Sorrows is so incredibly important to the life of the Church, and why the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated in our liturgical calendar on the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Oftentimes, Mary is overlooked or reduced to simply “blessed.” She was indeed Blessed, but, as we know in the Christian life, along with blessedness comes much pain. Mary revealed to St. Bridget, who coined the devotion to the Mater Dolorosa, that this grief which St. Simeon announced to her, never left her heart till she was assumed into heaven. She witnessed every word spoken against Christ, every time people chose and still choose today not to hear the word of Him who came to save them. As He was suffering, every blow and nail were driven into her heart; yet still she echoed her original “fiat,” in order that the salvation of man might be complete. ​

Our Mater Dolorosa had experienced the greatest of all sorrows, her heart had been pierced, and she felt utter abandonment and desolation. But like our Lady had always done, she kept the faith and accepted the will of God so completely and so perfectly. Our Mother chose trust. When nothing made sense, in the height of her agony, she kept her “yes.” She knew that God was good and worthy of thanks. If she could believe that during her bleakest hour, there is grace for us to believe it in ours. Pain has a way of making us feel isolated. But we are not alone. You are not alone. She suffers with us today. Who else would be a better companion, a better comforter, a better Mother than our own mother?

“Behold, your mother.” (John 19:27)

For some reason, I find the image of Our Lady crying extremely comforting to me. In times of my own sorrow, I cling to our Mother and allow her to cry with me. And I pray she lets me, unworthy though I be, bear her grief as well.

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: OR at

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

“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.”- John 3:16

This is one of the most famous Gospel passages due to its proliferation on signs during sporting events, billboards, and even t-shirts. But recognizing this verse is far different than living it and spreading the message to others.

Today’s Gospel is read on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross to emphasize that the path of salvation is through the cross. The Holy Cross is the universal sign of God’s love for us through Jesus’ passion and death. Even though the world was created through Jesus, and He came to establish His Kingdom of Love, the cross is the only throne mankind offered Him. May we seek to unite ourselves with all Christians, throughout time, in seeking to love the Cross of Christ. Through this cross, Jesus has made available the path to eternal life, for all who are willing, and the way to gain true peace.

Each day Jesus invites us to offer up our deeds, works, and prayers to our Lord. We can give everything to the Lord as a “Living Sacrifice”. Everything can be redeemed by giving it back to Christ. Let us seek to be more like our Lord on this day, and welcome Jesus into our lives, our homes, and our work. We should ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to develop an interior unity and a focus on our ultimate goal of eternal life. By His healing grace we can learn to discard our fragmented lifestyles and distorted views of God and other people.

Allow Jesus to show you the way, the truth, and life by following His example. We should take up our own small crosses and offer our trials and tribulations back to Jesus.

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Emily Jaminet is a Catholic author, speaker, radio personality, wife, and mother of seven children. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mental health and human services from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  She is the co-founder of and the Executive Director of The Sacred Heart Enthronement Network She has co-authored several Catholic books and her next one, Secrets of the Sacred Heart: Claiming Jesus’ Twelve Promises in Your Life, comes out in Oct. 2020. Emily serves on the board of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, contributes to Relevant Radio and Catholic

The Strength to Show Mercy

There is a common psychological phenomenon in which a person attributes others’ behavior to character or personality, but his or her own behavior to the situation and outside circumstances. It is so common, in fact, that social psychologists call it “the fundamental attribution error.”

It is so easy to excuse our own bad behavior but judge others harshly, sometimes even for the exact same behavior. I snapped at the grocery cashier because the baby kept me up all night, and I was tired. That person snapped at her because he’s a rude person.

Knowing this about human nature, God reveals to us how important it is for us to forgive for the sake of our own souls.

Growing in holiness means striving to be more like God. How can we be more like God while refusing to adopt mercy, one of His primary attributes? How can we truly appreciate God’s forgiveness and, at the same time, not give it to others?

Plus, by holding on to grudges and unforgiveness, we enter the near occasion of sin. How much easier it is to commit evil against another when we convince ourselves that they deserve it for what they did to us!

It is important to note that forgiveness means letting go of the ill will and the desire for revenge. It does not mean we must recklessly forget harm done to us. In Jesus’s parable, the merciful king does not require the man to pay the debt when asked for mercy. He also does not offer him another loan.

So as we reflect on the readings today, let us pray that God will give us the strength to let go of anger and wrath, that we might more fully live for the Lord. Then we may bask in the light of His mercy, reflecting it to others.

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J.M. Pallas has had a lifelong love of Scriptures. When she is not busy with her vocation as a wife and mother to her “1 Samuel 1” son, or her vocation as a public health educator, you may find her at her parish women’s bible study, affectionately known as “The Bible Chicks.”

A Cracked Foundation

Back in the day when lords and ladies were more of a thing, their titles held authority. The peasants listened to and obeyed the lord. (It may not have been a willing consent, but that is irrelevant for this article.) The lord ruled the house in the 1300’s. While we don’t embrace the feudal system any longer, the question Jesus asks in this Gospel is still pertinent – why do we call him Lord but not follow his commands? Better yet, why do I call him Lord and not follow his commands? I can’t control others, but I can control me.

We can know a tree by its fruit and a good fruit-bearing tree has a strong root system below the surface. I want good fruit to come from me, but like the person in the Gospel today, it seems my roots are shallow and my house isn’t built on bedrock. Too often the wind and waves threaten its stability. Too often I fall prey to despair and frustration. Too often I think I know best. Thus, the answer to the question “why do I call him Lord but not follow his commands?” Pride.

There is good reason why it’s considered the root of evil and is the base of Dante’s purgatory. Pride leads to stubbornness and laziness. It fosters arrogance. It steals trust and trust is important. I thought I had my house built deep enough but when Covid got going, the house started shaking. For many of us the current state of our society is the clichéd perfect storm – pandemic, riots, contentious presidential election and quarantine. Loads of uncertainty about what is real and what is ahead plus good old-fashioned fear have, I suspect, shuddered many of our foundations. Why didn’t we follow his commands? We’d be better off now instead of wallowing in this tide of torpor and sea of unsettledness.

Here’s what I realized: it doesn’t matter why. The why isn’t as important as the fact that the choices I made led me here. I have a choice- free will given generously to me as a beloved daughter of God. You have the same choice. I can choose to berate myself for not building a strong enough house. After all I know what I need to do to keep my interior life in order so I can weather the storms. I can make up excuses. I can blame the world. It won’t change the feeling of being unmoored or the sense of disquiet.

Or, I can acknowledge that I messed up (again), come humbly before Jesus and ask for forgiveness. God is astoundingly merciful. I can turn to him in my struggle and he will help me get grounded again. He will help me with that foundation so that I am prepared for the next storm because friends, the storms will keep coming, but we don’t have to have our peace rocked every time.

God is God and his love is big and merciful and if I ask for forgiveness he will send his grace. If I commit to following his commands and ask for his help, things will get better.

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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

Yearning for Our Heavenly Home

Today is September 11th. It has been 19 years since that tragic day that claimed so many lives, that day that will live on in our memories forever. I can’t believe so much time has passed, especially since I remember so vividly exactly where I was and what I was doing. I recall how surreal it all was.

I am pretty sure 2020 will go down in much the same fashion. 20 years from now we will look back on this year and remember all the people that got sick, all the things we had to do without, all the businesses that were closed and how we had to wear masks wherever we went. Perhaps we will even remember the fear we felt and the desire for it all to go away, as if it were some sort of horribly bad dream.

But the one thing about both September 11th and 2020 is that time marches on, and either they are long  past or soon will be. Time marches on, leaving tragedy and illness in its wake. When I think too long and hard about time it often scares me. The moment I typed this line is already gone, never to return. My childhood is gone, my young adulthood gone… It really makes me yearn for heaven, where past, present and future are one in the same reality.

I love St. Paul’s comparison of our earthly lives being a race. “Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, be we an imperishable one.” Run so as to win… train, push yourself, never give up, keep your eye on the goal…

Then the Psalm goes on to lead our thoughts farther upward: “My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

Sometimes we are so busy and so preoccupied that we fail to remember that Earth is not our home. Sometimes we are content and living a relatively happy life and wish that Earth were our home. It is often during the trying times that our hearts turn heavenward.

My family just moved over the weekend. As we came across numerous obstacles: running out of space in the moving truck, furniture that wouldn’t fit in the door, wrong dryer fixtures, kids running all over the place and getting lost, exhausted bodies and brains… you better believe that heaven was sounding pretty awesome.

Perhaps today we could reflect a bit on our heavenly home and whether or not we are “training” properly to reach that goal. May our hearts cry out with all sincerity: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!”

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

Authentic Love

Me: “Hi, Sweetie, can I help you find a spot?”

Second Grade Sweetie: “I know why you call me Sweetie.”

Me: (feeling slightly panicked) “Why?”

Second Grade Sweetie: “You can’t remember my name.”

As a teacher, I hang with kids. A lot. I am very familiar with the awkward moments when children, from the purity and authenticity of their hearts, call us adults out. We think we are being polite or socially smart, and they call us right out. They can take one look at us and know if that smile on our face is genuine. And they don’t mind telling us.

Jesus calls us to love our enemies. My husband and I have an oft repeated conversation about the relationship between love and like. Jesus calls us to love our enemies. He doesn’t say one word about liking them. Liking someone relies on our emotions. It is how we feel about them. St. Thomas Aquinas defines love as willing the best for the other. Love is an act of our will. It isn’t simply happy-smilely hearts and flowers, it is a choice, a decision to act in the best interest of another.

Jesus takes us outside our fickle emotions. It is easy to love those who love us first. It is easy to want the good for those who want the good for us. What is much, much harder is to will the good for those with whom we disagree, those who act in ways we don’t choose to act.

We can’t simply be nice either. It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment to love by only imitating the divine model. (CCC 2842) Although initiating the actions of Jesus is a good first step, love isn’t simply what we do on the outside. There has to be a vital participation from the depth of the heart. We aren’t just called to do the right thing. We are called to allow ourselves to be molded into the image of the one who is goodness, truth, and beauty. That means our hearts of stone have to become living hearts formed “in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God”. We have to be authentic in our love.

The first reading guides us in what this looks and sounds like. The Corinthians had become caught up in worrying about the right and wrong way of doing things. Among the debates was whether or not it was acceptable to eat the meat offered to the pagan idols. Paul’s response doesn’t worry too much about the idols, false gods are no god at all, so what does it matter? What matters is the result of their actions. If eating the meat leads another into sin, therein lies the problem. Paul is incredibly blunt, if eating the meat causes another to sin, then he won’t just give up the meat offered to the idols, he will give up all meat. Loving those who believe differently from us, acting for the good of another is that important.

Sacrificing meat to idols isn’t an issue we see today, but we see many other idols in our society. It is easy to find examples of the idols of fame, wealth, and worldly success. We see around us those who sacrifice their families, their sense of self, their time, their bodies. There are plenty of divisions in our world. There is plenty of pressure to be part of “us” and not “them”. First Jesus and then St. Paul, guide us to act outside of all that. If our actions lead another to sin, then it is time we change how we act. We are called to allow the Holy Spirit to work on us from the inside out so that when we love, it is authentic. It is a love which wills the good of the other, and is willing to work for that good.

My prayer for us today is that we may love like little children so our smiles reflect our hearts, and our insides and outsides may both be formed by the Holy Spirit in the holiness, mercy, and love of God. May God bless you.

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Sheryl O’Connor delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.