Faith and Greed

It is the feast day of St. Gaspar de Bufalo. He had an unwavering faith, much like that of Abraham in the first reading. If you are like me and not familiar with this “little man”, he is credited with the devotion to the Precious Blood of Christ and a missionary order. Like Abraham in today’s first reading, Gaspar’s faithfulness was definitely “credited to him as righteousness.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus firmly rebukes the crowd against all greed. One of the seven deadly sins, greed, is a cornerstone of idolatry, taking us away from the love and worship of God, which is clearly stated in the first commandment. Yet I cannot truthfully say that this is something that I bring to confession.

Fr. Wade Menezes, CPM wrote the following to help expand on this concept of harm to oneself.

“Let’s comb through the Church’s traditional list: for the capital sin or vice of pride, the opposite corresponding virtue is humility. For avarice (or greed), generosity. For lust, chastity. For anger, meekness. For gluttony, temperance. For envy, brotherly love. And for the vice of sloth (or acedia), there is the virtue of diligence.

But each of the seven capital sins also has an opposite “extreme” which also acts contrary to the corresponding virtue. For pride, the opposite extreme is self-loathing; for avarice (or greed), it’s wastefulness; for lust, it’s prudishness; for anger, it’s servility; for gluttony it’s deficiency; for envy its pusillanimity (i.e., cowardice or timidity); and for sloth (or acedia), it’s workaholism.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (cf. 1866) rightly identifies the seven capital sins as sins that engender other sins and vices. In general, vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, and the capital sins and each one’s opposite corresponding virtue are a primary example of this truth.”

Yikes! By my ignorance, I continue to perpetuate and cause more sin! I need to examine my actions and conscience to be much more attentive to the sins I’ve perpetuated in so many ways. I go to communion to nourish myself on the journey, yet am I truly aware of the deeper meanings of Eucharist and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us? I cannot speak to this with more authority than did Henri Nouwen. He wrote:

“Celebrating the Eucharist requires that we stand in this world, accepting our co-responsibility for the evil that surrounds and pervades us. As long as we remain stuck in our complaints about the terrible times in which we live and the terrible situations we have to bear and the terrible fate we have to suffer, we can never come to contrition. And contrition can grow only out of a contrite heart. When our losses are pure fate, our gains are pure luck! Fate does not lead to contrition, nor luck to gratitude.

Indeed, the conflicts in our personal lives, as well as the conflicts on regional, national, or world scales, are our conflicts, and only by claiming responsibility for them can we move beyond them—choosing a life of forgiveness, peace, and love.”

The more frequently I receive the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist, the greater the need for conversion in my life. I must boldly make a choice to live out my Catholic faith in all aspects. I must act as a light in this world.

St. Francis of Assisi said, “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” What is your faith calling you to do?

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

Pray Without Ceasing

At first, it seemed pretty easy to follow what today’s Gospel is asking us to do: pray without ceasing. Be like the persistent widow who continuously bothers the judge until he finally delivers a decision for her. A simple request, right? But the more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized, wow, I don’t do that. When I want something, I ask God for it, and if I don’t have it in about a week, I ask, “Why is God putting me through this challenge? Why is He asking me to carry this cross?” Yup! Very dramatic, but also not very far from the truth. But Luke tells us that, unlike the judge, God will deliver justice for us speedily. So why does it always seem like we’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting for God to answer our prayers? Why does it look like our persistence never pays off? Well, perhaps our idea of speedily and God’s idea of speedily are very different from one another.

The responsorial psalm for today is, “Our help is from the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth.” For me, it served as a reminder that God is all-powerful and all-present. He knows exactly what each person needs, as well as what each person wants. He is not a vengeful God; rather, He is a loving, merciful, and just God who wants nothing more than for us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. That fact tends to be easy for us to believe, at least in theory. But when it comes to putting that theory into practice, it tends to be a little more difficult. It is easy for us to lose faith when it seems as though God is not answering us, especially when we think we deserve a “quick” answer. We need to change our attitudes from “I am going to pray unceasingly so God will give me what I want/deserve” to “I am going to pray unceasingly so I can meet God face to face in all His glory.” Because, ultimately, that’s what this life is for. There’s that old song that says, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers,” but maybe those prayers aren’t unanswered; they’re just answered in a way different than what we wanted or expected. By placing our own expectations on God and imposing our own wills on Him, we thereby don’t allow our wills to conform to His.

We are also reminded of the importance and necessity of persistence in the second reading from 2 Timothy. Not only do we need to be persistent in our pursuit of heaven and in our relationship with God, but we must also be persistent in our duty to bring souls with us to heaven. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be present whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, and encourage through all patience and teaching.”

Even when it’s not convenient for us, even when we’re in a secular work environment, even when we don’t want to say grace in public because we’re afraid of what others might think, even when our culture tells us that we’re wrong for believing in a universal truth, even when it feels like we’re getting nowhere….may we never lose hope in His providence, His grace, and His faithfulness.

St. Paul of the Cross, pray for us!

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO is studying for her Master’s in Spanish, and loves her job as an elementary school librarian. 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.

It Depends on Faith

In today’s first reading, we read that God’s chosen people, Abraham’s descendants, were not going to be saved because they followed the law, but because they had faith. Reading this, I was reminded of a conversation that my family once had at the table one Sunday. 

To give a bit of background, my Sundays growing up were for family. We would attend Mass together, socialize with our parish family, gather in the kitchen as my dad cooked breakfast, then eat as a family. After breakfast, we would stay at the table, talking for an hour or more. During these post-breakfast discussions, we normally discussed that morning’s homily and the readings. Even now, I’m nostalgic!  

One Sunday, we got on the topic of being a good person versus being a good Christian/Catholic. I remember how funny it was because although we were all on the same side, it became a heated debate. We all (loudly) agreed on the fact that being a “good person” is all fine and dandy, but without the love of God and trust in God behind the action, you are not earning your place in heaven. 

Our faith is what separates us from other religions. Our faith is what gives us passage to life eternal. Following rules for the sake of following rules, even the commandments, is only the surface level of the faith that we are taught. We are meant to believe, to have faith, and to live out Christ’s mission of truth and love for all creation.

In today’s Gospel, we are reminded again of the strength that faith has as Jesus tells us: 

“When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” (Luke 12:11-12)

This passage reminds us that through faith, we are given all the tools we need to not only make it through our days here on earth, but the tools needed to guide us to Heaven. 

If our salvation and redemption rely on faith, are you confident in your trust in the Lord? Does your faithfully rely on God, or are you still fighting for control? 

How much faith do you put in your faith? 

Click here to read some helpful tips on “Trusting God Through the Storm”.

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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.

Divine Healing

I recently got the chance to meet an incredible Healing Ministry that is doing the Lord’s work in my diocese. If you are unfamiliar with prayer teams like this, the focus is on the Holy Spirit, and they simply pray with you and for your intentions, spiritual or physical. Having gone to the Franciscan University of Steubenville, I am pretty comfortable with charismatic prayer and was truly blessed by my experience with this prayer team. Lately, I’ve become more interested in the topic of God’s healing.

This week I hosted a FORMED series at my parish on the Eucharist, Presence: The Mystery of the Eucharist. After watching the first episode, I invited everyone to share their thoughts and reflections. A man named RV prophetically shared on the reality of God’s power. The fact that God transcends time and science at every consecration of the Eucharist is similar to an explosion that just happens throughout the world at different times every single day. We went on from these words to thinking about God’s bigness and smallness. These questions were meant to be wrestled with and that’s we did.

In today’s Responsorial Psalm, I was reminded of this great might. “Making known to men your might and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom. Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.” In the Gospel today we hear the reality that we will be sent out like lambs among wolves. I’m sure each of us can understand that analogy in our world today. But what struck me is that Jesus didn’t tell us to grab some armor for protection, but calls us to bring peace. “Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’” There is no need for armor because God is with us in all things and because of that there should always be a sense of peace coming from faithful Christians. His last mission he gives to the disciples is to “cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’” He gave the power to His disciples to physically heal the sick and proclaim the truth that the Kingdom of God is at hand. In all seriousness, do we believe that God can heal us today? Do we believe that the Kingdom of God is at hand right now in this very moment? I do and I hope you do too. Today, may we wrestle with the reality that God can do what you think is impossible. Whether He does it or not, He can. May you experience the healing that you desire, if it be His will. Amen.

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Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Faith and Works

Today in the first reading, we have the classic text that is used to justify a faith alone mentality or the idea that merely having an intellectual belief that does not involve an act of the will, is enough to be saved. This idea circulates amongst many religions and has quite a level of misunderstanding about Catholic Teaching.

I have heard people say that Catholics have to earn their way into heaven, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The Catechism states that “The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us ‘the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ’ and through Baptism.” (CCC 1987)

So we believe as Catholics that we are justified by the power of God, not anything that we do. We are not able to earn our way into heaven; it is a free and beautiful gift granted to us by God himself. So why all the confusion? When Catholics say we need both faith and works, what we mean is that we are justified by faith, but we have to assent to it in our will, which leads to action. Our faith cannot just be intellectual ideas, but it must be realized and lived.

This is truly a beautiful understanding of faith. You wouldn’t tell your wife you love her and then not act on it. The reality of love would be so strong in your will that it inspires you to do something. This takes love from a fluffy sentimentality or abstract concept into a tangible action of the will. Being baptized is an action; praying for forgiveness is an action, loving God is an action.

We do not believe that loving God will earn us our salvation, but we do believe, in most instances, that we need a relationship with him in order to spend eternity with him. That is biblical. I think about these truths often in relation to theology. I love studying and reading about theology, but it is easy to keep theology on a level of the abstract. Theology must always pierce into the practicals of life. It must go from thinking about God to loving and experiencing him. Otherwise, it loses its depth and beauty.

St. Thomas Aquinas understood this well after seeing the vision of God and then promptly asking his brothers to burn all of his writings because they are but straw in relation to what he just experienced. Today’s first reading allows us to experience in a small way that the vision that Aquinas had. I couldn’t help but read it and be overcome by joy that we are justified by faith in Christ Jesus. No matter how many times we fall, God will forgive. But we still have to do our part and accept and cooperate with that grace.

If you struggle with this at all, be encouraged. I know I have struggled with the fact that God could still love me after everything I have done. We can think our sin is too strong to be given justification. If this is you, I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from St. Claude de la Colombiere, who said, “I glorify you God in making known how good you are towards sinners. That your mercy prevails over all malice, that nothing can destroy it. That no matter how many times we fall or how shamefully or how criminally, a sinner need not be driven to despair of your pardon. It is in vain that your enemy and mine sets new traps for me every day. He will make me lose everything else before the hope that I have in your mercy.” From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

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Tommy Shultz is a Solutions Evangelist for Diocesan. In that role, he is committed to coaching parishes and dioceses on authentic and effective Catholic communication. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. Contact him at tshultz@diocesan.com.

Try the Mirror First

Not long ago, I was out for coffee with an acquaintance when an extremely overweight person was seated next to us—with some difficulty, because there wasn’t quite enough room between the table and the bench to fit his girth. My companion sighed ostentatiously and made a bit of a show of moving over and giving the man more room, and my heart went out to him. He was so apologetic. He looked so miserable. And when, afterward, I asked my acquaintance why she’d responded as she did, she seemed surprised. “It’s his fault for being fat,” she said. “If he’d just buckle down and lose the weight, he wouldn’t be such a freak.”

“But you don’t know,” I said. “How can you blame him when you don’t know his story?”

I couldn’t wait to get away from her, to tell the truth, and as I was walking away there was a flurry of words that went through my mind. Sanctimonious, I thought. Judgmental. I resolved to see as little of her in future as possible.

It didn’t occur to me until much later that I was guilty of the very things I’d accused her of. Because, while no, we didn’t know his story, neither did I know hers. And it also occurred to me that it’s precisely when we’re accusing others of being judgmental that we’re possibly the most guilty of it.

Saint Paul knew us well. You have no excuse, he reminds us. You have no excuse for judging others.

The truth is, God’s the only one who knows what’s behind other people’s (or even, sometimes, our own) actions. And the irony is that being judgmental isn’t even a behavior that serves us. We judge others because we need to feel better about ourselves.  It may make us feel superior or secure in the short term, but the long-term stress of never feeling good enough can lead to a host of health issues. And that’s without bringing Saint Paul into it!

I can’t say how many times I’ve heard the advice of not judging others until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes—or, to be less picturesque, until you know their story, know what drives their behavior. How do you put yourself in someone else’s shoes? I’m not sure I’m always able to do it, but one thing I’ve found helpful is this: imagine that person’s reaction if you were to share your criticisms aloud. Consider how that person might feel, how hurt they’d be, if they heard you making judgments about them… and consider, also, what story they might offer to explain their situation.

You can even try making it a puzzle to solve. When you feel yourself looking down on someone else’s decisions or behavior, on how they dress or speak, what they weigh, try imagining why. Maybe the guy who cut you off is rushing to pick up his kids because his boss wouldn’t let him leave on time, not because (as you might be judging) he’s a jerk. Perhaps that toddler is screaming because of a bad night’s sleep, not because of bad parenting. Your story probably won’t coincide with theirs, but it will make you consider what their lives are like, and… well, honestly, the word that comes to mind is mercy. Mercy is the opposite of judgment. Mercy is offering a clean slate.

And it’s really clear that the times we live in demand mercy. As a culture, we’re harsh and critical of others. All you need to do is read the news to see the growing tendency to analyze and criticize. We attack others through opinions, jokes, Facebook banter, and snarky gossip. We call names, label others, race to characterize (and make sure others know our thoughts!). It’s a kind of public punishment for being different that we get to enforce. We launch toxic, crippling words as a way of inflicting harm. Mercy isn’t a word in our daily vocabulary.

What Saint Paul is reminding us is that God uses both our being judgmental and our mercy (depending on which is more manifest) as the measuring rod of how he treats us. He will act with great mercy and forgiveness. But he will also show his justice and judgment when that’s the path we take with others. “You have,” Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, “no excuse.”

The more you understand, the less likely you are to judge.

The difficulty we have here is there’s something about judging and punishing others that feeds us, and our appetite is insatiable. When we stand as judge, jury, and executioner over someone else, it makes us feel superior and righteous. And the alternative doesn’t give us the same feeling.

The alternative is mercy. It’s seeking to reconcile, to restore, to renew. What’s exciting about that? How does that make us feel better about ourselves? Yet the people of God are called to be merciful. We care called to be ministers of reconciliation.

Love is violent, make no mistake. But the violence of love is far different than the violence, whether spoken, physical, or psychic, that we dole out to others every day. The violence of love—a phrase used often by Saint Oscar Romero—is what we see on the cross. Jesus took the violence on himself. He didn’t strike out at those who mocked him; he forgave them. Showed them mercy. Didn’t judge.

This isn’t about giving others a pass, or pretending everyone is okay. It’s recognizing we’re all broken, and afraid, and angry, and ashamed. This kind of love, this kind of mercy, causes the spiral of violence to cease.

If we’re willing to imitate this kind of love, what we’ll find is it’s increasingly difficult to judge others. If we try the mirror first, if we can look at ourselves honestly and with the kind of mercy God shows us, then the tendency to judge slips away. “God,” says Saint Paul, “shows no partiality.” We might consider doing the same.

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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 http://www.pauline.org.

Mighty

Through today’s first reading, responsorial psalm and Gospel, I see one consistent theme: the power of God.

How often do we sit down and reflect, really reflect, on God’s power? Could we even comprehend it, or would we be overwhelmed? Would we be terrified or comforted that He is all-powerful?

We see many instances of power in the first reading. God’s saving power through Jesus’s passion, death, and resurrection, a saving power for all who believe. God’s mighty hand against wickedness, sin, and evil. His ability to create the world and to make Himself known through creation.

The whole theme of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans is salvation through faith – the first two verses of today’s first reading make that evident. But what we see through the rest of the passage is what happens to idolaters, to those who don’t have faith or who direct their faith in wrong, well, directions. God has (and did execute) the power to hand them “over to impurity through the lust of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies.” Pretty serious stuff.

In the responsorial psalm, we see more of the power of creation as the heavens proclaim the glory of God. God is existence himself; He is outside of time and space. Through God, the universe and everything else came into being. God is evident; He can be seen and known through all of His creation. Therefore, all of creation points itself back to the creator.

There’s a different kind of power on display in the Gospel, however. Here, Jesus’s power is shown in compassion as he dines with one of the Pharisees. Another instance of His power is shown in His wisdom, knowing the depth of the heart of the Pharisee. But we also see the power to cleanse in the root of His message, “But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” His message isn’t just for His disciples and faithful followers, it’s for everyone – Pharisees included.

What does God’s power mean for us today?

Most importantly, that He has the power to cleanse and heal us as well. That He knows the depths of our hearts. That He has the power to make all things new. That power shouldn’t scare us but give us tremendous joy and hope. It is a power that should be called upon in every aspect of our lives.

Thank you, God, for your power.

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Erin is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. Following graduation, she began volunteering in youth ministry at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Her first “big girl” job was in collegiate sports information where, after a busy two years in the profession on top of serving the youth, she took a leap of faith and followed the Lord’s call to full-time youth ministry at St. Peter Church. She still hopes to use her communication arts degree as a freelance writer and statistician, though. You can catch her on the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

Called to be an Apostle

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between a disciple and an apostle, and here the first reading speaks entirely about being an apostle.

I think a lot of the time, us Catholics have an emphasis on discipleship. While this is great, discipleship just for the sake of being a disciple misses the point. The early church didn’t just follow Chirst, the word disciple literally just means followerer of Christ, they took Christ out to the world.

In today’s first reading, Paul is taking the faith out and not just keeping it to himself. This is something we can learn from. In order to go out and preach the word we must of course first have a personal relationship with Christ and be a disciple, but faith is meant to be shared. It’s like a great food. When we taste it we should want to share, not just keep it to ourselves. Well we have the ultimate food, the Eucharist, and at the end of Mass the priest doesn’t just say the Mass is ended so we can be thankful it’s over. He says that so we take Christ out from there to all those we meet.

I have been focusing on this in my own life because I am realizing I have been a disciple for a while, but an apostle goes into the world, and I know that’s the part I can work on. I invite you to ask yourself honestly where you are at currently. Are you a disciple or are you an apostle and what is it going to take to bring the light of Christ into the world? From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

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Tommy Shultz is a Solutions Evangelist for Diocesan. In that role, he is committed to coaching parishes and dioceses on authentic and effective Catholic communication. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. Contact him at tshultz@diocesan.com.

Your Faith Will Save You

True story: many years ago, when I was in my 30s, I recall an incident on a day, which was a particularly good day for me. My work was going well and left the office feeling happy with my situation. You remember those days when everything goes well, and you are on top of the world. I decided that I would stop to pick up my favorite dinner – fried chicken – on the way home. I also recall it was a bright and beautiful sunny day. On my way out of the store and back to the car, a gentleman, obviously homeless, stopped me and asked for some money for food. Now, this is the part I remember most – I told him I didn’t have any money to spare and walked past him. Later, on reflection, I was despondent. I could have given him money; I could also have given him my meal and purchased another for myself. All these years later, this incident still haunts me because I was so full of myself.

I tell you this because of the lesson I learned all these years later: that I was not grateful enough for what I had and too selfish to share with another. When I say it still haunts me, I genuinely mean it.

Now, truthfully, I have, as I’ve grown in my faith, developed a self-program for giving back. The charities I choose to support, including the ministries that feed and clothe the hungry or provide disaster relief around the world. But for some reason, I still can’t shake this one instance of neglect. It is a recurring thorn in my side.

The story today about the ten lepers carries with it several lessons, not the least being a caution to be thankful for what we have and not to hold on to it but to give back. Another lesson is of not being judgmental of those who are not grateful to you for what you do. Can you imagine Jesus “taking back” the healing of the nine who did not return to him? He didn’t. But Jesus was sure to let the one who did return know that his gratitude was appreciated, and his faith saved him.

I have come to believe that saying “thank you” to our Lord in prayer for blessings received is not enough. I must also express that gratefulness in my actions. And not only in monetary ways but also by giving a helping hand when needed or a bit of comfort to someone grieving. These are all ways of saying, “Thank you, Lord, for what you have given me. Thank you, Lord, for my faith in you that allows me to give to others without worry about my want. Thank you, Lord, for the trust that you will always take care of me, no matter what.” These can be hard lessons to learn.

“In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

God Bless.

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Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.

Gloom and Doom or Thanksgiving?

Life is full of milestones. This year my family has reached many. In January, my grandmother turned 90, my mother turned 70, and my husband turned 40. Last month my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and today, I celebrate my 40th birthday.

No longer able to hide the subtle wrinkles and brown spots appearing on my skin, I succumb to the reality that middle age has come. The feeling of being on the other side of the hill already hit me a few years back when gray hairs moved in, and energy moved out. In some ways, I feel wiser, and in other ways, I feel like I’m still a child.

But whether it’s an anniversary or a birthday or another great achievement, my wish to celebrate is the same. I am so grateful for the gift of life, family, and faith. These milestones remind me to turn my heart towards God, the giver of all good gifts.

Today’s readings are full of gloom and doom. People called to weep, fast and put on sackcloth in the First Reading and Jesus talking about divided kingdoms, unclean spirits, and demons in the Gospel. Yet the Psalm offers a breath of fresh air:

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart;
I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, Most High.

This Psalm reminds us that amid calamity and evil, chaos and sadness, God is still present. When we take a moment to refocus and turn our hearts to Him, we are able to gain a fresh perspective and rejoice once again.

The saint of the day, Pope John XXIII, was known for his wit, his sense of humor, and his constant smile. Although he lived through various hardships, such as World War II and the Cuban missile crises, he refused to lose heart. He criticized “prophets of doom” who “see nothing but prevarication and ruin” and chose the “medicine of mercy” instead.

We all know the kind of world we live in. We all know we can’t turn back time. We all know that age will come upon us. But we have a choice in how we accept it. We can allow ourselves to be swallowed up in the gloom and doom, or we can choose to focus on God’s infinite mercy instead and give thanks to Him with all our hearts.

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Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling home improvement projects, finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for almost 20 years.