Cry out: Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Today is the last day of the liturgical year. For a whole year we have journeyed and struggled and wrestled and wondered and wandered with humanity as we have liturgically made our way from creation through re-creation to this day. I believe the Church wants us to rejoice, to tremble with the excited conscious wonder at what has been given to us, what is our destiny in Christ.

The First Reading begins:

“An angel showed me the river of life-giving water,
sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God
and of the Lamb down the middle of the street,
On either side of the river grew the tree of life
that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month;
the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.” (Revelation 22: 1-2).

In the end-times, the final river that will flow forever from the throne of God and the heart of the Lamb, the eternal city, the new Jerusalem hearkens back to Genesis, the primordial  garden where we first encounter a river: “In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens … a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground” (Genesis 2:4, 6).

However, in the fullness of time and in life everlasting, the river of life-giving water will not rise from the earth but, sparkling like crystal, it will flow from the throne of God and the Lamb, and flow through the middle of the street of the city.

In the garden, leaves became the means for Adam and Eve to hide their naked shame from God, from the Creator who loved them, sustained them, desired their complete and forever happiness. They used fig leaves to cover themselves after they had eaten of the fruit at the bidding of the serpent. In everlasting time, as the book of Revelation tell us, leaves are no longer associated with sorrow and sin and the craftiness of the serpent that brings death and destruction. The leaves of the trees are now the means of healing and health and wholeness and holiness. They serve as medicine for the nations.

We, my friends, know this. The Church places this mystery squarely before our praying hearts and open eyes. The darkened confusing clouds that swirl around people today break the hearts of our brothers and sisters, blinding them to this vision. Too many have never heard it preached to them.

But we have. We have! Today! In this very liturgy! Or if we cannot participate in Mass, in this moment of meditation on the Word. We too live in the confusing chaos of our times, but we have heard of the Fountain of living water that rises within us and the city of Jerusalem that awaits us!

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. This culminating glory that overflows our hearts spills out into the beginning again of our liturgical remembrance and celebration of the One who has saved us, who reversed our sickness and death and heals us, fills us with life, and washes us in his blood.

In the Responsorial Psalm let us truly cry out: Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy! Begin Advent with joyful excitement and cry out:

Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!

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

The Kingdom of God is at Hand

For me the day after Thanksgiving has no special meaning or space like an annual routine. As the years have passed, so has what the day holds. There have been times when I’ve been bundled (along with my sisters) into the car to visit family, as well as times when I’ve done the bundling with my own children.

Some mornings I’ve quickly put together a crock pot of chicken chili to share with my co-workers during a harried retail lunch on the fly. There have been many day after Fridays that held brief quiet moments of breakfast prep before the ‘gang’ invaded the kitchen. These last few years have been times to sip my cup of tea while the busyness continues on around me.

The readings are very fitting for today. I say that because the kingdom of God is here among us. Here God lives among his people (Ps 84:3 and Rev 21:3b), in every situation, every day. It is up to me if I choose to be a positive influence in His kingdom.

The psalm today speaks of the soul yearning and pining for the courts of the Lord as the heart and flesh cry out for the living God. He is here, present among us in the Eucharist. He is present in the Gospel. He is present in each and every person.  His kingdom is all arounds us.

There is no question that the situations in our world are challenging. The alleluia exclamation today tells us to, ‘stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand’. It is a conscious act to choose to be free from the darkness of thoughts and actions. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a great practice that helps me through the struggle of my day and thoughts falling apart. I also find great comfort in the Stations of the Cross.

Know that the situations will change and time will go forward. Listen to the song Together. Know how you look upon the world really does make a difference. Know that His kingdom is at hand.

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Beth Price 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

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An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s always interesting to hear the reactions when we have a period of Indian summer during our Michigan autumn. Some are in seventh heaven, pull out the golf clubs, throw some meat on the grill and soak it up. Others are saddened that their anticipation of Christmas is waylaid and wish for chillier weather or even snow. Others just go with the flow, knowing that the cold will be back soon enough.

This could be a great metaphor for our spiritual life as well. When we feel the warmth of summer in our souls, do we act upon it? When the flame of the Holy Spirit burns within us, do we pull out our clubs and swing away, so to speak?

When we are saddened because we are in a period of waiting, and that joyful anticipation has seemingly disappeared, do we lament and wish for things to be different? Or do we live in the moment and take more time for prayer?

Or are we just floating along on a lazy river, steering neither left nor right, up nor down, just letting life take us where it may? Is this really living?

It all comes down to gratitude. If you think about it, the measure of our gratefulness is the measure of our joy. If we are thankful for the warmth and thankful for the chill and thankful for everything in between, we will find ourselves content.

And with joy-filled hearts we will be able to proclaim together with the Psalmist: “Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful song. Know that the Lord is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise; give thanks to him; bless his name. For he is good: the Lord, whose kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

What an amazing cascade of praise! Many of us struggle to eek out a simple “thank you”. Can you imagine your soul being so full that you could not stop expressing  your gratitude?!

So on this day set aside to give thanks, let us shift our thoughts to the positive, let us remember all of God’s mercies, all of His blessings and be grateful for what truly matters. It may be warm today and cold tomorrow, but God’s love is with us through it all. Thank you, Lord!

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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.

Christ Over Cancel Culture

Cancel culture is something we’ve become all too familiar with in our current, well, culture. But, for those of you who may not know what cancel culture is – on, cancel culture is described as being, “the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.”

Society has been trying to cancel Christianity, and especially Catholicism, for a long time now. They’ve been taking God out of our schools, silencing our voices on social media and so much more. And everything we say related to the faith is most definitely considered “offensive.”

What we’re experiencing in our culture today sounds a lot like today’s Gospel reading, where Jesus says to the crowd, “they will seize and persecute you” and “you will be hated by all because of my name.”

We’ve already been persecuted. We’re already hated. This isn’t news to us. In fact, it’s been happening to Christians for centuries. We can instead draw strength from our brothers and sisters that have gone before us and who have dealt with the same persecutions that we’re facing. We can pray through the intercession of the martyrs who willingly gave up their lives in defense of the faith.

We can also look to Christ as our example – a man who was so reviled and hated for his counter-cultural teachings that they sought any way to put him to death. His death wasn’t the political victory the Romans and Jewish leaders thought it would be. Rather, it was a spiritual victory for all who followed after Christ, a victory that cancelled sin and death and opened the gates of Heaven for us all.

Jesus wasn’t cancelled. Neither are we cancelled, although many may try. Instead, we give testimony to our faith in God and our relationship with Jesus, looking to the Holy Spirit to inspire us with the words “that will be powerless to resist or refute.” For when we preach what is good, true and beautiful, it is impossible to ignore.

This Gospel isn’t one of despair or distress; rather, it is one of hope, for Jesus tells us that not a hair on our heads will be destroyed and “by perseverance you will secure your lives.”

So, no matter what the world believes or may try to do, we have the power. We have the victory. We have Christ on our side, Christ who is bigger than the world and who cancels out everything about cancel culture.

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Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of the 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.

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It’s Going to be OK

In all the other years of my life, even ones that were less than great, I haven’t taken much notice of the Scripture passages we read as we came to the end of the liturgical year. That’s not to say I was oblivious but the end of days seemed too fantastical and far off to cause me much interior unsettledness. After this year, though, I suspect we are all sitting up a little straighter in the pews. What if this is it? What if this is the beginning of the end? Perhaps the sickles are soon to be swung across the earth separating the saints and the sinners. Maybe the destruction of the temple is upon us. Our nation is rising against itself, there were a record number of wildfires, a record number of tropical storms, and some weird clouds of dust that blew over from Africa.

I’ve posed this question to my husband several times this year as bad thing kept following bad thing. The poor man shook his head because he doesn’t share my embrace of memento mori, that is, the remembrance of one’s own death.

For a while, I secretly kind of hoped it was the start of end days. It’s been a tiring year of wave after wave of events that make me want to crawl back under the covers in the morning. Let’s be done with it, I thought. But I’m reminded of some wise words from St. Paul in his letter to the Romans. “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts” (Rom 5:5) and “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20).

As we hear about the end of the world in our liturgical readings, I suspect this isn’t it and that’s ok. I could be wrong, and that’s ok too. There’s much we don’t know and the uncertainty is hard for many of us. What we do know is that we must remain hopeful. We will die one day and the world will end one day. As Christians we deal with that through the virtue of hope in eternal joy with God in heaven. Our time here on earth is tiny compared to our time in eternity. Hope in this reality will not disappoint us.

We find further comfort knowing that even though there is a lot of sin and ugliness right now and it may feel bleak, God will shower us in grace. And in the end, whether we’re talking about our life, our world or just this rotten time, it’s going to be ok. Have hope and pray for grace. It really is going to be ok.

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

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Some Gave All

In today’s Gospel we hear of a poor widow who gives everything she has – two small coins – to the treasury. Although wealthy people gave more than two coins, Jesus says that the poor widow put in more than anyone else because she gave from her poverty rather than from surplus. Regarding what we are called to give, Pope Francis says, “Faced with the needs of others, we are called to deprive ourselves of essential things, not only the superfluous; we are called to give the necessary time, not only what remains extra; we are called to give immediately and unconditionally some of our talent, not after using it for our own purposes or own group”. Christ and the Church are not concerned with monetary generosity. Rather, they are concerned with generosity of the heart. When we give of our time, treasure and talent, are we giving that which is extra or are we, like the poor widow, giving our whole selves, our whole livelihoods? We are called to love one another as Christ loved the Church. Christ gave His life for the Church, so, in the same way, we are called to lay down our lives out of love for Him and His Church. That means something different for all of us. For some of us, it is religious life. For others it may mean working for the Church in lay ministry. And for others it means loving our families – our husbands, wives, children, siblings, and parents – and helping them on the path toward Heaven.

How fitting for today’s Gospel that we celebrate three saints – St. Clemente I, St. Columban, and Bl. Miguel Agustín Pro – who like the poor widow in the Gospel gave their all to the Church. St. Clemente I was an early pope who was martyred by being tied to an anchor and thrown off a boat into the Black Sea. St. Columban dedicated his life to Christ and the Church through the monastic life. Bl. Miguel Agustín Pro, like St. Clement I, was martyred. He was martyred in Mexico in the early 20th century. These three saints are examples of the ways in which we strive to dedicate our lives to Christ and the Church.

As we enter into this holiday season of thanksgiving and gift-giving, may we remember the one who gave His all in forgiveness of our sins.

“…since we are travelers and pilgrims in this world, let us think upon the end of the road, that is our life, for the end of the way is our home…Many lose their true home because they have greater love for the road that leads them there. Let us not love the road rather than our home, in case we should lose our eternal home, for our home is such that we should love it.”  (from St. Columban “The True Meaning of Our Whole Livelihood”)

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

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Christ is King, and Not Just in Heaven

Today is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This impressive title calls to mind Christ’s heavenly glory and His power over nature. But how often do we think of the authority of Christ on earth?

Our readings give us a hint of this: imagery of Christ as the Good Shepherd surrounds talk of Christ’s all-encompassing victory over the grave. The First Reading and the Psalm give a comforting picture of a Lord Who provides for all the needs of His people, watching over and protecting them in this life and preparing them for the next. These are important duties of earthly authorities: protect your subjects and promote the common good. They bring out Christ’s daily guidance of His people.

Deeper still, we see the Good Shepherd take on the responsibility of judgment in Matthew’s Gospel. The Son of God takes judgment beyond the earth: He is the judge of our eternal state, and can give eternal rewards and punishments. Of course, this is nothing new to us, since we already know that God has authority in the heavenly sphere.

What about the earthly sphere? Matthew 25 not only refers to eternal judgment, but also to earthly authority. Just as the kings of the earth can punish our wicked actions and incentivize our righteous ones in this life, so can Jesus Christ the King do the same. The difference, at least in this passage, is that He chooses to wait until the final judgment to hand down His decisions. This does not mean that our actions or inactions do not matter, but rather that the response comes later than we might expect.

This can catch us off guard, but it is important to keep perspective. In the Old Testament, before the coming of Christ, it was common for God to mete out harsh punishments in the moments following grave sin. We need only to look at Sodom and Gomorrah, the Golden Calf incident, and the Ten Plagues to see examples.

Now, rewards and punishments are still present, but many of them are reserved for the afterlife. Christ speaks of earthly tribulation in store for His faithful disciples, but promises eternity for those who last until the end. He often chooses to simply rebuke rather than smite sinners in His public ministry, but He is clear about their final state. The judgment is still there, claimed by Jesus Christ the King, but it might not come until purgatory, heaven, or hell.

Remembering this fact helps us to keep in mind that Jesus is still watching over us — a central point in the readings. Christ holds authority over both heaven and earth, the entire universe, and we experience that authority differently depending on our relationship with Him. In this life, we may either hear the gentle call of the Shepherd or feel the strong sting of His rod. After death, we will hear Him say either “Depart from me!” or “Come, you who are blessed by my Father.”

To those who love Him and seek to walk in his paths, the supreme authority of Christ the King is something sweet. To those who ignore His commands and go astray, it is terrifying. Confident in our Faith, let us happily follow our King wherever He leads.

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David Dashiell is the Associate Director of Liturgy for a group of parishes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When he is not spending time with his wife and infant daughter, he is writing on philosophy and theology for various online publications. You can find some of these in Crisis Magazine and the Imaginative Conservative, and you can contact him at

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The Presentation of Mary

Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of the Presentation of Mary. This is not found in the Gospel, but is based on an ancient tradition that Mary was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem and dedicated to God as a child. Its place on the liturgical calendar dates back to the 6th century in the East (where it is celebrated as the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, one of the Eastern Orthodoxy’s 12 Great Feasts!) and the 16th century in the West (though it had some widespread local celebrations before being included in the universal Roman Calendar in 1585).

It is interesting to note that the three feasts of the life of Jesus – Christmas, the Holy Name of Jesus, and the Presentation in the Temple – are mirrored in the three feasts of the Marian cycle: the Nativity of Mary, the Holy Name of Mary, and her Presentation in the Temple. It is this mirroring that gives us a clue as to why this celebration is significant and remains on the liturgical calendar. Mary always points to Jesus and she was the first disciple, the first Christian, the one who followed Jesus most closely. These “parallel feasts” are a reminder that Mary’s life paralleled the life of Christ her Son.

Everything that Jesus tells us to do, Mary has done in an exemplary way, and so we are encouraged to look to her, as the human being on earth who knew Jesus best and can teach us how to follow him closely. We can look to her example to learn how to “ponder in the heart,” seek first the Kingdom of God, bear the cross in the world, trust in God’s mercy and love, and keep our eyes on the eternal treasure of Heaven.

Mary’s deepest identity is BELIEVER – one who encountered the Word of God, accepted it, assented to it, and never wavered, all the way to the cross and beyond.  She is our example of complete receptivity to the Word and a ready YES to every breath, every movement of the Holy Spirit.

There is nothing that Mary does without it being undertaken by the impulse of that original and ever-active grace of the Spirit that filled her from the beginning. And so, this tradition that her parents brought her to the Temple to dedicate her to God makes sense. We can almost see her there, prompted by the Spirit to open herself wholly to the God of her people. This act of dedication would be fully realized as she grew under the gaze of the Father, seeking His Will alone, so that she could truthfully say to the angel: “I am the handmaid of the Lord.”

So, let us ask Mary, “full of grace,” to intercede for us before the Throne of Grace, that we will love and serve the Lord freely and fully as she did!

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is

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Being a Christian Requires Sacrifice

According to tradition, John the Evangelist was the only disciple that was not martyred. He died on the island of Patmos, in exile. Perhaps the Lord spared him to write the book of Revelation. He encountered a pretty big angel, with one foot on land and the other on the sea. That sight alone was enough to motivation him to do what he was asked. He was told to take the scroll and eat it. It would taste like honey in his mouth but turn sour in his stomach.

God’s word becomes non-sweet when it instructs us to do or say something we would rather not. That is not to say we do not believe it. It just makes us very uncomfortable to think about it, let alone do it! Being a Christian takes work and sacrifice! We have to decide if it’s worth it. At times it becomes so difficult that it seems like it’s not. Jesus went to the cross to save us. If you forgot how He suffered, watch The Passion of the Christ again or for the first time. It is very graphic! Some would say we cannot truly understand what love is until we can enter deeply into what Jesus Christ has done for us. I tend to agree.

Think for a moment of someone you know who lived great sacrifice in their life. The first one I noticed was on my paper route when I was a tween. If their inside door was open when I came to collect for the week, I would sometimes hear a loud moan. I never knew what was going on until a few years later. I knew who the husband was but had never seen his wife. It was her. She had had a severe stroke in her twenties, shortly after they were married. He never left her or put her in a home the whole time I knew them. That man was like a hero to me.

I think the word sacrifice is all but gone from our culture. After WWII our country was one of community and family. I grew up in Ludington where there was an atmosphere of people helping people. Looking back, it was a wonderful place to grow up. For you younger people, imagine this: After WWII, two of my dad’s brothers got married in the same wedding and then both moved into a one bedroom apartment together! They would rotate the use of the bedroom. The lack of financial resources after WWII forced them to be creative and sacrificial.

I invite you all in this coming season of Advent to ask the Lord what kind of sacrifice you can make for someone you love or someone you don’t love. If something doesn’t come to mind, ask the Lord. You may be surprised!

Serve With Joy!

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

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Help! My Eyes Are Leaking!

I cried for the first time in 16 years this past summer. I went 16 years without a good sob. I think the last time I cried I was 10 or 11. It was probably related to getting left out of a family gathering where there was “no place for children.” (I felt my socialite status as an eleven-year-old was not recognized by my superiors and that was simply unfair.)

Sure, a drop may have escaped from my eyes a couple times—but mostly I didn’t have the response I expected to. It wasn’t because I didn’t feel sad or because I wanted be a “Macho Man.” Nothing seemed quite sad enough to warrant crying. I think it came down to two things: I felt like I had to deserve to cry and I didn’t want to cry in front of other people.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus weeps at the sight of Jerusalem. It might seem insignificant, but there’s something here that is helpful when it comes to understanding human emotions.
Jesus is perfect. This doesn’t mean he’s a cold-hearted robot who never messes up a math problem, it means when there is an appropriate time to feel an emotion, he feels it in the perfect amount and then moves on. Our emotions are what make us human. We tend to treat human emotion as a defect and not as a feature of our humanity.

Crying is an emotion that is frowned upon in our culture. I don’t know what to do when someone is crying. I feel like an out-of-place Iron Giant, waiting for the leaking to subside. Do they want a hug or some space?

Emotions are a difficult thing. If we don’t let it out, it will haunt us. Emotion stays trapped inside our bodies and builds up until we’re ready to explode.

This past summer, my wife and I miscarried our first child. I remember feeling all sorts of things, but I really couldn’t explain what those feelings were. It reached a point where words didn’t do the job. A couple days after the miscarriage, a pit started growing in my stomach. I thought maybe I had a stomach bug. I hate throwing up.

My wife realized I needed to talk. She pulled me into our bedroom and asked what was going on. I started sharing the thoughts about our child and what I was experiencing. The floodgates opened and my sixteen years of emotional drought came to a close. I stopped resisting my emotions and let them wash over me. I wept and felt my grief at something—someone—I had lost.

After my cry I felt so much better. I was not longer trying to cram my emotional laundry into a suitcase.

I felt peace.

Feeling emotion is a good thing. There can be too much, or too little. Neither extreme is the way we were meant to be. We were meant to be human. Whenever in doubt, look to Jesus as your guide.

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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.

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