How Quickly We Forget

It’s pretty much a truism that many (if not most) people are quicker to ask for something than they are to be grateful for that thing once it’s given to them. This is nowhere more apparent than in our prayer lives. A good friend of mine sends me an email at the beginning of each month: “What are the prayer intentions I can help you with this month?” And it’s only relatively recently I realized my response, most of the time, was to ask her to join my prayers of petition.

I’ve been painfully—no pun intended, at least not completely—aware of that lack of balance over the past month. Less than a week before Christmas, I fell and broke my arm, a compound fracture that required several hours of surgery and involved more physical pain than I’ve ever had to endure. I spent a lot of sleepless nights, moaning about how much it hurt and asking God to alleviate the pain. “Please, please, please… just one night. Just one day. Just one hour. Please make it go away.”

Eventually I listened to myself, was suitably chastised, and changed my prayer. “Please help me endure it. Please make me stronger.” Steps in the right direction, for sure, but still a request, a plea, still that pesky “please do something for me.”

When we want something, we want it with our whole being. Sometimes we can’t see anything beyond it. This is apparent in daily life: sometimes we see individuals in single-minded pursuit of power, or wealth, or fame; sometimes we see them begging for a cure for a child’s illness, or for forgiveness from someone they’ve wronged, or for a good death. Whatever it is we want, whether the aim is selfish or altruistic, that desire for “something” is somehow stitched into human DNA; only the saints seem able to overcome it.

Once we get whatever it was we wanted so badly, though, it becomes less of an obsession. We’re on to the next big thing. We forget how much we wanted what we prayed for.

Looking through the lens of my own situation, I do compare this desire—and what happens when it is slaked—to pain. As time has passed, my pain has indeed lessened, to the point where now it’s difficult to remember just how excruciating those December nights were. How I begged God for help. And I know I haven’t thanked him enough for this gradual deliverance—certainly not nearly as often as I petitioned him to make it go away.

In today’s Gospel, Mark tells the story of a leper who asks Jesus to deliver him from his disease. I have to think that wasn’t the first time this man asked for deliverance. Perhaps, like me, he lay awake at night, aware only of his sickness and how he wanted God to make it go away. Perhaps he, too, begged, “please… please… please.”

He reaches out to Jesus and is cured. He gets what he wanted.

 The man now can resume the daily life his disease denied him. He can get back to normal. He returns to his village; he shows his priest proof of his cure; he offers initial thanks. But at some level, he has forgotten, already, how absolutely awful it was. He has forgotten what Jesus did for him—at no small personal risk, which we realize as the story unfolds. The man has forgotten the pain of being ostracized, the wounds on his body, the isolation and the fear. And now that he’s back in the social round, despite Jesus having sternly cautioned him not to, he shares his story—with the inevitable result of curtailing Jesus’ ability to move freely and carry on his ministry.

I don’t think this man had evil intentions, or that he wanted to purposely thwart Jesus in any way. I think he was thoughtless, careless, forgetful.

As am I.

Today is my birthday, and I have a great deal to celebrate, a great deal to be grateful for. I had an excellent surgeon. I now have moderately long stretches of time when I am relatively pain-free. I will eventually, like the man in Mark’s story, be able to resume my life much as it was before my fall. Through the grace of God, I will in fact get what I begged him for with such fervor.

But I don’t want to forget the pain. I don’t want to forget the fear, and the sense of helplessness, and the nights I wanted to die because it hurt so much. They’re already receding, and I don’t want them to. I want to remember them so I can offer thanks as much as I once cried out for help. I want to remember them so I can heed Jesus’ words about how to move forward with my life, and not just run off and do whatever I please because I’ve forgotten.

When my friend emails me in a couple of weeks and asks for my prayer intentions for February, this time around I will have a different response. I want her to echo my gratitude. And I will be doing my very best in the meantime… to not forget.

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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

Here I am Lord: 4 Spiritual Lessons

A favorite memory of my younger years as a Daughter of St Paul is the diocesan catechetical conventions where we would meet hundreds and thousands of volunteers and teachers dedicated to educating the next generations in the Faith. These wonderful, gifted, and generous women and men I will never forget. My heart was always full as we’d join together at Mass at the end of the day, often singing the popular hymn by Dan Schutte, “Here I am, Lord.” Our voices would rise in a chorus of YES. Lord, we are here. We are here for you. We are here to be used by you. We are here to be used by you for others. We are ready and willing. We are HERE. 

I was always so grateful to be among such generous Catholics as we drank from the source of life in order to become life in the world.

The rousing cheer “Here I am!” is rooted, in part, in today’s first reading and responsorial psalm. Even though the story of Eli and Samuel in today’s first reading is much more complex than the hymn would lead us to believe, there are four important lessons for our own life that we can learn from Samuel’s response to the Lord, “Here I am. Speak, Lord, for your servant, is listening.” 

1. Our “Here I am” is more often a solitary commitment than a rousing hymn in community. Eli, the priest, was old. Samuel was just a boy. Eli’s two sons were sinning against the Lord and would not listen to their father. Samuel was serving Eli, the priest in the temple. After several times being woken by the boy running to him and saying, “Here I am; You called me,” the priest understood that it was God who was calling the boy. Eli sent Samuel back to sleep in the temple with the words, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” No one knows the words that Samuel heard that night. His response to the Lord was his own. His response didn’t depend on Eli or Eli’s sons or anyone else in Israel. It was his and his alone to make. And so is ours.

2. Often our “Here I am. Speak Lord. I’m listening for your voice” happens in the night. The night, as in our reading, of the infidelity of the larger community. The night of solitude. The night of our unfamiliarity with the ways of the Lord. The night when God is leading his people through us into ways that are new. The night of a yes that claims our entire life in prophetic obedience to the Lord. We cannot make the outer situation an excuse for not answering the Lord as he calls you and me. It is these personal decisions upon which the health and holiness of the community ultimately depends.

3. We can help others understand the ways of the Lord, even if we ourselves aren’t perfect. Eli understood the Lord was calling the boy, and he gave him a single piece of advice that helped Samuel make himself available to the encounter with the Lord. Eli told Samuel to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” With that one simple sentence, he taught the young boy this stance before the Almighty: I am listening. I am ready. I believe you speak. I believe you have a plan that is good for me, for us. I am willing to submit my life to your plan. Even as Samuel grew in wisdom and grace as a prophet, even as Eli grew older and less influential, even as Eli’s own sons were killed in punishment for their wickedness, I can imagine Eli continued to give pointers to Samuel on how to respond to God.

4. Our life has a purpose, a meaning, a vocation, that in some sense springs from our earliest communication with the Lord as a child and continues through our life. Biblically, we see this with the story of Moses, with Jeremiah, with John the Baptist. Only in hindsight can we see how God has led each of us in his ways. We each have an important part to play in the mystery of salvation, which overarches our world’s history. We will stand, and we will fall and stand again. In our struggle to listen, to learn, to follow, to give ourselves over to the Lord, we carry out our vocation. Ultimately, however, it is the fidelity of the Lord that guarantees the fulfillment of his plan.

Today you may want to take a few quiet moments to take stock of your own, “Here I am, Lord. Speak, for your servant is listening.” Maybe just for today, you will want to repeat these prayerful words over and over again as you open up your life once more to the plan of God for you: “Here I am, O Lord. Speak, for your servant is listening.”

My point is this: if your family is not the epitome of harmony, take heart. God specializes in redeeming messes. See yours as an opportunity for God’s grace to become visible to your loved ones and pray hard that God will make it happen.

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Kathryn 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.


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Fishing = Patience

When did you last go fishing? It’s been many years since my last fishing expedition with my father. He used to take my siblings and me to the Grand Haven pier, where we used “cane poles” and bobbers, worms for bait. These were simple poles with no reels. We manipulated the lines with our fingers and spent hours watching the bobbers on the water: up-down-up-down-up-down. It was mesmerizing. It was also very dull until a fish finally took the bait, and the bobber would disappear under the surface of the water. Then the fun began pulling it in and placing it in the creel. After another worm on the hook, tossed out off the pier and, once again, up-down-up-down, and so one. Fishing is supposed to be a relaxing activity. For kids, not so much. But then I think back on it now, how I would love that time of peaceful waiting until the next excitement of a fish caught.

I’m sure it was not always so peaceful for Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Fishing was their livelihood. The waiting could be excruciating, as fish caught meant money and food; empty nets meant continued poverty. And the mundane nature of their work means boredom. The fishermen were either casting nets and pulling in the day’s haul or spending time mending the nets for the next day. Casting, waiting, pulling, and mending, hour after hour, day after day. They lived and died by their nets.

As do we.

Our nets are the mundane activities of each day, working for a living, or taking care of our families. We live day after day of the same thing – up-down-up-down-up-down.

Then, one day, a man came along and called the four fishermen to him. He told them they would still be fishermen, but their catch would be different. Their catch would be the souls Jesus longed to draw to himself to bring them his peace and freedom. The four did not question the call; at least the Gospel does not tell us this, only that they dropped their nets and followed him, not knowing where he would lead them, and something in them must have known that this was the right thing to do. Perhaps they had heard Jesus speaking to the people, and they were touched. Maybe it was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, quietly assuring them that he was the real deal. You know the rest of the story.

Jesus also calls you. Unlike the four disciples, you are not asked to leave your livelihood to do his work. Where you are, today is where you are supposed to be, but that shouldn’t stop you from leading souls to Jesus. Whether you wait tables, work an assembly line, sit at an office desk, fight fires, or care for your children, that is where you are meant to be an example of Christ-light and Christ-life. You will cast your nets far and wide by your love and example. Should you be called to a vocation other than what you do today – the Holy Spirit will guide you to discern the will of God. But make no mistake: where you are right now is where you need to be. And perhaps, one day, the bobber will pull below the waterline, and you might just be given the gift of seeing another turn to Jesus because of your example and your patience.

“This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
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

Baptized in the Lord

Today marks the last day of the Christmas season, where we celebrated the birth of Christ, and the Baptism of the Lord, where we celebrate new life in Christ. 

There is so much beauty in new birth and then, of course, new birth in Christ, but quite often, I think we can forget the power of baptism. I know for me, being baptized as a child, it was hard to know the power because I don’t remember the actual moment. 

This is why I recommend two things. First, is to look up your baptismal day. This is a special moment where you entered into the body of Christ and became an adopted son of God the Father. The parish you were baptized in will have a record of this, give them a call and find out when you were made new. Celebrate this every year, similar to a birthday. Do something special or be with Jesus in adoration. 

Second, don’t treat your baptism as a one and done moment. The Franciscans always preach constant conversion, where every moment is a moment for more grace. When was the last time you asked the Holy Spirit into your life? Baptism in the Spirit is not some magical ceremony between you and God; it is simply asking for the grace of your baptism to be increased through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I have noticed in my own life that when I am more aware of baptismal grace working, and I am consistently asking for it, I am much closer to God and am able to see his plan in my life more clearly. More information on the Holy Spirit and Baptism in the Spirit can be found at

This series was life-changing for me because it is an easy way to start opening up more and more to the Holy Spirit and His power in our life. May God bless you abundantly during this new season of Ordinary Time!

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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