Arise My Beloved

For my young friends, the personal and living God is unknown, someone else’s friend they hear about from time to time from some especially religious person, but someone with whom they have had no personal encounter.

Into this unfortunate and heart-breaking sense of isolation and distance bursts the “lover”:

“Here he comes
Springing across the mountains,
Leaping across the hills.”

Christmas is our celebration of absolute wonder at the awesomely amazing mystery that the Almighty God has stooped down to our creaturely level and reality and become the weakest member of the human race: a baby.

Though for many, their Christmas amazement may end with comments on how beautiful are the manger set and the Christmas decorations, today’s first reading confronts us with the startling words:

“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come!”

Jesus wants a personal relationship with us on his terms, which are utterly beyond anything we could propose on our own. The other day I sat in a coffee shop and the two women next to me sounded like they were using one of those lists of 20 questions to start conversations with someone new so you really get to know each other. It was a bit comical, and I’m sure since they were carrying on this exchange for a couple of hours or more, they most likely, in the end, did know a lot of details about each other’s lives.

But Christmas is the invitation for us to “arise,” because we are “beautiful” to God, and he wants us to come with him into the Father’s embrace, the Trinity’s life, and eternal joy.

Today’s readings show us that Christmas is a human and very personal event. In the Gospel, Mary sets out in haste to visit Elizabeth, to bring the Christmas message of joy to her elderly relative. We too, when our Christmas celebrations are over, or maybe before we enjoy the holidays, are called to personally reach out to another human being and share Jesus with them. For Jesus depends on you and me to reach others personally so that they too will hear the amazingly wondrous invitation: “Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come!”

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 draws from the spiritual tradition and her own lived experience to lead seekers deep within themselves and through their personal history to deepen their intimacy with and trust in God; live with greater joy, peace, and interior freedom; and encounter the Lord in their past and present life experiences to find healing, grace, and newness of life. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey.

The Unsung Hero of Advent

My eyes lit up when I saw today’s Gospel reading: the Annunciation. I could talk about Mary forever. For the sake of your attention span (and mine as I sit here and write), I won’t. Or, at least, I’ll try not to.

For the longest time, I didn’t know that having a relationship with Mary was even possible. Yes, I knew that she is the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Queen of Heaven and Earth and all that good stuff. What I was really focused on, however, was cultivating a relationship with God. I didn’t realize that the two could go hand-in-hand until I got to college.

While attending Franciscan University of Steubenville, I joined a Marian household, started praying the rosary at least once a week, did Marian consecration twice, took a Mariology class for one of my electives and so much more. Basically, Mary “stalked” me all throughout college and I couldn’t have been more grateful. She became the perfect model for me in being the ultimate beloved of the Father, in spiritual motherhood and true womanhood, in purity and in obedience to God’s will. I strove for her constant intercession and my faith life as a whole hit a new peak.

Growth didn’t just stop in college, however, as my relationship with Mary actually reached an all-time high this past October. In personal preparation for teaching a youth group lesson on the Blessed Virgin, I felt called to pray a daily rosary. Fitting since October is the month of the rosary, right? During that four-week span, I experienced such indescribable joy and consolation as I grew closer to the Lord through His mother.

What goes up must come down, though, and I fell into a period of spiritual desolation shortly after. Since I was in the midst of such a spiritual high, the desolation felt much deeper, prayer was nonexistent and the Lord seemed so far away.

I knew I wasn’t going to get out of this funk without some help so I went to go see my spiritual director. In the middle of our most recent session, he stopped to ask if I minded praying a decade of the rosary with him, right then and there. After we prayed together, we sat in silence for a few minutes until he asked what the Lord had put on my heart. I told him that those few Hail Marys ended up being the most meaningful prayer I had offered since, well, my daily rosaries and I had no explanation as to why. Looking back on that afternoon, now I know. The peace and the small stirring I felt in my heart was all because of you, Mary. It hasn’t been easy to climb out of desolation but I know I can do it with the help of my mother, your mother, our mother.

Now, you might be thinking, “All of that is great, but what does Mary have to do with the season of Advent?” Everything, really.

Think about it. We celebrate two Marian feast days during this liturgical season – Immaculate Conception (December 8, Holy Day of Obligation) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12). We hear the Annunciation passage today on December 20th and, if we are in Cycle B, we hear it again on the Fourth Sunday of Advent. If you look into the Christmas season, we also celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, on January 1. Another Holy Day of Obligation. None of these feast days, solemnities and readings, etc. are coincidences.

Mary embodies so much of what the Advent season is about – that waiting and hoping and longing. From the moment of original sin in the Garden of Eden, God prepared for the coming of the Messiah starting with Mary’s Immaculate Conception. She would be preserved from the original sin that her Son would save us all from. All throughout her life, she pondered what was in her heart, the heart united to her Son, patiently endured His sufferings and obeyed the will of God to the fullest.

If you need help preparing for the coming of Jesus during these final few days of Advent, I urge you to fly unto Mary. Entrust your heart to her this season and every season. We can learn a lot from her.

Come Holy Spirit, living in Mary.

Erin is a Parma Heights, Ohio, native and a 2016 graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She uses her communication arts degree in a couple of different ways: first, as an Athletic Communications Assistant at Baldwin Wallace University and, secondly, as a youth minister at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Although both of her jobs are on complete opposite spectrums, she truly enjoys being able to span the realm of communications. You can follow her on multiple Twitter accounts – @erinmadden2016 (personal), @bwathletics (work) and @HFVision (youth ministry).

Miraculous Through the Ordinary

When we receive our writing assignments, we “sign up” by putting our names by the dates for which we want to reflect and respond to the readings. I’d love to be able to say that I thoughtfully and prayerfully choose the readings I will write about, but the reality is that the spreadsheet for signing up usually arrives in the midst of a myriad of other tasks which are all demanding my attention and so I usually send up a quick prayer and try to choose two readings about 2 weeks apart, simply to make it easier to hit the deadlines.

But today, I have hit the reading lottery jackpot! This is one of my favorite, favorite stories in the Bible! I love Zechariah and Elizabeth because they remind me that God works amazing things through perfectly ordinary people. And I love the reminder that God is funny, I mean God is really funny.

Zechariah and Elizabeth are a devout Jewish couple, just going through life trying to do their best. Unfortunately for them, they are not blessed with children. For those of us who have lived through a multitude of people pressing you to have children, asking (what you thought were private and intimate) details of why you don’t have children, and explaining how their third cousin once removed finally got pregnant, we have some small insight into the deep disappointment with which Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. Childless women of Elizabeth’s time were not just interrogated, they were mocked and ridiculed. So it is at this late stage in the game, that we meet Zach and Liz, ‘righteous in God’s sight’ living outside of Jerusalem in the hill country. Not only are they childless, but they are also country folk! My people!

Zechariah is a priest and it is time for his division to head into Jerusalem to perform their regular duty in the Temple-liturgy, he is just doing his job. Zechariah draws “the lot” and is appointed to go into the inner sanctuary to offer incense while the others remain praying outside. Zechariah’s regular duty provides the setting for something extraordinary.

Gabriel shows up. There, standing to the right of the altar of incense is not just an angel, but one of the archangels. Zechariah gets scared.

Just as with Mary, Gabriel tells Zechariah not to be afraid, that his prayers have been heard and a child will be born. However, Zechariah takes a different approach than Mary. Zechariah argues with the angel. How can this be? I’m old and have you met my wife? (How many times do I argue when I should probably just be quiet!?!)

Can’t you just picture Gabriel sighing and taking a deep breath before answering? (I wonder if angels when appearing to us can roll their eyes?) “Listen, Zach, I stand before God and HE sent me to give you this good news, but since you have decided to just give me wordy arguments, you will now be without words until the child is born.” (I’ve taken the liberty of paraphrasing but, see, I told you God was funny!)

One thinks immediately of Abraham and Sarah, and how when Sarah laughed at the news she would have a child in her old age, God named the baby, Isaac which means laughter. Again, pretty funny, God.

From today’s first reading, we think of Manoah and his wife, who though childless, also conceived after a visit from an angel. Their child, Samson was consecrated to God, just as Zechariah and Elizabeth’s child would be. Having a child long after child-bearing years is not a stretch for God, nor is it even something new. In this way, the story of their child, John, takes its place in a long-standing sequence of events all for God’s purposes; the fulfillment of God’s promises.

The stories of these sons; Isaac, Samson, and John all prepare us for the coming of The Son. It also reminds us, that in the midst of the big things, and one could argue that the Incarnation was the biggest of the big, God responds to the smallest of hopes and desires as well. It is in the midst of ordinary people, doing their best to live out their faith on a day to day basis, that God resides and moves. Ahhh, that means there is hope for me yet.

See why I love this story?

Sheryl O’Connor is happiest in her role as wife to Tom. Together, they are discerning Tom’s call to the Diaconate and he is in his Aspirancy year with the Diocese of Kalamazoo. She is the Director of Youth Evangelization at her parish collaborative. 

Worth the Wait

Sometimes being a good person means not saying anything at all. As counterintuitive as this sounds, there are certain scenarios where silence is the loudest response. When something good happens to me, the first thing I think of is “I need to tell someone about this!” When something terrible happens to me, the first thing I think of is “I need to tell someone about this!” The desire to share is built into us and this is a very good thing. I think singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran summarizes it nicely when he sings “Success is nothing unless you have someone to share it with.” There’s a lot of sharing that goes on around us. Almost too much sharing. People share their stories, their pictures, and their opinions on Social Media. The moment something occurs, we can share it and people clear across the globe can have access to it instantaneously. But sometimes, being a good
person means waiting and subsequently not saying anything at all.

Joseph learns of Mary’s pregnancy and his first reaction is to protect her from shame. He waits. He neither speaks nor acts rashly. Not thinking of himself, Joseph protects Mary even in an hour where he could rightfully feel betrayed, not yet knowing the truth of the situation. But Joseph waits and as a result of his prudence, God reveals to him the meaning of all of this. Could there be a better example of manhood and fatherhood than St. Joseph?

As if patience wasn’t hard enough, we almost exclusively find ourselves in situations where we wait for things that will never actualize. This is a direct result of waiting for the wrong thing. That’s why we feel this everlasting ache that fluctuates in intensity from time to time but nevertheless remains. During Advent, we wait. However, this time we know exactly what we’re waiting for, but it is, in fact, something that we already have. You see, Christmas isn’t precisely about people being kind to one another and communal generosity. Think of what Tiny Tim says in A Christmas Carol… that he wanted to be noticed as a cripple, so people would remember who
made “… lame beggars walk, and blind men see” (Dickens). Christmas is about a Person who, instead of talking about good deeds, performed them, and instructed all who witnessed to tell no one what they had seen. It is the example Christ gave two thousand years ago that in 2018 motivates people who have never even heard of Jesus to be kind and giving during the Christmas and Advent season.

I’ll be the first to admit I struggle with the virtue of patience. But every Advent we get the chance to train ourselves to wait for what comes at the end of the four weeks. As we slowly develop this great virtue, we become stronger. Despite the naturally passive connotation of the word “waiting” we are encouraged to be active in the purification and preparation of ourselves as a way of inviting Christ into our lives, someone who is truly worth the wait, at this year’s celebration of his birth and at our eternal destination.

Benjamin serves as the Music Minister at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Branchville, NJ. He teaches Children’s Theatre at the Paper Mill Playhouse and is a Catholic songwriter that has given talks on Confirmation, How to Keep the Faith in College, and The Courage to Choose Life. He can be reached at

Jesus, The Fulfillment of the Old

Good morning, and praise the Lord for another day. As you sit down, pour a cup of coffee, and get ready to reflect on today’s readings, I am pleased to present to you the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. At first glance, perhaps the most boring bible verse out of all of them, one that makes you wonder why Matthew would spend so much time talking about generation after generation of impossible to pronounce names.

If you are tempted to read only the first line and then give up and read something better like a dictionary or car manual, I implore you to take another look. There is a reason that Matthew is so specific about the generations before Jesus.

We have a set of three groups, with fourteen generations in each. Perhaps the important number here is not fourteen, but instead the number seven. Seven is seen throughout scripture as the number of perfection or fulfillment. As we all know, Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament. Do the math, when you add up all the groups you have six groups of seven generations each until we finally see the last group, the generation of the Messiah. This final group completes seven groups and symbolizes that Christ came to fulfill all that came before.

We see a similar symbolism at the Wedding at Cana. Six jars of overflowing wine (a biblical symbol for God’s love) appeared as the first of Jesus’ miracles, with himself being the seventh and never-ending outpouring of love. We see it again with the woman who had six husbands and Jesus came and invited her into his love as the seventh.

Numbers are important in the bible. This seemingly boring Gospel passage shows us that Jesus became a man to restore, to fulfill, to give his perfect love, and to reunite us to the Father. Numbers don’t lie, and neither does our Lord. He fulfills his promise in our lives every day, all we have to do is accept this gift of perfect and limitless love. When was the last time you did? From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

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

Our Humble Hidden God

Let’s put the conversation in today’s Gospel in context to understand it: “they were coming down from the mountain” where the Transfiguration had just occurred. Peter, James, and John saw Jesus shining like the sun, with Moses and Elijah talking with him, and the voice of the Father announcing that this is his beloved Son. They had just fallen on their faces in awe and now they are probably dazed, with Jesus instructing them not to tell anyone what they had just seen (how could they even describe this?!) “until the Son of man is raised from the dead” (how could they understand these words?!). These three disciples could not have grasped the depth of what Jesus was communicating.

It seems they reach for what they DO know: Elijah. They had just seen Elijah, and the Scribes taught that Elijah was the herald of the Messiah, referencing Malachi. So they ask him why the scribes say Elijah must come first (clearly, the Messiah is already here, and this recent appearance of Elijah seems to have done nothing to forward his mission).

The Lord’s answer reframes the question. He says that Elijah will come and restore all things, but that the spirit of Elijah has already come to prepare the way, in the person of John the Baptist. We heard this when Jesus said, “if you are willing to accept it, (John) is Elijah who is to come” (Matt 11:15). Luke says that the Baptist will come “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). So the spirit of Elijah in the person of John the Baptist prepared for the Messiah’s first coming. It is not clear whether, as some of the Patristics believed, Elijah will indeed come again to prepare for the Final Coming of Christ.

Jesus does not explicate that here. He DOES, however, use this inquiry to help them see that John the Baptist was a precursor in more ways than one: he came and prepared the way for the Messiah, preaching repentance; he also suffered death for witnessing to the Truth. Jesus points out that the Son of Man will also suffer. He is preparing the disciples to see that, in some way, the great Elijah is the martyred Baptist; similarly, the glorious Messiah will be the crucified Son of Man. Our God is a hidden, humbled, self-sacrificing God.

As we prepare for Christmas, we consider Jesus’ first coming, consider whether we are living for his final coming, and open our hearts more fully to his coming to us every day. Like the disciples, we must see that our mighty God comes to us in the most improbable ways: veiled in the smallest particle of the Eucharist, hidden in the interruptions and duties of each day, and quietly entering the world as a helpless Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. The King of endless glory conquers our hearts by giving Himself to us, every moment of every day so that we can live in union with him.

Kathryn is married to Robert, mother of seven, grandmother to two, and a lay Carmelite. She has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and also as a writer and voice talent for Holy Family Radio. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and presenter, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, individual parishes, and Catholic ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Learn more at or on Facebook @summapax.

Do We Recognize Him?

Do We Recognize Him?

 For all the laughs and humor, Jim Carrey’s Bruce Almighty manages to incorporate important and authentic theological themes within the levity of his comedic performance.

One of my favorites is something I’ll call the “God’s presence in the impoverished” theme. Throughout the film, there is a homeless man. He appears just as you might expect a destitute person to dress: dirt-stained face, loose-fitting clothing, and a somber countenance to complete the ensemble. It is not until the final frame that this man is revealed to be Christ/A Divine Figure.

I was reminded of this as I read the Gospel:

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

Matthew 11:18-19

Do we recognize Him?

Bruce at the beginning of his journey and the children in this parable surely do not. In their perception, Christ does not appear or behave as they might expect. In fact, in both stories the main character looks with contempt upon Christ.

“I really only love God as much as the person I love the least.”

-Dorothy Day

Ms. Day does not mince words. And I love that. She speaks the truth clearly.

Do we recognize Him?

Sometimes, loving a person who is monetarily impoverished is easier than loving a person who is spiritually impoverished.

A patient smile may be more difficult to give than a dollar. A family member or close friend who is impoverished in the charity of kindness can be far more challenging to love than a stranger begging for scraps on the street.

Do we recognize Him?

During the week, Matthew Juliano is a mentor for individuals who have developmental and intellectual disabilities. He has started a Youtube Series that explains and raises awareness about the work he does, which can be found HERE. On the weekends, he is a drummer for Full Armor Band. You can find more content by Matt and his band at

God’s Delay is not God’s Denial

My mom has always told me “God’s delay is not God’s denial”. The readings today reminded me of her and I thought about how true that saying is in our daily lives but especially during Advent.

Today in the readings we hear of God’s promises to Monoah and his wife and to Zechariah and Elizabeth that, despite their old age, they will conceive and bear a son. He tells the future parents that their sons will be “consecrated to God from the womb” and “great in the sight of the Lord”. Samson will be the one to begin the deliverance of Israel; John the one who turns the minds and hearts of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.  Both men pave the path for the birth of Christ and anticipate His coming to deliver us from our sins.

In the time of Zechariah and Elizabeth, children were a sign of God’s faithfulness. Because they did not have children, Zechariah and Elizabeth were thought to be out of favor with God. When the angel appeared to Zechariah to tell him that Elizabeth would bear a son, he did not believe the angel. Because of his disbelief, Zechariah was mute until immediately after the birth of John. Israel was waiting for the Messiah; Zechariah and Elizabeth for a son. God showed his faithfulness to them in His own timing with a son who would help prepare Israel for the coming of the Messiah.

Zechariah’s consequence for his disbelief as well as his joyfulness at the birth of his son teaches us the joy that comes about when we allow God to do His Will in our lives. Advent is all about waiting, in prayerful hope, for the birth of Christ, his Resurrection, and our eventual unity with Him in Heaven. In the same way, Israel awaited their deliverance and John and Elizabeth awaited the birth of their son, in this beautiful season of hopeful anticipation may we put our faith in the Lord, trust His timing, and surrender to His Will. May our hearts be filled with joy and hope this Advent!

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 engaged 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.

Give Comfort to my People

Isaiah’s beautiful passage is full of meaning. After a long and dark exile in Babylon, God directs Isaiah to tell His people that it is almost over. God will be there to expiate their sins, bring them out of captivity and “give comfort.” I love this reading.  Throughout all of human history, there have been periods of great trial. We look for comfort and do not find it. We look for a way out and do not find it. We stumble our way through life, looking for a path forward, and do not find it.

Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places.

Advent is the beautiful season of anticipation of the Lord’s coming. Have we not yet realized that this four-week season is our path out of darkness? If only we would open our eyes and see. See that the comfort we long for can be ours if we pay attention to God’s call to meet his Son and to see our way forward.

There is so much, today that I hate about Advent. It has become the season of shopping and gross consumerism. Pay attention to the ads. “The Twelve Days shopping at (name of store here).” Or, the “Twelve Gifts of Christmas at (name of store here).” We are bombarded from even before Halloween. I have disagreements with my family and friends about the real “Twelve Days of Christmas”…which should be the Evening of Dec. 24th through Epiphany. This is the Christmas Season. Not October 15th – December 25th, and then it’s all over. Trees are on the curbs; decoration disappear from the stores and our home, parties are suspended — I find this to be so sad, and personally, very troubling. Rush here, rush there; check off our list of items to be purchased; make everything equal so as not to offend anyone; outdoing each other in outdoor decorations and lights. Oh my! Where is Jesus in all of this? He is buried somewhere under the packages! And no, he will not appear to us on our doorstep in an Amazon package. Jesus must be welcomed into our hearts. Only we can make that happen.

Isaiah wants us to know that the darkness of this time of year is not lost on the date set for the celebration of the Incarnation. The long and dark days of winter are lit by the Light of Christ coming into the world. It should mean to us, if we pay attention, that our personal exiles can be ended by the comfort of the coming of Christ, here to lead us to safety. This season of anticipation also teaches us that Christ stays with us. His life from manger to grave to resurrection – or lives from birth to death to eternal glory.

If you haven’t yet started, I encourage you to begin the journey to Christmas with a heart to knowing Jesus better, to welcome him into your homes and families with the attention he deserves. Christmas will be a much more beautiful celebration for you. God loves you. He sent his Son to light your way. He gives comfort.

“The day of the Lord is near: behold, he comes to save us.”

God Bless.

Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at

Rise Up

We apologize. We sent the wrong post yesterday. This is the correct post for yesterday. We will send the post for today shortly. God Bless!

As I write this blog, it is my first day back to work after being out sick for 2 whole days. It’s that time of year where students are coughing, sniffling, and teachers are catching every germ quickly! In Today’s Readings, I feel a closeness with the paralyzed man. It’s humbling to be sick, to need and rely on others. It contains a type of weakness that is truly uncomfortable. Personally, I stayed in my room in bed for the past 48 hours… I didn’t want to spread germs with my roommates and I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I can’t help but think of how this paralyzed man must have felt! He is being carried to Jesus and unable to make it through the crowd. Lucky for him, he’s got some amazing people in his life. The friends or family or whoever was carrying him on his cot decided not to stop and go back home. They didn’t give up and say, “Sorry, you can’t see Jesus. There’s no way we’d be able to get through the crowd.” Nope, they literally carried their paralyzed friend to the top of the roof of where Jesus was. They carried him and lowered him on his stretcher so that he could be in front of Jesus. Seriously, what incredible friends.

As the story continues, Jesus didn’t encounter him and automatically heal his disability. He began with a different healing, the forgiveness of his sins! This was automatically the first thing Jesus did when he saw the faith of this man! The Pharisees questioned him internally. It states, Jesus “knew their thoughts and said in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Exactly after this statement, he looks upon the sick and paralyzed man and commands, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

I don’t know about all of you, but at this moment I just want to jump up with my fist in the air and scream out to Jesus in full support. “YES, YOU GO JESUS! YOU TELL EM AND SHOW EM!” Jesus doesn’t just talk the talk, but ALWAYS follows through. In this intense moment that he has come to forgive sins- because He is God and He CAN. He doesn’t stop there, he heals his illness in a split second. He tells him to rise… I love that word. It’s commonly used by Jesus in special moments like this in Scripture. For me, this word gives warmth and tenderly leads me to keep going. It calls me to get up when I have fallen, to move, and to simply continue. Sometimes that can be hard, especially if you’re sick in bed. I don’t mean just physical illness, but spiritual as well. As human beings we are made body and soul, both are vital and important to who we are as sons and daughters of God. You could be sick from the cycle and chains of sin, sick with a physical or mental disease, or sick and weary trying in your journey of holiness. We can all relate to this man, even if we are not physically constrained to a stretcher. At least, I know I can.

There are a few points Jesus wants our hearts to know this day. First, we are all ill and in need of our Divine Healer. No matter how perfect life may seem, we all truly need healing in one aspect or another. I’m sure we can all agree on that! Second, we should have genuinely good people around us. If you don’t know who would carry you up a roof on that stretcher then pray a prayer of finding more faithful friends. If you wouldn’t BE that friend who carries another up a roof than go out of your way to serve others more today. Third, let’s rise.  Let’s hear His tender voice repeat those words to us in the deepest part of our hearts and let’s do it.  Rise in His grace, strength, and love. Rising in holiness, virtue, and recommitment to our friendship with Christ. Let’s continue on for love of Him.


Briana is a Catholic Doctrine teacher at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel school in Cleveland, OH. 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 bring her students closer to Christ and His Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese