The Real Cure for Stress


There cannot be one person reading this who hasn’t experienced it as a major factor in their lives. We’re all stressed, it seems, from the moment we get up in the mornings until we lie down for a troubled sleep at night. Appointments, deadlines, worries, fears all contribute to our levels of stress (and even more so when they’re missed appointments or forgotten deadlines!), and our diets and lack of exercise don’t help. Let’s face it, we’re a stressed-out nation.

That’s proven a goldmine for a plethora of professions and manufacturers who cater to the stressed. The same smartphones that keep us ridiculously connected also offer meditation and mindfulness apps. There are vitamins and supplements that claim to lower anxiety, exercises and yoga and gym memberships to counteract its effects, and promises that the next self-help bestseller will absolutely be the magic bullet to help us find wellness and calm.

As Catholics, we have a slightly different take on the whole question of stress. Oh, of course, we too should be eating more leafy greens and less sugar; we need to go for brisk walks and drag ourselves away from our computer screens like everybody else. But we’re blessed by the fact that Jesus knew all about stress, and gave us the one prescription for it that actually works.

It’s ridiculously simple, which may be why many of us find it hard to put into practice. But today’s reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew could not be clearer; we are called to be different. Followers of Jesus think and behave differently from the pagans. In particular this message can be boiled down to a few points:

  • You can’t love God and money both. Choose.
  • Worrying means that you’re taking life into your own hands instead of giving it to God.
  • God absolutely loves you. All the time, every day.
  • Don’t think about what is unimportant, but focus on heaven. Anything else is secondary.

The things that stress us out the most are generally the least important. What does that deadline have to do with your salvation? Will you get to heaven any faster by worrying about buying that new car?

We live in our culture and it makes some demands on us that we must meet. We have to have a place to sleep. We need to have food to eat. We’d like to have a good education, a decent job, a fun vacation. And these aren’t frivolous or unworthy goals; the problem is that we allow them to become our only goals.

We should have one goal: to be united with God. Everything else is secondary. Love God with all your heart; have faith that he will provide for you; don’t confuse essentials with nonessentials. You cannot serve God and money at the same time. If you spend your time worrying about accumulating money—and all the things that go along with it—then, Jesus tells us, your faith is small. You can do better.

Take a deep breath, trust in God, and… let go. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll de-stress!

Jeannette de Beauvoir works in the digital department of Pauline Books & Media as marketing copywriter and editor. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, where she studied with Adian Kavanagh, OSB, she is particularly interested in liturgics and Church history.

Treasures of Heaven

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” –Matthew 6:19-21

I went to a minor league baseball game with one of the fellows I support the other day. It happened to be a “school day” which means most of the stadium was filled with elementary school-aged kids.

I was looking forward to watching some baseball. Before the first pitch left the pitchers hand, five beach balls were served into the crowd for the kids to hit and play with during the game.

“oh boy.”

The organizers are smart; they know that these kids need to have a memorable time so that they will come back with their families and buy more tickets.

It turned into two separate events: recess for kids in the stands and a minor league baseball game on the field.

In between innings, the announcer proclaimed to the audience


 Stadium staff then strut on top of the dugout to throw out whatever toy or memorabilia that they are giving away. The kids stand in a chorus of pleas and waving arms to receive a Frisbee or bouncy ball that is stamped with the home team emblem.

Even the fellow I was with that day couldn’t resist the hype. He caught a Frisbee that had a gift certificate to a seafood restaurant on the back.

I’ve never seen him throw a Frisbee in the year and a half that I’ve worked with him and he doesn’t eat seafood… but he decided to keep both anyway.

Perhaps it is because I’ve been to minor league games and received these little toys, but I’ve never prized the trinkets or shirts quite as passionately as I begged and screamed for them. And I have a hunch these kids might not either.

But it is so indoctrinated in us American folk to long for and rely on “stuff”. “Oh my gosh, it’s a bouncy ball, I need that bouncy ball in my liiiiiiiife!” “ It’s a t-shirt that might not fit me. I NEED IT!!!!!!!!”

 To their credit, they are kids. But the principle that they are following is seen in some adults as well.

“You should pick up a trade, plenty of money to be made there.” “If you went back to college you could increase your pay.”

 Just a few things “successful” adults have tried to suggest to me.

More things=more happiness

This formula is used in our commercials and arts. But it’s faulty.

But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal

 Invest in the things that won’t wither away. Save up the treasures of heaven.

During the week, Matthew Juliano is a mentor for individuals who have developmental and intellectual disabilities. On the weekends, he is a drummer for Full Armor Band. You can find more content by Matt and his band at

Our Father

The Catechism of the Catholic Church ends with a study of the Lord’s Prayer and the final paragraph of that last section is:

“By the final ‘Amen,’ we express our ‘fiat’ concerning the seven petitions: ‘So be it.'” –2865 Catechism of the Catholic Church

St. Augustine concluded that you could go through all the prayers of the Bible and not find anything that is not completely contained in the Lord’s Prayer. (CCC 2762) Tertullian stated that the Lord’s Prayer “is truly the summary of the whole gospel.” (CCC 2761)

Let’s be completely honest, when heavy hitters like St. Augustine and Tertullian have weighed in on the Lord’s Prayer, what is someone like me to add? I find the whole section on the Lord’s Prayer some of the best reflection on prayer and living a faith-filled life that I have ever read. (If you haven’t read it yet, run don’t walk to grab your Catechism. It starts at paragraph 2759.)

And in that final 2865th paragraph, after 2864 paragraphs defining and describing what we believe as a community of faith, it seems appropriate that whole of the Catechism ends with our assent, our fiat to all that Jesus handed to us in this prayer.

We pray to Our Father, because through Jesus’s becoming man, we have a share in his family.

We pray for His kingdom to come because we are poor in spirit and long for that day, “as the deer longs for streams for water. (Psalm 42:1)

We pray for His will to be done because left on our own, we mourn and are in need of comfort.

We pray for our daily bread because we are poor, hungry, thirsty.

We pray for forgiveness of our debts, because we are called to be the merciful; to have already forgiven those who are in debt to us. Despite our limitations, we want to love with the heart of God.

We pray to avoid temptation because we want to be pure in heart.

We pray for deliverance from evil because we are persecuted and we desire peace.

Our infinite God’s entry into finite time and space, which began with Mary’s fiat, now continues each time we repeat Our Lord’s Prayer, with our own fiat. Our “So be it,” to God’s will, God’s plan.

No wonder the early Christians prayed it three times each day.


While wearing many hats, Sheryl O’Connor is the wife and study buddy of Thomas O’Connor. Not having received the gift of having their own children, their home is filled with 2 large dogs and their hearts with the teens and youth with whom they work in their parish collaborative. Sheryl is the Director of Strong Families Programs for Holy Family Healthcare which means her job is doing whatever needs to be done to help parents build strong Catholic families. Inspired by the works of mercy, Holy Family Healthcare is a primary healthcare practice in West Michigan which seeks to honor the dignity of every individual as we would Christ. Find out more at

With an Eye to Eternity

How often have you, as I have, looked to human praise? How often have we manipulated someone, or some situation, looking for affirmation of our deeds? I am as guilty as the next person, doing or saying things that will cause someone to notice what I am doing.

Today’s Gospel is difficult to read. It points out to us that we must do our good deeds, as well as our prayer and fasting in secret. How that goes against our human nature!

I don’t like to believe that most of us are inherently prideful and struggle to practice humility. True humility. Because being humble can also turn into a prideful act if we are not careful. But we all do succumb to our human nature. We like to hear praise, no matter from where it comes. And I know that I, for one, can be manipulative in extorting praise.

Jesus tells us today to do our good deeds in secret; to fast in secret; to hide those things from the world even as we practice them.  To let God alone be the judge of what we do. It also has a downside. Because it means what you do good or bad. Have you ever stopped what you were doing and thought, “Be careful. God sees everything I do.” Yes, he sees the good as well as the bad. And he will judge both.

Why care? Well, some years ago I was asked to write a reflection for my parish based on a Jeremiah reading. I had a hard time finding inspiration. It came in the form of a car commercial (of all places!). The very last line of the commercial was “It is what you do when no one else is around that defines who you are.”  My head shot up, and I waited for the commercial to run again, to be sure I heard what I thought I heard. It was from that line that I was inspired to write the reflection.

It’s what you do when no one else is around. We often forget that God is always around and sees what we do. Are we aware? I like to think of it as keeping “an eye to eternity,” to keep to the Law of God written on the heart.  Why do we do what we do, or say what we say; buy or not buy the things we desire or participate in the activities we do? Do we ever stop to ask if what we are saying, doing or purchasing will get us into Heaven?  Or perhaps keep us out? Our life’s actions must be defined by our desire to be with God, for all eternity. It is a simple thing, really. God will see what we do; God will be the judge; God, alone, will bring us into eternity. The question then, becomes, will the human praise we receive here in this life bring us peace, or bring us to the ruination of our soul?

A little clarification here. We are going to, at times, receive praise from others. It is how we accept that praise and how it will color our lives that make the difference. A simple “thank you,” when it happens, is all that is necessary. And then move on.

If you aren’t now doing so, begin to practice what is written on the heart, “keeping an eye to eternity. “ I believe you will have more peaceful days.

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.

Love One Another

The verse announcing the Gospel today is crystal clear: “I give you a new commandment; love one another as I have loved you”. John 13:34   

So why is it that I have said, “I hate you” to even my sisters, my spouse, my parents and so many others? Today’s Gospel states this great commandment another way, ”But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”  

Just sit with that for a bit. Go ahead. Read it again and close your eyes. Clear your mind to focus on what Jesus meant when he said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,… for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust.”

God created each and every one of us out of love, made in His image. This is a universal fact. It doesn’t matter who my parents are, or what country I’m born in, rich or poor; I’m a member of the human race.

Each and every person has attributes both physical and emotional. We have physical and emotional needs to be met and nurtured. When a child is born a new creation comes into this world to be loved and cherished. When there is death, a light goes out and needs to be mourned. It does not matter if a child wasn’t planned or not perfect. It doesn’t matter if the person who died was your greatest antagonist or tormentor. That person was a child of God, just like you and me.

Jesus came into the world for the salvation of all, not just the ones that look like me, talk like me, or are born into my faith, or country. If they are persecuted and have no safe place to call home, do I care any less for them as a fellow human being? Where is my compassion and love for the refugee, asylum seeker, the person working 3 jobs struggling to make ends meet? Who loves the residual casualties in any violent conflict? How can we even think a person is ‘residual’?

God commands us to “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mt 5:48 This boggles my mind. I have to be vigilant to make sure that at all times I am striving for perfection. I must constantly being on guard against the evil one and his minions who are seeking to creep into my daily life at any moment, ready to pull me and trap me into little lies and deaths to the truth, the love of God.In the perfect ‘Shalom,’ or peace, of God’s kingdom as he meant it to be (as in the garden of Eden before the fall) all can live in harmony: the lion lies down with the lamb, the family is together–not torn apart– as it enters into the garden.

We are created with so much potential to do and be good, to love all. Let’s try to remember, “love one another as I have loved you.” Pray it throughout this day, to remember our world needs this unconditional love poured out into each corner of the world.

Beth Price is a Secular Franciscan (OFS) and spiritual director who has worked in several parish ministry roles during the last 20 years. She is a proud mother of 3 adult children. Beth currently works at Diocesan.

A Lamp To My Feet – A Light To My Path

In ancient pagan ceremonies, the lighted candles on Candlemas day had many meanings, one of which was to mark the middle of winter, looking forward to the coming of spring.  In the traditions of Christianity, the Feast of the Presentation (or Purification of Mary) on February 2nd is still known as Candlemas day. Over the ages, processions were held in our churches with participants carrying lighted candles to symbolize that Jesus Christ is the Light, the Truth, and the Way.  Even till today, we light candles at our altars as the symbol of Christ’s presence with us at every Liturgy, at every gathering for prayer. On Candlemas day, it has become a tradition in many churches to bless the year’s supply of candles that will be used at all Liturgies.

The lighted candle has many meanings for us: the steady glow of the candle we light for prayer, symbolizing Christ in our presence; the warm flame of the candles that welcome family and friends to our table. Or the birthday candles that gleefully flicker in celebration of life; the guiding light of the beacon candle that sees us through the darkness when our modern technology fails us.

I recall my retreats at Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky. The church for the monks is a long space. I would rise at 4:30 am, dress, run to the kitchen for a cup of coffee (which was always available, thank you!) and wind my way through the corridors and staircases to the balcony of the church. It was dark. I would sit quietly in the balcony where the only thing visible was the glow of the Sanctuary light, waaaay up front, next to the Tabernacle. I cherish the memory of mesmerizing prayer in that space, until I would hear the first ruffle of a monk’s robes, coming in to prepare for Mass.

Before today’s Gospel, we pray the Gospel Acclamation:

“A Lamp to my feet is your word, a light to my path.”  (Ps 119:105)

I have always found this to be one of the most comforting images in Scripture. Knowing that Christ is our Light, guiding us as the beacon through life. He enlightens us with His presence and his Word, always giving us what we need to get through the darkness of night, fear, despair, depression or uncertainty. I find that physically lighting a candle when praying goes a long way to calm my mind and uplift my spirit.

Not everyone travels in darkness, but all of us seek answers in one way or another. Keeping that light near will remind us we are not alone – ever! Christ is the Light to the Nations, the Dispeller of Darkness.

Light a candle today. Light up the rooms of your heart to feel the warmth of Christ’s presence. Use the Word of God to enlighten, strengthen and comfort you along your journey.

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.

Constant Conversion

Someone once asked my friend, “If your boat sank and you could only save one of your parents, which one would you save?” Without hesitation, she answered, “My dad.” Everyone was shocked and couldn’t believe that she would leave her mother, one of the nicest people I’d ever met, to drown and die. Everyone loved her mother, Mandy, so we had to ask, “Why wouldn’t you save your mom?” I remember her shrugging and saying, “My mom told me that she lived her life full of love and faith. She said that she’s ready to go at any time because she knows that she’s done her best.”

Wow. Can you imagine knowing that you’ve done the best in making all the right choices? I know for a fact that if God came down right now to take my life, my brain would react the same as when you have an unexpected house guest. My brain would be on high alert, throwing things in the closet, shoving things into cabinets and yelling, “Just one second” through the door.  I knew I should’ve gone to Mass every Sunday. I haven’t gone to confession in years. I should’ve taught my boyfriend how to love Jesus. I shouldn’t have let them bully that kid back in 5th grade. Quite frankly, I’d be slightly terrified that I wouldn’t make it to heaven.

Today’s second reading reminds us that we will all one day, “appear before the judgement seat of Christ” and be judged for each act, good or evil. Now, I’m not saying that I believe I would go to hell, and I’m not saying that my friend’s mom has no regrets. What I’m trying to say is that she consciously lives a faithful life, everyday. It’s not just Sundays and it’s not just when it was convenient for her.

Write down the things you would regret if you died right now. Now, many of these post-mortem regrets are things you can change now. You can’t change the past, but you CAN change your future. I haven’t gone to Mass every Sunday, but I can from now on. It really had been 6 years since I’d gone to confession, but I finally felt the healing graces of the sacrament this past weekend. I should be sharing my love of Christ with my boyfriend, so I will begin talking freely about my joy and love for God. I should be standing up for what I believe in, so next time I will borrow Christ’s courage and say something.

Today’s Gospel is all about Jesus explaining the kingdom of God with a parable. The man scatters his seeds and they sprout and grow, even though “he knows not how.” I doubt that Mandy knows that my mother has often said, “I only wish I could be as holy as Mandy,” because that’s the kind of inspiration that you feel from her. I am not sure if she knows that people see her kindness, her selfless love, her compassion, her family’s love of Christ, her happiness and are inspired. Yet there are countless people, myself included, that are touched by her actions.

We should live our lives in the same way so that our faith inspires others to live faithfully as we do. We should live out our faith in a way that inspires people to show their kindness, their selfless love, their compassion, and their love of Christ in everything we do. In fact, I think Diocesan’s motto defines exactly how we should live: Catholic Life Every Day.

(Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.)

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.

Jesus is the New Way

Jesus is intent on making clear that what he brings to the world is the fulfillment of the Old Law. The Old Law was good, and it drew hearts that were open into the truth, but there was more to come. Jesus brings MORE; he brings a new way.  Jesus IS the new Way.

Today’s Gospel is part of a long section in which Jesus points out the ways he has come to fulfill the Old Testament. He begins with what his listeners already know, and then nudges them deeper; what they know is a superficial observance, but the truth must be observed in the recesses of our hearts.

He begins by explaining that the commandment against killing (which is external) includes anger (which is internal), and the commandment against adultery (external) includes lust (internal). Then he turns to swearing falsely: his listeners already know that they should not take false oaths but be true to their promise; Jesus tells them they should not need to swear at all. In a sense, oaths are meaningless because whatever they would “swear on” is beyond their control. Where is all this going?

Jesus is calling his hearers upward, inward. They are to be people of integrity, who do not need to make an oath to increase their trustworthiness. If they are people who live truth in the heart, then their YES means YES, and their NO means NO. From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Next, Jesus will raise the bar on loving one’s neighbor to include loving and praying for one’s enemies. This is unheard of in a culture that has lived by “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”! As he does in so many other interactions, Jesus calls those who hear him to move past any superficial or merely external observance of the law or ritual formalities and to internalize them, to be pure in heart, to worship him in spirit and truth. Even more, he calls all his followers to enter into something new and be transformed from within, so that their obedience and faith and trust are deep and genuine, rich with the light and peace of the Spirit. Only in this way can their interactions with one another be blessed.

What does this mean for us today? We must open our hearts to the light of the Spirit, and ask for the grace to see any areas where we are holding back something for ourselves, maneuvering for our own advantage, or remaining in a superficial or merely external mode of obedience. Do we show up for Mass on Sunday without preparing as well as we can, simply because “we should”? In our interactions with others, are we thinking of our own wants and needs before those of others? Are our habits of mind and action simple courtesies or genuinely impelled and guided by charity?

Let us pray for the grace to allow Jesus full access to our hearts and minds, so that we can be transformed by his love and become the true images of God we are created to be.

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.

Why Are You Here?

“Elijah, why are you here?”

That’s the question the voice of the Lord poses to the Old Testament prophet in our first reading today from the First Book of Kings (19:9a, 11-16). Elijah is on the run. He has challenged and beat the 450 prophets of Baal in a showdown to prove that the Lord God is the one true God. His actions are acclaimed by the Israelites, who have been under the wicked rule of corrupt King Ahab and his pagan queen, Jezebel. “The Lord is God! The Lord is God” they acclaim in their desire to return to and renew their covenant with God. Their fealty to God and not to her is much for Jezebel and so she places a bounty on Elijah’s head, vowing to kill him within 24 hours for what God has manifested of himself through Elijah’s actions.

Elijah has escaped and taken refuge in a cave on Mount Horeb. Despite remaining true to God’s call to him to prophesy to the people of Israel about their waywardness, he is dispirited. He is told to stand on the mountain for the “Lord will be passing by.” Then comes the wind, an earthquake and fire, but the Lord is not found in any of those shows of natural power and strength. Instead, God speaks to Elijah in a whisper.

How often are we like Elijah in our relationship with God? A Scripture professor I had in seminary used to refer to the crowds who followed our Lord as “The Jesus Show.” All most of them wanted was the spectacle— the dramatic healings, the mass feedings and more. They couldn’t be bothered with listening to Jesus’ teachings or seeing up close and personal what he was doing in his interactions with people.

Today, in prayer, imagine the Lord asking you, “Why are you here?”, and then wait in silence for His voice to whisper to your heart, to reassure you, to guide you and to bring you His peace.

Father Tim S. Hickey is a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford currently serving as a mission priest in the Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas. A native Kansan, he was schooled at Benedictine College, Marquette University and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Prior to becoming a priest, Father Hickey was editor of Columbia magazine for the Knights of Columbus. He writes occasionally for Magnificat’s seasonal special issues and for Communion and Liberation.

Journey with Faith

After reading an article written by a former potato farmer, I was reminded of a movie I watched several years ago entitled “Faith Like Potatoes”. The films depicts a struggling family with several young children and a borderline abusive and faithless father.

After their circumstances force them to live out of a small RV for a time, he is able to obtain a plot of land to begin potato farming. Although plagued by drought and warned his crop will fail, his recent conversion assures him God will take care of them. Eventually, harvest time arrives and the workers doubtfully begin to dig up the dirt. Much to their amazement, large, healthy potatoes appear, row after row, and the family is saved. As everyone rejoices and dances around the field, it begins to rain. The drought has ended.

Just as God urged the father in this movie to plant potatoes despite the odds, Elijah urges Ahab to make haste in today’s first reading, despite no apparent sign of rain. Sometimes we are so stubborn, refusing to move and rooted to the spot by our obstinacy, when God only wants to shake us up for our own good.

God promises to bless us in abundance. Today’s Psalmist proclaims:

You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.
God’s watercourses are filled;
you have prepared the grain.
Thus have you prepared the land:
drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.
You have crowned the year with your bounty,
and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;
The untilled meadows overflow with it,
and rejoicing clothes the hills.

God’s plans are so much better, brighter and more bountiful than our own. We corner ourselves inside of our own ideas, jealousies, or supposed needs. We are sometimes blessed to see the greater picture and sometimes we are not. But what we are always called to do is trust. Just as Ahab eventually trusted Elijah’s forecast and descended the mountain before he got soaked, God asks us to trust his ways in order to bless us abundantly. And since he desires to shower us something fierce, you may want to bring an umbrella, just in case.

Tami Urcia is wife and mother to her small army of boys. She works full time at Diocesan and is a freelance translator and blogger ( and She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances, and finding unique ways to love. Tami spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time outside with the kiddos, quiet conversation with the hubby, and an occasional break from real life by getting a pedicure or a haircut. You can find out more about her here.