Love Is Kind

Love is patient, love is kind.
Love is not jealous, love is not pompous…
It bears all things, believes all things,
Hopes all things, endures all things….

My love? Not.

Why is it that we idealize this type of love, sentimentalize it, even assume this is the way we love others? I do this. I really do. Part of the spiritual journey is realizing that I don’t really love others. Why?

Our hearts are vulnerable. They are insecure. Our ego creates a story, writes a script, provides a mask, produces an alibi so that we don’t have to live with that insecurity about our real selves. We spin a web that convinces even ourselves that we are this person we’ve created, a story that saves us from acknowledging our fears about our own worth.

We can discover that story written consistently across the years of our lives in what we say we value, how we choose to react to situations, our judgments of others, even lifestyle decisions. Looking back, I’ve spun a story about obedience, isolation, quiet holy humility
that I believed was me. I can see the threads of the story originating in grade school and continuing through the next forty years.

The problem is that when we write our stories, we create a frame of reference for what we believe is true and good. We, even unconsciously, judge anyone else who doesn’t fit our story. So the boisterous, the fun-loving, the quick moving, and sensible movers of my companions don’t fit the story of what I live as “virtue.” And…you guessed it…

Love is patient, Love bears all things, Love believes all things, love hopes all things…. Oh, yes, I do these things for the people who fit my story. But if they draw outside my lines? It is really hard.

So for the wife who is neat and efficient to value the spouse who puts friendship over order is hard. She may not be able to “bear” this with love because to do so would mean she would have to face her own deeply rooted insecurity that the efficiency is masking.

Most of us wouldn’t even know where to begin to peel back the layers of the onion that so carefully protect our fearful identities.
Holiness is about working with God on a deeper and deeper level to break the hold the story has over us. The story is ultimately a lie about what is most true about the God who tenderly loves us and a lie about ourselves. Only when that lie loses its hold over us can
we choose the alternate way of love. In fact, as we encounter our true self, we are immersed in a surprising love for ourselves which enables us gradually to love and appreciate others and just let them be, “hoping all things, enduring all things” for their

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 Power Of The Great Prophet

Today’s Gospel presents an interesting scene:

Jesus is traveling with his disciples and “a large crowd.” As they near the city of Nain, they encounter another “large crowd” mourning the death of a young man as they bear his body to its burial. His mother is already a widow, and the death of her only son leaves her without any security, reliant on the charity of others.

Jesus is moved with pity for her. Might he see in her a foreshadowing of his own widowed mother at Calvary? In his compassion, he intervenes to relieve her grief in a wholly unexpected – and for Jews, a somewhat shocking – way: Jesus touches the coffin, which would have rendered him unclean for a week. His gesture stops the procession of mourners in their tracks. Then Jesus demonstrates his power over death by telling the young man to arise. The Gospel tells us that the dead man sat up and began to speak. What might he have said? Did he recognize the Messiah in this miraculous moment? Had he seen the fulfillment of the Promise as his body lay in death? How might this experience have changed him?

We do not know. But what we do know is just as moving: “Jesus gave him to his mother.” Jesus restores what was lost, brings life and hope where there were death and sorrow. Understandably, the witnesses – two large crowds of people – are seized with fear, but the only thing there is for them to do: glorify God and acknowledge Jesus as a great prophet.

Two things are not immediately evident as we read this Gospel, but are worth pondering:

  • Luke uses the exact same words in this Gospel as are used in 2 Kings when Elisha brings life back to the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:32-37), drawing a clear parallel between the prophets Elijah and Elisha and Jesus. Jesus is indeed “a great prophet,” and more.
  • St. Ambrose suggests that the widow also represents Mother Church, grieving for her children dead in sin and carried beyond the security of her gates; the members of the Church will glorify God when He restores them in grace.

Do we sometimes think that Jesus is far from us in our sufferings and needs? Do we give into loneliness and despondency rather than reach out to Jesus? In the Gospels, we see Jesus’ compassion for suffering and his great power at work over nature, sickness, and even death. Do we truly believe that he has the same power in our own lives, that he can do all things? Let’s resolve to bring all our concerns to him in complete trust so that his power is manifest in our every difficulty.

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.

Communion And Unity

Amen! Amen, hallelujah!

Today’s first reading literally had me nodding my head and saying, “that’s right” as I was reading it. I mean the letters to the Corinthians were written by St. Paul in about AD 55, but they are still just as applicable after nearly two thousand years!

The fact of the matter is that although it has been thousands of years and we have had a world of technological advances, we are still humans that deal with the same issues as the Corinthians. Yes, we now have the internet and indoor plumbing, we are still the same, shallow Christians as centuries ago.

What? Me, a shallow Christian?

There’s no use denying it. It is a part of our human nature to be flawed, but that does not mean that we should give up. In today’s reading, St. Paul is reminding us that we should not be celebrated just because we go to Mass on Sunday. We are not just there to participate in the glorious Eucharist. We are not just there to pray to Our Father. We are not just going to Mass because it makes us look and feel like good people.

We go to Mass because it is a time to come together as one body in Christ.

In today’s reading, it focuses on the fact that the Corinthians do not eat the bread, the body, and drink the wine, the blood, of Jesus Christ together, as a people. St. Paul uses the metaphor of eating dinner at different times and different amounts, therefore there is no unity or purpose in even coming together. They gather to worship God and do not share the wealth with each other.

What is the point in being Christian if you are not sharing it with others?

Are you really even following God’s commands?

Love is the greatest commandments and you cannot love by avoiding the world around you. You and I are one body in Christ and it is the same things that keep us divided that are keeping us from living out our mission. As Matthew 5:24 says, “First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” because we are not meant to keep our wealth, spiritual or otherwise, to ourselves.

We were created to love by sharing our joys, our compassion, and our faith, with the world around us. How do we achieve this? Ask your friends, family, coworkers how they are doing, and listen with your undivided attention. This will open up the floor for discussion where you can display your compassion and give faithful wisdom one person at a time.

So take the time to talk to the people around you. Listen. Love.

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.

Our Lady Of Sorrows

“‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.'”

Biblical historians generally agree on which disciple this was of the twelve. Yet, he is not recorded with a specific name. As Catholics, who embrace Mary as our Spiritual Mother, we know that this disciple stands in for all of us, the disciples to follow. Jesus gave us his own
physical Mother to be our Spiritual Mother. Jesus told Mary to behold us. Mary doesn’t just see us, Mary beholds us. Mary beholds you. Yes you, she sees you as someone impressive and worthy of attention. She sees your heart, your efforts, not only the
results. She beholds me too and loves me in spite of my double chin, an extra 30 pounds and my often failed attempts to be a good daughter of the King.

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, right smack dab in the middle of September, a whole month devoted to remembering and consoling Mary in her sorrows. Mary voluntarily suffered right along with Jesus and experienced his pain as only a mother can feel the pain and suffering of her children. So, too, Mary is now feeling our pain, our sorrow, our grief in the midst of so much upheaval and hurt.
At the halfway point in a month dedicated to consoling our Mother in her grief, what can we do?

Are we adding to her pain or are we bringing healing and peace?
In preparing for Consecration to Mary, St. Louis de Montfort presents Mary as the Queen we can approach even when we may be afraid to approach the King. When a lowly servant had a gift for a king, the servant might approach the queen to present the gift on his behalf. What might have been a small, lowly gift, when presented by a queen on a golden platter becomes rich beyond what is visible. So too, Mary presents us to the King. She takes our meager gifts, the small sacrifices we offer up and presents them to our King, God himself in such a way that they become the finest gifts in all creation.

So what happens when we make a gift of our whole self? When Mary beholds you, when she beholds me, she takes whatever gift we can offer and burnishes it, cleans it up, makes it worthy of the King. When we go even further and make a gift of our whole selves, not just the bits and pieces we are comfortable showing, Mary takes us and presents our gift of self in the finest fashion. When Mary, as the Mediatrix of all Grace, sees that we intend to do God’s will, she
strengthens us, she intercedes for us, she will help us live out that good intention when we are unable to do it on our own.

So what if we each starting beholding each other? What if we focused on the gift that God created each one of us to be? What if we used our time, talent and treasure to be a small oasis of peace and healing for each other in a crazy, crazy world? Just think how much consolation we could bring to Mary and to each other.

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 health care practice in West Michigan which seeks to honor the dignity of every individual as we would Christ. Find out more at

The Triumph Of The Cross

The cross. The Triumph of the Cross. The hymns sung at Mass today will be triumphant, glorious, majestic. Triumph. For a minute we might forget the reality of our crosses as we focus on the meaning of Christ’s triumphant self-gift on the wooden cross planted on Calvary and at once extending as a bridge between heaven and earth.

But just so that we don’t forget, the Church gives us a very carefully selected set of readings today. First Reading: the Israelites were beginning to regret leaving Egypt. Impatient and exhausted they asked Moses, “Where is the food? Where is the water? Are we going to be left to die here in this desert?” The Lord could possibly have “felt” some regret over having chosen this people—now so angry and distrustful of his love and power—to be his people, his dear possession more precious to him than any other people. This is the people with whom he made a covenant of everlasting love which he promised never to revoke. In punishment for their complaining, the Lord sent saraph serpents among them.

In the second reading, an ancient hymn of the early Church, the carmen Christi or Christ-hymn, we see the magnificence of a man who went straight to his betrayal and death, the Son of God who complained neither against God nor man, who suffered as the Servant for the sake of the lives of those who had wandered far, very far, from his Father, with no real ability to return on their own to his heart.

In the Gospel, it is clear that this Christ is the One lifted high—as the “saraph serpent” lifted up by Moses—that anyone who believed in him might have—once again—eternal life. God did this, for the world that had rejected him, out of love for them. In the mystery of the cross, there is no resentment or regret, but only the self-forgetful good brought about for the other at one’s own personal cost.

The crosses that break into our lives break open our hearts, and in the broken pieces of our dreams and the shattered images we had of God and ourselves, the poison of unacknowledged, unwelcome resentment, confusion, and regret is drawn out. It is a good thing. Without the desert grumbling, we would not know what our wounded fearful hearts harbor. We would not look to the Christ hanging on the cross for our healing. We would not at last breathe deeply of a love that won’t let us go, a love that could only be divine. And at last, then, we too will learn to love divinely.

Regrets are complicated things for human hearts are wounded, wounding, and oh so tired at times. But the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross is yet today for us personally and for all of us together the healing radiance of the Christ who bears the heavy burden of our weighty sorrow because he loves us and can’t let us go.

May the responsorial Psalm ring out through our hearts: Remember the works of the Lord!

Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, is 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.


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Fully Known, Fully Loved

“O LORD, you have probed me and you know me.”

Today’s readings bring a wave of peace, acceptance, and intimacy over me. My mind wanders to all the ways our world tries to hide.  We sometimes put on masks of confidence. We cover up our blemishes, we try to hide our failures. We feel the constant need to be perfect and sometimes we pretend that we are.  We are afraid to be truly seen and truly known.

Personally, it has taken a long time for me to feel comfortable in my own skin. At a young age, I struggled with an eating disorder. In high school, I would wake up at an ungodly hour to do my hair and makeup for the day. Fast forward to college, my roommates and best friends had to hide my makeup when I decided to give it up for Lent.  I’m constantly battling between being seen as I am or as I wish to be.

Throughout the years I have learned to be just as confident with a bare face as I am all done up.

I have learned to love my body and take care of it.

But sometimes, I still struggle to be seen. Not so much with physical appearance anymore, but more so spiritually. I get anxious to show God my bare heart. The heart that isn’t always pretty and glamorous.  The heart that aches and hurts. I worry that there’s too many blemishes, too much nonsense for Him to handle, the same old garbage on this heart again and again— just too much”.

The wave of beauty and affirmation that washes over me sings:

“O LORD, you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar… I give you thanks that I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works. See if my way is crooked, and lead me in the way of old.”

When I think of those who know me deeply, memories of best friends flash before my eyes. Times when you know someone so well that you can give them a look and they know exactly what you are thinking. I can recall times where I believed no one understood me.  Not one person could relate to me and I was isolated and alone.

How mind-blowing it is to recall the TRUTH that God sees me and He knows me. There is not one day or one second that I can be misunderstood, unseen, or ignored. He knows my every moment, my every thought and my every word. He has not made us bad or imperfect, but GOOD. He has made us  FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY.

It takes courage to let the Lord love you. To see your bare heart no longer hidden or cover it up. It takes vulnerability. When this happens we can grow in love and intimacy with the Lord. Someone once told me intimacy sounds like “ into me see”. This is fitting because when you allow yourself to be seen- love builds.

If your heart is crooked today, do not fear.

He desires to lead you and make your path straight.

He sees you- He knows you.  He loves you.

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

The Fitness Plan

The Gospel is calling us to choose suffering so we can be detached from creation and be more like our Creator, Love, and inherit eternal life.

I used to think and hope that heaven was just a divine junket that goes on forever and ever and ever. But then it’d just sound like a snobby, exclusive club reserved for the all-star religious people whom God likes most.

And that is not heaven (so far as I can tell).

The angels and saints seem to have an extensive to-do list. The number of Marian apparitions and miracles by saintly intervention are proof that those in heaven don’t have their feet up on some celestial shoreline and drinking a cold one. They are very involved with the Church.

“I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.”

-St. Therese of Lisieux

So why should we choose to suffer? To weep, to be poor, to endure hate?

Because by choosing to suffer, we prepare for the eternal exchange of love.

I like to think of the spiritual, psychological and even bodily suffering that Christ invites us to endure as God’s divine workout plan.

Lifting weights and running don’t always feel great, but when we need to rely on our health and strength for a competition, we understand why it was necessary to endure the discomfort of exercising.

Similarly, the discomforts that Christ talks about will prepare us for heaven. It is by choosing to be poor, to weep, to sacrifice status for His name’s sake that we prepare for an eternity of loving.

“The world offers you comfort but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

-Pope Benedict XVI

You were made for heaven.

You were made to love.

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

A Few Good Men And Women

“Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When the day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them, he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles…”

We make many decisions in our lives, almost on an hourly basis. Some are as simple as choosing what we want for lunch, and some as serious as whom we will marry, or how we will handle crises. It takes knowledge of ourselves to make decisions. It also, very often, takes a bit of help from someone else. For us, as Christians, that help should come, first and foremost, from Jesus. Therefore, it starts with prayer.

Jesus did just this. He was well into his ministry when he needed to choose the men who would carry on after his ascension, so he went to the mountain to pray. Connection with his Father is just what he needed before calling forth the Twelve. It also strengthened him for the task of caring for those who came to him for healing. The multitudes, the great crowds.

And what of the Twelve? Twelve simple, ordinary men who labored in various professions. For most, no formal education. For most, good men of Israel who just wanted to live a peaceful life with their families and friends. It was not to be. We look at these Twelve and wonder how, as often the Gospel tells us, Jesus could abide their dimwittedness and, at times, argumentative attitudes. From Peter’s boastful brashness and weakness to Thomas’ doubt or Judas Iscariot’s betrayal, you have to wonder how the Church ever came to be. Just what did Jesus see in them? Apparently, quite a bit!

The same could be said of us. What does Jesus see in us? As often as we want to believe that we are not worthy of the work we are asked to do for him, Jesus sees into our hearts as no one else can. He sees the qualities needed, as he did with the Twelve if only we would also believe. We are ordinary men and women of faith who want to live peaceful, quiet lives with our families and friends. But – as with the Twelve – Jesus may be asking more of us. We, today, are the few good men and women the church needs. The “pew people” as I like to call us, are the strength and the conscience of the Church. We are needed, sometimes, more than we want to acknowledge.

Go first to prayer, as Jesus did. Garner the strength and grace needed to carry on the work of the Apostles. The Church will be better for it, and so will we, because Jesus will see past our sometimes dimwittedness, argumentative natures, sometimes weakness and doubt, and even, at times, betrayal to the graces offered. All will eventually be good in his eyes.

And lest we forget, God Bless the souls of the few good men and women first responders to the 9/11 terror attack, remembered today. Whether they were people of faith or not, Jesus gave them the strength to answer the call to duty, even to the loss of their own lives. Can any of us do less in less grave circumstances?

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

Compassionate Like Our Lord

Today’s readings speak about following the light. We are called to clear out our boastful, prideful, wicked, immoral, malicious ways (yes, all of these in the reading from 1 Cor 5) so that we may be clean, and led in justice to hear his voice and follow the Lord.

I find my human nature relies heavily on the sacraments and scriptures to be vigilantly clean, helping me to avoid the sins listed above. It is so easy to fall into old habits or be caught up in gossip and judgemental conversations (which, of course, leads to my being boastful or full of pride in my own virtue, nay, lack thereof). How many times have I made a snide remark, oh so cautiously said to my companions who nod in agreement with my negative comment? Would Jesus speak this way about his friends? Would God want me to attack my neighbor with little criticisms that undercut that person’s confidence or relationship with a spouse, child, co-worker or neighbor?

I can think of too many situations where I have witnessed a situation where someone in the group has been spoken to in a way that you can visibly see their confidence wither or the light in their eyes change. How many times have I neglected to speak out or intervene in the group, or go console the one affected after the fact? Does that make me the ‘goody two shoes’ or ‘girl scout,’ that I have been accused of before?. Being a bully, hurting no matter how well-intentioned the teasing may be if the recipient is hurt by it, is bullying. Unless you really know someone’s personal history, you may not be aware of what deep seeded hurt you may have unintentionally brought to mind.

Being compassionate is one of the reasons I follow Jesus. Jesus, in compassion for the man with the withered hand, healed him on the Sabbath in front of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus knew they would be angry because he broke the law (of not working on the Sabbath) to help the man who would have been viewed as unclean due to the deformity of a withered hand. He was living the new law, to love your neighbor as yourself.

Today is part of Rosh Hashanah, a ten-day period of the Days of Awe, and a time for introspection and casting out of sins in the Jewish faith. I find myself thinking of the thief at Jesus’ left hand at Gethsemane. He knew he was not worthy, yet spoke up in Jesus’ defense to his companion in crime, the thief on the right. Jesus pardoned him and told him he would join him in paradise. May each of us continue to ask for pardon when we sin and cause others to suffer or sin. May we hear the Lord’s voice and follow him as he leads us in justice, truth and light.

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. You can contact her at

Personal Faith

Jesus is preaching and healing in Gentile cities, areas that are contemptible to the Jews. He has already offered the Gospel to Israel, and now he is bringing his glorious Good News to those “outside” the Chosen People. All nations are invited into the way of salvation.

In the cure of the deaf man described in today’s Gospel, we see first that the people “begged him” to lay his hand upon the man and cure him, a kind of prayer of petition. Jesus takes the man aside, away from the multitude, and Mark is very specific about what happens when they are in private: “he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue, and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’”

Again we see that Jesus preaches to the multitude, but he heals people one on one: he speaks to them, touches them, even puts his fingers into their ears and mouth. In another story, he mixes his own saliva with dirt and puts mud in a blind man’s eyes! These events illustrate Jesus’ “incarnational” presence to us. He – the invisible God – became flesh, and he respects the nature he has given us and uses material things to accomplish spiritual purposes as an affirmation of our bodiliness.

How does this apply today? Jesus’ healing still comes to us through words and matter in the sacraments. We sometimes inadvertently reduce the sacraments to “rites of passage” marking our maturing in the Church. They are that, but we miss the essential point when we stop short of seeing that sacraments are Christ’s way of remaining with us throughout time. Through the person of the minister, Jesus is present to us; he speaks to us, touches us, heals us, and calls us into a relationship.

And the sacraments are administered to us one on one. The deacon or priest doesn’t fling water from the baptismal font and hope it hits the right person! We assent to Baptism, and then it is administered to us BY NAME: “I baptize you, Kathryn Therese, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” When we come forward for Communion, there isn’t a basket of bread there and we grab a hunk. We come forward as individuals in need of the nourishment of the Bread of Life; we must personally assent to this Truth by our “Amen,” and then it is given, not taken – we “receive” Holy Communion. There is no rite of “Confirmation en masse”; the bishop anoints each individual by name. We confess our sins individually to the priest, and we are personally absolved of them.

When we see Jesus’ healings in the Gospel, we should not see them as distant events. Rather, let us see them as illustrations of Jesus’ presence to us, right here and right now in the sacraments of the Church, and give thanks.

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.

A Humble Strength

I have always had a deep devotion to my confirmation saint, St. Joseph. We know very little about St. Joseph, but in today’s readings, we hear some of the only written accounts of this great saint. It has just been announced that Mary shall bear a son.

“When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.”

Many saints and scholars have commented on the fact that this verse does not necessarily mean that Joseph was going to divorce her because he believed she had been with another man. This is an understanding that some read into this text. But many have written about this idea that Joseph knew that Mary had conceived of the Holy Spirit and he did not feel worthy, after all, he was chosen to be the earthly father of Jesus, no small task.

To distance Mary from any shame and because he did not feel worthy, he decided to divorce her quietly. But God had different plans.

“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”

And here we have Joseph’s fiat, his yes to God. Though he must have felt unworthy, he was now betrothed to a sinless virgin who was carrying God in her womb; he trusted that God would provide him with strength.

A few days ago I reflected on humility. I think today’s readings keep that discussion going beautifully. I think we often think of humility as something that is weak, we are made small and so we act small. I know I struggle with that sometimes. But here we have Joseph being given the grace to help our Savior through His earliest days. What amazing strength and courage it must have taken Joseph to say yes, a yes that could only come through the grace of God.

So again we see this utter reliance on God, our unworthiness made perfect in God, and from that came pure strength. If we keep in mind that everything begins and ends with God, then we should not be afraid to boast in the Lord. Humility is not hiding the great things God is doing in our lives, but it’s bringing them to light so people can see that it is not just us and our strength, but it is God making us worthy and giving us grace.

Let us ask for the grace of continued humility and the strength to give our important yes to God. Amen!

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

Changed For Good

Change is hard. Change means switching things up and usually, it means no longer doing what is easy or comfortable. Then again, change can be easy if the ultimate reason is worth it. A coach I had in high school once said that if we weren’t running towards a personal goal, we’d end up walking. He was trying to motivate us for our first cross-country run of the season, but it sounds profound enough to be applied to the rest of our lives.

For example, if you want to “be healthy” and do not set goals, you may struggle with the physical and dietary changes that come with it. This is why it typically takes a doctor’s news or a life-changing realization to make healthy changes. In trying to be healthy, we have to create new habits that align with our goals, otherwise, everything falls apart.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that change is good. He reminds us that change leads to better things and that once we realize just how good change is, we won’t want to go back. In terms of physical health, he is saying that once we feel the energy from eating healthy/exercise, we won’t want to go back to our bad habits. The goal is worth the change.

So what about our spiritual lives?

Is heaven worth the change? Is everlasting life worth biting your tongue when today isn’t going your way? Is unending love from Our Creator worth giving 100% of your focus to Sunday’s Mass?

I say of course, but have I changed my habits and realigned every aspect of my life to line up with my goals? Probably not. It is easy to do one good thing a day, but it is harder to change your life so that every one of your actions gives glory to God.

Maybe it starts with a prayer as soon as you wake up. Take that sunrise prayer and continue it throughout the day. Pray for your loved ones, the strangers, and most importantly, pray for your enemies. Pray with love. Pray with forgiveness. Pray with peace. Let the change be worth it.

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.