Searching for Jesus

I love a good detective story. I love courtroom drama, especially those with numerous twists and turns in the plotline, and I especially love surprise endings. I’m usually pretty good at guessing outcomes, but I relish the surprise when the author stumps me with an end I didn’t see coming.

It seems, in today’s Gospel, that Herod was doing a little “detecting” himself. “’ Who then is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he kept trying to see him.” Herod was stumped, asking everyone who this man is and hearing replies like “John has been raised from the dead,” or “Elijah has appeared.”, or “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
Herod knew none of that could be true. Elijah and the prophets were long gone, and Herod himself beheaded John, so who is this man who performs miracles and speaks the words that are catching people’s attention? He had a mystery on his hands.

Each day we do the same thing. We seek the one about whom we hear such things. Sometimes I think the Gospels, especially the words of Jesus, present us this mystery to unravel. What do these words mean? How do these words impact my life? Why must I – should I – listen? Can it make a difference? Like Herod, so many questions. But unlike Herod, we have answers.

In the wisdom of the Church to incorporate the Scriptures into our worship at Mass (the three- year Sunday cycle and the two- year daily cycle cover almost all of Scripture!), we have the opportunity to have Jesus’ words before us always. Part of the excellent mystery of it all is that Jesus’ words will change in meaning for each of us as we grow older and experience his teachings in light of our growing maturity and experience and, hopefully, our increasing wisdom. We listen; we see the stories come alive in our mind’s eye; we ponder; we learn and occasionally, the find a surprise ending we didn’t see coming — a change in the spiritual outlook on our lives and a clear direction as to where we should go. Whether we follow that direction every time or not will become part of the mystery. But the author of these words will continually spark our interest in searching for our ending.

Herod was looking for “this man” for all the wrong reasons. He had guilt to assuage for his deeds but wasn’t looking for forgiveness. Herod was looking to rid the world of the one who could accuse him and hold him accountable for those despicable deeds. The sad thing about Herod’s search is that, in light of his miserable life, he could not recognize nor appreciate the surprise ending – our Lords resurrection and guarantee of eternal life. Herod was much too grounded in the things of this earth.

“I am the way, and the truth and the life says the Lord.” Here’s the mystery; here is the truth sought in the mystery; the path to solving the mystery and the eternal life gained once the story comes to an end.

God Bless.

Contact the author

Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at

The Virtue of Faith

“Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith man freely commits his entire self to God. For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. The righteous shall live by faith. Living faith works through charity.” -Catechism of the Catholic Church 1814

Today’s Gospel is beautiful in its simplicity, as is the theological virtue of faith. I think we can get too inside our own heads sometimes when it comes to God and religion. We build up walls and laws and everything else in between in order to make the faith absurdly complicated and seemingly impossible to live.

In reality, it is simple. Have faith in God and everything He has revealed. When He says He is present in the Eucharist, we believe. When He says He can forgive our sins and make us whole, we believe. When He says He has the power to save us from our wretchedness, we believe.

“But he could never mean those things about me, especially knowing what I have done.” “It seems impossible that Jesus would be humble enough to come in the form of bread and wine to us; maybe it’s just a metaphor.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son so that those who believe in Him, everyone except me, will have eternal life.”

And there we are in our heads again. You notice that whenever we try to doubt what God has revealed to us, we put ourselves in place of God. We let him know that He must have made a mistake and we, in our ultimate power and authority, are here to help fix what is broken. And Jesus steps in through today’s Gospel and says stop.

You can almost hear Him saying, “Don’t overcomplicate this. When I say I will give you power, I mean it. When I say I will be with you, I mean it. When I say I love you, I mean it.”

Do we believe it? These are hard truths to grasp for purely human minds, which is why we have to ask for faith. Even the Church is aware that some of her teachings are difficult to understand. In adoration, we often sing, “Faith will tell us Christ is present when our human senses fail.” Our minds are finite, and it can be hard to grasp the infinite unless the infinite shares with us the power to do so. That’s the beauty of faith. We can see as God sees, walk as God walks, love as God loves.

A good priest friend of mine has this gift. When there is a massive problem in his life, he prays and knows that God will answer. He has this incredible faith that Jesus is still the same person who walked on the earth 2,000 years ago, and He always cares. His power has not lessened due to time and age.

I know I need to work on this virtue in my life. I rely on my power and knowledge all too often. Why do we give ourselves such stress? Let’s keep it simple and have faith in God. From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

Contact the author

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

Life’s Humbling Actions

I recently saw on my Facebook wall a quote which read: “The older you get, the quieter you become. Life humbles you so deeply as you age. You realize how much nonsense you’ve wasted time on.”

Until we come to terms that life is a gradual, difficult, gloriously transformative undoing of everything we have built up for ourselves and of ourselves, it will continue to perplex and, in some cases, embitter us.

Just the other day I sat beside a priest friend, sharing my spiritual journey, my self-discoveries that were not that pretty. Of course, I had explanations ready at hand. I thought they added perspective. My friend said, “Those are just excuses. Everything you’re saying is just ego.”

Just ego…. The nonsense I’ve wasted time on.

We get caught up in our younger years in wildly exciting things, dreams for what we could do or be, determination to make improvements, change things, build things….

But life tends to lead us out of these sunshine beginnings into the stormy years of our undoing. Then back into the sunshine, then onward to shadow….

The elders of the Jews who were tasked with rebuilding the house of God in Jerusalem had been sent there from their captivity in exile in Babylon. The glories of the former Temple, all that Jerusalem had been for the Chosen People since King David, had been lost. They were beginning again, and anyone who has begun again to rebuild from the ashes knows that it is hard and discouraging work. To rebuild is to face the unknown, to construct in faith, to hope in God, to place ourselves under his mercy, to walk blindly along the paths marked out for us…at his bidding, for his glory, according to his plan.

In the Gospel, we can imagine Mary standing on the outside of the crowd that surrounded the house where her Son was preaching. With his words, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it,” Mary’s heart had to have skipped a beat. The relationship of mother-son that she had known since Jesus’ Bethlehem-birth had now to give way to something larger that she didn’t yet understand. These words, certainly a confirmation of her holiness, defined the moment when she realized definitively that her motherhood was not her own, that it never was meant to be her private joy. All that she had been in her mysterious and magnificent YES to the Father was now public “property,” so to speak, for everyone else’s benefit. She had to move over to make room for us. I often think of what Mary must have been thinking and feeling as she turned and walked home that evening….

In our lives, we are led into progressively deeper poverty in which all we once knew as normal becomes shrouded in a future of uncertainty. We walk forward lighter, simpler, more quiet and humble, perhaps less significant. If this is happening to you rejoice. You are being led on the path of holiness which can only culminate in glory.

Contact the author

Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey.


Public Facebook Group:

For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community:

A Call to Action

As you sit here and read this post, I am preparing a night of Eucharistic adoration for my high school youth ministry, the first of many nights to come for this group.

You see, before I started at my new parish, I had been asked, “What is your favorite youth ministry moment?” The answer was easy: Eucharistic adoration. Any time my previous group came together in adoration, the Lord worked in many beautiful and mysterious ways among the teens. I saw such openness and receptivity to the Lord that was moving and inspirational to watch. So, naturally, I wanted to plan for times of Eucharistic adoration with my new parish and my new youth group.

Then a few different things happened. First, the Pew Research study that came out. This study revealed that only 31 percent of U.S. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, meaning that 69 percent believe that the bread and wine are only symbols for the Body and Blood of Christ, including a majority of each age group.

My heart fell when I heard this news. So many of my brothers and sisters in Christ don’t believe that the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Christ.

Being a catechist, I feel responsible for this heart-breaking news and wonder where I might have gone wrong. But I also feel responsible to do whatever I can to rewrite the narrative of this study.

Secondly, I have felt called to focus the high school youth group this year on a personal encounter with Christ. What could be more personal than a face-to-face encounter with our Lord in the Eucharist? Hence the desire for adoration nights.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering what this all has to do with today’s readings.

The first reading from the Book of Ezra invites those who are a part of God’s people to go up to his house to be with Him. Meanwhile, the responsorial psalm repeats that “The Lord has done marvels for us.”

If we want to be with our Lord, to go to Him in His Church, where He is in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, let us go to Him in adoration. The Lord has done marvels for us, and so we should adore Him. The doors are always open to you.

If you aren’t sure where you are in your belief about the Eucharist, go to Him in adoration. Sit before Him in His presence and talk to Him about your belief (or your unbelief) and let Him speak into your heart.

Contact the author

Erin is a Cleveland native and graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Following graduation, she began volunteering in youth ministry at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Her first “big girl” job was in collegiate sports information where, after a busy two years in the profession on top of serving the youth, she took a leap of faith and followed the Lord’s call to full-time youth ministry at St. Peter Church. She still hopes to use her communication arts degree as a freelance writer and statistician, though. You can catch her on the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

Finding True Joy

Today’s Gospel reading poses a very specific question, “Are you honest or dishonest?” We’re informed by Scripture that one who is trustworthy in small matters is also trustworthy in great ones, but one who is dishonest in small matters is also dishonest in great ones.

The Scripture refers to the topic of wealth and the belongings of others. How do we, as Catholics, handle money? Are we trustworthy or dishonest with our own money or the money of others? In all topics, I hope, we are striving to be honest and true in our words and actions.

This Gospel ends with the fact that we cannot serve two masters. “He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” This is crucial! Our hearts cannot be divided; there is no place for a split between serving God and idolizing other things, whether that’s wealth, jealousy, or dishonesty.

Let us reflect today and check in on our hearts to make sure that we serve one Master, Jesus Christ, who was rich and became poor so that by his poverty, you might become rich. Serving this Master with all honesty in our words and actions is the true place of joy, the richness of grace, and the Kingdom of God. Let’s have our eyes on what truly matters, let us serve Him in small and great matters with trustworthy and honest hearts.

Contact the author

Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. 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 serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Sudden Freedom

On this Feast of St. Matthew, we acknowledge all the Apostles – those specially chosen by Christ to lead the Church he came to establish for the salvation of all! In a particular way, of course, we look at St. Matthew himself, and the Gospel he wrote records his own calling.

We only know the details provided, which are few, so we are prompted to ask:

Could Matthew have been following him at a distance for some time or was this the first time Jesus ever saw Matthew the tax collector? If so, what did Jesus see in Matthew that prompted him to say, simply, “Follow me.”? What was moved in Matthew that prompted him to simply get up and follow?

We know that tax collectors did not have the esteem of the people, as the demands on them forced them to put demands on others! Perhaps there had been already a slow, gnawing discomfort in Matthew already, in which the counting of coins had lost its luster. Or perhaps that direct encounter with the Lord of Life shone so suddenly and startlingly and brightly in his heart that the coinage that made up his life was suddenly seen as nothing. In either case, it seems he left it all behind in that moment and then held a banquet to celebrate his new freedom in Christ.

This banquet – in which Christ was eating with “tax collectors and sinners” – outraged the Pharisees, who would have seen such persons as a contamination of their purity. Jesus, always rising above the fray, points out that he has come to heal the sick, to call sinners, not the righteous. The implication is that we must first recognize and acknowledge our own need for healing before we can avail ourselves of the medicine of mercy and grace.

How do you identify with this Gospel? With Matthew, who left everything immediately when he was called? With the Pharisees, who cannot yet see how love bends down to those in need? With other sinners at the banquet who are somewhere in between, benefitting from mercy but not sure they are ready to follow this controversial rabbi?

Wherever we are, let us allow the Lord’s words to resonate through our lives and shed their light on every situation: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

Contact the author

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

It is God Who Changes Us

Do you ever feel like certain aspects of your life are like the song that never ends? Never-ending diapers, never-ending cooking, washing, drying, never-ending home improvement projects, drywall, mud, sand, paint. It just goes on and on and on. At times I think I’m going to drop from sheer exhaustion and other times I think I would be bored out of my mind if I didn’t have anything to do.

I wonder if the first disciples felt the same way. After Jesus rose from the dead and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were told to go out to all the world and spread the Good News. Now that is quite the task! My diaper changes and drywall projects are like a drop in the bucket compared to going out to the WHOLE world!

Yet that is what we are called to do. Be a good example, live a holy life, teach our children, be a light to those around us… Today’s First Reading invites us to “set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. [A]ttend to reading, exhortation, and teaching.” That’s a pretty tall order! But Jesus never promised that following Him would be easy.

Perhaps the Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dine with him thought the sinful woman who interrupted their dinner was like the song that never ends. Surely he rolled his eyes at her repentance because he knew “what sort of woman” she was. “She’ll just keep sinning over and over again,” he thought to himself. “She’ll never change.”

The Pharisee had no clue who he was dealing with, who Jesus truly was, and how powerful his love is in the changing of hearts. I am often guilty of the same. I feel like I’m stuck in a rut in both my everyday life and in my spiritual life, and I am so tempted to believe that things will never change. Yet the life of a Christian is all about transformation. We should not stop learning, changing, and growing in our walk with the Lord. But above all, we should not allow ourselves to fall into despair and believe the lie that we CAN’T change because the One who changes us is our all-powerful God.

So I invite you to join me today in asking God for a renewed faith, hope and love so that he may say to us, just as he said to the sinful woman who showed him such great love, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Contact the author

Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling home improvement projects, finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on and, runs her own blog at and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for almost 20 years.

Our Teacher

After reading the Gospel for today, I told my husband, “Now I know why they called Jesus ‘Teacher’. This reading feels like a day in my life!”

Now hear me out–I’m not saying that by being a teacher I’m somehow privy to Christ’s inner life. Nor am I saying that Jesus was “just a teacher”. But I do understand Jesus’ words to the crowds. Just the other day I gave my students (high schoolers) a homework assignment and all those who completed the assignment thoroughly, which was everyone, received a 10/10. When I told them it was a participation grade they grumbled and said, “But Mrs. Pesce, we worked so hard on it and found the right answers and the right answers didn’t even matter!” So, because of their valid complaints, the next assignment I graded based on how many questions the students answered correctly. Needless to say, there were not as many 100% marks. When they received their grades, my students grumbled and said, “But Mrs. Pesce, the homework was sooooo hard. Can’t you just give us participation points because we did the assignment?”

We, like children, do the same with Christ. It seems as though we are never satisfied. How many of us have asked for “signs” from Christ that we are doing the right things with our life? That our career is the “right one”? The right one for us to be making a difference in the world, the right one for our families, the right one to make us a happy person, the right one to help get us to Heaven. Then, when we receive that “sign” that yes, we are doing the right things with our life, we are not satisfied. Why? Because Christ told us, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (MT 16:24) and doing that is not easy. Carrying a cross, suffering patiently, denying ourselves is not the “sign” we want from Christ.

After Christ tells the crowds of their hypocrisy He says, “But wisdom is vindicated by all her children”. Didn’t He just reprimand us for acting like children? I think we need to read that passage with an emphasis on the word “all”….But wisdom is vindicated by all her children. When we act alone, when we feel alone, when we put our trust in ourselves and no one else, we stray from God and we are left unsatisfied. But it is the Church, the beautiful, mystical Body of Christ that will get us to Heaven. It is all the children of wisdom, through prayer and sacrifice, that will journey with us to the Heavenly Kingdom.

Contact the author

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

Moved with Pity

Think back to the last time you prayed. Maybe it was a few minutes ago, or maybe it’s been a few days. You might have knelt down on a very used kneeler in a church before our Lord or made the sign of the cross laying comfortable in bed. There are many different ways to pray, but all too often, I think we approach prayer as if it’s a grocery list.

We make a list of the things we have done wrong to ask forgiveness for and the things we want to happen that we ask in petition. I know I am guilty of this where I think through the list and pray on each item as if it’s passing on a conveyor belt. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it becomes our only form of prayer, I think it turns God into someone who doesn’t truly care.

We can pray through our list of items and make sure we don’t forget anything with the thought that if we forget one, God won’t hear it. We pray over and over for the same things, not seeing God work in our lives because we are so hyperfocused on our list. We get frustrated at the meticulous planning it takes to talk to our God.

I hope I’m not the only one who has done this in the past. The reality is that we can use prayer as a litmus test, “If God doesn’t answer this specific petition in the way that I desire than He is holding out.” But what about the things we don’t pray for? What about the miracles that happen every day in our lives without any petition from us? God is working in our lives every day, and he is often moved to compassion and pity for us, just like he was in the Gospel. You notice, they didn’t ask for healing. It was Christ who was moved to heal.

We have a loving God. He has a perfect will and knows what is ultimately best for us. Sometimes in prayer, we don’t know what is best for ourselves, but God always knows, and it’s in those moments that he goes beyond our prayer and is moved to help us. I invite you today to take a moment and put aside the list. Ask the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and show you all the ways today that God has been moved to pit for you. That He has done miracles in your life. That He does care. When we focus on the reality of the love of God, our prayer is renewed because it’s no longer a list or a chore but a love letter to our God. From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

Contact the author

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

Love Your Enemies

My father and his family lived through the German occupation of France in World War Two. For the duration of the war, uniformed strangers lived—literally—in his home, told him where he could and couldn’t go, dictated everything about his life. His sister was arrested for Résistance activities and executed; his mother’s health deteriorated; his education was interrupted. No one had enough to eat, it seemed, ever; and everyone lived in fear, all the time.

I think about his experience whenever I read anything that touches on the Roman occupation of Judea and Galilee because as horrible as all my father’s stories were, the fact is France was occupied for four years. Judea was occupied for three hundred.

So it’s not altogether surprising that centurions show up in the Gospels—and in the Acts of the Apostles—with some frequency; an occupying force requires a permanent military presence to quell resistance. But what I do find surprising is the portrayal of these military figures, which is almost exclusively positive. Perhaps when an occupation goes on for generations, it becomes a way of life for many. Certainly, in today’s passage from Luke, there is an easy and ordinary relationship between the Roman centurion and the Jewish elders.

Think about it: this occupier sends the leaders of the very people he’s occupying to speak to Jesus on his behalf—to give references, as it were, that he’s a good person and has been a good patron of the Jewish people. (Even then, it seems, building projects could curry favor, for they were quick to point out this centurion built the Jews’ synagogue!)

But it seems he immediately has second thoughts. Perhaps he’s thinking about his role as an occupier. Perhaps he’s just falling back upon his own life experience, the set chain of command within the Roman army. He would be given an order, and he’d command those under him to carry it out; with the command came the power and resources to complete the mission. Perhaps he’s thinking about that when he sends his friends to Jesus to amend his request: he knows Jesus’ authoritative command—whether given in person or from a distance—means ipso facto that the sick slave would become well again. And the centurion, recognizing in Jesus the power and authority of the Kingdom, sees himself as too small, too unworthy to have Jesus come into his home. You can do anything; he is implicitly saying. You can even do it from afar.

Why? How is he so confident? Remember, the centurion says this at a time when even the disciples don’t understand who Jesus is. They know he’s special, but they don’t yet realize he’s divine. Peter won’t declare Jesus to be God’s Messiah for another two chapters.

And yet here is a Roman military officer, a pagan, who knows who Jesus is. It’s this foreigner who has to teach everyone else—the elders, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, even the disciples—a lesson in faith.

Somehow, it seems fitting in this surprising story that Jesus himself is surprised at the trust this centurion demonstrates. He’s amazed to find faith in a Roman that surpasses what he’s seen in anyone from Israel; this enemy soldier is a model of faith for the people of God.

As I read this surprising story, I think that maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by the unlikely places faith shows up in our own world. It could even show up in those we think of as our enemies. Jesus cares about, ministers to, and wants to bless our enemies; how do we dare turn our backs on them?

In the midst of my father’s horror stories about the Occupation, there were moments of humanity that came shining through. The Gestapo killed my aunt, but the army officers stationed in my family’s home risked much themselves to make sure she could be properly buried. When my grandmother fell ill, they lied to their superiors to get her the medicine she needed.

Jesus is clear: love your enemies, he says, because you may be very sure that God loves them, too, just as much as he loves you. We are all equally unworthy for him to come into our homes. Perhaps that common ground can open us up to others, to people who are different from us, to those we’re taught are to be avoided, feared, despised. And it’s entirely possible that, like the centurion, they can teach us something about real faith, too.

Contact the author

Jeannette de Beauvoir is a writer and editor with the digital department of Pauline Books & Media, working on projects as disparate as newsletters, book clubs, ebooks, and retreats that support the apostolate of the Daughters of St. Paul at

Uniting our Sorrows to the Cross

My heart has been deeply compelled to draw closer to Our Lady as of lately. As a convert to the Catholic faith, it has taken me a long time to get to this point, but I finally feel a strong devotion to her that I am excited to see grow ultimately into a deeper relationship with Christ.

Why do we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15? We celebrate it today because yesterday, September 14, is the feast of the Holy Cross. Mother and Son share feast days next to each other as a way of demonstrating the devotion that Our Lady had to Jesus throughout His life and even at the foot of the Cross. She stayed with Him and never left His side, enduring the sorrows of His passion that pierced her heart.

What can we draw from Our Lady as she weeps for Jesus? We can learn to pray for a heart that is sorrowful for the things that hurt Our Lord looking down from heaven. We can offer to quench Christ’s thirst for souls through prayer and use of our spiritual charisms in the service of others. Ultimately, we can sit at the foot of the cross and gaze upon Jesus, sharing the greatest love story with anyone we encounter as we go back out into the world.

Facing the sorrows and trials of this life draw strength from Our Lady. Christ gave her to us and gave us to her. Ask for her intercession in your joys and trials – she wants to know us deeply and will lead us into greater communion with Jesus. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

Contact the author

Nathalie Shultz is a joyful convert to the Catholic faith and a competitive swimmer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  She loves to share her passion for Catholicism with others, including her conversion story and how God continues to work miracles in her life through her OCD. She is the Director of Religious Education for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative of parishes. Nathalie is married to her best friend, Tommy Shultz. Her favorite saints include St. Peter the Apostle, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II.  She is also a huge fan of C.S. Lewis. If you have any questions for Nathalie, or just want her to pray for you, you can email her at

Do You Trust Me?

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
Because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.

The other day, my Pastor was sharing how he studied Greek in his undergrad seminarian years. He loved it because it allowed him to read and understand Scripture in a deeper way. One single detail that he shared has left me pondering this Gospel in a different way today. He shared that the word “believe” in the Greek language, can actually be closer to the word “trust” in English. He shared that throughout the Gospels, when Jesus asks, “Do you believe in me?” It can be a closer translation that Jesus is saying, “Do you trust me?”.

In our First Reading today, I feel for the Israelites as they moan and groan throughout their journey. They’re tired and starting to doubt, asking the question “why?”. In this moment of despair, it’s obvious they were losing trust in God. They did not trust in where they were being led and full of complaints… If we’re honest, we’ve all been there. We’ve all hit the human points where we ask God why and our “patience is worn out by the journey”, just like theirs was.

God punishes them for their sins, but his anger does not last. He offers them the bronze serpent, mounted on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at it, he lived. The Responsorial Psalm states that God is merciful, forgave their sin, and did not destroy them. He often turns back his anger and does not let his wrath be roused. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Jesus states in the Gospel today that “just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” Yes, Jesus is the Incarnation, God made Man. Our human condition is lifted up because of this. We, as human beings, are loved so radically that God gave up His only Son, so that “everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” This is stated two times in today’s Gospel message. I would like you to change the word to trust… So that everyone who trusts in Him might have eternal life. The Israelites were losing their trust in the trenches of the journey. The loss of trust is the start of sin. May we not only believe, but trust deeper in our Lord. In the ways that seem unclear and challenging. In the parched and hungry moments of our journey, may we entrust our entire lives to Him and to His will. What does trusting the Lord look like for you? Where can you grow in trusting Him? Personally, this is where the Lord is calling me to grow and I hope in some way He is calling you to a deeper trust too.

Contact the author

Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. 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 serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese