Preaching The Transfiguration

The Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church. It is, however, written about in all three synoptic gospels: Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-9 and Luke 9:28-36. A Transfiguration account is also read on the second Sunday of Lent each year, proclaiming Christ’s divinity to the Elect in the RCIA process, as well as to those of us who are baptized.

I humbly submit that my words cannot come close to any of the reflections you may hear on this great feast day. I do, however, have a selection of  very good homilies you may like to listen to:

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Aug 6, 2014, some wonderful insights in this homily addressing a gathering of Knights of Columbus. He has such a beautiful way of bringing in his personal experiences and relating them to the scripture. He speaks about a time with Pope Francis and also the transformative experience of St. Francis of Assisi with the leper.

Fr Joseph Mary, MFVA, has a wonderful homily which speaks about the source of unity through Jesus Christ in many great illustrations of community around us. If you don’t want to listen to the readings and psalm, scroll to the 8:45 time stamp on the Youtube video from the EWTN broadcast a few years ago.

Fr. Alex Valladares, from the Archdiocese of Mobile, has a powerful homily that looks at the Transfiguration. The actual Transfiguration probably occurred between 2 high feasts of the Jewish faith, Yom Kippur, or the Feast of Atonement and the Feast of the Tabernacles, Sukkot, which is also called the Feast of the Booths. This too, was broadcast on EWTN, and if you would prefer not to hear the readings of the day, start at 8:28 into the feed.

I don’t know if I have a favorite of the three. Each homily is so very different. That’s what draws me deeper into my faith. Each and every time I hear or read scripture or listen to a homily, the experience is unique and strikes me in ways that may not have resonated with me during my last hearing. What is a homily you enjoyed? Go back and take a listen to it. Although the same words, you may hear something entirely different.

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

Bread Of Life

He opened his eyes, a crescent of light flooding the landscape of his vision. Heat, heat like was never felt before and dryness like an overcooked clay pot. He looked around as he took his first breath. His legs shaking like a newborn deer as he made his way to the first figure he could see. “Excuse me sir,” he cried out. No answer. “Sir, do you have any water?” Still nothing. Frustrated by the lack of compassion, he looked around and realized he was somehow with the Israelites right after God had led them out of Egypt. Suddenly, a sharp pain in his stomach. He needed water and food but nobody seemed to be able to see him. The more he cried out the more desperate he became.

How unfair that he would be placed here. His life back home was not perfect, but this was worse than anything. Why would God lead him here without a plan, without support, barely clinging to life? Without food and water he would surely die soon. Those around him seemed to be in a similar predicament.

In the distance he heard one of them crying out, “Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!”

It was as if they were taking words from his mouth. Finally, a cloud opened and a booming voice provided an answer, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

It happened just as was foretold. Manna came down like the dewfall and he was able to eat his fill. Day after day he was fed by this miraculous bread, but it wasn’t enough. Eventually he became spiteful, he wanted so much more. If this God was so good why would He continue sending the same old bread? No seasoning, barely palatable. Darkness.

Light like that of a thousand suns. He now found himself comfortable on the side of a hill, his fingers grazing through the soft grass. As he gained composure he noticed thousands of people around him all waiting to be fed. He noticed again that his hunger was insatiable, but only five loaves and two fish for this entire crowd? Impossible to say the least. He doubted that which he could not understand. Then, there came a great commotion in the crowd. Bread was being distributed to all, somehow he would not go hungry. He ate and it fulfilled him for a time, but he eventually became fatigued again. A figure stood in the distance and said, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” He did not know the full meaning of this phrase, but he knew that this was the bread he was searching for. A bread that would truly satisfy. A bread that would change him from within and make him immortal. A bread that would leave nothing to want. In desperation for the very thing he cried out to God, “Please Lord, give me this bread of life.” Darkness.

Light and the ringing of bells as his eyelids opened almost like a door to a new world. Singing like that of angels rang through the building he found himself in. A rough hand suddenly grazed his shoulder motioning him up and forward. He knew not where he was being led, but it somehow felt familial. Suddenly, from the back of his mind a phrase leapt forward, “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” He drew closer. As his eyes adjusted he realized he was in a church at what appeared to be a wedding ceremony. He had left the reserved seat and was now walking forward, but only a blurry figure stood where the bride and groom would exchange their vows. He continued forward as something overcame him. A feeling like that which he had just experienced moments before. It became too much and he fell to the ground as he proclaimed, “I believe!”

Normally darkness and confusion would set in at this point, but everything became lighter. Like a thousand bright candles had just been illumined all at once. His whole being began to float as he rested in this ecstasy. Oh pure bliss, oh joy unbounded! Immortality was finally his as fear and anxiety melted away. Faster and faster he flew into the heights of this unknown spectacle, his hair flowing freely in the breeze, symbolizing his own newfound freedom. Finally, HE WAS HOME! 


This is the story of a man who constantly doubted the goodness and power of God. A man who felt he would be better off at times on his own. A man who was searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places. A man who had to trust and believe in order to truly live. Who is this man? This man is me. This man is you. 

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

The Real Audience

“Do not try to please everybody. Try to please God, the angels, and the saints – they are your public.”

– St. John Vianney


Today is the memorial of St. John Vianney. While I do not know very many details of his life it is apparent that he has made a great impact in the Church. Growing up in a Catholic family, living amongst war in France, and eventually becoming a priest he always devoted his life to God. The quote above is a pivotal message for all of us, and St. John Vianney lived this through his vocation to the priesthood and by serving the poor (a value of which his family instilled while he was growing up).

Today I look for inspiration from the above quote given by this beloved saint. How often do I try to please everyone else? I can tell you the answer is all the time. While I want to please God I know that I am always worried about what others think. Whether it is regarding my conversion to the Catholic faith or the openness to life that my fiance and I will have when we get married it is hard not to face scrutiny for living a life for God when we live in a culture that is so unaware of their need for God.

As we go about life, trying to follow the will of God, we must keep our eyes on Christ and know that we are living for the Kingdom rather than the temporary state we have here on Earth. While we live in the state of historical man, as St. John Paul II calls our state after the fall of Adam and Eve, we are called to live in a way that leads to sainthood: our state in Heaven called eschatological man.

It is tough going into the world. Everyday I have to remind myself that I live for God. Although I often forget this He will remind me of the fact that He is my audience with gentle reminders of His presence. Life is so fast paced, with various demands placed upon us day in and day out. We can choose to live in anxiety about what others think of us on a daily basis or we can choose to let Love reign in our hearts and daily work. Be encouraged to know that God is with you and that He will give you the grace to follow Him, to make Him and all of Heaven your audience. Rejoice as Heaven cheers you on in this race of life.

“In Christ and through Christ humanity has acquired full awareness of its dignity and the meaning of its existence.”

-St. John Paul II


Nathalie Hanson is a special education teacher and a joyful convert to the Catholic faith 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.  Nathalie is engaged to her best friend, Diocesan’s Tommy Shultz, and she is beyond excited to become Mrs. Shultz this October. Her favorite saints include St. Peter the Apostle, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II.  If you have any questions for Nathalie, or just want her to pray for you, you can email her at

Familiarity And Miracles

In his book, Catholic Christianity, Peter Kreeft sets out the 3 C’s of any religion; Creed, Code, and Cult. Our Creed is what we believe, the words we speak. Our Code is how we live; our works. Our Cult is our practice, our worship.

We Catholics recite our Creed at every Mass and share it with most other Christian faiths. Just think of it, every Sunday, as we attend the heavenly banquet made present in the Mass (note: big miracle right there), we recite the Creed. Rather than a rote recitation, we should be joining this proclamation of faith with great joy, remembering that what we each proclaim individually, binds us together and our collective voices reach around the world and ring out in heaven.

Our Code is how we live. This is where the people in Jeremiah’s time had fallen down, just as we do now. Our Code is first broken down in the 10 Commandments, and then swept together in Jesus’s great Commandment to love God with our all hearts, with all our minds, and all our souls, and to love one another (paraphrased from Matthew 22:36-40). Jesus sets the standard. “No one has greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Jesus actually died for us, his friends. Most of us aren’t called to physically die. We are called to myriads of daily little deaths, where we give up a piece of ourselves, of what we want for the
good of another. That driver that ticked me off in traffic, did I let him in or cut him off? When my spouse wants to tell me about his day, do I put my phone down and give him my full attention or do I multi-task our relationship? Our Code is further deepened by the Beatitudes. Jesus outlines the values that drive our behavior and just in case we didn’t catch on, he gives us concrete examples for our daily life in the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy. We can look at this list and ask ourselves, do my words of belief lead me to these works on a daily basis?

Our Cult is how we offer worship. Occasionally, someone will tell me they find the Mass boring and they just don’t get anything out of it. While we share our Creed with many of our Protestant brothers and sisters, our Cult or worship, how we approach gathering before God sets us apart. In the Church before Mass we don’t talk to one another, not because we don’t want to be friendly, but because we know we are there to see someone greater than all of us. It is time to center our hearts and minds on our encounter with Jesus, who will be present body and blood, soul and divinity in the Mass. Just like the people of Jesus’s villages didn’t see his miracles because he was so familiar. These are great miracles that we may overlook through familiarity.

We find Jesus first in our priest, who is in persona Christi, in the place of Christ in the Mass. These men have sacrificed earthly families and what the world tells us is success to be present to us in Jesus’s place. They offer our sacrifices and through them Jesus makes himself present in the Eucharist. That’s a pretty big deal.

The words of the Bible are the incarnation of the Spirit. Like Jesus, the Bible is fully human and fully divine. The homily is meant to guide us to the Word. (Not getting anything out of today’s homily? Focus on the Word. Jesus is there.)

In the Eucharist, God makes himself fully present to us. Jesus promised he would never leave us alone and keeps that promise in a very real way.

Finally, Jesus is present to us in one another. Think about what happens on a physical level after your receive the Eucharist. Jesus is even more than simply someone we are incapable of conceiving fully, He is fully present in our bodies and becomes a part of who are, physically and spiritually. He is what we carry out into the world.

These are all familiar miracles.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus doesn’t perform great miracles in his own village, not because he can’t but because Jesus is so familiar, the people have no faith. Do we lose sight of the miraculous because it becomes familiar? We follow Jesus and are present in our villages everyday. When others look at us, are they drawn to know what we know, to love what we love? Or does familiarity with our works strengthen their disbelief?

Jesus, help me to see your great miracles in the Mass and not to lose them through familiarity. Guide me always to live the word, the work and the worship of our Catholic faith in a way that draws others to see through me to You. Amen.

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

In The Hands Of The Potter

Today’s First Reading from Jeremiah depicts the image of being formed at the hands of the potter. God does the same to us. He forms us and shapes us and molds us until we become a beautiful vessel. I feel like God is doing this to me right now, amid hardship and tears. I am in my third trimester with my fourth child, while working full time and trying to give my other three the love and attention they need and desire. How many times must I explain that it hurts mommy when they jump on my belly or that I can’t get up every five seconds to find their lost toy because my feet are swollen and I feel like a beached whale? They want to be held. They want me to play with them. Yet all I can muster is surviving for an hour after work until they go to bed.

But what would happen if I did get up? What would happen if I let them cuddle even though it was uncomfortable? Would it kill me? Or would it make me a better person and a better mom? It is in these moments that I feel the Potter gently molding and shaping me, calling me out of my laziness and selfishness to continue giving as I ought.

To add to the madness of the daily grind, we are in the midst of a remodel to add an additional room upstairs for the baby. Tearing out and reconstructing closets, putting in doorways, relocating light switches and outlets, putting in HVAC vents… We are creating a space for our little one, working at the potter’s wheel so to speak. We can either allow ourselves to be swallowed up in the stress of the project or we can lovingly mold this corner of our house. And the reality of the work itself molds us as we mold it. It pushes the limits of our exhaustion, gives us the opportunity to patiently labor amid “little helpers”, and makes us realize that things may not go according to our plans and it may not be completed before the wee one’s arrival.

But in the end, sometimes that pesky free will gets in the way. It is up to us whether we allow ourselves to be transformed and sanctified with these trials or fall into frustration and despair. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel “Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous…” Which lot will we fall into? Will we allow the Potter to transform us in order to be counted among the righteous? Or will we die in the wickedness of our sin? May we all encounter the humility to cry out with sincerity of heart “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God.” (Psalm)

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.

Kingdom Of Pearls

Today’s brief Gospel always seemed a bit remote to me: buried treasure and precious pearls are far from my experience and not very interesting. But I had missed the subtle point here.

Jesus’ parables of the Kingdom of Heaven fall from his mouth like a stream over rocks. The metaphors are varied and plentiful because his understanding of the Kingdom is rich and profound. He describes it from many angles, attracts us with many ideas, and we should see these images as points of meditation.

Clearly, by comparing the Kingdom to a hidden treasure and a pearl that would make one rich, Jesus means to help us understand the very great value we should place on the Kingdom above all other things: when we find this true Treasure, we will be content and our labors will be over because we will have all that we desire. This in itself can serve as a fruitful reflection on our personal priorities. Are we willing to “sell all we have” to buy that one thing? What are we holding on to because we think it will be more fulfilling, more necessary to us, than the very Kingdom of God?

But there is another point worth pondering here: sometimes, we think that we will reach the Kingdom by our work and toil and sacrifice. But in these comparisons we see that, once we have glimpsed the richness of the Kingdom, we willingly let go of everything else, so that we are free to hold onto it. In the two instances in today’s Gospel, the person FIRST discovers the great (hidden) valuable and THEN, JOYFULLY, sells all that he has in order to possess it.

In other words, our “work” is first to seek the Kingdom, like digging for treasure or searching for pearls. In order to seek well, we must be willing to do some hard work/study/prayer, remain open to surprises, and let go of our own ideas and agendas so that God can lead us to the Truth. Then, when we glimpse the depth and beauty and richness of this Truth – the Truth that is the Kingdom, the Truth that is friendship with Jesus and adopted Sonship with him – we must be willing to let go of everything else that we thought was truth, that we thought would bring fulfillment, that we thought would bring us joy. Only then, when we let go of every falsehood and shadow, are our hands and hearts finally free to embrace the Kingdom we have glimpsed.

Let us each pray for the spiritual freedom to seek the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness that is the Kingdom of Heaven, so that we are at last free for friendship with Jesus.

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.

The Righteous Will Shine

I admit it. I am a news junkie. Morning and evening I am tuned into the news to keep up with what is happening in the world. I get news feeds at work. I listen to a news station in the car. It seems I am addicted. Sigh! It’s a tough habit to break. Whether the news is good or bad, I’m going to know about it.

Today’s readings are scary. Jeremiah has us in tears over our incurable wound and Jesus tells us that at the end of the age, the angels will harvest the weeds from the good seed. The weeds will be cast into the fiery furnace, but righteous will shine like the sun. My first thoughts were about our world today, and the culture of our times. So much of the news is bad and can be depressing.


Well, all is not as bleak as we might want to believe. For all the evil manifesting itself in our world, there is just as much good also manifesting itself. The recent news about the rescue of the Thailand boys from the flooded caves comes to mind. It was an international community that banded together to make this miracle happen. And whether any of those involved say it in so many words or not, these folks remember the God who gave them birth! They remember that good will always, sooner or later, defeat evil. They remember that every life is precious, so they did not count the cost in time, effort or personal danger to make the miracle happen. This is just one grand example, among the many grand, as well as simple examples, of good sowing the seeds of grace and manifesting love.

Those of us who stand on the promise of Jesus I spoke of a few weeks ago – we are the good seed. Think of yesterday’s parable of the mustard seeds and yeast spoken of in the Gospel. We are those who know that, in spite of today’s world situation, God is still here and we will not forget his presence. Our mustard seeds will grow in time to become the huge bush that will give shelter and sustenance to the hopeless, the migrants, the homeless, the addiction trapped, the unwanted babies and children who need us.  And we will be the yeast that will leaven the bread of human kindness to rise and give hope to all by living and professing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with courage; to live it with virtue. I believe it was Maya Angelou who once said that courage was the greatest of all virtues because it is by courage alone that we can live by all the virtues. We pray, with confidence in God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that we will be among those harvested for the Kingdom of Heaven. It is our souls at stake.

Being so tuned into the news does two things for me: 1) the news becomes a springboard for prayer. Very specific prayer based on what I hear; 2) it also allows me to know of the good in people who come to the aid of others, from the cave rescues down to the child who runs a lemonade stand to buy toys for hospitalized children or the couple who adopts six blind children with special needs.

All is not well with our world, and yet much is well. We are challenged to do whatever we can to make it better. Start with the simple. You may just find yourself doing the grand.

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.

Seeking The Good

“I think there is far too much talk about sin and not enough about virtue.” -The Priest from the movie Calvary

How would you like to be compared to an old loin cloth rotting away in a desert under a rock? In today’s first reading we see God comparing the rot of an old loin cloth with the rot of the pridefulness of the people of Judah. Not a great comparison from anyone, much less God Himself.

I recently had an idea to start something called “out of context bible verses” where I would pick a strange verse from the bible and distribute it with no explanation of where or why it was said. Here we have one that would work; “Go buy yourself a linen loincloth;
wear it on your loins, but do not put it in water.”

All joking aside though, the wicked people in this passage refused to obey the words of God, they walked with stubbornness in their hearts, and they worshiped false gods. But before all of these sins were committed God says that he clung to His people but they did not listen.

Later in the Psalm we hear, “You have forgotten God who gave you birth.” Throughout these rich readings we see a theme of the people of God ceasing to search for God. They think they can do everything on their own and that rotten loin cloth pride takes over and they get in all sorts of trouble.

It would be easy to focus on the sins in these verses, but rather I want to focus on this idea of no longer seeking out God. A basic definition of virtue is to seek the good. I have been reading a lot about virtue lately and I have realized that it is easy to focus on how not to live instead of actually focusing on how we should be living. To hyper focus on avoiding sin and not focus so much on living in the truth.

This has been a huge step for me in my spiritual life. If we stop seeking the good, then we will stop living towards the standard of that same good. I would take this so far as to say that before any sin is committed, first virtue is rejected. If sin truly is a lack of something, then the thing lacking is goodness.

I think for me it is easier to focus on sin because it’s easier to just say that I should not do this or that thing. It is much harder to love the people that bug me, to go out of my way for the poor or marginalized, to sacrifice my time and money for the well-being of others.

Pope Francis in his new apostolic exhortation says, “Just as you cannot understand Christ apart from the kingdom he came to bring, so too your personal mission is inseparable from the building of that kingdom: “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mt 6:33). Your identification with Christ and his will involves a commitment to build with him that kingdom of love, justice and universal peace. Christ himself wants to experience this with you, in all the efforts and sacrifices that it entails, but also in all the joy and enrichment it brings. You cannot grow in holiness without committing yourself, body and soul, to giving your best to this endeavor.”

This is a call to true virtue. A call to come outside of ourselves and instead of hyper focusing on sin, focusing instead on our mission to love, a mission that will bring us the true joy we seek.

Pope Francis goes on to say, “Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self. To depend on God sets us free from every form of enslavement and leads us to recognize our great dignity. We see this in Saint Josephine Bakhita: Abducted and sold into slavery at the tender age of seven, she suffered much at the hands of cruel masters. But she came to understand the profound truth that God, and not man, is the true Master of every human being, of every human life. This experience became a source of great wisdom for this humble daughter of Africa”

Let us take a lesson today from Pope Francis, from Saint Josephine Bakhita, and of course from the Word of God. This week I am going to try to live my life constantly seeking the good instead of letting the fear of sin be my motivation. Let us all ask for this grace. 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

Let Your Gifts Be Multiplied

How often do we find ourselves feeling as though we have nothing to offer, that the call God has for us is impossible because of all that we lack in our humanness? I find myself in this state often, doubting my ability to live up to the vocation that God calls me to. How can I possibly love others in my life if I have a hard time loving myself, and how can I take care of others when I so often struggle to take care of myself?

All of these doubts melt away when I read the Gospel for today. We see the power of God to make something out of essentially nothing when Jesus takes the minimal loaves and fishes the Apostles provide Him with to feed the 5,000 people that came to Him on the mountain. If God can do this and so many other miracles, and with unlimited power, how can we doubt all of the miracles that He can and wants to perform through us?

With my OCD comes a great anxiety of the future. While I know God has beautiful plans ahead for me I can often find myself in fear, and the root of my fear is obsessions regarding thoughts of failure. I am so excited to get married in two months, and I know my fiancé is my best friend that will be on this crazy journey of life with me as we pursue God’s will. Any fear I have stems from the unknown and my past weaknesses. Will I be able to take care of my husband as he needs and as God calls me? Will we be able to provide for the little ones that we pray God blesses us with, providing for all of their basic needs and for the dreams they will grow to hold for their lives?Loving other souls is such a great responsibility, and I worry about being able to be the best wife and mom, often comparing myself with others and my weaknesses.

While I often ponder these questions my fiancé reassures me of how well I love him and how God will give us the graces we need if and when we are blessed with children. Within this answer lies the key to the storms in my heart being calmed: God will equip myself and my fiancé through the graces of the Sacrament of marriage to be able to love one another and any future children He may bless us with. In Scripture we can see many called by God that felt unworthy to take up the mission God gave to them because of their weaknesses, but the pattern we continue to see is God equips those that are called, rather than calling those that are already equipped.  

In our weaknesses we can further lean on the Lord and rely upon Him. He is our Father and He will raise us up to answer the call to love that He has asked of us. All we need is a willing heart and to trust that any anxiety that creates a storm in our hearts will be soothed by the graces God provides. When we place all of our trust in God and let Him multiply the gifts He has already given us, in combination with Him providing us with additional gifts along the journey, we can truly become who we were born to become on our journey to sainthood.

I encourage you to trust in our Lord: trust in the beautiful plans He has for your life, offer all of your anxiety to Him, and wait in joyful anticipation as He continues to multiply the gifts you possess (even gifts you may not be aware of yet). He greatly desires to perform miracles in and through you, and all He asks is that you lay your life down at His feet so that you can be His hands and feet to those He places in your life. Be encouraged to know that God is going to work through you in beautiful ways, giving you everything that you need to love others with wherever He has you in life.  Just like the loaves and fishes, let Christ make things new through you: let your gifts be multiplied.


“Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.”

St. Augustine

“Do not forget that when the Lord calls, He also provides the necessary strength and grace to answer His call.”

St. John Paul II


Nathalie Hanson is a special education teacher and a joyful convert to the Catholic faith 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.  Nathalie is engaged to her best friend, Diocesan’s Tommy Shultz, and she is beyond excited to become Mrs. Shultz this October. Her favorite saints include St. Peter the Apostle, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II.  If you have any questions for Nathalie, or just want her to pray for you, you can email her at

Harvesting Weeds and Wheat

In Dante’s Inferno, he passes through the gates of hell above which are inscribed these words, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” That’s almost the situation we find in today’s first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:1-11).

Jeremiah has been tasked by the Lord God to stand at the gates of the Temple and remind the faithful of what God expects of them if they seek to remain his Chosen People and enjoy the benefits of a covenant relationship with him. Through Jeremiah we hear the Lord chastising the people, accusing them of injustice, idolatry, hard-heartedness toward the “resident alien, the orphan and the widow,” deceit, adultery, perjury… These have become common and accepted practices among the one-time faithful, and yet they still show up at the Temple thinking that their sinful actions are overlooked or ignored by God. “We are safe; we can commit all these abominations again,” is the excuse they offer to themselves. “At least,” perhaps they think, “we’re keeping up with our Sabbath obligation.”

The Chosen People have rejected the covenant relationship God offered to them exclusively: “And you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7, Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 30:22). In essence, a relationship is a two-way street. We keep up our end of the relationship and God more than keeps up with his part of it.

Repentance, however, puts us back in right relationship with God. In the Gospel (Matthew 13:24-30) Jesus tells the parable of the field sown with good seed that gets sabotaged by an enemy of the landowner. The weeds are allowed to grow alongside the wheat, and both are harvested together. But, Jesus teaches us, the weeds are tied in bundles for burning (i.e., destined for hell), while the wheat is gathered into the barn (i.e., heaven).

The list of sins Jeremiah accuses the people of can make for a good examination of conscience for us. These are the weeds that need to be pulled from our field and burned so that we stop deluding ourselves into believing we are bearing good fruit for the Kingdom.

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.

Shepherds After My Own Heart

“I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart, who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.” Jer 3:15  

Today’s readings are full of imagery: rebellious children, shepherds after my own heart, the Lord guarding us as a shepherd guards his flock. I will turn their mourning into joy. Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance. The parable of the sower. So much wisdom, insight and beauty packed into 13 lines of scripture. That’s what keeps drawing me back to the scriptures; I can read a few verses that are very pertinent to my life in that moment. When I pick up the same verses either later that day, or the next year, the verses will not strike me in the same way it had before. (If you’ve not started using pencil in your bible to underline the verse or word that jumps out at you, I highly recommend it). Put a thin notebook in with your bible to jot down any insights, thoughts or phrases going through your mind as you reflect on the scripture verses. Yes, read them to yourself or out loud, and yes, more than once. Sit with whatever has caught your attention for a few minutes.This is a type of lectio divina.

What kept popping up to me as I read and listened to the Word was the good shepherd, who has kept the word with a generous heart, yielding a harvest through perseverance. Jesus Christ is the ultimate Good Shepherd, but who have been the shepherds on your own journey? The individual among the other sheep, who by his or her own perseverance of listening to the word, has invited or nudged you to follow the Lord?

Deacon Dean at my parish, is a wonderful homilist. Deacon Dean is a sheep of the flock, just like you and I. He perseveres in his service to the Lord through his prayer and leads through his daily practices and commitments in his life. He breaks open the Word through his own life struggles and prayer. My pastor has been sitting with Deacon’s Sunday homily all this week and sharing where his prayer has lead him during the daily homilies.  Both my pastor and deacon are shepherds (and sheep) whom I trust and follow. There are many members of my Franciscan fraternity, family and friends, authors and other leaders whose voices I trust and follow.

There are many people whose call I do not respond to as they represent a seed sown among thorns to me, as it seems “worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke out the word and bears no fruit” (Mt 13:22). For me, they may have had the “evil one steal away what had been sown in their hearts” and now do not hear the Good Shepherd’s voice in the word or world around them (Mt 13:19). I personally feel called to pray for all those who have this happen in their lives, and for the times when it has happened in my own. Pray with me, that the good shepherd open my eyes, ears and heart to follow the right leaders and path to the Lord.

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

Parables Of Truth

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was unable to see what seemed so obvious to you? This can be a frustrating experience. One way to open their eyes is to offer them a chance to accept an idea and THEN apply it to the current situation; you might hold out a different example to help them see what you see. This is what Jesus does in his parables.

In today’s Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus about this. He has just spoken to the crowd about the seed and the sower, and the disciples ask him why he speaks to them in parables. Jesus answers that many cannot see or hear the full truth because of their stubborn hearts. He further reveals that when we let go of our stubbornness and are freely open to the truth, we receive more and more, so that we are rich in grace and truth!

The thing to keep in mind is that Jesus never runs out of ways to communicate truth to us. The infinite creativity of God and the unfathomable mercy of God mean that we are given chance after chance, opportunity after opportunity, to begin anew to open ourselves fully so that we can see and hear what the Lord is communicating to us. He keeps teaching, keeps saving, keeps forgiving, keeps loving. Our blindness and deafness are no obstacle for Him; only our willfulness and stubborn selfishness can keep His light from shining for us, in us, through us.

We can’t out-run his merciful love. We can’t out-sin His loving mercy.

Let’s begin anew right now. Let’s ask the Lord to show us where we have neglected to open ourselves to Him, and then ask for the grace to let go of all that keeps us in darkness. And then, let’s boldly ask the Lord to shine the light of his truth and grace in every darkened corner so that we are at last his true disciples.

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.