Since they do not fear the LORD,
what can the king do for them?

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the times in my life that are marked by providence are also the times that I chose to trust. Fear of LORD is less like terror and more like a respect or trust for Who He is.


It is impossible to have a sincere, intimate relationship with any person (human or divine) if we do not trust them. So to it is with God; what can He do for us if we do not trust Him?

Trust is difficult to choose, especially if we’ve been hurt, betrayed, manipulated or misguided. We should only trust if we have good reason.

I trust my friend Tara to speak the truth about the nature of Physics because she holds a Bachelors Degree in Physics. She has proven capable to be trustworthy in this realm of knowing. What has Christ done to be proven capable of our trust in Him?

The centerpiece of our faith: The Crucifixion.

It can be difficult to feel an intimacy with the cross; it is easier to observe it as an isolated historical event. And maybe it would remain just that… if we did not have the Eucharist.

The Eucharist, the gift of Himself, His suffering heart. The crucifixion was an event, but we are invited to receive the graces of the suffering at each Mass. His heart beats in the Eucharist. He is living and loving us.

Since they do not fear the LORD,
what can the king do for them?

We are given many reasons to trust Christ. But until we do, what can He do for us?

Look to His Death.

Hope for new life.

Trust it is true.

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

Called To Preach

St. Augustine calls Matthew the Teaching Gospel. Jesus is our teacher, the Incarnate Word, the Logos. So what are we to learn from today’s Gospel reading? At first glance, it appears more like a poorly constructed transition in a middle school writing assignment. We get demons and Pharisees and sheep and shepherds, a harvest and workers. It feels like St. Matthew was a bit all over the place.

If we look to the prophet Hosea for some help, he seems to have his hands full with Ephraim and the Israelites with their idols. Hosea was sent by God to help bring the Israelites back into covenant, into relationship with God. Israel’s prayers are no longer being answered; because prayer presupposes a docility to the will of God. Their altars were no longer places of sacrifice to God because they have become places of self-serving worship.

“Their idols are silver and gold, the handiwork of men…they have hands but feel not; they have feet but walk not. Their makers shall be like them”.

Hosea’s primary message is of God’s love and fidelity, despite people’s sins. Hosea had been sent to gather God’s people back together and to lead them back to God. However, the Israelites were so intent on their self-serving worship, their idols they can control, that they ignored Hosea. Hosea was a type for Christ; he was sent by God to the Israelites but was rejected and abused by God’s own people.

If we then turn to the Gospel, as Jesus was going out, a demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus and the demon is driven out. Jesus drives out the demon and the man’s speech returns. We can see God’s fidelity in bringing healing even though this man was brought to Jesus “as he was going out” presumably for a different purpose. We see the two different reactions to God’s love; awe and amazement by the people and dismissal and slander by those who seemingly should have known better.

“Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds his heart was moved with pity because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”

This passage was especially used in Vatican II to demonstrate the universality of our call to evangelize; to spread the Christian charity that is at the heart of our mission as the living body of Christ, the Church. Jesus went around, he went out. He didn’t sit and wait for people to come to him on Sunday mornings. He went from town to village and proclaimed the kingdom. Like Hosea, he calls people to relationship this time by both proclamation and by healing them where they are hurting the most.

“Christian charity is extended to all without distinction of race, social condition or religion, and seeks neither gain nor gratitude. Just as God loves us with a gratuitous love, so too the faithful, in their charity, should be concerned for mankind, loving it with the same love with which God sought man. As Christ went about all the towns and villages healing every sickness and infirmity, as a sign that the Kingdom of God had come, so the Church through her children, joins itself with men of every condition, but especially with the poor and afflicted, and willingly spends herself for them.” (Ad gentes, 12)

As Jesus is so deeply moved in seeing the crowds, he uses the metaphor of the harvest to express his urgency. Just as farmers must harvest when the crop is ready, not a week early and not a week later because it is more convenient for the farmer’s schedule. Jesus sees the people as ready to receive the effects of Redemption. They are poised and ready to receive the Word. How can He get to them all?

We hear this today and we lament the shortage of priests and religious, but Pope Paul VI reminds us, “the responsibility for spreading the Gospel belongs to everyone-to all those who have received it! The missionary duty concerns the whole body of the Church; in different ways and in different degrees, it is true, but we must all of us be united in carrying out this duty.” (Angelus Address, 23 October 1977)

Each of us, by virtue of our baptism is called to work alongside Christ in proclaiming the kingdom. It isn’t that there is a shortage of baptized, the question we need to ask ourselves is what message are we proclaiming? Do our words and lives proclaim God’s kingdom? Is it possible, like the people of Hosea’s time, we have not disposed our wills to God’s so that our prayers may not be heard? Has our worship become self-seeking and self-gratifying? Have other idols replaced our Creator as our god?

What on the surface appears to be a jumble of mixed metaphors turns out to be a strong call to reexamine our lives, our idols, and most of all, our call to proclaim the kingdom. There are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, over 70 million in the U.S. We are the workers. Let us unite in gratuitous love and spread the kingdom.

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

Risen From The Dead!

We know that we must believe in order to be saved. Sometimes, we must admit that our belief is little more than lip-service. But we owe God all of us, as the Sh’ma states: “the Lord is our God, the Lord is One… And you shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” We must love God with our whole being, and as the best Teacher, He will give us opportunities to engage and express that faith, just as he did in today’s Gospel.

Imagine the depth of faith of the “official” (most probably not a Jew) whose daughter is already dead. This is the time for mourning, not for running after some itinerant Jewish rabbi. The professional mourners are already about their business, but this official leaves to find Jesus, interrupts his teaching, and kneels before him in deference, confident that he will be heard, confident that Jesus will intervene. Perhaps the official has seen Jesus work miracles before; but has he ever raised the dead back to life? No doubt impelled by love for his daughter, he dares to believe that Jesus will do just that. He asks him to come and lay his hand on the girl, and Jesus, somewhat astonishingly, rises to follow him.

Now imagine the thoughts running through the mind of this official when the woman with the hemorrhage interrupts their journey! A delay of this urgent business must have caused some anxiety; he is challenged to be patient and remain steadfast in his faith, even though the outcome is delayed.

The woman with the hemorrhage (who has been unable to worship with the community for twelve years, because she is ritually unclean!) expresses her faith by touching Jesus’ cloak, trusting that she can be cured by simply coming in contact with his clothing. Her trusting touch is indeed rewarded, but Jesus points to the cause for her healing: “Your faith has saved you.”

Finally, the group arrives at the official’s house, and as if to underscore the reality of the daughter’s death, the Gospel tells us that the mourners ridiculed Jesus for saying the girl was only sleeping. These people certainly knew death when they saw it; there could be no doubt that the girl was really dead. But Jesus touches her, takes her by the hand, and “the little girl arose.” The official’s faith and trust were rewarded with healing, as the woman’s had been.

There is another parallel in these two intertwined stories: the woman expressed her faith by touching the cloak of Jesus; the girl is healed when Jesus touches her. In these actions, we see how Jesus’ presence is “incarnational” – he respects the nature he has given us and uses material things to accomplish spiritual purposes, affirming bodiliness. There is nothing in our minds and memories that wasn’t first in the senses; we know and remember what we have experienced.

The healing of Jesus came through touching and words, and his grace still comes to us through matter and word and ritual in the sacraments. The sacraments are signs that point beyond themselves to invisible realities, using water and oil, bread and wine, signing with the cross and laying on of hands and eating and drinking to bring us into contact with the living God. We must receive them in faith, so that we can be healed and freed and restored to life by Christ, as the woman and little girl were in today’s Gospel.

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.

Have Faith

Thank you all for the feedback about our Inspiration Daily program. I will be making some of the positive changes that were suggested over the next few weeks. If you didn’t have a chance to fill out our quick five question survey, please do so HERE, or feel free to email me at with any feedback. God Bless you all and thank you for reading!

-Tommy Shultz


Click here for daily readings

The last line of today’s Gospel made me a little bit uncomfortable. “He was amazed at their lack of faith.” I felt a little bit called out. I am a believer, but I know there are times where I lack faith in my all-knowing, ever-present God. I also know that I am not the only one.

We all question God. We have no right to do so, but in our lives we are faced with issues that make us really wonder if God has anything do with us. It could be the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the diagnosis we never expected. Whatever it may be, we are tested and we lose faith, even if only for a moment.

Yet we return to God. Why? Because we are able to see his blessings in everything that remains once the dust has settled. Although a loved one has died, we love those still here more fiercely. Although we may lose a job, we may find another better suited for us. Although we are sick or in pain, we still have life. We are constantly and consistently surrounded by God’s love, his grace, his mercy, his joy. All around us are reminders of God’s presence, both simple and unbelievably amazing.

Right now, I am struggling with the fact that I broke my ankle. I feel helpless and I must sadly admit that for a moment, I was angry at God. It wasn’t his fault that I bought a longboard and stepped off the wrong way. However, I do believe that God had a part in the joy I felt when riding the longboard (for less than an hour, but still). He was the breeze on the hot day, the sunshine on my face, the sparkle in Lake Michigan. He was there.

And he is here. In our lives, we are given free will. We are given the choice between joy and agony in all that we do. We can see the bright sunshine on a summer day, or we can see a sunburn waiting to happen. God is present whether we choose to see him or not. Choose wisely.

Heavenly Father,

You surround us with your love at all times.Help us know your peace when we are troubled. Help us feel your love when we are hurt. Help us celebrate your joy when do not understand. Help us welcome your plan when we cannot see it. All knowing, ever present God, Help us to not lack in faith so that we may feel your presence in our lives.


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.

Hear This, You Who Trample Upon The Poor!

I double booked for today and I wanted to make sure to send this great article on caring for all people, especially the poor and marginalized.

Please also take a second to fill out our SURVEY to let us know how you are liking Inspiration Daily. God Bless!

-Tommy Shultz


Click here for daily readings

The first reading today, from the prophet Amos, is a pointed exhortation against the oppression of the poor and economic injustice:

“Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! ‘When will the new moon be over,’ you ask, ‘that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the containers for measuring, add to the weights, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!’

On that day, says the Lord GOD, I will make the sun set at midday and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentations. I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth and make every head bald. I will make them mourn as for an only son, and bring their day to a bitter end…” (Amos 8:4-6, 9-10).

This is an exhortation echoed throughout the scriptures so strongly that oppressing the poor and defrauding workers of their just wages are two of the four sins that “cry out to heaven” (Catechism 1867). St. James reiterates the severity of this command in a way that should make us all pause:

“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter” (James 5:1-5).

This emphasis on economic justice and the poor continued in the early centuries of Christianity and the Church Fathers gave exhortations against the wealthy that fall right in line with St. James. Perhaps most notable is from St. John Chrysostom who said, “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.”

The Church has always taught that the poor are to be given preferential treatment (Catechism 2448). This is because Jesus explicitly identifies Himself with the poor when He makes the radical claim that whoever feeds the hungry and clothes the naked are feeding and clothing Him. Thus we are called to “recognize [Christ’s] own presence in the poor who are his brethren” (Catechism 2449).

All of this should cause us to pause and intentionally examine how we personally treat the poor. The Church commands that we see all our economic decisions as moral decisions. Do I pay attention to where I shop and how they treat their employees? Do I care where the products I purchase are made and if the laborers are treated humanely? Do I support politicians and policies that undermine the dignity of the poor and vulnerable?

I think if we answer those questions honestly that we will all find ourselves failing to live up to Christ’s expectations…and that’s good!Recognizing that we are sinners is the first step towards repentance. And while God clearly condemns the wicked, His mercy is always more abundant. We see this in the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector, a man who cheated and stole from the poor on a regular basis. But Zacchaeus  repented of these sins and said to Jesus:

“‘Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost’” (Luke 19:8-10).

This is echoed in the Gospel reading today where the Pharisees condemned Jesus for eating with sinners and tax collectors and Jesus responded with His famous line,“I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).

So let yourself be condemned by the first reading today. For it is when we recognize ourselves as sinners that we can truly repent. Then when you receive His presence at the Altar you will be able to recognize that same presence in the poor and oppressed.

Paul Fahey is a husband, father, and a parish director of religious education. He can be found at his website, Rejoice and be Glad: Catholicism in the Pope Francis Generation.

Giving All We Have

Today’s readings are what everyone worries about: money. “Do we have enough to …” “Should we donate to this group or that?” “How will the government’s policies affect my savings?” “How am I going to pay for college for my kids?” “After my accident the bills keep on piling up.” “Will my savings run out during retirement?”

Even sisters worry about money, at least sometimes. Recently I read about Meg Hunter-Kilmer who in her late twenties, after two theology degrees and five years of teaching, left her job, sold everything she had, and now lives out of her car. She trusts God. No. She TRUSTS God. She certainly makes me think again about my own level of trust.

But today’s readings are about more than just trusting God. The first reading addresses extortion, injustice, and cheating for the purpose of destroying others. In an environment of purposeful deceit to get ahead at the expense of others’ basic human rights, the word of the Lord evaporates. There is a famine for hearing the word of the Lord which is nowhere to be found.

This reading ties together honest care for others, a reverencing of their life and human needs, with the security of God’s leadership and presence in our midst. As we look around us today, as we witness the degradation of the immigrant, the tearing apart of the family, the financial schemes that pit rich against poor, we need to make sure that we aren’t unwittingly swept up in the worry about money at the expense of worrying about our neighbor.

In the Gospel, the religious people considered people like Matthew, a tax collector sitting in his customs post, as a sinner. Jesus saw him and asked him to “follow him.” And. Matthew. Did. He left his money and followed a call that spoke to all the longings of his heart. He even spent his money on Jesus, throwing him a dinner that night in his house and inviting his friends.

Both Matthew and his tax collecting friends as well as the religious leaders of the day were in need of the divine Physician, the One who healed with mercy, the One who lived facing the broken “other” with an open and inviting heart. Jesus’ heart was unencumbered by the riches of financial or righteous wealth, so he could move freely among everyone else who carried the burdens of moral illness.

So when Jesus says we’ll be happy when we live as free as the flowers that luxuriantly populate our fields, here today and gone tomorrow, he tells us that we need to follow him the Word of God, and live as he, facing our neighbor, spending our lives in their service and for their good, trusting all our own needs to him.

Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, an author and spiritual mentor, offers personalized and professional guidance 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. Sr. Kathryn’s forthcoming book Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments will be released in September 2018.


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Your Sins Are Forgiven

“Your sins are forgiven”. Four words that are so very powerful. These words give me such peace when the priest confessor says them to me as I receive a blessing at the close of each and every confession. These four words tell me I have been reconciled with God. It brings great joy, and usually tears, as I hear them spoken to me. As Jesus says to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven” (MT 9:2b).

In today’s reading, Jesus tells the paralytic man to “rise…and go home” (MT 9:6c). There is an action here. The man must leave and go home. From the confessional, I too must leave the presence of the Lord and go back into the world. I can’t just sit in the moment forever. After my confession and absolution, I have been asked by the priest to share my story with others, say some prayers, reflect on specific scripture readings, and a few other things, all requiring some action on my part. I believe each of us is called to go out and do something because we live in communities. We are to be witnesses to others, charged to do so by our baptism, as a light in the world.

Yes, I can go home and sit by myself – which I do regularly. God, however, does not want me, or you, to be alone all the time. We come together to be fed by the Word of God and Body of Jesus each time we go to Mass. At the end of Mass, we are all told to ‘go out and share the Good News’. You don’t have to do anything earthshaking. It can be as simple as smiling, coordinating Vacation Bible School (or buying supplies), helping a co-worker in a way you don’t normally assist, or speaking up when you see an injustice occur. Yes, absolutely tackle the big project or take the first step to healing a personal or societal ill on any level. You can take your gift of forgiveness and pray it forward by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the sins of the world.

We are so very blessed as Catholic Christians. Now, take those blessings out into the world and share the Good News. Each new day, every new journey begins with one step, no matter the size. Take a breath, say a prayer and keep walking the Way with courage, child.

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

We Belong to God Alone

Today is an exceptional day in the history of America. Many, many things come to mind in commemorating our independence as a nation that did not exist until 1776. Our history is not as extensive as the history of European and Asian countries, but we have accomplished a lot in a mere 242 years. It is good to be optimistic about where we have come and where we, as a nation, still have to go.

Today’s readings are difficult to unpack. We have God chastising us for thinking He will be satisfied with blood offerings and oaths; demons challenging Jesus to get rid of them; swine herders in Israel telling Jesus to go away. They were more concerned with their livestock than with the lives of the two men Jesus released from the grip of the demons. Wow! What does it all mean?

Well, today’s readings are telling us that God is in charge of all of creation, all of the natural world. The Psalmist writes:
“For mine are all the animals of the forests, beasts by the thousand on my mountains. I know all the birds of the air, and whatever stirs in the plains, belongs to me.”

People of faith know that all of our natural world, including all of humanity, belongs to God, and God alone, although you might not know it living in 21st century America. Many in our country believe they are in charge of everything: their lives, families, work, even their bodies. Are we living as did the swine herders, telling God to leave, to remove Himself from our country so we can take care of everything ourselves? We look to doing things our way, not God’s way. We look to getting everything we want when we want it and how we want it, often not showing concern for how that will affect others. The result is chaos and confusion.

All belongs to God – we belong to God. When we remember this, chaos and confusion disappear, and the path becomes clearer to us for God never leads us astray. Amos tells us to seek good and we may live, so that God will truly be with us and justice will prevail and we can be freed from our own demons.

Love all you meet and care for creation as God’s great gift to you. Work daily, one simple human interaction at a time, to move hearts to an America that rejoices in the freedom of all, based on the simple concept of Love. Love of and from God. Love for ourselves and each other. God’s Law can only bring life. I believe it is not an impossible dream. God will not give up on us!

Stay strong and God bless America.

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.

One Nation Under God

This week, I cried for our world. I watch the news, I follow social media, I talk with coworkers, so I am painfully aware of our world’s struggle. I am aware of the situation happening to immigrant children in our own country. I am aware of the religious persecution. I am aware of racial bias. I am aware of refugee struggles and rejection. I am aware of the fight for basic humanity. Where is the basic humanity?

I cannot understand why people do not simply care about each other. Who are we to judge one another? Are we not brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of our differences? Who are we to deny others of the same freedoms we, ourselves, fight for? We are all struggling in one way or another and yet we are often very picky of who we will and will not lift up.

Today’s first reading says, “Brothers and sisters: You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as capstone.” (EPH 2:19-21)

Last week was Catholic Religious Freedom Week and tomorrow is the Fourth of July, an anniversary of our nation’s independence. We should use today to reflect upon what tomorrow truly means. What does our freedom and independence mean? It means our country is a melting pot, filled with cultures, races, and backgrounds that are all able to come together in a single country.

We are all one in God’s eyes. There is no “us” and “them” in Catholicism. Just as our country is one nation under God – not one American nation under God, not one North American Nation under God, but just ALL one nation under God – we are all children of God. When Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, he further explained what he meant by literally everyone being our neighbor using the parable of the good Samaritan.  You see, we are all strangers on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. It is up to us to be the Good Samaritan that treats all with mercy.

For more information on the Catholic Church’s stance on Religious Liberty, click here.

For last week’s Religious Liberty daily prayers and reflections, click here.

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.

Think of God

Does it ever scare you how easily it is to fall into bad habits? Reading about some of the transgressions of the time in the Book of Amos today, I realize once again how alive and applicable Scripture is to us today. We just as easily “trample the heads of the weak” or “profane his name” through impure acts. Even though God called us “good” from the moment he conceived mankind, it is so easy for us to be “bad”!

Being a parent has brought so much light on this tendency and the great need I have for grace. When I was single it was so easy to volunteer, go on mission trips, say kind things, help others with a project, have a regular prayer life and be a good person in general. But once I became a mother, all that was stripped away in favor of a life of 24/7 care of little ones. Not only was I no longer able to travel or volunteer or keep up a prayer routine, but any adult company in general was hard to come by. My friends had also married and had children and we all became absorbed in our own lives. I found it easier and easier to succumb to frustration, anger, finger pointing, and a desire to control.

Then I came across a reflection where the author discussed a heresy declaring that a person could gain heaven through his/her own effort, negating God’s grace. Recognizing the tendency in myself to drive, organize and manage things, I began to ponder whether I was ever guilty of this mindset. I have always been a bit of a “goody two shoes”, so to speak, attempting to follow the rules and do acts of charity, but for the past several years, sheer exhaustion and the constant outpouring of self has made grace much more of a necessity and virtue much harder to come by.

While continuing to mull over this thought, I read on and come to the Psalm: “Remember this, you who never think of God.” WHOA! That is not someone I want to be! Is He talking to me?? I certainly hope not! I much prefer to read “He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way, I will show the salvation of God.” Yeah, yeah, that sounds much better… that’s who I want to be.

So with a renewed resolve I make a conscious decision to think of God more, ask for His grace more and rely on it more often. For only in Him and through Him can I even begin to be good…

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.

Miracles are Real

I am an extreme optimist, or maybe optimist is already an extreme? I could be on a sinking cruise ship and be thankful that I will get to see the 80% of the ocean that we have not yet explored. Ok, maybe I am not that extreme, but I always try to think the best of people and circumstances. I have this crazy notion that human persons have an innate goodness and that no matter how depraved or unethical we become, we cannot entirely douse that flame.

At first I thought today’s Gospel was a perfect reading for an optimist. It speaks of the goodness of God and how if any person has a trial, illness, demonic possession, or any other iniquity, God will come and take care of the problem. Then I realized a very important truth about our faith. Miracles are not optimistic they are REAListic. The optimist tends to look at the glass half full, the pessimist looks at it half empty, but the realist looks at it and says that it is a glass of water. And the fact of the matter is that miracles are real. “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature” (St. Augustine).

We are living in an age where miracles are more important than ever before. “Miracles were necessary before the world believed, in order that it might believe” (St. Augustine). Well I think it’s safe to say we need to remind people that God is active in this world. When news headlines are riddled with division, depression, death, and destruction, miracles counteract with the divine power of God.

It’s easy as Catholics to know miracles exist, just look at the mass. I think it is difficult however to know miracles can be personal to our lives. Sure they existed in the lives of the saints that lived a long time ago in a galaxy far away (click here for some amazing examples of miracles that have happened to various saints), but God’s power has diminished every year since His death right? Or even if it hasn’t, he has no personal interest in me right?

Well the thing about the word of God is that it is living. It doesn’t die even if we put it up on a shelf. I encourage you to read the Gospel one more time and put your current life and situations into the story. What do you want God to heal? How do you need to rely on Him? Do you have faith that He has power and wants the very best for you? Tell him, after all, “We pay God a compliment when we ask great things of Him” (St. Teresa of Avila).

Be like the almost two thousand saints who have been canonized since John Paul the Great became Pope and trust that God wants to work in your life here and now. I am sure these saints struggled with thinking that God personally cared for them at some point in their lives. The difference is that they eventually gave up on their own power and relied on God to the grave and beyond. Let’s pray for grace so that one day Jesus can say to us as well, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.”

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

Conversions Woven Throughout Life

On this feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul I look back upon the journey the Lord has led me on and where He has me going. It seems like my life has been filled with conversions; some conversions very much so interior (and only noticeable to myself) and some major exterior conversions visible to all.

In the Gospel reading for today Simon Peter proclaims the true identity of Christ, demonstrating his proclamation of faith in all that the Lord has revealed. With this profession of faith, Jesus gives Simon Peter the new title of “Peter”. What is the significance of this name change? We see this happen many times throughout scripture.  We can look at the patterns (Old Testament and New Testament) and we can see that something very big happens with a name change: a call to conversion through a change in the God given mission bestowed upon the person. Peter became the root that our Apostolic Faith was set upon, growing in strength of faith as “the rock” upon which our faith is established in Christ. Paul became a warrior for the Kingdom, converting from his days of persecuting Christians and growing a heart with so much love for Christ that it could not be contained.

Whatever your vocation to love may be, wherever God has you right now, you are called to conversion. He may have you on the road accepting small conversions (letting someone go ahead of you in traffic, holding the door for others, taking more time to read scripture daily, connecting with family, etc.) in order to lead up to the great and beautiful conversion that will be an integral part of your life’s story, your love story with our Savior.  

I recall when my mission changed on the night of Easter Vigil 2015, when I was given the name Peter after St. Peter the Apostle (my confirmation saint). While going through the RCIA process that prior year, and by studying the Church years before that point, I could always identify with Peter in how he denied Christ three times. I myself denied the call to become Catholic three times before finally giving my fiat to the conversion He was drawing my heart to. I will experience another name change in October of this year by becoming Mrs. Shultz, with my conversion involving making a gift of myself to my soon-to-be husband and the domestic church we will establish together with God as our center.  

When I think about my vocational conversion, my conversion to the Catholic faith, and all the little conversions leading up to where I am now I am reminded of how beautiful it is that God wants to take us exactly the way we are and call us to greatness. He does not call those who already have everything they need to complete a mission, but rather He calls those that have open hearts to receive all the graces needed to be able to live out the mission they have been given for the Kingdom.  

Be encouraged by the examples of St. Peter, a fisherman that ended up being the rock the Church is built upon, and St. Paul, a past persecutor of the faith that ended up being a devoted servant of our Lord and Savior that shared the Gospel with the world. God took these two men, who started out not equipped to fulfill the missions before them, and gave them all the graces they needed to live their lives for Him. If you give God open arms and an open heart, accepting life’s little conversions along the way, God will equip you for greatness in the mission He has placed you on in this life. When we lovingly accept this mission with faith and trust that is when our journey towards sainthood surges to new heights, for we are all called to join our hearts to Heaven and answering these calls make this joining of heart and Heaven a reality. St. Peter and St. Paul, pray for us!

“On the day of my conversion Charity entered into my heart and with it a yearning to forget self always; thenceforward I was happy.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

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