Being a Witness in the World

An image of St. Teresa of Calcutta, some of her quotes in frames, and a rosary on my desk. This is how I witness to the power of Christ in my classroom, which is located in a public school setting. While I know I cannot teach about my faith as a public school employee, I can have these signs visible to my students and anyone who walks in my room to point to all of the good works the Lord has done and continues to do. If my students ask about any of these things, I tell them about the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta and how she served others and how she won a Nobel Peace Prize. I let students hold my rosary and look at all of the features it entails (I keep it at my desk, and sometimes it will catch a student’s eyes). When students ask me about the Divine Mercy bracelet I wear, I simply say it means Love. This is the best way that I can share Christ to the young minds I work with without saying the name of Jesus.

In today’s Gospel reading, Christ says “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). No matter where you are in life, and where God has you, He calls you to preach the Gospel. We are to live in hope, knowing that in the name of Jesus miracles will happen. It is easy to feel fear in today’s world with all of the persecution and twisted views of human dignity.

How do we go about fighting these vices with hope rather than living in fear? We must call upon the name of Jesus. If you are in a setting where you can openly share about Christ that is awesome! Lovingly get to know the person you are evangelizing to, for we must know someone at the human level before we can enter into the intimate spiritual realm with them. The person needs to feel loved for who they are rather than feel like they are part of an agenda to be saved.  It may take time to build this relationship, but God’s timing is perfect and He knows exactly what He is doing.

What do you do if you work in a public service setting, where you cannot openly share about the faith out of respecting the backgrounds of those you work with? First of all, always keep hope. God will work through you in ways you can’t imagine as long as you keep your eyes on Him and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Ask Mary for her guidance in loving those around you with tenderness and compassion, seeing each person for their human dignity uniquely given to them by God.  

One way that you can have signs of your faith visible in a public service setting is to have an image of a saint in your workspace. I chose St. Teresa of Calcutta because she motivates me as a special education teacher and because she has a beautiful witness of loving others that is easy for my students to see. I can talk about the love she had for others without mentioning the name of Christ, and thus still be a witness to God because He is Love.

Another unique thing that you can do without others even noticing is use Holy Water on the spaces that will be utilized during the work day so that you are asking for God’s blessing before the day even begins. I do this every morning on all the desks my students will use, the door into my classroom, and any other furniture we will be using for learning activities. Walking around and using Holy Water to make a cross provides me with peace and also helps remind me of the servant’s heart that I desire to have throughout the day for my kiddos.

Ultimately, wherever God has you serving others you can be a witness to Christ with or without saying His name by the acts of love that you pour unto others, the joy that you display, and the mercy that you share throughout the day. In a world filled with darkness, we must be beacons pointing to Christ, the true Light. Even if someone does not realize that they are seeing Jesus in the ways you go about your day, your witness will cause them to see something different in you, something that directs them to hope in the possibility of goodness and light. God bless you and the journey He has placed you on!

“Do small things with great love.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta

“Courage, dear heart.” – C.S. Lewis

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

Letting Go and Letting God

May is filled with an abundance of celebrations: Baptisms, First Eucharist, graduations, retirements, weddings, anniversaries and funerals. Each milestone has its own unique character, anticipation, excitement and anxiety over what may unfold.  We can prepare for the upcoming event, but no one knows what the process – the actual journey- may contain to get to that endpoint. The pictures are taken, and the moment is forever frozen in time, but these do not begin to convey the effort or drama surrounding that one event. Now, what’s next?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus lets us know there is so much more that he wants to tell us, but we cannot handle it at this time. Most of me wants to know why not? I’m an adult. I can handle it. I’m in control of my own fate, but I then cringe at this line of thought. I hear, ‘You can’t handle the truth,’ echoing in my head. Am I being truthful with myself to think that I won’t need help bringing a new baby home, moving a parent into assisted living, confronting a diagnosis, recovering from surgery, beginning a new job or starting a different phase of a relationship? Do I really think that I have enough courage and stamina to make it through any situation on my own? The Serenity Prayer comes to mind. I need to focus on God’s will for me and my life. I usually forget that I’m supposed to surrender to Him because of my arrogance and wanting to be in control. What was I thinking?

Thankfully, I’m in good company when forgetting my way in life. This prayer helps center me as I take my next step.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.  Thomas Merton

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

A Light in the Darkness

“When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.”

Being a prison guard was a tough and dirty job. Paul and Silas were placed in an inner prison with their ankles shackled. You can close your eyes and picture the dark and dirty place, where the prisoners considered the worst of the worst were kept. No sanitation, no light, no food, the stench alone would have been enough to scramble our modern sensitivities.

The reason the guards went to such lengths? Because if the prisoners escaped, the guards were likely to receive a severe punishment; perhaps even paying with a public death of their own. Rather than endure the embarrassment and humiliation, this guard quickly considers suicide the moment he thinks he failed at his assigned task.

We can image him, standing in the dark following the earthquake, wondering what happened, what cost he would have to pay.

Yet, when Paul calls to him, the guard immediately calls for light and falls at Paul’s feet asking, “What must I do to be saved?”

How many people do we know who are standing in the dark, wondering what is happening and ready to draw their own swords rather than face the humiliation they think is ahead? How many are facing their own earthquake in the dark and are waiting for a voice to call out?

Paul simply calls out to the jailer, “We are all here.” The jailer drops his sword, calls for a light and looks for his salvation. So many times we want to be the light to someone else. Our intentions are good but the minute we try to be the light in the dark, our ego gets all involved and we decide we know exactly what help someone else needs. We get frustrated when our solution doesn’t fit their problem.

Sometimes, like Paul, we just need to call out that we are here. We just need to let others know that we are waiting for them in the darkness, whatever their darkness may be. Sometimes we don’t need to do, we just need to be, be present in the dark. Once they know they are not alone, they find the voice to call for The Light that shines even in the darkest darkness.

This is part of the joy of being in a community of believers. We can encourage one another to listen, really listen. We can practice being present to one another and then use those skills to be present with others. We can pray together and ask for the grace to simply accompany those we meet on the journey. If there is help we can provide, the Holy Spirit will guide us. If not, at least for that amount of time, whoever we are ministering to is able to experience being heard.

The bonus is we get to experience the joy that comes with listening, with just letting people know that we are here, ready to help when they need it. It is amazing how often that is enough! We may get left feeling like, “But I didn’t do anything!” Yet, we did, we did what Jesus did, we met another person and were present to them, honoring their inherent dignity and reflecting the light on how they are made in the image and likeness of God. The first step is to be like St. Paul and say in the darkness, “We are all here.”

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

A Person’s a Person No Matter How Small

‘I Hate You,’ my child screams at me. ‘Well, you aren’t my favorite person right now either, but I LOVE YOU. Now, you’re grounded, or go to your room, or no car keys for a month.’  How many times does that play out in our homes? Learning the rules and testing the boundaries of our lives is not an easy process either as a parent or a child.

Pope Francis’ monthly intention is ‘That the lay faithful may fulfill their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the challenges that face the world today.’  Being a loving parent, shaping and instilling moral character as well as virtues and conscience, definitely fit the description of a specific mission. One that needs creative care to meet the challenges of nurturing competent, empathetic, passionate members of society.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, ‘”I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.’

As I reflected on this, I recalled a recent conversation with two of my twenty-something adults while driving home from a family gathering. ‘So you’re saying that if you know you are going to have a baby with downs syndrome, or another defect, you shouldn’t have the choice to abort it, (NPR) even considering all the long-term care and expenses that family will have?’  I answered again, ‘No. A person’s a person, no matter how small’, using my favorite quote from Dr. Seuss.

There are those of this world who would hate me and call me a hypocrite, in light of the fact that I had an abortion as a young adult and immediately regretted the decision to end my baby’s life almost 34 years to the day of this reflection. Does the world hate me; maybe. Does God? No, my confessors tell me. No, I hear from the leaders on my Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. No, Jesus tells me as I kneel in adoration, or when I receive communion, or when I bow my head and pray.

As the conversation in the car continued, my eldest expressed regret at having spoken about abortion 20 minutes prior. Do I bring up the fact that the next baby I carried, the one sitting right next to me, had a congenital birth defect, and had I known at the time, I would not have chosen abortion, not ever again? Do I bring up the fact that an abortion rips you apart as well as your baby, no matter how small?  No, instead I chickened out, using exhaustion as my excuse. I am very well aware of how challenging it can be to have a child with special needs, but each and every person is uniquely made and has his or her own challenges, no matter how small or large, to be dealt with throughout life.

I share this with you today because I asked God for forgiveness and healing. I have had my own challenges and have made my own mistakes, but it is through the world’s hatred that Jesus was willing to completely give of himself on the cross. Redemption and salvation are mine because Jesus came into the world. He was hated, suffered, died and rose again for my sins, as great as they are because He so loves me and all those who come into the world.


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

Dearly Beloved

In today’s Second Reading, we are called beloved. Whenever I am called beloved in Scripture, my heart automatically melts. It is within this word that I am rooted in the truth of who I am. I am dearly loved by a God Who is Love. Today’s Gospel reading recalls Jesus’ words for us to remain in this love. The challenging part of our faith is that we have to commit ourselves over and over again to remaining there.

In my 6th grade class, we have covered the topic of sin, mortal and venial. We learned together that venial sin weakens our relationship with God, while mortal sin severs and breaks that relationship.

I picked my 6th grader student, Kailien, to sit before me in his chair. His chair was facing me perfectly. I explained to the class that this a demonstration of what sin does to our relationship with God. I explained that in this context we’re going to pretend that I am “God”. Kailien was sitting before me. We could see one another clearly, we could read one another’s body language, and facial expressions. We could be in full communication and conversation. I told Kailien that he committed a venial sin and he had to move his chair to the right.  We could still see one another and communicate, but we were not perfectly facing one another. Kailien continued to experience sin and his chair turned more and more away from me. He could still see me out of his peripheral vision but lost the ability to see me as clearly as before. Our relationship has weakened. Lastly, Kailien experienced a mortal sin. He turned his chair completely from me. His back was to me and he could no longer see me at all.

This is what happens when we sin- when we miss the mark.  We turn ever so slightly or sometimes, drastically from His gaze. We choose to no longer remain there- to remain in His love. Although Kailien could not see me when he turned his chair, I could still see him. No matter what we do and how we might turn our chairs in life- still he calls us beloved, still, he can see us completely and he looks at us with immense love. Still, we are beloved.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” When we recognize the reality that our identity lies in being “beloved”, we will remain there. Our identity doesn’t lie in what grades we get, the cleanliness of our home, or the car we drive. Our identity lies in this fact- we are a beloved son or daughter of God. Love is what we are made for as human beings. Love is of God and meant to be shared. If we are truly experiencing God’s love in our own lives, we will love others correctly. “To will the Good of the other”, this is what it means to love. When we love we freely choose the best for another person- we choose Heaven for them. When we are truly loving God and the people around us, it’s impossible to break His commandments.

Today, let’s take a moment to be truly honest with ourselves. Which commandment do we struggle with most? Who are we not loving when we sin? Can we see Him or is our chair turned away? Do we need the Sacrament of Confession to receive and remain in His love again?

Today, let’s remain in His love by freely choosing the best for those around us. Today, let us remember our true identity.

You, my friend, are called beloved. Please never forget that unshakable truth.

You are dearly dearly loved.

Briana is a Catholic Doctrine teacher at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel school in Cleveland, OH. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to bring her students closer to Christ and His Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese 

Stop Signs, Roadblocks, and Caution Tape

When I look back at all the roadblocks and stop lights in my life, I tend to think those situations were not of God. As if anything preventing me from getting where I wanted to be was the opposite of God’s doing.  In our Christian culture, it is common to feel this way and automatically get the response that it’s the opposite of Him- it’s satan holding us back.

When we read today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear how the disciples were prevented from spreading the Gospel message.  This is a time when most of us would react by saying, “That’s the devil preventing them!” or “That’s satan trying to work against them!”. God would never prevent His disciples from traveling to proclaim His Word, right?!

If we read the Scripture closely, we find that it specifically states that they had been “prevented by the Holy Spirit” It goes on to say, “The Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.”  

For some reason, I had to read that over and over again…  The Spirit of God prevented them… The Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.  How often has the Holy Spirit put huge caution tape, blocking, and ginormous stop signs in my own life? And how often did I think it was the opposite of His Spirit? Looking over my 4th graders Unit 3 Test, one question asked, “How can the Holy Spirit be your Helper and Guide?”

Looking back on those moments now, I can clearly see that it was the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Love- my Helper and my Guide.  This Scripture has taught me how necessary it is to keep my heart and mind open to His Spirit- even in so-called “setbacks”. Those particular setbacks and roadblocks in the end were for my best interest, just as it was for the disciples.

What setbacks and roadblocks have you experienced in your own life? How could some of them have been for your own protection, safety, health? Where has the Spirit of God been leading you by preventing you in some way? And like I asked my dear students, how can the Holy Spirit be your Helper and Guide today? Let Him guide you, redirect you, and prevent you. He is ultimately leading us onto the path of Love- our journey and road to Heaven.

Briana is a Catholic Doctrine teacher at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel school in Cleveland, OH. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to bring her students closer to Christ and His Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese 

Love One Another

Today we are told that we are friends of Jesus. Very comforting. However, as his friends, he also tells us that we must love one another…as he has loved us. Of all the commands of Jesus, is any harder to follow than this? Especially in today’s cultural climate. Love one another, friends and enemies. Yikes!

Remember the “greatest of Commandments? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”? (Mt 22:37) Then Jesus added, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39). Jesus’ love for us is gifted love. No strings attached. He will be there for us; we need only believe that we are worthy, and he will bring us home to his love. Jesus’ love, however, cannot be received in a vacuum. It begs for action. Love of God and his love for us is intrinsically intertwined with the love of others. If you have not truly experienced that love, it may be hard to offer those blessings to another.

When you believe that you are worthy of God’s love, regardless of your lifestyle, the time will come when you become ready to change your life and to gift someone else. Loving yourself is a real and very necessary component of gifting love. But the method in which we love ourselves needs to be defined by the way God loves us. We cannot exist with an egotistical notion that “all is mine” and not also know that, at some point in our lives, the “love your neighbor” part is also necessary.

Who is your neighbor? Stand where you are at this very moment and look around. You are in no short supply of neighbors.  A humble openness to learning from the love we receive will help you to pay it forward to each person you meet. Even if, as Mother Teresa once said, it’s just a smile. You could change someone’s world.

Perhaps a great way of starting the process would be to reflect on the Jewish blessing of Shalom. Shalom is not simply a nice greeting, something sweet to say to someone. Shalom goes much deeper. It means, in part, that all the blessings that I ask of God for myself, I also ask of God for you. No partiality. Give someone the gift of a resting place, shelter, warmth, comfort and companionship, and trust that your love, in partnership with God’s love, will bring you, as well as your neighbor, home. Oh, and let’s not forget that the offering of Shalom must also be for your enemies! Like it or not, they are also your neighbors. 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.

A Deeper Relationship

As Catholics, we strive to live in a manner that will grant us entrance into God’s Kingdom of Eternal Glory, but how do we do that? It goes far beyond holding the door open for strangers and going to Mass every Sunday. It goes far beyond baptizing your children and praying before meals. Quite honestly, the idea of working towards heaven can be daunting, as it feels as though only perfection can truly guarantee entrance. Yet it is not perfection that God expects from us, but a deep relationship with him.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us two foundational sentences with which to guide our spiritual lives. First, Jesus says that he is “the way and the truth and the life,” giving us our first clue on how to get to heaven. We are humans, and as we see from the first chapter of Genesis, we are not perfect in nature. Second, he says that whatever we ask in his name, he will do (John 14:14). As I mentioned, God does not expect perfection. What he wants is for us to truly know and love him, and he will listen.  

How great is that? How great is our God that he chose not only choose to allow us free will, but to allow us to have a personal relationship with him? He allows us to have conversations with him where we can thank him, ask him for help, and just tell him about our days. Plus, we know our voices don’t just fall on deaf ears. Even when we don’t think he is listening, it may just be that we are the ones that must stop and listen. With this kind of relationship, one so eternally forgiving and loving, why would we not want to deepen our relationship?

Jesus is the way we should live, because he lived as a human like you and me, walking the tightrope between good and evil. His way is one of hardships and giving your life in order to receive everlasting life. Jesus is the truth because He is the Son of God who came to earth in order that we may have a deeper connection with our creator. It is through having a relationship with our Lord that we are able to know the truth, to know peace, and to know love.  Jesus is the life because it is only through Christ that we are able to come to the Father and, therefore, come to know everlasting life.

If Jesus is the way and the truth and the life, then why are we not following his example? Why have we allowed ourselves to stray from the path, to believe the lies, to stay stagnant in our spiritual growth? God is not asking us to be perfect, but we shouldn’t just stop trying. Brothers and sisters, this is my reminder to you that we are given the gift of communication with our Father as a means to grow closer to God and gain entrance to his ultimate home for us. So today, let’s begin that conversation with someone that is always willing to listen:

God of light and all that is good, You have given us the gift of prayer as a way to lift our voices to you, so that you may fully know the content of our hearts and minds. We ask that you shine your light on our path when we lose our way. We ask that you shine your light on the truth when we find the lies so convincing. We ask that you shine your light so that we may grow in our relationship with you. We ask all of this through God our Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.


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.

Divine Pruning

Does anyone else want to just cringe after hearing about all the pruning happening in today’s Gospel? “He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.”

It makes me think of taking out splinters or porcupine quills or cactus spines! Ouch!! I know I have vices and shortcomings but I am comfortable with them and I would rather not change. I mean I’m not THAT bad of a person, right?  

But Jesus doesn’t want us to be “good enough”, He wants to perfect us. So splinter by splinter, quill by quill and spine by spine, He wears down our excuses, our faults and our shortcomings with His love and guides us along the way to salvation.

The deeper we allow ourselves to delve into this passage, the more beautiful it becomes: “Remain in me as I remain in you… If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” What a comfort, what a joy, what a relief to remain in God! To remain in His loving embrace, His gentle guidance, His hopeful promise!

When my husband was 17, he had a near-death experience on the operating table during an appendectomy. His heart stopped and his soul hovered over his body in the room for an instant before seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and the silhouette of our beloved Lord. He felt such an indescribable peace, love and joy that he wanted to stay there forever, yet an instant later, his heart was shocked and his soul returned to his body. He experienced, if only for a split second, what it meant to remain in God. And we have the opportunity to do the same with our decisions, our attitudes and our ministries each and every day.

Today we honor St. Athanasius, a man who understood what it meant to remain in God. He was sent to exile many times and endured much persecution because of His unwillingness to believe the Arian heresy. He defended the divinity of Jesus, remaining in His truth, no matter what human suffering it caused. What a great example for us!

So I would like to invite each of you today to allow Jesus to prune and perfect you, no matter how painful it may be, and to remain always in His everlasting love.

Tami Urcia is wife and mother to her small army of boys. She works full time at Diocesan, a Catholic communication company, 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 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.

Universal Communion

One of the greatest privileges of working on a team is the knowledge and gifts of every person and the unending opportunity to learn new things and improve in my own gifts. One of the things I love most about my job is traveling to various parishes across the country and learning how much effort is put into communication and evangelization. There is a certain strength in numbers, a certainty that my weaknesses may be another person’s strengths and that they can take the torch on a certain task.

Realizing one’s own strengths and weaknesses is important. For me, it is sometimes hard to admit these weaknesses, even though I know they exist. I know that when I do admit them and ask for help I not only realize my reliance on God, but I also realize the tremendous gift of those God has put in my life.

Thoughts of the importance of coming together united in a common goal were running through my mind when I read today’s readings. Here we see the early Church starting to form. Put yourself in these readings for just a second. Imagine you were in the time of the early Christians. Jesus has just risen and there is an excitement in the air to proclaim that good news. But there is also fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of division.

It’s no secret that there is a lot of division in our world today. Even amongst Catholics, we seem to be splitting between liberal and conservative, traditional and non-traditional, American and universal. Shouts of “I only like this certain Pope” or “This certain group in the Church is just plain weird” tend to take over the landscape of Catholic discussion.

Sometimes I think we forget that the word “Catholic” literally means universal. It means that no matter what, we are all one family. We are all a part of the body of Christ and at the end of the day we all have the same mission, to love God completely, to get to heaven, and bring as many people with us as possible. This is what we know of as the Communion of Saints. Eventually in heaven we will experience this perfect communion with God and each other, where there is no more division.

This scene from Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favorite examples of the communion of saints. For those who haven’t seen the film, the character Groot can only say a few words throughout the entire movie. He says, I am Groot, over and over again. In the final scene of the film, Groot sacrifices himself for the ones he loves and they all unite in a special way. Finally, the last words we hear from Groot are, “We are Groot.” The perfect example of communion and sacrifice.

The communion of saints is not necessarily an experience that is exclusive to heaven. Today’s readings are a calling to all of us to come together here and now as the universal Church and support and love each other, especially through difficulty and fear. When we admit our own weaknesses, allow others to use their strengths, support and love each other, and put aside our various differences, we will start to live what it truly means to be Catholic. May God help us all to see the gift of others and how that gift can bring us closer to God.

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

Inspiration Daily

You are receiving this blog/email because you either signed up for Inspiration Daily or were on our list for Living the Good News. Here at Diocesan, we strive to help every person live Catholic Life Every Day.

This is an important mission to us and it is the reason that we will be starting daily reflections on the readings of the day. These reflections are free and will be starting on May 1st. They will be sent every morning at 5:00 am (eastern). This will take the place of ‘Living The Good News’ both on our website and in myParish App.

To share this with friends and family so they can subscribe as well, visit:

We hope this program helps you in your daily walk with the Lord. From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!


If you have any questions about the program please email

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

Christmas is the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

When I was little, I really wanted piano lessons. My parents said I could have them when they could find a piano and a teacher we could afford. They kept their promise, but it took a lot longer than I would have liked. First, we found a used piano in the classified ads (which was going cheap because someone had done a very bad job trying to refinish it), and then we found a teacher (still a high school student herself) who charged very little. And then, I got piano lessons!

In the first reading for today, there is an amazing, breathtaking promise by God. It comes about, not because King David asks for it, but simply because God decides to make it.

The reading starts with David proposing to build a house for God. He wants to build a beautiful temple for God to dwell in, instead of the tent that is still being used, even though the people have settled, and David is living in a palace in Jerusalem.

But God sends a message to David, saying, in effect, “You want to build me a house? I’m the one who took you from being a shepherd and made you king. I fought your enemies and made you famous.” And then he makes this promise: “I will establish a house for you.” And the breathtaking part: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).

So, did God keep this promise he made to David? It seemed for a while that he had not. Yes, David’s son Solomon did inherit the throne from his father, and there were kings descended from David for a period of time. But the dynasty of David went into decline for generations. It didn’t seem that there was anyone on his “throne.”

But in today’s Gospel we see that he did indeed keep it! The first hint is at the beginning, in the description of who the angel Gabriel is sent to. Before it mentions Mary’s name, she is described as: “a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph of the house of David” (Luke 1:26). And then, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that her son will be the Son of God, and “the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David” (Luke 1:32).

There are other references to Jesus as the Son of David, such as when the blind man calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47). And when the crowds shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” when Jesus enters Jerusalem before his Passion.

Yes, it took a while, but God sent his Son as the fulfillment of his promise to David thousands of years ago. On Christmas, we will celebrate that coming and thank God once again for Jesus, whose kingdom is forever.

Sr. Maria Grace Dateno is a Daughter of St. Paul, and is currently an acquisitions editor at Pauline Books & Media, as well as an author of books for children. Her many nieces and nephews (25 at last count) inspire her writing, including the six-book Gospel Time Trekkers series, which are time-travel adventures for ages six to nine.