Is There Power?

Have you ever done the classic God test? “I am going to pray for this specific thing, God, and if it doesn’t happen then you are not real.” We judge God by his power and if a specific thing doesn’t happen then we assume that somehow God has lost his power or doesn’t even exist.

We have to dive into this a little because I know many people who have fallen away from faith due to this mentality. A lot of it has to do with putting ourselves in the proper place. If God did, in fact, created us than he knows ultimately what is good for us. It might be impossible for our human minds to see how a good could ever come from cancer or from terrorism, but if we try to put on divine glasses we can see that maybe someone with cancer drew closer to their family and God through the process or we might see how our country united as one through the events of 9/11.

God is always acting with his power, it’s just not always the answer we may expect, because God knows better than we do. In the Gospel today, Jesus explains this using the analogy of a friend. Have you ever had a friend who was a good enough friend to tell you that you were being an idiot or that they could see when you were making a mistake and they gave you some tough love?

I think we need to draw this part of the analogy in. When we ask for things from God we may not receive it because a greater good is possible and God wants our ultimate fulfillment. It is the ultimate act of love just like a friend would do for us.

But does this take away God’s power? We hear the classic praise and worship song where we sing, “There is power.” Do we still believe it? Do we believe that Jesus has power still to this day and that prayer and the sacraments are effective ways for God to communicate grace? Or are we among those who believe that grace exists on a timeline in history to the point where after so many years it runs out?

If there are three things I take from this Gospel today it’s that God has the ultimate power, I need to be smaller and trust that he will take care of me in the proper way, and that God truly wills my good.

If we start to believe that God doesn’t answer prayers, simply because it’s not the exact answer we expected, then we are essentially saying that the cross meant nothing. I want to proclaim that the cross has real power, Jesus’ sacrifice had real power and still does to this day, and God’s love is still present and active in the world. Let’s ask for the grace to put on those divine classes and see. From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

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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

Give Us This Day Our Daily Meditation

We all know that prayer is the way we converse with God, but we often feel a bit lost about how to pray. Reciting prayers is one thing; truly praying is another. Maybe you’ve seen someone at prayer and been struck by how they seem to be able to converse with One they know loves them! The disciples must have been struck in a similar way when they saw Jesus pray, so they asked Him to teach them how to pray like that. And Jesus gave them – and us – the words we pray together so often in the “Our Father.”

This is the only “prayer” Jesus gave us. Yet we too often rattle off the words as if we were in a hurry to get to something else! Long ago, I realized that the words Jesus gave us must be meditated on so that they sink into the fibers of my being and become part of my DNA, as it were. So I decided on a method I’d like to share with you:

Each day of the week, I focus on one phrase of the prayer. It becomes the “background music” to all my other prayers and meditations of the day, and the prayer phrase I repeat throughout the day.

SUNDAY: “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Jesus always prayed and acted in the fullness of His divine Sonship, acknowledging his Father as ALL. We can spend this day thinking about our own adoption as children of God and heirs with Christ, gathered together as one Body in Christ to worship the Father Who is Love.

MONDAY: “Hallowed be Thy Name.” The Name of the Lord is thrice-holy, and to be reverenced and glorified by us. We can think also of the many “names” of God: Creator, Sanctifier, Savior, Father, Son, Spirit, Love, Mercy, etc. We can also make some act of reparation for those who do not reverence the Names of God.

TUESDAY: “Thy Kingdom come.” God willed that His Kingdom be established on earth, so that all creation might fulfill its purpose. His kingdom is established one heart at a time, as each one surrenders fully to the reign of love and peace. But there is a battle that has been waged from the beginning against this Kingdom on earth, and the Enemy is never asleep. What can we do to allow Christ to reign fully in us?

WEDNESDAY: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” How is God’s will done in Heaven? Promptly, perfectly, lovingly, joyfully, trustingly, peacefully. Also, effortlessly, but we will have to wait until we are also in Heaven to act effortlessly. While we are here on earth, we can focus on asking often throughout the day: What do You want in this situation, Lord? How can I be Your instrument of love in the world? I want to do YOUR work, YOUR way; YOUR will for YOUR glory.

THURSDAY: “Give us this day our daily bread.” I love the fact that when you line up the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer with the days of the week, the petition for our “supersubstantial bread” comes on the day when we traditionally honor the Eucharist because of Its institution at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. We ask the Lord to give us this day our daily bread; give us today what we need for today; give us this moment what we need for this moment. We entrust tomorrow to the Lord’s Providence.

FRIDAY: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Again, is it a God-incidence that the petitions line up so that on Friday, traditionally a day of penance, we beg forgiveness for our sins? The words for today remind us that we are forgiven AS WE FORGIVE, and is a call to let go of any resentments or grudges that obstruct for us the wide horizon of God’s love.

SATURDAY: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Finally, we ask the Lord to guide us on our way so that we might walk along paths that will lead to Him and not to confusions, questions, danger, and sin. It is a way of asking that God’s mercy and love accompany and lead us toward Himself.

These are only springboards to your own meditations, and I pray that all of us receive the grace to continually dive more deeply into the words Jesus gave us as a guide to prayer!

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

Letting Go of Fears

Recently, I was hanging out with a friend that is more direct than most people. She was complaining of not having plans for Halloween and stated that I have the perfect home for hosting parties. She asked why I haven’t thrown one yet. The hint was pretty clear, she wanted me to host a Halloween party, and I had no excuse not to. She was right; I have a perfectly fine home to invite friends into. Now, I confessed that I hadn’t hosted anything before because it makes me anxious. I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks throughout the ups and downs of my life. Even though a party is no reason for anxiety, I’d beg to differ. The list of common worries goes like this; “What if no one shows up? What if it’s boring? What if I don’t have enough food or drinks?” The list goes on, but you get the picture.

I knew at some point I’d have to get over these fears and host a party, so that is what I am doing. I started looking through Pinterest for fun Halloween themed food and drinks. Now there is an expectation I will probably not meet. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, after reading the Gospel for today, I completely felt for Martha in a whole new way. Throughout my life I always tended to roll my eyes at Martha in this story, like come on girl, just come sit by Jesus’ feet too. I didn’t understand the stress of hosting and all that comes with it. Although my party is still a few weeks away, I have made myself a To-Do list that seems a mile long, and if my husband were to not help me on the day of the party, I would have the same question as Martha.

She was burdened with much serving. I can picture her trying to do a million things at once, and she approaches Jesus with frustration, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” Jesus responds, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.”

I love this story because Jesus is not only telling Martha that He knows all her anxieties and worries. He knows ours too. Forget about the silly task of throwing a Halloween party; there are much bigger parts of our lives that we all worry about! Let’s think about that for a moment, the worries you have today about your future, health, job, friend, or problem, all those things are fully known by Him. There is comfort in the fact that He knows they exist; they are not something of our imagination or something that is passed by or deemed unimportant. No, He is well aware of the troubling worries and anxieties we have in our day to day lives, but he doesn’t leave us there. In this Gospel, He shares what the need of only one thing is, Him. He is the better part that will not be taken away.

When big or small worries and anxieties overwhelm us, let us learn from Mary and choose to sit at His feet. He is the answer, the better part, the need for only one thing. How differently would our hearts carry the crosses of anxiety and worry, if we responded to them by spending more time with Him? My challenge for you is to be like Mary, to choose to spend time in prayer, listening to His voice when the voices of anxiousness and worry try to bind you. Let us bring it all to Him and sit at His feet.

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Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Hi, My Name is Jonah

“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me.”

And so Jonah’s story begins with a crystal clear message from God about what he was to do next. No need for discernment, God spoke clearly. The message is in quotes, so we assume that God spoke directly, in words, straight from God’s mouth to Jonah’s ears. But is that really the way it happened? This story was handed down as verbal tradition for many generations before it was written down, and many more generations passed before it was codified and declared by the Church to be God’s inspired Word and included in what we now call the Bible.

Jonah’s story is true in the same way some of our favorite family stories are true. What happens when the family gathers, and someone tells about the time that old Uncle Joe attempted to fix the barn roof as the big storm came rolling in? Cousin Bart starts the story, but if he tries to embellish, Aunt Nancy, who used to listen to her dad tell the story every time a storm was coming, may shout out a correction. The story is true, and the retelling is kept honest by family members, but the exact quote of Uncle Joe telling the cow, “Don’t worry, I’ll save you!” may no longer be the exact words said at the moment but rather they convey the truth of what happened.

So it is with Jonah’s story. We read the story and assume God’s command came from God’s mouth to Jonah’s ear, and we wish we could hear God so clearly. Maybe, Jonah did hear a voice, but he didn’t believe the voice was God’s? Maybe Jonah thought he was cracking up because he was hearing voices? Maybe Jonah heard about the people of Nineveh, and the desire to go and teach them about God welled up in Jonah’s heart so strongly because that was God’s will, but Jonah didn’t understand, so he ran in the opposite direction? The story of Jonah leaves out Jonah’s process of discernment in determining how he knew that was what God wanted him to do with his life. How many times do we say, “If I just knew what God wanted me to do with my life, I’d do it? But I am just not sure. I wish God would speak to me more clearly.” And then, like Jonah, we head in the completely opposite direction.

What a beautiful comparison we are given in the Gospel reading! How did the Good Samaritan know that he was supposed to care for the man beside the road? The priest and the Levite, both men who were supposed to be in touch with God’s plan, walked right on past. How did the Samaritan, who wasn’t even one of God’s chosen people, know the right thing to do?

Is it possible, that sometimes, we get so worried about wanting to know God’s will for our lives that like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’s story, we forget to do the next right thing? The Samaritan saw a person in need and helped. How often do we see a person in need, and we make a quick, almost unconscious decision that that isn’t what we are supposed to be doing right now, so we hurry off to figure out God’s will for our lives? How often do we get swallowed up by a big distraction and it isn’t until we get hit upside the head and tossed upon the proper shore by “life” that we figure out what we were supposed to be doing all along? It isn’t flashy, new, and different, and it certainly is counter-cultural to the world around us, but what if we aren’t supposed to discern our whole life path right now? What if we are only supposed to live God’s love right now within the situation we are currently living.

When Jesus became incarnate, He changed everything. In Jesus, God’s invisible love became visible in the flesh, in the physical world. It is our mission, as priests prophets, and kings by virtue of our baptism, we are to spend our lives making God’s invisible love visible in this world. What would happen if we dedicated ourselves to taking time every day to slowing down for just a bit and really being in God’s presence? Would that change how we live the rest of our minutes? What if discernment isn’t so much about making huge decisions for the future as it is about taking the time in prayer, reading, reflection to recognize and do the next right thing? If we radically make God that much of a priority in our life each moment, so that when the next moment presents itself we are able to do the next right thing, doesn’t it seem like some of the big decisions would take care of themselves?

Mother Teresa said, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” We won’t need to worry so much about hearing God’s voice in our ear, because we will already be living God’s love in our hearts.

The Gospel Acclamation sums it up; “I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”

Wherever you are, may you live in God’s love today, with the courage and strength to do the next right thing. Amen.

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Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

Living a Saintly Humility

Think back to the last time you anticipated an event that was so important to you that you couldn’t help but tell everyone in the known world about it. You took to social media to share with friends and family and even made an event so you could invite people you haven’t spoken to in years. You may have put up signs, talked to friends, and recruited them to spread the word, and if you were feeling so bold may have even tried to get local news channels involved.

I had a time like this in High School when I had the chance to play Marcellus Washburn in The Music Man. This was a dream role for me, and though it is not many young kids’ dreams to be cast as the funny fat guy, to me, I had finally made it in life. I told everyone about the show, shared on social media, tried to get a pyramid scheme of friends to promote the show, and we even had interviews at the local radio station. I was so excited to be seen as Marcellus Washburn.

Opening night came, all the nerves, joy, fear, excitement, and tension of live theater was in the air. The lights came up, and as the show started, I felt as if I was finally fulfilling my calling. My big moment was at the beginning of act two, where I got to sing my own song wearing a bright pink suit that had been made out of a pair of curtains. It was entirely goofy, and I was so ready.

The song went off without a problem, and I ran off stage for my quick costume switch that was coming up. As I was changing, I quickly realized that I had ripped a hole in my pants down the seam, and the hole was there for the entire song. I was quite embarrassed. To this day, nobody has brought it up, but I am just sure that I scarred the whole audience that evening.

So why do I bring up one of the most embarrassing moments of my life? Well, the Gospel today is a little hard to swallow. The Disciples are asking for Jesus to increase their faith, but he can see that they are just in it for themselves. They want to show how strong their faith is and how good they are. I felt similar on that night so many years ago, trying to show how amazing I was. Jesus shuts that down so fast by reminding them that their faith can be as small as a mustard seed, and God will do incredible things.

He then goes on to explain that a servant who does as he is told is not amazing; he is not a rockstar; he is just doing that which is required of him. This again reminds me of that fateful night. Even if I did a fantastic job and remembered all my lines and didn’t rip my pants, I would still just be doing what is required of an actor.

I think we can relate this to our lives as disciples, as well. We just had four retreats at our parish that were all about discovering our God-given gifts and applying them to build up the kingdom. It’s easy to see those gifts and brag and try to make it all about us. But Jesus reminds us that as disciples, we should imitate him and as apostles, we should go out and share that imitation with the world. We could be the best evangelist, speaker, prayer warrior, mystic, or teacher that the world has ever seen, but at the end of the day, those things are just normal to being a disciple.

I think two things keep us from being saints. The first is that we aren’t dead yet, and the second is that we need true humility. All of us can get better at being humble; I know I can. Humility is genuinely grasping our place in the world, and knowing that everything we have and every gift we have been given is thanks to our God. He holds us in existence; he gives us our gifts. If we use them well, then we should be humbled and realize that that is just what we should be doing. That is what it means to be a disciple.

Let’s all pray for the grace of humility as well as courage and willingness to go out and be disciples to the world. From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

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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 Power of a Name

“The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.’ Jesus said, ‘I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.’”
– Luke 10:17-20

We all have doubts, worries, and fears. Going through the daily motions of life, these specific waves of anxiety can take over with it being hard to see the light in all situations, that light being Christ. God is a constant, whether we feel His presence or not. I know I have gone through dark times where it is hard to find God, falling into despair and hopelessness. Today I offer a reminder of the power one name has to conquer all of these trials we face, and that is the name of Jesus.

On this day, we honor a saint that truly lived out a charism of faith, of radical trust in God even when the going got tough. St. Faustina Kowalska lived in Poland in the early 1900s and wrote a diary depicting her interactions with Jesus, one most famously resulting in the painting of the image of Divine Mercy. When we see this image today, there are four words that are written underneath this beautiful image of our Lord – “Jesus, I trust in You.”

This phrase can become the most beautiful prayer if we offer it to God, even in our weakest moments, and when it is hardest to proclaim trust. I believe God truly sees the intention of our hearts when we proclaim this belief in dark times. Jesus’ name has great power, and this phrase will allow us to call upon His great power in order to calm the storms in our hearts. For example, when my compulsions (checking locks, the oven, etc. repeatedly before leaving the house) flare up due to stress, I will say the phrase “Jesus, I trust in You” each time I check something. This has reduced my compulsions because I know Jesus loves me and will protect me, so proclaiming His name in these events of doubt allows me to give all of my OCD to God.

Never underestimate the power of Jesus’ name. There is no greater name, and we are blessed to have Him to call upon as our Advocate, Teacher, and Shepherd when we need to find our way home. The next time you face anxiety, doubt, or darkness, say, “Jesus, I trust in You.” Let His peace wash over you.

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

If Today You Hear His Voice, Harden Not Your Hearts

The readings today are clear. We must pay attention to the words of our Lord God. We must listen to Jesus, His Son.  

Today is also the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi. As a young man, Francis enjoyed the pleasures of this world and did not hear the voice of God. He did not see God reflected in the image of his fellow man. Francis was about 19 when he went to war, was captured and imprisoned for a year. He was ill when released from prison and bedridden for another year. While convalescing, he read about the lives of the saints. Francis shares several characteristics with many of the saints. 

After his recovery, Francis had many experiences in which he heard God’s voice. He saw God in a leper, and instead of passing, got off his horse and embraced the man with leprosy. He heard the voice of God while praying in a broken-down church, San Damiano. While before the crucifix, Francis heard God telling him, “Rebuild my church.” He went on to do so both literally and figuratively.

I believe a similar message is being spoken to us, right now, in our time. I, too, have been deaf and blind to His voice and presence. I have hardened my heart to the pain and suffering in my personal family as well as in my brothers and sisters around the world bonded through our shared humanity. I have a deep appreciation for creation, yet am I actively working to live in harmony with all other living beings and take care of our shared planetary home?

Please pray with me so that we too, can hear His voice and soften our hearts.

O most High, almighty, good Lord God, to you belong praise, glory, honor, and all blessing!

Praised be my Lord God with all creatures; 
and especially our brother the sun, which brings us the day, and the light; fair is he, and shining with a very great splendor: O Lord, he signifies you to us!

Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon, and for the stars, which God has set clear and lovely in heaven.

Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind, and for air and cloud, calms and all weather, by which you uphold in life all creatures.

Praised be my Lord for our sister water, which is very serviceable to us, and humble, and precious, and clean.

Praised be my Lord for brother fire, through which you give us light in the darkness: and he is bright, and pleasant, and very mighty,
and strong.

Praised be my Lord for our mother the Earth, which sustains us and keeps us, and yields diverse fruits, and flowers of many colors, and grass.

Praised be my Lord for all those who pardon one another for God’s love’s sake, and who endure weakness and tribulation; blessed are they who peaceably shall endure, for you, O most High, shall give them a crown!

Praised be my Lord for our sister, the death of the body, from which no one escapes. Woe to him who dies in mortal sin! Blessed are they who are found walking by your most holy will, for the second death shall have no power to do them harm.

Praise you, and bless you the Lord, and give thanks to God, and serve God with great humility.

(St. Francis, 1182-1226)

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here

Choosing Joy

This morning, my dad called me as I drove into work, and I immediately knew why he was calling. My great uncle, who had been like a grandfather to me, had passed away. As I hung up, I had to pull over and cry. Between the stressful weeks at work and the end of my relationship the night before, it was just too much. 

I felt so lost, so broken, and just so sad. I let my boss know I would be coming into the office late and went straight to the Cathedral. 

Kneeling in front of Mary, I asked for peace and her unwavering trust in God’s plan. Mother Mary heard my cries, and I immediately remembered something a priest said as he was greeted by his parish staff. They asked him how he was doing, and he responded with, “Thanks be to God that I’m still alive. Although, if I were to die, what a blessing that would be!”

The whole parish staff sat in the room and gasped in disbelief, shock, and concern. They joked about the fact that he’s the one who performs the funerals and that everything would be thrown into chaos. The priest then reminded us all that death is the passage that gives way to eternal communion with God. He reminded us that our life spent on earth is only to get to heaven, so what a blessing it would be to be called home by God.

Sometimes we forget that while our life is important, it is also temporary. We forget that we are only here to get there. We forget that through God, even in death, there is peace and joy. 

Today’s first reading and the responsorial psalm are both about joy. The joy of Ezra reading the bible to the people was truly a celebration, complete with reading from the bible for the length of the 7-day feast. The responsorial psalm reminds us that God’s commandments give joy to the heart. 

In life and in death, we can feel the joys of God’s presence, or we can feel the sorrow in believing that we are alone. 

I’ve said before that while a situation may be out of our control, our joy is a choice we can always make. I wrote it for you just as much as I wrote it for myself. Many times, I lose my joy for a day, a week, a month. I feel the sadness and the heaviness of my cross weigh down on me and choose to selfishly and naively think that I carry the burden by myself. 

My brothers and sisters, we are always offered joy, and we are not alone.

As you read this, I’m not sure if you are living in joy or feel alone, but today I ask that you pray for all those suffering:

Deliver us, thus, Oh God, from the time of trial and temptation. 

But when this time arrives for us, Our Father, show us that we are not alone. You are the Father. Show us that Christ has already taken upon himself the weight of that cross too. Show us that Jesus calls us to carry it with him, abandoning ourselves trustfully to your Fatherly love. 

Thank you.

Prayer from Pope Francis’ address to the General Audience on May 1, 2019

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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.

Children and Guardian Angels

Each night as I tuck my boys into bed, I pray with them. We tell Jesus and Mother Mary how much we love them and pray for all of our family members. They each have a crucifix in their room to remind them of God’s presence, and I plant kisses on their cheeks and the Sign of the Cross on their foreheads to remind them of mine. Just before I close their door, we recite the Guardian Angel prayer and they drift off to sleep knowing of their protection.

I remember my Dad talking to us about our Guardian Angels as a child. He would tell us that we each had one and their job was to protect us and watch over us. He even called his own by name and claimed he was the patron of parking spots. When we went to an event where parking space was limited, and we had been driving around for a few minutes with no luck, he would ask his guardian angel for help, and he would quickly find a spot…every time. I began to realize that we could have more than just a superficial realization of our guardian angel’s existence in our lives; we could form a relationship with them.

Our guardian angels remind us of our frailty, they remind us of our humanness, of our dependence on an Almighty God and His heavenly helpers. Any day of the week, at any moment we could find ourselves at death’s door, yet God sends us His angels to keep us safe until our time comes.

Perhaps that is why today’s Gospel speaks of the angels in the context of children.

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” (Mt 18)

Perhaps you have your own children to tuck into bed each night, perhaps you have grandchildren or nieces and nephews you enjoy watching grow up, but whether you do or don’t, don’t ever forget your own childlikeness. For you are and always will be a child of your heavenly Father. You are a child, and your guardian angel, who watches over you, is gazing on the heavenly Father’s face. May that thought bring you peace and joy this day.

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

A Time and a Place

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, not only because of the pumpkin spice and everything nice but also because of the change that occurs in nature. We have begun to enter the time where jackets come out, the nights get colder and darker, families come together during the many different holidays approaching, and people spend far too much on their delicious pumpkin spice lattes. Now is the time for a change in the weather. There is a time and a place for everything and now is the time for fall.

In today’s Gospel, we encounter Jesus traveling through various villages and trying to find a place to stay. One cannot help but think back to his birth when they also couldn’t find anyone to welcome them in. This wasn’t new to Jesus, and perhaps a vengeful king would have destroyed the town without a thought. But Jesus is no normal King. While he is just, he is also merciful, and he shows this extraordinary mercy on this little town that was not willing to welcome him.

Now think back again to fall, there is a time and a place for everything. At this moment in the Gospel, Jesus decided this was predominantly a time for mercy, and justice could take a back seat. I think Jesus was always doing this during his ministry. He casts this perfect balance between compassion and justice, showing us that he will be just, but his heart beats with mercy.

I think we can put ourselves in the place of this little town. How often does Jesus approach us, and we turn him away? How often do others approach us for mercy, and we claim that we are not our brother’s keeper? And yet, despite our faults and failings, Jesus does not give up on us. He gives us a merciful chance, just like he did in the Gospel today.

I think it’s easy to look at that town and think, “What was their problem? How could they reject Jesus.” But then we are so quick to turn Jesus away for friends, cultural norms, or sin. I am reminded today of the immense mercy that Jesus has poured out on me and my life, and I can’t help but want to treat others with the same mercy. I pray for this grace and hope we all can open our hearts to the beautiful mercy of God. From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

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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

Who Belongs?

Every time I catch myself doing or saying or even thinking something unkind, and every time I chastise myself for it, I’m generally able to look to Scripture and find that while my reaction was indeed not top-notch, it was still pretty normal. Look at the disciples! They had the gift of the ongoing presence of Jesus, physically, every day, and still, they consistently exhibited the most human—and negative—of traits.

Today’s reading is no exception. Here Jesus is preaching humility while at the same time the disciples are arguing—essentially—over which one of them is the greatest. Seriously? I find this scene so difficult to imagine! These men who left lives, families, income, everything behind to follow Jesus in humility and simplicity, are now sitting around bragging and arguing. What’s wrong with this picture?

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” 

Jesus manages not to lose his temper with his slow-witted band. Don’t you see, he is saying, this isn’t the way to go. It’s about making yourself small, not big. It’s about modesty, not boasting. It’s about humility, not grandiosity. This child is closer to the Kingdom than you are.

And then John, perhaps in a desperate attempt to change the subject and deflect Jesus’ criticism, says, “Oh, and by the way, we did do something good. We saw this guy who isn’t one of us, he’s not part of the inner circle, and there he was, casting out demons in your name! We put a stop to that pretty quickly!” He and the other disciples were probably exchanging congratulatory glances with each other, maybe even a first-century high-five or two. Okay, so maybe they shouldn’t have done that “who’s the greatest” contest, but for sure Jesus is going to approve of this!

And then Jesus says something truly extraordinary.

Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

I’ve belonged to exclusive clubs and even cliques before. You probably have, too. We bond with people with whom we have things in common, and the way we know we belong is because we exclude other people. And because others are excluded, there’s a certain excitement about belonging; we’re special because we belong, and we’re special because others don’t belong. It’s all pretty circular. I remember in particular in primary school I was part of a singularly idiotic group with a secret password; if you didn’t have the password, then you weren’t One Of Us. 

As adults, we’ve extended that sense of who belongs—and even more importantly, who doesn’t—into every facet of our lives, and we do it, at least in part, to underline that same sense of specialness. Smart people join Mensa. College graduates form alumni associations. People descended from various ethnic groups drink at exclusive clubs. Invitation-only parties help us rank ourselves and others. And of course it goes even deeper: we distrust those people who aren’t part of our groups. We label them as “different,” as “other,” as not part of “the norm.” And the consequences of this need to feel special is that we’re right back to arguing who’s the greatest.

Jesus is consistently about inclusion rather than exclusion, about sharing rather than denying, about acceptance rather than rejection. Here he takes it a step further: if someone has not actually pronounced themselves as your enemy, then you have no reason to reject them. 

Think about that for a moment. I can only see someone as “The Other” if they have, essentially, threatened me harm. The rest of the world? It’s just like me. Dresses differently, speaks differently, thinks differently—but is just like me.

For Jesus, there is no “Other.” There is only a whole vast world of people who do not yet have the gift of the knowledge of the Kingdom of God. We have that privilege. It’s not something to brag about, any more than we can brag about where we were born, or into what societal group. No one is greatest by virtue of the accident of their birth. If we are Catholic, we would do well to feel grateful for the way the world arranged for that to happen, not be disdainful of those not so fortunate.

As we look forward to this fall and to the liturgical season of Advent, we might do well to remember that Christ was born a helpless baby, to poor parents who immediately became refugees, that he never went to college, never owned a house, and that he spent most of his time with people we would most decidedly think of as “the Other.”

Today’s Scripture reminds us that we’re not alone when we mess up; but it also shows quite graphically what that messing up looks like. The picture here of the disciples is anything but flattering. How many times in the past week would we have numbered among them? How many times would Jesus have had to remind us of God’s priorities?

Christianity isn’t a club. We shouldn’t have hidden passwords or secret handshakes. We shouldn’t judge ourselves better than anyone else. Jesus calls us to welcome the whole world into our hearts.

Today is a good time to start.

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

Who Do You Say I Am?

Opinion (noun) a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge

We form opinions all the time. What (or who) we like, what we don’t like, what we want to eat and what makes us turn up our nose. We have viewpoints on politics, education, society, gardening, and religion. There is no end to the topics about which we form judgments, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

What does that mean for us as Christians? Our God and Creator is the Supreme Being. He is primary to all else. He is the source of all that is good, true, and beautiful. His is the source of wisdom and true knowledge.

When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do the crowds say I am?” He was asking for the prevailing opinion, not necessarily based on fact. The Jews were looking for a political king. Someone to shake up the social order and help the Jews rise in socio-political standing. The opinions of the crowd, “John the Baptist,” “Elijah,” or an “ancient prophet” all were affected by what they thought would happen when the promised Savior arrived. They were looking for their time to be on top, to be the ones with authority.

The fact is Jesus did shake up the social order, but not in the way they were expecting. “Jesus summoned them and said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (Mark 10:42-45)

When Jesus turns the question and asks the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” He isn’t asking for their opinion. He is looking to see if they have been listening, have they truly opened up their hearts and their minds to his teachings? Is their answer grounded in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Every action Jesus takes speaks louder than the most eloquent of us. From calling fisherman to be leaders of His new Church to eating with tax collectors and women on the fringes of society, Jesus acts in wisdom born of the true knowledge of who people are and who he is.

Isn’t that our goal? When we acknowledge who Jesus is, and we embrace who we are in his sight, then we no longer have need of voicing opinions which may not have any basis in fact. We don’t need to try to control situations or turn things to our advantage. We stand straighter in the knowledge of the Master whom we imitate. We no longer strive for authority or to lord our thinking over others; we desire to imitate Jesus, who came to serve.

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Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.