Consecrate Them in Truth

Consecrate-from the latin, consecrare; to render sacred

Render-cause to be or become; make

Sacred: dedicated to a religious purpose, sanctified, holy

Today’s Gospel is part of what is known as “The Last Discourse” of Jesus. It is Jesus’ high priestly prayer. In it, he begins to speak of his earthly ministry as already a thing of the past. He is interceding to the Father on the behalf of the apostles and the apostles are standing in for all the disciples who will follow; including you and me.

Jesus asks the Father to consecrate the disciples in truth. Jesus desires the apostles (and all those disciples who were yet to come) to be made holy. But not just holy in an abstract sense. Not just holy for use in a Church setting. Jesus asks very specifically for all his disciples to be rendered holy in truth.

All of the major world religions deal with truth. From defining truth as simply the opposite of false to being something to be sought, truth is something to be pointed at. It exists “out there” and religion is often seen as a “search to find truth”.

Only in Christianity, does the God for whom infinity is an attribute, enter into time and space and say, “I am the truth.” When Jesus Christ stepped out of infinity and became a part of creation, a part of finite, sequential time, He sanctified all of creation. The latin term is ‘suspendu’. What was finite and ordinary from the time of Creation, when it exists alongside the person of Jesus Christ, becomes elevated, sanctified, holy.

At the beginning of the Gospel of John, we hear, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Jesus Christ is the Word of God. What does that mean?

God spoke and creation happened. God’s word is powerful enough to make all the world exist, where it didn’t the moment before. This is the stuff that stretches our brains and our hearts.

In Jesus Christ, the words God spoke were made present in the time and space of creation. Because he is God’s own word, Jesus is truth. That means truth is no longer just an idea. Truth is a person, the person of Jesus.

Think about that a minute. This is heady stuff. This is where we become acutely aware that we see through a glass darkly and we long and ache for clarity. Truth is not simply the opposite of false. Truth is not an object to found. Truth is not an abstraction that can be manipulated at will. Truth is a person. A real person who lived and breathed and is accounted for in history. Truth is a man who lived, breathed, died and, as we celebrate in this Easter season, returned from the dead and ascended into heaven.

For us as Catholic Christians, religion isn’t so much a search for truth, religion is an encounter with the person who is truth and in that encounter our hearts are converted, our lives are changed. In the Eucharist, in Sacred Scripture, in each other, we encounter the one whose very thought causes us to exist, that encounter causes us to become, to be rendered sacred.

St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” Our restless human hearts can search widely for truth, but is it only when we encounter it in the person of Jesus Christ, we will come to understand that we are dedicated to a higher purpose. It is in encountering Jesus Christ; we are made holy. In Him, we are truly consecrated in truth and that changes everything.


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

Beginnings and Endings

In these final days before the great Solemnity of Pentecost, the Mass readings speak of endings and beginnings. We know that something new is about to happen: The Church is about to be born through the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Blessed Mother. We know that something old is coming to an end: The fear-induced inertia that has plagued Jesus’ closest followers since his Ascension, holding them back from acting on the Lord’s command to them to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19) will be swept away by the powerful wind of the Holy Spirit blowing through the Upper Room.

The endings, then, aren’t dead ends; rather, they are summations, even climaxes. The beginnings aren’t events fraught with worry and anxiety about what is about to unfold; rather, they are invitations to newness.

In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Paul is delivering the peroration to his public ministry. His final words to the early Christians to whom he has preached the Good News are not a sad farewell. He is at peace with what he has done — not necessarily with what he has accomplished — because he has been faithful to “the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.” His accomplishments are the Lord’s. “I served the Lord with humility,” he says. “I did not shrink from telling you what was for your benefit.”

Even though he is certain that “imprisonment and hardships” await him personally, the fact that he has proclaimed “the entire plan of God” means he has fulfilled Christ’s command. Whatever may happen to him is part of God’s plan. He has knowledge, he has certainty. He is at peace.

Many of us wonder, even worry, about what will happen to us next. … and not just tomorrow or next week, but the all-encompassing next of eternity. In today’s Gospel Jesus tells his followers and us exactly what heaven will be like: “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” That’s it…nothing more, nothing less. And, really, what else should we want or need? Heaven will be intimate knowledge, abiding union in God the Father with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we prepare to receive anew the Holy Spirit this Pentecost Sunday, we pray that our earthly endings will always be peaceful and our beginnings filled with promise until we come to God’s kingdom which has no end.

Father Tim S. Hickey is a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford currently serving as a mission priest in the Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas. A native Kansan, he was schooled at Benedictine College, Marquette University and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Prior to becoming a priest, Father Hickey was editor of Columbia magazine for the Knights of Columbus. He writes occasionally for Magnificat’s seasonal special issues and for Communion and Liberation.

Everlasting Joy

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” (Jn 15:9)

It is so easy to gloss past these familiar words, but let them sink in for a moment. Just how deeply does the Father love the Son? So profoundly that the Holy Spirit “proceeds” from their love. It could not be contained in two Persons, They needed a Third! And the Son loves me in the exact same way?? How is that possible?! Now that is some amazing love!

And what is the fruit of knowing His amazing love? JOY! If we know that Jesus loves us to the extent He loves His Father, we should be filled to overflowing with joy. “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you, and your joy might be complete.” (Jn 15:11) Is this not what we all seek? To be happy and joyful? But perhaps we don’t find it because we are looking in all the wrong places.

My husband and I are often guilty of this. We live on a very tight budget. Throw in Catholic School tuition and you just broke the bank. Yet we recently started getting the itch for a new home with a big backyard for the little ones to expend some of their endless energy. We also have two older vehicles and would love a new SUV…just a small one, so my husband won’t feel so claustrophobic in the car, ya know… and the wish list just grows and grows.

We want this and we want that and before you know it, we begin to sound like our kids who do not yet understand that they can’t have everything they want when they want it! Perhaps it is in fact childish, but to some degree, we believe that having these things will make us happy. If only we could send the boys outside to play in a fenced-in backyard when they get rambunctious…if only our car didn’t burn antifreeze, we would be happy (or at least relieved of one more burden). But would these things bring us joy? True, deep, everlasting joy? I seriously doubt it.

Our joy comes from our friendship with God and the love He has for us. “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” (Jn 15:15) We have been called into the very life and friendship of God!

But as with most things in our Christian journey through life, there is a catch. In order to take part in this divine life, we must do what He commands, bear fruit that remains, and love one another. In other words, we have some work to do! We are loved, we are invited into joy, we are friends with God, but we have to put a little elbow grease and sweat equity into it. And if we do, our joy will truly be complete and our reward (God’s infinite love) will truly be great in heaven.

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.

A Light to the World

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

Today is a big day. Not only is it Mothers day, but it is also the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. On a more personal note, it is the one year anniversary of asking Nathalie to marry me, a day that we dedicated to Mary.

I think it’s perfect that all of these events fall on the same day. When I think of mother’s day, I naturally think of my spiritual mother, Mary. The Gospel today speaks about going into the world and proclaiming the good news to every creature. Mary was the perfect model of this. She proclaimed to the world that Jesus was the Savior they had been waiting for. She was given a sign by the archangel Gabriel, and that sign became so real for Mary that she conceived and that sign became a person. A person who would save us from our sins.

In the Catholic Church, we call this phenomenon (when a sign is so real that it becomes what it signifies) an efficacious sign. This is what all the sacraments are. They are signs that are so real they become what they signify. (Ex. Bread and wine literally become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.)

Think of it this way. A stop sign is just a piece of metal with some paint. But it has the power to stop a car. It is a sign that is so strong that it effects a change.

This is why I think it is perfect that the Ascension, Mothers Day, and my one year anniversary with Nathalie all line up. There are no two people who I have ever met who show the love, strength, gentleness, power, beauty, grace, and generosity of Mary better than my Mom and my bride to be. They are such real signs to the world of the love of God, that they do not just preach the good news, they live it. It becomes part of them, real, tangible.

When I think of all the problems in our world having to do with marriage, families, and friendships, I am so thankful to have a Mom who has loved me unconditionally through everything. I can honestly say my best qualities are due to the fact that my Mom cares and has taught me so well.

When I think of all the problems with relationships, I am so thankful that I have found someone in Nathalie who compliments me perfectly. Someone who loves me no matter what. Someone who truly realizes the gift of her femininity and how much I need that as a man. Someone who serves tirelessly and gives of herself like I have never seen.

I am thankful to have people in my life who have taught me the good news through their real example. Sometimes it is hard to find these people in our lives because of the brokenness of the world, but no matter what our mother Mary can help us see the love that her Son has for us.

So please join me today in thanking Mary, who brought us the Savior, as well as all mothers. Thank you mothers! Thank you for being a much needed sign to the world of the beauty of God and the good news. Happy Mothers day, happy day of the Ascension, and Nathalie, Happy Anniversary!

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

A Life of Prayer

If you’re anything like me, you talk to God a lot, and most of that conversation has to do with something you want. I’ve always taken the adage to ask God for help to heart, often to the point of neglecting the rest—giving thanks, asking forgiveness, praying for others. “Keep me safe,” I say every time I enter my car; whether or not I remember to say thank you when I get out is another thing altogether!

Today’s Gospel reading gives us the promise: “Whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you (…) ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”

Perhaps we take Jesus’ words a little too literally. We ask for a lot of things in Jesus’ name. Safe passage. Good health. World peace. A marriage proposal. Willy-nilly we bring God heaps of requests of what we want. Prayer becomes another to-do list: I want this and that and the other… And somehow God still loves us through our childish self-centered way of reading scripture and applying it to our lives. Jesus said to ask, so we ask. And that’s what we call prayer.

Don’t get me wrong: I think that praying for things is important. In fact, I believe that what the Church needs now, more than anything else, is prayer.

The problem comes when we start defining prayer according to our narrow perceptions and understanding. Praying is what we do, what we say, what we think. It can be scheduled, discussed, planned. And yet our tradition is rich with the shining thread of centuries of understanding prayer as more than simply words. The Catholic Church has, in fact, always maintained a good balance between spirit and form, between how one does things and the reason one does them. Form without spirit is mindless repetition. Spirit without form is undisciplined and self-focused.

That balance is a life of prayer.

What happens, of course, is we say, “I need to spend more time praying.” Or we might lament, “I ought to pray more often.” We don’t need to pray more often. We don’t need to pray for longer periods of time. What we need is a life of prayer, something that allows for that balance between form and spirit, something that is permeated, shot through, with God’s grace and love. Prayer needs to be a life, not an activity.

What does a life of prayer look like? Father Walter Burghardt, SJ, told the story of an old farmer who would stop at a chapel on his way home from the fields. Knowing that the man just sat in the chapel apparently doing nothing, a neighbor asked him, “What goes on when you sit there?” The old man smiled and said, “I look at the good God, and the good God looks at me.”

That experience is consistent with living a life of prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us that prayer is “the encounter of God’s thirst with ours,” and that’s where all prayer comes from, that encounter, that completion we feel when we are in our Father’s presence. “We must remember God,” said St. Gregory of Nazianzus, “more often than we draw breath.”

So perhaps I’m not wrong in stepping into my car and asking God to keep me safe. I don’t think about doing it; it’s as automatic as is fastening my seatbelt. My life is permeated with God’s presence and love, so my everyday actions are infused with an awareness of God as well. Spirit, that intangible presence, is the backdrop to every other act of prayer.

It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t experience prayerful moments, participate in the liturgy, or rediscover the Rosary. Form is the other part of our Church’s balanced life. “Ask,” says Jesus, “so that your joy will be complete.” Asking puts us directly in the presence of God, and that presence is what gives us an unsurpassable joy.

Jeannette de Beauvoir works in the digital department of Pauline Books & Media as marketing copywriter and editor. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, where she studied with Adian Kavanagh, OSB, she is particularly interested in liturgics and Church history.

Joy Is Everlasting

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

The pain of life is temporary.

The relief of joy will be everlasting.

Christ invites us into the messiness and struggle of growing in holiness.

When we lose sight of the purpose of the struggle, it can just feel like torture: pain without a positive end. Our suffering is meant to bring new life, like a mother for her child, except this new life will be us becoming more of who we are meant to be.

“you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”

This passage reminds me of my job as a Direct Service Professional (a.k.a. a mentor to individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities). It is a cycle of mourning and rejoicing.

Some days, the folks for whom I provide support say something so heart warming that it renders me speechless. Other days, the stark reality sets in that many of the families, with a child who has autism or any other diagnosis, live a life isolated from other people.

I’m not always aware of the ebbs and flows from grief to joy and back again. I have a mystical sense that I am with Christ when I am working. Those who walked with the man 2,000 years ago experienced the highs and lows of following Him, but there is no better place to be than by His side.

“no one will take your joy from you.”

Trust that what He says is true.

And take the risk to believe it.

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

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