I Call You My Friends, Abide In My Love

In this Gospel passage, Jesus invites us to a personal relationship with Him by abiding in His love. And how do we abide in His love? By keeping His commandments, which, as St. John explains in his first Epistle (I John 5:3), are not burdensome.  The two commandments which should be our daily focus are to love God with our whole heart and soul, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mat 22: 37-40). There is a great promise attached to embracing these commandments: whatever we ask the Father in His name, He will give it to us.

Jesus states, that He loves us, asks us to return that love back to Him, and wants that same love to flow out to others. The greatest love that can be shown for a friend is to lay down your life for them. Jesus demonstrated His love for us by laying down His life for us on the Cross. True love is not abstract or passive, but active in service and sacrifice for others. 

Knowing that it was the eve of His passion and death for our sins, Jesus wants to emphasize what is most important in His final words. That message was for us to “love one another as I have loved you.” We are called to love with Christ’s love, not on our own. We can never love independently, but only when we are open to being a vessel of His love. This is how we experience the true joy which Christ promised. When we place other people’s needs ahead of ours, we show that friendship isn’t just found in our words but in our actions.

When we take the next step and suffer for our friends we are following the footsteps of Christ. Self-giving and self-sacrifice are an intimate pathway to growing closer to Christ, and when we offer them up to the Lord, it is redemptive. This is how we bear fruit that will abide and is the result of the Father pruning us as a branch in the vine of Christ. 

In the work I do at WelcomeHisHeart.com I rejoice when Catholics reach out to me and share how their family encountered healing, hope, and grace through the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart. This simple self-directed ceremony is when Christ is welcomed into our life through enthroning Him on high, and we learn to live in union with His Most Sacred Heart. 

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Emily Jaminet is a Catholic author, speaker, radio personality, wife, and mother of seven children. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mental health and human services from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  She is the co-founder of www.inspirethefaith.com and the Executive Director of The Sacred Heart Enthronement Network www.WelcomeHisHeart.com. She has co-authored several Catholic books and her next one, Secrets of the Sacred Heart: Claiming Jesus’ Twelve Promises in Your Life, comes out in Oct. 2020. Emily serves on the board of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, contributes to Relevant Radio and Catholic Mom.com.

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The Way To Our Forever Home

Remember your last big trip? Traveling takes a lot of mental and physical energy. There is the journey itself, of course – the map and the means of moving and the money. There is also the “stuff” we have to keep track of constantly to make sure nothing is left behind or dropped along the way or lost in the shuffle – the reservations, payments, passports, toiletries, itinerary, keys, snacks, tickets, exchange rates, souvenirs. For some people, traveling is the greatest and most joyful adventure; for others, it is a cause of anxiety and worry! Some of us are willing to take it as it comes and hope for the best; others are meticulous planners with folders and spreadsheets and timelines; still others of us try to be one or the other, but fall somewhere in the middle.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is going somewhere. He tells the disciples he is going to prepare a dwelling place – a HOME – for them, and that he will come back again and take them there too! Where is this place? The Father’s house. That is our home.

And he reminds the disciples that they already know the way there.

Thomas speaks for all of us when he says, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” The Father’s house? Where is THAT? How can we get THERE? There is a place prepared for us there, but we’ve never seen it, so how can we find it?

Jesus tells us the “insider secret” to traveling to this final Home: HIMSELF. The route and the means and all that we need along the way are found in HIM: “I am the way,” and there is no other way. If we are at last to reach the Father and dwell in the Father’s house, we have to go through HIM.

So, if we know Jesus, we DO know the way, because he himself IS the way. Walking with him, we are walking along the right way. Walking with him, we will make it securely to our destination, and we don’t have to worry about seeing the full map or charting our own trajectory or losing anything important along the way. In fact, if we know Jesus and learn to walk with him in trust, this journey can be joyful and life-giving, even when we are traveling through deserts and briar patches and dark nights, because we know we are moving in the direction of HOME. And home is what all of our hearts long for, because home is where we are completely safe and secure, known for who we truly are, valued and loved wholly, and are able to live and love freely.

If we know Jesus, we can say confidently at the end of our lives, just as Pope St. John Paul II did: “Let me go to the house of the Father,” and enter into our Home, the fullness of God’s embrace, at last.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

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Becoming Part of The Story

In today’s First Reading, St. Paul recounts a short history of God’s chosen people. St. Paul knew that telling this story to the Jewish people in the synagogue would help them to understand how Jesus Christ was their long-awaited savior. Christ was the climax to the story! The more we Catholics of the 21st Century also come to know the history of the Israelite people and the beginnings of the early Christian Church, the more our own faith will make sense. And the more we will want to respond to God’s overtures of love, becoming part of the story ourselves. 

For the past two weeks, I have been giving the middle school children in our parish religious education program an overview of salvation history. As we began the lesson, I read to the children a one-page excerpt from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I did not mention the title of the book, nor did I give any explanation about what was happening in the story. The children had mixed responses to what I read: some wanted to hear more of the story, some were not really engaged, and several were excited, because they had read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and recognized the story.

I proceeded to draw a correlation between the children’s various reactions and our reactions to the stories from the Bible or the teachings of the Catholic Church. I explained to the children in a simplified way that unless they understand the big picture of salvation history, the things they hear and learn about their Catholic faith may not resonate with them. They will have no context in which to put new information, and they may even miss or misunderstand the life-saving Gospel message.

As the lesson went on, it became clear just how scattered the children’s understanding was. We started by discussing Creation, the Fall, and God’s first promise that he would send a redeemer to restore us to a loving relationship with Himself. At one point, an intelligent youngster exclaimed, “Now, wait a minute! Jesus is God? I thought he was God’s son!” 

We also talked about God’s continued faithfulness to His chosen people, even when they were unfaithful to Him. We discussed the fact that, throughout the Old Testament, God was setting the stage for the Redeemer to come and fix our sin problem. His plan was to restore us to a relationship with Him and to make us temples of the Holy Spirit. Finally, I referenced the role of the Catholic Church and the Sacraments, established by Christ to help us know and live the life to which God calls us.

As I taught this class over the past two weeks it became more clear to me that children and grown-ups alike need to learn about the big picture of salvation history a number of times and in different ways in order to allow it to penetrate into our hearts and minds.

When, in today’s First Reading, St. Paul preached to the Jewish people, they already had a deep sense of their own history. It didn’t take them long to start making connections about who Jesus was. Now, as Catholics, the history of the Jewish people has become our history, and we are privileged to learn it, along with the history of the early Christian Church. We are invited to respond to all that God has done for us and to become part of The Story. And we can encourage others to do the same!

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

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Our Supra-Reasonable Faith

Today’s Gospel seems to unfold in a beautiful two-part symphony with the doctrine of the Trinity being the prologue and relationship with the Trinity being the crescendo.

Beginning with the doctrine of the Trinity, one could explicate at length about this great mystery, and many have. The Trinity is the central mystery of the faith, as he is revealed through the Old and New Testament. God the Father is revealed as the first origin of everything and as a loving God to all his children. The New Testament then reveals Jesus, the Son of God, who is consubstantial or one and the same God. The Holy Spirit is then introduced by Jesus as a third person of the Trinity who is to be an advocate for all mankind. These teachings lead to the unveiling of God’s innermost secret, “God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.” -CCC #221

The Trinity can be explained even further through divine revelation as being one God in three persons. These persons are actually distinct from one another and at the same time each of them is God, whole and entire. The distinction of persons in the Trinity rests in their reciprocal relationship to one another, the Father to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both.

All of this is great if you are writing a dissertation on The Trinity, but as I have struggled with my entire life, at some point we need to move from knowledge to relationship. This is what we call faith, and the link between faith and reason is such that we can come to know God through our intellect, but we love him through faith. This is why the notion that faith is blind acceptance to something we cannot know is just silly. Faith is not only reasonable but it is supra-reasonable. That is to say, it goes beyond what we can possibly know by ourselves.

Think about going on a blind date with someone. You may look up all sorts of things about them before the date. You are gathering knowledge which can be very helpful as a beginning step. But at some point, that person will sit down and reveal themselves to you and it’s at this point you will decide whether or not to put your faith and trust in them or not. It’s the same with God. Through the Catholic Tradition we are not afraid of the intellectual process, just take one peak at Aquinas, but at some point we must go beyond reason and allow God to reveal himself to us. Even Aquinas after seeing the vision of God said all his works were straw in comparison.

I write all this today because I need the constant reminder and I hope it can be a reminder to you. I hope it reminds us all that we should learn as much as we can about God but at the same time we should listen as he reveals who he truly is in the depths of our hearts. Let’s all pray for the grace to go from information to transformation in our walk with the Lord.

“The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity. But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity: ‘If a man loves me’, says the Lord, ‘he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him.'” -CCC 260

“O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.” -CCC 260

 From all of us here at Diocesan, God bless!

Tommy Shultz is a Business Development Representative for Diocesan. In this role he is committed to bringing the best software to dioceses and parishes while helping them evangelize on the digital continent. Tommy has worked in various diocese and parish roles since his graduation from Franciscan University with a Theology degree. He hopes to use his skills in evangelization, marketing, and communications, to serve the Church and bring the Good News to all. His favorite quote comes from St. John Paul II, who said, “A person is an entity of a sort to which the only proper and adequate way to relate is love.”

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The Secure Situation Of Sheep

The “powers that be” keep the pressure on Jesus, trying to ensnare him with questions, catch him in an act for which they can condemn him as a fraud or blasphemer, and taunting him. You can hear their exasperation in today’s Gospel: “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly!”

Jesus is always free, always true, and never allows himself to get “sucked into” their drama; he is always able to maintain his separateness and independence and articulate the essential truth from a place above their desperate convolutions. And here, in response to their demands that they tell him plainly, he says plainly, “I told you and you do not believe…because you are not among my sheep.” Whoa. Poking right back with the Truth in response to their demand for an answer. “The Father and I are one.” Moments later (in the very next verse of this Gospel, which we will not hear), they pick up stones to kill him, accusing him of blasphemy because he claimed to be God. They demanded he tell them whether or not he was the Christ, and when he tells them, they move to kill him.

But Jesus was not only speaking truth to those who wanted to trap him and get rid of him. He was also speaking truth to those who DID believe in him, and would continue to believe in him, to you and to me. And what did they hear?

Not blasphemy; words of hope and love: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” This voice which had brought them so much peace and joy, these words that brought comfort and made sense of things that had stopped making sense, were surely those of the Good Shepherd leading them to verdant pastures and rest and overflowing cups! “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” The security and confidence of being in the hands of the One who has the power to save, to give the ultimate eternal freedom – this is what attracted so many to follow him along the dusty roads even in their physical hunger and thirst, this is what they longed to hear and know, this is the loving spark that had been lost in the labyrinth of laws and rules and political posturing with the powers of this world.

And these are the words he speaks to us, above the spaghetti bowl of our own thinking and the confusions of our world and our personal situations: I know you; I give you eternal life, and you shall never perish. No one can take you out of my hand. Let us all walk in the light of this word of life, from the God who keeps his promises. 

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

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I Know My Sheep

Our practice is to attend 8:30 Sunday Mass but sometimes that doesn’t work out. One Monday after such a time, I ran into my priest and he asked where we were the preceding day. “I know my sheep,” he said with a smile. I knew he wasn’t chastising me. He cares about his parishioners. It feels good to be noticed and known. And missed.

I love the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. St Therese of Lisieux encourages us to be childlike in our love and trust of Jesus but I often feel more like a sheep than a child. Sheep aren’t really the brain trusts of the barnyard. Left alone, they become overly wooly. Their vision is impaired as is their movement. Recall Baarack, the Australian sheep found with over 75 pounds of wool weighing him down. 

This is a metaphor for the spiritual life. Left alone, my gaze shifts away from Jesus. When I am not diligent in prayer, when I wait too long between confessions, it becomes harder and harder to remember where I should be focusing my vision. It’s easy to get caught up in the issues being played out in the news or on social media. I find I am less patient, less charitable, and less nice. Instead of trying to see Christ in those around me, I see the negatives. My eyes become clouded with the wool of sin.  

I also find I am bearing the weight of my sins and stress.  In times of consolation, I can skip through my busy day of interruptions and tasks, and still feel good. I am energized by my life. Again, when I lose my habit of prayer, the stressors of life grow like uncontrolled wool and weigh me down. Everything is harder. I want to sleep.

Jesus is the shepherd who takes care of me. When I drag my wooly, weighted-down self to him, he shears off the sin and shows me the light again. I know his voice and he never ceases calling me to him. He is waiting patiently to help me. He desires to keep me safe. When I surrender to him, he sleeps at the gate of the sheepfold, protecting me from the wolves prowling outside. 

Jesus came so that we “may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). What a wonderful message! As we journey through this life, we have a shepherd who came for the express purpose of bringing us salvation and abundance. We know his voice. We know he wants us to follow him. It is hard and brings its own set of challenges in a world that has turned away from God, but we may be assured that our shepherd will always be there guiding, protecting, and shearing away the excess that gets in our way.

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Merridith Frediani loves words and is delighted by good sentences. She also loves Lake Michigan, dahlias, the first sip of hot coffee in the morning, millennials, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids. She writes for Catholic Mom, Diocesan.com, and her local Catholic Herald. Her first book Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Adoration is available at Our Sunday Visitor and Amazon. You can learn more at merridithfrediani.com.

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Being a Light to Others

Do you ever feel like you are in a time of plenty, but simultaneously in a time of drought? We are in the midst of the Easter season, flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, the school year is coming to a close, and yet we are dragging…

My family has been struggling through yet another period of illness. Fevers, incessant coughs, ear infections, pink eye, snotty noses, you name it. We just keep passing germs from one to the other to the other. I just started a new job and have already had to go to the doctor four times. We have missed out on receiving our Lord three weeks in a row because we are hacking up a lung (slight exaggeration).

Yet we are Easter people, and Alleluia is our song. We rejoice through the trials because there is always something positive to rejoice over. There are always milestones to celebrate. The baby is getting her first teeth and standing up. The boys are doing well in soccer and scoring goals. My husband is gaining recognition in his video show. 

But above all I am rejoicing because the people and the mission of my new workplace are bringing me closer to God. We pray together each morning, lift up our individual intentions and praise God for His blessings. Then we each go about our day trying to bring Christ to each person we encounter. It is truly beautiful. 

Each day we can imitate the first disciples, like Paul and Barnabas in today’s First Reading who spoke out boldly: “ For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.” What a great reminder to us of what we are called to do each and every day! To be Christ’s hands and feet on this earth until He comes again in His glory.

Just as Jesus states: “The Father and I are one” in today’s Gospel, may we also be one with God so as to live with true Easter joy and then share that love and joy with others. 

I leave you with today’s Psalm, that you may rejoice evermore in Him: “Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song. Know that the LORD is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends. The LORD is good: his kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations.”


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Tami Urcia 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 projects, finding fun ways to keep her little ones occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at for Christian Healthcare Centers, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for over 20 years.

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The Holy One of God

The month of May holds much joy in our society. Spring is finally erupting in colors and new life in the majority of the USA. First communions, graduations, baptisms and weddings are being held with a renewed sense of appreciation to gather with family and friends after a long hiatus due to the pandemic.

The seasons of life have continued through the many challenges of the last two years. Personally, I’ve had many members of my family with big life events: a wedding, engagements, surgeries and burials. There are several young adults who have received certificates of study, graduated high school or college, achieved a masters degree and a doctorate (which I look forward to see conferred on this day, woohoo!).

The First Reading today has the apostle Peter performing two healing miracles. His actions, faith prayer, and witness about Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit helped many to believe in the Risen Lord.

The Responsorial Psalm speaks about returning to the Lord, as He has done so much good for me. I believe the journey of my own family is a good example of how much good the Lord has done in my life. I have entrusted all aspects of the family to the Lord, and thanked Him, the Lord God, ahead of time for an answer to prayer as Blessed Solanus Casey was known to do.

In the Gospel, Jesus again tells all who are listening that His words, body and blood are Spirit and life. “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” The apostles say yes,  they believe Jesus is the Holy One of God. The apostles have listened to His teachings, seen the miracles; they know Jesus is the One.

The question that kept coming to me as I prepared to write this: Does the other person know I am an apostle too? Am I a visible face of the invisible God in this world? Does my family, coworker, person in the car next to me, know that I believe Jesus is the One? Do my actions and reactions embody this in my daily life? Do I bear witness that He is the Holy One of God? Do you?

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Beth Price is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She is a Secular Franciscan (OFS) and a practicing spiritual director. Beth shares smiles, prayers, laughter, a listening ear and her heart with all of creation. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

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Child of God

My wife, Nathalie, and I welcomed our first child, Gabriel Michael Shultz, into the world on April 4th. As I write this we are in the throes of Gabe finding his personality, watching him grow every day, sleep deprivation, and all the highs and lows that come with this absolutely beautiful blessing of new life. 

Of course, as Catholics, one of the milestones in the Christian life is the sacrament of baptism, which we were able to celebrate last weekend. Father Adams, who also was the witness to our wedding, gave a wonderful reflection about what it means to be a child of God. He asked a few simple questions to the congregation that I want to ask you to reflect on today. When you are a child of a dog, what are you? You’re a dog. When you are a child of a giraffe, what are you? You’re a giraffe. When you are a child of a mongoose, what are you? You’re a mongoose. When you are a child of God, what are you?

It’s an interesting question to reflect on isn’t it? Naturally we want to say God but then we feel weird that we might be heretical in speaking about a human person as God. The Catechism, however, doesn’t have a problem with this strong language, in fact, it’s kind of the basis of our faith. What I am talking about is the idea of divinization, where we participate in the divine nature of God. If this all seems strange or foreign to you, the Catechism affirms it in saying, “The Word became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature’: ‘For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.’ ‘For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.’ ‘The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.'” -CCC 460

This process of divinization starts here on this earth, specifically through the sacraments, and continues on until we receive the full participation of the divine life in heaven. We got to witness our son on Sunday beginning this process. His smile immediately after the water was poured said it all, that he is a child of God and that his destiny, same as yours and mine, is to participate fully and completely in the divinity of God himself. 

So, of course, we all know that baptism makes us children of God, but what is next? How do we continue in this process of divinization here on this earth? We see the answer in today’s Gospel. Jesus tells us that, “Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”

The sacraments are the physical signs of God’s love that are so real they literally infuse us with God himself. This should be the teaching we are shouting from the rooftops. If we want more people in the Church, let’s bring them in by sharing the truth that all of this exists in order that we might become partakers in the divine life. We saw it with our own eyes this past weekend. I encourage you to look up the date of your baptism and celebrate this date every year with your family and friends as a sign of what God is doing in your life and how he became man so that you might become God. 

From all of us here at Diocesan, God bless!

Tommy Shultz is a Business Development Representative for Diocesan. In this role he is committed to bringing the best software to dioceses and parishes while helping them evangelize on the digital continent. Tommy has worked in various diocese and parish roles since his graduation from Franciscan University with a Theology degree. He hopes to use his skills in evangelization, marketing, and communications, to serve the Church and bring the Good News to all. His favorite quote comes from St. John Paul II, who said, “A person is an entity of a sort to which the only proper and adequate way to relate is love.”

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Flesh for the World

In today’s Gospel we hear part of what is commonly referred to as Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse. The imagery Jesus presents is powerful and His words form the foundation of our Eucharistic theology. 

He compares Himself to the manna the Israelites ate in the desert. He differentiates Himself from the manna by saying that even though the manna was nourishing, those who ate it still died. Those who eat of His flesh, however, will not die. Just before this declaration He says, “Amen, amen I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life”.

Reading this, I felt, was a pretty good indication that participation in the Eucharistic feast is really, really important. Christ gives Himself to us in the Eucharist as a way of drawing us close to Him and thereby drawing us to His Father. It is important for us to recognize the sacrifice that is present in every Mass.

As I’m walking up the center aisle for communion, especially on Sundays, I often find myself distracted. My eyes are not fixed on our Lord in the Eucharist, but rather they are searching the pews for friends or cute babies. My heart is not contemplating His great sacrifice, but rather I am thinking about where to go for breakfast or whether or not my outfit is “churchy” enough.

What if, as I walked up that center aisle toward our Lord Jesus Christ, I fixed my eyes and heart on the depth of the Eucharistic mystery. How much stronger would my faith be? Christ’s words are very clear “…the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world”. Throughout the remainder of Easter, my mediation as I approach the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is going to be “Lord, allow me to recognize Your sacrifice as I receive you”. 

May you continue to have a blessed Easter season and may the joy of the Resurrection continue to live in your hearts.

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

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Finding the Fullness of Faith

Today’s Gospel reading is from the beginning of Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse. As we will see in the Gospel readings over the next few days, Jesus makes it more and more explicit that eating His body and drinking His blood in a mysterious, yet very real and physical way will bring us eternal life. He also makes it clear that He “will not reject anyone who comes to [Him.]” The Eucharist, which Jesus established in John 6 and at the Last Supper as the sign of the New Covenant, is intended for everyone.

When my husband, Patrick, was a freshman, he attended a college that was faithful to its Catholic identity, though he himself had left the Church. My husband’s radical faith in Christ was clear to everyone who knew him, but the longer he was a part of this dynamic college community, the more he was drawn to the faith of his childhood. Yet, one of the issues he continued to struggle with was believing in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

At one point, he and his roommate had been hosting a visitor to campus, and as the young man was leaving their dorm room to attend Mass, he invited my husband along. Patrick politely declined. After the visitor left, Patrick prayed, “Lord, you know my struggle with the Catholic teaching about the Eucharist. If it is really you in the Eucharist, please show me.” As he prayed, he heard a knock at the door. Patrick opened the door to see that the young man had returned. He asked Patrick, “Are you having trouble believing in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?” My husband murmured something  non-committal, and the young man simply said, “Just keep praying. God will show you.” 

This compassionate young man, recognizing that my husband had a profound relationship with Christ, could have let my husband continue his faith journey as an evangelical Christian without mentioning the Eucharist. Instead, he stepped out in faith, wanting Patrick to experience all that Christ had for him. 

Perhaps as Catholics we sometimes forget that the Eucharist just the way we “do church.” It is the way that Christ himself desires us to be united with Him.  Our Lord wants everyone to believe in Him, and He invites believers to eat His body and drink His blood, so that we might have eternal life.  This reality shocked the people Jesus was speaking to. It may shock those to whom we speak. Nevertheless, we should not be afraid to invite others to explore the wondrous mysteries of the Holy Eucharist.

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

Feature Image Credit: dodo 71, https://pixabay.com/photos/mosaic-supper-jesus-bread-wine-4609565/

The Face of the Father

Before Jesus offered Himself to be a sacrifice, He spent time emphasizing with his last teachings what He really wanted us to remember. Anyone who has experienced what it is like to hand responsibility to others, especially children, knows that the last thing you say is the thing you really want them to remember. Since we are Jesus’ beloved, we should hang onto every word He says both in this moment that Jesus is giving us His ‘last will and testament’ and how that connects to the rest of what He has said.

Jesus began his discourse addressing Thomas, the Apostle who would later not believe what Jesus said about having to die and resurrect, did not believe that the other apostles saw Jesus alive, and who made the profession of faith, “My Lord and my God!” “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father.” If you know  me… this is the struggle that all of us face. Phillip, like us, can go through a good chunk of life missing the point or realizing that Jesus is trying to gently prepare us for the trial of life ahead of us. He asks Jesus to show the Father to them and then they will be satisfied. But this is what Jesus was asking of them to pray in the prayer, Our Father… We have to know Jesus, what He desires for us, for our neighbor, our enemy, and for our world in order to pray well “let your kingdom come, your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” 

This is the point of faith that we find that having knowledge of the mysteries of heaven means nothing if I do not know what my Father desires. In other words, if I do not see the end goal of what heaven looks like on earth, but I can articulate the mystery of the Eucharist or the Trinity, I have nothing. Jesus goes on to promise that we will do the same works as Jesus “and even greater ones than these”. What that looks like requires the maturing of our minds and souls as we grow to know what heaven looks like and how our Father desires to make that a greater reality. 

I am not living in some fantasy. I see the sins in our culture. I see the disorder, hatred, lust, and self justification that happens. I see the sin in our world… and in our Church. I have seen my own sin and desire to justify myself or go to confession to make myself feel better. I have experienced what it feels like to have prayed in the name of Jesus and felt God’s restraint. I have felt the effects of that, and it hurts. I can still say that I believe that I am not abandoned, and neither are you. Pentecost is coming. Even when we experience what Jesus experienced and can cry out from the heart, “my God, my God! Why have you abandoned me?” Resurrection power is just around the corner. Even when it seems like God is crushing us, He will revive us with greater understanding and strength. 

May Jesus roll away the stone of our hearts, and pour into us His resurrection power that we may see and know His face, the face of our Father who loves us through the ugly tears and into new life.

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Featured Image Credit: Gantas Vaiciulenas, https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-people-walking-on-road-between-trees-3708444/

Arthur Richardson is married to his wonderful wife, Gabby Richardson. Most of his work experience is in ministry. He was a retreat missionary in Wisconsin for two years and a youth minister for three years. He is now the Web Project Manager here at Diocesan, and loves it!