Our Lady of Guadalupe

“Mary, make me love your Son Jesus as the Principle behind all things, not with a fear that paralyzes and discourages, but with a love that knows no limits.  ~ Blessed Concepción Cabrera de Armida

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe who appeared to St. Juan Diego asking him to build a church in her honor in 1531. As a teacher, I’m blessed to teach a Spanish course that includes quite a bit of history. Since I teach at a public school, I teach the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego from a historical point of view. I like to believe, however, that my conviction is somehow communicated through my teaching. The timing of the class works out perfectly and has aligned two years in a row with the feasts of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. We are currently learning about the establishment of New Spain (Mexico), the development of a new, syncretic culture, and the causes leading up to the Mexican Revolution. Last year, the day we learned about the importance of Our Lady in the evangelization of New Spain was December 12th and one of my students endearingly said, “Miss! Did you know that today is Our Lady’s birthday?!” It may not be a fully accurate understanding of the feast we celebrate today but it certainly made my heart happy to hear.

There are a few options for today’s readings. You might hear from the Prophet Zechariah of God’s promise to dwell among us and that “Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day”. The appearance of Our Lady to St. Juan Diego in Mexico is a fulfillment of that promise. Her appearance caused the conversion of an estimated 9 million people to the Catholic faith in less than 10 years. St. Juan Diego shared his faith with the bishop of Mexico and, in turn, served as an example of faith to his own people.

It is possible that you will hear Luke’s account of the Visitation in which Elizabeth says, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” I would imagine that St. Juan Diego’s response to Mary’s apparition was the same if not more shocked. I try to put myself in his shoes and imagine myself on my way to Mass and having the great honor and privilege of being face-to-face with our Holy Mother. People, like Elizabeth and Juan Diego, who came in direct contact with Mary and recognized that she was carrying our Savior in her womb are examples of the humility and admiration with which we should approach our Blessed Mother.

In the same way that she changed the hearts of the people of Mexico in the 1500s, may we allow Our Lady to enter our hearts and cause continual conversion. May we follow the examples of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego in their whole-hearted “yeses” to God and His will.

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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.

Feature Image Credit: demetrio, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/441-pintura-basilica-angeles

Light of Life

It is dark as I leave home for 7:15am Mass. The sun will be setting as I leave work to go back home this evening.  Without the aid of my headlights it is hard for me to really see what is right in front of me let alone farther down the road. The darkness envelops everything. I need light to navigate my way on the physical road as well as in my emotional and spiritual life journey.

The readings today highlight this need of illumination. The First Reading tells us that God teaches us what is for (our) good. The Psalm tells us, “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.” Jesus tells us in the Gospel that, we called to you but you didn’t come. “We played the flute for you, but you didn’t dance… [we] came eating and drinking” and you called us names and scoffed at us.

“Every time we sin, we become less human,” said Fr. Dan Crosby, OFM Cap in a recent homily. When we elevate ourselves, make fun or take advantage of others, we are placing a veil or, when there are many veils, a curtain between us and God. That sin blocks and takes us away from the Light of Life.

#1691 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.” When you stay in the light you will be able to see the kingdom and find peace or Shalom.

I pray you will experience a deep peace of the Kingdom of God during this Advent season while you wait and prepare for our Lord’s coming.

A Celtic Blessing:

Deep peace of the running wave to you

Deep peace of the flowing air to you

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you

Deep peace of the shining stars to you

Deep peace of the gentle night to you

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to you

Deep peace of Christ to you.


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Beth Price 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 bprice@diocesan.com.

Feature Image Credit: Dave Hoefler, https://unsplash.com/photos/jH42L-P2CqA

Listen and Heed His Help

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

What aren’t we hearing, then? So often we miss the memo, miss the message – whether from the Lord or from others in our own life. Why? Maybe it’s from sheer inattentiveness, maybe it’s a product of our own stubbornness or maybe it’s an unwillingness to listen.

All of these present obstacles to living our Christian life, as the Lord never stops speaking to us. It is we who don’t pay attention. It is we who believe that we can live a good, holy, moral life all on our own, without any assistance. It is we who choose to stop listening to Him. Yet, despite all of our shortcomings, God never stops pursuing us!

The Lord is trying to tell us so much in this First Reading from Isaiah, if only we can open our ears and open our hearts.

Here, his message is simple. “I will help you.” Isaiah then paints a vivid picture to describe how the Lord helps, using a very interesting choice of words. Jacob is described as a worm and Israel as a maggot. Worms and maggots can’t do much on their own. Any usefulness is dependent upon the worm or maggot being acted upon by someone or something outside of itself. For example, birds will eat worms for food but the bird must first be hungry. The worm can’t do anything on its own to feed the bird.

There isn’t much to a worm or a maggot but that doesn’t stop the Lord. With His help, Israel can then become a “threshing sledge, sharp, new and double-edged.” With the Lord’s help, Israel can thresh the mountain, make the hills like chaff and winnow them away. From being as lowly as a worm to being powerful enough to act upon nature – that’s what the Lord’s help can do.

What help can He offer us, then? Almost anything that we can imagine, we can call upon the Lord for His help. Nothing is too big and nothing is too small for Him. In fact, God waits for his beloved sons and daughters to ask for His help, much like we would go to our own earthly fathers for a solution to our problems.

The Lord is ever ready to lend a hand to His people. May we not be too proud to extend our own hand to Him and accept what He offers.

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Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Following graduation, she began volunteering in youth ministry at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Her first “big girl” job was in collegiate sports information where, after a busy two years in the profession on top of serving the youth, she took a leap of faith and followed the Lord’s call to full-time youth ministry at St. Peter Church. She still hopes to use her communication arts degree as a freelance writer and statistician, though. You can catch her on the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

Feature Image Credit: Ahad Uddin, https://unsplash.com/photos/CcLnk83hH7g

Come To Me

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Today’s First Reading is very short—so short it could be easy to dismiss or overlook. This would be unfortunate because it has much to do with all of your problems going away. God is aware of everything. He’s God. While you and I know this, sometimes we don’t believe it. There are moments when God seems disconnected, like we’re a cake in the oven and he forgot to come back and check on us. There are moments or even years of our lives when we feel like we’re on an island and nothing is going right and there is no relief from our struggles.

Big or small, we all have burdens. It could be waking up one morning to find your car won’t start. For some people it’s learning that a loved one has cancer. Anything that steals our peace is a burden. I’m sure plenty of people were burdened by this 2020 election season. Because of original sin, burdens happen. It’s a part of being human.

Satan wants us to feel isolated and abandoned. He wants us to get swept away by our problems and consumed by despair and hopelessness. He wants us to blame God for our burdens.

But here’s the wonderful news: God allows our burdens as an opportunity to approach him. A burden is an invitation to Trust in Him. When God became man and experienced suffering, he took on the ultimate burden: the weight of our sins and the sins of all of humanity.

The Mercy of our God is not comprehendible. He loves us so much. God wants our burdens. When we stop fighting to do it ourselves, that’s when God takes over. This doesn’t mean our problems magically go away as soon as we enter a Church. It means that as we begin to deepen our relationship with Christ and truly approach him, the weight of our own crosses begins to seem insignificant. “Jesus, I trust in You.”

Trust in God’s love and mercy.
Realize each burden is an opportunity to deepen your Trust in Jesus.
Understand even the smallest struggle can be given to God.
Make a Morning Offering each day as a reminder to give God everything.
Pray for the Grace to submit to God’s Divine Will.

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Patrick produces YouTube content for young Catholics on Catholic Late Night and Overt TV. He loves using humor to share the Truth of the Catholic faith with anyone who will listen. He resides currently in Chattanooga, TN and is a parishioner at The Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. Patrick graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a degree in Communication Arts and a Minor in Marketing.

Featured Image Credit: diocesan.com

Eve Said No – Mary Said Yes

Eve and Mary were similar in a lot of ways. They were both created without sin. They were both daughters of covenants, under which they pledged obedience. They were both visited by a supernatural being.

It is easy to look at Eve and think that original sin and the fall were all her fault. After all, she is the one who listened to the serpent and took the bite of the forbidden fruit. She is the one who convinced Adam to try it, too. Curse her womanly wiles. However, we fail to realize that nowhere in Scripture does it say that the serpent cornered Eve alone. We tend to think that he lured her away somehow to get her away from Adam’s protection in order to tempt her. But if we look at the Genesis account, it actually reads, “She took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Therefore, we see that the serpent truly was the most cunning of all the creatures. He targeted Eve, and Adam was right there. Yet he did nothing to dissuade her or protect her vulnerability.

Which brings us to Mary, a lowly handmaiden from small-town Nazareth. She did nothing to draw attention to herself, and yet now she alone is revered as Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Eve said no to God’s plan, but Mary said yes. She said yes to the disgrace that would ensue as news of an unmarried, pregnant teen got out. She said yes to giving up her body as a vessel for the Son of God. She said yes to raising that boy, and then letting Him leave to fulfill His earthly mission. She said yes to what she could not yet know – that she would one day have to watch her baby boy die a horrendous death on a Cross in front of mockers and evildoers.

If you have never gotten the chance, I HIGHLY recommend that you read Pope St. John Paul II’s Letter to Women. It is a reflection on womanhood and the feminine genius that is unparalleled.

“The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the “feminine genius” and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). Through obedience to the Word of God she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth. Putting herself at God’s service, she also put herself at the service of others: a service of love. Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic “reign”. It is not by chance that she is invoked as “Queen of heaven and earth”. The entire community of believers thus invokes her; many nations and peoples call upon her as their “Queen”. For her, “to reign” is to serve! Her service is “to reign”!

Why did Satan target the woman in the Garden? Because he knows that women are special. He knows that women are powerful. We alone have the ability to carry and sustain life in our own bodies. But he did not know that one day a woman would change the course of history.

Necessary emphasis should be placed on the ‘genius of women’, not only by considering great and famous women of the past or present, but also those ordinary women who reveal the gift of their womanhood by placing themselves at the service of others in their everyday lives. For in giving themselves to others each day women fulfill their deepest vocation. Perhaps more than men, women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts. They see them independently of various ideological or political systems. They see others in their greatness and limitations; they try to go out to them and help them. In this way the basic plan of the Creator takes flesh in the history of humanity and there is constantly revealed, in the variety of vocations, that beauty – not merely physical, but above all spiritual – which God bestowed from the very beginning on all, and in a particular way on women.” (JP II, Letter to Women).

That, my friends, is feminism at its truest and purest self.

That is what we celebrate today. That our God inserted Himself into our human history by taking on the lowliness of our flesh and bones, for our sake. That He chose a woman as His vessel. That He pre-redeemed her from the moment of her conception in Anne’s womb, by grace of His sacrifice on Calvary. That He ordained her as the ultimate example of femininity, beauty, purity, grace, and surrender.

This is why we elevate Mary to the highest place of all the Saints: not because of anything she did on her own, but because the level of intimacy that she had with our God was so pure that it, by default, made her immaculate.

So, in conclusion, Mary and Eve are very similar. But they also differ at a fundamental level.

Eve’s name means the “mother of all living”, because from her descended the human race. At the foot of the Cross, Mary became the “mother of all who truly live” when Jesus gave His mother to the Church.

Eve’s disobedience resulted in the fall into sin of the entire human race. The result was death – physically and spiritually. Mary’s obedience to God resulted in Christ’s redemption of the entire human race. The result was eternal life.

Thus, the Church Fathers confidently say, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith. Death through Eve, life through Mary.”

Ultimately, Eve said no. But Mary said yes.

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: https://eastsidefaith.org/young-adult OR at https://www.facebook.com/stceciliayam.

Feature Image Credit: Mary and Eve by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO, https://illustratedprayer.com/2017/12/05/mary-comforts-eve/. Used with Permission.

The Way of the Redeemed

Both readings today could provoke us to ask ourselves the following questions:

In what ways am I blind?

In what situations am I deaf?

How am I lame?

In what way is my tongue mute?

Isaiah proclaims:

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing (Isaiah 35:5-6).

Then. When?

The Gospel announces that Jesus Christ is the One who gives us sight, who opens our ears, who gives us the strength to stand and walk, who releases our tongue so we can proclaim.

If we reflect on the Gospel story, Jesus did indeed heal the paralyzed man. Not a word is spoken by this person or his friends. In this passage, they are mute. The paralyzed man is lame. As Jesus speaks to the paralyzed man, it is clear that he can hear and that he can see something so mysterious and beyond his expectations that at the word of Jesus, he stands up immediately, picks up his mat as he is instructed, and goes home as he had been ordered. The tongues of all those present, well almost all, were freed as they began to praise God, “We have seen incredible things today.”

One group of people in the room that day, a number of scribes and Pharisees, questioned what Jesus was doing. He did not fit into their perception of a man from God, a rabbi faithful to the Law. They were already blinded, unable to hear words that didn’t match the ideas of the echo-chamber of their personal group. They were lame, unable to leap at the voice of God in their midst, and their tongue was not loosed with awe and praise. They remained mute, blind, and deaf at the end of the passage, while everyone else acclaimed Jesus.

So we truly might ask ourselves the very crucial questions:

In what ways am I blind?

In what situations am I deaf?

How am I lame?

In what way is my tongue mute?

What echo-chambers do I stay in so that I only willingly listen to the ideas that are already in my mind and heart?

Where am I missing the glorious work of God at work all around me so that I remain mute, paralyzed, and blind instead of praising God and obeying his commands?

What causes me to remain endlessly wrapped in this world’s concerns that I cannot hear the voice of God breaking in on a different topic as he did for the paralyzed man: “As for you, your sins are forgiven”? For sure he was hoping to hear the words, You are cured!

Friends, at the end of today, at the end of Advent, we don’t want to be among the ones who remain mute, blind, deaf, lame.

Advent reminds us of the promise that is also ours:

Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water….

A highway will be there,
called the holy way.…

It is for those with a journey to make,
and on it the redeemed will walk.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy (Isaiah 35:6-7, 8, 9-10).

Willingly, freely, joyfully, make that journey, walk on the way of the redeemed, that you may be crowned with everlasting joy.

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Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: www.touchingthesunrise.com Public Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/ For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community: https://www.patreon.com/srkathryn.

Feature Image Credit: Milagre da “cura do paralítico em Cafarnaum” (Mateus 9:1-8;Marcos 2:1-12; Lucas 5:17-26). © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / CC BY-SA 3.0 

The Three Comings

On this Second Sunday of Advent, the Gospel presents to us the impassioned presence of St. John the Baptist – in the desert alone, dressed in camel’s hair, eating insects and wild honey – proclaiming the coming of the Lord. What John the Baptist lived, we are called to live; his entire life was an expectation and preparation for the coming of the Christ, and our lives are to be oriented toward Christ’s coming as well.

St. John’s certainty that his role was to “prepare the way of the Lord,” to be the messenger crying out to others that there is preparation to be done, marked his whole life. He knew God’s will for him and embraced it humbly and energetically, never becoming confused by his own ideas or desires, but giving himself over completely to his God-given task.

But he also did this with understanding and knowledge, which were certainly guided by the Holy Spirit. John was not some wild zealot living primitively in the desert without any refined comprehension of the whole picture. Indeed, the locus of his ministry was part of the message! Just as at the time of the Exodus the Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert and then crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land, so John situated himself in the desert and invited the people to a new Exodus, bringing them through baptism in the same river Jordan into a new freedom. The first time, the Promised Land was Canaan, flowing with milk and honey; this time, the Promised Land would be the Messiah, who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. The first Exodus freed them from slavery in Egypt; this time, they were called to repentance, to be freed from slavery to sin.

Christ’s life will likewise trace the path of ancient Israel, beginning with time in the desert. And we are called during Advent to stir up the thirst and longing of a desert wanderer in search of the Promised Land, the Kingdom of the Messiah, in the certain knowledge that we cannot be free except for His coming. This “coming” is threefold, and we must be ever open to all three: 1) His coming as an infant in Bethlehem; 2) His coming to each of us, every day; 3) His triumphant coming at the end of time.

Whether you use an Advent wreath, hymns, special prayers (like the St Andrew Christmas Novena), or particular practices to keep focused on the “reason for the season”, try each day to consider how you have opened yourself to each of the “3 comings” of Christ in your home and in your heart. You might spend just one minute at the end of the day considering each of these; by Christmas, your heart will be wide and welcoming for the coming of the Savior!

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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 https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

Feature Image Credit: Thomas Vogel, https://unsplash.com/photos/HmNWXPzRx1M

Advent and Compassion

We hear the hope of the Advent season in the readings today.  In the Gospel we hear of Christ’s immense compassion for human suffering:  “At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”  Out of compassion for those who were suffering, Christ sends out the twelve to care for the lost sheep of Israel. They drive out unclean spirits, cure every disease and illness, raise the dead, and cleanse the lepers. The most vulnerable in society are cared for and healed.

Through His compassion and through the mission on which he sends the Apostles, Christ is fulfilling the words of the first reading from Isaiah. The prophet tells us: “O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, no more will you weep; He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as He hears He will answer you.” Christ sees our loneliness and suffering; He sees that we have been abandoned, that we have felt hopeless, and responds to our cries for help with compassion.

The season of Advent promises many things: the birth of our Savior, hope, peace, joy, the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom. However, we are only able to have faith in those promises by drawing close to the heart of Christ, by sharing in His compassion, and by following His words. This is a season of preparation. Not only are we preparing for the birth of our Savior but also for His second coming. Bearing that in mind, Advent should be a time in which we cling to the words of Christ whole-heartedly, that we go out into the world, as the Apostles did, serving the most vulnerable.

In this time of Advent, as we prepare for the birth of our Savior, let us not forget those who are troubled or abandoned.  May we invite them into our hearts and homes with compassion, care, and joy in imitation of Christ and the Apostles.

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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.

Feature Image Credit: Mel Poole, https://unsplash.com/photos/LUPXhXj2ip0

Cleansed and Renewed

There is an absolutely beautiful scene from the popular TV show, Chosen, that depicts a scene similar to this. A leper is thrown out of society and seen as unclean. Even the apostles are afraid to approach and try to stay away. You can see the desperation in his eyes for healing. You can see the tears well up as he is cast out and treated like swine. Jesus looks up with similar tears and approaches without fear. “Your faith has saved you.” And immediately the leper was healed and rejoiced in the goodness of God.

I think we can all relate to this story in one way or another. The reality is that we are all unclean. We have all eaten from the pig trough of the world and of sin. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. And yet, we have immense hope for healing. Jesus enters the story with the same tears that we shed. He enters our story, or hurt, our misery, our wounds, our sin. He enters into the mess to help us, like a good shepherd would.

Today is a very special day for my wife, Nathalie, and I. On December 4th we had our very first date. We went to a coffee shop and ordered blueberry tea. We sat there and talked for hours and got to know each other. As I reflect on the last few years of marriage and of dating, I can’t help but relate this Gospel to our life. Many people don’t talk about the Sacrament of Marriage as being different from marriage in general. The difference, of course, is the grace you receive from Christ to live out your vows in good times and in bad.

Sometimes life throws you some curveballs. This year has been a crazy one for us, as it has for most. Moving, our dog got a broken leg, getting Covid and being quarantined, having a tree fall on our house, getting my tonsils removed, and much more. But yet, through it all, we can feel the grace of the sacrament working through us every day. Working through us to continually cleanse us and help us grow closer together. This is the power of any sacrament. They take us from our unclean and broken selves and infuse us with the grace of God which helps us to accomplish all things.

The sacramental life is so important. During this time it is much more difficult to attend the sacraments on a regular basis. For those who cannot get out and receive the sacraments yet, I offer a spiritual communion at the end of this post. This prayer asks for the grace of Christ to come upon us even though we cannot physically attend the sacrament. For those of us who are able to safely get out and go, I implore you to find new ways during this Advent season to receive the grace of the sacraments. We all need grace. God offers it freely. Let’s go soak it up. Happy Advent and from all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God Bless!

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

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Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and 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. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Moisés Becerra, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/9881-franciscanos

Strong Foundations

Today’s readings are all about foundations. A simple matter, really. Foundations are often overlooked in the everyday world. But that does not make them any less important.

In the First Reading we hear about nations who have a strong foundation and those that do not. “A strong city have we; He sets up walls and ramparts to protect us. Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith. A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you”.

This nation is strong, safe, and peaceful because of its trust in the Lord.

On the flip side, “He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; he tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.”

This nation, however, was disintegrated because of the lack of trust. It rose higher and higher with the false belief that it was strong, that it did not need him. Only buildings with weak foundations fall. It’s no wonder that the Lord was able to crush it to dust! We are like the two nations, either with the strong foundation or without. We need a strong foundation, and that comes from trusting in the Lord.

Besides not wanting to crumble into dust, why should we trust in the Lord? The Lord will build us a strong foundation. “For the LORD is an eternal Rock.” We need a solid foundation, and we are given one! Rock! Solid, strong, lovely rock. Our Rock – the sturdy building material that we need – is the Lord.

In the Gospel Jesus brings up construction once more. He tells us the story of a wise man and a foolish man who built their houses differently. The wise man built his on rock, and the foolish man built his on sand. The storm came, and the wise man’s house was perfect, no damage, no nothing. The foolish man’s house however, came crashing down due to a weak foundation. I can only imagine that he was caught under it, trying to shelter from the storm when it did.

The difference between the two men’s houses was their foundation. The one with a sturdy foundation of Rock survived, and the one with a weak foundation did not. The same thing happens in our lives. We need to build up our houses, our spiritual foundations to be strong. We must root them in rock, the eternal rock, the Lord, if we want to weather the storm. If we build on false beliefs and false foundations, when the storm comes the house will collapse.

So, are you built upon rock, or in the sand? Are you ready for the winds that will buffet and blow your house? Are you ready for the unexpected tests and trials that life is going to throw your way? We need a strong sturdy foundation. That foundation can only be found in the eternal rock, the Lord. It’s time to get building.

Perpetua Phelps is a high school student residing in West Michigan and is the second of four children. Apart from homeschooling, Perpetua enjoys volunteering at her church, attending retreats, studying Latin and French, and reading classics such as BeowulfThe Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc. She also spends much time writing novels, essays, and poetry for fun and competition. A passionate Tolkien fan, Perpetua is a founding member of a Tolkien podcast.

Feature Image Credit: IA SB, https://unsplash.com/photos/_MMdxl-jUHo

Trusting God Is Guiding Us

In my lifetime, there’s never been a year like this year, a year where nearly every single person on the entire planet can say it has been a rough year.  Between the pandemic, natural disasters, social unrest, economic hardship, and on and on, everyone has faced some kind of struggle this year. Our readings today are just the kind of hopeful reminder we need in such times.

As the Psalm says, the Lord is our shepherd. Like sheep, we may not understand where he is leading us, but we know we are in his care.

Like those listening to Jesus in today’s gospel, God will provide us what we need if we stay with Him. Sometimes, though, His aid may not come at the time we would like, or in the manner we expect. We may have to wrestle with literal or figurative hunger for a time.

As our first reading reminds us, this life is not our permanent state. We must remember the eternal banquet to come. On that heavenly mountain, God will save us from our physical afflictions, like hunger and thirst. He will resolve our interpersonal conflicts, taking away what divides us. He will heal our emotional wounds, wiping away our tears. Our sins and mistakes, He will wash away.

So, my prayer for all of us today is this: Lord, help us to trust in You, to remember You are guiding us even when we cannot see or understand how.  Help us to remember this life is only our temporary home, and to keep our eyes fixed on You and our eternal home.  Amen.

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J.M. Pallas has had a lifelong love of Scriptures. When she is not busy with her vocation as a wife and mother to her “1 Samuel 1” son, or her vocation as a public health educator, you may find her at her parish women’s bible study, affectionately known as “The Bible Chicks.”

Feature Image Credit: Dimitri Conejo Sanz, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/174-pastor-sus-ovejas

Lord, Deepen Our Faith

In what way is Jesus contrasting revealing truths to the childlike and hiding them from the wise and the learned? The truth of the Gospel, which we proclaim during Advent, is that Jesus Christ united Himself to mankind as our Redeemer. We may not fully understand the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of our Lord, but we believe the Gospel with a child’s faith that God would not deceive us. This does not mean that we will never question the beliefs of our faith, but our questioning is to understand not to undermine. The wise and the learned that Jesus is referring to, question out of skepticism and unbelief, the Cross to them is absurd (see I Cor. 1:18-25). They think in their worldly wisdom that the Cross and Resurrection are just unsupportable myths that the simple-minded believe in, because they are ignorant and do not know any better. Jesus is not disparaging being wise or learned, there are many wise men who do have faith in Jesus Christ – St. Thomas Aquinas to name one of many examples. Yet as St. Thomas once declared, he learned more from prayer and contemplation than he ever did from men and books. During Advent, let us renew our confidence and trust in God’s love for us, and with child-like faith believe that God is working for our good – even if the circumstances seem to indicate otherwise. As St. Paul tells us “We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes” (Rm. 8:28).

In the second part of this passage, Jesus states that the disciples have seen and heard what many Old Testament kings and prophets wished they had seen and heard but did not. The disciples had met the Messiah in person, the greatest gift in the history of mankind. Rather than debating which of them was the greatest, which they did on several occasions, they should be thankful for the great blessing God had bestowed on them. This is also true for us. Even though we have not seen Christ in person, Christ says we are blessed because we believe even though we have not seen (see Jn. 20:29). This blessing should remind us of how thankful we should be to God for revealing to us the truth about His Son, and to share this love and revelation with others. This Advent let us ask God to deepen our faith in His love, and in turn, to be a light to other people of God’s kingdom here on earth, in the person of Jesus Christ.

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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.

Feature Image Credit: Vanesa Guerrero, rpm, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/2177-jesus-con-brazos-abiertos