This is My Body

As noted in today’s Gospel reading, our central role in honoring Christ should be one of service. Jesus commands us to “Give them some food yourselves.” CCC 1335 of the Catechism reads “The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist.” It is such a great visual, to partake in the miracle where Jesus took ordinary food and turned it into something extraordinary! Yet this was a foreshadowing that something much greater was to come.   

When asked the most quoted verse in all the Bible, we turn to “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” This is a verse we hear every time we celebrate in the most Holy Mass. It is a statement that is so well known, and yet, so difficult for so many to understand. Is there any dogma more central to that of Catholicism than recognizing that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist? It is for this reason that attending Mass is so sacred. 

Like many, I struggled through the pandemic with being physically removed from the ability to receive Communion. In fact I am still struggling as of now, as services available on the TV which can be watched without the preparation of getting up and out to Mass remain available. Yet reading through today’s readings, I must be moved to remember the central essence of being Catholic, that whether a priest or a layperson, we are called to be part of the family of Christ, which can be best exemplified by being together in unity at Church and receiving Christ within us, so that we too can be his disciples and spread His message of love and redemption to all the world.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: Santiago Mejía LC, www.cathopic.com/photo/10013-esperanza-mia

Worthy is the Lamb That Was Slain

“To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.”

We owe all we have, our dear souls, to Jesus Christ. As examples of living and dying through Him we must honor his sacrifice. God wants our lives to overflow with mercy and generosity for each other; to share love just as He did with us through Christ’s presence on Earth. Christ is the Gentle Lamb who gave up His life for us. He asks today and every day that we reflect:

“Do you love me?”

“Do you love me?”

“Do you love me?”

Then we must love Christ through our love for each other. As fishers of men, inspired by His Holy Spirit, we have a responsibility to dedicated time to God in prayer which will prompt the conversion of our hearts and strengthen our wills to follow Christ (CCC #2708), to constantly give back and feed His sheep, whether strangers or closest of family. Do you love Him? Then who will you bring with you to meet Him at the gates of Heaven? Who have you modeled His compassion for? Because He offered mercy to us, we should also offer Mercy to one another.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

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Love and Mercy

“Return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.” (Joel 2:12-13)

Let us be filled with joy, forever gracious because of the kindness of God. Our God is a God of Mercy. The mercy of God does not condone sin but rather, compassionately recognizes repentance. By His offering Mercy to Us, it is required that we also offer Mercy onto one another.

By human nature, we tend to be self-centered, and probably most of us have difficulty forgiving others when we are wronged. Or at least, finding faults in others rather than ourselves, just as is noted of the Pharisees in the Gospel reading. Is there someone today you can think of recently who has offended you in their actions or words?

Yet, as Christian disciples, we are expected to put judgmental feelings aside at the service of our relationship with Christ.  Instead, God asks us to love and pray for one another, particularly those who are in most need of forgiveness, such as our enemies. Not only this, but we must also learn to forgive ourselves as well for mistakes, for we are all first products of God’s creation and love for mankind.

With such realization, we can grow in holiness, emulating Christ and allowing Him to shine in us and fixate on our “pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus”, the prize of eternal life through His glory.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: José Ignacio Heredia, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/21962-confesion

A Life Of Prayer With Psalm 1 And Beyond

How do you pray? How do you talk to Jesus?

I have always found it so hard. In this world and age, we are so distracted by the activity around us, it is hard to focus on finding inner peace and conversing with Christ.

Too many times instead we rely on the resources and comforts of our Earthly life: money, security, worldly pleasures.

But in contrast, today’s First Reading states “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh.” And what follows is, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream”.

Psalm 1 paints a beautiful image of a source of life, water hydrating and nourishing our soul. The Psalms are actually one of my favorite sections of the entire Bible, as they always seem to so eloquently capture the true emotions of a relationship with God, both the ugly and the beautiful, through nourishing and vivid visuals. In the simplest of terms, they provide an easy foundation to teach us how to pray.

Inspired by today’s readings, I invite you to reflect on how you sustain everlasting life through prayer and conversation with God. With prayer comes inner peace and calmness similar to that of a river stream flowing tranquilly or the air we breathe or the sunlight we feel.

Please pray for the suffering, the lonely, the scared, and the rejected, so that they can know the peace and joy that is Jesus Christ who will be present through all our trials to hold and embrace us. Pray for all the souls in Purgatory, especially those who have no one to pray for them. Please pray for all souls, living and deceased, that we may find the love of Christ as the foremost meaning to life, and that we can accept His love in all we do today and always.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

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United in the Mass, Today’s Fishers of Men

In today’s First Reading from Isaiah, we hear something similar to that said in the Mass: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!”

I am currently participating in a church group reviewing Dr. Edward Sri’s “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass”. I highly encourage everyone to look at this book (also available in a video companion format) to gain a deeper understanding of Christ’s sacrifice for us, which we re-enter during every Mass. 

As we again see in today’s Gospel, we must continually recognize that Christ died for our sins and rose. Through our true faith in this, we can then preach the good news and help others to believe, being “Fishers of Men” as the Apostles were 2000 years ago. 

The Church continues to live today, and the Mass is the epitome of our relationship with the living Christ. We are not condemned by our sins, as Isaiah says, ““See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” Rather, we are saved by His eternal grace, His Divine Mercy, if only we come to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.

Jesus is the epitome of the Word and He evangelizes through the Disciples, sharing His message of love for all people. He asks us to do the same, though this again may be a formidable task for us if we are not truly dedicated to His teachings. Fear and distraction may often offset us from following His instruction. May we pray for His guidance for strength to act as the Apostles did, having inspiration and living in the joy of His peace, which is all glorious and eternal. We can then truly unite ourselves in Christ answering as Isaiah did, “Here I am,” I said; “send me!”.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: German Garcia, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/13282-barca-orilla

Celebrating His Presence!

 Can one pour old wine into new wineskins?

Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?

Today’s Gospel is one of celebration! Weddings and wine and the glory of being in the presence of our dear Savior- Oh My! For such happy occasions on Earth cannot begin to compare to the Glory of that offered to us by the true presence of living alongside our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lives! 

While 2000 years ago Christ may have breathed and ate alongside His disciples and the inhabitants of Israel, to this day currently, He is always here with us. We don’t ever need to be lost or afraid, but can rejoice that His word continues to live. More than anywhere else, we can encounter the great joy and peace He offers in the Holy sacrifice of the Mass. Are you mindful of Christ’s real presence when you receive him in Holy Communion? How blessed are we to be able to participate in the Mass, Christ’s union with His love, the Church!

Let us always remember that the will of the Lord is Always Great! Christ, who calms the storm, who heals the sick, wants us to be with Him. Whether through prayer, or the physical act of attending Mass, celebrate His love that lives with us today and always. 

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: Juan Pablo Arias, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/3694-cuerpo-sangre-cristo

Blessed Are You Who Believed

And the course of salvation history changed with our Mother’s simple, Yes to God. With time holding no boundaries between her and her Son, Mary exemplifies Thy Will Be Done. A young peasant girl, who would hold in her the epitome of His Grace. 

The relationship between this most humble girl and her older cousin is such a powerful moment. Imagine these two women being so genuinely happy, both for each other and for the world. They put others before themselves at all times. Isn’t this what God has asked of us, to love and serve one another? 

But additionally, Mary places her trust in God at all times. Today, I encourage us all to especially reflect on the last line of our Sunday Gospel. 

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

How often do we doubt God’s magnificent ways? Is He not the LORD of hosts, the all-powerful Ruler over the entire universe? Through His ways, the unthinkable can be achieved. 

Let us follow the example of our most humble yet powerful Mother, who changed the world in her infinite love and belief.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: Mariocorrea, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/8628-santisima-virgen-maria-rosario

Love Transcends Death

“And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.” (John 6:39)

All Souls Day will forever carry a special place in my heart, as I delivered my first child into the world on November 2, 2014. My son, Alexander Lloyd, had died in my womb before he ever had a chance to be born into earthly life. To this day, I’ve struggled with trying to understand God’s way. Why give us a son, just to take him away? God can take the hardest of concepts and through it makes all things good.

In today’s Second Reading, “If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.”

Alexander Lloyd reminds me of one of the many joys I can pray to encounter in striving for life after death. He is my personal reminder that love transcends death. As Catholics, it is our duty to offer prayers for the deceased as frequently as possible. Not just on All Souls Day, but every day, as much as possible. 

As noted in today’s First Reading, “The souls of the just are in the hand of God” and “Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.”

Today, I offer praise to God for the time he has given me with my unborn Alexander. I will recognize that all things work together for good in the eyes of God. I pray for those who have passed on before me, my family members as well as strangers I’ve never known but who maybe the world has forgotten.

How can your love continue to flourish for those who have passed on before you?

Who of the faithful departed will you take the time to pray for today?

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: Il ragazzo, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/13602-camino-hacia-jesus-

Serving God

The Apostles seem to often spend their time with Jesus confused. Jesus, however, does not hold this against them. Instead, he takes every opportunity to teach them, and help them through their humanity in various ways! One of His most powerful teachings resides in the following: “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In today’s First and Second Readings, we see that through Christ’s obedience, He has obtained for us everlasting mercy. Christ can understand our weaknesses as He has undergone the same tests and has prevailed.

To unconditionally serve one another is the essence of true love as Catholics. As stated in Mk 10:38-39, “The chalice that I drink…you will be baptized”. Just as Christ suffered, his followers would suffer for their faith in him. (CCC 536, 618, 1225). This is particularly relevant for those in religious life, since bishops and priests possess authority given to them by Christ, but their authority is based on becoming a servant to everyone. I think the same is true in families though, through the love of a spouse, parent, or child. Ultimately, this life of service is exemplified in every action of Christ.

In chapter 10 of the Gospel of Mark, James and John ask to drink from the same cup as Jesus. To others, this may seem like the opposite of wanting to serve; it appears they are seeking power above others. It is boldness, to ask for something they don’t yet even understand. Yet at the same time we can admire the sons of Thunder as they turn to Christ and speak their prayers with infinite trust. 

Are we running to Jesus with all of our innermost questions and concerns? Let us pray ambitiously, ask clear questions, and our answers may be clearer. May we ask with full trust in God and be not afraid.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: Aaron Burden, https://unsplash.com/photos/lPCu8HnGU2E

Open My Heart

How can I open myself more to love? Love for others, in place of love for self. It is our natural instinct, after all, to follow our flawed nature of sinfulness. Day after day I know I struggle, whether because of my self-doubt or some other type of physical weakness. Yet I think the answer to finding change is immersing oneself in the presence of Christ. 

For example, this year I have become an avid follower of Father Mike Schmitz’s “The Bible in a Year” Podcast. Though Catholic, I, like so many others, have so much to learn about the Word of God. Not only the physical time of taking to read on a daily basis, but then to live the Word through my actions and cultivate those lessons. 

We are instructed by Timothy in the First Reading  “to keep the commandment without stain or reproach”. Of course this is easier said than done, but how often do we really take a step back to reexamine our choices, rather than just go through the motions? 

In the Parable of the Sower, we are faced much more with the consequences of our decisions. It is so important to put our beliefs into practice, whether through the examples we model to our loved ones or to strangers. In becoming more familiar with the Word as part of ourselves, rather than reserving reading for only one hour a week, we can become one with Christ, who has given His life for us.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: Aziz Acharki, https://unsplash.com/photos/gv3VWXwKrrA

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Our Mother has so many names which we can use to relate to her. This starts in the First Reading with the “Ark of the Covenant”. St. Ireneaus, a follower of St. Ignatius who is believed to have learned from St. John himself, is thought to have introduced this title, which ties in so much of the Christocentric nature of how the story of Salvation ties together from the Old to the New Testament.

The imagery used in Revelation can be very difficult to understand but perhaps one of the most common beliefs of this book is that the woman being referred to is our mother Mary, who also represents a model for the Church. Psalm 45 is a testimony to the interconnectedness of the King and Queen, the Queen in the Old Testament generally referring to that of the King’s mother. As Jesus exemplified the importance of the Servant King, His mother takes her seat on the throne by perfectly following his teachings.

It is so comforting that we can turn to Mary at any time, asking her to go to her Son for intercession. 1 Corinthians 15 then notes “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life”.

Similarly, another title of Mary is the “New Eve”, reminding us that, it is through her actions in saying “Yes” to God that death is overcome. Mary’s life is a testament to giving her all to God, through never desiring anything of herself. Her steadfastness is awe-inspiring.

Finally, like so many moments in the Gospels, the scene of the visitation is such a powerful and yet humbling moment. Imagine these two women being so genuinely happy for each other, and for the world. They display the significance of putting others before themselves. Isn’t this what God has asked of us, to love and serve one another? In Mary’s Magnificat, she gives praise where it is due: God’s goodness is that He remembers the lowly. He loves us despite our weaknesses.

Let us strive today to always try to follow in Mary’s likeness, for no human has ever been so close to our Lord and Savior as our Blessed Mother.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

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Be Not Afraid

“Do not be afraid! Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure. He alone can give full meaning to life, he alone is the center of history. Live by him!” – Pope St. John Paul II

I once tried counting how many times the Bible instructs us to not be afraid, but failed pretty quickly. In our world, there is often trouble, hopelessness, and despair. Today’s readings speak of the many storms in our lives. A storm can mean something we see right in front of us, such as the one the disciples saw when Jesus calmed it in the Gospels, or something psychological, such as the sufferings of Job.

In the book of Job, God is silent for the majority of the book and it is up to us to find His presence. We are weak in that we often don’t believe until we have the concrete evidence staring us in the face. We are ignorant to doubt God’s power. God’s ways are so insurmountable that human standards cannot begin to compare to them. 

We owe God unfailing trust. Christ repeatedly instructs us to have no fear. I think for my young children as well as for my much older self, the imagery of Christ calming the storm after peacefully lying asleep while his disciples fret is one of the most recognizable images of who God really is to us. Do we not have faith? If so, why worry? If we belong to Christ, we are no longer of this world, but have eternal life.

Just as it is said in today’s Psalm, Give thanks to the Lord, His love is everlasting. And as said by St. Paul, “Let us no longer live for ourselves, but for He who for our sake died and was raised. For in Him, we have eternal life.”

Therefore, let us again remember to “Be not afraid”.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: Luis Angel Espinosa, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/1435-cruz-una-puesta-sol