The Eucharist Cultivates Good Trees / La Eucaristía Cultiva a los Árboles Buenos

What remarkable words spoken by St. Paul in today’s First Reading. “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ” (1 Cor 10:16)? The Eucharist is not merely something in which we partake but someone we are, quite honestly, blessed beyond measure to receive.

“How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me” (Psalm 116:13)? The Psalmist poses a prodigious question to ponder. In other words, how will I make a sacrifice of praise to my Lord? The sacrifice God asks for is one of praise, not of blood. The latter has already been offered—once and for all. And it is made present again at every Liturgy—existing in every tabernacle in the world, furthermore, humbling Himself even further, to become fully present in every living tabernacle—those who worthily approach the altar to receive Him in Consecrated Bread and Wine. Perhaps the answer dwells within our Eucharistic testimony. How has sharing in the cup of blessing formed me as a disciple? Can others see Christ in me? 

We are not merely figuratively in communion with the Lord, but it is He who comes to us—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—in the Eucharist. Christ is not alone; through the divine Unity of the Trinity, although not sacramentally, the Father and the Holy Spirit become present with Jesus in the Eucharist. Although a mystery which, this side of heaven, can never be fully explained, the Catechism teaches that each Person of the Trinity is “wholly” present in each other (CCC #254-55). In the Consecration, heaven and earth mystically collide; Jesus does not leave Paradise so that we may encounter Him in the Eucharist.

Jesus provided the sacrifice upon the cross so that every soul may have the opportunity to be with him in heaven. And while we wait, He humbly offers himself in the Eucharist, comprising grace upon grace. The mystical body of Christ is vast and magnificent, and by approaching the altar worthily during the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, we become a living tabernacle. It is a tremendous honor to be a Eucharistic people. 

As St. Irenaeus stated, “In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.” But does it, personally, do that for us? Has the Eucharist changed your life? If it has not, take the opportunity every Mass to “ask, seek, knock” and allow the Lord to open to you every grace and blessing generously available in this Blessed Sacrament. Embrace the goodness poured into us through sharing in the blessing cup and the Body of Christ to be a good tree, “known by its own fruit…[because] a good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good.”

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Qué notables palabras pronunciadas por San Pablo en la Primera Lectura de hoy. “El cáliz de la bendición con el que damos gracias, ¿no nos une a Cristo por medio de su sangre?” (1 Cor 10, 16)? La Eucaristía no es simplemente algo en lo que participamos, sino alguien que somos, honestamente, somos bendecidos más allá de toda medida por poder recibirlo.

“¿Cómo le pagaré al Señor todo el bien que me ha hecho?” (Salmo 116:13) El salmista plantea una pregunta prodigiosa para reflexionar. En otras palabras, ¿cómo haré un sacrificio de alabanza a mi Señor? El sacrificio que Dios pide es de alabanza, no de sangre. Este último ya ha sido ofrecido, de una vez por todas. Y se vuelve a hacer presente en cada Liturgia — existiendo en cada sagrario del mundo, además, humillándose aún más, para hacerse plenamente presente en cada tabernáculo viviente — a los que dignamente se acercan al altar para recibirlo en el Pan y el Vino Consagrados. Quizá la respuesta resida en nuestro testimonio eucarístico. ¿Cómo me ha formado como discípulo el compartir la copa de bendición? ¿Otros pueden ver a Cristo en mí?

No estamos en comunión con el Señor solo figurativamente, sino que es Él quien viene a nosotros —Cuerpo, Sangre, Alma y Divinidad— en la Eucaristía. Cristo no está solo; por la Unidad divina de la Trinidad, aunque no sacramentalmente, el Padre y el Espíritu Santo se hacen presentes con Jesús en la Eucaristía. Aunque es un misterio que, de este lado del cielo, nunca puede ser completamente explicado, el Catecismo enseña que cada Persona de la Trinidad está “totalmente” presente en cada uno (CCC #254-55). En la Consagración, el cielo y la tierra chocan místicamente; Jesús no deja el Paraíso para que podamos encontrarlo en la Eucaristía.

Jesús proveyó el sacrificio sobre la cruz para que cada alma tenga la oportunidad de estar con él en el cielo. Y mientras esperamos, se ofrece humildemente en la Eucaristía, que comprende gracia sobre gracia. El cuerpo místico de Cristo es vasto y magnífico, y al acercarnos dignamente al altar durante el Santo Sacrificio del Altar, nos convertimos en un tabernáculo viviente. Es un tremendo honor ser un pueblo eucarístico.

Como dijo San Ireneo: “En resumen, la Eucaristía es la suma y el resumen de nuestra fe: nuestra forma de pensar está en sintonía con la Eucaristía, y la Eucaristía a su vez confirma nuestra forma de pensar”. Pero, personalmente, ¿hace eso por nosotros? ¿La Eucaristía ha cambiado tu vida? Si no es así, aprovecha cada Misa para “pedir, buscar, llamar” y permitir que el Señor te abra todas las gracias y bendiciones generosamente disponibles en este Santísimo Sacramento. Acoger la bondad derramada en nosotros al compartir la copa de bendición y el Cuerpo de Cristo para ser un buen árbol que se, “se conoce por sus frutos… [porque] el hombre bueno dice cosas buenas, porque el bien está en su corazón”.

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Allison Gingras is a Deacon’s wife and seasoned mom of three. Allison works for Family Rosary as a social media and digital specialist, as well as a new media consultant for Catholic Mom and the Diocese of Fall River. She is the author of Encountering Signs of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints, and the Abundant Grace of God (Fall 2022, Ave Maria Press). Allison developed the Stay Connected Journals for Women series including her two volumes – The Gift of Invitation and Seeking Peace (OSV). She’s hosted A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras podcast since 2015.

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

Stay Awake and Prepared / Mantente Despierto y Preparado

How ironic that I write about today’s Gospel, which includes the words “stay awake” while on a red-eye flight from Boise, Idaho, back to the east coast. Sadly, following Jesus’ warning, at least while a passenger on that airplane, was not difficult, thanks to the noise and turbulence. In life, however, it is harder for me to stay awake, especially in the figurative sense, distracted by the continual din and busyness of the world around me. Even worse, allowing myself to fall asleep on maintaining a relationship with Jesus; forgetting the dire consequences Jesus warns will come upon those left unaware and unprepared for the Master’s imminent return.

Attentive to this warning, I strive to be the blessed servant who will be found doing what the Master directs. Even though I live with many fears and some anxiety, I go where the Lord sends me, hence the red-eye home from Boise after giving a retreat. Serving Him and the people He loves, bringing them the Good News and messages of hope, is worth every uncomfortable moment. I never want to waste the gifts God has graced me with, knowing these are mine because He willed each one for a particular purpose and according to His perfect plan. I am honored to be His hands and voice, though perhaps I enjoyed doing so just a tiny bit more during the two years my life and ministry work, for the most part, was virtual. 

I long to be a faithful and prudent servant, focusing on what I can do in any situation, especially challenging ones, and trusting Jesus to do the rest. Being awake to me means turning to the Lord in prayer in all things and seeking the grace needed to accomplish whatever mission is presented before me—leaning into God’s abundant grace and trusting in all His promises because I believe them to be trustworthy. 

Many years ago, driving home from adoration with many things heavy on my heart, I asked the Lord for assurance that He truly does keep His promises. As I sat at the stoplight in front of my house, continuing to ponder and pray upon this question, a giant truck passed by with the words “keeping promises” emblazoned across the side. I laughed at the sweet “godcidental” timing of the truck crossing my path. Tears welled in my eyes as I thanked the Lord for His merciful and speedy response to my prayer. 

Being awake and aware of His faithfulness, goodness, and abundant grace helps me prepare for that unknown hour when the Son of Man will come. Blessed by a willingness to be courageous and brave, to serve as I keep watch, even if that means being petrified 30,000 feet in the air. It is incredible what grace can do. St. Katharine Drexel’s sister offered her an all-expense paid cruise, but she kindly declined, saying she only gets on boats for Jesus. I totally get it, St. Katherine, as I only get on planes for Jesus!

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Qué irónico que estoy escribiendo sobre el Evangelio de hoy, que incluye las palabras “mantente despierto” durante un vuelo nocturno desde Boise, Idaho, de regreso a la costa este. Lamentablemente, seguir la advertencia de Jesús, al menos como pasajero en ese avión, no fue cosa difícil, a causa del ruido y la turbulencia. En la vida, sin embargo, me es más difícil mantenerme despierto, especialmente en el sentido figurado, distraído por el continuo estruendo y el ajetreo del mundo que me rodea. Peor aún, permitirme dormirme en mi relación con Jesús; olvidándome de las terribles consecuencias que Jesús advierte que vendrán sobre aquellos que no sepan y no estén preparados para el inminente regreso del Maestro.

Atento a esta advertencia, me esfuerzo por ser el siervo bendito que se encontrará haciendo lo que el Maestro le indique. Aunque vivo con muchos miedos y algo de ansiedad, voy donde el Señor me manda, y por eso me encontraba regresando a casa de Boise después de dar un retiro. Servir a Él y a las personas que Él ama, llevándoles la Buena Nueva y los mensajes de esperanza, vale la pena cada momento incómodo. Nunca quiero desperdiciar los dones que Dios me ha dado, sabiendo que son míos porque Él quiso cada uno para un propósito particular y de acuerdo a Su plan perfecto. Me siento honrado de ser sus manos y su voz, aunque tal vez disfruté hacerlo un poco más durante los dos años en los que mi vida y mi ministerio, en su mayor parte, fueron virtuales.

Anhelo ser un siervo fiel y prudente, enfocándome en lo que puedo hacer en cualquier situación, especialmente en las desafiantes, y confiando en que Jesús hará el resto. Estar despierto para mí significa volverme al Señor en oración en todas las cosas y buscar la gracia necesaria para cumplir cualquier misión que se me presente, apoyándome en la abundante gracia de Dios y confiando en todas Sus promesas porque creo que son dignas de confianza.

Hace muchos años, cuando regresaba a casa después de la adoración con muchas cosas que me pesaban en el corazón, le pedí al Señor que me asegurara que Él verdaderamente cumple Sus promesas. Mientras estaba sentado en el semáforo frente a mi casa, sin dejar de meditar y orar sobre esta pregunta, pasó un camión gigante con las palabras “cumpliendo promesas” estampadas en el costado. Me reí de la dulce “Dios-cidencia” del momento preciso que el camión se cruzó en mi camino. Las lágrimas brotaron de mis ojos mientras agradecía al Señor por su misericordiosa y rápida respuesta a mi oración.

Estar despierta y consciente de Su fidelidad, bondad y abundante gracia me ayuda a prepararme para esa hora desconocida en la que vendrá el Hijo del Hombre. Bendecida por la voluntad de ser valiente, de servir mientras vigilo, incluso si eso significa estar con un miedo a los 30,000 pies de altura. Es increíble lo que la gracia puede hacer. La hermana de St. Katharine Drexel le ofreció un crucero con todos los gastos pagados, pero ella lo rechazó amablemente, diciendo que solo se sube a los barcos para Jesús. Lo entiendo totalmente, St. Katherine, ya que ¡yo solo me subo a los aviones para Jesús!

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Allison Gingras is a Deacon’s wife and seasoned mom of three. Allison works for Family Rosary as a social media and digital specialist, as well as a new media consultant for Catholic Mom and the Diocese of Fall River. She is the author of Encountering Signs of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints, and the Abundant Grace of God (Fall 2022, Ave Maria Press). Allison developed the Stay Connected Journals for Women series including her two volumes – The Gift of Invitation and Seeking Peace (OSV). She’s hosted A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras podcast since 2015.

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

Afflicted But Not Despaired / Afligido Pero No Desesperado

In 2015, our family experienced an extremely difficult time. We were afflicted, perplexed, struck down, and persecuted, yet, we held onto hope. These troubles came as my husband discerned the Permanent Diaconate and I full-time Catholic ministry. The concerns had not arrived because we’d chosen to follow the call to serve Jesus; today’s Gospel actually revealed He chose us. These things would have come anyway, some situations far beyond our control the results of another’s free will and the fallen nature of the world. 

Yet, in faith, we never wavered in remembering we always have recourse to God. Recourse means a source of help in difficult situations. The Triune God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is an unfailing source of comfort, strength, and guidance in everything we encounter. As our world crumbled around us, we held firm to the grace we believe is bestowed by God to strengthen the faithful in their distress; still, these moments continually challenged our hope, faith, and trust.

In searching for a healthy way to cope with the stress and strain of this season in our lives, I started walking around my yard daily, praying the Rosary. One day, as my frustration overwhelmed me, I shouted to God, “What do you want from me?” This heavenly inquiry coincided with my reaching the end of my yard and as I turned the corner back toward the highway which runs adjacent to my home. A giant truck drove by with the word “FIDELITY” emblazoned across the trailer. Honestly, I laughed out loud. 

Gratefully, most of what we suffered at that time were, as St. Paul says to the Corinthians, “light and momentary afflictions,” however, in accepting the grace God showered upon us, we glorified Him throughout it all!

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En 2015, nuestra familia pasó por un momento muy difícil. Estábamos afligidos, perplejos, abatidos y perseguidos, pero nos aferrábamos a la esperanza. Estos problemas surgieron cuando mi esposo estaba discerniendo el diaconado permanente y yo el ministerio católico de tiempo completo. Las preocupaciones no habían llegado porque habíamos elegido seguir el llamado a servir a Jesús; el Evangelio de hoy en realidad reveló que Él nos eligió. Estas cosas habrían llegado de todos modos, algunas situaciones mucho más allá de nuestro control, los resultados del libre albedrío de otra persona y la naturaleza caída del mundo.

Sin embargo, en la fe, nunca vacilamos en recordar que siempre tenemos el recurso de Dios. Recurso significa una fuente de ayuda en situaciones difíciles. El Dios Triuno-Padre, Hijo y Espíritu Santo es una fuente inagotable de consuelo, fortaleza y guía en todo lo que encontramos. Mientras nuestro mundo se derrumbaba a nuestro alrededor, nos mantuvimos firmes en la gracia que creemos que Dios otorga para fortalecer a los fieles en su angustia; aun así, estos momentos desafiaron continuamente nuestra esperanza, fe y confianza.

En busca de una manera saludable de sobrellevar el estrés y la tensión de esta temporada en nuestras vidas, comencé a caminar por mi jardín todos los días, rezando el Rosario. Un día, cuando mi frustración me abrumaba, le grité a Dios: “¿Qué quieres de mí?” Justo al hacer esta pregunta celestial llegué al final del patio y cuando di la vuelta a la esquina hacia la carretera que corre junto a mi casa. Pasó un camión gigante con la palabra “FIDELIDAD” estampada en el tráiler. Honestamente, me reí a carcajadas.

Afortunadamente, la mayor parte de lo que sufrimos en ese momento fueron, como dice San Pablo a los corintios, “aflicciones ligeras y momentáneas”, sin embargo, al aceptar la gracia que Dios nos derramó, ¡lo glorificamos a través de todo!

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Allison Gingras is a Deacon’s wife and seasoned mom of three. Allison works for Family Rosary as a social media and digital specialist, as well as a new media consultant for Catholic Mom and the Diocese of Fall River. She is the author of Encountering Signs of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints, and the Abundant Grace of God (Fall 2022, Ave Maria Press). Allison developed the Stay Connected Journals for Women series including her two volumes – The Gift of Invitation and Seeking Peace (OSV). She’s hosted A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras podcast since 2015.

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

Pearls of Faith

Discerning what the teaching, “do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,” means in your life can be a little perplexing. The language is strange, and this verse may take extra prayer and even a little research to fully comprehend Jesus’ intended lesson. Additionally, “lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces” seems a little harsh, yet we trust Jesus, and those who recorded His words, never include filler—every word has purpose. 

There is nothing more holy than the Eucharist—the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. To receive this gift, our hearts must be properly prepared. On Corpus Christi Sunday, in dioceses across the nation, the USCCB launched the National Eucharistic Revival, “three years for discernment, encounter, and grassroots response on the diocesan, parish, and individual levels” to (re)kindle a living, loving relationship with Jesus Christ, especially in the Eucharist. 

In John’s Gospel, Jesus reveals the difficult teaching of His Real Presence in the Eucharist: “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Many followers walked away, confused and unable to accept Jesus’ gift of himself in the Eucharist. He did not use those next moments to talk of symbolism but instead looked to those remaining and inquired if they, too, would leave. It is being able to embrace this difficult yet true teaching of the Catholic faith that leads through the narrow gate, also presented in today’s Gospel. The one that leads to life, Jesus tells us, although those who find it are few. There are many reasons we fail to enter the narrow gate— doubt, fear, caution, or merely unwillingness to allow the mystical to reveal something to us this world cannot.

Faith is a gift. Gifts are only useful if they are received, opened, and used. In light of today’s Gospel, when we refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten our hearts about the holy things of God, we are truly casting them down before swine. They will be trampled into pieces and, maybe even unwittingly, miss out on one of the most incredible gifts God has prepared for us. We can be no closer to Christ than when we receive Him in the Eucharist. The greatest gift God has given us is his Son, who took on flesh, our sins, and the suffering meant for us so that we may one day be with Him forever in heaven.

Do not cast your faith away. Do not let it be trampled under foot by worldly cares, cynicism, or confusion. As Matthew 7:7 so wisely counsels, ask, seek, knock, trusting the Lord will answer the door of your heart and He will answer your questions. Like the centurion in Mark’s Gospel, let us pray in those weak, faltering moments so as not to be lost, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” It is in prayer where we open our hearts to be renewed and redeemed by the God who loves us enough to be consumed under the guise of bread and wine so that we may have eternal life. 

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Allison Gingras is a Deacon’s wife and seasoned mom of three. Allison works for Family Rosary as a social media and digital specialist, as well as a new media consultant for Catholic Mom and the Diocese of Fall River. She is the author of Encountering Signs of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints, and the Abundant Grace of God (Fall 2022, Ave Maria Press). Allison developed the Stay Connected Journals for Women series including her two volumes – The Gift of Invitation and Seeking Peace (OSV). She’s hosted A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras podcast since 2015.

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

Simple Ways to Share the Good News

St. Paul had a vision, “A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the Good News to them” (Acts 16:9). Perhaps you’ve not had a dream, but have you ever felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit for you too to share the Good News? Did you respond to the prompt, or did fear or uncertainty keep you from witnessing to your faith?  

There are many ways to share the good news without a heroic trip across an ocean or to far-off lands. We can evangelize in our homes, families, or communities with genuine, often uncomplicated gestures. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Invite someone to Sunday Mass (if you can, include breakfast to continue building your relationship with this person, which will make discussions about faith easier. It may also create a comfortable atmosphere where you can discuss something you heard in the readings or homily). 
  • Not sure who to invite? Simply share your parish’s Mass schedule on your social media. You never know how the Holy Spirit might use that post to reach people seeking to find a church. We can share many things on social media to inspire and encourage people to grow in faith — Scripture verses, saint quotes, or prayers.
  • Consider starting a Christian book club or Bible study in your home or parish. Pick a book you are interested in, then ask a friend or two, “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
  • Offer to pray for people. Whether in person as someone is sharing a current difficulty or challenging situation, or you read it on social media. If you make a weekly Eucharistic Adoration hour, consider posting a request for prayers. I’ve done this for years and typically receive over a hundred prayer requests each time I do. While the idea of praying for so many might seem daunting but it is actually quite humbling and beautiful. I bring my phone into Adoration and scroll through the list offering each intention to the Lord. This activity has also provided the avenue to numerous incredible faith conversations.
  • Pray for the Lord to make a way to share the Good News and in the expectation that one day He will “be prepared to make a defense [testimony] to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Don’t be afraid of what to say; just like the Lord prepared the prophet, Jeremiah, He too will put the words in your mouth.
  • Forward videos, articles, or blogs that touched your heart to someone you think might also be blessed to read and receive that particular message.

If you are not comfortable or not quite ready to evangelize in these public ways, there is still something significant you can do—pray. Keep friends, family, and even strangers in prayer, without being asked or with anyone even knowing. Prayer, invoking the Holy Spirit, is a powerful gift the Apostles modeled for us. Seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother and as many Saints as you need. Just as the Spirit guided the early disciples to know where to go and when and with whom to speak, trust He is still at work and will guide you in the same way.

In the end, the best witness of faith is always how you live, especially when you allow the joy of the Lord to shine through your words and actions. There is a time to speak and a time to stay silent; you need not wonder or worry about which the Spirit is calling you. If you remain prayerfully open to where He moves you, the answer and the action will always be apparent.

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Allison Gingras is a Deacon’s wife and seasoned mom of three. Allison works for Family Rosary as a social media and digital specialist, as well as a new media consultant for Catholic Mom and the Diocese of Fall River. She is the author of Encountering Signs of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints, and the Abundant Grace of God (Fall 2022, Ave Maria Press). Allison developed the Stay Connected Journals for Women series including her two volumes – The Gift of Invitation and Seeking Peace (OSV). She’s hosted A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras podcast since 2015.

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

An Untroubled Heart

Jesus stands amid the Apostles, offers his peace, and then further offers words of comfort with a proclamation to not let our hearts be troubled. Although not always the simplest task, God never asks for the impossible; therefore, we can be assured of the graces necessary to accomplish it.

As worries mount, so too is the tendency to feel God has forgotten us or abandoned us. Perhaps the Apostles felt that way following the death of our Lord and before he appeared with this greeting of peace. In Christ, there is always hope; we have in both the Old and New Testament the assurance to never be forsaken nor abandoned (Hebrews 13:5); recalling Jesus remains with us always, until the end of the age, to be exact ( Matthew 28:20).  

It is precisely those moments when we struggle the most to see God amid our circumstances that we should rely on the gift of hindsight. Looking back to the outcomes of other hardships or trials (especially those beyond our control), carefully and prayerfully recognize all the graces bestowed. The situation possibly didn’t resolve as wished, yet there is a discernable peace associated with that time and some greater good that comes from it.

Like the Apostles between the Resurrection and Pentecost, we too may see our peace disturbed, or doubts creep in when we don’t know the path to the place Jesus has for us. It is human nature to want all the details, and we want them before we act. That is not the trust to which Jesus calls us. The road may seem confusing or beyond our reach. The promises, while trustworthy, may feel for someone else and not for someone so filled with doubt, sin, or fear. Remember, out of great love for us, while we were still sinners, God sent his only Son to die for our redemption (Romans 5:8).

Jesus is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and we don’t have to search far to find He is always with us. He journeys alongside our darkness and our joy. He is the embodiment of the unseen God; if we have seen him, then we have seen the Father. We don’t need to search far to find signs and wonders of a God; we can witness his almighty love in a sunrise, the sweet smile of a child, and the peace which comes in prayer. And most notably, in the Eucharist, “The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread” (Luke 24:35). Amen, this is where hope prevails amid the most challenging and uncertain times in Christ, always by our side.

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Allison Gingras is a Deacon’s wife and seasoned mom of three. Allison works for Family Rosary as a social media and digital specialist, as well as a new media consultant for Catholic Mom and the Diocese of Fall River. She is the author of Encountering Signs of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints, and the Abundant Grace of God (Fall 2022, Ave Maria Press). Allison developed the Stay Connected Journals for Women series including her two volumes – The Gift of Invitation and Seeking Peace (OSV). She’s hosted A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras podcast since 2015.

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

Conversion in Unexpected Places

As a mother of three children, the desire to pass along my faith to them is great within me. When they were younger, it seemed easy. We attended Mass as a family, read the Bible and saint stories, attended VBS, and even discussed faith during dinner. Then, two of them became young adults, and the line from today’s Gospel, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place” (Luke 4:24), took on an entirely new meaning for me.

The methods employed to share my beloved faith no longer applied. My words no longer held merit, and discussions at the dinner table, well, they took a new turn I never expected. Like so many other mothers who watch their child drift from the church or experience a crisis of faith, my heart began to break, and some days the tears flowed. My prayers for the right words doubled, but none came (and least not yet). 

Then I, like so many disheartened moms before me, discovered St. Monica, the mother of the wayward son turned Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine. She, too, cried many tears and was consoled by a bishop who told her, “the child of those tears shall never perish.” That child of whom the bishop spoke was the same who once prayed, “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet,” and whose conversion came about through an unexpected verse in scripture and the counsel of a holy man, St. Ambrose. 

Although St. Monica was relentless in her desire to see Augustine turn to God, going so far as to follow him to Milan secretly, it was not her words that ultimately brought about his remarkable change of heart and turning toward God. Monica’s example not only brings me great hope but clued me into something I’d not yet considered. Although I have no doubt Monica’s prayers fueled her son’s incredible conversion, it was the words of another who ultimately made the difference. My prayer and tactic, if you will, have been altered after studying these remarkable saints. I now beg the Lord to send my sons their own St. Ambrose and ask, if it be His will, that I may be St. Ambrose to someone else’s “fallen away” child. 

As today’s First Reading illustrates, the healing, change, or conversion may not come in some great flash or a dramatic tumble from a horse (aka St. Paul). It most likely will have its source in the ordinary, like Naaman, who expected some grand gesture to heal his leprosy. This story also harks to the lesson learned from Monica and Augustine, the source of change might not be the mighty king but the lowly, faithful prophet. We must, as Psalm 130:7 reminds us, “hope in the LORD, I trust in his word; with him, there is kindness and plenteous redemption.”

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Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

Feature Image Credit: Omar Santamaria, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/26394-adoracion

The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

Fidelity Helps My Unbelief

Often my prayer resembles the words spoken by the boy’s father in Mark’s Gospel, who has come to beg the Lord to heal his son, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). And in my heart, not only do I hear Jesus’ gentle and kind response, “‘If you can!’ everything is possible to one who has faith,” but I also cry out like the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:14-29)!

I do believe and trust Jesus can help, most of the time, but part of me constantly wrestles with surrender. I am often a woman of little faith that craves signs and wonders to help me believe. In boldness, embracing Jesus’ teaching to ask and it will be given to you (Matthew 7:7), I request oddly specific signs, so there are no lingering doubts. Remarkably, in His mercy, these harbingers and wonders often appear.

I love the Rosary, especially the 54-Rosary Novena devotion. A few years ago, the Spirit nudged me outside to pray. At first, I assumed it was to keep me away from the distractions of my desk, home, and phone. However, the Spirit was about to reveal a much bigger plan. Since I live on a busy street, I decided to do laps around the perimeter of my yard—think Joshua (and friends) and the Walls of Jericho (Joshua 6).

As I made my last circuit, in knots about the current state of my life, I looked to heaven and aired my grievances. “Lord, what do you want from me? I never miss Sunday Mass, and I diligently pray the Rosary. I have even given my life to telling people how awesome you are, and this is my reward? A life overflowing with many hardships — illness, death, financial difficulties, and family discord! Again, Lord, I ask, what do you want from me?”  

As I completed the behind-the-house leg of my Rosary journey that day and turned to face the highway that runs along the front of my home, a tractor-trailer passing by caught my attention. On the side of the truck, in giant red letters, was the word — FIDELITY! 

Fidelity? Really, Lord! The fancy Latin-rooted word, which not so coincidentally means faithfulness, had to be an answer to my cry of distress. Is that what you want? How could I ignore the timing of the truck’s appearance? Only God could arrange the precision of that moment. Furthermore, after twenty years of traffic watching along that same highway, this was the truck’s first appearance!

My trust grew exponentially from that god-incidence moment; the world would see this situation as a coincidence, but I knew it to be heaven reaching through the veil to assure me everything is possible with faith. Just be faithful; I can do that, Lord. I will continue to pray, hope, and wait on you — one Rosary bead at a time. Lord, I believe, thank you for shining into my life to help my unbelief. 

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Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

Feature Image Credit: Jornada Mundial de la Juventud, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/13057-rosario-mano

The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

A Modern Day Apostle

Do you consider yourself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Although clearly not one of the twelve, do you see yourself as an apostle? Do you show others God’s love, mercy, and hope like those first chosen by Christ? The word apostle translates into one sent on mission. Have you discerned the mission God has set you apart for, something only you can do that in some way brings the Good News to others? A mission possible by living in the light of Christ, never crushed or discouraged by circumstances, that trust in Him alone. 

An apostle has been summoned, called, or appointed to preach, bearing some responsibility to proclaim the Gospel. A summons can be defined as an urgent demand for help—being called upon for specific action; how you answer will look different for everyone. For me, this call became my profession—leaving behind one career to embrace a new one as an evangelist. For others, it may look more like sharing the faith at home, parish, or community as a volunteer or simply living the Catholic faith in a way to reflect Christ to others.

Discipleship needs to be rooted in grace found compellingly through prayer, Scripture, and participation in the sacraments. Before appointing the twelve to be sent out preaching, Luke (6:12) reveals that Jesus retreated to a time of silence, alone with the Father, and spent all night praying.

God has entrusted the message of reconciliation to each of us, making us ambassadors just as he did the first apostles. It is a participation in the mission of Christ not just to watch others about the work of God but alive, fully engaged, and active within it ourselves. We fulfill our baptismal promises to profess the faith by sharing the faith handed down or discovered by us. Our contribution to preaching the Gospel can be as simple as how we live our lives, whether in our homes, parishes, family, or communities. 

 As often accredited to Saint Francis’s, preaching does not always involve words but, more importantly, our actions and how others see us. God, out of pure love, brought you into being. In an abundance of his love, we exist. Created to know, love, and serve him; however, as the Scriptures teach, the greatest of these is always love and how we choose to love Him. God gives us the freedom to accept or reject a life of faith. The first apostles accepted the call to come and follow—to grow nearer, pick up their crosses, and embrace the gift of salvation through Christ. 

So, do you consider yourself an apostle of Jesus Christ? How will you demonstrate God’s love, mercy, and hope like those first chosen by Christ? Will you accept the invitation to the mission God has for you? In humble obedience to give yourself, your life, to Him who loved you into being. To say along with the Psalmist, “Be exalted above the heavens, O God; above all the earth be your glory!”

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Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

Transformative Repentance

“From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Mercy offered in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is transformative. The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides this magnificent explanation on the grace of Confession:

 “Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time, it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace” (CCC 1431).

A “radical orientation of our whole life” seems powerful language for entering a confessional (or room) with a priest and laying out our offenses. Spewing out a laundry list of “should have” and “should have nots.” Why not bring these directly to Jesus in prayer? Why involve a middle-man of sorts?  

There was a time I was petrified to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. My heart raced, palms sweat, throat closed, and my feet wanted to sprint to the nearest exit. Honestly, I avoided it until the Holy Spirit nudged me to go, and there, Jesus made me laugh. 

First, the nudge, Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). Next, the time the priest called me back into the confessional. After completing my Confession and opening the door to leave, I heard, “oh, wait, one more thing.” I am sure that’s happened to you before, right? Sweat formed on my brow as I made eye contact with the long line of people waiting for their turn! 

I sheepishly smiled at the kind folks staring back at me and slowly closed the door. The kind priest recognized my voice and wanted to share some exciting parish happenings with me. Although it didn’t seem the appropriate time (or place), a little spiritual insight sparked by grace helped it all come together, whereas I could recognize — God’s perfect timing and precisely the encounter I needed to overcome my fear. 

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the love and mercy of Jesus, offered through the priest, In persona Christi, Latin for, “in the person of Christ.” A genuine encounter with Christ, who is eager to impart grace and wash away your iniquities and cleanse you from your sins (Psalm 51). Sure, it will be uncomfortable; that’s contrition! Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel reminds us that the Kingdom is now, and we want to be always ready to enter it when called.

As for that middle-man? I am grateful for the opportunity to encounter Jesus through the priest because I have yet to experience anything in this world, as sweet as the words, “The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.”

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Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

The Grace of Christmas

Christmas morning, we wake to gifts under the tree, gifts nestled into stockings, and the celebration of the greatest gift of all—Jesus. God’s gifts are abundant; there is no spending limit. He does not budget His generosity. God, the Father who wants for nothing, out of pure love, bestows an abundance of gifts upon each and every one of us. His innumerable gifts include life, faith, hope, joy, and of course, love. However, the gift that stands out most during this time of the year is the gift of grace, exemplified so beautifully in the Blessed Mother. 

Grace, in essence, is the undeserved yet freely given gift of God’s Holy Spirit living within us, which moves and animates our being. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the One who knows God so perfectly, because the Spirit is God, sent as our Counselor. If we cooperate with the indwelling of the Spirit within us, if we abide in the Word and accept these beautiful gifts of God, we too will experience the mystery and magnitude of a life of grace. We merely need to look upon Mary’s fiat to understand the power of a life full of the grace of God!

Mary, on the birth of her Son, Jesus—God incarnate—kept all these things in her heart. She bestowed with an unmatched outpouring of grace at her conception, so to be born without the stain of sin was prepared to receive Jesus. From this example, one can ascertain the importance of grace necessary to prepare one’s heart to receive Jesus. However, we cannot forget nor underestimate the importance of free will and the significance of one’s willingness to cooperate with this supernatural gift. Although God, out of love for all his children, may have bestowed this gift upon Mary, yet she still needed to receive, open, and cooperate with this incredible gift. Ponder the words, “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you,” and consider this profound example of how we, too, can be touched by grace and carry the Lord within.

Let us wrap up our reflection with a contemplation on the workings of gift-giving. Gifts are only useful if they are, simply put—used. Left wrapped under the Christmas tree; each would remain a mystery, never accomplishing their intended purpose, perhaps even considered wasted. With the wonder and enthusiasm of a child, let us tear into the gifts of God, beholding the beauty and strength found in presents of love, faith, hope, joy, and of course, grace. With faith and wisdom like a child,  filled with uncontainable expectation, who would never leave a gift unopened, let us rejoice and receive all the gifts God has prepared for us this day!

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Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

Feature Image Credit: articgoneape, https://pixabay.com/photos/baby-baby-jesus-bethlehem-birth-4258530/

The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

Declutter Your Troubled Heart

In today’s Gospel, the crowds ask John the Baptist, “What then should we do?” In reply, he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise” (Luke 3:10-11).  John also tells the tax collectors to “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you” (Luke 3: 13). Interesting to see this reading at the time of year when many people amass more than probably needed. However, it is also a time of donating our extra clothes and food, both to make room in preparation for incoming gifts and the spirit of giving.

Regular decluttering is an excellent habit of keeping our homes in order; I have learned it is simply impossible to organize clutter. The more belongings I try to contain or control, the greater chaos I seem to create. This phenomenon can be said of the state of my soul as well. During an Advent reflection, the young transitional deacon at my parish encouraged us to declutter our souls to make room for Jesus this Christmas. Finding time during Advent for a good Sacramental Confession among the card writing, decorating, present buying, and cookie-baking is a wonderful gift to give ourselves. For it is important to remember, we are body and soul, and we are baptized “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). The baptism we receive, instituted by Christ, involves the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit and the divine capacity to forgive sin (CCC 696).

Today, the Church celebrates the apparition of the Blessed Mother to Juan Diego with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Juan’s faithfulness to the Catholic faith opened his heart to the miracle of the rose-covered tilma and the subsequent conversion of millions of people. Contemplate what God could do with our fidelity in living out the grace of our baptismal promises? 

We are not making this journey of faith alone; Mary is our mother, guide, intercessor, and model of a life filled with grace. We too can take comfort in the words Mary spoke to Juan Diego, “Listen and understand well, my son, smallest of all, that you have no cause to be frightened and worried, let your heart be troubled no longer, have no fear of that sickness, nor of any other sickness or sorrow. Is this not your mother here next to you?”

Here on the Third Sunday of Advent, as St. Paul reminds us to have no anxiety in anything but pray about everything, and we will have reason to rejoice! Let us declutter our souls, unburden our hearts, draw near to God, who will draw all the nearer to us! To come to seek His mercy in the confessional, so to make room in our hearts for Him to come, not only on Christmas day but every day.

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Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

Feature Image Credit: Cathopic, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/5323-luz-iglesia

The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.