Conversions of Heart

Todays’ readings are so fitting for the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The Scriptures are wonderful lessons addressing the conversion of the heart.

The First Reading has Jonah not wanting to obey the call of the Lord God. He was pitched into the sea and swallowed and spit out after 3 days of prayer in a whale’s belly.

The Gospel acclamation gives us the new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” The reading from Luke has a law scholar asking, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ reply is the story of the Good Samaritan.

Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone (lovingly known as Francis) was born into what we today would call an upper middle class cloth merchant family. He led a carefree life, enjoyed friends and parties. He wanted to be a knight. He was captured, got ill and was imprisoned for a year during which time he read about the lives of the saints.

When Francis returned home he was not the same person. His spirit was troubled. Things he used to enjoy just didn’t make him happy the way they used to. The conversion of his heart was beginning.

The conversion of the human heart is not a one and done process. As with Jonah, who resisted the call of God more than once, Francis too had to pray and listen for God’s call.

Once Francis of Assisi committed his life to follow the Lord God’s call he immersed himself in the Gospel, taking the Gospel teachings (especially the words of Jesus) to heart and applied them to his life; Gospel to life, life to Gospel. For Francis so loved the Lord. He acclaimed frequently, “My God and my all! My God and my all!”

St. Francis did not have an easy life once he chose to follow his Heavenly Father. He made mistakes, faced many challenges and accomplished many things in his own ‘little’ way by choosing to make his life follow Jesus’ way. He made changes (conversions) to how he dealt with life events, even his thoughts to live out the Gospel in a moment by moment, day by day way.

I have been called to this conversion process too, going from Gospel to life, life to Gospel. I am called to love all as Jesus loves me and as the Good Samaritan loves. I thank my own good Samaritans Mark and Missy who stopped and got me some gas while on their way home from dinner with their grandkids when I ran out on an off ramp on my way to get gas last weekend.

Lord, my God and my all, help me to listen to your will in my life. Help my heart to be like Jesus’ and Francis’ heart. Help me to see Your face in every part of the world and my life. Amen.

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

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Consider Your Ways

Today is the feast of St. Pius of Pietrelcina better known as Padre Pio. The First Reading from Haggai today is quite fitting as Padre Pio was known for the gift of inspired listening while in the confessional. He had the gift of being able to tell the person receiving the sacrament what he/she omitted from a confession, and called the person out about it.

Here’s how I imagine Padre Pio would sum up the First Reading. ‘What I hear you saying is, you work, eat and drink, yet nothing gives you fulfilment or satisfaction. Wake up! Clean up your act! Stop going through the motions and really commit to being your true self and do so authentically. When you work, do so sincerely and with your best effort. The intention behind what you do and why, matters. Then when you offer your works to the Lord, God will be pleased with you.  Let your true self come through just like a flower.’

A flower doesn’t give any thought to what it is, how it fits in, or what it looks like. It is a flower and God enjoys each and every flower. It is at peace.

I am human. God enjoys each and every part of my authentic self. I do not have to be the best in any way, shape, or form. I just have to try as best I am able in the moment, and to use the God given gifts and the talents I’ve developed throughout my life. I need to find a way to do those things with good intentions that are not selfish or miserly. I need to live in peace and unity with the kingdom He entrusted to humankind.

Padre Pio wrote, “There is only one thing the soul should regret, and that is offending God.”
My actions and thoughts need to be formed with this in mind.

Oh Lord, I want you to take pleasure in all the facets of life. With the help of my Guardian Angel, enlighten and guide me to do your will in every action, thought, deed and prayer. Amen.

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

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Light of Life

Today is the memorial of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, and a doctor of the Church. I usually make a point of doing some research about the saint(s) of the day before beginning any writing, and always after I’ve read the Scriptures for the day.  I’m particularly drawn to these lines from Pope St. Gregory I:

“The sacred scriptures grow with the one who reads them.”

“God is within all things but not included; outside all things but not excluded. God is above all things but not beyond their reach.”

“The Bible is a stream of running water, where alike the elephant may swim, and the lamb walk without losing its feet.” 

“Let no seductive good fortune lead us astray, he is a foolish traveler who sees pleasant meadows on his journey and forgets where he is going.”

“Act in such a way that your humility may not be weakness, nor your authority be severity. Justice must be accompanied by humility, that humility may render justice lovable.”

What I read in the lines above come to life for me in the Sacred Scriptures today. As I continue to read and reflect on the passages for today, they take on different dimensions just as the first quote states. The reading from Colossians encompasses the second quote from St. Gregory.

The third really reminds me of a children’s story, Seven Blind Mice, that I’ve read to my family and used in many different catechetical situations. It reminds us, just like the first and third quotes, that each of us begins in a different place on the journey. Together though, we can come into a greater sense of shared vision and perspective. 

It’s a great lead into the Gospel from Luke where scribes and Pharisees question Jesus about his disciples not fasting and offering prayers. Jesus then shares the parable about the new wine and old wineskins, and the next two quotes above illuminate this for me.

The Gospel acclamation from John says, “I am the light of the world, says the Lord: whoever follows me will have the light of life”. May the Sacred Scriptures continue to grow within you. May you feel as comfortable as a lamb walking in the words of the Bible as much as an elephant feels comfortable swimming in those same words. May we each be surrounded in the light of life.

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

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I Trust in the Mercy of God

I have many friends and acquaintances in the midst of a myriad of challenges in their lives. Honestly though, each of us has a whole lot of stuff going on in our lives. Isn’t that the common denominator of human existence? Time is constantly moving forward. Change too, is part of that forward movement. The readings today touch on that theme.

A tremendous change happened in the world through Mary’s yes and Jesus’ birth. Throughout all of time, in trials and tribulations, good times and bad, He is with us. He is the Son of God, the Word incarnate. 

I pray that I have as much faith as Mary, to trust in the mercy and love of God through all times. Mary carried God’s love and mercy close to her heart so we too, can share in that grace and mercy through the teachings and sacrifice of her son, Jesus.

I pray that I will thank you always for what you have done, Lord, and proclaim the goodness of your name, to all and through all situations. Amen.

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

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The Queenship of Mary

The feast of the Queenship of Mary was established sixty seven years ago by Pope Pius XII on the 22nd of August, giving closure to the octave of Mary which began last Sunday with the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Today’s feast fits nicely with the readings that speak of Spirit and life. Mary carried the Living Word and the life-giving Spirit of God in her Son, Jesus.
Mary understood intimately that Jesus was Spirit in the flesh and the definition of the living Word of God the Father. 

Let us pray together the following, written by Pope Francis in 2013, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, for her intercession, to be filled with the Spirit and be more effective instruments of Jesus here in this world.

Mary, Virgin and Mother,

you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,

welcomed the word of life

in the depths of your humble faith:

as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,

help us to say our own “yes”

to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,

to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

Filled with Christ’s presence,

you brought joy to John the Baptist,

making him exult in the womb of his mother.

Brimming over with joy,

you sang of the great things done by God.

Standing at the foot of the cross

with unyielding faith,

you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection,

and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit

so that the evangelizing Church might be born.

Obtain for us now a new ardor born of the resurrection,

that we may bring to all the Gospel of life

which triumphs over death.

Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,

that the gift of unfading beauty

may reach every man and woman. 

Virgin of listening and contemplation,

Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast,

pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are,

that she may never be closed in on herself

or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.

Star of the new evangelization,

help us to bear radiant witness to communion,

service, ardent and generous faith,

justice and love of the poor,

that the joy of the Gospel

may reach to the ends of the earth,

illuminating even the fringes of our world.

Mother of the living Gospel,

wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,

pray for us.

Amen. Alleluia!
Pope Francis, Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013)

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

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Faith, Prayer, Love and Trust

Today is the memorial of St. John Vianney. A parish priest, St. John is known for his dedication to serving in the confessional, wise teachings and simple rhythm of life. There are two quotes attributed to St. John which came to mind while reflecting on today’s Gospel about the scene between Jesus and a Canaanite woman who pleaded for her daughter’s healing.

A humble person, whether he is laughed at or esteemed, or praised, or blamed, whether he is honoured or despised, whether people pay attention to him or pass him by, it is all the same to Him.”

The woman’s plea was heard after she reminded Jesus that dogs too, eat the scraps from the masters’ table. Her faith was rewarded; her daughter healed.

This passage from Matthew highlights God’s love and mercy for all, no matter the circumstances of a person. Jesus’ teachings and healing grace are available to everyone.

St. John Vianney’s second quote, “The glorious duty of man is to pray and love. If you pray and love, that is where a man’s happiness lies,” emphasises the necessity of prayer and love. The Canaanite woman innately knew this teaching in her own life. There is a bond and connection through love to our Master, the Lord God. As the Father so loved the world He gave us His Son. As a mother so loved her daughter, she prayed for healing and received it. Alleluia!

The belief, faith, humility and trust demonstrated by the Canaanite woman, by my friend Tami (reflections recently found here in Inspiration Daily) remind me that with God, through Him, in Him, all things are possible. Personally, I have to remember the answers to prayer are in His time, not mine.

O Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
Amen. Alleluia.
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Beth Price is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She is a Secular Franciscan (OFS) and a practicing spiritual director. Beth shares smiles, prayers, laughter, a listening ear and her heart with all of creation. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

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Harden Not Your Heart

The Gospel Acclamation today is what links the readings for me. ‘If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’ Ps 95:8

In the First Reading, Pharaoh, the Egyptians and the freed people of Israel had asked for repeated signs from the Lord. Were not the plagues, the exodus from slavery and the parting of the sea enough proof that God exists? No, their ways of looking at situations was too hard to change and their hearts were hardened against the Lord.

The Gospel has the Hebrew scribes and Pharisees part of unfaithful generations seeking signs from God. Jesus is quite direct with them saying, “…no sign will be given…except the sign of Jonah the prophet…in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” The scribes and Pharisees were blind to the miracles of Jesus. Their hearts were hardened to the teachings and word of God spoken by Jesus.

How often do I tune out what my child, coworker, neighbor, parent, priest or spouse is trying to explain or share with me? Am I aware of what is really the root cause of a situation that is pushing my buttons? Where do I hear His voice? Where do I see His face?

I pray that my eyes are able to see God’s face in my surroundings. I pray for listening ears to hear the Lord’s voice in the sounds of this world. I pray that I recognize where my heart has hardened.  Soften those places so that my heart may be as yours, Lord, Jesus Christ. Grant me the grace to be closer to you. Amen

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

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St. Thomas the Apostle

Going through my morning email last week a quotation from another famous Thomas, St. Thomas Aquinas really caught my attention. “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

The Apostle Thomas wanted to see Jesus with his own eyes. He wanted to feel the wounds of Christ with his own hands. I am 99.9% certain I’m not the only one who has asked for a sign of proof from God about a choice or decision of what He really wanted for me at a specific time in my life.

I also think about the many throughout time who have believed without seeing the Lord or a Bible. The Word spoken to them ignited their hearts with the Truth to believe in the Way and teachings of Jesus Christ. While I strive to keep God as my focus, I find myself saying this prayer.

Lord, I do believe.  Help me with my unbelief.  When I am tempted to give in to despair or to doubt Your almighty power over all things in life, help me to turn to You and to trust in You with all my heart.  May I cry out, with St. Thomas, “My Lord and my God,” and may I do so even when I see only with the faith You put into my soul.  Jesus, I trust in You.   Amen.

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

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The Sacred Heart of Jesus

In my Grandma and Grandpa B’s home there were two large lighted framed paintings, one of Mary and the infant Jesus over the mantle and another of Jesus on the opposite side of the living room. I don’t remember any specific conversations about them having such prominent places in their home, only that they were a cherished part of everyday life. 

These paintings came to mind as I was reading and praying with today’s Scripture, especially the First Reading from Hosea 11:3-4, 8c-9 and the last line of the Gospel from John 19:37.

“I…took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love…yet though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know I was their healer. My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred…For I am God and not a man, the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.”  And from the Gospel, “They will look upon Him whom they have pierced.” 

To this day I honestly haven’t grasped the importance and immense depth of grace and mercy that comes gushing forth for us all from the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

#478 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: “The Son of God. . . loved me and gave himself for me.” He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, “is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings” without exception.

I am precious to Him at all times and in all circumstances of life. I have to remember that He is always present, not something to be seen (as a painting) but incorporated in my daily life with intent, openness and awed respect. The love of God is poured out into the world through the Son’s Sacred Heart. I pray that my heart may be conformed to Jesus’ so I may learn from Him to be meek and gentle of heart (as the Gospel acclamation proclaims) to love all in creation. 

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

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The Lord Delights in His People

Today’s readings are rich in imagery: ancestors, godly men, virtues, the Lord delighting in his people, bearing fruit, the withered fig tree, the temple area comotion, faith in God, prayer and forgiveness are found within these verses. 

My attention keeps coming back to the last line of the Gospel, “When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.”  Mk 11:25  This is vital to living in right relationship with the Father. 

As a chosen one of God, created in His image, I have been called to honor (pray), witness (serve, act) and bear fruit to the truth of the Way for all of creation.

The ultimate love of the Father was the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. He showed us the Way of life through his example of love and prayer, service and sacrifice. Jesus forgives all because He loves all, even when someone’s actions hurt or take advantage of others.

Being chosen means I have to acknowledge being human. I am accountable for the good and the bad choices and decisions in my life. I am to be as forgiving as Jesus and my Father are to all. The biggest challenge is to do that every moment of everyday; to show compassion and extend forgiveness to everyone through the Spirit and the love of God outpoured in the world.

God takes delight in His people. God takes delight in you. The following songs help me take the next step on the Way.

Chosen, Sidewalk Prophets
Help is on The Way, TobyMac
Truth be Told, Matthew West
Aware, Salvador

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

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Life in Him

The readings today remind us that our focus needs to be on God. The First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul tells us “…in him we live and move and have our being”. The Gospel has Jesus telling the disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.”


We’ve been given the Spirit of truth to guide us on our way in life. We’ve been asked to do what is ours to do by trusting in His ways and to follow the Spirit. This is metanoia; changing our heart to a deeper communion and connection with Christ. We are called to be prophets of a future not of our choosing but that of the Lord.

Bishop Ken Untener expressed that wonderfully in the following prayer:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent

enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of

saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an

opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master

builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.      

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

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Branches on the True Vine

“I am the vine, alleluia; you are the branches, alleluia”, is the antiphonal refrain before the canticle of Zechariah in this morning’s Divine Office. Throughout the Office and today’s Readings we find God’s people and all of creation rejoicing that Jesus Christ is Risen. The Psalm today calls to us, “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”

In the Gospel Jesus proclaims, “Remain in me, as I remain in you, whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.” Jesus continues speaking to his disciples saying, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”

Rejoicing, dancing, joy and fruits are part of my offertory to God. I say only part because I frequently forget that there is work to be done; the pruning and cleaning of my own branch on the true vine. It is an essential part in the natural progression of any life cycle. There are times of growth, dormancy or rest and purging inherent to growth in life to produce good fruit. 

I get stuck on pruning and purging, getting rid of the things and thoughts that can damage and inhibit new growth. I have clothes, shoes, containers, and things I’ve saved because I will ‘reuse’ them. There are items that have sentimental value but have no function or purpose in my life that need to be let go. There are parts of my life that require pruning to facilitate new growth, not just collecting cobwebs and dust, slowly suffocating and dying.

Many of my things can be of service or value to someone who’s beginning a new chapter in life; those will be donated. Some things need to be recycled and others thrown out. I also must nurture my way of life with the sacraments and teachings of the Catholic Church and the study of all the Bible, especially the Gospel. It’s as necessary to do as putting food into my body, breathing air, getting rest, interacting with others, praying, mourning and rejoicing. It is all part of the cycle of life for a healthy branch of the True Vine.

Rejoice, read scripture, attend Mass, interact with the community, live the Gospel, prune, rest, repeat! 

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

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