Divine Healing

I recently got the chance to meet an incredible Healing Ministry that is doing the Lord’s work in my diocese. If you are unfamiliar with prayer teams like this, the focus is on the Holy Spirit, and they simply pray with you and for your intentions, spiritual or physical. Having gone to the Franciscan University of Steubenville, I am pretty comfortable with charismatic prayer and was truly blessed by my experience with this prayer team. Lately, I’ve become more interested in the topic of God’s healing.

This week I hosted a FORMED series at my parish on the Eucharist, Presence: The Mystery of the Eucharist. After watching the first episode, I invited everyone to share their thoughts and reflections. A man named RV prophetically shared on the reality of God’s power. The fact that God transcends time and science at every consecration of the Eucharist is similar to an explosion that just happens throughout the world at different times every single day. We went on from these words to thinking about God’s bigness and smallness. These questions were meant to be wrestled with and that’s we did.

In today’s Responsorial Psalm, I was reminded of this great might. “Making known to men your might and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom. Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.” In the Gospel today we hear the reality that we will be sent out like lambs among wolves. I’m sure each of us can understand that analogy in our world today. But what struck me is that Jesus didn’t tell us to grab some armor for protection, but calls us to bring peace. “Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’” There is no need for armor because God is with us in all things and because of that there should always be a sense of peace coming from faithful Christians. His last mission he gives to the disciples is to “cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’” He gave the power to His disciples to physically heal the sick and proclaim the truth that the Kingdom of God is at hand. In all seriousness, do we believe that God can heal us today? Do we believe that the Kingdom of God is at hand right now in this very moment? I do and I hope you do too. Today, may we wrestle with the reality that God can do what you think is impossible. Whether He does it or not, He can. May you experience the healing that you desire, if it be His will. Amen.

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Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Letting Go of Fears

Recently, I was hanging out with a friend that is more direct than most people. She was complaining of not having plans for Halloween and stated that I have the perfect home for hosting parties. She asked why I haven’t thrown one yet. The hint was pretty clear, she wanted me to host a Halloween party, and I had no excuse not to. She was right; I have a perfectly fine home to invite friends into. Now, I confessed that I hadn’t hosted anything before because it makes me anxious. I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks throughout the ups and downs of my life. Even though a party is no reason for anxiety, I’d beg to differ. The list of common worries goes like this; “What if no one shows up? What if it’s boring? What if I don’t have enough food or drinks?” The list goes on, but you get the picture.

I knew at some point I’d have to get over these fears and host a party, so that is what I am doing. I started looking through Pinterest for fun Halloween themed food and drinks. Now there is an expectation I will probably not meet. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, after reading the Gospel for today, I completely felt for Martha in a whole new way. Throughout my life I always tended to roll my eyes at Martha in this story, like come on girl, just come sit by Jesus’ feet too. I didn’t understand the stress of hosting and all that comes with it. Although my party is still a few weeks away, I have made myself a To-Do list that seems a mile long, and if my husband were to not help me on the day of the party, I would have the same question as Martha.

She was burdened with much serving. I can picture her trying to do a million things at once, and she approaches Jesus with frustration, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” Jesus responds, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.”

I love this story because Jesus is not only telling Martha that He knows all her anxieties and worries. He knows ours too. Forget about the silly task of throwing a Halloween party; there are much bigger parts of our lives that we all worry about! Let’s think about that for a moment, the worries you have today about your future, health, job, friend, or problem, all those things are fully known by Him. There is comfort in the fact that He knows they exist; they are not something of our imagination or something that is passed by or deemed unimportant. No, He is well aware of the troubling worries and anxieties we have in our day to day lives, but he doesn’t leave us there. In this Gospel, He shares what the need of only one thing is, Him. He is the better part that will not be taken away.

When big or small worries and anxieties overwhelm us, let us learn from Mary and choose to sit at His feet. He is the answer, the better part, the need for only one thing. How differently would our hearts carry the crosses of anxiety and worry, if we responded to them by spending more time with Him? My challenge for you is to be like Mary, to choose to spend time in prayer, listening to His voice when the voices of anxiousness and worry try to bind you. Let us bring it all to Him and sit at His feet.

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Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Finding True Joy

Today’s Gospel reading poses a very specific question, “Are you honest or dishonest?” We’re informed by Scripture that one who is trustworthy in small matters is also trustworthy in great ones, but one who is dishonest in small matters is also dishonest in great ones.

The Scripture refers to the topic of wealth and the belongings of others. How do we, as Catholics, handle money? Are we trustworthy or dishonest with our own money or the money of others? In all topics, I hope, we are striving to be honest and true in our words and actions.

This Gospel ends with the fact that we cannot serve two masters. “He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” This is crucial! Our hearts cannot be divided; there is no place for a split between serving God and idolizing other things, whether that’s wealth, jealousy, or dishonesty.

Let us reflect today and check in on our hearts to make sure that we serve one Master, Jesus Christ, who was rich and became poor so that by his poverty, you might become rich. Serving this Master with all honesty in our words and actions is the true place of joy, the richness of grace, and the Kingdom of God. Let’s have our eyes on what truly matters, let us serve Him in small and great matters with trustworthy and honest hearts.

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Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Do You Trust Me?

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
Because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.

The other day, my Pastor was sharing how he studied Greek in his undergrad seminarian years. He loved it because it allowed him to read and understand Scripture in a deeper way. One single detail that he shared has left me pondering this Gospel in a different way today. He shared that the word “believe” in the Greek language, can actually be closer to the word “trust” in English. He shared that throughout the Gospels, when Jesus asks, “Do you believe in me?” It can be a closer translation that Jesus is saying, “Do you trust me?”.

In our First Reading today, I feel for the Israelites as they moan and groan throughout their journey. They’re tired and starting to doubt, asking the question “why?”. In this moment of despair, it’s obvious they were losing trust in God. They did not trust in where they were being led and full of complaints… If we’re honest, we’ve all been there. We’ve all hit the human points where we ask God why and our “patience is worn out by the journey”, just like theirs was.

God punishes them for their sins, but his anger does not last. He offers them the bronze serpent, mounted on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at it, he lived. The Responsorial Psalm states that God is merciful, forgave their sin, and did not destroy them. He often turns back his anger and does not let his wrath be roused. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Jesus states in the Gospel today that “just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” Yes, Jesus is the Incarnation, God made Man. Our human condition is lifted up because of this. We, as human beings, are loved so radically that God gave up His only Son, so that “everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” This is stated two times in today’s Gospel message. I would like you to change the word to trust… So that everyone who trusts in Him might have eternal life. The Israelites were losing their trust in the trenches of the journey. The loss of trust is the start of sin. May we not only believe, but trust deeper in our Lord. In the ways that seem unclear and challenging. In the parched and hungry moments of our journey, may we entrust our entire lives to Him and to His will. What does trusting the Lord look like for you? Where can you grow in trusting Him? Personally, this is where the Lord is calling me to grow and I hope in some way He is calling you to a deeper trust too.

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Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Walking Closely with Christ

In today’s Gospel, we hear who Jesus named the Twelve Apostles. After calling them, they were surrounded by a great crowd of people. People from all of Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon came to hear Jesus. “Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.” In Scripture stories like this, I tend to picture what it would be like to be there, a part of the crowd. Witnessing people who have traveled miles upon miles, weeks upon weeks, to hear and touch Jesus. The eagerness of the crowd all trying to be healed by a simple touch of his cloak. Sometimes, I wonder if we are as eager as them. Are we eager to be that close to Jesus? Would we travel that far? Not by airplanes and ubers, but by foot? This spirit of eagerness is the spirit in which we continue to walk with Him, be rooted in Him, and built upon Him. St. Paul shares with us today, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him, and built upon him and established in faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving…”

When I think back throughout my life with Jesus, I can look at faith and point out the ups and downs pretty easily. The moments of consolation and desolation, the waves of living one’s faith in our world today. Today’s reading suggested to me that I should take a deeper look, instead of just noticing the challenging times versus the easy. Where was I truly walking closely with Christ? Which moments and situations allowed me to root myself deeper in Him? What moments of grace were foundational in my faith life? Where did I build upon Him? I hope you take a moment to reflect on this call of St. Paul. Reflect on where you (by the help of God’s grace) have already done this in your life! As we continue to walk with Him, root ourselves in Him, and built upon Him, let us remember the spirit of eagerness. The spirit of wanting to be close to Jesus, just like the crowd that traveled to see Him. In our day to day choices, we choose to draw nearer. Let today be a day of eagerness and reflection as we continue to walk with the Lord.

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Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Come and See

I love the sweet simplicity of today’s Gospel. Philip was looking for Nathanel and as he finds him, shares that one whom the Jews were waiting for is here, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth. But Nathaniel said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip responds, “Come and see.”

Nathaniel’s response shocks us into remembering the complete humility of God. Nazareth is not a place anyone would expect the Son of Man, the Messiah, to come from.  It is not high class, but ordinary. By Nathaniel’s response, I think Nazareth is even a bit below an average town. Philip doesn’t debate this with him but responds with a request for him to see for himself. All of us as Christians can take note of this simple response.

How often do we get into lengthy conversations when trying to evangelize? How often do we feel the need to defend and prove? We should be more like Philip and simply request others to come and see for themselves. When Nathaniel goes, he meets Jesus. Jesus greets him, and Nathaniel asks, “How do you know me?” Jesus goes on to say that he saw where he was before Philip went to get him, under the fig tree. Nathaniel then proclaims, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Let us be like Philip today, bringing our friends closer to Jesus in simplicity. In the simple request of “Come and see.” Let us remember that Jesus sees us in every moment of our day, like Nathaniel under the fig tree. He sees us in every moment of our day. We are fully seen and fully known, may that bring you peace today.

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Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

Wholehearted Trust

Do you ever miss being a child? Some of you may read that question, roll your eyes, and say, “Who has time for questions like that?” Or maybe that seems so long ago, that you’ve forgotten that time of life. Perhaps you read that question and automatically responded with a head nod, longing for what it’d feel like to not have a mortgage and laundry list of responsibilities.

Personally, I don’t think I miss those days as much as I like to reminisce upon them. Reminiscing upon the days that were filled with imagination and play. A time in which all of us needed much help. We were incapable of doing simple tasks on our own – a time in which our day to day required trust. We trusted wholeheartedly, whether we realized it or not. Day in and day out, we trusted our parents.

In today’s readings, I am reminded of the littleness I’ve felt in my life and of how little I am today. I don’t mean physically little, although I am an astounding five-foot-tall Italian who always feels small. I mean that I, as a human person, am pretty small in this great big world, and I am pretty small in comparison to the vastness of God.

In today’s Responsorial Psalm, we are told our inheritance is the Lord. We state this four times as we proclaim that the Lord is our refuge, our portion and cup, our counselor, our guide, and our joy. The Gospel today is short and sweet, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”

I believe it’s important to reminisce on what it means to be a child, to think about yourself as a child again. For me, it’s a way to keep a part of my heart child-like. Jesus is completely straight forward with us that we must be like children to enter Heaven! Those beginning years of our lives were VERY important! Of course, this does not mean any adult should be acting like a child because that would not be good nor appropriate. But God calls us to be child-like, looking at the beauty of children and taking the lessons to heart. I believe Jesus calls us to trust again like children, to remember that He is bigger than the challenges we face. He is bigger than us! Trust our Heavenly Father in our needs, our wants, and in our future. Wholehearted trust that He brings us comfort, joy, and guidance. Trust that He has our back. Trust that He is faithful to His promise, the inheritance He has waiting for us, life everlasting. May we trust like children trust their parents. May we trust our Heavenly Father completely today. Amen.

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Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She is also a district manager at Arbonne. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese