Putting the Gospel into Practice

Last. Who wants to be last? When I was in elementary school, I was not very athletic; well, that hasn’t changed much to be honest. At any rate, when it was time for games in the schoolyard during recess (yes, I just aged myself), I was often picked last or very close to last. At home, it seemed I was also last because I was the oldest and could wait while my younger brothers and sister could not. Yet here I read the words of Jesus, the greatest, the first shall be last and the servant of all. And I think, servant, really? I have education, experience, knowledge about our faith and the Church… and, and, and…

“So what?” That’s what I hear the Holy Spirit say to me, as well as, “what is the point of what you know if you are not willing to do for others?” Our example is Christ himself. For many years I worked in parish ministry. One of my foundational beliefs about asking others to serve in ministry was to not ask people to do something I was unwilling to do myself. In other words, if the kitchen needed to be cleaned, I didn’t watch the kitchen crew work, I helped clean. For me, there was no saying, “That’s not my job.” Now, compared to what Christ did for us, dying on a cross, I realize cleaning the kitchen is not the same. What is the same though, is the humility we are called to in life and in our vocation. While the circumstances of our life may change, we are always called to humility, called to serve, called to put ourselves last. And we are to do it out of love. 

Now, you may think, “Why do I need to serve and be last? What about other people?” We are all called to serve in the way that we are uniquely called and gifted. The ideal is for each of us to live out our unique calling with others who are doing the same so that what happens is we care for each other. No one person is asked to bear more than is reasonable. Yes, it is an ideal. Can it happen? Possibly with a shift in attitude and behavior. If we were to take Jesus’ words to heart and start living them out, it can happen. And of course, the first person to start is me. That is humility and service, putting the Gospel into practice. That is the way to live not lukewarm.

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Deanna G. Bartalini, is a Catholic writer, speaker, educator and retreat leader. She is the founder of the LiveNotLukewarm.com community, a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith through interactive Bible studies, courses and book clubs. Her weekly podcast, NotLukewarmPodcast.com, gives you tips and tools to live out your faith. At DeannaBartalini.com  she writes about whatever is on her mind at the moment.

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Open My Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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Poor in Spirit

“Like billowing clouds, like the incessant gurgling of the brook, the longing of the spirit can never be stilled”. (St. Hildegard of Bingen)

I love this group of readings! Especially the Responsorial Psalm with the Gospel. We repeat the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!” right before we hear of Christ’s followers. His followers were not perfect people. Mary Magdalene had seven demons driven out of her, there were other women who had been cured of sickness and evil spirits as well. These were women who wanted to be healed, and who had been healed by the love and mercy of Christ. Our tendency when we hear “Blessed are the poor in spirit” is to ask “Why would I want to be poor in spirit? Doesn’t that mean I lack faith?” Quite the opposite, actually. To be poor in spirit is to recognize your own spiritual poverty before the Lord. It is to recognize the need for God and the need for His love and mercy. So indeed, blessed are those who recognize their need for the Lord and live their lives in pursuit of unity with Him! 

The First Reading tells us how to be poor in spirit. That is, we are to avoid anything which goes against the teachings of Christ, we are to avoid riches so as not to distract ourselves from the pursuit of holiness. Instead, we should be seeking “righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness”. We should follow the example of Christ who, in his ministry, exemplified righteous anger, devotion to the Father, faith in the Father’s plan, love for all people, patience with his followers, and gentleness with those to whom He interacted. 

May we, like Christ Himself as well those who followed Him while he was on earth, put our full faith and trust in his love and mercy.

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

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Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord

The Gospel reading today is powerful and touching. A sinful woman, recognizing her sinfulness, ministers to Jesus by washing his feet with her tears, drying them with her hair, anointing them with fragrant ointment. In effect she is saying, “I know I am not worthy! I am so sorry! You are so good, so strong, so loving, so wise, that I can only find peace when I am bowed down before you, desperate to connect with you, but utterly aware of my unworthiness even to touch your feet. But I make bold to do it because your love compels me to be brave.”

It would be very counter-cultural to grovel like this! To acknowledge a God who is the supreme authority and the ultimate arbiter of what is right and wrong, what is true and not true. To say, “Whatever you will, I will do,” clashes with our sense of independence and self-determination. Over time, a distorted idea of “freedom” has become a kind of American religion. 

Even for those of us who acknowledge that there is a God and proclaim Christ as King, we sometimes don’t perceive how much like the Pharisee in this Gospel story we are. We might invite Christ into our home, but we are always watching him to make sure he behaves as he ought. As long as Jesus stays in his proper place, we will gladly serve him and further his Kingdom. Wait….what? 

We must constantly reassess out attitude toward God and toward Christ. One exercise we can do to remind ourselves of who we are and who Christ is, is modeled in this Gospel reading. We can literally get down on the floor and figuratively kiss the feet of Jesus. It is so healthy (and Catholic) to use the bodies that God has given us to demonstrate our love and devotion to him and our sorrow for our sins. 

How readily we can forget the reverence and the obedience that is due to Christ! We are his beloved, but we are also his servants. I thank God for the woman in this Gospel reading who reminds us WHO CHRIST IS… He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are the sinners. His laws are perfectly just and one day, we will stand before his judgment throne.

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

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The Extra Button

Today, during my morning prayers, the thought of the “extra button” on shirts kept popping into my head. Then, while reading the Gospel, I had this epiphany moment of the extra button that we are constantly offered through Jesus.

In today’s reading, we witness the heartbreak of a mother, the tragedy of losing a friend, and the overwhelming grief that follows death. Yet, even at this moment of suffering, Jesus still has concern and unbounded love for his loved ones. 

“Woman, behold your son” (John 19:26). 

In Jesus’ last moments, he gives his mother to John to take care of.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do’” (Luke 23:34).

Again, in Jesus’ last moments, he forgives them. Them, his murders. He forgives them and dies for all of our sins, washing us with eternally-offered forgiveness.

You see, Jesus knew that he was about to give his life, the greatest sacrifice, in order to give us all the gift of forgiveness and eternal life, but he still provided for those on earth. He gave his mother to someone to take care of her, he gave us forgiveness, he gave us his life. 

These last couple years have been difficult for most of us in so many ways, yet even in our grief, hurt, and misplaced anger, we are offered all that we need through Christ Jesus’ sacrifice. We are offered a family and community when we feel so lonely that it hurts. We are offered truth when we have believed the lies for so long. We are offered forgiveness and mercy even when we can’t stand to look at ourselves in the mirror. 

Jesus has given us so much, everything we could ever need and beyond everything we could ever imagine, so that when we lose a button… or when the button is torn away leaving a hole…or maybe it’s just suddenly gone without realizing it for weeks… he will always pull the extra button out of his pocket and help us to be whole again.

Through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, we pray:

Mother Mary, we ask for your faith.
You chose to willingly devote yourself to God’s will
and understood the pain of sacrifice.
Help us to trust in the Lord and His will.

Christ Jesus, we plead for your mercy.
Even in giving your life, you took care of your people
and provided them with all they may need.
Help us know that we will always be cared for. 


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Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Pennsylvania. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various Catholic articles in bulletins, newspapers, e-newsletters, and blogs. She continued sharing her faith after graduation as a web content strategist and digital project manager. Today, she continues this mission in her current role as communications director and project manager for Pentecost Today USA, a Catholic Charismatic Renewal organization in Pittsburgh. 

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Exaltation Of The Holy Cross

True story: the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, St. Helena, went to Jerusalem in search of the actual places in Jesus’ life. In the process, she had the Temple of Aphrodite torn down because it was said that it had been built over Jesus’ tomb. As they were tearing it down, three crosses were found. How were they to know which one had held the Savior? It is said that it was identified when it was the one which immediately healed a dying woman. Constantine then built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on that spot, and it was dedicated on September 14. This date and the cross itself have been venerated ever since the 4th century.

We all know what a cross is, what THE Cross is, and yet its very familiarity can obscure the profound meaning because we have never actually seen a cross in its original use: as a terrible instrument of torturous execution used by a cruel and barbaric “government” to control people and maintain power. People – many people – died horribly and publicly throughout the Roman Empire on crosses so that others would get the message to “stay in line” and not go against the system. Nothing to “exalt” there. 

Today, we don’t celebrate crucifixion. We celebrate ONE CROSS of ONE PERSON who suffered and died a horrible and public execution FOR US. This particular Cross is therefore the place and instrument of Jesus’ triumph over sin and death FOR US. It is the celebration of our own salvation, which we can never forget came through the obedient suffering and death of Jesus. Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, emptied himself and became one humbled, persecuted, and condemned FOR US. Crucified. FOR US.

When we make the Sign of the Cross over ourselves today, let’s make a point to recall that our ability to live in grace comes from the Cross, our very existence today comes from the Cross, our hope in eternal salvation comes from the Cross. Everything we do today that is good and true and beautiful is possible because of Jesus’ death on the Cross. FOR US.

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless you, because by Your Cross You have redeemed the world.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

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What It Means To Be A Centurion

The Catholic grade school I attended had a bit of an unusual nickname: the Centurion. As a young child, I didn’t understand the significance of such a nickname. (It didn’t get much easier when I would have to spell out centurion as a cheerleader on the sidelines of a basketball game, but that’s beside the point…) Rather, I found myself wishing that we had a cooler nickname, something fierce and strong like the Lions or the Wildcats. But the Centurions? Eh. 

It wasn’t until I grew older and wiser, until I dove deeper into my faith, that I realized I was proud to have been a Centurion, in a sense. Or, better put, I was proud to have attended a school with the nickname “Centurion.” That sounds a bit odd, right? Let me explain. 

A centurion was someone serving in the Roman army in ancient times – and not just someone, but a high-ranking someone. They were responsible for commanding 100 men and also for enforcing discipline while receiving higher pay than the other soldiers. 

Now, last time I checked, I am not living in ancient Rome nor am I responsible for commanding soldiers. However, I would consider myself proud to have displayed the faith of the centurions in the Gospel. I want to be a centurion in that sense. 

In today’s Gospel, a centurion’s faith led to a great miracle. Another display of a centurion’s great faith came at the foot of the cross in the Gospel according to Matthew, when he said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” 

I don’t want to focus on the faith so much, though it is an important component of both of these Gospel passages. Rather, I want to focus on the words spoken to Jesus on behalf of the centurion, when it is said, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.” 

This is a man who knows who he is and who the Lord is. This is a man who sees who he is before the Lord. How I wish we could all see ourselves for who we are before the Lord! There is a slight problem, though, with the centurion seeing himself as unworthy of the Lord’s presence despite so desperately wanting his prayer to be answered. Jesus’ victory won for us on the cross makes us worthy, makes the centurion worthy. We are worthy to come to Him for all of our needs, great and small. Thankfully, Jesus sees past the self-declared lowly centurion and heals his slave.

Let us, first and foremost, take courage and display the faith of the centurion but may we also see who we are before the Lord and never be afraid to go to Him with our needs.  

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Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is passionate about the Lord Jesus, all things college sports and telling stories and she is blessed enough to get paid for all three of her passions. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter@erinmadden2016.

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“If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” 

I have often considered this question since I first heard it many years ago. Some of the “evidence” that we are Christians might be the charitable work we do, such as helping to feed the poor. This kind of service elicits approval from others and is therefore comparatively easy to carry out. But living our Catholic faith should also challenge us significantly at times. We may even be  perceived as trouble-makers…just like Jesus was. 

Jesus is the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah in today’s First Reading. He was persecuted and misunderstood for what he said and did. He suffered because he was obedient to the Father, and if we want to follow Christ, we will suffer due to our obedience as well. 

The first Christians were certainly persecuted for following Christ. The early followers of Christ talked about Jesus, preached about Jesus, and performed miracles in his name. They lived differently. There was plenty of “evidence against them,” and they sometimes suffered greatly for it. All but one of the apostles, for example, died a martyr’s death.

So how do we know what God is calling us to? How radical should we be as we seek to follow Christ? What if something we say or do draws blank stares, or offends someone, or worse? 

There are several practical things we can do to discern what God is calling us to in the moment, and to find the courage to follow Christ wherever he may lead. Most importantly, we must open ourselves more fully, more continually, to the Holy Spirit and try to respond to his prompting. We must be willing to look like a fool for Christ! Also, when we feel intimidated in these situations, we can use the words of Scripture to strengthen ourselves. Today’s First Reading, for example, unites us with Christ as we pray, “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced.”

If we come from a place of humility, love, prayer, and a strong sacramental life, God will give us the grace we need to live our faith more boldly and in a way that bears fruit. 

Certainly we are called to serve God by coming alongside others in their need, loneliness, or trouble. But we must also be willing to do that which is less socially acceptable. The Suffering Servant is our model.

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We welcome Christine Hanus as a new contributing author on our Diocesan team!

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Producing Good

In the Gospel reading today, we hear a very fitting line for 9/11: “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil.”

Today, we remember with incredible sadness the events of 20 years ago, where evil took so many lives.

That day, and on every anniversary since, the people of this country have mourned as one. The tangible evidence of evil and hatred took root in our hearts that day, leaving us shaken and unable to forget what happens when evil rules.

But evil doesn’t have to have the last word. Nor does it have to rule us.

There were so many heroes that day—too many to count. But we thank God for them. And we know that we must focus on their actions as examples of what humanity is capable of rather than on the wicked actions of terrorists.

Through tears of grief, many of us found that we could lean on our families, lean on each other, and lean on God. We found that we didn’t want to allow evil to take hold. And we found that we can create good from something horrific.

So we take action to make today a brighter day because of the heroes. We make the world—or our small part of it—kinder so that we honor them and their sacrifice. 

And we hope that this day becomes so much more than a remembrance of evil. We hope that it becomes a celebration of the people we lost that day and a celebration of the heroic acts of so many. And we hope that it serves as a reminder that life is short, that life is precious, and that God wants us to shine forth His goodness no matter what happens in life.

This day has become bittersweet in my family, for it is also my dad’s birthday. But since that day in 2001, I get the feeling that he doesn’t like to celebrate. Maybe he thinks: How can I be happy on the day something horrible happened?

I’m sure that is the feeling of anyone who remembers that day and who also shares a birthday today. It’s only natural to think that. 

But we cannot allow the hatred of terrorists to outshine the life and love of people in our families. The celebration of someone’s birth is a tremendous blessing. And if we allow evil to take over a day so special, then the terrorists truly are winning.

So as we reflect on this tragic day, let us remember that a store of goodness produces good. Let us be that goodness—to our families, to our coworkers, to strangers, and even to people we don’t like—so that it can spring forth and bless the world around us.

And let us never forget to celebrate the lives of the people we love!

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Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.

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In Training

I remember as a child thinking to myself whenever I heard this reading, “Someday, I’ll be just like my mom and dad and be able to make my own decisions. They won’t be able to tell me what to do.” This most often occurred, unsurprisingly, when I felt that their discipline or guidance was unwarranted. Of course, as an adult, I see things differently. 

While I am able to make my own decisions, I now value the opinion and life experiences of my parents. As a parent in my own right, I see now the why behind some of the decisions my parents made which, as a child, I could not comprehend. I am still a disciple, still learning from my parents’ wisdom. But I am now also the teacher, having completed my training. 

As disciples in faith, we may be misled into thinking that some among us are, as Jesus puts it, “fully trained.” Maybe it’s the person who always leads Bible Study. Perhaps it’s that lady who serves as sacristan, the one you always see bustling around before and after Mass who seems to know everyone and where everything goes. It could be the choir leader, or the PSR coordinator, even your priest, or “insert the person you’re thinking of here.” 

While they may be confident in their faith, they are not fully trained in it. They may have led RCIA candidates through the process of initiation for 25 years, they are still not fully trained. Even your priest, with all of his experience, discernment, study and education – even he is not fully trained in the way that Jesus is speaking about.

Jesus is training us in the way of selfless love. The type of love that is endless, sacrificial, life giving and eternal. When we look at the saints, we see some of those who have been nearly fully trained – they have become so like Jesus. Not equal to, certainly not surpassing, but enough that they have become both disciples and teachers. They have broken down the barriers of their hearts and allowed Jesus to shape and mold them into vessels of love. They pour out what He has given them, brightly showing us the path Jesus wishes to lead us on.

Any saint will tell you that their eyes are full of beams to be removed. The closer they have come to God the more they have realized their own flaws and shortcomings. Bishop Robert Barron uses the image of a windshield to great effect. When you are driving at night, your windshield looks great – no spots. But as soon as a light shines in, the smudges, nicks and dirt become glaringly obvious. 

We are all seeking training in the ways of Jesus. Even the saints will tell you they are still works in progress. As we commence into a new school year, perhaps this is a moment for you to consider how you can continue to progress in your training. Is there a new Bible Study starting up? Perhaps the RCIA group is looking for new members (or if you feel like you are lacking in understanding of our faith, simply attending even if you have already received your sacraments is a fantastic way to learn about the tenets and doctrines of what we believe). Maybe it’s time to consider catechist training. Or perhaps you are ready to commit to a more dedicated prayer schedule and could fill an adoration time slot. Ask God to show you how He wishes to train you next.

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Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She is blessed to be able to homeschool, bake bread and fold endless piles of laundry. When not planning a school day, writing a blog post or cooking pasta, Kate can be found curled up with a book or working with some kind of fiber craft. Kate blogs at DailyGraces.net.

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Reflect Love and Mercy

Today’s readings are full of instructions on how to live and love and be rewarded. St. Paul starts by giving us a list of virtues he invites us to “put on” and then cover them with love. Why? Because we are God’s chosen ones. We are chosen by God to be followers of His; to believe in His Son, Jesus and to live a life full of his goodness. But we often fail. In my own life there are days when I fail a little bit and days when I fail miserably. Do you ever feel like you don’t want to be around yourself? That’s what I mean by failing miserably to live as God asks and as Jesus tells us in the Gospel.

We are to love; not condemn, not judge, not hold the good we do for others over them. As Jesus points out, we are held to a higher standard because we believe in him. And so, if we say we love Jesus and are his follower, we must behave in the ways he instructs us. If we look at this passage from Luke, we see that it will not be easy to do what Jesus is asking. However, Jesus showed us how to do it. His passion and death point us to the ultimate sacrifice. And after the sacrifice comes the reward. Jesus’ death shows us mercy. He died for us while we were still sinners, which is mercy. Where would we be without mercy?

When I am failing at loving I try to recall the endless mercy I have received and then ask if I am sharing that mercy? Sometimes it is hard to be merciful and loving. The reasons vary, but I’m going to propose that it happens when our tank is empty. If there is an inability on your part to share God’s love and mercy, may I suggest 2 things: confession and praying with Scripture. Start with the today’s readings, read a few verses, and then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what is good and what is lacking. Go through the a few verses each day and write out what you hear, what stirs you, what convicts you. Remember, when we are convicted of wrong, it is so we can right it, not be shamed by it. This prayerful reading with Scripture will help you re-focus and be refilled and reminded of all Jesus has done for us. And then, we will be able to live out what Jesus asks us to do in the Gospel.

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Deanna G. Bartalini, is a Catholic writer, speaker, educator and retreat leader. She is the founder of the LiveNotLukewarm.com community, a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith through interactive Bible studies, courses and book clubs. Her weekly podcast, NotLukewarmPodcast.com, gives you tips and tools to live out your faith. At DeannaBartalini.com  she writes about whatever is on her mind at the moment.

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The Birth of Our Mother

“Let everything, mundane things and those above, join in festive celebration. Today this created world is raised to the dignity of a holy place for him who made all things. The creature is newly prepared to be a divine dwelling place for the Creator.” -St. Andrew of Crete

Today we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary’s birthday! Although the Bible does not tell us anything about Mary’s birth, Tradition names today as the day we celebrate her birth. As St. Andrew of Crete says, it is a day which deserves to be widely and greatly celebrated! It is because of the birth of Mary and because of her “yes” to the will of God that Christ became man. St. Andrew calls Mary’s womb a “…divine dwelling place for the Creator”. I often think of how wonderful Mary’s parents must have been to raise a child who so willingly and unquestioningly said “yes” to God’s will. Her childhood home must have been filled with love, grace, and faith. Her parents, Tradition gives us the names Joachim and Anne, fulfilled their role as parents in teaching her the faith. 

In today’s Gospel we hear both the genealogy of Christ and the story of the angel appearing to Joseph to tell him the Good News that Mary was carrying the Son of God, “Emmanuel” in her womb. The genealogy, while sometimes difficult or even boring to read, is important because it shows how Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of a Savior. He is the One for whom Israel had been waiting. Because of Mary’s “yes” to the plan of God, God is truly with us in the person of Jesus Christ. Today, I am especially grateful for Mary’s “yes” to motherhood and Joseph’s “yes” to fatherhood for it is through this Holy Family that we are able to share life with Christ. 

May we, in imitation of our Holy Mother Mary, say “yes” to Christ in every moment of our lives. May our lives be a reflection of His so that those around us may come to know Him through us.

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

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