Keeping it Simple

I often try to imagine what life was like in the early Church, in the first century, a Church still struggling to understand what it was meant to be, to become. My field of studies is the medieval Church, though that’s not where I go in my imagination—with its schisms and crusades and infighting, it’s not always a pleasant place to be! But the beginning, when everything was fresh and new and immediate and simple… that’s a place I like to visit.

Simple. There’s a word that the Church seems to have subsequently forgotten, right? But imagine for a moment what it was like in those times after the Spirit descended at Pentecost and the disciples formed house churches, modeling as they did Jesus’ own strategy when he sent his followers out into the places people live.

Throughout the book of Acts, every mention of a local Church or Church meeting, whether for worship or fellowship, is a reference to a Church meeting in a home. That’s easy for us to forget, with our pews and our stained glass and our organs. Most scholars agree that the early house Churches were rarely comprised of more than 15 or 20 people. (As many as 90 percent of townspeople lived in apartments—one or two rooms above or behind shops. Most apartments shared a public courtyard with adjoining units, and families cooked in the courtyards. Life happened in front of the neighbors. In first-world countries, it’s hard to imagine what the early Church experienced.)

So it was simple. In these dining-area courtyards, Christians assembled: to reenact the Eucharist, to pray, to plan evangelization, to teach, to baptize.

What distinguished them from us, their descendants, so many centuries later is, I think, their closeness to Jesus. Not everyone in these first small communities had known Jesus when he was alive, but some had. Others had parents or cousins or friends who had. His words were still fresh in their minds; theology hadn’t stepped in to distance them from what he had to say to them, from what he gave his infant Church.

What he gave them is what we read in today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, the practices known as the “three pillars” of the Church: prayer, fasting, and charity. 

There’s a reason they’re known as pillars. According to the dictionary, a pillar is “a person or thing regarded as reliably providing essential support for something.” Essential support. What the structure needs to stay intact.

What does the Church need to stay intact?

Jesus doesn’t simply gift his people with three pillars that will keep them strong and on the right path. He tells them very specifically how those pillars are to be used. When you give alms, he says, don’t make a big deal of it. Help people quietly; they’ll know, and so will God. You don’t need a street named after you or a civic award presented at a formal ceremony. 

When you pray, he continues, don’t make a big deal of it. Be quiet; be private. Don’t try to attract attention to your prayers; they’re not performance art.

And when you fast, he concludes, don’t make a big deal of it. Don’t call attention to yourself, don’t try to be holier-than-thou. God knows when you fast; and that’s pretty much the whole point of doing it, right?

You’ll notice that he isn’t saying “if you pray… if you give alms… if you fast.” These pillars of faith he’s gifting to the early Church are in fact a blueprint for how they are to live together in community. He is assuming that this is what his followers will do. He’s not concerned in telling them to pray, fast, and give alms: of course they’ll do those things! What he wants is for his followers, his new Church, to be very clear about its relationship to God and its relationship to the world. You do these things for closeness to the Trinity, not for societal approbation and rewards.

The Gospels have always struck me as keeping things pretty simple. Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Clothe the naked; feed the hungry; give to the poor. Pray always. Fast and give alms.

We live in a different world, of course. In a world where we don’t worship in each other’s homes. In a world of such staggering inequality that it’s difficult to see how almsgiving could change anything. In a world where our prayers often go unanswered. In a world where the Church’s requirements for fasting are hardly an inconvenience. We might yearn for a simpler time.

Yet we could keep it simple, if we tried. If we read Jesus’ words and applied them rigorously to our own lives and comportment and thought and faith. It wouldn’t be easy, but it could be…. Simple.

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Jeannette de Beauvoir is a writer and editor with the digital department of Pauline Books & Media, working on projects as disparate as newsletters, book clubs, ebooks, and retreats that support the apostolate of the Daughters of St. Paul at

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Praise Amid the Storm

I read a really good reflection the other day by Dr. MaryRuth Hackett, who writes for Blessed Is She. It spoke about the suffering of another woman who was questioning why God would allow her to go through what she was going through, and how the response of a friend helped her change her perspective. Her friend reminded her that perhaps her own sufferings were in preparation for something yet to come, or simply to help her be there for others.

Dr. Hackett writes: “It is very difficult to have empathy if we lack experience. Even if we love someone deeply, it is impossible to walk the path of grief for example, if we have never experienced grief. We can sympathize, but we cannot empathize. We can witness and listen, but we lack a level of understanding.”

This was truly helpful to me considering all we continue to go through with my son’s health. It is so easy to question why a small six-year-old boy must endure this. It is so easy to get angry and become anxious.

Yet, what if these trials will later allow me to be there for someone else who is suffering? What if the suffering will make my son stronger or get him thinking about ministering to the sick as a doctor or a priest?

We do not know the big picture. We do not know the reasons. We can only trust, holding on to God for dear life during our wild ride on this planet.

I pray that somehow I may find the strength that the people of Macedonia had in today’s First Reading, who “in a severe test of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” In the midst of their suffering, they found a way to be generous to others. I have no doubt they also praised God, just as Job had done during his time of great trial.

So, instead of getting stuck in a rut of anguish, I feel called to view this trial with a wider perspective. Just yesterday as I was talking with my husband he mentioned that my eight-year-old was now playing much more with his younger siblings, whom he didn’t interact with much before. I also thought that since my ill son is very sensitive, this ordeal might grant him more strength of character to endure life’s blows.

The end of the First Reading also grants comfort: “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”

I have yet to comprehend what fruits or “riches” this trial may bring, but in the meantime, may God grant me the grace to exclaim with the Psalmist: “Praise the Lord, my soul!”

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Tami Urcia grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling home improvement projects, finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at her parish, is a guest blogger on and, runs her own blog at and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for almost 20 years.

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Response Required

I remember studying today’s Gospel passage all the way back in high school – my sophomore year spring semester New Testament class, to be exact. 

We obviously spent a lot of time studying the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus’ pinnacle teaching in the Gospel according to Matthew, in which He taught the disciples (and, by extension, us) on a number of different things. 

While I don’t remember every single word that poured forth from my teacher’s mouth that semester, I do remember spending a lot of time on today’s Gospel – the Teaching About Retaliation. 

Any modern-day interpretation of this passage is just downright strange and a little otherworldly. If you get slapped across the cheek, offer the other side as well? No thanks, hard pass. Why would anyone willingly offer to get slapped once, let alone twice? The other examples that Jesus offers, like someone suing for a cloak and then also handing over a tunic, just make things even weirder. 

The teachings were pretty countercultural at the time, too. Remember, the Jewish people followed the law given to them by Moses. Their law said, “‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’” meaning that if someone plucked out your eye, you got to pluck out their eye as punishment in return. 

If you read the footnote for this passage, it says, “The Old Testament commandment was meant to moderate vengeance; the punishment should not exceed the injury done. Jesus forbids even this proportionate retaliation.” 

Let’s pause and take that last statement in. Jesus doesn’t want “even this proportionate retaliation” and He certainly doesn’t want retaliation that goes above and beyond the initial hurt or injury. That must mean He doesn’t want us to retaliate AT ALL. Hence offering the other cheek or the tunic as well, the exact opposite of retaliation. 

What I think this passage offers to us today is the opportunity to reflect on how we respond when we are hurt by another person, no matter what kind of hurt it is. While we may not yet be up to the level of offering our other cheek, are we at least “slow to anger and abounding in mercy” (Psalm 145:8), remembering that our heavenly Father does the same for us when we hurt Him as the result of our sin? Or do we answer with a sharp tongue and lash out with our hurt feelings? 

After a moment of reflection, do not be afraid to ask the Lord to work within you, to invite Him into those moments of hurt and to guide your response in those moments. 

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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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Seeds for the Kingdom

“If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him.” (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)

In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus tell the disciples that the Kingdom of God can be compared to a mustard seed. When we hear the words “Kingdom of God”, it’s easy for us to think of Heaven and forget that those of us here on earth are part of the Kingdom of God. In this parable, Jesus includes us in the Kingdom of God and tells us how the Kingdom of God is meant to be home for everyone. 

For the past two years I have worked in a secular environment. It’s the first time I’ve really worked outside the “Catholic bubble” in my life. I love my job, but because I’m not constantly steeped in a Catholic environment, I often feel like the Church is getting smaller rather than growing. I’ve struggled with how to bring others into the Catholic Church, especially when so much about the Church is misunderstood and many people have negative feelings toward the Church. In this parable about the mustard seed and the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus says “..once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade”. I think I would have struggled less if I realized that I do not have the power to make the branches longer in order to shade more people. What I can do is either bring others to the shade that is already there or plant more mustard seeds. That is, I can either bring people to the Kingdom of God or I can plant the seed of faith that will eventually grow to, hopefully, include many more people in the Kingdom. Sowing Truth will yield a great harvest for the Kingdom of God.

As we go about this week, may we pray about the ways that we can bring others to the Kingdom of God and may we strive to be seeds that reap a bountiful harvest.

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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

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Be Childlike

Today, on the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we get a glimpse of what it must have been like raising Jesus. Kind of nerve-wracking, if you ask me. Jesus, my son, the Son of God, lost for three whole days??? I can’t even imagine! Still, in this Gospel, we are humbled by the voice of a child, so calmly knowing that he is his Father’s child. 

Last weekend, I met someone that was sharing her humbling experience of raising faith-filled children. She shared with me that the other day her daughter started a sentence with, “Mommy, I had a vision while adoring Jesus and I was wondering…” and it was at that point that she knew she was out of her depth. She knew that she would be relying on her Father, Our Father, to raise this little, prayerful child. If anything, she strived to have the child-like faith and relationship with the Lord that her daughter had!

This little one, as well as young Jesus, are such wonderful examples of how we should be young in spirit when it comes to our relationship with the world. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

How do we do this? How can we be like holy little children? How do we come to be so comfortable in our Father’s house that we lose ourselves?

I believe the biggest components of this are the following two things:

  1. Share your life with the Lord! 

Whether you’re celebrating, worried, or needing guidance, just spend some time in community with God. You don’t have to start with three hours in adoration or a special chair for prayer, it can be small. It can be while you’re driving to the grocery store, as you wash the dishes, or even when you’re taking a shower! The main thing is to just begin that open communication of sharing your life, all the joy and heartaches, with God.

  1. Have the strength to rely on God, your father. 

So many times, we push ourselves to the limit trying to be the best, to do the best, and are then let down when our best doesn’t feel good enough. But, like children, we must remember that we are not alone and we are put in community because we are meant to ask for help. Children will raise their arms to the sky as a signal to pick them up or that they need help, and we can do the same. In fact, even in 2 Corinthians 12:9, we are given the words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This means that the power of God does not rely on our power, because truly we have none. We are weak and that is OKAY because it is through HIS grace, HIS love, HIS power that we are able to do such glorious things and experience true joy. 

So take some time to share your life with God. Tell Him about your work week while you fold laundry. Surrender your exhaustion to the Lord. Ask Him to strengthen and guide you. 

Start the conversation. Accept God’s strength. Be childlike. 

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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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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

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The Glory of the Lord

The Responsorial Psalm for today says: “The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.”

When Jesus walked on Earth and people heard Him speak, they could not help but become excited. They were on fire for the truths He taught. And He charged them to go out and spread the Good News. He charges us to do the same.

Where the Good News is taught and believed, there indeed will the glory of the Lord be seen.

But too often today people brush aside morality. They want to create a “woke” culture where everyone can do what he wants, as long as it feels good.

Yet we know that the glory of our Lord does not reside in a culture that devalues human beings. This culture of death has its grips on society now more than ever. With laws allowing the killing of preborn babies and the euthanizing of the elderly and disabled, and with hatred apparent in so many violent acts around the country, we may feel tempted to lose hope. We may wonder where God is when so many Godless acts pervade our daily lives. 

But God has not forsaken us. Though terrible and devastating things happen, and though it may be difficult to see or feel His glory at times, it is ever present.

We can see it in the beauty of nature, in the smile of a stranger, in the helping hand of a neighbor, in the acts of those who stand up for the tenets of our faith, in the kind word of a spouse or child, and in so much more! 

And, through our actions, we can help others see the glory of God. We live our lives as God would want us to live them, not as 21st century culture wants. We are not accountable to the media, to political leaders, or to anyone else. We are accountable to God.

At the end of our lives, God will ask us what we did to glorify Him on Earth. He will ask us how we helped build a culture that respected and revered human beings. He will ask us how we changed lives for the better. He will want to know how we used His gifts to glorify Him and lead others to Him.

What will be our answer? And will this answer please Him?

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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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Keeping the Commandments: A Matter of the Heart

Keeping the commandments. It is something that children wrestle with as they prepare for their First Penance. Do you remember that first time you had to examine your conscience? Later this tension to fidelity to God’s Word and the Ten Words of Law become “second nature,” spiritually speaking, or else rebellion to the invitation to holiness found in the commandments becomes ingrained in thoughts, words, and habits, ultimately manifesting in a life of pain and sorrow. According to the words of Jesus there is no middle road: “Whoever breaks one of the of the least of the commandments…whoever obeys and teaches these commandments… (see Mt 5:19).”

St. Silouan the Athonite said that the apostle John says that the commandments of God are not difficult to keep (see 1 John 5:3). For the one who loves, they are easy to keep. They are difficult only for the one who does not love.

Keeping the commandments is a matter of the heart. Recently I was resting in prayer, silently contemplating Jesus who had climbed a mountain for time alone with his Father. It was night. I imagined myself quietly watching from a short distance, my elbows on a large boulder, holding my face in my hands, as I observed Jesus standing a few yards away. I could just see the silhouette of Jesus as he stood looking up into the star-lit night sky in this place to which he had retired to be with his Father. The intensity of love that I sensed between him and his Father, the energy of their wordless communion, the giving and receiving, the loving and responding, the gift and obedience…. Even though I was not a part of their unspoken communication, Jesus’ bond with his Father was unmistakable and strong. When Jesus had finished praying he turned and noticed me watching. He walked quietly toward me and sat down. My heart full, I said simply, “I want what you have.” And he said to me, “I want you to have it too.”

I want the love that Jesus experiences to take hold in the deepest recesses of my heart. I want my sole desire to be to surrender my life entirely to that love, to desire to speak, think, and do only what the Father has given me to do. In other words, I want to be true to the Father’s love for me and for others in the totality of the way I live. But when I examine myself I see that I am not like Jesus who could say, “I say only what I hear from the Father.” (see Jn 12:49). My love is only a distortion of divine love. 

The law of God helps us recognize our poverty and our utter dependence on God. It floods us with God’s mercy which renews us, as we realize we cannot keep the commandments unless God himself remakes our hearts. And he will do so, if we open our hearts to him. As Jesus said to me, “I want this for you too!” What generous kindness that will not fail to be brought about through Jesus’ action on my poor heart.

Pope Francis said that the commandments help people face the disarray of our hearts in order to stop living selfishly and become authentic children of God, redeemed by the Son and taught and guided by the Holy Spirit.

The commandments are a gift. They save us, as Saint John Paul II reminded us in his speech on Mount Sinai, from the “destructive force of egoism, hatred and falsehood. They point out all the false gods that draw [us] into slavery: the love of self to the exclusion of God, the greed for power and pleasure that overturns the order of justice and grades our human dignity and that of our neighbor.” 

To keep the commandments is paradoxically to know that we can’t keep them without the power of God at work within us, without the Spirit remaking our hearts and minds, without the blood of Jesus washing us clean and transfiguring our entire being in Himself.

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Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: Public Facebook Group: For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community:

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Salt of the Earth

Jesus invites us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world to others. We can impact all aspects of society by living out our faith and sharing the Gospel message as His representatives. As faithful followers of Jesus, we can go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit to be the salt which seasons the earth with the virtues of Christ, and the light which shows God’s truth. Jesus reminds the disciples that the Kingdom of Heaven is for all walks of life and meant to be shared throughout the world. 

The light that we shine comes from the transformation which Christ has begun in our hearts and is in fact Christ Himself. As St. Paul tells us “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure … that you may be blameless and innocent children of God … whom you shine as Lights to the world (Phil 2:13-15)”.  If we live out our faith, by both words and deeds, we will be the city on the hill whose light cannot be hidden.  Jesus invites us to live out a faith that is sincere and genuine to others. Notice this passage follows the eight beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12) where Jesus highlights the principles of living out the New Covenant He is establishing.

During the month of June, we are invited to come to know Jesus and His most Sacred Heart. This devotion deepens our intimacy with Christ by inviting the Heart of Jesus in our homes and honoring His Heart through our prayers, words, and deeds. This devotion calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world through living out our faith by creating a covenant of love with Him. I have witnessed firsthand how the Sacred Heart has renewed families and restored faith through this beautiful devotion. 

May we choose to be faithful followers of Christ and seek to live out the Kingdom of Heaven each day here on earth. May we accept his invitation for friendship and work to be kingdom builders here on earth. 

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Emily Jaminet is a Catholic author, speaker, radio personality, wife, and mother of seven children. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mental health and human services from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  She is the co-founder of and the Executive Director of The Sacred Heart Enthronement Network She has co-authored several Catholic books and her next one, Secrets of the Sacred Heart: Claiming Jesus’ Twelve Promises in Your Life, comes out in Oct. 2020. Emily serves on the board of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, contributes to Relevant Radio and Catholic

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Taste and See

Usually I like focusing on one of the main readings, or the Gospel, but today the Responsorial Psalm really stood out to me. The words “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord” fly directly in the face of those who think Christians just believe in this invisible God who can’t be proven or disproven. It immediately flies to the defense of any of those, hopefully all of us, who see the importance of the sacraments and the physical presentation of the invisible grace of God. This is the faith of the Church from the very beginning, our faith is incarnational. That is to say, our faith proclaims the spiritual and physical, body and soul, matter and form.

You see, we love through our bodies and God became man to give up his body for us in the most concrete and tangible act of love. The incarnation is so important to the Church, in fact, that the Catechism in paragraph 1015 says, “The flesh is the hinge of salvation. We believe in God who is creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh.”

The chasm between the human person and the grace of God that was brought about by the fall, was bridged by a human body, a human heart, and divine love. This is why St. John Paul II could say, “Through the fact that the Word of God became flesh, the body entered theology. I would say, through the main door.” (TOB 23:4)

The second Person of the Trinity did not become man solely to save us from sin, but also to remind us of who we are as human persons, and to be an example of who the human person should be. He elevated the human person to a level that was previously unknown and inaccessible. The Church proclaims this loudly and boldly during the Easter Vigil when we hear, “O happy fault that gained for us so great a Redeemer.”

This is what we just celebrated on the Feast of Corpus Christi and this is the key to our faith. We celebrate a God who became man so that we might become God (See Catechism 460). We hear it in the Psalm today, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord”. God is real, his love is real, so real we can quite literally taste it. Let’s never take that for granted. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless! 

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Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and a content specialist for Ruah Woods, a Theology of the Body Ministry. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.

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God’s Flesh and Blood

On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, we focus on the ultimate sacrifice of Our Lord, and just as much on His ultimate miracle. In the Eucharist, Christ feeds us with His very Body and Blood, the same that was given on the Cross for our salvation. He gives us food for eternal life while perpetuating that one perfect sacrifice which ushered in the New Covenant.

Our First Reading, recounting the sprinkling of the blood of the covenant upon the Israelites in the desert, shows us the importance of Christ’s sacrifice. In the Old Covenant, blood was considered to hold the life of the animal. The sprinkling rite in Exodus was not simply a reminder of punishment for not following the covenant — it was moreso a purification, as Paul points out in our Second Reading: “If the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ … cleanse our consciences” (Heb 9:13–14).

Christ’s Blood, shed for us on the Cross, is also a cleansing agent, but one infinitely more potent than that of sacrificial cattle. While their blood sanctified legally, His sanctifies thoroughly. But as Paul is at pains to explain, Jesus follows in the same tradition, building upon it while at the same time surpassing and perfecting it. His is the definitive sacrifice, and He commands it to be re-presented in the action of the Mass. 

It is enough for us to attend Mass to participate in this sacrifice. But to truly experience its fruits in the most extraordinary way, to have life within us, we must receive His Body and Blood. As most of us know, this is not a metaphor at all. The Eucharist is truly Jesus Christ’s, God’s, Body and Blood. 

Through transubstantiation, the changing of the substance of bread and wine into His Body and Blood, we can receive Him without having to experience the potentially-nauseating taste of human flesh and blood. He preserves the accidents, the non-essential features proper to bread and wine: taste, shape, color, smell, and the like. How this is possible may be difficult to understand, but we know that it is true, at the very least from Christ Himself in John 6 and in our Gospel passage, and again from the infallible definitions of the Council of Trent.

This ultimate sacrifice made present to us is a profound gift, allowing us to experience and participate in the New Covenant in the same practical, visceral way that the Jews did in the desert. The Cross and its fruits are not something abstract, thanks to God’s providence: they are present at every Mass throughout the world, available to us day after day.

Corpus Christi is a wonderful time to reflect on the Eucharist. Though I cannot go into it here, I strongly suggest reading over the full Sequence, read between the Second Reading and the Gospel, for today. Take your time, look up the words you don’t know, and pray over the words detailing God’s providence and His impressive design in the Eucharist. Happy Solemnity!

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David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at

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Putting Ourselves Ahead of our Gift?

We’ve all heard the axioms about giving: Be generous. It’s better to give than receive. Do not let the right hand know what the left is doing. We must give of our time, talent, and treasure. 

And we do! We give gifts to others to celebrate special events. We donate to good causes. We buy the little trinkets or subscriptions or chocolate for our neighbor’s fundraiser. We contribute to our parish and diocese.

But HOW do we give? Do we give immediately and generously? Do we sacrifice our own time to do good to another? Do we give of our talents even without repayment or recognition? Do we give from our surplus only? Do we give only after we have secured our own retirement, or our own wants, or our own savings account? These are not bad things to do, but today’s readings make a point: TRUE GIVING is an act of love for another, and an act of trust that God will take care of us.

“A little with righteousness is better than abundance with wickedness,” Raphael tells Tobit and Tobiah. Would you leave your dinner to get cold while you did something for someone else? Giving up their dinner in order to bury the dead brought down the blessing of healing on Sarah. In the Gospel, the widow who gave from what she actually needed had given more than those who gave only from their excess. It was her complete trust in the Lord’s providence for her that allowed her to give what others might have held onto as “necessary” or even “prudent.” And she did it in secret: no one saw this but Jesus. This is in contrast to the Scribes Jesus warns about: those who give publicly for public recognition, those who make a show of their praying or doing or giving so that others will praise them for their “goodness.” It is not WHAT they give, but HOW they give it that makes the difference.

Essentially, if we give so that others will see our generosity, we make ourselves the recipient of our own “gift”! We are really doing it for our own benefit, and not only for the benefit of others, or for the Lord. But as today’s Communion Antiphon reminds us, “Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it in eternity” (Mt 10:39). We are called to “lay down our lives,” trusting in the Lord, by giving all we have and all we are in service and in praise to God.

Today, let’s sit with the Lord and look at our giving to make sure it aligns with His glorious invitation to us: to offer our time, talent, and treasure for the good of others, without mixing in the need for recognition and without putting ourselves ahead of our gift.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is

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