It is the Spirit Who Does Everything in All Of Us

They were all in one place together….


As I read the account of the first Pentecost: the appearance of tongues of fire, the wind that swept through the streets of Jerusalem, the curiosity of the crowds, their amazement that all could understand the apostles in their own language, I understood for the first time how the word “all” is a word of healing.

We rarely experience all of us being moved together by the Spirit.

Fragmented divisiveness is more the norm even unfortunately in the Church. Who’s better than others. Who’s right and who’s wrong. Who’s in and who’s out. Who’s ready to move ahead and who’s fearful. Who’s great idea will predominate.


The apostles and women with Mary the mother of Jesus were all in one place together.

The wind filled the entire house.
Tongues of fire rested on each one of them.
All were filled with the Holy Spirit.
All heard the apostles in their native language.

The apostles, stirred to the courageous prophetic proclamation, proclaimed “the mighty acts of God.” The Spirit, according to St Paul, produces all gifts and ministries in each person. The Spirit pushed them out to proclaim what God was accomplishing in their midst with amazement and wonder and gratitude, with an invitation to the people to be a part of this great work that was not their own.

How do we let the Spirit lead us today in such a powerful way?

I think the Veni Sancte Spiritus, the sequence for this day, gives us a clue.

Light immortal, Light divine,
Visit Thou these hearts of Thine,
And our inmost being fill.
If Thou take Thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.
Heal our wounds; our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away.
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

The Veni Sancte Spiritus allows us to claim in peace our own helplessness. It is the Spirit who does everything, who initiates everything. Sometimes I act like the Spirit is around to rubber stamp my plans. But this is not what we see on that first Pentecost morning. The Spirit healed their wounds, renewed their strength, poured dew on their dry bones, washed away the stained of their guilt, bent their heart and will to the voice of the Master, and guided their steps from that point forward.

The tiny group waiting for they knew not what in the Upper Room after the Ascension had Mary at their sides who no doubt spoke to them about the moment of the Annunciation when the Holy Spirit came upon her. She counseled them perhaps to trust that they would know when the Spirit had come and that to the end of their lives they would be led by this Spirit that had penetrated their hearts and taken on the direction of the Church through the daily guidance of their individual lives together.

There are four important ways to remove the clutter in our minds and hearts that fills them with chaos and blocks our obedience to the Spirit as we seek God’s guidance in a decision going forward:

Don’t demand closure to quickly.
Don’t have a predetermined goal before you ask the Spirit’s help.
Don’t reduce the scope of what is possible to what you can handle right now.
Don’t make it about you.

If each of us moved out of our own way, slowed down, and learned the waiting that is part of every Pentecost of the Spirit, we might be amazed at the way God uses us to proclaim the “mighty acts of God” to the world today.

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Kathryn 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.


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Comparison is the Thief of Joy

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

This is a quote that I have come back to many times throughout my ministry and my adult life. I have struggled with comparison my whole life. When I was a little girl, I compared myself to all the other ballerinas in my class. They were always taller than me, skinnier than me, better at balancing than me. When I was in college, I compared my grades to those of the other Theology majors.

Even in quarantine, I catch myself comparing my feelings and my day to everyone else’s. We are bombarded on social media with sweaty selfies of women who ran 10 miles this morning before waking up her 7 children, homeschooling them, baking cookies for the local fire dept., and praying a family rosary. Sometimes, I consider it a successful day if I remember to brush my 15 month old’s teeth!

So I find myself internally chuckling at Peter in today’s Gospel. Looking at the Apostle John, Peter probably thought, “Why me? Why was I chosen to be the ‘Rock’?” He may have found himself comparing his impulsivity to John’s steadfastness; his tendency to put his own foot in his mouth with John’s silent wisdom; his denial of Christ with John’s fierce loyalty. Even to us, it may seem that John, the disciple that “Jesus loved”, would have been the first, most logical choice for that role.

However, Peter was chosen.

Christ looked beyond his rough spots and saw his strengths. Peter’s passionate determination and humility were gifts needed for his calling. If he were more like John, or Paul, or Matthew, we would have had another holy man, certainly. And probably another saint. But we would not have had Peter, the first pope and the Rock on which our Church was built.

True humility consists in knowing who you are in relation to God, and resting in that knowledge. C.S. Lewis defines humility as “Not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” While pride turns us inward and magnifies our flaws until we have no room for anything else, true humility brings us out of ourselves and gives us the ability to focus on others. While comparison leads to frustration, rejection, and sadness; humility leads to peace, confidence, & contentment. Comparison truly is the thief of joy!

Christ sees both our strengths and our weaknesses. And He has created us each for a unique mission and purpose, just like Peter. If we were all meant to be the same shade of blue, we would never know the beauty of red, or yellow, or green, or purple.

So I wish I could go back and tell that little girl who measured herself every day that being short is part of what makes her, her. If she was two inches taller like everyone else in her ballet class, who would have been able to fit into the smallest tutu? If she was able to balance for as long as the other girls, she might not have been able to do as many pirouettes as she could.

Brothers and sisters, I urge you now to silence those lies from Satan who tell you that you aren’t good enough. Curated photo collages on social media do not share the whole story of someone else’s life, just like your struggles do not define the entirety of yours. Listen to John’s words at the end of today’s Gospel:

“There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”

 If we were all to be described individually; beauty, flaws, and all, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: OR at

Making A Return

“Jesus Christ, my sweet Master, presented Himself to me, all resplendent with glory, His Five Wounds shining like so many suns. Flames issued from every part of His Sacred Humanity, especially from His Adorable Breast, which resembled an open furnace and disclosed to me His most loving and most amiable Heart, which was the living source of these flames.” This vision received by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in June of 1674 was one of her many revelations that helped establish the Catholic Church’s devotion to the Sacred Heart. It continued with Jesus expressing grief over mankind: “If only they would make Me some return for My Love, I should think but little of all I have done for them and would wish, were it possible, to suffer still more.” The readings for today are a meditation on what it means to “make a return” for Christ’s love amidst persecution and the mind-bending turmoil of life.

In the first reading found in Acts 25:13-21, St. Paul is being dragged before King Agrippa to be executed. Before the trial is finished, he gives a beautiful defense of the faith. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, he manifests a belief in God’s sovereignty that leaves him undeterred by the imminence of death. His conviction is echoed by the Responsorial Psalm in Psalm 103: “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”

Inspiring as it is to observe St. Paul’s courage under fire, such a witness can feel a bit intimidating, if not downright unattainable. In the Gospel reading of John 21:15-19, Peter is the one whose faith is being tested. On the night of Jesus’ arrest, the unspeakable shame and horror of the cross engulfed Peter’s devotion, and he denied three times even knowing the Lord. He quickly repented, but the damage was done. Fear had broken his spirit, and his love for Christ was no longer sure.

In John 21 after the resurrection, Jesus gave Peter the chance to put a word on what happened, to describe his own fidelity or lack thereof. Interestingly, Jesus didn’t use the name, “Peter,” a name meaning “Rock,” but returned to his old name, “Simon”:

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

In the original Greek text, Jesus used the word “agapaō” for “love,” which means “willing or sacrificial love,” whereas Peter responded by saying that he only loved Jesus with “phileō” love, meaning “friendly affection.” This little conversation repeated itself twice until Peter was “distressed.” No matter how much Jesus desired heroic love from the man to whom he had entrusted his flock, Peter in all honesty could not claim it as his own.

Thankfully, the conversation did not end there: Jesus addressed Peter’s upset by describing “the kind of death [by which Peter] would glorify God.” Far from being a prophecy of doom, this prediction of his eventual martyrdom must have been a consolation. Just because Peter was not able to follow in Jesus’ footsteps right away did not mean that he would not follow afterward. The same is true for us. Our inability to love properly often results in a string of failures whereby we hurt others and we hurt ourselves.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque suffered from her own inability to respond in kind to Christ’s great love. In another mystical encounter, Christ asked for her heart. When she gave it to him, she said he “placed it in His own Adorable Heart where He showed it to me as a little atom which was being consumed in this great furnace and withdrawing it thence as a burning flame in the form of a heart, He restored it to the place whence He had taken it.” When we approach Christ with Peter’s humility and allow him to forgive us, to love us, and to reconcile us with our brothers and sisters, we open ourselves up to the fire of his love. It is his purifying passion that empowers us to “make a return” and to give ourselves to the One who has given so much.

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Nikol M. Jones is in her final year at Franciscan University’s Master’s in Theology and Christian Ministry program where it has been her joy to learn how to integrate the tools of modern biblical scholarship with the principles of biblical interpretation set forth by the Catholic Church in the service of the Word of God. She also has a passion for creating artwork and children’s books that honor the life and teachings of Christ. When she’s not studying or painting, she utilizes her writing and organizational skills as an administrative assistant. You can connect with her on LinkedIn at

The Father and I Are One

I love to cook and host people. I think it comes from my family. My house growing up was always a welcome place for people. Parties, barbecue, food, friends, fellowship, endless rounds of euchre, great conversation, bonfires, just the type of gatherings that make you feel good.

I have seen in my parents how they allow people to share in their sacrament of marriage. Each time they reach out, serve, help, cook, or host, they are extending their sacrament to others in a beautiful way. The love they share together overflows to those around them and you can’t help but feel like you are home.

My wife, Nathalie, and I try to emulate this in our own marriage as well. We want to invite people in, help when we can, reach out to the community, serve the Church, help the less fortunate, and invite people into the love that we share.

We have all heard that the trinity is similar to a marriage. God the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father and their love is so real it is the Holy Spirit. Similar to a husband and wife and their love becomes a new child. We have heard this but have we let it sink in? Especially in relation to allowing others to share in the love of the sacrament of marriage?

In the Gospel today we hear over and over that the Father and Son are one and that they desire to bring all people into their love, which is the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 221 tells us that, “God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.”

How does God invite people into his love? One of the ways is through our genuine relationships. When my wife and I love each other like Christ, and we invite people into our home, conversation, life, and love, people can experience the love of God through us.

This is what Christ wants, for us to be walking beacons of his love here on this earth and for us to invite all people into the love of the Trinity, for which we are all destined. The hard part of this is do we do it? Do we actually reach out to people and help them experience God’s love here on this earth. If not, why not? That’s the question we need to ask today. My wife and I should ask it every day.

It would be very upsetting to get to heaven and realize that we forgot to bring anyone with us. Let’s make that a priority today. God Bless!

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Tommy Shultz is Director of Evangelization for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative and the founder of Rodzinka Ministries. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and a 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. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.

To Trust, To Pray

In preparing for this blog post, I was struck by many things in both the first reading and the Gospel – so much so that I could probably write two different blogs for today – but ultimately felt drawn to comment on the Gospel, “the Prayer of Jesus.”

The entire 17th chapter of John’s Gospel, from which today’s Gospel is taken, is an intercessory prayer spoken by Jesus directly to the Father. Although not speaking to the disciples, He is interceding for them and for those disciples still to come (you and me).

When Jesus prays, something big is about to happen. In Matthew 14:23, Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray, and then what follows? He walks on water. In Luke 6:12, He again goes up a mountain again to pray overnight, and, when day breaks, He chooses His 12 apostles. In the same spirit, Jesus offers this prayer in today’s Gospel and then is arrested and on His way to the cross. When Jesus prays, something big is about to happen.

Why don’t we have that same faith, that same confidence, when it comes to our prayer? I’m not talking about saying the Our Father and then, boom, being able to walk on water but, rather, the act of bringing Him our needs and then trusting that something big will happen in our own lives. This trust is three-fold, I believe.

1. We have to trust that God truly cares about us and loves us. The misconception is that if God doesn’t love us or if He is a vengeful and vindictive God who is hurt by the humanity that betrayed Him, then He won’t even listen to our prayers. Accepting the truth of God’s unending love and mercy deep in our own hearts is key to being able to surrender our wishes, desires, and intentions to Him in prayer.

2. We have to trust in the power of our prayer. Our prayer is powerful because our God is powerful. Nothing is ever too big to ask and God never ignores the smallest of our requests either. All we have to do is bring our needs before Him and He will take care of the rest.

3. We have to trust that our prayers will be heard and answered. What is the point of praying if we believe either that God doesn’t hear us or that He won’t answer our prayers? Or maybe we are afraid of God’s answer not being the answer that we want? In that case…

4. (Bonus one) We have to trust that God’s plan is better than our own, that He will always work for our good. God will answer our prayers in His way. Sometimes His way lines up with our way but that is not often the case. There is always good in His answer because He loves us and desires our good.

Looking at this “Prayer of Jesus,” Jesus knows and trusts His Father’s love, trusts in the power of prayer, trusts that the Father heard what He asked and will answer and always, always trusts in the Father’s plan. Here in Jesus, we have a beautiful model for our own prayer. May we continue to trust in the Lord, placing our needs before Him.

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Erin is a Cleveland native and graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Following graduation, she began volunteering in youth ministry at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Her first “big girl” job was in collegiate sports information where, after a busy two years in the profession on top of serving the youth, she took a leap of faith and followed the Lord’s call to full-time youth ministry at St. Peter Church. She still hopes to use her communication arts degree as a freelance writer and statistician, though. You can catch her on the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

This Will Pass – Our Faith Will Endure

St. Philip Neri: priest; missionary; founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, a community of Catholic priests and lay brothers. Known for his knack to engage people in conversation, which, in turn, would lead people to Jesus, and charitable work for the sick and the poor. He was born in 1515; he died in 1595.

Fast forward to 2020.
Have you paid attention to the human-interest stories of late? Stories about surviving COVID; stories of neighbor helping neighbor; stories of first responders; stories of nurses and doctors battling this virus, amidst many obstacles; stories of recovered patients donating their blood. So many stories, so much faith.

St. Paul traveled all over his known world, preaching the gospel of Jesus. He did his best. He didn’t look back to those who would not listen, because he did his best. Paul’s message was delivered with conviction and joy. He evangelized, as did Philip Neri.

Are you, today, recognizing Evangelization? In most of the stories I listed above, have you noticed one thing in common? Almost all of those involved thank God, thank Jesus, credit their survival, hard work, care, and love of one another to their faith. “God was with us,” “God will see us through,” “I get strength from Jesus,” “I couldn’t carry on without my faith.” These are just a few of the ways that these folks express their faith.
I believe they are all sincere. I choose to believe that not one of these folks is “just saying it” because it seems like the right thing to do. They are evangelizing, without the benefit of a pulpit.

Can we do the same? When all this has passed away, will OUR faith endure?

God Bless.

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Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at

A Heavenly Perspective

It can be easy to get bogged down in the struggles of daily life. Even when we are not dealing with a global pandemic, fear, anxiety, and depression can quickly creep in. Uncertainty leads to fear, fear leads to anxiety, anxiety leads to disorientation, and disorientation leads to depression. Once we enter into this state, tunnel vision ensues. Our gaze remains fixed on the earth, unable to see anything beyond the immediate.

When we hear the readings at Mass, we sometimes skip over the Alleluia verse. Pay close attention to it today: “if then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). Seek what is above. This is a call for all experiencing uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and depression, but it is also a perennial call. No matter what the circumstances, we ought to look up, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Saint Paul had to remind the disciples in Ephesus of this. As we hear in the first reading, they did not even know that the Holy Spirit existed. They had only been baptized with John’s baptism, and they did not realize that something greater awaited them: “‘John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus’” (Acts 19:4). The Ephesian disciples didn’t realize it, but they were always meant to look beyond earthly baptism. They were meant to be baptized into Christ, turning their gaze to the things that are above.

Christ reminds the Apostles of the same thing in the Gospel. Even when the Apostles are confident that they have reached the heights of faith, Jesus reminds them that there are trials ahead: ‘“Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone.’” (John 16:31-21). Each scattered into his own home, left alone…sound familiar? By now, I’m sure that we can all relate to that experience.

In these dark times and in the brighter days beginning to follow, Jesus tells us how to move forward: seek what is above. “But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.’” (John 16:32-33).

Take courage: Christ has conquered the world. The Father is with Him in heaven, where He has ascended in glory. This is simple enough to say, but how can we keep it in mind? How can we seek what is above, always focusing on the things of heaven? How can we have a heavenly perspective and experience the peace that Christ promises?

One practical way to cultivate a heavenly perspective is extemporaneous prayer, or prayer in the moment. Each time we encounter a difficult situation, an upcoming challenge, or even a great joy, we can quickly say a prayer to the Lord. “O God, give me courage and wisdom.” “Lord, be with me.” “Father, I give You praise for Your goodness.” These quick prayers keep us from getting stuck on earth. Each time we send up an extemporaneous prayer, we turn our head towards heaven, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Turning back to the earth, we carry His light with us.

Simply speaking about heavenly things is another good way to seek what is above. The more we talk about the Faith, God, and Christian life, the easier it is to see things in light of them. Having good friends who are willing to talk about their experiences with living the Christian life and are willing to engage the meatier topics of the Faith is a great thing. Even a quick mention of faith in a conversation, telling someone that we will pray for them, can turn our gaze upward. The more we are talking about heaven, the more it will permeate our lives.

In both troubling and good times, we are called to seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Armed with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can use extemporaneous prayer and spiritual conversation to remain with the Lord. He has conquered the world; we need only to keep His victory in sight.

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David is the Associate Director of Liturgy for a group of parishes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When he is not spending time with his wife and infant daughter, he is writing on philosophy and theology for various online publications. You can find some of these in Crisis Magazine and the Imaginative Conservative, and you can contact him at

Christ Ascends to the Father

“‘So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.’ Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys. But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity. Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.” -CCC 659

Have you ever been confused by the Ascension? God becomes a man and dies for our sins only to leave us here on this earth? I always struggled to wrap my mind around it. But this quote from the Catechism gives me such hope and joy.

See, Jesus came to die for our sins, but not only that. That’s a reductionist view of what Jesus did for us if that is our only focus. As if that one moment of death was the epitome of his purpose. That’s simply not giving God enough credit. We must look at his ENTIRE life and mission in order to see how deep his love really is for us.

At the fall we sinned against an immortal being, we could not pay back the hurt that was caused. The only possible hope for our fallen human nature is for God to take it on, dispel the bad, resurrect the good, and then bring it to his Father. That is precisely what he did. Salvation history doesn’t stop with the crucifixion. It doesn’t even stop with the resurrection. Jesus resurrected human nature through his power, but he still had to take his place at the right hand of God and bring human nature with him into divine glory.

He is the one mediator between God and man, as we hear in scripture. Our broken humanity is resurrected when he conquered sin and death, but then he brings humanity fully and irreversibly into divine glory through his ascension. Now for all eternity, Jesus sits next to the father to be a constant reminder that we have been redeemed.

There is a lot of talk that the end of the world is coming. I think fear has entered our hearts through the current pandemic and we start thinking and worrying about things that are outside of our control. Whether the end of the world is coming is not the question we should be trying to figure out. After all, we are told that nobody knows the time or place. What we should be concerned with is the gift God has given us through his ascension. He has taken our humanity into the depths of divine love. What is our response to that kind of action? Do we waste it with our time here on earth or do we thank him and live in joy and hope, longing for the day we join him?

This is a tough question to ask, but it’s the one that needs to be answered in our hearts. Have we said yes to God and his gift? Or have we rejected the invitation into divine life? Let’s pray that we all have the grace to one day ascend into our heavenly home, just as Jesus did. God Bless!

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Tommy Shultz is Director of Evangelization for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative and the founder of Rodzinka Ministries. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and a 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. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.

Complete Joy

Last Saturday, I was able to participate in a friend’s ordination into the transitional diaconate via live feed. It brought me great joy to see his immediate family as well as a few priests who have been mentors taking part in the celebration of this sacred rite and liturgy. I was part of the community of saints who prayed with him on his journey and who chuckled and smiled when the vestments were tangled during his robing of deacon attire. The joy was palpable as the Bishop (while masked) laid hands, welcoming him into a new part of his journey, ordained life.

The first reading today speaks about the community in Ephesus helping a brother learn more about the Way and teachings of Jesus. That is exactly what happens for our seminarians. The beautiful thing is that it also happens for all who wish to learn more about faith, God, and receiving the sacraments. There is joy in listening to and learning about the gospel, the Way of Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis, in his encyclical The Joy of the Gospel said:

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord” (#3).

Our psalm today has us shouting to God in gladness as the great king over all the earth. Pope Francis goes on in #167 of the encyclical to say:

“ Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendour and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties…” (#167)

Think of the joy you felt when you were able to successfully ‘log in’ to a live liturgy (or a recorded one) during this pandemic. There is joy and community in that shared experience. We were able to see the faces of our clergy and hear the gospel proclaimed by those we care about. Pope Francis wrote in his opening: 

“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” (#1)

As I look forward to being at the table for a physical encounter with Jesus through the reception of the Eucharist, I have His words of the gospel, which fill my heart with joy and hope at all times. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here

Perseverance Through Faith and Hope

Both readings for today urge us to have hope in the presence of Christ. In the first reading, we hear of St. Paul’s experience in Corinth. He is confronted with persecution but is able to persevere because of the faith and hope he places in God’s presence: “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.” In hearing the words of God, St. Paul is emboldened to continue preaching the Gospel despite what hardships may befall him. In a homily from 2014, Pope Francis described St. Paul as a “very courageous man” and encouraged us to follow the example of St. Paul. We, like St. Paul, experience fear, pain, and suffering and sometimes that causes us to question our faith or to ask God why. Why me? Why this feeling? Why do I have to suffer? I suppose the answer to those questions is joy. We experience fear and pain and suffering so that we can encounter true joy. Christ in His passion showed us that in order for us to be redeemed, we must first carry a cross. He carried His own cross so that we might enter into eternal life with Him, but in doing so, He also called us on to live a Christian life. The Christian life is not easy, nor is it meant to be, but the reward is the fulfillment of our greatest desire.

In the Gospel, Christ tells the disciples exactly that; they will feel great sorrow when He leaves them, but the joy they feel in the Resurrection cannot be taken from them. I think it is also important to note that this sorrow the disciples will feel when they are separated from Christ is the same sorrow that we experience when we are away from the Sacraments, especially that of Confession. We need Christ in our everyday lives. We need His love and His forgiveness if we want to enter into eternal life with him. At this time, I know it feels difficult to participate in the Sacraments, but Christ suffered for us so that we may place our hope in His Resurrection. As Christ said to His disciples, “…you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve but your grief will become joy…But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you”.

May we continue to hope in Christ and His Resurrection!

St. Rita, pray for 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

It is better for you that I go

“But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).

Jesus speaks these words to His disciples before He enters into His Passion. They do not understand it then, and they do not understand it now when He is about to ascend to the Father. How can it be a good thing for Jesus to leave? He only just rose from the dead. Forty days of precious moments were not enough for the Apostles. After all, He hasn’t even restored the Kingdom to Israel!

At this decisive moment, Jesus speaks His last words while walking the earth: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8-9). With that, He disappears into the clouds. Why has He left so soon? What does this mean?

It may seem that Christ has left His disciples in confusion, in the dark. He is gone, after all. But He is not simply leaving; He is going somewhere, to where He belongs, at the Father’s right hand. With His Ascension, Christ reigns triumphant and completes His mission on earth. He has trampled death and conquered sin, and now He ascends resurrected into heaven.

Going up with shouts of joy, He carries both His natures intact: divine and human. Taking His rightful place, He sends the promised Holy Spirit and charges the Apostles: continue my mission on earth. Receive the power promised to you. Be my witnesses. Restore the Kingdom. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

It may seem, especially in these times, that the Lord has abandoned us. Though many states are re-opening and public Masses are beginning to return, it is not the same as it once was. It can feel as if Jesus is distant. Even so, the Ascension reminds us of something important: the Lord intends to do something great with this situation. We may not be able to notice Him as easily, but He remains seated on His throne, triumphant and guarding His Church until the end of time. He has sent His Spirit to empower us and strengthen us.

We do not need to understand everything that is happening to experience this grace. We need only to trust in the promise of Christ. King triumphant, He has raised our human nature to divine heights, all the while giving us the grace to experience this magnificence here and now. In our Baptism, we received the Holy Spirit, and in Confirmation, we were sealed with His gifts. These gifts are always available to us, even though we may have forgotten them.

We know that something great awaits us. Christ gives us the Comforter in this life, and at the same time, He shows us what we will become in the next. In our struggles on this earth, we are given grace and peace to weather storms. But in the end, we can look forward to something even better. Christ has left the earth, but He is alive and reigning in the heavens. When all has been accomplished, He will come again to take us with Him, and then all will be as it should be.

“Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

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David is the Associate Director of Liturgy for a group of parishes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When he is not spending time with his wife and infant daughter, he is writing on philosophy and theology for various online publications. You can find some of these in Crisis Magazine and the Imaginative Conservative, and you can contact him at

Truth and Idolatry

Today’s Mass readings start with St. Paul in Athens. The first verse sounds a bit like an installment in a serial novel… ‘after Paul’s escorts took him to Athens…’ What happened before this?

Paul had been in northern Greece and wasn’t too well received. In fact, Philippi is a city in northern Greece where, you may remember, he and Silas were imprisoned, and miraculously released in the night by an earthquake (a favorite story from my Sunday School days).

His friends thought Paul had better find somewhere else to preach, so he was taken to Athens. He arrives in the city and is distressed by the idols everywhere. Naturally, Paul wastes no time in telling the Athenians about Jesus–both at the synagogue and in the marketplace.

He makes his way to the Areopagus, the place where cases were tried and ideas debated. Upon seeing the altar to the ‘Unknown God’, he delivers his famous sermon.

In reading this passage, I was struck by a couple of things. First of all, Paul doesn’t tell the Athenians how wrong they were to worship their idols, and how foolish they were to believe these idols could control their lives. Instead, he tells them of God the Father’s love for them and his plan from creation throughout all of history to provide the means of repentance and redemption through Jesus. He doesn’t need to set up a ‘straw man’ that he then knocks down to prove God’s supremacy over their idols. The message is enough, and it is what they long for because it is the truth.

Secondly, he didn’t convince everyone. He did his best and left the results with God. This leads directly to the Gospel reading about the Spirit of Truth. God’s Spirit will work in the heart of every person in due course. It’s not our responsibility to determine when that is; it is our responsibility to tell them the Good News so the Spirit can work.

These last months of silence due to closed churches have been difficult to endure, much less understand. Perhaps we should see them as an opportunity to boldly proclaim the Good News. Our secular culture has increasingly embraced death during recent years, not just the literal death of abortion and euthanasia, but the spiritual death of calling good evil and evil good. There is no life in it, and those who live by it are desperate for deliverance and might not even know it.

We don’t need to know every nuance of other churches or religions, to explain why the culture of death isn’t working. We know the truth, and, as Paul says, ‘in Him we live, and move, and have our being.’

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Pamela joined Diocesan’s staff in 2006, after a number of years in the non-profit sector. Her experience is in non-profit administration including management, finance, and program development, along with database management and communications. She was a catechist in her parish RCIA program for over 15 years, as well as chairperson of their Liturgy Commision. Received into the Catholic Church as an adult, Pamela’s faith formation was influenced by her Mennonite extended family, her Baptist childhood, and her years as a Reformed Presbyterian (think Scott Hahn).