inviting Christ

First Sunday of Advent: Inviting Christ Into Our Lives

Sunday, December 3, 2017, marks the first Sunday of Advent, and the first Sunday of the new liturgical year. Advent is the time when we prepare for the coming of Christ. We remember the historical event of the birth of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, yet we also look forward to Christ’s return. The Gospel for this Sunday, from Matthew, reminds us to be alert to this event.

How exactly do we prepare for Christ? How do we invite Him in? Do we even really want to invite Him in? It’s all well and good to meet Jesus on Sundays – sort of like a weekly coffee date with a friend. But you don’t invite your friend to move in with you! No, it’s really far easier to just keep Jesus “contained,” in church, on Sundays.

In the book, With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life, priest-contemplative Henri Nouwen says that the moment of Eucharist is THE single most important decision of our lives: Are we going to allow Christ in? It is a decision to make Christ part of your life, every moment of every day, to remove the walls you have placed around Him.

Jesus is a very interesting person; his words are full of wisdom. His presence is heart-warming. His gentleness and kindness are deeply moving. His message is very challenging. But do we invite him into our home? Do we want him to come to know us behind the walls of our most intimate life? Do we want to introduce him to all the people we live with? Do we want him to see us in our everyday lives? Do we want him to touch us where we are most vulnerable? Do we want him to enter into the back rooms of our homes, rooms that we ourselves prefer to keep safely locked? Do we truly want him to stay with us when it is nearly evening and the day is almost over?

Christ, you see, is not meant to be contained. He is not meant to be a weekly visitor or a standing coffee date which one can easily cancel if something comes up. He is not even meant to be a boarder in our home; a person who rents a room but is seldom seen or heard.

There is a reason that we encounter Christ around the table, the altar. The act of gathering around a table to share a meal is an act of intimacy. Even strangers become friends when they gather together to not simply eat, but to enjoy the food, the company, the joy of elevating basic human nourishment to an occasion of joy.

Yet no hostess in the world would think of handing out coats to the guests just as the last mouthful has been consumed: “Oh! Out to you go! Been lovely to see you, but time to get!” We would be shocked – and rightly so. No, part of the invitation to the table is the chance to linger and further enjoy the company of those gathered. And if the weather has turned bad while the meal was being enjoyed, the host and hostess would find blankets and pillows and places for everyone to rest their heads.

So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. – Mt. 24:44

As we prepare for the holy season of Advent, let us begin by asking ourselves: Do I REALLY want Christ to be part of my entire life? Am I only giving Him a sliver of my time? Where do I deliberately keep Christ from entering? Why? Is Christ truly a guest in my home, my life?

Jesus blood

Power To Redeem: The Blood of Jesus

What’s your type?

Anyone who remembers basic biology or who has watched a medical drama knows that humans have different blood types. When someone loses blood due to accident or injury, and that person’s blood needs to be replaced, the medical team takes care to “type” the blood, so as to match it with donated blood. A person given the wrong blood type can potentially lose their life. (Some people, those with “O” type blood are universal donors; they can supply blood to any other person, regardless of type.)

Humans cannot live without blood. Why we were created this way, only God knows, but it is fact. Without blood, we cease to exist.

As a Church, we are a living organism. We are the Body of Christ. Also, Scripture, Tradition and the saints call the Church the Bride of Christ:

The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb. “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.” He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body.

What one of us would not give our blood for the life of a cherished love one? Many of us donate blood for people we will never meet this side of Heaven. We do this because we understand how vital it is to life.

Christ: the eternal donor

Christ knew the value of blood to humanity. He made it clear, at the Last Supper, that he was sacrificing His very Body and Blood for the life of the Church. He poured out that blood the following day, as He was beaten and battered, whipped and kicked, and finally crucified. Monsignor Romano Guardini:

Christ the intermediary [between us and God the Father] is a sacred living artery through which divine purity and forgiveness flow; through the establishment of the Eucharist he becomes a permanent artery, supplying all the generations with the superabundance of divine life. [The Lord]

I don’t know about you, but that puts me into a state of awe: our God has given His very life’s blood so that we can share in his divinity. As a Church, as baptized Christians, as people of the Eucharist, we receive “transfusions” of life and divinity and purity and forgiveness. Christ holds nothing back. Do we hold back? Are we reluctant to give ourselves wholly  to Christ, when He has been generous to us?

St. Catherine of Siena was devoted to the Precious Blood of Christ. She prayed:

Precious Blood, ocean of divine mercy: Flow upon us! Precious Blood, most pure offering: Procure us every grace! Precious Blood, hope and refuge of sinners: Atone for us! Precious Blood, delight of holy souls: Draw us! Amen.

If we cut ourselves off from the “major artery,” that is, Christ, we will perish. If we allow ourselves to receive the transfusion of life, offered by Christ, we will have eternal life. It’s basic biology.


Communion, Community, Mission: Our Easter Meditation

What strange and wonderful days these are, these days between the Resurrection of Christ and His Ascension! He lives, yet is clearly in a bodily form that is not instantly recognizable. He bears the wounds of His crucifixion, yet is able to walk and talk and eat with the Apostles.

There is a sense of urgency. From the moment Mary Magdalen rushed from the empty tomb to tell the Apostles that the Lord was not there, to the men on the road to Emmaus who hustled out to find the Apostles and tell them that they had seen the Lord, to Christ’s compelling promise that, as He left, He would send the Spirit to them. As writer and priest Henri Nouwen says, “Everything has changed.”

We can only imagine the wonder of the Apostles. They were lifted from the very depths of despair as their Master was tortured and killed, and they themselves hid in terror. Yet, now: everything has changed. There is hope and life and joy and awe.

There is something else. On the night before his death, Jesus broke bread and shared wine with the twelve, telling them this was the New Covenant and calling them to share this meal “in memory of me.” Christ was calling them (and us!) not just to a meal, but to a way of life – the Eucharistic life. Again, Henri Nouwen:

The Eucharistic celebration has summarized for us what our life of faith is all about, and we have to go home to live it as long and fully as we can. And this is very difficult, because everyone at home knows us so well: Our impatience, our jealousies, our resentments, and our many little games …

Yet, we forge on. Like the two men on the road to Emmaus who suddenly realized “This is the Christ!” we should be compelled to rush out and share the news with our friends, our family, our community. We should be, as Nouwen points out, on a mission.

The Eucharist is always a mission. The Eucharist that has freed us from our paralyzing sense of loss and revealed to us that the Spirit of Jesus lives within us empowers us to go out into the world and to bring good news to the poor …

For Nouwen, these strange and wonderful days from Resurrection to Ascension flow from communion – that shared meal of Christ’s Body and Blood – to community (as the earliest Christians learns what their roles are to be within this New Covenant) to mission. They come together, they pray, they eat and drink as the Lord directed, they go out and share.

As we continue to celebrate this Easter season, it is good to meditate upon these forty days. How is the Resurrected Christ present to us, to you, to me? Do we recognize Him in the Eucharist? When we are sent forth at the end of Mass, where do we go? What do we do? With whom do we share the Good News? The strange and wonderful days between Easter and Ascension deserve our prayerful attention.

[Quotes from Nouwen are from  his book, With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life.]


EH headshotElise Hilton is an author, blogger and speaker. Her role at Diocesan Publications is Editor & Writer with the Marketing Team. She has worked in parish faith formation and Catholic education for over 30 years. A passionate student of theology, Elise enjoys sharing her thoughts on parish communication, the role of social media in the Church, Franciscan spirituality and Catholic parenting. To enquire about booking her as a speaker, please contact her at

open heart

Holy Week: Open Your Heart To Christ

Diocesan Publication’s Tommy Shultz gives us a fresh perspective on Holy Week. As a “mystery man” shows up in the Palm Sunday readings, Shultz asks what we can learn from him about the Holy Eucharist. As we begin our Holy Week, the reflection here might give you a new way of understanding the Mass.

Change LentAs Diocesan Publications’ Product Evangelist, Shultz is committed to showing parish and diocesan staffs how to use our communication tools to their best advantage.  As an experienced speaker on all things Catholic, he has addressed thousands of teens and young adults on topics such as the Sacraments, chastity, and boldly living the Catholic faith. Driven by his passion for Theology of the Body, Tommy studied at the Theology of the Body Institute and has spoken at numerous Theology of the Body conferences. He served as a missionary of purity, speaking to over 20 thousand youth about the message of purity across the state of Pennsylvania. He is a founder of the Corpus Christi Theology of the Body campus organization at Franciscan University. Shultz also served as director of youth and young adult ministries for the Diocese of Baker, OR.To book Tommy for an event or for further information please visit

steadfast in faith

Steadfast In Faith For Lent

At Mass, we try to pay special attention to the readings and sermon. With good reason: God is present in His Word among the people. But some of the prayers and other parts of the Mass can slip by us.

My pastor told us a while back to pay attention to the “Collect.” This is the short prayer the priest prays at the very end of the introductory rites, just before we are seated to listen to the Word of God. Today’s Collect is quite beautiful:

O God, who delight in innocence and restore it,
direct the hearts of your servants to yourself,
that, caught up in the fire of your Spirit
may be found steadfast in faith
and effective in works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

We could easily reflect all day on this lovely prayer, but one part truly caught my attention: “may be found steadfast in faith and effective in works.”

That OUR part, our pledge. We are asking Almighty God to direct our hearts through the Holy Spirit so that we can go forth from the Mass, nourished by the Eucharist, and – despite whatever comes our way today – we will hold fast to our faith and be effective in the vocation God has imparted to us. That is our prayer directly before the Word of God and the Gospel. That Word too will nourish us in faith. It will give us the example and strength to be effective in our work, just as our forefathers and -mothers in Scripture have been.

Whether you are able to attend Mass today, the Collect is a good prayer to meditate upon. Ask God, along with the Universal Church, to help you be steadfast in faith and effective in works today.


EH headshotElise Hilton is an author, blogger and speaker. Her role at Diocesan Publications is Editor & Writer with the Marketing Team. She has worked in parish faith formation and Catholic education for over 25 years. A passionate student of theology, Elise enjoys sharing her thoughts on parish communication, the role of social media in the Church, Franciscan spirituality and Catholic parenting. To enquire about booking her as a speaker, please contact her at

best lent ever

6 Ways To Make This Lent The Best Ever

We have 6 days until Lent. If you’re like me, you’ve only given a fleeting thought about what to give up: “Hmmm, maybe chocolate this year. Maybe tv. We watch too much tv….” And that is where your Lenten planning begins … and ends. Let’s get real; if you don’t have your Lenten plan in place by this weekend, you probably won’t have one at all. Let’s make this the best Lent ever!

Here are some concrete suggestions. Choose one or two. Or maybe this list will spark your imagination.

      1. Ask God. Find some quiet time in the next day or two; a half an hour would be ideal. In front of the Blessed Sacrament would be perfect! In that quiet time, tell God you want your Lenten journey to please Him, to be for Him. Ask him what He’d like you to do. Then: be quiet. Very still. You’ll get your answer.
      2. Give up something in order to give something. We are all familiar with “giving up” something for Lent. We give up chocolate, steadfastly making our way around the niece’s birthday cake, dinner at Grandma’s (“Eat! You look thin!”) until it’s Easter Sunday and you can happily munch the ears off all the chocolate bunnies. Noble, but it doesn’t really get at the heart of Lent, does it? After all, Lent is not some weight-loss program that had holy water sprinkled over it. We make sacrifices during Lent to remind us that Christ has made the greatest sacrifice of all, and we want to join with him in this terrible beauty.  If you’re going to give up something for Lent, here are a couple of ideas to make it a mindful Lenten practice. First, every time you find yourself reaching for that treat, pray. Just something simple, like “Jesus, I trust in you” or “Glory be to the Father and the Son….” Allow that craving to be redirected to worship. Second, figure out about how much money you spent on your treat. Are you buying a $4 latte every day? Do you stop and get fast food once or twice a week? Take that amount and donate it to a charity of your choice. Double those blessings!
      3. Get the family involved. One way you may be called to Lent is to get the whole family involved. Catholic Relief Services’ Operation Rice Bowl has some amazing and fun ways to get kids involved while learning about areas of the world where finding clean water and wholesome food can be a struggle.
      4. Commit to daily prayer. Yes, you’re busy. Yup, you’ve got work and kids and soccer and ballet and dinner and that big project due in April and… Yup, you are busy. Pray anyway.Finding 30 minutes of silence in your day is invaluable for your relationship with Christ. You call your mom every day, right? Or your best friend? You find 30 minutes a day to tinker in the wood shop downstairs, don’t you? Then you’ve got the time. And Christ desperately wants to hear from you.
      5. Make time for family. Sometimes we feel like we are spending time together simply because we live together. But with 5 people going in 15 directions, you probably aren’t truly together that much. Spend Saturday night or Sunday afternoon making some popcorn and pulling out old board games. At the end of the game, tell each of the family members how much you love them and why you appreciate spending time with them.
      6. Be grateful (and the flip side: Don’t complain) We take so much for granted – from the fact that our spouse brings us coffee in bed every single morning to a vast array of things we have to amuse ourselves to the different flavors of ice cream at the local ice cream shop. Yet, we still find ways to be grumpy. To complain. To find fault. This Lent, flip that around. When you find yourself thinking, “This coffee isn’t very hot; he does this every morning” stop yourself. Instead, think, “I am so blessed to have such a thoughtful spouse. Thank you, God for this blessing.” Lift your thoughts from the negative to the prayerful positive.

Our annual Lenten practices are such a blessed opportunity for us to work on shedding our sinful nature and to grow closer to God, especially as we ponder daily the Life, Death, and Resurrection of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father, bless us as we ponder our Lenten journey. We desire to please you and to grow in faith. We beg that you help us with this good endeavors. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

EH headshotElise Hilton is an author, blogger, and speaker. She has worked in parish faith formation and Catholic education for over 25 years. A passionate student of theology, Elise enjoys sharing her thoughts on parish communication, the role of social media in the Church, Franciscan spirituality and Catholic parenting. To inquire about booking her as a speaker, please contact her at


Christ the King

Christ the King: A Servant-King

[Above image: Ethiopian triptych, Christ the King, artist unknown. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.]

Sunday, November 20 is the final Sunday of the liturgical year for 2016, marked by the Church as the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Christ is indeed King. He rules all: an eternal Kingdom, inhabited by angels and saints. Christ must also be King of our hearts: the Monarch of the Universe, writ small for each human being. He is not a king of earthly riches, but one of poverty, poured out wholly on the cross for our redemption. He is a king of lowly estate, who had no place to rest His head yet one who commanded storms to cease and turned water into wine. His Kingdom embraces the lowliest, the disenfranchised, the tax collector and prostitute, the sinners-who-become-saints. In Christ’s Kingdom, the most costly perfumes and luxurious oils are meant for the all – wealthy and beggar alike. The greatest treasure of his kingdom is His flesh and blood, bread and wine blessed and broken, earthly food that offers eternal life.

Like any king, He issues an edict to His subjects. Yet His commands are like no other ruler’s:

Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’

Our King does not demand a tax on His people; He asks for us to see His face reflected in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the imprisoned. He invites all to His feast, His kingly banquet, His home. The banquet table is now an altar, spread not with rich food and sweet drink, but with His own Body and Blood. No matter how we arrive at this banquet – whether in embroidered robes or tattered cloth – we are welcomed. The price of admission is not coins, but faith. The guests at this feast turn to each other with a kiss of peace and then partake of His most glorious offerings.
[G]race to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever [and ever]. Amen.
Behold, he is coming amid the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him.
All the peoples of the earth will lament him
Yes. Amen.

Your invitation is placed before you. All you need do is come to the feast. Will you join your King?


Mother Teresa: A “Saint Of Darkness”

The world came to know Mother Teresa very well during her life. With the possible exception of St. John Paul II, she was likely the most recognizable Catholic on the face of the earth in the 20th century. Her faith and the work she and her Sisters did made her beloved and admired by many.

What no one knew (with the exception of a handful of people, mostly priests) until after her death, was the intense spiritual suffering Mother Teresa underwent for most of her life. Often referred to as “the dark night of the soul” (after a book by the same name written by St. John of the Cross), Mother Teresa had no feeling or consolation of the presence of God in her life.

Most of us have had a time in our life when we’ve cried out, “God, where are you??” It may be a time of illness or tragedy, or a time when our faith is tested by hardship. That feeling is but a tiny glimpse of the suffering of Mother Teresa.

She is not the first saint to endure this nor, undoubtedly, will she be the last. She spoke and wrote to perhaps one friend and also her spiritual advisers about this, but she was adamant that her Sisters and the world not know. She never wanted her experience to impact anyone else’s faith, especially her own Sisters. Upon her death, her diary and letters were released, and the world came to know Mother Teresa in an entirely different manner.

In the book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, Director of the Mother Teresa Center in California, presents and explores Mother Teresa’s experience. For the most part, Fr. Kolodiejchuk allows Mother Teresa to speak for herself:

The place of God in my soul is blank. There is no God in me. When the pain of longing is so great I just long & long for God and then it is that I feel He does not want me He is not there.

Fr. Kolodiejchuk goes on to say:

The reality of her relationship with Jesus was truly a paradox. He was living in and through her without her being able to savor the sweetness of His presence … it was only when she was with the poor that she perceived His presence vividly. There she felt Him to be so alive and so real. [emphasis added]

A Jesuit priest, Fr. Joseph Neuner, became a confidante and spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa in 1957, a relationship that lasted for decades. It was his guidance that allowed Mother Teresa to come to some peace with this spiritual condition, “a sharing in Christ’s redemptive suffering.” Fr. Neuner, years later, admitted that while this dark night of the soul was not unusual for the holiest of people, he had never found it so deeply in anyone as it existed for Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa came to see her “darkness” as an identification with the poor she and her Sisters served:

[S]he was drawn mystically into the deep pain they [the poor] experienced as a result of feeling unwanted and rejected and, above all, by living without faith in God.

Mother Teresa, in a letter to Fr. Neuner in 1962, said, “If I ever become a saint I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ Her faith in Christ, and her absolute reliance on the Eucharist, allowed Mother Teresa to come to a point, spiritually, that she said, “I have come to love the darkness,” not because she loved the feeling that God was absent, but that this suffering allowed her to give herself wholly to the men, women and children that she served every day.

It is unfathomable to most of us how a person whose public face was one of joy and peace, could endure such darkness and still have faith. It is that last part, the steadfastness of Mother Teresa’s faith, under these incomprehensible spiritual conditions, that should and will be her most enduring legacy. As she said to Fr. Neuner in one letter, “You are sad for me but we really have no reason to be sad. He is the Master. He can dispose of me as it pleaseth Him alone.”


The Rosary: The Luminous Mysteries

The Rosary is an example of the term “ever ancient, ever new.” Despite the centuries old tradition of the Rosary, St. John Paul II caused a stir when he announced a new set of mysteries to pray: the Luminous Mysteries, the mysteries of light.

Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus. The Baptism in the Jordan is first of all a mystery of light. Here, as Christ descends into the waters, the innocent one who became “sin” for our sake (cf. 2Cor 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares him the beloved Son (cf. Mt 3:17 and parallels), while the Spirit descends on him to invest him with the mission which he is to carry out. Another mystery of light is the first of the signs, given at Cana (cf. Jn2:1- 12), when Christ changes water into wine and opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers. Another mystery of light is the preaching by which Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (cf. Mk 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (cf. Mk 2:3-13; Lk 7:47- 48): the inauguration of that ministry of mercy which he continues to exercise until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he has entrusted to his Church (cf. Jn 20:22-23). The mystery of light par excellence is the Transfiguration, traditionally believed to have taken place on Mount Tabor. The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands the astonished Apostles to “listen to him” (cf. Lk 9:35 and parallels) and to prepare to experience with him the agony of the Passion, so as to come with him to the joy of the Resurrection and a life transfigured by the Holy Spirit. A final mystery of light is the institution of the Eucharist, in which Christ offers his body and blood as food under the signs of bread and wine, and testifies “to the end” his love for humanity (Jn 13:1), for whose salvation he will offer himself in sacrifice.

The foundation for all these mysteries, St. John Paul II said, was the admonition Mary gave at the wedding feast at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you.”

St. John Paul II also tells us that the Rosary beads themselves are a meditation  upon Christ:

Here the first thing to note is the way the beads converge upon the Crucifix, which both opens and closes the unfolding sequence of prayer. The life and prayer of believers is centred upon Christ. Everything begins from him, everything leads towards him, everything, through him, in the Holy Spirit, attains to the Father.

As a counting mechanism, marking the progress of the prayer, the beads evoke the unending path of contemplation and of Christian perfection. Blessed Bartolo Longo saw them also as a “chain” which links us to God. A chain, yes, but a sweet chain; for sweet indeed is the bond to God who is also our Father. A “filial” chain which puts us in tune with Mary, the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk1:38) and, most of all, with Christ himself, who, though he was in the form of God, made himself a “servant” out of love for us (Phil2:7).

A fine way to expand the symbolism of the beads is to let them remind us of our many relationships, of the bond of communion and fraternity which unites us all in Christ.

“A chain that links us to God:” who would ever refuse that? As Catholics (and the many non-Catholics who pray the Rosary) we should be willing to “chain” ourselves to God every day, asking that Mary join us in our most fervent prayers to become more and more like her Son, Christ the Lord.


Covenant: God’s Forever Promise

The word “covenant” is familiar to Catholics. It is part of the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass. But what exactly is a covenant?

First, let’s look at a similar word and idea: “contract.” That’s a common enough concept. We sign and enter into contracts all the time. A contract is basically an exchange of goods and services. You make widgets. I call you and order 3,000 widgets to be delivered. You fax over a contract. The contract says you will make and deliver those widgets to me by a certain date. My part of the contract is that I will pay you for making and delivering the widgets. I sign the contract and fax it back. Deal done.

A lot of people confuse “contract” with “covenant.” Yet, they are vastly different. For instance, there are such things as “cohabitation agreements”. (You can see a sample here.) It states that a couple is willing to live together, but only under certain circumstances. Kevin will pay X amount for rent and Ashley will pay X amount. They decide legally who is responsible for what. They may even decide to note that Kevin will take care of the garage and any maintenance, while Ashley is responsible for cooking meals and cleaning up the kitchen.

Not very…romantic, huh? It sounds like a business arrangement. Well, it is. It’s a contract. It’s the exchange of goods and services between two people. And it’s not at all what God has in mind for a man and a woman who join together.

Now, let’s look at “covenant.” The word gets used quite a bit in Scripture. For instance, God establishes a covenant with Noah in Genesis 6. God commanded Noah to build an ark, and to bring aboard that ark every kind of animal and Noah’s family. Noah agreed, and did what God asked. God’s promise to Noah was:

I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: the birds, the tame animals, and all the wild animals that were with you—all that came out of the ark.

I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.

God said: This is the sign of the covenant that I am making between me and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come:

I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. (Gen. 9:13)

Another important covenant is the one God makes with Abram. Abram (to whom God gave the Abraham.) Abraham was a great leader of his people, but more importantly he was faithful to God. And God made a promise to Abraham:

For my part, here is my covenant with you: you are to become the father of a multitude of nations.

No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham,for I am making you the father of a multitude of nations.

I will make you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you; kings will stem from you.

I will maintain my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting covenant, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now residing as aliens, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God.

God said to Abraham: For your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.

Thus were born the Jewish people, from whom would descend the 12 tribes of Israel and from whom our Saviour would be born.

You see, a covenant is not a business agreement. It’s not an exchange of goods and services. A covenant is a promise that lasts forever, has an enduring sign (like the rainbow for Noah), and always includes God. Amazing, isn’t it? God has made promises to humanity since we’ve been trudging around this Earth and He has kept every one.

As Catholics, our ears hear that word “covenant” during the Eucharistic Prayer: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. Jesus IS the new covenant: He gives us eternal life, and we pick up our crosses and follow him. The bread and the wine which become Christ: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are the sign of this covenant.

Now let’s go back to that cohabitation agreement. God does not want a man and woman to enter into a contract. He wants a covenant for them. That’s why Christ established marriage as a sacrament. A man and a woman promise (not who will mow the lawn or who will pay what amount for rent) to honor each other, to accept children from God, to be true during good and challenging times and to love as long as both shall live. And we do this in God’s name. The rings exchanged and blessed are the sign of this covenant.

The idea of covenant, an everlasting promise that includes God, is really the love story God has written for us. It’s an important part of Scripture and therefore our Catholic faith. Catholic theologian Scott Hahn has spent much of his life studying and exploring this, and you can learn a lot from his books and writings.

For today, though, pray about the wonder of God’s promise to you, to each of us as Catholics: we do our very best to follow Him and we will have eternal life with Him. Amen!


Pray Like A Nun

Really, the title of this post should be “Pray Like A Nun or A Sister.” There is a difference, even though we Catholics typically use the words interchangeably. A nun lives a monastic life, usually cloistered – away from the world. She spends her day in prayer and work behind the walls of the monastery, where there is little contact with the “outside.”

A sister lives in community with her fellow sisters, but they live in the world. There are sisters who teach, who are nurses, social workers, counselors, midwives, and on and on. Their lives are meant to be active: to be a sign of Christ in our world. (For a complete and excellent explanation, see here.)

Now, back to “Pray Like A Nun.” No, we are not suggesting that you formally pray six times a day while still doing your job (but wouldn’t it be great if we all did?) However, nuns can certainly teach us a thing or two about prayer.

For instance, St. Catherine of SienaYou, eternal Trinity, are a deep sea. The more I enter you, the more I discover, and the more I discover, the more I seek you. Perhaps before or after Mass, you can spend just a few minutes in prayer to the Holy Trinity.

Then there is St. Therese’ of LisieuxDo you realize that Jesus is there is the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart…” Wow! Make sure your time spent before the tabernacle and during Mass truly focuses on Jesus and His immense love for you.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the CrossLet go of your plans. The first hour of your morning belongs to God. Tackle the day’s work that he charges you with, and he will give you the power to accomplish it. How many of us start our day without a thought to God? Before our feet hit the floor in the morning, we should lift our hearts and minds to God.

Mother Angelica:  We need to be attuned to the Will of God so that we only ask for the things He desires, then you will get all you ask. It has been said that the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, “thy will be done,” is the perfect prayer. Are we praying that with sincerity of heart and mind and will?

We’ve all heard Catholic school stories where Sister hit everyone with a ruler or made the same kid stay after school to clean erasers because he forget his homework every day. Nuns and sisters are not icons of days gone by, or the butt of jokes and stories. These holy women, dedicated to Christ, have a lot to teach us. Are we listening?

Body and Blood of Christ

The Solemnity Of The Body And Blood Of Christ: “I Am The Bread Of Life”

This year, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (traditionally knows as Corpus Christi) on the final Sunday of May. Many parishes choose to process with the Eucharist – sometimes simply around the church or neighborhood, while others make longer treks. Regardless, this celebration makes known to all who see and hear a fundamental tenet of our faith: that Christ is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Eucharist.

Of course, this seems a bit crazy. It’s understandable how this could be a stumbling block for so many. How possibly could Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God-Made-Man, be “inside” that Host, that Chalice? Isn’t it just a piece of bread and some wine that we remember Jesus by? It’s just a reminder of Him and the Last Supper, right?


It is not “just” a piece of bread and some wine, or a memory of a long ago event. How can we be assured of this? How do we Catholics know this to be true? Because Christ Himself told us.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, John tells of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The vast crowd who came to hear Jesus’ preach were fed – astoundingly – with a very small amount of food. The next day, Jesus takes his disciples and gives them the teaching on the Bread of Life.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day.” (Jn. 6:35-40)

Now, the disciples were used to Jesus teaching in parables: the Kingdom of God is like, or it’s as if. But they could tell his tone was different here. They started squirming: How can this guy be bread? That’s not REALLY what He meant, is it?

And Jesus clarified:

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn: 6:48-51)

Well, that was it for some of the disciples. There was no doubting Jesus’ meaning: He wasn’t just saying “eat;” He was using the word for “gnaw.” He really meant eating His Body. And some of those disciples left. This was simply too outrageous.

Even today, these words of Christ are too outrageous for many Christians; they do not believe that Christ, at the Last Supper, fulfilled His words. We must, as Catholics, work to bring our Christian brothers and sisters into the fulness of faith. However, we cannot do that unless our own faith is formed. The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is an opportunity to deepen our own faith.

A few years ago, Pope Francis said this challenged us on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ:

[I]n adoring Christ who is really present in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by him? Do I let the Lord who gives himself to me, guide me to going out ever more from my little enclosure, in order to give, to share, to love him and others?

Brothers and sisters, following, communion, sharing. Let us pray that participation in the Eucharist may always be an incentive: to follow the Lord every day, to be instruments of communion and to share what we are with him and with our neighbour. Our life will then be truly fruitful.

As we look forward to this celebration, let us pray that we deepen our own faith, and then share this great treasure with others.