Am I Not Here, I, Who Am Your Mother?

“Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.” – words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego on Mount Tepeyac in 1531.

These words came at a time when Juan was greatly distressed about his sick uncle. Rather than return to Tepeyac as instructed by Our Lady the day before, Juan took matters into his own hands and began in haste to find a priest to care for his uncle. On the road, Our Lady appeared and asked Juan what was wrong. He explained, saying he would return after he found a priest to care for his uncle. How loving and reassuring are Mary’s words then… and now.

Our Lord Jesus from the Cross entrusted Mary to us as our Mother, yet how often we still take matters into our own hands rather than turn to her for help. We rush around for solutions to our problems when we need to turn first to Mary, the woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” If only we would pause and listen, we would hear the Holy Spirit speaking through Mary saying again, “Do whatever he tells you.”

During this Advent season, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s message reminds us to come away to a quiet place to reflect and adore Jesus the “fruit of her womb.”  Jesus wants to give us the peace that surpasses all understanding. A perfect place to receive this gift is in Eucharistic Adoration.

Find an Adoration Chapel where Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament. Can we commit to and hour or two each week for the remainder of Advent? We can prepare our hearts to receive the Christ child as we prepare our homes to receive loved ones. There’s no better gift to give those we care about than the gift of prayer.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, continue to intercede for us and lead us more closely into the heart of your Son and Our Savior Jesus Christ. May we model your humility and trust, and share the hope that we have with all those around us.

Amy Oatley is a wife, mother, and Secular Franciscan (OFS), passionate about social justice, advocating for the dignity of every human life. A writer since elementary school, she currently enjoys freelance writing for diocesan FAITH Magazine and is privileged to work as the RCIA and Adult Faith Formation Coordinator at Our Lady of Consolation parish in Rockford, Michigan.

Waiting or Worrying?

So often our times of waiting seem to be filled with desolation, pain, or uncertainty.  In a liturgical season of the Church called Advent, we are called to a time of preparation.  It is a time to prepare our hearts specifically for the coming of God’s Incarnate Love.  You are called to prepare room in your life for this Incarnate Love, a Man named Jesus. This is a time to love Him above all else, and recognize that He is truly coming back again to judge the living and the dead.

I love the Church’s liturgical seasons for many reasons. One reason in particular is that liturgical seasons remind me that time goes on.  Personally, I have been through a wide variety of seasons. Seasons of hurt and loss, seasons of joy and bliss, seasons that felt as if they lasted a moment, and seasons that felt like lifetimes. Each season served many purposes and has formed me into the woman I am today. Even though Advent is a beautiful season filled with holiday cheer and twinkling lights, it can also be a difficult season.

Last Advent, I was in my worst season of my life thus far.  It was a season of major hurt, heartbreak, and what felt like ruins. It was a season I believed would never end.  Reflecting on last year’s advent made me realize why it was so painful.  I realized that in all my times of waiting, I was actually just worrying.  No matter what I was waiting for; whether for Christmas, God’s healing, for my vocation, or waiting to graduate college… Whatever type of waiting I did was done in anxiety.

God calls us not just to wait aimlessly, but to wait in hope and trust.  Waiting in hope has no room for anxiety. Waiting in trust has no room for fear.  These two virtues are rooted in God’s faithfulness.  A scripture verse that encouraged me to wait in hope states, “For why would I fear the future when I am pursued only by Goodness and Truth Itself?” (Psalm 23:6). Christ is pursuing you. At this very moment He desires to be with you, to love you, and for you to know and love Him intimately. He Himself is complete Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. We are called to give Him control of our seasons and our lives. God is in control.  If we truly let ourselves receive this truth, our waiting will be without worry.  Believing in God’s faithfulness will change our hearts from hearts that are filled with fear, worry, and doubt to hearts that are sturdy, tender, and steadfast.

This Advent, you are called to prepare your heart and to make room for Him.  This Advent, you are called to wait upon the Lord.  But this Advent you are not called to have an anxious and worrying heart.  Rest in the knowledge that He knows- He knows where you are at, what you desire, and how hard this waiting can truly be.

A year has gone by and my dark season has passed.  I stand in glorious light this Advent as I recognize all the grace Jesus has bestowed upon me.  I am not a perfect person now, but I do stand here, miles away from all of the pain and hurt of last year.  I have traveled mountains with Christ beside me. He has brought me to a new season of hope, a new season of trust.  He has worked through my friends and family, people who care for me and support me. He has blessed me with a new job of teaching the faith to children each day, with a genuinely holy and humble man beside me. This new season has been a testament to the faithfulness of God’s patience, goodness, and love. My spiritual director, who has seen me at my worst and loved me the same, said to me, “God always wants to give us more than our little brains and hearts could ever dream up.” Nothing has been more true. God has taken my worrying and waiting and been faithful to His promise of bringing good out of the bad. He has been faithful in making the most ugly, sinful, and destroyed situations into beauty.

I challenge you this Advent, to do the opposite of what I did last year.  I challenge you to wait in hope and in trust. Emmanuel means “God with us”. I challenge you to truly believe that the Incarnate God is with you. He is not far from you.  He did not leave you to face whatever season of life you are in on your own. He will not leave you here forever.  No matter what season you are currently in today at this exact moment, I challenge you to make an act of faith. To simply pray:

“Jesus, You are my hope.”

“Jesus, I trust in You.”

“Jesus, You are faithful to Your promises.”


Wait in confidence. Wait in hope. Wait in trust.  He is faithful through and through.

Briana is a Catholic Doctrine teacher at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel school in Cleveland, OH. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to bring her students closer to Christ and His Church. “My soul has been refined and I can raise my head like a flower after a storm.” -St. Therese

A Voice Has Cried Out in the Wilderness

Possibly some of the most stirring words of the Hebrew Bible are found in today’s first reading. A voice has cried out—in the wilderness—to prepare the way of the Lord, to make smooth his path, to see the glory of the Lord revealed.

A voice has cried out in the wilderness.

Isaiah is very specific about what this wilderness looks like, and it’s not pretty: it is, in his words, a “wasteland.” There are deep valleys and craggy mountains, rugged land and rough country. And it is into this wilderness that the voice is announcing what is to come, that the Lord is on his way.

It’s a little unexpected, isn’t it? Perhaps it might have been more efficient for God to choose one of the middle east’s great cosmopolitan centers from which to make the announcement. But just as Bethlehem—the end result of this passage’s prophecy—is a surprising place for a Messiah to be born, so too is the wilderness a startling venue for sending a message. It’s not exactly where a modern marketer would launch a campaign.

A voice has cried out in the wilderness.

It is a singular truth and singular irony that prophets’ voices are rarely listened to by their contemporaries. In that sense, it’s not so far a leap to look elsewhere for a corollary to the wilderness of Judah that Isaiah describes—to look, in fact, inside ourselves. The voice that cries to make ready the way of the Lord isn’t just talking about preparing a people for the coming of Christ; it’s about preparing a person. Me. You.

The promise of Advent is inherent in these words. “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.” The tremendous gift of Christ himself, something unimaginable in human terms, is coming. The wilderness that is our lives, our problems, our mistakes, our anxieties, is transformed by the promise given by the voice crying out in that wilderness, crying out through the darkness of our sin. Something is coming… and a new age is about to begin.

Advent is that between-time, when we have heard the promise of Good News, but it has not yet arrived. We know it shall; every rock, every crag is singing with the promise. But… not yet.

The voice asks us to prepare, and that’s precisely what Advent entails. Not just the preparation of cleaning and decorating our homes, purchasing gifts, making special meals, but the hidden inner preparation of our hearts and minds and souls. What are you doing to make ready the way of the Lord? How can you make straight his path in your life, in your work, your family, your heart?

Advent is a time of joy, but it’s also a time of penitence. That’s something we don’t always remember, and this passage from Isaiah reminds us of it. We can be comforted in knowing that the Lord is coming, but we also often take it for granted. It happens every year, after all!

I wonder what Advent and Christmas would be like if we took seriously Isaiah’s admonition to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts. Can we add any prayer time to our busy lives? Can we make almsgiving—charity—the primary gift that we give this season? Can we fast as we do in Lent so that we can slow down and be at one with a season of penitence and preparation?

A voice has cried out in the wilderness. Are we listening?

Jeannette de Beauvoir works in the digital department of Pauline Books & Media as marketing copywriter and editor. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, where she studied with Adian Kavanagh, OSB, she is particularly interested in liturgics and Church history.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the memorial of Saint Juan Diego, who Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to at the Hill of Tepeyac, near present day Mexico City. We will celebrate this great feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe next Tuesday, but for now it would be helpful to recall what Saint Juan Diego said to Our Lady. In her first appearance to Juan Diego, she asked him to go to Bishop Zumarraga and request that a church be built on Tepeyac Hill. He delivered this message to the Bishop who was reasonably skeptical, and so simply dismissed Juan Diego. One can imagine the great disappointment that the humble and poor man experienced when he was denied. When he returned to the hill, and Mary appeared to him again, he made a plea to her:

I beg you, my Lady, Queen, my Beloved Maiden, to have one of the nobles who are held in esteem, one who is known, respected, honored, (have him) carry, take your dear breath, your dear word, so that he will be believed.

Juan Diego wanted so badly to do Mary’s will, but he felt like he was incapable of such an awesome task. Juan Diego thought he wasn’t enough. That he was too poor, too humble, too unimportant. But Mary reassures him:

I have no lack of servants, of messengers, to whom I can give the task of carrying my breath, my word, so that they carry out my will. But it is very necessary that you personally go and plead…

Mary tells him that he is enough. That even a poor and weak man like him can do the will of God. He obeys and after some persistence and additional assistance from Mary, he is finally able to convince Bishop Zumarraga of Our Lady’s appearance.

We hear echoes of this theme in today’s readings. The prophet Isaiah says, “The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst” (Is 30:20). Likewise, today’s Psalm says that “The Lord sustains the lowly” (Ps 147:7). The Lord will provide for us even if we believe ourselves insufficient or unqualified messengers of his love. Why is that? Why would the Lord entrust Saint Juan Diego with such an important message? Why does he entrust us with his message of salvation for our families and coworkers? It is because God longs for more for his people. It is because God loves us. In today’s Gospel, we hear that Jesus had pity on the crowds, “because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 10:36).

We live in a world that needs a shepherd. A world that needs a savior. Jesus calls us to be “laborers for his harvest” because “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” (Mt 10:37-28) This seems like a tall task, but we must recall that the Lord will provide for us. For evidence of God’s faithfulness, we need look no further than Saint Juan Diego, who was able to carry out God’s mission in a very special way. Thanks to Saint Juan Diego’s openness to Our Lady and God’s work, today Tepeyac Hill is the 3rd most visited sacred site in the world, with over 20 Million pilgrims each year. Saint Juan Diego shows us that even in our poverty and our weakness, we can be God’s messengers to the world.

Saint Juan Diego, Pray for us.

Noah is a seminarian for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI. He received his Bachelors degree in finance and economics from Grand Valley State University. He has a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother and his favorite Saint is St. John Paul II.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Today is not only a feast day on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, but a Solemnity – the top of the feast day hierarchy in the Roman Rite. Like Christmas and Easter, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is also a holy day of obligation where all Catholics center their joy (Lat. – festes) in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is also one of the very few solemnities (Lat. – solet, annus; “yearly celebration”) on the Universal Calendar with a fixed date (e.g., Dec. 8) each year.

Clearly this is a special day, but what is so special about this day that it is placed right smack in the middle of Advent and only two weeks before Christmas? What is the Church, our Mother and Teacher, calling to our attention as we wait with expectant hope for the birth of our Lord and Savior? Why should we care?

All Solemnities are Christological, meaning, they call special attention to Jesus Christ either directly or indirectly through Mary or the saints. The Marian days – Mother of God, Annunciation, Assumption, Immaculate Conception – are no exception. As with Mary herself, these Marian Solemnities take their dignity from, and direct us to, Christ himself.

Two peculiar things challenge us, however, with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The first is that is refers to the conception of Mary not Jesus. That point has not only stumped every CCD or RCIA student, but arguably every adult since 1854, the year of Pope Pius IX’s dogmatic proclamation in Ineffabilis Deus:


“The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”


Admittedly, the title alone – Immaculate Conception – does seem to speak to the incredible event of God becoming man – the Incarnation – in the womb of a seemingly unremarkable, ordinary virgin woman. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, so the Immaculate Conception must celebrate the conception of Christ, right?

Here, you well-catechized readers shout “No!”. But, a more nuanced answer would be, “Not exactly…” – begging the question of our second challenge: How and why was Mary conceived without sin in the womb of her mother Anne?

As one of the precious few dogmatic beliefs of the Catholic Faith, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception must be believed by every faithful Catholic. Therefore, our first principle is that this is no longer a matter of proving or convincing, but of our faith seeking understanding. Our posture is like Mary herself questioning the angel Gabriel (“How can this be since I do not know man?”), not Zechariah (“How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”). So, how can this be, and why?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church answers this directly, quoting the Second Vatican Council in Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution of the Church):

To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role (munus).” CCC 490; LG 56

It is the work of God, and God alone. By particular grace of God, He made Mary full of grace at the moment of her creation. Keep in mind that the conception of every human person is the direct action of God, specifically the work of the Holy Spirit whom we proclaim every Sunday as “…the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.” Therefore, the particular, singular grace of Mary’s conception was not the participation of God in her creation, but


“The ‘splendor of an entirely unique holiness’ by which Mary is ‘enriched from the first moment of her conception’ comes wholly from Christ: she is ‘redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.’ The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person ‘in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’ and chose her ‘in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.’” CCC 492


Mary was conceived without sin for her munus (Lat. – gift, role, task, mission, vocation, high office, high honor) as the Mother of God.

In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. CCC 490

The dignity (worth, value) of this munus included the ineffable grace of being the first new creation in Christ. With Christ as the new Adam, Mary is the new Eve: the true mother of all the living. We are the living. She is our Mother (“Here is your mother”, John 19:27). “Death through Eve, life through Mary.” (LG 56). What had kept us bound is now unloosed! In the words of St. Irenaus:

“And so, the knot of Eve’s disobedience received its unloosing through the obedience of Mary; for what Eve, a virgin, bound by incredulity, that Mary, a virgin, unloosed by faith.”

So, what is so special about this day that is placed right smack in the middle of Advent and only two weeks before Christmas?

On this day, we celebrate the reality of our inheritance. With awe, wonder, and fascination we celebrate one who has already received what we hope for: eternal life, fullness of grace, and fullness of joy! Alleluia! What we long for has already been done for our Mother.

May the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception prepare and encourage our fiat:Let it be done to me according to your Word!” Amen.

Damon Owens is the executive director of joytob ( and served as the first executive director of the Theology of the Body Institute near Philadelphia. He lives in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia with his wife Melanie and their children – including their “true image of Mary” Veronica Mary celebrates her birthday each year on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception!

How the Power of God’s Word Can Change Your Life

The miserable young man felt hopeless. Despite his talents and promising career, his life was a mess. He was drawn to God but resisted, because he didn’t want to give up his sin. He was addicted to lust. Sitting in a garden one day, pouring out his heart in prayer, he suddenly heard what seemed like the voice of a child chanting in Latin, “Tolle, lege!” “Take and read!” Picking up the closest book, a Bible, the young man read, “Let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:13-14). Shaken, that was all Augustine needed to read. Those words took hold of him completely and he went through with his conversion. He not only became a great saint, but also one of the most brilliant theologians and Doctors of the Church.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus has just finished the Sermon on the Mount. He tells us, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock” (Mt 7:24). All of us have heard God’s word. It comes to us in many ways: through the Scriptures, preaching, inspirations in our heart, the encouragement of friends. But how well do we listen? Just because we’ve heard it doesn’t mean we will put it into practice. Advent is a time to grow in our spiritual life. It starts with listening to God’s Word, but our Advent will only bear fruit to the extent we put that Word into practice.

Advent is not some kind of self-improvement program, however, like a new diet or exercise regimen. Those have their value, but as Christians we have a great advantage. Jesus, our Teacher, lives in our hearts through grace. When we read his words in the Gospel, it’s not like reading some ancient sage’s advice on how to live. No, Jesus is teaching us how to become holy. He is alive! Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, who speaks to each of us as our Teacher. And he has also sent his Holy Spirit into our hearts. The Spirit gives us light to understand, and special grace to strengthen us to be holy. The Word we receive has the power to change us. It’s the Rock on which we can build our lives so that when the floods and storms come, we can survive it all.

The first week of Advent is almost over. If you haven’t done so yet, take a little time in prayer to listen to what Jesus is telling you. We usually have one thing in our lives that we should focus on, the one thing that’s most important for us right now. That one thing is whatever will most help us grow in our lives as disciples of Jesus. It could be something big, like Augustine had to face. Or it could be something that seems smaller, but is blocking us from growing in Christ. Focus on that one thing. Don’t try to do too many things, because in the end nothing will happen. Build your life on the Rock that is the Word of Jesus, our Teacher who lives in us and imprints his Word on our hearts.

Copyright 2017 Daughters of Saint Paul

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve’ has been a member of the Daughters of Saint Paul since 1976. She has an MA in theology from the University of Dayton and has served on the editorial staff of Pauline Books & Media for over 20 years. She is the author of several books, including Mary: Help in Hard Times and Angels: Help from on High. When she’s not writing, editing, or working on logic puzzles, she can be found blogging at

Advent: a banquet for the soul

Thanksgiving in the convent is pretty amazing. Sometimes the stereotype of religious sisters is that they are solemn, serious, and strict, but in my experience, religious sisters carry within them a deep joy that simply bubbles over when there is an occasion like Thanksgiving to celebrate.

The thing that Jesus does most often in the Gospel accounts is to share a meal with others. Jesus must have grown up really enjoying his daily meals with Mary and Joseph. I am sure Mary was a good cook, but with their simple lifestyle the meals couldn’t have been fancy. I think it was the shared communion around the meal that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph must have cherished. In keeping with the Jewish tradition (as in Psalm 23), Jesus also uses the image of a feast several times to describe the kingdom of God.

Given this background, Matthew’s description of a thrown-together, last-minute, potluck-kind-of-picnic in today’s Gospel reading (Mt. 15:29-37) has multiple layers of meaning for us, especially during Advent when we are in a time of preparation for the eternal banquet with God.

  • Out of compassion, Jesus performs a miracle by feeding thousands of people with just a few fish and a few loaves of bread.
  • Jesus worked this miracle with what people brought with them—a few loaves of bread and a few fish, and through the disciples, who passed the bread and fish out to the crowds.
  • The miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fish is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist, which is the closest we can come to heaven here on earth.
  • The abundance of the bread, the satisfaction of all present, are a foreshadowing of the abundance of heaven.

A meal is a place where everyone shares the fulfillment of two common human needs: to be physically nourished and to belong to a family or community by sharing food and drink together. Jesus feeds everyone in that crowd, whether they believe him or not, whether they accept him or not. ALL are fed, ALL are satisfied.


In this account of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, I also see an account of the kind of Advent I want to have:

1) I enter the Advent season needy, hungry, and wounded. Sin has deformed my life—both my own sin and that of others. Perhaps I have misused the power of speech with unkind words; perhaps I am stuck in a bad habit and, spiritually lame, cannot move forward; perhaps I have been betrayed by a loved one, and I struggle to forgive.

Whether we are wounded by others’ sins, our own, or both, none of us come whole to Jesus.

2) I take the risk of going out to a deserted place to meet Jesus, who welcomes me as I am. Jesus is moved with compassion for my neediness. In his great love, he invites me to stay with him. And he offers to heal me in the way that I most need healing at this time.

3) I seek to stay with Jesus—perhaps by praying with the Word of God, perhaps by going to Mass and Communion more often. In staying with him, I give our relationship an opportunity to grow deeper and stronger. And Jesus, never outdone in generosity, strengthens me with exactly what I need (even if I don’t know it), especially in his Word and in the Eucharist.

4) Truly and deeply nourished by my encounter with Jesus, I share that nourishment and joy with those around me. Together, we become a little more prepared for the eternal banquet of heaven.


We are already well into the first week of Advent. If we come to Jesus as we are, if we trust him and tell him what is weighing most on our hearts, if we ask him to heal and nourish us, our loving Shepherd will bless us this Advent in ways more abundant and gracious than we can imagine.


Copyright © 2017 Daughters of St. Paul.

Sister Marie Paul Curley entered the Daughters of Saint Paul when she was a teenager. A published author, Sr. Marie Paul invites others to encounter Christ’s love in the rapidly-developing digital culture. You can find her online at:

Where’s the Cranberry sauce!! Creating Family Traditions

This Thanksgiving as the adults were finishing the last preparations for our Feast, my brother-n-law called out, “hey, where’s the cranberry sauce?” To which all of us sisters crinkled our faces and stated, “that tradition is long gone!” The conversation then turned to all of the food traditions that have come and gone over the years and who was responsible for their removal. The conversation ended in laughter and satisfaction as we looked over the spread of food we were about to Consume.

In our reading today, Isaiah 11:10 says, “On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the peoples—Him the nations will seek out; his dwelling shall be glorious.”

For many, family traditions provide a source of identity, a connection to our relatives and to our Catholic Christian values, and of course strengthen our familial bonds. The Advent Season is a good time to slow down and take time to renew old traditions or begin a new one.

The Jesse tree helps us connect the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the events leading to Jesus’ birth. It helps us to build joy and anticipation in this time of waiting. The Jesse tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of King David. We adorn a Jesse tree with illustrated ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments of the Jesse tree tell the story of God in the Old Testament, connecting the Advent season with the faithfulness of God across four thousand years of history.

For several years our Children adorned our little red Jesse tree, with laminated ornaments they colored themselves. We gathered in the evening just before bed to read Scripture and remind ourselves of the lineage of our Lord. It was a beautiful tradition.

Our Children are getting older so we decided our Jesse Tree should grow with them. Check out our new family Jesse tree We created our tree again with help from our Children. The Scriptures and activities in each of the envelopes help us grow in our understanding and love for our Beautiful Catholic Faith and strengthen our family Bond! If you have a family tradition, maybe its time to spruce it up! If you have yet to create some Advent traditions, it’s not too late. Click here to get ideas for your family Jesse tree.

Andrea Perry is a Project Coordinator for myParish app at Diocesan. Andrea has worked at the Parish Level in Youth Ministry and Adult Faith Enrichment for the past 8 years. She joined the Diocesan team in 2017. As a project Coordinator, Andrea desires to bring the Word of God to others through modern means of social communication, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Advent: A Time to Remember

One year ago, today, as I watched snow fall down on my windshield, I was a perfect concoction of nervous and excited. I remember the brief instance of cold as I walked out of my car and then the wave of warmth as I entered that little coffee shop on Drake Road. Little did I know that this first date would be with my future wife.

Nathalie and I are now engaged and I love to look back on that day and the plans God had for us and how they have started to become part of our beautiful history. Anniversaries give us a chance to look back on how we started, the journey so far, and the anticipation for the many blessings to come.

It’s no different when we celebrate the anniversary of the coming of Christ, Christmas. I’m sure you have heard at some point in your life, possibly CCD class or confirmation, that Jesus came to earth to die for your sins, and that is true. But I think Jesus also came for another reason. I like to tell people that God became man not only to redeem us, but to remind us of who we are.

Think about it, God made human beings as his most incredible masterpiece. We can look around at creation and see the most immense beauty, and this beauty can’t help but draw us to the Creator. But of all the beauty of creation, the only creation that was made in the image and likeness of God is… That’s right, YOU!

Human beings are the crown of creation, the very heart of God molded into a masterpiece from the dust of the ground and formed with the breath of life. This is why Pope John Paul II said,

The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible, the spiritual and divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the invisible mystery hidden in God from time immemorial, and thus to be a sign of it” (Theology of the Body, 19:4).


A terrible injustice has been done because we no longer speak of or look at the human body in these terms. Often, we are tempted to use other human beings instead of seeing them as an image of God. It doesn’t take much more than a glance at the news to see that our world is fallen and broken and at times there doesn’t seem to be much hope. We would rather claim ourselves as a fallen humanity because it is easier to admit we are fallen than it is to rise above.

But hope was born into the world over 2,000 years ago not only to redeem us and our fallen world, but to remind us of who we are as sons and daughters of God. Through the incarnation, we have a model of love. So, next time you are tempted to despair at all the evil and brokenness in the world, remember that little baby who was born into the poverty of humanity. That little child who reached right into our brokenness and not only healed us to remind us of how we were created, but allowed us to go beyond our original state into the perfection of our final state in heaven, perfectly happy with God in a wedding feast that will never end.

As we prepare for this anniversary of Christmas, let’s remember to thank God for how He originally created us, do penance for the many sins we have committed that have made us fall, and finally rest in His mercy and love as we await the joyful hope of heaven, all thanks to that little child born in a manger. Happy Advent and from all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!


“The heritage of our hearts is deeper than the sinfulness inherited” (Theology of the Body, 46).

As Diocesan Publications’ Solutions Evangelist, Tommy is committed to showing parish and diocesan staffs how to use our communication tools to their best advantage.  He has worked for years in various, youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. As an expert on Catholic communication, Tommy uses his parish and diocesan experiences to help you make your ministry effective. To bring Tommy to your parish or for general inquiry, contact him at or find him online at

Copyright © 2017 Diocesan.

Advent: poetry for the spiritual life

When I was little, one of my older sisters lent me a tiny book of lines from Shakespeare’s sonnets. Dazzled by their brilliance, insight into human nature, and eloquence, I decided I would be a poet!

My dream of writing poetry didn’t last long, but I remember well the favorite poem I wrote during my “poetry phase.”  It was about my sister’s golden hair. I loved that poem—but now I realize that it was not so much about the poem itself. Rather, I loved how writing the poem enabled me to see the unique golden quality of the blond hair of another of my sisters. To this day, I have never seen anyone else with hair that exquisite golden color.

Like all the arts, poetry has an ever-more important role in our rapid-paced culture: to help us to stop long enough to really see something as it is.


In the Gospel for this very first Sunday of Advent (Mk. 13:33-37), which sets the tone for the rest of Advent, Jesus repeats the injunction to “watch” at least three times: “Watch!” “Be watchful!” “Be vigilant.” He really doesn’t want us to be caught sleeping, or unaware, or off-guard. Who (or what) is Jesus telling us—even warning us—not to miss? The “master of the house” — the Lord— when he comes.


Advent is a season of expectation for one of the most startling, unexpected, and heart-rending events ever: the coming of the almighty Word of God into the world as a vulnerable Baby. Advent is a season for artists, poets, musicians, and theater to express humanity’s deepest longing: for the Universal Lover who descends from unapproachable heights to be with the Beloved.

Yet, what is the logic of Advent? The Infant God-Child has grown up and the Second (Final) Coming of the Lord will happen at the end of time (most likely not within the next four weeks). How can we live these words of Jesus this Advent? What (or Whom) are we looking for?

We look for the coming of the Word of God into our here and now.

Advent, nature, and our Catholic Christian tradition each give us ways to look anew for the faithful presence of God in our lives, in our world, and most especially, in others and in ourselves. The expectant tension of Advent—which is so short—helps us to stop and pay attention. By looking deeper, by noticing details, by seeking the “essence” of things, we can see and hear the Word of God coming to us today: the same Word of God who has put his mark on every creature and his image in every person. What Word is God speaking to us, to you and to me, this Advent?

My favorite Advent poet, Christina Rossetti, offers us one possible answer.  Rossetti wrote the lovely popular poem, “A Christmas Carol.” She also wrote a short, eight-line poem-prayer that asks God to grant the spirit of attentiveness that Jesus wants for us. What is one practice we can take on to “stay awake” this Advent?


‘Judge not according to the appearance’

By Christina Rossetti

Lord, purge our eyes to see

Within the seed a tree,

Within the glowing egg a bird,

Within the shroud a butterfly:


Till taught by such, we see

Beyond all creatures Thee,

And hearken for Thy tender word,

And hear it, ‘Fear not: it is I.’

Sister Marie Paul Curley entered the Daughters of Saint Paul when she was a teenager. A published author, Sr. Marie Paul invites others to encounter Christ’s love in the rapidly-developing digital culture. You can find her online at:


Copyright © 2017 Daughters of St. Paul.

Care of Creation

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Sometimes it can feel like God is not near to us when we pray. We all know what that feels like. But the two most important aspects of prayer, I believe, are honesty and consistency. We should always be honest with God and no matter how we feel in the moment we should approach God with consistency. Even if we do not feel God, we can be sure that He is there and He still loves us.

As Diocesan Publications’ Solutions Evangelist, Tommy is committed to showing parish and diocesan staffs how to use our communication tools to their best advantage.  He has worked for years in various, youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. As an expert on Catholic communication, Tommy uses his parish and diocesan experiences to help you make your ministry effective. To bring Tommy to your parish or for general inquiry, contact him at

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As Diocesan Publications’ Solutions 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 topics such as the Sacraments, chastity, and boldly living the Catholic faith.  Tommy Shultz also served as director of youth and young adult ministries for the Diocese of Baker, OR.