Where Do You Put Your Faith?

We tend to think that material wealth can solve all of our problems, but the trials of everyday life are not resolved with money. In order to build lasting spiritual fortitude to weather the storms of life, we need God. We have to realize that money isn’t everything. 

Naaman thought that money could cure him of his infirmity. That makes me question what kind of god he put his faith in. The God of money or the one true God? We shouldn’t hold onto money as if it were everything. We need God in our lives and we should thirst for our Creator every single day.

A few days ago, I lost my dad. The doctors did everything they could to save him but God had a path for him. I had no choice but to accept the will of God. I never lost faith. In this situation, money wouldn’t have helped anything. Life continues on with God at my side in every moment.

What are the things you continue to hold onto? What could God be calling you to let go of this Lent? Are you holding on to money, possessions, control, negativity, heartache or a grudge? Are you holding on to the health of yourself or a loved one and refusing to accept a diagnosis? What would it take for you to truly let go in order to hold fast to the God who loves you?

God is the only one that can solve all of life’s quandaries. Will you let Him?

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Felix Urcia was born in Lima, Peru. He emigrated the U.S. to complete his college degree in Computer Science at Northern Kentucky University. He is passionate about his faith, his family, education and soccer. When he is not homeschooling and caring for his young children he enjoys personal programing projects and participating in a biweekly soccer talk show. He and wife live in a small town in Western Michigan where they enjoy spending time outdoors with their boys.

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He Understands Us Well

I’m always amazed when I read Scripture. I can read the same passage 20 times, then the 21st time something that I barely noticed in the past strikes me as meaningful.

Today, it was the end of the Gospel passage struck me for the first time: 

“He knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He Himself understood it well.”

It seems a bit strange to include this in the Gospel. It seems obvious that God Incarnate should understand the nature of His own creation, yet I think we need to be reminded of this often.

How often do people complain about “the rules” of Christianity, particularly Catholicism? Yet these “rules,” God’s laws, come from God’s complete understanding of our human nature and what we need. Just as any loving parent, God gives us boundaries for our wellbeing, even though they may seem to spoil our fun.

So many people misunderstand God’s law, seeing it as “foolishness” or “a stumbling block.” When we come to know and love God better, though, we start to see His laws as wise and loving. We can then echo the sentiments of the psalmist, see God’s law not as a burden, but as precious and sweet.

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J.M. Pallas has had a lifelong love of Scriptures. When she is not busy with her vocation as a wife and mother to her “1 Samuel 1” son, or her vocation as a public health educator, you may find her at her parish women’s bible study, affectionately known as “The Bible Chicks.”

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Return To God-His Arms Await You

I come from a family of exaggerators. (Did you notice I didn’t say “a long line of exaggerators”? See! I’m working on it! ☺) Anyway, we love to tell stories, look for a reaction, get a good laugh out of someone. It would not be uncommon for you to hear something like: “Did you see that?! There were like 50,000 birds on that line!” When really there may have been 50, tops. Or “I was laughing so hard I almost fell off my chair!” When really we just had ourselves a hearty guffaw. 

Isn’t it interesting how our human nature has us seeking attention so often. I, for one, love drama. I enjoy giving lengthy explanations of how I’ve suffered, who has wronged me or how off that person was when they said this or made that decision. It all has to be scandalous. “Oh my goodness! Can you believe it?!”

Now most of this exaggeration is done innocently, in good fun, but in the end, it isn’t completely truthful, is it? That is something I have decided to work on this Lent, sins of the tongue. How often do I complain, criticize, blow out of proportion, look for attention when I could just grin and bear it? 

One year I gave up complaining for Lent, and let me tell you, I spent a lot of time in silence! This year, I have decided to target criticism. Why do I feel the need to talk about others as if they were wrong? Does that mean I am always right? Do I really think I’m always right? Well…maybe… but deep down, I know that’s not true. I have my faults and shortcomings just like anyone else. And if I think I am better than others, that is prideful. 

In the end I am no better than the Pharisees who were grumbling to Jesus in today’s Gospel saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Not only were they criticizing Jesus’ actions and the sinners themselves, they were also revealing their jealousy. They wanted a bit of Jesus’ attention too, and they weren’t getting it, so they began to whine. 

Jesus goes on to share with them one of the most beautiful and beloved parables in the Bible, the Prodigal Son. The Father does not focus on the fact that he was treated as if he was already dead when his son asked for his inheritance. He does not focus on the fact that he was abandoned by his child in favor of a life of sinful pleasure-seeking. He does not focus on the fact that his son only came crawling back when he was in dire need. No. His only concern was that he had returned. “This son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.” He was not angry, he did not chide, he simply welcomed him home. I can only imagine how his eyes must have filled with tears and his heart swelled with joy.

And the good news is that this kind of joyous welcome belongs to each and every one of us when we return to God. Whether you also struggle with sins of the tongue or something completely different, God’s arms are always open in order to enclose you in a loving embrace. 

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

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Rejection is often a difficult pill to swallow. At some point in life, everyone experiences rejection. Maybe it was from your high school sweetheart, a boss or job interview gone sour, your coveted university, a parent or significant adult figure. The list goes on. Some rejections are minor injuries. They sting in the moment but we bounce back, healing quickly with a good lesson learned. Other rejections cut more deeply, their wounds can fester and push against healing salves. These wounds can shape who we are, or at least our perception of who we are.

The Gospel today is a challenging one. Jesus’ parable of the master and the unruly tenants pushes us to look closely at our own lives. When God reaches out to us, are we receptive to His summons, or do we behave like the tenants? 

Jesus is utilizing this parable to teach multiple lessons. It’s about our relationship with the master, God the Father. It’s about obedience to the call of the Kingdom, to be productive workers within God’s good order. It’s about opening the Kingdom of God to all people, not just the chosen people of Israel. Significantly, it is also about Jesus’ own person and His role in the story of salvation. Jesus is the son that was slain, Jesus is the stone which the builders rejected. 

As Lent continues, we struggle to keep pace with our Lenten fasts. These fasts, these rejections, serve a number of purposes. Fasting teaches us self discipline. A well chosen fast will highlight areas of our life that we are clinging too tightly to. Fasting is also the conscious choice to reject something because we see that rejection can have a higher purpose as it draws us closer to God.

As it happens, there are two sides to rejection. There is rejection which wounds, but there can also be rejection which heals and brings growth. When Jesus died on the cross, He took the rejection handed to Him by humanity and flipped it over. Through His wounds, life springs forth and healing becomes possible between us and our Creator. We are called to a similar view. When we feel rejection, we can let the wound fester or we can look for the other side of the coin. When we choose to reject, we should look carefully at whether we are causing injury to ourselves or others, or finding a way to promote healing and growth.

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

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The Lesson at the Gate

This Gospel story shares about Lazarus, a poor man resting at the gate of the rich man, who is longing for the scraps from the rich person’s excess. Despite his intense need, the owner of the home ignores him and fails to offer even the smallest consolation. Just a small act of kindness could have a significant impact on this poor man, yet the rich man takes no notice.

Jesus tells us that, “when the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham”, while the rich man was condemned to hell.  He makes it abundantly clear that when God gives us opportunities to help others we are expected to act.  Often, these opportunities aren’t even that difficult or challenging, as was the case of the poor man resting in the rich man’s very doorway.  He didn’t even have to leave his own house; that person in need of assistance was right in front of him, sitting on his front steps! Jesus is pointing out that often what we need to do is right in front of us; it doesn’t require a lot of thought or effort, merely a desire to serve and love others. 

Jesus goes on to recount how the rich man, who upon his death was suffering in hell, thought of his brothers and longed for the chance to warn them so they would have a chance for salvation. Often, we hope and pray for miracles or divine intervention for those we love so they might experience greater faith, but do we consider how our actions and how we treat people may be the exact witness to the Gospel they need to see in order to fully embrace it?  Jesus leaves us with the powerful words, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”  May we not only seek to have faith ourselves, but put it into action in our lives each day when opportunities present themselves in order to be a witness to others.

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

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Set Free

Lent is well underway, with today being the second Wednesday of this holy season. Typically, it’s the time that I usually catch myself slipping on my intentions for the season as well. This year I’m working on fasting from cynicism, snarkiness and complaining (csc).

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m trying to treat csc as the hunter’s snare or a path that causes another person pain, injury or unjust persecution. I’m trying to catch myself before I act on those thoughts, either in my mind or out loud, spoken or typed, in public or private.

It is a struggle, to be sure, but not an unusual one. In the reading from Jeremiah, the people of Judah and Jerusalem look to ‘destroy him by his own tongue…carefully note his every word.’ The Psalm takes this issue up by referring to ‘the snare they set for me.’

‘God himself will set me free from the hunter’s snare,’ is prayed every morning and evening in the Liturgy of the Hours during Lent. It reminds me that I must turn to God to help me avoid the traps and situations which can lead me into a bad or sinful choice.

I must remember that Jesus, the Son of Man, my God and my all, came to earth and gave his life as a ransom, a sacrifice for me and for the whole world. He was ransomed so I, so you, can be set free.

Today is the feast of St. Katharine Drexel She is a great example of setting aside the trappings of this world (including wealth and comfort in high society) to work for racial and social justice, especially for Native Americans and African Americans.

Pray with me these words of St. Katharine ‘Mother’ Drexel as the path of this Lenten journey continues.

“Teach me to know your Son intimately, to love Him ardently, and to follow Him closely.

It is a lesson we all need – to let alone the things that do not concern us. He has other ways for others to follow Him; all do not go by the same path. It is for each of us to learn the path by which He requires us to follow Him and to follow Him in that path.

The patient and humble endurance of the cross – whatever nature it may be – is the highest work we have to do.” Amen.

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Beth Price 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 bprice@diocesan.com.

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Practice What You Preach

Practice what you preach, it seems super basic doesn’t it? Well so is eating healthy and many of us don’t do that. So is sleeping enough but then midnight comes around and we are still up watching this or that show. Some of the simplest things in the world can be the things we struggle with the most. That was certainly the case for the scribes and the Pharisees in the Gospel today. Preaching for them was an easy thing. They knew the law, they knew the word of God, they knew how to talk about it, and they had status and power in their communities to do so, the hard part was to put what they preached into practice. This is where they ultimately failed. 

I always give the Pharisees a really hard time. I look at them in the Gospels and think, “How could they be so stupid?” The son of God is literally walking amongst them, the One they have been waiting for, and instead of throwing a massive celebration, they are suspicious. Suspicious to the point of turning him in and playing a role in his very death. They had one job to do. Preach the word of God and prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah. Well the Messiah came and they themselves weren’t ready, so how could they possibly prepare the way? 

So I look at them and give them a super hard time, and then I know that gaze needs to immediately turn and focus on myself. Something I believe I have been gifted with is an ability to give talks and engage a crowd. I love speaking to large groups of people about the faith. When you do this over and over and the audiences start growing it can be very easy to slip into the mentality of the Pharisees. Your “job” so to speak becomes helping others with their spiritual lives, and not caring so much about yours. I remember a time I was giving a talk on prayer for a Diocesan retreat once and halfway through the talk I realized I hadn’t prayed in a long time. Now, I worked for the Diocese so I was praying a lot for work, but I wasn’t personally reaching out to the Lord. 

This was a wake up call for me. Hopefully this blog post is the same wake up call for all of us. Do we practice what we preach? You might work at a Diocese or parish. Do you go to Mass as much as you are able? I know I need to work on this. I could swing daily Mass every single day, but other things pile up. The point here is not to feel bad about ourselves and wallow in self-pity. The point is just to ask, what more can we do to practice what we preach? 

Jesus had some harsh words for the Pharisees because they knew the law and didn’t follow it. Let’s pray for the grace to know the law and follow the One who came to set us free. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless! 

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Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

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The Command to Forgive

Forgiveness is one of the most amazing gifts God has given us. Yet, forgiveness is a gift we struggle to bestow on others. 

In the Gospel of Luke today, Jesus teaches His disciples that they should not judge or condemn others, lest they be judged or condemned themselves. Further, He teaches that, if we want to be forgiven, we must forgive.

It’s difficult to forgive others when they hurt us, especially if they’re not actually sorry. Yet, because of the beauty of the sacrament of reconciliation, we know how it feels to be forgiven. Even though we may sometimes feel like we are unworthy of forgiveness, God teaches us that that is never true. When we reach out to Him in sorrow, and when we humble ourselves and admit we fell short of following His commandments, He opens His arms and offers us His forgiveness.

That is what He wants us to do for others. 

But even though we know the immense relief of being forgiven, we often find it hard to forgive. Christ teaches that holding on to hurt and anger destroys us. With each bitter thought and each moment spent on withholding forgiveness, we lose a piece of ourselves. The hurt and pain eat us up inside, and resentment keeps us from growing as Christians. God wants more than that for us. 

However, He understands that forgiveness often comes in stages. There is no magic wand we can wave to take away our pain or anger. That is why prayer and listening to His words must be integral parts of our lives. That is why He gives us holy men and women as examples. 

Throughout the Bible, we see beautiful stories of forgiveness. We know the story of the Prodigal Son, whose father rejoiced when he came home. We know that one of the greatest evangelizers in the Bible was first a man who persecuted and murdered Christians. And we know that Christ asked His Father to forgive those who crucified Him.

They were all forgiven!

When we feel that we cannot forgive someone who has wronged us, we must ask God to help us let go of our hurt. And we must keep asking for His help and guidance until we can truly forgive. When we do forgive, we are acting in the person of Christ and giving a precious gift—to both the person who wronged us and to ourselves. That is what God wants for us. That is what will lead us to eternal life with Him.

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

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A Transfiguration of Body and Soul

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear the story of Christ’s transfiguration on Mt. Tabor. Jesus brings his inner circle of followers, Peter, James, and John, with him as He heads up the mountain to pray. Then, before their eyes, Jesus Christ is transfigured, and they behold the glorified Body of Christ, a foreshadowing of the resurrection that is to come. They behold the risen Christ, but they are also given a glimpse of the eternal life they too will receive at the end of time. 

As they watch, Moses and Elijah appear before them. According to Scripture, Elijah was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot, body and soul. And according to one Jewish tradition, Moses was assumed into heaven, body and soul, upon his death. So it’s appropriate that these are the two figures who appear with Christ at the transfiguration. They behold the splendor of the risen Christ and the promise of the resurrection of the body at the end of time. 

But Christ is not a mere mortal whose flesh has been transfigured. He is God made flesh, and as Peter, James, and John witness the transfiguration of Christ, they experience the desire to hold on to this moment. They beg Jesus to permit them to build three tents on the mountain so that they might remain with Jesus Christ, Moses, and Elijah. The Lord is the fulfillment of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) of the Old Testament, the Old Covenant. The three apostles are in the presence of the New Covenant that is to come, and like any spiritual high, they do not want to leave. But Christ instead sends them down the mountain and back into the world. 

We might not have had the opportunity to behold the transfigured or risen Christ in the flesh with our own eyes, but we all know what that spiritual high feels like. We have all had our “mountaintop” experiences of God- on retreat, in Eucharistic adoration, or during the Mass. We have all felt that desire to remain, to rest in the presence of Christ. And the need for rest is real. We need to be spiritually nourished, filled with the Spirit. But we are not meant to remain. We can’t build tents on the mountaintop. We are called to descend, to receive Christ so that we can bring Him out into the world. We are filled up so that we can be emptied out. 

The Eucharist is our fuel. It is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC #1324). It is at the core of our faith and is our mountaintop experience. But we don’t receive Christ to hold Him within us, in the dark recesses of our soul. He comes into us to give us the courage and strength to go out, to be the light of the world. When we receive Him, we are transfigured. Our clothes might not become dazzling white, but our souls do. Our faces might not shine, but hopefully when people look into our faces, they see the face of Christ shining out. Christ was transfigured, and we are all called to be transformed by Christ, to become like Christ ourselves. That is the fundamental Christian mission and the vocation we were given in Baptism. That is our transfiguration. 

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Shannon Whitmore currently lives in northwestern Virginia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, John and Felicity. When she is not caring for her children, Shannon enjoys writing for her blog, Love in the Little Things, reading fiction, and freelance writing. She has experience serving in the areas of youth ministry, religious education, sacramental preparation, and marriage enrichment.

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Salvific Suffering

Here we are. We’ve made it through the first week and half of Lent already. Have these past ten days been as rough for you as they have for me? UGH! I could share sob stories about countless hours put into renovating our house only to find renters who didn’t pay and then threatened to sue us. I could moan about how tired I am being unexpectedly pregnant at the ripe old age of 41. I could pour out my tears to God about my father, and then my father-in-law being hospitalized with life-threatening illnesses. I could explain to you how I didn’t sleep most of the night because I was worried about my son’s upcoming surgery…. 

There are seasons in life where we definitely feel overwhelmed, as if 20 baseballs were thrown at us all at once and we can’t catch a single one. But the thing is, we ALL go through these seasons. I think it is safe to say that not one of us has floated through life on a cloud without a single hardship. I also think it is safe to say that many of you have suffered far more hardships than I have. 

Lent is a perfect time to embrace these hardships and allow them to unite us ever closer to our Lord. During last weekend’s homily, our Pastor reminded us of St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Salvifici Doloris”, regarding salvific suffering.

The encyclical states: “suffering is the undergoing of evil before which man shudders. He says: ‘let it pass from me’, just as Christ says in Gethsemane.” What a profoundly human statement! Just reading this, I exclaim “Yes! God understands me!” It goes on to say: “Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.” So although profoundly human, Christ has elevated it to a supernatural level.

“As a result of Christ’s salvific work, man exists on earth with the hope of eternal life and holiness. And even though the victory over sin and death achieved by Christ in his Cross and Resurrection does not abolish temporal suffering from human life, nor free from suffering the whole historical dimension of human existence, it nevertheless throws a new light upon this dimension and upon every suffering: the light of salvation.”  

“In the Second Letter to the Corinthians the Apostle writes: ‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh …. knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus’(58).”

So whether your sufferings be numerous and burdensome, or relatively few and far between, may today’s Scriptures remind us that as long as we follow God’s commands we will be blessed. We suffer now but we will be redeemed!

May the rest of your Lent be full of salvific suffering that unites you more intimately with our Lord. 

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

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Hope in the Lord

The Psalm today ends with the line “My soul has hoped in the Lord.” What does it mean to have hope?

We use the word hope in many different ways throughout our day. We could hope that the pizza we ordered is delivered on time. We could hope that we get the promotion at work. Or we could hope that the weather cooperates so we can enjoy a day outside.

But the Catholic Church sees hope as more than that. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.” It goes on to say: “The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.”

Wow! When we read that, we can’t help but feel encouraged. Hope is so much more than a wish or a desire.

When we put it in a theological perspective, we understand that hope is what will lead us to Christ. Yet we see also that hope requires action on our part. We can’t just hope that we get to heaven and then sit back and not work toward attaining it. Further, we must allow God to work through us. As the Catechism says, hope as a virtue takes that innate desire for happiness and purifies it, or makes it good, so that any resultant desire or action will glorify God, thereby leading us to Him.

It is our hope in Christ that convinces us that He walks with us through our trials, that He carries us in times of extreme difficulty, and that He will never leave us. It is our hope that tells us there is something more than our lives here on earth. It is our hope that tells us that, even though our lives may be complicated or even when we experience personal tragedies, Christ loves us and wants us for all eternity. Imagine that! He wants us! We can’t help but rejoice in that knowledge!

We need this hope today! Divisions within the country and even divisions within the Church can drain us. Like a dried-out sponge that needs liquid to fulfill its sponge-like nature, we crave a nourishment that will enliven us and make us new. That nourishment is our Lord.

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

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Persistence In Prayer

We hear in today’s reading and Gospel about the importance of not just prayer, but persistence in prayer. Queen Esther spends the day praying to God for help in freeing her enslaved people, the Jews.  She is described as being in “mortal anguish” as she lay on the ground begging God to give her the right words. This passage is just the beginning of a much longer prayer but in it we see elements of a perfect prayer. She begins by praising and blessing God. She knows he is the God of her forefathers and that he answers prayers. She acknowledges – twice – that she is alone and dependent on God. She approaches him with humility and faith in his good will. 

Then she asks God for what she desires – help in saving her people from death. Her husband, the king and his chief minister were planning to kill all the Jews in the empire. Being Jewish herself, Esther couldn’t let this happen and knew she was in a position to help but she didn’t know how. So she turned to God fully believing that as he had saved the Jews in the past, he would do so again. She knew that it would be him working through her that would save them.

Today’s Gospel follows the theme of persistence in prayer. Jesus exhorts us to ask, seek, and knock. He assures us we will receive and draws the parallel of God as our father. If we as sinful people, would grant our own children’s request, so much more will the perfect Almighty Father give good things to us. Jesus assures us all we need to do is ask him. 

We can be bold in approaching the Father because Jesus came to earth to restore our broken relationship with God. He is the door to our Father; he is the Way. God is not an unreachable deity in the sky who sits dispassionately in judgment. Rather he is a loving Father who desires good for us. Does this mean we can ask for and receive a money tree for our backyard or anything else equally silly? No. What it means is that we can go to Him in prayer, praising him, thanking him, and knowing he sees us and hears us. With our faithful hearts we believe that while we may not get what we think we want, we will get what God knows we need and that is always perfect. 

We are blessed to be the children of a Father who will not be outdone in generosity. When we go to him, whether it is in sorrow, fear, confusion, or anxiety, we are assured that he is with us and will give us what we need to continue to grow more in love with him. 

Contact the author

Merridith Frediani’s perfect day includes prayer, writing, unrushed morning coffee, reading, tending to dahlias, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids.  She loves finding God in the silly and ordinary.  She writes for Ascension Press, Catholic Mom, and her local Catholic Herald in Milwaukee. Her first book Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Eucharistic Adoration is expected to be released summer 2021. You can reach her at merridith.frediani@gmail.com

Feature Image Credit: waldryano, https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-praying-prayer-faith-1932952/