And I Saw Water Flowing Out

If you have ever entertained the thought that you can hide your deeds from the Lord, as you do from your fellow men, you are sorely mistaken! 

How easy it must have been for the merchants in the temple area to fall into the practice of making money off of sincere worshipers coming to the temple. After all, the people needed these things to make their worship acceptable to God, did they not? Why not be the ones to provide the means to fulfill the mandates of sacrificial law. And, so what if they make a profit from it? Why indeed! Why shouldn’t you, then, be the one to profit from providing what people want, or think they need. Someone will anyway, so why not you! 

The “money changers” in the temple felt justified to profit from what people needed to have to fulfill their temple worship obligations. Do you, at times, do the same? Let’s change the picture of the “money changers” to those in our modern-day, who profit from the needs of others: physical, emotional, spiritual. 

Look to your heart to see if in some small (or perhaps significant) way you profit from another person’s gift, talents, or needs; another’s friendship or love; another’s fear or loneliness; another’s willingness to give of himself. Or look to the pride you might have because someone looks up to you, and you relish being of influence. Is it for the good of their soul, and yours, or because you crave power? Once you start down that slippery slope of false reasoning, the gray that governs your actions becomes a blind spot. You sometimes can no longer see that what you do is harmful. You can find so many justifications! Such was the case of the “money changers” in today’s Gospel. To them, it was justified. They couldn’t see how far hey had sunk into the sin of corruption. 

Ask yourself if the alluring power of sin has clouded your judgment so that you can no longer tell where you stepped off the path of righteousness. We can probably reason that the money changers started in good faith, but then it got out of hand, turning a “service” to the people into corruption, and sacrilegious use of sacred ground. Don’t let this happen to you. 

Ezekiel gives us today, also, one of my favorite “pictures” into the heart of God. Grace in the form of water spilling from all sides of the temple, making the seawater fresh and the ground fertile. Life will be abundant; fruit trees will grow bearing fruit; their leaves shall not fade or their fruit fall. The fruit shall serve as food and their leaves as medicine. 

You should be that temple! If you aren’t yet, then stand in the water flowing from the side of Christ to bless and nourish you. Let Christ gently turn the money changer in you out of your heart and return that space to hallowed ground –sacred space for him to dwell in communion with you. And he doesn’t have to wait outside the door until you have perfectly dusted the spaces. He’ll come in now and help you with the chore. 

God Bless.

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

The Case of the Fruitless Fig Tree

A few years back, in one of his homilies, my pastor made a point concerning vice and virtue. Although I don’t recall the exact words he used, the gist of the message was this: vice, by its nature, does not need the grace of God to grow. Vice does very well all by itself, with no assistance. Most of us have no problem giving in to our vices (sins, bad habits, whatever you want to call them). On the other hand, we find it hard to live a virtuous life. Virtue needs God’s grace to grow, because, by our nature, we find it difficult. It has been so since the days of Eden when humanity chose not to trust in God, but rather to take our lives into our own hands with the encouragement of the one who leads us astray, to this very day. And here we are! 

Our life’s journey challenges us. We are challenged to examine what it means to live a virtuous life by examining the virtues themselves. 

Today’s Gospel gives us the parable of the fruitless fig tree, ready to be cut down and burned because it had been fruitless for years, using up valuable resources. The gardener pleaded with the owner of the garden to wait one more year, to allow him to fertilize the tree further, with the hope that it will soon bear fruit and be useful. Is it our time to be nourished and nurtured by the Grace of God through the efforts of our gardener, Jesus? Is it our time to stretch our roots to receive the nourishment of God’s grace, and to spread our branches upward toward the Son? Feel the warmth! 

A life so nourished will begin to find that a virtuous life, although never easy, is a fruitful and satisfying life. Through the grace of God and our attention to the virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice, Fortitude, Prudence, and Temperance, it will prove worthy of the gardener’s efforts. He is tireless! 

Take a look at each virtue and how to take ownership to better our lives and the lives of those we touch. We will be challenged to look more deeply into our hearts: what weakens and hinders our growth – what can make us strong. 

Take time with this parable of the fig tree. Find your place in the garden and be planted. If you recognize that you are not always bearing fruit, then be ready to be nourished and fertilized. It may not always be a pleasant process, but it will be great in the end!


Faith: The virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes we believe, because God is truth itself. By Faith, we completely commit our entire selves to God. 

Hope:  Hope goes hand in hand with Faith. By this virtue, 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. 

Fortitude: The moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and consistency in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome the obstacles in the moral life. 

Prudence: The virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it. The prudent person looks where he is going. 

Charity: The virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. 

Temperance: This virtue moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. 

Justice: The moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called “the virtue of religion.” Justice toward humanity disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. 

Perhaps some time we can explore each of these in depth. For now, ponder them and know that, like that gardener thousands of years ago, our Master Gardener, Jesus, will not give up on us. As with the fig tree, there is always hope.

God Bless.

Contact the author

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

Your Faith Will Save You

True story: many years ago, when I was in my 30s, I recall an incident on a day, which was a particularly good day for me. My work was going well and left the office feeling happy with my situation. You remember those days when everything goes well, and you are on top of the world. I decided that I would stop to pick up my favorite dinner – fried chicken – on the way home. I also recall it was a bright and beautiful sunny day. On my way out of the store and back to the car, a gentleman, obviously homeless, stopped me and asked for some money for food. Now, this is the part I remember most – I told him I didn’t have any money to spare and walked past him. Later, on reflection, I was despondent. I could have given him money; I could also have given him my meal and purchased another for myself. All these years later, this incident still haunts me because I was so full of myself.

I tell you this because of the lesson I learned all these years later: that I was not grateful enough for what I had and too selfish to share with another. When I say it still haunts me, I genuinely mean it.

Now, truthfully, I have, as I’ve grown in my faith, developed a self-program for giving back. The charities I choose to support, including the ministries that feed and clothe the hungry or provide disaster relief around the world. But for some reason, I still can’t shake this one instance of neglect. It is a recurring thorn in my side.

The story today about the ten lepers carries with it several lessons, not the least being a caution to be thankful for what we have and not to hold on to it but to give back. Another lesson is of not being judgmental of those who are not grateful to you for what you do. Can you imagine Jesus “taking back” the healing of the nine who did not return to him? He didn’t. But Jesus was sure to let the one who did return know that his gratitude was appreciated, and his faith saved him.

I have come to believe that saying “thank you” to our Lord in prayer for blessings received is not enough. I must also express that gratefulness in my actions. And not only in monetary ways but also by giving a helping hand when needed or a bit of comfort to someone grieving. These are all ways of saying, “Thank you, Lord, for what you have given me. Thank you, Lord, for my faith in you that allows me to give to others without worry about my want. Thank you, Lord, for the trust that you will always take care of me, no matter what.” These can be hard lessons to learn.

“In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

God Bless.

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

Searching for Jesus

I love a good detective story. I love courtroom drama, especially those with numerous twists and turns in the plotline, and I especially love surprise endings. I’m usually pretty good at guessing outcomes, but I relish the surprise when the author stumps me with an end I didn’t see coming.

It seems, in today’s Gospel, that Herod was doing a little “detecting” himself. “’ Who then is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he kept trying to see him.” Herod was stumped, asking everyone who this man is and hearing replies like “John has been raised from the dead,” or “Elijah has appeared.”, or “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
Herod knew none of that could be true. Elijah and the prophets were long gone, and Herod himself beheaded John, so who is this man who performs miracles and speaks the words that are catching people’s attention? He had a mystery on his hands.

Each day we do the same thing. We seek the one about whom we hear such things. Sometimes I think the Gospels, especially the words of Jesus, present us this mystery to unravel. What do these words mean? How do these words impact my life? Why must I – should I – listen? Can it make a difference? Like Herod, so many questions. But unlike Herod, we have answers.

In the wisdom of the Church to incorporate the Scriptures into our worship at Mass (the three- year Sunday cycle and the two- year daily cycle cover almost all of Scripture!), we have the opportunity to have Jesus’ words before us always. Part of the excellent mystery of it all is that Jesus’ words will change in meaning for each of us as we grow older and experience his teachings in light of our growing maturity and experience and, hopefully, our increasing wisdom. We listen; we see the stories come alive in our mind’s eye; we ponder; we learn and occasionally, the find a surprise ending we didn’t see coming — a change in the spiritual outlook on our lives and a clear direction as to where we should go. Whether we follow that direction every time or not will become part of the mystery. But the author of these words will continually spark our interest in searching for our ending.

Herod was looking for “this man” for all the wrong reasons. He had guilt to assuage for his deeds but wasn’t looking for forgiveness. Herod was looking to rid the world of the one who could accuse him and hold him accountable for those despicable deeds. The sad thing about Herod’s search is that, in light of his miserable life, he could not recognize nor appreciate the surprise ending – our Lords resurrection and guarantee of eternal life. Herod was much too grounded in the things of this earth.

“I am the way, and the truth and the life says the Lord.” Here’s the mystery; here is the truth sought in the mystery; the path to solving the mystery and the eternal life gained once the story comes to an end.

God Bless.

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

Recognize- Then Count- Your Blessings

I chose this specific date for a reason. For several reasons, really. Can anyone live September 11th each year without recounting the events of the Twin Towers? Today is also my Father’s birthday. He would have been 94 today. And one year ago today I injured my leg. It is still not completely healed and gives me some pain and discomfort when walking. Dates are important to us, and specific dates will cause us to remember events: some happy, some sad, some tragic. I track many things on my Google calendar, especially when those I’ve loved have died, so at least on that day each year I will not only remember to pray for their souls but will revel in the joy these folks brought to my life. March 10th for me is another special date. It is the day I took my Mom’s cat to live with me. It was just two weeks before Mom died. Her Sophie has been a comfort and a remembrance of my Mom and a little piece of her still with me. All the events of our lives are important in one way or another.

Everything that happens in our lives, all these events, can be viewed as either a blessing or a curse. It depends on how we live out our Faith as to how we are affected. Often we curse events, but later realize that somewhere in the pain and sorrow we find blessing. Easy to do with the good things that happen, not so easy with the painful.

Jesus, today, delivers a lecture about who is blessed and who is cursed. How do we understand his words? Blessed are you who are poor – really? – yours is the Kingdom of God; blessed are you who are hungry – really? – you will be satisfied, and blessed are you who are weeping – really? – you will someday laugh. How is the man standing on the street corner begging for shelter blessed? Or the person who is hungry for food or spiritual understanding, or the woman weeping for her loss or lack of security?

And conversely, to you who are rich or filled or who laugh now. Woe to you. How? How can that be? You are cursed if you take the blessings you have been given and keep them selfishly to yourself, and not realize that these “good things” of the earth were given you to then give to others. The poor man is blessed because you helped to provide meals and a place to sleep; those who are weeping will be blessed because you gave comfort and empathy and a realization that they do not have to journey alone. And if you are hated and excluded because you boldly proclaim Jesus? Are you blessed? Yes! You will someday find Jesus standing on his promise to deliver you from all the pain when you share his joy in heaven.

This is the paradox of Christianity. Be humbled here on earth, even if you have riches, and you will rejoice. Those without riches on this earth, who bear the hardship with faith and hope in Our Lord, and with our assistance, will reap the rewards of heaven where every tear is wiped away.

I pray that as you recount the events of your life, among them will be the days you realized that the Lord has given you good things even among the tragedies. I pray that of the days you will mark on your calendar of life, among them will be the days you helped another to go from weeping to laughing, hunger to fulfillment, sorrow to joy and faithfulness to the Lord to the rewards of heaven.

“Rejoice and leap for joy! Your reward will be great in heaven. Alleluia, alleluia.” 

God Bless.

Contact the author

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

A Blueprint for Love

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I’m going to guess that most of you reading this post today believe you have the first and greatest commandment down pat. Love God. It’s the “with all our heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” part that I question. I also question it in myself. Is my love for God whole? Or are parts of me still holding back? I ask because if we truly did love God wholly, do we really need the second commandment? Think about it. Perhaps it depends on our definition of what it means to love wholly. But this will not be the focus of today’s reflection.

Instead, let’s look at “The Greatest Commandment, Part II.” Or, the Sequel. Love of neighbor. For this, I’d like to offer you a blueprint for love of neighbor, one that I’ve used often in prayer and when delving into my understanding of how to love others. I hope this will help you also:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”   -1 Corinthians 13:1:7

There – the blueprint. The road map. What I most like about using this passage in my journey to loving others is that I can take baby steps. The first part reminds us that loving is more important than anything else we do. But the second part – this part lets us take those small steps. We can pick this apart and work on each of our shortcomings.

Perhaps we can start with patience if that is your downfall. Maybe it’s arrogance or irritability. Rudeness is a big one; jealousy, or perhaps too much rejoicing when someone you dislike experiences hard times. Are we happy in that? Or can we instead say a prayer for that person to help them? You must know that if you have not yet moved forward in your efforts to love, it cannot be done all at once. Dissect the blueprint. Pick one step and take the time necessary to improve this act of love. You may have to bite your tongue along the way. Try not to! But if you do, step back a bit on the road and look just ahead of you. What could you have done differently? Then, step forward and try again. Each time, with practice, should be easier. One – step – at – a – time!

Note that Jesus says we must love our neighbor, but often, I am asked how to define a neighbor. Well, look up from your phone and texting and social media and glance around you. You will find no shortage of neighbors to love. Whatever their race, creed, ideology, nationality, age, sexual orientation, body type or hair color — these are your neighbors. These are the folks you are commanded to love. Jesus also said that we should love these neighbors as we love ourselves. Love of self must be in the likeness of Jesus’ love for us, not in self-centeredness. Understanding how Jesus loves you will move you forward on our journey to loving your neighbor. Then, perhaps one day, who knows when our love of neighbor will also include those enemies whose only goal is to destroy us. An outlandish idea? Not in the eyes of Jesus. Yes, perhaps one day! Perhaps —

God Bless.

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

Take up your Cross with a Smile

Last week Friday I was positive about the direction this post would take, based on today’s readings. I love the Deuteronomy reading when Moses, almost chiding the Israelites about the wonders they had seen; the wonders God performed for them to bring them out of Egypt and to freedom. The Israelites did not always appreciate it.

And then we have today’s Gospel about taking up your cross and following Christ. We are told that this is the way to gain eternal life in the Kingdom, regardless of what we gain here on earth.

Yup! I really thought I had this down. Until this past Saturday, when I attended the funeral of my friend and neighbor, Bob. Bob and his wife Ann live next to me in my condo complex (so close that we cannot open our condo doors at the same time!). I’d call over there, and Bob would ask if I was calling “long-distance”, or if I was visiting, he’d ask if I needed a ride home. It always made me smile. I’ve known them for years, but there is always more to learn about someone’s story.

My original instincts for today was to take the route through the Gospel that, while carrying our own crosses in life, big or small, we would ease our own burdens by somehow easing the burdens of another. And, quite frankly, that is exactly what Bob did all his life. He made people smile. And that made people happy. And that would if only for a few short moments, make life a bit more bearable for some.

Now, I’m not a social media person. I don’t have a Facebook page. Bob had one. I now feel a bit cheated that I was not connected to him in this way, also. Because all I heard at the funeral was about how Bob’s page made people smile. Often he would tell me that he was going to “check on his peeps.”  We were all Bob’s Peeps. He posted his corny Dad Jokes, as he called them; every day he would in some way wish everyone a good whatever day it was. He loved Wednesdays, Hump Day. His Facebook page was called “If You Grew Up in Grand Rapids/Kent County You Remember” – and it had 23,000 followers. Yes, 23,000! People he would never meet or get to know. But they knew Bob.

He wore smiley face suspenders and considered the smiley face his family crest! Now come-on, you’ve just got to smile at that!

Bob was 72 when he died last week. His last few years were hard ones because of medical issues and complications thereof. But he always tried to put on a happy face when with others. I don’t recall him ever really complaining about his health, but to occasionally mention that walking was getting harder. According to Ann, he was even cracking jokes to the doctors when he was having toes amputated due to diabetes. I expect the smile put on the faces of the doctors also made their job easier.

The point of all of this is that we can, no matter what cross life has given us to bear, make the cross borne by others easier to bear. It often doesn’t take much: a smile, a joke, a warm handshake, or a hug.

God Bless.

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

Through the Tears

“Jesus said ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?’”

I love these words from today’s gospel. I imagine these words being said in the most gentle and comforting way. Jesus to Mary Magdalene…”Why are you weeping?”

I’ve always felt close to Mary Magdalene. Her feast day today is celebrated the day after my birthday. Note that it is no longer a Memorial on the liturgical calendar. Mary has been elevated to the status of the Apostles with her own Feast Day. How appropriate for the woman who had the privilege of being the first to see Jesus after his resurrection, though she didn’t at first recognize him. Through her tears, her overwhelming grief at not being able to properly prepare his body for burial after the Sabbath, thinking he has been moved. Through her tears she could not see that the man, whom she mistook for a gardener,  was her Lord. Through her tears, it was only in the gentle and comforting words of Jesus speaking her name, “Mary!”, that she was able to see that it was him. Let’s add to our reflection the power of our spoken name in times of sorrow.

I don’t believe there is one person reading this today who has not experienced some profound loss, in some form or other. Grief and weeping come as part of the healing, but only after the anger at the loss. The tears often will hide something from our view. That something is the realization that life will continue after the grief and laughter will return. I like to think of the tears as a cleansing of the eyes to allow us to see more clearly, not only what is to come, but also that Jesus himself is there, walking with us through our sorrow.

Some years ago, I was experiencing a very emotionally trying time. As was my habit, I visited my good priest friend, Fr. Donn (now passed), for some comfort and guidance. I recall him saying to me, “ You will get through this.” I asked how. He answered that when the hurt comes, don’t hide it or try to bury it. Let the tears come – let them flow. They will give you comfort, and Jesus will show you the way out. I’ve never forgotten that advice, and it has served me well.

For Mary, her tears first blinded her to what was just before her, unrecognizable. As with us, we will often be blinded by our tears and sorrow to what is right before us. But as with Mary, those tears will dry, and joy will return. Should you not have a Fr. Donn to lean on as I did, find someone who can help. But also, don’t forget that Jesus is right there for you. Pray for him to call your name to let you know he is holding out his hand for you to take the first steps out of your grief.

And then, with May, we can joyfully exclaim to all we meet, “I have seen the Lord!”

God Bless.

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

Just Ask

Genesis gives us the graphic, if not also cryptic, story of Jacob wrestling with God. And much to our surprise, Jacob prevails. And once again, as we have seen before in the Scriptures, God changes a name to make note of the changes of an “old self” to a “new self.” Abram became Abraham; Sarai became Sarah, and Jacob became Israel. There is so much to this story that we could take the day to pick it apart and try to make some sense of it and what it means for our lives today.

It is accepted that the “man” Jacob wrestled with was God, in human form. At morning when God wanted to end the struggle, Jacob said “no”, not until God gave him a blessing. Some might say this was quite an arrogant request, asking for a blessing. It reminds me of when Abraham argued with God over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. “Will you not spare the cities for the sake of fifty righteous people”? …then forty-five…then forty…then thirty…and finally for ten righteous people. Abraham dared to continue to argue with God for these folks and we could ask how Abraham could be so arrogant while in the presence of God.

But don’t we do the same thing? Don’t we sometimes show our arrogance in the things we ask for in prayer, whether directly to God the Father, or to Jesus, or to the Holy Spirit? After all, who are we to ask for such things? Who are we to think that God, in his almighty, omnipotent personhood would listen to us? Pause and take a breath. Yes, we will ask. And, yes, God will listen.

I like to think that Jacob, in asking for a blessing (in spite of being left weak and slightly crippled by the encounter), knew enough of the goodness of God, and God’s love for his creation, that the blessing would be granted. God will do the same for us.

Think back, recent or long past, when you have struggled with your spiritual self, looking for support, and yes, a blessing to get through a tough time in your life. Did you survive? Did you even recognize the blessing? Often, we don’t. And then, it will be years later when pondering our lives that we will see that the blessing was there all along, and only now being manifested. I know I can. I look at where I am today, after the twists and turns of my life, my family, my career, and my relationships, and see how God has guided me to this place. It is in our prayer and relationship with God and his Son that we will eventually see that the good things, in spite of the hard knocks of life, have brought us to a better place spiritually.

The blessings we dare to ask for should not be for riches or gain of any kind. These blessings will be for the heart; for the soul that longs to be in communion with its creator and God. Our asking is not arrogant on our part, nor is it weak. It is, rather, a humble acknowledgment that God is in charge, and we should have nothing about which to worry. Oh, we will worry. But worry will eventually pass as we flee to the peaceful and strong arms of our God, of our Savior, and to the Spirit who will bolster our spirits and give us courage.

It is in this fleeing that we will see the face of God. We will see the face of God and reap a blessing beyond anything the world can give. It is ours only for the asking.

God Bless.

Contact the author

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

He Remembers Forever His Covenant, which He Made Binding for a Thousand Generations

Can you even fathom a thousand generations? By today’s standard of 20-25 years per generation, we would go back, from today, 20,000 to 25,000 years. Calendars didn’t even exist then, to mark the years as we do today. Let’s just agree it is a very long time. By God’s standard, it is an eternity.

God made covenants with Abram, Noah, and others. An unbreakable promise of fidelity. Today we enter in “contracts” of many kinds: credit card company terms; a mortgage on our house; contracts between two parties to collaborate on an issue; employment terms or simply promises made — and on and on. So, what’s the big deal.

Here’s the big deal – a promise made or a contract broken is one person to another. I break my contract with you, and you either forget the contract or sue me for breach. God, on the other hand, will not! That is the nature of covenant. I forget to love and honor others, or to obey his precepts; he does not forget us. God cannot and will not, break his promises to us, regardless of careless attention to our part of the deal.

The covenant God made with Abram was profound. Abram’s name will be changed to Abraham to signify that something different is happening and Abraham will have descendants as numerous as the stars. All from one son who will be born to him and Sarah (Sarai) in their very old age.

Today, we celebrate the New Covenant given us by Jesus with the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The old covenant given by God (the sacrifice of bulls & other animals) is replaced with something more precious, the sacrifice of his Son. Jesus’ own body and blood for our spiritual food. His own! And again, though we constantly sin, constantly ignore what is good for us, Jesus does not forget us! His covenant is binding to a thousand generations. How small, how insignificant our own lifetimes in comparison.

You may recall that the covenant with Noah was sealed by a bow – a rainbow in the sky – a promise that God will never again destroy humankind in such a way. Whether or not you believe the story of the great flood literally, or figuratively, doesn’t matter. God made a covenant promise that will stand forever. And Jesus will never, no matter what we do, withdraw the great gift of himself given as the New Covenant.

Sometime last year, I recall, backing out of my garage and turning to drive from the parking area. As I turned the car, there in front of me, in the early morning sky, was the largest, most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen. It was so vibrant and seemed so close; I thought I could reach out my car window and touch it. I was so excited! It was gorgeous. I tried to call my neighbor to look out to see it, but I fumbled because I didn’t want to lose sight of the rainbow before it faded.

Every time I see a rainbow, I am mindful of the great promises of God and his fidelity to us. I believe this phenomenon of nature was designed to do just that. To help us to remember the great love of God and his Son for we simple, humble beings. How could we not be excited?

God Bless.

Contact the author

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

A Thousand Points of Light

Does anyone remember this quote from President George H.W. Bush:

“For we are a nation of communities, of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnic, religious, social, business, labor union, neighborhood, regional and other organizations, all of them varied, voluntary and unique. This is America … a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” — Aug. 18, 1988

I often think of these words whenever I hear the Gospel about having to be the light of the world; about having to put my light upon a lampstand so that it will shine to all who come near; about having to let others see my good deeds so that they will glorify the heavenly Father. Oh my, such a burden you and I bear.

The word “light” is found in the bible 146 times in the Old Testament, and 58 in the New Testament. Not all references are as profound as that of today’s Gospel, but they were important references. We are also salt; “salt of the earth” you’ve heard many times. Salt was a precious commodity in ancient times. Often, wages were paid in salt rather than money. It was needed that much.

These statements of Jesus are integral to our lives as Christians. These statements pretty much sum up who we are and how we are to live our lives as Christians. I would believe that if we take to heart that we as “salt” can transform another the same as the way salt will transform the taste of food, much would be accomplished. I would also believe that if we take to heart that we are “light”, and live as a light to the world, we will transform others who come to see our light and come to know the Lord.

This is a lot to live up to. We can very easily fall into the trap of not wanting the light because of all it will reveal about us. The same as sunlight through a window shows us all the dust in our homes, so does the light of the Lord shining on us show us the “dust” of sin in our hearts. We often don’t want to see, but we must. You can close off your heart all you want, but the Lord is determined to transform you so that you can transform others, and that light will find the smallest crack in your defenses and will begin to permeate your life. And onward it goes.

I’d like to look, once again, at President Bush’s quote and change it a bit.

“For we are a Church, of thousands and tens of thousands of ethnicities, of men and women, of neighborhoods, social, business, regional and other, all of them varied, and unique. This is our Church — a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky. And hopefully, someday, a broad and peaceful world for the Lord.”

Go forth and be salt. Go forth and be light!

God Bless.

Contact the author

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

Listen to the Mourning Dove

Most mornings, I awake to the sound of mourning doves on my deck rail. They come around several times a day. Their mournful cooing sound is soothing and relaxing to me. But I have to admit that sometimes I’ve thought they are not a very smart bird. And they look a bit funny. The head never seems to be the right size for the body. However, they give me pleasure in watching them, hearing them, as well as listening to my cat chirp back at them because the doves are “invading her space.”

Do you know the symbolism of the dove? Although usually attributed to the white doves we see as symbols of love at weddings and the Holy Spirit in spiritual depictions, the mourning dove stands for new beginnings and high expectations, deliverance. In fact, the states of Michigan and Wisconsin regard the mourning dove as the official state symbol of peace! These birds represent peace of the most profound kind and are said to soothe and quiet our worried and troubled thoughts, enabling us to find renewal in the silence of the mind.

Today Jesus tells the disciples that he is going; their hearts will be filled with grief. But one is coming, the Advocate, the Comforter, who will show them truth and righteousness. The prince, ruler of the world (Satan) has been condemned. We must believe, and we must listen to the Spirit to know the truth. The Gospel refrain says it all: “I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord; and he will guide you to all truth.”

You will be hearing a lot in the next few weeks, leading up to Pentecost, about the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. But I would like you to know this – without mindful peace, silence of the heart, and trust in the Lord and the Spirit, we cannot begin to hear the truth as Jesus wants us to. It takes effort to quiet oneself to hear, as much as we must keep our mouths shut and minds open to listen to what someone else is saying to us. It’s not always easy, as our minds tend to begin to formulate answers or arguments before the other stops speaking. We miss a lot.

I find my self-control, whenever I can, when I hear the mourning doves coo. For me, they are a tangible sign of the Spirit, and their sound calms me so that I can hear what the Spirit is saying. I need to know the truth, even when I don’t want to know the truth. Such is the dilemma of the human heart.

The next time you hear a mourning dove, stop for a bit and remember what it represents for you: new beginnings and great expectations; deliverance, comfort, deep peace, truth and a quiet heart.

God Bless.

Contact the author

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