The Face of Truth

Truth, noun, the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality.

Here we have a nice, neat, clinical definition of Truth. Something based in fact or reality. I’ve lived a fairly long time. I’ve seen the “truth” of things change over the years. Facts that once were a given as actually true are now skewed by the changing norms of society, especially special interest groups. Things taught to us as truth by the Church, are today under attack as archaic and obsolete. I believe I need not have to go into a detailed list of what we hear each day, in our relationships, on the news or in TV shows and movies. Society has moved away from seeking the truth of things in the most authoritative of places, and instead, are formulating for itself what the truth is, by listening to today’s false prophets. As Christians, it is a tough world to live in. Lent, especially, brings us back to this reality, as each year we dedicate 40 days to renewing our faith and returning to God.

So, what do we do? Where do we turn? How does the truth, as taught to us by Jesus Christ, again become a timely reality in our lives? How indeed? Well, we look squarely into the Face of Truth, Jesus, and start slowly whittling away at that which erodes our faith in all he teaches.

All of this comes from one of the great lines of today’s Gospel, which many of us quote:  “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And I’ll bet each of us can pinpoint at least once in our lives when we adhered to the truth and realized how much freedom we can experience, in mind, heart and spirit. I recall when I was newly divorced, in my early 30’s, and living by the adage given most women in the 70s and 80s, “you can have it all.” I tried that for a bit. I was miserable. Relationships either fell apart or were destructive. My work and all else I did suffered because I was a slave to the “sin” of wanting to have it all, now, when and how I wanted it. I did not, in any way, rely on the good timing and good things God had in mind for me. After all, what did God know? As it turns out – everything.

The turning point for me was when I took the position of secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert here in Grand Rapids. We had a priest in residence who was, at that time, the hospital chaplain for the Diocese—Fr. Donn Tufts. Father has since passed away. During that time at the parish, he would, every Monday morning, bring the coffee pot into my office and we’d sit for a couple of hours in deep conversation. We talked of the times, the news, personal fears as well as joys. Fr. Donn often would say things to me that nearly knocked me off my chair. He had a way of taking my troubles and pointing back to Christ, gently, yet firmly. I remember saying to him once: “Oh, %*$#%, now I have to think about this!” He would laugh. After he left to become a pastor, we continued monthly lunch meetings with great conversation, and the celebration of Reconciliation while sitting in his living room. I honestly have to say that Fr. Donn turned my life around. Not that I still don’t have much work to do, but I am farther along now than I ever thought I would be. Fr. Donn showed me the Truth and how to see it in the Face of Jesus. I often wonder if Pontius Pilot, who looked squarely into the Face of Truth, ever changed after the encounter.

I tell you all this to remind you that the Truth of Jesus Christ and his teachings are ever relevant, no matter the times. Whenever hearts are open to listening, they are changed, and lives are changed. And that Truth will truly set you free to be who you were intended, by God, to be. It comes to you sometimes with hardship and struggle, but it will come. Freedom will come. The world can swirl all around in its craziness, but you will be free.

I’ll leave you with the words Fr. Donn always said to me when we parted: “Strength and endurance!” I wish each and every one of you as you journey this Lent, “strength and endurance.”

God Bless.

Contact the Author


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


Emmanuel- God Is With Us

No, I’m not confused. I know we are approaching Easter, not Christmas. But today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the day we celebrate Gabriel’s visit to Mary telling her that God has chosen her to be the mother of his son.

Isaiah said to Ahaz: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

A long time ago I heard a homily on Christmas day that I considered one of the best Christmas homilies I’d ever heard. Of course, I can’t remember all of it, but I do remember Father saying that Christmas is the celebration of the 30 silent years of Christ’s life. The 30 silent years. The years in which we know nothing of Jesus’ life but for the nativity narratives and the brief recounting of when he was twelve, left his parents to preach in the temple, leaving them frantic. Other than that, we can only imagine that he lived a normal, uneventful life as a child, as a young man, growing up in Nazareth.

Thirty silent years – the years in which the Son of God left the trappings of his glory as God, and became one of us. The thirty years in which Jesus so immersed himself into our humanity that he could live up to the name Emmanuel – God is with us! In every way. In every happiness and sorrow; in every hurt or rejoicing. God is with us! He laughed with his friends; got into mischief; cried when hurting; helped his mother with chores; attended services and wept for friends who had died. No longer distant in the revelations of the Old Testament but here and now, with us present as the “Word made flesh.” Our God who will know and understand everything our hearts take to him because he has also experienced it. I find great comfort in this great gift. God comes to us as a man, so that we might become truly human.

The Most Reverend William McGrattan, archbishop of Peterborough, Ontario experienced something that he believes brings home to us what this gift means, the gift of God is with us. I share his words:

“When things got busy and hectic in the parish I had the habit of simply going over to the grade school to visit the kindergarten and grade one classes. This one day when I dropped into the grade one class, the teacher had gathered the children to talk about Christmas and the gifts that each of them hoped to receive. She told the children that on her lap, in a small chest, there was a gift from Jesus for each of them. They could come up one by one and look inside, but they could not tell the next classmate or speak about it until all of them had peered inside the chest to see the gift. So I watched this drama unfold, one by one the children came up to look inside and as they turned around with this look of excitement on their faces and their hands over their mouth. I saw this repeated until the teacher motioned for me to come forward and look into the chest. To my amazement, there was a mirror in the chest, and I gazed on a reflection of my face. As I turned around, there was giggling and excitement with the children. Then the teacher began to explain to them that the gift of Jesus for each of us at Christmas was that the Son of God became human like us that we might learn what it means to be human.”  (APA: | Blanchardstown Parish. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.blanchardstownparish.ie/reflection/14390

My gift to you today, as we journey Lent and approach Holy Week and Easter, is to pray you will realize in your hearts that these were real events happening to a real man, our God, who experienced it all to bring us to salvation and eternal glory. This was no small thing. And it started with the simple “yes” of a young maiden visited by an angel, to proclaim to us the Good News of Emmanuel.

God Bless.

Contact the Author


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


Bend Your Knee, Bow Your Head, and Pray

Today’s readings are packed with beauty and symbolism. But, for me, it was easy to choose which Scripture I would use. It just has to be the Gospel, when the Lord gives us his prayer.

In the beginning, Jesus tells his disciples not to babble on in prayer as do the pagans. Have you ever found yourself doing this? Trying to find either the most effective words, or perhaps too many words to express to God your desires? Or, worse yet, using these words because we are not sincere in our prayer? I used to ramble on. It seemed to me I had to go on-and-on about what I was praying for. For example: when praying for a friend who, perhaps, was suffering from an illness, I’d go on forever saying things like “Help my friend, Lord. She is suffering from cancer and needs your strength and increased faith. Help her doctors to clearly discern her situation and treatment”…and then comes the blah, blah blah extras. As I’ve aged, and I have aged, these prayers now come down to: “Dear Lord, give strength to my friend. She needs you. Your will be done.” Because I’ve also learned, as I’ve aged, that Jesus’ statement that the Father knows what we need before we ask him is very true. But that should not stop us from asking. It is as healthy for us to ask for our own spiritual well-being as it is for the person for whom we are praying. Asking God, asking Jesus, on behalf of others, strengthens our faith and confirms our reliance on his graces.

But I also wanted to share with your something about this Lord’s Prayer – I want to share with you how it has affected me over the years. Of all the prayers we learned as children, or have encountered in the books read or reflections we share, the Lord’s Prayer is the one that will bring me to tears in an instant. How often I’ve attended the funeral of a friend, family member or acquaintance, been in total control of my emotions until we pray or sing the Lord’s Prayer. It is at that point I will break down. I can’t tell you how many times during Mass if I’ve been hurting either physically or emotionally, that the Our Father will bring me to tears – to the point that I can no longer say the words out loud. What causes this? I’m not sure. It could be because Jesus gave us the most simple, most perfect prayer we could say and, for me, connects me so closely with him and God. This prayer will always bring me into the Father’s loving arms.

It was no happenstance that Jesus starts the prayer with “Our Father.” There is, I believe, a purpose to this. In our world, as well as in Jesus’ time on earth, many could not connect with the image of a father. In his great wisdom, Jesus gave us God himself, his father, as our father, and we cannot discount this. If you need a father; you have one. And, in turn, if you need a mother, Jesus also gave us his mother, Mary, to give us strength and example.

When you find yourself trying to pray, and just cannot come up with the right words, stop looking. Just say the Lord’s Prayer. It is all you need when the thoughts and words don’t come to you. God reads your heart and will know what to do with your faithful prayer.

One has to be of a certain age, and I am, to remember a wonderful singer, Perry Como. Perry was a devout Catholic and, from all I’ve learned about him, a wonderful man. He never closed any of his TV specials without singing either the Ave Maria or the Lord’s Prayer, and I believe he was the best. This was, of course, in a time when entertainers were not vilified for, or afraid of, such things. I’m sharing with you today a YouTube clip of Perry singing the Our Father from one of his shows that aired in 1957! Please, find a quiet place, close your eyes and listen. It will bring you to tears, and hopefully, closer to Your Father.

God Bless.

Contact the Author


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


Love is (Ideally) Loving Everyone

I apologize that this was not sent out yesterday. Here is the post for the readings for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. You will be receiving today’s reflection soon. God Bless!


I don’t know how you felt after hearing today’s Gospel. I was exhausted!

Listening to the words of Jesus made me tired. He is describing the ideal Christian life. He is describing exactly what he came to earth to teach us. And it is just too much!

Just too much? Ok, some of us may think so, and I know I have often thought of it as “too much.” How can anyone stand up to this way of living, of loving? Please, Lord, there must be some times when I can ignore the one who mistreats me; the one to strikes me on the cheek;  the one who takes my cloak; those who do not love me, let alone like me. And what of those who are always doing me harm? Those sinners! And those to whom I’ve lent money, only never to have it returned? And what’s this about sinners! They will also only love those who do them good or who love them.  Must I be lumped into that category?

Arrggh! It is just too much!

Now — calm down. Take a breath and, if you must, close your eyes and repeat:

Ohm….ohm…ohm.
Ok. The answer to all of this — YES! Unless you try, with all your heart, to live up to this ideal, you will be lumped into the same category you are denigrating. Because if Jesus came for nothing else, it was to show us – not just tell us – but to show us, how to live this ideal and to bring about true peace and personal happiness. It is the only way hope will be brought to the hearts of everyone who believe themselves unlovable, including you and me. It is the only way!

The next question, is, how do we accomplish this ideal way of living. First of all, we have to realize that we will never reach the ideal 100%. But we must, without fail, continue to try each day to live up to it. And to get up and continue when we fall short. It is the lack of trying that makes us a failure. It is in the continued trying that we will produce good fruit. So, how?

The final paragraph of the gospel tells us how: stop judging; stop condemning. Start forgiving and giving. Jesus promises us that our gifts will be overflowing. The graces given us to keep going will not dry up. Every day, you and I must do at least one small thing from this list to continue to grow in grace and love. Every act brings us closer to Our Lord and closer to our goal of being with him for eternity. Don’t despair at what you see going on around you. It is what you do within the chaos of this world that will begin to change the hearts of those around you, in your little part of the world.

Carry with you, besides the words of the Gospel, the words of G. K. Chesterton: “To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” 

You are the vessel that will bring love, forgiveness, faith and hope to everyone deserving – which is everyone!

God Bless.


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


Family Tree

“Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.” -Anonymous

Today’s Gospel, once again, gives us the picture of Jesus preaching to a crowd when he is told: “Your mother and our brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” Jesus, I am sure, after a short pause, points to the crowd and says “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

We’ve seen movies, documentaries, and such, that will start with a picture of earth from space (imagine yourself on the space station). Then the camera comes closer and closer to earth, eventually focusing, perhaps on the United States…then your state…then your city…then your neighborhood. Now picture the focus on your home and family. There you are!

The question that has to come to mind when visualizing this beautiful panorama, and at the same time meditating on the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel is, “just who is my family?” If we cannot come to the conclusion that all that the universe holds (perhaps the unknown “other beings” out there?), all that the world holds, all that your country, state, city, and neighborhood hold – is without a doubt – your Family, then we must pray harder for that realization.

Re-read the quote at the start of this reflection and think about the root of this tree. What is that root? It is God. God is the root of all of humanity. Whether we believe, literally, in the story of Adam and Eve, or whether we conceive something else as the creation of Man, God is still the beginning. And he will be the end. In between, we, as individuals, branch out our lives in many directions. But, still, He is the strength of the roots of that mighty tree holding us all together as one family. Man or woman, we are all of the “Family of Man” –all of one humanity.

For us Christians, we must ground ourselves in Jesus and all that he taught us. For us Christians, today, it means that we must embrace everyone we meet as family.

We must love them, help them, support and give comfort. It’s a tall order when seen through that lens of the universe. We have to believe that it starts with the love of our immediate family which will eventually affect the lives of others. Mother Teresa once wrote: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” That’s a good starting point, but it cannot end there.

Unbelievers who what to dissuade us of the importance of Jesus and God in our lives, are, ultimately, fighting a futile battle. Because we know that Jesus will prevail in the end and that God will have the final word.  Following the Way of Jesus, and the Law of God, when lived faithfully, can have only one outcome – peace, justice and love for everyone. This truth has been ”rooted” in us since our conception. We must help everyone realize this, in the lives we lead.

For – “…whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

God Bless.


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


The Eternal Light of Hope

In today’s Gospel, we have Jesus reading the Isaiah scroll in the synagogue. He finishes and boldly proclaims that he is the fulfillment of this passage. It is amazing enough that anyone remained to listen to him after that. But the Gospel goes on to say that all were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. Did you ever wonder: what were those gracious words? This recounting does not tell us. It only goes on to say that some remarked that he was the son of a carpenter, a lowly workman. But Jesus tells them that the passage is speaking of him, and all should take notice.

I thought long and hard at what these words may mean for us today, in light of our Christian Faith. Well, I’ve concluded that they are proclaiming to us the eternal light of Hope.

Can you put yourself into this passage? Are you one of the poor awaiting some glad tidings? Not just money/possession poor. Are you, perhaps, poor in faith or good works? Poor in compassion and empathy or meaning in life? Will you allow yourself to hear the glad tidings?

Are you one of the captives? Not just captivity of imprisonment, but captive to addiction, sin, lust, greed or any of the great sins. Will you allow yourself to be set free?

Are you one of the blind? Not physically blind, but blind to the need around you. Will you allow yourself to see?

Or are you one of the oppressed? Oppressed by your struggles, a bad marriage or trapped in self-centeredness. Will you allow yourself to be free of such oppression?

The Lord is proclaiming a year acceptable to the Lord. This “year” is your life, as long as it may be. And you are called to be set free of the bonds of this world, and to be steeped in the love of the Lord and his Hope for your life. Then, once you have let the Lord set you free, you become the anointed one who will bring the glad tidings, proclaim liberty, recover the sight of others and let the oppressed free. Do you see who these folks are? Can you empathize with the plight of those still struggling? You can help them.  Even in the midst of your journey to this freedom in hope, you can extend your help to others.

God’s Son is the vessel of Hope we all need for this world to be free of all that oppresses it. Hold out your hands, take His, and see the miracle of the glow of Hope that will surround you. Jesus will not let you down if your heart is open.

God Bless.


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


In Christ, All Will Be Well

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

One could have mixed feelings on today’s Feast of the Holy Innocents, the children slaughtered by Herod in an attempt to eliminate the Christ child, whom Herod believed was a threat to his throne. Herod did this out of fear and greed. He was so obsessed with the possibility that anyone might overthrow him as king of the Jews, that even a child had to be killed.

Why so much bloodshed? Not just then, perpetrated by Herod, but even today in the many children killed by famine, by dictators, by poverty and neglect, by abortion, by terrorists and gun-wielding perpetrators of our mass school shootings. These children are lost because of fear, greed, mental illness, indifference, selfishness, or pure evil.

We are just three days past the celebration of the Incarnation of our Lord. Only three days into the joyous season of Christmas when we honor this Feast of the first martyrs for Christ. In the midst of our lights, glitter, presents and family gatherings, music and dancing, scripture reminds us of such sorrow. I find the words of today’s Gospel, recounting a passage from Jeremiah, some of the most heart-wrenching words: “…and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.” It can be said of any of the situations described above.

And how do we make sense of it?

We need to remember who is in charge. God is in charge. We cannot make sense of any of the suffering of this world if we do not have faith. Faith that God will, in the end, make it all right. It may not seem like much consolation, but it is a great consolation. We don’t have to make things OK in our world or anyone else’s. We need only to live righteously, and to turn to Jesus, to intercede for us to heal our hurts and give us the strength of faith to remain strong in the truth that God is in charge, and that, in the end, he will right every wrong ever committed. That is the essence of his mercy, as well as his justice.

In this season of beauty and charm, joyous hope of peace and love, unite any hurt and pain you carry with you today; unite it with the sorrow of the loss of these little ones and take it to the Lord. Through his Incarnation, death, and Resurrection, he has given us the path to peace. In Christ, all will be well!

God Bless.


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


Give Comfort to my People

Isaiah’s beautiful passage is full of meaning. After a long and dark exile in Babylon, God directs Isaiah to tell His people that it is almost over. God will be there to expiate their sins, bring them out of captivity and “give comfort.” I love this reading.  Throughout all of human history, there have been periods of great trial. We look for comfort and do not find it. We look for a way out and do not find it. We stumble our way through life, looking for a path forward, and do not find it.

Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places.

Advent is the beautiful season of anticipation of the Lord’s coming. Have we not yet realized that this four-week season is our path out of darkness? If only we would open our eyes and see. See that the comfort we long for can be ours if we pay attention to God’s call to meet his Son and to see our way forward.

There is so much, today that I hate about Advent. It has become the season of shopping and gross consumerism. Pay attention to the ads. “The Twelve Days shopping at (name of store here).” Or, the “Twelve Gifts of Christmas at (name of store here).” We are bombarded from even before Halloween. I have disagreements with my family and friends about the real “Twelve Days of Christmas”…which should be the Evening of Dec. 24th through Epiphany. This is the Christmas Season. Not October 15th – December 25th, and then it’s all over. Trees are on the curbs; decoration disappear from the stores and our home, parties are suspended — I find this to be so sad, and personally, very troubling. Rush here, rush there; check off our list of items to be purchased; make everything equal so as not to offend anyone; outdoing each other in outdoor decorations and lights. Oh my! Where is Jesus in all of this? He is buried somewhere under the packages! And no, he will not appear to us on our doorstep in an Amazon package. Jesus must be welcomed into our hearts. Only we can make that happen.

Isaiah wants us to know that the darkness of this time of year is not lost on the date set for the celebration of the Incarnation. The long and dark days of winter are lit by the Light of Christ coming into the world. It should mean to us, if we pay attention, that our personal exiles can be ended by the comfort of the coming of Christ, here to lead us to safety. This season of anticipation also teaches us that Christ stays with us. His life from manger to grave to resurrection – or lives from birth to death to eternal glory.

If you haven’t yet started, I encourage you to begin the journey to Christmas with a heart to knowing Jesus better, to welcome him into your homes and families with the attention he deserves. Christmas will be a much more beautiful celebration for you. God loves you. He sent his Son to light your way. He gives comfort.

“The day of the Lord is near: behold, he comes to save us.”

God Bless.


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


Give Comfort to my People

Isaiah’s beautiful passage is full of meaning. After a long and dark exile in Babylon, God directs Isaiah to tell His people that it is almost over. God will be there to expiate their sins, bring them out of captivity and “give comfort.” I love this reading.  Throughout all of human history, there have been periods of great trial. We look for comfort and do not find it. We look for a way out and do not find it. We stumble our way through life, looking for a path forward, and do not find it.

Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places.

Advent is the beautiful season of anticipation of the Lord’s coming. Have we not yet realized that this four-week season is our path out of darkness? If only we would open our eyes and see. See that the comfort we long for can be ours if we pay attention to God’s call to meet his Son and to see our way forward.

There is so much, today that I hate about Advent. It has become the season of shopping and gross consumerism. Pay attention to the ads. “The Twelve Days shopping at (name of store here).” Or, the “Twelve Gifts of Christmas at (name of store here).” We are bombarded from even before Halloween. I have disagreements with my family and friends about the real “Twelve Days of Christmas”…which should be the Evening of Dec. 24th through Epiphany. This is the Christmas Season. Not October 15th – December 25th, and then it’s all over. Trees are on the curbs; decoration disappear from the stores and our home, parties are suspended — I find this to be so sad, and personally, very troubling. Rush here, rush there; check off our list of items to be purchased; make everything equal so as not to offend anyone; outdoing each other in outdoor decorations and lights. Oh my! Where is Jesus in all of this? He is buried somewhere under the packages! And no, he will not appear to us on our doorstep in an Amazon package. Jesus must be welcomed into our hearts. Only we can make that happen.

Isaiah wants us to know that the darkness of this time of year is not lost on the date set for the celebration of the Incarnation. The long and dark days of winter are lit by the Light of Christ coming into the world. It should mean to us, if we pay attention, that our personal exiles can be ended by the comfort of the coming of Christ, here to lead us to safety. This season of anticipation also teaches us that Christ stays with us. His life from manger to grave to resurrection – or lives from birth to death to eternal glory.

If you haven’t yet started, I encourage you to begin the journey to Christmas with a heart to knowing Jesus better, to welcome him into your homes and families with the attention he deserves. Christmas will be a much more beautiful celebration for you. God loves you. He sent his Son to light your way. He gives comfort.

“The day of the Lord is near: behold, he comes to save us.”

God Bless.


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


Gratitude is the Memory of the Heart

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart,” an old French proverb by Jean-Baptiste Massieu.

What a fitting thought for today, Thanksgiving Day, when all of the Scripture readings center on thankfulness and giving glory to God.

I know we’ve all heard, many times, that we should be thankful and show gratitude throughout our lives. Whether it is as simple as “thank you” for a gift received or as dramatic as the heartfelt prayer when a miracle has happened in our lives, both can be emotional experiences. And, I dare say, would impress themselves on our hearts in memory, to be often recalled for someone’s kindness, or in God’s goodness to us.

Let’s look at gratitude differently today. I know, you will be saying prayers of thanks at your table feast, and may even go around the table, each person saying that for which they are thankful. And that is a good thing, always. But what about the gratitude that is impressed on the heart, the “memory” of God, if you will? Do you believe that God is grateful for you? Do you believe that God is thankful that he created you, no matter who you are? Better yet, can you believe that God is thankful for your existence?

I won’t answer that question for you. Instead, I challenge you to ponder it today as you celebrate with family and friends. The simple concept of God being grateful for us. I am in no way suggesting that your gratitude to God for the good things in your life should be set aside, and you no longer need to praise God, but rather as an exercise in understanding his love for all of his creation. Because when you do this, you will realize that it is not just us who have simple, but good lives with family and friends around us, but rather, his love must also be realized by those who do not have the pleasures of family or a place to celebrate today. Regardless of where we are in this world, God will be grateful for having made us because the memory of us, impressed on his heart, cannot be denied. Should you need a visual reminder of this, think only of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so full and burning with love for us because his Father created us, and their capacity for love knows no bounds. No matter who you are, you have a cherished place in this world. You reside on God’s heart.

“Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD and highly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.”

-Psalm 145: 2-3


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


Every Sinner Has A Future

“Every Saint Has A Past – Every Sinner A Future”
-Oscar Wilde

Let me tell you a story I heard on NPR’s Story Corps project, which is a collection of stories taped around the United States, told by real people and archived in the Library of Congress. A snapshot, you could say, of life in the USA. This story is about a woman whose teenage son was killed by another teenager in the heat of an argument. The young man was tried as an adult and sent to prison. While in prison, he spent a lot of time reflecting on what he had done and he was convinced that he needed the forgiveness of the mother whom he left without a son. After some time in prison, he started writing to her, asking her to forgive him. But he also asked if she would come to visit him. The woman would not. She could not find it in her heart to forgive and, in spite of the encouragement of her family and friends, refused to visit him in prison. However, after much time had passed, she finally relented and set up a prison visit. She fully expected to see a young teenaged boy there. She was very much taken aback when she saw before her a man, a man showing the effects of his incarceration. No longer a child. Her heart melted, and she took him into her arms in an embrace of understanding love. In that instant, she recounted in tears; her son was back.

When the man was paroled, she was there to meet him, took him into her home and helped him to adjust and to get a job. He, in turn, took her as his mother and did all he could to help her in her aging years. Over time, he bought a house only a few blocks from hers and continued to be her friend and her “son.”

I cried when I heard this story.

“There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”

Today’s Gospel has the ever-famous story about the shepherd who would not give up looking for the one sheep separated and lost from the herd. We’ve heard this many, many times. And did you ever wonder if it was worth it for the shepherd to spend so much time, travel so far, and, we presume, neglect the rest of the herd, to find this one sheep? Did you ever wonder? Just what was so special about this sheep. Or, perhaps, what is the difference if one little coin is misplaced? It was a lot of work for the woman to deep clean her house until she found it—found it with great rejoicing.

Look at the context of today’s parables. Jesus was dining with and enjoying the company of the, supposed, sinners of the day. At least in the eyes of the Pharisees. Tax collectors! Who were they that the Rabbi should spend time with them? Yes, just who were they? In reality, they are us!

How often have we not given another person a second chance? How often have we kept people locked in the boxes of their sinful past, not willing to recognize where they are now on their road to salvation.  I dare say it happens a lot to all of us. We might even think ourselves as the righteous and forget that we, ourselves, are sinners. We don’t like being defined by our pasts but want to be seen for who we are now. Repentant, changed, and ready to move on within our families, with society at large. Re-read the parables. Jesus has forgiven, has offered us a new life. We must do the same.

I encourage you to reflect for a time today on Oscar Wilde’s quote. I’ve heard it used by Chesterton, by Thomas Merton and many other spiritual leaders when emphasizing that no one is perfect. Even the Saints struggled. But there is redemption for all available through the loving embrace of The Shepherd. Rest on his shoulders and give everyone, as well as yourself, a chance.

God Bless.


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.


Taking It To Your Grave

Let me share this quote with you. I’m paraphrasing, as I can’t remember the exact wording. See if you can guess who might have said this. Hint – it’s a famous person: “You can take all your things and stuff them into your pockets and take them to your grave. Or, you can take your stuff and do some good with it”. Think about it for a minute.

How many pairs of shoes do you have? How many purses or ties? How much is stuffing your closets to overflowing, doing no one any good because you can’t even keep track of all you have? Think of the parable of the rich man with the bountiful harvest. Instead of distributing the excess of his harvest to those in need, he built bigger barns to hold it all. Why? Because it was his!

How many of us have purchased larger homes because we outgrew the old ones because of more and more stuff; or rented storage units because our closets and garages were overflowing? When was the last time you de-cluttered and took things to the local mission, or to Goodwill or the Salvation Army?

I can answer for myself — it’s been awhile.

For what are we saving it all? A good question to ask ourselves when we can’t find what we want for the overabundance in our storage spaces. I do know that when I have given away the excess, I find I don’t miss any of it. What does that say about me? Things rule our lives. I remember someone, sometime, saying: The things you own eventually own you. How true.

Now I don’t mean to rag on anyone who has a lot. I’m sure most people work very hard for what they have and have every right to enjoy the fruits of that labor. But it can be taken to excess without any thought of others who don’t have that blessing. We must be careful and be ready to share with others.

The rich man in today’s Gospel parable says we should “…rest, eat, drink and be merry!” because of all the goods we have stored up for many years to come. Perhaps, instead, we should listen to the rather harsh and  ominous, but very true, words of Jesus: ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.

Just what does matter to God? You might re-read Matthew 25: 31-46. This section of the Gospel lays out how you store up riches for heaven. Your exercise for this week is to try to identify where you might be lacking and begin to act on Jesus’ warning. And, of those blessings, we can surely build all the extra storage barns we need in our hearts and souls to hold them all until heaven beckons.

Now, back to the quote at the top of this reflection. It was by Hoda Kotb, NBC Today show co-anchor. Wise women!

God Bless.


Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager here at Diocesan, is currently a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. While at St. Thomas the Apostle, Grand Rapids, Jeanne was a Lector, Cantor, Coordinator of Special Liturgies, Coordinator of lectors and, at one time, chair of the Liturgy Commission. In a past life, secretary/bookkeeper at the Basilica of St. Adalbert where she ran the RCIA program for the Steepletown parishes. And she loves to write! When relaxing, she likes reading and word puzzles. You can contact her at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.