Joyful Anticipation

Tonight is the greatest night of the whole year. The chains of sin and death are broken, the grave is opened. That dark midnight hour is filled with the light of this wonderful reality, Christ is Risen!

But we’re not there yet. The hour has not yet come. We still have this day, these next few hours to muddle through. I remember as a child being so restless on Holy Saturday. I felt so empty. Jesus was gone, nowhere to be found in any church. He was dead and I felt so lost. I couldn’t go visit Him at the adoration chapel. Even talking to Him in prayer felt like a futile exercise, like He couldn’t hear me anyways. Sure, we tried to fill the hours by coloring hard boiled eggs, cooking or getting the house ready for Easter, but it was such a hard day.

Knowing myself as I do now, I realize I am an impatient sort, and likely was even as a child. The most important day of the year was drawing nigh and I didn’t want to wait for it. I’m sure the promise of candy upon the morn didn’t help anything either.

It seems like we’re always waiting for something, doesn’t it? Waiting for the weekend to get here, for our relationship with our family members to get better, for that summer vacation we’ve been planning, to feel better after surgery or an illness, for the loan to go through, or the house to sell. And although we should give our all at being present in the present, living fully, to the best of our ability, we are actually SUPPOSED to be waiting, aren’t we? Our lives should be filled with joyful anticipation, expectant waiting of that glorious day, when we will, at last, be in Christ’s presence forever.

So as these last few hours pass before the celebration of Easter, let us remember that life truly is a time of waiting, but that we can be joyful in the waiting, knowing that our own resurrection awaits us.

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Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. Attending Catholic schools her whole life, she was an avid sportswoman, a (mostly) straight A student and a totally type A sister. She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances and finding unique ways to love. 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. Her favorite things to do are finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby, and grocery shopping with a latte in her hand. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on and, runs her own blog at and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for the past 18 years.

Perfect Love

“Christ became obedient to the point of death, Even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him And bestowed on him the name which is above every other name.”

As a little girl, I remember wondering why in the world we called this day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday”. How can the death of God be a good thing? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand that the word “good” is not referring to the events of that day over 2000 years ago but to the effects that day had that are still important even now, over 2000 years later.

The “good” is a result of God’s love for us, for God is Love itself.

If God is love and Jesus Christ is God incarnate, then that means that Love itself died on the Cross for us. Love cried in the garden, Love was betrayed, Love was scourged, the weight of the Cross was put on the shoulders of Love. Love walked to Calvary, Love was crucified. Love bled. Love died.

John’s account of Christ’s passion, the one we hear today, tells of the soldier who pierced Christ’s side, and that “immediately blood and water flowed out.” One of my theology teachers in high school shared something about this passage that has really stuck with me over the years. He told us that, medically, it is possible to die of a broken heart. He said, that what happens is the heart experiences a traumatic event and the plasma, which has the appearance of water, separates from the blood. He went on to say that the weight of our sins and the pain of the Cross would have caused this type of traumatic event and Christ may have died of a broken heart. Now, I’m not sure whether or not that’s accurate, but either way, it’s a hauntingly beautiful image that helped me understand the depth and fervency of God’s love for us.

In Jesus’ pierced heart, He quite literally poured out all His love and, in doing so, He established the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. By washing ourselves in Baptism, and by consuming His body in the Eucharist, we enter into the life of Christ. That is the way He brings us into His very being and transforms everything into His glory. We are able to partake in His Goodness because of His Passion and through His Resurrection.

This Triduum, may we look upon the Cross and upon the wounds of Christ and know perfect love.

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO, is studying for her Master’s in Spanish, and loves her job as an elementary school librarian. She is engaged to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at

The Triduum Begins

Today we enter into three of the most beautiful days of the liturgical year: the Triduum. During these three days, the regular rhythm of the liturgy – our daily Mass times – are disrupted so that our whole attention is focused on the events we commemorate.

This Holy Week began on Palm Sunday, when we accompanied Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem, with hosannas and waving of palms. The Triduum itself begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper this evening, when we are drawn into the depths of the New Commandment, as Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, giving us an example to follow and showing what it means to truly love and serve others. Immediately after this act of humble love, Jesus offers the Passover meal, establishing the New and Everlasting Covenant and giving himself to us so that we are empowered by his grace to follow this New Commandment of love.

Note that this Mass has no real “ending” or dismissal. The Triduum continues, but the Mass offered on this night is the last Mass until the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. We “fast” from the liturgy as a way to immerse ourselves in the events we are remembering.

The altar is stripped bare and the Blessed Sacrament transferred in a procession, lit by candles and reverenced by incense, to another place as we follow Jesus into the Garden of Gethsemane and watch and pray with him as he is betrayed and arrested. Adoration may take place for some time at this place of “repose,” where we meditate on the Passion now begun, and Jesus’ acceptance of the Father’s will even unto death, death on a cross.

On Good Friday there is no celebration of sacraments, except Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. Instead, there is a liturgy of the Passion of the Lord on the bare altar. The setting evokes in us a sense of emptiness and longing.

Hopefully, our 40 days of Lenten practices and penances have prepared us well for these holy days. These three days are the climax of the year, and we are in a quiet darkness, keeping vigil before we celebrate resurrection even longer: 50 days.

In our busy world, I pray we are all able to slow down and be fully present to what the Church offers us during these days so that we are able to open ourselves fully to the glorious joy of Easter!

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Deacon Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is

Be Better

We are in the middle of Holy Week, people! Less than a week until Easter! Less than a week until we commemorate the greatest gift of all! Is your soul refreshed? Are your hopes and desires getting you a step closer to heaven? Can you feel the deep waves of forgiveness pulling you into God’s great ocean of peace?  

If your answer is without a doubt yes, then please, do tell me your secrets. I feel like I have done my best to be prepared for the memorial of Jesus’ resurrection, but I wouldn’t say that I’m 100 percent heaven-ready. Luckily, God understands that we are not perfect by default and has given us the Bible as a tool to use.

As I read over today’s first reading, it sounds like just the kind of quick guide that I need. I have a tongue, so I should speak to the weary. I have ears, so I should listen to the true word of Christ. My body, though beaten by people that make fun of me and scoff at my beliefs, has the Lord God at my side to hold me up. Going into the responsorial Psalm, we ask, “Lord, in your great love, answer me,” as we admit to being weak, picked on, an outcast, insulted. We praise him because we are thankful, but our thanks must go further than just words. It should be evident in our actions.

As Catholics, we must understand that we will always have more to strive for. Our God challenges us in everyday situations to step up and live out our faith, whether it is with the people around us or in our own hearts. Instead of seeing our faith as a burden or as an annoyance (because sometimes we do), we should instead see it as an opportunity to become a better person. Instead of trying to please our critics, society, or our parents, we should try to become someone our heavenly Father would be proud of.

So if your Lent didn’t go as planned, know that it’s okay because it is a journey. As you attend each Mass this Holy Week, ask God for what you need. Ask Him to bless your body with the skills and strengths you need. He wants you to succeed and is willing to give you the tools because He wants nothing more than to be in communion with Him in heaven. It is a simple matter of who you want to be and if you are willing to work on it. Do you want to be better? Will you allow your Lenten sacrifice to carry on after Sunday and continue to bring you closer to God? Or will you allow Jesus’ Lenten sacrifice be for nothing?

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Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Michigan. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various articles in the Catholic Diocese of Austin’s official newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, and other local publications. She now works as the Content Specialist in Diocesan’s Web Department.

Will You Also Betray Me?

Recently, I read a quote that states, “Christianity isn’t as much about getting to Heaven as it is allowing Heaven to get inside of you.” In our Scripture readings today, we hear how the Lord created each of us with purpose. He calls us His servants, through whom He will show His glory. Within the First Reading and the Responsorial, we are reminded of the importance of seeking God in our needs. How can we show His glory if He is not our source of everything? It is in Him that we should take refuge. It is in Him that we should draw strength, safety, and hope. When we are not drawing from the wellspring of His glory, we wander into what is not good.

In the Gospel Reading, we automatically hear Jesus say, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The one who does this is not drawing His needs and desires from the One who satisfies them. Instead, he is concerned with things of this earth. He is concerned with selfish wants and greed. We know who Jesus is talking about, we’ve heard the story before. What I previously did not realize is the fact that this Gospel reading seems to focus on not only Judas but Simon Peter. The one whom Jesus loved, the one who would betray Him three times. Both Judas and Peter betrayed the Lord, yet both were created to be servants of God. One is only known for betraying Him and one is known for not only this but for also being the first Pope, the Vicar of Christ.

“Christianity isn’t as much about getting into Heaven as it is allowing Heaven to get inside of you.” This is what sets Judas and St. Peter apart. Both wandered from Christ being the source of everything.  Both were scared, overwhelmed, and betrayed Him. The difference between them is that St. Peter returns to the heart of Christ, with contrition and repentance. He lives the rest of His life as a servant of Christ, which meant opening himself up to the glory of God. When I reflect on the relationship of Simon Peter, the simple fisherman who became our first Pope, I smile in awestruck admiration of this perfectly imperfect human being. He inspires me to be honest in my relationship with Christ, to seek God in all my needs, and to be His servant, through whom He will show His glory.

My friends, let’s be inspired together to be true servants of God this day and this holy week. Are you so open to the Spirit of God that you are truly relying on Him for your every need? Are you so honest with yourself and with God to recognize and admit where you’ve wandered off from Him? Have you betrayed Him in little or in big ways? If so, how can we humble ourselves like St. Peter? How can we come honestly back to His merciful heart with true contrition? These questions are not meant to beat ourselves up or huff and puff in our journey of holiness. They are meant to pull us out of mediocracy and open us to living out the glory of God here and now. This is the opportunity God presents to His disciples and to us today. Let us open our hearts, minds, and spirits up to becoming the servants God calls us to be, opening our hearts to the glory of Heaven within is and shown through us.

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

Avoiding Hypocrisy during Holy Week

We are now in the midst of the most important week of the year. The entirety of Jesus’ life and mission leads to this week, which ends with him dying on the cross and rising from the dead. The events of our readings this week will ultimately lead to the cross; the climax of all of salvation history.

Today’s gospel takes place not long after Jesus miraculously raises Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, from the dead. As Martha serves the meal, Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with costly perfume that cost an almost entire years income.

In a culture which women were unable to support themselves or own property, their brother was likely the only one who could support them. When Lazarus died, Martha and Mary were likely to become poor beggars when whatever was saved ran out. But Christ came and raised her brother from the dead, saving them from such a cruel fate.

Mary was filled with overwhelming gratitude to Jesus for giving her back her brother and wanted to acknowledge his Lordship. The perfume was likely the most valuable thing in the house.

Judas, the disciple who would betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, exercising false piety, complains that the perfume could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. He, of course, did not care for the poor. St. John makes it clear that Judas was the group’s treasure and was laundering contributions to satisfy his greed.

It is ironic that Judas complains about the loss of a year’s wage when he was willing to betray Jesus for a value significantly less than the perfume.

Jesus dismisses Judas, commanding her to let Mary be. He says the poor will always be among their presence and there will always be an opportunity to serve him through serving them, but they have only a few more days with him before he is to suffer and die.

As we prepare to wrap up Lent this week, take a long and hard look at your Lenten resolutions. Using the example of Mary as she blesses Christ with her most valued possession and dries his feet with her hair, look beyond where you have fallen short and exercise them with greater devotion and love this week as she did.

Ask the Lord to unveil to you where you act as a hypocrite as Judas did, and ask his help to change your heart to better serve him as he approaches his passion and death.

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Hannah Crites is a native to Denver Colorado and a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She has written for numerous publications and blogs including the Chastity Project, Washington Times, Faith & Culture: The Journal of the Augustine Institute, and Franciscan Magazine. She is currently working in content and digital marketing for a small web development and digital marketing agency. Connect with her through Twitter (@hannah_crites) and Facebook. Check out more of what she has written at

A Holy Procession

Yesterday my beautiful bride and I celebrated our 6 month anniversary of marriage. People say your wedding day goes by so fast that you are lucky to get a piece of your cake. This was certainly true but there were parts that slowed down and are still just as clear in my memory today as when they happened months ago.

One of these moments was seeing my bride for the first time in her dress walking down the aisle. This moment seemed to freeze in time as I knew I was about to marry my best friend, I was about to embark on the most incredible journey, I was about to enter into a lifelong relationship of love.

Fast forward to today, Palm Sunday. I can’t help but think about that holy procession when thinking about Jesus in today’s first reading. Our Lord and Savior processes into the city, all eyes on him, everyone excited with anticipation of what the King of Kings will bring to their city.

The difference, of course, is that Jesus’ wedding to his bride the church does not consist in a beautiful ceremony, delicious food, and friends and family. His wedding to us all consists in giving up his very life for us so that we could have eternal life. When he rode into the city that day he knew full well what he was saying yes to. He was saying yes to suffer the crucifixion out of pure love for us all.

Whether you have been married or not, I encourage you to reflect on the thought of standing up on the altar today. Here comes Jesus, processing in. He is here for you. He is willing to give it all, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, until death. What is your answer to him during this holiest week? Will you say, I do?

If you say yes, where do you go from there? As I have learned in the past six months, it’s not enough to say the words, they have to be put into practice. We know that because we are made in the image of a God who is love, we have the capacity to love. But I think we often forget this about ourselves in today’s world. We do not find ourselves worthy of true love, we do not think we can be a good gift to another, we have degraded ourselves into thinking we are no better than the common animal and do not deserve what Jesus did for us.

St. John Paul II would disagree. In his letter to families, he wrote, “Human beings are not the same thing as the images proposed in advertising and shown by the modern mass media. They are much more, in their physical and psychic unity, as composites of soul and body, as persons. They are much more because of their vocation to love, which introduces them as male and female into the realm of the “great mystery”

Human beings are special, we have been created unique, and each of us has a certain way we have been called to love the world, a vocation of love. When we enter into and live out that vocation, according to St. John Paul II, we enter into the great mystery. What is that great mystery? Paul says it himself in scripture, it is the wedding feast of the lamb, the marriage of Christ and his church.

Know that you are worthy, know that you are loved, know that you are called to give that love to the world, and if you ever doubt it, look at the cross. Jesus processed in today to say I do. What will you say back?

From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

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Tommy Shultz is a Solutions Evangelist for Diocesan. In that role, he is committed to coaching parishes and dioceses on authentic and effective Catholic communication. Tommy has a heart and a 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. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. Contact him at

Lord, I Am Not Worthy

“So from that day on they planned to kill him” (John 11: 53).

I have failed. I have betrayed my Lenten promises. I have neglected to follow through on carefully made plans. I have run from challenges rather than toward them. I have claimed to love you, but instead, I turn to distractions rather than prayer.

The priest walked up to the ambo to preach his Good Friday homily after having read the passion as a congregation. He looked up and said: “We all feel extremely uncomfortable when chanting ‘Crucify him, crucify him. Yet this is exactly what we do each time we sin.” He then walked back to his chair in the deafening silence. 

Jesus reminds us in the Gospels that when we feel despised, we must remember that he was hated first. From even the moments before Christ’s birth, he was hated. After his birth, he was sought after to be murdered by Herod. People laughed at him and abandoned him. One man betrayed him, all men lent a hand.

Lord, I am not worthy.

Jesus carried the weight of the world in the form of a cross on his shoulders. He didn’t arrive to hear adulation when he reached the finish line. Rather, his prize was death on that same cross, and we, the people who put him there, are receiving the gift of the destruction of sin and the hope of eternal life with the man we killed.

Lord, I am not worthy.

Christ was certainly not a failure. He won. And by falling into sin, we are not failures. As Chris Stefanick would say, we mustn’t mistake one bad chapter for an entire book. We are made anew each day. We are made anew each hour. We are made anew each minute. But only if we choose to be. We move on from the sin of despair or presumption, and we build our hope minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. The hope that one day we may be forever with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven, to which I repeat:

Lord, I am not worthy. But enter under my roof, and my soul shall be healed.

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Benjamin serves as the Music Minister at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Branchville, NJ. He teaches Children’s Theatre at the Paper Mill Playhouse and is a Catholic songwriter that has given talks on Confirmation, How to Keep the Faith in College, and The Courage to Choose Life. He can be reached at

Witness to the Gospel

As we approach Holy Week and the Passion of our Lord, the Gospels tell us more and more about the tensions that existed surrounding Jesus. In today’s Gospel, we hear that the Jews want to stone Jesus for blasphemy but he responds with “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” and later says, “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works”. Christ is telling the Jews that actions speak louder than words and that, if they have such a hard time believing His words, they ought to look to his actions for proof.

I think this Gospel is incredibly relevant in the world and culture in which we live. Jesus is telling us that yes, our faith is important but it is our works that will lead others to believe. Our works are the way we witness to the Gospel. In the same way that Christ’s actions proved that He is God so to do our actions prove that we are part of the Church, that we are filled with hope for the coming of our Lord.

We wait in patient anticipation for the Resurrection of Christ because we know that He is our God and Redeemer. He has shown us that in His words and in His actions.

In one of his homilies, Pope Francis said, “We are not just a religion of ideas, of pure theology, of beautiful things, and commandments. No, we are a people who follow Jesus Christ and bear witness–who want to bear witness to Jesus Christ–and sometimes this witness leads to laying down our lives”. We must be willing to bear witness to the Gospel, even if it’s difficult, even if we must sacrifice our worldly comforts.

As this Lenten season comes to end may our hearts be filled with gratitude for the sacrifice of Christ and may we grow in strength so that we can bear witness to the great joy of the Resurrection.

St. Julius, pray for us!

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO is studying for her Master’s in Spanish, and loves her job as an elementary school librarian. She is engaged to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at

The Final Leg

“So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’”

We are in the final stretch of Lent, almost to Holy Week. In just 3 days, we will begin the Mass with Hosannas and palms and then abruptly shift to the cries of “Crucify him” during the reading of the Gospel. We will begin the final steps with Jesus through his passion and crucifixion. We will travel those steps with him through the liturgy, through our prayers, through our own sacrifices, through our desire to love him and quench his thirst on the cross.

A week from today, we shall stay with him in the garden. The next day we will venerate the cross by which he died. Then we shall sit vigil with his mother and his disciples and maintain a holy silence until his Resurrection.

With all of this before us, Jesus reminds us today of who he is. “…before Abraham came to be, I AM.” It is the name spoken by God to Moses at the burning bush. “By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting…God, who reveals his name as “I AM,” reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.” (CCC 207)

As we prepare ourselves for Holy Week, we are reminded, reminded of God’s covenant with Abraham. Reminded that God will “maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact to be your God and the God of your descendants” (Genesis 17: ) Reminded that God is always there, present to his people.

“So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.”

As we enter the holiest week of the year, as we walk with Jesus to his passion and death, we can do so with our whole hearts, confident that God is the God who is everlastingly present. We remember they didn’t take Jesus’s life, he gave it as a gift. The impact we feel at the awareness of that gift is one of the graces of Holy Week. As you walk this week, as you participate in the liturgies and prayers, remember that Jesus, the one who is, willingly did it all for you. You are so loved. Can we do anything less than give him our whole hearts in return?

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If you catch Sheryl sitting still, you are most likely to find her nose stuck in a book. It may be studying with her husband, Tom as he goes through Diaconate Formation, trying to stay one step ahead of her 5th and 6th-grade students at St Rose of Lima Catholic School or preparing for the teens she serves as Director of Youth Evangelization and Outreach in her parish collaborative. You can reach her through

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.

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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

Be Strong and Vulnerable

This past week, I received some emails from readers that thanked me for sharing with y’all. I thanked them kindly and kind of brushed it off at first, but as I got a couple more, I realized just how powerful sharing our own stories can be. It’s one thing to read about something in a book that was written thousands of years ago, and something entirely different to hear your friends, your colleagues, your children, share their little miracle. Still, as powerful as our own stories can be, we can be reluctant to share them with others.

A year ago, I wrote a blog post that was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever written. I shared with you all the fact that I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, something that I had only shared with a handful of family members and friends. I ended up sharing it, knowing full well that my coworkers and family would read it after having a conversation with my friend, Susie.

I talked to Susie about my reservations. I didn’t want to be seen as “that person,” especially since I’d only been at Diocesan for a few months. I wasn’t sure I wanted my aunts and uncles to know this about me. How would my parents feel, knowing others knew? Would my siblings be ashamed of me?

Susie told me that my embarrassment and fear was just the devil’s tools to keep me down. He was playing on my pride and my anxieties, making me feel unloved and unworthy. My coworkers would understand. My aunts and uncles would be happy to hear that I’m doing better and working on it. My parents would love me and know my pains. My siblings would support me. More importantly, she reminded me of why I write for the blog: to bring people to God.

I was still nervous, but I knew that God had given me the gift of writing and the gift of being able to rest in Him. I submitted the blog post.

Once the blog post was published, I realized how true her words were. It didn’t hurt my relationships or even my ego. Just like Susie said, everyone was supportive of me. My coworkers and readers appreciate my honesty. You all either sympathize or empathize with me. My parents and siblings were proud of my strength and faith in God’s plan.

The times where I find myself the most anxious occur when I consider just being vulnerable with people. Allowing them to see your struggles and weaknesses. On my journey, I was depressed and wanted to die, and it’s hard to admit that I had even gotten there. Yet, that dark place is one that so many share, thinking that they are all alone.

It was that same dark place that gave me the opportunity to see God’s glorious light and ask how I could serve Him, rather than myself.

That’s why I share this, and all of my struggles, with you.

How is the devil keeping us down and subservient to our pride? How are we letting our ego get in the way of helping others? Is it keeping us from being honest with even our loved ones? Pray with me, for yourself and others:

Oh, heavenly Father,
You have watched us grow and know the true contents of our hearts.
Help us to resist Satan’s quiet temptations.
Remind us to experience your love and acceptance.
Guide us towards honesty and gift of self.
Lend us your strength to rise above our pride.
Grant us the peace to share your saving grace with others.

Contact the Author

Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Michigan. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various articles in the Catholic Diocese of Austin’s official newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, and other local publications. She now works as the Content Specialist in Diocesan’s Web Department.