The Liturgy of the Magnificent Easter Vigil

Holy Saturday…

A day of quiet and calm. A day of intimacy and hope.

A day when all creation sighed in exhaustion after witnessing the sorrowful and tragic events of Calvary the day before.

A day when the earth trembled as it held the sacred Body of the Savior as it lay in the silent darkness.

A day of waiting….

The liturgy on Holy Saturday, the magnificent Easter Vigil, teaches us the divine art of waiting. We wait in the dark around the Easter Fire, usually shivering in the early spring evening for the service to begin. We wait as the Paschal candle precedes us into a darkened church and our tiny candles gradually become a sea of lights punctuating the shadows. We wait for everyone to take their place before the lovely Exultet is proclaimed in song. And then finally we wait for the reading of the Gospel of the resurrection as the Liturgy of the Word “takes us by the hand” in the words of Benedict XVI and walks us through the whole trajectory of salvation history. If your parish proclaims all the readings for Holy Saturday Liturgy there will be seven Old Testament readings and one from the Epistles in the New Testament.

As these readings follow upon each other, one after another, I feel that in some way I take my place in the long centuries of creation waiting for redemption as I look through the “scrapbook” of memories and miracles, of suffering and assurance that is the heartbeat of the Liturgy of the Word of the Easter Vigil. Story after story is read from creation through the promise made to Abraham and the miraculous freeing of the Hebrew slaves as they raced across the path made by the Lord for them through the Red Sea, to the prophecies of how God has chosen Israel, making with them a covenant, inviting them to fidelity, through to God sorrowing over his unfaithful people to whom he promises a new heart and a new spirit. 

Every baptized person stands in this arc of salvation, this mysterious longing of the Father’s heart for our return to him. We are baptized into Christ’s death and rise with him.

In the Easter Vigil, the readings assure us with the unmistakable echoes of a Father’s heart: “I love you. All of this was for love of you. I have always stood by my covenanted people and I will do so forever. I will stand by you. Even if you walk away. Even if you are weak and wobbly in your love for me, I will love you. You do not need to be afraid.”

And lastly, the community breaks out with joy as we celebrate the Baptisms of those who have waited many months of preparation. I always feel more complete as we welcome them among us, each of us holding them spiritually to our hearts.

If you have never been to an Easter Vigil, someday give yourself that gift. Don’t wait any longer!

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Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: www.touchingthesunrise.com Public Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/ For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community: https://www.patreon.com/srkathryn.

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Behold The Wood Of The Cross

Lent has come to an end; it ends when the Mass on Holy Thursday begins and we enter into these three holy days (“Triduum”), which are the summit of the Liturgical Year, unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. The Triduum begins with the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and ends with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday.

The number 40 always signifies a preparation period, and the 40 days of Lent have been a preparation for us to enter into these holy days and also a preparation for our own participation in Christ’s mission in the world.

On Good Friday, we are invited to look deeply into the Passion and Death of Jesus, to look at his final Word, his final Gifts, his final Suffering. We must look at his suffering face, which should lead us to his suffering Heart; we must look at him, and not look away! In the agony of Jesus we really see that the enemy is real, that sin is real, that the wages of sin is death, and that our redemption comes at great cost. God redeems us, not by patting us on the head and telling us it’s all fine, but by taking on the whole mess of us – our sinfulness, our brokenness, our pain, our sorrow, our loss, our fear, and our aloneness – and lifting it up on the Cross. And as the Israelites in the desert had to look up to the serpent to be saved from its poisonous venom, we are directed to “look on him whom we have pierced,” to be saved from the certain death which is the result of our sin.

We look up to Christ nailed, immobile, suffering, suffocating, surrendering, pouring himself out, offering himself fully to the Father, so that we might be saved. “The collapse of the opened Heart is the content of the Easter mystery” (BXVI). He is betrayed for our betrayal, scourged for our sins of the flesh, crowned for our pride, bearing the weight of our sin to free us of the burden, crucified to show us what Love looks like. Love takes on suffering for the sake of others, without counting the cost. Love sees first the good of the other. On the Cross, Jesus was thinking of you and me, and he was willing to bear the whole horrific humiliation and execution so that we might be with him in the joy and glory of the Father. Forever.

The 40 days of Lent prepare us for these great Three Days, which lead us through this Suffering of Love to the silence of Holy Saturday, and then through an empty tomb to the Octave (8 days) of celebrating the Resurrection – liturgically, Easter Sunday is eight full days, through and including Divine Mercy Sunday, the culmination of Easter Day. Today, we look on the suffering and pierced Heart of Jesus; on Divine Mercy Sunday, we celebrate the outpouring of mercy through that very Heart! 

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

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What Makes You Think That You’re So Special?

I have the good fortune to work in an office that is on the same grounds as a Catholic retreat center. Because of this, I often come into contact with a lot of great Christ-centered wisdom. This past week, a woman was staying in one of the rooms below my office and I talked to her when I walked into work, on my lunch breaks, and then when I left work. Over these short, passing conversations, I felt the Lord calling me to take the time to talk with her, to truly give her my time, so one day before leaving work, I knocked on her door to chat. 

This woman shared with me that nearly six years ago, she was given another shot at life. She suffered an embolism that should have killed her, or left her with only 6 months to live, but instead, the doctors working her case considered her a miracle. 

She knew it was a miracle. She knew it was a miracle because as soon as she was given her diagnosis, she prayed and immediately felt peace. Enough peace to make jokes with the nurses as she was life-flighted from one hospital to another. She knew it was God and it changed everything. 

Still…she told me that there was someone in her life, someone she considered a good  friend, that told her, “What makes you think you’re so special that God would want to save YOUR life?” At first, it hurt her to think that her friend didn’t think that she was special. Then it hurt her heart even more when she realized that her friend didn’t know that she was also so special that God wanted to save her life, too. 

This woman’s realization is something I have not been able to stop thinking about. How many times have I failed to realize that I am so special that God wants to save my life. In fact, He sent His only Son to be arrested, ridiculed, crucified, stabbed, and ultimately face death… all to save me. All to save you

As we prepare for the Easter Triduum, let us stop and marvel at the fact that our God, our Father, loves us so dearly and wants to save us so badly, that Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice… and then CONQUERED THE GRAVE for our sins! He wants to wash away the shame, the fear, the sadness, and all we have to do is say “yes.”

So forget “What makes you think you’re so special that God would want to save your life?” because the better question is “What makes you think that an all-loving, all-powerful God wouldn’t want to save your life?” God is calling us. By name. So why don’t we listen this time?

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Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Pennsylvania. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various Catholic articles in bulletins, newspapers, e-newsletters, and blogs. She continued sharing her faith after graduation as a web content strategist and digital project manager. Today, she continues this mission in her current role as communications director and project manager for Pentecost Today USA, a Catholic Charismatic Renewal organization in Pittsburgh. 


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 Pennsylvania. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various Catholic articles in bulletins, newspapers, e-newsletters, and blogs. She continued sharing her faith after graduation as a web content strategist and digital project manager. Today, she continues this mission in her current role as communications director and project manager for Pentecost Today USA, a Catholic Charismatic Renewal organization in Pittsburgh. 


God’s Plan for You

As I sit down to write this reflection, my daughter-in-law is in labor! Like the servant in the passage from today’s First Reading, our grandson is known by God, even in the womb of his mother. The same God who brought this little boy into being at the moment of his conception has a unique purpose and plan for his life. Praise God!

And our loving Father has a plan for each one of us as well. We mustn’t doubt it.

Often, we are tempted to judge the worth of our lives by very different standards than the standard God has for us. Like the servant in this passage from Isaiah, we often toil and strain and feel as though we have spent all of our strength, just to experience defeat, loss, or rejection. We wonder what purpose our life has and doubt whether we are making a difference.

We can and will make a difference if we follow the example of Christ, the ultimate servant of God, whose faithfulness is prefigured in today’s First Reading.

First, we need to be in tune with what God the Father wants for us every day. The goal is to do His will. Jesus spent time in prayer, communing with the Father and strengthening Himself to do the Father’s will. If we are doing what seems good to us, but not really submitting ourselves to God, we might experience worldly success, but eventually we will realize how shallow that kind of success is. It may even be dangerous to our souls.

The second way we must imitate Christ is by faithfulness and perseverance. For many years, Jesus worked, lived, and suffered just like any person of His day before radically pouring Himself out in public ministry. Finally, our Savior gave every drop of his blood to do the Father’s will and, as He hung naked on the cross, all of His effort, His entire life, appeared to be in vain.

In our own ways, we too experience “failure,” as we strive to live as authentic Catholic Christians. Seeking to do God’s will, we may try to start a business, write a book, or enter religious life. Years of effort and sacrifice may pass with little or no positive results. Think of the couple who loses a child. Or a parent who raises his or her children in the faith, just to see them reject a relationship with God. These “failures” can make us feel that all of our effort to radically follow God’s will is pointless. 

We can’t always see what God is doing, but He is always working marvelously for those who are faithful. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Easter Sunday, He brought about the greatest come-back victory of all time! 

We must believe that if our priorities are in order, and we are constantly seeking to do God’s will, our Easter Sunday will come. We will rejoice with an endless joy when we realize what God has done in and though us. In the words of St. Catherine of Siena, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

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A Word on Vocation

The word vocation comes with a lot of baggage. It tends to bring to my mind old posters of seminarians, half of whom have dropped out by now but the poster remains, or conjures up ideas of job, work, occupation, etc. It’s one of those words similar to stewardship where we have made it mean so many things, that it almost means nothing. It is stretched thin in its general form but at the same time so focused in its particular form that it becomes exclusive to a specific group. 

Today I want to focus on the first reading which perfectly summarizes both stewardship and vocation. 

“Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spreads out the earth with its crops, Who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk on it: I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.”

What can we take from this? First, God is the creator of all things. Anything we have including the breath in our lungs and our family and friends is all due to God being Gift. Next, we see that we are called. This calling comes from God and fits with the gifts God has given us. What is the calling? To be a light to the nations. 

John Paul II realized this well when he said, “The fundamental vocation of every human person is to love.” Our general vocation is to love, our particular vocation is how God has called us specifically to do it. While I was discerning the priesthood in seminary, one of the most helpful things I was told was that our vocation is the way that God has called us to get to heaven and bring the most people with us. 

Now, most people reading these posts are probably thinking that you are already well into the particular vocation that God has given you. Maybe you don’t need to discern this part, but I think we all could breathe fresh air into our vocations with the general vocation of love. I like to think of this in terms of Jesus going into the desert. As we are in Lent, we contemplate how Jesus knew his particular vocation, but he took time to pray before entering into his public ministry. 

With all the focus we have on self help and care I think it’s important to use these models for our vocation as well. If stewardship is using the gifts God has given us in service, then first we must work on our relationship with God, then take this grace and apply it to our gifts, and finally we will have the power needed in order to be a light to the nations. Lent is the perfect time to try this model out. Let’s pray for the gifts in order to be a gift to others and fully live out our calling to love. 

From all of us here at Diocesan, God bless!

Tommy Shultz is a Business Development Representative for Diocesan. In this role he is committed to bringing the best software to dioceses and parishes while helping them evangelize on the digital continent. Tommy has worked in various diocese and parish roles since his graduation from Franciscan University with a Theology degree. He hopes to use his skills in evangelization, marketing, and communications, to serve the Church and bring the Good News to all. His favorite quote comes from St. John Paul II, who said, “A person is an entity of a sort to which the only proper and adequate way to relate is love.”

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Christ Is Truly Present

Today is Palm Sunday. In the Gospel, we read about the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. At the table, Christ took the bread, raised it, and said to His Apostles: “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And then He took the cup, saying: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.”

This was not the only time Christ said something like this to His followers. In the Gospel of John, He told them: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

As Catholics, we believe in transubstantiation—that through the priest, God really does send a miracle at every Mass. The bread and wine become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

Christ did not say that He wanted the bread and wine to just be mere symbols of Him. He told us that they are His body and blood. He told us that He is the living bread. In fact, His birth in Bethlehem foreshadowed this, as the name Bethlehem literally means house of bread.

It is an awesome privilege and blessing that we, as Catholics, can receive Him every single day—if we are free of mortal sin.

Yet, a 2019 Pew Research survey tells us that just one-third of Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ. Why is this? It’s because they have not been properly catechized.

So what are we to do? First, we understand and believe. Second, we teach—our children, our families, our friends, and our fellow parishioners. We must all take it upon ourselves to speak up and defend Christ in the Eucharist.

Christ gives Himself to us to nourish and renew us, but we must be worthy of this wonderful gift. How do we make ourselves worthy? We must be free of all mortal sin. This isn’t a suggestion. This is part of our Catechism, which teaches: “Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive Communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.”  

Anyone who has committed a mortal sin and who has not sought forgiveness in the confessional should not present himself for Communion until he has been to confession. This is so because God has given us the most phenomenal gift imaginable—Himself. 

So, today, as we think about that Last Supper and Christ’s sacrifice, let us not only thank Him for that sacrifice but for the gift of Himself in the Eucharist at every Mass. 

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

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God is Good, All the Time!

I’m sure your mother told you many times as you were growing up: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I have even found myself reminding my own children the very same thing. Yet as an adult I find myself struggling over and over again with keeping my mouth shut. 

I admit it, I am such a groaner! I wish my kids would behave such and such a way, I wish so and so would stop this or that, why does that person have to do that? etc. etc. 

I remember one year I gave up complaining for Lent and let me tell you, I spent a lot of time in silence! 

And although I consider myself a generally happy person, I can always find something wrong with something. 

One thing that I have found that really helps combat this bad habit is an attitude of gratitude. I find that if I am appreciative of people, their thoughts, words and actions, and of things as gifts from God, I have much less to complain about.

In today’s Gospel we hear about the Jews who had seen what Jesus had done and began to believe in Him. We are told that a few of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. They saw his wondrous deeds and heard his insightful teachings and yet they went to complain about him! How sad…

Because of this one act of gossip, Jesus could no longer go about in public and he realized his time was drawing nigh. Surely a great sadness overtook him. 

 What a call to us all to be appreciative of our Lord and all his works in our life, no matter how great or small. His works show us that he is God and show us how much he loves us. 

Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to spend a whole lot more time in silence when I have nothing nice to say, and a whole lot more time talking about how good you are. 

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

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Everlasting Life

The readings for this last Friday of Lent really cause me to pause and take a good honest look at my thoughts, words and deeds.

The First Reading speaks of terror on every side and vengeance. The prophet Jeremiah prays for the Lord to save him from those who would denounce him, persecute and prey on him. Jeremiah wants the Lord to be his champion against his foes and the wicked.

The Gospel scene is of the Jews gathered in the Temple of Jerusalem for the feast of Dedication also known as the Feast of Light or Hanukkah. In the previous nine verses, John 10:22-30 Jesus has a very blunt conversation with those gathered that “the Father and I are one.” Because of this, the gathered Jews want to stone Jesus for blasphemy.

They, the Jews who had seen the miracles, who heard Jesus speak and teach in the temples wanted to arrest and kill Jesus for blasphemy, not for his works or his teachings on faith.

What’s been causing me distress is the punishments that the prophet and the Jews in the Temple wanted: death. This is on my mind as I examine how I really feel when someone harms me with words or deeds or inactions. Do I really want that for them? Do I have a beam in my eye?

I believe Jesus is the Lord, that life is sacred. How is hatred an option or a death punishment correct?

In the world today there is so much hurt, want of retribution, punishment for the sake of making another suffer: that is not just or merciful.

Lord, I believe your words are the words of everlasting life. Even from the cross you forgave those who mocked, persecuted and killed you. Help me to understand your ways. Help me to forgive as you did, to live as you did, to love as you do. Amen

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Beth Price is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She is a Secular Franciscan (OFS) and a practicing spiritual director. Beth shares smiles, prayers, laughter, a listening ear and her heart with all of creation. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

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Glorifying

In response to those who skeptically ask him who he thinks he is, Jesus talks about glory. He tells them that he does not glorify himself, but it is, in fact, his Father who glorifies him.

What does it mean to glorify?

At Sunday Mass (except during certain liturgical seasons), we pray the Gloria, echoing the angels at the birth of Christ: “Glory to God in the highest… We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you…” What are we even saying?

“The glory of the Lord” means God Himself as He is revealed in His majesty, power, and holiness. In the Old Testament, He expresses His glory in mighty deeds and by speaking to Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. In the New Testament, glory also means a manifestation of the Divine – majesty, truth, goodness, etc. – as seen in Jesus, the Incarnate Word.

The glory of God consists in the way His perfection and power are manifested and His love and goodness are communicated by creating. God creates with a purpose; creation has a destiny. What is our destiny? What are we created for? Himself. God created us for Himself. From His infinity, God gives life, and from His fullness we have all received. We (and the world) are created to the praise of his glorious grace (Eph. 1:5-6). “The ultimate purpose of creation is that God ‘who is the creator of all things, may at last become all in all, thus assuring his own glory and our beatitude” (CCC, 294).

All creation reflects the wisdom and perfection of God just by being; a flower blooms, a lion roars, waves beat against the rocks, all glorifying God. Among all the myriad beauties of creation, humans are the only creatures who can praise God’s glory by consciously acknowledging His goodness and love. We are the great “Amen” of creation. And then, we can share in God’s glory by this “Amen,” by acknowledging the divine goodness, praising Him for Who He is, and acting accordingly!

Jesus makes clear that he has brought glory to the Father by finishing the work he was given to do: “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work which You gave me to do; and now, Father, glorify me in Your own presence with the glory which I had with You before the world was made” (John 17:4–5).

God has made us for Himself, and our glory is found in glorifying Him because by worshipping Him as our highest treasure, we become the best we can be and help heal the rupture of sin in the world. When we live the way God created us to live and acknowledge His glory, we in turn are glorified by Him!

And so, when we at last sing the Gloria again at Mass this Easter, let’s sing it with our whole being: “We praise You, we bless You, we adore You, we glorify You! We give You thanks for Your great glory!”

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

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Your Salvation History

When you look at the Old Testament as a whole, it’s a beautiful piece of literature that weaves between several different genres and styles, all culminating in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament. It is the beginning of salvation history with all its ebbs and flows, valleys and mountains. It doesn’t take a scripture scholar to see the levels of human depravity intermixed with moments of spiritual growth, which makes it easy to wonder, “Why were the people in the Old Testament so messed up?”

Judging other cultures against ourselves and making the conclusion that we are not so bad is something human beings do best. But instead of reading the Old Testament with a detached view of an ancient people, I propose we read it in light of our lives today. We all have a “salvation history.” Points of encounter with God that help us along the sometimes confusing and overwhelming terrain of life that we often try to navigate alone until we cry out for the navigator. 

Imagine for a second the story of Exodus. The Israelites are finally freed from slavery and on the journey to the promised land. They have God by their side to protect and guide them through this magnificent pillar of fire. Moses is speaking directly with God on their behalf and leading them closer to the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham. Yet, even with God being so completely present and merciful, they turn away and worship the golden calf. Their fallen humanity rears its ugly head and causes them to turn to something else instead of God. Contrast that with the story today, where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (which are by far the funnest names to pronounce in scripture) would rather face a horrific death than even begin to think about worshipping the golden calf. Look at how far the human race has come between these two small stories. 

So the question I think we all should be asking, especially during this time of Lent, is where am I in my salvation history timeline? Where are you? Sometimes we will feel the mountain top experience where we feel like we are growing in faith and getting closer and closer to God. Other times we may feel like we are struggling in the spiritual life and need some sort of a spiritual epipen. And finally, sometimes we know we have turned away like the Israelites did with the golden calf. Although our own personal salvation timeline may have ups and downs, one thing remains consistent. The source of our salvation is constantly there. 

Take a second right now and take a deep breath. Relax. Allowing yourself just a minute to push out the noise and distraction of the world. Close your eyes and count 30 breaths. Slowly breathing in and out. With each breath just simply say something like “come Holy Spirit” or “Jesus I trust in you.” 

We do not stop enough throughout the day and remember the reality that God is with us and he is helping us on this journey, at least I know I don’t. This form of prayer has greatly helped me in moments where I need to remember that God is with me, just like he was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walking amidst the flames. Be encouraged by his presence today and may it guide you through the ebbs and flows. 

From all of us here at Diocesan, God bless!

Tommy Shultz is a Business Development Representative for Diocesan. In this role he is committed to bringing the best software to dioceses and parishes while helping them evangelize on the digital continent. Tommy has worked in various diocese and parish roles since his graduation from Franciscan University with a Theology degree. He hopes to use his skills in evangelization, marketing, and communications, to serve the Church and bring the Good News to all. His favorite quote comes from St. John Paul II, who said, “A person is an entity of a sort to which the only proper and adequate way to relate is love.”

Feature Image Credit: Matt Howard, https://unsplash.com/photos/A4iL43vunlY

True and Lasting Peace

As you read, my family and I are on a much needed vacation. After dealing with illness, childbirth, and stress at work over the past year we were so ready to get out of dodge. 

It’s amazing what a change of atmosphere can do for the soul. All the normal worries of the daily grind seem to disappear. You can breathe easy for a while, enjoy the scenery, eat some tasty treats and simply BE. No dishes or clothes to wash, no floors to sweep, no toys to trip over. 

Yet no matter how much we may look forward to these fun days of R & R, they never seem to last, do they? We always have to go back home, back to work and back to our routine. The vacation in itself can grant us only a momentary, temporary peace of mind. Why?

Because true peace comes only from God and the gifts that the Holy Spirit grants us. If we are not living in him, but rather for the next passing pleasure, our peace will always be fleeting. 

Recently I had a conversation with my 7-year-old, who frequently begs me over and over to buy this or that toy or stuffed animal or video game. He seems to always want something, and if I get it for him, he soon wants something else. I had to have a serious talk with him about consumerism and the fact that Jesus is the only source of true peace and happiness. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me…” If only we truly sought out Jesus, who is about to suffer and die for us, more than things! If only we were truly saddened by the thought of Jesus “going away” even for a split second of our lives! 

Lord, help me to understand the incredible significance of your presence in my life. Help me to miss you when my thoughts are not with you. Help me to yearn only for you, not for pleasures that do not satisfy the soul. Help me to seek lasting peace in your most Sacred Heart. Amen.

Contact the author

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

Feature Image Credit: Colton Duke, https://unsplash.com/photos/QRU0i5AqEJA