What Have You Lost?

Even today, I can remember the conversation. I was probably eight years old, or somewhere thereabouts. My friends and I were discussing our attachments to our senses. Which would you rather be, blind or deaf? What would be worse, losing a hand or losing a foot? What’s the easiest thing to live without?  These were essential, deep, incredibly interesting questions to us as we explored together both our graces and our limitations.

I remember thinking I could squirm out of saying “blind” or “deaf” (which would somehow jinx me, for eight is a very superstitious age, filled with magical thinking in response to the uncomfortable discovery that one cannot control the world), and instead I hit on “taste.” There you go! I could manage perfectly well without taste. Being blind or deaf? That was too horrible to contemplate, so I didn’t.

Later on, when I was still in school, I met a girl who actually was blind. She wasn’t born that way; it was the result of some rare disease whose name I never knew. She kept asking her friends to describe what things looked like because, as she explained, she could visualize without vision. She had once had sight, and that gave her the ability to conceptualize her environment, to add color and light to what surrounded her in the present dark.

Tennyson may well have said ‘tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but I wasn’t buying it. I thought that would be the most terrible of things, to have been able once to see—and then to know you never would again. Better to have been born in darkness and treat it as normal than to constantly compare today’s reality to yesterday’s.

It was part of my growing up, my introduction to the complicated issue of loss.

I’ll be honest: I still cannot contemplate losing my sight. But I’ve lost so many other things, things equally important, a whole litany of them in the years that have unspooled since my schoolgirl days, that I can now at least have empathy and begin to imagine what it might be like. And when I do, the memory of all those other losses—along with the feelings attached to them—washes over me again.

I think today’s readings speak to us deeply of loss. The Church at Ephesus has “lost the love you had at first.” And of course in the Gospel we have the story of the blind man calling out to Jesus, and Jesus performing his last miracle, because he is even then on the way to Jerusalem, to Gethsemane, and to Calvary. The Church lost its love; the blind man lost his sight; Jesus was soon to lose his earthly life.

We who have survived 2020 (and I don’t use the word “survive” lightly) are well-acquainted with loss. The coronavirus has taken loved ones away, as well as—for many of us—our economic survival. Half of the United States counts the November elections as a loss. We’ve lost the ability to hug our friends, to shake hands with our colleagues, to leave the house without elaborate preparations. We’ve lost the illusion that our society is fair to everyone. Many have lost their homes, their jobs, their food security.

In the Revelation passage, we find John rebuking the Ephesians, despite enumerating everything they’re doing right: good works, labor, endurance, suffering, steadfastness. But for all of that, they’ve lost what seems to count more than all those great actions: their love.

I cannot believe there’s anyone who hasn’t been touched by loss this year. We too are laboring, we’re staying faithful, we’re hanging in there. All good things. But our losses haven’t brought us together—in fact, the more loss we experience, the more we seem to be blaming each other, turning our backs on our neighbors, blind to anything but our own selves. Like the Ephesians, we have “lost the love you had at first.”

Still, just as there was once a time when my blind friend could see, a time she could remember, we too can remember a time when we weren’t so divided. When we listened to each other. When we cared about each other. When we loved.

That memory alone isn’t enough to change anything. The blind man in the Gospel doesn’t just remember a time when he may have had sight—he wants to change. He asks for help. In fact, Jesus makes him ask for help, makes him speak aloud what is his most basic and best desire. In all our fluttering about, in all our lurching from one crisis to the next, have we taken the time to ask Jesus for help? To ask Jesus for the grace to see, not with our eyes, but with our hearts?

It’s hard to petition when one is blinded by anger.

With all that 2020 has flung at us, what have you lost that was precious to you? Why can’t we set the circumstances aside and try instead to comfort each other for our myriad losses? It feels like we’re afraid to turn to the Lord to ask him to restore us in some way that would give us life again. Turning to God when we are suffering loss is a great act of faith and trust.

Oh, and my eight-year-old assertion that I could live without taste? One of the many ironies of the coronavirus is losing that very sense. And as my friend Margo—who had the virus but fortunately recovered—tells me, losing taste makes the world a lot bleaker than one might think.

No loss is easy. I knew that at eight, and I know it now. But we can get through any loss. We just have to ask for help.

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Jeannette de Beauvoir is a writer and editor with the digital department of Pauline Books & Media, working on projects as disparate as newsletters, book clubs, ebooks, and retreats that support the apostolate of the Daughters of St. Paul at http://www.pauline.org.

Letting Trust Overcome Fear

Those of us who are naturally risk-averse might feel a little uncomfortable with today’s Gospel. After all, isn’t it safer not to take the chance of losing the talent?

As I reflected more on this passage, along with the rest of the readings for this Sunday, I came to see this parable is not so much about risk taking. It is about letting trust overcome fear, and whether our focus is on our own interests or on God’s.

In the servant with one talent, I see reflected my own tendency to calm my fears by trying to control any and all situations. As the master pointed out, if this servant was simply uncomfortable with taking risks, he could have put the talent in the bank. This action of burying the talent seems more an act of trying to control the situation: I can keep an eye on it, no one knows where it is, the Master can’t blame me for losing his talent or making a foolish investment. With his inaction, he made his fear about his own wellbeing his top priority. In his failure to try, he betrayed his lack of trust in his master and in himself, and on top of that, he literally insulted his master when asked why he did what he did.

Now contrast this servant to the “worthy wife” in the First Reading, and the “children of the light” in the Second Reading. They are alert, work hard, and actively seek to do God’s will. They are able to see beyond themselves. Instead of focusing only on their own condition, they can see clearly beyond themselves and reach out in generosity to those who are in need. They are “to be praised”–all the more so because they are seeking God’s will, not praise.

Clearly, God does not call us to be reckless. After all, prudence is one of the cardinal virtues. However, when we fail to take action out of fear, we show a lack of trust in God and the talents He gave us. May God grant us the courage to overcome fear of failure and blame, that we may offer Him something in return for the gifts He gives us.

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

Father Knows Best (And Gives Freely To His Children)

Today’s parable is straightforward on the surface: we should never become weary of praying, even if it seems our prayer is not being heard. But if we just look a little deeper, there is a more profound lesson.

We’ve all heard many times that we should “pray without ceasing” and that God hears all our prayers. And we know that when we pray, there is a possibility (or even probability) that things will not work out precisely the way we want. We’ve heard that’s because God knows what’s best, which is certainly true.  I sometimes say that God has three answers to prayer: 1) “Yes.” 2) “In just a minute.” and 3) “Actually, I have a better idea.” Our trustful prayer must be open to all three possible answers!

Jesus insists over the course of several parables on the importance of prayer, on our correct attitude at prayer, and the need to pray always. Prayer is simply a conversation with God; words are not even necessary, as it can be a simple lifting of the heart and mind to God because we desire to know His will, to walk in His ways, to glorify Him. When this becomes a habit, we are “praying always” and our love quietly deepens. St. Augustine says, “Desire always, and you pray always. This is the continual voice of prayer…You are silent when you cease to love. The cooling of charity is the silence of the heart.” If our hearts are not reaching toward God, even wordlessly, we are not fanning the flames of love.

The constant prayer of those “who call out to him day and night” must be accompanied by a firm faith, a confident hope that God hears every prayer. In this, Jesus seems to speak to each individual as well as to the Church as a whole: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” These words point to the final coming of Christ; before that apocalyptic day, the faith of all will be put to the test. As in the case of the foolish virgins in another parable, the oil necessary for keeping the fire of faith burning cannot be borrowed or bought at the last minute! It is a habit of prayer and Spirit-led action that keeps our oil lamps burning in expectation of the coming of the Bridegroom.

So it is wise to ask for the gifts of prayer, patience, and perseverance. These are gifts that the Spirit loves to pour out on the People of God, but our asking for them shows that we understand these powers do not come from ourselves and places our souls in the position to receive them properly. When we acknowledge that without Him we can do nothing, we give God permission and opportunity to work freely in us and through us, and our prayer is directed by the Spirit through Jesus right to the Heart of the Father.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father 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 https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

Choose Love

Today the Church celebrates St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. Mother Cabrini was the first citizen of the United States to become a saint. She worked with immigrants, established schools and hospitals, and served the poor and neglected. The readings are a fitting tribute to her and her way of life. Mother Cabrini was dedicated to service through love. She and the Missionary Sisters worked tirelessly at the turn of the 20th century, which was a time of many challenges.

The readings today are challenging. The longer I have prayed with them, the more unsettled I’ve become. Why? It’s because of the times in my life that I know I haven’t had my focus on the law of Love from our Lord and Savior.

All the times I’ve been judgmental towards some folks or dismissed issues which may not have directly affected me but have had negative consequences on others or my surroundings, is part of my conscious awareness of what I have done and failed to do in the eyes of the Lord.

I must be very intentional in what I say and do. The readings today drive home the point that intentions should be of the Love the Lord commanded and Christ sacrificed loving all humanity. I have to choose Love in every situation. I don’t want to be like one of the people lost in the flood during the time of Noah, or like Sodom, or Lot’s wife as is written in the Gospel

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us in #1604…“God who created man out of love also calls him to love – the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.”

To choose Love, is not the easy way. It is intentional, this call to Love. It is the way of truth. It is the way to the Father, through Jesus Christ, to redemption.

Read the following lines. Take them into your prayer while looking at them through the eyes of a different examination of conscience.

I choose to LOVE. I choose to have Empathy. I choose Inclusion. Compassion. Equality. Dignity. Diversity. I choose Community. Kindness. Integrity. Honesty. Respect. I choose Justice. I choose Facts. Peace. I choose the Planet. I choose Humanity.  I choose LOVE.

What do you choose?

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Beth Price is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

The Law of Love

Today’s First Reading, written by Paul from a jail cell, shows the beauty and depth of the statement, “I have come not to abolish the law, but fulfill it.” Paul states to Philemon that he can easily tell him what to do as a law, but instead he urges him out of love. He then goes on to say he does not want to do anything without his consent, so that the good he does is not forced, but voluntary.

I can’t help but think of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes when I read this verse from Paul. The Ten Commandments are laws that were given because we seriously lost our way and had to be slapped in the face with basic morality, like not murdering someone. Jesus enters the scene and does not do away with the Ten Commandments, but switches the conversation from one of law to love. Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who weep, blessed are those who hunger. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Catechism 2055 tells us, “The commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Again, the law remains, but it is infused with love. It is fulfilled by God who is love, in the person of Jesus Christ. Paul even got this from a cell, imprisoned for preaching that very love. In possibly the darkest place of his life, he still preached the love of Christ and the importance of always remembering that love.

What is the take away for us? Do we go to Mass out of following the law or love of Christ? Do we love all people no matter what or do we tolerate some because we are required to by law? Do we pray because we are told we should or because we want to talk with God? We should be doing all of these things as much as we should be following the commandments, but if we keep love as the source and reason for these laws, then they become less like edicts and more about relationships. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God Bless!

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

The Cleansing of the Ten Lepers

“Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”  (Lk 17:19)

As Jesus was traveling through Samaria and Galilee, He healed ten lepers. The miracle began with the powerful words proclaimed from afar by the sick individuals, “Jesus, Master! Have Pity on us.” Just think of them, infected with a horrible disease, seeking a relationship with Christ by asking Him to have pity on them and show compassion for their sufferings.  Yet, when Jesus answered their prayers and performed a miraculous healing of all ten, only one of them returned and gave glory to God.

This event points to the importance of following our prayers with praise and glory for all the Lord does in our life. When we thank God and glorify His name, we proclaim a truth that is powerful; Jesus is King, Lord of our Life, and Giver of all Gifts.  Doing so is not just about giving God the credit He justly deserves, but also about exercising one’s faith so it can grow stronger and ultimately lead to salvation.  In these times of turbulence and confusion, let us always remember to thank the Lord, place our trust in Him, and accept the salvation He offers us.

When is the last time you thanked the Lord for His healings, gifts, miracles, graces, and even blessings? Jesus tells the one leper who returned to give thanks, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Jesus did not say, your faith has healed you, rather, your faith has SAVED you. Like the others, the man was already healed, but unlike the others, his recognition of God working in his life and gratitude for it earned him a reward far greater!  His faith brought about his salvation, something ever more important than the healing.

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

Servant Leadership

It is hard to think of myself as a “servant.” As a wife and mother of 5, I spend the vast majority of my time in service to my family. But I am quick to point out to my children that I am not their servant and no, they don’t get to “order” lunch like at a restaurant and are expected to put their own shoes away. There is a difference between being of service and being a servant. To be of service is not connected with your identity. You are available to help, but there is a prior choice to be available. Thanks for your assistance would not be out of place and is probably expected.

To be a servant, however, is a piece of who you are and what you do. A servant doesn’t get to choose which orders to follow and which to distain. A servant is awake before the master and asleep after him or her. A servant does what he or she is told and is expected to be obedient without complaint.

The words of Jesus today are difficult to swallow. Thank goodness we don’t walk this journey of faith alone. Today is Pope Saint Leo the Great’s feast day. Leo was pope from 440-461 AD and did not waste a moment of his pontificate. One of the pope’s titles is the “Servant of the Servants of God.” Pope Leo took this to heart as he guided the Church through tumultuous times. He defended the faith from multiple heresies and attacks, promoted the belief and understanding of the mysteries of Christ, and took great efforts to provide quality, relatable pastoral care for the faithful. Leo truly saw himself as a servant-leader in his role as the head of the Body of Christ on earth.

Leo took a stand to protect the fullness of the faith where others were swayed. He insisted on peace where high tempers and conquest ruled the day. But it wasn’t all political and geographical concerns or heady theological debates. Leo also was deeply concerned about the individual faith of each member of the Church. “To him, being a Christian was not only about embracing the fullness of the Gospel theologically but living it out in a world filled with hurt, suffering and needs” (Catholic Online). One of his most famous sermons is used in the Office of Readings for Christmas.

Pope Leo the Great was an active servant of the Church. He saw many needs in the Body of Christ and took it upon himself to care for each of them. The Church owes a great deal to Leo’s determination and his awareness of God’s will for his papacy. When we are feeling lost or overwhelmed in how we are being called to be servants of the Father, we can look to Pope Leo’s clarity of vision and wisdom and ask for his intercession and guidance.

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

Carry Out the Mission You Are Charged With For the Building Up of the Church

Today is the feast of the Dedication of St John Lateran in Rome. The Lateran Basilica is called “mother and head of all the churches of the city and the world.” In fact, this basilica was the first to be built after Emperor Constantine’s edict, in 313, which granted Christians freedom to practice their religion. It is the oldest church in the West and was the church where everyone was baptized in ancient Rome.

I’ve been in Rome a couple of times for congregational meetings. The last time one of the sisters from the US currently working in the Vatican took us on a special “insiders” tour of Rome. She knew just the right place to stand to see the perfect view of buildings and Churches and statues and monuments that had stood the test of history for a couple thousand years. Her stories unfolded the magic and the faith of Christians as the streets came alive with their names and faces, their sufferings and triumphs…and their utter and complete belief in Jesus Christ.

As we made our way through the streets of the city, I was in awe that I was walking where two thousand years of saints had walked before me. Popes. Priests. Martyrs. Parents. Children. And I had the privilege of walking the same old roads as they did that day. I wondered if my poor heart would ever measure up to their courage and love and faith. The churches, certainly, we can still visit. They stood on every corner inviting us into the specific part of the story that had been played out within their walls. But equally present to me were the people, the living stones of God’s building, still there in Rome and throughout the world. A river of Christians stretching from the apostles Peter and Paul to that very moment when I was walking where they had once trod.

The Second Reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians reminds us that it is not only the stones of marble that build up the Temple of God. Benedict XVI stated that “the temple of stones is a symbol of the living Church, the Christian community, which in their letters the Apostles Peter and Paul already understood as a ‘spiritual edifice,’ built by God with ‘living stones,’ namely, Christians themselves, upon the one foundation of Jesus Christ, who is called the ‘cornerstone’ (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Ephesians 2:20-22). ‘Brothers, you are God’s building,’ St. Paul wrote, and added: ‘holy is God’s temple, which you are’ (1 Corinthians 3:9c, 17)” (Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, November 9, 2008).

The last afternoon of our tour, we approached Chiesa Nuova along Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II. Chiesa Nuova is the Church where St. Philip Neri founded the Oratory in 1575. As I listened to my Sister and tour guide share interesting information about the history connected to the Corso, all I could wonder was how many times St. Philip Neri must have walked on this street. In fact, how every street in Rome had logged countless footsteps of numberless holy women and men throughout the centuries. I reflected on how each of us in our own way contributes to building up this living Church. Certainly I could not measure up to St. Philip Neri, neither in humor nor holiness! But yet, there I was, equally a part of God’s Temple, called, chosen, loved, kept by God’s tender power, the only thing that I can rely on. Both St. Philip and I–and you–are led by the same love and the same grace.

Paul in this reading talks about himself as a master builder of God’s community. He calls himself an architect who worked with skills that were not developed through study and practice and talent, but rather received as a gift, as a blessing. He carried out the mission he was charged with through the grace of God that had been given to him.

Any of us, all of us, can say nothing greater of ourselves than that we have lived and worked and loved “according to the grace of God given to me.” You have a mission. You are a builder of the temple of God, of the Christian community, the living Church. What is the grace given to you? Perhaps today you might take a moment to ask God to help you see what that gift is and what he has intended you to do with it, because we have each been given a charge in building upon the one foundation that is Jesus Christ.

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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.

I Do Not Know You

Let’s begin by clarifying that the “wedding feast” here refers to Heaven, and the bridegroom is Jesus himself (images already present in the Old Testament). The Church is the Bride of Christ, and each one of us is also his bride.  The bridegroom comes to bring the virgins into the feast with him, but only half of them are ready – the foolish half had run out of oil. They were not prepared for the coming of the bridegroom.

What did they need to do to be prepared? They needed to have enough oil to keep their lamps burning until midnight, of course!

Those waiting for the bridegroom are “virgins” – those who seek “the one thing necessary”, as Jesus said to Martha (Lk 10:42). As today’s Psalm reminds us, their souls thirst for the Lord (Psalm 63); they are focused fully on being ready for Jesus to return for them. He is delayed and comes at the very end, at midnight, when they have all become weary and fallen asleep. Clearly, they were not eagerly watching for his coming! But the wise virgins replenish their oil and stoke up their flames.

What is this “oil”? The oil that keeps their lamps burning to the end of their lives when Jesus comes to bring them into the Heavenly Feast signifies grace and love, their loving desire, faithfulness, and prayer, their pure and burning offering of themselves to him. The foolish ones think of these things as a commodity they can run out and get at the last minute, but growing in love and grace and becoming the person we are created to be is the work of a lifetime. This is why the wise virgins cannot give any of their oil to the foolish ones – the oil is a specific image of Christ-life within each of us, and the warmth and light that come from deep devotion and fidelity cannot be handed off to another at the last minute.

Jesus tells us that he has come to cast a fire on earth (Lk 12:49), and he desires that it burn in a unique way in each of us. This fire that God longs to see in each soul grows throughout our spiritual journey, gradually taking its shape in the depths of our relationship with the Lord and with one another. We can let our light shine for others, and others may light their lamps from this fire, but the oil must come from each person’s cooperation with the work of the Holy Spirit within them, as they become a unique Image of God.

This is the goal of each individual life and of the whole of human history – to grow in our relationship with God in such a way that we burn with the radiance He created us for so that He knows us as His own and we light up the world and heaven in the way that He has called us to shine.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father 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 https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

Being Trustworthy in Very Small Matters

“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones.” — Jesus Christ

“Did you see what she was wearing?”
“Have you heard about their fight?”
“Has he seen a doctor about that thing on his foot?”

I find it interesting when people talk about other people behind their back. It’s one thing if it’s showering complements upon the absent person, but more often than not, it’s critical and spreading information that we have no right to be spreading. I am ashamed to have taken part in such conversations from time to time. But, like most sin, it’s exciting to talk about people behind their back.

I’ve realized I immediately lose trust in people when they gossip. There’s something in me that knows right now it might be someone else they’re talking about but next time it could be me. What story or criticism do people crack open and start passing around when I’m at a dentist appointment?

Few people would boast about how much people don’t trust them. We demand honesty from other people all the time, but it’s embarrassingly rare when we take a moment to look at ourselves and root out the smallest bits of dishonesty. We’ve been breaking trust since Adam and Eve and none of us are exempt from such a flaw.

It always starts with simple things, like not showing up to a friend’s house for dinner because you would rather watch Netflix. I think most of us have wasted company time scrolling through Facebook. It can be silly things like watching pirated versions of The Avengers, sneaking into a Dave Mathews Band concert (I have no idea who would want to do that) or buying a dress for a wedding only to return it after the wedding. (Cool trick, eh?)

Once we contemplate our trustworthiness it can be startling to realize we don’t even trust ourselves.

Honesty is doing what we ought to do. Honesty protects us from being hypocrites. Honesty means we need to admit we are wrong. We’re all broken and we’re constantly violating the rules we pretend to uphold.

Pagans and non-believers watch what we do. They listen to what we say. If we aren’t trustworthy and we cheat, steal, or gossip—just like everyone else—we’ve missed our chance to evangelize. We’ve made a mockery of our religion.

Doing the “very small matters” right makes a difference in the great matters. There are no sins that fly under God’s radar. It’s time to do some fall cleaning in our daily lives and root out those venial sins!

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Patrick produces YouTube content for young Catholics on Catholic Late Night and Overt TV. He loves using humor to share the Truth of the Catholic faith with anyone who will listen. He resides currently in Chattanooga, TN and is a parishioner at The Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. Patrick graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a degree in Communication Arts and a Minor in Marketing.

Stand Firm in the Lord

 “As the world turns, the Cross stands firm.”    -St. Bruno-

At the time I am writing this, we do not have definitive results from the Presidential Election. By the time you are reading this, it’s possible that there will be definitive results. However, I don’t think it matters much because today’s First Reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians reminds us that “…our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”. St. Paul urges the Philippians to model their lives after imitators of Christ rather than after those who “…conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ”. When we direct our attention toward our end in Heaven, we are able to confidently stand firm in the Lord despite any obstacle, uncertainty, or hopelessness we may be experiencing in our lives.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the story of a rich man and his dishonest steward. At the end of the parable, the rich man praises the steward for being prudent in worldly gains. After reading this over a few times, I was still confused. Is Christ telling us we should commend one another for our world gains, even if they were achieved dishonestly? No, that couldn’t be the message of the Gospel. What I think Jesus is essentially saying is: Imagine where we would be if we put as much effort into our spiritual lives as we do into earthly things. The steward and the rich man are those that St. Paul says are enemies of the cross of Christ because, “Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their ‘shame’”. They indulge in worldly goods and, rather than being ashamed of their misconduct, they are commended for their shrewdness. Their absorption in matters of this world distracts them from their ultimate end which is Heaven and they become children of the world rather than children of the light.

Jesus ends by saying “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of the light”. To the world, children of the light – those who follow Christ and live in accord with His teaching – seem foolish. They are not preoccupied with material things, but rather with their ultimate end which is the glory of Heaven. The children of the world, however, seem prudent to the world because their preoccupation with the world often leads to material gain like that of the steward in the parable. We are called to be children of the light and keep our attention toward Heaven, even if that means appearing foolish to the world.

In this time of unrest and uncertainty, may we appear foolish to the world as we stand firm in the Lord and not become preoccupied with earthly matters. May we remember that we await a Savior and glory in Heaven.

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married 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 https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

Sinners Drew Near

We have all heard the story from today’s Gospel. Of course God wants to go after the one out of the ninety-nine. We have all heard that Christ is the Good Shepherd. But I want to focus on something in this Gospel that may be easily overlooked, the very first line.

We hear that the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to Jesus. Why was this, do we think? What drew them to Jesus? Was it his preaching, his miracles, the way he presented himself? It could have been a mix of any number of reasons, but I think it may have been that they could see he was different. He actually wanted to help them. He cared deeply about them.

Notice, they didn’t gather around him to be validated in their own sins, but even when Christ challenged them they continued to come back. They could see that he had their actual best interest at heart.

I think this example of evangelization is crucial for our world today. We tend to either dumb down the Gospel so much that it no longer has meaning or we want to hit people with it as if it’s a two by four with rusty nails sticking out.

Here, Jesus shows us the approach that is effective and gets to the heart of those we interact with. It’s the same as the story of the woman caught in adultery. He cared for her, loved her, showed her mercy, but then said to go and sin no more. That must have seemed like a simple and small request for the woman, seeing as her life was just spared.

Do we use the same approach when preaching the good news? Is it first good news? Do we find out about our friends, family, coworkers, and others before we try to evangelize? Classics are classics for a reason. And the classic way of evangelizing that Jesus used, seems like it may just still work. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God Bless!

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