Our Lady of the Rosary / Nuestra Señora del Rosario

October is full of special days in our family. We celebrate my mother-in-law and father-in-law’s birthdays, my birthday, my dad’s birthday and my son’s birthday. Not to mention all the fun the kids have on Halloween and choosing which saint to dress up as. This month anticipation also begins to build as the weather gets chillier and our thoughts turn toward the holidays.

But no day takes greater precedence in my opinion than what we celebrate today, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Each year I am filled with a small amount of jealousy as my sister-in-law gets to share this day with her birthday.

Our Lady herself asked us to pray this prayer during at least five apparitions. This request was made for specific intentions: world peace, an end to war, for the pope, bishops and priests, for repentance, and to lighten grief. As the mediatrix of all graces, Our Lady is waiting to aid us in our need, if only we go to her in prayer.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus has just driven out a demon. He does not downplay the reality of demons. He does not deny their existence. Instead he makes a rather frightening statement: “When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”

But instead of falling into fear, we can recognize the almighty power of our God and the intercessory power of our Blessed Mother. If you have ever seen an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, she is depicted stepping on a serpent. This is to symbolize her crushing Satan. The graces that flow from praying the rosary and invoking her intercession are our safeguard against the wiles of the wicked one.

So whatever your situation may be, whether you be celebrating or fearful, run into the arms of our Blessed Mother and know that she will cover you with her mantle of protection and God will fill you with the joy that comes from Him alone.

Hail Mary, full of grace…

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Octubre está lleno de días especiales en nuestra familia. Celebramos los cumpleaños de mis suegros, mi cumpleaños, el cumpleaños de mi papá y el cumpleaños de mi hijo. Sin mencionar toda la diversión que los niños tienen en Halloween y al elegir sus disfraces de santos. La anticipación de este mes también comienza a aumentar a medida que el clima se vuelve más frío y nuestros pensamientos se vuelven hacia las vacaciones.

Pero ningún día tiene mayor prioridad en mi opinión que el que celebramos hoy, la Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Rosario. Cada año me entran un poco de celos porque mi cuñada comparte este día con su cumpleaños.

Nuestra Señora misma nos pidió que rezáramos esta oración durante al menos cinco apariciones. Este pedido se hizo por intenciones específicas: la paz mundial, para que se acaba la guerra, por el Papa, los obispos y sacerdotes, por el arrepentimiento y para aliviar el dolor. Como mediadora de todas las gracias, Nuestra Señora está esperando para ayudarnos en nuestra necesidad, si tan solo acudimos a ella en oración.

En el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús acaba de expulsar a un demonio. Él no minimiza la realidad de los demonios. Él no niega su existencia. En cambio, hace una declaración bastante aterradora: “Cuando el espíritu inmundo sale de un hombre, anda vagando por lugares áridos, en busca de reposo, y al no hallarlo, dice: ‘Volveré a mi casa, de donde salí’. Y al llegar, la encuentra barrida y arreglada. Entonces va por otros siete espíritus peores que él y vienen a instalarse allí, y así la situación final de aquel hombre resulta peor que la de antes”.

Pero en lugar de caer en el miedo, podemos reconocer el poder todopoderoso de nuestro Dios y el poder intercesor de nuestra Santísima Madre. Si alguna vez has visto una imagen de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, se la representa pisando una serpiente. Esto es para simbolizar que aplasta a Satanás. Las gracias que brotan del rezo del rosario y de la invocación de su intercesión son nuestra salvaguardia contra las asechanzas del maligno.

Así que cualquiera que sea tu situación, ya sea que estés celebrando o temeroso, corre a los brazos de nuestra Santísima Madre y sabe que ella te cubrirá con su manto de protección y Dios te colmará de la alegría que proviene solo de Él.

Ave María, llena eres de gracia…

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: H. Fernando Nava, cathopic.com/photo/12796-madre-del-noviciado

The Sweetness of God / La Dulzura de Dios

The town my parents live in holds a Labor Day Parade every year. As the police cars and fire trucks and school bands process down the road, they often throw out candy for the children that line the road. My kids jump out excitedly every time they toss a handful, eager for the sweet treats to multiply in their goody bags.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if we acted the same way when it came to grace? What if we just jumped at every opportunity we had to receive Jesus in the Eucharist? What if we were the first in line to receive God’s pardon in the Sacrament of Confession? What if we had the parish adoration schedule memorized so as to attend whenever possible? 

While grace doesn’t feed our sweet tooth, it definitely fills our souls with the sweetness of God’s love and mercy. He is waiting for us to spend time with Him, to come away for a little time apart, so he can begin to change our hearts. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus depicts his profound love for us by sharing the Parable of the Lost Sheep. We probably all know the story well. The shepherd leaves the 99 behind to go in search of the one. As if that weren’t enough to dumbfound us, Jesus states: “And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy.” Essentially, he sweeps it off its feet and holds it close. 

I like to ponder what the sheep was like in this scene. Was it broken and humble? Was it tired and faint? Was it trembling and fearful? Was it joyful and relieved? Or my favorite, was it smug and proud, thinking it was more special than the others? I can just imagine that sheep with its head up high, feeling so self righteous to be on the shoulders of its savior.

How do we react when we realize Jesus has come to save us in just the same way? Do we eagerly reach out to him, as a child would jump for a piece of candy? Or are our hearts hardened or closed to his love? 

May we all be like children today, so that when our Savior finds us and raises us up on his shoulders, we may simply bask in His wondrous love. 

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La ciudad donde viven mis padres tiene un desfile en el Día del Trabajo todos los años. Mientras los autos de policía, los camiones de bomberos y las bandas escolares avanzan por el camino, muchos de ellos arrojan dulces para los niños que estan sentados en la acera. Mis hijos saltan emocionados cada vez que lanzan unos cuantos, ansiosos de ver los dulces multiplicarse en sus bolsas.

¿No sería increíble si actuáramos de la misma forma cuando se trata de la gracia? ¿Qué pasaría si aprovecháramos cada oportunidad posible para recibir a Jesús en la Eucaristía? ¿Qué pasaría si fuéramos los primeros en la cola para recibir el perdón de Dios en el Sacramento de la Confesión? ¿Y si tuviéramos memorizado el horario de adoración al Santísimo en la parróquia para asistir siempre y cuando sea posible?

Si bien la gracia no alimenta nuestro gusto por lo dulce, definitivamente llena nuestras almas con la dulzura del amor y la misericordia de Dios. Él está esperando que pasemos tiempo con Él, que nos apartamos de todo lo demás por un tiempo, para que Él pueda comenzar a cambiar nuestros corazones.

En el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús describe su profundo amor por nosotros al compartir la parábola de la oveja perdida. Seguramente todos conocemos bien la historia. El pastor deja atrás el 99 para ir en busca del uno. Como si eso no fuera suficiente para dejarnos asombrados, Jesús dice: “Y una vez que la encuentra, la carga sobre sus hombros, lleno de alegría”. Esencialmente, lo eleva y lo mantiene de cerca.

Me encanta reflexionar sobre cómo era la oveja en esta escena. ¿Era quebrantado y humilde? ¿cansado y débil? ¿temblando y temeroso? ¿Era alegre y aliviado? O mi favorito, ¿era presumido y orgulloso, pensando que era más especial que los demás? Puedo imaginarme a esa oveja con la cabeza en alto, sintiéndose tan orgulloso por estar sobre los hombros de su salvador.

¿Cómo reaccionamos cuando nos damos cuenta de que Jesús ha venido a salvarnos de la misma manera? ¿Nos acercamos ansiosamente a él, como un niño saltaría por un dulce? ¿O nuestros corazones están endurecidos o cerrados a su amor?

Que todos seamos como niños hoy, para que cuando nuestro Salvador nos encuentre y nos levante sobre sus hombros, simplemente podamos disfrutar de su maravilloso amor.

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: FOYN, unsplash.com/photos/e7gsQWTnMwQ

God Writes Straight With Crooked Lines / Dios Escribe Recto con Líneas Chuecas

God has a way of writing straight with crooked lines. 25 years ago today I made promises to God as a consecrated lay woman. I had been raised in a conservative Catholic home and thought that this was my calling. I longed to live a saintly life and to love God. Yet, after struggling for three and a half years I knew something just wasn’t right and I discerned it wasn’t my calling. I lived the single life for 11 years after coming home and this year my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with 5 kids in tow. 

In the back of my mind on that day two and a half decades ago, I wondered if it was a bad omen (not that I really believed in omens) being consecrated on a day a saint got his head chopped off.  But in the end, it truly came to pass that God had other plans for my life. 

The Gospel passage does not focus on John the Baptist, rather on Herod’s imprudent reward, Herodias’ evil request and Herod’s subsequent internal conflict. 

What must John have been thinking in those final moments when they approached him with an ax telling him he was going to die? Was he filled with fear? Or was he happy to finally be able to meet God face to face after being a good and faithful servant?

He surely had a “crooked lines” kind of life. Being born to an old barren couple, being related to the Son of God, living out in the desert, eating locusts and wild honey, baptizing with water, preaching repentance, and being thrown in jail, only to die a martyr’s death. 

Perhaps your life appears similarly crazy, yet each one of us are called to follow Him, even unto death.  

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Dios tiene una manera de escribir recto con líneas chuecas. Hoy hace 25 años hice promesas a Dios como laica consagrada. Me crié en un hogar católico conservador y pensé que ese era mi llamado. Anhelaba vivir una vida santa y amar a Dios. Sin embargo, después de luchar durante tres años y medio, supe que algo no estaba bien y me di cuenta de que no era mi llamado. Después de volver a casa, viví la vida de soltera durante 11 años antes de casarme y este año mi esposo y yo celebramos nuestro décimo aniversario de bodas y tenemos 5 hijos.

En el fondo de mi mente ese día hace dos décadas y media, me preguntaba si era un mal presagio (no es que yo realmente creyera en los presagios) ser consagrado en un día en que a un santo le cortaron la cabeza. Pero al final, realmente sucedió que Dios tenía otros planes para mi vida.

El pasaje evangélico no se centra en Juan Bautista, sino en la imprudente recompensa de Herodes, la malvada petición de Herodías y el posterior conflicto interno de Herodes.

¿Qué habrá estado pensando Juan en esos momentos finales cuando se le acercaron con un hacha diciéndole que iba a morir? ¿Estaba lleno de miedo? ¿O estaba feliz de finalmente poder encontrarse con Dios cara a cara después de ser un servidor bueno y fiel?

Seguramente tenía un tipo de vida de “líneas chuecas”. Nacer de una pareja de ancianos estériles, estar relacionado con el Hijo de Dios, vivir en el desierto, comer langostas y miel silvestre, bautizar con agua, predicar el arrepentimiento y ser arrojado a la cárcel, solo para morir como mártir.

Tal vez tu vida parezca igualmente loca, pero cada uno de nosotros está llamado a seguir a Cristo, incluso hasta la muerte.

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: Sam Poullain, unsplash.com/photos/TuAZPj1uaZs

Create in Me a Clean Heart / Crea en Mi un Corazón Puro

It’s always hard to come back to reality after vacation, isn’t it? I mean, after breathing in fresh air, gazing on the azure waters of the Great Lakes and feeling the breeze flow through the abundance of beautiful tall trees, who wants to go home? Every year, we talk about finding a place there and making it our permanent abode. One can always dream, right?

As we drove home my kids were depressed and whiny, worsening my already somber mood. I popped in a movie and promised them pizza and finally we pulled in the driveway. The house always seems so foreign after being away for several days. It even smells different, having been still and lifeless for almost a week. 

Yet, despite the inevitable sadness, it’s always good to sleep in my own bed, take a shower in my own bathroom and get back to a steady routine that isn’t so exhausting, albeit, exciting. 

Today’s First Reading reminds me of the good a change of scenery does for the soul: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you…I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.” 

Yet, there is something that the day-to-day offers us as well. I remember a friend saying that the reason the liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green is because it’s a season of growth. Just as the green grass grows and the green buds appear on the trees, so do our ordinary lives allow for growth so that, “you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”

I also found it fitting that today’s Psalm states: “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me…Give me back the joy of your salvation”. Time and time again, I had to remind my kids, who REALLY didn’t want mommy to go back to work, that I had to return to earn a living for our family. Although a vacation is refreshing and brings joy, it is during the day in and day out that God teaches me to have a steadfast spirit.  So, whether they like it or not, it is through work that God hones us and provides for our needs. 

So as I get back into the daily grind, refreshed, exhausted and a little sad, I am reminded that my God offers me a new heart and a new spirit, and gives me the grace to work as I must. 

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Siempre es difícil volver a la realidad después de las vacaciones, ¿no? O sea, después de respirar aire fresco, contemplar las aguas azules de los Lagos Grandes y sentir la brisa fresca a través de la abundancia de hermosos árboles altos, ¿quién va a querer regresar a casa? Cada año, hablamos de encontrar un lugar allí y convertirlo en nuestra morada permanente. Uno siempre puede soñar, ¿verdad?

Mientras manejaba a casa, mis hijos estaban deprimidos y quejumbrosos, lo que empeoró mi estado de ánimo ya sombrío. Les puse una película y les prometí una pizza y por fin llegamos a casa. La casa siempre parece tan extraña después de estar varios días fuera. Incluso huele diferente, después de haber estado quieto y sin vida durante casi una semana.

Sin embargo, a pesar de la inevitable tristeza, siempre es bueno dormir en mi propia cama, ducharme en mi propio baño y volver a una rutina constante que no sea tan agotadora, aunque sí emocionante.

La Primera Lectura de hoy me recuerda el bien que hace para el alma un cambio de ambientes: “Los rociaré con agua pura …Les daré un corazón nuevo y les infundiré un espíritu nuevo; arrancaré de ustedes el corazón de piedra y les daré un corazón de carne.”

Sin embargo, hay algo que también nos ofrece la vida cotidiana. Recuerdo que un amigo dijo que la razón por la cual el color litúrgico del Tiempo Ordinario es verde es porque es una temporada de crecimiento. Así como la hierba verde crece y los brotes verdes aparecen en los árboles, nuestras vidas ordinarias permiten el crecimiento para que “ustedes serán mi pueblo y yo seré su Dios”.

También me pareció apropiado que el Salmo de hoy diga: “Crea en mí, Señor, un corazón puro, un espíritu nuevo… Devuélveme tu salvación, que regocija”. Una y otra vez, tuve que recordarles a mis hijos, que REALMENTE no querían que su mamá volviera a trabajar, que tenía que volver para ganarme el sueldo para nuestra familia. Aunque las vacaciones refrescan y traen alegría, es durante la vida diaria que Dios me enseña a tener un espíritu firme. Entonces, les guste o no, es a través del trabajo que Dios nos perfecciona y provee para nuestras necesidades.

Entonces, cuando regreso a la rutina diaria, renovada, agotada y un poco triste, recuerdo que mi Dios me ofrece un corazón nuevo y un espíritu nuevo, y me da la gracia para trabajar como debo.

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: by Felix Urcia, a view of Lake Michigan from Ludington

Dying That We Might Live / Morir Para Vivir

Twenty years ago today, on the feast of St. Lawrence, my dad was ordained a permanent deacon. I clearly remember the day because I got a “front row seat” as I was asked to photograph the liturgy. Part of me didn’t want him to be a deacon because I knew he would be involved in various ministries and wouldn’t be home as much. My dad and I were pretty close and I had just gotten home from my years as a missionary in Mexico a little over a year prior. Yet, I was also proud of him for all his years of study and taking this step to serve God’s people.

His answer to God’s call truly embodies today’s Gospel passage: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” 

My dad had 8 children, a full time job and was involved in other ministries, yet my mom encouraged him to answer the call to be an ordained minister. Over the years, this has been a blessing to many, as together they have dedicated countless hours to mentoring engaged couples, visiting the sick, and getting more involved at their parish. 

What is God calling me to do that might feel like a small “death” or sacrifice? Is He calling you to do something that feels like it might cause you to “lose” your life or alter it in a major way? 

Often we are not called to move mountains or relocate to foreign lands, but rather to serve God in the small ways of everyday life. “Whoever serves me must follow me… My Father will honor the one who serves me.” 

Lord, may I die to myself in order to serve you each and every day.

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Hoy, hace veinte años, en la fiesta de San Lorenzo, mi papá fue ordenado diácono permanente. Recuerdo el día claramente porque tuve un “asiento de primera fila” cuando me pidieron que tomara fotos de la liturgia. Una parte de mí no quería que fuera diácono porque sabía que estaría involucrado en varios ministerios y no estaría mucho en casa. Mi papá y yo éramos bastante cercanos y hace unos meses yo acababa de llegar a casa después de unos años como misionera en México. Sin embargo, también estaba orgulloso de él por todos sus años de estudio y por dar este paso para servir al pueblo de Dios.

Su respuesta a la llamada de Dios encarna verdaderamente el pasaje evangélico de hoy: “Yo les aseguro que si el grano de trigo sembrado en la tierra no muere, queda infecundo; pero si muere, producirá mucho fruto.”

Mi papá tenía 8 hijos, un trabajo de tiempo completo y estaba involucrado en otros ministerios, pero mi mamá lo animó a responder al llamado para ser ministro ordenado. A lo largo de los años, esto ha sido una bendición para muchos, ya que juntos han dedicado innumerables horas a ser mentores de parejas comprometidas, visitar a los enfermos y participar más en su parroquia.

¿Qué me está llamando Dios a hacer que pueda parecer una pequeña “muerte” o sacrificio? ¿Te está llamando a hacer algo que parece que podría hacer que “pierdas” tu vida o alterarla de manera importante?

A menudo no estamos llamados a mover montañas o mudarnos a tierras extranjeras, sino a servir a Dios en las pequeñas cosas de la vida cotidiana. El que quiera servirme que me siga… El que me sirve será honrado por mi Padre.”

Señor, ayúdame a morir a mí misma para servirte cada día.

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: Melissa Askew, unsplash.com/photos/1fBUD5Dcmys

The Law of Inertia / La Ley de la Inercia

I really struggle with the law of inertia. You know, that rule of physics that states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Yup, that’s me. If I am working on a project at my house I just want to keep going and going and don’t want to stop. Yet, if I’m sitting at my desk at work, I really don’t want to get up. Just let me stay there and do my job and don’t ask me to do anything.

But the last few words of that law state, “unless acted upon by force.” Whether it be exhaustion from working all day causing me to sit down, or my boss asking me to get up and complete a task, some force motivates change.  

In our First Reading God sent his word through Jeremiah to enact change in the people of Judah: “Thus says the LORD: If you disobey me, not living according to the law I placed before you and not listening to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I send you constantly though you do not obey them, I will treat this house like Shiloh, and make this the city to which all the nations of the earth shall refer when cursing another.” Yet apparently they struggled with inertia even more than I do because instead of moving toward repentance they declared to Jeremiah, “You must be put to death!”

Our Gospel reading shows us an example of the exact opposite. The raising of Lazarus was one of the most amazing inertia-reversing moments in history. Through the force of our almighty God, a man was raised from the dead! 

Not many of us will face either of these two realities in our lifetime, yet we are consistently called upon to make changes to become more Christ-like. To change our attitudes, to change our words, to change our decision-making, to change our actions. Due to original sin, “inertia” makes it hard to focus our minds and hearts on God, but He is the “force” that can enact change in us. 

May we remember to call upon our amazing God every day, that He may grant us the grace to make changes in our lives for the better. Then perhaps that old law of physics won’t burden us so much anymore. 

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Verdaderamente batallo con la ley de la inercia. Ya sabes, esa regla de la física que establece que un objeto en movimiento tiende a permanecer en movimiento y un objeto en reposo tiende a permanecer en reposo. Así soy yo. Si estoy trabajando en un proyecto en mi casa, solo quiero seguir y seguir y no quiero parar. Sin embargo, si estoy sentada en mi escritorio en el trabajo, realmente no quiero levantarme. Solo déjame quedarme allí a hacer mi trabajo y no me pidas que haga nada.

Pero las últimas palabras de esa ley establecen, “a menos que se actúe por la fuerza”. Ya sea que el cansancio de trabajar todo el día me obligue a sentarme o que mi jefe me pida que me levante y complete una tarea, alguna fuerza motiva el cambio.

En nuestra Primera Lectura, Dios envió su palabra a través de Jeremías para promulgar un cambio en el pueblo de Judá: “Así dice el Señor: Si me desobedecen y no viven conforme a la ley que puse delante de ustedes y no escuchan las palabras de mis siervos los profetas que les envío constantemente aunque no los obedecen, haré de esta casa como a Silo, y haré de ésta la ciudad a la cual se referirán todas las naciones de la tierra cuando maldigan a otra.” Sin embargo, aparentemente lucharon con la inercia incluso más que yo porque en lugar de moverse hacia el arrepentimiento le declararon a Jeremías: “¡Debes morir!”.

Nuestra lectura del Evangelio nos muestra un ejemplo de exactamente lo contrario. La resurrección de Lázaro fue uno de los mejores momentos de voltear a la inercia de toda la historia. ¡Por la fuerza de nuestro Dios todopoderoso, un hombre resucitó de entre los muertos!

Muchos de nosotros nunca vamos a enfrentar ninguna de estas dos realidades en nuestra vida, sin embargo, constantemente estamos llamados a hacer cambios para asemejarnos más a Cristo. Cambiar nuestras actitudes, cambiar nuestras palabras, cambiar nuestra toma de decisiones, cambiar nuestras acciones. Debido al pecado original, la “inercia” hace que sea difícil enfocar nuestras mentes y corazones en Dios, pero Él es la “fuerza” que puede realizar el cambio en nosotros.

Acordémonos a invocar a nuestro maravilloso Dios todos los días, para que Él nos conceda la gracia de hacer cambios en nuestras vidas para mejor, para que esa vieja ley de la física ya no nos agobie tanto.

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: Simon Berger, unsplash.com/photos/Jp5Lv17Mq4M

What a Difference a Year Makes! / ¡Un Año Hace Tanta Diferencia!

I can’t even begin to explain how different this summer has been from last summer. On July 9th we celebrated one year of complete wellness for my young son, after suffering repeated infections from a burst appendix. 

This year, the kids have been outside for hours everyday and we have been enjoying rivers, lakes and pools. The weather has been sunny and mild, I have a new job that I love and my baby girl is almost a year old. What a difference a year makes!

Surely Abraham and Sarah could say the same in today’s Old Testament reading. They had surely spent their whole young lives suffering from infertility and praying for a child and then they finally conceived in their old age. I’m sure they were both overjoyed! 

In hindsight we are able to see the fruits of our sufferings but oh, how hard it is to be strong and bear them in the moment! How different my summer would have been last year if I would have been able to say along with St. Paul: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake”! 

As a child, I was taught to offer up my sufferings. Perhaps for the poor souls in Purgatory, or my neighbor who was ill, or a classmate whose parents were getting a divorce, or my dad who was struggling at his job, etc. Yet as an adult I have a much harder time with it. I like to be in control and have a hard time when things go south or don’t go the way I planned. I often choose to brood or complain rather than calming my heart in prayer and offering it up to our Lord. 

Mary teaches us this calm and the importance of prayer in today’s Gospel. She sits at the feet of Jesus to spend time with Him and listen to Him. I think if we spent more time like this, the difficult times in our lives would feel much less like a storm. These calm, prayerful moments would anchor us in faith, so that we wouldn’t feel like we are being washed away.

My prayer today is that we may remember to rejoice in our sufferings, learn to offer them up and find constant strength in our loving Lord. And perhaps next year we can all exclaim together, “What a difference a year makes!”

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Ni siquiera puedo comenzar a explicar cuán diferente ha sido este verano del verano pasado. El 9 de julio celebramos un año del bienestar completo para mi hijito, después de sufrir infecciones repetidas  por un apéndice reventado.

Este año, mis hijos han estado afuera por varias horas todos los días y hemos nadado en ríos, lagos y piscinas. El clima ha sido soleado y templado, tengo un nuevo trabajo que me encanta y mi niña ya va a cumplir un año. ¡Un año hace tanta diferencia!

Seguramente Abraham y Sara podrían decir lo mismo en la lectura de hoy del Antiguo Testamento. Seguramente habían pasado toda su juventud sufriendo de infertilidad y suplicando a Dios tener hijos y finalmente concibieron en su vejez. ¡Estoy seguro de que ambos se pusieron tan felices!

En retrospectiva, podemos ver los frutos de nuestros sufrimientos, pero ¡qué difícil es ser fuerte y soportarlos en el momento! ¡Qué diferente hubiera sido mi verano el año pasado si hubiera podido decir junto con San Pablo: “Ahora me alegro de mis sufrimientos por Él”!

De niño, me enseñaron a ofrecer mis sufrimientos como sacrificio. Tal vez por las almas del Purgatorio, o mi vecino que estaba enfermo, o un compañero de clase cuyos padres se estaban divorciando, o mi padre que estaba batallando en su trabajo, etc. Sin embargo, como adulto, se me dificulta bastante. Me gusta mantener el control y me pongo mal cuando las cosas no van bien o no salen como las planeé. Con frecuencia elijo enojarme o quejarme en lugar de calmar mi corazón en la oración y ofrecérselo a nuestro Señor.

María nos enseña esta calma y la importancia de la oración en el Evangelio de hoy. Se sienta a los pies de Jesús para pasar tiempo con Él y escucharlo. Creo que si pasáramos más tiempo así, los momentos difíciles de nuestras vidas se sentirían mucho menos como una tormenta. Estos momentos de tranquilidad y oración nos anclarían en la fe, para que no sintiéramos que la lluvia y el viento nos arrastra.

Le pido a Dios que recordemos regocijarnos en nuestros sufrimientos, aprendamos a ofrecerlos a Dios y encontremos la fortaleza constante en nuestro amoroso Señor. Y tal vez el próximo año podamos exclamar todos juntos: “¡Un año hace tanta diferencia!”

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: Fauzan Ardhi, unsplash.com/photos/rqclLm60c1k

Silence is a Treasure / El Silencio es Un Tesoro

As a young adult fresh out of missionary life, I used to listen frequently to Christian music. I found inspiration and fervor singing along to all the CD’s I had purchased after picking out my favorite tunes on the radio. Certain songs I listened to over and over again, due to their relevance in my life at the time. 

As the seasons of my life changed and I became a wife and mother to a brood of little ones, I realized how precious silence was and stepped away from listening to music. I never turn on the radio anymore and never pop in CD’s. I don’t have a Pandora app on my phone and don’t go to concerts. Any moment of silence is now a treasure.

But I recently started a new job and my coworker enjoys playing Christian music in the background while we work and I realized once again how enriching music can be. For the past few days I have been singing to myself: “All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong…” (song by Building 429) It reminds me over and over again that the only truly important thing in my life is my Lord and my God. 

Today’s readings are full of many such reminders: Moses reminded the people in today’s First Reading: “If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.” The Psalm Response proclaims: “Turn to the Lord in your need and you will live.” The Second Reading states: “Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church.” And finally, the Gospel reminds us “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

All of these words from Sacred Scripture point toward one thing. God is God and I am not. He has everything in the palm of His hand. He’s got this. No matter how messy life gets (or how noisy), He’s got this. 

I pray that each of you may find a few moments of silence to cherish today, and may they be spent in His presence. Who knows, maybe you will even find yourself singing “Take this world and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong…” 

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Como adulta joven que recién había salido de la vida misionera, solía escuchar música cristiana con frecuencia. Encontraba inspiración y fervor cantando todos los CDs que había comprado después de elegir mis canciones favoritas en la radio. Ciertas canciones las escuchaba una y otra vez, por su relevancia en mi vida en aquel momento.

A medida que esta época de mi vida se iba cambiando y me convertí en esposa y madre de varios pequeños, me di cuenta de lo precioso que era el silencio y dejé de escuchar música. Ya nunca enciendo la radio y nunca pongo CDs. No tengo una app de Pandora en mi teléfono y no voy a conciertos. Ahora considero cualquier momento de silencio un tesoro.

Pero recientemente comencé un nuevo trabajo y mi compañera de trabajo disfruta escuchar música cristiana mientras trabajamos y me di cuenta una vez más de lo enriquecedora que puede ser la música. Durante los últimos días me he estado cantando a mí mismo: “Todo lo que sé es que todavía no estoy en casa, no pertenezco en este lugar. Toma este mundo y dame a Jesús. No pertenezco en este lugar…” (canción por Building 429) Me recuerda una y otra vez que lo único que es verdaderamente importante en mi vida es mi Señor y mi Dios.

Las lecturas de hoy están llenas de muchos recordatorios de este tipo: Moisés le recordó al pueblo en la Primera Lectura de hoy: “Si tan solo escucharan la voz de Jehová su Dios, y guardaran sus mandamientos y estatutos que están escritos en este libro de la ley, cuando vuelven al SEÑOR, tu Dios, con todo tu corazón y con toda tu alma”. El Salmo Responsorial proclama: “Vuelva al Señor en tu necesidad y vivirás”. La Segunda Lectura dice: “Cristo Jesús es la imagen del Dios invisible, el primogénito de toda la creación, porque en él fueron creadas todas las cosas en el cielo y en la tierra, lo visible y lo invisible, sean tronos o dominios o principados o potestades; todas las cosas fueron creadas por medio de Él y para Él. Él es antes de todas las cosas, y todas las cosas subsisten en Él. Él es la cabeza del cuerpo que es la iglesia”. Y finalmente, el Evangelio nos recuerda: “Amarás al Señor, tu Dios, con todo tu corazón, con todo tu ser, con todas tus fuerzas y con toda tu mente, y a tu prójimo como a ti mismo”.

Todas estas palabras de la Sagrada Escritura señalan una sola cosa. Dios es Dios y yo no. Él tiene todo en la palma de Su mano. Él lo tiene. No importa cuán desordenada se ponga la vida (o cuán ruidosa), Él lo tiene.

Espero que cada uno de ustedes pueda encontrar unos momentos de silencio para atesorar hoy, y que los pase en Su presencia. Quién sabe, tal vez incluso te encuentres cantando “Toma este mundo y dame a Jesús. No pertenezco en este lugar…”

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: Amy Tran, unsplash.com/photos/nHRjqkRIuTE

Bearing Good Fruit

As soon as I walk in the door from any given workday, I am ambushed by a barrage of “Mommy!!!” “Hi Mommy!” and “Yeah! Mommy’s home!!” My usually subdued workplace atmosphere gives way to the chaos of several littles as I try to get dinner on the table while listening to their stories and their complaints. 

Sometimes these moments are overwhelming. Sometimes my reactions are not loving. Sometimes I wish I had some earplugs. Sometimes, I remind myself to take a step back and take it all in while it lasts. 

I often feel like I’m in the midst of a whirlwind. One day blows into the other at a rapid pace. The years go by in the blink of an eye. Am I behaving as I should as a Catholic Christian?

Today’s Psalm implores: “Teach me the ways of your decrees”. I do want to live in the ways of the Lord and I want to teach my children to live that way too. Everything I do matters. Every comment I make, every tone of voice I emit, will affect them in one way or another. Teach me your ways, Oh Lord, teach me your ways. 

The Gospel tells us: “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.” I long to be that good tree that bears fruits of goodness in my children. There are days that I hear sarcasm come out of their mouths and I say to myself, “I taught them that.” And there are other days that I hear them say, “I shared with my brother today” and I taught them that too. 

The daily struggle between good and evil is real, but if we remember to ask the Lord to teach us His ways, He can make that good fruit grow within us. 

May our children, and all those we meet, encounter Christ through our good fruits.

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: Jamie Street, unsplash.com/photos/tb5A-QTI6xg

God Always Provides

I know I am not the only one feeling the squeeze. With gas over $5.00 a gallon and groceries 20-30% higher than they were just a few months ago, the financial stress is real. Yes, we are doing what we can to cut back. Yes, we are trying to spend as little as possible. And yes, I do my fair share of complaining about it. 

Over the weekend, I said a few things I shouldn’t have and felt bad about it. Among them, was complaining about the aforementioned issue. My husband said to me, “It’s not like you’re the only one paying that much for gas or the only one paying that much for food. I don’t know why you’re complaining about it. Everyone is struggling with it.” 

It was a simple statement, but one I needed to hear. We are all in this together, folks, whether we like it or not, and all we can do is do our best to continue providing for our families. 

Today’s Gospel was exactly what I needed to hear and I hope it is balm to your soul as well. 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,

what you will eat or drink,

or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds in the sky;

they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,

yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are not you more important than they?

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

Why are you anxious about clothes?

Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.

They do not work or spin.

But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor

was clothed like one of them.

If God so clothes the grass of the field,

which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,

will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’

or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’

All these things the pagans seek.

Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,

and all these things will be given you besides.

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.

Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Matthew 6)

God has always taken care of us, my friends, and He will continue to do so. Let us hold on to hope and ask Him for a greater trust that His grace will provide all that we need.  

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: Alexander Schimmeck, unsplash.com/photos/6bykmLxy-3Y

When Stubbornness is Transformed

I have to admit that I’m a pretty stubborn gal. I tend to get thoughts, ideas or desires stuck in my head and don’t give up until they’re resolved or obtained. I have a knack with words and can be pretty convincing most of the time. One of the reasons I know this is because of my offspring. Every one of them takes after me and every one of them is stubborn. 

Of course this strength of character has its benefits when trying to pull through tough times, when completing tasks that are particularly difficult or when something unpleasant just has to get done. But more often than not, our stubbornness only causes us unnecessary sadness when we don’t get what we want. 

The children of Israel were one stubborn bunch in today’s First Reading. They had strayed and begun following false gods. Their hearts were hardened. They even resorted to cutting themselves to get Baal to make his presence known. Of course it was all to no avail, because there is no other god than the One, true God.

He made himself known through a raging fire, despite the fact that the altar was doused with water three times. He came down to show his people that he was real, alive and present. He came in flames to show them that he could once again set their hearts aflame if only they would open them up to Him. 

I find that I’m happier when I let go of my stubbornness, when I let another person make a decision once in a while or when I tell them they had a good idea. When my heart and mind is open to truly listening to my family, friends and coworkers instead of always thinking about the next thing to say to appear that I always know what I’m talking about or am always right, I feel free. 

I imagine the Israelites felt the same sense of relief. God surely sent them a burst of joy once they declared their dedication to Him, their faith in Him. Surely they felt remorse for their stubbornness and sought to seek God and His will above their own. 

Lord, help me to let go of any unhealthy attachments, any lesser gods that have snuck into my heart. Turn my stubbornness into openness and generosity. May my life give witness to you, your joy and your love. Amen. 

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen, unsplash.com/photos/cSsvUtTVr0Q

Remaining in Him

Do you ever feel like there is a general state of discontent in your household? One kid is  complaining about every little thing, the other doesn’t want to do his school work, the other has decided that copying every word that comes out of our mouths is funny, and they are all begging for new toys and video games that are not in our budget. 

I have tried getting them outside to get some Vitamin D and a change of attitude and they complain about that too. “I used to spend all day outside when I was kid!” I tell them, to no avail. I wonder why I was so excited to move to a house with a big fenced-in backyard when they don’t even want to step foot outside the door. 

At moments like these I recall something my brother mentioned telling his kids when they got whiny: “You don’t suffer enough.” And perhaps it’s true. Perhaps they can do without the individualized meals, the 50 stuffed animals, the weekly ice cream cone and the abundant hours of screen time. They are used to getting what they want and could use yet another lesson about sacrifice. 

In today’s Gospel Jesus states: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” Our Father prunes and refines us, just as we seek to prune and refine our children by teaching and directing them. Because in the end, we all could use a little pruning and we all could stand to sacrifice just a tad more. 

There is so much beauty in this process. When we allow ourselves to be pruned and adhere to the true vine, we will bear much fruit. “Remain in me, as I remain in you… If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” 

What an incredible promise! That is enough to turn any frown upside down! Remaining in Christ is not easy. It requires a continual focus and a periodic pruning, but when we do, Christ promises to be with us and respond to our every request!

Maybe I am not so different from my kids after all. Maybe I want certain things just as much as they do and get grumpy when I don’t get them. Maybe I don’t suffer enough either. Join me in remaining in Christ today so that we may bear much fruit and watch His many blessings unfold. 

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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 for Christian Healthcare Centers, 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: Sven Wilhelm, https://unsplash.com/photos/2cRXSWyMHA8