Conversion and Courage

Today, we hear about one of the unsung women who is an absolute hero in the Bible. Think back to the situation that is described in today’s First Reading. During this time in Egypt, all Israelite boys were to be killed, under the order of Pharaoh. You could be put to death for hiding children as well. Enter the hero of the story. This unknown woman conceals the child for as long as she can. 

Now I don’t know about you, but my experience with children is that they do not stay quiet for very long, especially without food or comfort. So this woman is constantly trying to keep her child quiet and well fed in order to save him from Pharaoh’s wrath. I think of the scene in “A Quiet Place” where they just had a newborn and have to try to keep the crying down so they are not heard by the invading force in the movie. 

If you have seen the film, you know that it ends in a sacrifice to protect the children. In the same way, this woman sacrifices her very life for Moses, and look at what God did with this sacrificial love. But notice that Moses is not ready right away to do God’s will. In fact, he even commits murder and has to hide out for a time as God slowly calls him to deeper and deeper conversion. 

I think there are two things we can learn from this reading that apply to our daily lives. First, sometimes God’s will can be difficult for us to follow, but we should be courageous just as this woman was in the Bible, because we never know what our actions will do in the long term. Second, we are constantly being purified and sanctified. When I was in seminary one of the major slogans was constant conversion. 

The word conversion simply means to turn away. Turn away from a certain lifestyle or sin or vice in order to turn back to God. John Paul II in his Encyclical Redemptoris Missio said, “From the outset, conversion is expressed in faith which is total and radical, and which neither limits nor hinders God’s gift. At the same time, it gives rise to a dynamic and lifelong process which demands a continual turning away from ‘life according to the flesh’ to ‘life according to the Spirit’. Conversion means accepting, by a personal decision, the saving sovereignty of Christ and becoming his disciple.”

Conversion is not once and for all, but gradual and daily. It is a lifelong process whereby we accept the love of the Trinity.  If we courageously follow God and open ourselves up to his constant love, it may not be what we expect, but it will be what we need. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and a content specialist for Ruah Woods, a Theology of the Body Ministry. 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.

Feature Image Credit: Diogo Nunes, https://unsplash.com/photos/iYWeacTsaGQ

True Freedom

We just celebrated the Fourth of July and the Alleluia before the Gospel today really got me thinking about freedom. The reading says, “Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.” Christ has conquered sin and death and brought freedom to us. But what is freedom?

Genesis 2 explains, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’”

Adam was free to eat, he was free to choose. This leads to the question that keeps philosophers busy; Why did God allow freedom if he knew we were going to fall? Ultimately, he gave us freedom because he loves us and wants us to freely love him in return. But that necessarily means that the very freedom that is required for authentic love, also allows for rejection.

Currently, our culture tends to think of freedom as doing whatever we want, whenever we want, in whatever way that we want. This was the mistake Adam and Eve made as well. Adam and Eve believed that God was holding out on them. So, they allowed their freedom, which was meant to bring them closer to God, to turn them away from him and toward death.

Now, let’s fast forward out of the echoes of Eden to the present day. We still misuse this God-given freedom to turn our backs on him. John Paul II recognized that, in the beginning, before the fall, this was not God’s will, proclaiming, “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” This sounds counterintuitive in our modern era; for freedom to be doing what we “ought,” but think about it. When we live in accordance with God’s order, design and purpose, we are most fulfilled. When a dog obeys his owner, he is man’s best friend. When a child obeys their parents, they are joyful and protected. And so it goes, within his created order, when we obey God, we are living to our fullest potential.

Contrast that with the fact that every time we sin, it is easier and easier to form harmful habits and become enslaved to that sin, even addicted. That’s when evil makes us less and less of who we were created to be. Therefore, the question for us this month, as we celebrate The Fourth of July is, how are we going to use our freedom? Do we want slavery, or do we want fulfillment? Don’t let this be an empty question that slides off the screen. Take 30 seconds right now and ask yourself how you can live in true freedom this month, and then next month and the next (virtue can become habit too, you know). Then pray to be open to receiving the grace God is offering to you. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and a content specialist for Ruah Woods, a Theology of the Body Ministry. 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.

Feature Image Credit: Jon Sailer, https://unsplash.com/photos/8JYxCF00X3Y

Taste and See

Usually I like focusing on one of the main readings, or the Gospel, but today the Responsorial Psalm really stood out to me. The words “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord” fly directly in the face of those who think Christians just believe in this invisible God who can’t be proven or disproven. It immediately flies to the defense of any of those, hopefully all of us, who see the importance of the sacraments and the physical presentation of the invisible grace of God. This is the faith of the Church from the very beginning, our faith is incarnational. That is to say, our faith proclaims the spiritual and physical, body and soul, matter and form.

You see, we love through our bodies and God became man to give up his body for us in the most concrete and tangible act of love. The incarnation is so important to the Church, in fact, that the Catechism in paragraph 1015 says, “The flesh is the hinge of salvation. We believe in God who is creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh.”

The chasm between the human person and the grace of God that was brought about by the fall, was bridged by a human body, a human heart, and divine love. This is why St. John Paul II could say, “Through the fact that the Word of God became flesh, the body entered theology. I would say, through the main door.” (TOB 23:4)

The second Person of the Trinity did not become man solely to save us from sin, but also to remind us of who we are as human persons, and to be an example of who the human person should be. He elevated the human person to a level that was previously unknown and inaccessible. The Church proclaims this loudly and boldly during the Easter Vigil when we hear, “O happy fault that gained for us so great a Redeemer.”

This is what we just celebrated on the Feast of Corpus Christi and this is the key to our faith. We celebrate a God who became man so that we might become God (See Catechism 460). We hear it in the Psalm today, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord”. God is real, his love is real, so real we can quite literally taste it. Let’s never take that for granted. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless! 

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and a content specialist for Ruah Woods, a Theology of the Body Ministry. 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.

Feature Image Credit: Xavilupe, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/3277-eucaritia-entre-montanas

The Angels Walk With Us

So the other day when I was walking with my guardian angel. Wait what? Yes, you heard me right, I was walking with my guardian angel. You can see how saying something like this kind of shocks us. It isn’t normal language that we are used to hearing. But in the First Reading today that’s how it begins. The angel Raphael is walking with Tobiah.

This led me to ponder why that language is so mysterious or shocking to us today. We believe that angels exist don’t we? We see them all through Scripture helping man on his quest to draw closer to God. So why is it so shocking that angels would be with us? I think this is why the Bible puts it so plainly. It shouldn’t be shocking to us. We should all be aware of this spiritual presence of angels.

I love how the Catechism puts it, “the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.” Take just a second and reflect on the depth of that passage. The entire Church, including you and me, benefit from the powerful help of angels. They are here with us guiding us and helping us just as Raphael did for Tobias.

Aquinas, who is known as the angelic doctor, made the point that every angel is its own species. Here in the animal kingdom we have species to group things together that are common in certain aspects. Every angel, however, is so unique that it is its own species entirely. Think about that. God cares about you so much that he created an angel, that is its own species, to help you. To personally help you.

This isn’t just a fun little theological thing to contemplate, this is an actual teaching of the Church. The Catechism states, “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.”

So there you have it straight from the Church. You can take that to the spiritual bank if you will. You have a guardian angel who loves you, protects you, and guides you. Let’s not forget to ask for help from our angel every day. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: franciscodeasis, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/3125-arcangel-miguel

True Joy

How can we be happy? This seems like the question that has echoed through the ages. Everybody wants to be happy and wants to find the key to peace. Often we turn to worldly things for this happiness because we are given a glimpse of happiness when we receive material things. We turn to money, status, food, relationships, whatever we can in order to feel happiness for just a few moments.

But today in the Gospel we hear Jesus talk about joy instead of happiness. He says, “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

So Jesus doesn’t seem super occupied with happiness, but instead with joy. What is the difference? I think if we truly look at it, happiness is an emotion that can come and go, but joy is a virtue that stays. What do I mean? Think of some of the martyrs who were joyful even during their death because they knew where they were going. They were able to live the virtue of joy even in the most “unhappy” of times. They did not let the world affect their virtue.

So we really should be asking how can we always have joy? The answer, of course, is given to us in the Gospel. We ask Jesus for it. He has perfect joy and wants to share it with us. He wants to give us this virtue that lasts even when it seems that we should be unhappy or broken or hurt or suffering.

Do we know this Jesus who wants to give us this joy? Ask yourself that question personally. Have you met this Jesus who wants to take your yoke and make it easier, who wants to give you joy beyond your imagination, who wants to bring you peace and love? I think we want to believe that Jesus is that person or we easily believe he does that for others, but do we pray to know this Jesus who wants to bring us joy? 

Especially during this time of Easter, let’s all pray fervently for the grace to grow in this important virtue. So that we may always have joy even when the things around us seem negative, we know that nothing and nobody can rob us of joy. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: Mohamed Nohassi, https://unsplash.com/photos/odxB5oIG_iA

The Works of the Father

Today we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Philip and James, two of the apostles. Today’s Gospel is one of those readings that makes me feel better as a human person because it shows the true humanity of the apostles. Here they are walking, living, and learning, from Jesus and still they don’t understand a word he is saying. 

Philip tells Jesus that if they just see the Father that would be enough for them and Jesus promptly responds with, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Now, let’s give some credit to Philip, what Jesus says here is really confusing to a normal person. If someone were to walk up to you on the street and say my father and I are distinct persons but one God, you would probably be confused as well. So we can give Philip a break for being confused because these truths can only really be understood through revelation. But what I want to focus on is the faith of Philip. 

Jesus is speaking about his father in heaven, and Philip immediately just wants to see. He wants to know God the Father. He wants to know him personally. I think sometimes we make the mistake of believing we have to know everything there is to know about the Catholic Church or about God before we can truly enter into a relationship, but today’s Gospel would say otherwise. Philip didn’t know much at this point about God the Father or even about Jesus. But he wanted to know. That faith was enough. 

As we move on in the Gospel we see the result of this faith. When we have faith in Jesus and rely on God the Father we can do the works of Jesus. Philip didn’t understand this yet, but that’s exactly what happened. The apostles relied on God the father, listened to Jesus, and allowed the Holy Spirit into their lives, and then their works were effective, they were miraculous, they were the works of the Father. 

We have the same call today. Do we have that kind of faith? Do we trust that God will allow us to do these works as well and bring many back to the Lord? This isn’t a work that we do, but it comes from God the Father through Jesus Christ. Let’s pray for the grace to live this faith boldly and proclaim it loudly as Philip eventually did. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: Matías Medina, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/22086-apostoles

Change In Community

Imagine a parish where you walk in and are greeted at the door by a smiling face who welcomes you and directs you to a seat that is reserved just for you. Imagine that those around you aren’t interested in your political ideals or viewpoints on hot topic issues, but they are just grateful to meet you and welcome you into God’s house. Keep imagining, if you will, a place where everyone can freely worship God the way that fits their spirituality, without being mocked or scorned, but they can just be with Jesus in the way they most prefer. Imagine a place where the full truth is preached with conviction, despite what the consequences may be. Imagine someone who is willing to walk through the mess of your life and not judge you or condemn you, but also not leave you in the filth of your sin, but help guide you to the truth.

Sound like a place you have ever been? The reality is that what I just described should be what every Christian church looks like. The question is, do they? Let’s read through the First Reading today and really reflect on it in light of the questions I just asked.

“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas (which is translated ‘son of encouragement’), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.” -Acts 4:32-37

So what can we say about this reading? As I read through it what stood out was how this is what Jesus wants us to look like as Christian communities. This is what he wants your church to look like. So the simple question is, what can we do to make it more like this? Are we giving of our time, talent, and treasure to help those around us? Are we trying to sow unity while also standing firm with the truth. Are we like Jesus who gave the fullness of mercy to the woman caught in adultery and then promptly said to sin no more? Let’s make a commitment today to be the change. Preaching the Gospel through our actions with the people God has given us. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: Cathopic, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/5323-luz-iglesia

Baptisms Galore

I am writing this reflection on Holy Saturday, in the midst of Holy Week. What is supposed to be one of the holiest weeks of the year becomes the busiest for anyone working for the Church. In my role I have many sacraments coming up, including Confirmation and First Communion. We of course, have all the Holy Week Liturgies as well as extra times of prayer and confession. It’s a busy time, which is good because a busy church is a living church, but that doesn’t make the stacks of paperwork any easier.

This is why I love the First Reading for today. Let’s look at just the last line which says, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.” I love how that is just casually mentioned as if it was normal to baptize that many people. Think about that logistically. The priest must have been out there for hours just baptizing one after the other. But what do I like most about it? No paperwork. Haha. But really what is the most beautiful thing about it? That it is the preaching of the simple Gospel and it was so profound that three thousand people decided to enter The Church.

Now I don’t know about you, but our Easter Vigil at my parish has never had this many people lining up. Then I get to thinking what is the difference between now and then? Why don’t we have such large numbers of people asking to be made children of God? I think there are many reasons one can think of. The process is longer, the world is more secular, there aren’t enough priests, people aren’t catechized. You could find many different reasons, but I think number one is that we have stopped believing in the power of the resurrection.

Here we are in the midst of the Easter season and I think that is the question I will ponder for the next few weeks. Do I believe in the power of the resurrection? Do I believe that if God wants it, then three thousand will line up at our doors? Do I believe that the same Holy Spirit that made those conversions happen is still active today? Or do I think that somehow God only had so much power in the tank and it has been running on fumes?

Now I hope anyone reading this believes God does have the power, but then the next question is, do we let that power work in our lives? Sometimes it can be scary to let God have full control and give in completely to the power of the Holy Spirit. It can be unexpected, new, foreign, or just uncomfortable. But what would happen if all of us submitted to the power of the Holy Spirit just like they did in this First Reading? What would the Church look like? That’s a question I ask daily. How can I submit even more to the Holy Spirit and God working in my life. What is he asking me to do? Where is he asking me to go? From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: II ragazzo, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/19650-bienvenido-familia-catolica

Fulfilling the Law

I love the readings for today because they connect so beautifully. The Church is brilliant with how it pairs readings sometimes. The first reading for today speaks about the importance of the law and statutes and decrees that are given by Moses. Moses must have been a brilliant salesman because he implores the people to follow the statutes and says that if they do, other nations will look at them as an intelligent society. So of course they will want to follow the rules, because they will look intelligent in doing so. Brilliant. But then the Gospel comes in and speaks to us about how Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but fulfill it. Jesus himself says, “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.”

See sometimes I think we make Jesus into a person he was not because our faith can be much more comfortable that way. We decide that Jesus is too loving for anyone to go to hell, but yet Jesus speaks of hell. We decide that religion is not about rules, but about love. But Jesus speaks at length about the rules. We decide that if we are just a good person we will make it to heaven, but Jesus says to repent and believe in the Gospel. So sometimes we make up a jesus in our minds that there is really no biblical basis for. And I think that happens most when we talk about laws. Now of course, the Catholic religion is not about just blindly following laws for the sake of the law, Jesus condemned this idea too, but he also spoke of the importance of what the law does to our hearts.

Think about the discussion on adultery for example. Jesus says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Here Jesus is calling the people out for obeying the letter of the law, they were not committing the act of adultery, but missing the entire point of the law itself, not to lust at all and to learn how to truly love. And notice what happens when we focus so much on the letter of the law as opposed to what it is trying to teach us. Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it was not so.”

When we focus on the letter of the law, when we reject the laws entirely, when we make Jesus into someone he is not, our hearts become hardened. We put up a wall between ourselves and the Lord. So how do we counteract this? I think one of the ways is to read through the Gospels. The more we learn about who Jesus really was and what he taught, the less tempted we will be to make him into someone he was not. Let’s pray for that grace today. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: Sean Foster, https://unsplash.com/photos/jrazH5W7niA

To Turn

The verse before the Gospel today is a favorite of mine. “Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.” I actually have a tattoo of a similar verse, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” Both verses speak of conversion. Conversion just simply means to turn away from one thing and to another. This act of turning shows a denial of a person, place or idea, and at the same time an affirmation of another person, place or idea. When I was in seminary to become a Franciscan, something that was talked about quite often was constant conversion. Sometimes I think we hear testimonies of people where their entire life changed in one moment and from there they never ceased loving God. But I don’t think that happens most of the time. Most of the time we are called to this constant conversion where every day we have to meet the part of us that doesn’t want to follow God. Our desires, our worries, our fears, we meet these head on and make the choice whether or not to turn.

The first reading from today is one of these moments of conversion. Azariah is crying out with passion for the Lord to have mercy on them. They have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but they are making the choice to turn. We also hear of the opposite in the Gospel. The master forgives the servant who owed a debt, but then that same servant goes and demands the debt from his own servant. He had a chance to start anew, to convert, but instead he went and demanded the debt to be paid.

The bible is riddled with stories of conversion. Abram to Abraham, Saul to Paul, Simon to Peter. But notice that these people, after they converted, still had many things they struggled with and sins they had to face. Peter was already turning to the Lord when he decided to turn away three times. So, I think especially during this time of Lent, the question we can ask ourselves is, are we taking every day to turn back to the Lord? Sometimes Lent can be difficult because we look at it as this 40 day chunk that we have to try to get through. But in a lot of ways, it should be no different from how we normally live. Of course, we are giving up extra things, fasting, and abstaining, but every day we should look at our life and ask, are we turning closer to God, or further away? Let’s pray for the grace today and every day to turn even closer to him. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: Bobby Stevenson, https://unsplash.com/photos/Qc4YBIo-1Ro

Practice What You Preach

Practice what you preach, it seems super basic doesn’t it? Well so is eating healthy and many of us don’t do that. So is sleeping enough but then midnight comes around and we are still up watching this or that show. Some of the simplest things in the world can be the things we struggle with the most. That was certainly the case for the scribes and the Pharisees in the Gospel today. Preaching for them was an easy thing. They knew the law, they knew the word of God, they knew how to talk about it, and they had status and power in their communities to do so, the hard part was to put what they preached into practice. This is where they ultimately failed. 

I always give the Pharisees a really hard time. I look at them in the Gospels and think, “How could they be so stupid?” The son of God is literally walking amongst them, the One they have been waiting for, and instead of throwing a massive celebration, they are suspicious. Suspicious to the point of turning him in and playing a role in his very death. They had one job to do. Preach the word of God and prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah. Well the Messiah came and they themselves weren’t ready, so how could they possibly prepare the way? 

So I look at them and give them a super hard time, and then I know that gaze needs to immediately turn and focus on myself. Something I believe I have been gifted with is an ability to give talks and engage a crowd. I love speaking to large groups of people about the faith. When you do this over and over and the audiences start growing it can be very easy to slip into the mentality of the Pharisees. Your “job” so to speak becomes helping others with their spiritual lives, and not caring so much about yours. I remember a time I was giving a talk on prayer for a Diocesan retreat once and halfway through the talk I realized I hadn’t prayed in a long time. Now, I worked for the Diocese so I was praying a lot for work, but I wasn’t personally reaching out to the Lord. 

This was a wake up call for me. Hopefully this blog post is the same wake up call for all of us. Do we practice what we preach? You might work at a Diocese or parish. Do you go to Mass as much as you are able? I know I need to work on this. I could swing daily Mass every single day, but other things pile up. The point here is not to feel bad about ourselves and wallow in self-pity. The point is just to ask, what more can we do to practice what we preach? 

Jesus had some harsh words for the Pharisees because they knew the law and didn’t follow it. Let’s pray for the grace to know the law and follow the One who came to set us free. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless! 

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: Nycholas Benaia, https://unsplash.com/photos/2wGjjX8Qb-g

Life is a Drudgery

Wow, so the First Reading from today is pretty depressing, huh? Just the words we need to shock us out of any sadness or anxiety that we may be dealing with. As a classic optimist, I was tempted to go right past the First Reading and focus on something else, but I kept getting drawn back to it.

The following is the optimist’s take on one of the most depressing passages in Scripture. First, what is drudgery? I had to look up the word, because I knew it sounded bad. Scripture is comparing our lives on earth to hard, menial or dull work. At first glance this just sounds negative, but put it in relation to all of existence, and it makes sense.

Sometimes we wander through this life, or I know that I do, thinking that this is the best of the best. We try to make this earthly life as amazing as possible because it is what we know, and it’s hard to imagine anything else. But the good news is that this is just the beginning. God had so much planned for us, we screwed it up, he fixed it, and promises even more than the original plan.

What a loving God we have. Now all of this is hard to realize because all we know right now is our experience, but I have found it very helpful to take moments throughout the day to realize the place God has made for us in heaven. This life can be amazing, it doesn’t all have to be hard, menial or dull work, but even the best of moments is nothing compared to what God has in store for us. We are eating the scraps when God promises the feast. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis.  

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” -C.S. Lewis

If we are offered infinite joy, then that should shape everything we do. Even the mundane and boring times in this life become meaningful to us because they are one step closer to our ultimate destiny, eternal life. We have a tradition in the Catholic Church of remembering that we will die someday. We are reminded of this on Ash Wednesday. The First Reading clearly points to this. But I say we should remember that someday we will fully live. That should shape everything we do and how we treat others. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: Pedro Gabriel Miziara, https://unsplash.com/photos/HVwLvZYw6O4