The Glory of a Day of Rest

God commands us to give our Sabbath to the Lord, not as a recommendation or suggestion, but as a command. If God made room for it on the tablets given to Moses, perhaps we ought to pay attention to how we spend our Sundays!

As a child, my entire family put aside work, school, errands, and chores—setting Sunday apart from the rest of the week. Although sadly, we didn’t always attend Mass, we visited and enjoyed a meal with my maternal or paternal grandparents. Sometimes, we’d score a free meal from both. Over time, my family’s lives and the world around us changed, making keeping our Sundays for rest and focused on the Lord much more difficult. 

Spiritually, a faith not attended to quickly deteriorates. As a mother of young adult sons, I’ve witnessed first-hand how the longer they go without making time for Christ in their life, the wider the cavern between themselves and the Lord gets. Although a relationship with Christ should be built every day, giving Sunday to the Lord provides a sturdy tether to keep us from completely floating away.

In addition to making time for worship, the command requires us to rest. A worn-out body becomes overwhelmed, less effective, and even sick, ultimately unable to work to its full potential. Work is my jam, and all my work is for the Lord, making this command especially challenging. 

I am so blessed to work in Catholic ministry, and I sometimes confuse making time for God with items listed in my job description. Additionally, I have a domestic church to run, and like most women, I am always chasing the end of my to-do list. It is tempting to stare down the 12-plus awake hours of Sunday without opting to complete back-logged work or a lingering household task.

So, looking toward next Sunday, what do you have on your calendar? What blessing does the Lord have awaiting you in the rest of the Sabbath? Commit to giving Him the whole day; then at the end of the day, be sure to look back and count the many ways you benefited from following this commandment. 

If God commands it, we can all rest assured that He intends it for our good and is guaranteed to help make us holy. And, if you must work or attend to household tasks, be sure to glorify the Lord in all you do.

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Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

Act of Faith and Hope

Lately, I have been listening to the soundtrack from the musical Hamilton. The song sung by Aaron Burr, Wait For It, has been especially captivating. The song is about how Burr has hopes and dreams, but also feels the weight of needing to leave some kind of legacy. In the tension between wants and oughts, he finds himself unable to pick sides. He keeps his opinions to himself, never fully committing to one side or the other for fear of choosing wrongly. This feature song expresses his desire to be patient, waiting for the moment he was made for, the time he’s supposed to shine.

The problem with waiting like Burr is that very often, the moment you’re waiting for passes you by. Perhaps you don’t recognize it for what it is, since you are so in the habit of waiting for what could be coming next. Or, you never see the moment because in order for it to arrive you had to make a hard choice in one direction or the other. 

In our Gospel today, Bartimaeus is begging on the side of the road. He is blind, but hears the crowd approaching. His ears pick up the words, “It is Jesus!” “Jesus of Nazareth is coming! Quick, get your mother/father/sister/brother so He can heal them!”

Bartimaeus has been waiting, and waiting, and waiting to be healed. He is at a crossroads. Will he lean into hope, or be held back by despair? If he calls out, will anyone hear him? He doesn’t have anyone to advocate for him, no one to draw attention to his case. The crowd is huge, even he can tell that. How could Jesus even hear him, let alone see him? 

But he does call out an act of faith and hope. He is pushed aside, others tell him to sit back down, and stay in his place. “Who are you to ask for a miracle? Why should Jesus heal you?”

A greater act of faith and hope, a defiant one even in the midst of the crowd’s rejection: “Son of David, have pity on me!”

Bartimaeus is bold. His call to Jesus is one with multiple acts of faith. First, he has faith Jesus will take pity on him and stop at all. Second, that Jesus’ pity will move Him to restore Bartimaeus’ sight. Third, and perhaps most important, Bartimaeus doesn’t just call Jesus, “Jesus”. He names Him as the “Son of David”, a title which points toward Jesus’ identity as the Messiah. 

Bartimaeus did not wait for the perfect moment. He was not timid nor lukewarm in his request. Bartimaeus is a model for all of us to boldly proclaim Jesus’ identity as the Lord of our lives and in Him do we place our hope and trust. We should not wait for things to be perfect before coming to God with our hopes and dreams. The perfect moment is the moment we bring them to God, trusting in His mercy and love.

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

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Is the Spirit Alive in You?

Did anyone else besides me have to read today’s First Reading more than once before it started to click in your mind? I really had to take a deep breath and intentionally clear the thoughts and images from my head because they were obstacles to the Word of the Lord spoken through the writings of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans.

I couldn’t focus on God’s voice being spoken through the written words in these Bible passages. There are many times throughout my life when I’ve struggled with ‘seeing the face of God’ as the Psalm intones today or hearing His voice in my daily life.

There are so many distractions and tasks that can pull my focus from being fruitful for the Lord. When I’m distanced from Him, for whatever length of time, I become similar to the parable about the barren fig tree in the Gospel.  I don’t want to be cut down after three years for not bearing good fruit.

I know there have been times my routines and thoughts aren’t connected to the Spirit of the life-giving Lord. I am so very thankful that there is no time limit for me to leave the concerns of the flesh and world behind, which take me further from God, and turn back to Him. The fertilizer I need to nurture the Spirit of Life in my heart and thoughts I absorb through the Sacraments, His divinely inspired Words in Scripture and in the living witnesses throughout time in this world.

Today is the memorial of Saint John of Capistrano. There were many challenges in the world during his lifetime. Through courage, diligence and faith, St. John became a reformer of the Church. He is a witness for me of the Spirit being alive in his life.

Please pray with me, asking for St. John’s intercession today.

St. John of Capistrano, your love for Christ overcame all obstacles. Help me to cherish God’s call and to follow him wherever he might lead. Amen.

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

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John Paul the Great and the Love of Christ

What a joy and blessing it is to write a reflection for the Memorial of St. John Paul the Great! Today’s reflection will be on the optional set of readings for JPII’s Memorial.

In the Gospel we hear Christ ask Simon Peter three times if he loves Christ. Each time, Simon Peter responds by saying, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you”. Christ then tells Simon Peter to take care of His flock. In celebration of St. John Paul the Great, I thought I would read some of his writings for inspiration for this reflection. In an address to young people about the meaning of vocation, he said, “Do not be afraid of the radicalness of His demands, because Jesus, who loved us first, is prepared to give Himself to you, as well as asking of you. If He asks much of you, it is because He knows you can give much.” This reminded me so much of the Gospel reading. Christ asks Simon Peter three times if he loves Christ, not because He doubts Simon Peter, but as an indication that He will ask much of Simon Peter. He knows that Peter will deny Him. But He also knows that Peter will build up His Church, work for the conversion of souls, and instill hope in those he encounters. Simon Peter knew that his love for Christ would entail a great deal of suffering. He also knew that through suffering Christ would bring about true joy in being united with Him in Heaven. 

The Responsorial Psalm is “Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.” JPII did exactly that. He was the most travelled pope in history, visiting about 130 countries during his pontificate and about 600 cities outside of Italy. He began the tradition of World Youth Day, reaching millions of youth around the world. In a similar way to St. Peter, St. John Paul the Great brought the world together through the love of Christ. 

St. John Paul the Great, like St. Peter, humbly led the people of God to greater conversion and greater love of Christ. I think JPII was so well loved because he so beautifully radiated the love of Christ. He was able to do so because of his own faith and love of God. He taught us that when we fully love Christ and give our hearts to Him, we are trusting Him to care for us. 

I’d like to end with one of my favorite reminders from Pope John Paul II: “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us”. 

St. John Paul the Great, pray for us!

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

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Fire And Division

Peace and harmony, love and unity and every good thing. Isn’t that what we all hope for, what we pray for, what we sing hymns about?  Isn’t that what Jesus came to bring to earth?

Apparently not.

Jesus says he came to bring fire and division. “I have come to set the earth on fire…! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

Wait. What?

Fire and division? What kind of fire? What causes the division?

The fire that Jesus wants to set on the earth is not a destructive fire, but a creative fire, the Fire of Love, the Fire that is the Spirit – the Spirit that IS the Fire of Jesus, sent from the Father and the Son. The Spirit that sheds the light of Truth on everything, the Spirit that is the Word that is a Lantern to our path, the Spirit that comes from the Father and the Son and allows God to be “over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6), the Spirit that consumes everything that is not Love so that Love can reign. The Spirit of Love that draws all souls to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. That is the Fire that Jesus came to set on the earth, and why he was in anguish; without this spiritual fire, we are dull and lifeless.

And those who choose this Spirit, those who allow themselves to be ignited with the life-giving Love of God, will be opposed by those who do not! Even within families, there will be division because those who resist the Spirit cannot understand those who surrender to the Spirit; those who are living only a natural life cannot understand those who are living a supernatural life. Households will be in disagreement, but the patience of those who are filled with the Spirit can eventually share that radiant joy and love and unity with others!

So, Jesus ultimately DOES want peace and unity, in love. But not a shallow and superficial unity that is no more than mutual tolerance in order to avoid confrontation or authentic conversion. Jesus wants a communion that is true and deep and bubbling up from the Springs of the Spirit, a communion that is only possible when we are whole and free, a communion that it is everlasting.

In this world, that kind of communion will always encounter opposition. It is our task to reach out to the opposition in patience and love, knowing that the Spirit can make all things new. 

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

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Being Prepared

“You also must be prepared for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Spending five months recently in my parents’ apartment as a caregiver has given me a deeper insight into this Gospel. 

We are told to wait expectantly for the Master’s return, to be alert to that moment when the Lord Jesus will return to take us into eternity, as well as to the moment when Christ the King will return in glory on the last day.

Be alert and at work, treating others justly and doing your duty. He whom the Master finds conducting himself in this way will be rewarded. 

For all of us, those last 10 or 15 years waiting for the Master’s return are definitely times of being alert. Alert to one’s own changing issues around health and that of the loved one we may be caring for. Alert to insurance issues and long-term care preparation. Alert to the questions surrounding the time to begin nursing home care, move someone into memory care or arrange for at-home care. Rather than “staying awake” these years can be filled with sleepless days and nights where we toss and turn from exhaustion, worry, financial concerns, wondering how do we best love. We could find ourselves overwhelmed with the love we are trying to show our spouse and the feelings of grief and guilt, and just feeling we are not-enough for the daily multiplying needs…. Our own and others…

Jesus says that he will come at a moment we don’t expect, and yet we spend YEARS preparing for it on every level. Years of love, of service, of suffering, of surrender, of doing to Jesus what we are doing for another. Jesus’ coming is not tomorrow or next year. He comes suddenly and unexpectedly into our midlife and aging lives TODAY. He comes not to check up on us. No. In the struggle of these aging-years, struggles that seem to just compound over time, Jesus is gathering us to himself, through the tender endless acts of love rendered at every moment to each other, to spouse, parent, child, relative…. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…. Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me“ (See Mt. 25:34-40). 

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

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Vigilant Waiting

Do you ever have those days when you wish Jesus would return – now? The world often seems like it is permanently opposite day where right is wrong, up is down and near is far. And in these verses of Luke, we hear another opposite posed to us, with a caveat. If the master returns and the servants are doing as they ought to be doing, they will be waited upon by the master.

Jesus is turning people’s world upside down. He is showing us in this passage that when he comes, life will be different. Indeed, he showed us this in his public ministry, yet many chose not to believe, not to follow him. Jesus turned the world upside down; his passion, death and resurrection allow us to know, love and serve God and one day enter heaven.

Do we allow Jesus to turn our world upside down? That’s a serious question. To me, it means, have I given all to him, have I surrendered? One day, while contemplating Scripture, I wrote, “to know Christ is above all things so that losing all things does not matter.” Okay, not the best grammatical sentence, but when I came across it again, I realized that is a spiritual goal for me. He is above all things, all people – Jesus is the Master. And yet, if we are doing the work we are created to do when Jesus comes, we will be waited on by him. 

When we contemplate what our own vigilant waiting looks like, it helps to remember that whatever we give up for Jesus we receive back more than we can imagine. It may not be here in this world, but it will be given to us when we need it the most. In God’s time. And so now we wait on God’s perfect time, for Jesus to return. We do not know when, but let us keep our eyes on the Lord and our minds, bodies and souls alert in vigilant waiting, out of our great love for God. 

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Deanna G. Bartalini, is a Catholic writer, speaker, educator and retreat leader. She is the founder of the LiveNotLukewarm.com community, a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith through interactive Bible studies, courses and book clubs. Her weekly podcast, NotLukewarmPodcast.com, gives you tips and tools to live out your faith. At DeannaBartalini.com  she writes about whatever is on her mind at the moment.

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We Belong To The Lamb Who Was Slain

Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves….

Lambs among wolves. The image is frightening. I ask myself, “Why lambs?” There are plenty of other vulnerable animals that could be prey for wolves that Jesus could have used in these instructions to the 72 disciples as they departed on their mission. But Jesus chose to send his disciples out as lambs into the mouth of danger. 

Living as a Christian is risky. Just before sending out the seventy-two, Jesus had foretold his own death and resurrection (9:21-22, 44-45), and he had told his apostles that they would bear a cross and lose their lives (9:23-25). We as Jesus’ followers belong to the Lamb who was slain (Rev 5:12), the Lamb who was led to the slaughter and opened not his mouth (Is 53:7), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29), the Lamb without blemish or spot (1 Pt 1:19).

In a video as Afghanistan was falling to the Taliban, a tearful Afghan Christian pleaded with Christians around the world not to forget them. Andrew Boyd, spokesman for Christian rights organization Release International, claimed that the Taliban have been “searching door to door” for Christians. Foreign church leaders fled the country and Afghan Christian leaders’ activities were closely monitored by the Taliban. Amid all the bad news for Afghan Christians, Shoaib Ebadi, an Afghan-Canadian Christian and executive director of Square One World Media, told Voice of the Martyrs Canada that he sees “good news” for Afghan Christians. “The good news is that Afghan Christians are now leading these groups [small house church fellowships]. They are meeting in their homes, risking their lives every day … taking God’s Word to the people of Afghanistan. And they are the ones sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with their neighbors, families and friends.”

Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves….

The defenseless lambs are sent out as he himself was sent by the Father. In the words of Catherine of Siena: “We are of such value to God that he came to live among us … and to guide us home. He will go to any length to seek us…. We can only respond by loving God for his love.”

“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” (Jn 10:9). Lambs are free from burden or concern about going the right way, for they look to the One who is “The Way” to lead them to salvation.

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Lambs have no power to force things to happen according to their own plans. In fact, this power to manipulate and overpower leads away from true life. The abundant life Jesus came to give us is received always as a gift, and comes to us unexpectedly under circumstances that would seem least opportune.

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). Lambs are often carried in the arms of the Good Shepherd to protect them on their way. And when they are lost he will find them and bring them back to the flock at the cost of his own life.

When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice” (Jn. 10:4). Lambs simply keep their gaze on the Shepherd and abide wherever he leads them, wherever he is. They know that if they are where he is, no matter how risky it is, they are safe.

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

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Serving God

The Apostles seem to often spend their time with Jesus confused. Jesus, however, does not hold this against them. Instead, he takes every opportunity to teach them, and help them through their humanity in various ways! One of His most powerful teachings resides in the following: “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In today’s First and Second Readings, we see that through Christ’s obedience, He has obtained for us everlasting mercy. Christ can understand our weaknesses as He has undergone the same tests and has prevailed.

To unconditionally serve one another is the essence of true love as Catholics. As stated in Mk 10:38-39, “The chalice that I drink…you will be baptized”. Just as Christ suffered, his followers would suffer for their faith in him. (CCC 536, 618, 1225). This is particularly relevant for those in religious life, since bishops and priests possess authority given to them by Christ, but their authority is based on becoming a servant to everyone. I think the same is true in families though, through the love of a spouse, parent, or child. Ultimately, this life of service is exemplified in every action of Christ.

In chapter 10 of the Gospel of Mark, James and John ask to drink from the same cup as Jesus. To others, this may seem like the opposite of wanting to serve; it appears they are seeking power above others. It is boldness, to ask for something they don’t yet even understand. Yet at the same time we can admire the sons of Thunder as they turn to Christ and speak their prayers with infinite trust. 

Are we running to Jesus with all of our innermost questions and concerns? Let us pray ambitiously, ask clear questions, and our answers may be clearer. May we ask with full trust in God and be not afraid.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

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God is Faithful

In today’s Gospel Christ is warning His disciples (and us) to practice what we preach. It is not only through our words that we can deny Christ; through our actions—and even through the things we choose not to do—we can deny God. Christ’s words are not just cautionary, they are encouraging as well. He reminds His disciples that we do not have to rely solely on ourselves when speaking of the Truth and of faith in God. The Holy Spirit Himself will guide our tongues to say the right thing. When we are faithful to God, He is faithful to us. 

We are also reminded of that faithfulness in the First Reading in God’s covenant with Abraham. Even in times of human failure, when man’s side of the covenant was not kept, God remained faithful. God knew that despite Abraham’s failings, he had put his full trust in the covenant He made with God so God kept His promise and made Abraham the father of many nations. He remains faithful to us because of His love for us. 

How often are we faithful to God in our words but don’t support those words with our actions? How often do we ask God to give us what we think we need but don’t turn to Him in moments of true despair or forget to praise Him in moments of true joy? May we always remember that it is by His love for us that we are saved from our sins. 

Sts. Hedwig and Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us!

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

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