Simple Ways to Share the Good News

St. Paul had a vision, “A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the Good News to them” (Acts 16:9). Perhaps you’ve not had a dream, but have you ever felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit for you too to share the Good News? Did you respond to the prompt, or did fear or uncertainty keep you from witnessing to your faith?  

There are many ways to share the good news without a heroic trip across an ocean or to far-off lands. We can evangelize in our homes, families, or communities with genuine, often uncomplicated gestures. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Invite someone to Sunday Mass (if you can, include breakfast to continue building your relationship with this person, which will make discussions about faith easier. It may also create a comfortable atmosphere where you can discuss something you heard in the readings or homily). 
  • Not sure who to invite? Simply share your parish’s Mass schedule on your social media. You never know how the Holy Spirit might use that post to reach people seeking to find a church. We can share many things on social media to inspire and encourage people to grow in faith — Scripture verses, saint quotes, or prayers.
  • Consider starting a Christian book club or Bible study in your home or parish. Pick a book you are interested in, then ask a friend or two, “for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
  • Offer to pray for people. Whether in person as someone is sharing a current difficulty or challenging situation, or you read it on social media. If you make a weekly Eucharistic Adoration hour, consider posting a request for prayers. I’ve done this for years and typically receive over a hundred prayer requests each time I do. While the idea of praying for so many might seem daunting but it is actually quite humbling and beautiful. I bring my phone into Adoration and scroll through the list offering each intention to the Lord. This activity has also provided the avenue to numerous incredible faith conversations.
  • Pray for the Lord to make a way to share the Good News and in the expectation that one day He will “be prepared to make a defense [testimony] to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Don’t be afraid of what to say; just like the Lord prepared the prophet, Jeremiah, He too will put the words in your mouth.
  • Forward videos, articles, or blogs that touched your heart to someone you think might also be blessed to read and receive that particular message.

If you are not comfortable or not quite ready to evangelize in these public ways, there is still something significant you can do—pray. Keep friends, family, and even strangers in prayer, without being asked or with anyone even knowing. Prayer, invoking the Holy Spirit, is a powerful gift the Apostles modeled for us. Seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother and as many Saints as you need. Just as the Spirit guided the early disciples to know where to go and when and with whom to speak, trust He is still at work and will guide you in the same way.

In the end, the best witness of faith is always how you live, especially when you allow the joy of the Lord to shine through your words and actions. There is a time to speak and a time to stay silent; you need not wonder or worry about which the Spirit is calling you. If you remain prayerfully open to where He moves you, the answer and the action will always be apparent.

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Allison Gingras is a Deacon’s wife and seasoned mom of three. Allison works for Family Rosary as a social media and digital specialist, as well as a new media consultant for Catholic Mom and the Diocese of Fall River. She is the author of Encountering Signs of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints, and the Abundant Grace of God (Fall 2022, Ave Maria Press). Allison developed the Stay Connected Journals for Women series including her two volumes – The Gift of Invitation and Seeking Peace (OSV). She’s hosted A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras podcast since 2015.

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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.

Love One Another

The last line of today’s Gospel is a command: love one another. Due to that love, my heart is again breaking because of a weekend filled with shooting sprees in the USA. I am weeping because of the war in Ukraine and the twenty seven areas around the world with violence and conflict. Billions of people around the world continue to feel the effects of a global pandemic and I am filled with compassion and empathy.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command: to love one another as I love you…to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…”

Jesus calls us friends not acquaintances. Acquaintances are plentiful when life is good and abundant. Acquaintances will distance themselves when controversy or stressful challenges arise. Jesus is the epitome of a friend. He is there in good times and bad, knowing every strength and weakness about you while loving and encouraging you through it all. Jesus Our Savior knows each of us born on this earth intimately because we have been created in God, His Father’s image. Jesus has an all encompassing love for every member of humanity, no exceptions.

As His friend, I am compelled to praise Jesus and lift Him up in glory because He is the Son of God. Jesus is with us in all things; in the midst of suffering, conflict, illness, and war. He rejoices and celebrates each birth, graduation, wedding, big and small success. He is with us in all instances and situations of life.

We are all part of the body of Christ Jesus. We are united in His everlasting, unconditional love.

That being said, before you open the next tweet, text, link, IM, image or your mouth in conversation, take a moment, a second or a deep breath and try to remember the connectedness and friendship Jesus has for the other. Breathe in the love, patience and understanding He has for you. Be open to listening to or seeing through another loved one’s perspective for just a moment. Keep in mind that love bears all things. It isn’t always easy. Strive to be a friend united in love. You can do it. Jesus is with you, now and forever. 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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Got Joy?

“Are you happy?”, asks Henry, repeatedly, until he receives an affirmative answer from whoever he sees near him. Henry is four. Who knows where Henry first heard this question or how it became so important to him; I will say though, that it has stayed with him for quite some time. It’s his little check-in I suppose. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is telling us something important, bigger than a little check-in, He is giving us the truth about how to find something we all want in our lives. Joy!

And while joy and happiness are listed as synonyms, they are not exactly the same. One difference between the two feelings is that happiness is short-lived while joy is deeper. So a swim in the pool brings happiness on a hot day but there is lasting joy over the pool day when it’s a day filled with family. 

Joy can help us through difficult trials, not by living in the past, but by remembering that there is goodness in our lives.

Jesus reminds us that joy is what He offers us if we keep the commandments and remain in His love. I love going to Adoration. It brings me great joy to be in Jesus’ presence in that particular way. When I leave the chapel, the joy stays with me as I go about my life. And when life goes awry, I can draw on the joy to conquer the difficulty or at least, not become overwhelmed with despair. And, that, right there, is what I want, I think what we all want; not to be overwhelmed, not to despair. 

The commandments are not meant to curtail our freedom. They are there to keep us safe and close to the Father. And when we are close to the Father, we are near Jesus. And we receive His joy. It is not linear; it is a circle. It is a great exchange of truth, love, and joy. Stay in the circle and you will have joy. Deep, lasting joy in the depth of your being that is not taken from you no matter what happens in your life.

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Deanna G. Bartalini, M.Ed.; M.P.A., is a certified spiritual director, writer, speaker and content creator. The LiveNotLukewarm.com online community is a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith. Her weekly Not Lukewarm Podcast gives you tips and tools to live out your faith in your daily life.

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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.

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World Peace

The acquisition of peace, from a secular framework, is a tricky topic. So many roads appear to lead to peace based on the sayings:

“If you want peace, prepare for war.”

“If you want peace, work for peace.”

“If you want peace, end poverty/hunger/homelessness/racism/social inequality.”

“If you want peace, stop fighting.”

“If you want peace, work for justice.”

How can all of these be true at once? While I’m not about to contradict a pope (that last observation belongs to Pope Paul VI), our Gospel today offers a very different understanding of where peace comes from. And spoiler alert, it’s not something that’s the fruit of our labors as these previous sayings imply. 

As Jesus is preparing His disciples for His Ascension, He explains another gift He is leaving them. Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” 

The world teaches us that peace must be earned before it can be received. “If you want peace, then you must do something.” This isn’t what Jesus expressed to His apostles. The peace that Jesus offers is something even greater than world peace. It is the state of a soul in right relationship with God the Father.

When we find ourselves out of relationship with God, it becomes very challenging to be in right relationship with our neighbors. There is a reason the first Great Commandment Jesus gave us is about our relationship with God. Then the second deals with everyone else. The world cannot give us this kind of peace. 

The world is concerned, and rightly so, with the peace between peoples. There are many avenues to peace, like the sayings I dictated earlier. There are many places where peace seems unavailable or impossible to achieve. Peace often is seen as a compromise where no one side wins and everyone is sacrificing something for a balance of peace. Peace of this kind takes work.

If only the world could see that the work would not be so arduous we first received the peace Jesus freely offers. Living in harmony with God naturally brings people into harmony with one another. We discover the unity in Christ that binds us together as part of the family of God. We are not all the same, but our differences are not meant to be divisive. 

I love this image from Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement. Chiara says,

“Let us imagine that God is like the sun. A ray from the sun falls on each one of us. Each ray is the divine will for me, for you, for everyone. Christians and all people of good will are called to move towards the sun, keeping to their own ray of light which is unique and distinct from all the others. By doing so, they will fulfill the wonderful and particular plan that God has for them. If you do the same, you will find yourself involved in a divine adventure you never even dreamed of. You will be, at the same time, both actor in and spectator of something great that God is accomplishing in you and through you in humanity” 

Doing the will of God, receiving the peace He has to give. These are the ways we will bring about world peace that is meaningful and lasting for all people.  

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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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Whoever Follows God’s Commands Loves Him

In today’s Gospel, Jesus told His disciples: “Whoever has My commandments and observes them is the one who loves Me. Whoever loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” 

This is so very true! If we love God, we will follow His commandments—without hesitation and without complaint. For without God, we have nothing. And we can do nothing.

Yes, we may be able to be happy for a short period. We may have good fortune. Things may go well for a time. But if we don’t have God, if we don’t love Him, if we don’t follow His commands, we ultimately have nothing.

The goal of our lives is to spend eternity with God. Everything we do on earth should lead us down that path. If not, we are doing something wrong. It may feel right for a short time, but it will not actually be right.

He is the vine, and we are the branches. We grow through His goodness. And we must then take that goodness and allow it to bear fruit in our own lives as we spread His word. In other words, in all that we do, we must use the blessings He has given us to bring others to Him.

How do we do that? According to the Church, there are 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit. These are the “observable behaviors of people who have allowed the grace of the Holy Spirit to be effective in them.” These include charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, modesty, kindness, self-control, goodness, and chastity.

These characteristics are the fruits of a life rooted in Christ and that grow from His love and goodness. We just need to allow them to flow from us. 

All of these fruits are important, of course, but I think right now the most important are peace, charity, and faithfulness, for when we live a life filled with those three tenets, the others will naturally flow.

So let us think of the things we can do in our daily lives to produce these fruits in our families, in our communities, and at work. Let us spend today thinking about our actions and remember this: Before we act, let us ask ourselves whether these actions demonstrate that we are following God’s commandments. Let us also ask ourselves if God would be proud of the action we’re about to take. If not, that should tell us something.

When we live a life rooted in following God’s laws and commands, we will not only grow in holiness, but we will help others grow as well. And that is what God wants of us.

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Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

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He Makes All Things New

The Scripture readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter this year are jam-packed with so many great things. I feel as though we should celebrate this day and these words joyfully. In fact, I plan to celebrate later with a cake, and it might just have candles on it. But I digress.

Let’s start with the First Reading, from Acts of the Apostles. It seems like a greatest hits list of Paul and Barnabas, all the places they visited, all the disciples they made, all the success they saw. Lystra, Iconium, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia — so many places to give a lector fits, but they show a pattern of success for these Apostles to the Gentiles. Still, Paul and Barnabas don’t see it that way, and neither should we. When they return to Antioch and report about their missionary trip, they didn’t tell the Church what they did. No, they “reported what God had done with them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” They put the credit firmly where it belongs, on God alone, doing the work through them. May we, in our discipleship, let God do His work through us.

Next, there’s the beautiful words from Revelation. It’s a book so often misunderstood or misinterpreted, but today’s message is very clear. “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God himself will always be with them as their God.” The line echoes several Old Testament passages where God called the Hebrews into covenant with Him. But now, it has a new twist — no more death or mourning, wailing or pain — because God “make(s) all things new.” May we, in our relationship with God, always remember his promise to be with us.

Then, in the Gospel from John, Jesus gives us his new commandment: love one another. We might ask, how can this be new? God has commanded us since the Old Testament to love others as we love ourselves. Again, God makes something new, taking the old commandment and transforming it. The key is in Jesus’ next line: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Our love is not to exist because the law tells us we have to, our love must exist because Jesus has loved us first. His love stems from a personal relationship, not a law. He cares for us and about us. May our love, then, be put into action for others, just the same way Jesus demonstrated his love for us, pouring out his very self for our sake.

It is a lot to ask. Paul recognized this, telling his new disciples, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Yet the reward is beyond our wildest dreams — beyond even the greatest birthday present a guy could ever hope for, unless that hope is to be with God forever. It’s definitely worth working for. Dear Jesus, help us, please.

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Mike Karpus is a regular guy. He grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, graduated from Michigan State University and works as an editor. He is married to a Catholic school principal, raised two daughters who became Catholic school teachers at points in their careers, and now relishes his two grandchildren, including the 3-year-old who teaches him what the colors of Father’s chasubles mean. He has served on a Catholic School board, a pastoral council and a parish stewardship committee. He currently is a lector at Mass, a Knight of Columbus, Adult Faith Formation Committee member and a board member of the local Habitat for Humanity organization. But mostly he’s a regular guy.

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I Call You My Friends, Abide In My Love

In this Gospel passage, Jesus invites us to a personal relationship with Him by abiding in His love. And how do we abide in His love? By keeping His commandments, which, as St. John explains in his first Epistle (I John 5:3), are not burdensome.  The two commandments which should be our daily focus are to love God with our whole heart and soul, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mat 22: 37-40). There is a great promise attached to embracing these commandments: whatever we ask the Father in His name, He will give it to us.

Jesus states, that He loves us, asks us to return that love back to Him, and wants that same love to flow out to others. The greatest love that can be shown for a friend is to lay down your life for them. Jesus demonstrated His love for us by laying down His life for us on the Cross. True love is not abstract or passive, but active in service and sacrifice for others. 

Knowing that it was the eve of His passion and death for our sins, Jesus wants to emphasize what is most important in His final words. That message was for us to “love one another as I have loved you.” We are called to love with Christ’s love, not on our own. We can never love independently, but only when we are open to being a vessel of His love. This is how we experience the true joy which Christ promised. When we place other people’s needs ahead of ours, we show that friendship isn’t just found in our words but in our actions.

When we take the next step and suffer for our friends we are following the footsteps of Christ. Self-giving and self-sacrifice are an intimate pathway to growing closer to Christ, and when we offer them up to the Lord, it is redemptive. This is how we bear fruit that will abide and is the result of the Father pruning us as a branch in the vine of Christ. 

In the work I do at WelcomeHisHeart.com I rejoice when Catholics reach out to me and share how their family encountered healing, hope, and grace through the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart. This simple self-directed ceremony is when Christ is welcomed into our life through enthroning Him on high, and we learn to live in union with His Most Sacred Heart. 

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

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The Way To Our Forever Home

Remember your last big trip? Traveling takes a lot of mental and physical energy. There is the journey itself, of course – the map and the means of moving and the money. There is also the “stuff” we have to keep track of constantly to make sure nothing is left behind or dropped along the way or lost in the shuffle – the reservations, payments, passports, toiletries, itinerary, keys, snacks, tickets, exchange rates, souvenirs. For some people, traveling is the greatest and most joyful adventure; for others, it is a cause of anxiety and worry! Some of us are willing to take it as it comes and hope for the best; others are meticulous planners with folders and spreadsheets and timelines; still others of us try to be one or the other, but fall somewhere in the middle.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is going somewhere. He tells the disciples he is going to prepare a dwelling place – a HOME – for them, and that he will come back again and take them there too! Where is this place? The Father’s house. That is our home.

And he reminds the disciples that they already know the way there.

Thomas speaks for all of us when he says, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” The Father’s house? Where is THAT? How can we get THERE? There is a place prepared for us there, but we’ve never seen it, so how can we find it?

Jesus tells us the “insider secret” to traveling to this final Home: HIMSELF. The route and the means and all that we need along the way are found in HIM: “I am the way,” and there is no other way. If we are at last to reach the Father and dwell in the Father’s house, we have to go through HIM.

So, if we know Jesus, we DO know the way, because he himself IS the way. Walking with him, we are walking along the right way. Walking with him, we will make it securely to our destination, and we don’t have to worry about seeing the full map or charting our own trajectory or losing anything important along the way. In fact, if we know Jesus and learn to walk with him in trust, this journey can be joyful and life-giving, even when we are traveling through deserts and briar patches and dark nights, because we know we are moving in the direction of HOME. And home is what all of our hearts long for, because home is where we are completely safe and secure, known for who we truly are, valued and loved wholly, and are able to live and love freely.

If we know Jesus, we can say confidently at the end of our lives, just as Pope St. John Paul II did: “Let me go to the house of the Father,” and enter into our Home, the fullness of God’s embrace, at last.

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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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Becoming Part of The Story

In today’s First Reading, St. Paul recounts a short history of God’s chosen people. St. Paul knew that telling this story to the Jewish people in the synagogue would help them to understand how Jesus Christ was their long-awaited savior. Christ was the climax to the story! The more we Catholics of the 21st Century also come to know the history of the Israelite people and the beginnings of the early Christian Church, the more our own faith will make sense. And the more we will want to respond to God’s overtures of love, becoming part of the story ourselves. 

For the past two weeks, I have been giving the middle school children in our parish religious education program an overview of salvation history. As we began the lesson, I read to the children a one-page excerpt from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I did not mention the title of the book, nor did I give any explanation about what was happening in the story. The children had mixed responses to what I read: some wanted to hear more of the story, some were not really engaged, and several were excited, because they had read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and recognized the story.

I proceeded to draw a correlation between the children’s various reactions and our reactions to the stories from the Bible or the teachings of the Catholic Church. I explained to the children in a simplified way that unless they understand the big picture of salvation history, the things they hear and learn about their Catholic faith may not resonate with them. They will have no context in which to put new information, and they may even miss or misunderstand the life-saving Gospel message.

As the lesson went on, it became clear just how scattered the children’s understanding was. We started by discussing Creation, the Fall, and God’s first promise that he would send a redeemer to restore us to a loving relationship with Himself. At one point, an intelligent youngster exclaimed, “Now, wait a minute! Jesus is God? I thought he was God’s son!” 

We also talked about God’s continued faithfulness to His chosen people, even when they were unfaithful to Him. We discussed the fact that, throughout the Old Testament, God was setting the stage for the Redeemer to come and fix our sin problem. His plan was to restore us to a relationship with Him and to make us temples of the Holy Spirit. Finally, I referenced the role of the Catholic Church and the Sacraments, established by Christ to help us know and live the life to which God calls us.

As I taught this class over the past two weeks it became more clear to me that children and grown-ups alike need to learn about the big picture of salvation history a number of times and in different ways in order to allow it to penetrate into our hearts and minds.

When, in today’s First Reading, St. Paul preached to the Jewish people, they already had a deep sense of their own history. It didn’t take them long to start making connections about who Jesus was. Now, as Catholics, the history of the Jewish people has become our history, and we are privileged to learn it, along with the history of the early Christian Church. We are invited to respond to all that God has done for us and to become part of The Story. And we can encourage others to do the same!

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

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