Giving it All

It is good for me to remind myself, when I get mired down in the daily mess of life, that my time on earth is transitory. In the entirety of my existence, beginning with conception and continuing forever, life on earth is a tiny blip. It feels huge but it is a mere speck. That’s hard to imagine being bound by time as we are. Never ending eternity, whether in heaven or hell, is impossible to grasp. 

It is good to remember this truth though because it helps to more rightly frame time on earth. In today’s Gospel we hear of two instances of a man selling all he has with joy in pursuit of the kingdom of heaven. I ask myself if I am willing to not just sell all I have, but give all I have because I think that is what Jesus asks of us – give all we have, surrender all we are to the Father. Giving it all and doing it joyfully feels big. 

Am I able to do this? Is there something I value so much that would be hard to give? Do I trust that I’ll still have what I need? 

Several years ago I gave God permission to do what he wanted with my life. It felt at first as if I made a mistake because I was stripped of what I thought was his will. I believe that initially I was doing his will because it led me to a place where I could give him this permission but what he allowed to happen confused me. I ended up giving it all – or as much as I could. At first there was no joy but our God is a patient and gentle teacher and he showed me how to find joy in a place where I had no control, just a lot of uncertainty. 

In going from a rowboat, rowing against the waves to a sailboat powered by the Holy Spirit, I learned that giving it all can be done joyfully. And I learned that while my life’s purpose is to get to heaven, I am not pursuing God as much as God is pursuing me. 

So I’m not alone with nothing, rather I’m growing in communion with the perfect friend – Jesus. I’ve received a hundred times more than I gave. It’s true that God is never outdone in generosity and what he had in store was more than I dreamed. 

Giving God permission may feel scary, but in doing so, we make space for him and we become filled with his grace. The more we give, the more he comes crashing in. And he is greater than a field of treasure or a pearl of great price – he is the glory of the universe, the almighty God and he is so good. 

Contact the author

Merridith Frediani’s perfect day includes prayer, writing, unrushed morning coffee, reading, tending to dahlias, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids.  She loves finding God in the silly and ordinary.  She writes for Ascension Press, Catholic Mom, and her local Catholic Herald in Milwaukee. Her first book Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Eucharistic Adoration is expected to be released summer 2021. You can reach her at merridith.frediani@gmail.com

Feature Image Credit: Diego PH, https://unsplash.com/photos/SZYreZsJ-fE

Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I Ex 34:29-35

As Moses came down from Mount Sinai
with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands,
he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant
while he conversed with the LORD.
When Aaron, then, and the other children of Israel saw Moses
and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become,
they were afraid to come near him.
Only after Moses called to them did Aaron
and all the rulers of the community come back to him.
Moses then spoke to them.
Later on, all the children of Israel came up to him,
and he enjoined on them all that the LORD
had told him on Mount Sinai.
When he finished speaking with them,
he put a veil over his face.
Whenever Moses entered the presence of the LORD to converse with him,
he removed the veil until he came out again.
On coming out, he would tell the children of Israel
all that had been commanded.
Then the children of Israel would see
that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant;
so he would again put the veil over his face
until he went in to converse with the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm 99:5, 6, 7, 9

R.     (see 9c)  Holy is the Lord our God.
Extol the LORD, our God,
    and worship at his footstool;
    holy is he!
R.     Holy is the Lord our God.
Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
    and Samuel, among those who called upon his name;
    they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.
R.     Holy is the Lord our God.
From the pillar of cloud he spoke to them;
    they heard his decrees and the law he gave them.
R.     Holy is the Lord our God.
Extol the LORD, our God,
    and worship at his holy mountain;
    for holy is the LORD, our God.
R.     Holy is the Lord our God.

Alleluia Jn 15:15b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 13:44-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

St. Innocent I: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Innocent was born at Albano, Italy. He became Pope, succeeding Pope St. Anastasius I, on December 22, 401. During Innocent’s pontificate, he emphasized papal supremacy, commending the bishops of Africa for referring the decrees of their councils at Carthage and Millevis in 416, condemning Pelagianism, to the Pope for confirmation. It was his confirmation of these decrees that caused Augustine to make a remark that was to echo through the centuries: “Roma locuta, causa finitas” (Rome …

Prayer for Parents #1: Prayer of the Day for Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Grant us, O Lord Jesus,
to imitate faithfully the example of your Holy Family
and to make our home another Nazareth.
May peace, love and happiness prevail.
Grant us the grace to be the parents
we should be for our children.
Grant that our child may find solid support
for their human dignity
and for their growth in truth and love
within the embrace of our home.
When the time comes for each of us
to go to the everlasting home you have prepared for us,
may your …

Wheat, Weeds, and We

Today we hear Jesus’ explanation of the parable that was read at Mass on Saturday (Matt 24-30).

The Son of Man sows the good seed that is the “children of the Kingdom” (that’s us) in the field that is the world. Meanwhile, his enemy (and ours) sows his own seed, “the children of the Evil One,” in amongst the good seed. Why does the enemy do this anyway? Because the devil hates God but cannot attack God, he uses every possible means to wound God by attacking what God loves most: His Incarnate Son, and the members of His Body, the Church.

Does the enemy do this in broad daylight? No! The enemy always works in the dark, “while everyone was asleep.” This begs the question of whether the enemy would be ABLE to sow his wicked seeds IF THE CHURCH WERE AWAKE and ever vigilant! We can’t say. But we know that God allows the good and the bad to grow together, to give the good seed ample time to establish solid roots and adequate strength. And we can expand this parable to suggest that weeds and wheat can actually change one another somehow – wheat can be infected and become weedy, and weeds can absorb the light and life of wheat and be transformed. No one is definitively in one category or the other until “the end of the age”; until then, we must guard against absorbing the weed-ness around us and hope that every weed will ultimately be changed into wheat. We pray that with enough time, and nourishment, and the quiet miracle of grace that makes repentance and conversion possible, the weeds sown by the enemy to destroy the harvest will be transformed.

There is a cosmic battle going on, and we are part of it! This is no myth: God is real and Satan is real and we are really part of a battle being waged beyond our eyesight. St. Paul tells us to “put on the armor of God” because we are struggling “with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Eph. 6:11-13). But we do not say that there are two equal kingdoms in this battle – the devil is not equal to God. We do not say that the devil creates his own kingdom – he can create nothing. But the enemy works to vitiate God’s kingdom by fouling up what is good, true, and beautiful. He works furiously to spoil God’s work, but he is still God’s creature, only able to sneak around in the dark confusion doing what God allows for a greater good.

In the parable, the master shows no panic when the servants report the weeds. It’s almost as if he expected the enemy would sow them, and he planted the wheat anyway. This is the risk Love takes: knowing the hostility of the enemy and the fragile freedom of our will, God plants us into the Kingdom anyway. We must work to transform the weeds into wheat!

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

Feature Image Credit: Felix Mittermeier, https://pixabay.com/photos/wheat-field-sunset-backlighting-2391348/

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I Ex 33:7-11; 34:5b-9, 28

The tent, which was called the meeting tent,
Moses used to pitch at some distance away, outside the camp.
Anyone who wished to consult the LORD
would go to this meeting tent outside the camp.
Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise
and stand at the entrance of their own tents,
watching Moses until he entered the tent.
As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down
and stand at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses.
On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent,
all the people would rise and worship
at the entrance of their own tents.
The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face,
as one man speaks to another.
Moses would then return to the camp,
but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun,
would not move out of the tent.

Moses stood there with the LORD and proclaimed his name, “LORD.”
Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,
“The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity,
continuing his kindness for a thousand generations,
and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin;
yet not declaring the guilty guiltless,
but punishing children and grandchildren
to the third and fourth generation for their fathers’ wickedness!”
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O LORD,
do come along in our company.
This is indeed a stiff-necked people; 
yet pardon our wickedness and sins,
and receive us as your own.”

So Moses stayed there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights,
without eating any food or drinking any water,
and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant,
the ten commandments.

Responsorial Psalm 103:6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

R.     (8a)  The Lord is kind and merciful.
The LORD secures justice
    and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
    and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R.     The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
    slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
He will not always chide,
    nor does he keep his wrath forever.
R.     The Lord is kind and merciful.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
    nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
    so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
R.     The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he put our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
R.     The Lord is kind and merciful.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia

Gospel Mt 13:36-43

Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the Evil One,
and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his Kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Sts. Joachim and Anne, Parents of Mary, Friends Who Love You

I was thinking today how wonderful it would have been to live next door to Saints Joachim and Anne, listening to each other’s stories, crying and laughing with them. It would have been a great blessing. But wait! We kind of had that with our next door neighbors of 21 years. When they moved in next to us, the wife was having their second son and eventually had a daughter. Along the same path, we had five boys and three girls. It was life changing for my wife. And for me. My wife and our neighbor became soul mates and loved each other dearly. If you have friends that love you for who you are, you have a great treasure.

We now live hundreds of miles apart but still keep in contact. We missed those days. But they all prepared us for being better Christians later in life. We have done things that we never thought we would do. God is good! So, what am I trying to say?? The people we hang out with have a major impact on our own spiritual life. Some of you have a great support system. It could be members of your family or extended family, or friends from church or neighbors. 

If you say that those are not the kind of friends you have, but would like to; I would think that being involved in your Church would be a great start. Currently all our friends are from the three parishes that I am a Deacon in. All these parishes have different personalities, but we all have common goals.

Anne and Joachim remind me of the Holy Family. They had to be pretty holy to birth a daughter like our Blessed Mother. Ann Catherine Emerick said that when our Blessed Mother was brought to the temple, Joachim wept copious tears. Perhaps tonight you can meditate on that event, bringing Mary to the temple to be raised and educated there. If it sounds like a radical quest by the Lord, it’s probably true.

Serving with joy.

Contact the author

Deacon Dan Schneider is a retired general manager of industrial distributors. He and his wife Vicki recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They are the parents of eight children and twenty-nine grandchildren. He has a degree in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University. He was ordained a Permanent Deacon in 2002.  He has a passion for working with engaged and married couples and his main ministry has been preparing couples for marriage.

Featured Image Credit: Beth Macdonald, https://unsplash.com/photos/cAZKcDUEf1k

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reading I Ex 32:15-24, 30-34

Moses turned and came down the mountain
with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands,
tablets that were written on both sides, front and back;
tablets that were made by God,
having inscriptions on them that were engraved by God himself.
Now, when Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting,
he said to Moses, “That sounds like a battle in the camp.”
But Moses answered, “It does not sound like cries of victory,
nor does it sound like cries of defeat;
the sounds that I hear are cries of revelry.”
As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing.
With that, Moses’ wrath flared up, so that he threw the tablets down
and broke them on the base of the mountain.
Taking the calf they had made, he fused it in the fire
and then ground it down to powder,
which he scattered on the water and made the children of Israel drink.

Moses asked Aaron, “What did this people ever do to you
that you should lead them into so grave a sin?”
Aaron replied, “Let not my lord be angry.
You know well enough how prone the people are to evil.
They said to me, ‘Make us a god to be our leader;
as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt,
we do not know what has happened to him.’
So I told them, ‘Let anyone who has gold jewelry take it off.’
They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.”

On the next day Moses said to the people,
“You have committed a grave sin.
I will go up to the LORD, then;
perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin.”
So Moses went back to the LORD and said,
“Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin
in making a god of gold for themselves!
If you would only forgive their sin!
If you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written.”
The LORD answered, “Him only who has sinned against me
will I strike out of my book.
Now, go and lead the people to the place I have told you.
My angel will go before you.
When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

Responsorial Psalm 106:19-20, 21-22, 23

R.     (1a)  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
    and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
    for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R.     Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
    who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
    terrible things at the Red Sea.
R.     Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Then he spoke of exterminating them,
    but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
    to turn back his destructive wrath.
R.     Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Alleluia Jas 1:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 13:31-35

Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”

He spoke to them another parable.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables, 
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:

    I will open my mouth in parables,
    I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Hearing Anew

Spend any amount of time in the Scriptures or attending Mass, and you may be tempted to let your mind drift during the readings with the misleading rationale, “I’ve heard this all before.” While that is likely (and hopefully) true, do you take into account that each time hearing the Word of God, you are not the same person who heard it the last time? With every passing of each day, especially if we take to heart the call for daily conversion, we are a new creation in Christ. Between the first time you heard this passage in John’s Gospel until today, many things happened, skewing how you perceive the message. You are older, perhaps wiser, and experienced many simple and profound moments that continue to shape you and your relationship with Jesus.

Look with renewed eyes at John’s Gospel. Ask for wisdom and grace to hear and discern what wisdom or blessing God has for you today. Here are a few passages from John 6:1-15 to contemplate:

  • “Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.” When a Rabbi sat down, his students knew to gather near because he was about to teach, as a Rabbi always taught from a seated position.
  • Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Jesus’ instructions for the people to recline placed them in a posture that prepared them to receive God’s blessings. Here the blessing would soon be bread and fish to satisfy the hunger of all present and a powerful prefiguration of the True Food; He will come to satiate far more than our physical hunger.
  • “Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining.” During the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes, we hear what should be familiar words to the faithful. The taking, blessing, and breaking of bread all with a heart of thanksgiving to God—a formula we see again when Jesus institutes the Eucharist.
  • When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” The disciples filled twelve wicker baskets with the remnants. All those present, reclined, and trusting were satisfied with still an abundance left over. Truly, God’s generosity cannot be matched or depleted.
  • “Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.” Jesus, though indeed King, withdrew to avoid the people’s actions because His Kingdom is not of this world. The people wanted Him to attend to their physical needs; however, He desired a far more critical calling to care for their spiritual well-being. Again and again, we see Jesus withdraw to make time for prayer, quiet contemplation, and time along with the Father, an example we can also learn from and emulate.

What new things did you notice in reading today’s Gospel? What words or actions touched your heart or intrigued you? Where do you see God speaking to you, teaching you, maybe even challenging you? Are you willing to come closer, recline, listen, and be fed by Jesus? 

Contact the author

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).   

Feature Image Credit: Elmer Cañas, https://unsplash.com/photos/QIm1tLnDNHo

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.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I 2 Kgs 4:42-44

A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God,
twenty barley loaves made from the firstfruits,
and fresh grain in the ear. 
Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.” 
But his servant objected,
“How can I set this before a hundred people?” 
Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat.” 
“For thus says the LORD,
‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’” 
And when they had eaten, there was some left over,
as the LORD had said.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18

R. (cf. 16) The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
    and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
    and speak of your might.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
    and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand
    and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The LORD is just in all his ways
    and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
    to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

Reading II Eph 4:1-6

Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:
one body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

Alleluia Lk 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has risen in our midst.
God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. 
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. 
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples. 
The Jewish feast of Passover was near. 
When Jesus raised his eyes
and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip,
“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” 
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do. 
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.” 
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?” 
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” 
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. 
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. 
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted. 
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.” 
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments 
from the five barley loaves
that had been more than they could eat. 
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” 
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.