Faith That Saves

A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.” Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” And from that hour the woman was cured. – Matthew 9:20-22

Think of the cross(es) in your life that you desperately desire to have cured by the Lord. It may be a new cross or one that you have carried your entire life. I know for me it would have to be my OCD. Often I am very stressed about little things, change is abnormally difficult for me, and I obsess about certain thoughts or actions.  I feel as though I am a burden to those around me when I am going through rough patches on my journey with OCD.  

These crosses can be unbearable at times, becoming extremely heavy and making one lose hope. I have cried many times out of exhaustion – not being able to turn the OCD part of my brain off makes me feel worn down and self-conscious about myself. I often have a hard time seeing how God is working through this cross.

While I struggle to see God’s plan I can have complete faith that I have been given this cross of OCD for a reason – helping someone else, being more sensitive to how others are feeling, organization, etc.  Above all I need to realize that I don’t know why God has given me this cross but His ways are the best ways.  This realization is the foundation of a faith that saves – the woman that was hemorrhaging reached out to Christ in faith that somehow He would bring healing.  She didn’t anticipate how that healing would come about, she just knew she needed Him alone to be healed.

My idea of healing (taking away my OCD all together) may not be what God has in store.  Just because He doesn’t take my OCD away doesn’t mean He isn’t healing me – if anything He is perfectly healing me in the way I need right now in life. God has plans to love, protect, and prosper His children.  While I may want my OCD to be gone forever God sees the beauty in my brokenness and wants to make my cross whole again. 

A wise spiritual director of mine once asked me: “Have you ever thought about the idea that your OCD helps you to become more like Christ?” This question changed my life forever – in the hard moments when I cry and feel hopeless I can always go back to this question and set my eyes back upon the Kingdom.  Christ is using me with this cross in this moment in history for a reason.  All He asks is that I have faith that He can heal me when I reach out, making me whole and beautiful just the way He created me in His perfect way.  Take courage, reach out to Christ, and ask yourself how your crosses give you the opportunity to lean into Christ and be more like Him.


Nathalie Shultz is a joyful convert to the Catholic faith and a competitive swimmer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  She loves to share her passion for Catholicism with others, including her conversion story and how God continues to work miracles in her life through her OCD. She is the Director of Religious Education for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative of parishes. Nathalie is married to her best friend, Tommy Shultz. Her favorite saints include St. Peter the Apostle, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II.  She is also a huge fan of C.S. Lewis. If you have any questions for Nathalie, or just want her to pray for you, you can email her at rodzinkaministry@gmail.com. 

Rejoice Heartily

I chose the image for today because I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw it. Such a simple photo was able to bring joy. Lately, our life in the Shultz household has been interesting. We moved houses, had to care for our dog who broke its leg and have had some very late nights. Through all of this, it’s important to take moments and find joy even in the little things. I think it’s similar with faith.

It’s easy to look at faith as just a set of rules or to look at the state of the world and wonder what is going on. But as the first reading reminds us today, we should rejoice heartily for our King shall come to us. Are we the types of Christians who give so much joy at what Christ has done for us that it is contagious to others? Have we preached the Gospel with a joy that matches our happiest of moments? Have we found joy through Christ?

We then hear in the Gospel that God will give us rest. I know this week we could use joy and rest. It’s waiting for us in Christ. Some of the most profound moments I have had with God have been very simple moments where I have realized that God is with me. I think the key to living in joy is realizing the moments throughout the day that God is with us and bringing us his love.

I encourage you today, look for those moments, and rest in them. Let Christ bring you his joy and rest today. God Bless!


Tommy Shultz is Director of Evangelization for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative and the founder of Rodzinka Ministries. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and a 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. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.

Peace and Justice

Today we celebrate Independence Day, the remembrance of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, making some people upon this land free.

While keeping this in mind as I reflected upon the readings for today’s Mass, the Responsorial Psalm weighed heavily on my heart. It states, “The Lord speaks of peace to his people”. God proclaims peace to us and close is his salvation for all who fear Him. “Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth and justice shall look down from heaven. The Lord will give his benefits, our land shall yield its increase. Justice shall walk before him, and salvation, along the way of his steps.”

This 4th of July, I ask you to reflect on God’s Word, the peace and justice He proclaims to us. May we ask Him to always guide our words and actions as we strive to build a better future for everyone in our country.  May we work towards peace and justice for all God’s children. May we trust that the Lord Himself will give us His grace, guidance, and salvation as we strive to follow in His footsteps. May God bless you and may God bless America.

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Briana is the Pastoral Minister at St. Mark Church in Cleveland, OH. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Catechetics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH and is excited to use these skills to serve the Church.

The Reassurance of Truth

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear the story of Saint Thomas, Thomas the doubter, and we are blessed for believing without seeing. We are blessed for our faith. 

I read that last line, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” and felt guilty at first (John 20:29). I’ll be the first to admit that I have times of doubt. Sometimes I doubt that God can grant me the courage I need to get me through the 24 hours. Sometimes I doubt that goodness exists in people and that they are all children of my same God. Sometimes I doubt that there is peace that my Heavenly Father is offering. Sometimes, I even have flickers of doubt in the existence of God at all. 

Then Jesus tells me, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe” (John 20:27). 

Not in quite as many words, of course, but he does present a moment of reassurance in the truth. 

He sends someone to say, “Hey, we’ve got this. Just one more day,” seemingly out of the blue to you.  He has a stranger at the grocery store pay for your ice cream when you’ve had a terrible day and just need comfort food, only to find out you forgot your wallet at home.  He has the clouds provide shelter from the hot sun and the breeze pick up right when you tell yourself it’s too hot.

He provides a moment of quiet and clarity in the middle of a busy day.  He reminds you that you are loved through friends, family, and even strangers in your life.

You see, Jesus did not condemn Thomas for doubting. He did not call him a fool. He did not tell him to leave. He did not tell him that the Kingdom of God was not right for him. Jesus took his doubt and gave him truth. He gave Thomas reason to believe. 

There are times in our lives when we doubt, but we must know that the truth is being given to us through all the beauty and goodness in the world. First, though, we must seek the truth. We must remind ourselves that our God is providing us with His love and reassurance through the little moments of joy, of peace, of camaraderie, of silence. 

Look for His reassurance.

Together, we pray:
My Lord and my God,
In the moments when the darkness and sadness seem to cover us
Reassure us of your light and your love.
In the moments when we feel surrounded by loneliness,
Reassure us that you are at our side, always.
In the moments that seem too difficult to overcome,
Reassure us of the strength and resilience that resides in us through you.
In the moments of uncertainty and doubt,
Reassure us of your truth through all that is good.
Son of God, we ask that you take our doubts and insecurities,
and transform them into faith in Your truth as you once did with Saint Thomas.

Amen.

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Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Michigan. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various articles in the Catholic Diocese of Austin’s official newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, and other local publications. She now works as the Content Specialist in Diocesan’s Web Department.

Your Sins Are Forgiven

I certainly don’t remember my first reconciliation (we called it ‘confession’ then). I do remember feeling really weird in a reconciliation room without a screen or divider for the first time. What does always stay with me after receiving the sacrament of reconciliation is the feeling of relief and acceptance, the freedom that comes from a weight of angst, guilt, shame that has been lifted from my conscience.

I bet the same was true of the paralytic that Jesus healed in today’s gospel. During Jesus’ time, those with disabilities, infirmities, or mental illness were believed to be carrying great sins and usually shunned by society. The people who brought the paralytic on the stretcher had great faith. Jesus told the man, “[y]our sins are forgiven.” He rose and went home and the crowds there were struck with awe and glorified God.

I put the brackets around the ‘y’ above because Jesus came to forgive all of our sins, not just one person. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains reconciliation in this manner:

CCC 615-616 “…By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who “makes himself an offering for sin”, when “he bore the sin of many”, and who “shall make many to be accounted righteous”, for “he shall bear their iniquities”. Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.

616 It is love “to the end” that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life…

The gospel passage also has Jesus addressing the scribes whose ‘evil thoughts’ he knew, which brings in the social aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus didn’t keep his ministry private, it was out in the open for all to see and hear, just like our forgiveness of sin and our redemption.

I had not taken advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation for much of my adolescence and young adult life (the Church considers youth or young adults ages 18-39yr old). I did begin to receive the sacrament with regularity when I began to have my own children and do volunteer work for the church. I realized I had a lot of work to do to become a better person all around, a better role model for my children and those with whom I worked in ministry (which is with everyone). I needed to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. There are a couple of resources below if you haven’t been to reconciliation in a while.


Pope Francis wrote about forgiveness (love) and redemption in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium:

“Our redemption has a social dimension because “God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person, but also . . . social relations.” To believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in everyone means realizing that he seeks to penetrate every human situation and all social bonds. Accepting the first proclamation, which invites us to receive God’s love and to love him in return with the very love which is his gift, brings forth in our lives and actions a primary and fundamental response: to desire, seek and protect the good of others.”   (178)

Today’s gospel acclamation and the responsorial psalm work very well together supporting this theme. The psalm tells us,‘ the judgments of the Lord are true, all of them just.’ The acclamation God reconciles the world to himself in Christ, thus entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. The last sentence of today’s gospel states: ‘the crowds ..were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings.’ Through Christ, we were given the authority to forgive sins (through the apostolic Church: the apostles, bishops and priests).

Our Holy Father  has said,

Being a Christian isn’t just following the commandments, but means being in Christ, thinking like him, acting like him, loving like him; it means letting him take possession of our lives and change them, transform them, free them from the darkness of evil and sin.

Make use of the sacrament of Reconciliation; it sets us free.

Three Minutes: Penance and Reconciliation

Catholicism in Focus: Reconciliation

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here bprice@diocesan.com.

Relationship Building

Do you ever feel like evil has all the power and has somehow won? Well here is a little quote from today’s Gospel reading that hit me in the face; “What have you to do with us, Son of God?
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”

Even the evil spirits know the saving power of God and are aware of his strength. They may not like it, but they are aware of it and powerless before it. This has always given me so much hope. No matter what happens in life, Satan does not have the power, that alone belongs to God.

When Christ died on the cross he conquered sin once and for all. Yeah, yeah, yeah we have heard it all before. Jesus saved us. Take one minute. Take a deep breath. Breathe slowly and with every breath invite the Lord into your heart. Now take a moment to actually let the saving power of God work in your life. Let him speak truth into your heart. Let him wrap you in his sacred love.

We know so many concepts of the faith, like Jesus died for us, but let’s not let these be facts on a page. Let’s make them into real and tangible realities that change our lives forever. Take another moment. God loves you. He sees you. He knows you. Let him just be with you for a minute. Take a breath.

You know those moments when you have been away from someone for a really long time and then finally are reunited? Let’s try to live in such a way that we never have these with God. I have found that taking moments throughout the day to realize the reality of God’s love and to let it soak in can be so helpful. We build a relationship instead of just learning facts. That is where the beauty and love stream in. God Bless!

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Tommy Shultz is Director of Evangelization for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative and the founder of Rodzinka Ministries. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and a 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. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.

Liminal Spaces

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came upon the sea so that the boat was being swamped by waves, but he was asleep. They came and woke him…

Following Jesus can lead us to places where things get out of control, where our emotions feel like a violent storm and our thoughts threaten to capsize our sanity.

Jesus will bring us to liminal spaces. The word “liminal” is derived from the Latin word “limens,” which means threshold. When you find yourself in a liminal space, you are quite literally standing on the threshold between one room and another, one stage of your life and another, one reality and another.

Liminal spaces are disorienting. These fishermen who were quite familiar with having weathered storms before are suddenly disoriented and terrified. More than a potential watery death, this storm at sea is the middle stage of moving from one state to another.

Today’s reading is from chapter 8 of Matthew. In the fourth chapter, there is excitement running through every line. Jesus was calling his disciples and they left everything on the spot to follow him. Great crowds joined an accompanied him as he cured the sick who were brought to him and freed those possessed by demons. In chapters 5 through 7, we listen to Jesus speak to our hearts a new way of life in the Sermon on the Mount. In the first part of chapter 8 before the storm on the lake, Jesus encounters deeply humble people:

  • a leper who approached him and prostrated himself with the words, “if you willing, you can cure me,” and Jesus stretched out his hand,
  • the centurion who begged Jesus to heal his servant boy, stating that Jesus had but to say the word since he understood that Jesus’ spoke with authority and had the power to do as he asked,
  • Peter’s mother-in-law who doesn’t even ask to be healed, but who silently receives this gift and silently serves his needs.

Next, appear disciples who start putting conditions on their following Jesus: “I will accompany you…”; “let me bury my father first.”

And finally this storm at sea where the apostles need to make the transition from human excitement over the amazing life ahead of them as friends of this wonder-working rabbi to deeply humble disciples who have touched their absolute need for Jesus in a very scary situation.

Haven’t we all found ourselves in such a place? A divorce, financial disaster, a pandemic, illness, family difficulties, job loss, emotional problems, the discovery that we are not, and may never be who we thought we were and hoped we would become.

Jesus was in the boat with them and he is with us. He is just waiting for us to cry out to him from the middle of whatever liminal space we are in. Sometimes I think all of mid-life is a succession of these transitional thresholds that resemble the storm at sea. When the apostles cried out, Jesus immediately got up and quieted the storm. He was already there with them the whole time. The amazing gift of this miraculous calming of the waters leads not to the apostles feeling relief but to the intense need to fall at Jesus’ feet in a new type of amazement…in worship.

Being in a liminal state or place can be unsettling. It certainly feels uncomfortable. But if we open up to it, it can be the threshold to a new union with Jesus, to the dream he has for us, to an absolute conviction of God’s close tenderness in our every need.

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Kathryn 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.

Who Do You Say I Am?

In today’s Gospel Christ asks the apostles “who do you say I am?” – reflecting upon this question I realize how often I doubt who God is. I doubt His promises, His love, and His providence.

If God were to ask me this question I would truly not know how to answer. How often do I ask myself this question about God? Do I ask myself this tough question or do I try to make God fit into my own box?

When we don’t know how to respond to the question we can do two things to find the answer. First and foremost we can read Scripture, reading how God reveals Himself in the Living Word. We may also look back at our lives and see how God reveals Himself through the ways He leads and guides us on the journey.

Know that God loves you and deeply desires to reveal Himself to us. We must seek Him in Scripture and in the tapestries of our lives.

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Nathalie Shultz is a joyful convert to the Catholic faith and a competitive swimmer with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  She loves to share her passion for Catholicism with others, including her conversion story and how God continues to work miracles in her life through her OCD. She is the Director of Religious Education for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative of parishes. Nathalie is married to her best friend, Tommy Shultz. Her favorite saints include St. Peter the Apostle, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II.  She is also a huge fan of C.S. Lewis. If you have any questions for Nathalie, or just want her to pray for you, you can email her at rodzinkaministry@gmail.com

Crossing Over

In the year 586 B.C.E., King Nebuchadnezzar led his troops from Babylon to Jerusalem, intent on taking the city and its most precious gemstone, the Temple of Solomon. The Babylonian Talmud, a book of Jewish teaching, later recounted how as the fire spread throughout the sanctuary, the young priests took to the roof: “They said before God: Master of the Universe, since we did not merit to be faithful treasurers, and the Temple is being destroyed, let the Temple keys be handed to You.” Taking the keys of the Temple, they threw them upward, “and a kind of palm of a hand emerged and received the keys from them.” The priests then jumped from the roof down into the fire. The idea that the existence of the Temple, the central dwelling place of God’s presence, depended on the people’s fidelity to God was not unique to the Talmud. The Old Testament prophets had repeatedly warned Israel that dallying in the paganism of their neighbors precluded their ability to be “faithful treasurers” of God’s mysteries. The people’s idolatrous entanglements placed them outside the bounds of God’s covenant and therefore outside of his protection. That is why the Temple priests could connect the failings of Israel with King Nebuchadnezzar’s weakness for plunder.

Like the Temple, man and woman were made so as to be consecrated to God and dwelling places of his Spirit. In Genesis, Adam and Eve are introduced as God’s image and likeness, and the divine breath that gave them supernatural life made them children of God (Gen. 1:26, Lu. 3:38). After their fall from grace, the stain of original sin proved to be indelible, causing the author of Romans to lament, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (X:X).

As we know, when Jesus came, he reforged the covenant of God, but in order to do so, he had to confront the reality of death that had been the primeval consequence of sin. Interestingly, he explained this confrontation by likening his own body to the Jewish Temple: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it” (Jn. 2:19). These words were fulfilled when Jesus’ bodily temple was crucified and then raised from the dead three days later. In the words of Romans 6:10, “As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.”

Because Jesus was the one “faithful treasurer” of God’s temple, his self-offering for sin was accepted. The Church tells us that baptism enables us to enter Christ’s body and become the vessels of holiness we were always intended to be. And yet baptism involves confronting the same reality of death that Jesus did: “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death” (Rom. 6:4). The rite of baptism is meant to be actualized in our daily lives, meaning that this death to sin is simultaneously a death to self. Jesus put the situation plainly: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (Mt. 10:37). The good news is that through the power of grace we can die to sin in the here and now, meaning that we can continually cross over into freedom and discover greater levels of union with God. In the words of the Savior: “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

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Nikol M. Jones is in her final year at Franciscan University’s Master’s in Theology and Christian Ministry program where it has been her joy to learn how to integrate the tools of modern biblical scholarship with the principles of biblical interpretation set forth by the Catholic Church in the service of the Word of God. She also has a passion for creating artwork and children’s books that honor the life and teachings of Christ. When she’s not studying or painting, she utilizes her writing and organizational skills as an administrative assistant. You can connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nikol-m-jones-4b9893140/.

What is it?

What is it? The thing too impossible to climb like the vastest mountain range or inner chamber of the heart. The thing so ever-present but which constantly makes us shy further and further away. The thing that consumes our every thought as we try to distract from the fact it even exists. What is it that needs to be healed in our hearts?

Have you ever had surgery on the heart tissue? I have never personally had such surgery, but some people very close to me, including my brother and dad have. When it involves the heart there is instantly a worry, a fear, or panic. I remember one time when I was living on my own that I thought I was having a heart attack. I jumped out of bed and drove to the hospital as I thought this was it. After hours of testing, it turns out that the cajun tater tots I had the night before gave me such bad acid reflux that I thought I was dying. When it involves the heart we freak out.

Maybe this is the reason we are so afraid to let God into this very thing that terrifies us. Maybe we know he can heal, but we don’t want him to get that close. Maybe we have faith that he is God, but believe his time is better spent on others. Maybe we believe that our hearts were somehow created differently as if the heart switch in heaven was broken the day we were born, and we don’t function properly. We all have different reasons for believing that God should not get too close. We all have different reasons for our lack of faith. I ask myself today, what is mine? Then I ask you, what is yours?

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Tommy Shultz is Director of Evangelization for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative and the founder of Rodzinka Ministries. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and a 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. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.