Remain in My Love

The word ‘love’ appears nine times in today’s Gospel alone. Why? Because love is what this Gospel is all about. 

Remain in my love. Jesus particularly stresses this as he speaks to His disciples. Who would not want to spend time with their friends? It is the same with Jesus here: 

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in His love.” 

And later, “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”

Jesus loved His disciples, each and every one. He loves us. He loves YOU; enough to die for you, to pay the greatest price one can pay, for YOU. And he wants you to remain in that love.

Now, what does it mean, to remain in His love?

Firstly, though he does say “keep my commandments and you will remain in my love”,  it does not mean that if you follow His commandments he will love you, no! God will always love you, whether you follow His commandments or not. Even if you go to hell, God will not cease to love you. He will always love you.

So then, what does it mean? Remaining in God’s love means remaining in Him. God is love, and remaining in His love means remaining in Him. Being one with Him. My mind goes to John 17:11, where Jesus prays “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.” 

Remaining in Jesus means living with Him. Becoming one with Him. Not shoving Him outside of the box. Inviting Him into your life. Because life without Christ is no life at all. Remaining in Jesus, remaining in His love, is a choice. A choice to live with Him at the center of your life. Remaining in Jesus’s love is to hold His hand, to choose to be there, to put yourself there, right next to Him, for keeps. 

“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love…”  We don’t always follow His commandments, and so we fall away. But every time he, the Good Shepherd, comes looking for us. He wants us to be with Him and he continually seeks us out.

Remaining in His love is not a coincidence, it’s a choice. Will you?

Perpetua Phelps is a high school student residing in West Michigan and is the second of four children. Apart from homeschooling, Perpetua enjoys volunteering at her church, attending retreats, studying Latin and French, and reading classics such as BeowulfThe Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc. She also spends much time writing novels, essays, and poetry for fun and competition. A passionate Tolkien fan, Perpetua is a founding member of a Tolkien podcast.

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Our Mission Statement

In today’s Gospel, we are given a mission to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every living creature (Mark 16:15-16). This is not a mission of preservation. This is not a mission of selection. It is a mission that extends to every living thing. 

Do your actions speak God’s love and truth? 

This is the question we should ask ourselves on this feast of the Ascension because Jesus did not leave us with a shrug and a happy wave, but with a burning passion to share everything we have learned.

Not only did he leave us with a mission, but he left us with a guide! In the First Reading, we hear mention of the Holy Spirit and in the Second Reading, we hear of the Holy Spirit once more. The last of the Trinity, to stay with you and me forever, come Pentecost Sunday.

Savior Jesus Christ, 

You shared so much with us while on Earth, 

And in ways that we could share with others for generations.

We thank you for laying down your life for our sins. 

You forgave a debt we have yet to understand, in total mercy.

Today we celebrate your most glorious Ascension,

Showing us, again, God’s power and infinite love for us.

We also thank you, Jesus, and our Heavenly Father,

for sending us your Spirit to dwell with us in your physical absence.

Come, Holy Spirit, ignite the passion of our hearts, 

May the embers of our heart burn for our mission. 

Amen. 

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Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Pennsylvania. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various Catholic articles in bulletins, newspapers, e-newsletters, and blogs. She continued sharing her faith after graduation as a web content strategist and digital project manager. Today, she continues this mission in her current role as communications director and project manager for Pentecost Today USA, a Catholic Charismatic Renewal organization in Pittsburgh. 

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Life in Him

The readings today remind us that our focus needs to be on God. The First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul tells us “…in him we live and move and have our being”. The Gospel has Jesus telling the disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.”


We’ve been given the Spirit of truth to guide us on our way in life. We’ve been asked to do what is ours to do by trusting in His ways and to follow the Spirit. This is metanoia; changing our heart to a deeper communion and connection with Christ. We are called to be prophets of a future not of our choosing but that of the Lord.

Bishop Ken Untener expressed that wonderfully in the following prayer:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent

enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of

saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an

opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master

builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.      

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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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The Work of the Advocate

In today’s Gospel, Jesus consoles the disciples with the promise of an Advocate—the Holy Spirit. His words, “it is better for you that I go,” must have been so confusing, almost startling for those beholding the Son of God. What could be better than having Jesus in your midst? Only, I suppose, having God in your heart. In the Holy Spirit, God dwells not just among us but within, even with the gift of hindsight, that is still an incredible reality to ponder. 

Pondering the role of a human advocate may give us a deeper insight into our Heavenly Advocate. As we draw closer to Pentecost, not only understanding but also inviting the Holy Spirit into your life strengthens our faith and relationship with God. Here are three ways an advocate serves. Can you translate this into all the miraculous ways the Holy Spirit moves in your life? 

An advocate can be a support to those who feel they are not being heard. In Romans 8:26, St. Paul teaches one of the incredible truths of how the Spirit works as a support in assuring God hears our prayers:

 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”  

Even when we are at a loss on how to pray, the Holy Spirit perfects those fears, doubts, desires nestled so deep in our soul, we have no words and brings them to the Father for us.

An advocate ensures a person has the tools to make an informed decision. In our Confirmations, we receive an outpouring of gifts to guide our Christian life. The gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord each provide the guidance we need to be responsive to the will of God in our lives. The grace from living in the Spirit opens our hearts to choose good, desire what the Father desires for us, even if not done perfectly, the devoted Advocate adequately equips us. 

Jesus lays clear the Advocates work in our world, “And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me;  righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.” How often has the Holy Spirit convicted our behavior, thoughts, or even lack of action? How we respond indicates how willing we are to allow this Wonderful Counselor into our hearts. 

Wondering how you are doing allowing the Paraclete, translated into helper, into your life? Once again, we can turn to St. Paul, who offers how one measures the extent they’ve allowed the Spirit into their lives. The fruit of living in the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23). This incredible life, Jesus promises with the Advocate, is just a simple prayer away, “Come, Holy Spirit.”

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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.

How He Speaks

Upon first reading of, well, the First Reading, it would appear that it’s just another story of Paul sharing the Good News and building up the early Church. That’s all well and good (I mean, where would we be right now without the work of the early disciples?) but one might become more concerned with how they would pronounce the cities Troas and Samothrace instead of what they can take from the reading and they might miss this gem of a verse. 

“…and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying.” 

I think we can find ourselves in two positions within this verse – that of the woman whose heart was opened and that of Paul who was evangelizing. 

Let’s start with the woman. In our fallen human nature, how many times have our hearts been closed off to the ways and words of the Lord, whether it was due to our own sin or to our own ignorance? When we sin, when we choose things against the Lord, when we choose opposite of His will for our lives, we harden our hearts and seek the voice of the world instead. Or sometimes, we seek the voice of the Lord but we box Him in with our own expectations. We fail to hear the whisper in the wind when we are looking for the boom of the lightning bolt instead. 

Fear not, brothers and sisters, for the Lord is more powerful and more merciful than we often give Him credit for. He can bust down the largest and thickest walls built up around our hearts. There is no heart that he can’t open. He can, does and will speak to us, in His own way, in His own time. 

Now let’s look at how we are like Paul. Through our Baptism, we are each given the mission to proclaim the Good News and build up the kingdom of God – the same mission that was given to Paul and the early disciples. When we are evangelizing, we have to remember that it is the Lord who speaks through us. He’s working in the hearts of both parties, the one doing the speaking and the one doing the listening, because it’s His Good News. 

What is the Lord asking you to open your heart to? What is He asking you to pay attention to this week? This month? This year? What is He asking you to proclaim in your task of evangelization? These are questions we should all consider. 

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Erin is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is passionate about the Lord Jesus, all things college sports and telling stories and she is blessed enough to get paid for all three of her passions as a full-time youth minister and a freelance sports writer. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

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Christ’s Love

Today’s readings are all about love, specifically love of God. In the First Reading we hear St. Peter tell Cornelius that “God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him”. It did (and does) not matter if a person was Gentile or Jew, all were accepted into the faith of Christ Jesus so long as there was genuine faith in Him. 

In the Second Reading John reminds us that God is love; it is only in Him and through Him that we know love. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins. And why? So we could live eternally with God in Heaven amidst the Trinitarian love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is the love of the Trinity that compels and allows us to love others and bring them into the faith of Christ. We are called to participate in this Trinitarian love by bringing others into it. We show others the love of God by loving them. 

We hear even more about this love from Jesus in the Gospel. Christ Himself tells us that the love He shows us in his Passion and Death is the greatest love the whole world has ever known: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. He then tells the Apostles that He is sending them out into the world to share the Good News and to share the love of Christ with others. In the same way, we are called to do what the Apostles did: spread the Gospel that says that God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to save us and that what He longs for is for us to take part in that love eternally. 

May we carry the love of Christ with us to all places and share His love with all people.

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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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We Do Not Belong to This World

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus said to His disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated Me first.”

He then goes on to remind them that they do not belong to this world. 

We all need that same reminder. We do not belong to this world either. 

We belong to God. And eternal life with Him is our ultimate goal.

Our time here on Earth is short. Though we often get caught up in the here and now; though we have day-to-day responsibilities, problems, and dilemmas; and though we must take care of ourselves materially, we must also prepare ourselves for the next life. 

Since we don’t belong to this world, our focus must be on what we have to do to earn heaven.

To that end, as long as we are doing God’s will, we cannot worry what others think about us. We cannot hide our faith or keep our mouths shut when we see injustice being done. Nor can we fail to stand up for our fellow human beings, especially those who are shunned by society. That includes the preborn, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled. It is our job to speak for those who cannot use their own voices. 

And just like the disciples, we might be hated because of our beliefs. We might get ridiculed. We might even lose friends. But those are worldly and temporal things, and God encourages us to maintain our focus on Him.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy. In fact, it’s very difficult to be hated or ridiculed. It’s difficult to lose friends. But that is why Christ constantly told His disciples that He would never leave them. He understood that they would need to draw strength from Him. 

God tells us the same thing. He will never leave us. And we must trust in His mercy and goodness. As He said in Jeremiah, “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord; the Lord will be their trust. They are like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It does not fear heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still produces fruit.” 

Though we may encounter many droughts in our lives, our steadfast faith ensures that we will produce the fruit that enriches our days and that will lead us closer to God in heaven. 

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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 17 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. Eleven 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 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.

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Friend Group

Think of the personalities in your friend group. Who’s the de facto “leader” of your group? Which person comes up with the plans, gets everyone else excited, keeps everyone connected? Every group has that person. Maybe it’s you.

Jesus’ friend group included a lot of personalities too – the Rock, the Boanerges (“Sons of Thunder”), the doubting one, the young and Beloved disciple. But it wasn’t Jesus’ personality that kept them all connected, it was WHO HE IS, and WHAT HE DID for them. He is God and he gave everything for them. Wow.  The really awesome thing is that WE CAN BE IN THAT FRIEND GROUP TOO!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is reiterating the most important lesson for his friends: they must love one another AS HE LOVED THEM. In case they might miss the point, he tells them exactly how he loves them; his love is so great that he will LAY DOWN HIS VERY LIFE for his friends. He chose them, he told them everything he heard from his Father, and now he will die for them.

What are they (and we) supposed to do in response? Jesus’ friends are called to love one another in the same way and GO AND BEAR FRUIT, to the glory of the Father. A few verses earlier (Jn 15:1-8), he has explained that without him, we can do nothing, and so we are like branches which must remain firmly connected to Jesus, the Vine, in order to bear any fruit.

These words, spoken just before Jesus actually gave himself over to death for love of his friends and love of his Father, must have resonated deeply with the disciples. The Church built up around this genuine self-giving love and Communion with the very Person of Jesus Christ, defining his followers as those who loved one another and their enemies! This was a profound, sacrificial love, far deeper than “being nice” or any kind of natural human compassion – this is love with an eternal perspective, love that wants what is spiritually, eternally, best for the other. This is love that can only come through us from the One Who IS Love, and only if we remain firmly connected to the Vine, and allow ourselves to be pruned by the Vine Grower. Jesus taught us that we can call God “Father,” because we are IN the Son.

Anything we think we can do without Jesus is just self-assertion, self-insertion, self-sufficiency. None of these keep us connected to the Vine so that we can love truly and bear lasting fruit. Today, let’s consider how well our attitude toward God mirrors Jesus’ attitude toward the Father, and how deeply we love the people around us. Enough to lay down our very lives? This is the profound love that can be ours IN CHRIST, if we set our own agendas aside. This is the glorious grace that is ours through baptism. This is the profound commandment Jesus gives his friends. 

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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/.

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True Joy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

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Branches on the True Vine

“I am the vine, alleluia; you are the branches, alleluia”, is the antiphonal refrain before the canticle of Zechariah in this morning’s Divine Office. Throughout the Office and today’s Readings we find God’s people and all of creation rejoicing that Jesus Christ is Risen. The Psalm today calls to us, “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”

In the Gospel Jesus proclaims, “Remain in me, as I remain in you, whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.” Jesus continues speaking to his disciples saying, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”

Rejoicing, dancing, joy and fruits are part of my offertory to God. I say only part because I frequently forget that there is work to be done; the pruning and cleaning of my own branch on the true vine. It is an essential part in the natural progression of any life cycle. There are times of growth, dormancy or rest and purging inherent to growth in life to produce good fruit. 

I get stuck on pruning and purging, getting rid of the things and thoughts that can damage and inhibit new growth. I have clothes, shoes, containers, and things I’ve saved because I will ‘reuse’ them. There are items that have sentimental value but have no function or purpose in my life that need to be let go. There are parts of my life that require pruning to facilitate new growth, not just collecting cobwebs and dust, slowly suffocating and dying.

Many of my things can be of service or value to someone who’s beginning a new chapter in life; those will be donated. Some things need to be recycled and others thrown out. I also must nurture my way of life with the sacraments and teachings of the Catholic Church and the study of all the Bible, especially the Gospel. It’s as necessary to do as putting food into my body, breathing air, getting rest, interacting with others, praying, mourning and rejoicing. It is all part of the cycle of life for a healthy branch of the True Vine.

Rejoice, read scripture, attend Mass, interact with the community, live the Gospel, prune, rest, repeat! 

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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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