How do you suppose the apostles felt that night? I mean, think about it. Your  Rabbi and friend was just brutally killed. The Jews might come for you next because you knew him. You’re probably plagued with guilt because you ran away at Golgotha and probably plagued with doubt because you thought he was the Messiah but he still died.

Put yourself in their shoes. 

So, all inwardly jumbled with these thoughts and feelings, what do the disciples decide to do? 

Sail to the other shore. Get away from that place where their friend died, and where all of these angry people who might want to kill them too, are.

Again, put yourself in their shoes. They were terrified. They were probably sad, and full of regret and doubt. So they flee in the middle of the night. Sailing across the sea, wind begins to blow, and once again the poor apostles are terrified. 

But then, imagine this; the very friend they betrayed, the very friend whom they loved, the very friend who was killed, is walking on the water toward their boat. Imagine that.

Now how do you think the disciples felt? Fear? Surprise? Wonder? And then Jesus speaks; “It is I, do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid. After all of the fear, the fear of the stormy seas, the fear of the Jews, the fear that Jesus might not have been who he said he was, Jesus tells them do not be afraid; it is I. 

Do not be afraid.

Think about how reassuring those words must have been for the apostles. After all the chaos and craziness of the past few days, after all the fear and the doubt, Jesus gives them the words they need: It is I; I am alive, I am the Messiah; Do not be afraid;  I am with you, do not fear neither the Jews nor the storm. It is I. Do not be afraid. 

How applicable these words are to today! With the fears of the pandemic still running, how much people need the calming words of Jesus: It is I, do not be afraid.

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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Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

One of my earliest memories is of watching the news on television. It was the late 1960’s, and we had only three TV channels in those days—this was in France—and they were filled with images from America, white police officers turning water hoses and dogs on Black protesters in city streets. I wasn’t old enough to understand what it meant, and I cannot remember if my family even discussed the events we were watching unfold; I do remember the violence of the images, though, and they haunted my sleep.

Later, probably much later, when I learned about the history of the civil rights movement, I wondered at the courage of those people who’d put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of what was right. I hadn’t quite grasped the concept of sacrifice—despite what the nuns were teaching me in school!—and it seemed either very brave or very foolish to go into a situation knowing the outcome would most probably be violent. I was at the same time learning the history of the early Church, and my dreams were twisted—scenes of Christians in the Coliseum mixed with Black kids being beaten. It was a bad time.

I know a great deal more now about both these situations, but what I’ve retained from my childhood is the wonder at people willing—and in many cases eager—to put their lives on the line. 

I was reminded of that when I read today’s passage from the Acts of the Apostles. Gamaliel was a teacher of Paul and was a leading exponent of a more liberal and humane interpretation of the Law, and he was the voice of reason in this council. As soon as the apostles left, he addressed the assembly, warning council members not to be too hasty in their judgements. He gave two examples of leaders—Theudas and Judas the Galilean—who’d started rebellious movements and, in both cases, attracted quite a large following of supporters.

Both of these leaders died and, when they did, their movements fell apart. Gamaliel draws a conclusion from that: the revolts weren’t meant to succeed. And if this “Jesus movement” was left alone, it too might fall apart—after all, its leader, too, was dead. Leave these people alone, he counseled; if the movement is just another human endeavor, it will destroy itself, you don’t have to help it on its way. On the other hand, if it comes from God—well, there’s nothing you could do to destroy it anyway. 

While Gamaliel was persuasive, the Sanhedrin still for good measure wanted to have the last word, and they had the Apostles whipped—forty lashes minus one, according to Jewish law. It was without doubt a horrible experience. Yet Peter and his companions left the council rejoicing “that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.”

They were experiencing the blessedness Jesus had spoken of in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The message of the Gospel is clear. It is a message of love, of inclusion, of joy. It is also a message of sacrifice, of responsibility, and of suffering. Generations have been willing to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake: the Church calendar is filled with martyrs. As people continue to put their lives on the line for what they know to be right, I will continue to be both horrified and inspired—horrified by the cruelty of some, and inspired by the faith and fortitude of others. 

And while the civil-rights workers sang, “We shall overcome, the Lord will see us through,” I realize that in many smaller ways, I, too, can overcome. I can in my life’s situations stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I can in my life’s situations speak out against injustice, cruelty, and oppression. I can in my life’s situations live the Gospel as clearly and completely as possible.

I can learn from the past. I can overcome.

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Jeannette de Beauvoir is a writer and editor with the digital department of Pauline Books & Media, working on projects as disparate as newsletters, book clubs, ebooks, and retreats that support the apostolate of the Daughters of St. Paul at http://www.pauline.org.

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Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

In today’s reading, Peter and the Apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin. The high priest admonished them, saying they were not to preach in Jesus’ name. Peter responded: “Obedience to God comes before obedience to men.”

Indeed. God is the one we must obey. His laws are the ones we must live by.

Though many manmade laws are based on the Commandments and morality, there are some unjust and downright evil laws that we cannot obey—namely laws allowing abortion and euthanasia. 

The Fifth Commandment tells us that we must not kill. That means that we must cherish and respect all life—from the very moment of creation until the end of life.

It may seem difficult, but we must do as the Apostles did and teach in Jesus’ name. 

Jesus spent years teaching His laws. He spent years preaching the Good News. He then sent His disciples out to preach in His name. For over 2,000 years, priests and lay people alike have done so. They did so because it was their responsibility. Likewise, it is our responsibility.

God loves us more than we will ever know. We must show our love for Him by following His commands. So let us think about how we can do that today and every day. 

As we pray and discern how we can amend our actions, let us seek the intercession of the saints. They followed God’s word and were obedient to Him. Let us model our lives after theirs. 

We need God’s holy name now more than ever. In a world filled with immorality, we cannot sit quietly. We cannot allow the passage of more unjust laws. 

And we cannot allow obedience to men to come before obedience to God.

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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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Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

I really enjoy Eastertime. It is really brought to life when we read the Acts of the Apostles every day! It also brings to life what they did and what we should be doing. A couple of verses before today’s readings in Acts people would bring their sick and lay them in the street hoping that at least Peter’s shadow would fall upon them and they would be healed (and they were). Folks, is that great or what? 

It is no wonder then that the Sadducees  became jealous of those involved and threw them in prison. We know that the Lord had a different plan for them. That day, an Angel let them out. They went to the temple and did exactly what they were told to do, preach the Good News. 

Have you or I ever failed to do what God has asked us to do? For me, I would have to say yes. There are two ways to solve a problem like this: humanly or spiritually. We are confronted every day with a myriad of problems, some big and some small. But we need to make decisions on every one of them. I am reminded of a time a few years ago. A coworker came into my office and was perplexed as to what color to paint his house. He and his wife had gone through many color chips and just couldn’t agree on a color. I asked him if he had prayed about it. “What?!” he said. “God doesn’t give a rip about what color my house is!” “Not true”, I said. “He does care. He cares about everything.” He replied with something like, “Whatever!” then threw his hands up in the air and walked out. I never did hear how that turned out. 

I entered the business world knowing nothing about the business world. It was very stressful to say the least. Little by little I learned that saying a short prayer before jumping in on something really made a difference. 

We have hundreds of thoughts going through our minds every day. We have plenty of opportunities to ask the Lord what would be most pleasing to him. Let us remember the apostles. The world told them to stop…and God told them to go! You may say, well, they had an Angel to help them! So do you. Your Guardian Angel. Put him to work! He will help you to do the right thing. 

Serving with joy! 

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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.

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Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

Imagine a parish where you walk in and are greeted at the door by a smiling face who welcomes you and directs you to a seat that is reserved just for you. Imagine that those around you aren’t interested in your political ideals or viewpoints on hot topic issues, but they are just grateful to meet you and welcome you into God’s house. Keep imagining, if you will, a place where everyone can freely worship God the way that fits their spirituality, without being mocked or scorned, but they can just be with Jesus in the way they most prefer. Imagine a place where the full truth is preached with conviction, despite what the consequences may be. Imagine someone who is willing to walk through the mess of your life and not judge you or condemn you, but also not leave you in the filth of your sin, but help guide you to the truth.

Sound like a place you have ever been? The reality is that what I just described should be what every Christian church looks like. The question is, do they? Let’s read through the First Reading today and really reflect on it in light of the questions I just asked.

“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas (which is translated ‘son of encouragement’), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.” -Acts 4:32-37

So what can we say about this reading? As I read through it what stood out was how this is what Jesus wants us to look like as Christian communities. This is what he wants your church to look like. So the simple question is, what can we do to make it more like this? Are we giving of our time, talent, and treasure to help those around us? Are we trying to sow unity while also standing firm with the truth. Are we like Jesus who gave the fullness of mercy to the woman caught in adultery and then promptly said to sin no more? Let’s make a commitment today to be the change. Preaching the Gospel through our actions with the people God has given us. 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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Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

“Every baptized person should consider that it is in the womb of the Church where he is transformed from a child of Adam to a child of God.”– St. Vincent Ferrer – 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus that “unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” and, after Nicodemus expresses his confusion, Jesus continues by saying that “unless one is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God”.  Jesus is talking about the importance of Baptism. In order to enter the Kingdom of God, we must first die to ourselves and be reborn in the Holy Spirit. This rebirth is not solely our Baptism that only happens once, but it should be a continual renewal of our Baptismal promises. We ought to be rejecting Satan, and all his works, and his empty promises every day of our lives. We should be confessing our faith in God and His mercy – in word and action – every day of our lives. This is what we celebrate during the Easter season. The Risen Lord is always in our midst and our lives should be a reflection of His presence. 

Being born in the Spirit, being baptized in the Christian faith demands a life radically lived. Our faith does not call us to complacency, it does not call us to mediocrity. Rather, it calls us to participate in the radical love the Father has for us. We are made to be part of a love so great that the Father sent His only Son to die for us so that we may be united eternally with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom. It is for that reason that we are to continue to rejoice in the Easter miracle that is the Resurrection of our Savior, Christ Jesus. It is only through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection that we are able to be born again into His love. 

As we continue through this Easter season, may we commit ourselves to continual renewal in the Holy Spirit. May we be willing to die to ourselves in order to be reborn in the Father’s love for us.

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

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Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

In today’s First Reading in Acts, it is noted that following Jesus’ resurrection, the Church was one. This was what God had always intended. One heart, one mind, one body, one soul.

The common theme reflected in Psalm 118 is  “His mercy endures forever.” God’s love is everlasting. In the Divine Mercy Chaplet we pray, “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world”.

Jesus came for sinners. To have compassion on us and forgive us. To save souls. Our strength and our courage is the LORD, our Savior! Give thanks!

May the Holy Spirit fill each of us with the joy of the Easter message.

Let us live boldly, as the Apostles did following Christ’s resurrection, recognizing that we are indeed saved.

Let us be steadfast to the Lord, keeping his Commandments through the trials and tribulations we face.

Let us be in peace with one another, just as Jesus reconciled with us, appearing to the Apostles, “Peace be with you.”

Let us pray that our love increases for Christ as well as each other every day. 

As reflected through the message of the Divine Mercy, Jesus, I trust in You.

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

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Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

Alleluia! It’s still Easter!

Every year, I marvel at the reality that we prepare for Easter with 40 days of penitence, and then celebrate the magnificence of Christ’s Resurrection for 50 days! And every day of the Octave of Easter (from Easter through Divine Mercy Sunday) is like Easter Sunday, liturgically speaking. It is one long day of rejoicing, encompassing the “first day of the week” (the day of Christ’s resurrection from the dead) and the “eighth day” of the week (the following Sunday). This “eighth day” after the Sabbath is the new “first day”, the symbol of the new creation the Resurrection has set in motion.

The eighth day as a day signaling sanctity and freedom can be seen repeatedly in the Old Testament, particularly the Book of Leviticus. On this day, children were circumcised, becoming purified and receiving the seal of the covenant (Lev 12:2-3). Even animals were ceremonially unclean before their eighth day, and could not be sacrificed before then (Lev 22:27)!  All people who were unclean for any reason remained so until the eighth day, when they were accounted clean (Lev 14:8-10; 15:13-14). Even the vessels for ministry and the priests went through seven days of purification, and were “clean” on the eighth day.

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus rose on “the first day of the week,” which is the same as the “eighth day.” The Jewish people hold Saturday, the seventh day, as a day of rest and worship, as God rested on the seventh day of creation. But Christians acknowledge that Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary fulfilled every Levitical oblation and sacrifice, and the resurrection on the “eighth day” points to the NEW creation and the final fulfillment of all creation.  In the early Church, the baptismal font was often octagonal, to symbolize the truth that it is through this font that the baptized become a new creation in Christ!

Tomorrow is Divine Mercy Sunday, when we see Jesus putting Thomas’ doubts to rest on the eighth day by revealing his glorious wounds, through which he poured out mercy on the world. It is through these wounds that Jesus gave us the incredible gift of forgiveness and proved that Love overcomes every sin and shortcoming. On this “eighth day” of Easter, we glimpse the whole point of creation and hear anew the call to fulfillment of all creation: the final victory over every uncleanness and sinfulness, and our final, glorious rest at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, celebrating the definitive conquering of death on the mystical eighth day of creation in eternity.

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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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Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

He is risen! Alleluia! The most life-changing thing has happened in the lives of our dear apostles and where do we find them today? Fishing. Unsuccessfully at that. 

Skipping down to the end of the Gospel reading, John reveals that this encounter with Jesus was the third time since the Resurrection. Twice before this day, Peter and the others had seen and spoken with the risen Lord. And still, by their actions, we see their doubt, their unbelief. 

When we want to feel comfortable, when we are unsure of change, what is the human response? We find something familiar, a past habit or location, something we are sure of. For Peter and the other apostles with him, that place of familiarity is in a boat on the sea. John is showing us that they are returning to their old way, their previous habits and professions which had sustained them before following Jesus. But look, where they were previously proficient, they find themselves lacking. They caught no fish! 

Something has changed, they are fundamentally different men. It’s not that they have forgotten how to fish or read the waves and winds. John is exploring how deeply encounters with Jesus change who we are. Peter can no longer provide for himself. He and the others can’t “go it alone” as so often we try to do even today. Only when Jesus reveals Himself and provides a way forward do they make their catch. And of course, in God’s goodness and generosity, it is a catch more sizable than they could have ever achieved.  

Today we find ourselves at the start of the Easter Season and in the middle of the Octave of Easter (the initial 8 days after Easter Sunday). The newness of the Resurrection is still tingling in our consciousness and daily life – or is it? Have we already become like Peter and the others, unsure, perhaps unbelieving, and looking for our old comforts and habits to shield us from the radicalness of God’s saving work? Have we found ourselves drawn back into our comfortable boats, trying to reconstruct a known life from before?

In his reflection on this passage a few years ago, Pope Francis said: “Let us all remember this well: The Gospel of Jesus cannot be proclaimed without the concrete witness of life. Whoever hears and sees us must be able to read in our actions what he hears on our lips, and give glory to God.” Take some time today to consider how the reality of the Resurrection is shaping you into a disciple of the Lord. How are you different this Easter season? How have you grown? Can you, like Peter, jump out of your boat and go to the side of Jesus with enthusiasm and joy?

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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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Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

I was talking with someone the other day, laughing about how often Jesus says, “Peace be with you,” and, “Do not be afraid,” in the Gospels because it’s not just his way of greeting people, it’s that Jesus would do crazy things (like randomly appear) and frighten people! 

Then, in today’s Gospel, we are reminded just how human the disciples were. We might read over the gospels and think, “Yup, Jesus turned water into wine. Yup, walking on water, he does that,” but we fail to truly consider how utterly amazing and confusing it would have been to witness all of these miracles. If we saw anyone do these kinds of things today, we would totally lose our minds, record it on our phones, share it with everyone we know, etc. Why do we expect anything less human from the first Christians?

So I LOVE today’s Gospel because it literally says that they, “thought they were seeing a ghost,” because I would have acted the same way (Luke 24:37). Just imagine for a moment that you’re telling your best friends about walking with Jesus, then recognizing him while breaking bread and then he just SHOWS UP. “Peace be with you. It’s just me, Jesus… Alive.” No big deal, right? Jesus told them he would be back, right? 

And yet they were still surprised!

They were still shocked and terrified. 

Still, they had the faith and strength to witness not just one miracle and run away, but to become witnesses of Jesus, the radical love he showed even the least of strangers, and to share everything they had learned with the world. They were so on fire with the Spirit, from seeing all this crazy stuff happen through Jesus, that they felt they HAD to share it with others. 

So today, as we continue through the Easter season, I ask if you have been a witness to the miracles that have happened in your life? Now that Jesus reminds you not to be afraid, are you sharing his love and miracles?

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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.

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Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day