Back in 2007, a group of researchers compared the amount of food consumed between two groups. They were curious to discover if the evidence of food already eaten (in this case, individuals were given chicken wings to eat while watching a football game) would impact the amount they ate altogether. They found that the participants ate less at the tables where the bones were left out in plain sight in comparison to the tables where the bones were removed. “The results suggest that people restrict their consumption when evidence of food consumed is available to signal how much food they have eaten.” (Brian Wansink, Cornell Chronicle, April 9, 2007). 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus miraculously appears before the apostles. If His resurrected body wasn’t shocking enough, He still bore the wounds of His crucifixion. There is nothing that Jesus cannot do. His very presence before the Apostles is a testament to that. So if He can do anything, why did He choose to leave those wounds, the very gruesome and heart wrenching places that we, humanity, created?

The wounds of Christ bear witness to the truth of His sacrifice. His wounds are proof to the Apostles that He is who He says He is. In a way, Jesus is providing them a second chance to look upon Him on the cross. Only John was at the foot of the cross, but he was not the only one to witness the marks of it. We too, are invited to gaze upon the broken body of Christ. We need to see, we need to remember.

Each time we enter a church, we see the cross behind the altar. Without the cross, there would be no resurrection. St. Augustine said, “The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.”

For the same reason that the people eating chicken wings need a visual to remind them of how much they have eaten, we need Jesus’ wounds to vividly remind us of the lengths He was willing to go to save us. We humans are slow to learn and quick to forget. We quickly forget the price that was paid for our salvation. We bemoan all the things we are lacking, rather than lifting our empty hands in adoration to the God who gave us everything we have. 

Jesus’ wounds should shock us, yes. But they are also the most precious things we have ever received, for through them we are reborn to eternal life.

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Saint Lydwine

Saint Lydwine, bedridden from youth, bore lifelong illnesses and mystical visions, becoming the patroness of sickness and enduring faith.
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The Sea of Galilee is tempestuous. It is located amid mountains and storms can come over the hills unexpectedly and stir up the waters.  One moment it may be calm and sunny and then the clouds come quickly and the wind picks up and a storm arrives. Life can be like that too. We don’t always see the storm approaching until we are caught in the deluge without our raincoat.

One such storm forced its way into my life a couple months ago when despite loving his job, my husband was unexpectedly let go. Up until then it had been a beautiful experience but we couldn’t see the clouds on the other side of the mountain and got caught. 

Jesus, as he said he would, was there. He is still here. We invited Him into our boat and He calmed us. We are not afraid because He has told us over and over in the Bible and in prayer that we should not be. Our God is a God of hope. He is true to his word. He has asked people throughout history to trust in Him and He is faithful. 

Just as Jesus calmed the storm and brought the disciples safely to land, He will do the same for us in the storms life throws at us. God is so good.

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Saint Lydwine

Saint Lydwine, bedridden from youth, bore lifelong illnesses and mystical visions, becoming the patroness of sickness and enduring faith.
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As Catholic Christians we celebrate several weeks of Easter joy with readings from the Acts of the Apostles. The first reading today brings the joy of Jesus’ resurrection to the forefront. A Pharisee, very respected in the Sanhedrin, Rabbi Gamaliel, and Paul the apostle’s teacher, strongly cautions the Sanhedrin. He tells the gathered supreme leaders of the Jewish faith and court system, “So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” 

Gamaliel was known for seeking the truth and justice in Scripture and the matters that came before the Sanhedrin. He recommended a wise path forward with Jesus of Nazareth’s apostles.
The apostles were flogged and ordered to stop teaching about the Way of Christ. They rejoiced at their release. The apostles continued to proclaim and spread the Good News they learned from Jesus.

In the Gospel, Jesus healed many people as well as miraculously fed a multitude from five loaves of bread and two fish. What an amazing day! Can you imagine experiencing a healing yourself or seeing someone else transformed and then literally being fed by miraculous means. Praise God!

Jesus exemplified compassionate care to all which was very counter cultural at the time. The ability to see into the hearts and minds, the needs of the other in every circumstance, this is the unconditional love of the Lord. Jesus pays that love forward with each healing and miracle. This causes my heart to sing and rejoice!

Let us rejoice together in the healing and saving power of Christ Jesus. Rejoice! Alleluia!

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Saint Lydwine

Saint Lydwine, bedridden from youth, bore lifelong illnesses and mystical visions, becoming the patroness of sickness and enduring faith.
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Today’s Gospel reading is packed with wisdom. One way to read Scripture is simply to spend time meditating verse by verse, and this passage provides a lot of material. Let’s consider three small verses within this passage today. Each verse provides important themes for this Easter Season. First, we must trust in God. Second, God showers us with gifts. Third, believe! 

Trust: “Whoever does accept [Jesus’] testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.”

Do you believe that God is trustworthy? He is trustworthy over anything and everyone. When we are in a difficult period in life, we tend to turn to God and put our trust and hope in Him because we know that we are not strong enough to carry the burden – whether illness, family challenges, career difficulties, or any other difficulty. When we realize that a burden is beyond our strength or control we turn to God. But what about putting all of our trust in God in the day to day activities that we can control? Do you entrust your health, your family, and your career to God on a daily basis? If we believe that Jesus is Lord, let’s entrust our entire lives to him, even the simple things that we think we have control over. 

Gift: “For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.”

Do you see the Most Holy Trinity in this passage? Walk with me. God sent Jesus, the one who “speaks the words of God.” God does not ration his gift of the Spirit – the Holy Spirit. Here we see how God pours out His love upon the world continuously, through Jesus, the Word of God, and the Spirit. 

This verse is a call to remember that the Triune God is generous. He teaches us, offers himself to us, and moves within us. God does not ration his gift of the Spirit. When you are tempted to doubt, ask for the Holy Spirit to make Himself known to you.

Believe: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.”

You may hear echoes of John 3:16 in this verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” In John’s Gospel and his letters, we find a refrain of believing in God, remaining or abiding in God, and the promise of eternal life. 

Whenever you feel yourself doubting God, pray the words of the Father from Mark 9:24, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Doubt and fear happen in our human condition. Sometimes we question God’s love for us or even his existence. The promises in today’s Gospel reading are strong. Take a minute to consider how God has made Himself and his love known to you.

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Saint Lydwine

Saint Lydwine, bedridden from youth, bore lifelong illnesses and mystical visions, becoming the patroness of sickness and enduring faith.
The post Saint Lydwine appeared first on uCatholic.

Recently, I was teaching a group of students about the Mass. We had reached the end of the Liturgy and were focused on the dismissal: “Go and proclaim the Gospel with your life.” We hear it all the time, but do we think about what it actually means? It is more than just a signal that Mass is over and we are free to go. It is a call to carry God’s light and life into the darkest corners of our world.

Mass isn’t just an obligation. It isn’t just something we do because we are Catholic. Being fully present at Mass is a choice and a discipline, and a whole lot of grace. We go to confession so that we can be open to all the graces offered to us in the Holy Sacrifice re-presented on the altar at every Mass. When we are fully present at Mass, we offer ourselves, our hearts, our happy thoughts, our distractions and our struggles. We give all of it to be used to glorify and worship God. We hear the Gospel, we share in Christ’s sacrifice by offering our own lives back to God, so what is left? 

It isn’t enough to experience God’s love and light within the walls of the Church. It’s a start, but it isn’t enough. At the dismissal, we are reminded that we take what we have received, Christ himself, and carry Him out into the world. We don’t carry Him for our benefit, but for the world’s benefit. Our world can be a dark and dreary place. One doesn’t have to look far to become discouraged. In the midst of this world, we can take refuge in the One who created us. We have the grace and mercy of Our Lord. We have the tender love and example of His Mother. We have the intercession and advocacy of the Holy Spirit. “Go and proclaim the Gospel with your life,” is our call to action. It is when we choose to move from the protection of the Church to carry God’s love to our neighbor. It is when we choose to follow the example of the saints and be Christ’s light to others. It’s risky and it’s hard and it can also be incredibly scary, but it’s our calling.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill us with the fire of your love. Guide us to always choose to share your life and light with others.

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Saint Lydwine

Saint Lydwine, bedridden from youth, bore lifelong illnesses and mystical visions, becoming the patroness of sickness and enduring faith.
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” The community of believers was of one heart and one mind.” 

Imagine for just a moment the founding of a family company. The excitement in the air that comes from branching out and believing in what the family can do must be a feeling like no other. Everyone working together towards a common goal to provide for their families must give hard work a deeper meaning. Then fast forward about a year and you start to see the division forming, gossip, and anxiety. 

I think inevitably whenever people gather together in a group they start by being warm and fuzzy but then quickly the differences and weaknesses of each member of the group start to form. It is no different in the Catholic Church. Think about how united the Apostles must have been, especially after Jesus rose from the dead. They needed each other for everything and grew together as a community with the help of the Holy Spirit. 

I have an experiment for you. I want you to walk into your local parish at some point during this next week, and think about what you see and hear. Do you see an atmosphere of togetherness and family? Or do you see one of division and cliques? It is no secret that some Catholics are more conservative, some are more liberal, some are more traditional, and some prefer a more modern type of worship. But at the end of the day, as the first reading reminds us, we should all be of one heart and mind. 

God desires to unite, Satan desires to divide. Now, of course, this is not an easy task when we try to do it all on our own. Every time I try by my own strength to be a good person I am reminded of how I am not very strong. This is why we need to pray for the grace to bring people into the family of God and not be the cause of disunity. As the Catechism says in the very first paragraph, Jesus “calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church.” (CCC #1)

Jesus is the one who desires that we all be one. Let us pray during this Easter season for the grace needed to be a source of unity and invitation. 

From all of us here at Diocesan, God bless!

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Saint Lydwine

Saint Lydwine, bedridden from youth, bore lifelong illnesses and mystical visions, becoming the patroness of sickness and enduring faith.
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“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

What an interesting choice of words from the Angel Gabriel – “favor with God.” This has to be where Mary’s fullness of grace comes in because if I was told I had favor with God and then my life went on the roller-coaster ride that Mary’s did, I’m not sure I would believe the Archangel Gabriel nor share the same definition and understanding of “favor.”

Here in the Annunciation, we hear these profound words spoken to Mary, along with the astounding news that God has chosen her to bear His beloved Son. Although I try to place myself in that room, hearing those words, I simply cannot fathom the depth of Mary’s emotions in that very moment, that unique experience that the Blessed Virgin Mary alone has been graced to experience.

This “favor” that was found to be with Mary becomes increasingly harder to imagine as the rest of the story of Mary’s life with Jesus unfolds — in what we, who are not full of grace, might see as a complete unraveling of God’s favor. As a woman, I know how I would perceive this journey if I were to put myself in Mary’s situation.  Mary is the ultimate model of trust and faith because we have no evidence that she lost these gifts, as I would have if my expectations were seemingly twisted completely around.

These are a few of the events and situations I wouldn’t expect if I had received the news I was expecting the Son of God:

  • I would not have expected to travel to help out a slightly more pregnant cousin right after finding out I, too, was to have a baby, especially if that child was the Messiah!
  • I would have expected to have the baby at home with my mom and maybe some women from Nazareth to help out, not in a barn all the way in Bethlehem with only my husband’s assistance.
  • After my son’s unexpected birth in a manger, I would have expected to return back to Nazareth, again to the comfort of my home and my family and community to help me raise my new son. I would have never expected this urgent, I am sure, frightening escape from Bethlehem into Egypt.  

In the end, it is irrefutable (to me, at least) that Mary has truly found favor with God. This grace may not align with our thoughts and understanding of ‘favor,’ but I continue, like her, to ponder all these things in my heart, praying that if the day ever arrives for me to be greeted by an angel with a great message from God, I too will answer, “May it be done to me according to your Word.”

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Saint Lydwine

Saint Lydwine, bedridden from youth, bore lifelong illnesses and mystical visions, becoming the patroness of sickness and enduring faith.
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Chapter 20 of the Gospel of John emphasizes Peace and the Holy Spirit abiding within us. Christ’s first word following His death is “Peace”. I do not find that I am naturally a peaceful person. I tend to get easily distracted and upset by life not being “fair”, or agitated when things do not go exactly as I had planned. I am flawed. Yet so much greater than this is that I am also loved. Above all else, Christ has laid down his life for me. I owe it to Him to do my best to try to find an inner peace. It is often a battle. My mind races at night, dwelling on what might go wrong. It is by listening to the word of God that I calmed down and am reminded of who I really am. Through dedicating my time to Him in prayer and good deeds, He will rejuvenate me, like the Living Water He declares to the Samaritan woman. 

Again and again we must acknowledge that the Holy Spirit resides in each of us, guiding us, and that in each passing moment we can become more like Christ. Pope Benedict XVI explained, “Every person carries within himself, a project of God, a personal vocation, a personal idea of God, on what he is required to do in history to build His Church, a living temple of His presence.” I have a calling, a reason for why God has created me, I was chosen for this life to share God’s glory with those around me. We may not always know where we belong or how each passing moment might unfold. While I may not be at peace on my own accord, with God’s grace, He will remain in me as a source of peace through the Holy Spirit. He will help me find the way.  

“Loving God, please grant me peace of mind and calm my troubled heart. My soul is like a turbulent sea. I can’t seem to find my balance so I stumble and worry constantly. Give me the strength and clarity of mind to find my purpose and walk the path you’ve laid out for me”. – Author Unknown

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Saint Lydwine

Saint Lydwine, bedridden from youth, bore lifelong illnesses and mystical visions, becoming the patroness of sickness and enduring faith.
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Alleluia! He is Risen! Christ has Risen indeed! 

In our fast-paced culture, we often want to skip from one great event to another. Once Christmas is done, we move right into Valentine’s Day and then St. Patrick’s Day and then Easter and then Memorial Day, etc.  Or if we are into athletics, perhaps we jump from one sport’s season to another. As soon as the SuperBowl is over, then it’s on to March Madness and then the World Cup and so on. We seem to always need something to look forward to, something to think about that excites us. That may not always be a bad thing, as long as we don’t fail to live each moment as God intends. 

Today we are within the Octave of Easter. Easter is such a special feast (the highest of any we celebrate in the Catholic Church) that each day within the Octave is celebrated just like Easter day itself! It is so special that we need eight days to celebrate it! Is that what we are doing today? Are we still celebrating? Are we still pondering the depth of just what the Resurrection means in our lives? Do we realize deep within all that Christ has done to open the gates of heaven for us and allow us to live with Him for all eternity? 

Today’s first reading both makes me chuckle and causes me to ponder in awe. The disciples had been arrested for publicly preaching in the name of Jesus and the authorities had no idea what to do with them. They were powerless to do anything to punish them, “on account of the people who were all praising God for what had happened.” Can you imagine being a fly on the wall listening into that conversation? “What are we supposed to do with these guys?” “I dunno, what do you think we should do?” “I dunno, I don’t think we can do anything, can we?” They were dumbfounded because they knew that the people had witnessed the hand of the Almighty.

At the same time, it always amazes me how fearless the Apostles were. They received a stern warning, not once, but twice, and they took it as if it were a pat on the back in encouragement to continue on! They were in perfect obedience to God, not men, and His Holy Spirit was definitely at work among them. They took to heart and put into action Jesus’ command to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (today’s Gospel). 

How can we continue to live out our celebration of Easter today? How can we be a part of this incredible mission to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world? How can we be fearless for God in order to help others get to know him? God knows the answer. Let us listen and obey. 

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Saint Lydwine

Saint Lydwine, bedridden from youth, bore lifelong illnesses and mystical visions, becoming the patroness of sickness and enduring faith.
The post Saint Lydwine appeared first on uCatholic.

This passage beautifully reflects on the restoration of Peter’s relationship with Jesus, emphasizing the profound mercy and forgiveness found in His Most Loving and Sacred Heart. It draws powerful parallels between Jesus meeting Peter for the first time in the Gospel of Matthew and their encounter by the Sea of Galilee after His Resurrection in the Gospel of John.

The Scripture passage captures the significance and ensuing joy of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples. Rather than reproaching them for returning to their former life of fishing, their previous lifestyle and livelihood, the Lord guides them in their fishing endeavors, resulting in a miraculous catch. 

This catch not only brought great joy but signaled Jesus’s presence among them and can remind us of His abundance of grace even in moments of uncertainty or discouragement. Jesus also feeds the disciples as he does us, with the Holy Eucharist.

Furthermore, this passage focuses on the transformative faith of the disciples and the Lord’s invitation for them to continue trusting in His ways while moving forward to share the good news with others. For instance, rather than hiding from Jesus, Peter impulsively jumps out of the boat and hastens to the Lord, much like a young child’s eager response.

We are much like those fish caught in the net. The Gospel message is not just for “one kind of fish” but for everyone! Jesus is offering Salvation to all the people of the world.  Jesus’ mercy and love urge us to trust in Him wholeheartedly and allow His grace to transform our lives in order to serve God and others.

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Saint Lydwine

Saint Lydwine, bedridden from youth, bore lifelong illnesses and mystical visions, becoming the patroness of sickness and enduring faith.
The post Saint Lydwine appeared first on uCatholic.