Saturday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I Rom 4:13, 16-18

Brothers and sisters:
It was not through the law
that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants
that he would inherit the world,
but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
For this reason, it depends on faith, 
so that it may be a gift,
and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants,
not to those who only adhere to the law
but to those who follow the faith of Abraham,
who is the father of all of us, as it is written,
I have made you father of many nations.
He is our father in the sight of God,
in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead
and calls into being what does not exist.
He believed, hoping against hope,
that he would become the father of many nations,
according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be.

Responsorial Psalm 105:6-7, 8-9, 42-43

R.    (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
    sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
    throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R.    The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
He remembers forever his covenant
    which he made binding for a thousand generations –
Which he entered into with Abraham
    and by his oath to Isaac.
R.    The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
For he remembered his holy word
    to his servant Abraham.
And he led forth his people with joy;
    with shouts of joy, his chosen ones.
R.    The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Alleluia Jn 15:26b, 27a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord,
and you also will testify.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 12:8-12

Jesus said to his disciples: 
“I tell you,
everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
But whoever denies me before others
will be denied before the angels of God.

“Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will not be forgiven.
When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities,
do not worry about how or what your defense will be
or about what you are to say. 
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”

– – –

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

A Father’s Love

I am currently two weeks into a study on getting to know the Eucharist and this perfect sacrifice for us and I am realizing that I have spent nearly my entire life only skimming the surface of Our Father’s love. 

Yes, I know Jesus died for me and for my sins, but sometimes I get too caught up on the “for my sins” part. I constantly try to be “perfect” and can be so hard on myself that I get discouraged. I forget the mercy of God that is offered to me even though I will never truly be worthy, because there is no such thing as perfection for (99.9% of) humans. 

I’m not trying to gloss over the fact that I am a sinner, but I think I forget that God sent His only Son for me… because he loves me. He did it because He wants an eternal relationship with me. In fact, that’s all He asks in return, for me to truly know Him and His truths because once I know them in my heart, how can I deny them in my actions or words?  

I forget He has loved me since before I existed and that when I sinned for the first time as a child, He didn’t flinch or shy away from me in my sinfulness, in the same way that he drew nearer even when I lost my way in college. Each time I mess up, He has opened His arms to me and asked me to come back, to know Him, to come home

And that’s something I forget because I try to picture God as a father in a humanly way. 

Now, I’m not saying my dad isn’t amazing. He’s awesome and I love him so much, but he’s also human. I know now that as I grew up and learned from my mistakes, I was also watching my dad grow up and learn from his. Still, something my dad does that reminds me of God’s love is how any time that I am hurt, my dad runs to me. Every. Single. Time. 

Knowing this, I’m amazed and overwhelmed in the best way because our earthly father or father figures’ love is only a glimpse, a tiny sliver, of the love that our Heavenly Father invites us into. He is a merciful God to all of us, “Gentile or Jew”. 

“I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation” (Responsorial Psalm).

He knows you. He knows all that you are and have been and will be… and He loves you.
He shows you mercy. He redeems you. He. Loves. You.

Never forget that part. 

Contact the author

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. 

Feature Image Credit: Harika G, https://unsplash.com/photos/AjRA93pwgZs

My Soul Waits for You, Lord

The Responsorial Psalm for today says: “I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in His word. My soul waits for the Lord.”

Trusting in the Lord is often easier said than done. We live in a world filled with people who say things like “Your God must not care if He allowed [fill in the blank] to happen,” or “How could a merciful God allow [fill in the blank]?”

And then we begin to wonder Why does He allow that? It’s almost like those words take over our thoughts and stifle our faith. 

During the easy times in life, trusting in God is easy. But during the hard times in life, trusting in God is difficult. We wonder why He is allowing our suffering or the suffering of others. 

Realistically, suffering is a part of life. It has been a part of life since Adam and Eve brought sin into the world. 

Further, people have choices. And often they make bad choices—choices that hurt others. In addition, diseases, accidents, famine, sickness, and natural disasters happen on a daily basis.

We have to understand that God allows us to endure suffering in this world so that we become stronger and so that we grow closer to spending eternity with Him. When we suffer, we can—and should—unite our suffering to Christ’s on the cross. We can also offer up our suffering for someone else—a soul in purgatory or someone here on earth. When we do this, we grow spiritually. 

But God can—and will—help us make something good happen from the bad. We just have to be open to the good. We have to look at the bad and not allow it to beat us. Sure, we can stumble or even fall for a short period, but it’s that trust in Christ that will help us get back up and that will help us derive something good from the situation. Maybe we learn something. Maybe we can educate someone else. Maybe through the ordeal, we meet a new friend. Maybe we find a disease we didn’t know was there.

This very thing happened to a friend of mine who had been hospitalized with COVID. He struggled greatly with the illness and overcame it, but on a follow-up exam, the doctor found a cancerous mass in his kidney. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he felt grateful—and grateful he had COVID. For had he not had it, the doctors would not have found the cancer. 

Today, he is cancer free, recovering, and very thankful. 

Our God is a wonderful God who leads us out of life’s difficulties and closer to Him. We just need to accept His offer.

Contact the author

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.

Feature Image Credit: Exe Lobaiza, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/5491-or4acion

St. Teresa of Avila


St. Teresa of Avila

Feast date: Oct 15

On Oct. 15, Roman Catholics celebrate the Spanish Carmelite reformer and mystic St. Teresa of Avila, whose life of prayer enriched the Church during the 16th century counter-reformation.

Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada was born in the Castilian city of Avila during the year 1515,  the third child in a family descended from Jewish merchants who had converted to Christianity during the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Her father Alphonsus had become an ardent Catholic, with a collection of spiritual books of the type his daughter would later compose herself.

As a child, Teresa felt captivated by the thought of eternity and the vision of God granted to the saints in heaven. She and her younger brother Rodrigo once attempted to run away from home for the sake of dying as martyrs in a Muslim country, though they soon ran into a relative who sent them back to their mother Beatrice.

When Teresa was 14, her mother died, causing the girl a profound grief that prompted her to embrace a deeper devotion to the Virgin Mary as her spiritual mother. Along with this good resolution, however, she also developed immoderate interests in reading popular fiction (consisting, at that time, mostly of medieval tales of knighthood) and caring for her own appearance.

Though Teresa’s spiritual directors in later life would judge these faults to be relatively minor, they still represented a noticeable loss of her childhood zeal for God. Alphonsus decided his teenage daughter needed a change of environment, and sent her to be educated in a convent of Augustinian nuns. Teresa found their life dull at first, but soon came to some understanding of its spiritual advantages.

Illness forced her to leave the convent during her second year. But the influence of her devout uncle Peter, along with her reading of the letters of the monk and Church Father St. Jerome, convinced Teresa that the surest road to salvation lay in forsaking marriage, property, and worldly pleasures completely. Against the will of her father, who wanted her to postpone the decision, she joined the Carmelite Order.

Teresa became a professed member of the order at age 20, but soon developed a serious illness that forced her to return home. She experienced severe pain and physical paralysis for two years, and was expected to die when she went into a coma for four days. But she insisted on returning to the Carmelite monastery as soon as she was able, even though she remained in a painful and debilitated state.

For the next three years the young nun made remarkable progress in her spiritual life, developing the practice of recalling herself into the presence of God through quiet contemplation. As her health returned, however, Teresa lapsed into a more routine prayer life. While she remained an obedient Carmelite, she would not re-establish this close personal connection to God for almost twenty years.

When she was nearly 40, however, Teresa found herself dramatically called back to the practice of contemplative mental prayer. She experienced profound changes within her own soul, and remarkable visions that seemed to come from God. Under the direction of her confessors, Teresa wrote about some of these experiences in an autobiography that she completed in 1565.

Teresa had always been accustomed to contemplate Christ’s presence within her after receiving him in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Now, however, she understood that the presence she received did not simply fade: God was, in fact, with her always, and had been all along. It was simply a matter of putting herself in his presence, with love and attention – as one could do at any moment.

This revolution in her spiritual life enabled Teresa to play a significant role in the renewal of the Church that followed the Council of Trent. She proposed a return of the Carmelites to their original rule of life, a simple and austere form of monasticism – founded on silence and solitude – that had received papal approval in the 12th century and was believed to date back to the Old Testament prophet Elijah.

Together with her close collaborator, the priest and writer later canonized as Saint John of the Cross, she founded what is known today as the Order of Discalced Carmelites – “discalced,” meaning barefoot, symbolizing the simplicity to which they chose to return the order after a period of corruption. The reform met with fierce opposition, but resulted in the founding of 30 monasteries during her life.

Teresa’s health failed her for the last time while she was traveling through Salamanca in 1582. She accepted her dramatic final illness as God’s chosen means of calling her into his presence forever.

“O my Lord, and my spouse, the desired hour is now come,” she stated. “The hour is at last come, wherein I shall pass out of this exile, and my soul shall enjoy in thy company what it hath so earnestly longed for.”

St. Teresa of Avila died on Oct. 15, 1582. She was canonized on March 22, 1622, along with three of her greatest contemporaries: St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Philip Neri.

In 1970, Pope St. Paul VI proclaimed St. Teresa as one of the first two woman Doctors of the Church, along with 14th century Dominican St. Catherine of Siena.