love people woman writing
Lent, Lent, Mass Reflection, Uncategorized, Women's Ministry

On Being a Servant Leader

Luke 9:22-25

Two lines from Today’s Gospel strike me. The first is “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). The second is “What profit is there for one to gain the world yet lose or forfeit himself” (Lk 9:25). To me, these speak loudly, not only of discipleship, but also of servant leadership. This makes sense because to be a good servant leader, one must first be a disciple. 

For the better part of the last 45 years, I have been mentored and guided by selfless servant leaders. Some were older than me and some younger, but all selfless and wise in their own right. Unfortunately, I also experienced some who claimed themselves as servant leaders, only to show themselves as wanting the world. The difference between the two was as clear as day. The true servant leaders understood and lived the conditions of discipleship and the others did not. 

Imagine how it must have felt hearing Jesus speak of his own approaching passion and his instruction about the cost of following him. Luke 9:24 says “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Jesus showed us the cost of doing the Father’s will, and he knows that when we lose our lives for his sake, it will not be easy, but that is the only way. Dying to self to follow Jesus is exactly what we are called to do each day, and especially when we are called to serve others. When others see our service, they should see us as a “visible presence of Christ.” Our actions should be to further the kingdom, not to fulfill our own ambitions and goals. May our reflection on the conditions for discipleship lead us to rely on Jesus’ promise that as we die to ourselves we will live in Him.  

Lisa Miklos

Meditation

How does Jesus ask you to lose your life for his sake?

Lent Devotional 2021
Lent, Lent, Uncategorized

A Time to Grow – Lent 2021 Devotional

Friends, Your response to the Good Tidings 2020 Advent Devotional was so generous that I decided to compile another devotional for Lent. Several faithful, talented, and loving friends helped me to write this Lent devotional, which I’ve named A Time to Grow. I hope that you grow this Lent. If you’re subscribed to the blog, you’ll receive a new Gospel reflection to your inbox daily. You will also be able to download A Time to Grow as a free e-book.

St. Gregory the Great preached that scripture “grows with its readers.”

When we pray (or at least when I pray), I don’t hear an audible voice of God speaking to me. But when we pray with scripture, we’re opening an opportunity for the Word to speak to us. 

I have a friend who is a Baptist preacher, and he looked at me one day and said, “You know, Elizabeth, we Baptists believe that the Holy Spirit is actually present in the words we preach.” 

“Of course the Holy Spirit can be present in preaching,” I thought. He paused for a while. Then he said, “So I can see how Jesus could be present in the Eucharist.” I responded, “Welcome to the Catholic Church, friend!”

Scripture grows with the reader, and we grow with scripture, too. 

What might God’s Word have in store for you this Lent? 

We can read scripture alone, but it’s helpful to do so in community with others. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Pv 27:17). To that end, I’m grateful that so many women have collaborated with me to create this Lent Devotional. I encourage you to read the Gospel daily, take time for meditation, and hop on over to the Joyful Momentum group on Facebook, where we can talk about how God is revealing himself to us through his Word. I pray that you have a diligent, loving, and fruitful Lent. 

Elizabeth Tomlin

Download your free E-Book of A Time to Grow

green lid with metal scraper
Advent, Bible, Gospel

HGTV Renovation and Advent?

Thursday 3 December 

Memorial of St. Francis Xavier 

Good Tidings Advent Devotional

Mt. 7:21, 24-27 

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” 


I love watching HGTV. I love seeing neglected houses, in sad states of disrepair, transformed  into something new and beautiful. But do you ever notice how quick the transformation is? The  renovation and that shiny, new farmhouse sink look good, but are they really good?  

In Matthew 7:21, we’re told that doing good work in the Lord’s name is not enough for us  enter the kingdom of heaven. We must do the will of the Father. Doing good work but without  doing God’s will is like covering up old knob-and-tube wiring with pretty walls and not fixing  what’s truly lacking. The result of good looking work is fleeting. In a few years, a new contractor  will have to step in to fix the real issue.  

By analogy, disciples seek to do the will of God — not just what looks good on the surface.  But how do you know what God’s will is? If you are like me, you might worry about not getting it  right. I’m not a contractor, and a million HGTV binge sessions won’t make me one.  

The story of the two foundations points us to the first step in discipleship and understanding  God’s will. First, Jesus asks us to listen, and after listening, he asks us to act. (See Mt 7:24). When  we do this, Jesus promises that we will withstand the beatings life will throw at us.  

Jesus doesn’t say that my house is good as long as it looks pretty on the outside and is built in  a nice neighborhood where the weather is perfect year-round. He says, “The rain fell, floods came,  winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock”  (Mt: 7:25). 

Trust in the solid promise that when you listen in prayer and act of God’s promptings, God  will lead you to create something strong and beautiful that stands the test of any storm. You will surely shine brighter than a new farmhouse sink. Plus, the best, cutest, host-with-the-most  carpenter will be living in that house with you ready to repair as needed.  

What is your foundation?

Cassandra Smith 

You can download a copy of this free Good Tidings Advent 2020 Devotional HERE

red lighted candle
Advent, Bible, Gospel, Women's Ministry

Advent Devotional Wednesday, 2 December

Wednesday 2 December 

Matthew 15:29-37 

At that time: Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the  mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having  with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many  others.  They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds  were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel.  Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for  fear they may collapse on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where  could we ever get enough bread in this deserted ace to satisfy such  a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”  “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit  down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,  gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in  turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied.  They  picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full. 


I hate crowds. I don’t hate the people in them, but I really don’t like to be in the midst of a  lot of people. Today’s Gospel account includes a really large group of people who have come  out to see Jesus. And these crowds bring to Jesus a lot of people in need of healing, and Jesus  cures them. The results of these miracles cause the crowds to be amazed, and who can blame  them? 

It also causes them to glorify God, as well they should. 

But things are about to get even more astounding as Jesus, moved with compassion, asks  his disciples to feed them, for he knows everyone is hungry. Whatever provisions they may  have thought to bring along are dwindling if not gone completely. The disciples see this as an  impossible request! Of course, Jesus is able to provide more than enough food for the people  assembled. Meager offerings feed everyone, with remains of this “satisfying” meal filling seven  baskets. 4,000 men were fed. And who knows how many women and children? Matthew  doesn’t say, but I’d be willing to bet those people were amazed again, and who can blame them?  They glorified God, again, as well they should. 

The story illustrates that Jesus is able to do amazing things. We’re reminded to rely on Jesus,  even when it doesn’t seem like we have enough: enough strength; time; energy; imagination;  love; faith; or hope. Go to Jesus and ask him to bless your finite offering of yourself, and he will  make that offering sufficient for the task at hand. You will be amazed. You will glorify God when  you realize that he provides not only an adequate amount of what you lacked, but there’s some left  over, too. That’s what the grace of God can do.  

Lynda MacFarland

Advent, Bible, Books, Gospel, Liturgical Living

Good Tidings – Advent 2020 Devotional

I’m excited to share with you Good Tidings, an Advent Devotional for 2020. You can read Good Tidings daily by downloading this FREE PDF, or you can subscribe to my blog and receive the devotion delivered to you each day of Advent.

Good Tidings includes the daily Gospel, reflection, and a guide through lectio divina for each day of Advent. The booklet culminates with a Nativity Prayer on Christmas.

This year, when many of us have been at home for months on end, my hope is that this devotional will help make Advent special.

This year has felt pretty monotonous for me. I’ve stayed home, worked from home, homeschooled, and days have blended into weeks and months. Creating this Advent devotional has helped me put some punctuation marks in a sea of sameness. Editing this booklet really lifted my spirit out of quite a funk. Though I couldn’t reach out and hug each friend who contributed to this devotional, I felt closer to them by reading their words. I hope this book will do the same for you.

I’ll be leading discussion digitally in the Joyful Momentum Facebook Group daily throughout Advent. Please join in!

Uncategorized

Encouragement from 52 Weeks with St. Faustina

I recently reviewed 52 Weeks with Saint Faustina by author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.  I have greatly enjoyed leafing through Donna-Marie’s book and rededicating my prayer time to saying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the prayer that Jesus gave St. Faustina.

52 Weeks with St. Faustina lends itself to people like me!  I start the year with the greatest intention of completing a 52-week devotional and then fade in dedication and zeal and have to jump back on the wagon numerous times.  Fortunately, since the chapters do not have assigned dates, readers like me can begin the book at any time or retrieve the book and re-join the spiritual exercises with St. Faustina without feeling obliged to skip weeks.

52-weeks-cover-195x300Another thing I love about the book is that the table of contents is thematic.  If you especially need prayers for overcoming fear, there’s a chapter for that!  Grace?  There’s a chapter for that, too!  Forgiveness, doubt, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or obedience?  There are weeks dedicated to these topics as well.  This book meets readers exactly where they are in life.  You can progress through the book week by week or jump around thematically.

My favorite aspect of 52 Weeks with St. Faustina is that Donna-Marie incorporates significant portions of St. Faustina’s Diary into the reflections.  This leaves readers with Jesus’ words to Faustina as well as a flavor of her personality and glimpses of her path to sanctity.  Friends, I will leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from St. Faustina:

On Patience:

Patience in adversity gives power to the soul.  – Diary, 607

On Staying in the Present Moment: 

Oh present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.  I desire to use you as best I can. – Diary, 2

On Humility: 

Today, as God’s Majesty swept over me, my soul understood that the Lord, so very great though He is, delights in humble souls. – Diary, 1092

For Encouragement:

O my Jesus, despite the deep night that is all around me and the dark clouds which hide the horizon, I know that the sun never goes out. – Diary, 73

On Forgiveness:

We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbors. Diary, 1148

Do you have a favorite quote from St. Faustina?  Share it in the comments! As my six year-old says, “Sharing is caring!”