Tag: Jesus

Godly Dating: The Person God Has Made For You

“Jesus Christ, King of All Nations,

send me a prince who will make me

a princess worthy for you

my King and my Love”

This was my daily prayer for years. A dear friend had told me that Jesus loves the title, “King of All Nations” and that when I pray I should entreat Him under this name, especially when praying for a spouse. 

I began reciting this little prayer composed by the yearnings of my heart throughout each day – in the morning, after I received Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass, and each time before I went to bed. I said this prayer when I was lonely, when I was in the presence of happy, young couples, and when I prayed for my vocation.


I was never more faithful to a prayer. 

Mike and I met at a Catholic young adult group. I remember being immediately attracted to him. He had, and continues to have, such a peaceful and quiet humility about him. When we first talked, he looked me in the eyes, and I immediately felt my dignity and worth. Though he did not know me, he looked at me with such love.


It was exactly how I pictured Christ would look at me.

That was what first attracted me to him – that look of love for not just me, but for all those around him. As I got to know him more, my attraction for him grew. His profound inner peace, his gentle voice, his Catholic strength, and his bright blue eyes led me on the greatest adventure of love my heart has ever known. 

Mike pursued my heart in a beautiful, intentional way. He made sure to become my friend before formally dating me. I wanted to date him immediately! Yet Mike took the time to get to know me. He listened to what I had to say, he drove six hours to meet my family, and he asked questions that allowed me to share my dreams, desires, and goals. All of our conversations were incredibly edifying and left me desiring more. 

When he did ask if I would date him, my response was, “thank you.” And though we joke about it, I truly meant that response with all my heart. I was thankful that he wanted to date me. I was grateful that he desired to be my friend first – something that no other man had done before.


I was joyful that he took the time to pursue my heart as a gentleman of God. 

I had never been more certain of anyone in my life. There is a holy, heavenly peace that consumes you when you are with the person God has chosen for you as a spouse. There was no doubt in my mind that I was with the right person. In fact, I have never been surer of any other reality in my life. 

We dated for five months before Mike asked me to marry him. We were engaged for a year before we got married. Throughout those days leading up to our covenant of love, Mike continued to lead me, to pursue me, and to love me. He guided me towards Christ, and I knew this man was my way to heaven. Mike is my vocation. Mike is my prince. 


I see the face of Christ most clearly in Mike.

I know that he is the prince that is making me a princess worthy for my King, for my ultimate Love – Jesus. And as our adventure of love continues to grow each day, especially in the form of our son, Peter, I am reminded of a truth: I am worthy of love. Every man and woman – is profoundly lovely and beautiful. Every man and woman is worthy of a love that will lead him or her to heaven. Please never settle for anything less than a life of love. 

Jesus Christ, King of All Nations, thank you for my prince who is making me a princess worthy for you my King and my Love. 


Claire Couche is a wife and mother who lives in Buffalo, New York. She graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville where she studied history and theology. She later received her B.S.N. and worked as an oncology nurse on a bone marrow transplant unit before becoming a stay at home mother. Claire enjoys traveling, cooking, calligraphy, hiking, and attending the symphony. For more writings from Claire and her husband Michael, visit their website, www.findingphilothea.com. 

The True Happiness Found In Easter

You did it! You made it through Lent. You might have failed at some of your Lenten promises, or maybe you kept most of them. Either way, God knows your heart and your intentions. He was building and shaping you in every moment. All of your sacrifices, fasting and penance lead you to a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


We celebrate the great joy of Easter. Christ resurrected!

What peace and joy this brings to our hearts. But it doesn’t have to stop there. This joy is not just a feeling we experience one day a year, but rather a state of life that Jesus wants us to live each and every day of our lives. Joy does not base itself on circumstances, it is endless and everlasting. You can attain this lasting joy by knowing and trusting in the goodness of God. Our joy comes from the Lord. 


The Catechism says,

“true happiness is not found in riches or well-being,

in human fame or power, or any human achievement— or indeed in any creature,

but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love” (1723). 


So how do we live out the joy of Easter? Jesus! We look to Jesus as our guide. We look to the cross as the ultimate example of love. Easter means that the tomb is empty. Jesus left the tomb and He never went back. He only looked forward at what was to come! 

This is key for our own spiritual growth. We must not turn back to old sins or struggles, or dwell on the past or things in our lives that continuously hurt us. Christ promises us new life and He wants us to experience that to the fullest.

“Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father,

we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:3-4

 In order to embrace this new life,  first we must address the struggles and brokenness in our livesdeal with them and work through themask God to heal us and embrace the life He longs to give us. No matter what happens to us, we can’t give up, but we must look ahead and keep going! 

What are the tombs in our own lives?

Whatever it is that you may be carrying, whatever hurt, brokenness or suffering you have endured, give it to Jesus. Lay it down at the foot of the cross. He wants to comfort you, He wants to heal you and He wants you to live in His everlasting peace and joy! God continuously pours out His love for us. He sent His only son Jesus to die for our sins.


He sacrificed His life for us so that we may live. 

This is how much immense love He has for each one of us. It is incomprehensible. Jesus performed countless miracles throughout His life. He healed the sick, cured the blind, and raised the dead. Nothing is impossible for our Lord. He can work miracles in our lives too. But we must trust and believe that He can and He will. He will resurrect you from the tombs in your life! You just have to allow Him to work. He who makes all things new, has a beautiful plan for you. 


In order to live a life of joy we must keep Christ at the center. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that you will feel joyful all the time.  Everything will not be rainbows and butterflies. Life is not perfect and it’s certainly not easy. You will experience difficulties, but during these times if you cling to the hope that the Resurrected Christ brings, peace will reside in your heart. The peace of knowing that we have a God who we can trust, who is there for us no matter what. A God who suffered out of love for us, conquered death and brought about great salvation— an all powerful and loving God who gave His life so that we may have life eternal.

Let us pray, Jesus we thank you and praise you for all that you have done for us. We ask that you heal our wounds and that we may come to know and live out the joy of Easter through your Resurrection. Amen! 



Lauren Costabile is a Catholic speaker, singer and film creator. As a performer in the Array of Hope Concert Event, she actively spreads the gospel to young people and families through music and witness. She creates inclusive films that educate and raise awareness for those with disabilities, promoting the dignity and value of all life. She loves all things gluten free and strives to use her gifts and talents to spread joy and make our world a brighter place. 

Living Out Christ’s Hope

Pope Francis emphasizes the importance of joy in the Christian life; Christians should not be sad, melancholy or nostalgic. What is it that makes sadness so tempting? And what is it in Christianity that exposes it as a lie?


Fallen humanity is in a state of dilemma: there is a very real, unavoidable sense in which man is not quite at home in this world.

Generally, the notion of home provokes thoughts of a place of fulfillment, and contentment—a place to rest at the end of a long day. And yet, regardless of where we are on this earth, or when, that sense of fulfillment of which we sometimes get a glimpse lacks a sense of finality; it never stays.

When man is happy he wants to stay happy, when he loves he wants to love forever. And yet, change is the very nature of the temporal world and diminishment the nature of the finite goods we accumulate. Multiplying these goods certainly adds to their quantity, but there is no point in the equation that the finite goods become enough; what man ultimately longs for seems to be a different kind of thing.

Even those nonmaterial goods we have—relationships, education, health, experiences, beauty—are subject to change and can ultimately disappoint us, at least in so far as they will never be entirely good, or good forever.


Nothing in this world is capable of fulfilling the human desire for happiness, because what man desires is infinite.

And so we are left with the fact that man desires what he cannot achieve in this life. As Christians we are first called to recognize this, our own fallen humanity—to see this dilemma in truth. But then we must respond in truth, and it’s the way we are called to respond that will lead to a life of joy.

The Christian answer is one that speaks to the paradoxical sense of longing that exists in man for something he has yet to experience in full. In the words of G.K. Chesterton:

The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place,

and I had still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that

I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy, like a bird in spring.

The knowledge found out and illuminated forgotten chambers in the dark house of infancy.

I knew now why grass had always seemed to me as queer as the green beard of a giant,

and why I could feel homesick at home (Ethics of Elfland, 284).


This is what Christianity tells man: that this world is not his final destination, not his home.

Man is status viatoris, a wayfarer; and if man is on his way, that implies that some goal exists towards which he is journeying. Christianity says that man is right to feel the restlessness he does, for he is not yet at the place of fulfillment. What distinguishes the Christian is his hope in the promise given by Goodness itself, namely God, that his happiness will in fact be fulfilled.

Hope is a theological virtue—a habit, a practice, that is ultimately achieved by our cooperation with God’s grace. When we practice hope, we are able to live in joy because we recognize the good things in this world as really and truly good—they sacramentally echo some “place” towards which we are on a seemingly backwards journey towards. And yet, it is this ultimate reality that satisfies all of our desires—eternal, complete, self-sufficient Goodness—God Himself; He is the only being who meets the description of the standards for our happiness, and He has created us to live in friendship with Him.


The theological virtue of hope is our source of sustenance for the journey.

The answer that hope provides the Christian aptly solves the problem of humanity and in doing so it brings further meaning to our current lives and this world of unrest. We are fallen creatures, and when plagued with this restlessness, we are often all too eager to disorder our desires. By grace, hope gives meaning to our uneasiness in helping us to attend to it faithfully and hence be driven to God so that our eyes may stay fixed on our true goal. Furthermore, living the virtue of hope puts all of our desires for worldly goods into proper order and perspective, which will actually allow them to be pursued more truthfully, and therefore flourish all the more.

When we attempt to force a godlike role upon some contingent good—whether it be a possession, a job, a person—we ruin our chance for ultimate happiness and destroy the potential for that good to grant us its respective fulfillment. It is through hope that we are able to live in joy, seeing the good in this world, and it is because of hope that we want to transform it. In darkness of melancholy and despair, this world is a foretaste of hell—absence from God; in the light of hope, it is a foretaste of heaven.

In the Garden at Gethsemane, we hear Christ voice His fear, His recognition of sin and what it will entail for Him in asking, “Father, if thou art willing, let this cup pass from me.” And yet His hope in His ultimate end remains: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” As His followers, we must both recognize the difficulty of human condition—we must look to the Cross—and yet we must remain steadfast in the hope of what has been promised us—the Resurrection of Easter.


Every time we attend mass, we echo Christ’s hope

We admit, “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof”—since we truly are beings who fail Him daily and are, on our own, not fit to have the Divine dwell within us. Nevertheless, we hold on by the grace of hope to the promise that by the power of His word, we are to be healed from the condition that plagues us, to finally be granted access to that which alone can finally and forever satisfy—the very life of God Himself. And what but that could make mortal man more full of joy?

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.” Ephesians 1:18



Bethany Wall studied Theology and Philosophy at DeSales University. An ardent lover of reading and writing, she is likely to relate at least one situation in her life per day to something said by G.K. Chesterton or C.S. Lewis. She is utterly thankful for good coffee, good conversations, and good music (especially anything involving a banjo).

The Beauty and Importance of Detachment

For the common, average Catholic, Lent calls to mind 40 days of “not being able to do something.”  This sounds like such a drag.  To the non-Catholic, Lent can be seen as yet another big “NO” from the Church.  However, this mindset is one of the most common misunderstandings about the beauty of the Church’s teachings.  The world would have us think that this practice ties us down when in reality it breaks us free. 


This breaking free is known as “detachment.”

St. John of the Cross speaks a great deal about detachment in the spiritual life.  In one of his writings, Ascent of Mt. Carmel, he writes:

As long as this attachment remains, it is impossible to make progress in perfection,

even though the imperfect be very small.  It makes little difference whether a bird

is tied by a thin thread or by a cord.  Even if it is tied by a thread, the bird will be held bound…

it will be impeded from flying as long as it does not break the thread.

(St John of The Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Book One, 11.4)

St. John of the Cross illuminates a commonly overlooked part of anyone’s spiritual life.  When someone makes the decision to follow God, and ultimately surrender to His will, that person must be willing to truly surrender ALL to the will of God.  As human beings, this frightens us a little bit.  The fear creeps in as to make the Christian believe that giving everything up will lead to unhappiness, much like the idea of making a big Lenten sacrifice leaving us miserable and bitter.  However, if we look at the above quote, those fears can be put to rest. 


Is a bird more free and happy when he is able to fly or when he is stuck tied to a thread? 

There are things that tie us down in our lives and the first step to becoming detached is to identify those threads and cords that keep us from flying.  Some are obvious while others are a little tricky to put a finger on.  It will take some time to identify and let go of these burdens, obstacles, and hurdles, however, it can be done. Lent is a perfect time to look at ourselves and find out what are the things that keep us tied down. 

Lent is a great time to look at the vices and “little gods” in our lives.  When we become attached to something through a human desire—food, chocolate, coffee, internet, alcohol, working out, shopping— it is easy for other things to creep in and take the place of God in our lives.  Detachment and sacrifice go hand in hand. By sacrificing these little things and detaching ourselves from them, we learn to not become slaves to our desires and when we are not slaves to our desires, we can allow our desire for God, our desire for Heaven to grow.


The Lord calls each and every one of us to sainthood.

 He calls each of us to strive for holiness, to be all that He created us to be, and to ultimately be with Him forever in eternity.  He created birds to fly.  He created you for greatness, for holiness, for Heaven.  However, we know that there would be no Easter Sunday without a Good Friday. There would be no resurrection without the crucifixion.



Matthew Higgins is the Assistant to the Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Newark. He received his Master’s degree in Systematic Theology from Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University. His 10+ year ministry experience includes Junior High Faith Formation & Youth Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, and Campus Ministry. He has also spoken at various youth retreats, parish events, and conferences for college/graduate students at both Catholic and secular institutions. Above all, Matthew is proud to be a husband and father.


Why Do We Give Up Things for Lent?

“What did you give up for Lent?” is a fairly common question asked during these forty days.

Unfortunately sometimes people can become trapped in one of two thought processes in their choices to “give something up.”


For some, Lent is the same every year.

“I give up chocolate because that’s what I always do,” or “I will go to Stations of the Cross each Friday at church.”  While these sacrifices are good and I am in no position to judge an individual’s intentions, there may be something lacking in repeating the same thing each year.


For others, some try to “outdo” last year’s sacrifice. 

For instance, one year I gave up all types of drinks other than water, the following year I fasted every single Friday, the next year I gave up meat.  For me, I took the sacrifice a little too far.  Not only was it extremely difficult to follow through with the sacrifice, it made me bitter and unpleasant at times, causing others around me to have to make the sacrifice of dealing with my attitude.


Neither of these approaches call to mind to true purpose of the season of Lent.

The first doesn’t challenge the individual enough to step outside his or her comfort zone.  The second puts the individual’s focus solely on the act itself and the degree of difficulty.
In fact, just the other day, I was asked, “What did you give up this year; you are usually pretty intense…” I was a bit taken back by that and thought to myself,


What are you trying to prove?

Have I been trying to prove something myself, to others, or to God by what I give up? While I questioned my intention for this year’s sacrifice, I ultimately came to the realization that I focused on something that was becoming a vice in my life—coffee.  In the months leading up to Lent, I realized that I was becoming more tired and more reliant on that boost of caffeine that comes with a cup (or 6) of coffee a day. Therefore, my intention was not to “wow” God but to rather have Him “wow” me.  By detaching myself from something different, I challenge myself to break free of a certain human desire.


The purpose of Lenten sacrifices

Lent is not meant to be a personal diet plan or a way to show off how much one loves Jesus through his or her sacrifice. The fasting and abstinence that we partake in are meant to draw us deeper into a relationship with the Lord by undergoing some form of sacrifice, some form of suffering.  Our intentions for choosing a sacrifice must be rooted in that truth.  After all, sacrifice and suffering connect us to the One who sacrificed and suffered all for us.



Matthew Higgins is the Assistant to the Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Newark. He received his Master’s degree in Systematic Theology from Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University. His 10+ year ministry experience includes Junior High Faith Formation & Youth Ministry, Young Adult Ministry, and Campus Ministry. He has also spoken at various youth retreats, parish events, and conferences for college/graduate students at both Catholic and secular institutions. Above all, Matthew is proud to be a husband and father.

Embracing Singlehood

Sitting alone in a corner, I relaxed into the ambience of a cozy coffee shop. I sipped my coffee, pulled out my Bible, and waited for a friend to join me for breakfast. The room was filled with tables of new couples and old friends. Time passed slowly as I emptied and refilled my cup but my friend never arrived. As I paused to enjoy the jazz overhead I smiled to myself about the irony of this situation. A few months ago I began to ponder the unique witness of the Christian single person, and this moment was testing my hypothesis.


The single person, through their visible solitude, witnesses to the fact that every person is called to intimate communion with the Trinity.

What is more, it is the single person’s desire for communion that witnesses to man’s longing for communion with God. The single life, whether temporary or chosen for life, gives an invaluable witness for all Christians.

God  made us for communion when created us: “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). However, if we are made for communion with God, then it is clear that any form of communion we experience on earth will not completely fulfill us. Our relationships with loved ones are only a foretaste of the perfect communion we will have in Heaven.

Note well that “solitudeis quite different than “loneliness or simply “being alone.” Being alone is a very isolating experience in which there is a lack of relation with anyone. Yet when one is in solitude, one has a connection with others or God but is by oneself.

Saint John Paul II, in his general audiences that comprise A Theology of the Body, examines the second creation account in Genesis and suggests that God created Adam and delayed the creation of Eve to promote Adam’s self-discovery, namely, his desire for communion and his true relationship with creation and God. John Paul II calls this experience “original solitude.”

“Without that deep meaning of man’s original solitude,

one cannot understand…the situation of man…

[Man is] set into a unique, exclusive, and unrepeatable relationship with God himself” (6:2).

Saint John Paul II

The single person’s state is a reminder and sampling of original solitude. The single person’s solitude–not loneliness–makes his or her longing for communion visible and even appealing.


If the single person lives in a state of loneliness, they witness to nothing but emptiness. If they live in solitude, they witness to the longing every person should have for communion with God and it is a witness which stirs others.

The single person is made ready for the heavenly nuptials by living in a state of longing for communion. He or she reminds the world that from the moment we were baptized we entered into a covenantal relationship with God and we must build this relationship now and long for its complete fulfillment with God in Heaven. In the state of marriage, a spouse is God’s gift as a means to prepare one for the definitive communion with the Trinity.

In the consecrated state of the religious or priestly life, one  has a slight taste of the Trinitarian communion on earth through his or her consecration or ordination. The solitude of the single person enhances the beauty of communion in the married and consecrated life. The choice of the single person to avoid intimate relations with another outside of marriage witnesses to the dignity of each human person.  It “keeps alive in the Church a consciousness of the mystery of marriage and defends it from any reduction and impoverishment” (Familiaris Consortio, no.16).

Also, because the single person is unconsecrated, the spiritual communion of the consecrated person is all the more “a particularly profound expression of the Church as the Bride” (Vita Consecrata, no.19) and a sign of dedication.

The single person’s solitude is a reminder for each of us. At some point we all pass through the single state before choosing marriage or consecration, or even after the death of a spouse. It is meant to be a time of self-discovery, preparation, and purification as it was for Adam.


This time of solitude gives us the opportunity to discover how the Trinity is truly our complete fulfillment. 

This time helps us to purify our motivations and to embrace with understanding the fullness of the commitment we make in choosing our vocation. Thus the single person’s solitude brings to mind this fruitful time in our life.

All of this passed quickly through my mind as I sat in the café and smiled at God’s humor. I could have sat there annoyed, embarrassed, or sulking because my friend did not show up. I could have been standoffish, pretending I did not want company. But in reality I desired companionship, and that desire sprang from my deeper longing for eternal communion with God.

Was I a witness to anybody there that morning? I honestly doubt anyone noticed me or gave a value to my solitude; maybe the experience was just for me. It is unfortunate that few notice the significance of the single state for it is a gift. The next time you talk with someone living the single state, allow their present vocation to stir your own longing for communion with God.


Melissa Prazak is passionate about the New Evangelization and has a M.A. in Philosophy from the Center of Thomistic Studies at the Basilian University of St. Thomas. She has a special love for St. John Paul, kolaches, and blues dancing. And, since community aids us in persevering in hope, Melissa uses her Texan roots to foster Catholic community through good-old fashioned southern hospitality.


Learning to Pray From a 2 Year Old

It’s funny how the Lord speaks to us when we least expect it…

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch at a family party chatting with my older cousin, Pete.  As we were sitting, Pete’s 2 year old son, “baby Peter” as we call him, came strolling into the room.  He had that “it’s been a long day, I need mommy or daddy” look written all over his face.  His little arms were filled to the brim – a tennis ball in one hand, his “sippy cup” in the other, and his sister’s princess doll clenched between his arms and his chest. Pete caught sight of him in all this distress and called him over to sit with us. Baby Peter, relieved to see his father close by, quickly trotted our way. 

Once he made it to us he instantly unloaded everything he was holding onto his dad’s lap.  The tennis ball, the “sippy cup”, the doll – out of his arms they went.  Pete took these things and set them aside nicely, allowing his son to then climb into his lap, rest his head on his chest, and simply let go of all the stress that comes with being a two-year-old at a family party.  Then the two of them just kind of sat there for a while.  Pete softly asked him a few questions about his day, what him and his cousins had been playing, and lastly, what was bothering him. 

After some back-and-forth conversation and  assurance from daddy that things would be okay, baby Peter was renewed. The anecdote prescribed by his father this time around was a refill of juice in his sippy cup and a change into his spiderman pajamas. Following this, baby Peter ran off, ready to face the rest of the day.

I was so struck by this simple interaction between my cousin and his child, and figured out why soon after. 


How I desire to interact with my heavenly Father

I realized that this father-son interaction was how I desire to interact with my heavenly Father, and more specifically, how I desire to pray to Him.

Follow me with this for a minute… let’s unpack baby Peter’s actions.

First, he decidedly sought out his dad.  He did not let any of the distractions around him, from the toys laying all over the floor to the plenteous desserts on the kitchen table, to prevent him from turning to his father.  


Are we this determined to seek out our Heavenly Father?

 Connecting with the Lord in prayer is one of the most important things we can do, yet, we allow so many lesser things to prevent us from it.  We must be determined and committed to making prayer a priority in our daily life.

Next, baby Peter handed over to his dad everything that he was holding onto.  He handed these things over trusting that his father would keep them safe, yes, but more importantly because holding onto these things would have prevented him from being with and talking to his father the way he desired to. 

When we approach God in prayer, do we hand everything over to Him?  Or do we hold onto things so that we don’t have to fully open up to God?  Our families, jobs, education, finances, joys and sorrows, triumphs and failures. Not only does our Father know how to handle these things better than we do, but clenching them prevents us from going deeper into relationship with Him.

After he let go of everything he was holding, baby Peter simply sat and conversed with his father.  He was still, calm and content just being with his dad.  And, if I had to guess, his father’s presence was infinitely more important than anything they talked about.  It’s the same with our heavenly Father.


The goal of prayer is union with our Lord, to rest in His presence and be assured of His love.

Rattling off a few ‘Hail Mary’s’ and telling God what we need is not the whole story. We must encounter the person of Christ, and that requires seeking Him in the silence, being with Him, and speaking to Him from the depths of our hearts.

Lastly, baby Peter accepted the answers his father had for him, which in this case happened to be more juice and a change into his pajamas. He then joyfully went out to face the world once again.  God knows what we need much more than we do. No prayer goes unheard. We need to trust that God is refilling our “sippy cups,” even when it doesn’t seem like it. And then, we must respond by going back into the world, joyfully and peacefully witnessing to the good news we have in Jesus Christ.

St. Teresa of Avila said,

“Give me a person who makes

15 minutes of prayer every day,

and I’ll give you a saint.”


I think we can do this, don’t you? The world needs Saints, and Saints are made from prayer.


Let’s pray, let’s be Saints.

“Prayer is the breath of faith:

in a relationship of trust, in a relationship of love,

dialogue cannot be lacking, and prayer is a dialogue of the soul with God.”

Pope Francis


Tom Pagano is a graduate from Franciscan University of Steubenville (2011), with a double major in Finance and Theology.  He is currently working as the Northeast Regional Director for the Augustine Institute, an organization committed to helping Catholics understand, live and share their faith by creating engaging programs, resources and digital platforms. Tom has committed his career to working with faith-based nonprofit organizations in the areas of development and mission. Tom is most excited about the newest adventure that God has called him to; being a husband to Megan and father to their first child, baby Zelie.

How a Near Deadly Car Crash Lead me Closer to God

At 16-years-old, I woke up in a hospital bed with no idea how I got there.

More than a week prior, I was t-boned (broadsided) on my driver’s side by a vehicle going between 60-70 mph—I spent several days in a coma, and had no recollection of the following few days either. Everyone kept telling me it was a miracle I was alive, and that I should be grateful.

As a teenage athlete with head trauma and a broken spine—amongst other injuries—it was hard for me to find gratitude for the sudden situation. Being broken did not make sense, and I was not at peace with being weak.

Growing up, my life revolved around the pursuit of strength. I played multiple sports every season, and was involved in many academic organizations. I built up quite a collection of awards from various activities. I always thought I had to prove my worth through my achievements. I was never good enough for the standards set by myself—regardless of what plaques and trophies were scattered throughout my bedroom. In order to avoid the emotional distress this prompted, I busied myself in becoming “better”—in becoming stronger.


The car crash stripped me of the strength I had built, and it left me feeling hopeless.

As I saw it, if I could not achieve anything, then I had no worth. I could not even achieve the simple task of rolling over onto my side! I would spend hours each night trying, grasping the ends of the mattress to try to pull myself, but my body would not budge.

I desperately wanted to run, to kick, to do the splits—but I was stuck. A couple months following the crash, I regained the ability to walk, and there was no longer any bleeding on my brain, but my injuries left me with chronic pain in my head, neck, back, hips, and left shin.


Every day was hard—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—and I felt alone.

It was never even a concept to turn to God for comfort and strength, but that changed my freshman year of college. I must admit that I was quite resistant, but I met some amazing people that year who made a huge impact. Through their lives and invitation, they inspired me to start praying—to start giving God a place in my life.

It was a rocky start, but I began to schedule in prayer and daily Mass. I also started focusing on what I was grateful for, recording it in a journal each night. Even though I was still in pain, particularly in my back, I started to experience peace and joy. Learning that God had a purpose for my life that could never be stopped by anything that happened to me, my despair turned to hope. In Him, I had everything I needed. In my weakness, His strength was made known (2 Corinthians 12: 9).


As my relationship with the Lord grew, He continued to purify my desires and lead me to where He was calling me to serve Him.

Six years following the crash, it was made clear that the pain in my back was prohibiting me from fully following the plan He had for me—so I asked for healing.

I prayed and looked into different neurosurgeons and pain clinics, but after two months, I was miraculously healed through receiving Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist. Since then, I have rejoined a soccer team and backpacked across Spain. More importantly, I have shared the love and power of God with the people I have encountered. It does not matter what I am capable of, but what He can do through me.


God is all we need.

He truly is our strength. I spent a lot of my life depending on my stubbornness for strength, but I had no control over its limits. With God, I am capable of anything (Philippians 4: 13). With Him, YOU are capable of anything. Where does He call you to serve? How does He desire to delight in you? Do you trust that He has a plan, and that you will be satisfied—even fascinated? Will you trust Him to be your strength? I pray that you do. He has prepared a place for you, and you cannot get there on your own.

“May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from His glorious power,

and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience,

while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you

to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.”

(Colossians 1: 11-12)


Mikayla Ruth Koble  is a self-employed artist, writer, and speaker. Originally from North Dakota, she has adventured around the country and now lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  In all that she does, she desires to communicate the Beauty, Truth, and Goodness of God. To see more or get in touch with Mikayla, please check out mikaylaruthcatherine.com!

The Best Gift a Parent Can Give Their Child

My parents have often said,

The best gift we can give to you is your faith with all our love.” 

And they have given it, devoutly.  

They taught more by example than by word.  They worked hard; they prayed harder.  They celebrated the victories, great and small; and they laughed a lot.  And if I’ve learned one thing from them, it’s that there is GENIUS in the guidance of our Church.

We often refer to the Church in the feminine, as bride or as mother.  The term ‘Mother Church,’ or Ecclesia Mater, was introduced early in salvation history.  

St. Paul revealed a great mystery when he told the early Christians that a man must love his wife in the same way that Christ loves His Bride, the Church. He made her holy “by washing her in cleansing water with a form of words, so that when he took the Church to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless” (Eph 5:25-27).


Truly, the Church is a Mother, there to guide those who will listen to her many, many years of lived wisdom and inspired counsel. 

Growing up, I strived to follow the rules my parents set and the teachings of our Church, though sometimes blindly and many times with a luke-warm and wondering heart–is this really what will make me happy?  Sometimes I wandered, sometimes I strayed, but the voice of faith and reason alive in our Church always called me back.  

I remember many lonely days in high school as I strove against the current of my peers who were living a different life than the one I knew my parents wanted for me and the one our Church taught was right.  Out of OBEDIENCE, I trusted and I acted, having faith that the guidance was rooted in love and wisdom.  This was a grace.


Looking back today I can see how the direction of my parents and our Mother Church has saved me from a lot of brokenness. 

And it’s brought me to a most beautiful, new, and affirming chapter in life.  One with many amazing relationships–relationships with mothers, with fathers, with brothers, with sisters, with friends.

What I can say about my journey is that I would not be where I am without the wisdom and counsel of my mothers–both the mother who bore me into this world and the Mother who we call Church.  


What mother does not want her child’s joy above all else?  

In the Catechism we read that it is “in the Church, in communion with all the baptized, that the Christian fulfills his vocation” and it is “from the Church that he learns the example of holiness and recognizes its model and source in the all-holy Virgin Mary” (CCC 2030).  We look to tradition, to years of experience, to find where we are called to serve.

For a time, I struggled to know my vocation–what kind of “motherhood” I was called to–whether it be biological or spiritual.  I discerned consecrated life and saw the beauty of it.  I witnessed married life and saw the goodness of it.  

When Pope Benedict XVI gave his final Wednesday Address, he told us that “one receives one’s life precisely when one offers it as a gift.”  And so, eager as I was to know what that ‘life’ would be, with faith, I gave it back to God and asked Him to show me how He wanted me to offer it as a gift.  

Not long later, I met my husband.  He is amazing.  


The joy I feel in marriage is like nothing I’ve experienced before.

What God showed me through my process of discernment is that vocation is ALWAYS fulfilled in a PERSON.  Whether it be the Person of Jesus Christ–lived through a celibate and consecrated vocation–or the person one is called to marry–lived through a free, total, faithful, and fruitful self-donation between a man and a woman.

I am overwhelmed by the beauty of what our Church teaches and the Good News she proclaims of her bridegroom, Christ, our Lord.  It is His example that we are called to follow above all else.  St. Paul beckons us to do the following:

“Follow Christ by loving as he loved you,

giving himself up for us as an offering

and a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God”

(Eph 25:2)

This is big.  This is beautiful.  And this is the best way we can live our lives, receiving the gift of faith and, in turn, offering ourselves as a gift, first and foremost to God, with all our love.  


Mary Jean Jones is a wife and mother to her son Shepherd and daughter Reagan. She graduated from Ave Maria University in 2011 with her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Theology. 

Why Pray to Mary?

I’m sure most of you, like me, remember the annual first day of school picture. You know the one, where you stand in front of the door with your backpack and new school clothes (I went to a private elementary school, so the clothes were the same for 9 years, but still). You try and force a smile even though you’re sad because it’s so early and you know homework is imminent. At the time it was unpleasant, but now the pictures are fun to have because we can look back and see the different years, remembering the excitement and the nerves about what each year had to bring.

What I want to focus on more than pictures, though, is the person who gets you dressed (well, for a few years at least), packs your lunch, and takes the picture of you. Yes, you guessed it, I want to talk about mothers. More specifically, I want to talk about our Lord’s mother, Mary, and the way praying to her points us to her Son.

There are many surface level perceptions of our Blessed Mother. To some she’s just the woman from the paintings and statues that are all over Catholic churches.   To others, she is the woman we hear about around Christmas time in the nativity story. Still others, I am sure, don’t really know what to think about Mary.


Regardless of where you stand, what we want to reflect on today is who this woman is, and why she is so important.

Personally, I never really thought much about Mary growing up. I had heard about the rosary in school, and saw my mom praying it, but actually praying a rosary myself was far from my mind. As I got older and began to have the desire to deepen my faith in the Lord, I never thought of making Mary a part of that process. I seem to have overlooked just how crucial Mary is for our spiritual journeys.

My “wow” moment with the Blessed mother came during college, when I joined a group of men in reciting a Marian prayer called the “Memorare” on a regular basis. As I began to pray this prayer consistently I would hear these words and be struck by the confidence of this plea:


 “Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary,

that never was it known

that anyone who fled to thy protection

or sought thy intercession

was left unaided,”


Through praying the Memorare, I began to see the power of Mary’s intercession, and understand more clearly the necessity of calling upon Mary in my time of trouble.

By Mary saying “yes,” what we refer to as her Fiat, she brought a Son into the world. Her Son, Jesus Christ, our God incarnate, was unlike any other son born of a mother. However she, like every other mother, wants us to see just how special her Son is. Just like our mothers here on earth, Mary wants to show everyone pictures of her Son, speak of what He has done and will do for so many, and proclaim His greatness.

Picture, for a deeper example of this, Mary and Jesus at the Wedding at Cana. They run out of wine, and Mary hears about this. Knowing her Son as she did, and always desiring to point people to Him, she brings the problem to Jesus and lets Him do the work. In the same way, she does this with our prayers. Mary, the Immaculately conceived Mother of God, only desires to point us to her Son and allow His will to be fulfilled in our lives.

That, my friends, is why we pray to Mary-or at least it’s why I do.


It’s not about worship or some superstitious practice.

It’s not just reciting mindless words while flipping through our rosary beads. We pray to Mary because, just like any mother, she wants to reveal her Son to us in every possible way. If we want to know her Son, there is no better way to do so than to ask His mother to introduce us. Praying to Mary never keeps our focus on her, but always points us to the One she is focused on, her Son Jesus.

And so, whatever our relationship with Mary currently is, it might be time for us step it up a notch.


Here are some suggestions:

Pray the Rosary 

If you never pray the Rosary, make the effort to start, whether it’s once a week or once a day, Mary will shower us with grace.

Reflect on the Scriptures

Read Mary’s words and hear her story in the scriptures. Reflecting on her life in this way will draw us closer to her.

Read a book on Mary

A good book on Mary might be exactly the way the Lord wants to help us grow. There are plenty of them out there, pick one up! In some of our cases, an increased devotion to Mary might just look like a couple of Hail Mary’s throughout the day whenever we need help.

For me, devotion to Mary started with the Memorare. If you don’t know this prayer, I strongly encourage you to learn it and pray it when you feel you need some heavenly aid. Through this prayer, I have gained a love for praying the daily rosary, a desire to reflect more on Mary and Jesus in Scripture, and a passion for learning more about Mary’s role in my faith life.

Praying to Mary will lead us to Jesus; today is the perfect time to look at our relationship with her and challenge ourselves to deepen it, so as to deepen our relationship with her Son.


Mary, Mother of the Church and hope for all of mankind…Pray for us!


Jason Theobald is the Director of Youth Ministry at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Huntley, IL. He lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife Sarah and one-month old son, Noah Michael. He graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2012, and lived in the Pittsburgh, PA area for a couple of years before moving home to his beloved Chicago.”