The Weeds in Your Soul

Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Matthew 13:30

Chores with the Community
Living in intentional community is great because we get to do everything together. It’s fun when we get to share meals, watch movies, and play board games together, but even when we do not-so-fun things together, we still manage to find joy. I don’t distain washing the dishes, cleaning the stove, or going grocery shopping because I get to do these things with and for the people who I love.

On a chilly October Saturday, we had our “Fall Cleaning Day.” We spent the morning and afternoon doing some projects around the big old house that we live in and lovingly call “the Casa.” Some of us re-grouted the kitchen tiles, some raked leaves, some replaced the garbage disposal, and some took the compost to the Farmer’s Market. After I came home from grocery shopping with two of my housemates, I helped to pull weeds from the front of the house.

Pulling Weeds
It was fun to pull weeds with a few of the girls who I live with. We had some great conversations about discernment and vocations while we uprooted the weeds and tossed them into big brown bags. When we were quiet, I found myself praying some Hail Marys.

As I pulled the weeds and tossed them out of the way, I couldn’t help but think of the parables in which Jesus talked about weeds. Every time, they symbolize evil and show how it can destroy the goodness that God sows if it overgrows our hearts. The weeds soak up the water and sunshine that are meant for the flowers and plants in an attempt to kill them off.

I found myself contemplating the many weeds growing in my life. There are weeds that I plucked out and continue to keep at bay, there are some stubborn ones that I have to fight to remove, and there are ones that are seemingly here to stay.

The Gone-for-Good Weeds
As I continue to grow closer to Jesus and strive for holiness, I look back on my progress and notice fruitful blooms where weeds once grew. I look back and notice that with sins and bad habits gone, God has more room to garden in my heart. It’s an ongoing process, but as I remove the weeds of sin from my life, there’s more space for God to sow seeds of grace and love. With less clutter, I’m more open to loving Him, to receiving Him in my life, and to wanting His will for my life.

The Weeds in Your Soul
The Weeds in Your Soul: 3 types of weeds that grow in our souls and how we can deal with them.

The Recurring Weeds
Of course, some weeds are easier to remove than others. As much as I’ve grown in avoiding near occasions of sin and of detachment from this world, I still have struggles that haunt me like pesky weeds. My own selfishness prevents me from growing in detachment. I know the importance of fasting and focusing on God instead of this world, but in my weakness, I choose comfort over penance. I’m so bad at the heroic minute and I love food too much. Sometimes I’m able to pull up these weeds, but before long, they spring up again. These weeds are harder to remove and I’ll need a little more time and help from God to get them out.

The Here-to-Stay Weeds
Finally, some weeds just won’t come out. They’re things that I’ll struggle with for the rest of my life. As painful as they are, they’re here for a reason. I probably won’t ever get rid of my periods of sadness, the nagging feelings that I’m not good enough, and miscellaneous pain from my past. I don’t know why I struggle with these things, but if they were gone, I wouldn’t be the same. If I were to uproot my ugliest roots, it would cost me my future Sainthood. The sufferings that we endure bring us closer to God and help those who will come after us to grow closer to Him. Because of this, we don’t always get relief, and we shouldn’t always ask for it.

In the Parable of the weeds, Jesus doesn’t let the gardeners pull out the weeds because it could damage the wheat. They have to stay and grow together, but in the end, the weeds will be burned and the wheat will be gathered to him. We can consider these weeds to the crosses that we bear. They’re not pleasant and we want to get rid of them, but we have them for a reason. God doesn’t give us a hard time because it’s entertaining to Him or because we deserve it. He allows these weeds or crosses in our lives because they make us holy. Like Jesus carried His holy cross to Calvary, we have to carry our crosses to make it to the Kingdom of Heaven. When they’re difficult and agonizing, we turn to the Lord and He gives us what we need to grow closer to Him. We receive the grace to trust in His timing. We find His goodness and glory. We gain a way to encounter Him and rest in his presence.

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Reflect on Your Own Weeds
Think of all of the weeds that you’ve encountered in the garden of your soul. What are the ones that have been easier to pluck out? Which ones have you successfully removed? Take a moment to thank God that they’re no longer keeping you from Him. Which weeds are you still working on? What are some weeds that you thought you have taken care of, but have sprung back up? Ask God for patience in pulling these weeds, and ask Him to guide you as you handle them. Which weeds seem like they’ll never go away? Which weeds have you been pulling at endlessly, but their roots are too deep to budge? Turn to God in your frustration. Surrender these weeds to him, and ask Him to reveal to you the ways that they’re making you holy. Ask Him to open your heart and your eyes to the ways that you’re depending on Him and deepening your faith because of these weeds.

Stay radiant!

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This Sunday’s Gospel: November 8, 2020

Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. 
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

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In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gives us another parable to teach us about the Kingdom of Heaven. He stresses the importance of being prepared to enter the Kingdom by describing five virgins who kept their lamps lit and were ready to enter a wedding feast, and five virgins who let their oil run out and couldn’t enter the wedding feast. Jesus can call us home or come again any time. Because we don’t know the day or the hour, we always stay awake and find ways to make ourselves ready for Him. The Parable of the Ten Virgins reminds us to be responsible for our own relationship with the Lord. We have to be proactive in our faith, and we have to keep ourselves accountable for growing in holiness. This is why the five wise virgins couldn’t give some of their oil to the other virgins. Their individual preparation can’t be lent to others. We wait in hope for the Kingdom of God, but we don’t wait in idleness. Jesus encourages us to always keep his Kingdom in mind, preparing for it in everything that we do.

Stay radiant!

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The Fruits of the Glorious Mysteries

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothes with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Revelation 12:1

I used to get distracted throughout the Rosary, and occasionally I still do. I announce the mystery, let my mind wander, and only remember which one I’m on when I pray the ninth or tenth Hail Mary. The things that help me to contemplate each mystery are the fruits of the mysteries. I ponder how the fruit applies to its respective mystery and I pray to embody that fruit in my own life. As you meditate on the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries, open your heart to receive the fruits and ask Jesus and Mary to reveal where you can grow in that fruit.

The Fruits of the Glorious Mysteries: Meditations on the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary
The Fruits of the Glorious Mysteries: Meditations on the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary

The First Glorious Mystery is the Resurrection
The Fruit of the Mystery is Faith
Jesus told his Apostles that he was going to suffer, die, and rise again. They knew all along that this was coming, but after Jesus died, they fell into despair. They seemed to forget that Jesus’ Resurrection was only three days away. When Mary Magdalene and the other women visited the tomb on the first Easter morning, I’m sure they weren’t expecting to hear that their Lord had risen, but when they realized that Jesus was alive again, they knew that his promises were true. Jesus really is the Son of God, and his Resurrection gives us eternal life. On the day that Jesus rose, he laid the cornerstone of our faith. While we should always hold onto it, when life presents struggles and difficulties, it’s hard to keep our faith. Even when we lose faith, Jesus is always near. He finds ways to bring us to him and to reveal his love to us.

The Second Glorious Mystery is the Ascension
The Fruit of the Mystery is Hope
Forty days after Jesus’ Resurrection, he gathered his Apostles to be with all of them in person one more time. He gave them the Great Commission, telling them to make disciples of all nations. After lovingly giving them this mission, Jesus returned to his Heavenly Father. The Apostles watched Jesus ascend into Heaven until they couldn’t see him anymore. In the same way that Jesus ascended into his Kingdom, he’ll come back to earth for his second coming. Contemplating Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven deepens our hope. We wait in hope for his glorious second coming and for eternal life with him.

The Third Glorious Mystery is the Descent of the Holy Spirit
The Fruit of the Mystery is Love of God
Given the mission of spreading the Gospel, the Apostles were probably hesitant, scared, and confused. For ten days, they and Mary stayed together in an upper room, praying unceasingly. Finally, on Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit to descend on them in tongues of fire. Now, burning with the Holy Spirit, they received the means to do their mission. God gives each of us a role to play in the Great Commission. In some way, we’re all responsible for making disciples of all nations. While this mission can seem daunting, we don’t have to go forth alone. The Holy Spirit grants us the gifts we need to share the Gospel and to live a life worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. When we feel overwhelmed and discouraged, we can turn to the Lord, asking him to give us the wisdom, courage, piety, or whatever we need to continue our journey.

The Fourth Glorious Mystery is the Assumption
The Fruit of the Mystery is Grace of a Happy Death
As the Mother of God and the most perfect and precious part of God’s creation, Mary was assumed into Heaven. She didn’t stay on earth to decompose in a tomb. Instead, God brought her body and soul into his Kingdom. I can see why Mary’s death is considered happy, but no one else will die like she did. This reality leads me to contemplate what constitutes a happy death? When we find peace and even joy in dying, we have the grace of a happy death. As we prepare to leave this world, we can rest knowing that Jesus has already conquered the grave. Because of this, at the moment of our deaths, we can rejoice knowing that soon we’ll see the face of God and enter his Kingdom.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery is the Coronation of Mary
The Fruit of the Mystery is Trust in Mary’s Intercession
One of the FOCUS missionaries I knew from Slippery Rock always said that Mary is the perfect example of a perfect missionary. When I think of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth, I think of her taking responsibility for all of God the Father’s children as her own. Her mission in life exemplified and continued as Queen of Heaven and earth. Entrusted with all of us, our Blessed Mother constantly draws us closer to her Son. With confidence, we can turn to Mary as our Mother, our Queen, and our model of how to follow God’s will perfectly.

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If you enjoyed these meditations with a focus on the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries, click here to read another set of meditations on the Glorious Mysteries. Check out reflections on the fruits of the Joyful mysteries, the fruits of the Luminous Mysteries, and the fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries.

Stay radiant!

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This Sunday’s Gospel: November 1, 2020

Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”

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In Catholic elementary school, I learned that the word “Beatitudes” means happy. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us the Beatitudes to show us how to be happy. When we hear the Beatitudes, we learn who God blesses and holds close to Him. The Beatitudes are one of the many things that make us counter-cultural as Catholics. Hungering, mourning, and being poor aren’t typically considered happy things, and being meek, merciful, and clean of heart aren’t always the popular things to do. By living the Beatitudes, we remember that we live to please God, not ourselves or those around us. We remember that this life is fleeting and that we should focus on eternal life. As we embrace the Beatitudes, we can rejoice knowing that our reward is in Heaven. Our Heavenly Father will give us unimaginable joy when we enter His Kingdom, and we can live in joyful hope as we wait and prepare for eternal life.

Stay radiant!

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The Fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries

Jesus was led away, and carrying the cross by himself, went out to what is called the Place of the Skull. There, they crucified him.

John 9:17-18

I used to get distracted throughout the Rosary, and occasionally I still do. I announce the mystery, let my mind wander, and only remember which one I’m on when I pray the ninth or tenth Hail Mary. The things that help me to contemplate each mystery are the fruits of the mysteries. I ponder how the fruit applies to its respective mystery and I pray to embody that fruit in my own life. As you meditate on the fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries, open your heart to receive the fruits and ask Jesus and Mary to reveal where you can grow in that fruit.

The Fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries
The Fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries: Meditations on the fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary

The First Sorrowful Mystery is the Agony in the Garden
The Fruit of the Mystery is Conformity to God’s Will
After the Last Supper, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was anxious about his upcoming Passion, so he turned to his Father in prayer. Jesus knew that he had to suffer and die so that we could enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He did this out of love for us, but in his humanity, he was scared. Just like us, he asked God if he really had to do this. In the end, Jesus said “not as I will, but as you will.” Sometimes God asks us to do hard things. Naturally, we tend to feel afraid, question if we really have to do them, and look for a way out. In these moments, we can turn to Jesus in his agony and remember that he was there first. He accepted God’s will for him, and he can help us to want what God wants for us.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery is the Scourging at the Pillar
The Fruit of the Mystery is Mortification
When I meditate on this Sorrowful Mystery, I can’t help but picture how gruesome scourging is. It’s a sharp, stinging, bloody scene, and it hurts my heart to think of Jesus feeling that pain. It’s almost unbelievable that Jesus went through all of that for us. And then I turn around and assess my own life. I think of my attempts at fasting and mortifications and how I bargain and make excuses. I want to do penance for myself and for the world, but it’s difficult. I look to Jesus, bloody and exhausted from the Scourging at the Pillar, and remember what he endured for our sins, and I ask him to make me stronger so that I can share in his suffering.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery is the Crowning of Thorns
The Fruit of the Mystery is Courage
Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, and he did this during the Crowning of Thorns. He didn’t fight back or run away. He didn’t have to stand and take the crowd’s mockery, but he did. Unfortunately, too many people still reject Jesus. The world still mocks and persecutes Jesus, and they do the same to us because we live for him. Regardless, we stand firm in Jesus. When we’re harassed and bullied because of him, we remember his courage. Jesus didn’t back down when he was taunted by the crowd, and the words and threats of those around us won’t shake our faith.

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery is the Carrying of the Cross
The Fruit of the Mystery is Patience
Patience is a virtue that I’ve always struggled with. A few years ago, I learned that patience isn’t about waiting. It’s about keeping a good attitude while you wait. Jesus’ journey to Calvary wasn’t easy. As he carried his own cross and felt the stung of fresh wounds, thorns in his head, and words of spectators, he walked a painful road to the hill where he would die. He wasn’t exactly joyful, but not once did Jesus lose his temper or despair. He encouraged those around him and he showed love and kindness to the people he encountered on the Way of the Cross. In the tedious, difficult, and time-consuming tasks throughout our day, it’s easy to give in and allow ourselves to get irritated and frustrated. Instead, we can take our time. We can find ways to offer it up or to do little things with great love.

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery is the Crucifixion
The Fruit of the Mystery is Forgiveness
By Jesus’ death, we were set free from sin. As he suffered and died on the cross, he took on a debt he didn’t owe. Jesus paid the debt that we couldn’t pay so that we could spend eternity in his Kingdom. We look to the cross to recognize God’s forgiveness as a free gift. There’s nothing we have to do to earn his forgiveness. All we have to do is accept it graciously. In the in the pain of suffering and the ugliness of death, we find the most perfect example of true love within the Crucifixion. The Crucifixion reminds us that there’s nothing that God won’t do to show us his love, so in all things, we can love him in return.

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If you enjoyed these meditations with a focus on the fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries, click here to read another set of meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries. Check out reflections on the fruits of the Joyful mysteries, the fruits of the Luminous Mysteries, and the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries.

Stay radiant!

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This Sunday’s Gospel: October 25, 2020

Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

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The Ten Commandments that God gives us are built off of two basic laws that Jesus reminds us of in this Sunday’s Gospel reading. We must always love God above all things, making Him the center of our lives and our first priority. We have to love our neighbor as ourselves, giving them the care and kindness that we’d want to receive. This reading reminds me of a quote by St. Augustine which reads, “Love God and do as you will.” Don’t be mistaken and think this means that we can do whatever we want as long as we love. When we’re so deeply in love with God, we will what God wills. We don’t seek to do what we want for our lives, but what God wants. I think this can also be applied to our neighbors. When we truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we put their needs above ours. As we listen to Jesus’ commands in this Sunday’s Gospel, let’s truly take them to heart by loving the Lord more intentionally and living as an instrument of His love.

Stay radiant!

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The Fruits of the Luminous Mysteries

And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.

Matthew 17:2

I used to get distracted throughout the Rosary, and occasionally I still do. I announce the mystery, let my mind wander, and only remember which one I’m on when I pray the ninth or tenth Hail Mary. The things that help me to contemplate each mystery are the fruits of the mysteries. I ponder how the fruit applies to its respective mystery and I pray to embody that fruit in my own life. As you meditate on the fruits of the Luminous Mysteries, open your heart to receive the fruits and ask Jesus and Mary to reveal where you can grow in that fruit.

The Fruits of the Luminous Mysteries
The Fruits of the Luminous Mysteries: Meditations on the fruits of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary

The First Luminous Mystery is the Baptism in the Jordan
The Fruit of the Mystery is Openness to the Holy Spirit

At first, John the Baptist was hesitant to baptize Jesus. Feeling unworthy, he said that Jesus should baptize him. But Jesus gently persisted. When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended on Him and His Heavenly Father was pleased. Similarly, our own baptisms are pleasing to God the Father. We receive the Holy Spirit for the first time and enter the Church as His beloved children. No matter when we were baptized, we have the grace of being open to the Holy Spirit. We can pray to stay open to the Holy Spirit and receive His gifts.

The Second Luminous Mystery is the Wedding at Cana
The Fruit of the Mystery is to Jesus through Mary
Jesus performed His first miracle at Mary’s prompting. Like the perfect mother that she is, Mary notices our needs and fulfills them through Jesus. When she realized that the bride and groom were out of wine at the wedding feast, she knew what to do. Mary’s last recorded words are found in the Wedding at Cana, “Do whatever he tells you.” She gave this loving command to the servants at the feast, and it still applies to us today. As we serve Jesus throughout our life, we look to Mary as an example of a perfect disciple. She truly did whatever He told her to, and so can we with her grace.

The Third Luminous Mystery is the Proclamation of the Kingdom
The Fruit of the Mystery is Repentance and Trust in God
Sometimes, we can meditate on this mystery as Jesus’ teaching as a whole. At first, I would meditate on the Beatitudes or other instances of Jesus preaching. I learned that the Proclamation of the Kingdom is specifically when Jesus sends 70 disciples out into the world. He sends them two by two into villages to call for conversions and proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand. This message still stirs up a call to action in us. We don’t know when the Kingdom of Heaven will be here, and it could come before we know it. We assess our own lives and see where we can repent and trust in God more, and we encourage those whom we encounter to do the same.

The Fourth Luminous Mystery is the Transfiguration
The Fruit of the Mystery is Desire for Holiness
Jesus chooses Peter, James, and John to witness His Transfiguration. On a mountain, He revealed His glory to them. They’ve seen His human appearance, but Jesus gave them the gift of beholding His divinity. He became radiant, as white as snow, and appeared with Moses and Elijah. Meditating on the Transfiguration gives us hope to share in His glory. This mystery inspires us to allow Jesus to transfigure us so that we might be pure and holy like Him.

The Fifth Luminous Mystery is the Institution of the Eucharist
The Fruit of the Mystery is Adoration
During the Last Supper, Jesus celebrated the first Mass with the twelve Apostles. On that night, He gave us the most beautiful gift, the Eucharist. In the humble form of bread and wine, Jesus offers us the gift of His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. In other words, the God of the Universe not only died for us so that we can spend eternity with Him. He also continuously comes to us. He willingly makes himself small and vulnerable so that we can be in communion with Him. The Eucharist is the greatest love story. As we contemplate the Institution of the Eucharist, we deepen our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. In receiving Jesus’ Body and Blood and adoring it during Eucharistic Adoration, we spend time with Jesus personally and grow closer to our Savior in the most perfect way.

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If you enjoyed these meditations with a focus on the fruits of the Luminous mysteries, click here to read another set of meditations on the Luminous Mysteries. Check out reflections on the fruits of the Joyful Mysteries, the fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries.

Stay radiant!

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According to Luke

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:42

When I think of Jesus, I see His loving gaze and feel His heart on fire with love. I picture His arms outstretched, ready to embrace me. As I pray, I visualize myself holding His hands or wrapped in His arms. Resting in His presence, I pour my heart out to Him. He meets me where I am and lets me rest in Him, constantly reassuring me that He loves me.

While we read the Gospel of Luke, we always hear of Jesus encountering and loving everyone He meets. He heals the sick and forgives sinners. He stops to talk to the outcasts of society. My image of a compassionate Jesus comes from Luke’s Gospel because of the beautiful ways that he describes Him.

According to Luke: Understanding St. Luke and his Gospel account
According to Luke: Understanding St. Luke and his Gospel account

Luke wrote his Gospel account, as well as the Acts of the Apostles, as a convert to Christianity. Because of this, his writing expressed that Jesus came for everyone. The Gospel of Luke was written for Gentiles, or non-Christians, to show them that Jesus gathers them to Him too. Luke illustrates our Savior as compassionate, loving, and caring toward all whom he encounters. Throughout the Gospel of Luke, Jesus meets and speaks with Gentiles, Samaritans, sinners, and the poor to show that anyone can inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

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In reading the Gospel of Luke, we learn that Jesus doesn’t deny His love or mercy to anyone who comes to Him with a contrite heart. He showed kindness to everyone, especially the poor and vulnerable, and cared deeply for them. As we read Luke’s Gospel, we can learn from his depiction of Jesus. We can imitate Jesus and show His love and compassion to our brothers and sisters. We can show them that we’re here for them and we love them by spending time with them, giving words of encouragement, or wrapping them in a hug.

Stay radiant!

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This Sunday’s Gospel: October 18, 2020

Matthew 22:15-21

The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion,
for you do not regard a person’s status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that he said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”

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We have responsibilities as humans. We pay taxes, vote, and follow laws. These are our obligations as earthly citizens, but we also have obligations as children of God. We have to lovingly and obediently follow His commands. We give Him the highest glory and honor. We worship God alone because only He is worthy of such high praise and honor. Jesus’ answer in this Sunday’s Gospel isn’t all-or-nothing. We live in a state of both-and. As we go about our worldly responsibilities, we also keep our sights on Heaven. We can’t get distracted by earthly things so much that we forget to give God what’s due to God.

Stay radiant!

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The Fruits of the Joyful Mysteries

They came upon him in the temple sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. All who heard him were amazed.

Luke 2:46-47

I used to get distracted throughout the Rosary, and occasionally I still do. I announce the mystery, let my mind wander, and only remember which one I’m on when I pray the ninth or tenth Hail Mary. The things that help me to contemplate each mystery are the fruits of the mysteries. I ponder how the fruit applies to its respective mystery and I pray to embody that fruit in my own life. As you meditate on the fruits of the Joyful Mysteries, open your heart to receive the fruits and ask Jesus and Mary to reveal where you can grow in that fruit.

The Fruits of the Joyful Mysteries
The Fruits of the Joyful Mysteries: Meditations on the fruits of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary

The First Joyful Mystery is the Annunciation
The Fruit of the Mystery is Humility
Mary had a life prior to the Annunciation. She had plans and an idea of what she would do with her life. Obviously, when Gabriel appeared to her and told her that she would be the Mother of God, everything changed. Mary could have felt confused, shocked, bewildered. She could have wondered if the angel came to the right woman. Instead of fighting it or running away from God’s plan, she gave her fiat, her complete, perfect, no-strings-attached yes. She humbled herself in the Lord, allowing Him to work in her and through her. In her perfection and holiness, Mary remained open to God’s plans for her. Her “yes,” reminds us to let God’s will, not ours, be done. In this moment, she illustrates the most perfect example of humility.

The Second Joyful Mystery is the Visitation
The Fruit of the Mystery is Love of Neighbor
In her faith, Mary believed that she would be the Mother of God, but there was another way that she knew that Gabriel’s words were true. She visited her cousin, Elizabeth, who in her old age was pregnant with John the Baptist. The Visitation shows that Mary and Elizabeth had so much love for each other. They were probably so happy for each other in light of their pregnancies. Elizabeth felt such awe to be in the midst of the Mother of God, and Mary reverently reflected the praise to the Lord. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, and I can’t help but wonder what they did together when I contemplate the joy throughout their visit. I like to think that they took care of each other and kept each other company as they approached a new and beautiful chapter in their lives.

The Third Joyful Mystery is the Nativity
The Fruit of the Mystery is Detachment / Poverty
Jesus could have come to earth any way He wanted. He could have appeared out of nowhere, or He could have descended from Heaven in a blaze of glory, but our Lord decided to experience all facets of human life. As fully God and fully human, the God of the universe chose to be born of a woman. He came into the world as a small and vulnerable baby. He could have made himself a king, or a wealthy person with servants to attend to him, but He was born to poor parents in a stable with nothing. When we look at our Nativity scenes beneath our Christmas trees, we tend to think warm and cozy thoughts. We tend to romanticize the Holy Family’s experience on the first Christmas Eve. They had no place to stay or call home, they most likely had little money and not much food, but what they did have was God. Mary and Joseph didn’t have much, but because they literally had Jesus in their presence, they had enough. As long as we have Jesus, we have everything.

The Fourth Joyful Mystery is the Presentation
The Fruit of the Mystery is Obedience
Honestly, I tend to struggle with meditating on this mystery. It’s truly, for lack of better terms, a mystery to me because I’m stilly trying to wrap my head around it. What grounds me an gives me something to contemplate on is its fruit, obedience, and how it speaks to the faith of Mary and Joseph. They knew that their Son was the God of the universe. He established the laws and commandments, and as the Almighty One, He answers to no one. But Mary and Joseph presented the infant Jesus in the Temple anyway. They didn’t consider themselves an exception to the rule. They followed the law and dedicated their firstborn Son. Because of this, God’s promise to Simeon was fulfilled. Simeon lived to see the Messiah. After a lifetime of waiting in hope and trusting in the Lord, Simeon encountered God Incarnate. When he held the Word Incarnate in his arms, he knew that God always keeps His word.

The Fifth Joyful Mystery is the Finding of Jesus in the Temple
The Fruit of the Mystery is the Joy in Finding Jesus
I can’t divorce the Fifth Joyful Mystery from the Third Sorrow of Mary. To find someone naturally implies that someone was previously lost. As Mary and Joseph sought their Son, I’m positive that their only thought was finding Him again. Nothing would console them until He was in their care again. When they finally found Him in the Temple, I can only imagine the wave of relief and happiness that washed over them. They must have held Him tightly, never wanting to let Him go again. The fear and anxiety that once overwhelmed them disappeared all because Jesus was with them again. Whether we’ve left the Church and we’re coming home, or if we’re coming closer to Jesus in prayer, we always feel the joy of being with Jesus because He offers us joy that we won’t find anywhere else.

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If you enjoyed these meditations with a focus on the fruits of the Joyful mysteries, click here to read another set of meditations on the Joyful mysteries. Check out more reflections on the fruits of the Luminous Mysteries, the fruits of the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the fruits of the Glorious Mysteries.

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