The Key to Marriage

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

This week Margaret Vasquez shares that the lord is the key to marriage, that we are called to union with the Lord first and foremost Would you believe that the key to marriage isn’t your relationship with your spouse?  Do you know that we all have the same primary vocation regardless of our state in life?  The truth is that the key to marriage is that our primary vocation is that of union with the Lord!  It’s true!  Monks, hermits, religious, clergy, and married people all share the same call to holiness!  So, if you are married that means you are called to union with the Lord first and foremost and in the living out of that you receive what you need to live your vocation of marriage with an earthly spouse.

 

Only the Lord is infinite and in Him our needs to be chosen, intimately known, perfectly valued, protected, and provided for are superabundantly fulfilled.  If we aren’t going to Him to receive the fulfilment of those needs, we will be running on empty and turning to our spouse to fill us.  What if they are running on empty, as well?  Then we are setup for frustration, conflict, and failure.  If we look to them to satisfy us instead of the Lord, we are looking to make an idol of them.

 

Where relationships usually breakdown is in our relationship to ourselves.  We read Scripture or spiritual reading, listen to homilies, or talks about the Lord and how He sees us and then we go and relate to ourselves in ways that fly in the face of the fact that we are precious, loved, and have inherent dignity.  Then, our relationships to others become really weighty – much weightier than they ought to be – because we are looking for our spouse to tell us enough truth about ourselves to counterbalance the erroneous ways we treat ourselves.

 

Start each day – even if it’s just taking 5 minutes – turn to the Lord and open those needs of knowing you are chosen by Him, intimately known by Him, that you have more worth in Him than you can begin to imagine, that you are protected and provided for by Him and ask Him to help you relate to yourself in a way that is consistent with those truths.  Starting from a place of fullness, then relate to your spouse and see what changes.

 

May the Lord give you peace!

Humility: The Path to Freedom and Peace

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

In Mary’s Magnificat she declares her own lowliness and rejoices in the fact that the Lord raises up the lowly.  She sees and openly acknowledges her own littleness.  That’s not a false humility.  She is in touch with the reality of who she is before God.  She also lays out a stark contrast between how God responds to the lowly as compared with how He responds to the lowly.  She told her cousin Elizabeth and continues to tell us that he looked with favor on her as His lowly servant, has mercy on those who fear Him, scatters the proud, casts down the powerful, while He lifts up the lowly, fills them with good things, comes to their help, and remembers His promises (Luke 1:46-55).

 

When we think that the Lord chose her to form Him as a baby and a child, it is striking to consider.  He must have intentionally wanted the human example of a mother with a humble heart who doesn’t look to be mighty, but to acknowledge the Lord’s power.  We know that humble is how Jesus described His own heart (Matthew 11:29).

 

When we consider that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), we have no choice but to consider that God is humble.  Can that be?  That concept can give us pause at first, but then we call to mind that Jesus “emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:7) and left His throne and took on our humanity, even becomes Food for us in the Eucharist, and subjected Himself to such a horrific death at the hands of His creatures.  St. Francis of Assisi spoke to his followers about “the humility of God”, particularly in the Eucharist.  He was really moved by it and we saw how he imitated that humility in embracing and ministering to the lepers.

 

In Fr. Rick Martignetti’s book, Perfect Love he references St. Bonaventure telling St Clare and her sisters that patience is the hallmark of humility.  He points out Mary’s patience in not bombarding Gabriel with a thousand questions, even though her life might be on the line by being an unwed mother at that time.  Knowing that God would be the father of Jesus was enough of an answer and she could wait patiently for God to provide in His way and in His time.

 

The angel Gabriel told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you (Luke 1:35)”.  Are we willing to be overshadowed?  Our humanity can really bristle at that.  How much anxiety can we lose and how much freedom, peace, and joy can we gain when we embrace our lowliness and rely on the Lord to lift us up rather than trying to do it ourselves.

 

May the Lord give you peace!

 

God’s Love Incarnate

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

This week Margaret Vasquez shares how Christmas has become so secularized, but Christmas is really about God’s loveThe Incarnation of Jesus is so crucial.  Jesus is God’s love made manifest to the world!  For this reason, St. Francis of Assisi saw Christmas as the highest of the feast days!  When he made his conversion, God started to work in him in new and beautiful ways and right at the heart of it was Jesus coming as man.  St. Francis was so touched by the humility of Jesus in coming like one of us that he set up the first nativity scene.  He reasoned that it would move people’s hearts to see this with their own eyes.  He set up a live nativity scene.

 

Blessed John Duns Scotus, a 13th century Franciscan philosopher, was convinced that love is central and that even if man had never sinned, God the Father still would have sent Jesus to manifest the Father’s love for us.  So, Jesus coming to reveal the love of the Father is the reason for the season of Christmas.  It’s fundamentally important for us to not just know what we’re doing, but why we’re doing what we’re doing.  Looking at why the Father sent Jesus is just as important.  When we understand God’s purpose in sending Jesus, we gain critical insight into the Father and the Son and who we are to them and who they are to us.

 

Christmas has become so secularized, but Christmas is really about God’s love.  Yes, Jesus came to save us from our sin, but the reason WHY is because of God’s deep and intimate love for each one of us.  All of creation is born out of the love of God!  Jesus does save us from our sin, but the fact that He came out of the depth of His saves us from the attraction to sin…His love is so much more attractive!  Jesus opens up the life of the Father and work of the Spirit and the life of the Holy Trinity.  Out of that intimacy revealed in the Incarnation of Jesus a life of holiness flows and is the transformative power of our lives.  Cooperating with – receiving and responding to His love – is the Kingdom of Heaven that is at hand!

 

Identity Is Key

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

This week Margaret Vasquez shares how our identity is key in revealing God's love to othersIdentity is at the core of human and spiritual integration.  It’s key to us being able to act from a mature human place and to being spiritually mature.  There are so many things that clamor for our identity and that some gravitate towards – being a member of a certain club, or organization, having wealth or affluence, being a member or fan of a team.  While none of these things are bad, they are NOT where our identity lies and provide no basis for our identity.

 

I was listening to a podcast recently by the founder of the South African Satanic Church who recently converted to Christianity because of a profound experience of Jesus.  He said that one of the things people are told when they join the satanic church is that they were rejected in other experiences in life because they were meant to be satanists.  Ugh!  Can you see the battle for their identity?  We see the same thing in our culture where so many suffer and struggle for their identity from their sexual brokenness.  It’s so heartbreaking because, again, this is not where our identity lies.  St. Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).  He’s laying out where our foundational identity is – in the Lord!

 

We even see in Jesus’ life how essential His identity was and how at the beginning of His public ministry the Father publicly announced His identity as His Beloved Son in whom He was well pleased.  Jesus’ identity as the Beloved Son of the Father was crucial to His life as both human and Divine.  At the foot of the Cross we see Our Lady, St. John the Beloved, and Mary Magdalene, all of whom had come to know their identity as loved by God in a particular way.

 

When our identity is founded in who we are as God’s children, we gain courage and confidence.  Courage by definition means to take heart.  It’s a big difference if we’re taking our own heart or the Lord’s Heart!  Confidence means acting with faith.  How essential that we act with faith in Him rather than faith in ourselves!  That’s a game changer!

 

Our identity IS in being God’s children!  He who is all good, loving, wise, knowing, powerful and Creator of all that is calls us His own children, His own sons and daughters.  Being His child means there’s a relationship.  It’s not just a role or title, but refers to the relationship He brings us into by His Spirit of Adoption.  Knowing we are chosen, known, valued, protected, and provided for by HIM  – THAT is where our identity lies.

 

Parable of the Lost Sheep by Deacon David Hockwalt 12.6.2022

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

This week on Magnificat Ministries Podcast Deacon Hockwald shares the parable of the lost sheep showing that God will always be there for youDEACON DAVID HOCKWALT was ordained a Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of San Bernardino in 2012. He continues in active ministry today and is the spiritual advisor to the vicariate Life in the Spirit team.

We pray that today may be a special day in your life as you experience the presence of Jesus Christ among us through this reflection. Magnificat, taken from Luke: 1, is the great hymn of praise that Mary prayed while visiting her cousin, Elizabeth. We trust that this reflection will help us all better understand that we are truly children of God, made in His image and likeness. We want to come together in God’s presence and proclaim that the Almighty has done great things for you and me and holy is His Name!

To find out more about Magnificat, A Ministry to Catholic Women, visit us at www.magnificat-ministry.org

Keeping It Real

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

This week Margret Vasquez shares how to give our Lifes meaning and purpose by "keeping it real" In the last podcast with Coach Kelly Herrmann, there was something she shared about how she has approached coaching over the years that helped her align her actions with her beliefs.  I was really struck by it, and it has been a gift to me to distill those principles out of the arena of athletics (pun intended) and this is something that applies to all of us regardless of if we are athletes, coaches, parents, students, professionals, single, married, religious sisters, brothers, or clergy.

 

What Coach shared was that she realized she had to do was to develop her philosophy of coaching based on the truth and align her goals with those priorities.  These are steps we can all take to help make our lives more meaningful, purposeful, consistent, and integrated.  Without doing so, we can tend to relegate spiritual things to Sunday or Church.  By being conscious and intentional about establishing our priorities so as to lead to our goals which are consistent with our philosophy founded and grounded in the Truth.

 

In doing this, I really see the most foundational truth of life is the TRUTH – who is the person of Jesus.  Blessed John Duns Scotus, a Franciscan philosopher in the 13th century said that Jesus came to manifest the love of God the Father.  He also taught that the greatest thing we can do is to choose to love the good and God is the greatest good.  This being my philosophy lays out the goals 1) receiving God’s love, 2) loving Him as the greatest good, 3) loving what He loves (me and others) and 4) affirming the good.  I’ve found that affirming the good in others, especially when they’re being difficult or challenging is naturally before me because I know in a very thought-out way it aligns with my philosophy and the truth of who God is and who I am in Him.

 

I’ve found this to be a very helpful decision-making tool and helps me keep my behaviors in line with my beliefs.  I challenge you to pray about it and consider doing it.  I hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

 

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

 

Christians in the Arena

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

This week Coach Kelly Herrmann explains that the key to integrating faith in sports is to have a clear philosophy based on truth.

Join me for the final episode in this series with Coach Herrmann and I discuss the role sports can play in character formation!

 

Coach Kelly Herrmann – now a wife, mom, grandma, health coach, author, and speaker was a fixture in sports at Franciscan University of Steubenville for decades.  Having given up a full ride to play division one basketball, she attended FUS and was athletic director, head coach of women’s basketball and volleyball and intramural coordinator.  She has refereed, umpired, announced games, coached little league soccer, run sports summer camps, and mentored other coaches.  She’s a wealth of experience and knowledge and comes from a faithfully Catholic perspective.

Coach explains that the key to integrating faith in sports is to have a clear philosophy based on truth.  Then have clear priorities based on that philosophy.  Coach Kelly shares about a time when Franciscan men’s and women’s basketball teams traveled together.  On the bus the two teams sat separated by the coaches in the middle.  One of her players came to her and asked if they could mix in with the men’s team on the way back from the game for the sake of bonding with the men’s team.  She easily denied the request and was able to explain to her player that bonding with the men’s team wasn’t a priority, whereas study, rest, bonding with her fellow teammates were priorities.  She was able to quickly make a good decision and explain it with a solid basis to the player who was able to accept it.  It wasn’t an arbitrary refusal.  There was a purpose behind it.  Priorities serve the goal and move you in the direction of reaching those goals.  Set and stay faithful to your priorities.

As Christians, evangelizing is always a goal – seeking to witness faith everywhere.  There are situations in sports that force a coach and player to be countercultural.  A few examples are things like controlling one’s temper, language, service in relationships, and modesty.  If you know your priorities, you can easily come to the right decision in such situations regardless of the zeitgeist of the day.

Some practical steps you can implement today are to define your philosophy of play and coaching based on St. John Paul II’s injunction to follow the Divine Master in everything. Based on that, define your priorities, then integrate those priorities throughout your approach to sports.  Finally, don’t be afraid to be countercultural!  BE BOLD!

 

To connect with Coach Kelly Herrmann for speaking engagements, she can be reached at kherrmanniam@outlook.com.

 

The Role of Sports in Christian Character Formation

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

This week Margret and Coach Kelly Herrmann discuss the role sports can play in character formation!Join me as Coach Herrmann and I discuss the role sports can play in character formation!

 

Coach Kelly Herrmann – now a wife, mom, grandma, health coach, author, and speaker was a fixture in sports at Franciscan University of Steubenville for decades.  Having given up a full ride to play division one basketball, she attended FUS and was athletic director, head coach of women’s basketball and volleyball and intramural coordinator.  She has refereed, umpired, announced games, coached little league soccer, run sports summer camps, and mentored other coaches.  She’s a wealth of experience and knowledge and comes from a faithfully Catholic perspective.

 

I asked Coach:

 

  1. Are there specific character/faith lessons you look to teach through the season?

 

Some of the many character and faith lessons we can easily glean from faithfully coached and approached athletics are hard work, personal investment, dedicated commitment, right/honest/and charitable communication, servanthood, humility, unity, and modesty.  Sports are a microcosm of life and so much can be taught through them because they really test the mettle of which a person is made.

 

  1. Can sports be used for character formation even with children?

 

Because of developmental differences associated with age, the lessons that can be taught are different, but sports are quite useful in character formation – even with children.  Some of the many lessons first learned through sports by children are self-control, how to handle disappointment, delaying gratification and celebrating the giftedness and skills of others.

 

  1. If so, are the lessons different depending on the ages of the athletes – little league, middle school, college, etc.?

 

The many lessons learned through sports are the same in type but differ in degree and can really be of great benefit to athletes of any age, especially when coached from an authentic and consistent faith perspective.  It’s essential that a coach know their own priorities as they coach and use the process of practice and play to reinforce the main priority of our lives – growth into the fullness of who we are called to be in Christ.

 

To connect with Coach Kelly Herrmann for speaking engagements, she can be reached at kherrmanniam@outlook.com.

 

Spiritual Reflection 10 Oil Lamps By Fr. Pat Crowley 11.12.2022

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Fr. Pat Crowley, SS.CC. Shares a deeper faith experience in the healing love of Jesus Christ.Fr. Pat Crowley, SS.CC., MAS, is a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in the Western United States Province. Father Crowley is the Spiritual Advisor for the Magnificat North County San Diego Chapter. He is a retreat director and conference speaker who brings a holistic approach to the healing ministry. Since 1972 his healing services have moved Christians into a deeper faith experience in the healing love of Jesus Christ. Father is He resides at the Sacred Hearts House of Prayer, Hemet, CA., 92544

 

Faith Formation in Athletics

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Margret Vasquez shares how focusing on doing rather than being is a trap we can all fall into but keeping the Lord the priority is essential to developing a faithfully Catholic athletic environment. #podcast #christianpodcastMeet Coach Kelly Herrmann – Faith Formation in Athletics

 

Today, I’m joined by Kelly who I’ve known for about 30 years.  She’s coached, refereed, umpired for decades in sports of all types and is now a wife, mother, grandmother, and health coach, author and speaker. Kelly has a passion for forming athletes in faith and spirituality and really integrating the two. She grew up on a dairy farm in Michigan and played basketball in the upstairs of their hay barn through the winter. She was living the student athlete life, doing the scorebook, coaching junior high leagues, announcing games even in high school and was truly involved in every aspect of sports year-round.

 

Kelly gave up a full ride to play division one sports to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville back in the 1980s for the sake of being in a place of faith formation.  She had three older siblings who attended FUS and having visited many times.  She had visited a lot and felt a certain fulfillment at the university in the people, the atmosphere, and the faith culture.  Even though early on she had protested coming to Franciscan, she realized it was the place where she could become more of who the Lord created her to be.  While it was difficult to give up the dream of being a college basketball player, Kelly got deeply involved in intramurals and never regretted making that choice.

 

Focusing on doing rather than being is a trap we can all fall into but keeping the Lord the priority is essential to developing a faithfully Catholic athletic environment.  What is the most important thing? Is winning everything?  No.  What we want to be saying to our kids is “how was your game?”  How did you do?  How did you play?”.  We play to win because the virtue of magnanimity calls us to do our very best! God wants us to strive and do our best, but that doesn’t always result in winning.  The process of day-to-day dedication and growth is the real core.

 

We discuss forming faith through athletics – the topic addressed in a chapter Kelly authored in the book Coach Them Well with St. Mary’s Press.

The Importance of Self-Forgiveness

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Self-forgiveness is highly important to mental health and spiritual growth. When we see sin as coming from pain, we are able to look at it, acknowledge it, repent of it, and receive the great gift of forgiveness. #podcast #christianpodcastSelf-forgiveness is highly important to mental health and spiritual growth.  If we don’t have it, we can stay stymied and even spiral downwards in our relationships to ourselves, God, and others.  Sometimes, we are hard on ourselves out of fear of failing even worse if we ‘let ourselves off the hook’.  However, it has the opposite effect and leads us away from a healthy and holy future.

Sometimes, people are stuck because of a lack of self-worth.  First, we need to receive the gift of forgiveness from God, our Father.  By receiving that from the Lord, then we need to internalize that stance and the mind of Christ toward ourselves.  Without this, we can stay blocked and stuck in our lives.

Many times, we can be shocked by how we fell. It can seem like we’re trying to hold ourselves to a higher standard, but it’s fundamentally a mindset of pride.  We might be surprised by our behavior, but the Lord who is all-knowing is not surprised.  It can be helpful to recall times of experiencing the Lord’s closeness prior to falling and recognizing that He foreknew that we were going to fail.

At its root unforgiveness toward ourselves changes our mode of operation to one of not being lovable and then we relate to others out of that mode – be it to the Lord, to ourselves, or to others.  We tend to project our own estimation of ourselves onto the Lord and others.  That can really skew our perception of others and put us in an impenetrable fortress of self-hatred.  Rather than achieving the goal of holding ourselves to a higher standard, we can so thoroughly discourage ourselves that we don’t even want to engage with the Lord in a relationship.  It can set us up for failure.  When we open to the grace of the Lord and receive His forgiveness, we can gain spiritual freedom.

In Matthew 7:1 and again Luke 6, the Lord tells us not to judge.  He doesn’t say not to judge others, but not to judge.  Judging is beyond our wisdom and insight.  We don’t understand what makes us tick the way the Lord does and He alone has the ability to do so rightly.  Blessed Julian of Norwich said, “God sees sin as pain in us.”  When we see sin as coming from pain, we are able to look at it, acknowledge it, repent of it, and receive the great gift of forgiveness.