Giving to Caesar

In the Gospel today, religious leaders tried to put Jesus between a rock and hard place. They wanted to know if they could trick Him into upsetting someone, no matter how he responds. “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”

Option A: Jesus says yes. Now the people are upset because Jesus openly admits to supporting the Roman regime which has conquered the area and is ruling the people.

Option B: Jesus says no. Now the officials and those in the community who support the local governance are on high alert. Jesus has labeled Himself as a revolutionary.

Option C: Don’t people know yet there’s always an option C? “Show me the coin,” Jesus says. “Whose image is on it?” Can you hear the mumbled reply, the looks on their faces as they realize just how quickly the tables got turned? Jesus’ definitive response: “Pay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.”

As citizens of our countries, we have duties and responsibilities to our governments and fellow citizens. One of the primary ways we in America pay back to Caesar is through full and active participation in our elections. I’m not going to begin a political debate or lecture you on which side to vote for. I’m simply asking for your full and active participation in the process. Vote!

Ok, that aside, how do we know what belongs to God? God doesn’t have a coin for us to reference, but Jesus’ measure of what is owed to Caesar can still be applied. If the coin which bears Caesar’s image on it belongs to him, then it would stand to reason that whatever bears God’s image ought to be returned to Him. The question then follows, “What (or who) bears God’s image?”

US! We, His most prized creations, are made in His image. While we live on this earth, and we participate in civic life, social and cultural movements, family and workplaces, we do not owe our lives to the world. We owe ourselves to God. When we place our lives in His care, He generously returns us to even fuller participation in the world He created for us.

I know, it’s a bit convoluted and confusing. Think of it like this: The more you take away from the ground, the larger the hole you’re making will become. The more you dig, the greater its capacity to hold whatever you need it to hold. The more we give ourselves to God, the greater our capacity to do the work in the world He has laid before us.

Picture via Pixabay

As Advent is approaching – yikes! – now is a great time to look at what you give to Caesar, and what you give to God. If you would like to learn more about being a fully active Catholic citizen, take the time to read Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, a document written last year by the US Bishop’s Conference about public responsibility.

Also, be on the look out! The free Advent Journals are in their final stages and I’m so excited for this year! Be sure you are signed up to receive emails when I post new content so you can get your copies for this year. There’s a new page at the top which has all of the Advent Journals from the previous years in one place.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

An Autumn Year

As August was coming to a close I began to update my planner for September. Typically, I will schedule events in the monthly overview and then once that month draws near I will write the events on their appropriate days in the daily spreads. I have a monthly sticker subscription (remember, if it’s pretty and took effort I’m more likely to use it) which I was also using to spruce things up for September. One of the larger stickers which serves as pure decoration and inspiration, no specific planning purpose in mind, had this quote:

Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go

I was so struck by this simple observation. While winter in the plant world is usually looked upon as a season of death, cold, solitude, isolation and barrenness, autumn has very different qualities. Autumn, for many plants, is about the process of dying or at the very least, a time of loss. But how beautiful is that process! The fall colors, vibrant in so many places with golds, oranges, reds, even purples. Whole forests become riots of color everywhere you turn. Our tables are laden with the fruits and vegetables of the harvest, while the plants which bore them are becoming shriveled, leaves withering as their last ounces of energy are given up to their produce. We look lovingly upon them all the same, thankful for the gifts they have given us. Where before satisfaction was found in a field bursting with life, those feelings have shifted to empty fields, the fullness to be found in bales of hay or well stocked barns. Days are shortening and the rituals of warm pumpkin spiced lattes, fireside evenings, read alouds and pumpkin patches beckon us to slow down and savor the daylight.

In a way, 2020 has had an Autumn spirit about it. Much has been lost this year – school days, work days, schedules, vacations, a sense of certainty about tomorrow. We are still grappling with loss, so many of our world have lost loved ones to coronavirus. Others have lost jobs without assurances of where work will come from next. Others, while still maintaining job security, have lost their routines which have been replaced with juggling acts of work, child care, virtual learning and e-grocery shopping. There are still thousands of assisted living and nursing home residents who are not permitted to visit with their families, to leave their facilities or engage in regular activities. This Autumn year has affected everyone.

As we enter into actual autumn, I am hoping to use the changing season to investigate my own heart and perceptions of this year. This has been an extremely difficult year and it is not going to get any easier. But when we look at the seasons, every single year has a difficult autumn. While we see the autumn colors and think to ourselves, “Wow, how beautiful!” what is actually happening is those leaves are dying. We are marveling at death.

Perhaps it is because we already know that the beautiful death we are witnessing is not the end of the story for those trees. We are able to see the beauty, and even take joy, in death because we know that after a time, spring will come. Where there was once death, life will once more burst forth.

This is the hope I have for 2020. We are living within an Autumn, and from where we are sitting, it is difficult to see the colors. But the colors are there! Change is extremely difficult and painful, but change is one of the most beautiful things to witness. Voices are being heard where before they were absent. People are perceiving the world with new eyes and recognizing where their community has thrived and where it has failed.

Right now we may feel as the inhabitants of Narnia felt in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where it is “always winter, but it never gets to Christmas.” The hope I see, the hope I hope you all can see, is that Aslan is coming. Spring will come again. It may be a different sort of spring that we are used to. There may be different flowers about, new vegetables to try, new routines and ways of life. But spring will come.

There are things in 2020 that we have learned to let go of. There are things we are holding onto so tightly it is clouding our vision of how to move forward toward spring. Rather than responding in anger to what we cannot control, let’s use this autumn season to pause and see the colors that surround us. Let us appreciate this season for what it is, rather than wishing for what it isn’t.


  • What is something you have had to let go of this 2020 year? How did you feel in the moment you had to let it go? How do you feel about it now?
  • What is something positive that has happened this year? Can you connect this positive moment with a loss preceding it which made it possible?
  • What are you angry or upset about? Is it something beyond your control? What is one thing you can do, learn, or adjust that could help you soften your anger and think of a more constructive attitude toward the problem?
  • What are you nervous about as September and the fall season are upon us? What is one thing you can do, learn or adjust in your life which will help you come up with a plan to tackle the days ahead with positivity and purpose?
Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

10 Tips for Getting Started on the Right Homeschooling Foot

The school year is upon us, and it is a vastly different school year than anyone can recall. Some of us are homeschooling for the first time, others are juggling virtual learning with daycare and working from home. Still others are participating in “regular school” but with the knowledge that things can change from one day to the next depending on the situation of the virus. Each family has had to make difficult decisions, and we all have come to different conclusions based on the knowledge available, the measures our communities have taken and what was offered by our local schools.

Our family is homeschooling this year, but for us this is normal. Our oldest is 9 and we have chosen to homeschool him and his siblings from the beginning. My husband is in the military and the variability of his schedule, plus the ever-possible duty station changes or deployments, led us to gravitate toward a school situation which gave us the maximum amount of control over our schedule. For those of you who have found yourself homeschooling for the first time, I hope that these 10 tips can help get you on the right foot, or to find the right foot if you feel off of it already.

To get the 10 Tips, head over to CatholicMom.com where this post was originally published.