A Ticket to Heaven

“Putting up with others is a work of mercy: enduring their behavior, awkward manner or perhaps their nagging; in other words, to lovingly disregard what really amounts to minor shortcomings. Similar to feeding the hungry and visiting the sick, this is one of the works that will be asked of us at our final examination.”

Chiara Lubich, Heaven on Earth, pg 47

I have been receiving these daily little snippets of wisdom for a while now. They are mostly the reflections of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, but there have also been many words of wisdom from Pope Francis’ writings. They range in topic and I never know what the next one will be about. Some hit me square between the eyes (like this one), others are insightful and good to chew on throughout the day.

This one has stayed with me even beyond the day I received it. At first glance, I felt so justified and self-righteous (not exactly the response Chiara intended I’m sure). Look at me, I do this every day! I am home with small children, I “endure their behavior” and their incessant “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” cries. Honestly, I’m so good at this, even though the big 4 kids are in full time school now instead of homeschool, I’m still at home with a 3 year old and a 19 month old who, let’s face it, clearly have many shortcomings to grow out of. And let’s not get started on those 4 big kids who come clamoring home every day practically shouting all the things they did at the same time so I can’t think or hear straight. Kids, so much to learn. Thank goodness they have a mom like me who can put up with them. These kids are my ticket to heaven, stamped and ready to go.

If I could see your face right now, dear reader, I imagine I’d see some version of the nervous or anxious emoji. And you’d probably be silently stepping back from me as the lightening from on high was surely coming swiftly.

Wow! Just, wow. What an arrogant string of thoughts! I have many, many reasons to be thankful for our faith and here is but one of them. If I didn’t have a faith lens to check myself with, the above reaction probably would have been the end of that particular string of thoughts. Yikes! Taking the same words of Chiara with a lens of faith offers a radically different journey that, surprisingly perhaps, comes to a similar conclusion.

Do I have to put up with others. Absolutely. Do they also have to put up with me? Absolutely. Here’s the thing, none of us are perfect. We all have shortcomings. Focusing on the shortcomings of others does not diminish our own. We all have areas of grow, to improve, to become holy. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we have done. Jesus loves each one of us with perfect love. He is the one who “lovingly disregards” our shortcomings, minor or otherwise, while drawing us closer to Himself. This means that even while we were unworthy of salvation, Jesus freely gave Himself for us. Nothing we did or will do can earn that kind of love or sacrifice.

Jesus is the one who shows us how to “put up” with others. It is to love them for who they are, not because they check all the boxes, but because He loves them. Jesus does not wait for us to be cleaned up before He draws us close to Himself. He reaches out with open arms, and challenges us to do the same with those whose shortcomings we find the least desirable (even if they poop in the bathtub. Because, yes, that happened in our house. Twice now).

At first, I had put myself in the role of the one “putting up” with other people, especially my children. On a second, and more humble, scan, I saw in myself my own shortcomings that my kids have to put up with. I can lose my temper, I am impatient, I make impulsive choices that aren’t well thought out or are selfish. I have room to grow in all the areas of my life.

I’m their ticket to heaven just as much as they are mine.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Diocesan Gospel Reflection

I don’t know if everyone is aware, but during the past year or so I’ve been contributing to the Diocesan.com website’s daily Gospel reflections. These are written by a number of contributors for every day of the year. Today happened to be one of my days and I have found myself continuing to reflect upon what I was inspired to write. The Holy Spirit seems to want me to share the message of God’s over abundance and generosity when it comes to His creation. Below is what I wrote for Diocesan. If you’re interested in receiving these reflections, the following link will take you to the website and you can sign up from there.


I think we are often afraid to ask God for things. We don’t want to seem greedy or selfish. We want to feel self sufficient and capable. And what person hasn’t heard a comment like, “Well I asked God for patience and He gave me so many opportunities to practice I just couldn’t handle it!”

Yet the apostles in today’s Gospel seek Jesus out and ask Him to teach them to pray. Jesus gifts them the most foundational prayer in Christianity, The Our Father. Jesus then continues, as if this intimate prayer wasn’t already revolutionary enough, and explains further how we ought to approach God in prayer.

Perhaps this is where the revolutionary aspect of the Our Father comes into play. Throughout the Old Testament, God was present with His people, but they could not see Him. The Holy of Holies in the Temple was only to be entered once a year on Yom Kippur. It was the most sacred place, the place where God met His people.

Jesus draws us into intimate communion with God, His Father. We don’t have to wait for a single day of the year, we don’t need a priest to pray for us. Jesus ushers into being a new relationship between God and His creation. Through Jesus, we become God’s children. It is fitting then, that Jesus asks the disciples to consider how a father responds to the requests of his children. If earthly fathers and mothers know how to treat little ones, how much more will God generously give to His beloved children?

Here is the trick, however. God desires a relationship with us. This isn’t a forced situation. In order for God to give, we must turn to Him and ask. And ask and ask and believe and believe. God desires every good thing for us and works all things for our benefit. This does not mean we will not experience trials or sorrow. It does not mean we will magically receive whatever we ask for – it didn’t work with our parents when we wanted that pony when we were 7, it doesn’t work that way with God either.

Jesus shows us the way. Come before our Father as a child, with empty hands. Ask in earnest, with every expectation that what is best for us along our journey to heaven, will be given to us.

Encanto – Unity

We come to the conclusion of the Encanto Series and can finally answer the most pressing question of the movie, “What is Mirabel’s gift?” Being that this is a Catholic blog and is the lens through which I try to view the world, my take on Mirabel’s gift comes from a Christocentric place.

There are a few names you could give to Mirabel’s gift once the film is finished. She helps to heal the wounded relationships between the family members, making her a Healer. She also is unafraid to speak truth to Abuela about the harmful pressure she has put on the family, making her a Truth Teller or in Biblical terms, a Prophet. It is Mirabel who places the doorknob on the rebuilt Casita, bringing it back to life, making her a Life Giver.

I would like to take all of these facets of Mirabel’s gift and bring them under one theme – Unity. I’ve been learning more about unity lately and it seems Mirabel was tapped into it in a special way. It is Mirabel who has a heightened sense of the disunity happening within the Casa Madrigal. She sees it first in the cracks forming on the walls and then within the family itself – there’s the Bruno ban, Luisa’s insecurity, Isabela’s sacrifice, Pepa’s anxiety, etc.

Our first indication that Mirabel has a heightened sensitivity to familial relationships comes in her conversations with Antonio before he receives his gift. You would expect a 5 year old to turn to his mom, dad, or perhaps an older sibling with his fears about receiving his gift. But he looks to Mirabel instead and she’s the one he needs by his side when he approaches the door. The movie does a good job showing how painful this moment is for Mirabel as it brings into sharp relief everything that went wrong for her. Instead of refusing to participate, she places Antonio before herself and is there to support him in a way no one else is.

Mirabel seems to have a unique relationship with Luisa as well. Again, Mirabel is the one confided in when Luisa feels her power fading. Luisa’s admission is something she would never have said aloud to anyone else. With Mirabel, she can be her true self.

When she finds Bruno, she draws him out of hiding and back into the family. He is reluctant at first but is encouraged by Mirabel’s strength and perseverance to set things right. After learning about Bruno’s vision, she sets out to find a way to embrace Isabela. I think it’s interesting to note than while Mirabel is able to see the cracks and problems in the Casita, she isn’t able to affect any changes until she first fixes her relationship with Isabela.

What does all of this have to do with unity? As I mentioned, I’ve been spending more time pondering what unity looks like. Specifically, I’ve been beginning to dig deeper into the Focolare Spirituality, of which the reality of unity is central.

Chiara Lubich, the founder of the movement, discovered the desire for unity in Jesus’ final prayer in John 17:21 – “May they all be one.” She was inspired by the Holy Spirit to make Jesus’ prayer a living reality. She strove to make herself one with everyone she encountered. How, you may ask? Chiara understood that if God is Love, and in God we find our true selves, then we need to strive to live every action in that Love. Chiara explains:

Christ is love and a Christian must be love. Live generates communion: communion as the basis of the Christian life and as its summit. In this communion a person no longer goes to goes alone, but travels in company. This is a fact of incomparable beauty that makes our soul repeat the words of Scripture, ‘How very good and pleasant it is when kindred lives together in unity!’ (Ps 133:1)”

Chiara Lubich, No Thorn Without a Rose, pg. 33.

How beautiful! I find this really describes the reality Mirabel brings to life in her family. When we strive to love someone as God loves them, we seek what is best for them. We speaks truth to them, even when it is difficult to say or hear. We desire for them to be whole, to help repair what is broken, to encourage the full flourishing of their lives. There isn’t room for pressure to perform or for unrealistic expectations. When we love as God loves, when we allow ourselves to be transformed in love by Love, communion between people springs forth.


I do hope you’ve enjoyed this series on Encanto. It has brought about fruitful conversations in my own life and I hope in yours as well. Looking forward, I truly do feel myself being drawn more closely to the Focolare movement and am feeling inspired to continue sharing more about the journey with you here. I’m planning to do another series, perhaps starting in mid-to-end of June, which will go through what the Focolare call the Aspects of the movement, or more colloquially, the Colors. It is how the movement practically comes alive in an individual’s life. I’ll be sharing how I’m seeing these colors shimmer in my own daily ordinary.

I’d love to hear what you thought of the series and if you like this more scheduled approach to things. I’m curious! Peace my friend, May your summer be full of sunshine and peace.