kelly wahlquist

Catholic Evangelist & Speaker

Kelly Wahlquist is a dynamic and inspiring Catholic speaker whose gift of weaving personal stories and Scripture together with practical advice allows her audience to enter more fully into what Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have called us into - to be witnesses of our faith and part of the New Evangelization.

Filtering by Tag: Evangelii Gaudium



Daily Reading for Dec. 16: Evangelii Gaudium paragraphs 145-159

Reflection by Fr. Scott Hurd


Can you imagine the headline: “Man falls from window after sermon puts him to sleep?” This actually happened to a young man named Eutychus while he listened to the preaching of no less than Saint Paul himself, as we can read in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 20:9). We shouldn’t judge poor Eutychus too harshly, however. Scripture makes it quite clear that Saint Paul had “talked on and on”- until midnight, as a matter of fact- and Saint Paul once admitted that he wasn’t the most exciting public speaker.

    Saint Paul was an inspired evangelist, to be sure, and God used his words to touch the hearts of countless people. Since then, the Church has been blessed with the gifts of many outstanding preachers, such as Saint Dominic and Saint Anthony of Padua. At the same time, Saint Paul wasn’t the last preacher to put his listeners to sleep. And that’s a shame! Good preaching builds up the Church, glorifies God, and changes lives. Preaching is so important, in fact, that Pope Francis makes a special point of discussing the proper preparation of homilies in his new Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.

    It’s been joked that, at ordination, every new priest or deacon is given a “pilot’s license,” in case they need to “wing it” in the pulpit. But winging it should be the exception, and not the rule, because more often than not, “winging it” produces homilies that fly about as well as a lead balloon. Pope Francis concedes that deacons and priests are busy people. Nevertheless, they should strive to make homily preparation a top priority for their ministry. 

    First and foremost, preachers should call upon the Holy Spirit to help them discern what God would have them say. They should become transformed by prayerfully reflecting upon the biblical texts on which they’ll preach, so they in turn can preach words which God can use to transform others. After all, one cannot give what one does not have! Preachers should know the people they serve so their homilies can speak directly to their situations. They shouldn’t speak over people’s heads, so that they’re left scratching those heads. And although he doesn’t say so in so many words, Pope Francis encourages preachers to employ the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Silly. Part of being simple is being short, just like the attention spans of so many of us today! Short and simple doesn’t mean superficial; it’s just that they’re a key to being effective. And being effective, Pope Francis insists, also involves delivering a positive message: “Positive preaching always offers hope, points to the future, and does not leave us trapped in negativity.”

    Scripture insists that faith comes through what is heard. Therefore, preachers should ensure that what the faithful hear is the very best they have to offer, and comes from the heart. The bottom line is, Pope Francis concludes: “Preparation for preaching requires love.” Amen to that!



Reverend R. Scott Hurd is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, and is presently serving a three year term as Vicar General of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, established by Pope Benedict XVI on January 1, 2012. Fr. Hurd began his ordained ministry as an Episcopal priest and entered the Catholic Church in 1996. He holds degrees from Oxford University and the University of Richmond. He and his wife Stephanie live in Virginia with their three children.

His first book, "Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach," received an "Excellence in Publishing" award from the Association of Catholic Publishers.

His third book, "When Faith Feels Fragile: Hope for the Wary, Weak, and Wandering," was released in September 2013 by Pauline Books and Media.

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Daily Reading for Dec. 14: Evangelii Gaudium paragraphs 127-134

Reflection by Kelly Wahlquist


”Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.” 

Disclaimer (right off the bat): I know I am the one who set this Advent Reflection on “The Joy of the Gospel” in motion; and I know I was the one who assigned the paragraphs to each of the wonderful writers and evangelists who came forward to help; and, trust me, I KNOW it was all the work of the Holy Spirit. Then why am I sitting here right now astonished that this is the one section that wasn’t claimed, but left for me to write? The answer is simple and it is the same answer Blessed John Paul II gave us in 1998: “Whenever the Holy Spirit intervenes he leaves people astonished...” 

I am astonished that I have been blessed with the task to write today’s reflection, because this is my heart! This is the heart of the message I travel the country proclaiming. We must evangelize from heart to heart! We must joyfully share the love we have for Christ with another. We must “draw others to Jesus by being a light that is so lovely, they cannot help but want to know the source of it.” (Madeliene L’engle) 

To do that, to draw others to Christ, to share your love for the Lord, you must have a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ and you must have a relationship with the person sitting across from you. It’s the greatest of all commandments: Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor.

So how do you have a relationship with the Lord? Well, that was addressed in many previous reflections and will be addressed throughout the remaindered of these posts, because it is the ultimate goal, union with God! Therefore, let’s talk about how we can have a relationship with a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger —a relationship that opens us up to sharing Jesus with them from heart to heart. To me, this is the biggest lesson I have learned since the Lord decided to really put me to work in His vineyard these past ten years.

Much of my schooling in how to evangelize comes from spending tons of time 30,000 feet in the air sitting next to a “captive audience.” Ironically, I never set out to “evangelize” someone. I sincerely like to hear people’s stories, I like to know where they are in life and I love to share the joy I have in my heart for the work that I do... and I love sharing my love for the Lord!

Though the settings and scenarios may differ and the conversations vary greatly from person to person, a few key items remain consistent in my sharing of the Gospel message. I’m not saying I have the formula, for as Pope Francis tells us, “We should not think, however, that the Gospel message must always be communicated by fixed formulations learned by heart or by specific words which express an absolutely invariable content,” but perhaps my sharing with you can help you share Jesus with another this week. (Take note because this is your action item from today’s reflection —to actively share the JOY of the Gospel sometime this week. Tell someone about Jesus!)

  1. I always begin any conversation about the faith with, “Come Holy Spirit!” (I don't say this out loud, but I certainly pray it in my mind and in my heart.)
  2. I listen to where the person is on their journey. I listen to their hopes, their pains, their concerns for loved ones, their needs. (You’d be surprised how much people will share when buckled into a chair flying 30,000 feet above the earth! You’d also be surprised how much people will tell you in the line at the grocery store, or sitting at a baseball game, or waiting for a bus, if you are interested in them!)
  3. I share my story, my joy, my struggles, “my hopes, my concerns for loved ones and so many other heartfelt needs.” (128) 
  4. And in sharing my joy, I naturally share the source of it. For me it’s a relationship of love I found with the Lord through studying Sacred Scripture, and I share how that relationship with the Lord has changed my life.

Each encounter is different. Sometimes I invite the person to pray with me, sometimes I assure them of my prayers for them, sometimes I share the beauty of the Scriptures, sometimes I give them a good resource that fits their need. Perhaps a website like:;;;; etc... or a book like My Life on the Rock; Rome Sweet Home; The Sound of His Voice; Catholicism Pure and Simple, Praying Scripture for a Change; Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach; Catechism of Hockey, etc... or a DVD or CD such as Extreme Mercy; From Mormon Missionary to Catholic Church; or From Love, By Love, For Love, etc... or sometimes we become FaceBook friends, and sometimes we go our separate ways.

Though each encounter differs, each accomplishes the same task, a seed is planted. That is our job, to “respectfully and gently” plant the seed. (128) At another point on that person’s journey it may be the task of someone else to water that seed, someone else to fertilize, someone else to tend to the soil that surrounds it, someone else to put it in the light as it begins to bud. We don’t need to do it all! We can take comfort knowing that the Holy Spirit “enriches the entire evangelizing Church with different charisms” and that we have each been given charisms, gifts of the Holy Spirit, for the good of another, for the sake of building up the body of Christ. (130) (Romans 12: 4-8) We can also take great comfort and find great courage and creativity in our sharing of the Gospel message knowing it is the job of the Holy Spirit to covert souls. The Holy Spirit bridges the valley of our differences; “he alone can raise up diversity, plurality and multiplicity while at the same time bringing about unity” (131).

Now, knowing we are a missionary people called to share the Gospel daily, and knowing that sharing our love for the Lord need not be some highfalutin formal presentation, but rather a sharing that can take place in the middle of an everyday conversation between two people, and knowing it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convert the soul, let us joyfully and enthusiastically go forth and “be constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey” (127).



Yep, this post was written by yours truly. Thanks for stopping by my blog and joining us as we slowly "sip" our way through "The Joy of the Gospel". On a side note, this is my favorite talk to give and I'm giving it tonight. So if you got a little moment, send a prayer to the Holy Spirit to be with us tonight!

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Reflection on Evangelii Gaudium 2-8

Daily Reading for Dec. 1: Evangelii Gaudium paragraphs 2-8

Reflection by Kelly Wahlquist

Prayer .JPG


How ironic that as the world begins its preparation for Christmas on a day named after darkness and the void of light, Black Friday, the Holy Father invites all Christians, everywhere, to begin their preparation for Christmas with a renewed encounter with the Light of the World, Jesus Christ!

We are invited to prepare for a greater joy than any Black Friday sale can provide. We are invited to a joy ever new, and that joy is found in a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. And that invitation is for ALL. No one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord!

That’s an exhilarating idea, to think that no matter what, I am invited to a renewed personal relationship with Jesus Christ... but then a thought enters my mind: “How do I really do that? How can I have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ?”

Pope Francis gives us beautiful ways to do that in these first 8 paragraphs of Evangelii Gaudium. Simply put we are to: Ask, Seek, Rejoice and Persevere in Faith.

We are to ask and be open at all times to an encounter with the one who loves us perfectly. We are to seek Him knowing that “whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.” We are to rejoice in His Divine Mercy, “radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross” and we are to persevere in our faith, trusting in God’s love, surrendering completely to the love of the Father such that we allow Him "to attain the fullest truth of our being" and we find true joy.

Here are some simple ways to follow Pope Francis' words of wisdom to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ:


Begin each day this Advent with the simple prayer: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”.

I have a copy of the prayer on the cupboard that holds my coffee cup, it guarantees each day begins with asking for a renewed personal encounter with Jesus. Perhaps write the prayer on a card and keep it next to your bed to say morning and night, or tape it to your bathroom mirror.


Seek time with to be with Jesus. A renewed relationship requires spending time together. 

Make time to go to Adoration each week during Advent. If an adoration hour is already part of your routine, take one of the Scriptures referenced in the daily readings of Evangelii Gaudium and meditate on it. 

Begin Advent with the Sacrament of Confession. “God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy” (Evangelii Gaudium 3).


Find joy in God’s presence in your life: “Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment.” 

Find ways throughout the Advent Season to enter into the “great stream of joy.” Perhaps keep your favorite praise & worship CD in your car and when days get trying, blast the music and sing for joy at the top of your lungs. 

Persevere in Faith

Grow in your faith by simplifying your life and detaching from “things” that consume you.

Let go of meaningless time spent on social media or watching t.v. this Advent and spend that time getting to know Jesus Christ. Making time each day to read and reflect on Evangelii Gaudium is a great start.

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Prepare your heart this Advent over a cup of coffee and little "sips" of the "Joy of the Gospel" with us! Each day we are going to read & reflect on sections of Pope Francis' first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Fear not, if you don't know what an apostolic exhortation is, fellow co-worker in the vineyard, Jimmy Akin has a great explanation over on his blog

Here’s a little taste of his post:

2) What is an apostolic exhortation?

It’s a papal document that, as the name suggests, exhorts people to implement a particular aspect of the Church’s life and teaching.

Its purpose is not to teach new doctrine, but to suggest how Church teachings and practices can be profitably applied today.

Some apostolic exhortations are devoted to the pastoral challenges faced in particular parts of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas). Others are devoted to particular themes.

Previous apostolic exhortations include:

    Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi (on evangelization today)

    John Paul II’s Christifideles Laici (on the role of the laity)

    John Paul II’s Redemptoris Custos (on St. Joseph)

    Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis (on the Eucharist)

    Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini (on the Word of God)


Here's our schedule for Advent. We'll post the paragraphs and perhaps a little reflection each day to go with your coffee:

Dec. 1     2-8 (Joy)

Dec. 2    9-13 (Joy of Evangelizing)

Dec. 3    14-18 (Scope of exhortation)

Dec. 4    19-24 (Church's missionary transformation)

Dec. 5    25-33 (Pastoral Activity & Conversion)

Dec. 6    34-39 (Heart of the Gospel) 

Dec. 7    40-45 (Human Limits)

Dec. 8    46-49 (Mary)

Dec. 9    50-58 (Amid Crisis: idolatry of money)

Dec. 10   59-75 (Cultural Challenges)

Dec. 11    76-92 (Temptations of pastoral workers & Relationship in Christ)

Dec. 12    93-109 (No to spiritual worldliness)

Dec. 13    110-126 (People of God proclaim the Gospel)

Dec. 14    127-134 (Person to Person, Charisms, Culture) 

Dec. 15    135-144 (The Homily) 

Dec. 16    145-159 (Preparing to Preach)

Dec. 17    160-175 (Kerygma)

Dec. 18    176-185 (Social dimensions of evangelization)

Dec. 19    186-216 (Inclusion of the poor in society)

Dec. 20    217-237 (Common Good and Peace in Society)

Dec. 21    238-258 (Social dialogue as contribution to peace)

Dec. 22    259-274 (Spirit-filled evangelizers)

Dec. 23    275-283 (Personal encounter with Christ) 

Dec. 24    284-288 (Mary)

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