Jesus Prayed

“It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” -Luke 6:12

If you travel to the Sea of Galilee today, you notice that the towns where Jesus frequented are very close together. While Jesus would often welcome the crowds as he spoke, He often found himself needing some time alone. He frequently retreated to nearby desolate places, seeking out some quiet time.

In fact, there’s a cave not far from Capernaum where many think He spent a great deal of time praying. They call it the Eremos Cave. (Eremos means solitary—it’s where we get the word Hermit.)

This got me thinking…Jesus? Prayer? Wasn’t He the Son of God? Why did He need to pray?

While Jesus indeed was the Son of God, He was also a human being on Earth. The prayers that we know He spoke often reflect our own humanity:

  • Fear (“Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”)
  • Desperation (“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”)
  • Gratitude (“And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples.”)

Jesus faced similar challenges and emotions that each one of us faces on a daily basis. But what Jesus understood was that in order to overcome the earthly challenges and to handle the strong daily emotions, He needed his Father in his life. He connected to God through prayer.

Jesus was indeed a human, but He was also the Son of God. And He believed in the power of prayer.

Is there any doubt what I should be focusing on this Lent?


Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK for St. Dominic Catholic Parish.



Keeping Her Family Strong

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” -Isaiah 43:2

Last week I met Mariam and Amal. Mariam is a Syrian Refugee, a mother of 11 children. Amal is her bright, funny, smart, fifth grade son. When you meet him, you would never know what his family had recently experienced.
Mariam’s family has been in the U.S. for over a year, and they are still struggling to establish their home and make ends meet. When asked what her biggest worry is, Mariam smiles and says, “I don’t have a worry today. I used to worry that someone in my family would not make it through the day without being killed. God watched over us. So, I have no worries today.”
Mariam’s faith is what kept her and her family strong.
For many, worry is a horrible thing. Some people are held hostage by it. But it truly is one of the ways that prevents us from completely connecting with God.
  • What would happen if you truly trusted that God will guide you in every decision you have to make?
  • What would happen if you believed that God was there to hold your hand and walk with you through frightening times?
  • What would happen if you simply told yourself to stop worrying and ask God to watch over you?
Next time your anxious or full of worry, think about Mariam. Think about Amal and the rest of their family. Think about the fear that they endured…and how they survived.
Think about the trust they put in God’s hands and where they are today. 
It puts our world in perspective, doesn’t it?   


Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK and a member of the Marketing Committee at St. Dominic Catholic Church.

Our Tekton

“Is he not the carpenter,* the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” -Mark 6:3

When Jesus was on Earth, we referred to Him in the early part of his life as a “Carpenter.”  We pictured him as a man sawing, hammering and assembling pieces of wood. A craftsman.

Many scholars, however, point out that the word “Carpenter” may not be entirely accurate.

First of all, the majority of homes in Jesus’ time were constructed with stone. Jesus and Joseph would have created most of their projects by chiseling or carving the stone or stacking building blocks.

Secondly, Jesus was actually referred to as a “Tekton,” a Greek word that when translated to English is “Carpenter.”

According to experts, a Tekton was known as a person who repaired things. When you had something that needed mending, redesigned or built, he was the Man to call. He was what we would refer to as “Mr. Fix-it.”

So isn’t it remarkable that 2000 years later, in the middle of the holy season of Lent, that we’re still calling upon our Tekton? We’re asking Him to repair our lives. We’re praying to Him to mend our souls.

We’re acknowledging that we need His help to fix what we can’t fix on our own.

Share your thoughts with us. What has Jesus repaired in your life?

The Power of the Word

There is nothing more powerful than the Word of God. The Bible is filled with inspirational passages, thoughtful reflections, even life-changing words.

This month, theROCK will focus on The Power of the Word and discover how these ancient writings can have a direct impact on how we live our life today.

 We begin with the most impactful quote of them all.

Jesus was asked which of the commandments is the greatest. He didn’t hesitate. He simply said this:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

Everything we say and everything we do should be based on this commandment.

  • Find time throughout your day to pray. “Jesus, I long for You to be my ultimate treasure. Help me and give me power to do so!” 
  • Open the Bible every day. Look for passages that describe the glory of who Jesus is and what He has done. Not sure where to start? Begin with the Gospels.
  • Form a daily plan. What will you do every day to grow closer to God? Write down your plans. Schedule it. Then act on it.
  • Be with God. He wants to be with you and reveal Himself to you. He enjoys you! Set time aside to be with Him.

Imagine the kind of world we would have if everyone lived liked this.

Tell us what you think. How do you live this quote every single day?

Wherever I am, God Is.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of photographing a wedding with two very special people. After spending part of the morning photographing the bride with the hair stylist and makeup artist, it was time to turn to the groom.

I met him downstairs, and he walked toward me with a big smile on his face. I asked him how he was doing.

“I woke up really nervous, but then my dad stopped by. We talked and prayed together, and I I felt so much better.”

This made me smile. Not only was this 24-year-old making God and prayer an important part of this special day, he was proud enough to talk about it with his photographer!

His faithful integrity helped define who he wanted to be on this special day.

It inspired me to ask some questions:

  • When I’m having an anxious moment, do I spend time worrying, or do I immediately turn to God?
  • When I do have special moments in my life, am I preoccupied with all the activities and forget to “bring” God along with me?
  • Am I proud enough to discuss my faith with others in my life, even a complete stranger?

Living a life of Integrity means putting God in clear view for every aspect of my day.

There is a simple prayer I learned years ago. It’s something I say in both moments of anxiety and happiness:

The light of God surrounds me.

The love of God enfolds me.

The power of God protects me.

The presence of God watches over me.

Wherever I am, God is.


Dan Herda is a member of St. Dominic Marketing Committee, and an editor for theROCK.

The White Toyota

Several weeks ago I was driving on Interstate 94 toward downtown Milwaukee. It was a dark, gloomy day, and the roads were a bit slick from a slight mist in the air.

Traffic was stop-and-go for a while, then suddenly we picked up and were driving at freeway speed.

Then…just like that…things came to a grinding halt. The car in front of me stopped, and I gently pressed my brakes and stopped a few feet behind him.

That’s when I heard the tires squeal and felt the impact of the car behind me. I quickly looked in my rearview mirror to see a white Toyota kissing my bumper.

Because we were on the freeway, we both quickly drove our cars to an offramp and pulled off to the side of the road.

Immediately, the driver from the white Toyota got out of her car and approached me. I didn’t know what to expect, so I started with something simple: “Are you okay?” I asked.

“I’m fine,” she answered in a frustrated tone. “That was completely my fault. I’m late for a meeting, and I was looking at my phone, and I just didn’t stop in time.”

I was speechless. I didn’t expect her to be this honest. We quickly exchanged names and insurance information and waited for the police.

When the officer arrived, he questioned us separately. What would she tell him? Would she keep the same story? Would things have changed in the few minutes we sat on the side of the road?

When the officer approached me, he looked over my license and insurance, and said one simple thing:

“She told me it was all her fault.”

After we sorted through all of the details of the accident, I asked the woman why she said what she said. “Most people would have just kept their mouths shut to see what they could get away with.”

She just smiled. “But I did it. I was wrong. I made a mistake and I wanted to own up to it. No matter what it may cost me.”

Then I smiled. “That’s integrity,” I said. “I admire that.”

Since that moment, I think about the driver of the white Toyota every time I have to make an important decision or share information, especially when it comes to living a life of faith. Is what I’m doing reflecting my integrity? No matter the cost?


Do things right.

And do the right thing.


Focus on Integrity

Do you consider yourself a person of Integrity? Do you truly understand what Integrity is?

Integrity stems from the Latin word ‘integer’ which means whole and complete. To be a person of Integrity means that there is only one YOU. You bring that same YOU wherever you are, regardless of the circumstance. YOU are a person that others can count on because you are YOU.

This month, theROCK looks at Integrity and how it relates to our faith. We’ll take a closer look at what Integrity is, and we’ll discuss what you can do to live a life of true Integrity.

Integrity is:

  • Choosing courage over comfort
  • Choosing what is right over what is fast and easy
  • Choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them

Our World Changed Forever

For those of you who are parents, think back to the time when you had your first child.

What was that first week like?

You had to learn everything: how to hold your child, how to feed your child, how to soothe your child to sleep. Everything was a first for you and your new baby.

Now imagine everything that you went through, and add a few challenges.

  • You have to leave your home while pregnant, and head to a town 65 miles away to register for a census.
  • You must travel through the Judean desert during the winter, when it’s in the 30’s and raining. At night, it’s freezing.
  • The total trip will take four to five days. (And no, you can’t take the SUV. Lots of walking and donkey riding ahead.)
  • Your child is born in a carved-out cave or a stable for animals.
  • Oh, and throw in that an Angel appears to you in a dream and tells you to flee to Egypt in order to protect the life of your newborn son. Who just so happens to be the Son of God.

Even in our wildest imagination, we can’t fathom what the Holy Family endured over 2000 years ago. We know it was hard. And we know that they sacrificed a lot to bring Jesus into the world.

Because of the actions of these two people, Mary and Joseph, our world changed forever.

Think about that next time you have to change a diaper or two.

Take some time this week and say a prayer for families everywhere. Pray for peace in living rooms, neighborhoods, and cities in which they live.

A Message of Hope

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering at the Riverwest Food Pantry. I greet the individuals and families who enter the building and select their food for the week or month. It’s been a life-changing experience as I’ve gotten to know a lot of the people who utilize the pantry on a regular basis.

Last weekend the pantry held their annual Christmas Gift Giving celebration. Partnering with a local church, the entire pantry was converted into “a store” filled with donated toys, books and clothing for kids.

Parents sign up to “shop,” then they choose and wrap gifts for their children.

It is a very special event for these parents, as many of these families cannot afford a lot for Christmas.

Parents pre-registered and were invited to sit in the pews at the beautiful St. Casimir church. Here they waited for their designated shopping time to be called.

I was fortunate to be the person who greets the parents at the front door.

The first person in line was Annette, a woman I have talked to many times at the pantry. She told me how in year’s past, she’s had to wait hours to shop at this event, and was always concerned that there wouldn’t be enough gifts left for her to choose from.

“I guarantee you,” I said. “You will be one of the first people to shop downstairs. You will have your choice of items to pick from.”

The church quickly began to fill with people—we had enough gifts for over 400 children! Then the announcement came for the first group to head down the stairs to shop.

Annette was the first in line. As she approached me, her face beamed with happiness. Her smile was infectious. She didn’t say a single word, she simply walked up to me, extended her arms, and gave me the biggest hug I’ve ever received. I whispered two words in her ear: “Merry Christmas.”

But then something magical happened. The next person in line also extended their arms and gave me a hug. And the next person. And the next. Everyone in line extended their arms and gave me a hearty embrace.

The group that filed down the stairs to shop believed that they were the ones receiving a gift. But what they didn’t know was that I was the one who felt truly blessed that day.

The love we shared with these simple hugs reinforced that there is hope in the world. It reinforced that yes, we can influence people with a simple smile and a lot of compassion. It showed me that we have the ability to make a difference with both our words and our actions.

Are you ready for the birth of Christ? Are you ready to transform someone’s life in 2018?

Are you ready to share a message of Hope to everyone that you meet in the new year?

Merry Christmas.


Dan Herda is member of St. Dominic’s Marketing Committee and an editor of theROCK.

Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chairs

A few years ago some friends of mine had a baby. They recently moved to a new home several hundred miles from my house, so it wasn’t easy for me to visit them. So instead, I sent them a gift: Sweet Surroundings Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chair. (Yes, it was a bouncy chair shaped like a monkey.)

I wanted this gift to be unique, something special, something that would let them know that I was so very happy for them.

I placed my order, selected my delivery method, and off it went. And then I waited.

And I waited. No call. No email. No text. No thank you note. Nothing.

I wondered if they received the gift. Could there have been a problem with shipping? Maybe it was sent to the wrong address?

A few weeks passed, and I started to get concerned, as I still had not heard from my friends. That evening, I went onto Facebook and I stumbled upon some newly posted family photos. The baby was adorable, and Mom and Dad were beaming with pride. But then I looked closer at one of the shots in the living room. There, in the back of the room, against the wall, was my Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chair.

They simply forgot to say “thanks for the gift.”

This experience made me think. How many gifts has God given me in my life? Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Have I always remembered to say thank you? Have I always been grateful for everything that God has given me?

This month, theROCK is focused on Being Ready. A big part of being ready is always being ready to say thank you.

There is nothing better in life than sincere gratitude.

God has given me lots of Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chairs in my life. I think it’s time that I sit down and write him some serious thank you notes.


Dan Herda is a member of St. Dominic Catholic Parish Marketing Committee, and one of the editors of theROCK.