Name: Jessica Franklin
Residence: Iowa City
Family: Kelly Franklin (husband)
Parish: St. Patrick’s, Iowa City
Profession: Director of religious education for the Regina Tri-Parish Program in Iowa City
How old were you when you became aware of your Catholic faith?
I’ve been “aware” of the Catholic faith since I can remember. I grew up in a home where we practiced our faith actively. Everybody in our neighborhood knew we were Catholic. You could tell once you walked in our house and saw the crucifixes, prayers and religious art; heard Catholic radio; or when we were called in to pray the rosary almost every night. I understood that the sacraments were important, so I asked to receive my first Eucharist and my confirmation a year early since I felt ready. I always wanted to be “good” and do the right thing, but my faith seemed limited to following a moral code. It wasn’t until college that I realized that the heart of the Catholic faith is a personal relationship with the Lord and living a life of receptivity to that unfathomable love. Everything else, including those moral teachings of the Church, flows from that divine love.
How does faith impact the decisions you make?
When I have decisions to make, Jesus is the first person I talk to, followed by my husband. When it’s the other way around, Kelly reminds me that I – or we – need to talk to Jesus first. I admit that I over-think decisions, and sometimes I mistake that over-thinking for “taking it to the Lord.” But when I do sincerely ask the Lord his will, there is such peace and freedom in knowing it! He has only ever acted out of love for me, so there is no good reason not to trust him.
How do you pray?
Liturgy of the Hours, journaling and Eucharistic adoration. I love being connected with the ancient Church through the Liturgy of the Hours! Journaling keeps my thoughts and feelings in order. It’s also a great reminder that the Lord answers prayers. By re-reading you can look back and see how the Lord has worked in your life. Eucharistic adoration is peaceful yet powerful. I am better able to listen to the Lord in silence, and I have had my most intimate encounters with Jesus in his Eucharistic presence.
What Scripture passages or stories inspire you?
Matthew 12:41-44 – the story of the poor widow who gives two copper coins – all she has. It reminds me that I am called to give all that I have to the Lord, and no matter how small it is, it is enough. I keep two pennies on my desk to remind me of that story.
Who has been a model of the Catholic faith in your life?
My siblings and siblings-in-law. They all seek after the Lord and his desires for them. The fact that each of them has striven to follow Jesus is probably why we have such diverse vocations in our family: marriage, parenthood, religious life, priesthood, the intellectual life and mission work. I love that they’ve followed – and continue to follow – the Lord in so many different directions: it’s a reminder that God has a plan set aside for every individual. He is invested in our lives!
How has your Catholic faith helped you to deal with life’s challenges?
It has taught me about the cross and about trust in the Lord. The cross, the Paschal Mystery, is where we meet Jesus because it is the place where he meets us at our level. Jesus suffered every possible human suffering on the cross – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – and for this reason he is truly present to us in our sufferings. If I ever don’t sense Jesus’ presence amidst a challenge, it’s because I haven’t acknowledged his presence – it’s not because he’s not there. So I must trust him: trust that he is with me and trust that he has a plan. Besides, his plans are far better than mine! A God who is broken for me and comes to me every week in the Eucharist is a God who loves me fiercely. He is trustworthy. He knows how to help me carry my cross because he already carried his own.
Name: Jessica Franklin