Monthly Archives: August 2006

Friday, Aug 25 – Laws

25 Aug – Memorial for St. Louis of France, Memorial for St. Joseph Calasanz, priest, religious founder

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Ezekiel 37:1-4

The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, Mortal, can these bones live? I answered, O Lord GOD, you know. Then he said to me, Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

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Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? He said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

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One thing struck me with the Gospel passage this time round. The Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees. After reading a bit about the Sadducees, I realized that the Sadducees and the Pharisees were sort-of rebel groups because they believed in different things. The Sadducees did not believe in the immortality of the soul, in angels or in the spirit, while the Pharisees did. So, what’s the point about this? Well, if someone has an opponent, and that someone heard ones opponent had just been ridiculed by a person, one might want to add on to that shame by claiming that one was not ridiculed by that person. So, maybe it wasn’t because the Pharisees wanted to test him only, but also to add salt to the Sadducees wound.

Why is it also that a lawyer asked Jesus the question? It is the common belief (if it is not, I’m sorry.. it might just be something I heard from a movie..) that many lawyers job is to find a loophole in the judiciary system. And at that time, it would be to find a loophole in the Jewish laws. So, it would be quite normal that the best person to try to get one over Jesus is a lawyer (again, my apologies to all the lawyers out there..). But that was not to be. Jesus IS the one who knows the laws and who lives them. And by knowing the laws, he knows that the laws were made out of love, and not to restrain the people. And this is why the Pharisees too were silenced. Those two commandments are the greatest and all the other laws come from these two, for if you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself, you will never do anything to injure or hurt them. And you will never desire something that is theirs, and God will be your One and Only. Yet, the Pharisees thought of the laws as they were: set rigidly to keep the people in check, which is far from what it was meant to do.

Now, what about the laws in our own world? There are too many to name, but from last weeks Strait Times, it was said Singapore was turning into a Garbage City. There are fines and such against littering in Singapore, but people still do. People say Singapore is a fine city. But maybe we should try to think about it in the other way. The laws are not meant to restrict people from doing things, but rather as a sign of love for others. Like what one of the cleaners was saying, how can it be that people litter outside their houses when they keep their own houses clean? If we were all a bit more loving towards our neighbours, we would try to make their lives better. In the case of littering, first would be to reduce the discomfort of all other people walking in those areas, second would be to reduce the work of those cleaning aunties and uncles, and third would be to save money instead of spending money on picking up all the garbage, it could be invested in other more important areas (as mentioned in the paper). It might sound a bit idealistic, but we never know, it might really be true. Its not really easy to think of it that way, but if we sometimes did, maybe we would see wonderful changes. So, can we?

We pray for the grace to see everything done for love and with love as its purpose.

Thanks be to God for laws made out of love for each other.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Lyndley Ah Qune)

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Prayer: We pray that we will truly understand the spirit of our laws instead of inflexibly dwelling only on the letters.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: All who uphold and maintain justice and righteousness in our societies.

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Upcoming Readings:
Sat, 26 Aug – Ezekiel 43:1-7a; Matthew 24:1-12
Sun, 27 Aug – Joshua 24:1-2a; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69; Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mon, 28 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11b-12; Matthew 23:13-22; Memorial for St. Augustine, bishop, doctor
Tue, 29 Aug – 1 Jeremiah 1:17-19; Mark 6:17-29; Feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Wed, 30 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18; Matthew 23:27-32
Thu, 31 Aug – 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Matthew 24:42-51
Fri, 1 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; Matthew 25:1-13
Sat, 2 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 25:14-30
Sun, 3 Sep – Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.

Wednesday, Aug 23 – Justice and Generosity

23 Aug – Memorial for St. Rose of Lima, virgin

Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven. – St. Rose of Lima

St. Rose (1586-1617) was born Isabel to Spanish immigrants to the New World. She was a beautiful girl and a devoted daughter. She was so devoted to her vow of chastity that she used pepper and lye to ruin her complexion so that she would not be attractive to other men.

She lived and meditated in a garden, raising vegetables and making embroidered items to sell to support her family and help the other poor. She became a Dominican tertiary in 1606, and was a mystic and visionary. She received invisible stigmata, and suffered from assorted physical and mental ailments.

She was the first saint to be born in the Americas, and the founder of social work in Peru where she lived. She had a great devotion to St. Catherine of Siena.

She is patron against vanity; for florists and gardeners; and people ridiculed for their piety.

– Patron Saint Index
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Ezekiel 34:1-11

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them, ‘Shepherds, the Lord says this: Trouble for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Shepherds ought to feed their flock, yet you have fed on milk, you have dressed yourselves in wool, you have sacrificed the fattest sheep, but failed to feed the flock. You have failed to make weak sheep strong, or to care for the sick ones, or bandage the wounded ones. You have failed to bring back strays or look for the lost. On the contrary, you have ruled them cruelly and violently. For lack of a shepherd they have scattered, to become the prey of any wild animal; they have scattered far. My flock is straying this way and that, on mountains and on high hills; my flock has been scattered all over the country; no one bothers about them and no one looks for them.

‘Well then, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. As I live, I swear it – it is the Lord who speaks – since my flock has been looted and for lack of a shepherd is now the prey of any wild animal, since my shepherds have stopped bother about my flock, in view of all this, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. The Lord says this: I am going to call the shepherds to account. I am going to take my flock back from them and I shall not allow them to feed my flock. In this way the shepherds will stop feeding themselves. I shall rescue my sheep from their mouths; they will not prey on them any more.'”

“For the Lord says this: ‘I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view.'”
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Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, ‘You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.’ So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, ‘You go into my vineyard too.’ In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.’ So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received on denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. ‘The men who came last,’ they said, ‘have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.’ He answered one of them and said, ‘My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last-comer as much as I pay you. have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?’ Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.”
_____________________

It is now reaching the end of August, and soon September will be here. Before very long, it will be October, November, and then end of the year. We all look forward to the end of the year, don’t we? Those still in school look forward to the holidays, and those working look forward to getting a bonus and perhaps a pay rise.

For those still schooling, do you know that your school fees you pay every month go towards your teachers’ salaries? What if your teachers continue to receive their salaries, but don’t bother to teach you anything? That’s not what a teacher should be doing, right? That’s a bad teacher, and bad teachers will be removed from their positions… eventually.

What is a good teacher? Is a good teacher one that gives you good grades for your studies? I don’t think so. A good teacher is one that helps you to learn what you need to know. Your grades are secondary. If the good teacher knows that all of you have tried your best to learn what you can learn, he could easily give all of our 100 marks, because to him, it doesn’t matter who is better than who; the important thing is that you all have learnt what he has to teach you.

What about those still working? Whether you are working in a big company or a small firm, all the work that you do will generate income for the company, and a lot of that income will go towards your bosses. What if you do a lot of work and your bosses don’t give you good working conditions? You will probably end up leaving your job eventually, so as to deprive your boss of your services if you don’t get a fair deal. Or, an even higher-up boss will notice this, fire your lousy boss, and replace him… eventually.

In most companies, the bonuses and pay rise that we get at the end of the year are confidential. Part of the fun of getting a pay rise, however, is comparing with our colleagues to see who got more. It is like school kids who compare their grades with others. Let’s face it. No matter how humble we are, we will still be very happy to know that we got more than others, especially when we know that we’ve worked harder than them. We feel justified.

But what if a company decides to give every one of its workers the same pay increment? If we are hardworking and diligent, we might think that this is unfair, because the guy in the next cubicle slacks around the whole day, how come he gets the same pay rise as me? It’s not fair. But it’s really not our position to say, is it? Rather than being unfair, the boss is actually being very fair – all employees get the same pay rise. Sounds fair to me.

If you’re doing your job well, then good, your pay rise is justified. If you’re not doing your job well, then perhaps your boss is just being generous in giving you the pay rise. He’s in charge of the money, so why can’t he be generous? Usually we don’t want people to be generous, because we can think of better uses for that money (like having it go into our own pockets).

So what can we learn from today’s readings? We learn that God is just and generous, but his idea of justice and generosity is quite different from ours.
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Prayer: We pray for the wisdom to be just and generous like God.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: A just and generous boss (no, he doesn’t receive this OXYGEN).

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 24 Aug – Revelation 21:9b-14; John 1:45-51; Feast of St. Bartholomew, apostle
Fri, 25 Aug – Ezekiel 37:1-4; Matthew 22:34-40; Memorial for St. Louis of France, Memorial for St. Joseph Calasanz, priest, religious founder
Sat, 26 Aug – Ezekiel 43:1-7a; Matthew 24:1-12
Sun, 27 Aug – Joshuan 24:1-2a; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69; Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mon, 28 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11b-12; Matthew 23:13-22; Memorial for St. Augustine, bishop, doctor
Tue, 29 Aug – 1 Jeremiah 1:17-19; Mark 6:17-29; Feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Wed, 30 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18; Matthew 23:27-32
Thu, 31 Aug – 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Matthew 24:42-51
Fri, 1 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; Matthew 25:1-13
Sat, 2 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 25:14-30
Sun, 3 Sep – Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.

Tuesday, Aug 22 – The Perfect Disciple

22 Aug – Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, “Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” the angel answered, “and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.” “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” said Mary, “let what you have said be done to me.” And the angel left her.
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Among all the Christian family, Catholics honour Mary the most. But if it were not for Christians honouring Jesus first, no one would honour Mary. It is Jesus’ glory that makes Mary who she is for Catholics. If not for Jesus making such an impact on the lives of people all round the world, no one would even know that Mary existed. She would have lived a good life, and died a good death, forgotten by all in the sands of time.

One of the most striking qualities about Mary is her humility. She only appears several times in the Bible, and after that, her Son takes over the story. But she remained alive all the way till her Son died and rose from the dead, yet not much is said about her. She was contented to be in the background; all she did was for her Son.

So when Jesus ascended to heaven, and was King of Heaven, he took his mother into heaven as well, body and soul, as we celebrated recently on the feast of the Assumption of Mary on Aug 15. He took her into heaven to be his queen, for the Lord has taught us: The humble shall be exalted.

There was no other person more worthy of being exalted than the humble sinless woman who was Mary. As mother of God, she was exalted to the title of Queen of Heaven. But remember, she is exalted only because of her Son. Whatever glory and power that she now has comes from her Son, who is King of Heaven, and who she still serves as the handmaid of the Lord.

Let us look to Mary as our perfect model of discipleship.
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Prayer: We pray for all Christians to look to Mary as a model of discipleship, that we may be as humble as she is, and that whatever God asks of us, we might answer, “I am the handmaid/manservant of the Lord.”

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Mothers.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 23 Aug – Ezekiel 34:1-11; Matthew 20:1-16a; Memorial for St. Rose of Lima, virgin
Thu, 24 Aug – Revelation 21:9b-14; John 1:45-51; Feast of St. Bartholomew, apostle
Fri, 25 Aug – Ezekiel 37:1-4; Matthew 22:34-40; Memorial for St. Louis of France, Memorial for St. Joseph Calasanz, priest, religious founder
Sat, 26 Aug – Ezekiel 43:1-7a; Matthew 24:1-12
Sun, 27 Aug – Joshuan 24:1-2a; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69; Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mon, 28 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11b-12; Matthew 23:13-22; Memorial for St. Augustine, bishop, doctor
Tue, 29 Aug – 1 Jeremiah 1:17-19; Mark 6:17-29; Feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Wed, 30 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18; Matthew 23:27-32
Thu, 31 Aug – 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Matthew 24:42-51
Fri, 1 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; Matthew 25:1-13
Sat, 2 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 25:14-30
Sun, 3 Sep – Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.

Monday, Aug 21 – Spiritual Direction

21 Aug – Memorial for Pius X

“Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.” – Pope Saint Pius X

Pius X seems to have gotten somewhat of a bad reputation in recent years, thanks to the Society of St. Pius X. Nowadays, Catholics who sees the name “Pius X” tend to instinctively shy away from all associations… unless they are curious to know more. Let’s find out more about this saint today.

Pius X (1835-1903) was born Giuseppe Melchoir Sarto, the son of a village cobbler. He lived an impoverished childhood with his seven siblings. From his youth, he felt a calling to the priesthood, and was an exceptional student during his studies at the seminary of Padua.

He was ordained by Blessed Giovanni Antonio Farina on Sep 18, 1858, and was chaplain at Tombolo from 1858-1867, archpriest of Salzano from 1867-1875, and canon of the Treviso cathedral chapter in 1875, as well as the chancellor of the diocese of Treviso. He became vicar capitular from December 1879 to June 1880, and Bishop of Mantua, Italy on Nov 10, 1884. He was made assistant to the Pontifical Throne on Jun 19, 1891, created cardinal-priest of Saint Bernardo alle Terme on Jun 12, 1893, appointed Patriarch of Venice on Jun 15, 1893, and chosen as the 257th pope, taking the name Pius X.

(If all that made no sense and was boring, it was still necessary to write those, but nicely condensed into one skippable paragraph.)

Pius X was known as the Pope of the Blessed Sacrament. Because of him, we now receive early Holy Communion at the age of 7, instead of 12 or 14 as previously. We are now allowed to receive Holy Communion as soon as we are able to distinguish it the sacred host from ordinary bread. It was also thanks to his decrees that we are able to receive frequent Communion. This was how he destroyed the last vestiges of Jansenism.

Pius X also reformed the liturgy, promoted clear and simple homilies, and brought Gregorian chant back to services. He revised the Breviary, and the teaching of the Catechism (which is ironic actually, since followers of the Society of St. Pius X reject later reforms of the Second Vatican Council when Pius X himself was a reformer of the Church).

He fought Modernism which he denounced as “the summation of all heresies” because it denied the idea of objective unchanging truth or any authoritative teaching. He reorganized the Roman curia, the administrative elements of the Church, and worked against the modern antagonism of the state against the Church. He initiated the codification of canon law, and promoted bible reading by all the faithful. He also supported foreign missions.

During his papal ship, he beatified now Sts. Joan of Arc, John Bosco and John Eudes, among others, and canonized St. Gerard Majella

His will read: “I was born poor; I lived poor; I wish to die poor.”

Prayer to St. Pius X:

Glorious Pope of the Eucharist, St. Pius X, you sought “to restore all things in Christ”. Obtain for me a true love of Jesus so that I may live only for Him. Help me to acquire a lively fervour and a sincere will to strive for sanctity of life, and that I may avail myself of the riches of the Holy Eucharist in sacrifice and sacrament. By your love for Mary, mother and queen of all, inflame my heart with tender devotion to her.

Blessed model of the priesthood, obtain for us holy, dedicated priests, and increase vocations to the religious life. Dispel confusion and hatred and anxiety, and incline our hearts to peace and concord, so that all nations will place themselves under the sweet reign of Christ. Amen.

St. Pius X, pray for me.
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Matthew 23:13-22

Jesus said: “Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who shut up the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to go in who want to.

“Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when you have him you make him twice as fit for hell as you are.

“Alas for you, blind guides! You who say, “If a man swears by the Temple, it has no force; but if a man swears by the gold of the Temple, he is bound.” Fools and blind! For which is of greater worth, the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? Or else, “If a man swears by the altar it has no force; but if a man swears by the offering that is on the altar, he is bound.” You blind men! For which is of greater worth, the offering or the altar that makes the offering sacred? Therefore, when a man swears by the altar he is swearing by that and by everything on it. And when a man swears by the Temple he is swearing by that and by the One who dwells in it. And when a man swears by heaven he is swearing by the throne of God and by the One who is seated there.”
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Thanks to the Holy Spirit’s help, the first Christians benefited from the self-sacrificed vigilance of their pastors. The Pharisees, by contrast, were unable to guide the Chosen People effectively because, through their own fault, they remained in darkness, and laid upon the children of Israel a hard and heavy burden, one which moreover didn’t lead them to God. In the Gospel of today’s Mass, Our Lord calls them blind guides, incapable of showing others the right path to follow.

One of the greatest graces we can get is to have someone to guide us along the pathways of the interior life; and if we haven’t yet found someone to teach us and to advise us, in God’s name, then let us ask God for it now: everyone who asks, receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matt 7:8). He will not fail to give us this great gift. (From Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God)

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nick Chui)
_____________________

Prayer intention: For worthy spiritual directors

Thanksgiving: For my spiritual directors who have been wise and prayerful men.

Upcoming Readings:
Tue, 22 Aug – Isaiah 9:1-6; Luke 1:26-38; Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Wed, 23 Aug – Ezekiel 34:1-11; Matthew 20:1-16a; Memorial for St. Rose of Lima, virgin
Thu, 24 Aug – Revelation 21:9b-14; John 1:45-51; Feast of St. Bartholomew, apostle
Fri, 25 Aug – Ezekiel 37:1-4; Matthew 22:34-40; Memorial for St. Louis of France, Memorial for St. Joseph Calasanz, priest, religious founder
Sat, 26 Aug – Ezekiel 43:1-7a; Matthew 24:1-12
Sun, 27 Aug – Joshuan 24:1-2a; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69; Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mon, 28 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11b-12; Matthew 23:13-22; Memorial for St. Augustine, bishop, doctor
Tue, 29 Aug – 1 Jeremiah 1:17-19; Mark 6:17-29; Feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Wed, 30 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18; Matthew 23:27-32
Thu, 31 Aug – 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Matthew 24:42-51
Fri, 1 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; Matthew 25:1-13
Sat, 2 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 25:14-30
Sun, 3 Sep – Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

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Sunday, Aug 20 – Co-redemptorists

20 Aug – Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our Eucharist: Thanksgiving

Eucharist means thanksgiving. Today, filled with the Spirit, we make thanksgiving to God for the bread of life.

– the Sunday Missal
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Proverbs 9:1-6

Wisdom has built herself a house,
she has erected her seven pillars,
she has slaughtered her beasts, prepared her wine,
she has laid her table.
She has dispatched her maidservants
and proclaimed from the city’s heights:
“Who is ignorant? Let him step this way.”
To the fool she says,
“Come and eat my bread,
drink the wine I have prepared!
Leave your folly and you will live,
walk in the ways of perception.”

_____________________

Ephesians 5:15-20

Be very careful about the sort of lives you lead, like intelligent and not like senseless people. This may be a wicked age, but your lives should redeem it. And do not be thoughtless but recognise what is the will of the Lord. Do not drug yourselves with wine, this is simply dissipation; be filled with the Spirit. Sing the words and tunes of the psalms and hymns when you are together, and go on singing and chanting to the Lord in your hearts, so that always and everywhere you are giving thanks to God who is our Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the crowd:

“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give
is my flesh, for the life of the world.”

Then the Jews started arguing with one another: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they said. Jesus replied:

“I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.”

_____________________

A friend who serves in the charismatic prayer group in her parish once told me that the hardest time to praise and thank God is when you’re feeling down and depressed. This is when praising God truly becomes a sacrifice of praise.

It is sometimes very hard to find something to give thanks to God for, but that is what we are called to do every time we celebrate the Eucharist. It can only be a celebration if we have something to celebrate about. That something is what we give thanks to God for.

I have another friend, then a new convert, who remarked that when she observed Catholics receiving Holy Communion, their faces are always so serious, and they are always frowning. So from then on, she resolved to put a bright smile on her face whenever she went to receive Communion.

That can be very hard, especially when you are feeling down in the dumps. However, receiving the Eucharist the proper way forces us to reflect on our lives and to see how God is present, and what we can give thanks to God for. When we realise that no matter how depressed we are, that there is always something to give thanks to God for in our lives, our burden is lightened, and we are strengthened with hope that things will get better again.

St. Paul, in the second reading, tells us that we are to are living in a wicked age, but the way that we live our lives should redeem it. That is a great calling for us; how can we ever meet such a standard, as to live lives worthy of redeeming the world today? On our own, we can’t. But when we unite ourselves in the one Body of Christ through Communion, we take part in Christ’s act of redemption, and through living our lives in Him, through His strength and graces, we can indeed live lives worthy of redeeming this wicked world.

Always remember to make yourself worthy to receive the Body of Christ as frequently as possible.
_____________________

Prayer: We pray for all Catholics to be like Christ, sharing in the same body and blood that was broken and poured out for the life of the world.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: The strength to persevere in cooperation with the Body of Christ.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 21 Aug – Ezekiel 24:15-24; Matthew 19:16-22; Memorial for Pius X, pope
Tue, 22 Aug – Isaiah 9:1-6; Luke 1:26-38; Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Wed, 23 Aug – Ezekiel 34:1-11; Matthew 20:1-16a; Memorial for St. Rose of Lima, virgin
Thu, 24 Aug – Revelation 21:9b-14; John 1:45-51; Feast of St. Bartholomew, apostle
Fri, 25 Aug – Ezekiel 37:1-4; Matthew 22:34-40; Memorial for St. Louis of France, Memorial for St. Joseph Calasanz, priest, religious founder
Sat, 26 Aug – Ezekiel 43:1-7a; Matthew 24:1-12
Sun, 27 Aug – Joshuan 24:1-2a; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69; Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mon, 28 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11b-12; Matthew 23:13-22; Memorial for St. Augustine, bishop, doctor
Tue, 29 Aug – 1 Jeremiah 1:17-19; Mark 6:17-29; Feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Wed, 30 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18; Matthew 23:27-32
Thu, 31 Aug – 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Matthew 24:42-51
Fri, 1 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; Matthew 25:1-13
Sat, 2 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 25:14-30
Sun, 3 Sep – Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.

Saturday, Aug 19 – Coming Of Age

19 Aug – Memorial for St. John Eudes

“A Christian has a union with Jesus Christ more noble, more intimate and more perfect than the members of a human body have with their head.” – Saint John Eudes

St. John Eudes (1601-1680) was a farmer’s son who attended the Jesuit college at Caen at the age of 14. He joined the Congregation of the Oratory of France, studied at Paris and Aubervilliers, and was ordained a priest. During his lifetime, he ministered to plague victims, and was a missionary and preacher who worked on well over 100 missions.

He also worked against Jansenism, established seminaries, and founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary Eudists on Mar 25, 1643 to promote virtuous secular parochial clergy not bound by vows, but dedicated to improving the clergy through seminaries and missions. Due to opposition by Oratorians and Jansenists, he never obtained papal approval for this congregation.

John Eudes also founded the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity who worked for the welfare of penitent women. He is the author of the liturgical devotion of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Patron Saint Index
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Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13, 30-32

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, “Why do you keep repeating this proverb in the land of Israel:

The fathers have eaten unripe grapes;
and the children’s teeth are set on edge?

“As I love – it is the Lord who speaks – there will no longer be any reason to repeat this proverb in Israel. See now: all life belongs to me; the father’s life and the son’s life, both alike belong to me. The man who has sinned, he is the one who shall die.

“The upright man is law-abiding and honest; he does not eat on the mountains or raise his eyes to the idols of the House of Israel, does not seduce his neighbour’s wife or sleep with a woman during her periods. He oppresses no one, returns pledges, never steals, gives his own bread to the hungry, his clothes to the naked. He never charges usury on loans, takes no interest, abstains from evil, gives honest judgement between man and man, keeps my laws and sincerely respects my observances – such a man is truly upright. It is the Lord who speaks.

“But if anyone has a son prone to violence and bloodshed, who commits one of these misdeeds, then this son shall certainly not live; having committed all these appalling crimes he will have to die, and his blood be on his own head.

“House of Israel, in future I mean to judge each of you by what he does – it is the Lord who speaks. Repent, renounce all your sins, avoid all occasions of sin! Shake off all the sins you have committed against me, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why are you so anxious to die, House of Israel? I take no pleasure in the death of anyone – it is the Lord who speaks. Repent and live!”
_____________________

Matthew 19:13-15

People brought little children to Jesus, for him to lay his hands on them and say a prayer. The disciples turned them away, but Jesus aid, “Let the little children alone, and do not stop them coming to me; for it is such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Then he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
______________________

I was reading an article the other day about some secondary school boys who were suspended for not having a ‘slope’ haircut, and some secondary school girls complaining about not being allowed to keep short hair even though it is neater. The entire article, although giving the point of view from the schools, missed the most important point – the importance of discipline.

As a child, we are often asked to follow certain rules even if they don’t seem to make sense. The purpose of discipline is instill obedience in children. Even if their way is better, and more efficient, the point is to remind them that as part of a bigger community i.e. the school, we cannot have it our way all the time in life. This is one way that schools prepare students for adulthood.

As adults, we need to remember that we’re part of a bigger community and cannot just do things our way all the time, even if it is the better way. We cannot choose not to follow a certain way if we want to consider ourselves part of the community, because every community has rules to follow, even if unsaid. It is these rules that binds the community together and helps it to flourish.

Granted it is true that schools (and army) usually has extra strict disciplinary rules, some of which might seem unnecessary, they are all there to teach its students (and recruits) that society too has its rules which must be followed, for if broken, the consequences are much more serious than a suspension.

A student who is unable to follow these simple rules is rightfully unprepared to follow the more complex rules of society, and the school would do them an injustice if they were to certify that the student has achieved a level of adulthood that is has not.

In the same way, a young Catholic who is not capable of following the rules of the Church should not be confirmed, for to do so would do them a greater injustice to their faith. That is why our catechism classes insist on a certain percentage of attendance before a candidate is certified eligible for confirmation.

But is it enough? Is attendance alone a sufficient criteria to determine whether a young Catholic is eligible for confirmation? Many confirmed teenage Catholics simply stop attending Mass altogether after being confirmed. Can we do anything to keep them coming?

Again that misses the point of Catholic discipline. The purpose of discipline is to help a person make informed choices as an adult. Once a teenager is confirmed, he is responsible for the choices that he makes regarding his own faith from then on. His godparents can help to guide him, but an adult who breaks the law can no more blame his parents for poor upbringing than a lapsed Catholic can blame his godparents for causing him to lose interest in his faith.

There comes a point of time in our life, both physical and spiritual, that we have to take full responsibility for the consequences of the choices we make and the kind of person we become. For matters of physical life, that point of time is called the coming of age, or adulthood. For Catholics’ matters of spiritual life, that is the sacrament of confirmation.

Confirmed Catholics must learn that they alone are responsible for who they will become and who they have become. Godparents must learn that these choices were their godchildren’s own. many godparents will then free themselves from guilt that they may feel for watching their godchildren “go astray”.

Trust that you have done all you can to bring up your godchild, and that he is old enough to make his own choices. Continue to be a spiritual guide for him, no matter how far he seems to have gone from the faith. Be a loving parent ever ready to welcome home a missing child. And trust that God is always by his side.
___________________

Prayer: We pray for parents and godparents to educate and bring up their children to become responsible adults capable of making their own informed choices regarding their life and faith.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Parents and role models who have helped shaped our lives.

Upcoming Readings:
Sun, 20 Aug – Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.

Friday, Aug 18 – Love = Forgiveness

18 Aug
______________________

Ezekiel 16:1-15, 60, 63

The word of the LORD came to me: Mortal, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, and say, Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite. As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of those things for you out of compassion for you; but you were thrown out in the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.

I passed by you, and saw you flailing about in your blood. As you lay in your blood, I said to you, “Live! and grow up like a plant in the field.” You grew up and became tall and arrived at full womanhood; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.

I passed by you again and looked on you; you were at the age for love. I spread the edge of my cloak over you, and covered your nakedness: I pledged myself to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off the blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I clothed you with embroidered cloth and with sandals of fine leather; I bound you in fine linen and covered you with rich fabric. I adorned you with ornaments: I put bracelets on your arms, a chain on your neck, a ring on your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. You were adorned with gold and silver, while your clothing was of fine linen, rich fabric, and embroidered cloth. You had choice flour and honey and oil for food. You grew exceedingly beautiful, fit to be a queen. Your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of my splendour that I had bestowed on you, says the Lord GOD.

But you trusted in your beauty, and played the whore because of your fame, and lavished your whoring on any passer-by.

Yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord GOD.
_____________________

Matthew 19:3-12

Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”

His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man and his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by other, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
_____________________

The first passage from Ezekiel can be read in two different ways. One where the first 15 verses are omitted and only verses 59-63 are read, or the one as written above. And as I was choosing the verses for today, I felt that the first 15 verses were very meaningful. For without those 15, we wouldn’t know what covenant God had made with Jerusalem. And the fact that God would forgive all that she has done wouldn’t be as striking. Why?

Imagine a movie where you have a baby boy left for dead along a river. An old man sees the baby and picks him up near death. He devotes the next few days trying to save the child at his own expense, and succeeds. How much the old man sacrificed for this baby to live, you decide. He feeds the boy, takes care of him, turns him into a great and respectable man. But once he becomes famous, the boy forgets all about his surrogate father. He starts living a life of debauchery, smoking, drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around. Now, maybe the ‘life of debauchery’ doesn’t sound as bad as it is. Maybe only doing drugs is really bad. But is it only? We never know the consequences of our actions if we aren’t open to them in the beginning. What’s the fuss about sleeping around, everybody seems to be doing it, right? No, it’s not right. But as Jesus said, not many can accept this. But back to the son. What would the old man feel? I would guess he’d be crushed to see the son he raised as his own, that he saved from certain death and clothed and nourished and loved, turn into the man he became. But what if the old man comes to his ‘son’ and says, “Son, you disappointed me by your actions. But I made a promise then when you were young and I won’t forsake that promise. And today, I will make another promise, that I will do all in my power to bring you back again because you are my son and anything you do will not change the fact that you are my son.”

God’s love is exemplary in the above. For He already forgave Jerusalem even before she knew what wrong she had done. However, in today’s world, many won’t accept, or won’t want to accept, that they have done wrong. It’s always “others are doing it, so what’s wrong if I do it too?”. Or “God has already forgiven me, so it’s fine.“ Maybe it’s time to rethink how we act and react.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Lyndley Ah Qune)
_____________________

We pray for the grace to love as God loves us.

Thanks be to God for forgiveness.

Upcoming Readings:
Sat, 19 Aug – Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13, 30-32; Matthew 19:13-15; Memorial for St. John Eudes, priest
Sun, 20 Aug – Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

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Thursday, Aug 17 – Never The Same Again

17 Aug

Paradigm: A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

In 1900, Lord Kelvin famously stated, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” Five years later, Albert Einstein published his paper on special relativity, which challenged the very simple set of rules laid down by Newtonian mechanics, which had been used to describe force and motion for over three hundred years.

– Wikipedia

Your life will never be the same again after reading today’s reflection.
_____________________

Ezekiel 12:1-12

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, ‘Son of man, you are living with that set of rebels who have eyes and never see, ears and never heard, for they are a set of rebels. You, son of man, pack an exile’s bundle and emigrate by daylight when they can see you, emigrate from where you are to somewhere else while they watch. Perhaps they will admit then that they are a set of rebels. You will pack your baggage like an exile’s bundle, by daylight, for them to see, and leave like an exile in the evening, making sure that they are looking. As they watch, make a hole in the wall and go out through it. As they watch, you will shoulder your pack and go out into the dark; you will cover your face so that you cannot see the country, since I have made you a symbol for the House of Israel.’

I did as I had been told. I packed my baggage like an exile’s bundle, by daylight; and in the evening I made a hole through the wall with my hand. I went out into the dark and shouldered my pack as they watched.

The next morning the word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, ‘Son of man, did not the House of Israel, did not that set of rebels, ask you what you were doing? Say, “The Lord says this: This oracle is directed against Jerusalem and the whole House of Israel whenever they are living.” Say, “I am a symbol of you; the thing I have done will be done to them; they will go into exile, into banishment.” Their ruler will shoulder his pack in the dark and go out through the wall; a hole will be made to let him out; he will cover his face rather than see the country.’
____________________

Matthew 18:21-19:1

Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all their possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time” he said “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they say what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the who affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said. “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive you brother from your heart.’

Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and he left Galilee and came into the part of Judaea which is on the far side of the Jordan.
____________________

I remember it was in Secondary 4 when I first heard of and learnt the phrase “paradigm shift”. I definitely knew the word shift in this case meant a change of the paradigm from something old to something new. The undefined part of the phrase was the word paradigm. Though I now know its meaning and thus that of the phrase, what was significant to me was that prior to that, in all my 16 years of life, I had never heard of the word before. As a concept and as a word, it was something novel. From that moment on, the phrase just kept standing out every time I read a book or article containing it. Never mind if it was in stuff that I had read before, I only really noticed it and its implications after being taught the its nuances.

A similar event took place closer to the present, when my dad was telling me about a brand of Swiss watches known as Franck Muller. Though he said it was a famous, high quality (and very expensive) brand, I’d never heard of it. I saw a few models myself and they were indeed of high workmanship. Every time an advertisement for these watches appears in the papers or on TV now, it leaps up at me.

My friends have related accounts of similar events and I have no doubt, brothers and sisters, that you have had such experiences as well. The interesting thing is how deeply ingrained a new concept becomes in us. We are no longer the same as we were before we came to know it and to try to reject this new part of us is just unnatural and may even be a hazard. Such were the occurrences in our readings for today.

Ezekiel as the prophet of the Lord was unlike the rest of his people. As the first reading states, he was a man among rebels. He had eyes and ears that were not wasted. To him was revealed the Word of God and all its relevance. By this and in doing the work assigned to him by God, he was set aside from everyone else. Moreover, he could never be like them ever again. Like Christ himself said, a prophet is rejected by his own country and house. The truth of the message prevails though. Could Ezekiel have chosen to reject what he had learnt in the attempt to fit in again? I think he could try but ultimately fail. How can one be at ease with putting aside something of such importance?

The parable Christ gives in the Gospel passage illustrates just what happens to he who does not appreciate so significant a lesson. The servant to whom was shown mercy and forgiveness ought to have had mercy and forgiveness kindled in his own heart. Yet he remained hard-hearted, and what’s more, over something substantially smaller than his own resolved problem. Indeed, if he repaid the kindness shown to him, he would have had much greater rewards. However, in his rejection of the concepts of mercy and forgiveness, the servant only brought ruin unto himself.

We who call ourselves sons and daughters of Christ do so because of the Truth that has been revealed to us. The consequence of this revelation and our declaration is that we can never go back to being who we previously were. The truth that the Holy Spirit proclaims will never fade. The choice for us, my sisters and brothers, pertains to the fruits and gifts that the Spirit brings. Are we going to nature them in recognition of our new lives or are we going to let them spoil and fall to waste while hanging on fruitlessly (pun intended) to our old ones?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
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Prayer: That we will learn to move on from difficulties in our past, distilling lessons that will aid us in future.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: The new freshmen in CSS.

Upcoming Readings:
Fri, 18 Aug – Ezekiel 16:1-15, 60, 63 or Ezekiel 16:59-63; Matthew 19:3-12
Sat, 19 Aug – Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13, 30-32; Matthew 19:13-15; Memorial for St. John Eudes, priest
Sun, 20 Aug – Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

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Wednesday, Aug 16 – Pray for your enemies

16 Aug – Memorial for St. Stephen of Hungary

Also known as Stephen the Great, St. Stephen of Hungary (969-1038) was born a pagan but baptised with his father at the age of 10. He was the first king of the Magyars (Hungarians) in Hungary, and married St. Gisela, sisters of the emperor St. Henry II. He evangelised both peoples, with St. Astricus serving as his advisor. Stephen united the Magyars into a single nation, suppressing revolts led by pagan nobles. He was crowned king on Christmas Day 1001 by Emperor Otto III by authority of Pope Sylvester II. He organised dioceses, and founded monasteries. He was the father of St. Emeric and brought St. Gerard Sagredo to tutor his son.

He sure lived among lots of saints…

Stephen intended to retire to a life of holy contemplation and hand the kingdom over to his only surviving son, Imre, but in 1031, his son was wounded in a hunting accident and died. In Stephen’s words of mourning:

“By God’s secret decision death took him, so that wickedness would not change his soul and false imaginations would not deceive his mind – as the Book of Wisdom teaches about early death.”

Having no more children left, he could not find anyone among his remaining relatives who was able to rule the country competently and was willing to maintain the Christian faith of the nation. Unable to choose an heir, King Stephen died on the Feast of the Assumption. Both his nobles and his subjects were said to have mourned for three straight years afterwards.

Stephen gave generously to the churches and personally visited them often, as well as supervised their construction. He often disguised himself as a peasant whenever he travelled and freely gave money to any poor people he met. In one account, Stephen was beaten and robbed by a ground of beggars to whom he was giving alms, but he forgave them and spared their lives.

My beloved son, delight of my heart, hope of your posterity, I pray, I command, that at every time and in everything, strengthened by your devotion to me, you may show favor not only to relations and kin, or to the most eminent, be they leaders or rich men or neighbors or fellow-countrymen, but also to foreigners and to all who come to you. By fulfilling your duty in this way you will reach the highest state of happiness. Be merciful to all who are suffering violence, keeping always in your heart the example of the Lord who said, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Be patient with everyone, not only with the powerful, but also with the weak.

Finally be strong lest prosperity lift you up to much or adversity cast you down. Be humble in this life, that God may raise you up in the next. Be truly moderate and do not punish or condemn anyone immoderately. Be gentle so that you may never oppose justice. Be honorable so that you may never voluntarily bring disgrace upon anyone. Be chaste so that ;you may avoid all the foulness of lust like the pangs of death.

All these virtues I have noted above make up the royal crown, and without them no one is fit to rule here on earth or attain to the heavenly kingdom.

– from Saint Stephen’s advice to his son

Sources: Patron Saint Index, Wikipedia
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Ezekiel 9:1-7, 10:18-22

As I, Ezekiel, listened God shouted, “Come here, you scourges of the city, and bring your weapons of destruction.” Immediately six men advanced from the upper north gate, each holding a deadly weapon. In the middle of them was a man in white, with a scribe’s ink horn in his belt. They came in and halted in front of ht bronze altar. The glory of the God of Israel rose off the cherubs where it had been and went up to the threshold of the Temple. He called the man in white with a scribe’s ink horn in his belt and said, “Go all through the city, all through Jerusalem, and mark a cross on the foreheads of all who deplore and disapprove of all the filth practised in it.” I heard him say to the others, “Follow him through the city, and strike. Show neither pity nor mercy; old men, young men, virgins, children, women, kill and exterminate them all. But do not touch anyone with a cross on his forehead. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the old men in front of the Temple. He said to them, “Defile the Temple, fill the courts with corpses, and go.” They went out and hacked their way through the city.

The glory of the Lord came out from the Temple threshold and paused over the cherubs. The cherubs spread their wings and rose from the ground to leave, and as I watched the wheels rose with them. They paused at the entrance to the east gate of the Temple of the Lord, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them. This was the creature that I had seen supporting the God of Israel beside the river Chebar, and I was now certain that these were cherubs. Each had four faces and four wings and what seemed to be human hands under their wings. Their faces were just as I had seen them beside the river Chebar. Each move straight forward.
____________________

Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. if he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. but if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

“I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

“I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.”
____________________

Have you ever heard of Blessed Peter Faber? He was one of the original group of Jesuits who, with St. Ignatius of Loyola, founded the Society of Jesus. He was also the first Jesuit priest. He lived at the time of the early Protestant Reformation and he worked for reconciliation among Christians, and particularly towards the reform of the Catholic clergy. He was gifted with great intelligence and with his knowledge, was able to engage in dialogue with the best minds of the Protestant world.

However, he sought not to prove the other person wrong, or his own beliefs to be correct. Neither did he work towards introducing new perspectives for the other person to reflect upon or try to outwit them in dialogue. Blessed Peter Faber believed that the goal of good conversation was not to win the argument but to win his conversation partner to God.

This essentially is the message of the Gospel for us today, and it is a stark reminder of the difference between a Christian who argues for his religion with gentleness with the goal of winning glory for God, and a Christian who argues for his religion with fire and trickery with the goal of winning glory for himself in outsmarting the opponent or by proving him wrong.

This is truly the message of Christ when he tells us to love our enemies. This means that we need to act kindly and courteously towards our opponents, and we need to care about them as well. If we find ourselves unable to do so, then at least we must try to understand our opponent well enough so that we can be sympathetic to them.

I recently came across a website that taught the basics of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha. It is remarkable similar to Jesus’ teachings. In one section, it tells us that we need to wean our opponents from error with patience and sympathy. We do this not my putting them in a position where they have to defend their wrong view, because it is like saying you want to avoid a battle and then not give them a chance to retreat.

Rather, we are to establish the truth, not by making our opponent suffer, but by our own suffering, as this shows our commitment to what we think is right, and it makes others think about what is right.

Hence, when we next engage in discussion with other Christians, let us remember the basic principle – to love our enemies, not be like them.
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Prayer: Today, let us pray for those who antagonise us.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Opportunities to be Christian towards others.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 17 Aug – Ezekiel 12:1-12; Matthew 18:21-19:1
Fri, 18 Aug – Ezekiel 16:1-15, 60, 63 or Ezekiel 16:59-63; Matthew 19:3-12
Sat, 19 Aug – Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13, 30-32; Matthew 19:13-15; Memorial for St. John Eudes, priest
Sun, 20 Aug – Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.