Daily Archives: September 27, 2006

Thursday, Sep 28 – What’s New?

28 Sep – Memorial for St. Wenceslaus, martyr / Memorial for St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions, martyrs

Wenceslaus (907-929) was a duke of Bohemia, the grandson and student of St. Ludmilla. He ascended to power when his father was killed during a pagan backlash against Christianity, which he fought with prayer and patience.

He was a man of utmost faith, charitable to the poor, and he would clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and offer hospitality to travellers according to the summons of the gospel. He would not allow widows to be treated unjustly; he loved all his people; he also provided for the servants of God, and he adorned many churches.

Eventually, he was murdered by his brother Boleslaus at the door of a church. He was killed for political reasons, but is normally listed as a martyr since the politics arose from his faith, and also because miracles were reported at his tomb.

Since the year 2000, today is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, as Wenceslaus is the patron saint of the Czech people and the Czech Republic. It is celebrated as Czech Statehood Day. He is best known in the English-speaking world, outside of the Czech Republic, as the subject of the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslaus”.

Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637) was born from Christian parents. His father was Chinese; his mother Filipino. He learnt Chinese and Tagalog from them, and Spanish from the Dominicans who he served as altar boy and sacristan. He was a professioanl calligrapher and documents transcriptionist, and a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. He was a married layman, and the father of two sons and a daughter.

For unknown reasons, Lorenzo was accused of murder. He sought asylum on board ship with three Dominican priests, St. Antonio Gonzalez, St. Guillermo Courtet, and St. Mugeul de Aozaraza, a Japapnese priests, St. Vincent Showozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named St. Lazaro of Kyoto, a leper. Only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan during a time of intense Christian persecution.

Lorenzo could have gone to Formosa (modern Taiwan), but feared the Spaniards there would hang him, so he stayed with the missionaries as they landed at Okinawa. The group was soon exposed as Christians, arrested, and taken to Nagasaki. They were tortured in several ways for days. Lawrence and the Japanese priest broke at one point, and were ready to renounce their faith in exchange for release, but after their moment of crisis, they reclaimed their faith and defied their tormentors.

Lorenzo was then crushed over a period of three days while hanging upside down. His body was burned and his ashes thrown into the Pacific Ocean. He was the first Filipino saint to be canonized. In addition, his canonization in 1987 by Pope John Paul II during a trip to Manila was the first to take place outside the Vatican.

– Sources: Patron Saint Index, Wikipedia
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Ecclesiastes 1:2-11

Vanity of vanities, the Preacher says. Vanity of vanities. All is vanity! For all his toil, his toil under the sun, what does man gain by it?

A generation goes, a generation comes, yet the earth stands firm for ever. The sun rises, the sun sets; then to its place it speeds and there it rises. Southward goes the wind, then turns to the north; it turns and turns again; back then to its circling goes the wind. Into the sea all the rivers go, and yet the sea is never filled, and still to their goal the rivers go. All things are wearisome. No man can say that eyes have not had enough of seeing, ears their fill of hearing. What was will be again; what has been done will be done again; and there is nothing new under the sun. Take anything of which it may be said, “Look now, this is new.” Already, long before our time, it existed. Only no memory of remains of earlier times, just as in times to come next year itself will not be remembered.
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Luke 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch had heard about all that was being done by Jesus; and he was puzzled, because some people were saying that John had risen from the dead, others that Elijah had reappeared, still others that one of the ancient prophets had come back to life. But Herod said, “John? I beheaded him. So who is this I hear such reports about?” And he was anxious to see Jesus.
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What’s new in the world today? Today many people read the news and start to be afraid of global warming. But this is not new. The scientists who tell us that the earth is heating up and polar ice caps will melt also tell us that this has happened in the earth’s lifetime many times.

We read the news and we see war and terrorism. But this too is not new. War has been taking place ever since mankind discovered weapons. The only difference is that the technology used is more advanced, but the purpose is still the same – kill others, preserve yourself.

We watch the news and hear about bird flu and other diseases spreading through the world. This too is not new, since we know of plagues that spread through many nations and killed many people. We see space exploration taking place, but mankind has been exploring for all his existence, except that now mankind is exploring further.

So what’s new? There really hasn’t been much change in the world since mankind became aware of himself. Sure we have made progress in the fields of medicine, technology, philosophy, and so on, but history shows that history does repeat itself.

“There is nothing new under the sun,” says the writer of Ecclesiastes. Whatever is new is not really new; it’s just that it was forgotten that it was once in existence. Even God himself is not new. He has always been and always is. Is there any point of time, any event at all in history that has not repeated itself? Yes, there is one.

At a certain point of mankind’s history and existence in the world, God himself was incarnated into a human being and he lived among his people. He came to love them, and it was this love that drove people to kill him. But even when mankind treated God the worst, God treated mankind the best by turning that blackest point of time in the history of mankind into the brightest point of time.

So if someone asks you then, “What’s new in your life?”, tell them! Tell them of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is God. Tell them of the Good News, for this is the only thing that’s really new because it has never been repeated, and will always be remembered.
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Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help us to always remember your love for us. Give us the grace to always be mindful of your presence in our lives, that we may share the Good News of your kingdom to all that we meet, in thought, word and deed. Help us to live as though we are made new in your blood, for indeed we are. We are not the same people as we once were before knowing you. In your name, we pray that we will always remember this. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: The Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 28 Sep – Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Luke 9:7-9; Memorial for St. Wenceslaus, martyr / Memorial for St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions, martyrs
Fri, 29 Sep – Daniel 7:9-10, 13, 14 or Revelation 12:7-12a; John 1:47-51; Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, & Raphael, archangels
Sat, 30 Sep – Ecclesiastes 11:9 – 12:8; Luke 9:43b-45; Memorial for St. Jerome, priest and doctor
Sun, 1 Oct – Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48; Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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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, Sep 27 – Are You Contented?

27 Sep – Memorial for St. Vincent de Paul, priest, religious founder

St. Vincent de Paul is probably one of the first saints that we hear of, if we are cradle Catholics. Brought up to go for Mass every Sunday, I always saw the members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul do a second collection every month. I remember it clearly because my mother used to give me $2 to give to the normal collection, but $10 to give to the St. Vincent de Paul people. Let’s find out more about this saint today.

St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) was born to a peasant family. A highly intelligent youth, he spent four years with the Franciscan friars at Acqs, France, getting an education. For a while, he was a tutor to a gentleman in Acqs before beginning divinity studies in 1596 at the University of Toulouse, and was ordained at the age of 20.

It is written that he was taken captive by Turkish pirates, and sold into slavery. He was freed in 1607 when he converted one of his owners to Christianity.

Returning to France, he served as parish priest near Paris where he started organizations to help the poor, nursed the sick, found jobs for the unemployed, etc. He was also a chaplain at the court of Henry IV of France. With St. Louise de Marillac, he founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity. He also instituted the Congregation of Priests of the Mission (Lazarists).

Vincent de Paul adopted Father (later Cardinal) Pierre de Berulle and Father Andre Duval (a professor at Sorbonne) as his spiritual mentors. These two men were “spearheading” the spiritual and ecclesiastical reform in Paris. Duval introduced Vincent to the Rule of Perfection, written by the English Capuchin Benet of Canfield. From this work, Vincent came to a fuller understanding of doing the will of God and the importance of waiting for God to leave.

He always worked for the poor, the enslaved, the abandoned, the ignored, and the outcasts. He is the patron saint of charitable societies; charitable workers; hospitals and their workers; Societies of St. Vincent de Paul, and volunteers.

Prayer:
Dear Saint, the mere mention of your name suggests a litany of your virtues: humility, zeal, mercy, self-sacrifice. It also recalls your many foundations: Works of Mercy, Congregations, Societies. And the Church gratefully remembers your promotion of the priesthood. Inspire all charitable workers, especially those who minister to the poor – both the spiritually and materially poor. Amen.

– Sources: Patron Saint Index, Wikipedia
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Proverbs 30:5-9

Every word of God is unalloyed,
he is the shield of those who take refuge in him.
To his words make no addition,
lest he reprove you and known you for a fraud.

Two things I beg of you,
do not grudge me them before I die:
keep falsehood and lies far from me,
give me neither poverty nor riches,
grant me only my share of bread to eat,
for fear that surrounded by plenty, I should fall away
and say, “The Lord – who is the Lord?”
or else, in destitution, take to stealing
and profane the name of my God.

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Luke 9:1-6

Jesus called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey: neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread nor money, and let none of you take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there; and when you leave, it it be from there. As for those who do not welcome you, when you leave their town shake the dust from your feet as a sign to them.” So they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the Good News and healing everywhere.
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Imagine if Jesus said to you today what he said to the Twelve: go out and proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal; take nothing for the journey… Would you do it? Chances are, if you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t. This is because we are attached to too many things or people in our lives. We have a family, we have a place to stay, we have more than enough to eat, we have a computer, etc. Why would we want to leave all this behind to go out and do something not knowing whether we will have a place to stay, not knowing whether we’ll have enough to eat, far from all the luxuries of life?

While the Twelve were with Jesus, they had nothing to fear. There was always a place to stay (because of Jesus’ popularity among the people), and there was always enough to eat (hey, the man could multiply bread!) But now that he was sending them out, they had to learn that it is God, not the Jesus they thought they knew, that provides for them. They had to learn how to place their trust in God, and in Jesus, that in asking anything from God in the name of Jesus, in accordance with their mission, God will provide.

What was their mission? It was simply to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. There will be people who do not accept them. Rather than persistently because a cause of irritation to them, Jesus advised them to just drop it; move on to the next town, do not be attached to wanted to make someone listen to you. After all, the whole mission was an exercise of detachment from their own strength and capabilities, and an attachment to God’s providence and grace.

For some of us, God has called us to a life of poverty, but this is not something that we choose on our own. No idiot would choose to live a life of poverty unless he or she strongly believes that this is what God is calling them to. Even so, they do not choose poverty for poverty’s sake, but for God’s sake. On the other hand, some of us are not called to poverty. Some of us are, in fact, given great riches. There is nothing wrong with that, provided that we are rich not for the sake of riches, but for God’s sake.

If the focus of our lives is God, there is nothing to fear. If our lives revolve around Jesus, not our riches, then there is nothing to be afraid of… for even the rich have their insecurities. Security is found in God alone. We are given riches to aid in our particular mission in life. Whether called to poverty or riches, both are means by which God uses to develop us to our fullest potential and to proclaim the kingdom of God to the world, and to heal those who are ill.
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Prayer:
Dear Jesus, we pray that our lives be centered on you, that we may always focus on you in whatever we do, in whatever situation we find ourselves in. Dear Jesus, we place our trust in you, and we believe that we are secure in your love. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Contentment.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 28 Sep – Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Luke 9:7-9; Memorial for St. Wenceslaus, martyr / Memorial for St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions, martyrs
Fri, 29 Sep – Daniel 7:9-10, 13, 14 or Revelation 12:7-12a; John 1:47-51; Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, & Raphael, archangels
Sat, 30 Sep – Ecclesiastes 11:9 – 12:8; Luke 9:43b-45; Memorial for St. Jerome, priest and doctor
Sun, 1 Oct – Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48; Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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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.