Monthly Archives: October 2006

Wednesday, Nov 1 – Journey Towards Sainthood

01 Nov – All Saints Day

Today is the first time Regina Xie is sharing OXYGEN with us. She will be volunteering on a weekly basis to share her spiritual journey with us on Wednesdays. May you all give her the support and encouragement that you’ve given to all previous and current volunteers.
___________________

Nov 1, instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown. It owes its origin in the Western Church to the dedication of the Pantheon in honour of the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs by Pope Boniface IV, 609, the anniversary of which was celebrated in Rome, May 13. Pope Gregory III (731-741) consecrated a chapel in the Vatican basilica in honour of All Saints, designating Nov 1 as their feast; Gregory IV extended its observance to the whole Church. It has a vigil and octave and is a holy day of obligation. The eve is popularly celebrated as Hallowe’en.

– Source: Patron Saint Index
___________________

Revelations 7:2-4, 9-14

Then I saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ And I heard how many had been sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.

After that I saw that there was a huge number, impossible for anyone to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted in a loud voice, ‘Salvation to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four living creatures, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words:

Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honour
and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.

One of the elders then spoke and asked me, ‘Who are these people, dressed in white robes, and where have they come from?’ I answered him, ‘You can tell me, sir.’ Then he said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great trial; they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’
___________________

1 John 3:1-3

You must see what great love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God’s children—which is what we are! The reason why the world does not acknowledge us is that it did not acknowledge Him. My dear friends, we are already God’s children, but what we shall be in the future has not yet been revealed. We are well aware that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as he really is. Whoever treasures this hope of Him purifies himself, to be as pure as He is.
____________________

Matthew 5:1-12a

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went onto the mountain. And when He was seated His disciples came to him. Then He began to speak. This is what He taught them:

How blessed are the poor in spirit:
the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Blessed are the gentle:
they shall have the earth as inheritance.
Blessed are those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness:
they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Blessed are the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers:
they shall be recognised as children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness:
the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
____________________

When they are alive, they live lives descriptive of the Beatitudes. They are poor in spirit, gentle, they mourn, hunger and thirst for uprightness, are merciful, pure in heart, are peacemakers, and are persecuted in the cause of uprightness. People abuse them and persecute them and speak all kinds of calumny against them falsely on Jesus’ account. They live for Christ. Many even die for Christ!

In heaven, they praise God for eternity. They see Him in His full glory, at the throne. What would it be like to have “washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb”? What would it be like to stand in that glorious scene, worshipping God, “Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever”? Do you look forward to the day when you can do that?

The saints are not only examples for us to follow, they are our signs of the hope that we desire to have in following Christ. In a world that downplays God, believing in Him, depending on Him and putting Christ’s values into practice will definitely earn us persecution. Perhaps the persecution is not one of physical attack, but in more subtle ways such as having to struggle inside us to choose between the ways of the world and the ways of God in our daily lives.

What are the inward struggles that you are dealing with now? Are you prepared to make a difficult but loving decision? Let yourself be reminded by a saint who struggled in living a Christ-like life today, and be reminded of the Christ who has been, is, and will be the saints’ inspiration in their struggles, especially on His painful, trying journey to Calvary to redeem each and every one of us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Regina Xie)
____________________

Prayer:
Father, send Your Holy Spirit upon us to help us to focus on You in our struggles.

Give thanks to the Lord for: the many canonized saints whom we can draw our inspiration from, and for the saints in our daily lives who show us the face of Christ.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 02 Nov – Daniel 12:1-3; Romans 6:3-9; John 6:37-40; The Commemoration of All The Faithful Departed (All Souls)
Fri, 03 Nov – Philippians 1:1-11; Luke 14:1-6; Memorial for St. Martin de Porres, religious
Sat, 04 Nov – Philippians 1:18b-26; Luke 14:1, 7-11; Memorial for St. Charles Borromeo, bishop
Sun, 05 Nov – Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Hebrews 7:23-26; Mark 12:28b-34; Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

————————
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
————————
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, Oct 31 – Making Love In Public

31 Oct

Be A Lamplighter
Brian Cavanaugh, T.O.R.

Several parents were sitting on a neighbour’s porch discussing their children. They were talking about the negative environment in which the kids had to grow up – an environment filled with drugs, violence, and a pervading feeling of hopelessness. How could they, the parents, bring any light into their children’s world since it seems so dark and hopeless? Could they be enough of a positive influence in their children’s lives that the children would not just survive, but possibly work to change the world around them? The discussion went on for some time.

One of the parents, a science teacher, remarked, “I think we can make a difference in our children’s lives if we become lamplighters.”

“Lamplighters? What do you mean?” the others asked.

She explained. “Around the turn of the century a lamplighter went around the streets lighting the streetlamps. He carried a long pole that had a small candle on top with which he would reach up to light the kerosene-fed lamps. but from a distance you could not see a lamplighter very well. The light from one small candle was not very bright in the surrounded darkness of night.

“However,” she continued, “you could follow the progress of the lamplighter as he went along a street. The presence of his candle was barely visible until it joined with the flame of the streetlamp being newly lit. A radiant glow erased a portion of the night’s darkness, and looking back down the street, you could see that the light form the glowing streetlamps made the entire street bright as day. The darkness was held at bay.”

Almost as a chorus, the parents exclaimed, “That’s it! We’ll be lamplighters for our children. We’ll be their role models. We’ll share from our own flame in order to light each child’s individual lamp of wisdom, and by our love provide the fuel necessary to nourish and sustain its flame. Then we will have helped them become bright enough themselves so that they can conquer the darkness and hopelessness of their world.”

– taken from Fresh Packet of Sower’s Seeds, Third Planting, by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR
____________________

Ephesians 5:21-33

Give way to one another in obedience to Christ. Wives should regard their husbands as they regard the Lord, since as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church submits to Christ, so should wives to their husbands, in everything. Husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy. He made her clean by washing her in water with a form of words, so that when he took her to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless. In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is for him to love himself. A man never hates his own body but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church, because it is the body – and we are its living parts. For this reason, a man must leave hi father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one body. This mystery has many implications; but I am saying it applies to Christ and the Church. To sum up; you too, each one of you, must love his wife as he loves himself; and let every wife respect her husband.
___________________

Luke 13:18-21

Jesus said, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with? It is like a mustard seed which a man took and threw into his garden: it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air sheltered in its branches.”

Another thing he said, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God with? It is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.”
____________________

When the Church places herself in sub-mission to Christ, what it is doing is that it is placing herself “under the mission” of Christ. What is Christ’s mission? Christ’s mission is to love his Church and to sacrifice himself for her to make her holy. In order to do so, Christ withheld nothing to carry out this mission for the Church, going all the way to give up his own life for her. Truly Christ’s love for the Church is freely given (free) in a total (total) way.

Whenever we go for Mass, we recall the Eucharistic prayer, which tells us, “This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant”. This is indicative of Christ’s faithfulness (faithful) to the Church, his marriage to the Church. What is this for? “It will be shed for you and for all, so that sins are forgiven.” That is to say, it is done to reap the fruits of forgiveness (fruitful). By removing sin, Jesus is in fact purifying his Church and reconciling it with himself.

These are the same four criteria – free, total, faithful, fruitful – that must be fulfilled to ensure that a marriage is valid and lawful in the Catholic Church. There are two parts to a Catholic marriage. The first is the taking of marital vows in the presence of a Catholic priest. But the marriage is not complete until the couple consummates their marriage by making love to each other. That is why a couple who has been married in church and have not consummated their marriage can have their marriage annulled.

This shows us the important role of sex in the Catholic Church, and why it is reserved for married couples only. Because every time a husband and wife makes love to each other, they are saying with their bodies that “My love for you is freely given in a total and exclusive way, to bear fruits of love in our marital relationship.” This is why marriage is a sacrament, because a husband’s love for his wife is a sign of Christ’s love for his Church. Conversely, a wife’s love for her husband and she placing herself under the mission of her husband is a sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and she placing herself under the mission of Christ.

Therefore, when a wife places herself in sub-mission to her husband, what she is doing is that she is placing herself “under the mission” of her husband. What is her husband’s mission? Her husband’s mission is to love his wife and to sacrifice himself for her to make her holy. In order to do so, a husband looks to Christ as his model of love, and he is to withhold nothing to carrying out this mission for his wife, going all the way, if necessary, to give up his own life for her. This is so that a husband’s love for his wife is freely given in a total way, and it is a love that is faithful to his wife. Therefore, when a husband makes love to his wife in a free, total, and faithful way, it is necessarily also fruitful, which means being open to life.

But what does this have to do with the gospel reading? Plenty. The basic cell of society is the family, and for there to be a family, there must first be a man and his wife. This basic cell which has existed for thousands of years seems to be breaking down in our society today. We have some countries changing terms on their birth certificates from “Mother” and “Father” to “Progenitor A” and “Progenitor B” so as to allow them to have two fathers or two mothers. We have some countries allowing a child to have three legal parents.

All these seems to be way beyond our control, doesn’t it? But it isn’t necessarily so. As mentioned early, the basic cell of society is the family. If the family breaks down, society naturally breaks down as well. Similarly, if the family is strengthened, society is strengthened as well. Our duty to society as members of the human race is simply to ensure that our family is a model of love and that husband and wife sacrifice everything for the good of their marriage.

I’ve always wondered what is the best way to teach a child how to love, and I think I’ve found my answer. A child is best taught how to love by watching and imitating his or her own parents’ love for each other. Indeed children learn best by example. When a child grows up in a loving family where husband and wife indeed show their love to each other, the child grows up to be a part of society that knows how to give and receive love.

Contrary to what we believe, a marriage is not a private matter. It is not to be kept locked up in the bedroom. Otherwise, why would be hold big wedding dinners inviting all our friends and relatives? Why would we celebrate our wedding Masses in a church full of people? No, a marriage is very much a public affair, and with good reason too.

A Christian couple that loves like Christ and his Church loves will have an effect like a bit of yeast in a lot of flour. Just a bit of yeast can leaven a whole lot of flour. Similarly, just a bit of Christian love in society can leaven the whole society. And it all begins in the family, which is based on a married couple’s love for each other, which in turn is based on Christ’s love for his Church.
____________________

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help all husbands to love their wives as you love your Church. Help all wives to love their husbands as the Church loves you. Help us all to realise that a couple’s love is never only for the bedroom, but is a sign of your love for the Church in the world. We also pray for all married Christian couples who are going through a difficult part in their marriage. Help them to realise that they are in together for better or for worse, and that divorce is not an option. We also pray for all children that they may be provided with loving parents who, through their love for each other, teach them how to love. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 01 Nov – Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a; Solemnity of All Saints
Thu, 02 Nov – Daniel 12:1-3; Romans 6:3-9; John 6:37-40; The Commemoration of All The Faithful Departed (All Souls)
Fri, 03 Nov – Philippians 1:1-11; Luke 14:1-6; Memorial for St. Martin de Porres, religious
Sat, 04 Nov – Philippians 1:18b-26; Luke 14:1, 7-11; Memorial for St. Charles Borromeo, bishop
Sun, 05 Nov – Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Hebrews 7:23-26; Mark 12:28b-34; Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

————————
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
————————
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, Oct 30 – There’s A Higher High

30 Oct

I didn’t understand this story until I found out that it’s talking about self-control. Then I bowed in respect for the author. Hope you get the message too!
_________________

Heaven or Hell?
Author Unknown

Once there was a knight who travelled a long distance to see a sage and asked, “Wise Master, tell me, what are heaven and hell really like?”

“Tell me about yourself first,” replied the sage.

“I am an officer of the Emperor’s elite personal guard,” he answered.

“Nonsense!” the wise man retorted. “What kind of emperor would have you around him? To me you appear like a fool.”

The knight was infuriated by such an insult. He reached for his sword. “Oh, ho,” exclaimed the sage. “So you have a long sword. I’ll bet it’s much too dull to cut off my head.”

At this, the knight could not hold himself back. He angrily drew his sword and threatened the wise master, who calmly replied, “Now you know half the answer. You are opening the gates of hell.”

The officer hesitated, lowered his sword, and bowed in respect. “Now you know the other half,” said the sage. “You have opened the gates of heaven.”

– taken from Fresh Packet of Sower’s Seeds, Third Planting, by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR
____________________

Ephesians 5:21-33

Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.

Try, then, to imitate God, as children of his that he loves, and follow Christ by loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. Among you there must be not even a mention of fornication or impurity in any of its forms, or promiscuity: this would hardly become the saints! There must be no coarseness, or salacious talk and jokes – all this is wrong for you: raise your voices in thanksgiving instead. For you can be quite certain that nobody who actually indulges in fornication or impurity or promiscuity – which is worshipping a false god – can inherit anything of the kingdom of God. Do not let anyone deceive you with empty arguments: it is for this loose living that God’s anger comes down on those who rebel against him. Make sure that you are not included with them. You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light.
___________________

Luke 13:10-17

One sabbath day Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that left her enfeebled; she was bent double and quite unable to stand upright. When Jesus saw her he called her over and said, “Woman, you are rid of your infirmity” and he laid his hands on her. And at once she straightened up, and she glorified God.

But the synagogue official was indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, and he addressed the people present. “There are six days,” he said, “when work is to be done. Come and be healed on one of those days and not on the sabbath.” But the Lord answered him, “Hypocrites!” he said. “Is there one of you who does not untie his ox or his donkey from the manger on the sabbath and take it out for watering? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has held bound these eighteen years – was it not right to untie her bonds on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his adversaries were covered with confusion, and all the people were overjoyed at the wonders he worked.
____________________

Today’s readings are very interesting. One phrase that struck me most is “And at once she straightened up”. This woman had spent eighteen years living with an infirmity that she had probably gotten used to. Her entire life had been adjusted such that she could cope with her infirmity. But when Jesus healed her of it, she immediately straightened up and that action is what glorified God. This meant that a lot of things in her life had to be changed. If she had been a beggar, for example, her entire livelihood had to be changed, but she accepted that as a natural consequence of being healed. She could find another job to bring her income.

There are some of us who have been healed by God, but despite being healed, we don’t live as though we are healed because we are so used to our way of life that we would rather not acknowledge that we have been healed. Being a believer in Christ implies that Jesus is our Lord. But we choose to have other pleasures in life be our god instead. One of the more common idols in our life today comes in the form of instant gratification, especially in the area of sex.

Looking at the first reading, we might get the impression that St. Paul’s words are not applicable to us today. However, they are more than applicable, because in his time, sex was just as much abused as it is today. In Pope Benedict’s encyclical “God Is Love”, he wrote about how ancient civilisations used to have temple prostitutes because the worshippers believed that through having sex with them, they are able to enter into an ecstasy that connected them with the divine. It may sound silly to us, but all around us people still use sex to enter into that ecstasy.

Sex in itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it is indeed a sacred thing when it happens between a husband and his wife. That is the only place that is proper for sex to take place because when husband and wife have sex, they are a sign of God’s free, total, faithful and fruitful love for his people. This sign is reflected in the free, total, faithful and fruitful love between a husband and his wife.

But everywhere we look, sex seems to be a commodity. People use it as bargaining chips, as a means to make a living, or as a kind of drug, especially among our young people. I don’t believe there are any figures available, but I do know that many young men are addicted to pornography and masturbation, thanks to how easily available it is on the internet these days.

There are a hundred reasons a young man can come up with to justify his sexual sins, but apparently only one reason holds any weight under proper investigation – it feels good. This brings us back to the problem of instant gratification, where our own pleasure replaces God’s pleasure in our life, when we replace God as Lord of our life. Hence, idolatry.

There is this joke that says that our priests don’t mention sexual sins in their homilies because St. Paul says that “there must be not even a mention of fornication or impurity in any of its forms”. We do know that even some priests have problems with chastity and have to keep struggling. But simply saying ‘no’ to sexual sins is only burying the problem. It doesn’t go away until we realise that, in saying ‘no’, we have to say ‘yes’ to God.

There is only one sure way to deal with the problems of sexuality in our society today, and that is by learning how to find God in our human sexuality. The door to this has been opened more than 20 years ago, by Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body. Only by learning more about this, the Church’s true view on human sexuality, can we Christians hope to provide our people with a better alternative to the reasons they have in engaging in sexual misconduct.

Just the other day, I had someone comment on my blog, “Why would anyone NOT want to masturbate?” This person had been turned off the Catholic faith because he learnt that Catholics are not allowed to masturbate. If the lesson ended there, he would probably have been justified in thinking what he did about the Catholic faith. But there is a bigger reason that the Church teaches us about proper sexual conduct, and it’s not merely because “the Church says so”.

As Catholics, let us learn more about what the Church really says about sex, and with this knowledge, offer others around us a better alternative to the sexual pleasure that they already have. There’s a higher high than what they already experience in sex and through it God is glorified. The best part is, it is applicable to anybody, even the celibate.
__________________

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help us to look beyond the physical world of sex to see the expression of your love for us through this sacred act. Heal us from our infirmities, our addictions, our fascination with instant gratification, and help us to acknowledge that we have been healed through you. Grant us the courage to face the world free from our addictions, by not only saying ‘no’ to sexual misconduct, but by saying ‘yes’ to you, our Lord and God. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, the antidote to our sexual confusion.

Upcoming Readings:
Tue, 31 Oct – Ephesians 5:21-33; Luke 13:18-21
Wed, 01 Nov – Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a; Solemnity of All Saints
Thu, 02 Nov – Daniel 12:1-3; Romans 6:3-9; John 6:37-40; The Commemoration of All The Faithful Departed (All Souls)
Fri, 03 Nov – Philippians 1:1-11; Luke 14:1-6; Memorial for St. Martin de Porres, religious
Sat, 04 Nov – Philippians 1:18b-26; Luke 14:1, 7-11; Memorial for St. Charles Borromeo, bishop
Sun, 05 Nov – Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Hebrews 7:23-26; Mark 12:28b-34; Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

————————
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
————————
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.

Sunday, Oct 29 – Priests From The Marketplace

29 Oct – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Lord Who Works Marvels

We worship Christ who opens our eyes to see the marvels that he has done for us as our high priest and mediator with the Father.

– from the Sunday Missal
___________________

Teller of New Truths
by Merie Crowell

There is a story about a Greenland Eskimo who was taken on one of the American polar expeditions. As a reward for his faithful service, he was brought to New York City for a short visit. He was filled with wonder at all the miracles of sight and sound. When he returned to his native village, he told stories of buildings that rose into the very face of the sky. He spoke of streetcars, which he described as houses that moved along the trail, with people living in them as they moved. He told about mammoth bridges, artificial lights, and all the other dazzling delights of the great metropolis.

His people looked at him coldly and walked away. Throughout the village, he was dubbed, “The Liar”. This name he carried in shame to his grave. Long before his death, his original name was entirely forgotten in the village.

When Knud Rasmussen made his trip from Greenland to Alaska, he was accompanied by an Eskimo named Mitek from the same village. Mitek visited Copenhagen and New York, where he saw many things for the first time and was duly impressed. Later, upon his return to Greenland, he recalled the tragedy of “The Liar” and decided that it would not be wise to tell the truth. Instead, he narrated stories hat his people could grasp and thus saved his reputation.

He told them how he and Dr. Rasmussen maintained a kayak on the banks of a great river, the Hudson, and how each morning they paddled out for their hunting; ducks, geese and seals were plentiful. And Mitek said they enjoyed the visit with the “natives” immensely.

Mitek, in the eyes of his village, was a very honest man. His neighbours treated him with rare respect.

– taken from Fresh Packet of Sower’s Seeds, Third Planting, by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR
___________________

Jeremiah 31:7-9

The Lord says this:

Shout with joy for Jacob!
Hail the chief of nations!
Proclaim! Praise! Shout!
“The Lord has saved his people,
the remnant of Israel!”
See, I will bring them back
from the land to the North
and gather them from the far ends of earth;
all of them: the blind and the lame,
women with child, women in labour:
a great company returning here.
They had left in tears,
I will comfort them as I lead them back;
I will guide them to streams of water,
by a smooth path where they will not stumble.
For I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my first-born son.

____________________

Hebrews 5:1-6

Every high priest has been taken out of mankind and is appointed to act for men in their relations with God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins; and so he can sympathise with those who are ignorant or uncertain because he too lives in the limitations of weakness. That is why he has to make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor on himself, but each one is called by God, as Aaron was. Nor did Christ give himself the glory of becoming high priest, but he had it from the one who said to him: You are my son, today I have become your father, and in another text: You are a priest of the order of Melchizedek, and for ever.
____________________

Mark 10:46-52

As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, “Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.” And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man. “Courage,” they said, “get up; he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Rabbuni,” the blind man said to him, “Master, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has saved you.” And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.
_____________________

This week has been a good week for me. My most rewarding experience this week came from an internet encounter with a total stranger who left a comment and question on my blog asking a question related to a sexual sin and a dissatisfactory response from a priest during confession. Somehow, I was able to help him obtain peace of mind after carefully considering his question, and on reflection, I realised that I was able to do so only because I had been in similar situations in the past.

Reflecting on the life of Jesus, we wonder why he waited until he was 30 years old before he began his public ministry. Why did he not begin it earlier? What was he doing all that time? Well, the simple answer is that he was working, living in the world, observing people and their behaviours, and growing in wisdom. That is why he was able to teach through the use of parables which were very real to the people he ministered to. His parables were stories that his listeners could easily grasp because the content frequently concerned their daily lives and activities.

Today, our seminaries often encourage aspiring priests to go out into the world and learn about it before joining the seminary. It is good advice indeed, even though I remember when I was 18, I got quite pissed off when I was told to go work for a few years, have a girlfriend, and see how people live in the world before applying to enter the seminary. Some people feel that this is bad advice because a seed of vocation should be nurtured in the seminary, not thrown into the world.

But consider what happens if our priests of today are ordained with no working experience at all. The most obvious result is that they would not be able to effectively minister to the people that they are sent to, because they have no idea what kind of lives they lived, having never lived such lives before. Sure they would be full of theoretical knowledge, but lacking worldly experience, they will be preaching a religion full of lofty ideas that is detached from real life.

Imagine if at every homily, they preached about Canon Law, Catholic social teaching, expounded on dogmas, spoke about the encyclicals, etc, with no reference to the daily lives of their parishioners. Then all the parishioners would be sleeping during the homily. In other words, these very knowledgeable priests would be preaching an impractical faith that is of no interest to the people in the marketplace. That is not the faith that Jesus preached.

Jesus did not content himself with teaching parables, instituting sacraments, choosing disciples, arguing with Pharisees, etc. He reached out to the people and healed them of their ailments. He knew what they needed most, and he always sought to be for them what they needed most – a companion, a friend, a healer, a teacher, a comforter, a master, a servant, and most importantly, a reflection of the Father.

That is what we see our priests today trying to be for each of us, to be all things to all men, as St. Paul says. Do we see our priests trying their best to be what they can be for us? Our priests are human too. They have feelings, they get disappointed when we don’t respond as they hope; they get sad when they see us reject certain teachings; they get frustrated when the demands of parish life weigh heavily on their shoulders. They need times of privacy too, and they feel happy and rewarded when one of their parishioners gives them positive feedback. When was the last time you complimented your priest on something that he did?
____________________

Something for you to do:
Instead of our usual prayer, today you shall take a minute or two to say a prayer for a priest of your choice, and the next chance you get, approach him and pay him a compliment.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Our priests who have been a reflection of Christ for us at some point of our life.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 30 Oct – Ephesians 4:32 – 5:8; Luke 13:10-17
Tue, 31 Oct – Ephesians 5:21-33; Luke 13:18-21
Wed, 01 Nov – Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a; Solemnity of All Saints
Thu, 02 Nov – Daniel 12:1-3; Romans 6:3-9; John 6:37-40; The Commemoration of All The Faithful Departed (All Souls)
Fri, 03 Nov – Philippians 1:1-11; Luke 14:1-6; Memorial for St. Martin de Porres, religious
Sat, 04 Nov – Philippians 1:18b-26; Luke 14:1, 7-11; Memorial for St. Charles Borromeo, bishop
Sun, 05 Nov – Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Hebrews 7:23-26; Mark 12:28b-34; Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

————————
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
————————
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, Oct 28 – Are You A Hopeless Case?

28 Oct – Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles

Simon the Zealot was an apostle who evangelised in Egypt and Mesopotamia. He is known to have been martyred, but several places claim to have been the site of his martyrdom. Abbyssinians claim he was crucified in Samaria; Lipsius says he was sawn in half at Suanir, Persia, Moses of Chorene writes that he was martyred at Weriosphora in Iberia; many locations claim to have relics.

Prayer to St. Simon the Apostle
O Glorious Saint Simon, you were a cousin of Jesus and a devoted follower as well. You were called “the Zealot”, indication that you were willing to give your life for your religion and your freedom as a human person. Obtain for us the grace to be willing to give our lives for Christ and to labour for the freedom and peace that only God can give. Help us to spend ourselves for God on earth and be received by him in eternal bliss in heaven. Amen.

St. Judas Thaddeus was the son of Cleophas who died a martyr, and Mary who stood at the foot of the Cross, and who anointed Christ’s body after death. He was the brother of St. James the Lesser; a nephew of Mary and Joseph, blood relative of Jesus Christ, and reported to look a lot like him. He may have been a fisherman as well, but was definitely an apostle.

He was the writer of a canonical letter found in the New Testament. He preached in Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia with St. Simon. He was a healer and an exorcist, and could exorcise pagan idols, which caused the demons to flee and the statues to crumble.

His patronage of lost or impossible causes traditionally derives from confusion by many early Christians between Jude and Judas; not understanding the differences between the names, they never prayed for Jude’s help, and devotion to him became something of a lost cause.

He was beaten to death with a club, and then beheaded post-mortem in first century Persia.

Prayer to St. Jude
Most holy apostle St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered the beloved Master into the hands of His enemies has caused you to be forgotten by many, but the Church honours and invokes you universally as the patron of hopeless cases, of things most despaired of. Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone. Make use I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you, to bring visible and speedy help, where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolations and help of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly (your request) and that I may bless God with you and all the elect forever.

I promise, O blessed St. Jude, to be every mindful of this great favour, to always honour you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you. Amen.

– Source: Patron Saint Index
___________________

Ephesians 2:19-22

You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household. You are a part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the spirit.
____________________

Luke 6:12-19

Jesus went out into the hills to pray; and he spent the whole night in prayer to God. When day came he summoned his disciples and picked out twelve of them; he called them “apostles”: Simon whom he called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot who became a traitor.

He then came down with them and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon who had come to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. People tormented by unclean spirits were also cured, and everyone in the crowd was trying to touch him because power came out of him that cured them all.
____________________

We sometimes hear of various church ministries that seem to be able to work miraculous signs. Even among the Catholics, there are various individuals that have a reputation of being a healer, or able to drive away evil spirits, etc. Some of us do not take this seriously at all, because we think that these signs have no or little place in Christianity.

How can this be, since everywhere that Jesus went, he cured the sick and drove away evil spirits? And he promised his apostles that wherever they go to preach the gospel, these signs will accompany them. Indeed these signs are simply that – signs that point to something greater than themselves. Just like how you drive along the roads and you see a sign that points you to the expressway, so you follow that sign and find yourself on the expressway, so it is with these miraculous signs that point us to God.

Do we think that these people with a reputation have the power to work miracles on their own? It is more likely that these people are quite powerless on their own and they know it. What was special about the twelve disciples that Jesus chose to be his special apostles? Nothing whatsoever, and in the course of Jesus’ ministry, climaxing at his passion, death and resurrection, they each came to realise that they really did not have anything special about them at all.

It is this realisation that they have nothing to offer that enables Jesus to empower them to preach the Good News and to work miraculous signs. So long as we believe that we have the power to do something, Jesus cannot share with us all of his power to do even greater things, because we believe that we have the power.

That is why today we remember St. Jude, the patron saint for hopeless cases. There are some of you reading this who have personally shared with me how St. Jude was once your patron saint, because you knew that you could not make it through on your own, and had to rely completely on God, while you sought intercession by St. Jude. Remember that all your life, that you cannot make it on your own, that you are nothing, so that Jesus can empower you with the Holy Spirit to be what the Father wants you to be.
____________________

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help us to realise that we are indeed nothing, and can do nothing without you. Help us to empty ourselves of all that we have, so as to be filled with your Holy Spirit to do what you want us to do. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Genuine humility from the living saints around us.

Upcoming Readings:
Sun, 29 Oct – Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52; Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

————————
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
————————
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, Oct 27 – World Peace

27 Oct

Towards Self-Destruction
Author Unknown

There is a fable that tells about a lion and a tiger. Both thirsty, the animal arrived at the water hole at the same time. They immediately began to argue about which should satisfy its thirst first. The argument became heated. Each one decided it would rather die than give up the privilege of being first to quench its thirst.

Stubbornly they confronted each other, and their emotions turned to rage. However, their vicious attacks on each other were suddenly interrupted. They both looked up towards the sky, and circling overhead was a flock of vultures waiting for the loser to fall. Quietly, the two beasts turned away from each other and withdrew back into the forest. The thought of being devoured was all they needed to end their quarrel.

– taken from Fresh Packet of Sower’s Seeds, Third Planting, by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR
___________________

Ephesians 4:1-6

I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.
____________________

Luke 12:54-59

Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud looming up in the west you say at once that rain is coming, and so it does. And when the wind is from the south you say it will be hot, and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the face of the earth and the sky. How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?

“Why not judge for yourselves what is right? For example, when you go to court with your opponent, try to settle with him on the way, or he may drag you before the judge and the judge hand you over to the bailiff and the bailiff have you thrown into prison. I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the very last penny.”
____________________

Yesterday, Jesus said to the crowds that he will be the cause of division among people. Today, he (and the first reading) tells us to make peace and unity with our fellowmen, to overlook the differences that we have, and to be patient with one another, resolving things with charity, selflessness, gentleness and patience.

The reason Jesus said what he did in the previous day’s readings was because when it comes to Jesus, there is no middle ground. You are either for him or against him. You have to make a choice. But for people like us who have already made the choice for him, Jesus and Paul tell us to make peace with one another, so as to preserve the unity of the Spirit that we all share.

A few days ago, I asked, “Are you working towards a united Body of Christ, or are you instead a cause for further division?” In these past few days, I have been a cause of division with another reader of OXYGEN, and before writing today’s reflection, I felt that I had to try to make peace with him. It seems a silly thing to have differences with him over something that is a sign of our unity.

And indeed Christian groups do tend to quarrel with one another over things that should be a sign of unity between them. In parishes, priests will quarrel with choirs and lectors over how the liturgy should be carried out, when the liturgy should actually be a sign of unity among Catholics.

On a larger scale, Christian denominations will quarrel among themselves over certain doctrines pertaining to Jesus, and end up causing further division, when Jesus is supposed to be what these denominations have in common. How laughable it is that Christians, Muslims and Jews fight against one another for supremacy when they all claim to worship the same God, and that they are all God’s chosen people.

On an even larger scale, we see countries (especially in the Middle East) fighting one another over the same life-giving river when they should be united since the river flows through all of them. On an international level, nation fights against nation on control over territories, which are all part of the same green Earth that we live on.

It seems to be our nature to focus on our differences instead of what we have in common. But we are all humans, God’s creations, which is why Paul tells us to strive to make peace with one another, starting with our own communities and families.

We are all so quick to read the signs of the moves made by the different countries. “How is it that we do not know how to interpret these times?” Jesus asks us today. You want world peace? Start by making peace with those that you have differences with.

World peace is the responsibility and duty of each person in the world. World peace doesn’t when America makes friends with North Korea, or when all countries have disarmed their nuclear warheads. World peace begins in our own homes, and from there, the peace of God will spread to the people that we interact with, who will in turn strive for peace in their own homes, and eventually, the whole world will be at peace.
___________________

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, we pray for world peace, starting with our own homes, our own families, our own communities, our own church groups, and our own offices. Help us to bring your peace throughout the world by being an instrument of your peace in the lives of those around us. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who bring us peace.

Upcoming Readings:
Sat, 28 Oct – Ephesians 2:19-22; Luke 6:12-19; Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles
Sun, 29 Oct – Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52; Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

————————
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
————————
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, Oct 26 – What Matters

26 Oct

The Priceless Ingredient

There is an old Sufi tale set in Baghdad. In the city lived Hakeem, the Wise One, to whom many people came for counsel and advice. He gave it freely, asking nothing in return.

One day a young man came to him. The young man had squandered much of his life and had little to show for it. he inquired of Hakeem, “Tell me, Wise One, what shall I do to receve the most for what I do with my life?”

Hakeem answered, “A thing that is bought or sold has no value unless it contains that which cannot be bought or sold. Look for the priceless ingredient.”

“But what is this ‘priceless’ ingredient?” asked the young man.

The Wise One said, “My son, the priceless ingredient is the honour and integrity of those who make the product. Consider this well before you buy.”

Yes, each of us might well consider this for our own lives. Honour and dignity are the priceless ingredients which will return the most to us.

– Anonymous (Fresh Packet of Sower’s Seeds, Third Planting, by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR)
__________________

Ephesians 3:14-21

This is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name:

Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.

Glory be to him whose power; working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.
____________________

Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great if my distress till it is over!

‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’
____________________

“What mattered was not what was easy to believe in but, more importantly, what was the truth”. I read this very recently. In the story where it came from, the scenario was a presentation. Someone questioned the presenter about a conclusion that had been reached and how that conclusion did not seem plausible given conventional information and logic. The presenter said it was a good point but finished off with the above quote.

Well, the guy was actually bluffing his way through a reply but it struck me because of just how relevant those words were in what I’m now doing. The main point of research is discovering buried truths and trying to figure out how they’re all connected. At times, something is discovered which simply goes beyond accepted logic and is denied by every other expert in the field. Does that make it false though?

Hardly, since many of those discoveries went on to become pioneers and even Nobel Laureates. The guy who discovered the stomach bacteria that caused gastric ulcers and can lead to stomach cancer had his findings denied by the first journals he sent them to. Now, he’s a Nobel prize winner and his work spawned a diverse field of research.

Even as I do my own work now, it is very tempting to take a set of data from an experiment as an erroneous one if it deviates from the expected results. Taking it as a correct result would require explaining why it differs from expectations, which in simple terms means more work. There are times when it truly is wrong, because we messed up somewhere, etc. There are also times when mistakes simply cannot account for the results and it is then when things get interesting. If we accept its correctness and try to answer the question “why?”, there might be a new discovery just around the corner.

Idealistic sounding? Yes, it is but stuff like this does happen. It takes place in today’s Gospel reading. Imagine the disciples’ reactions to Christ’s words. He told them that He would cause strife, not peace. Which kind of Messiah sows discord? Hard stuff to swallow, downright unbelievable but it was the truth. It still is the truth right now. The important thing that will come out of acceptance of Christ’s message is that hidden self is given the chance to come forth as Paul wrote in the first reading. Thus that initial separation from others is a potential tool. A tool to wipe the slate clean and show those others the results of letting the glory of God touch that inner self and let it shine forth. A tool to show those others how it would not have been possible if not for the acceptance of the hard-to-believe-truth.

The analogy is similar to the story told in yesterday’s sharing. Pete the caterpillar MUST accept the fact that he’ll have to go without leaves and sleep for quite a while if he is to transform into the butterfly which he and his peers envied. Only then is the gift of God to him – metamorphosis allowed to take place. That decision separates him from his peers but it also lets him demonstrate to them what that the butterfly was right.

In our faith journeys, we may face moments of trial and tribulation that just don’t seem to tally with what we may expect from a life filled with blessings from God. It is at these crucial points that we cannot deny those experiences as something that cannot be but evaluate them and their purpose and value (of which there is surely plenty) in our spiritual growth. Then, as Paul wrote, the power of God, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. This, my sisters and brothers, is what matters most.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
____________________

Prayer:
Lord, may we not turn on backs on things that seem hard to accept but seek to understand them, with You in mind. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who make difficult but necessary decisions.

Upcoming Readings:
Fri, 27 Oct – Ephesians 4:1-6; Luke 12:54-59
Sat, 28 Oct – Ephesians 2:19-22; Luke 6:12-19; Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles
Sun, 29 Oct – Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52; Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

————————
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
————————
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, Oct 25 – The Caterpillar and the Butterfly

25 Oct

“The glory of God is man fully alive.” – St. Irenaeus
__________________

Ephesians 3:2-12

You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the grace he meant for you, and that it was by a revelation that I was given the knowledge of the mystery, as I have just described it very shortly. If you read my words, you will have some idea of the depths that I see in the mystery of Christ. This mystery that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in pas generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel. I have been made the servant o that gospel by a gift of grace from God who gave it to me by his own power. I, who am less than the last of all the saints, have been entrusted with this special grace, not only of proclaiming to the pagans the infinite treasure of Christ but also of explaining how the mystery is to be dispensed. Through all the ages, this has been kept hidden in God, the creator of everything. Why? So that the Sovereignties and Powers should learn only now, through the Church, how comprehensive God’s wisdom really is, exactly according to the plan which he had had from all eternity in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is why we are bold enough to approach God in complete confidence, through our faith in him.
____________________

Luke 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples: “You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Peter said, “Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?” The Lord replied, “What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the servant who says to himself, ‘My master is taking his time coming,’ and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.

“The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not known, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.
____________________

There was once a caterpillar named Pete, who lived with a bunch of other caterpillars on a plant. Everyday, they would climb up the plant and find a leaf to feed on. On finding the leaf, they would spend the entire day munching and munching on the juicy leaf. Every day, it was the same thing, but they were happy. There was nothing more important or more enjoyable than eating leaves.

One day, a butterfly was hovering over the plant and drinking nectar from a flower overhead. On seeing the caterpillars down below, it went down and landed near the caterpillars. The caterpillars had never seen a butterfly before and they all marvelled at the insect.

“You will one day be like me too,” said the butterfly to them. “There’s much more to life than just eating leaves, day in and day out.”

“What else is there?” asked Pete. “Tell us.”

“Well, when you become like me, you will be able to fly away from this plant,” said the butterfly. “You will be able to see how big the world really is. You will no longer have to remain near the ground. You can fly as far as you want.”

“Are there more leaves to eat?” some of the caterpillars wanted to know.

“When you become like me,” said the butterfly. “It won’t be leaves that you will eat, but the sweetest nectar you’ve ever tasted.”

Now the caterpillars had, of course, never heard of such a thing called ‘nectar’ before. At this point, some of the caterpillars lost interest and turned back to eating their leaves. “Don’t disturb us from our enjoyment,” they said to the butterfly. “We are wasting precious time listening to you talk about things that don’t exist when we could be enjoying ourselves eating.”

But Pete and some of his friends were still interested in what the butterfly had to say. “What must we do to be able to fly like you and to drink this ‘nectar’ you speak of?”

The butterfly replied, “You must first spin yourself a cocoon, and go to sleep inside it. When you wake up and come out, you will find that you have wings like me and you will then be able to go where you want to go, and drink what nectar you want to drink.”

However, when Pete’s friends heard this, they exclaimed, “No leaves for so long?! This is too difficult, we cannot accept it.” And they turned around and went right back to eating. Pete found this hard to accept as well, but when he went home that night, he thought long and hard about it.

Finally he said to himself, “If there is such a thing, then I must try my best to find it, even if it meant going without eating leaves for some time.” So that night Pete spun himself a cocoon and went to sleep in it. When he finally woke up after he didn’t know how long, he crawled out of his cocoon and found everything as the butterfly had described. He could fly, drink nectar, and go anywhere he wanted to. As he took off the next morning, he saw far below him, his friends who were still eating leaves.

******
As Christians we have been born into a new life through Jesus. Our lives have been radically changed. Once we were like caterpillars, which have to stay near the ground, and eat leaves. Now we are changed; we fly as high as our wings would carry us, go where they would take us, and taste all that life has to offer us through Christ Jesus.

But as butterflies we also have a mission. We must return to our fellow caterpillars who do not yet know what they can become, to show them by our example, that there is much more to life than what they can see and taste.

Our world preaches self and instant gratification, but Jesus preaches self-denial, to take up our own cross, carry it and follow him. Just like Pete who denied himself the pleasure of eating leaves in order to sleep in a cocoon, and emerged changed, we too must deny ourselves some pleasures of life to emerge changed, in order for us to experience all that life truly has to offer. And we must go back and tell others what life is truly about by our example.
____________________

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help us to be like you, who came to us to reveal to us the fullness of the Father’s plan. Help us to go to others to reveal to them the fullness of the Father’s plan for them, so that we can be fully alive. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who give up the pleasures of life so as to experience life in all its glory.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 26 Oct – Ephesians 3:14-21; Luke 12:49-53
Fri, 27 Oct – Ephesians 4:1-6; Luke 12:54-59
Sat, 28 Oct – Ephesians 2:19-22; Luke 6:12-19; Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles
Sun, 29 Oct – Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52; Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

————————
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
————————
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, Oct 24 – Till All Are One

24 Oct – Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Claret, bishop

St. Anthony Mary Claret (1807-1870) was a weaver before he joined the seminary where he was a student with Blessed Francis Coll, and was ordained on June 13, 1835. He became a missionary in Catalonia and the Canary Islands where he directed retreats and founded the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretians). He was ordained the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba on May 20, 1850 and later founded the Teaching Sisters of Mary Immaculate.

Following his work in the Caribbean, Blessed Pope Pius IX ordered him back to Spain where he was the confessor to Queen Isabella II and ended up being exiled with her. He had the gifts of prophecy and miracles and was reported to have preached 10,000 sermons, published 200 works. Throughout his life, he worked to spread devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

He is the patron saint for the Catholic press, and of weavers.

– Source: Patron Saint Index
_________________

I found a new story book! I wish to share with you this story:

The Clump of Grass
by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR

A story is told about a village on a South Pacific Island where a missionary made his monthly visit to celebrate the Mass, baptise children and new initiates, witness marriage vows, anoint the sick and prayer for the recently deceased. In this particular village, a unique custom is practiced whenever the missionary arrives in his seaplane.

By tradition, the village chief is the first to greet the padre when he steps on land. The two of them embrace, then the chieftain gives the priest a clump of dune grass. The priest returns the clump of grass to the chief, who then turns and gives it to the person next to him. According to island custom, the clump of earth and grass is a sacred reminder of God’s presence tot eh people who live with the vast ocean about them. The islanders consider it a type of sacramental symbolizing harmony and peace.

This sacred clump of grass passes from one villager to the next, throughout the entire village, until it returns to the chief, who then presents it to the priest, completing the ritual. The custom with the sacred clump of grass symbolizes that the villagers are in harmony with one another and are at peace. It is at this point that the Mass can begin, and not before.

On this particular visit, the padre went about his other duties as usual. When the customary time neared for the joyous celebration of the Eucharist, word came to the priest that there was going to be a delay. It seems that there was a bitter disagreement between a father and son, and the clump of grass had not been exchanged between them. There was no celebration of the Mass that month nor the next. It took three months before harmony and peace was restored to that family and to the island village.

As I reflect on this story, I see the beauty and sacredness of that South Pacific custom. I wonder what would happen if we were to pass a sacred clump of grass throughout our churches before we began the Eucharistic celebration. Would there be harmony and peace? How long would we have to wait before we celebrated the Liturgy of the Eucharist?

– taken from Fresh Packet of Sower’s Seeds, Third Planting, by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR
_________________

Ephesians 2:12-22

Do not forget that you had no Christ and were excluded from membership of Israel, aliens with no part in the covenant with their Promise; you were immersed in this world, without hope and without God. But now in Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far apart from us have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ. For he is the peace between us, and has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in his own person the hostility caused by the rules and decrees of the Law. This was to create one single New Man in himself out of the two of them and by restoring peace through the cross, to unite them both in a single Body and reconcile them with God. In his own person he killed the hostility. Later he came to bring the good news of peace, peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near at hand. Through him, both of us have in the one Spirit our way to come to the Father.

So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit.
___________________

Luke 12:35-38

Jesus said to his disciples: “See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready.”
____________________

All Christians who have been baptised in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ share in the same body of Christ. That is why an already baptised Christian is received into the Catholic Church, not re-baptised, for there is only one baptism.

In the beginning, the Church was one, but now through the course of history, several unfortunate incidents have happened which resulted in the Church being split into so many factions. Still, what’s telling is that St. Paul says to us, even in this time and age, that all Christians “are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone…. all grow into one holy temple in the Lord.”

Although we are separated physically, we are still one in the Spirit which works both in the Catholic Church and non-Catholic churches. What unites all of us is our belief in Jesus Christ, who has broken down the barriers between all people who believe in him. This is why it is so important to strive for Christian unity through ecumenism.

We must treat our Christian brothers and sisters with utmost respect, for they too are part of the Body of Christ, since they believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. But how can we treat them with utmost respect when we do not even do the same for our own Catholic brothers and sisters?

When we come for Mass and sit at the table of the Lord, are we able to look at all our Catholic brothers and sisters without judgement? Are we able to say to that divorcee, “Come and let us celebrate the Eucharist together?” Are we able to welcome that homosexually inclined man or woman to share in the body and blood of Christ together? Are we able to offer a sign of peace to that Catholic who offended us greatly by his actions or words? Are we able to lend a helping hand to that priest or communion minister that we can’t stand?

How important is a united Body of Christ to you? Are you working towards a united Body of Christ, or are you instead a cause for further division?
_____________________

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, we pray for all Christians to be given the grace to accept that we are all members of your Body, united by the same Spirit that brought us to believe that you are the Christ, the Lord. Help us to become more united and to love one another as you have loved us. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who constantly strive for unity.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 25 Oct – Ephesians 3:2-12; Luke 12:39-48
Thu, 26 Oct – Ephesians 3:14-21; Luke 12:49-53
Fri, 27 Oct – Ephesians 4:1-6; Luke 12:54-59
Sat, 28 Oct – Ephesians 2:19-22; Luke 6:12-19; Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles
Sun, 29 Oct – Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52; Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
————————

To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
————————
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, Oct 23 – Telling God What To Do

23 Oct – Memorial for St. John of Capistrano

John of Capristrano (1386-1456) was the son of a former German knight who died when John was still young. He studied law at the University of Perugia and was a lawyer in Naples, Italy, before being the reforming governor of Perugia under King Landislas of Naples. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, John tried to broker a peace, but instead his opponents ignored the truce, and made him a prisoner of war.

During his imprisonment, he came to the decision to change vocations. He had married just before the war, but the marriage was never consummated, and with his bride’s permission, it was annulled. He joined the Franciscans at Perugia on Oct 4, 1416, and was fellow student with St. James of the Marches.

St. John was a disciple of St. Bernadine of Siena, and was a noted preached while still a deacon, beginning his work in 1420. An itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, he preached to hundreds of thousands, and established communities of Franciscan renewal. He was reported to heal by making the Sign of the Cross over a sick person. He wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day.

After the fall of Constantinople, he preached Crusade against the Muslim Turks. At the age of 70, he was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to lead it, and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. He won the great battle of Belgrade in the summer of 1456. he died in the field a few months later, but his army delivered Europe from the Muslims.

– Source: Patron Saint Index
___________________

Ephesians 2:1-10

You were dead, through he crimes and the sins in which you used to live when you were following the way of this world, obeying the ruler who governs the air, the spirit who is at work in the rebellious. We all were among them too in the past, living sensual lives, ruled entirely by our own physical desires and our own ideas; so that by nature we were as much under God’s anger as the rest of the world. But God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.

This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.
___________________

Luke 12:13-21

A man in the crowd said to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.” “My friend,” he replied, “who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?” Then he said to them, “Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.”

Then he told them a parable: “There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, ‘What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?’ So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.”
____________________

When a younger brother sees an older sibling receiving a slice of delicious cake, and he goes up to his mother and says, “Mother, mother! Tell kor-kor to give me my share of the cake!” Is the younger brother concerned with fairness or his older sibling’s generosity? No. He just wants the piece of cake that he was not able to get. He lacks the power and authority to claim something that he wants, so he tells his mother to do something that he wants do.

When a parishioner goes up to the parish priest and complains, “Father, Father! Tell so-and-so to be more this-and-that”, is she concerned with the other parishioner’s well-being? She only goes up to the priest because She alone lacks the power and authority to claim something that she wants, so she tells her parish priest to do something that she wants to do.

Similarly, when the man in the crowd goes up to Jesus and says, “Master, tell my brother to give me a share of inheritance”, he is not concerned with his elder brother being fair or not. He simply lacks the power and authority to claim how much he wants, so he tells Jesus to do it for him.

Note that Jesus is not concerned whether or not the thing that we want is good or bad. He doesn’t say whether the man who approached him is asking for something that is fair or just or not. He merely says, “I am not the arbitrator of your claims.” In other words, Jesus is not obliged to do what we tell him to do for us, even if that is the fair or just or correct thing to do.

The same situation takes place when we want something but lack the power to do so. That is why we pray to God, “Lord, Lord,” we say, “tell so-and-so that he must be more generous, more helpful, etc, so that I may get what I want.” Okay, so we don’t say that exactly, but that is often indeed the focus of our prayers. We want this, we want that, and we tell God to grant it for us… and then we add, as an afterthought, “if only if it is your will”.

Today’s readings have us concerned not particularly about our actions, but their motives. Sometimes we pray to God, “Lord, you know I’ve never committed any serious sin in my life. I’ve always fasted during Lent, abstained from meat on Fridays, gone to church every Sunday. I’ve always given money to charity, and helped out in church. So please grant my prayer.”

Is this not bargaining with God? Is this not telling him, “Because I’ve done this for you, you’re obliged to do this for me?” Is this not placing ourselves above God, telling him what to do? But God is ever so humble. He does not mind us asking him to do something for him. God is, after all, not as worried about his position as almighty as we are worried for him. What God is most concerned about is – why do you ask me to do this for you?

Do we ask God to do things for us out of love for him and our neighbour? Or do we ask him to do it for us because we don’t have the capability, the power, the authority to do it? Sometimes the line is so fine that we don’t realise that we’ve crossed it.
____________________

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, we ask for your grace to be as humble as you are, to serve the Father as you have served, to love God and our neighbour as you have loved. Help us to do all that we do out of love. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who know where they stand with God.

Upcoming Readings:
Tue, 24 Oct – Ephesians 2:12-22; Luke 12:35-38; Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Claret, bishop
Wed, 25 Oct – Ephesians 3:2-12; Luke 12:39-48
Thu, 26 Oct – Ephesians 3:14-21; Luke 12:49-53
Fri, 27 Oct – Ephesians 4:1-6; Luke 12:54-59
Sat, 28 Oct – Ephesians 2:19-22; Luke 6:12-19; Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles
Sun, 29 Oct – Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52; Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

————————
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Godismyoxygen-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
————————
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.