Monthly Archives: May 2016

31 May, Tuesday – Hail, Full of Grace

31 May – Feast of The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The feast of the Visitation recalls to us the following great truths and events: The visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth shortly after the Annunciation; the cleansing of John the Baptist from original sin in the womb of his mother at the words of Our Lady’s greeting; Elizabeth’s proclaiming of Mary—under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost—as Mother of God and “blessed among women”; Mary’s singing of the sublime hymn, Magnificat(“My soul doth magnify the Lord”) which has become a part of the daily official prayer of the Church. The Visitation is frequently depicted in art, and was the central mystery of St. Francis de Sales’ devotions.

The Mass of today salutes her who in her womb bore the King of heaven and earth, the Creator of the world, the Son of the Eternal Father, the Sun of Justice. It narrates the cleansing of John from original sin in his mother’s womb. Hearing herself addressed by the most lofty title of “Mother of the Lord” and realizing what grace her visit had conferred on John, Mary broke out in that sublime canticle of praise proclaiming prophetically that henceforth she would be venerated down through the centuries:

“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me, and holy is His name” (Lk. 1:46).

—Excerpted from the Cathedral Daily Missal

(Source: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2016-05-31)

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And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

On this beautiful feast of the Visitation, I am reminded of my spiritual journey in the Catholic faith as I was baptised and received my First Holy Communion and Confirmation in the Church of Visitation Seremban, in Malaysia. My parents got married there. My uncles were ordained there. And my grandmother’s funeral was held in that church which I now consider my home parish. Mere memories aside, I see how growing both from childhood and also in my faith is as rich as it gets when Our Mother is its patron. I have many times asked, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” I would like to elaborate about this in three parts: Personal faith, Community and Our Mother’s Intercession.

Personal faith
I was raised devoutly Catholic by my parents and it was hard to even change things related to my Catholic prayer life even when I moved out to live in the city when I was twenty-one. It was more than a personal effort on my part to remain rooted in the faith. As I look back, I realise that Our Mother simply refused to let go of my hand, nor let me lose Her Son.

I was a minority ethnic individual, a junior staff, among majority Muslims in a workplace where colleagues and superiors openly implied that I should embrace Islam. I had my doubts and sometimes felt very harassed. Being a twenty-something year old, I know I did not do it on my own. It was my Mother who protected me and shielded me from leaving her Son.

As children, we used to pray the rosary daily at 8 pm and 12 noon during the school holidays. Things changed when we moved to our own house. I was about eleven at the time and our prayer time was a decade of the rosary. In my heart I knew something was amiss yet I was thrilled that prayer time was shortened. So I never complained about it. The one decade we prayed each day sustained us as a family. Our Blessed Mother is not impressed with how long we spent praying. Just like any loving mother she would love, care and pray for us, no matter what.

In my early twenties when life seemed impossible and there was no where to turn, one night I decided that I would pray the rosary before I went to bed in the hostel room I stayed at. That was the beginning of my prayer life as an adult Catholic and I never once looked back. She has never let me go and kept me faithful to my daily prayer even when my life seemed futile and my choices looked very distant from grace.

Community
The parishes I served were always Marion parishes. In the city, it was Our Lady of Fatima and then Church of Assumption. I learned how to grow with others while serving in these two parishes. It was with the youths at Church of Assumption that I learnt the spirit of Christian community and its necessity. I finally had a family out of my own within my parish. As any family we had our struggles, our joys, our hopes and our laughter and like any Mother she continues to pray for peace in this “family” of ours. She helped us to love, share and care for each other despite our personal differences. This sort of love is impossible yet God and our Mother, gave us glimpses of their love when we were opened to love as they did.

Our Mother’s Intercessions
Our Mother kept watching me and I started praying the 54 days rosary novena. I noticed that during the duration of the novena, how grace filled my life. At every occasion there was an answer to my prayers. My Mother led me to the areas of life that I never knew were within me. She gave me answers that I was not seeking and she loved me just the same when I was doubtful of her precious Son.

I started wearing the rosary bracelet about a year ago. It recently dawned on me that it really felt like the Mother, who held the Lord, now continually holds my hand. Especially when I am fearful and feel unworthy, this bracelet reminds me that the hands which rocked that cradle, continues to be with me, totally claiming the promise of Jesus, “Behold, thy Mother.”

She has calmed my fears, kissed away my sadness, and cheered me on even at my most measly achievements. She was and continues to be my true Mother.

Recently on a rather challenging day at work, I went to visit my parents though I live some sixty kilometers away. It was an impromptu decision. When I parked my car in the driveway, I saw my mother looking at me as she knew that something was not right, though she did not probe. She brought me a cup of tea and we spend hours talking, though not about what was really eating me up at that time. After that time, I felt my whole burden lifted. I feel the same way about Our Mother Mary and praying the rosary. I am praying a set of prayers from the Bible, in the Hail Marys, Holy Marys, Our Fathers and although it can sometimes feel repetitive and irrelevant, I feel that she (in her great mercy and love) not only removed my burdens but she clothes me with grace. And I am convicted of the power of One Hail Mary.

Dear sisters and brothers, there is no pain that she cannot kiss away. No tears of ours compares to the ones she has shed. She knows sorrows and pain and she loves us. Call out to Our Mother as a child would in need. In good times; in times that could have been better. She is filled with grace. She is the most blessed among women and the Mother of the only perfect child, our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

30 May, Monday – Prayer of Protection

30 May

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2 Peter 1:2-7

May you have more and more grace and peace as you come to know our Lord more and more.

By his divine power, he has given us all the things that we need for life and for true devotion, bringing us to know God himself, who has called us by his own glory and goodness. In making these gifts, he has given us the guarantee of something very great and wonderful to come: through them you will be able to share the divine nature and to escape corruption in a world that is sunk in vice. But to attain this, you will have to do your utmost yourselves, adding goodness to the faith that you have, understanding to your goodness, self-control to your understanding, patience to your self-control, true devotion to your patience, kindness towards your fellow men to your devotion, and, to this kindness, love.

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Mark 12:1-12

Jesus went on to speak to the chief priests, the scribes and the elders in parables: ‘A man planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug out a trough for the winepress and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce from the vineyard. But they seized the man, thrashed him and sent him away empty-handed. Next he sent another servant to them; him they beat about the head and treated shamefully. And he sent another and him they killed; then a number of others, and they thrashed some and killed the rest. He had still someone left: his beloved son. He sent him to them last of all. “They will respect my son” he said. But those tenants said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” So they seized him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. Now what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and make an end of the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this text of scripture:

It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?

And they would have liked to arrest him, because they realised that the parable was aimed at them, but they were afraid of the crowds. So they left him alone and went away.

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They will respect my son

The prayer of protection in Psalm 91 is one of my favourite Bible verses. I have highly recommended it to people who are fearful or those who are exposed to danger. Recently I recommended it to my God-daughter and I find myself praying this Psalm when my friends are out in active ministry and presenting a session. There are few other prayers of protection, including one to St Michael the Archangel, which I recommend to friends who have little children.

We need to be aware that the ‘approver’ of all prayers is fully in charge. He could have spared His only beloved son but He did not. Such great love He had. He loves us to a point that He wanted salvation for us at any cost. Besides God and Abraham, I cannot think of anyone whose faithfulness was tested through the sacrifice of their children.

In the gospel today, God was confident that we would respect His son. Indeed, you and I were not physically present on the day of crucifixion. Yet, our sins, our anger, bitterness, unrepentant hearts, pride, envy, selfishness nailed Him on that cross. And we continue to hammer another nail on His wounded body when we fail to choose the way of Truth. We are sinful in our nature, but His precious Son came to breathe new life into our being. Will it take the second coming for us all to come Home, repent, love and live as one? Or are we ready to take ownership and be Christ-like to everyone, in every situation?

By the Lord, it has been done and it is wonderful in our eyes.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father protect us from all evil and all occasion of sin.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for giving us Your most precious Son so that we might live.

29 May, Sunday – One, Holy, Catholic

29 May – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday)

Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) is a Eucharistic solemnity, or better, the solemn commemoration of the institution of that sacrament. It is, moreover, the Church’s official act of homage and gratitude to Christ, who by instituting the Holy Eucharist gave to the Church her greatest treasure. Holy Thursday, assuredly, marks the anniversary of the institution, but the commemoration of the Lord’s passion that very night suppresses the rejoicing proper to the occasion. Today’s observance, therefore, accents the joyous aspect of Holy Thursday.

The Mass and the Office for the feast was edited or composed by St. Thomas Aquinas upon the request of Pope Urban IV in the year 1264. It is unquestionably a classic piece of liturgical work, wholly in accord with the best liturgical traditions. . . It is a perfect work of art.

— Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

In the words of St. Thomas of Aquinas:

“How inestimable a dignity, beloved brethren, divine bounty has bestowed upon us Christians from the treasury of its infinite goodness! For there neither is nor ever has been a people to whom the gods were so nigh as our Lord and God is nigh unto us.
“Desirous that we be made partakers of His divinity, the only-begotten Son of God has taken to Himself our nature so that having become man, He would be enabled to make men gods. Whatever He assumed of our nature He wrought unto our salvation. For on the altar of the Cross He immolated to the Father His own Body as victim for our reconciliation and shed His blood both for our ransom and for our regeneration. Moreover, in order that a remembrance of so great benefits may always be with us, He has left us His Body as food and His Blood as drink under appearances of bread and wine.

“O banquet most precious! O banquet most admirable! O banquet overflowing with every spiritual delicacy! Can anything be more excellent than this repast, in which not the flesh of goats and heifers, as of old, but Christ the true God is given us for nourishment? What more wondrous than this holy sacrament! In it bread and wine are changed substantially, and under the appearance of a little bread and wine is had Christ Jesus, God and perfect Man. In this sacrament sins are purged away, virtues are increased, the soul is satiated with an abundance of every spiritual gift. No other sacrament is so beneficial. Since it was instituted unto the salvation of all, it is offered by Holy Church for the living and for the dead, that all may share in its treasures.

“My dearly beloved, is it not beyond human power to express the ineffable delicacy of this sacrament in which spiritual sweetness is tasted in its very source, in which is brought to mind the remembrance of that all-excelling charity which Christ showed in His sacred passion? Surely it was to impress more profoundly upon the hearts of the faithful the immensity of this charity that our loving Savior instituted this sacrament at the last supper when, having celebrated the Pasch with His disciples. He was about to leave the world and return to the Father. It was to serve as an unending remembrance of His passion, as the fulfillment of ancient types — this the greatest of His miracles. To those who sorrow over His departure He has given a unique solace.”

(Source: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2016-05-29)

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Genesis 14:18-20

Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He pronounced this blessing:

‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth,
and blessed be God Most High for handing over your enemies to you.’
And Abram gave him a tithe of everything.

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1 Corinthians 11:23-26

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ©
This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

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Luke 9:11-17

Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.

It was late afternoon when the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people’ For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, ‘Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.’ They did so and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd. They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.

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Give them food yourself

Sometimes it’s easier to think that God is too mighty for the small things. Why would He want to feed the people who were listening to Him that day?Because the Lord, by His nature cares, loves and is Our Father.

For many years, once my siblings and I started working, we would celebrate Father’s Day at a nice restaurant. On some years, we brought along a card, and scribbled in it “our should have beens”. I did not give much thought about how this made my father feel, but somewhere down the line, I realised that he was not enjoying these celebrations very much. So I pressed on to find out how he would like to mark that day. And his response was his desire to feed us. He wanted to go to the market early in the morning and cook a fine meal for us, adorned with his labour of love. I could not understand how giving us a meal was celebrating him at all. Weren’t we supposed to give and not receive on his special day?

This is the beauty of a good parent. They want to nurture, to feed, to sacrifice, to give and give all along. Just like Father God, my earthly father wanted to give to us. And the more I try to understand my own father, I see the unconditional love as crafted by the Maker of Love.

The gift of the Lord, in His body and blood, is unmerited and undeserved. We cannot earn it but it’s an invitation to each baptised Catholic. He knew on the day He was betrayed, that we (His children) would need Him to be with us always and to be One with Him. He was fully aware of its costs, yet it did not stop Him nor make Him compromise. Like any good father, He did not want to compromise what we needed… which is Him. He created our hearts and He knew that we needed Him always. And He asks us to do it in memory of Him.

If today, like me, you feel unworthy, remember that Judas ate and drank at the Lord’s table. And so did Peter. Both of whom betrayed the Lord, in their own ways. Our God is not expecting us to bring anything to this table of love. He sees the heart of a repentant sinner and He runs out to clasp us in a tight embrace… offered as the Eucharistic host we receive at mass.

Today, as we received His body and His blood, let us be fully aware of the beauty of being One with God and with His church brings. Let us remember all those who ate at this table. Let us reach out to all those who are no longer One with us. Be reminded that our disputes are not greater than His Eucharistic Sacrament.

You precious child of God, you are not the sum of your talents, wealth, personality or popularity but the Love of a Father who was broken just for you.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father in Heaven, help us to live and love as One Body.

Thanksgiving: You have made us One with you, we thank you Lord.

28 May, Saturday – Relinquishing Control

28 May

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Jude 1:17,20-25

Remember, my dear friends, what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ told you to expect. But you, my dear friends, must use your most holy faith as your foundation and build on that, praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves within the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you eternal life. When there are some who have doubts reassure them; when there are some to be saved from the fire, pull them out; but there are others to whom you must be kind with great caution, keeping your distance even from outside clothing which is contaminated by vice.

Glory be to him who can keep you from falling and bring you safe to his glorious presence, innocent and happy. To God, the only God, who saves us through Jesus Christ our Lord, be the glory, majesty, authority and power, which he had before time began, now and for ever. Amen.

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Mark 11:27-33

Jesus and his disciples came to Jerusalem, and as Jesus was walking in the Temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, ‘What authority have you for acting like this? Or who gave you authority to do these things?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will ask you a question, only one; answer me and I will tell you my authority for acting like this. John’s baptism: did it come from heaven, or from man? Answer me that.’ And they argued it out this way among themselves: ‘If we say from heaven, he will say, “Then why did you refuse to believe him?” But dare we say from man?’ – they had the people to fear, for everyone held that John was a real prophet. So their reply to Jesus was, ‘We do not know.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Nor will I tell you my authority for acting like this.’

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Who gave you authority?

Today, I went for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When I was done with my confession, the priest began to speak and minister to me. This has happened to me several times. As I was listening to what the priest was saying, one side of me accepted what he spoke of obediently, but another side of me questioned if he was speaking to me as an ordinary person, as the priest who knew me so well. Or was he speaking in the person of Jesus Christ who is so loving and forgiving. Who was he to tell me to forgive and let go of things of the past? How would he know or understand exactly how I felt at the time when the sin was committed?

On another occasion, over Sunday lunch, my brother and I were having a conversation about a situation that was bothering me. The conversation got a little bit intense. He had touched on a very sensitive but real part of me that I refused to acknowledge for a long time. He hit a raw nerve. I started to ‘fight back’, tears streaming down my face. My own reaction surprised both of us. I felt the anger and frustration well up within me. How could he be so ‘judgemental’ and all-knowing about how I felt? In truth, he was right. But I simply refused to acknowledge what he said. Yet, he is my brother and he knows me well.

In today’s gospel reading, the scribes and the Pharisees questioned Jesus’ authority to act and teach as he did. Our Lord showed his jurisdiction over the sacred institution of the temple by closing it down. He drove out the merchants, those who bought and sold the animals, overturning the tables of the moneychangers and prohibiting men bringing in fresh supplies of wood and water and clothes. The Pharisees were extremely upset with Jesus – because this very act undermined their authority and was a threat to their source of power. Jesus’ closing down all commercial activity at the temple also hampered monies flowing into the temple and into their own pockets. They sensed the political threat and set out to test Jesus in the hope of eroding his popularity with the people. They were working for themselves to fuel their own power, and not doing the work or will of God.

For us believers today, we seek to exercise our authority not for political power or commercial gain. But do we question Jesus’ authority just because He did not answer our prayers the way we wanted him to? Do we question Him and His ways just because the answers (or lack of) did not go the way we hoped for? Do we feel cornered like the Pharisees when given a choice we did not like?

Brothers and sisters, God has engraved us on the palms of His hands. Does He not know us better than we know ourselves? Will we relinquish our human desire to take control and give Him authority over our lives?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord of our lives, because of Jesus, we know that we can come to you in faith and trust. Whatever we have, we give it to you today. Help us to fully surrender and give you full control and authority over our lives. What we have is Yours.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for your faithfulness and mercy. As we read your word today, align our ways with Your ways and tune our hearts to sing your praise.

27 May, Friday – God Doesn’t Call the Qualified

27 May – Feast of Saint Augustine of Canterbury

Augustine (d. 605) was a monk and abbot of St. Andrew’s abbey in Rome. He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great with 40 brother monks, including St. Lawrence of Canterbury to evangelize the British Isles in 597. Before he reached the islands, terrifying tales of the Celts sent him back to Rome in fear, but Gregory told him he had no choice, so he went. He established and spread the faith throughout England; one of his earliest converts was King Æthelberht who brought 10,000 of his people into the Church.

He was ordained a bishop in Gaul (modern France) by the Archbishop of Arles. He became Bishop of Canterbury, and was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He helped re-establish contact between the Celtic and Latin churches, though he could not establish his desired uniformity of liturgy and practices between them. He worked with St. Justus of Canterbury. The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury are still referred to as occupying the Chair of Augustine.

-Patron Saint Index

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1 Peter 4:7-1

Everything will soon come to an end, so, to pray better, keep a calm and sober mind. Above all, never let your love for each other grow insincere, since love covers over many a sin. Welcome each other into your houses without grumbling. Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others. If you are a speaker, speak in words which seem to come from God; if you are a helper, help as though every action was done at God’s orders; so that in everything God may receive the glory, through Jesus Christ, since to him alone belong all glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
My dear people, you must not think it unaccountable that you should be tested by fire.

There is nothing extraordinary in what has happened to you. If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.

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Mark 11:11-26

After he had been acclaimed by the crowds, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked all round him, but as it was now late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Next day as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree in leaf some distance away, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it, but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. And he addressed the fig tree. ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again’ he said. And his disciples heard him say this.

So they reached Jerusalem and he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling pigeons. Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple. And he taught them and said, ‘Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.’ This came to the ears of the chief priests and the scribes, and they tried to find some way of doing away with him; they were afraid of him because the people were carried away by his teaching. And when evening came he went out of the city.

Next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered to the roots. Peter remembered. ‘Look, Rabbi,’ he said to Jesus, ‘the fig tree you cursed has withered away.’ Jesus answered, ‘Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, “Get up and throw yourself into the sea,” with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.’ But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your failings either.’

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There is nothing extraordinary

Today, I had the privilege of spending some quality time with a friend. We hadn’t had time to catch up over the last few months. We shared how ironic it was that God would call us to do the very things that we were uncomfortable with.

My friend is quite an active ministry member at a community where we both serve at. She has also just been asked to serve at her parish– to which she readily accepted. She explained that being an introvert, she was happy to be a ‘wallflower’ and just work behind the scenes. Hence any work that entails administration, organizing activities and operations suited her fine. As my friend’s ministry in our community was on a hiatus, she was recently asked to discern where she would like to continue serving. The choices open to her – choir, operations or cell group leader. My friend was ‘okay’ with anyone of those choices. Cause she could perform any of these ‘with her eyes closed’.

But my friend has a special gift. And that is the gift of evangelization. I am always in awe when I hear her speak. How could someone possibly know so much and be so passionate when she speaks. So naturally, I thought she would make a great cell group leader, right? Well, our God is a humorous God. He has other plans for her. She felt prompted to go beyond what she was comfortable with. She was promoted instead to be a worship leader – a role she is still fighting hard against, given her introverted nature. When she told me this, I thought that it was brilliant! She would be a great worship leader!! But my friend is still resisting – never in her wildest dream would she entertain the thought of being one. I told her (in all my ‘wisdom’) that God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called. Later this evening, she sent me a text message saying that that was the exact line was used in a worship session this evening. Now, is that a message from God or what?

In today’s first reading, St. Peter said ‘Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others.’ We are all given different talents and gifts. We are called to exercise our gifts for the service of God. And as we grow in faith, we are called to go deeper into the unknown. Faith cannot be stagnant. God leads us into a different phase of our faith formation. Yes, we all fear the unfamiliar and the unknown. I too am fighting my own spiritual battle of where God is leading me today. The gospel reading tells us today ‘everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already’. So we never asked to be led into the unknown. But will you let God shape and mould you? Will you let God lead you to be the spectacular being that He intends for you to be? Will you let Him lead you out of your comfort zone, step out of the boat and walk on the water? Pray, my brothers and sisters for the grace to let go and let God lead.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, as we grow in our faith journey, You call us to go where we don’t want to, into the unknown. We fear what You are asking of us. We feel inadequate and unqualified. Give us the grace to heed Your calling and give us the courage to take that very first step, knowing that You will lead us as we go along. We want to be the wondrous person You intend for us to be.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for believing in us. For being ever so patient with us, whenever we resist Your calling. You Lord are the Master Potter, and we are but lumps of clay. Thank you for calling us to your side. Teach us Lord to live our lives through your eyes.

26 May, Thursday – Please Let Me Just Follow You

26 May – Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest

Philip Neri (1515-1595) came from a poor family, though he was related to Italian nobility. His father, Francisco Neri, worked as a notary. Philip’s brother died in childhood, but his two sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta survived. He was a pious youth, and was taught humanities by the Dominicans.

He moved to San Germano in 1533 to help some family with their business, and while there would escape to a local Dominican chapel in the mountains. He received word in a vision that he had an apostolate in Rome. He cut himself off from his family and went there where he was befriended by Galeotto Caccia who took him in and paid him to tutor his two sons. He wrote poetry in Latin and Italian, and studied philosophy and theology. When he tired of learning, he sold all his books and gave the money to the poor.

He began to visit and care for the sick and impoverished pilgrims. He founded a society of like-minded folk to do the same. He was a friend of St. Ignatius. A layman, he lived in the city as a hermit. During Easter season of 1544, while praying in the catacomb of San Sebastiano, he received a vision of a globe of fire that entered his chest, and he experienced an ecstasy that physically enlarged his heart.

With Persiano Rose, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity. He began to preach, with many converts. In 1550, he considered retiring to the life of a solitary hermit, but received further visions that told him his mission was in Rome. Later he considered missionary work in India, but further visions convinced him to stay in Rome.

He entered the priesthood in 1551, and heard confessions by the hour. He could tell penitents their sins before they confessed, and had the gift of conferring visions. He began working with youth, finding safe places for them to stay, and becoming involved in their lives.

Pope Gregory XIV tried to make him a cardinal, but Philip declined. His popularity was such that he was accused of forming his own sect, but was cleared of this baseless charge. In 1575 he founded the Congregation of the Oratory, a group of priests dedicated to preaching and teaching, but which suffered from accusations of heresy because of the involvement of laymen as preachers. In later years, he was beset with several illnesses, each of which was in turn cured through prayer.

-Patron Saint Index

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1 Peter 2:2-5,9-12

You are new born, and, like babies, you should be hungry for nothing but milk – the spiritual honesty which will help you to grow up to salvation – now that you have tasted the goodness of the Lord.

He is the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him; set yourselves close to him so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people at all and now you are the People of God; once you were outside the mercy and now you have been given mercy.

I urge you, my dear people, while you are visitors and pilgrims to keep yourselves free from the selfish passions that attack the soul. Always behave honourably among pagans so that they can see your good works for themselves and, when the day of reckoning comes, give thanks to God for the things which now make them denounce you as criminals.

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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.

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“What do you want me to do for you?”

Today’s gospel reading, the story of blind Bartimaeus is one of my favourite stories.

Sometime last year, during one of the Friday Growth sessions at Catholic Spirituality Centre, Father led us in prayer and meditation. He told us to picture ourselves as one in the crowd following Jesus. And Jesus asked “Why do you follow me? What do you want me to do for you?”

That line did something to me. I am not very good at Ignation Contemplation. I can’t picture the scenes very easily. I can’t get lost in the story. This is quite odd for me, as I have always seen myself as a right brain person. But that evening, when that question was verbalised by Father, the following scene played out in my mind…..

I pictured this scruffy brown short-haired furry dog. Definitely a stray dog. Fur all knotted up, looking very unkempt. The sad feeling of loneliness overwhelms the little mutt.  Of being alone. The desperation. In his world, nobody bothered to look at him, nobody fed him or gave him a drink. Nobody would help him out of that desolate state. Nobody cared. Nobody loved him. He was all alone and sad.

Then he chanced on someone who looked kindly on him. The dog was so desperately in need of love that he followed him, just a little, hoping that he would just give him some attention, some care.  The person asked the little dog “Why do you follow me? What do you want me to do for you?” This sad lonely and dirty dog looked on with sad eyes, almost desperately, pleading “Please do not forsake me. I have no one to turn to and I do not know what to do. Please let me just follow you.”

That dirty scruffy little dog is me. Jesus is the person looking kindly and lovingly at me.

Have you ever felt that you are unworthy of love? Unworthy of attention and care by the people around you? Unworthy of getting that job or promotion you always dreamt about because you think you are ‘not good enough’?

Someone once shared with me, that in his life, he never got what he really wanted. He would get hurt and disappointed whenever that happened. Overtime, he learnt to harden himself and to prevent getting hurt, he would pray for exactly the opposite of what he really desired – just so he wouldn’t get hurt again.

Brothers and Sisters, Jesus is calling to you today. Throw off the cloak of unworthiness that hides your hurt, pain and wounds. Call out to Jesus. He is asking you ‘What do you want me to do for you?”  Will you let Him love you? Can you listen to His voice and get up and follow Him?

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Father, heal us of the inability to see Your truth. Call out to us when our blind spirit cannot see the light, the light of the world, Jesus Christ. Give us the faith of Bartimaeus, to throw down our cloaks, to receive something even greater.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for loving us, when we are so unworthy. Thank You for hearing our calls when days are dark and the road ahead, murky. Thank You for your assuring presence. All we have to do is call out to You, and ask You. And our spiritual vision will be restored.

25 May, Wednesday – Our Transcendent Nature

25 May 

Dear Oxygen Readers, we welcome Jacob Woo, a new guest writer with us today. Jacob has just joined our Catholic family with his Baptism this Easter. We pray he will grow in strength and wisdom in his newfound faith and life with Christ. God bless to all!

Jacob is a relatively recent convert to the Catholic faith. He is by day a Professor of Political Science and by night an ardent student of Philosophy. Deeply inspired by Ignatian spirituality, he hopes to find God in all things and to serve God in all ways.

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Memorial for St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Worker; Memorial for St. Gregory VII, Pope; Memorial for St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin

Bede (672-735) was born around the time England was finally completely Christianized. He was raised from age seven in the abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul at Wearmouth-Jarrow, and lived there the rest of his life. He was a Benedictine monk, and the spiritual student of the founder, St. Benedict Biscop. He was ordained in 702 by St. John of Beverley. He was a teacher and author; he wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics, and Bible commentary.

He was known as the most learned man of his day, and his writings started the idea of dating this era from the incarnation of Christ. The central theme of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica is of the Church using the power of its spiritual, doctrinal, and cultural unity to stamp out violence and barbarism. Our knowledge of England before the 8th century is mainly the result of Bede’s writing. He was declared a Doctor of the Church on 13 November 1899 by Pope Leo XIII.

Gregory (1020-1085) was educated in Rome, Italy. He was a Benedictine monk, and chaplain to Pope Gregory VI. He was in charge of the Patrimony of St. Peter. He was a reformer and an excellent administrator. He was chosen the 152nd pope, but he declined the crown. He was chief counsellor to Pope Victor II, Pope Stephen IX, Pope Benedict X, and Pope Nicholas II. He eventually became the 157th pope.

At the time of his ascension, simony and a corrupt clergy threatened to destroy faith in the Church. Gregory took the throne as a reformer, and Emperor Henry IV promised to support him. Gregory suspended all clerics who had purchased their position, and ordered the return of all purchased church property.

The corrupt clergy rebelled; Henry IV broke his promise, and promoted the rebels. Gregory responded by excommunicating anyone involved in lay investiture. He summoned Henry to Rome, but the emperor’s supporters drove Gregory into exile. Henry installed the anti-pope Guibert of Ravenna, who was driven from Rome by Normans who supported Gregory; the Normans were, themselves, so out of control that the people of Rome drove them out. Gregory then retreated to Salerno, Italy, where he spent the remainder of his papacy.

Catherine (1566-1607) had a religious upbringing. She was initially sent to a convent at the age of 14, but was taken back home by her family who opposed her religious vocation and wanted her to marry well. They eventually gave in, and Catherine became a Carmelite of the Ancient Observance at 16, taking the name Sister Mary Magdalene. She as a mystic, and led a hidden life of prayer and self-denial, praying particularly for the renewal of the Church and encouraging the sisters in holiness. Her life was marked by many extraordinary graces.

–  Patron Saint Index

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1 Peter 1:18-25

Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold, but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ; who, though known since before the world was made, has been revealed only in our time, the end of the ages, for your sake. Through him you now have faith in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory for that very reason – so that you would have faith and hope in God.

You have been obedient to the truth and purified your souls until you can love like brothers, in sincerity; let your love for each other be real and from the heart – your new birth was not from any mortal seed but from the everlasting word of the living and eternal God. All flesh is grass and its glory like the wild flower’s. The grass withers, the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains for ever. What is this word? It is the Good News that has been brought to you.

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Mark 10:32-45

The disciples were on the road, going up to Jerusalem; Jesus was walking on ahead of them; they were in a daze, and those who followed were apprehensive. Once more taking the Twelve aside he began to tell them what was going to happen to him: ‘Now we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the pagans, who will mock him and spit at him and scourge him and put him to death; and after three days he will rise again.’
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached him. ‘Master,’ they said to him ‘we want you to do us a favour.’ He said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’

When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

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Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?

As Catholics, we are constantly reminded by both our priests and the Saints who have graced this world of the (necessary) presence and purpose of suffering. Indeed, Blessed Mother Teresa has often taught that suffering can be redemptive, both for ourselves and for others.

These are thoughts that have occupied me of late, as I struggle with a series of health ailments that have forced me to slow down my pace of life. With each visit to the doctors and with every ache that I experience, I am forced to face the reality of human existence – the bodily and emotional struggles that accompany our physical frailty.

Yet as Catholics, we know that beyond this physical reality lies a far deeper and more comforting spiritual reality. This is the reality that Jesus is trying to exhibit to His disciples in today’s Gospel reading. When James and John asked if they could sit by the Lord’s side in His Glory, they are rebuked with the question, “Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?”

Our Lord was not merely referring to a physical ‘cup’ or ‘baptism’, but something deeper and more spiritual. And yes, it involves a great deal of suffering. In today’s readings, Jesus is asking His disciples (and us) to focus on a deeper reality, one of obedience to God and service to others, over their daily material concerns and egos. As children of God, we are already imbued with a spiritual and transcendent nature. It is this God-given nature that Jesus is reminding us of today.

As we face our daily struggles and suffering, may we also remember to focus our attention on that deeper spiritual reality that our Lord offers us. May we, like Mother Teresa, raise up our suffering to our Lord, so that even our suffering should be of service to God. May we remember that we are more than our bodies and our possessions. We are children of Spirit and Light. All the joys and sufferings that we face in our earthy existence should be no more than reminders of the true joy that a life with God can bring us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Jacob Woo)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we dedicate all our days to you. We lift up our joys and sufferings to You, trusting that in the sweetness of Your love, may we find the peace and joy that the world could never give us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for the loved ones whom You have placed in our lives, and for the chance to reflect Your love in our families and friendships.

24 May, Tuesday – Free Your Mind

24 May

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1 Peter 1:10-16

It was this salvation that the prophets were looking and searching so hard for; their prophecies were about the grace which was to come to you. The Spirit of Christ which was in them foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would come after them, and they tried to find out at what time and in what circumstances all this was to be expected. It was revealed to them that the news they brought of all the things which have now been announced to you, by those who preached to you the Good News through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, was for you and not for themselves. Even the angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.

Free your minds, then, of encumbrances; control them, and put your trust in nothing but the grace that will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Do not behave in the way that you liked to before you learnt the truth; make a habit of obedience: be holy in all you do, since it is the Holy One who has called you, and scripture says: Be holy, for I am holy.

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Mark 10:28-31

What about us?’ Peter asked Jesus. ‘We have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.

‘Many who are first will be last, and the last first.’

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Free your minds… of encumbrances; control them…put your trust in nothing but the grace that will be given you

Sometimes I put people and situations in boxes. I put parts of myself in neat boxes too. It is my way of taming things I do not fully comprehend. It is my way of control. I have a crippling habit of over-analysing conversations and happenings that destabilise me. I need to get a hand on stuff, and the best way I know how is to label them – whether rightly or wrongly. On one hand it helps me troubleshoot and fix things. On the other, it can be an obstacle to freely receive and understand things from another perspective.

The scriptures seem to point out that in order to be a channel for the grace of Christ’s Spirit, one must free the mind of encumbrances. Saint Peter was giving the early church an account of their Jewish prophet forefathers. He spoke of their wisdom which allowed them to prophesy about Christs’ coming sufferings and glories. But he gave credit to the Holy Spirit at work within them, which they generously transmitted to latter generations.

To experience this freedom of mind and spirit, our minds need to be controlled. Not to control things, events, people. But to control our inward frenetic thoughts, incessant distractions, and self-centred schemes. How much of our time spent over-strategising and plotting to tackle ‘worst case scenarios’ is also time spent stressing out ourselves and the people around us with things truly beyond our control? God did give us our mental faculties to calculate and make effective plans. But often, our strong suit can also be an Archilles’ heel. Have we ever experienced the breakdown of communication and plans, simply because we sought to control and tame every aspect of relationships and situations? This is when both our hearts and minds are enclosed and not free to receive and respect others.

We hear the first disciples remind Jesus of all the relationships they have given up to follow him, after they witnessed the poor rich man going away sadly. They say: Look at how much we have given up already! It is not easy. Jesus does not make light of our sacrifices – he replies solemnly but firmly that our ‘repayment’ is not in equal value and terms, but “a hundred times over – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29). Indeed it is impossible to predict the rewards of a life following Christ. It truly overflows.

If our hearts and minds are free from the encumbrances of always ensuring a fail-safe plan, strategising to come in first, and getting the better end of all deals, we are more likely to take the risks that Jesus beckons us to in order to join him in eternity. Because this does not come easy, Jesus teaches us to make a habit of obedience to follow him. Obedience in small mundane things leads to obedience in big plans, and therefore even grander works. But step by step. What are the acts of obedience the Lord is calling you to today? Is there a situation of control which you find hard to give up on and put your trust in nothing but the grace of God?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to relinquish unhealthy control on the way people around me behave or on the way my plans turn out. I trust that you are the Lord of my life and you are the one holding the world and my life together.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus for always giving me better gifts than the ones I try to pick out for myself.

23 May, Monday – Rich Encumbrances

23 May

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1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for you in the heavens. Through your faith, God’s power will guard you until the salvation which has been prepared is revealed at the end of time. This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials; so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only it is more precious than gold, which is corruptible even though it bears testing by fire – and then you will have praise and glory and honour. You did not see him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.

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Mark 10:17-27 

Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My children,’ he said to them ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were more astonished than ever. ‘In that case’ they said to one another ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he said ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’

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There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own

Imagine this: You are being wheeled into the operating theatre of a hospital about to undergo a high-risk surgery. Just before the Anaesthetists puts you under, he looks steadily at you and gently asks: Do you trust God?

Maybe this comes from my personal experience, having once undergone a frightful lower spine surgery in my mid-twenties, at the prime of my life. Sometimes I return to the memory of losing my health, my mobility, or worst, my life. For better or worse, that experience liberated me greatly when I realised ‘the life that I now live no longer is my own’ (Galatians 2:20). I did not know what would be at the other end of my tunnel, but I knew that should I meet Jesus, I wanted to run towards Him and not cower in fear. I knew too that should I wake up to a less-abled me, I desired that my faith would ‘have been tested and proved like gold – only it is more precious than gold…’ (1 Peter 1:7) and I could continue to glorify and honour God through my life lived courageously. The surgery was a success and I had little to worry about other than to regain my strength and mobility. I am completely healthy today; yet, in some ways, I have to acknowledge the post-trauma stress that still lingers like a blur fingerprint on the windshield.

When things are going super well, when blessings come my way, I struggle with claiming these fully with confidence and childlike joy. At the back of my mind, I wonder: What if the rug gets pulled from under me? If I might lose this too, I may as well not desire it too much. My fear of loss overwhelms my delight and trust in God.

This is why I feel so much for this poor rich man who went away sadly. Because, some days, I think I just might be him. Jesus told him, ‘There is one thing you lack: Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ It sounds paradoxical. The very things the man owned, were the cause of his poverty. His possessions personified his lack of identification with the underprivileged, the homeless, the outcasts, the wandering Jesus, whom he was seeking eternal life from.

Without losing these encumbrances, he could not follow the straight and narrow path that Jesus walks.

What then are these encumbrances? It is personal and specific for each of us. If the rich man emptied his money bags to the poor, and collected in these bags joy and gratitude instead of gold coins, imagine how light his ‘baggage’ would be!

While God does not delight in taking away our wealth, health, or achievements in order to purify our faith as purer than gold, we need to be aware that these material things can cause us to sin by pride and self-reliance. Modern-day memes of ‘You are what you eat/wear/buy’ are the poison that props up our rocky self-belief systems.

Had the rich man understood that eternal life was not a ‘life forever with all the gold and silver he possessed and more’ but the fullness of love, joy, peace, and communion with the King of Glory Himself, he might not have left sad. Alas, his units of measure were still tainted and limited by material terms.

On my end, I have to cut lose the spectre of fear of losing my health again and trust wholeheartedly that my God is a generous and good God who gives me what I need, when I need it (Matthew 6:25-34). He sustains me not only in my physical body, but more importantly, in my spiritual being. I am afterall both flesh and spirit – but of paramount value, only my spirit will live on with Him even as my flesh shall one day surely weaken and perish.

Do I trust God? Yes, and yet, Lord, I pray you keep on helping me with my unbelief! Just as Saint Peter assures us: ‘still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.’ (1 Peter 1:9)

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: We pray for all who suffer from life-threatening illness, chronic health issues, persecution for their faith. We join our prayers with the universal church for all who are suffering and in need of redemption and freedom from addiction in their lives.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus for treating all our weaknesses and inhibitions to follow you firmly with so much compassion and patience and love.

22 May, Sunday – Delight in the Spirit

22 May – Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

The true God is one in Trinity and a Trinity in One: come, let us adore him.

The fundamental dogma, on which everything in Christianity is based, is that of the Blessed Trinity in whose name all Christians are baptized. The feast of the Blessed Trinity needs to be understood and celebrated as a prolongation of the mysteries of Christ and as the solemn expression of our faith in this triune life of the Divine Persons, to which we have been given access by Baptism and by the Redemption won for us by Christ. Only in heaven shall we properly understand what it means, in union with Christ, to share as sons in the very life of God.

The feast of the Blessed Trinity was introduced in the ninth century and was only inserted in the general calendar of the Church in the fourteenth century by Pope John XXII. But the cultus of the Trinity is, of course, to be found throughout the liturgy. Constantly the Church causes us to praise and adore the thrice-holy God who has so shown His mercy towards us and has given us to share in His life.

Trinity Sunday
The dogma of faith which forms the object of the feast is this: There is one God and in this one God there are three Divine Persons; the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three Gods, but one, eternal, incomprehensible God! The Father is not more God than the Son, neither is the Son more God than the Holy Spirit. The Father is the first Divine Person; the Son is the second Divine Person, begotten from the nature of the Father from eternity; the Holy Spirit is the third Divine Person, proceeding from the Father and the Son. No mortal can fully fathom this sublime truth. But I submit humbly and say: Lord, I believe, help my weak faith.

Why is this feast celebrated at this particular time? It may be interpreted as a finale to all the preceding feasts. All three Persons contributed to and shared in the work of redemption. The Father sent His Son to earth, for “God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son.” The Father called us to the faith. The Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, became man and died for us. He redeemed us and made us children of God. He ever remains the liturgist par excellence to whom we are united in all sacred functions. After Christ’s ascension the Holy Spirit, however, became our Teacher, our Leader, our Guide, our Consoler. On solemn occasions a thanksgiving Te Deum rises spontaneously from Christian hearts.

The feast of the Most Holy Trinity may well be regarded as the Church’s Te Deum of gratitude over all the blessings of the Christmas and Easter seasons; for this mystery is a synthesis of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. This feast, which falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost, should make us mindful that actually every Sunday is devoted to the honor of the Most Holy Trinity, that every Sunday is sanctified and consecrated to the triune God. Sunday after Sunday we should recall in a spirit of gratitude the gifts which the Blessed Trinity is bestowing upon us. The Father created and predestined us; on the first day of the week He began the work of creation. The Son redeemed us; Sunday is the “Day of the Lord,” the day of His resurrection. The Holy Spirit sanctified us, made us His temple; on Sunday the Holy Spirit descended upon the infant Church. Sunday, therefore, is the day of the Most Holy Trinity.

– Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch (Source: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2016-05-22)

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Proverbs 8:22-31

The Wisdom of God cries aloud:

The Lord created me when his purpose first unfolded,
  before the oldest of his works.
From everlasting I was firmly set,
  from the beginning, before earth came into being.
The deep was not, when I was born,
  there were no springs to gush with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
  before the hills, I came to birth;
before he made the earth, the countryside,
  or the first grains of the world’s dust.
When he fixed the heavens firm, I was there,
  when he drew a ring on the surface of the deep,
when he thickened the clouds above,
  when he fixed fast the springs of the deep,
when he assigned the sea its boundaries
 – and the waters will not invade the shore –
  when he laid down the foundations of the earth,
I was by his side, a master craftsman,
  delighting him day after day,
  ever at play in his presence,
at play everywhere in his world,
  delighting to be with the sons of men.

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Romans 5:1-5

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. But that is not all we can boast about; we can boast about our sufferings. These sufferings bring patience, as we know, and patience brings perseverance, and perseverance brings hope, and this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.

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John 16:12-15

Jesus said:

‘I still have many things to say to you
but they would be too much for you now.
But when the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you to the complete truth,
since he will not be speaking as from himself
but will say only what he has learnt;
and he will tell you of the things to come.
He will glorify me,
since all he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.
Everything the Father has is mine;
that is why I said:
All he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.’

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I was by his side… delighting him day after day, ever at play in his presence.

This is a season of great newness for me. I have been restless and agitated in the undercurrents of my days. It involves planning my research topic, a wedding, and a relocating with my fiancé to Boston – all taking place in a matter of months between them. Friends are excited and think how fortunate I am. But I have refrained from revealing my stresses or compassionately giving myself the space to talk through things because I did not want to seem self-absorbed or worrisome. There has been so much to plan, discuss, and strategise that my perfectionist alter-ego goes into panic mode! My tendency to shelve the most important (but invisible) aspect of my wellbeing – my spiritual life – to the cobwebbed corners of my mind, has once again seized me. I am constantly learning again what it means to truly cleave unto my Lord with humility, that I cannot do everything, and my ways are never higher than His.

Yet the Holy Spirit is ever-gentle, when I am not. And with His infinite wisdom, He has prodded me with the beautiful imagery of today’s Proverbs scripture. I am calmly reminded that God created the Holy Spirit to be my Advocate – the One who will fight alongside me, ever-loyal to my Baptismal vows even when I am not. If we savour this particular scene in Proverbs – ‘The deep was not, when I was born, there were no springs to gush with water… When he fixed the heavens firm, I was there…’ – we realise that just as God the Father is the Alpha and Omega, the Holy Spirit was with Him at that very point in time. Doesn’t this sound like the description of our Genesis creation?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)

And I am struck to recall the parallel in the gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

How great is God’s wisdom and purpose for the world, and little, present-day me. As I contemplate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity celebrations today, I feel humbled that our God is far mightier than a three-in-one recipe. Meanwhile, the Martha in me needs to get things done now, right, well. Sometimes I bulldoze my loved ones and even myself. I do not spend enough time contemplating the majestic mystery of our Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has given of Himself to us in Three Divine Persons, because we are spiritual beings created for relationship – a deep, abiding, transforming relational union that preceded our very existence. The Spirit of God is the lifeblood that connects our spirit to the Father, Creator Blest.

The Holy Spirit is given so many names – Word, Breath, Life, Light, Wisdom. But the most beautiful of all that I have discovered today is Delight. How true this is of a life in the Spirit. When we are connected deeply to our lifesource, the Holy Spirit, we will continue to delight in God, ‘at play everywhere in his world, delighting to be with the sons of men,’ to delight in life’s lot and course. Be it stillness, stalemate, or staggering changes. Our faith, prayer, and love of the Spirit will bring us pure delight, deep joy and peace. One that surpasses all understanding and circumstances.

There is so much to delight and marvel at in my journey with God. He has not only blessed me with someone to love, but this someone loves Him too. My fiancé was baptised this Easter, and soon we will be joined in the Sacrament of Matrimony. I cannot wait. Paths in life can be messy, unplanned, and frazzling. I am comforted with this gentle reminder that I am never alone, for ‘the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us’ (Romans 5:5).

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Help me Holy Spirit, to drop my pens, tasks and checklists, and sit at Your feet to listen, learn, and patiently pray my way through all that I am going through.

Thanksgiving: I give thanks for the life changes and growth I now face (nerve-wrecking as they be). I have prayed for each of these dreams which God is slowly unwrapping before me. Ever wide is His mercy and deep His love. He never fails, He always surprises. Amen!