14 October, Saturday – A Roof Over Our Heads In Tough Times

Oct 14 – Memorial for St. Callistus I, Pope and Martyr

Callistus (d. 223) was born a slave, owned by Carpophorus, a Christian in the household of Caesar. His master entrusted a large sum to Callistus to open a bank, which took in several deposits, made several loans to people who refused to pay them back, and went broke. Knowing he would be personally blamed and punished, Callistus fled, but was caught and returned to his owner. Several depositers begged for his life, believing that he had not lost the money, but had stolen and hid it.

They were wrong; he wasn’t a thief, just a victim, but he was sentenced to work the tin mines. By a quirk of Roman law, the ownership of Callistus was transferred from Carpophorus to the state, and when he was later ransomed out of his sentence with a number of other Christians, he became a free man. Pope St. Zephyrinus put Callistus in charge of the Roman public burial grounds, today still called the Cemetery of Saint Callistus. He later became an archdeacon and the 16th pope.

Most of what we know about him has come down to us from his critics, including an anti-Pope of the day. He was, on more than one occasion, accused of heresy for such actions as permitting a return to Communion for sinners who had repented and done penance, or for proclaiming that differences in economic classes were no barrier to marriage.

This last put him in conflict with Roman civil law, but he stated that in matters concerning the Church and the sacraments, Church law trumped civil law. In both cases, he taught what the Church has taught for centuries, including today, and though a whole host of schismatics wrote against him, his crime seems to have been to practice orthodox Christianity. He was martyred for his faith.

– Patron Saint Index

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Joel 4:12-21

The Lord says this:

‘Let the nations rouse themselves, let them march to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for I am going to sit in judgement there on all the nations round.

Put the sickle in: the harvest is ripe; come and tread: the winepress is full, the vats are overflowing, so great is their wickedness!’

Host on host in the Valley of Decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the Valley of Decision! Sun and moon grow dark, the stars lose their brilliance.

The Lord roars from Zion, makes his voice heard from Jerusalem; heaven and earth tremble.

But the Lord will be a shelter for his people, a stronghold for the sons of Israel.

‘You will learn then that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be a holy place, no alien will ever pass through it again.’

When that day comes, the mountains will run with new wine and the hills flow with milk, and all the river beds of Judah will run with water.

A fountain will spring from the house of the Lord to water the wadi of Acacias. Egypt will become a desolation, Edom a desert waste on account of the violence done to the sons of Judah whose innocent blood they shed in their country.

But Judah will be inhabited for ever, Jerusalem from age to age. ‘I will avenge their blood and let none go unpunished’, and the Lord shall make his home in Zion.

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Luke 11:27-28

As Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said, ‘Happy the womb that bore you and the breasts you sucked!’ But he replied, ‘Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it!’

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But the Lord will be a shelter for his people

It has certainly been a trying time for the world with senseless violence in the US, unrest in Spain, natural disasters wreaking havoc in Puerto Rico, Florida and Japan, the plight of the Rohingya refugees in Myanmar and millions of others suffering from homelessness and hunger in Asia. Back home in Singapore, we are thankful to be somewhat sheltered from such upheavals and yet, we seem to be ‘cracking’ at the seams. Our infrastructure and, more importantly, our youth, are beginning to come apart from the various stresses and strains that our ‘first-world society’ demands.

I was shocked to receive news of the death of a friend’s daughter last week from an apparent suicide. She was only 19 years old and had a full life ahead of her. While I have not really kept in touch with him over the years, I am quite sure that as a parent, he would have been totally devastated. From his Facebook postings, I could tell that he was a devoted and loving father, always going on trips with his family and certainly always providing the best for them. I just wonder if all that is enough in today’s world, and whether we really need to focus on God even more, in the face of all the creature comforts that are so easily available to us these days.

In times of peril and distress, who or what do we turn to in order to feel better? Is it our bank book, the casinos, or do we employ ‘retail therapy’ and splurge on luxury goods and seek to enrich ourselves in ways that we think will assuage our feelings of pain and unworthiness?

Or do we turn to the Lord and spend time with him in adoration, or at daily mass, listening to His voice and promptings, seeking counsel in His loving embrace? Brothers and sisters, while it is extremely difficult to receive any form of ‘instant gratification’ from our prayers, we must always have faith that our Lord is always there to provide for us and to shelter us from the raging storms both around us and within us.

I have been dealing with a variety of ‘storms’ over the past few months and have begun to understand how seeking refuge in prayer, in adoration and, especially so in the loving arms of Mother Mary can indeed bring joy, hope and peace within. It is ultimately all a matter of perspective – do we seel solace in the material world that provides fleeting satisfaction? Or can we humble ourselves to trust in the eternal gratification that our Lord provides through confession, adoration, the sacred rosary and in the Eucharist?

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you amongst 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: I thank you Lord, for the trials that come our way. And for the hope that you bring in your gentle, caring way.

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