Monthly Archives: May 2018

22 May, Tuesday – Filial Longings

May 22 – Memorial for St. Rita of Cascia, Religious

Rita (1386-1457) was the daughter of Antonio and Amata Lotti, a couple known as the Peacemakers of Jesus; they had Rita late in life. From her early youth, Rita visited the Augustinian nuns at Cascia, Italy, and showed interest in a religious life. However, when she was 12, her parents betrothed her to Paolo Mancini, an ill-tempered, abusive individual who worked as town watchman, and who was dragged into the political disputes of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Disappointed but obedient, Rita married him when she was 18, and was the mother of twin sons. She put up with Paolo’s abuses for 18 years before he was ambushed and stabbed to death. Her sons swore vengeance on the killers of their father, but through the prayers and interventions of Rita, they forgave the offenders.

Upon the deaths of her sons, Rita again felt the call to religious life. However, some of the sisters at the Augustinian monastery were relatives of her husband’s murderers, and she was denied entry for fear of causing dissension. Asking for the intervention of St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Nicholas of Tolentino, she managed to bring the warring factions together, not completely, but sufficiently that there was peace, and she was admitted to the monastery of St. Mary Magdalen at age 36.

Rita lived 40 years in the convent, spending her time in prayer and charity, and working for peace in the region. She was devoted to the Passion, and in response to a prayer to suffer as Christ, she received a chronic head wound that appeared to have been caused by a crown of thorns, and which bled for 15 years.

She was confined to her bed the last four years of her life, eating little more than the Eucharist, teaching and directing the younger sisters. Near the end, she had a visitor from her home town who asked if she’d like anything. Rita’s only request was a rose from her family’s estate. The visitor went to the home, but it being January, knew there was no hope of finding a flower; there, sprouted on an otherwise bare bush, was a single rose blossom.

Among the other areas, Rita is well-known as a patron of desperate, seemingly impossible causes and situations. This is because she has been involved in so many stages of life – wife, mother, widow, and nun, she buried her family, helped bring peace to her city, saw her dreams denied and fulfilled – and never lost her faith in God, or her desire to be with Him.

  • Patron Saint Index

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James 4:1-10

Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. Why you don’t have what you want is because you don’t pray for it; when you do pray and don’t get it, it is because you have not prayed properly, you have prayed for something to indulge your own desires.

You are as unfaithful as adulterous wives; don’t you realise that making the world your friend is making God your enemy? Anyone who chooses the world for his friend turns himself into God’s enemy. Surely you don’t think scripture is wrong when it says: the spirit which he sent to live in us wants us for himself alone? But he has been even more generous to us, as scripture says: God opposes the proud but he gives generously to the humble. Give in to God, then; resist the devil, and he will run away from you. The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you. Clean your hands, you sinners, and clear your minds, you waverers. Look at your wretched condition, and weep for it in misery; be miserable instead of laughing, gloomy instead of happy. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.

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Mark 9:30-37

After leaving the mountain Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.

They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

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“You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

I’m in the midst of planning a holiday in London for my Mom and I. I haven’t seen my mother since my father passed away 2 years ago. It is imperative that this trip be perfect. Why? Because Mom is constantly ‘apologizing’ to her relatives and friends for her children’s shortcomings. I know to some of her more ‘high-minded’ friends, we have failed her as dutiful children. According to them, we’re neglectful. We don’t go home to see her enough. We’re indifferent. We’re selfish, too opinionated, too westernized. One even told her that we’re “irresponsible”, something you simply don’t say to a Chinese mother. Mom comes from that generation of women who care about what people think. I know it hurts her when her so-called friends whisper amongst themselves that her children are ‘ng hou sun’ (Cantonese for ‘unfilial’). I want this trip to be a blowout success so that those critics will, once and for all, be silenced.

Reading today’s passage from James, it has also occurred to me that my motivations might be a little… self-serving. “You ask but do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). That is an accurate summation of my situation. I am asking God to let this trip go well because it is not just her pride that is at stake – mine is too. But pride is rarely a good motivator for any kind of crusade. Is trying to redeem family pride wrong? The Chinese part of me emphatically says no; the Catholic part of me isn’t so sure. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:10).

Maybe I should stop focusing on achieving perfection and instead, reframe the conversation. The last time we saw each other, my Dad had just passed away. Mom and I were in the trenches trying to organize his funeral. The trips before that, we were also in the trenches, trying to cope with his illness. This will be the first time we’ll be together without having to worry about Dad’s situation. It’s going to be a strange feeling, not having that shared purpose to connect us. I’m hoping that we’ll let go of all the difficult emotions that arose from dealing with my father’s illness and death. Maybe being on neutral ground, we could learn to be kind to each other, to be kind to ourselves. I have not gotten over his passing. I wonder if she has.

I’m still hoping that God will grant us clement weather, a drama-free journey and peace of mind enough to be able to appreciate this time together. The whole ‘family pride’ thing aside, I want her to have a good time because she has earned it. She’s the lynchpin that has kept this family together. Maybe that would be ok with God?

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for all the complicated relationships in our lives. All things are possible with Him. He can unravel – and simplify – even our most complex emotional webs. We bring all of our baggage and all our burdens to the foot of the Cross and surrender it all to Him.  

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the people who are constants in our lives, even if they live several time zones away.

21 May, Monday – Being Hard Isn’t Being Strong

May 21 – Saint Christopher Magallanes and his Companions

Cristóbal Magallanes Jara was born in the state of Jalisco in Mexico in 1869. He was ordained priest at the age of 30 and became parish priest of his home town of Totatiche. He took a special interest in the evangelization of the local indigenous Huichol people and founded a mission for them. When government persecution of the Catholic Church began and the seminaries were closed, he opened a small local ‘auxiliary seminary.’ He wrote and preached against armed rebellion but was falsely accused of promoting the Cristero rebellion. He was arrested on 21 May 1927 while on the way to celebrate Mass at a farm. He was executed without a trial, but not before giving his remaining possessions to his executioners and giving them absolution.

With him are celebrated 24 other Mexican martyrs of the early 20th century.

  • Universalis

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James 3:13-18

If there are any wise or learned men among you, let them show it by their good lives, with humility and wisdom in their actions. But if at heart you have the bitterness of jealousy, or a self-seeking ambition, never make any claims for yourself or cover up the truth with lies – principles of this kind are not the wisdom that comes down from above: they are only earthly, animal and devilish. Wherever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony, and wicked things of every kind being done; whereas the wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it also makes for peace, and is kindly and considerate; it is full of compassion and shows itself by doing good; nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it. Peacemakers, when they work for peace, sow the seeds which will bear fruit in holiness.

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Mark 9:14-29

When Jesus, with Peter, James and John came down from the mountain and rejoined the disciples, they saw a large crowd round them and some scribes arguing with them. The moment they saw him the whole crowd were struck with amazement and ran to greet him. ‘What are you arguing about with them?’ he asked. A man answered him from the crowd, ‘Master, I have brought my son to you; there is a spirit of dumbness in him, and when it takes hold of him it throws him to the ground, and he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and goes rigid. And I asked your disciples to cast it out and they were unable to.’ ‘You faithless generation’ he said to them in reply. ‘How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’ They brought the boy to him, and as soon as the spirit saw Jesus it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell to the ground and lay writhing there, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ ‘From childhood,’ he replied ‘and it has often thrown him into the fire and into the water, in order to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ ‘If you can?’ retorted Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for anyone who has faith.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do have faith. Help the little faith I have!’ And when Jesus saw how many people were pressing round him, he rebuked the unclean spirit. ‘Deaf and dumb spirit,’ he said ‘I command you: come out of him and never enter him again.’ Then throwing the boy into violent convulsions it came out shouting, and the boy lay there so like a corpse that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him up, and he was able to stand. When he had gone indoors his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why were we unable to cast it out?’ ‘This is the kind’ he answered ‘that can only be driven out by prayer.’

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Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister… and Mary of Magdala

This fall will mark the 5th anniversary of my ‘not-so-new-now’ vocation as a full-time housewife. It sounds so bad when I put it that way. In this age of female empowerment, it’s hard to explain to people why I made that choice, why I gave up a lucrative career to be a stay-at-home wife and stepmother. Time has flown by. If it wasn’t for all those birthday reminders that Facebook sends, I would hardly have noticed it. So why did I do it? And 5 years on, what do I have to show for it?

The story of Eve reminds me of how I used to be – the caricature of the ‘hard woman’, always reaching for the next thing, something bigger, something better, something brighter. She was ambitious and not afraid to express it. Eve epitomises the drive within us that, if unchecked, leads to discontent. Perhaps she did it out of love for Adam? Perhaps she did it for herself? Perhaps she wanted more for them than idyllic days in paradise? It’s hard to know. But she reached and in reaching too far, she lost sight of what was truly valuable. That was me before I quit my job. I lost time with family, time that I won’t ever get back. And all in pursuit of what?

I guess if I was going to be honest, I chose this path because I was curious. I was curious about the lives that were led by women like the three Marys at the foot of the cross. You attend mass often enough and soon, some of the sermons start to stick. What would it really be like to live like a good Catholic wife? What would it be like to be supportive even if you didn’t feel like it? To turn the other cheek sometimes? To be faithful and trusting in God’s providence and give up control so you can be led by Him? To be strong without being hard? To actually live out your faith? This was not the path I thought I would take, but it has, surprisingly, led to more personal happiness than the path I was on previously. That’s not to say that things have been easy. You exchange one set of difficult circumstances for another set of equally challenging issues. For a start, you deal with family more; and that’s never easy. And you can no longer hide behind your work; you actually have to face issues head on. How have I fared? I don’t know for sure but I’m more at peace than I used to be. I’m still working on figuring this new life out… but I think I’ve become a nicer person to be around. It’s small but that’s what I have to show for it.

“May be right, ooh it may be wrong; doesn’t have to be serious. Being hard isn’t being strong; doesn’t have to be serious” – ‘Serious’, Duran Duran.

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for the fortitude to walk daily in our faith, to live as we preach, to be examples of Christ’s love.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the blessings and the gifts that God sends us to enable us to be that person He wants us to be.

20 May, Sunday – On Gifts

20 May – Pentecost

The Christian holiday of Pentecost, which is celebrated on the 50th day after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:15), commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Some Christians believe this event represents the birth of the Catholic Church.

In Eastern Christianity, Pentecost can also refer to the entire fifty days of Passover through Pentecost inclusive; hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the “Pentecostarion”. Since its date depends on the date of the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost is a moveable feast.

The holy day is also called “White Sunday” or “Whitsunday”, especially in the United Kingdom, where traditionally the next day, Whit Monday, was also a public holiday (now fixed by statute on the last Monday in May). In Germany Pentecost is called “Pfingsten”, and often coincides with scholastic holidays and the beginning of many outdoor and springtime activities, such as festivals and organized outdoor activities by youth organizations. The Monday after Pentecost is a legal holiday in many European nations.

– Wikipedia

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Acts 2:1-11

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’

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1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13

No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

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John 20:19-23

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this, He breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

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“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different workings but the same God”

When I was a teenager, I used to envy all the ‘cool kids’ in my Christian youth group who could speak in tongues. Sadly, I was never blessed with the gift. When you’re an awkward teenager, trying to fit in is something that fills you with much angst. I remember I was inconsolable! What more proof did I need?! Even God didn’t think I belonged! Imagine what that does to a 15-yr old’s self-esteem? I felt so cast out!

I’ve since come to understand that “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts”. Like the proverbial image of the body of Christ having many parts, each of us has a role to play, and He gives us gifts to help us to succeed – “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit”. It’s taken some time for me to figure this out, but I think that mine might be the gift of nurturing. How can I be certain? Well, I can’t be for sure, but a deacon once told me to just ‘look at the fruit and see if it is good’. At the time, he was making a reference to a person’s authenticity. But the same filter can be applied to see if one’s pursuit is worthy of God. What is the fruit of our endeavour? Does it fulfil the conditions of what we know to be the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?

I’m glad I can’t speak in tongues. I would have been too self-conscious to do anything meaningful with it; it would have been wasted on me. I’m glad that instead, He gave me the gift of baking, of making wonderful dinners and organizing big family reunions. I’m glad God gave me the gift of patience, for when I have to deal with people who don’t always think of others first. I’m glad God gave me the gift of encouragement, for when people sit around my kitchen table spilling their tears with their wine. I’m glad God gave me the gift of meticulous organization, for those times when I have to multi-task and still stay on top of everything. I’m glad God gave me the time, the means and the inclination to be that person who is there to listen and offer a slice of cake, a mug of hot chocolate and a loving hug just when someone needs it most. Because the joy of being that person – of doing what He meant for me to do – has been the most fulfilling thing I’ve experienced ever, and I am so thankful for it!

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in discerning the roles we are meant to play. Not everyone discovers it the first time around, but we pray that we all eventually find our way there.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the gifts He has bestowed on us, that help us to become who we were truly meant to be.

19 May, Saturday – Jealous Of The One

19 May

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Acts 28:16-20,30-31

On our arrival in Rome Paul was allowed to stay in lodgings of his own with the soldier who guarded him.

After three days he called together the leading Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, ‘Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and would have set me free, since they found me guilty of nothing involving the death penalty; but the Jews lodged an objection, and I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation to make against my own nation. That is why I have asked to see you and talk to you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear this chain.’

Paul spent the whole of the two years in his own rented lodging. He welcomed all who came to visit him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete freedom and without hindrance from anyone.

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John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them – the one who had leaned on his breast at the supper and had said to him, ‘Lord, who is it that will betray you?’ Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, ‘He will not die’, but, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come.’

This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.

There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.

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what does it matter to you?

I always thought that it is human nature to not be satisfied. I believe that it is alright to aspire for greater things. Better job, better status in life, everything better. But what if my being better means being greater than other people?

I sometimes feel envious of my workmates if they receive better projects and I got the lousier ones. And those small resentments sometimes lead to gossip about my colleagues. Don’t you sometimes think that life is so unfair? And coupled to it is the question, “Why God, why this fate?”

In the Gospel, Peter asked Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ He was referring to John, the Beloved. Peter’s questioning John’s purpose can seemingly depict a jealous feeling. He shows curiosity in Jesus’ plan for John. Jesus replied, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ Jesus is telling Peter that it is not his duty to know the plan for John. His primary task is to simply follow Christ. This signifies that we should not compare ourselves with others. We have our own different circumstances, our own way of following Christ, our own calling.

Whenever we feel that others are better than us, we must not question God. When we see our neighbours having more riches, let us think of it as they need those and we don’t. Let us look at things with a view that everything is in their proper place. And it is God’s way of showing that all things are meant to be. It is our own perspective that makes the difference.

If you are an employee, it is your duty to become a proper employee. Obey the company’s rule, do your job without stepping on anyone. If you are a business owner, make sure that your company is doing what is ethical for your employees and consumers. If you are a student, then it is your duty to study hard and not play around. If you are a parent, take good care of your children. Children, always respect your parents. If you are married or in a relationship, love and respect one another. And the list goes on.

Of course, everything must be Christ-centered. We must always pray. But it is not right to use our prayer time as an excuse to neglect our primary responsibilities. This pertains to us lay people. Religious and the clerics have different duties when it comes to their prayer time and other activities. We must always pray for contentment and not to feel bitterness to one another.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Dear Lord, have mercy on us for all our wrongdoings. Please grant a grateful heart to follow Your will.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father God, for the tasks and responsibilities that we do every day.

18 May, Friday – Love And Lead

May 18 – Memorial for St. John I, Pope and Martyr

John (d. 526) was a priest in Rome, and became the 53rd pope in 523. Italy’s ruler then, Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian. For a while he left the Catholics alone, but in later life he became suspicious of everyone, imagining conspiracies and attempts to seize his throne. He tried to involve Pope John in his political machinations. John led a delegation to Constantinople to negotiate with Emperor Justin I; he was the first pope to travel to Constantinople, and while there crowned Justin. The mission was successful, but Theodoric though John and Justin I had plotted against him. While returning to Rome, John was kidnapped and imprisoned by Theodoric’s soldiers. He died of thirst and starvation while in custody in Ravenna, Italy.

  •  Patron Saint Index

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Acts 25:13-21

King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus. Their visit lasted several days, and Festus put Paul’s case before the king. ‘There is a man here’ he said ‘whom Felix left behind in custody, and while I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews laid information against him, demanding his condemnation. But I told them that Romans are not in the habit of surrendering any man, until the accused confronts his accusers and is given an opportunity to defend himself against the charge. So they came here with me, and I wasted no time but took my seat on the tribunal the very next day and had the man brought in. When confronted with him, his accusers did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected; but they had some argument or other with him about their own religion and about a dead man called Jesus whom Paul alleged to be alive. Not feeling qualified to deal with questions of this sort, I asked him if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on this issue. But Paul put in an appeal for his case to be reserved for the judgement of the august emperor, so I ordered him to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar.’

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John 21:15-19

After Jesus had shown himself to his disciples and eaten with them, he said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt around you,
and take you where you would not rather go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

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‘Follow me.’

What motivates us in doing anything? As I think about it more, I realise that I do things because of another thing. I do not just do things because I want to. I do things because I think it is correct or it is the right thing to do. It is correct based on something that has been formulated by others or by society. I am just merely following what must be followed.

In our Gospel today, we notice that it is three times that Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” We can recall that during Christ’s Passion, Peter denied Jesus three times. These scenarios clearly show that though we may turn our back from our Lord more than once, He is always waiting for our return. We sin, yet we are forgiven.

The phrases, ‘Feed my lambs’, ‘Look after my sheep’, and ‘Feed my sheep’ remind us that it is Peter whom Jesus entrusted to lead us. He was the one appointed to guide our nourishment and to live in accordance to God’s will. When Jesus first asked Peter if he loved him before giving him instructions, it implied that Peter’s obedience must be out of love. It is for the love of God that he will obey to feed the lambs, to look after the sheep, and to feed the sheep. In the same way, it is for the love of God that we have our priests, bishops, and the pope.

Saying that we love God is quite easy. But do our actions show that we love our Lord? Do we do things out of love? I myself struggle everyday to do things out of love for God. But with God’s grace, we can.

We are given the gift of free will. As Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked”. When we are still young and able, we can do whatever we want and go wherever we want. It is up to us how we are going to use this freedom. However, we must remember that our end time will come. And we cannot do anything about it. It is a great reminder that while we still can, we should use our free will to follow the will of God.

We are nearing the end of Easter. But let this be not the end of feeling alive. As we continue in our daily life, let us strive harder to do things out of love.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, we are deeply sorry for all our sins. Please grant us the grace to desire to follow you always.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for giving us chances to renew our self, to be a better person.

17 May, Thursday – I Am The Father’s Gift

17 May

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Acts 22:30,23:6-11

Since the tribune wanted to know what precise charge the Jews were bringing, he freed Paul and gave orders for a meeting of the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin; then he brought Paul down and stood him in front of them. Now Paul was well aware that one section was made up of Sadducees and the other of Pharisees, so he called out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees. It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.’ As soon as he said this a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was split between the two parties. For the Sadducees say there is neither resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, while the Pharisees accept all three. The shouting grew louder, and some of the scribes from the Pharisees’ party stood up and protested strongly, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel?’ Feeling was running high, and the tribune, afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered his troops to go down and haul him out and bring him into the fortress.

Next night, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.’

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John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them.
and so that I may be in them.’

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You have loved me before the foundation of the world

It is possible that we have heard this before, that “we are a gift from God”. Today’s reading stresses this point, that we are the Father’s gift to Jesus — He says that in today’s gospel. The love which Jesus speaks of can be a little complex. It is enormous and eternal in nature and something that the human mind may not be able to comprehend, nor the human heart hold.

Imagine the tender heart of Jesus when He says that each of us is a gift to him, though he knows our shortcomings and failures and even the parts of our lives which still displeases Him. My brothers and sisters, that is unconditional love.

He loves us so much that He wants to love us as much as the Father loves Him. Isn’t that simply an outstanding sort of love?

Can we, as human parents, wish to love the members in our ministry or our parishioners as much as we love our own children? Do we even desire to share this parental love which we have with others? It is not always easy, but we must try. Regardless of the circumstances, we are children of a Father with such great love that we must try and love at all times.

This, I admit is a struggle for me too. Though I know I am capable of great love, I withhold myself, selfishly choosing who should receive my love and whom I consider as the Father’s gift. That is certainly not the Father’s way of love. As His precious gift, I could and should do way better than this.

Sisters and brothers are loving only those who love us and those who conform to our ideals. Are we able to be an extension of the Father’s love to a world who does not know Him? Are we able to stand up with love together with those who have fallen, even those who refuse to return to the Lord?

How can we be a reflection of God’s love to everyone today?

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father, help us to love like you. Set your standard of ‘Love of the Lord’ in our lives, in our families and in this world.

Thanksgiving: Lord I thank you for loving me so very much and for claiming me as a gift to you.

16 May, Wednesday – Your Word, O Lord

16 May

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Acts 20:28-38

Paul addressed these words to the elders of the church of Ephesus:

‘Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you the overseers, to feed the Church of God which he bought with his own blood. I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard, remembering how night and day for three years I never failed to keep you right, shedding tears over each one of you. And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace that has power to build you up and to give you your inheritance among all the sanctified.

‘I have never asked anyone for money or clothes; you know for yourselves that the work I did earned enough to meet my needs and those of my companions. I did this to show you that this is how we must exert ourselves to support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”’

When he had finished speaking he knelt down with them all and prayed. By now they were all in tears; they put their arms round Paul’s neck and kissed him; what saddened them most was his saying they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.

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John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them,
I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them
and not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfil the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you
and while still in the world I say these things
to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your Word on to them,
and the world hated them
because they belong to the world
no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world,
but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world,
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth;
your Word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
I have sent them into the world.
And for their sake I consecrate myself
so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

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Consecrate them in the truth … Your word is truth

It is getting more difficult to know what the truth is. We live in a world of false promises and fake people, counterfeit relationships and superficial words. Yet in this same world, the Truth exists through Christ our Lord. And we are told today that His word is truth and Jesus Himself wants us to be consecrated in the truth.

The word of God is a double-edged sword and it breathes life into our lives, it gives light and hope to places in our lives which may seem very hopeless.

Contrary to love letters which spell out the sentiments of the human heart, this Love Letter is God’s promise to keep us safe and provide us a life of protection. He indeed has promised that He will guard us from all danger, and He has.

Is there any reason for anyone to believe that Our God is lesser than the truth? Are there areas in our heart which are wretched by unbelief or sin? To these areas, we cry out that His truth will set us free.

Are we still reserving areas in our lives, closing some doors to our Lord? He made us and He knows us better than we do; what are we then afraid of? During our Sunday mass, let us offer our lives and all that it entails to God, when the priests offer up the Body and the Blood. Let us show ourselves to Him. Let it be ugly, He will beautify it so that we can live a full life.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, consecrate us in the truth and help us to be people who speak the truth and advocate the truth. May we find ourselves blameless before you, O Lord.

Thanksgiving: Jesus, thank you for writing a love letter which is 100 percent true, alive and filled with Love.

15 May, Tuesday – Not A Counterfeit

15 May

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Acts 20:17-27

From Miletus Paul sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus. When they arrived he addressed these words to them:

‘You know what my way of life has been ever since the first day I set foot among you in Asia, how I have served the Lord in all humility, with all the sorrows and trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I have not hesitated to do anything that would be helpful to you; I have preached to you, and instructed you both in public and in your homes, urging both Jews and Greeks to turn to God and to believe in our Lord Jesus.

‘And now you see me a prisoner already in spirit; I am on my way to Jerusalem, but have no idea what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit, in town after town, has made it clear enough that imprisonment and persecution await me. But life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my race I have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me – and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God’s grace.

‘I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again. And so here and now I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you are concerned, for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God’s purpose.’

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John 17:1-11

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come:
glorify your Son
so that your Son may glorify you;
and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him,
let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
And eternal life is this:
to know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I have glorified you on earth
and finished the work that you gave me to do.
Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me
with that glory I had with you
before ever the world was.
I have made your name known
to the men you took from the world to give me.
They were yours and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now at last they know
that all you have given me comes indeed from you;
for I have given them the teaching you gave to me,
and they have accepted this, that I came from you,
and have believed that it was you who sent me.
I pray for them;
I am not praying for the world
but for those you have given me,
because they belong to you:
all I have is yours
and all you have is mine,
and in them I am glorified.
I am not in the world any longer,
but they are in the world,
and I am coming to you.’

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…the ones you have given me

Isn’t it amazing that the One true God is concerned about you and me, to the point that He wanted to make sure we still had God to care and guide us, even when He was about to die?

When a spouse or a parent is at their deathbed, somehow I get the feeling that they have the same concern over the people whom God had entrusted to their care. Even good bosses and friends think of the welfare of their subordinates and friends if they have to be away. But our Lord Jesus was more concerned beyond our welfare, He was interested in our souls.

Some years back, I attended a talk on same sex attraction. The speaker was a mother and one of the participants challenged her, asking her if would want her daughter to be happy if her daughter had same sex attraction. She calmly agreed that she wanted her daughter to be happy but she testified that above happiness, she “wanted heaven for her daughter”. How true and how apt.

More recently, my mother, in a conversation with a parishoner, found out that he and his children attend Sunday service at his wife’s church, which is of a different denomination. Is this wrong, or is that ok? Are we doing similar things of missing the Sunday Eucharist and denying our children the chance to partake in the One true God at mass? Our children are God’s gifts to us, just as we are entrusted to Jesus and the Holy Spirit by the Father, it’s our greatest duty to mould our children in the faith.

I am praying that we put away our counterfeit ways and return to the Lord. He is waiting for us and if you had ever known what it is to wait for someone you love, you would not make Him wait. Turn to Him, He is our Lord, present in the sacraments, blessed and broken for us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for seeking the counterfeits and leading others astray. We need you and we want you. Our Loving Mother, pray for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for giving us an advocate, the Holy Spirit to guide our paths.

14 May, Monday – God Chose Me

14 May – Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle

Matthias (d. 80) was an Apostle. As he could bear witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, he was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. He preached the Gospel for more than 30 years in Judaea, Cappadocia, Egypt, and Ethopia. He is remembered for preaching the need for mortification of the flesh with regard to all its sensual and irregular desires. He was martyred in Colchis in AD 80 by stoning.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Acts 1:15-17,20-26

One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:

Let someone else take his office.

‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.

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John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.’

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You did not choose me: no, I chose you.

As a cradle Catholic, the phrase above strikes a chord with me. Had I not been baptised as a baby, would I still have chosen to be Catholic? Indeed, it was God who had chosen me. Do I take my God-given faith for granted? Admittedly, despite being a Catholic all my life, having attended Catholic schools and catechism as a child, there’s much I still do not know about my faith. Often, I see those who choose to be baptised as an adult, in spite of them being ‘young’ Catholics, knowing a lot more than I do and are stronger in their faith.

Even as I’ve strayed away from God and the church, God has always found a way to call me back in unexpected ways. I am now part of a ministry for returning Catholics — Landings, a community for those who have been distant from the church and are trying to find a way back home. Through journeying with them, I’ve come to understand that no matter how many times we try to run away from God, He will always welcome us back with open arms. Even as we may be diligently attending mass or actively serving in church, there may be times when we feel empty and totally disconnected from God, but we have to remember that God always loves us and He will lead us back to Him, we just need to say ‘Yes’ to His call.

Brothers and sisters, as God’s chosen people, are we doing our part to ‘go out and bear fruit’? “What is my vocation?”, “Am I living out my life with purpose?”, “How am I making a difference to this world?” I struggle with these questions, especially as I am in the midst of discerning a career change. But I believe that if God chose me for it, He will light the way. More importantly, no matter what we do, we have to try and live out the greatest commandment in our daily lives – ‘Love one another, as I have loved you’.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear God, help us to remember in our daily lives that you first loved us, help us to love one another especially in trying moments. Please continue to guide us in seeking your will and answering your call.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for choosing us as your sons and daughters, and for always loving us.

13 May, Sunday – Not One Was Lost

13 May

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Acts 1:15-17,20-26

One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:

Let someone else take his office.

‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.

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1 John 4:11-16

My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another.

No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.

We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit.

We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God.

We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves.

God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.

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John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us.

While I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name. I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost, and this was to fulfil the scriptures.

But now I am coming to you and while still in the world I say these things to share my joy with them to the full.

I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world.

I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one.

They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.

Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

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God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in Him.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals that none of His were lost except the son of destruction – the evil one. The evil one left by choice, exercising his free will. Because of His great love, God gives each of us free will in deciding our thoughts, actions and words. Indeed, true love is free.

But the love of God cannot be considered as something that is just free; it is a free gift to us, which was paid for by His blood.

Today’s gospel tells us that God is love and whoever who chooses to remain in God, remains in love and God resides in Him. Though this may sound like an exchange of sorts, it is really more a consequence of the grace of God.

Love is often misunderstood as a passing feeling, or even as lust; none of them is love. Ironically, even God is misunderstood as the provider of comfort and joy. And by looking at the bible passage which equates God to love, it is evident that ‘love’ is divine, it seeks the good of the other, and it is kind, patient and not jealous. Love never fails. If you read the passage on 1 Corinthians 13, it spells out what love is and it really makes sense that you replace the ‘word’ love in the passage, to ‘God.’

Let us not be complacent and limit our thoughts that love has its place only at weddings. Indeed, the love shared by husband and wife is a foretaste of heaven. But love is present in the Eucharist, in the sacraments, in our acts of wanting to seek the best of the other despite our own circumstances.

Recently, I had to get my driver’s license renewed and, in conveying the message to my dad, I was less than loving. Out of his love for me, He advised that I should be more vigilant of such important matters so that I can improve myself. But my pride got in the way, yet it did not extinguish the love of my dad, who made two trips to the registration office so that I could renew my license. To me, knowing that my dad puts up with me, despite my failures, is a reminder that my Father in heaven rejoices over this one sinner whom He does not want to lose. Though the fact remains that when we choose to act unlovingly, there are consequences — and in this instance, I hurt my father’s feelings.

I also read this, “it is easier to love people who are far away than people whom we see daily.” How very true, that we take our families and friends for granted and treat them in a manner that is lacking of love. God knows I need Him in putting out the fumes in my words which are unloving, my actions that need purification and my thoughts that need sanctifying. I urge you also my sisters and brothers, to offer to God everything that is not of love in your lives, in your families, in your relationships and within yourself. Remember, our precious Lord cried out to God, His Father, so that we would not be lost, that we would be one with Him, just as He is one with the Father. How can we deny Him that noble desire?

Today, I pray that all we do, say, think, and breathe, is Love.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for all our unloving ways. Help us to remain in love and in you. Bless all our mothers today as we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for loving us and for choosing us. Thank you for the tender gift of motherhood and its life-giving ways.