2 Aug, Thursday – Begin Again

Aug 2 – Memorial for St. Eusebius of Vercelli, bishop; St Peter Julian Eymard, bishop 

Eusebius (283-371) was a priest and lector in Rome, Italy. He was consecrated bishop of Vercelli, Italy in 340, but was exiled to Palestine and Cappadocia due to his struggle against Arianism. He was a friend of St. Athanasius of Alexandria. He was a prolific writer according to his contemporaries, but none of his works have survived. He was the first bishop to live with and follow the same rule as his priests. He may be been martyred by Arians, but reports vary. Many consider him a martyr as he may have died as a result of his sufferings in exile.

– Patron Saint Index

Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868) had a strong Marian devotion, and travelled to the assorted Marian shrines and apparition sites in France. He organised lay societies under the direction of the Marists, preached and taught, and worked for Eucharistic devotion. He felt a call to found a new religious society, and founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and the lay Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. His work encountered a series of setbacks, including have to close his nascent houses and move twice, and the houses not being able to support themselves financially. However, his vision of priests, deacons, sisters, and lay people dedicated to the spiritual values celebrated in the Mass and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament anticipated many of the renewals brought about by Vatican Councils I and II.

– Patron Saint Index

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Jeremiah 18:1-6

The word that was addressed to Jeremiah by the Lord, ‘Get up and make your way down to the potter’s house; there I shall let you hear what I have to say.’ So I went down to the potter’s house; and there he was, working at the wheel. And whenever the vessel he was making came out wrong, as happens with the clay handled by potters, he would start afresh and work it into another vessel, as potters do. Then this word of the Lord was addressed to me, ‘House of Israel, can not I do to you what this potter does? – it is the Lord who speaks. Yes, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so you are in mine, House of Israel.’

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Matthew 13:47-53

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’

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“Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased”

I’ve been in a bit of a ‘dark place’ recently. Earlier in the year, I had such great hopes for the future, as I suppose we all do at the start of each year. I was determined not to be part of the mass of dreamers that fall to the wayside as the year unfolds. I was open to God and prayer, and I think like many people who have worked a long time, you reach a point where you start questioning if what you are doing is indeed what you were meant to do. I had such a strong conviction for what I thought God had in mind for me – my calling, if I may.

Then distractions and personal heartbreak got in the way and swept these dreams aside. I keep telling myself it is God’s test in everything to check my constancy and faith. I’ve since gotten over the hard bit, the grief, but the recovery is challenging. To get back to my old self, the believer in me – that is taking a little bit more time and effort to achieve. I want to get back to that place of possibility; the mind is willing but the body is weak, or maybe my faith is? I think this is like trying to get out of an addiction, which I won’t presume to be so easy, but rather, so psychologically difficult. My own challenges I am sure are nothing compared to what some people have gone through, and I cannot imagine what someone like Job would have felt in the midst of his own personal tragedies. As I question what God’s plans are for me, I feel like I am starting again from scratch, running on empty rather than ready to embrace the future.

I’d like to think that yesterday (as I write this) was my turning point – I was listening to a song and thought I heard the words “I will love you for your mistakes”. At that moment, I felt like this was something Jesus would say to me, “It doesn’t matter what has happened, I will still love you for who you are.” Maybe my plans didn’t turn out to be what I wanted it to be, but God is the potter and I am the clay. He is the one who will mould me and fashion me into something that will be pleasing to Him, that will be of purpose to fulfill His plan. Maybe as He fashions me, so am I to fashion my own plans, with His direction. Maybe even though things haven’t turned out as I have hoped, there are lessons to be learnt, quiet guidance to be gleaned, even in the darkest times. When I am weak, then He is strong, and in turn so too will I be strong, because Christ is my strength. And as I gather my strength, I will try again, just as He will try again with me.

I may feel like I’ve been scratching the bottom of the barrel, but that is only because the barrel needs to be emptied of all the emotions that link me to that dark place before it can be filled again with God’s grace till it runneth over. Then will I be ready to embrace the future.

(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)

Prayer: God Almighty Father, praise be to You! Steady my heart and my courage to embrace Your plans for me. Let me lean not on my own understanding, but on faith that You will see me through this.            

Thanksgiving: Thanks be to God our Father, for not giving up on me, for trying again with me even when I stumble, and for loving me despite my mistakes.

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