8 August, Wednesday – Faith In Times Of Crisis

Aug 8 – Memorial for St. Dominic, priest, religious founder

Dominic (1170-1221) was born of wealthy Spanish nobility, and was the son of Blessed Joan of Aza. Joan had difficulty conceiving and prayed at the shrine of St. Dominic of Silos who had a tradition of patronage of that problem. When she became pregnant, she named the child in honour of the saint. While pregnant, Joan had a vision that her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch it carried in its mouth. A dog with a torch in its mouth became a symbol for the Order he founded, the Dominicans. At Dominic’s baptism, Joan saw a star shining from his chest, which became another of his symbols in art, and led to his patronage of astronomy.

Dominic was a priest who worked for clerical reform. He had a life-long apostolate among heretics, especially Albigensians, and especially in France. He founded the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1215, a group who lived a simple, austere life. He also founded an order or nuns dedicated to the care of young girls.

At one point, Dominic became discouraged at the progress of his mission; no matter how much he worked, heresies remained. But he received a vision from Our Lady who showed him a wreath of roses, representing the rosary. She told him to say the rosary daily, teach it to all who would listen, and eventually the true faith would win out. Dominic is often credited with the invention of the rosary; it actually pre-dates him, but he certainly spread devotion to it, and used it to strengthen his own spiritual life.

Legend says that Dominic received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. Dominic met the beggar the next day. He embraced him and said, “You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us.” The beggar was St. Francis of Assisi.

– Patron Saint Index

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Jeremiah 31:1-7

I will be the God of all the clans of Israel – it is the Lord who speaks – they shall be my people.

The Lord says this:
They have found pardon in the wilderness,
those who have survived the sword.
Israel is marching to his rest.
The Lord has appeared to him from afar:
I have loved you with an everlasting love,
so I am constant in my affection for you.
I build you once more; you shall be rebuilt,
virgin of Israel.
Adorned once more, and with your tambourines,
you will go out dancing gaily.
You will plant vineyards once more
on the mountains of Samaria
the planters have done their planting: they will gather the fruit.
Yes, a day will come when the watchmen shout
on the mountains of Ephraim,
‘Up! Let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God!’

For the Lord says this:
Shout with joy for Jacob!
Hail the chief of nations!
Proclaim! Praise! Shout:
‘The Lord has saved his people,
the remnant of Israel!’

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Matthew 15:21-28

Jesus left Gennesaret and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Then out came a Canaanite woman from that district and started shouting, ‘Sir, Son of David, take pity on me. My daughter is tormented by a devil.’ But he answered her not a word. And his disciples went and pleaded with him. ‘Give her what she wants,’ they said ‘because she is shouting after us.’ He said in reply, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ But the woman had come up and was kneeling at his feet. ‘Lord,’ she said ‘help me.’ He replied, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ She retorted, ‘Ah yes, sir; but even house-dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.’ And from that moment her daughter was well again.

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“Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.”

It has been about three months since my other half returned from a retreat in Australia. Since then, she has had to deal with pretty crucial changes in her life and, in the process, emerged from a crisis of faith. I could only stand by and offer however much support I could (at times, frustrated at my own self) and to just be there for her.

What has amazed me all this time is how her faith in God has inspired her to do art (painting), which I never knew she had done in college. From her first tentative piece, she has miraculously produced 6 pieces to date; the last one at my request. And it is pretty obvious to me that God has given her this special talent because each piece radiates joy, hope and peace; at least that is what I get out of looking at her snapshots as she paints them.

Two Saturdays ago, a friend who does life coaching invited her to a facilitation session for a group of communion ministers, because he wanted to use her humble pieces for the audience to reflect on. In typical fashion, she ‘pooh-poohed’ my obvious excitement as I offered to drive her to the church where the session was happening. In my mind, someone else was recognizing her talent as an artist!

During the 2-hour session, her paintings opened up conversations among the 15 or so people and my heart swelled with pride. Truly, her faith in God, in spite of her trying circumstances, had enabled her to produce art that ‘spoke’ to others and helped them open up deep-seated feelings which reflected the various seasons in their ministry lives. As I stole glances at her while the people were sharing their innermost feelings about each painting, I could see her tearing up. But unlike months ago when she was shedding tears of despair, I could see that these were tears of joy.

Brothers and sisters, God never abandons us, especially when we are going through a time of desolation in our lives. In fact, it is we who question his existence and doubt His presence, leading us into a downward spiral of despair. I have learnt that in our darkest times, we need to just be quiet and listen out for His voice – whether it is in the encouraging word of a loved one, a touch from a stranger, or a revelation that leads to a whole new journey for us. So don’t despair if you are experiencing a crisis of faith now. He will lead you out eventually.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you continue to carry us on your shoulders, especially when we struggle to find meaning and are deaf to your words of love. We pray that you always keep faith in us and give us the desire to hear your whisper each day.

Thanksgiving: We thank you for your steadfast love and for your faith in each and every one of us.

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