Daily Archives: October 1, 2019

2 October, Wednesday – Childlike, not childish faith

Oct 2 – Memorial for The Guardian Angels

The term ‘guardian angels’ refers to the belief that each soul has an angel who is available to shepherd the soul through life, and help bring them to God.

Belief in the reality of angels, their mission as messengers of God, and Man’s interaction with them, goes back to the earliest times. Cherubim kept Adam and Eve from slipping back into Eden; angels saved Lot and helped destroy the cities of the plains; in Exodus, Moses follows an angel, and at one point an angel is appointed leader of Israel. Michael is mentioned at several points, Raphael figures large in the story of Tobit, and Gabriel delivered the Annunciation of the coming of Christ.

The concept of each soul having a personal guardian angel, is also an ancient one, and long accepted by the Church:

“See that you despise not one of these little ones [children]: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” – Jesus, Matthew 18:10

“How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” – St. Jerome in his commentary on Matthew

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?” – Hebrews 1:14

The feast, celebrating the angels who helped bring us to God, began in many local calendars centuries ago, and was widely known by the 16th century. Pope Paul V placed a feast venerating the angels on the general calendar on 27 September 1608. Ferdinand of Austria requested that it be extended to all areas in the Holy Roman Empire.

Initially placed after the feast of Michael the Archangel, it was seen as a kind of supplement to that date. Pope Clement X elevated the feast, celebrated on 2 October, to an obligatory double for the whole Church. On 5 April 1883, Pope Leo XIII raised the feast to the rank of a double major.

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“O angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom whose love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to rule and guard, to light and guide. Amen.” – Prayer to our guardian angel

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Nehemiah 2:1-8

In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, the wine being my concern, I took up the wine and offered it to the king. Now I had never been downcast before. So the king said, ‘Why is your face so sad? You are not sick, surely? This must be a sadness of the heart.’ A great fear came over me and I said to the king, ‘May the king live for ever! How could my face be other than sad when the city where the tombs of my ancestors are lies in ruins, and its gates have been burnt down?’ ‘What’ the king asked ‘is your request?’ I called on the God of heaven and made this reply to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if you are satisfied with your servant, give me leave to go to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ tombs, and rebuild it.’ The king, with the queen sitting there beside him, said, ‘How long will your journey take, and when will you return?’ So I named a date that seemed acceptable to the king and he gave me leave to go. I spoke to the king once more, ‘If it please the king, could letters be given me for the governors of Transeuphrates to allow me to pass through to Judah? And also a letter for Asaph, keeper of the king’s park, to supply me with timber for the gates of the citadel of the Temple, for the city walls and for the house I am to occupy?’ This the king granted me, for the kindly favour of my God was with me.

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Matthew 18:1-5,10

The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

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Anyone who welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me

Just stare into the eyes of a baby or a young child. Those eyes are full of innocence, purity and love. And perhaps cuteness.

I always feel that when I see a young child or a baby, I am looking into the face of God. We are aware that babies and young children are not going to hurt us; even if they do, it’s certainly not intentional nor spiteful. They are full of pure, unadulterated joy and love.

Jesus said that when we welcome a little child, we are in fact welcoming Him. But, what about for us adults? Does this mean that we are not welcoming Jesus when we welcome adults? I don’t think Jesus intended his phrase to be taken in its literal sense. I believe that we also welcome Jesus when we welcome adults who possess childlike, and not childish, faith in our Lord and God.

I recall one online article which described the differences between childlikeness and childishness. You can read it at http://www.catholic365.com/article/2618/are-we-childlike-or-childish.html, but I will attempt to summarise the key differences here and add my own as well. Childlikeness is when we have full trust in God, who is our Father and loves us unconditionally. It is when we delight over the small delights of God’s creation in this world, like the joy of seeing flowers bloom, as well as when we appreciate every single blessing which God has given us. It is also when we are excited to know what God has in store for us tomorrow, whether good or bad, because we know that He will always have our best interests in His heart. It is also when we look beyond people’s flaws and imperfections, see them for who they are as children of God, and love them as our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

However, childishness is when we become immature and self-centred. It is when we become angry and frustrated with God for not doing things the way we want them to happen. It is when we lose faith in Him and place our trust wrongly in worldly desires and things instead of our heavenly Father. It is when we stop treating others as children of God, belittling them and exploiting their weaknesses. That is not exactly how our Father would want us to behave, would He?

So, let us strive for childlikeness, and discard our childish behaviour, as we unite ourselves as loving children of God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to discard our childish behaviour and learn to be childlike in our faith and relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for being our Father, whom we can place our entire trust in You, as we know that You will never let us down and You always have our best interests in Your heart. Amen.

1 October, Tuesday – Don’t Give The Enemy A Seat At Your Table

Oct 1 – Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor, Patroness of Missions

Born to a pious middle-class French family of tradesmen, Francoise-Marie Therese Martin (1873–1897) was the daughter of Blessed Louis Martin and Blessed Marie-Azelie Guerin Martin, and all four of her sisters became nuns. Her mother died when Francoise-Marie was only four, and the family moved to Lisieux, Normandy, France to be closer to family.

She was cured from an illness at the age of 8 when a statue of the Blessed Virgin smiled at her. She was educated by the Benedictine nuns of Notre-Dame-du-Pre, and confirmed there at the age of 11. Just before her 14th birthday, she received a vision of the Child Jesus. She immediately understood the great sacrifice that had been made for her, and developed an unshakeable faith.

She tried to join the Carmelites, but was turned down due to her age. She was a pilgrim to Rome for the Jubilee of Pope Leo XIII whom she met and who knew of her desire to become a nun. She joined the Carmelites at Lisieux on 9 April 1888 at the age of 15, taking her final vow on 8 September 1890 at the age of 17.

She is known by all for her complete devotion to spiritual development and to the austerities of the Carmelite Rule. Due to health problems resulting from her ongoing fight with tuberculosis, her superiors ordered her not to fast. She became novice mistress at the age of 20, and at age 22 was ordered by her prioress to begin writing her memories and ideas. The material would turn into the book History of a Soul.

She defined her path to God and holiness at The Little Way, which consisted of child-like love and trust in God. She had an ongoing correspondence with the Carmelite missionaries in China, often stating how much she wanted to come work with them. Many miracles are attributed to her and she was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997 by Pope John Paul II.

“You know well enough that our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.” – Saint Therese of Lisieux

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Zechariah 8:20-23

The Lord of Hosts says this: ‘There will be other peoples yet, and citizens of great cities. And the inhabitants of one city will go to the next and say, “Come, let us go and entreat the favour of the Lord, and seek the Lord of Hosts; I am going myself.” And many peoples and great nations will come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favour of the Lord.’

The Lord of Hosts says this: ‘In those days, ten men of nations of every language will take a Jew by the sleeve and say, “We want to go with you, since we have learnt that God is with you.”’

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Luke 9:51-56

As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?’ But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.

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We want to go with you

 I have been pondering lately over the question of succession – both at work and within my ministry. In each instance, I am at different ends of the scale. At work, I am struggling to find someone who is capable of delivering to a level that I am accustomed to, only because the person I had planned to groom left a month back. So I am back to my sometimes non-existent, not-as-highly visible deputy who, while capable, is not assertive enough.

In ministry, while I have had the opportunity to step up on a few occasions, I feel that while I am doing well at fixing some operational and logistics issues that have lingered for a while, I am yet to level up in terms of my worship leading. So while I am taking vocal classes to improve my technique, I fall short when it comes to the spiritual aspects.

I have tried to look at both situations from various perspectives and can only surmise that these two trials that I am going through will lead to a larger realisation of where He is taking me on my leadership journeys. Interestingly, I have also been approached by an old friend to consider a move to something more ‘exciting’, in an environment which I am more accustomed to – where everyone brings their ‘A-game’ each and every day.

I told him that his timing was rather uncanny. I have been growing increasingly frustrated with some of my colleagues and I shared that among my team of 14, I would only bring 2 along should I ever make the move. I am pretty sure that even if the others asked me to take them, I would say ‘No’. What then does that say of me as a leader? Am I prepared to walk away from a team who have stuck with me through thick and thin since 2012?

And if I were to be thrust into a leadership role in ministry, I wonder how many will confidently say, “We’ll stand by you”? After all, I am merely a newbie, undergoing some training and trying to impart my knowledge and skills to others. And while there are those who encourage and affirm, I know there are others who doubt and question. To be fair, I would too, if I were in their shoes.

Brothers and sisters, some of us are called to lead and, in many instances, we find ourselves questioning our abilities. Remember that Jesus never called priests, nor those who were learned. He gathered fishermen and turned them into fishers of men. Let us not allow the devil to plant seeds of doubt in our minds and resolutely follow our shining star and guiding light – Jesus Christ.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep us faithful and focussed on the road ahead through our daily prayers and help us to see your guiding hand in all that we do.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always guiding us gently along in our spiritual journey.