Category Archives: Feastdays

18 May, Saturday – Evidence Based Faith

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 thought 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 13:44-52

The next sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of God. When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly. ‘We had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations,
so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’

It made the pagans very happy to hear this and they thanked the Lord for his message; all who were destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside.
But the Jews worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

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John 14:7-14

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If you know me, you know my Father too.
From this moment you know him and have seen him.’

Philip said, ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’
‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him, ‘and you still do not know me?

‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father,
so how can you say, “Let us see the Father”?
Do you not believe
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself:
it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.
You must believe me when I say
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;
believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever believes in me
will perform the same works as I do myself,
he will perform even greater works,
because I am going to the Father.
Whatever you ask for in my name I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask for anything in my name,
I will do it.

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Whatever you ask for in my name I will do…         

We sometimes want all the facts in the world before we believe in something, including the Lord, the God of all. The Bible is our evidence and so is the Sacred tradition, yet we find it hard. All the more reason for us to depend on God to lean on Him, so that we don’t only see and understand, but we believe.

In today’s gospel, we are once again reminded about how powerful yet how personal our God is. He wants to carry out our requests by answering our prayers. Such a sweet Daddy God we have.

So I urge you, sisters and brothers if you are staring at a mountain ahead of you and feel helpless, fret not, we have a God who will bulldoze this mountain in a way only He can, if we just let Him. But sometimes we are guilty of trying to use our man-sized shovel to level out a seemingly large mountain. Surrender your mountains to Him and let Him be God.

Let us praise Him in our joy and our sorrow. Whatever the season of life we are in, let us make it a humble offering onto His throne and unto His feet.

Let us be diligent by remaining in the truth always, regardless of the circumstances we face; because in truth, we constantly face a loving God who fights all our battles.

Also, let us be action-oriented and reach out to others, so that we are able to be a light to others who know Him not.

I have recently been working on my baking skills and am very drawn to bring the fruits of my labour to students at my university who are sitting for exams. One of the main exam halls, is just beside my office and I see these students daily, different ones every day. I pray that my intentions turn to actions too. Please pray for me too as I pray for you all.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer:  Lord, show us to what extent you want us to reach the ends of the earth. Help us to trust you more. Lord, our lives are in your hands.

Thanksgiving: Lord, tune me into your instrument of worship. I lift up my hands in your name.

14 May, Tuesday – Our Earthly Home

May 14 – 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 his camp be reduced to ruin,
Let there be no one to live in it.

And again:

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 to 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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Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

There has been much more awareness regarding climate change in recent months. Scientists have warned us that our planet will become inhospitable to human life as we know it, should nothing be done to reduce carbon emissions and improve our consumption habits. The rise in global temperatures and the extinction of animal species will happen innocuously, much like in the parable of the boiling frog.

While we look forward to meeting God in our heavenly eternity, we must steward the earthly home that He has entrusted us with. Very often, we think of our faith as internally and people-directed. However, we can apply our Christian way of being to how we treat our environment. This discipline preserves our planet for future generations until He comes again, whenever that may be. This echoes today’s Gospel reading where John extols us to go and bear fruit “that will last”.

Seeing the world through a Christian lens makes it possible for us to see God in all things; both in the beautiful and the bad. Coupled with the agency that we have over our choices, we in fact do have plenty of control over how things turn out and what our attitudes towards those outcomes are. Perhaps it is timely for us to look at the world differently and to examine how we live our physical lives so as to synchronise our faith with our actions.

May we all act responsibly as we confront this existential crisis.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer: Dearest God, we pray for our environment. May world leaders and our brothers and sisters work together to preserve what you have so richly blessed us with.

Thanksgiving: Thank you God, for blessing us with the wonders of nature and this beautiful world that we live in.

22 February, Friday – Unqualified yet Called

22 February 2019

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle

The feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome, Italy has been celebrated from the early days of the Christian era on Jan 18, in commemoration of the day when St. Peter held his first service in Rome. The feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch commemorating his foundation of the See of Antioch, has also been long celebrated at Rome, on Feb 22. At each place, a chair (cathedra) which the Apostle had used while presiding at Mass was venerated.

  • Patron Saint Index

This feast has been kept in Rome since the fourth century, as a symbol of the unity of the Church.

  • The Weekday Missal

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1 Peter 5: 1-4

Now I have something to tell you elders: I am an elder myself, and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and with you I have a share in the glory that is to be revealed. Be the shepherds of the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, because God wants it; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it. Never be a dictator over any group that is put in your charge, but be an example that the whole flock can follow. When the chief shepherd appears, you will be given the crown of unfading glory.

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Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

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Be the shepherds of the flock of God that is entrusted to you… not simply as a duty but gladly

As we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St Peter today, we remember how St Peter was chosen to be the shepherd of Jesus’ flock. Hailing from humble beginnings, Simon Peter was a simple fisherman when he was called to follow Jesus in His ministry. Peter certainly had his strengths – he loved Jesus and was loyal, enthusiastic and outspoken. At the same time, the gospels also relate many episodes of Peter’s failings and faithlessness.

While most apostles remained largely silent in the gospels, Peter was always ready to jump in to make a statement, regardless of whether the occasion called for it. Peter was the first to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. He also tried to stop Jesus from talking about his upcoming death, earning a rebuke from Jesus. Peter asked Jesus to command him to walk on water, but Peter’s fear and lack of faith led him to sink and cry for help. Peter proclaimed that he would not desert Jesus even if the others did, only to deny Jesus publicly three times out of fear for his own life. By these accounts, Peter’s behaviour was far from rock-like, not at all dependable as a Christian leader should be. Yet, St Peter is regarded as the model of Christian behaviour. What gives?

I find the contradictions in St Peter’s life highly relatable as I reflect on my faith journey – the many times I resolved to follow Christ more closely after a God encounter, only to relapse shortly after. Leaning on our own abilities, we are limited by our human weaknesses. The process of spiritual conversion is not complete after our baptism but rather, an ongoing journey of growth. In spite of the missteps in St Peter’s journey, he stayed true to his calling and eventually grew into a steadfast servant leader, the first Pope of the Catholic Church. As we celebrate the feast of the Chair of St Peter, let us also remember our calling.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Seet)

Prayer: Dear Father, you have called us in spite of our flaws, fears and fallen moments. Grant us the grace to be open to Your calling, and put our gifts to serve You.  

Thanksgiving: Thank you for calling us into a personal relationship with You. May we grow closer to You, trusting that You will shape us to be more like You.

2 February, Saturday – Being Present

2 Feb – Feast of the Presentation of the Lord; World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life

This feast celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Presentation is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is one of the twelve Great Feasts. In many Western liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season.

This feast is also known by other traditional names including Candelmas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord. Prior to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Candlemas marked the end of the Christmas and Epiphany season.

The Western term ‘Candlemas’ (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on Feb 2 (forty days after Christmas) blessed beeswax candles with an aspergilium (liturgical implement used to sprinkle holy water) for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home.

Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this feast has been referred to as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, with references to candles and the purification of Mary de-emphasized in favour of the Prophecy of Simeon the Righteous. Pope John Paul II connected the feast day with the renewal of religious vows.

  • Wikipedia

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Malachi 3:1-4

The Lord God says this: Look, I am going to send my messenger to prepare a way before me. And the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple; and the angel of the covenant whom you are longing for, yes, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts. Who will be able to resist the day of his coming? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire and the fullers’ alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will then be welcomed by the Lord as in former days, as in the years of old.

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Luke 2:22-40

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’
There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

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“My eyes have seen the salvation… a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people”

Buoyed by a resolve to courageously follow His calling, I approached 2019 with a sense of hope and expectancy. The year started off with promise – everything was going swimmingly well and new windows of opportunity had opened up. Suddenly, a series of unexpected setbacks threatened to jeopardise my plans. Well-meaning friends and relatives expressed concerns about my future, asking questions which I had no answers to. I felt confused and alienated, not unlike the people of Israel who may have questioned God’s plans for them.

My natural instinct was to jump into problem-solving mode, leaning on my willpower and abilities to set things right. It took considerable effort to pull back and recognise that any decision I made under those circumstances would be from a place of pride and self-sufficiency. By relegating God to a supporting role, whatever interventions I made in my brokenness would run counter to God’s plans.

Today’s readings remind us that Jesus, the Light of the world, is with us. There is no reason for us to doubt in His plans, nor lead our lives shrouded in unfounded fear or anxiety. He will keep us safe and show us the way in the darkness. All God asks for is our cooperation to surrender our wills to Him, trusting that He will guide us where He wills. And perhaps, witnessing to God is about embracing our brokenness and living our lives aligned with the will of God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Seet)

Prayer: Dear Father, grant us the grace to see Your presence and surrender to Your will amidst trials and tribulations. Use our gifts and brokenness to be testimonies of Your grace.  

Thanksgiving: Thank you for sending us Jesus to show us the way.

25 January, Friday – Bite Sized

25 January – Feast of The Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience—his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality was being wasted, like the strength of a boxer swinging wildly. Perhaps he had never seen Jesus, who was only a few years older. But he had acquired a zealot’s hatred of all Jesus stood for, as he began to harass the Church: “…entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment” (Acts 8:3b). Now he himself was “entered,” possessed, all his energy harnessed to one goal—being a slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation, an instrument to help others experience the one Savior.

One sentence determined his theology: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with people—the loving group of people Saul had been running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfilment of all he had been blindly pursuing.

So Paul’s great message to the world was: You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do. Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more “works” than the Law could ever contemplate.

(Source:http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1271)

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Acts 22:3-16

Paul said to the people, ‘I am a Jew and was born at Tarsus in Cilicia. I was brought up here in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was taught the exact observance of the Law of our ancestors. In fact, I was as full of duty towards God as you are today. I even persecuted this Way to the death, and sent women as well as men to prison in chains as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify, since they even sent me with letters to their brothers in Damascus. When I set off it was with the intention of bringing prisoners back from there to Jerusalem for punishment.

‘I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when about midday a bright light from heaven suddenly shone round me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” I answered: Who are you, Lord? and he said to me, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, and you are persecuting me.” The people with me saw the light but did not hear his voice as he spoke to me. I said: What am I to do, Lord? The Lord answered, “Stand up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do.” The light had been so dazzling that I was blind and my companions had to take me by the hand; and so I came to Damascus.

‘Someone called Ananias, a devout follower of the Law and highly thought of by all the Jews living there, came to see me; he stood beside me and said, “Brother Saul, receive your sight.” Instantly my sight came back and I was able to see him. Then he said, “The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Just One and hear his own voice speaking, because you are to be his witness before all mankind, testifying to what you have seen and heard. And now why delay? It is time you were baptised and had your sins washed away while invoking his name.”’

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Mark 16:15-18

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’
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I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

Anything worth doing well takes time. Time in the active sense; unlike with the fermentation of wine in unseen caves, but in the fervent nudging and gnawing of our stubbornness. I’m drawn to the idea of conversion, but also quickly realise how plodding the endeavor will be. Will I give up, or stay the course?

How can my conversion begin in the now of today? And will I determine its timeline? Will my conversion ever be complete? With these questions in mind, I have sought to chip away at parts of my life that no longer hold place in my Christian existence. I “eat the frog” every morning, spending time on the most challenging item on my to-do list. I also wear sunblock before I head out, and consume less sugar throughout the day (bye bye random mints). I set aside a block of time each week to take stock of my finances, and learn more about investing. I’m in the process of spring cleaning my house, discarding items that no longer spark joy. I’ve also been getting more sleep, much to the chagrin of my Netflix account.

With innovation and creating capacity being the buzzwords of our connected lives, I’m seeking to reinvent myself for His greater good. In making space for ourselves, we untangle resources that can be invested towards Christian dividends.

I urge all of you to join me in my conversion struggle. Let’s run this race together.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer: I pray for the grace to always be present, realising that my struggles are best tackled in the here and now.

Thanksgiving: Thank you dear Lord, for unfogging my glasses; you’ve shown me the path towards becoming the best version of myself.

13 January, Sunday – I am the Beloved

13 Jan – Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord

The Baptism Of The Lord

The Father anointed his beloved son, Jesus, with the Holy Spirit and with power, to bring healing and peace to all the nations.

– The Sunday Missal

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Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11

‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

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Titus 2:11-14,3:4-7

God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions; we must be self-restrained and live good and religious lives here in this present world, while we are waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the Appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Christ Jesus. He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.
But when the kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.

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Luke 3:15-16,21-22

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’

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You are my son the Beloved; my favour rests on you

With the turn of each year, many of us may have adopted the annual tradition of setting new year resolutions. 2019 will (finally) be the year we eat clean, exercise regularly and sleep early. We will spend quality time with family and friends who matter, or decisively end a toxic relationship or a friendship which has run its course. Professionally, we will work smart and finally clinch the promotion we deserve. At least, this is what everyone seems to be saying on social media.

The world bombards us with expectations such as “You are what you have. You are what people say about you.” We are told we need to hustle – to get out there and work it until we find the opportunities we want in life. We need to fight for whatever is worth having. In stark contrast, the Word tells us that we are loved unconditionally, loved as we are, flaws, warts and all.

Having spent all our lives tuned into what the world is telling us to be, the greatest challenge for many of us is to fully accept the truth that we are God’s children, His Beloveds. At today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we are reminded of our identity as God’s children, just as Jesus is the Beloved Son. As I reflected on today’s readings, a dear friend sent a poem which presciently encapsulates how I aspire to live the life of the Beloved in 2019, as well as the years ahead:

For Presence (John O’Donohue)

Awaken to the mystery of being here

and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror on inner dignity of soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Seet)

Prayer: Dear Father, we pray that we may always remember and live out our identity as your beloved Children.  Help us to reach out to those around us as people loved unconditionally. 

Thanksgiving: Thank you God for the gift of Your perfect and unconditional love.

6 January, Sunday – Our Unlimited Potential

7 January 2019

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Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine out, Jerusalem, for your light has come,
the glory of the Lord is rising on you,
though night still covers the earth
and darkness the peoples.

Above you the Lord now rises
and above you his glory appears.
The nations come to your light
and kings to your dawning brightness.

Lift up your eyes and look round:
all are assembling and coming towards you,
your sons from far away
and your daughters being tenderly carried.

At this sight you will grow radiant,
your heart throbbing and full;
since the riches of the sea will flow to you,
the wealth of the nations come to you;

camels in throngs will cover you,
and dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
everyone in Sheba will come,
bringing gold and incense
and singing the praise of the Lord.

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Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6

You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the grace he meant for you, and that it was by a revelation that I was given the knowledge of the mystery. This mystery that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in past generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel.

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Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they told him ‘for this is what the prophet wrote:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,
for out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel.’

Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them on to Bethlehem. ‘Go and find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward, and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.

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“Arise, shine out, Jerusalem, for your light has come”

My family and I love reading books. Since I was about 9, I developed a lifelong habit of reading for at least an hour daily. I am blessed that my wife, too, has a strong love for reading and am happy to add that both my children are avid readers as well.

Motivated by the stories I read and fascinated by the exciting lives of the characters, I sought to understand how authors seemed to be able to put such lovely plots together. I dug deeper into the themes and came across the ‘Hero’s Journey’, illustrating how a ‘hero’ comes about. Typically, he moves from his current, comfortable position and faces extraordinary challenges. Through these trials, he learns (many times reluctantly) how to step up and face these obstacles. At the end of the journey, he realises that he has become a different person altogether and, unknowingly, has become a hero!

Our Lord’s story does not quite fit this narrative as our Lord Jesus did know His purpose — to show us the way to live and to bear and die for our sins. The Gospel of today does, however, show the challenges He had to go through in His early days as an infant. We see how the wise men had to deal with a cunning and jealous Herod, who went out of his way to try to kill Jesus. In essence, this is Jesus’ ‘Hero Journey’.

However, because of Jesus’ coming, this Epiphany shows our own personal journeys as heroic. In His coming, He shows us what and who we can become. Jesus, through His life and teachings, teaches us HOW to live and WHAT WE CAN BECOME if we follow His path. How powerful is this and how blessed are we!

In celebrating the Epiphany, let us celebrate God’s gift of eternal life and His gift of potential to us! Praise be to God!

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, we pray that we will always be thankful for the life that You have given us. We pray that no matter what happens, You will be there for us as You were there for Your Son.

Thanksgiving: Thank You, Father, for showing in us, through Your Son Jesus, our potential. Thank You for showing us the right way to live and for loving us.

1 January, Tuesday – O Happy Day

01 Jan – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is celebrated on Jan 1, the Octave Day of Christmas (i.e. 8th day after Christmas). It is a celebration of Mary’s motherhood of Jesus. The title “Mother of God” is a western derivation from the Greek term ‘theotokos’, the God-bearer.

The term ‘theotokos’ was adopted at the Council of Ephesus as a way to assert the divinity of Christ, from which it follows that what is declared of Christ is declared of God. So, if Mary is the mother of Jesus, she is the Mother of God. Therefore, the title ‘Mother of God’ and the ‘Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God’, which celebrates her under this title, are at once Mariological and Christological.

– Wikipedia
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Numbers 6:22-27

The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘Say this to Aaron and his sons: “This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”

This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.’
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Galatians 4:4-7

When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons. The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’, and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.
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Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in er heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.
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They are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.

The Catholic Church marks the New Year by celebrating Mary as our Mother. It is indeed fitting that we consider how we start the year under the protection of Our Lady. The New Year is a blessing upon all of us as we are given an opportunity by God to start upon activities that will seek to glorify His name, amidst all the past failures and lost opportunities we may have encountered in the previous year.

The readings of today are one of great rejoicing and blessing because that is what the New Year should be. The Church has chosen this day for us to remember the importance of Mary in salvation history. Mary’s agreement to do the will of God enabled Man to be saved from sin. Mothers often suffer patiently and put in a tremendous amount of sacrifice for their children without the latter’s knowledge. Perhaps it will be good if there is an opportunity for us to recall what God has asked us to do.

We can follow the example of Our Lady, who surrendered her will and let the will of God flow through her entire being. As we go about today recovering from the enjoyment of New Year’s Eve, let us remember to dedicate the first day of 2019 to Our Lady and ask her to take us under her mantle and protect us from all harm and evil.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Mother Mary, let us always follow your example of obedience as we begin the New Year.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the gift of life.

28 December, Friday – Rebooted

28 December – Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs

The Holy Innocents are the children slaughtered by Herod the Great when he tried to kill the infant Christ.

– Patron Saint Index

The children died for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourned for the death of martyrs. The Christ child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to Himself.

To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.

– From a sermon by bishop St. Quodvultdeus about the Holy Innocents

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1 John 1:5-2:2

This is what we have heard from Jesus Christ,
and the message that we are announcing to you:
God is light; there is no darkness in him at all.
If we say that we are in union with God
while we are living in darkness,
we are lying because we are not living the truth.
But if we live our lives in the light,
as he is in the light,
we are in union with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son,
purifies us from all sin.

If we say we have no sin in us;
we are deceiving ourselves
and refusing to admit the truth;
but if we acknowledge our sins,
then God who is faithful and just
will forgive our sins and purify us
from everything that is wrong.
To say that we have never sinned
is to call God a liar
and to show that his word is not in us.

I am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin,
we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,
and not only ours,
but the whole world’s.

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Matthew 2:13-18

After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

I called my son out of Egypt.

Herod was furious when he realised that he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. It was then that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loudly lamenting:
it was Rachel weeping for her children,
refusing to be comforted because they were no more.

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My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

December marks the eighteenth month of my tennis journey. The path has been a challenging one, as I struggle to master a new sport. This has been made all the more difficult by the negative transfer of footwork and strokes from two prior decades of playing badminton.

The tennis movements are so disparate; instead of taking long leaps across the court and planting myself in position to hit the shuttlecock, I now have to shuffle across the court, making miniscule adjustments along the way to ensure an optimum ball contact position. Rather than using my wrist to flick the ball across the net, I now need to use my legs, hips and arms to drive the tennis ball with as much topspin as possible.

Slices are taken on the move, and volleys require considerable follow-through; markedly different from the jabbing, staccato style of badminton. I was stunned as to how ingrained the strokes had been etched into my muscle memory.

It is always more difficult to undo past mistakes, and to right previous wrongs. Old habits are hard to break; hard, but never impossible. With encouragement from my coach, friends, and family, I celebrate my little wins and the improvements that I notch up with each passing day.

I believe that God will fortify my hunger to succeed, and grant me the patience to persevere. Brothers and sisters, what changes in your life are you struggling to make, and do you believe that God will see you through?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Anonymous)

Prayer: Dearest God, may we always be able to reinvent ourselves in accordance to your will. Keep us malleable and open to your guiding hand.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the determination and grit to keep on striving in the face of endless uncertainties.

27 December, Thursday – Spreading the Joy

27 December – Feast of St. John, Apostle, Evangelist

St. John, also known as the “beloved disciple” of Jesus’ was the son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of St. James the Great, and was called one of the Sons of Thunder. Before becoming Jesus’ disciple, he was already a disciple of St. John the Baptist, and a friend of St. Peter the Apostle. He was called by Jesus during the first year of Christ’s ministry, and travelled everywhere with him. He took part in the Last Supper, and was the only one of the Twelve not to forsake the Saviour in the hour of his Passion, standing at the foot of the cross.

He was made guardian of Our Lady by Jesus, and he took her into his home. Upon hearing of the Resurrection, he was the first to reach the tomb; when he met the risen Lord at the Lake of Tiberius, he was the first to recognise him.

During the era of the new Church, he worked in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. During Jesus’ ministry, he tried to block a Samaritan from their group, but Jesus explained the open nature of the new Way, and he worked on that principle to found churches in Asia Minor and baptising converts in Samaria. He was imprisoned with Peter for preaching after Pentecost. He wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and possibly the Book of Revelation.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 John 1:1-4

Something which has existed since the beginning,
that we have heard,
and we have seen with our own eyes;
that we have watched
and touched with our hands:
the Word, who is life –
this is our subject.
That life was made visible:
we saw it and we are giving our testimony,
telling you of the eternal life
which was with the Father and has been made visible to us.
What we have seen and heard
we are telling you
so that you too may be in union with us,
as we are in union
with the Father
and with his Son Jesus Christ.
We are writing this to you to make our own joy complete.

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John 20:2-8

On the first day of the week Mary of Magdala came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed.

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We are writing this to you to make our own joy complete.

I have been part of this writing ministry for a good 10 years, starting first as a contributor in 2007 when I was based in Dubai. Back then, I needed to focus myself on getting through a week without a ‘meltdown’ at work and Oxygen helped me to centre my attention back on my faith.

Then, as I took on other duties, including editing and uploading, I got a better sense of how we were impacting the loves of others, especially when I read the comments that we were receiving on our WordPress platform. This humble little ministry that will soon reach 20 years, actually spreads His word around the world, as far as Canada and Africa. The core team met recently and we will be making efforts to help make Oxygen even more ‘palatable’ and shareable come 2019 because we felt that we needed to spread the joy that others were getting from some of the reflections. Thanks, in huge part, to the team of dedicated contributors who have diligently reflected on their own lives throughout the year and never fail to touch me with their honest and open sharings.

I cannot deny that I have often questioned my purpose in being in this unusual ministry where the members ‘meet’ online (though I do know some of the contributors personally). I figure that amidst the challenges we each face in our daily lives, we find joy in being able to use our God-given talents as writers and craftspeople to share about what the Lord has done for us. At times, we have struggled to find our voice. But I have found that trusting in the Lord’s providence and wisdom often leads to a small awakening in my heart, whether it is a topic I am passionate about, or if I feel down and need to express my feelings.

On behalf of the entire team, I would like to thank all of you who receive and read Oxygen faithfully. And a special thanks to the motley crew of contributors who have helped shape this ministry since 2000, when the original founder started his musings while in university. There is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit has been guiding and shaping us in sharing our joys, our disappointments, our fears, our sorrows and, most of all, our hope – that in touching your lives, we not only fulfil a promise within our heart to make the most of our talents, but that we bring some hope to those who are searching.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for all those who have contributed to this ministry and ask for your continued blessings upon us as we share our hope and faith with others around us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for sustaining us throughout our struggles and for always helping us to remain steadfast and courageous as we spread your Word.