Category Archives: Feastdays

10 Aug, Saturday – Invitation to say “Yes”

Aug 10 – Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr

Lawrence was a third-century archdeacon of Rome, a distributor of alms, and “keeper of the treasures of the Church” in a time when Christianity was outlawed. On 6 August 258, by decree of Emperor Valerian, Pope St. Sixtus II and six deacons were beheaded, leaving Lawrence as the ranking Church official in Rome.

While in prison awaiting execution, Sixtus reassured Lawrence that he was not being left behind; they would be reunited in four days. Lawrence saw this time as an opportunity to disperse the material wealth of the church before the Roman authorities could lay their hands on it.

On Aug 10, Lawrence was commanded to appear for his execution, and to bring along the treasure with which he had been entrusted by the pope. When he arrived, the archdeacon was accompanied by a multitude of Rome’s crippled, blind, sick, and indigent. He announced that these were the true treasures of the Church. He died a martyr for the faith.

Lawrence’s care for the poor, the ill, and the neglected have led to his patronage of them. His work to save the material wealth of the Church, including the documents, brought librarians and those in related fields to see him as a patron, and to ask for his intercession. And his incredible strength and courage when being grilled to death led to his patronage of cooks and those who work in or supply things to the kitchen. The meteor shower that follows the passage of the Swift-Tuttle comet was known in the middle ages as the “burning tears of St. Lawrence” because they appear at the same time as Lawrence’s feast.

– Patron Saint Index

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2 Corinthians 9:6-10

Do not forget: thin sowing means thin reaping; the more you sow, the more you reap. Each one should give what he has decided in his own mind, not grudgingly or because he is made to, for God loves a cheerful giver. And there is no limit to the blessings which God can send you – he will make sure that you will always have all you need for yourselves in every possible circumstance, and still have something to spare for all sorts of good works. As scripture says: He was free in almsgiving, and gave to the poor: his good deeds will never be forgotten.

The one who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide you with all the seed you want and make the harvest of your good deeds a larger one.

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John 12:24-26

I tell you, most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.

Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for the eternal life.

If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too.

If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.

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The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Recently, I’ve had to make some hard decisions about church ministry. I was serving’ in two different ministries; I put serving in inverted commas, because truthfully I had become just a member in name for one of the ministries. It had been weighing on my shoulders, the guilt that I was no longer an active member, yet still claimed to be a ministry member and enjoyed the benefits or ‘prestige’ that came with it. A priest advised me that it was not right to have one foot in and one foot out, and it was best to make a firm decision. I knew quite clearly that my call was to serve in the other ministry, but still it was difficult to officially call it quits as I clung onto the familiarity and security of the first one.

However, once I announced my decision to the ministry leaders and made the firm choice, I felt so much lighter. It felt right to focus on just this one ministry, especially when there had been multiple signs that this was my calling. It was just a matter of whether I was accepting and believing of the signs. And in doing so, I found myself being invited to do more in this ministry; I knew that since I had answered the call to serve in this ministry, I ought to say ‘yes’.

The latest ask of me, was to share my personal testimony, in front of a bunch of strangers. This was something I was somewhat willing to do, but not quite yet prepared to; I was unsure if it was the right time, and of course very fearful of a public sharing! I spent a couple of weeks discerning, and again I could not ignore the signs He gave me. But I needed the courage to say ‘yes’, and trust that no matter my readiness or the seemingly imperfect timing, God will make a way.

In today’s first reading, I’m reminded that “God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.” I am also reminded and comforted that even though my gift is small, He will take it all and multiply, just like the five loaves and two fishes that fed the thousands.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to remember to always run to you first, to trust that even though we are broken people, we are worthy of your love.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for nothing is possible without Your grace. Thank you for taking what little we have, and multiplying the harvest in abundance.

6 Aug, Tuesday – In His Time

Aug 6 – Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Today we celebrate the occasion on which Christ revealed Himself in shining splendour to Peter, James, and John. Moses and Elijah were present, and are taken to signify that the Law and the Prophets. They testify to Jesus as the promised Messiah. God the Father also proclaimed him as such, saying, “This is my Beloved Son. Listen to him.” For a moment the veil is drawn aside, and men still on earth are permitted a glimpse of the heavenly reality, the glory of the Eternal Triune God.

http://satucket.com/lectionary/Tranfiguration.htm

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Daniel 7:9-10,13-14

As I watched:

Thrones were set in place
and one of great age took his seat.
His robe was white as snow,
the hair of his head as pure as wool.
His throne was a blaze of flames,
its wheels were a burning fire.
A stream of fire poured out,
issuing from his presence.
A thousand thousand waited on him,
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
A court was held
and the books were opened.

I gazed into the visions of the night.

And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven,
one like a son of man.
He came to the one of great age
and was led into his presence.
On him was conferred sovereignty,
glory and kingship,
and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants.
His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty
which shall never pass away,
nor will his empire ever be destroyed.

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Luke 9:28-36

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen.

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a way through the dark until the dawn comes

How many times have we sat in adoration with our souls totally dry, wondering if we are going through a futile exercise in spending time with what we want to believe is our ever-knowing, ever-loving, ever-present God, yet harbouring seeds of doubt in our hearts? Especially when it has been __ number of years since we lost our ________ (you can fill in the blank and keep filling it in until you are satisfied).

How many times have we prayed for a miracle, a cure, to win the lottery, for a solution to magically appear in our lives, telling God that He owes us because of what we have been doing for Him, because we pray 1 rosary a day and go for daily mass and give at least 10% of our earnings back to the church?

How long have we endured the uncertainty of a period of grief, of unemployment, of not knowing when a solution to our predicament is coming, albeit, as we deem suitable for our purposes? Brothers and sisters, when are we going to stop making demands of God, who appears to have His sacred hands full because He seems to be helping others, but neglecting us?

Sometimes, it is only in journeying through the darkness that we begin to discern God’s hand in our lives. It is only in experiencing sorrow that we begin to see the joy that our Lord wants us to experience as part of His grand plan for our lives. Because as the one, true architect of our lives, He knows when we need to have His light shine into the darkened areas, where fear, doubt, insecurity and anxiety reside. And many times, just because we think we have done all the preparation, said our rosaries, served at retreats, ministered to the needy and yes, taught the young at our parishes, we think we are entitled to a seat at the table of plenty.

Pastor Earl McLellan, at the recent Hillsong Conference, exhorted that “just because you are ready, doesn’t mean it is your time.” Conversely, when He says it is your time, you better make sure you’re ready. And I believe in my heart that my time has come in another ministry that I spend much of my time on. I believe I have put in the work and that after 18 months, quite a few retreats, and learning how to deal with a leadership that has its quirks, I am ready to seize an opportunity that has presented itself.

Brothers and sisters, when you are able to discern the light at the end of the tunnel, reach out to it in hope and with prayer. The Lord shows himself in ways that we never expect. But when He chooses to show himself, one thing’s for sure…you can never shy away from His glorious presence.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, continue to shine your light into our lives and to illuminate all those areas that we keep hidden so that we can truly be present as your sons and daughters.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always leading the way and guiding us through our darkest hours.

25 July, Thursday – Speak Now, Or Forever Hold Your Peace

Jul 25 – Feast of St. James, Apostle

St. James (died 44) was the first Apostle to be martyred. He preached in Samaria, Judea, and Spain. His work in Spain, and the housing of his relics there, led to his patronage of the country and all things Spanish.

Like all men of renown, many stories grew up around St. James. In one, he brought back to life a boy who had been unjustly hanged, and had been dead for five weeks. The boy’s father was notified of the miracle while he sat at supper. The father pronounced the story nonsense, and said his son was no more alive than the roasted fowl on the table; the cooked bird promptly sat up, sprouted feathers, and flew away.

– Patron Saint Index

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2 Corinthians 4:7-15

We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us. We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been persecuted, but never deserted; knocked down, but never killed; always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day, for the sake of Jesus, so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus, too, may be openly shown. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

But as we have the same spirit of faith that is mentioned in scripture – I believed, and therefore I spoke – we too believe and therefore we too speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by his side and you with us. You see, all this is for your benefit, so that the more grace is multiplied among people, the more thanksgiving there will be, to the glory of God.

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Matthew 20:20-28

The mother of Zebedee’s sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, ‘What is it you want?’ She said to him, ‘Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus answered. ‘Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ ‘Very well,’ he said ‘you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.’

When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

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Since we have that same spirit of[ faith, we also believe and therefore speak.
Standing up for others is hardly an easy thing to do. The fear of being judged, the uneasiness of having the spotlight then shone on you, and the discomfort of not belonging to the pack, make it much easier for us to let the victim suffer alone.

We’ve all experienced something like this before. A colleague takes medical leave and his timing could not be worse. He may have a big meeting to steer that day, or had been regularly unwell in the recent past. Murmurings then surface about his frailty, or of him taking the easy way out from having to deal with challenges at work. Or, someone is being unfairly treated because of a toxic blend of double standards in a seniority-based workplace.

I struggle with being the voice of Christ in situations like this. No one should be oppressed, but speaking up could put you on the other side. However, not speaking up and preserving the ‘peace’ puts us on the other side of the table from God. Such is the additional burden of the Catholic life, which is characterized by faith-driven actions.

Should you feel trepidation about being God’s mouthpiece, start this transformative process slowly. Do not expect great changes overnight as the general principle of the 10,000 hours rule applies here. Make your thoughts on such unfair treatment known first in private, or have a one-on-one conversation with the offender to state how you feel. Eventually, it will become natural for you to do so in more communal settings. You will grow in strength and confidence, and earn the gratitude of the weak ones who had no one to fight for them before.

Just as St. James was one of the three chosen apostles to bear witness to Jesus’ Transfiguration, we too are chosen as God’s agents in difficult situations. What we choose to do thereafter then defines who we really are.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer: Help us, dear Lord, to be courageous for ourselves and for others in the face of all adversity.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for the gift of our conscience, a compass that always leads to you in our troubled world.

22 July, Monday – One True Love

Jul 22 – Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

There is actually very little solid information about her, and both scholars and traditions differ on the interpretation of what we do know.

She was a friend and follower of Jesus. Filled with sorrow over her sin, she anointed Christ and washed his feet with her hair. He exorcised seven demons from her. She was the first to have been visited by the Risen Christ. While there are several arguments about her life after the Crucifixion, the Greek Church maintains that she retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin Mary and lived there the rest of her life.

Some things we do know for certain – Mary wasn’t Jesus’ wife nor mistress, she wasn’t the mother of His child, and she didn’t found a royal dynasty or separate branch of Christianity.

http://www.carr.org/~meripper/saints/saints-m.htm

– Patron Saint Index

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Song of Songs 3:1-4

All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.

 I will get up now and go about the city,
through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.
So I looked for him but did not find him.

The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
“Have you seen the one my heart loves?”

Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
till I had brought him to my mother’s house,
to the room of the one who conceived me.

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John 20:1-2, 11-18

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and 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.’

Meanwhile Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away’ she replied ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master. Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.

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“I found him whom my heart loves.”

There are many people we love in our lives. From parents, to siblings and relatives, to our spouse, to pets and many other things. But do we love God as much as we love all these people in our life? Are we willing to sacrifice our life to do what He wants us to do, instead of what we want to do?

Often, when people betray us or fail to meet our expectations, we become disappointed and disillusioned. Perhaps, we might even lose faith in that person completely.
H

God will never betray nor disappoint us. He loves us more than anyone would do, and He knows us even before we are born. Sometimes, He may not answer our prayers or make our dreams come true, but He does this because He loves us so much and knows what is in our best interests.

So we should always place God as our topmost priority in our life, and everything else will fall into place. And we should love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to remain steadfast to You and love You as wholeheartedly as You love us.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for always loving us and sacrificing for us.

3 July, Wednesday – Believe

3 July 2019 – Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle

Thomas (d. 72) was ready to die with Jesus when Christ went to Jerusalem, but he is best remembered for doubting the Resurrection until allowed to touch Christ’s wounds. He preached in Parthia, Persia and India, though he was so reluctant to start the mission that he had to be taken into slavery by a merchant headed that way.

He eventually gave in to God’s will, was freed, and planted the new Church over a wide area. He formed many parishes and built many churches along the way. An old tradition says that Thomas baptised the wise men from the Nativity into Christianity.

His symbol is the builder’s square. There are several stories that explain it:

  • he built a palace for King Guduphara in India
  • he built the first church in India with his own hands
  • it is representative of building a strong spiritual foundation as he had complete faith in Christ (though initially less in the Resurrection)
  • he offered to build a palace for an Indian king that would last forever; the king gave him money, which Thomas promptly gave away to the poor; he explained that the palace he was building was in heaven, not on earth.

    Patron Saint Index

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Ephesians 2:19-22

You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit.

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John 20:24-29

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

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Blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!

“Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” These words which Jesus said to Thomas have always struck me, because over two thousand years ago, Jesus was talking about us, today! Indeed this is the mystery of our faith.

I am reminded of a homily I heard during the recent Feast of Corpus Christi. The priest shared that the uniqueness of our Catholic faith, is the belief in the true presence of Jesus. The transubstantiation, where the bread and wine offered in the Eucharistic Celebration becomes, in reality, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, is one of the greatest mysteries of our faith that cannot be explained easily. But God, from time to time, sends miracles to remind us of the truth so that we may believe. Incidences where the host began to bleed and turn into flesh have been witnessed; scientists have tested samples of the hosts and found that it came from human tissue. These miracles too seem hard to believe, but for those who witnessed it, are able to know with certainty that it is indeed true.

Similarly, with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, in particular, the gift of tongues. Those who don’t have the gift,may cast doubt on those babbling strangely, whether it truly is from the Holy Spirit, or if it just merely a human act. Only those with the gift  are able to know, with certainty, that the movement of their tongue is not their own, but truly from God. The rest of us who don’t have the gift are only able to just have faith and believe.

Sometimes, God shows himself in these real tangible ways to the hardest of hearts, because without it, they will have difficulty believing, just like a doubting Thomas. And there are those who are able to be contented with simple faith, seeing God in everything.

We can be assured though, God meets us where we are. God knows what we need and He shows himself to us in different and unique ways.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to always hold strong to the faith, especially when it is difficult.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for you are always watching over us. Amen.

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.