Tag Archives: beryl baterina

14 July, Saturday – Fear Not

Jul 14 – Memorial for St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest

St. Camillus (1550-1614) used to be a gambling addict. He lost so much, he had to take a job working construction on a building belonging to the Capuchins; they converted him. Because of a persistent injury, he moved into San Giacomo Hospital for the incurable, and eventually became its administrator.

Lacking education, he began to study with children when he was 32 years old. St. Camillus founded the Congregation of the Servants of the Sick (the Camellians) who care for the sick both in hospital and home. He honoured the sick as living images of Christ, and hoped that the service he gave them did penance for his wayward youth.

– Patron Saint Index

________________

Isaiah 6:1-8

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord of Hosts seated on a high throne; his train filled the sanctuary; above him stood seraphs, each one with six wings: two to cover its face, two to cover its feet, and two for flying.

And they cried out to one another in this way,

‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.
His glory fills the whole earth.’

The foundations of the threshold shook with the voice of the one who cried out, and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said:

‘What a wretched state I am in! I am lost,
for I am a man of unclean lips
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts.’

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding in his hand a live coal which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. With this he touched my mouth and said:

‘See now, this has touched your lips,
your sin is taken away,
your iniquity is purged.’

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’

I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’

_________________

Matthew 10:24-33

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘The disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master. It is enough for the disciple that he should grow to be like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, what will they not say of his household?

‘Do not be afraid of them therefore. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.

‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

‘So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

_________________

everything that is now covered will be uncovered…

A master is known to be knowledgeable about something. Usually, they are older because as they age, they gain experience and therefore they become wiser. In the gospel for today, Jesus is the master. He instructed the apostles that “the disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master.” It teaches the apostles that they must live like Jesus while staying humble. After learning from the teacher, a disciple must never think that he is better than his teacher. It also teaches that a slave must also strive harder to not remain a slave forever. He should work and learn more to become a master as well.

Another instruction of Jesus is for the apostles to not be afraid of the unknown. Sometimes, what we do not know scares us. Jesus says to the apostles, “everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.” Whatever it is that they do not know, they will know. This is only possible because of our faith in God. Our faith must always be greater than our fears. It is our weapon and shield to fight our greatest fears. Our God is all- knowing and if ever there are moments of doubt, let us pause and pray. Let us remember that God is always with us. If we live for Him, He stays within us. If we do otherwise, then our life will go astray.

God has great plans for us. We must always be ready to do His will. At times, our vision may seem fogged. But eventually, everything will be clearer. There will really be moments that we cannot understand. But in the right time, everything will be unfolded. It is our strong faith that will keep us moving forward though there will sometimes be a slight hesitance in our hearts. We must always remember that all that we do will bear fruit.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please help us keep our faith to drive out all our fears. Give us the courage to face everything that is in store for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for calling us to follow you. We may be unworthy, but it is through Jesus that we can be the best we can.

13 July, Friday – Sheep And Doves

Jul 13 – Memorial for St. Henry II

Henry II (972–1024) was the son of Gisella of Burgundy and Henry II the Quarrelsome, Duke of Bavaria. He was educated at the cathedral school in Hildesheim by Bishop Wolfgang of Regensburg. He became Duke of Bavaria himself in 995 upon his father’s death, which ended Henry’s thoughts of becoming a priest. He ascended to the throne of Germany in 1002, and was crowned King of Pavia, Italy on 15 May 1004. He married St. Cunegunda, but was never a father. Some sources claim the two lived celibately, but there is no evidence either way.

Henry’s brother rebelled against his power, and Henry was forced to defeat him on the battlefield, but later forgave him, and the two reconciled. Henry was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014 by Pope Benedict VIII; he was the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors. He founded schools, quelled rebellions, protected the frontiers, worked to establish a stable peace in Europe, and to reform the Church while respecting its independence.

He fostered missions, and established Bamberg, Germany as a centre for missions to Slavic countries. He started the construction of the cathedral at Basel, Switzerland; it took nearly 400 years to complete. Both Henry and St. Cunegunda were prayerful people, and generous to the poor.

At one point he was cured of an unnamed illness by the touch of St. Benedict of Nursia at Monte Cassino. He became somewhat lame in his later years. Following Cunegunda’s death, he considered becoming a monk, but the abbot of Saint-Vanne at Verdun, France refused his application, and told him to keep his place in the world where he could do much good for people and the advancement of God’s kingdom.

– Patron Saint Index

________________

Hosea 14:2-10

The Lord says this:

Israel, come back to the Lord your God;
your iniquity was the cause of your downfall.
Provide yourself with words
and come back to the Lord.
Say to him, ‘Take all iniquity away
so that we may have happiness again
and offer you our words of praise.
Assyria cannot save us,
we will not ride horses any more,
or say, “Our God!” to what our own hands have made,
for you are the one in whom orphans find compassion.’
– I will heal their disloyalty,
I will love them with all my heart,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will fall like dew on Israel.
He shall bloom like the lily,
and thrust out roots like the poplar,
his shoots will spread far;
he will have the beauty of the olive
and the fragrance of Lebanon.
They will come back to live in my shade;
they will grow corn that flourishes,
they will cultivate vines
as renowned as the wine of Helbon.
What has Ephraim to do with idols any more
when it is I who hear his prayer and care for him?
I am like a cypress ever green,
all your fruitfulness comes from me.

Let the wise man understand these words.
Let the intelligent man grasp their meaning.
For the ways of the Lord are straight,
and virtuous men walk in them,
but sinners stumble.

_________________

Matthew 10:16-23

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves.

‘Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you. ‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved. If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another. I tell you solemnly, you will not have gone the round of the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.’

_________________

..I am sending you out like sheep among wolves…

Ever imagined yourself as a sheep and there were hungry wolves staring and grinning at you? That can really be scary. Jesus already foretold to the apostles that they would be facing a very challenging life. But even so, they had to overcome those challenges. They were instructed to be “cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves”. It is like being smart, yet staying humble.

Christ assured them about not having to worry about any hardship that they were going to face. “Whatever they are to say will be given to them when the time comes; because it is not them who will be speaking; the Spirit of the Father will be speaking in them.” The grace to know what they had to do would be granted to them in due time.

Jesus laid down all kinds of things that they will encounter. Their responses to those situations matters. “The man who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Can we also stand firm? Following Christ is a fulfilling yet uneasy task. It cannot just be like, “Voila! I followed Jesus!” It takes work, dedication, and grace from God. It is through Jesus Christ that we can stand firm to give glory to God. It is very easy to say, “Jesus I love you. Everything I do, all for You!” But are we actually doing something for Jesus? Do we admit that we are Catholics when other people ask? Do we stick with our Catholic faith even if other religions ridicule us? Are we able to explain that we are not worshipping idols? Defending our faith is not our work alone. The grace of God is poured upon us for us to stand up and defend our faith.

Most of the time, we worry about our own personal concerns. We think about our current hardships, our own fears and worries. Sometimes, we may feel that we are about to give up and surrender to what we believe in. As long as we put Christ in the midst of what we do, we will have the strength to surpass everything. Easier said and done. But nothing beats the power of prayer, faith, and the grace of God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, I will continue, O my God, to do all my actions for the love of you.

Thanksgiving: Ever dearest God, we thank you for giving us endurance to surpass all the trials that we face.

12 July, Thursday – Peace Be With You

12 Jul

__________________

Hosea 11:1-4,8-9

Thus says the Lord:

When Israel was a child I loved him,
and I called my son out of Egypt.
But the more I called to them, the further they went from me;
they have offered sacrifice to the Baals
and set their offerings smoking before the idols.
I myself taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them in my arms;
yet they have not understood that I was the one looking after them.
I led them with reins of kindness,
with leading-strings of love.
I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek;
stooping down to him I gave him his food.

Ephraim, how could I part with you?
Israel, how could I give you up?
How could I treat you like Admah,
or deal with you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils from it,
my whole being trembles at the thought.
I will not give rein to my fierce anger,
I will not destroy Ephraim again,
for I am God, not man:
I am the Holy One in your midst
and have no wish to destroy.

__________________

Matthew 10:7-15

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘As you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You received without charge, give without charge. Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with a few coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff, for the workman deserves his keep.

‘Whatever town or village you go into, ask for someone trustworthy and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his house, salute it, and if the house deserves it, let your peace descend upon it; if it does not, let your peace come back to you. And if anyone does not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, as you walk out of the house or town shake the dust from your feet. I tell you solemnly, on the day of Judgement it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom and Gomorrah as with that town.’

__________________

…let your peace come back to you…

The Gospel for today is a continuation of Christ’s instruction to the apostles. As I reflect on it more, the more we choose to follow Christ, the more it gets harder. Though they have the capacity to cure the sick and cast out evil spirits, they have to live simply. They have to do miracles for free. I believe that it is acceptable. But they are not allowed to bring any money at all. Not even a change of clothes and footwear. They will just have to rely to those people who would accept them in their homes. Nowadays, it is not very easy to welcome strangers in our homes, due to security and safety reasons. During the time of Jesus, it was the other way around. They were the ones who had to be more careful to “look for someone trustworthy and stay with him in his home.”

I think one of the highlights of their mission is bringing peace to the home that receives them. That scenario is similar when we give each other the sign of peace during mass. How do we say “peace be with you” to others? Do we really mean it, or are we saying it just for the sake of saying it? I hope we really want to spread peace to others. There could be someone who will benefit because of that very simple gesture. So next time when we attend mass, let us say “peace be with you” like we truly want to give peace to that person. We all deserve to receive genuine peace.

Even so, there will still be people who will not accept Christ. He promised that “it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom and Gomorrah.” It denotes that we will not experience the worst scene ever again. This clearly shows how merciful our God is. As God is merciful Himself, we must also show mercy to others. We must be merciful like the Father.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father, please give us the grace to accept what you have given us. Grant that we may be able to produce fruits from these gifts.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for the gift of faith. Thank you for those who accepted us as well as those who do not. Thank You for your mercy.

11 July, Wednesday – We Are Called

Jul 11 – Memorial for St. Benedict, abbot, religious founder

Born to Roman nobility, Benedict (c. 480–547) was the twin brother of St. Scholastica. He studied in Rome, Italy, but was dismayed at the lack of discipline and lackadaisical attitude of his fellow students. He fled to the mountains near Subiaco, living as a hermit in a cave for three years. He was reported to have been fed by a raven.

The virtues that St. Benedict (480-547) demonstrated as a hermit prompted an abbey to request that he lead them. His discipline was such that an attempt was made on his life; some monks tried to poison him, but he blessed the cup and rendered it harmless. He destroyed pagan statues and altars, and drove demons from groves sacred to pagans.

At one point there were over 40,000 monasteries guided by the Benedictine Rule that he wrote, which can be summed up as “Pray and work”.

– Patron Saint Index

__________________

Hosea 10:1-3,7-8,12

Israel was a luxuriant vine
yielding plenty of fruit.
The more his fruit increased,
the more altars he built;
the richer his land became,
the richer he made the sacred stones.
Their heart is a divided heart;
very well, they must pay for it:
the Lord is going to break their altars down
and destroy their sacred stones.
Then they will say,
‘We have no king
because we have not feared the Lord.’

But what can a king do for us?
Samaria has had her day.
Her king is like a straw drifting on the water.
The idolatrous high places shall be destroyed –
that sin of Israel;
thorn and thistle will grow on their altars.
Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’
and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’

Sow integrity for yourselves,
reap a harvest of kindness,
break up your fallow ground:
it is time to go seeking the Lord
until he comes to rain salvation on you.

__________________

Matthew 10:1-7

Jesus summoned his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the one who was to betray him. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows:

‘Do not turn your steps to pagan territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town; go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

_____________________

…proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand…

Would you agree that calling us by our name is very pleasant to our ears? When a person calls me by my name, I feel something special. How much more if it were Jesus Christ who was calling us!

Our gospel for today is about the summoning of the twelve apostles for their mission. We can only imagine how Jesus calls them one by one. That act itself was very special. They were specifically picked by Christ himself. I would really feel honoured if I had been with them. Another thing which is more honourable is that they were given privileges to have “authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness.” But if we think about it more, great power comes with great responsibility. It may be a privilege for the apostles, but they also had to bear the weight that it carried.

The task given to the apostles is a bit challenging because Jesus instructed them to “not turn their steps to pagan territory, and to not enter any Samaritan town.” The pagan territory is the Gentiles, meaning they are not Jews while the Samaritans are half Jews and half Gentiles. I feel that Christ is telling the apostles to not go to a specific group of people. Rather, they must proclaim the good news to everyone.

It can be similar to us. Preaching is not exclusive to those ordained and religious. As lay people, we also shoulder the task to spread the gospel in our everyday life. Our statement that we are Catholics is not enough. We must act on it. Though it will not be very easy but doing good is habit forming. There will come a time that we are spreading the good news effortlessly. How can we do that? Do we say sorry when we accidently bump to a stranger? Do we offer our seat to someone who needs it more? Do we open the door for someone? Do we say ‘please’ and use kind words in our household? Do we easily forgive those who have wronged us? Those little acts of kindness go a long way. This will keep people believing that there is still hope in mankind.

“We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God!” – David Haas

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please give us the strength that we may only choose to do what You desire. St. Benedict, pray for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for calling us to do Your will.

19 May, Saturday – Jealous Of The One

19 May

________________

Acts 28:16-20,30-31

On our arrival in Rome Paul was allowed to stay in lodgings of his own with the soldier who guarded him.

After three days he called together the leading Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, ‘Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and would have set me free, since they found me guilty of nothing involving the death penalty; but the Jews lodged an objection, and I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation to make against my own nation. That is why I have asked to see you and talk to you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear this chain.’

Paul spent the whole of the two years in his own rented lodging. He welcomed all who came to visit him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete freedom and without hindrance from anyone.

________________

John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them – the one who had leaned on his breast at the supper and had said to him, ‘Lord, who is it that will betray you?’ Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, ‘He will not die’, but, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come.’

This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.

There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.

________________

what does it matter to you?

I always thought that it is human nature to not be satisfied. I believe that it is alright to aspire for greater things. Better job, better status in life, everything better. But what if my being better means being greater than other people?

I sometimes feel envious of my workmates if they receive better projects and I got the lousier ones. And those small resentments sometimes lead to gossip about my colleagues. Don’t you sometimes think that life is so unfair? And coupled to it is the question, “Why God, why this fate?”

In the Gospel, Peter asked Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ He was referring to John, the Beloved. Peter’s questioning John’s purpose can seemingly depict a jealous feeling. He shows curiosity in Jesus’ plan for John. Jesus replied, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ Jesus is telling Peter that it is not his duty to know the plan for John. His primary task is to simply follow Christ. This signifies that we should not compare ourselves with others. We have our own different circumstances, our own way of following Christ, our own calling.

Whenever we feel that others are better than us, we must not question God. When we see our neighbours having more riches, let us think of it as they need those and we don’t. Let us look at things with a view that everything is in their proper place. And it is God’s way of showing that all things are meant to be. It is our own perspective that makes the difference.

If you are an employee, it is your duty to become a proper employee. Obey the company’s rule, do your job without stepping on anyone. If you are a business owner, make sure that your company is doing what is ethical for your employees and consumers. If you are a student, then it is your duty to study hard and not play around. If you are a parent, take good care of your children. Children, always respect your parents. If you are married or in a relationship, love and respect one another. And the list goes on.

Of course, everything must be Christ-centered. We must always pray. But it is not right to use our prayer time as an excuse to neglect our primary responsibilities. This pertains to us lay people. Religious and the clerics have different duties when it comes to their prayer time and other activities. We must always pray for contentment and not to feel bitterness to one another.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Dear Lord, have mercy on us for all our wrongdoings. Please grant a grateful heart to follow Your will.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father God, for the tasks and responsibilities that we do every day.

18 May, Friday – Love And Lead

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 though 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

________________

Acts 25:13-21

King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus. Their visit lasted several days, and Festus put Paul’s case before the king. ‘There is a man here’ he said ‘whom Felix left behind in custody, and while I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews laid information against him, demanding his condemnation. But I told them that Romans are not in the habit of surrendering any man, until the accused confronts his accusers and is given an opportunity to defend himself against the charge. So they came here with me, and I wasted no time but took my seat on the tribunal the very next day and had the man brought in. When confronted with him, his accusers did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected; but they had some argument or other with him about their own religion and about a dead man called Jesus whom Paul alleged to be alive. Not feeling qualified to deal with questions of this sort, I asked him if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on this issue. But Paul put in an appeal for his case to be reserved for the judgement of the august emperor, so I ordered him to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar.’

________________

John 21:15-19

After Jesus had shown himself to his disciples and eaten with them, he said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt around you,
and take you where you would not rather go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

________________

‘Follow me.’

What motivates us in doing anything? As I think about it more, I realise that I do things because of another thing. I do not just do things because I want to. I do things because I think it is correct or it is the right thing to do. It is correct based on something that has been formulated by others or by society. I am just merely following what must be followed.

In our Gospel today, we notice that it is three times that Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” We can recall that during Christ’s Passion, Peter denied Jesus three times. These scenarios clearly show that though we may turn our back from our Lord more than once, He is always waiting for our return. We sin, yet we are forgiven.

The phrases, ‘Feed my lambs’, ‘Look after my sheep’, and ‘Feed my sheep’ remind us that it is Peter whom Jesus entrusted to lead us. He was the one appointed to guide our nourishment and to live in accordance to God’s will. When Jesus first asked Peter if he loved him before giving him instructions, it implied that Peter’s obedience must be out of love. It is for the love of God that he will obey to feed the lambs, to look after the sheep, and to feed the sheep. In the same way, it is for the love of God that we have our priests, bishops, and the pope.

Saying that we love God is quite easy. But do our actions show that we love our Lord? Do we do things out of love? I myself struggle everyday to do things out of love for God. But with God’s grace, we can.

We are given the gift of free will. As Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked”. When we are still young and able, we can do whatever we want and go wherever we want. It is up to us how we are going to use this freedom. However, we must remember that our end time will come. And we cannot do anything about it. It is a great reminder that while we still can, we should use our free will to follow the will of God.

We are nearing the end of Easter. But let this be not the end of feeling alive. As we continue in our daily life, let us strive harder to do things out of love.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, we are deeply sorry for all our sins. Please grant us the grace to desire to follow you always.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for giving us chances to renew our self, to be a better person.

3 April, Tuesday – Live In Bliss

3 Apr – Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

______________

Acts 2:36-41

On the day of Pentecost, Peter spoke to the Jews: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’

Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’ They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.

______________________

John 20:11-18

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.

____________________

…why are you weeping?

Most of the time, we express our sadness through crying. Sometimes, we cry for a short time. Sometimes, we cry for a long time. Sometimes, we cry ourselves to sleep at night. Isn’t it that when there are tears in our eyes, our vision is blurred? We cannot see clearly what is in front of us.

In the Gospel, Mary Magdalene was weeping because she thought that Jesus’ body was taken away. We cry when our loved ones leave us. How much more if we found out that we could no longer visit the remains of our departed loved ones?

Mary felt such a deep grief in her heart that she cried sorrowfully. When Mary was first asked, “Why are you weeping?”, I felt like asking if she realised that those who asked her were angels? She may have been emotionally unstable at the time and therefore, could not clearly think nor see her surroundings.

When it was Jesus who asked, “Woman, why are you weeping?”, Mary was not able to recognize Him at once. Mary was weeping and looking for the dead body of Jesus when she should have been looking for the risen, living Jesus Christ. But eventually, Mary realised that it was Him.

God moves in mysterious ways. Humans tend to focus on things that are too far past or too far in the future. When we look back or look forward too much, sometimes we cannot see the ‘now’ too clearly. We must not cling too much to our past nor forecast our future. Let our past be our reminder of how we can be better for today. If we are better today, then we do not have to worry too much for our future. There may be times when we feel really devastated and angry at God. But we must only cling to Him — He is the only one who can see our future and direct us on how to live it.

We must not forget that crying is not only for sadness. There are also tears of joy. We cannot contain the overflowing joy that makes us release tears. We are still in Easter time. This is a great reminder that we can still find gladness in whatever painful situations we are in. God is truly merciful and He would not give us challenges that we cannot handle. We just have to pray and listen to Him so we will be enlightened on what to do.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, we are truly sorry for all our shortcomings. Please pour out Your Holy Spirit to guide us and heal our broken heart. Please grant us the grace of happiness to whatever situations we find ourselves in.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for Your unconditional love. Thank you for helping us, especially in times of great need.

2 April, Monday – Start Anew

2 Apr – Monday within the Octave of Easter

_____________________

Acts 2:14,22-33

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:

I saw the Lord before me always,
for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
So my heart was glad
and my tongue cried out with joy;
my body, too, will rest in the hope
that you will not abandon my soul to Hades
nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.
You have made known the way of life to me,
you will fill me with gladness through your presence.

‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.
_____________________

Matthew 28:8-15

Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’

While they were on their way, some of the guard went off into the city to tell the chief priests all that had happened. These held a meeting with the elders and, after some discussion, handed a considerable sum of money to the soldiers with these instructions, ‘This is what you must say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” And should the governor come to hear of this, we undertake to put things right with him ourselves and to see that you do not get into trouble.’ The soldiers took the money and carried out their instructions, and to this day that is the story among the Jews.
_____________________

Do not be afraid

Whenever I encounter new or happy situations, I always have mixed emotions. I am really happy and at the same time have doubts. I often ask myself, “Is this real?” I sometimes think, “This is too good to be true.”

The Gospel reading for today started with women having mixed emotions after hearing that Christ has risen from the dead. They are filled with joy because of the news that Jesus is alive. Though they are very happy, they also have a fear.

In our country, there is this superstitious saying that a person should not be too overly happy because a terrible sadness would come next. But it should not be like that. God fulfils His promise and it is up to us how we accept it. Our faith should not rely on ‘hearsay’ but rather, we should stick to what is right. If we are happy because we have received so many blessings from God, we should be even more happy. This expressive, happy feeling is a way of inviting more graces to come.

But we must always remember that no matter how we want to share our feelings of happiness, there are people who would reject it. The chief priest in today’s Gospel wants to cover up the truth. He rejects the resurrection of Christ. He even bribed the soldiers to say “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” It is the reality even today. There are so many religions and faiths. Some argue who is better than the other. Not only that, there are also religions who give false statements and accusations about other religions. Let this not affect how we live our faith. By continuing to perform simple acts of kindness and generosity, we declare to everyone that our religion is faith with action.

Easter is a very festive celebration. It is the resurrection of Christ. This is the realization that we can overcome our sinfulness through Jesus Christ. God always forgives and always gives us opportunities to follow Christ. We must remember that each day is a blessing from God and each day, we should be a blessing to others.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are deeply sorry for all the things we have done wrong and for all the good things we have failed to do. Please grant us the grace to live a meaningful life.

Thanksgiving: Father God, thank you very much for continuously giving us another chance to be better.

1 April, Sunday – Rolled Up Cloth

1 Apr – Easter Sunday

Alleluia!

This mass is our Alleluia; our song of praise to the risen Christ who is our life and whose triumph over death we proclaim to all the world.

– Sunday Missal
_____________________

Acts 10:34.37-43

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil. Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and also to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
_____________________

Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
_____________________

John 20:1-9

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.’

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. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
_____________________

…he saw and he believed…

It has been forty days (excluding Sundays) since Ash Wednesday. How were we these past weeks? How did we prepare ourselves during the Lenten Season? Did we have any realizations?

Every Lenten period, we comply with abstaining from meat every Friday. When Holy Week comes, my family has this tradition of visiting seven churches. Until now, I do not know the real reason behind going to seven churches. I have friends who visit nine churches. Their explanation is related to ‘novena’ (latin: novem) — it is praying repeatedly, for nine times. Anyway, we make prayers and wishes in every church. Sometimes, my prayers for all the churches are the same. There were times when my prayers were answered. But there are still plenty in my wish list. Even so, I still continue praying and hoping for a ‘yes’ answer. I just have to patiently wait for it.

When Mary of Magdala went to the tomb, “she saw that the stone had been moved away and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple (the one Jesus loved).” She told them that the “Lord has been taken out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him.” These two disciples then ran together to the tomb and the other one (not Peter), arrived first. He did not enter but peeked inside and saw the cloths lying on the ground. Peter arrived next, went inside the tomb and observed that the cloth for the head was not on the ground but “rolled up in a place by itself.” When John (the other disciple whom Jesus loved) entered the tomb, “he saw and he believed.” They still did not understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead. They still hadn’t realized that God overcomes death. And Jesus Christ is the only manifestation for it. The resurrection of Jesus Christ does not only signify the greatness of God, it also shows the mercy of God. When we sin, it reduces our life with God — similar to death. We stray from God and forget that it is only through Jesus Christ that we can be saved.

Lenten season is not only about abstaining from what to eat. What have we offered to God during the previous weeks? Some may have given up long hours on social media. Some may have extended help to a co-worker or another person. Some may have given up luxury time. Some may even hurt themselves during Lenten period. Small or big, it does not matter. What matters more is our preparation for a great anticipation — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection reminds us that we can always start anew. Whatever wrongdoings we have done, we must repent and start all over again. We may experience suffering and hardship, but we must always remember that Christ also suffered before resurrection. And Jesus Christ on the cross is a sign that there is always light after darkness. It does not always come easy. Our patience, perseverance, and faith are always tested.

As we begin the Easter Season, what is the current state of our heart? Are we ready to welcome and believe in the resurrected Christ?

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please forgive all our wrong doings. Please help us keep our faith.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus Christ to set us free. Thank you for the gift of life.

10 February, Saturday – Give And Receive

10 Feb – Memorial for St. Scholastica, virgin

Scholastica (480-543) was the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia. Born to Italian nobility, her mother died in childbirth. She became a nun and led a community of women at Plombariloa near Montecassino.

– Patron Saint Index

From her earliest years, she had been consecrated to God. She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year, and he would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate. One day, she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples; they spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things.

As night fell, they had supper together. Their spiritual conversation went on and the hour grew late. The holy nun said to her brother, “Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking about the delights of the spiritual life.” “Sister,” he replied, “what are you saying? I simply cannot stay outside my cell.”

When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray. As she raised her head from the table, there were such brilliant flashes of lightning, such great peals of thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated.

Sadly, he began to complain, “May God forgive you, sister. What have you done?” “Well,” she answered, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” So it came about that they stayed awake the whole night, engrossed in their conversation about the spiritual life.

Three days later, Benedict was in his cell. Looking up to the sky, he saw his sister’s soul leave her body in the form of a dove, and fly up to the secret places of heaven. Rejoicing in her great glory, he thanked almighty God with hymns and words of praise. He then sent his brethren to bring her body to the monastery and lay it in the tomb he had prepared for himself.

– from Dialogues by Pope St. Gregory the Great

_____________________

1 Kings 12:26-32,13:33-34

Jeroboam thought to himself, ‘As things are, the kingdom will revert to the House of David. If this people continues to go up to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, the people’s heart will turn back again to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will put me to death.’ So the king thought this over and then made two golden calves; he said to the people, ‘You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, Israel; these brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ He set up one in Bethel and the people went in procession all the way to Dan in front of the other. He set up the temple of the high places and appointed priests from ordinary families, who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam also instituted a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth of the month, like the feast that was kept in Judah, and he went up to the altar. That was how he behaved in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made; and at Bethel he put the priests of the high places he had established.

Jeroboam did not give up his wicked ways but went on appointing priests for the high places from the common people. He consecrated as priests of the high places any who wished to be. Such conduct made the House of Jeroboam a sinful House, and caused its ruin and extinction from the face of the earth.

______________________

Mark 8:1-10

A great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said. Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them among the crowd. They had a few small fish as well, and over these he said a blessing and ordered them to be distributed also. They ate as much as they wanted, and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over. Now there had been about four thousand people. He sent them away and immediately, getting into the boat with his disciples, went to the region of Dalmanutha.

_______________________

…and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over…

The gospel today is one of my favorite Bible stories. The multiplication of bread. When Jesus said, “I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry, they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance”, it is a manifestation of the compassion and mercy of Jesus Christ. He takes into consideration the welfare of His followers. That is indeed a characteristic of a great leader.

Initially, they only had seven loaves of bread and a few pieces of fish. But they were able to feed the whole crowd and there was a lot left over. This really shows how marvellous our God is. Our God knows our hunger and He always satisfies it. It is just us humans who are sometimes not satisfied with our life.

The miracle is not only about how such little food becomes more than enough for all the people. There is also the miracle of the heart. It is a large crowd and that crowd followed Jesus Christ wherever He went for three days. It means to say that those people (most, if not all) were prepared to travel. They must have brought food along with them. So, when the basket was passed around, they took some food but they also put some in. Even extra baskets were given.

If only we could always be generous — not just in monetary and material things. We should be generous in giving understanding and forgiveness to others. If only it could happen, then there would be fewer crime. No more greed. No more hatred. No more revenge. Only love, harmony, and peace. But it is only an ideal. Negativity is part of our life. It is how live that we can lessen its effects.

There is this saying, “Give until it hurts. Give more until it does not hurt anymore.” Let us take this opportunity to reflect on up to what point we can be generous.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: (Prayer for Generosity – St. Ignatius of Loyola ) Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve You as I should. To give and not to count the cost. To fight and not to heed the wounds. To toil and not to seek for rest. To labor and ask not for reward. Save that of knowing that I do Your most holy will. St. Scholastica, Pray for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the abundant graces that sustain our daily life. Thank you for the times that we can share our blessings to others.