Tag Archives: brenda khoo

17 March, Tuesday – Forgive, even when it’s the hardest

17 Mar – Memorial for St. Patrick, bishop

St. Patrick (387-390 – 461-464) was kidnapped from the British mainland when he was about 16, and shipped to Ireland as a slave. He was sent to the mountains as a shepherd, and spent his time in prayer. After six years of this life, he had a dream in which he was commanded to return to Britain. Seeing it as a sign, he escaped.

He studied in several monasteries in Europe. He was a priest, then a bishop. He was sent by Pope St. Celestine to evangelize England, then Ireland, during which his chariot driver was St. Odran, and St. Jarlath was one of his spiritual students.

In 33 years, he effectively converted Ireland. In the Middle Ages, Ireland become known as the “Land of Saints”, and during the Dark Ages, its monasteries were the great repositories of learning in Europe, all a consequence of Patrick’s ministry.

Christ shield me this day:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me

– Saint Patrick, from his breastplate

  • Patron Saint Index

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Daniel 3:25,34-43

Azariah stood in the heart of the fire, and he began to pray:

Oh! Do not abandon us for ever,
for the sake of your name;
do not repudiate your covenant,
do not withdraw your favour from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your friend,
of Isaac your servant,
and of Israel your holy one,
to whom you promised descendants as countless as the stars of heaven
and as the grains of sand on the seashore.
Lord, now we are the least of all the nations,
now we are despised throughout the world, today, because of our sins.
We have at this time no leader, no prophet, no prince,
no holocaust, no sacrifice, no oblation, no incense,
no place where we can offer you the first-fruits
and win your favour.
But may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit be as acceptable to you
as holocausts of rams and bullocks,
as thousands of fattened lambs:
such let our sacrifice be to you today,
and may it be your will that we follow you wholeheartedly,
since those who put their trust in you will not be disappointed.
And now we put our whole heart into following you,
into fearing you and seeking your face once more.
Do not disappoint us;
treat us gently, as you yourself are gentle
and very merciful.
Grant us deliverance worthy of your wonderful deeds,
let your name win glory, Lord.

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Matthew 18:21-35

Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time” he said “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’

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“… forgive your brother from your heart.”

Is it possible to forgive someone who has stepped on your toes for the umpteenth time and never apologised, even though you try to explain to him or her what he or she did wrong to you? Even when he or she apologises, you know that it may not be a sincere apology because he or she may do it again in the future.

Today’s world will tell us that it is important to love ourselves, and since people who are unapologetic are regarded as ‘toxic’ or ‘negative’, therefore, to avoid such ‘negative’ people, we should cut them out of our life. This way, we can protect ourselves and make ourselves happy. After all, there would be no more people stepping on our toes, right?

But, I don’t think that was what Jesus meant when he talked about forgiveness. When the soldiers crucified Him, He did not banish them from sight. Nor did he entirely ignore Pontius Pilate when He was being sentenced to death. I think He was silently praying for their forgiveness from our Father and their conversion from sin as well. This would probably explain why his last words were, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

So, forgiving does not necessarily mean avoiding people who have hurt us. It does not mean that we retaliate against people who have wounded us. Instead, forgiveness is when we continue treating people who have hurt us the same way we treat our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have not hurt us. Forgiveness also means that we pray for them and bless them.

For Paul said in Romans 12:14, “Bless those who hurt you.”

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Lord, please pray for us to be able to forgive those who have hurt us from the bottom of our hearts. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for granting us the ability to forgive others even when we are hurt by them.  Amen.

16 March, Monday – God vs People’s Approval

16 March 2020

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2 Kings 5:1-15

Naaman, army commander to the king of Aram, was a man who enjoyed his master’s respect and favour, since through him the Lord had granted victory to the Aramaeans. But the man was a leper.

Now on one of their raids, the Aramaeans had carried off from the land of Israel a little girl who had become a servant of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would approach the prophet of Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.’

Naaman went and told his master. ‘This and this’ he reported ‘is what the girl from the land of Israel said.’

‘Go by all means,’ said the king of Aram ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’

So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten festal robes. He presented the letter to the king of Israel. It read: ‘With this letter, I am sending my servant Naaman to you for you to cure him of his leprosy.’ When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments. ‘Am I a god to give death and life,’ he said ‘that he sends a man to me and asks me to cure him of his leprosy? Listen to this, and take note of it and see how he intends to pick a quarrel with me.’

When Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king, ‘Why did you tear your garments? Let him come to me, and he will find there is a prophet in Israel.’

So Naaman came with his team and chariot and drew up at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent him a messenger to say, ‘Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more.’
But Naaman was indignant and went off, saying, ‘Here was I thinking he would be sure to come out to me, and stand there, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the spot and cure the leprous part. Surely Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than any water in Israel? Could I not bathe in them and become clean?’ And he turned round and went off in a rage.

But his servants approached him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? All the more reason, then, when he says to you, “Bathe, and you will become clean.”’

So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.

Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. ‘Now I know’ he said ‘that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.’

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Luke 4:24-30

Jesus came to Nazara and spoke to the people in the synagogue: ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.

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“I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.”

“I hope to be a religious sister one day,” I told my friends.

They laughed at me. They couldn’t see past my flaws and accept that I was a child of God, beautifully, wonderfully and fearlessly made.

We expect people to be perfect if they want to join the religious vocation. We may even expect the religious to have a halo over their heads. We put them on so high a pedestal that if they fall, they are condemned by us to be failures.

But I remember reading somewhere that God calls sinners to be His friends, and He does not want perfect people to serve Him. Instead, He wants imperfect people to join the religious orders, so that through serving Him, they may be made perfect.

This brings me to the sexual scandal that the Catholic Church faces in modern times today. Indeed, we should feel compassion and fight for justice for the victims; but, do we also reject the priests immediately and cold-heartedly? Justice does not mean that we retaliate or shun the wrongdoer, it just means that we bring the truth to light. We should remember that all the clergy are human and imperfect as well, and we should always keep them in our prayers.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Father, please help those who are called to You to join the religious vocation to be courageous, and stand up for themselves and for You, even if they are being ridiculed. Please help those who are in the vocation to accept and embrace their imperfections, yet learn how to be perfect like You through service. Please help us to forgive priests who have fallen in scandals, and to never lose our faith. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for showing us Your example to always do what is right and to have the faith even when there are scandals in the Catholic Church. Amen.

15 March, Sunday – God is always with us

15 March 2020

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Exodus 17:3-7

Tormented by thirst, the people complained against Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt?’ they said. ‘Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’

Moses appealed to the Lord. ‘How am I to deal with this people?” he said. ‘A little more and they will stone me!’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take with you some of the elders of Israel and move on to the forefront of the people; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the river, and go. I shall be standing before you there on the rock, at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will flow from it for the people to drink.’ This is what Moses did, in the sight of the elders of Israel. The place was named Massah and Meribah because of the grumbling of the sons of Israel and because they put the Lord to the test by saying, ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’

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Romans 5:1-2,5-8

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. And this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.

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John 4:5-42

Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’ – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied:

‘If you only knew what God is offering
and who it is that is saying to you:
Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask,
and he would have given you living water.’

‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus replied:

‘Whoever drinks this water
will get thirsty again;
but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give
will never be thirsty again:
the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him,
welling up to eternal life.’

‘Sir,’ said the woman ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.’ ‘Go and call your husband’ said Jesus to her ‘and come back here.’ The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’ He said to her, ‘You are right to say, “I have no husband”; for although you have had five, the one you have now is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’ ‘I see you are a prophet, sir’ said the woman. ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said:

‘Believe me, woman,
the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know:
for salvation comes from the Jews.
But the hour will come
– in fact it is here already –
when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.
God is spirit,
and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’

The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.’ ‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus ‘I am he.’

At this point his disciples returned, and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman, though none of them asked, ‘What do you want from her?’ or, ‘Why are you talking to her?’ The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people. ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?’ This brought people out of the town and they started walking towards him.

Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, do have something to eat; but he said, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples asked one another, ‘Has someone been bringing him food?’ But Jesus said:

‘My food is to do the will of the one who sent me,
and to complete his work.
Have you not got a saying:
Four months and then the harvest?
Well, I tell you:
Look around you, look at the fields;
already they are white, ready for harvest!
Already the reaper is being paid his wages,
already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life,
and thus sower and reaper rejoice together.
For here the proverb holds good:
one sows, another reaps;
I sent you to reap a harvest you had not worked for.
Others worked for it;
and you have come into the rewards of their trouble.’

Many Samaritans of that town had believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony when she said, ‘He told me all I have ever done’, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’

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“Is the Lord with us, or not?”

The number of cases keep rising. The death toll is increasing. Racist attacks are proliferating.

In view of this trying time of the COVID-19 situation, it seems that God isn’t listening to us. Or maybe He isn’t even with us. We’ve been praying every day for a cure, but the situation isn’t abating anytime soon. Some of us may have known patients who have passed away from this virus.

But we should never put Him to test. Instead, we should pray that God is with us amidst this affliction, and we should count our blessings during these difficult circumstances. Many of us are spending more time at home, so we can use this opportunity to catch up with our loved ones and spend some bonding time together. For instance, my family and I had some quality time last week playing card games together. We had never done so for a long time, and for a moment, we were back in our younger days, living life, carefree.

Moreover, we can continue showing care and love to people around us, like the couple who distributed free masks outside the Punggol MRT station. We should stop being racist because it is certainly not how God wants us to behave during such tough times.

For those of us who know of patients who passed away due to the virus, we can support and grieve with those who are in similar circumstances and remind ourselves that God is grieving together with us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Lord, please help us to see the good in others and love everyone around us despite the coronavirus situation. We trust that You will help us out of this challenging circumstance soon enough. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for helping us to love others and to spend more time with family during these trying times. Amen.

15 January, Wednesday – Be all ears to His call!

15 January
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1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20

The boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli; it was rare for the Lord to speak in those days; visions were uncommon. One day, it happened that Eli was lying down in his room. His eyes were beginning to grow dim; he could no longer see. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord where the ark of God was, when the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ Then he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli said, ‘I did not call. Go back and lie down.’ So he went and lay down. Once again the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ He replied, ‘I did not call you, my son; go back and lie down.’ Samuel had as yet no knowledge of the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. Once again the Lord called, the third time. He got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli then understood that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, and he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if someone calls say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The Lord then came and stood by, calling as he had done before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’

Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and let no word of his fall to the ground. All Israel from Dan to Beersheba came to know that Samuel was accredited as a prophet of the Lord.

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Mark 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

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Speak Lord, Your servant is listening

When I was much younger, I used to have hopes and dreams of one day becoming a sister or nun. Every day, I would pray to God to call me and would also try my best to hear Jesus’s call in the form of a whisper. Growing up in an IJ school certainly provided me with a lot of time in school to spend time with the Lord and pray to Him. Later, I went to a state junior college and I’m currently in a state university. Sadly, I am spending less time with Him, and now it is much harder for me to listen to Jesus. I have realized how distant I have grown from the Lord in terms of spiritual development, and how I am so involved in getting the best grades and career, that I have completely lost sight of my childhood dreams of becoming a clergy.

I realize that there are a lot of distractions in today’s world. It could be in the form of chasing for wealth, status, sex and power. We all need these to survive in today’s competitive world. Perhaps deep down in our heart, we know that all these are fleeting, and that only God is eternal, but we are more willing to spend time with these temporal and material things. By chasing for all these, it means that we are on survival mode. After all, without money, how can we have enough to eat or have a roof over our heads? Without power, how can we get ahead of others and obtain privileges to lead a comfortable life?

But being on survival mode means only one thing — we do not trust in God. And it means just that one thing, we do not trust in the abundant providence of God. We think that we can do without God, so we need to possess material things to survive. By constantly feeding our materialistic desires, we are unknowingly and subconsciously leading spiritually empty lives, and this can be very dangerous for our own souls. Spiritual emptiness is a gateway for greater vices, and this can lead to life-threatening addictions or exploitations.

While it is important for us to survive, we should also not be laidback and complacent, thinking that God will provide for us. We need to do our best, and God will do the rest. But doing our best doesn’t mean that we overachieve in pursuit of wealth or power or fame and become materialistic. We should never neglect or ignore our spiritual development. Doing our best means that we develop holistically, both in material and spiritual aspects.

Perhaps, one day, God might call one of us to join the clergy. Hopefully, we will be able to listen to His voice and respond to His call accordingly.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please pray for us to listen to Your voice and not get consumed by materialistic desires. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for being patient with us in responding to Your mission that You have for us, as well as for fulfilling our material needs. Amen.

14 January, Tuesday – Armour of faith and courage

14 January
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1 Samuel 1:9-20

After they had eaten in the hall, Hannah rose and took her stand before the Lord, while Eli the priest was sitting on his seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. In the bitterness of her soul she prayed to the Lord with many tears and made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord of Hosts! If you will take notice of the distress of your servant, and bear me in mind and not forget your servant and give her a man-child, I will give him to the Lord for the whole of his life and no razor shall ever touch his head.’

While she prayed before the Lord which she did for some time, Eli was watching her mouth, for she was speaking under her breath; her lips were moving but her voice could not be heard. He therefore supposed that she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to be in this drunken state? Rid yourself of your wine.’ ‘No, my lord,’ Hannah replied ‘I am a woman in great trouble; I have taken neither wine nor strong drink – I was pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not take your maidservant for a worthless woman; all this time I have been speaking from the depth of my grief and my resentment.’ Then Eli answered her: ‘Go in peace,’ he said ‘and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him.’ And she said, ‘May your maidservant find favour in your sight’; and with that the woman went away; she returned to the hall and ate and was dejected no longer.

They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord and then set out and returned to their home in Ramah. Elkanah had intercourse with Hannah his wife and the Lord was mindful of her. She conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel ‘since’ she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’

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Mark 1:21-28

Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

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“Here is a teaching that is new, and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.”

Imagine if you were there in the synagogue and you saw what Jesus did to the evil spirit? What would you be thinking and feeling? Shocked? Or simply helpless, that you are most likely not able to have the power to drive out demons and devils unless you’re an exorcist?

Jesus has so much power and authority over evil spirits that He can drive them out effectively and almost immediately. I always admire priests and certain exceptional laity who are given this powerful gift from God to liberate people who are oppressed or possessed. I have wished that I could become like them and bring peace to the person who is being tormented by these evil spirits. However, I soon realised that not everyone will be given this special and extraordinary gift. In fact, we do not always need exorcists to resolve spiritual problems. Spiritual maladies can exist in many forms; for instance, addiction, exploitation, violence and abuse in today’s world. They do not need to manifest in severe and extreme cases of possession or oppression.

As Jesus’s disciples, we are surely aware of the many forms of spiritual illnesses that are taking place in the world. While we may blame technology for perpetuating some of these evils, like pornography or violence, we should also acknowledge that technology is like a knife – we can use it to cook a delicious meal for our family, friends and loved ones, or we can use it to kill others. In fact, through this online platform, we are able to recognize that technology can actually be used to glorify and help others, as well as prevent injustices like how Facebook was mobilized to overthrow tyrannical governments during the Arab Spring in 2010.

Therefore, when faced with the evils of today’s world, Jesus is calling us to not be discouraged by the seemingly overwhelming amount of evil that appears to be magnified by the misuse of technology. He wants us to stand up and fight against the injustices of today’s society. We need not be exorcists to do this; we only need His armour of faith and courage, graces that we can ask God in prayer. Daunting as it is to battle against today’s evils, we must have the hope that God is with us, and He has the power to change people and their hearts, even if it is just one person at a time, one baby step in every move.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please pray for us to don Your armour of faith and courage to fight against the injustice and evils of today’s world, so that together with Your abundant grace and help, we can get rid of all addictions, exploitations, violence and abuse in every society. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for giving us the grace of faith and courage to put up a fight against injustice. Whether we put up a strong or weak fight, we do this for Your glory, and we know in our hearts that You are together with us in this battle. Amen.

13 January, Monday – Fishers of New Sheep!

13 Jan – Memorial for St. Hilary, bishop and doctor of the Church

St. Hilary of Poitiers (315-368) was known as Athanasius of the West. He was born to wealthy polytheistic, pagan nobility. His early life was uneventful as he married, had children (one of whom was St. Abra), and studied on his own. Through his studies he came to believe in salvation through good works, and then monotheism. As he studied the Bible for the first time, he literally read himself into the faith, and was converted by the end of the New Testament.

Hilary lived the faith so well that he was made Bishop of Poitiers from 353-368. He opposed the emperor’s attempt to run Church matters and was exiled; he used the time to write works explaining the faith. His teaching and writings converted many and, in an attempt to reduce his notoriety, he was returned to the small town of Poitiers where his enemies hoped he would fade into obscurity. His writings nonetheless continued to convert pagans.

Hilary introduced Eastern theology to the Western Church, fought Arianism with the help of St. Viventius, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1851.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 Samuel 1:1-8

There was a man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the highlands of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, one called Hannah, the other Peninnah; Peninnah had children but Hannah had none. Every year this man used to go up from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there as priests of the Lord.

One day Elkanah offered sacrifice. He used to give portions to Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; to Hannah, however, he would give only one portion, although he loved her more, since the Lord had made her barren. Her rival would taunt her to annoy her, because the Lord had made her barren. And this went on year after year; every time they went up to the temple of the Lord she used to taunt her. And so Hannah wept and would not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why are you crying and why are you not eating? Why so sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’

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Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.
  
Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

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Come with me, and I will make you into fishers of people

Someone close to me will be baptized into our Catholic faith this Easter, and I feel very blessed and thankful to God that there will soon be a new sheep in our flock. I trust that Jesus will guide him along this new journey of being a new Catholic.

However, I was soon examining myself as to whether I am a good Catholic. I was concerned whether my way of life would influence him to continue living out and being strengthened by the Catholic faith. Being a good Catholic primarily involves building an intimate relationship with God as well as healthy interpersonal relationships with other people, by living as Christ called us to live and by loving everyone just as Jesus has loved us. I admit that I have not been the best Catholic, and that there is a lot of room for improvement and for me work on. First and foremost, I am not fervent in my prayers and I sometime have the tendency to not love our brothers and sisters in Christ as I should.

As I interact with my friends, I also realise that actions speak louder than words. Even if we may not know the A to Z of our Catechesis and theoretical foundations, we should love others and live our lives in a Christ-like manner, such that others will see the glory of God and praise Him. This will hopefully prompt them to want to know more about our faith, giving us an opportunity to evangelize and shine the way for the many lost sheep in today’s world.

So, my New Year Resolution this 2020 is to live as Christ would have lived amongst us today, selflessly loving other people and forgiving everyone around Him. And not to forget to spend more time praying more fervently and meaningfully to God amidst the distractions of the modern world. It will definitely not be easy as it involves some major changes to my way of life, but I hope that by living out my life as a good Catholic, by my actions and new lifestyle, I may influence another friend of mine to either join or return to our faith.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please pray for us to live our lives in Your light and guidance, so that we can be Your face to the lost sheep who are looking for You. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for giving us the grace to be able to forgive those who have hurt us, and for allowing us to shine Your light and glory before others, who will hopefully come to know You by Your love that is manifested through us. Amen.

23 November, Saturday – Spiritual Wellness

Nov 23 – Memorial for St. Clement I, pope, martyr; Memorial for St. Columban, abbot

Clement (d. 101) was the fourth pope, and an apostolic Father. The Basilica of St. Clement in Rome is one of the earliest parish churches in the city, and is probably built on the site of Clement’s home. He is the author of the “Epistle to the Corinthians”. His name occurs in the Canon of the Mass. Origen and St. Jerome identify him as working with St. Paul the Apostle.

  • Patron Saint Index

Columban (543–615) was well-born, handsome, and educated. He was torn between a desire for God and easy access to the pleasures of the world. Acting on advice of a holy anchoress, he decided to withdraw from the world. His family opposed the choice, his mother going so far as to block the door. He became a monk at Lough Erne. He studied Scripture extensively, and wrote a commentary on the Psalms. He became a monk at Bangor under abbot St. Comgall.

At middle age, Columban felt a calling to missionary life. With 12 companions, he travelled to Scotland, England, and then to France in 585. The area, though nominally Christian, had fallen far from the faith, but were ready for missionaries, and they had some success. They were warmly greeted at the court of Gontram, and king of Burgundy invited the band to stay. They chose the half-ruined Roman fortress of Annegray in the Vosges Mountains for their new home with Columban as their abbot.

The simple lives and obvious holiness of the group drew disciples to join them, and the sick to be healed by their prayers. Columban, to find solitude for prayer, often lived for long periods in a cave seven miles from the monastery, using a messenger to stay in touch with his brothers. When the number of new monks overcrowded the old fortress, King Gontram gave them the old castle of Luxeuil to found a new house in 590. Soon after, a third house was founded at Fontaines. Columban served as master of them all, and wrote a Rule for them; it incorporated many Celtic practices, was approved by the Council of Macon in 627, but was superseded by the Benedictine.

Problems arose early in the 7th century. Many Frankish bishops objected to a foreign missionary with so much influence, to the Celtic practices he brought, especially those related to Easter, and his independence from them. In 602, he was summoned to appear before them for judgement; instead of appearing, he sent a letter advising them to hold more synods, and to concern themselves with more important things than which rite he used to celebrate Easter. The dispute over Easter continued to years, with Columban appealing to multiple popes for help, but was only settled when Columban abandoned the Celtic calendar when he moved to Italy.

In addition to his problems with the bishops, Columban spoke out against vice and corruption in the royal household and court which was in the midst of a series of complex power grabs. Brunehault stirred up the bishops and nobility against the abbot; Thierry ordered him to conform to the local ways, and shut up. Columban refused, and was briefly imprisoned at Besancon, but he escaped and returned to Luxeuil. Thierry and Brunehault sent an armed force to force him and his foreign monks back to Ireland. As soon as his ship set sail, a storm drove them back to shore; the captain took it as a sign, and set the monks free.

They made their way to King Clothaire at Soissons, Neustria and then the court of King Theodebert of Austrasia in 611. He travelled to Metz, France, then Mainz, Germany, Suevi, Alamanni, and finally Lake Zurich. Their evangelisation work there was unsuccessful, and the group passed on to Arbon, then Bregenz, and then Lake Constance. St. Gall, who knew the local language best, took the lead in this region; may were converted to the faith, and the group founded a new monastery as their home and base.

However, a year later, political upheaval caused Columban to cross the Alps into Italy, arriving in Milan in 612. The Christian royal family treated him well, and he preached and wrote against Arianism and Nestorianism. In gratitude, the Lombard king gave him a tract of land call Bobbio between Milan and Genoa in Italy. There he rebuilt a half-ruined church of St. Peter, and around it he founded an abbey that was to be the source for evangelisation throughout northern Italy for centuries to come.

Columban always enjoyed being in the forests and caves, and as he walked through the woods, birds and squirrels would ride on his shoulders. Toward the end of his life came word that his old enemies were dead, and his brothers wanted him to come back north, but he declined. Knowing that his time was almost done, he retired to a cave for solitude, and died as he had predicted. His influence continued for centuries as those he converted handed on the faith, the brothers he taught evangelised untold numbers more, and his brother monks founded over one hundred monasteries to protect learning and spread the faith.

  • Patron Saint Index

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1 Maccabees 6:1-13

King Antiochus was making his way across the upper provinces; he had heard that in Persia there was a city called Elymais, renowned for its riches, its silver and gold, and its very wealthy temple containing golden armour, breastplates and weapons, left there by Alexander son of Philip, the king of Macedon, the first to reign over the Greeks. He therefore went and attempted to take the city and pillage it, but without success, since the citizens learnt of his intention, and offered him a stiff resistance, whereupon he turned about and retreated, disconsolate, in the direction of Babylon. But while he was still in Persia news reached him that the armies that had invaded the land of Judah had been defeated, and that Lysias in particular had advanced in massive strength, only to be forced to turn and flee before the Jews; these had been strengthened by the acquisition of arms, supplies and abundant spoils from the armies they had cut to pieces; they had overthrown the abomination he had erected over the altar in Jerusalem, and had encircled the sanctuary with high walls as in the past, and had fortified Bethzur, one of his cities. When the king heard this news he was amazed and profoundly shaken; he threw himself on his bed and fell into a lethargy from acute disappointment, because things had not turned out for him as he had planned. And there he remained for many days, subject to deep and recurrent fits of melancholy, until he understood that he was dying. Then summoning all his Friends, he said to them, ‘Sleep evades my eyes, and my heart is cowed by anxiety. I have been asking myself how I could have come to such a pitch of distress, so great a flood as that which now engulfs me – I who was so generous and well-loved in my heyday. But now I remember the wrong I did in Jerusalem when I seized all the vessels of silver and gold there, and ordered the extermination of the inhabitants of Judah for no reason at all. This, I am convinced, is why these misfortunes have overtaken me, and why I am dying of melancholy in a foreign land.’

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Luke 20:27-40

Some Sadducees – those who say that there is no resurrection – approached Jesus and they put this question to him, ‘Master, we have it from Moses in writing, that if a man’s married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Well then, there were seven brothers. The first, having married a wife, died childless. The second and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. Finally the woman herself died. Now, at the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife since she had been married to all seven?’

Jesus replied, ‘The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God. And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all men are in fact alive.’

Some scribes then spoke up. ‘Well put, Master’ they said – because they would not dare to ask him any more questions.

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“I remember the wrong I did in Jerusalem…”

King Antiochus in today’s first reading, only remembered the many iniquities he committed against the Jewish community when he fell gravely ill. If only he had realized his mistakes earlier and made reparations quickly, He would not have angered God and fallen ill as a result.

In today’s context, when we fall ill physically or mentally, we consider it wrong to think of such illnesses as punishment from God. In Nigeria, this thinking has caused a stigma amongst people who are suffering from mental illness; they are being chained up and abused in so-called rehabilitative centres for many years. What we should focus on is not whether physical and mental illness is God’s punishment, but on whether we have acquired any spiritual illness.

In 2014, Pope Francis provided a list of 15 spiritual illnesses when he was addressing the Curia in his Christmas address*. They include overworking, over-planning one’s life, forgetting about the Lord and drifting away from the Church, gossiping, apathy or indifference as well as showing off one’s power or authority. We should be more acutely aware of these illnesses as they affect our relationship with God even after we die, whereas physical and mental illnesses will cease to exist once death comes knocking on our door. Perhaps, since our spiritual well-being has a very close and intimate relationship with other aspects of our well-being, like our physical and mental health, if our spiritual life is in disrepair, this would eventually affect our entire well-being.

In joyful hope during Advent, let us take care of our spiritual well-being whilst anticipating the second coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please pray for us to be spiritually well, so that we can always serve you joyfully and faithfully. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for being gracious and forgiving, and thank you for reminding us that we need to be spiritually healthy so that we can serve you. Amen.

 * You can find the entire list of the 15 spiritual illnesses in Pope Francis’s Curia in his Christmas address in 2014 at https://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=58117.

21 November, Thursday – Let us make peace, not war

Nov 21 – Memorial for the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we commemorate the presentation of the Blessed Virgin as a child in the Temple where, according to tradition, she was educated. The feast originated in the Orient probably about the seventh century, and is found in the constitution of Manuel Comnenus (1166) as a recognized festival. It was introduced into the Western Church in the 14th century, abolished by Pope Pius V, but reestablished by Sixtus V in 1585. Its observance by the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the day of their origin led to the devotion of Mater Admirabilis (Mother Most Admirable).

  • Patron Saint Index

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1 Maccabees 2:15-29

The commissioners of King Antiochus who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein to make them sacrifice. Many Israelites gathered round them, but Mattathias and his sons drew apart. The king’s commissioners then addressed Mattathias as follows, ‘You are a respected leader, a great man in this town; you have sons and brothers to support you. Be the first to step forward and conform to the king’s decree, as all the nations have done, and the leaders of Judah and the survivors in Jerusalem; you and your sons shall be reckoned among the Friends of the King, you and your sons shall be honoured with gold and silver and many presents.’ Raising his voice, Mattathias retorted, ‘Even if every nation living in the king’s dominions obeys him, each forsaking its ancestral religion to conform to his decrees, I, my sons and my brothers will still follow the covenant of our ancestors. Heaven preserve us from forsaking the Law and its observances. As for the king’s orders, we will not follow them: we will not swerve from our own religion either to right or to left.’ As he finished speaking, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein as the royal edict required. When Mattathias saw this, he was fired with zeal; stirred to the depth of his being, he gave vent to his legitimate anger, threw himself on the man and slaughtered him on the altar. At the same time he killed the king’s commissioner who was there to enforce the sacrifice, and tore down the altar. In his zeal for the Law he acted as Phinehas did against Zimri son of Salu. Then Mattathias went through the town, shouting at the top of his voice, ‘Let everyone who has a fervour for the Law and takes his stand on the covenant come out and follow me.’ Then he fled with his sons into the hills, leaving all their possessions behind in the town.

At this, many who were concerned for virtue and justice went down to the desert and stayed there.

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Luke 19:41-44

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem and came in sight of the city he shed tears over it and said, ‘If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace! But, alas, it is hidden from your eyes! Yes, a time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifications all round you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side; they will dash you and the children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you – and all because you did not recognise your opportunity when God offered it!’

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“If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace!”.

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus has a premonition of the people in Jerusalem suffering during the siege by a Roman army in 70 A.D. Despite this incident having taken place so many years ago, there is still so much strife and war in many countries today.

I am often saddened by news of how countries are torn apart when they are not in peace, when they are constantly embroiled in battles either internally or with other countries. Battles do not have to be fought with military weapons; even discrimination is considered a form of battle. Every day, news abounds of the many different groups of people affected by such battles. The Rohingya migrants are facing persecution by the majority race and the government in their own country, Myanmar. Many flee to surrounding countries, like Bangladesh, where they are still not welcomed by the people in these countries where they are seeking refuge. Elsewhere in the world, children are being tortured and abused by the Boko Haram in Nigeria.

On a smaller but more important scale, if families are not in peace, this will create a lot of rivalry and disagreement within the family. External influences from society would add on to the pressure and troubles, causing the family to disintegrate. This is when addictions arise, which often causes more misery to the whole family. Sometimes, tragic events occur, for instance, if the parents divorce or abuse the children or each other. Everyone in the family is affected, especially the children.

But it is pointless to weep without doing anything for these people. As a first step, we should pray for peace in families and countries. We should also pluck up our courage and strive to seek for peace by voicing out our concerns through various communication channels, such as social media platforms. Most importantly, we should stop discriminating other people and cause them to suffer. Through humanitarian efforts to help those in need, we can convey a message of hope, peace and truth to the afflicted people.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please shine Your light of peace and truth to broken families and countries. Please give us Your courage to help them in whatever way possible and to stop discriminating against others. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for sharing Your peace amongst us. Thank you also for being able to be Your beacon of peace to help those who are afflicted and in need of Your grace and peace. Amen.

5 October, Saturday – Be his face and hands!

5 Oct 2019

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Baruch 4:5-12, 27-29

Take courage, my people, constant reminder of Israel. You were sold to the nations, but not for extermination. You provoked God; and so were delivered to your enemies, since you had angered your creator by offering sacrifices to demons, not to God.

You had forgotten the eternal God who reared you. You had also grieved Jerusalem who nursed you, for when she saw the anger fall on you from God, she said: Listen, you neighbours of Zion: God has sent me great sorrow. I have seen my sons and daughters taken into captivity, to which they have been sentenced by the Eternal. I had reared them joyfully; in tears, in sorrow, I watched them go away. Do not, any of you, exult over me, a widow, deserted by so many; I suffer loneliness because of the sins of my own children, who turned away from the Law of God. Take courage, my children, call on God: he who brought disaster on you will remember you. As by your will you first strayed away from God, so now turn back and search for him ten times as hard; for as he brought down those disasters on you, so will he rescue you and give you eternal joy.

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Luke 10:17-24

The seventy-two came back rejoicing. ‘Lord,’ they said ‘even the devils submit to us when we use your name.’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Yes, I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’

It was then that, filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, he said, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’

Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’

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As he brought down those disasters on you, so will he rescue you and give you eternal joy

Why do bad things happen to good people? And when bad things happen, why doesn’t God save us?

Many years ago, my uncle passed away from cancer. His passing brought a lot of grief to his wife and only daughter. I once wondered why God did not save my uncle from his illness, as he was relatively young then. Taking away his life meant that he would not be able to be present for many more milestones in his daughter’s life. He was a good person, despite not being a Catholic.

Sometimes, it may seem that God brings trouble in our lives, but we should not think that God does so because we are bad. We should remember that these problems may be merely natural and inevitable consequences of our actions and choices that we make in life. That should not define us forever as ‘bad’ in God’s eyes. Instead, we should have faith that God will rescue us from our problems one day, if and only if we have the faith in Him that He will do so. God loves us unconditionally as His children. Even if God does not rescue us, we should still trust Him that He will bring us to a better place and continue to stay close to Him.

When we see or hear news of other people’s suffering, we may be tempted to accuse God of being indifferent to their pain and not saving them. However, we should remember that when God sees His children suffer, He is also in pain. And likewise, we are blessed to have the capacity to feel the pain that God feels for them. Instead of just waiting for God to rescue them, we can unite and be the face of God by helping them out ourselves instead. In this way, we would not only be helping our brothers and sisters, but also, we would bring glory to God. He is therefore saving the suffering people through our hands, time and actions.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us in the difficulties that we are facing in life, whether they be caused by our own actions and choices that we have made. Please also help us to take initiative and respond to the cries and suffering of Your people through our actions and time. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for saving us from the troubles that we have faced in life. We are grateful to You for the grace that You have blessed us with. Thank you for allowing us to be Your face and hands in rescuing our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering today. Amen.

4 October, Friday – Use smartphones and laptops for His glory!

Oct 4 – Memorial for St. Francis of Assisi

Francis Bernardone (1181–1226) was the son of Pietro Bernadone, a rich cloth merchant. Though he had a good education and became part of his father’s business, he also had a somewhat misspent youth. He was a street brawler and some-time soldier. He was captured during a conflict between Assisi and Perugia, and spent over a year as prisoner of war. During this time, he had a conversion experience, including a reported message from Christ calling him to leave this worldly life. Upon release, Francis began taking his religion seriously.

He took the Gospel as the rule of his life, Jesus Christ as his literal example. He dressed in rough clothes, begged for his sustenance, and preached purity and peace. His family disapproved, and his father disinherited him; Francis formally renounced his wealth and inheritance. He visited hospitals, served the sick, preached in the streets, and took all men and women as siblings.

He began to attract followers in 1209, and with papal blessing founded the Franciscans based on a simple statement by Jesus: “Leave all and follow me.” In 1212, Clare of Assisi became his spiritual student, which led to the founding of the Poor Clares. He visited and preached to the Saracens. He composed songs and hymns to God and nature. He lived with animals, worked with his hands, cared for lepers, cleaned churches, and sent food to thieves. In 1221 he resigned direction of the Franciscans.

While in meditation on La Verna (Mount Alvernia) in the Apennines in September 1224, Francis received the stigmata, which periodically bled during the remaining two years of his life. This miracle has a separate memorial on 17 September.

In the Middle Ages, people who were believed to be possessed by Beelzebub especially called upon the intercession of St. Francis, the theory being that he was the demon’s opposite number in heaven.

“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.” – St. Francis of Assisi

– Patron Saint Index

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Baruch 1:15-22

Integrity belongs to the Lord our God; to us the look of shame we wear today, to us, the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem, to our kings and princes, our priests, our prophets, as to our ancestors, because we have sinned in the sight of the Lord, have disobeyed him, and have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God telling us to follow the commandments which the Lord had ordained for us. From the day when the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until today we have been disobedient to the Lord our God, we have been disloyal, refusing to listen to his voice. And so the disasters, and the curse which the Lord pronounced through his servant Moses the day he brought our fathers out of Egypt to give us a land where milk and honey flow, have seized on us, disasters we experience today. Despite all the words of those prophets whom he sent us, we have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God, but, each following the dictates of his evil heart, we have taken to serving alien gods, and doing what is displeasing to the Lord our God.

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Luke 10:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. And still, it will not go as hard with Tyre and Sidon at the Judgement as with you. And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted high as heaven? You shall be thrown down to hell.

‘Anyone who listens to you listens to me; anyone who rejects you rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me.’

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We have been disobedient to the Lord our God, we have been disloyal, refusing to listen to his voice

When I read this line, the first thing that struck me was this thought — although we, the younger generation, are so used to spending a huge amount of time daily on our smartphones and laptops, how can we say that we are disobedient to God, and that we have been disloyal to Him? We still attend Mass on Sunday, and some of us visit the sacraments regularly. It is impossible for us to let go of our technological devices just so that we show our loyalty to God! Our family and friends will certainly laugh at us!

Then, I realized that it is not wrong for us to use our smartphones and laptops, if we want to communicate with our friends and family, if we have to use these devices for study. However, it would be wrong for us to idolize these devices, by spending time on our technological devices when we are supposed to spend time with God during Mass, or even by using our phones to the point of addiction. It would also be wrong if we use these devices to do sinful things, like cyber-bullying our classmates, watching pornography or downloading illegal content.

It is not our smartphones or laptops that cause us to stop listening to God. These technological devices are simply tools; it is our free will and choice to decide what we want to do with these devices. Do we use them to glorify God, for instance, by telling our friends to not bully a weaker classmate? Or perhaps by posting Catholic-related content on our social media platforms as a way to encourage fellow Catholics in their faith and invite non-Catholics to learn more about our faith? That’s certainly a great way of evangelization! Do we leverage these platforms as ways to reach out to the lost sheep in our community and treat our brothers and sisters with Christ-like love?

So, let’s start afresh today. Let us show loyalty to God and listen to His voice by using our smartphones and laptops to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ and glorify Him.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to use our technological devices for Your glory, and to reach out to our brothers and sisters who are in need. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for allowing us to use technological devices to reach out to more of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and to glorify You in ways which we could not possibly have done without technology. Amen.