Tag Archives: josephine dionisappu

28 February, Sacrifices of My Heart

28 February 2017

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First reading
Ecclesiasticus 35:2-15

A man multiplies offerings by keeping the Law;
he offers communion sacrifices by following the commandments.
By showing gratitude he makes an offering of fine flour,
by giving alms he offers a sacrifice of praise.
Withdraw from wickedness and the Lord will be pleased,
withdraw from injustice and you make atonement.
Do not appear empty-handed in the Lord’s presence;
for all these things are due under the commandment.
A virtuous man’s offering graces the altar,
and its savour rises before the Most High.
A virtuous man’s sacrifice is acceptable,
its memorial will not be forgotten.
Honour the Lord with generosity,
do not stint the first-fruits you bring.
Add a smiling face to all your gifts,
and be cheerful as you dedicate your tithes.
Give to the Most High as he has given to you,
generously as your means can afford;
for the Lord is a good rewarder,
he will reward you seven times over.
Offer him no bribe, he will not accept it,
do not put your faith in an unvirtuous sacrifice;
since the Lord is a judge
who is no respecter of personages.

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Mark 10:28-31

‘What about us?’ Peter asked Jesus. ‘We have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.

‘Many who are first will be last, and the last first.’

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Receive a hundred times more now in this present age

In today’s reading the God promises that we will receive blessings in a hundredfold. This was similar to a promise He made in Mark 9:1 “I tell you solemnly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God comes to power.”

Do we believe that God is talking to us and offering this promise to us? Are we being evasive and wondering that He must be talking to some self-righteous dude, someone holy and almost saintly? Let us deny that way of thinking!

Let us get it right from this day forward, that our God (my God) does not have favourites and he will repay you sevenfold. As our Father, He teaches us to pay within our means and with joy, to be generous, to refrain from evil and not to bribe. How have we fared as obedient children to our loving Father?

In my walk of life, I know that God is asking me to be calm and patient, revealing areas that are challenging to me. This is my challenge especially when I feel the need to stand up for myself. Some well-meaning friends told me, use these situations for the glory of God. Yes how true and my failure to do so reminds me that I am weak and I am relying on my Father to rescue me.

Who would be relying on today? Is it an astrologer, our doctors, our bosses, our teachers or even our parents and spouses? My strength is in the Lord. When everyone is bound to fail, my Lord remains steadfast and constant. He promises to bless you and me a hundredfold and repay us sevenfold, He is at work right now. We sometimes may not be plugged into the right network, help us Lord to disconnect from all false networks so we get the see the strength of your ‘signal’.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord break down these walls, break all my fears, I am here ready to receive from your blessings.

Thanksgiving: Your amazing love has captured me, all the days of my life I will sing of your praises.

18 October, Tuesday – No excess baggage

18 October – Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist

Luke (d. 74) was born to pagan Greek parents, and possibly a slave. He was one of the earliest converts, and a physician studying in Antioch and Tarsus. He probably travelled as a ship’s doctor, and many charitable societies of physicians are named after him. Legend has that he was also a painter who may have done portraits of Jesus and Mary, but none have ever been correctly or definitively attributed to him; this story, and the inspiration his Gospel has always given artists, led to his patronage of them.

He met St. Paul at Troas, and evangelised Greece and Rome with him, being there for the shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome, and stayed in Rome for Paul’s two years in prison. He wrote the Gospel According to Luke, much of which was based on the teachings and writings of Paul, interviews with early Christians, and his own experiences. He also wrote a history of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles. He was likely to have been martyred for his faith.

– Patron Saint Index

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2 Timothy 4:10-17

Demas has deserted me for love of this life and gone to Thessalonika, Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me. Get Mark to come and bring him with you; I find him a useful helper in my work. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, and the scrolls, especially the parchment ones. Alexander the coppersmith has done me a lot of harm; the Lord will repay him for what he has done. Be on your guard against him yourself, because he has been bitterly contesting everything that we say.

The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

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Luke 10:1-9

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”’

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Peace to this household

Would you go on a journey without a change of clothes and money? Imagine the freedom of not having to pack or unpack nor having to lug along a heavy piece of luggage to the airport – that can sure sound refreshing to some of us.

Some of us are all too familiar with the meaning of excess baggage – of dragging along items in our lives which we do not need anymore — hoarding ill feelings, unforgiveness, hurt, anger, resentment and even unrequited love. It is sensible for us to realise what sort of baggage we still carry. Just as car which is overloaded with things consumes more fuel, a part of us works extra hard to carry the burden that is no longer ours to bear. What baggage do we carry today which you can check in to God?

On my recent pilgrimage to Poland for World Youth Day, I was under the impression that I travelled light. I carried 4 t-shirts, 2 pants, a light jacket, clothes for our performances and my prayer books and bible as well as souvenirs. It was easy to handle my luggage and there was still room for the other material we received there. I felt liberated to carry a bag which I could handle. One of the other things that I had to do was to apply for 15 days of annual leave, leaving me with 3 days of leave from August to the end of the year.

In September, my dad feel ill. There were days when I could not follow him for doctor’s appointments or even send my parents to the hospital. While he was hospitalised, my mum had to take a cab each morning from my house to visit him. I found myself in a constant dilemma about how best to utilise the 3 days of leave. The guilt was eating me when I could only take time off work; when I would rather be by his bedside or even to be around and talk to the doctors. I was desperately wishing that I had not gone for World Youth Day. Over the 3 weeks of hospital visits and doctor’s appointment, I started realising that I had to learn to lean on God, to send us the right person or the solution to fulfil my needs. It was then that I realised that those few weeks were not so stressful at work and I managed to take time off, as and when required. Thankfully, my other family members were around for my parents on the days that I could not.

My pilgrimage was an experience of mercy and peace and during my dad’s illness, everything seemed like it was swept away. But I realised His peace remained and so did His mercy. The only change was my perception.

As members of the International Centre of Evangelisation at World Youth Day, we were reaching out to so many people. On a daily basis, my group would be out in the streets handing out leaflets on our faith, talking to people and praying with and for them. It is not much different from what the 72 did in today’s gospel. We ate the food that was served as I had run out of funds and walked endlessly although most of us travelled by car everywhere on a daily basis. Was it too big a price to pay for the salvation of others? This cannot be the case.

What is God asking of you today, so that you bring His peace to others? What is He asking us to check in at His counter of mercy, the mercy which He offers in equal measure to both you and your trespassers. Are you convinced of His blessings in your life? Do you believe that you are made an instrument of His peace and mercy to a world who knows you and not Him?

How can you be like the faithful 72 disciples he sent out, today and for the rest of your life.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

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Prayer: Lord help me to trust in you, believe in your providence and be always aware that I can expect it. Mary, let me never lose my God. St Luke, pray for us and all the doctors who treat us.

Thanksgiving: Lord I thank you for your peace and mercy. I will pass it on.

17 October, Monday – You are handmade with love

17 October – Memorial for St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr

Ignatius (c. 50–107) was a convert from paganism to Christianity. He succeeded Peter as bishop of Antioch, Syria. He served during persecution of Domitian. During the persecution of Trajan, he was ordered to be taken to Rome to be killed by wild animals. On the way, a journey which took months, he wrote a series of encouraging letters to the churches under his care. He was the first writer to use the term The Catholic Church. He was an apostolic father and a martyr. His name occurs in the Canon of the Mass. Legend says he was the infant that Jesus took into his arms in Mark 9.

– Patron Saint Index

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Ephesians 2:1-10

You were dead through the crimes and the sins in which you used to live when you were following the way of this world, obeying the ruler who governs the air, the spirit who is at work in the rebellious. We all were among them too in the past, living sensual lives, ruled entirely by our own physical desires and our own ideas; so that by nature we were as much under God’s anger as the rest of the world. But God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.

This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.

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Luke 12:13-21

A man in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.’ ‘My friend,’ he replied, ‘who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.’

Then he told them a parable: ‘There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, “What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.” But God said to him, “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?.” So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.’

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For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you, it is a gift, so no one may boast.

I like to make greetings cards, and behind it I sign off as ‘handmade with love by Josephine Dionisappu, especially for you’ . My boss, who likes to make soaps, has the same label ‘handmade with love’ stuck on her handmade soaps. Both she and I have an unspoken understanding that when something is handmade, it is indeed made out of love, especially since it takes much of our time. In Genesis, we learn that men (we), were created on the 6th day by God and “He breathed His breath on us and that we are made in His image”. We were surely made by love by God and we should never doubt that our being and existence is founded by love. You and I are handmade with love and so are the people who love us and the ones who hate us too.

In today’s readings we are reminded of grace that we have received, grace that has saved us and yet does not come from us, something we cannot take credit for. Why does God give us grace? Grace, just like the gift of our lives, is unmerited. God gives us grace for our sanctification so that we can share a home with Him forever. And while earth is our home, we are able to live our lives in a manner that is worthy of Him.

A gift of grace can be seen in the person of our priests and religious. They have taken vows of obedience, poverty and chastity so that they can serve God’s people as a priority. I have been in conversation where people challenge these vows and the need for it. An agnostic colleague once told me why should we pay the priests, we did not ask for them to serve us. Our tithes are not our gifts; it’s our offering, not a repayment of sorts. It is hard for us to fully comprehend why we receive something when we have not expressed an interest in it and valuing it is a bigger challenge.

On a simpler note, let’s look at home-cooked meals. Many people I know will not expect to have meals cooked for them daily, but many of them have hot meals waiting for them each evening. We are aware that we can buy take-away for our dinner instead, or just skip our meal as an option. The home-cooked meal we receive is something like grace — we cannot expect it and it does not come from us, but it is prepared out of love by our mothers and/or spouses.

Are we thankful for the gift of grace? How can we show are gratitude? How can we live out this grace daily? How have we cherished those who have shown us grace?

Are we sharing our inheritance and blessings or are we hoarding and storing?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

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Prayer: Lord give us a heart of generosity so to that we share what we have for we cannot take credit for anything that we own for all good things come from you.

Thanksgiving: Lord you handmade us with love, we belong to you.

16 October, Sunday – Fear of the Lord and respect for human beings

16 October

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Exodus 17:8-13

The Amalekites came and attacked Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Pick out men for yourself, and tomorrow morning march out to engage Amalek. I, meanwhile, will stand on the hilltop, the staff of God in my hand.’ Joshua did as Moses told him and marched out to engage Amalek, while Moses and Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek. But Moses’ arms grew heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him and on this he sat, Aaron and Hur supporting his arms, one on one side, one on the other; and his arms remained firm till sunset. With the edge of the sword Joshua cut down Amalek and his people.

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2 Timothy 3:14-4:2

You must keep to what you have been taught and know to be true; remember who your teachers were, and how, ever since you were a child, you have known the holy scriptures – from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be holy. This is how the man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work.

Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching.

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Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

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When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth.

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?  Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.  But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

No one of us is exempted for doubting the Lord at some point in our lives, especially when we have being praying persistently, about something that may appear to us as God being too slow to answer.  What do we tell ourselves when we feel like that? Surely if we were truly patient, and had steadfast faith, we would not think that God is too slow.

In my faith journey, I have asked the Lord many times to work on my timing. I know that I am impatient and should learn how to be satisfied with what I have now. I know too, that I falter in trusting my Lord with the simple issue of time; after all, He is the author of time.

Most recently when I was down again in my quest to find out ‘why do I have to wait so long?’ I attended an adoration service during which I found a gentle voice telling me, that He is in control. He loves me and my loved ones, more than I can and that He will come through for me and for my loved ones.

It is as simple as that, my dear friends. He is our father, our best friend, our saviour and Lord – He will come to rescue us all the time, every time. What we do while we wait is entirely up to us. It’s a choice — for us to learn how to trust Him and to work on the areas in our lives which are prone to sin. We are obviously more prone to sin in areas which we find hard to trust the Lord with. We can also work on growing this plant of perseverance by constantly watering it with our patience, trust and dependence on the Lord while still dying to our own will.

Is there something that you want so much that you cannot live without? That is your idol. Turn it over to Him immediately and let us remember that we are princes and princesses because we are heirs; let us not choose to stand like slaves and be served food to the pigs. He has prepared a banquet for us and a room in His house. A house which He promised has many rooms, so let us eat and live with Him.

Why are we impatient? Why is our faith so shallow? What can we do today to start growing in our faith? For the rest of the days, how do we plan to live up to our commitment towards our faith?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

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Prayer: Father increase our faith, that we will never have to doubt your perfect timing and your plan for us, your children. Help us to commit to steadfast faith for the rest of our days. Lord, teach us everyday that you do just what you say, in your time.

Thanksgiving: You make all things beautiful in your time.

12 August, Friday – He makes all things beautiful

12 August – Memorial for St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Jane married Baron de Chantal. She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and brought back prosperity. During her husband’s absence at the court, or with the army, when reproached for her extremely sober manner of dressing, her reply was: “The eyes which I must please are a hundred miles from here.” She found more than once that God blessed with miracles the care she gave the suffering members of Christ.  Baron de Chantal was accidentally killed by a harquebus while out shooting. Left a widow at 28, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity.

She founded the Congregation of the Visitation, whose aim was to receive, with a view to their spiritual advancement, young girls and even widows who had not the desire or strength to subject themselves to the austere ascetical practices in force in all the religious orders at that time. The remainder of the saint’s life was spent under the protection of the cloister in the practice of the most admirable virtues. It was firmness and great vigour which prevailed in St. Jane Frances; she did not like to see her daughters giving way to human weakness. Her trials were continuous and borne bravely, and yet she was exceedingly sensitive.

– http://www.wf-f.org/StJaneFdeChantal.html

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Ezekiel 16:1-15,60,63

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, ‘Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her filthy crimes. Say, “The Lord says this: By origin and birth you belong to the land of Canaan. Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. At birth, the very day you were born, there was no one to cut your navel-string, or wash you in cleansing water, or rub you with salt, or wrap you in napkins. No one leaned kindly over you to do anything like that for you. You were exposed in the open fields; you were as unloved as that on the day you were born.

‘“I saw you struggling in your blood as I was passing, and I said to you as you lay in your blood: Live, and grow like the grass of the fields. You developed, you grew, you reached marriageable age. Your breasts and your hair both grew, but you were quite naked. Then I saw you as I was passing. Your time had come, the time for love. I spread part of my cloak over you and covered your nakedness; I bound myself by oath, I made a covenant with you – it is the Lord who speaks – and you became mine. I bathed you in water, I washed the blood off you, I anointed you with oil. I gave you embroidered dresses, fine leather shoes, a linen headband and a cloak of silk. I loaded you with jewels, gave you bracelets for your wrists and a necklace for your throat. I gave you nose-ring and earrings; I put a beautiful diadem on your head. You were loaded with gold and silver, and dressed in fine linen and embroidered silks. Your food was the finest flour, honey and oil. You grew more and more beautiful; and you rose to be queen. The fame of your beauty spread through the nations, since it was perfect, because I had clothed you with my own splendour – it is the Lord who speaks.

‘“You have become infatuated with your own beauty; you have used your fame to make yourself a prostitute; you have offered your services to all comers. But I will remember the covenant that I made with you when you were a girl, and I will conclude a covenant with you that shall last for ever. And so remember and be covered with shame, and in your confusion be reduced to silence, when I have pardoned you for all that you have done – it is the Lord who speaks.”’

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Matthew 19:3-12

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and to test him they said, ‘Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife on any pretext whatever?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that the creator from the beginning made them male and female and that he said: This is why a man must leave father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the two become one body? They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’

They said to him, ‘Then why did Moses command that a writ of dismissal should be given in cases of divorce?’ ‘It was because you were so unteachable’ he said ‘that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not like this from the beginning. Now I say this to you: the man who divorces his wife – I am not speaking of fornication – and marries another, is guilty of adultery.’

The disciples said to him, ‘If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is not advisable to marry.’ But he replied, ‘It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted. There are eunuchs born that way from their mother’s womb, there are eunuchs made so by men and there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’

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but I will remember the covenant that I made with you when you were a girl

God moulded the earth and all its beings in beauty, enthroned with a majestic manner, He would reserve for His own – birds, cattle and mainly girls and boys like you and me. We are indeed beautiful, the ones that detest us, the times we doubt, during our weakest moments, really all the time. Yet we are fond of the feelings of being less than worthy, and often think of others in the same light. In today’s reading in the book of Ezekiel, God reminds us of the splendour of His mercy and His love for us as a Father – making a new covenant with us, keeping the one He made and forgiving our sins.

In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the sin of divorce — which is adultery — and the vocation of both marriage and singlehood. Is it better to be single, is it best to get married? Neither vocation is for everyone; just what we are capable of living with. Can I imagine myself being single forever? Yes and no. ‘Yes’, because if that is God’s plan for me, it is the best and I want nothing else. ‘No’, because I hear God reminding me of His covenant. Above and beyond all that, no status in our lives ever matters – not richness, poverty, weakness nor power. The Father, who loves you and me, sees us as beautiful, perfect and greatly adored. When we cannot see this, we need to look to Him in childlike faith. When we fail to see our sisters and brothers in that light, we turn our hearts to Him in total surrender.

During my recent trip to Europe for World Youth Day, I had a very minor skin condition, which was peeling because of the dry weather. I found myself walking into one of the most magnificent churches and masses and feeling less than beautiful. Right then and there, I reflected on all those who had troubled skin and offered my prayers and I felt a gentle coaxing of my Father, telling me that I am beautiful while I was at St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest. Right after my visit there, the friend who went with me to the church said the exact words – you are beautiful. When we are reminded of our beautiful heart, soul and being should we be surprised and caught off guard? Sometimes we all need reminders. Who can we remind today that they are beautiful? Can we smile at the elderly gentleman on the street, acknowledge the disabled person with love? What about those we know and find hard to see the beauty in them as the Lord does? Tell someone they are beautiful today by your words, your actions, your touch. Better yet make it a practise everyday.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father help us to see others through your merciful gaze.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for making all things beautiful, for helping us see what beauty truly is.

10 August, Wednesday – We reap what we sow

10 August – Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

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

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

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

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

– Patron Saint Index

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2 Corinthians 9:6-10

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

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

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John 12:24-26

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you, most solemnly,
unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,
it remains only a single grain;
but if it dies,
it yields a rich harvest.
Anyone who loves his life loses it;
anyone who hates his life in this world
will keep it for the eternal life.
If a man serves me, he must follow me,
wherever I am, my servant will be there too.
If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.’

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Whoever serves me must follow me

I sometimes get caught up in my self-righteous thoughts that I am worthy of God’s blessings and providence. I have made some comparisons regarding the situations in my life to others I know — either Sunday Catholics or non-believers, and even a lady who has same sex attraction. At the outset, it seemed that these people were happier than me. I told myself surely that is the wrong way to go, knowing that God has a plan in my life. I could not blame God for my own lack of happiness, because happiness is both a choice and a decision on my part. In a sense, I was focussing on “The Father will honour who serves me”, totally discounting this verse, “whoever serves me, must follow me”.

It is human nature to follow what we want and to ignore what we choose, but today’s gospel tells us that following Jesus is our service. In the weeks leading up to World Youth Day, I regretted the decision of signing up for the mission, thinking merely about the comforts and security of my home and being selective about the pilgrims on my journey. But God, in His goodness, turned my heart around and convicted me that it was His will for me to go on this pilgrimage with His chosen ones. The power of His purification was to a point that I was open to anything, which gave me a great sense of peace about my journey, travel, health, safety as well as the responsibilities I leave behind. Was that following Him? It sure feels like it.

How is God calling you to follow Him today? What familiar shores are you called to leave now? Are you sowing riches abundantly to the poor and needy or are you giving only when there is excess?

Today, let us open our hearts to reach out to the poor, the forgotten, the lonely, the Sunday Catholics, the non believers. This should be our way of following in the footsteps of Our Lord. Let us forgive, love, embrace, accept as He would, let us emulate His Sacred Heart.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father, give us a heart like yours that we may want to follow your ways and answer each time you call. St Lawrence, pray for us. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for blessing us and providing for us Father, we are so undeserving.

31 May, Tuesday – Hail, Full of Grace

31 May – Feast of The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The feast of the Visitation recalls to us the following great truths and events: The visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth shortly after the Annunciation; the cleansing of John the Baptist from original sin in the womb of his mother at the words of Our Lady’s greeting; Elizabeth’s proclaiming of Mary—under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost—as Mother of God and “blessed among women”; Mary’s singing of the sublime hymn, Magnificat(“My soul doth magnify the Lord”) which has become a part of the daily official prayer of the Church. The Visitation is frequently depicted in art, and was the central mystery of St. Francis de Sales’ devotions.

The Mass of today salutes her who in her womb bore the King of heaven and earth, the Creator of the world, the Son of the Eternal Father, the Sun of Justice. It narrates the cleansing of John from original sin in his mother’s womb. Hearing herself addressed by the most lofty title of “Mother of the Lord” and realizing what grace her visit had conferred on John, Mary broke out in that sublime canticle of praise proclaiming prophetically that henceforth she would be venerated down through the centuries:

“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me, and holy is His name” (Lk. 1:46).

—Excerpted from the Cathedral Daily Missal

(Source: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2016-05-31)

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And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

On this beautiful feast of the Visitation, I am reminded of my spiritual journey in the Catholic faith as I was baptised and received my First Holy Communion and Confirmation in the Church of Visitation Seremban, in Malaysia. My parents got married there. My uncles were ordained there. And my grandmother’s funeral was held in that church which I now consider my home parish. Mere memories aside, I see how growing both from childhood and also in my faith is as rich as it gets when Our Mother is its patron. I have many times asked, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” I would like to elaborate about this in three parts: Personal faith, Community and Our Mother’s Intercession.

Personal faith
I was raised devoutly Catholic by my parents and it was hard to even change things related to my Catholic prayer life even when I moved out to live in the city when I was twenty-one. It was more than a personal effort on my part to remain rooted in the faith. As I look back, I realise that Our Mother simply refused to let go of my hand, nor let me lose Her Son.

I was a minority ethnic individual, a junior staff, among majority Muslims in a workplace where colleagues and superiors openly implied that I should embrace Islam. I had my doubts and sometimes felt very harassed. Being a twenty-something year old, I know I did not do it on my own. It was my Mother who protected me and shielded me from leaving her Son.

As children, we used to pray the rosary daily at 8 pm and 12 noon during the school holidays. Things changed when we moved to our own house. I was about eleven at the time and our prayer time was a decade of the rosary. In my heart I knew something was amiss yet I was thrilled that prayer time was shortened. So I never complained about it. The one decade we prayed each day sustained us as a family. Our Blessed Mother is not impressed with how long we spent praying. Just like any loving mother she would love, care and pray for us, no matter what.

In my early twenties when life seemed impossible and there was no where to turn, one night I decided that I would pray the rosary before I went to bed in the hostel room I stayed at. That was the beginning of my prayer life as an adult Catholic and I never once looked back. She has never let me go and kept me faithful to my daily prayer even when my life seemed futile and my choices looked very distant from grace.

Community
The parishes I served were always Marion parishes. In the city, it was Our Lady of Fatima and then Church of Assumption. I learned how to grow with others while serving in these two parishes. It was with the youths at Church of Assumption that I learnt the spirit of Christian community and its necessity. I finally had a family out of my own within my parish. As any family we had our struggles, our joys, our hopes and our laughter and like any Mother she continues to pray for peace in this “family” of ours. She helped us to love, share and care for each other despite our personal differences. This sort of love is impossible yet God and our Mother, gave us glimpses of their love when we were opened to love as they did.

Our Mother’s Intercessions
Our Mother kept watching me and I started praying the 54 days rosary novena. I noticed that during the duration of the novena, how grace filled my life. At every occasion there was an answer to my prayers. My Mother led me to the areas of life that I never knew were within me. She gave me answers that I was not seeking and she loved me just the same when I was doubtful of her precious Son.

I started wearing the rosary bracelet about a year ago. It recently dawned on me that it really felt like the Mother, who held the Lord, now continually holds my hand. Especially when I am fearful and feel unworthy, this bracelet reminds me that the hands which rocked that cradle, continues to be with me, totally claiming the promise of Jesus, “Behold, thy Mother.”

She has calmed my fears, kissed away my sadness, and cheered me on even at my most measly achievements. She was and continues to be my true Mother.

Recently on a rather challenging day at work, I went to visit my parents though I live some sixty kilometers away. It was an impromptu decision. When I parked my car in the driveway, I saw my mother looking at me as she knew that something was not right, though she did not probe. She brought me a cup of tea and we spend hours talking, though not about what was really eating me up at that time. After that time, I felt my whole burden lifted. I feel the same way about Our Mother Mary and praying the rosary. I am praying a set of prayers from the Bible, in the Hail Marys, Holy Marys, Our Fathers and although it can sometimes feel repetitive and irrelevant, I feel that she (in her great mercy and love) not only removed my burdens but she clothes me with grace. And I am convicted of the power of One Hail Mary.

Dear sisters and brothers, there is no pain that she cannot kiss away. No tears of ours compares to the ones she has shed. She knows sorrows and pain and she loves us. Call out to Our Mother as a child would in need. In good times; in times that could have been better. She is filled with grace. She is the most blessed among women and the Mother of the only perfect child, our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

30 May, Monday – Prayer of Protection

30 May

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2 Peter 1:2-7

May you have more and more grace and peace as you come to know our Lord more and more.

By his divine power, he has given us all the things that we need for life and for true devotion, bringing us to know God himself, who has called us by his own glory and goodness. In making these gifts, he has given us the guarantee of something very great and wonderful to come: through them you will be able to share the divine nature and to escape corruption in a world that is sunk in vice. But to attain this, you will have to do your utmost yourselves, adding goodness to the faith that you have, understanding to your goodness, self-control to your understanding, patience to your self-control, true devotion to your patience, kindness towards your fellow men to your devotion, and, to this kindness, love.

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Mark 12:1-12

Jesus went on to speak to the chief priests, the scribes and the elders in parables: ‘A man planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug out a trough for the winepress and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce from the vineyard. But they seized the man, thrashed him and sent him away empty-handed. Next he sent another servant to them; him they beat about the head and treated shamefully. And he sent another and him they killed; then a number of others, and they thrashed some and killed the rest. He had still someone left: his beloved son. He sent him to them last of all. “They will respect my son” he said. But those tenants said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” So they seized him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. Now what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and make an end of the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this text of scripture:

It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?

And they would have liked to arrest him, because they realised that the parable was aimed at them, but they were afraid of the crowds. So they left him alone and went away.

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They will respect my son

The prayer of protection in Psalm 91 is one of my favourite Bible verses. I have highly recommended it to people who are fearful or those who are exposed to danger. Recently I recommended it to my God-daughter and I find myself praying this Psalm when my friends are out in active ministry and presenting a session. There are few other prayers of protection, including one to St Michael the Archangel, which I recommend to friends who have little children.

We need to be aware that the ‘approver’ of all prayers is fully in charge. He could have spared His only beloved son but He did not. Such great love He had. He loves us to a point that He wanted salvation for us at any cost. Besides God and Abraham, I cannot think of anyone whose faithfulness was tested through the sacrifice of their children.

In the gospel today, God was confident that we would respect His son. Indeed, you and I were not physically present on the day of crucifixion. Yet, our sins, our anger, bitterness, unrepentant hearts, pride, envy, selfishness nailed Him on that cross. And we continue to hammer another nail on His wounded body when we fail to choose the way of Truth. We are sinful in our nature, but His precious Son came to breathe new life into our being. Will it take the second coming for us all to come Home, repent, love and live as one? Or are we ready to take ownership and be Christ-like to everyone, in every situation?

By the Lord, it has been done and it is wonderful in our eyes.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father protect us from all evil and all occasion of sin.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for giving us Your most precious Son so that we might live.

29 May, Sunday – One, Holy, Catholic

29 May – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday)

Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) is a Eucharistic solemnity, or better, the solemn commemoration of the institution of that sacrament. It is, moreover, the Church’s official act of homage and gratitude to Christ, who by instituting the Holy Eucharist gave to the Church her greatest treasure. Holy Thursday, assuredly, marks the anniversary of the institution, but the commemoration of the Lord’s passion that very night suppresses the rejoicing proper to the occasion. Today’s observance, therefore, accents the joyous aspect of Holy Thursday.

The Mass and the Office for the feast was edited or composed by St. Thomas Aquinas upon the request of Pope Urban IV in the year 1264. It is unquestionably a classic piece of liturgical work, wholly in accord with the best liturgical traditions. . . It is a perfect work of art.

— Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

In the words of St. Thomas of Aquinas:

“How inestimable a dignity, beloved brethren, divine bounty has bestowed upon us Christians from the treasury of its infinite goodness! For there neither is nor ever has been a people to whom the gods were so nigh as our Lord and God is nigh unto us.
“Desirous that we be made partakers of His divinity, the only-begotten Son of God has taken to Himself our nature so that having become man, He would be enabled to make men gods. Whatever He assumed of our nature He wrought unto our salvation. For on the altar of the Cross He immolated to the Father His own Body as victim for our reconciliation and shed His blood both for our ransom and for our regeneration. Moreover, in order that a remembrance of so great benefits may always be with us, He has left us His Body as food and His Blood as drink under appearances of bread and wine.

“O banquet most precious! O banquet most admirable! O banquet overflowing with every spiritual delicacy! Can anything be more excellent than this repast, in which not the flesh of goats and heifers, as of old, but Christ the true God is given us for nourishment? What more wondrous than this holy sacrament! In it bread and wine are changed substantially, and under the appearance of a little bread and wine is had Christ Jesus, God and perfect Man. In this sacrament sins are purged away, virtues are increased, the soul is satiated with an abundance of every spiritual gift. No other sacrament is so beneficial. Since it was instituted unto the salvation of all, it is offered by Holy Church for the living and for the dead, that all may share in its treasures.

“My dearly beloved, is it not beyond human power to express the ineffable delicacy of this sacrament in which spiritual sweetness is tasted in its very source, in which is brought to mind the remembrance of that all-excelling charity which Christ showed in His sacred passion? Surely it was to impress more profoundly upon the hearts of the faithful the immensity of this charity that our loving Savior instituted this sacrament at the last supper when, having celebrated the Pasch with His disciples. He was about to leave the world and return to the Father. It was to serve as an unending remembrance of His passion, as the fulfillment of ancient types — this the greatest of His miracles. To those who sorrow over His departure He has given a unique solace.”

(Source: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2016-05-29)

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Genesis 14:18-20

Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He pronounced this blessing:

‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth,
and blessed be God Most High for handing over your enemies to you.’
And Abram gave him a tithe of everything.

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1 Corinthians 11:23-26

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ©
This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

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Luke 9:11-17

Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.

It was late afternoon when the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people’ For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, ‘Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.’ They did so and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd. They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.

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Give them food yourself

Sometimes it’s easier to think that God is too mighty for the small things. Why would He want to feed the people who were listening to Him that day?Because the Lord, by His nature cares, loves and is Our Father.

For many years, once my siblings and I started working, we would celebrate Father’s Day at a nice restaurant. On some years, we brought along a card, and scribbled in it “our should have beens”. I did not give much thought about how this made my father feel, but somewhere down the line, I realised that he was not enjoying these celebrations very much. So I pressed on to find out how he would like to mark that day. And his response was his desire to feed us. He wanted to go to the market early in the morning and cook a fine meal for us, adorned with his labour of love. I could not understand how giving us a meal was celebrating him at all. Weren’t we supposed to give and not receive on his special day?

This is the beauty of a good parent. They want to nurture, to feed, to sacrifice, to give and give all along. Just like Father God, my earthly father wanted to give to us. And the more I try to understand my own father, I see the unconditional love as crafted by the Maker of Love.

The gift of the Lord, in His body and blood, is unmerited and undeserved. We cannot earn it but it’s an invitation to each baptised Catholic. He knew on the day He was betrayed, that we (His children) would need Him to be with us always and to be One with Him. He was fully aware of its costs, yet it did not stop Him nor make Him compromise. Like any good father, He did not want to compromise what we needed… which is Him. He created our hearts and He knew that we needed Him always. And He asks us to do it in memory of Him.

If today, like me, you feel unworthy, remember that Judas ate and drank at the Lord’s table. And so did Peter. Both of whom betrayed the Lord, in their own ways. Our God is not expecting us to bring anything to this table of love. He sees the heart of a repentant sinner and He runs out to clasp us in a tight embrace… offered as the Eucharistic host we receive at mass.

Today, as we received His body and His blood, let us be fully aware of the beauty of being One with God and with His church brings. Let us remember all those who ate at this table. Let us reach out to all those who are no longer One with us. Be reminded that our disputes are not greater than His Eucharistic Sacrament.

You precious child of God, you are not the sum of your talents, wealth, personality or popularity but the Love of a Father who was broken just for you.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father in Heaven, help us to live and love as One Body.

Thanksgiving: You have made us One with you, we thank you Lord.