Tag Archives: listening to God

23 April, Monday – Living life to the fullest

23 Apr – Memorial for St. George, martyr; Memorial for St. Adalbert, bishop & martyr

St. George (d. 304) was a soldier who was martyred for his faith. That’s all we know for sure.

Several stories have been attached to St. George, the best known of which is the “Golden Legend”. In it, a dragon lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Whole armies had gone up against this fierce creature, and had gone down in painful defeat. The monster ate two sheep each day; when mutton was scarce, lots were drawn in local villages, and maidens were substituted for sheep. Into this country came St. George. Hearing the story on a day when a princess was to be eaten, he crossed himself, rode to battle against the serpent, and killed it with a single blow with his lance. George then held forth with a magnificent sermon, and converted the locals. Given a large reward by the king, George distributed it to the poor, then rode away.

Due to his chivalrous behaviour (protecting women, fighting evil, dependence on faith and might of arms, largesse to the poor), devotion to St. George became popular in Europe after the 10th century. In the 15th century, his feast day was as popular and important as Christmas. Many of his areas of patronage have to do with life as a knight on horseback. The celebrated “Knights of the Garter” are actually “Knights of the Order of St. George”. The shrine built for his relics at Lydda, Palestine, was a popular point of pilgrimage for centuries.

He is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

– Patron Saint Index

Adalbert (957–997) was born to the Bohemian nobility. He took the name of St. Adalbert of Magdeburg, the archbishop who healed, educated and converted him. He became Bishop of Prague (in the modern Czech Republic) on Feb 10, 982. He was a friend of Emperor Otto III.

Adalbert encouraged the evangelization of the Magyars, and worked on it with St. Astricus. He was opposed by the nobility in Prague and unpopular in the area, so he withdrew to Rome, Italy and became a Benedictine monk, making his vows on Apr 17, 990. But Pope John XV sent him back to Prague anyway.

He founded the monastery of Brevnov, met more opposition from the nobility and returned to Rome. There being no hope of his working in Prague, he was allowed to (unsuccessfully) evangelise in Pomerania, Poland, Prussia, Hungary and Russia. He and his fellow missionaries were martyred by Prussians near Koenigsberg or Danzig at the instigation of a pagan priest. Not long before his death, Adalbert met and was a great inspiration to St. Boniface of Querfurt.

  • Patron Saint Index

_______________

Acts 11:1-18

The apostles and the brothers in Judaea heard that the pagans too had accepted the word of God, and when Peter came up to Jerusalem the Jews criticised him and said, ‘So you have been visiting the uncircumcised and eating with them, have you?’ Peter in reply gave them the details point by point: ‘One day, when I was in the town of Jaffa,’ he began ‘I fell into a trance as I was praying and had a vision of something like a big sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners. This sheet reached the ground quite close to me. I watched it intently and saw all sorts of animals and wild beasts – everything possible that could walk, crawl or fly. Then I heard a voice that said to me, “Now, Peter; kill and eat!” But I answered: Certainly not, Lord; nothing profane or unclean has ever crossed my lips. And a second time the voice spoke from heaven, “What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane.” This was repeated three times, before the whole of it was drawn up to heaven again.

‘Just at that moment, three men stopped outside the house where we were staying; they had been sent from Caesarea to fetch me, and the Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going back with them. The six brothers here came with me as well, and we entered the man’s house. He told us he had seen an angel standing in his house who said, “Send to Jaffa and fetch Simon known as Peter; he has a message for you that will save you and your entire household.”

‘I had scarcely begun to speak when the Holy Spirit came down on them in the same way as it came on us at the beginning, and I remembered that the Lord had said, “John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” I realised then that God was giving them the identical thing he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; and who was I to stand in God’s way?’

This account satisfied them, and they gave glory to God. ‘God’ they said ‘can evidently grant even the pagans the repentance that leads to life.’

_______________________

John 10:1-10

Jesus said:
‘I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’
Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them.
So Jesus spoke to them again:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
I am the gate of the sheepfold.
All others who have come
are thieves and brigands;
but the sheep took no notice of them.
I am the gate.
Anyone who enters through me will be safe:
he will go freely in and out
and be sure of finding pasture.
The thief comes
only to steal and kill and destroy.
I have come
so that they may have life and have it to the full.’

____________________

“I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”

What does it mean to live life to the full? This question has been attempted to be answered by many philosophers, but I believe that Jesus shows us the way which allows us to find true happiness – one which is lasting and calming for the soul. This requires us to discern what God is calling us to do.

St Peter recounted his vision which God had granted him. This would have been contradictory to the prevailing thought at that point in time, as the Jews felt that Christianity should remain faithful to the norms and regulations of Judaism. St Peter was granted the grace to discern what was needed at that point in time and listened to the promptings of the Spirit. Through that action began a new chapter of the Church where the Gentiles were welcomed to the faith.

For each one of us, God has invited us to live life to the full. We will need to enter the gate — Jesus Christ — by obeying Him. Through  Scripture, spiritual direction and the many people He brings in our lives, we are able to obtain clarity on what it means to live a life in communion with God. However, we need to trust God’s plan and not aspire to take control of it. It is easier said than done but if we do so, God will make a way.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, heal the wounds within us and let us discover the plan you have for us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who accept the challenge of living God’s way of life.

21 July, Thursday – The Reality

21 July – Memorial for St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest, Religious, Doctor

St. Lawrence (1559-1619) joined the Capuchin Friars in 1575. He studied theology, the Bible, French, German, Greek, Spanish, Syriac, and Hebrew. He was an effective and forceful preacher in any of his several languages, founded convents and wrote catechisms.

As the chaplain of the army of the Holy Roman Empire in 1601, he led the army into battle against the Turks carrying only a crucifix, and defeated them. Later, he carried out important and successful diplomatic peace missions. He was the spiritual director of the Bavarian army. St Lawrence was proclaimed Apostolic Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959.

– Patron Saint Index

_____________________

Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13

The word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying, ‘Go and shout this in the hearing of Jerusalem:

‘“The Lord says this:
I remember the affection of your youth,
the love of your bridal days:
you followed me through the wilderness,
through a land unsown.
Israel was sacred to the Lord,
the first-fruits of his harvest;
anyone who ate of this had to pay for it,
misfortune came to them –
it is the Lord who speaks.”

‘I brought you to a fertile country
to enjoy its produce and good things;
but no sooner had you entered than you defiled my land,
and made my heritage detestable.
The priests have never asked, “Where is the Lord?”
Those who administer the Law have no knowledge of me.
The shepherds have rebelled against me;
the prophets have prophesied in the name of Baal,
following things with no power in them.

‘You heavens, stand aghast at this,
stand stupefied, stand utterly appalled
– it is the Lord who speaks.
Since my people have committed a double crime:
they have abandoned me,
the fountain of living water,
only to dig cisterns for themselves,
leaky cisterns
that hold no water.’

_____________________

Matthew 13:10-17

The disciples went up to Jesus and asked, ‘Why do you talk to them in parables?’ ‘Because’ he replied, ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they are not revealed to them. For anyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. So in their case this prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled:

You will listen and listen again, but not understand,
see and see again, but not perceive.
For the heart of this nation has grown coarse,
their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes,
for fear they should see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their heart,
and be converted
and be healed by me.

‘But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! I tell you solemnly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’

_____________________

You will listen and listen again, but not understand, see and see again, but not perceive.

In today’s readings, I see a lot of myself, where I neglect how God ‘brought me out of slavery’ to a ‘fertile country to enjoy its produce and good things’. It is such that pride enters into my life and tells me that it is by my hard work and my will that has led me to where I am today, and I deserve all the ‘rewards’ I’m reaping now. Because of this, I seldom turn to God for help and continue to search in all the wrong places for all the wrong things. Instead of searching for ‘the fountain of living water’, I only dig leaky cisterns that hold no water. Basically losing track of what is actually important, what I am living for and what is it that I truly desire.

And indeed, as the psalmist says, ‘In you, Lord, is the source of life’. It is not just about how we need you, but more so to know that we are from you, created by you. There is absolutely no reason for God to destroy us after having created us. Most of the time, we usually end up destroying ourselves.

The Gospel then reiterates the point where many times, we just seem to know, but we do not internalise and live out what we know, we do not practice what we preach. We end up stereotyping, assuming rather than understanding, listening. Before we even try, we give up because we see the kind of life we are called to live and know that we can never be up to that standard, so why bother trying?

Our faith isn’t just a personal faith, but a communal one as well. And not just with our fellow brothers and sisters but also with Christ Himself, for He is the reason we believe. He is the answer to our struggles, He is The Way, The Truth, The Life. God will not give us nor ask of us something that we can’t handle, neither does He expect us to handle our struggles alone. He sends Himself through people that we meet every day.

Do we want Jesus in our lives? Have we allowed Him to be there for us? Have we also been there for Him? Let us live in the way you have called us to for “In you, Lord, is the source of life”.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for wisdom to see beyond the pleasures of this world. Help us to overcome the desires of the flesh and be focused on the food that nurtures our soul. Help us to see not just with our humanly eyes but with the eyes of faith, to answer your call, to be your disciples. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for being present with us. Thank you for sending people in our lives to support and encourage us. Thank you for the gift of our lives. Thank you for making us yours.

4 June, Saturday – Openness of Heart

4 June – Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary began as early as the twelfth century. During the seventeenth century in France, St John Eudes popularised this devotion along with that to the Sacred Heart. St Luke’s Gospel twice mentions that Mary ‘kept all these things in her heart’, pondering the word of God. Mary shows us how to listen to the words the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the depths of our hearts, and how to respond in faith.

Source: Universalis

=====

The attention of Christians was early attracted by the love and virtues of the Heart of Mary. The Gospel itself invited this attention with exquisite discretion and delicacy. What was first excited was compassion for the Virgin Mother. It was, so to speak, at the foot of the Cross that the Christian heart first made the acquaintance of the Heart of Mary. Simeon’s prophecy paved the way and furnished the devotion with one of its favourite formulae and most popular representations: the heart pierced with a sword. But Mary was not merely passive at the foot of the Cross; “she cooperated through charity”, as St. Augustine says, “in the work of our redemption”.

In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII put the whole world under the special protection of our Savior’s Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart, and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is not a new devotion. In the seventeenth century, St. John Eudes preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart; in the nineteenth century, Pius VII and Pius IX allowed several churches to celebrate a feast of the Pure Heart of Mary. Pius XII instituted today’s feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession “peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue” (Decree of May 4, 1944).

Source: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2016-06-04

_____________________

2 Timothy 4:1-8

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. The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths. Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service.

As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

_____________________

Luke 2:41-51

Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’

‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.

He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart.

_____________________

Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service.

Am I open to the will of God? Am I open to His teaching? Am I living out His commands for me?

These, to me, are relevant questions that pop up in my mind once in a while.

Occasionally, I find myself cherry-picking at some of the teachings of the church at my own will, or when I feel like it and give myself reasons to justify why it is ok to do certain things.

But is that what holiness is about?

The first reading today tells us that we need to be careful always to choose the right course. That is, whatever is holy, righteous and good, we should be doing it. But sometimes because of our own human frailties, we easily give in to temptation and sin.

Sometimes, we forget the teachings of God and rather turn to our own human strength and knowledge to live our life. At times, when we are faced with a difficult situation, we trust what we read or hear from other sources instead of trusting fully in the Lord.

St Paul urges us to “refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience”.

Do we correct the errors of others with love and patience? Or do we simply turn a blind eye?

To be honest, I tend to choose to mind my own business and not correct others for fear of being rejected or ridiculed. And when others try to correct me, sometimes I get defensive because of my own pride.

Yet, God in His faithfulness continues to keep the door open for all of us. He still welcomes the repentant sinner back into His embrace. He is patient in teaching and correcting us.

Let us like St Paul say when our time comes: “I have fought the good fight, to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me…”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

Prayer: Dearest Father, teach me to be open to You in all things. Help me to always trust in Your unconditional love for me. Grant me Your love and patience in helping others to know You. Amen!

Thanksgiving: Thank you dear Lord, for Your faithfulness. Thank you for the people in my life that have helped me to understand Your teaching and will in my life.