Tag Archives: Lorraine Wong

9 March, Saturday – Spiritual Reset

9 Mar – Memorial for St. Frances of Rome, religious

St. Frances (1384-1440) was an aristocrat by birth. She married at the age of 12, and her marriage lasted 40 years. She was a mother of three before becoming a widow. She joined the Benedictines, and was the foundress of the “Oblates of the Tor de’ Specchi” (Collatines). She is said to have been guided by an archangel only she could see. She spent her life and fortune, both as a laywoman and a religious, in the service of the sick and the poor, including the founding of the first home in Rome for abandoned children. She dictated 97 “Visions”, in which she saw many of the pains of Hell.

On her feast day, priests bless cars due to her patronage of cars and drivers. Frances certainly never drove, but legend says that when she went abroad at night, her guardian angel went before her lighting the road with a headlight-live lantern, keeping her safe in her travels.

Prayer to St. Frances
Dear Frances, you were an exemplary wife, ever faithful to your husband. After his death, you founded and governed the Congregation of Mount Olivet, revealing your great devotion to our Lord’s Passion. Your faith in Angels was rewarded by frequent visions of them. Please pray for Catholics in our day that they may be as dedicated to God as you were. Amen.

– Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 58:9-14

The Lord says this:

If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.
The Lord will always guide you,
giving you relief in desert places.

He will give strength to your bones
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never run dry.

You will rebuild the ancient ruins,
build up on the old foundations.
You will be called ‘Breach-mender’,
‘Restorer of ruined houses.’

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
and doing business on the holy day,
if you call the Sabbath ‘Delightful’,
and the day sacred to the Lord ‘Honourable’,
if you honour it by abstaining from travel,
from doing business and from gossip,
then shall you find your happiness in the Lord
and I will lead you triumphant over the heights of the land.
I will feed you on the heritage of Jacob your father.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

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Luke 5:27-32

Jesus noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting by the customs house, and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything he got up and followed him.

In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.’

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You will be like a spring whose waters never run dry

How wonderful and delightful to read of the promises of Christ in today’s first reading. He has made all these great and mighty plans for us, for me, imagine that! I want to be all those things He promised, full of life, strong and resourceful; filled with joy, happiness with endless possibilities. He has painted such a beautiful picture, that my heart yearns to live up to His promises.

I see this passage as an instruction manual — a clear step-by-step guide on how to attain this promise of His. It has also become clearer for me, what this season of Lent is all about. It is a purification process, ridding us of all the darkness that consumes us, a spiritual reset button. Not that we shouldn’t repent and return to God throughout the year, but the Church has given us this period to focus on cleansing ourselves so that we can rise again with our Lord on Easter Sunday, to fully live in His glory.

This has also given me a different perspective of the season — it is not about the doom and gloom of our sinful nature that we should focus on. Yes, we need to repent and do our part, however, in today’s gospel Jesus declared it is for you and me that He became man and walked this world, it is for our salvation that He came. So, yes we are sinful and we need saving, that’s a fact! Nevertheless, He is with us, by our side, there’s nothing to fear but, more importantly, we ought to cast our sight further, to that image and vision He has created us for, to claim that promise He has given; to be that spring whose waters never run dry!

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer – Dear Lord, how wonderful to be called to greatness, how delightful that, in you, we can be the light that rises in darkness. As we continue our Lenten observances, let us cast our sight a little further, while we mourn for our sinful ways, to see the promises you’ve made knowing we will rise again victoriously in you.

Thanksgiving – Thank you Father, for your promises and for the gift of this season, for the chance to re-examine our sinful ways, to have the opportunity to hit the reset button time and time again.

8 March, Friday – Conversion from the inside out

8 Mar – Memorial for St. John of God, religious

Juan (1495-1550) grew up working as a shepherd in the Castile region of Spain. He led a wild and misspent youth, travelling over much of Europe and north Africa as a soldier in the army of Charles V, and a mercenary. He fought through a brief period of insanity. He peddled religious books and pictures in Gibraltar, though without any religious conviction himself.

In his 40s, he received a vision of the Infant Jesus who called him “John of God”. To make up for the misery he had caused as a soldier, he left the military, rented a house in Granada, Spain, and began caring for the sick, poor, homeless and unwanted. He gave what he had, begged for those who couldn’t, carried those who could not move on their own, and converted both his patients and those who saw him work with them.

He was a friend of St. John of Avila, on whom he tried to model his life. John founded the Order of Charity and the Order of Hospitallers of St. John of God.

– Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 58:1-9

Thus says the Lord:

Shout for all you are worth,
raise your voice like a trumpet.
Proclaim their faults to my people,
their sins to the House of Jacob.

They seek me day after day,
they long to know my ways,
like a nation that wants to act with integrity
and not ignore the law of its God.

They ask me for laws that are just,
they long for God to draw near:
‘Why should we fast if you never see it,
why do penance if you never notice?’

Look, you do business on your fast-days,
you oppress all your workmen;
look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast
and strike the poor man with your fist.

Fasting like yours today
will never make your voice heard on high.
Is that the sort of fast that pleases me,
a truly penitential day for men?

Hanging your head like a reed,
lying down on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call fasting,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me
– it is the Lord who speaks –
to break unjust fetters and
undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,
and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,

to clothe the man you see to be naked
and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn
and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you
and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer;
call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

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Matthew 9:14-15

John’s disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’

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They seek me day after day, they long to know my ways, like a nation that wants to act with integrity and not ignore the law of its God

The longing of God’s people is there, we have the right intention to want to draw closer to God through self-denial and fasting. However, whatever penance we choose to do, it ought to be more than just an outward act of reparation. Fasting needs to lead to repentance and a true conversion of the spirit, for without which, it is just vain and hypocritical. We all need earnestly to pray for God’s assistance in examining ourselves; in purifying our intentions and motivations. Ultimately, whatever we choose to do as a sacrifice is with the aim of having a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father.

As in today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us not to fast as the Pharisees do, without clear intention and purpose just for the sake of following the laws. Purpose driven actions are imperative, and as Christians, our purpose must be Christ-centered and focussed on our Heavenly Father.

Conversely, be mindful of falling into the trap of thinking we can do without any outward signs. In our egocentricity, convincing ourselves that we do not need any acts of penance and charity, because we are saved and have attained conversion. Pride stands in our way, for if we truly love God and are sorry for our transgressions, then this conversion of the spirit will manifest into works of charity and sacrifice.

For me, a simple way of looking at it is an inside-out conversion journey. Conversion of heart, mind and spirit translates into outward signs of right actions and deeds.

In this season of Lent, let us walk closer to God with Jesus by our side, with purification of our heart every step of the way, and we shall be light of world and salt of the earth.

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer – Dear Lord, help us to purify our hearts, to examine our intentions and motivations, for we love you and want to draw closer to you during this season of Lent. We yearn for a deepening of our faith and to come face to face with our Father. In you we draw strength and power. Help us O, Lord.

Thanksgiving – Our Father, we are so grateful for your faithfulness and love. For never abandoning us despite our iniquities, thank you Father.

7 March, Thursday – WWJD

7 Mar – Memorial for Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs

Perpetua (d. 203) was a lay woman born to a noble pagan family. She was a convert, a wife and a mother. She was martyred with her maid, friend, and fellow convert Felicitas. In centuries past, their story was so popular that St. Augustine of Hippo warned against giving it the weight of scripture.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Moses said to the people: ‘See, today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of the Lord your God, obeying his voice, clinging to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends your long stay in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he would give them.’

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Luke 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’

Then to all he said:

‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’

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Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live

Do we choose life in our daily lives? Do we choose to give life in our words and deeds? Are we a blessing to others or a curse?

It is so hard to be part of this world as a Christian. The world will always tempt and entice us with fame, glitz and glory; it’s about survival of the fittest, to win at all cost, but truly at what cost? Our soul? A high price to pay indeed. Jesus is not forcing us to follow Him blindly and certainly not threatening us with fears and damnation. The invitation is to respond to Him in love! In all that I do, in my choices every day, to renounce the way of the world no matter how difficult it may be. For in choosing God, it is my love letter to Him!

Our Church emphasizes the concept of Imitatio Christi (imitation of Christ), which can be summarized in the phrase ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ (WWJD), a movement that arose in the 1990s as a personal motto for adherents of Christianity. In my daily struggles, to ask myself “WWJD?”, that will be a Christ-centered way of examining our motivations, choices and decisions; offering it all up in supplication to be led by His light.

To follow Jesus is a conscious living and giving of life and to be a blessing to everyone we encounter; for ours is a Living God and Jesus is alive and lives in us and through us. When we refuse to be drawn into the way of the world, when we choose life, we have won back our soul!

As we enter the season of Lent, let’s ask ourselves, what choices can I make today that bring life to others. WWJD?

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer – Jesus, you came to show us the way. Let us continue to fix our gaze upon you our Lord, leaving the world behind us, choosing to love you no matter what. And even when we falter, which we will, help us to turn back to you in humility, and start again.

Thanksgiving – Our Father, thank you for allowing us this freedom to choose and be co-operators of your plan. Not because you need us, but because we need it to reciprocate our love for you.

22 December, Saturday – The Almighty has done great things for me

22 December

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1 Samuel 1:24-28

When Hannah had weaned the infant Samuel, she took him up with her together with a three-year old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was with them. They slaughtered the bull and the child’s mother came to Eli. She said, ‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’

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Luke 1:46-56

Mary said:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

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“…the Lord granted me what I asked him.”

In writing today’s reflection, I can’t help but look back on the year 2018, and the journey I have been on. I am truly grateful for what the Lord has granted me, and the path He has laid out for me. Leaving corporate work at the end of last year to embark on my entrepreneurial pursuit was never the plan but, in doing so, He has opened so much possibilities. Opportunities for me to slow down and serve him, more time with my family, pursuits of interest and hobbies which would otherwise not have happened. Not to mention the self-development work I continue to explore. The road ahead is still uncertain for I still struggle with getting my business going and am discerning what is His plan for me.  Despite these struggles, I feel blessed for the year and what He has done for me.

Reciting the Magnificat found in today’s Gospel always gives me so much comfort and peace — the total surrender to His plan and the unwavering trust our Lady has inspires me. As the year comes to an end, there are regrets for things I could have done better, or people/encounters I could have deepened, but at the same time, knowing His plans are always the most perfect and what needed to be accomplished has been completed, I am at peace.

In our journey through life, let us never forget that He fulfills promises and will grant us our hearts desires.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: Dear Lord, the road ahead is filled with uncertainty and, sometimes, in our struggles, we rely on our own strength and understanding. Help us never to forget the great blessings you have bestowed upon us and how you have always answered our prayers, help us to fix our gaze on you and cling to your cloak in our journey through life.

Thanksgiving: Abba Father, thank you for loving, even though we sometimes stray away from you, you have never abandoned us and always know what is best for us. Thank you for your providence, guidance and mercy.

21 December, Friday – Promises of God

21 December – Memorial for St. Peter Canisius, priest, doctor of the Church

Peter (1521–1597) was the son of Jacob Canisius, a wealthy burgomeister, and Ægidia van Houweningen, who died shortly after Peter’s birth. He was educated in Cologne, Germany, where he studied art, civil law, and theology. He received a master’s degree by age 19. His closest friends at university were monks and clerics.

He joined the Jesuits on May 8, 1543 after attending a retreat conducted by Bl. Peter Faber. He taught at the University of Cologne, and helped found the first Jesuit house in the city. He was ordained in 1546. He was theologian of Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Bishop of Augsburg in 1547.

He travelled and worked with St. Ignatius of Loyola who was his spiritual director in Rome, Italy. He taught rhetoric in Messina, Sicily in 1548, preaching in Italian and Latin. He was doctor of theology in 1549. He began teaching theology and preaching at Ingolstadt, Germany in 1549, and was rector of the university the following year.

In 1552 he began teaching theology, and preaching in the Cathedral of St. Stephen in Vienna, Austria. He was the royal court confessor even as he continued to work in hospitals and prisons. During Lent in 1553 he travelled to preach in abandoned parishes in Lower Austria.

During Mass one day, he received a vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and ever after offered his work to the Sacred Heart. He led the Counter-Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Switzerland, and his work led to the return of Catholicism to Germany. His catechism went through 200 editions during his lifetime, and was translated into 12 languages. In some places catechisms were referred to as “Canisi”.

He attended the Diets of Augsburg (1555), Ratisbon (1556, 1557), and founded Jesuit colleges in Ingolstadt, Prague, Dilingen, and Fribourg. Everywhere he worked he became a noted preacher, and often worked with children, teaching them and hearing their confessions.

He represented Pope Paul IV at the imperial Diet of Pieternow. He addressed the Council of Trent on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He recommended St. Stanislaus Kostka for reception as a Jesuit. He was court preacher to Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria.

While in Fribourg, Switzerland, he received a message from the city’s patron saint, Nicholas of Myra, that he should stop travelling. Canisius spent the rest of his life there. He taught, preached, edited books, and worked to support the Catholic press and printers in many cities. His advice was sought by St. Francis de Sales, and by his friend St. Charles Borromeo. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.

– Patron Saint Index

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Song of Songs 2:8-14

I hear my Beloved.
See how he comes
leaping on the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My Beloved is like a gazelle,
like a young stag.

See where he stands
behind our wall.
He looks in at the window,
he peers through the lattice.

My Beloved lifts up his voice,
he says to me,
‘Come then, my love,
my lovely one, come.
For see, winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth.
The season of glad songs has come,
the cooing of the turtledove is heard
in our land.
The fig tree is forming its first figs
and the blossoming vines give out their fragrance.
Come then, my love,
my lovely one, come.
My dove, hiding in the clefts of the rock,
in the coverts of the cliff,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet
and your face is beautiful.’

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Luke 1:39-45

Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

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“filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Christmas is truly my favorite season of the year; it has always been since I was a child, even though my family were non-Catholics during my growing up years, and never really celebrated Christmas. Somehow, it has this magical spirit that was so captivating to me. Only years later when I received Christ did I truly comprehend its significance!

It was also during this season that my husband and I met (over caroling practice) and this year, we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. What makes it even more special for me as I reflected on today’s first reading, is that it was one of the readings chosen for our wedding mass and he sang these verses as I walked down the aisle.

There is such an atmosphere of joy and good cheer during Christmas and today’s readings remind us of Christ’s triumphant coming. So what is joy really? To me joy is not the absence of pain and suffering but to have joy in spite of it. In 21 years of marriage, we have had our fair share of ups and downs. We have gone through many trials, but through it all, we never felt abandoned by the Lord. These difficulties strengthened us and our marriage, and it is because Jesus has been with us through it all, and He still is! When Mary visited Elizabeth carrying the child Jesus, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy and “she was filled with the Holy Spirit.” So it is in our marriage and in our lives, wherever we go, as long as we have Christ in us, joy follows! True joy is not found in the future or the often mistaken view that we will be happy ‘only if…’; only if we live in a bigger house; only if we have that promotion; only if we get to go on that holiday etc. True joy is found here and now for His spirit lives in us!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to see the joy that is around us in our everyday life, to see the joy that is within us, and to celebrate being alive in the Spirit. For you are with us, and nothing else matters.

Thanksgiving: Our Father in Heaven, we are grateful for your unyielding love and for giving us Jesus to redeem our sins, and for the Holy Spirit that lives in us.

20 December, Thursday – God is with us

20 December

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Isaiah 7:10-14

The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’

Then Isaiah said:

‘Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’

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Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

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“…Immanuel.”

God is with us…..just pause for a moment and let these words sink in slowly — GOD IS WITH US.

I am guilty of keeping this at the head level and not hold this dear to my heart. In the busyness of everyday life, worrying about my business, worrying about the children and what is ahead of me, I have often relied on my own strength and understanding. Even in times of joy and happiness, I have often neglected to stop and ponder on this beautiful mystery. And yet, especially when life becomes overwhelming, it is important to slow down, to pause and remind myself of His presence.

Our family took a trip to Hokkaido recently, and we were exposed to subzero temperatures. The silence was deafeningly beautiful and, in that moment, standing in the snow with the wind blowing, I found God once again. This reminded me of saint Mother Teresa’s quote: “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Just like our beautiful Mother, her purpose in life was fulfilled when she was deep in prayer and in the silence of the night. As in today’s Gospel, when she said those famous words “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.” None of this would have happened if not because of Mary’s devotion to God and seeking him in the silence.

I am reminded today to persevere in my quiet time with the Lord, so as to hold dear in my heart that God is with us, as saint Mother Teresa said that nature grows in silence, and we need silence to be able to touch souls. I am part of nature and his creation and I grow and move in silence.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: Dear Lord, let my soul be touched by you in silence. Help me to remain faithful to you throughout my day. Even in the busyness of the season, I can find silence; to reach into my heart and soul to encounter you in every moment and hear the whisper “I am with you.”

Thanksgiving: Our Father in Heaven, thank you for blessing us with nature and the changing of seasons, for in these encounters with your creation we are reminded of your presence here on earth.

1 September, Saturday – Called to Greatness

1 September

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1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Take yourselves for instance, brothers, at the time when you were called: how many of you were wise in the ordinary sense of the word, how many were influential people, or came from noble families? No, it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning; those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything. The human race has nothing to boast about to God, but you, God has made members of Christ Jesus and by God’s doing he has become our wisdom, and our virtue, and our holiness, and our freedom. As scripture says: if anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.

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Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”

‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’

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…those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything

I must admit, for the longest time, I struggled with today’s Gospel text. I never understood why the last servant was punished for being prudent. I guess, being a risk averse person, I totally identified with the servant that hid his 1 talent to safeguard what little he has — afraid to, or perhaps not willing to work towards multiplying the talents given by God.

However, in my journey out of corporate life and walking towards the path God has paved for me, I began to appreciate what Jesus is teaching in this parable. My talents are not mine to keep and bury. By limiting myself and not showing up as who I really am or could be — sharing with the world the gifts and talents that God has blessed me with — I am doing God a huge disservice. You can even say I have sinned by refusing to partake in His plan for me!

Yet, many times I struggle. I lack the faith and courage to step into the possibilities that God has given me and shrink into my old way of being. How could I, this imperfect being, be called to greatness? Surely not? And yet, He reminds us that “those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything.”

I still have a long way to go with this. I am humbled by this calling and yet, in my humanness, I walk with trepidation towards the ultimate purpose God has planned for me. I must constantly remind myself that it is only through His grace and His alone, that I do what I do. I need Jesus in my life to nourish and guide me, “God has made members of Christ Jesus and by God’s doing he has become our wisdom, and our virtue, and our holiness and our freedom”. I need His wisdom and strength, to shine for the world. Writing today’s reflection reminded me of a beautiful gift I received from a friend when I started on my journey:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”. —- Marianne Williamson

(Today’s OXYGEN by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer:  Jesus, you are my wisdom, my virtue, my holiness and freedom. Teach me dear Lord, to lean on you and seek your counsel so that I not only embrace the talents given by my Heavenly Father, but be a beacon of light to others and in turn, encourage others to shine for God.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you my Heavenly Father, for your grace and mercy; for choosing me to be a little light in the world.

31 August, Friday – God’s foolishness and weakness

31 August

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1 Corinthians 1:17-25

Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed. The language of the cross may be illogical to those who are not on the way to salvation, but those of us who are on the way see it as God’s power to save. As scripture says: I shall destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing all the learning of the learned. Where are the philosophers now? Where are the scribes? Where are any of our thinkers today? Do you see now how God has shown up the foolishness of human wisdom? If it was God’s wisdom that human wisdom should not know God, it was because God wanted to save those who have faith through the foolishness of the message that we preach. And so, while the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, here are we preaching a crucified Christ; to the Jews an obstacle that they cannot get over, to the pagans madness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

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Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

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“For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”

Having worked in the corporate world for more than 25 years, there was a time I recall feeling so invincible and untouchable, life was good and all the material wealth we possessed made me feel even more indestructible. But deep down, there was an unexplainable vacuum of emptiness. The constant desire for significance took me further from it.

Truly, how could I have been so proud as to think I have the wisdom and strength to conquer it all in the world by myself? Our wisdom is nothing compared to God’s foolishness. So why would anyone go to such great length of suffering and even dying on the cross for others? To the eyes of the world, this is craziness, unfathomable! But Jesus has shown me that in vulnerability and total weakness, He has conquered the world! He has saved many, and many have turned to follow Him!

I am very grateful that God showed me a different path, because coming home to my vulnerability gave me strength; strength and power to do His will. The feeling of invincibility comes not from material possessions, status or fame, but from a place of deep knowing — that I am loved by Him. It’s ironic that through embracing my weaknesses and acknowledging that I am nothing without Him, there is this tremendous driving force that propels me forward and this feeling of truly being untouchable.

Stepping into the world now with this new-found understanding means a strong purpose and commitment, but it also means I need to constantly draw upon God’s wisdom and power. It reminds me that I cannot do this on my own, nor need I. The Gospel reading reminds us once again to stay alert and be prepared; to me, it means I need to cling on to Jesus, my redeemer and friend so I can draw from the source of life in my journey of life.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer:  Oh God my Father, you are our source of wisdom and power. Help us to always turn to you and not rely on our human foolishness in this journey of life; to seek wisdom and understanding through your eyes which are perfect and emit love. For only through your eyes, will we be able to see the goodness around us and be your instrument of love.

Thanksgiving:  Our Father in Heaven, you are our amazing Abba Father, who in your greatness never fails to meet us where we are in our faith journey, forever patient and kind. Thank you for seeing me, this small little creation of yours! For believing in my possibility as part of your great plan of salvation, and for never giving up on me, foolish though I may be.

30 August, Thursday – Witness for Christ

30 August

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1 Corinthians 1:1-9

I, Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle, together with brother Sosthenes, send greetings to the church of God in Corinth, to the holy people of Jesus Christ, who are called to take their place among all the saints everywhere who pray to our Lord Jesus Christ; for he is their Lord no less than ours. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.

I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received through Jesus Christ. I thank him that you have been enriched in so many ways, especially in your teachers and preachers; the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed; and he will keep you steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God by calling you has joined you to his Son, Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.

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Matthew 24:42-51

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

‘What sort of servant, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their food at the proper time? ‘Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the dishonest servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time,” and sets about beating his fellow servants and eating and drinking with drunkards, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.’

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Let us first receive the seeds of the Gospel in our own hearts and then work with the Divine Gardener to scatter His seeds of truth and love to all we meet.

Stay awake says the Lord! Yes, this gospel reminds us of the work needed on our interior life, as we prepare for the day we are called. Such is the importance of our readiness that Jesus reminds us to not neglect our spiritual life, but enrich it through prayer, fasting, and obedience to His word.

In the first reading today, something else struck me — the witnessing to one another which we tend to down play as Catholics. What St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians “the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed”.

Witness, what does it mean for me to witness? Am I a good witness to Christ? This is a big responsibility, as it is not about just taking care of my own spiritual growth but scriptures have indicated that while I wait for my Lord to be revealed, I need to help my fellow brothers and sisters to grow in faith too. To connect, to instruct, in relationship with one another and in relationship with God!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer:  Dear Lord, continue to shine your light into my soul, as I step out of my own darkness in order that I may stand witness for you!

Thanksgiving:  Our Father in Heaven, thank you for first loving us so that in your perfect love, we may learn to embrace and love one another.

28 June, Thursday – Contemplation And Action

Jun 28 – St. Irenaeus, bishop, martyr

Irenaeus (c.130–202) was a disciple of St. Polycapr of Smyrna. He was ordained in 177. He was Bishop of Lugdunum, Gaul (modern Lyons, France). He worked and wrote against Gnosticism, basing his arguments on the works of St. John the Apostle, whose gospel is often cited by Gnostics. He dispatched evangelists, including St. Ferreolus of Besancon, and St. Ferrutio of Bescancon. He is considered the first great Western ecclesiastical writer and theologian, and he emphasized the unity of the Old and New Testaments, as well as Christ’s simultaneous human and divine nature, and the value of tradition. He is a Father of the Church, and was martyred for his faith.

– Patron Saint Index

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2 Kings 24:8-17

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned for three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta, daughter of Elnathan, from Jerusalem. He did what is displeasing to the Lord, just as his father had done.

At that time the troops of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched on Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon himself came to attack the city while his troops were besieging it. Then Jehoiachin king of Judah surrendered to the king of Babylon, he, his mother, his officers, his nobles and his eunuchs, and the king of Babylon took them prisoner. This was in the eighth year of King Nebuchadnezzar.

The latter carried off all the treasures of the Temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace, and broke up all the golden furnishings that Solomon king of Israel had made for the sanctuary of the Lord, as the Lord had foretold. He carried off all Jerusalem into exile, all the nobles and all the notables, ten thousand of these were exiled, with all the blacksmiths and metalworkers; only the poorest people in the country were left behind. He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon, as also the king’s mother, his eunuchs and the nobility of the country; he made them all leave Jerusalem for exile in Babylon. All the men of distinction, seven thousand of them, the blacksmiths and metalworkers, one thousand of them, all of them men capable of bearing arms, were led into exile in Babylon by the king of Babylon.

The king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in succession to him, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

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Matthew 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, you evil men!

‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’

Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and his teaching made a deep impression on the people because he taught them with authority, and not like their own scribes.

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“Everyone who listens to these words….and acts on them will be like a sensible man…”

Contemplation and Action are not mutually exclusive; if we contemplate on God’s words, it must surely lead us to action, to participate in His plan. Lately, I have grown very fond of silence. It is beautiful to be able to seek the Lord in prayer and to develop a closer relationship with our Divine Creator and seek knowledge, understanding and wisdom from Him. However, once we have gained this knowledge, we cannot just stop there. Such wisdom needs to translate into action; we need to act on these and fulfill His holy will. Nothing matters if we choose not to act upon His instructions. Today’s gospel reminds me that there is a purpose for me, for each and everyone of us, here on earth. We were not randomly created, but “have been fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14); intricately crafted so that we can be partakers of His plan for salvation.

Our Blessed Mother Mary is the perfect role model for us in saying ‘yes’ to God and being a willing participant in His divine plan.

An extract from Denise Levertov’s poem “Annunciation”, says it best….

Aren’t there annunciations of one sort or another in most lives? Some unwillingly undertake great destinies, enact them in sullen pride, uncomprehending.

More often those moments when roads of light and storm open from darkness in a man or woman, are turned away from in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair and with relief.

Ordinary lives continue. God does not smite them. But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.”

We all have our moments of mini annunciations, do we allow the gates to close and the pathway to vanish? Or do we undertake these great destinies, enact them even when they are hard to comprehend? What is our answer?

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: Dear Mother Mary, you are the perfect disciple. Please intercede for us that we may learn to embrace the pathways of God just like you did; to take action towards them even though we may not fully comprehend His ways.

Thanksgiving: Our Father in Heaven, we praise and glorify your name, for your ways are perfect and your will be done.