Tag Archives: nicholas chia

25 August, Saturday – False Humility

25 August

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Ezekiel 43:1-7

The angel took me to the gate, the one facing east. I saw the glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east. A sound came with it, like the sound of the ocean, and the earth shone with his glory. This vision was like the one I had seen when I had come for the destruction of the city, and like the one I had seen on the bank of the river Chebar. Then I prostrated myself.

The glory of the Lord arrived at the Temple by the east gate. The spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; I saw the glory of the Lord fill the Temple. And I heard someone speaking to me from the Temple while the man stood beside me. The voice said, ‘Son of man, this is the dais of my throne, the step on which I rest my feet. I shall live here among the sons of Israel for ever.’

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Matthew 23:1-12

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.
‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’

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The greatest among you must be your servant.

What is the difference between a manager and a leader? A manager controls and delegates resources under his charge. A leader is somebody who inspires people to put in the best to achieve his potential. Jesus reminds us in the readings of today that we need to be role models in the Church.

People who hold leadership roles are meant to be examples of character and faith to the people around them. This requires the individual to treasure the faith they have been given and in humility to nourish those under it. This requires the leaders to have a strong faith and to always humbly seek the counsel of the people around them.

This is the reminder to all of us that we need to be open to correction. Be it as followers or leaders, there are people who are taking risks to correct us. Our attitude is important in the receiving of the correction. We should stay close to the ground and remain humble. As we continue in living on this world, let us find an opportunity in our life to apply this message in our lives.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the grace to be open to correction.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the people who are our leaders.

23 August, Thursday – Hearts of Flesh

23 August

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Ezekiel 36:23-28

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘I mean to display the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned among them. And the nations will learn that I am the Lord – it is the Lord who speaks – when I display my holiness for your sake before their eyes. Then I am going to take you from among the nations and gather you together from all the foreign countries, and bring you home to your own land. I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols. I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God.’

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Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus began to speak to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

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For many are called, but few are chosen.’

Pain is something that only a rson who has flesh can experience. The first reading of today reminds us that God will replace a heart of stone with a heart of flesh. However, how is it possible for a normal human being to have a heart of stone? I believe that this is possible through the intention to remain obstinate in the face of the truth

What pains God the most is when we choose to go on a way of sin when the path of right is present before us. Perhaps this obstinacy is due to the desire to enjoy the temporary pleasures which the world can offer. As we continue down this path, it gradually coarsens our heart and makes us less sensitive to God’s calling us to return to Him.

The Gospel today reminds us that God the Father wants us to return to the Heavenly Banquet which He has prepared for us. We need to be in the right disposition to be able to receive it. We can do this by nourishing our soul through the reading of Scripture and also frequent reception of the Sacraments. As we continue in the daily challenges in our lives, let us always put God in the centre of our life.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us discover the beauty of your ways through a deep encounter with you in the Sacraments

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who accept us despite our failings.

22 August, Wednesday – Objective in life

Aug 22 – Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Whoever, therefore, reverences the Queen of heaven and earth – and let no one consider himself exempt from this tribute of a grateful and loving soul – let him invoke the most effective of Queens, the Mediatrix of peace; let him respect and preserve peace, which is not wickedness unpunished nor freedom without restraint, but a well-ordered harmony under the rule of the will of God; to its safeguarding and growth the gentle urgings and commands of the Virgin Mary impel us. – Pope Pius XII

– Patron Saint Index

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Ezekiel 34:1-11

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them:
‘“Shepherds, the Lord says this: Trouble for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Shepherds ought to feed their flock, yet you have fed on milk, you have dressed yourselves in wool, you have sacrificed the fattest sheep, but failed to feed the flock. You have failed to make weak sheep strong, or to care for the sick ones, or bandage the wounded ones. You have failed to bring back strays or look for the lost. On the contrary, you have ruled them cruelly and violently. For lack of a shepherd they have scattered, to become the prey of any wild animal; they have scattered far. My flock is straying this way and that, on mountains and on high hills; my flock has been scattered all over the country; no one bothers about them and no one looks for them.
‘“Well then, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. As I live, I swear it – it is the Lord who speaks – since my flock has been looted and for lack of a shepherd is now the prey of any wild animal, since my shepherds have stopped bothering about my flock, since my shepherds feed themselves rather than my flock, in view of all this, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. The Lord says this: I am going to call the shepherds to account. I am going to take my flock back from them and I shall not allow them to feed my flock. In this way the shepherds will stop feeding themselves. I shall rescue my sheep from their mouths; they will not prey on them any more.”

‘For the Lord says this: “I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view.”’

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Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too.” In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.’

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Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.

What is the purpose of life? Is it one of victory at all cost? Is it one where we consider how we can achieve the best in all which we do at the expense of the people whom we meet? This may seem to be a valid concern for some people who want to stay the way of the Christian path and yet are facing challenges at work which may cause them to falter.

The readings of today remind us of the example which we are all called to do. Jesus would like each one of us to remember that God’s mercy is directed towards each and every one of us. This means that regardless of whether the individual joins the faith in adulthood or whether at birth – the generosity of God is still the same. Instead of envying people who managed to ‘steal’ heaven by joining in at the very last moment, it might make more sense if we rejoiced with them for discovering the Love of God.

A greater expectation is made on leaders of the Church. This not only extends to the clergy but also to lay people holding positions of leadership. The demand is made on each one of us to stay close to God and that we will be held accountable for the loss of faith for any one of the people under our charge. To avoid this, we could continue to have a spirit of prayer in our midst and to learn that to love God is to show others through our action of caring for the other person and the desire to want the other party to grow in love. Let us now take this day to reflect on what plan God has for us and for us to answer this call in humility.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the grace to accept the plan you have for us

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the people who have demonstrated love to us.

21 August, Tuesday – Spirit of Detachment

21 August

Pope St Pius X (1835 – 1914)

He was born in the village of Riese, near Venice, one of ten children of a very poor family. He was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 23. He was successively bishop of Mantua and of Venice, and was elected Pope, against his wishes, in 1903. In his time as Pope, he sought to “restore all things in Christ.” He insisted on the separation of Church and State, and banned the formation of political associations that claimed exclusive religious sanction for their political programme, whether of the Left or of the Right. He revised the code of Canon Law, founded an institute for scriptural studies, and initiated the revision of the Latin translation of the Bible (the Vulgate) and the reform of the liturgy.

He lived in great poverty even when he was Pope, and preached sermons every Sunday in the courtyards of the Vatican, to any who would listen. In his simplicity and goodness of heart, he performed miracles even when he was alive, and the clamour for his canonization started immediately after his death, on 20th August 1914, broken-hearted at the outbreak of the First World War.

(From Universalis.com)

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Ezekiel 28:1-10
Against the arrogance of the king of Tyre

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, ‘Son of man, tell the ruler of Tyre, “The Lord says this:

Being swollen with pride,
you have said: I am a god;
I am sitting on the throne of God,
surrounded by the seas.
Though you are a man and not a god,
you consider yourself the equal of God.
You are wiser now than Danel;
there is no sage as wise as you.
By your wisdom and your intelligence
you have amassed great wealth;
you have piles of gold and silver
inside your treasure-houses.
Such is your skill in trading,
your wealth has continued to increase,
and with this your heart has grown more arrogant.

And so, the Lord says this:
Since you consider yourself the equal of God,
very well, I am going to bring foreigners against you,
the most barbarous of the nations.
They will draw sword against your fine wisdom,
they will defile your glory;
they will throw you down into the pit
and you will die a violent death
surrounded by the seas.
Are you still going to say: I am a god,
when your murderers confront you?
No, you are a man and not a god
in the clutches of your murderers!
You will die like the uncircumcised
at the hand of foreigners.
For I have spoken – it is the Lord who speaks.”’

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Matthew 19:23-30
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ When the disciples heard this they were astonished. ‘Who can be saved, then?’ they said. Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he told them ‘this is impossible; for God everything is possible.’

Then Peter spoke. ‘What about us?’ he said to him ‘We have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you solemnly, when all is made new and the Son of Man sits on his throne of glory, you will yourselves sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life.

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

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‘We have left everything and followed you.’

To trust in the Providence of God is indeed a challenge for most people. Some believe in the security which material possessions may give but the readings of today remind us of the importance of trusting in the love which God has given us.

Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that it is important for us to remember that God is the centre of our life. Today’s Gospel is a continuation from yesterday where the rich young man left away disappointed at the sacrifice he had to make to follow Jesus. The cost of discipleship is indeed great sacrifice. It requires us to put aside our differences and learn that God is indeed the maker and controller of our lives.

The first reading reminds us of the punishment which was inflicted on the king of Tyre for growing too proud. His pride caused God to strip him of the material possessions he had. God is ultimately the owner of all the talents we have in our life.

Today’s feast of St Pius X is a good example for us to follow. St Pius wanted to ensure that the Catholic Faith remained true to its origins. This is something which we can follow. In our lives today, we may make compromises which cause others to be affected by our decisions. These compromises may go contrary to our Catholic Faith and it is in these type of situations that we can have the example of St Pius X as a guide. He chose to remain faithful to God’s word despite the challenges of the world. Let us make an effort now to continue to spread the Word of God in our lives despite the troubles we face.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

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Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for a spirit of detachment in our lives.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have taken the vow of poverty

19 August, Sunday – Wisdom of God

19 August 2018

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Proverbs 9:1-6
Wisdom builds her house and invites all to eat her bread there

Wisdom has built herself a house,
she has erected her seven pillars,
she has slaughtered her beasts, prepared her wine,
she has laid her table.
She has despatched her maidservants
and proclaimed from the city’s heights:
‘Who is ignorant? Let him step this way.’
To the fool she says,
‘Come and eat my bread,
drink the wine I have prepared!
Leave your folly and you will live,
walk in the ways of perception.’

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Ephesians 5:15-20
Be filled not with wine, but with the Spirit

Be very careful about the sort of lives you lead, like intelligent and not like senseless people. This may be a wicked age, but you redeem it. And do not be thoughtless but recognise what is the will of the Lord. Do not drug yourselves with wine, this is simply dissipation; be filled with the Spirit. Sing the words and tunes of the psalms and hymns when you are together, and go on singing and chanting to the Lord in your hearts, so that always and everywhere you are giving thanks to God who is our Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the crowd:

‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’

Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’

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Leave your folly and you will live,
walk in the ways of perception

There was one time where the choir in Mass was singing less than desirable. The celebrant commented to me separately that in such cases, we need to listen using the ears of faith. The first reading of today remind us that indeed we need to listen using the gift of faith rather than our usual 5 human senses.

The wisdom of God is sometimes not easily understood by all of us. There are times where we go through life’s challenges and then it presents to us issues which we dare not accept. It is in such times where we need to use the gift of faith to appreciate that what we have before us is to help us grow in maturity as a person.

The Jews in the Gospel today remind us that it is not easy for us to accept the teaching of Christ at the first hearing. There will always be a situation where what we believe and what Christ expects froms us are two completely different things. This is especially so in the Holy Eucharist where it is a main point of our faith.

We can overcome such issues by taking our doubts in prayer and to ask God the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds. This is a process which is only in God’s time but we can certainly see through it with patience and trust in God. As we continue with our faith experience, let us always entrust our intentions to God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Father, we pray for the wisdom to accept the challenges we face in our lives.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who love us despite our flaws.

 

23 June, Saturday – Staying close to God

23 June

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2 Chronicles 24:17-25

After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came to pay court to the king, and the king now turned to them for advice. The Judaeans abandoned the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, for the worship of sacred poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem. He sent them prophets to bring them back to the Lord, but when these gave their message, they would not listen. The spirit of God took possession of Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood up before the people and said, ‘God says this, “Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord to no good purpose? You have deserted the Lord, now he deserts you.”’ They then plotted against him and by order of the king stoned him in the court of the Temple of the Lord. King Joash, forgetful of the kindness that Jehoiada, the father of Zechariah, had shown him, killed Jehoiada’s son who cried out as he died, ‘The Lord sees and he will avenge!’

When a year had gone by, the Aramaean army made war on Joash. They reached Judah and Jerusalem, and executed all the officials among the people, sending back to the king at Damascus all that they had plundered from them. Though the Aramaean army had by no means come in force, the Lord delivered into its power an army of great size for having deserted him, the God of their ancestors.

The Aramaeans treated Joash as he had deserved, and when they retired they left him a very sick man; and his officers, plotting against him to avenge the death of the son of Jehoiada the priest, murdered him in his bed. So he died, and they buried him in the Citadel of David, though not in the tombs of the kings.

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Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.

‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith? So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

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Each day has enough trouble of its own

I always wondered why the people coming back from the Central Business District Area always have this stressed look on their faces. This is a constant observation over the years and this has always made me ask if work is really such a drudge that people drag themselves everyday. The readings of today could suggest to us a way to re-orientate our beliefs to focus on God.

The people in Jesus’s time were already struggling with the challenge of wealth accumulation and staying faithful to God. Wealth provides us with the chance to secure the here and present because it is a material good. We can see and touch it which thus gives us security in our lives. Yet this is not the purpose of the Christian. The role of the Christian is to bring the knowledge of Christ to those who do not know Him.

How can we then set our hearts on the kingdom of God and his righteousness first? We can do so by remembering to stay close to God in prayer. Prayer is the way we communicate to God and to allow the Lord to speak to us in the silence of our hearts. To do so, we need to put aside the items which distract us from the God – worries, concerns of the world and our emotions. This requires some effort on our part because it has been ingrained in our system. Let us ask God the Holy Spirit to come into our lives today and discover what it means to stay focused on the Lord.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit into our hearts to melt the coldness within it

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who accept us for our flaws.

22 June, Friday -Batteries not included?

Jun 22 – Memorial for St. Paulinus of Nola, bishop; Memorial for St. John Fisher, Bishop & St. Thomas More, martyrs

Paulinus (c.354–431) was a friend of St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Nicetas of Remesiana, and was mentioned for his holiness by at least six of his contemporary saints.

He was a distinguished lawyer who held several public offices in the Empire, then retired from public ministry with his wife, Therasia, first to Bordeaux, where they were baptised, and then to Therasia’s estate in Spain. After the death of their only son at the age of only a few weeks, the couple decided to spend the rest of their lives devoted to God. They gave away most of their estates and dedicated themselves to increasing their holiness.

Paulinus became a priest and with Therasia, moved to Nola and gave away the rest of their property. They dedicated themselves to helping the poor. Paulinus was chosen bishop of Nola by popular demand. He governed the diocese for more than 21 years while living in his own home as a monk and continuing to aid the poor. His writings contain one of the earliest examples of a Christian wedding song.

  • Patron Saint Index

John Fisher (1469–1535) studied theology at Cambridge University, receiving degrees in 1487 and 1491. He was parish priest in Northallerton, England from 1491–1494. He gained a reputation for his teaching abilities. He was proctor of Cambridge University. He was confessor to Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, in 1497. He was ordained Bishop of Rochester, England in 1504; he worked to raise the standard of preaching in his see. He became chancellor of Cambridge. He was tutor of the young King Henry VIII. He was an excellent speaker and writer.

When in 1527 he was asked to study the problem of Henry’s marriage, he became the target of Henry’s wrath by defending the validity of the marriage and rejecting Henry’s claim to be head of the Church in England. He was imprisoned in 1534 for his opposition, and he spent 14 months in prison without trial. While in prison, he was created cardinal in 1535 by Pope Paul III. He was martyred for his faith.

  • Patron Saint Index

Thomas More (1478–1535) studied at London and Oxford, England. He was a page for the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a lawyer. Twice married, and a widower, he was the father of one son and three daughters, and a devoted family man. He was a writer, most famously of the novel which coined the word ‘utopia’. It was translated with the works of Lucian.

He was known during his own day for his scholarship and the depth of his knowledge. He was a friend to King Henry VIII, and Lord Chancellor of England from 1529–1532, a position of political power second only to the king.

He fought any form of heresy, especially the incursion of Protestantism into England. He opposed the king on the matter of royal divorce, and refused to swear the Oath of Supremacy which declared the king the head of the Church in England. He resigned the Chancellorship, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was martyred for his refusal to bend his religious beliefs to the king’s political needs.

  • Patron Saint Index

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2 Kings 11:1-4,9-18,20

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah learned that her son was dead, she promptly did away with all those of royal stock. But Jehosheba, daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, secretly took away Jehoash, her brother’s son, from among the sons of the king who were being murdered, and put him with his nurse in the sleeping quarters; in this way she hid him from Athaliah, and he was not put to death. He stayed with her for six years, hidden in the Temple of the Lord, while Athaliah governed the country.

In the seventh year, Jehoiada sent for the commanders of hundreds of the Carians and of the guards, and had them brought to him in the Temple of the Lord. He made a pact with them and, putting them under oath, showed them the king’s son.

The commanders of hundreds did everything as Jehoiada the priest had ordered. They brought their men, those coming off duty on the sabbath together with those mounting guard on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. The priest equipped the commanders of hundreds with King David’s spears and shields which were in the Temple of the Lord. The guards formed up, each man with his weapon in his hand, from the south corner to the north corner of the Temple, surrounding the altar and the Temple.’ Then Jehoiada brought out the king’s son, put the crown and armlets on him, and he anointed him king. They clapped their hands and shouted, ‘Long live the king!’

Athaliah, on hearing the shouts of the people made for the Temple of the Lord where the people were. When she saw the king standing there beside the pillar, as the custom was, with the captains and trumpeters at the king’s side, and all the country people rejoicing and sounding trumpets, Athaliah tore her garments and shouted, ‘Treason, treason!’ Then Jehoiada the priest gave the order to the army officers: ‘Take her outside the precincts and put to death anyone who follows her.’ ‘For,’ the priest had reasoned, ‘she must not be put to death in the Temple of the Lord.’ They seized her, and when she had reached the palace through the Entry of the Horses, she was put to death there.

Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and king and people, by which the latter undertook to be the people of the Lord; and also between king and people. All the country people then went to the temple of Baal and demolished it; they smashed his altars and his images and killed Mattan, priest of Baal, in front of the altars.

The priest posted sentries to guard the Temple of the Lord. All the country people were delighted, and the city made no move. And they put Athaliah to death in the royal palace.

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Matthew 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and woodworms destroy them and thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworms destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

‘The lamp of the body is the eye. It follows that if your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be all darkness. If then, the light inside you is darkness, what darkness that will be!’

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For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

As a young child, I was often fascinated by how car toys could move on their own at the turn of a button. It was not until I realised that it was this thing called a “battery” which managed to give it power for the whole device to move. The readings of today remind us of the need to stay close to the Lord and that He is supposed to be the centre of our lives.

Jesus reminds us that the things of this world is temporary and that we need to remain on what drives the Christian towards his daily life – his daily connection with God. This daily connection with God is powered up with prayer on a daily basis. The individual Christian is asked to continue to deepen the connection with God by entering into a deep and sincere relationship. This entails both a genuine desire to know what the good Lord wants for the individual as well as the ability to respond to that call.

The Lord loves each one of us and asks that we love Him back. The world distracts us with fame, prestige, money, position and title but what matters in the end is the treasure of having God in our lives. Unlike toys which have the disclaimer “Batteries not included”, Christians have a never-ending source of power within us, which is the love of God in our lives. We are then called to share this treasure with the people around us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Father, we ask for your forgiveness for the times we have forgotten you.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the people who accept our flaws

21 Jun, Thursday – Staying the Faith

21 Jun – Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious

Born to the Italian nobility who grew up in a castle, the son of Ferdinand Gonzaga, a prince in the Holy Roman Emperor and a compulsive gambler. Cousin of Saint Rudolph Acquaviva. Trained from age four as a soldier and courtier. Served as a page in the Spanish court. He suffered from kidney disease, which he considered a blessing as it left him bed-ridden with time for prayer. While still a boy himself, he taught catechism to poor boys. He received his First Communion from Saint Charles Borromeo. At age 18, Aloysius signed away his legal claim to his family’s lands and title to his brother, and became a Jesuit novice. Spiritual student of Saint Robert Bellarmine. Tended plague victims in Rome, Italy in the outbreak of 1591 during which he caught the disease that killed him at age 23.

– The Patron Saint Index

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Ecclesiasticus 48:1-15

The prophet Elijah arose like a fire, his word flaring like a torch. It was he who brought famine on the people, and who decimated them in his zeal. By the word of the Lord, he shut up the heavens, he also, three times, brought down fire.

How glorious you were in your miracles, Elijah!

Has anyone reason to boast as you have? – rousing a corpse from death, from Sheol by the word of the Most High; dragging kings down to destruction, and high dignitaries from their beds; hearing reproof on Sinai, and decrees of punishment on Horeb; anointing kings as avengers, and prophets to succeed you; taken up in the whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses; designated in the prophecies of doom to allay God’s wrath before the fury breaks, to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children, and to restore the tribes of Jacob,

Happy shall they be who see you, and those who have fallen asleep in love; for we too will have life. Elijah was shrouded in the whirlwind, and Elisha was filled with his spirit; throughout his life no ruler could shake him, and no one could subdue him.

No task was too hard for him, and even in death his body prophesied. In his lifetime he performed wonders, and in death his works were marvellous.

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Matthew 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘In your prayers do not babble as the pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So you should pray like this:

‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us. And do not put us to the test, but save us from the evil one.

‘Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.’

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Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him

The people who know us best need not hear us speak but just the raising of an eyebrow or a knowing glance is enough for both parties to hear what is needed from the other party. I believe the readings of today remind us of the need to stay close to God and to trust in His plans for us.

Each one of us like to be in control of the issues which are before us. Individual autonomy is something which we so desire yet such an approach must be in alignment with what God so desires for us. The Prophet Elijah certainly learnt this in his ministry where he carried out the instructions of God regardless of the feelings or apprehension which he had. I wish that I had such boldness and courage to face the plans which are before me. Indeed, sometimes God desires that we surrender to Him our will and let Him work through us.

One way in which we can let this happen is to first accept our own failings and the failings of others. The weaknesses which we possess are the reminders that we need to stay close to God. In accepting our own flaws, we also can accept the flaws of other people. We become less judgemental and more kind. This is indeed something which we can strive to do this day. As we pray the Our Father prayer, let us remember to “forgive those who trespass against us” and in doing so, we are set free from the chains preventing us from loving God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

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Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the discernment to know our weaknesses and ask for your grace to heal us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who accept us as we are.

20 June, Wednesday – Prayer in Action

20 June

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2 Kings 2:1,6-14

This is what happened when the Lord took Elijah up to heaven in the whirlwind: Elijah and Elisha set out from Gilgal, Elijah said, ‘Elisha, please stay here, the Lord is only sending me to the Jordan.’ But he replied, ‘As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you!’ And they went on together.

Fifty of the brotherhood of prophets followed them, halting some distance away as the two of them stood beside the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water; and the water divided to left and right, and the two of them crossed over dry-shod. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Make your request. What can I do for you before I am taken from you?’ Elisha answered, ‘Let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ ‘Your request is a difficult one’ Elijah said. ‘If you see me while I am being taken from you, it shall be as you ask; if not, it will not be so.’ Now as they walked on, talking as they went, a chariot of fire appeared and horses of fire, coming between the two of them; and Elijah went up to heaven in the whirlwind. Elisha saw it, and shouted, ‘My father! My father! Chariot of Israel and its chargers!’ Then he lost sight of him, and taking hold of his clothes he tore them in half. He picked up the cloak of Elijah which had fallen, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.

He took the cloak of Elijah and struck the water. ‘Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ he cried. He struck the water, and it divided to right and left, and Elisha crossed over.

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Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’

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and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you

I was once very frustrated with the lack of mobile coverage in the train tunnel because I was in the midst of a phone call. My line was disconnected and this resulted in me having to call the other party again. Sometimes I wish I could be in a situation where the mobile phone coverage is strong. In our Christian life, we are also called to be close to God through our faith. This connection is strengthened through prayer which represents our communication with God.

Prayer is important for the Christian because it deepens our connection with God. God wants to talk to us but sometimes we may not be able to stay in touch with him. This could be because of our sinfulness preventing us from being in touch with him or else it could be due to other matters in the world which prevent us from becoming closer to him.

The depth of one’s prayer life is manifested through one’s actions. This is the true mark of what a Christian is supposed to demonstrate to the people around him. This means that he is supposed to be there for people when they need to be comforted and also to provide the much needed listening ear to the people around him. But what makes the Christian different from another good-hearted and generous person whom may not subscribe to the Christian faith?

This comes from one’s connection with God. The objective of one’s good deeds and kind words is to allow the other party to see the love of God in that individual’s life. This means that we will need to continually keep the Lord in the centre of our life. Let us make the effort to do so by taking steps to commit to the Lord in prayer. We could see in our daily lives where we can allocate time for prayer so that we will always remain closer to God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Father, let us always approach you in a spirit of prayer and love.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the people around us who show us how to pray.

19 June, Tuesday – Loving your enemies

Jun 19 – Memorial for St. Romuald, abbot

St Romuald (951-1027) had been an Italian noble. Acting as second, he witnessed his father kill a man in a duel, and sought to atone for the crime by becoming a Benedictine monk at Classe, Italy where he was abbot from 996–999.

A wanderer by nature, he established several hermitage and monasteries in central and northern Italy. He tried to evangelize the Slavs, but met with little success. He founded the Camaldolese Benedictines and spent the last fourteen years of his life in seclusion. His body which is enshrined in Italy remains incorrupt till this day.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 Kings 21:17-29

After the death of Naboth, the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Up! Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, in Samaria. You will find him in Naboth’s vineyard; he has gone down to take possession of it. You are to say this to him, “the Lord says this: You have committed murder; now you usurp as well. For this – and the Lord says this – in the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth, the dogs will lick your blood too.”’ Ahab said to Elijah, ‘So you have found me out, O my enemy!’ Elijah answered, ‘I have found you out. For your double dealing, and since you have done what is displeasing to the Lord, I will now bring disaster down on you; I will sweep away your descendants, and wipe out every male belonging to the family of Ahab, fettered or free in Israel. I will treat your House as I treated the House of Jeroboam son of Nebat and of Baasha son of Ahijah, for provoking my anger and leading Israel into sin. (Against Jezebel the Lord spoke these words: The dogs will eat Jezebel in the Field of Jezreel.) Those of Ahab’s family who die in the city, the dogs will eat; and those who die in the open country, the birds of the air will eat.’

And indeed there never was anyone like Ahab for double dealing and for doing what is displeasing to the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the most abominable way, adhering to idols, just as the Amorites used to do whom the Lord had dispossessed for the sons of Israel.

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments and put sackcloth next his skin and fasted; he slept in the sackcloth; he walked with slow steps. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; I will bring the disaster down on his House in the days of his son.’
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Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

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Even the pagans do as much, do they not?

The first reading of today reminds us that God does keep track of every action which we do. For Ahab, his behaviour was unbecoming of that of a king and even that of a normal human being. His heart was bent towards evil and yet even in that heart was a source of remorse. This is perhaps the message of today’s Gospel – that God forgives everyone who seeks him with a contrite heart.

Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that the role of the Christian is a supernatural one. We need to discover that God’s essence is that of love. To follow that requires us to love the people around us despite the flaws which they may have. However, this means we also need to know what are some of the weaknesses of the people around us. We have our own flaws which we also need to be aware of. To love others is to first love ourselves. We need to be able to accept our own flaws before we can accept those of others.

As we continue with our journey of love in God, we will need to remind ourselves of the importance of showing love to others in both word and deed. Let us go and approach the Lord in a spirit of humility for Him to heal us in the hurts we possess.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength to love our enemies.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the people who conduct spiritual retreats.