Tag Archives: openness

4 June, Saturday – Openness of Heart

4 June – Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

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

Source: Universalis

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

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

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

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2 Timothy 4:1-8

Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching. The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths. Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service.

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

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Luke 2:41-51

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But is that what holiness is about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

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

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

18 May, Wednesday – Clairvoyance

18 May – Memorial for St. John I, Pope and Martyr

John (d. 526) was a priest in Rome, and became the 53rd pope in 523. Italy’s ruler then, Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian. For a while he left the Catholics alone, but in later life he became suspicious of everyone, imagining conspiracies and attempts to seize his throne. He tried to involve Pope John in his political machinations. John led a delegation to Constantinople to negotiate with Emperor Justin I; he was the first pope to travel to Constantinople, and while there crowned Justin. The mission was successful, but Theodoric though John and Justin I had plotted against him. While returning to Rome, John was kidnapped and imprisoned by Theodoric’s soldiers. He died of thirst and starvation while in custody in Ravenna, Italy.

-Patron Saint Index

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James 4:13-17

Here is the answer for those of you who talk like this: ‘Today or tomorrow, we are off to this or that town; we are going to spend a year there, trading, and make some money.’

You never know what will happen tomorrow: you are no more than a mist that is here for a little while and then disappears. The most you should ever say is: ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we shall still be alive to do this or that.’ But how proud and sure of yourselves you are now! Pride of this kind is always wicked. Everyone who knows what is the right thing to do and doesn’t do it commits a sin.

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Mark 9:38-40

John said to Jesus, ‘Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said, ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.’

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You never know what will happen tomorrow.

I have been training for my spiritual walk in September when I will embark on my Camino in Spain. Recently, an ex-colleague reminded me to moderate my training so as not to injure myself before I even start my actual walk. He shared that he regretted pushing himself on his own Camino by covering nearly 500km in a short span of 15 days, turning his walk into a physical task instead of a spiritual one.

That reminder was reinforced by a book I have just started on entitled ‘Walk In A Relaxed Manner’. The author, a layperson, did the full distance in 37 days and because she was mindful of her limitations (she was 60 when she did it), she ended up benefiting from what the Lord communicated to her each day while on the road to Santiago de Compostela.

At work, I always make sure that we have a plan for what lies ahead from events to key projects. All my working life, I have been conditioned to anticipate and plan for best, worst and not-that-bad scenarios. It has stood me well thus far and I always remind my staff never to approach anything, however trivial it may seem, without a plan of attack.

One of the chapters in the book is simply titled ‘Let Go’. In preparing my deputies for my absence in September, I have come to the realization that they themselves need to let go of their own negative perceptions of each other, and to just get the job done. I found myself catching my tongue on occasions where I have been privy to their disagreements, reminding myself that I too behaved like them in my idealistic, younger days. Lately, I have learnt to walk away so that they discover for themselves their own lessons rather than hearing it from me.

Brothers and sisters, only God knows what lies ahead for each and every one of us. As I continue my preparation for my journey ahead, I know and trust that what lies ahead on whichever road I end up taking will eventually lead back to Him. Truly, we do not need to worry about what will happen tomorrow as long as in our hearts, we are prepared to meet Him should he call.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer – Heavenly Father, you alone know what’s in store for each of us on this earth. We ask that you continue to watch over us as we live out your divine plan.

Thanksgiving – Thank you, Father, for your gift of a brand new day each time we wake from our slumber.

2 May, Monday – Do not Refuse God

2 May – Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop, Doctor

Athanasius (c. 295) studied the classics and theology in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a deacon, secretary, and student of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. He formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God.

He became Bishop of Alexandria c. 328; he served for 46 years. When the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, Athanasius got exiled five times, spending more than a third of his episcopate in exile.

He was the biographer of St. Anthony the Abbot. Confessor of the faith and Doctor of the Church, he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed.

-Patron Saint Index

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Acts 16:11-15

Sailing from Troas we made a straight run for Samothrace; the next day for Neapolis, and from there for Philippi, a Roman colony and the principal city of that particular district of Macedonia. After a few days in this city we went along the river outside the gates as it was the sabbath and this was a customary place for prayer. We sat down and preached to the women who had come to the meeting. One of these women was called Lydia, a devout woman from the town of Thyatira who was in the purple-dye trade. She listened to us, and the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptised she sent us an invitation: ‘If you really think me a true believer in the Lord,’ she said ‘come and stay with us’; and she would take no refusal.

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John 15:26-16:4

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘When the Advocate comes,
whom I shall send to you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father,
he will be my witness.
And you too will be witnesses,
because you have been with me from the outset.
‘I have told you all this that your faith may not be shaken.
They will expel you from the synagogues,
and indeed the hour is coming
when anyone who kills you
will think he is doing a holy duty for God.
They will do these things
because they have never known
either the Father or myself.
But I have told you all this,
so that when the time for it comes

you may remember that I told you.’

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An invitation

There was this period of time when invitations were commonly received in print. Cards were carefully designed to make the invitation very welcoming. However, with social media these days, many would turn to a quicker, cheaper and easier way of inviting friends for an occasion. It could be someone’s birthday, a wedding or baby shower. Call me old-fashioned but I prefer to receive a print invitation especially for someone’s wedding. Once, I received a wedding invitation six days away via text message… that totally put me off.

In today’s reading, an invitation stretches beyond just about having the other to be present for the occasion. It is not about just filling that one spot that has been left empty. Inviting someone into your home or celebrating a special day is about the sincerity and gratefulness of wanting that friend to celebrate with together. Just like the devout woman, Lydia, she experienced a change of heart through Jesus that she in turn opens her home to the apostles. How have we ourselves experience Jesus in our very own lives? When we become a firm believer of Christ, we have allowed Jesus into our life thus becoming a witness of how God has transformed us. Nothing is more powerful than our very own testament of God’s work in us for He had sacrificed his son on the cross.

The Church is a welcoming place that invites everyone to pray together and to worship God together. Never be afraid about entering the church even if you have no clue what goes on behind the Eucharistic celebrations. Come enter with an open mind and let God in. When the relationship between two friends is sincere, it goes both ways that both parties invites each other in on all occasions of their life journey. It takes a lot of heart in inviting a friend. Let us not take those close to us for granted. And we should reach out to one another with gratitude.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: We have truly forgotten the simple gesture of inviting from the heart these days. Let us keep in mind that God is always inviting us to His banquet, and we shall not refuse.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for friends and family whom have not forgotten about us in their celebrations, that we are able to witness God’s love through them.