Tag Archives: patience

27 September, Wednesday – Only by God

Sep 27 – Memorial for St. Vincent de Paul, Priest

Vincent (1581-1660) spent four years with the Franciscan friars getting an education. He was taken captive by Turkish pirates and sold into slavery, then freed when he converted one of his owners to Christianity. He started organisations to help the poor, nursed the sick, found jobs for the unemployed, etc. With Louise de Marillac, he founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity. He also instituted the Congregation of Priests of the Mission (Lazarists).

  • Patron Saints Index

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Ezra 9:5-9

At the evening sacrifice I, Ezra, came out of my stupor and falling on my knees, with my garment and cloak torn, I stretched out my hands to the Lord my God, and said:

‘My God, I am ashamed, I blush to lift my face to you, my God. For our crimes have increased, until they are higher than our heads, and our sin has piled up to heaven. From the days of our ancestors until now our guilt has been great; on account of our crimes we, our kings and our priests, were given into the power of the kings of other countries, given to the sword, to captivity, to pillage and to shame, as is the case today. But now, suddenly, the Lord our God by his favour has left us a remnant and granted us a refuge in his holy place; this is how our God has cheered our eyes and given us a little respite in our slavery. For we are slaves; but God has not forgotten us in our slavery; he has shown us kindness in the eyes of the kings of Persia, obtaining permission for us to rebuild the Temple of our God and restore its ruins, and he has found us safety and shelter in Judah and in Jerusalem.’

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Luke 9:1-6

Jesus called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey: neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money; and let none of you take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there; and when you leave, let it be from there. As for those who do not welcome you, when you leave their town shake the dust from your feet as a sign to them.’ So they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the Good News and healing everywhere.

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Take nothing for the journey: neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money; and let none of you take a spare tunic.

Every now and then, I slip into a false notion of self-sufficiency. The illusion of self-sufficiency comes surreptitiously, like a thief in the night; it veils my eyes with the cloak of control, bolsters my pride, and steals my peace. My family’s recent move into a rented apartment has been fraught with several problems – one of them is a water-damaged and mouldy row of kitchen cabinets. How I wish things could be solved quickly and at my convenience. Yet I am at the ‘mercy’ of a landlord who is biding time with and shrugging off the delays as the contractor’s fault. We can make no headway on the rectification works, and God knows… I am due to deliver our first child in less than two months!

I have lost sleep and my temper over the incompetence of the landlord and workers. I have fretted about whether the carpenter schedule will clash with the sudden early delivery of our baby. A dozen ‘what ifs’ about the lack of preparedness of our new home has wrecked havoc on my peace and patience. I have lost count of the number of times I have wanted to pick up hammer, screw-driver, or drill, in order to help get things moving along!

Meanwhile, at the back of my mind, I cannot help but be constantly reminded of an image of a pregnant Mother Mary calmly stroking her swollen belly and praying, “Let Your will be done O Lord.” It feels like such a sting to my state of being – making me uncomfortable with how vexed I truly feel. I know I can do better at this point in trusting God.

This is the situation that the disciples probably found themselves in as they moved from town to town, proclaiming the Good News and healing people across villages. Jesus had instructed them to take nothing for their nomadic journey. They were to focus solely on doing the work of God and relying exclusively on the mercy and hospitality of the townsfolk they came to serve. Obviously, the help and hospitality they would receive was by the grace of God.

Frankly, I find it hard to be at the ‘mercy’ of anyone’s choice to help me. Whatever I can do, I’ll do it myself. That has been my life’s motto – and for me, this independence makes me feel good, capable, and in control. But this is not to be in my current state and season in life.

Being heavily pregnant, I no longer can lift a heavy mattress to change the sheets. I can barely complete vacuuming or mopping the floor at home without panting and feeling faint. I have to rely on my husband for some household chores which I quite enjoy doing. And I have to wait upon the tardy lack of urgency of an unsympathetic landlord to repair the kitchen cabinets!

I have been humbled to wait for others to help me, to be patient with another’s timeline, and to also trust and rely on God to pull my family through this difficult housing situation. We have indeed done all we can within our ability – and the rest is truly up to God.

I am learning this age-old truth in new ways these days. I take heart that I am not alone in this journey of rediscovering my persistent weaknesses. It is at this juncture that I realize I am in need of God’s grace and help – because I have neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money, nor tunic.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Lord, please help me to remain patient and humble as I wait upon the resolution of this difficult situation that I face now.

Thanksgiving: We thank God for the gift of hospitality, love, and kindness that we receive from the people we meet. May we not take these instances for granted.

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

16 October

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Exodus 17:8-13

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

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2 Timothy 3:14-4:2

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

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

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Luke 18:1-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

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

Thanksgiving: You make all things beautiful in your time.

7 August, Sunday – Any Moment Now

7 August – Memorial for St. Sixtus, pope, martyr, and companions; St. Cajetan, Priest

Sixtus (d. 258) was an adult convert to Christianity. In his papacy, he dealt with the controversy concerning Baptism by heretics. He believed that anyone who was baptised with a desire to be a Christian, even if the Baptism was performed by a heretic, was truly baptised into the faith, and that the validity of his faith was based on his own desire and actions, not the errors of the person who performed the sacrament. He was martyred with six deacons and sub-deacons.

Cajetan (1480-1547) was offered governing posts, but turned them down for a religious vocation. He was aware of the need of reformation in the Church and felt called to enter a religious community to serve the sick and poor. With three others, he formed the Congregation of Clerks Regular (Theatines) with the mission of fostering the Church’s mission and reviving the spirit and zeal of the clergy. He also founded a bank to help the poor and offer an alternative to usurers (loan sharks); it later became the Bank of Naples.
St. Cajetan was known for a gentle game he played with parishioners where he would bet prayers, rosaries or devotional candles on whether he would perform some service for them; he always did, and they always had to “pay” by saying the prayers. He is a patron saint of the unemployed.

– Patron Saint Index

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Wisdom 18:6-9

That night had been foretold to our ancestors, so that,
once they saw what kind of oaths they had put their trust in,
they would joyfully take courage.
This was the expectation of your people,
the saving of the virtuous and the ruin of their enemies;
for by the same act with which you took vengeance on our foes
you made us glorious by calling us to you.
The devout children of worthy men offered sacrifice in secret
and this divine pact they struck with one accord:
that the saints would share the same blessings and dangers alike;
and forthwith they had begun to chant the hymns of the fathers.

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Hebrews 11:1-2,8-19

Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen. It was for faith that our ancestors were commended.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country that was the inheritance given to him and his descendants, and that he set out without knowing where he was going. By faith he arrived, as a foreigner, in the Promised Land, and lived there as if in a strange country, with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. They lived there in tents while he looked forward to a city founded, designed and built by God.

It was equally by faith that Sarah, in spite of being past the age, was made able to conceive, because she believed that he who had made the promise would be faithful to it. Because of this, there came from one man, and one who was already as good as dead himself, more descendants than could be counted, as many as the stars of heaven or the grains of sand on the seashore.

All these died in faith, before receiving any of the things that had been promised, but they saw them in the far distance and welcomed them, recognising that they were only strangers and nomads on earth. People who use such terms about themselves make it quite plain that they are in search of their real homeland. They can hardly have meant the country they came from, since they had the opportunity to go back to it; but in fact they were longing for a better homeland, their heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, since he has founded the city for them.

It was by faith that Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He offered to sacrifice his only son even though the promises had been made to him and he had been told: It is through Isaac that your name will be carried on. He was confident that God had the power even to raise the dead; and so, figuratively speaking, he was given back Isaac from the dead.

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Luke 12:32-48

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.

‘Sell your possessions and give alms. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

‘See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready. You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Peter said, ‘Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’ The Lord replied, ‘What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time coming,” and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, 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 unfaithful.

The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.’

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When a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.

How many of us are actually waiting ‘in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ’? These are the words the priest prays after the Lord’s Prayer is said by the congregation. Do we contemplate the words of this prayer daily, or do we simply take for granted each new day we have been given? The Scripture readings today are all glaringly shouting, “any moment now!” But it seems that unconsciously, it is more natural to be like the servant in the Gospel passage who loafs about while the master is out, and who exploits those who have been given under his charge. It is utter folly, for God, being omniscient, will choose the opportune time to return while the errant servant is unaware, and will ‘cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.’

At brief reading, it may seem that the master is the tricky one to trap his servant. I have considered this before! It is shocking that without deep reflection, we can falsely assume it is our birthright to escape the responsibility of being alive and human. That is, that we are sinners and will tend to sin. Thus we must stay vigilant against our own weaknesses; lest the evil one stumbles us with temptation! Still, it would be our choice – free will, after all. Why did the servant commit these grave errors? How then can we stand our guard against the thief of the night?

It is impatience and the lack of faith that stumbled him. Being impatient for the master’s return, he began to take things into his own hands – believing himself to have taken over the household from his master who, perhaps, may not return at all! So he goes about beating and ill-treating his fellow menservants. This points to the vengeance and self-justified violence that some people turn to, to exact righteousness on those who have trespassed them, e.g. honour killings, vigilantes and crimes of jealousy, etc. Of course, these are extremes. But on a daily basis, perhaps our own impatient and unfair actions towards others are similar in theory, although not in magnitude.

Can we repent? Then to Abraham we must look. In the second reading of Hebrews we are told:

“Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen. It was for faith that our ancestors were commended… All these died in faith, before receiving any of the things that had been promised, but they saw them in the far distance and welcomed them, recognising that they were only strangers and nomads on earth.”

This image is arresting. These Fathers of Faith are the servants who were not caught with their pants down. They were constantly ‘waiting in joyful hope’ for the the return of their master. They had their eyes cast expectantly to the better country promised to them. They were not waiting too comfortably nor skiving off in the master’s BarcaLounger while he was away. Such stewards are our models of faith and leadership. Their persevering awareness of their finite existence on earth gave them a motivation and mission that surpassed any length of wait.

I desire for greater definition of my mission and vocation in this life. As I continue to wait on the Lord to lead me, I pray for joy and endurance to wait with purpose and devotion. In the times I may meander and stray, may God have mercy on me.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Lord, help me to remain steadfast in faith and devotion to the path you have set me on.

Thanksgiving:

Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you. (Ps. 33:20-22)

20 May, Friday – Simmering in Wait

20 May – Memorial for St. Bernadine of Siena, Priest

Bernadine (1381-1444) was a Friar Minor, a priest, an itinerant preacher, and a theological writer. His preaching skills were so great, and the conversions so numerous, that he has become associated with all areas of speaking, advertising, public relations, etc.

Bernadine’s charismatic preaching filled the piazze of Italian cities. Thousands of listeners flocked to hear him and to participate in dramatic rituals, which included collective weeping, bonfires of vanities, and exorcisms. He was a renowned peacemaker, in the Franciscan tradition, who tried to calm feuding clans and factions in the turbulent political world of the Renaissance. His preaching visits would often culminate in mass reconciliations, as listeners were persuaded to exchange the bacio di pace, or kiss of peace.

Bernadine was sensitive to the demands of secular life, and tried to negotiate between Christian ethics and a conflicting code of honour that stressed retaining face in a public world. He argued that the catalyst of civil discord in the urban setting was malicious gossip, which led to insults, and, too often, vendetta by aggressive males. His surprising allies in his peacekeeping mission were the women who comprised the majority of his audience.

-Patron Saint Index

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James 5:9-12

Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgement yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. For your example, brothers, in submitting with patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord; remember it is those who had endurance that we say are the blessed ones. You have heard of the patience of Job, and understood the Lord’s purpose, realising that the Lord is kind and compassionate.

Above all, my brothers, do not swear by heaven or by the earth, or use any oaths at all. If you mean ‘yes’, you must say ‘yes’; if you mean ‘no’, say ‘no.’ Otherwise you make yourselves liable to judgement.

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Mark 10:1-12

Jesus came to the district of Judaea and the far side of the Jordan. And again crowds gathered round him, and again he taught them, as his custom was. Some Pharisees approached him and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’ Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’

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Remember it is those who had the endurance that we say are the blessed ones.

In our culture today, it’s very hard to learn the virtue of patience. We are bombarded with everything ‘instant’ – newer phone models always have an aspect of connection speed, we want our food fast, we try to avoid waiting in line for most services. It is as if waiting is such a detestable thing. But there are many things that we can only achieve by waiting. And because we allowed something to happen on its own ‘sweet time’, we get to enjoy more goodness from that something.

I learned a lot of patience from cooking. When I first started, I had to learn how simmering works. Simmering is when you heat up the food just below its boiling point. This prevents the meat from hardening or the fish from breaking. But simmering takes a long time. For some of the recipes, I would have to simmer the food for an hour. There were times that I tried to skip the simmering by boiling but as you would have guessed, the food didn’t taste as good.

There were times in my life that I had to wait on the Lord as He ‘simmers’ me. In one of my prayer times, I felt that He would want me to work for a certain company. So I immediately applied to an opening that I thought was appropriate for me. I didn’t get the job that year, but I got a job at the same company a year after that. I remember waiting in agony, doubting if I really heard the Lord make that promise to me. Looking back, the timing could not have been more perfect. The job was better suited for me and I met people who were instrumental for my growth. But my point of focus is not the fact that I got the job, but more the fact that the wait was agonizing. Just like the food that was simmering, I felt like I was being tested by fire until I reached my boiling point. But I grew in faith during that time. I learnt to trust God more. I learnt to keep on praying. I learnt to humble myself and ask people to pray for me. I learnt to submit myself to spiritual direction, having had to humble myself in case I was told that I might have heard God wrongly. I learnt to submit myself.

Waiting is never in vain. It is a time to grow. It is a time of preparation so that you can wonderfully live out where God is leading you to. “..it is those who had the endurance that we say are the blessed ones.” You wouldn’t want your child to be born in less than nine months even though you are so excited to see him or her, would you?

What is God asking you to wait on? Instead of being impatient, I would like to invite you, brothers and sisters, to ask God how he is calling you to grow.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa )

Prayer: Lord, we know that you also wait for us to be ready and I’m sure you can’t wait for us to be with you. But because you love us so much, you would even subject yourself to the pain of waiting patiently for us so we can be ready. Help us learn how to be patient like you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for this agonizing time of waiting. Thank you for wanting us to grow to be ready for your plans for us. And thank you for giving us this suffering which we can offer you – our small sacrifices which are our gifts to you.