Tag Archives: strength

12 Aug, Monday – Our True North

Aug 12 – Memorial for St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Jane married Baron de Chantal. She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and brought back prosperity. During her husband’s absence at the court, or with the army, when reproached for her extremely sober manner of dressing, her reply was: “The eyes which I must please are a hundred miles from here.” She found more than once that God blessed with miracles the care she gave the suffering members of Christ.  Baron de Chantal was accidentally killed by a harquebus while out shooting. Left a widow at 28, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity.

She founded the Congregation of the Visitation, whose aim was to receive, with a view to their spiritual advancement, young girls and even widows who had not the desire or strength to subject themselves to the austere ascetical practices in force in all the religious orders at that time. The remainder of the saint’s life was spent under the protection of the cloister in the practice of the most admirable virtues. It was firmness and great vigour which prevailed in St. Jane Frances; she did not like to see her daughters giving way to human weakness. Her trials were continuous and borne bravely, and yet she was exceedingly sensitive.

– http://www.wf-f.org/StJaneFdeChantal.html

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Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Moses said to the people:

‘Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you? Only this: to fear the Lord your God, to follow all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and laws of the Lord that for your good I lay down for you today.

‘To the Lord your God belong indeed heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth and all it contains; yet it was on your fathers that the Lord set his heart for love of them, and after them of all the nations chose their descendants, you yourselves, up to the present day. Circumcise your heart then and be obstinate no longer; for the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, triumphant and terrible, never partial, never to be bribed. It is he who sees justice done for the orphan and the widow, who loves the stranger and gives him food and clothing. Love the stranger then, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. It is the Lord your God you must fear and serve; you must cling to him; in his name take your oaths. He it is you must praise, he is your God: for you he has done these great and terrible things you have seen with your own eyes; and though your fathers numbered only seventy when they went down to Egypt, the Lord your God has made you as many as the stars of heaven.’

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Matthew 17:22-27

One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again.’ And a great sadness came over them.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, ‘Does your master not pay the half-shekel?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’

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“… to keep the commandments and laws of the Lord…”

I once heard this anecdote, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

There was once 2 parties on a radio channel communicating with each other; they had detected each other on a radar out in the ocean. The conversation takes place over quite a few minutes, but the gist of it is that one party asks the other to move out of the way to avoid a collision. The reason? This vessel is a large aircraft carrier. The party had to move because this ship was much bigger.

Who was the other party?

It was a lighthouse! The aircraft carrier ended up re-routing immediately.

The takeaway for me from today’s Gospel is that we need to recognise who the real source of power and importance is in our lives. Do we pledge allegiance to our jobs, our leisure, our entertainment, the daily chores that we do? Or do we give more importance to fulfilling our duties as followers and children of God?

There was, however, another message that stood out for me. While Jesus talks about identifying the true power, He also chose to hand over the shekel (taken from the mouth of a fish!) to the tribute collectors, in order “not to offend these people”. While Jesus has the true power, He chooses His battles. This really surprised me.

Brothers and sisters, we must always remember who the real power is in our lives. So that the Spirit can help us to discern the battles to take on, and to let the less important ones pass by.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray for strength of character Father. Help us to draw this fearlessness from You. May we be courageous in our daily lives to stand up for what is true and right.

Thanksgiving: Thank You for being there for us, Father God. We are grateful that You are the true compass in our lives.

 

10 November, Saturday – Lean On Me

10 November – Memorial for St. Leo the Great, Pope & Doctor of the Church

Leo (c.400 – 461) was born of Italian nobility. He was a strong student, especially in scripture and theology. As a priest, he was an eloquent writer and homilist.

He was pope from 440-461 during the time of the invasion of Attila the Hun. When Attila marched on Rome, Leo went out to meet him and pleaded for leave. As Leo spoke, Attila saw the vision of a man in priestly robes, carrying a bare sword, and threatening to kill the invader if he did not obey Pope Leo. As Leo had a great devotion to St. Peter, it is generally believed that the first pope was the visionary opponent to the Huns. When Genseric invaded Rome, Leo’s sanctity and eloquence saved the city again.

Pope Leo called the Council of Chalcedon to condemn the heresies of the day, which were Nestorianism (Christ as a human person joined to the divine person of God’s Son), Monophysitism (Christ’s human nature ceases to exist when the divine person of God’s Son assumed it), Manichaeism (Gnostic system resting on a dualistic concept of the world’s structure), and Pelaianism (no supernatural grace is needed for one to choose good).

He built churches and wrote letters and sermons encouraging and teaching the flock, many of which survive today. It is for these writings that Leo was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1574.

“Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife.” – Pope St. Leo the Great

– Patron Saint Index

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Philippians 4:10-19

It is a great joy to me, in the Lord, that at last you have shown some concern for me again; though of course you were concerned before, and only lacked an opportunity. I am not talking about shortage of money: I have learnt to manage on whatever I have, I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength. All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships. In the early days of the Good News, as you people of Philippi well know, when I left Macedonia, no other church helped me with gifts of money. You were the only ones; and twice since my stay in Thessalonika you have sent me what I needed. It is not your gift that I value; what is valuable to me is the interest that is mounting up in your account. Now for the time being I have everything that I need and more: I am fully provided now that I have received from Epaphroditus the offering that you sent, a sweet fragrance – the sacrifice that God accepts and finds pleasing. In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can.

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Luke 16:9-15

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?

‘No servant 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.’

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and laughed at him. He said to them, ‘You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as virtuous in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For what is thought highly of by men is loathsome in the sight of God.’

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There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength

“I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me”. The Lord knows how many times I have repeated this to myself. Through deadlines, exams, meetings, breakups – I’ve clung on to these words like a mantra, trying to reassure myself that I can indeed do all things through Christ.

I’ve prayed this in times of trials and tribulations, when I sometimes feel as though I can’t face another day, or don’t see a solution to my problems. It gives me reassurance, no matter how defeated or fatigued I am, that Jesus is with me, helping me to put one foot in front of the other till I get to the finish line. It is Jesus telling me, “We’re going to do this, we’re in this together, you and I.” And it gives me peace – peace in knowing that whatever the outcome, He will not abandon me as He promised.

And what happens if the outcome is not what we expected? Does this mean that God did not give us enough strength to achieve our goal? In our disappointment, we need to look beyond that and even then, God will give us the strength to get over our disappointment. God’s plan for us is not for our understanding, nor does His plan mirror our own plans for ourselves. When St. Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians, he was in captivity, which is hardly an ideal situation, but he saw beyond this. He saw his captivity and persecution as a a chance to proclaim the word of God: “… what has happened to me has served to advance the Gospel” (Phil 1:12). St. Paul did not know then what his fate would be, whether he would live or die, but he did know for certain that whatever the situation, Christ would be exalted, and with that he felt reconciled with himself that his trials would not be in vain.

Again, how do we manage if the outcome is not to our desire? We worry about the outcomes: if I don’t get this job, how will I know if I can meet my loan repayments? If I don’t pass these exams, how will I get into a good university? If this agreement doesn’t get signed, will I get fired? The answer to these questions lie in St Paul’s letter further on: “God himself will provide you with everything you need, according to his riches, and show you his generosity in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).

The prayer from St. Patrick’s Breastplate says it all about the magnitude of God’s strength, and I would like to share an excerpt here with you, with the hopes that it will carry you through your challenges, as it has for me:

“I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Lord, we pray that our worries do not overwhelm us, that we learn instead to rely on Your unending strength to see us through to the finish line.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always walking with us, every step of the way. Thank you for bearing us up even when we are down, and for never losing faith in us even when we have lost faith in ourselves.

18 September, Tuesday – Life in Sorrow

18 September

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1 Corinthians 12:12-14.27-31

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

Nor is the body to be identified with any one of its many parts. Now you together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it. In the Church, God has given the first place to apostles, the second to prophets, the third to teachers; after them, miracles, and after them the gift of healing; helpers, good leaders, those with many languages. Are all of them apostles, or all of them prophets, or all of them teachers? Do they all have the gift of miracles, or all have the gift of healing? Do all speak strange languages, and all interpret them? Be ambitious for the higher gifts.

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Luke 7:11-17

Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, ‘A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.’ And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.

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‘Do not cry’ 

Have you ever felt as if you were carrying the weight of the whole world? I guess everyone has experienced some sort of trials in life. Challenging experiences that felt as if we have been crushed to the ground. For those who have, I admire you for getting through them. For those who have not, I pray that you will never experience such trauma.

The Gospel for today is about a widow who lost her only son. Imagine the grief she experienced. The thought of being along in life can really be sorrowful. I may describe the woman as an ‘unfortunate one’ just as if she carries with her all the major misfortunes in life. I can imagine how that woman has little desire to live.

When Jesus saw her, He said, “Do not cry.” And then he touched the coffin and told the son to get up.  The man rose and Jesus gave him to his mother. Imagine the joy of a mother who sees her son alive.  This miracle clearly states that nothing is impossible to God — not even death. Not only that, the Gospel today shows the mercy of Jesus as well as His love and honour to mothers.

Jesus’ compassion is so overwhelming that nothing compares to it. We should imitate Jesus and be compassionate to others as well. A small act of saying “How are you?” to someone we know who is having a hard time can make a big difference. Not only that, Jesus gives us a concrete example on how to treat mothers. They deserve our respect. Each of us has our own mothers, and we should know how to make them happy.

Life is never easy in itself. But God gives us challenges that we can bear. Some can be harder than the others. As I reflect on my past difficulties, I discern that I was able to overcome those trials through Jesus Christ. Yes, we have free will to make decisions. But through prayer, the Holy Spirit is upon us. To guide and enlighten us on what to do. Some problems are small, while others are big. But we must remember that God is always bigger than our problems.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Dear God, may we always remember that you will never leave us. Grant us the strength to endure and surpass all the hardships that we will face.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for being always with us. We thank you for the faith to help us carry on with our life.

9 September, Sunday – Is The McCarrick Scandal What We Need For Real Reform To Happen?

9 September 2018

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Isaiah 35:4-7

Say to all faint hearts,
‘Courage! Do not be afraid.
Look, your God is coming,
vengeance is coming,
the retribution of God;
he is coming to save you.’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy;

for water gushes in the desert,
streams in the wasteland,
the scorched earth becomes a lake,
the parched land springs of water.

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James 2:1-5

My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, ‘Come this way to the best seats’; then you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.’ Can’t you see that you have used two different standards in your mind, and turned yourselves into judges, and corrupt judges at that?

Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who are poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him.

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Mark 7:31-37

Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’

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“… He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak”

I couldn’t bring myself to go to church this Sunday. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t say that I believed in ‘one holy catholic Church’, not with this sickness, these gross abuses of power and the ugly politics around it, that are swirling around the Church right now. God’s house is at war, and this is a plague on all the faithful. If you’re a committed believer, if you have sisters and daughters, if you have young children in your family – you’ll feel something. Betrayal. Frustration. Anger. Despair. Doubt. Of all those emotions, I find Doubt the hardest to work through. Should I stay Catholic? Why am I Catholic in the first place?

I’d like to think that I’m a mature person. I understand there will be a certain amount of politics I’ll have to put up with in any large organization. Some measure of practical worldliness is necessary if I am to function peacefully within the institution that is the Church. But what do I tell my children, when they ask me why I’m still Catholic, with all of the revelations of abuse that have come to light these last few weeks, especially when we were all led to believe that things had turned a corner? What do I tell my young nephew, who will one day read about this and ask me if justice was served, and if not, then why not?

My faith is something I’ve taken as a constant. My father was a converted Catholic and our family followed accordingly. His illness forced upon us a baptism of fire, one we survived because we held on to Christ and the Church. There was safety in God’s house, comfort in the Rosary, healing in prayer. When he passed, we overcame the grief because of our faith. So being Catholic is almost an indissoluble fact. I’ve had to re-examine the basis of that belief this last two weeks. Why am I Catholic? Is my faith because of the comfort I find in God’s house and its traditions or because I have a personal relationship with Christ?

As Catholics, we are taught to follow rules, not to question them. Most chafe against this but those rules provided me a lifeline when I most needed it; when my family most needed it. They gave us constancy when our life was chaos. Mass is built around an orderly set of rules. Catechism is a set of rules. But at the heart of it, being Catholic is not about a blind adherence to rules no matter how comforting we might find them. Our anchor isand should always be Christ, not deference to the Church. Being Catholic is about having a personal relationship with Christ. So how much do I really love him? Do I love Christ enough to take back his house for him, to voice out against this institution that allegedly champions its faithful, this institution I have regarded as ‘home’ for so long? Is this anger within me how Christ felt when he drove out the money changers from the temple courtyard, railing, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers” (Matt 21:12-17)?

This Sunday’s readings are a call to arms. “He (Christ) makes the deaf hear and the mute speak”. Christ commands us all to be indifferent no more. He commands us to see, to hear, to speak His truth, not to turn a blind eye any longer – even if that truth defies, “the wisdom of the wise and makes fail the foresight of the foresighted” (1 Cor 1:19).

It is time for us, God’s faithful, to arm ourselves with the Word of God. It is time for us torise up. “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared… the tongue of the mute will sing.” We can’t afford to be quiet anymore because one day that child, that daughter, sister, brother that was abused – could be ours. This is our problem as much as it is the problem of the victims who have suffered. Do not be afraid to speak of it when you’re at church. Do not be afraid to ask questions and demand answers of your deacons and your priests, your archbishops and your cardinals. Do not be afraid to voice dissent, to seek the truth. We are owed an explanation, we are owed accountability, we are owed transparency. This is our house too, our faith, our Church. And it has been subverted for long enough. It is time to take back God’s house.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for those who have spoken out against the powerful ruling factions of the Church and who have denounced the politics that cripple God’s house. We pray that God will guide us as a faithful people, to be strong and resolute, to speak His Word and seek His truth, wherever we stand. We pray for our Pope, that God give him the strength and protection he needs to carry out the difficult decisions that are before him.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Catholic saints that have gone before us, martyrs who were unafraid to speak God’s word, and to act on God’s bidding, even when it came at great personal cost.