Tag Archives: worship

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.

23 April, Saturday – Seeking the Father through Jesus

23 April – Memorial of Saint George, Martyr; or Saint Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr

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St. George (d. 304) was a soldier who was martyred for his faith. That’s all we know for sure.

Several stories have been attached to St. George, the best known of which is the “Golden Legend”. In it, a dragon lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Whole armies had gone up against this fierce creature, and had gone down in painful defeat. The monster ate twoo sheep each day; when mutton was scarce, lots were drawn in local villages, and maidens were substituted for sheep. Into this country came St. George. Hearing the story on a day when a princess was to be eaten, he crossed himself, rode to battle against the serpent, and killed it with a single blow with his lance. George then held forth with a magnificent sermon, and converted the locals. Given a large reward by the king, George distributed it to the poor, then rode away.

Due to his chivalrous behaviour (protecting women, fighting evil, dependence on faith and might of arms, largesse to the poor), devotion to St. George became popular in Europe after the 10th century. In the 15th century, his feast day was as popular and important as Christmas. Many of his areas of patronage have to do with life as a knight on horseback. The celebrated “Knights of the Garter” are actually “Knights of the Order of St. George”. The shrine built for his relics at Lydda, Palestine, was a popular point of pilgrimage for centuries.

He is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

-Patron Saint Index

Adalbert (957–997) was born to the Bohemian nobility. He took the name of St. Adalbert of Magdeburg, the archbishop who healed, educated and converted him. He became Bishop of Prague (in the modern Czech Republic) on Feb 10, 982. He was a friend of Emperor Otto III.

Adalbert encouraged the evangelization of the Magyars, and worked on it with St. Astricus. He was opposed by the nobility in Prague and unpopular in the area, so he withdrew to Rome, Italy and became a Benedictine monk, making his vows on Apr 17, 990. But Pope John XV sent him back to Prague anyway.

He founded the monastery of Brevnov, met more opposition from the nobility and returned to Rome. There being no hope of his working in Prague, he was allowed to (unsuccessfully) evangelise in Pomerania, Poland, Prussia, Hungary and Russia. He and his fellow missionaries were martyred by Prussians near Koenigsberg or Danzig at the instigation of a pagan priest. Not long before his death, Adalbert met and was a great inspiration to St. Boniface of Querfurt.

-Patron Saint Index

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Acts 13:44-52

The next sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of God. When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly. ‘We had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations,
so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’

It made the pagans very happy to hear this and they thanked the Lord for his message; all who were destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside.

But the Jews worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

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John 14:7-14

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If you know me, you know my Father too.
From this moment you know him and have seen him.’

Philip said, ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’
     ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him, ‘and you still do not know me?

‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father,
so how can you say, “Let us see the Father”?
Do you not believe
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself:
it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.
You must believe me when I say
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;
believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever believes in me
will perform the same works as I do myself,
he will perform even greater works,
because I am going to the Father.
Whatever you ask for in my name I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask for anything in my name,
I will do it.’

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“To have seen me is to have seen the Father”

I grew up apart from my parents, who divorced when I was about 5. Over the years, I often wondered especially about my mother, whom I did not know, as she had gone on to live a separate, new life.

In my teens, I somehow found out that she was living in a particular housing estate in Singapore and one day, I set about going there to walk around, hoping that I could at least catch a glimpse of her. I never did see her that day, despite walking around aimlessly throughout the whole estate. I felt particularly downcast, and alone that day.

One can sense a similar insecurity (and fear) that the apostles were feeling in today’s gospel. Jesus had been talking about leaving and the apostles were eager to know where exactly he was going. When I was walking through the estate, I did so without knowing exactly where she was and felt anxious. Unlike the situation I was in, however, Jesus assures us that He and God the Father are in each other. While He does not say where He is exactly, Jesus assures us that whatever we ask for in His name, He would do.

The traditional, Old Testament, understanding of God the Father was that He was a somewhat distant God. He was to be worshipped, and feared. Yet, Jesus, Son of God, teaches us that God the Father is OUR Father. By Jesus’ example, he shows us an intimacy with God that had not been normally seen. We are also privy to this intimacy by virtue of our relationship with Jesus. What blessed assurance we have!

All we need to do is to seek Jesus and we would find our Father God!

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer – Help us Father to always have a deep desire to seek Your son Jesus, for when we find Him we will always find You. We ask that You will always send Your Spirit to be with us and to guide us in this wonderful journey.

Thanksgiving – Thank you Father sending us Your son Jesus and for revealing Yourself through Him. Thank you for filling us with Your love through the Holy Spirit. We thank also for sending Jesus to repair and build our broken links back to You!