Category Archives: Sacraments

29 May, Sunday – One, Holy, Catholic

29 May – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday)

Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) is a Eucharistic solemnity, or better, the solemn commemoration of the institution of that sacrament. It is, moreover, the Church’s official act of homage and gratitude to Christ, who by instituting the Holy Eucharist gave to the Church her greatest treasure. Holy Thursday, assuredly, marks the anniversary of the institution, but the commemoration of the Lord’s passion that very night suppresses the rejoicing proper to the occasion. Today’s observance, therefore, accents the joyous aspect of Holy Thursday.

The Mass and the Office for the feast was edited or composed by St. Thomas Aquinas upon the request of Pope Urban IV in the year 1264. It is unquestionably a classic piece of liturgical work, wholly in accord with the best liturgical traditions. . . It is a perfect work of art.

— Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

In the words of St. Thomas of Aquinas:

“How inestimable a dignity, beloved brethren, divine bounty has bestowed upon us Christians from the treasury of its infinite goodness! For there neither is nor ever has been a people to whom the gods were so nigh as our Lord and God is nigh unto us.
“Desirous that we be made partakers of His divinity, the only-begotten Son of God has taken to Himself our nature so that having become man, He would be enabled to make men gods. Whatever He assumed of our nature He wrought unto our salvation. For on the altar of the Cross He immolated to the Father His own Body as victim for our reconciliation and shed His blood both for our ransom and for our regeneration. Moreover, in order that a remembrance of so great benefits may always be with us, He has left us His Body as food and His Blood as drink under appearances of bread and wine.

“O banquet most precious! O banquet most admirable! O banquet overflowing with every spiritual delicacy! Can anything be more excellent than this repast, in which not the flesh of goats and heifers, as of old, but Christ the true God is given us for nourishment? What more wondrous than this holy sacrament! In it bread and wine are changed substantially, and under the appearance of a little bread and wine is had Christ Jesus, God and perfect Man. In this sacrament sins are purged away, virtues are increased, the soul is satiated with an abundance of every spiritual gift. No other sacrament is so beneficial. Since it was instituted unto the salvation of all, it is offered by Holy Church for the living and for the dead, that all may share in its treasures.

“My dearly beloved, is it not beyond human power to express the ineffable delicacy of this sacrament in which spiritual sweetness is tasted in its very source, in which is brought to mind the remembrance of that all-excelling charity which Christ showed in His sacred passion? Surely it was to impress more profoundly upon the hearts of the faithful the immensity of this charity that our loving Savior instituted this sacrament at the last supper when, having celebrated the Pasch with His disciples. He was about to leave the world and return to the Father. It was to serve as an unending remembrance of His passion, as the fulfillment of ancient types — this the greatest of His miracles. To those who sorrow over His departure He has given a unique solace.”

(Source: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2016-05-29)

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Genesis 14:18-20

Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He pronounced this blessing:

‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth,
and blessed be God Most High for handing over your enemies to you.’
And Abram gave him a tithe of everything.

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1 Corinthians 11:23-26

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ©
This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

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Luke 9:11-17

Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.

It was late afternoon when the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people’ For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, ‘Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.’ They did so and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd. They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.

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Give them food yourself

Sometimes it’s easier to think that God is too mighty for the small things. Why would He want to feed the people who were listening to Him that day?Because the Lord, by His nature cares, loves and is Our Father.

For many years, once my siblings and I started working, we would celebrate Father’s Day at a nice restaurant. On some years, we brought along a card, and scribbled in it “our should have beens”. I did not give much thought about how this made my father feel, but somewhere down the line, I realised that he was not enjoying these celebrations very much. So I pressed on to find out how he would like to mark that day. And his response was his desire to feed us. He wanted to go to the market early in the morning and cook a fine meal for us, adorned with his labour of love. I could not understand how giving us a meal was celebrating him at all. Weren’t we supposed to give and not receive on his special day?

This is the beauty of a good parent. They want to nurture, to feed, to sacrifice, to give and give all along. Just like Father God, my earthly father wanted to give to us. And the more I try to understand my own father, I see the unconditional love as crafted by the Maker of Love.

The gift of the Lord, in His body and blood, is unmerited and undeserved. We cannot earn it but it’s an invitation to each baptised Catholic. He knew on the day He was betrayed, that we (His children) would need Him to be with us always and to be One with Him. He was fully aware of its costs, yet it did not stop Him nor make Him compromise. Like any good father, He did not want to compromise what we needed… which is Him. He created our hearts and He knew that we needed Him always. And He asks us to do it in memory of Him.

If today, like me, you feel unworthy, remember that Judas ate and drank at the Lord’s table. And so did Peter. Both of whom betrayed the Lord, in their own ways. Our God is not expecting us to bring anything to this table of love. He sees the heart of a repentant sinner and He runs out to clasp us in a tight embrace… offered as the Eucharistic host we receive at mass.

Today, as we received His body and His blood, let us be fully aware of the beauty of being One with God and with His church brings. Let us remember all those who ate at this table. Let us reach out to all those who are no longer One with us. Be reminded that our disputes are not greater than His Eucharistic Sacrament.

You precious child of God, you are not the sum of your talents, wealth, personality or popularity but the Love of a Father who was broken just for you.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father in Heaven, help us to live and love as One Body.

Thanksgiving: You have made us One with you, we thank you Lord.

Saturday, 20 Jun – Dwell In The Lord

20 Jun – Memorial for the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a Marian devotion promoted in the 17th century by John Eudes, who linked it with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was particularly strong during the pontificates of Pius VII (1800-1823) and Pius XII (1939-1958), who consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942.

– The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism
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Isaiah 61:9-11

Their race will be famous throughout the nations,
their descendants throughout the peoples.
All who see them will admit
that they are a race whom the Lord has blessed.
I exult for joy in the Lord,
my soul rejoices in my God,
for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation,
he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity,
like a bridegroom adorned in her jewels.
For as the earth makes fresh things grow,
as a garden makes seeds spring up,
so will the Lord make both integrity and praise
spring up in the sight of the nations.

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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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Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?

Have you ever experienced what it is like to be in the Lord’s presence? Each of us experiences the Lord in our own ways, each with its own unique experience. I recalled during one of the Holy Spirit weekend of Alpha (a Christian introductory course), we were in the midst of praying over participants, and I felt a bit tired, hence I just sat down. I was singing the songs of praise and worship out aloud with my eyes closed. All of a sudden, I felt this cold breeze brush past me, and it was a peaceful feeling – calm and serene.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus stayed back in Jerusalem without his parents knowledge. When they found Him, He was in the Temple with the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. When His anxious parents asked Him why did He make them worry, He replied He was his Fathers’ house. Rightfully He was where He belonged. Yet He obediently followed His parents to Nazareth and lived under their authority. Jesus accepted the will of the God in the days that were to follow.

How do we dwell in the Lord? Simply surrender whatever situation that you are facing now to the Lord. He knows what each of us are going through, and His grace is sufficient for all. We are not put through more than we can bear. When there is an emergency, find a quiet place, dwell in him by saying the Lord’s prayer and then lift up the situation to him. He is always there for us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Patricia Ang)
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Prayer: Lord, You know what we are going through at this moment. Give us the faith to trust that whatever the situation, You are able to deliver us out of it. In Your hands, we lift our prayers to You.

Thanksgiving: Thank You for being kind, compassionate, forgiving and loving us for who we are. Help us to be better followers of Christ.

Upcoming Readings:
Sun, 21 Jun – Exodus 24:3-8; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16. 22-26; Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, 14 June – Bread Of Life

14 Jun – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

The Blood Of The Covenant
The old covenant was sealed with the blood of the sacrifice which Moses sprinkled on the people. The new covenant was sealed with the blood of Christ who offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to God.

– The Sunday Missal
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Exodus 24:3-8

Moses went and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. In answer, all the people said with one voice, ‘We will observe all the commands that the Lord has decreed.’ Moses put all the commands of the Lord into writing, and early next morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he directed certain young Israelites to offer holocausts and to immolate bullocks to the Lord as communion sacrifices. Half of the blood Moses took up and put into basins, the other half he cast on the altar. And taking the Book of the Covenant he read it to the listening people, and they said, ‘We will observe all the the Lord has decreed; we will obey.’ Then Moses took the blood and cast it towards the people. ‘This’ he said ‘is the blood of the Covenant that the Lord has made with you, containing all these rules.’
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Hebrews 9:11-15

Now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, which is better than one made by men’s hands because it is not of this created order; and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption for us. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer are sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement and they restore the holiness of their outward lives; how much more effectively the blood of Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit, can purify our inner self from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God.

He brings a new covenant, the the mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: his death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant.
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Mark 14:12-16. 22-26

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to Jesus, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is my dining room in which I can eat the passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’ The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover.

And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’

After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.
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…this is my body

The feast of Corpus Christi is to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Every Sunday, by participating in the Mass and in receiving Communion, we are celebrating and honouring the Eucharist. When I was younger, taking Communion was just taking the wafer bread, it didn’t much to me then. Now, before I partake of Communion, I seek the Lord’s forgiveness and I invite him to be part of my life to renew and sustain me daily. The Eucharist serves to remind us of the Lord’s passion and death. He died so that our sins can be forgiven. The Eucharist also reminds us of God’s grace by which we are to live as witness to be generous, faithful, joyful, peaceful, righteous and loving in our actions.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus said: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (6:35). “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (6:33). I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats f this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (6:51). Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. (6:53-54)

Indeed each time before we partake of the Eucharist, pause and pray and see the Lord standing in front of us. Remember God love us so much that He sent his only son Jesus to die for our sake. Let us truly lead a life worth living, to be used as instruments for the Lord and to serve Him for his glory.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Patricia Ang)
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Prayer: Lord we pray that you forgive us when we take you for granted. Sustain and protect us daily and allow us to grow in this spiritual journey with you.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for sending Jesus to die for our sins. Thank you for allowing us to partake the Eucharist and be a part of our lives.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 15 Jun – 2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Matthew 5:38-42
Tue, 16 Jun – 2 Corinthians 8:1-9; Matthew 5:43-48
Wed, 17 Jun – 2 Corinthians 9:6-11; Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18
Thu, 18 Jun – 2 Corinthians 11:1-11; Matthew 6:7-15
Fri, 19 Jun – Hosea 11:1. 3-4. 8-9; Ephesians 3:8012. 14-19; John 19:31-37; Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus; Opening of Year of the Priest (Jun 19, 2009 – Jun 19, 2010)
Sat, 20 Jun – Isaiah 61:9-11; Luke 2:41-51; Memorial for the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sun, 21 Jun – Exodus 24:3-8; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16. 22-26; Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, 26 May – Eternal Glory

26 May – Memorial for St. Philip Neri, Priest

Philip Neri (1515-1595) came from a poor family, though he was related to Italian nobility. His father, Francisco Neri, worked as a notary. Philip’s brother died in childhood, but his two sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta survived. He was a pious youth, and was taught humanities by the Dominicans.

He moved to San Germano in 1533 to help some family with their business, and while there would escape to a local Dominican chapel in the mountains. He received word in a vision that he had an apostolate in Rome. He cut himself off from his family and went there where he was befriended by Galeotto Caccia who took him in and paid him to tutor his two sons. He wrote poetry in Latin and Italian, and studied philosophy and theology. When he tired of learning, he sold all his books and gave the money to the poor.

He began to visit and care for the sick and impoverished pilgrims. He founded a society of like-minded folk to do the same. He was a friend of St. Ignatius. A layman, he lived in the city as a hermit. During Easter season of 1544, while praying in the catacomb of San Sebastiano, he received a vision of a globe of fire that entered his chest, and he experienced an ecstasy that physically enlarged his heart.

With Persiano Rose, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity. He began to preach, with many converts. In 1550, he considered retiring to the life of a solitary hermit, but received further visions that told him his mission was in Rome. Later he considered missionary work in India, but further visions convinced him to stay in Rome.

He entered the priesthood in 1551, and heard confessions by the hour. He could tell penitents their sins before they confessed, and had the gift of conferring visions. He began working with youth, finding safe places for them to stay, and becoming involved in their lives.

Pope Gregory XIV tried to make him a cardinal, but Philip declined. His popularity was such that he was accused of forming his own sect, but was cleared of this baseless charge. In 1575 he founded the Congregation of the Oratory, a group of priests dedicated to preaching and teaching, but which suffered from accusations of heresy because of the involvement of laymen as preachers. In later years, he was beset with several illnesses, each of which was in turn cured through prayer.

– Patron Saint Index
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Acts of the Apostles 20:17-27

From Miletus Paul sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus. When they arrived he addressed these words to them:

‘You know what my way of life has been ever since the first day I set foot among you in Asia, how I have served the Lord in all humility, with all the sorrows and trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I have not hesitated to do anything that would be helpful to you; I have preached to you, and instructed you both in public and in your homes, urging both Jews and Greeks to turn to God and to believe in our Lord Jesus.

‘And now you see me a prisoner already in spirit; I am on my way to Jerusalem, but have no idea what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit, in town after town, has made it clear enough that imprisonment and persecuation await me. But life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my race I have carried out the mission that Lord Jesus gave me – and that was to bear witness to the God News of God’s grace.

‘I not feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again. And so here and now I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you are concerned, for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God’s purpose.’
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John 17:1-11

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come:
glorify your Son
so that your Son may gorify you;
and, through the power over all mankind that you hve given him,
let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
And eternal life is this:
to know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I have glorified you on earth
and finished the work
that you gave me to do.

‘Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me
with the glory I had with you
before ever the world was.
I have made your name known
to the men you took from the world to give me.
They were yours and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now at last they know
that all you have given me comes indeed from you;
for I have given them
the teaching you gave to me,
and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you,
and have believed that it was you who sent me.
I pray for them;
I am not praying for the world
but for those you have given me,
because they belong to you:
all I have is yours
and all you have is mine
and in them I am glorified.
I am not in the world any longer,
but they are in the world,
and I am coming to you.’

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[A]ll I have us yours and all you have is mine

History has been littered with many stories and episodes where the monarchs and heads of the empire have as many heirs as possible in order to ensure the continuity of the empire for as long as possible. However, human construction and endeavours are often brought down by human fallibility and weakness. In contrast, we observe that Christianity has lasted for such a long period of time because it was instituted by divine mandate and continues to exist because it is an act of God that continues to sustain it.

St. Paul knows that a period of “imprisonment and persecution” awaited him upon his departure from Miletus. This drew a natural response of sadness from the believers of the local community who begged St. Paul not to leave, yet he chose to obey God’s orders to go to Jerusalem. St. Paul could do so because he knew that the Word of God would continue to live on from generation to generation.

The glory of God can never be diminished nor destroyed by human hands because we are His witnesses to this glory. Through our actions and words we bring this glory to the lives of ordinary people whom we meet in the workplace and places of leisure. As we go about our daily activities, let us remember that the glory and joy of the Ascension can only be seen after Jesus’ death on the cross.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
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Prayer: Lord, we pray that we bear with our troubles in life patiently as we look forward to the glory of the Ascension.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to those who bring God’s glory to all around them.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 27 May – Acts of the Apostles 20:28-38; John 17:11-19; Memorial for St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop
Thu, 28 May – Acts of the Apostless 22:30; 23:6-11; John 17:20-26
Fri, 29 May – Acts of the Apostless 25:13-21; John 21:15-19
Sat, 30 May – Acts of the Apostles 28:16-20.30-31; John 21:20-25
Sun, 31 May – Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11; Galatians 5:16-25; John 15:26-27; 16:12-15; Pentecost Sunday

Sunday, 25 May – Transformation of the Gift

Cutting the Red Tape

A group of churches and social service organizations have formed the Boston Food Bank. The bank collects thousands of tons of food every year, donated by several large food producers in New England. Then bank then distributes the food to the poor and homeless in the Boston area.

But the food bank has had a particular problem making connections with one company, the largest processor of fish sticks in the country. The director of the food bank explains: “We estimate they throw away over a million pounds of fish each year that could be turned back to the community.” While local executives seem to support the idea of donating the unused food, “the problem is with the accounting department.”

That’s right, says the accounting department. The company says it would cost $400,000 to process the leftovers into plain fish cakes. And because it doesn’t know how to make fish cakes, it can’t estimate the fair market value of the giveaways for tax deduction purposes. So, until the accounting department can figure it all out, the company will continue to throw the leftover fish away.

Do we let laws and the bottom line get in the way of helping others?

(from “Stories for all Seasons” by Gerard Fuller, O.M.I.)
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25 May – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Life’s own Champion, slain, yet lives to reign

(Taken from the sequence recited on this solemnity)
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Deuteronomy 8:2-3. 14-16

Moses said to the people: “Remember how the Lord your God led you for forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart – whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

“Do not then forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery: who guided you through this vast and dreadful wilderness, a land of fiery serpents, scorpions, thirst; who in this waterless place brought you water from the hardest rock; who in this wilderness fed you with manna that your fathers had not known.”
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1 Corinthians 10:16-17

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ. The fact that there is only one loaf means that, though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf.
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John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jews: “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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He fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known

Most of us were taught that things can be placed into neat categories. Living and non-living, mammals and non-mammals, two-legged and four-legged, hardcover and soft-cover; these groupings help us identify objects and creatures around us. Perhaps such lessons lead us to think about people in terms of classifications too: tall and short, big-footed and tiny feet, beautiful and ugly. So what are we to make of a man who has died but still lives, and tells us we too will live forever if we have the real food and the real drink? That seems to go beyond the realm of what we can classify.

A statement made in the first reading and repeated in the gospel give us a hint to how we can perceive the Body and Blood. Moses told the people that God was going to give ‘manna that your fathers had not known’, and Jesus said he wanted to give the bread unlike what ‘our ancestors ate’. Each time, God came up with a unique recipe and made bread for exactly what his people needed. That is how innovative God is. It seems he wants to give in new ways to provide for what we need and want, even beyond what we know or dream of.

Each time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we take in what is unchanged and what is changed, a man who died but now lives. If we want to, we can receive the Body which resembles the bread which generations have known, and, at the same time, the Body that is exactly what we need at that moment. Strength, wisdom, comfort, peace, love, patience – the Body we receive is all of those (and more), yet is unlike what we know previously, because our needs are constantly changing. If we trust more and more to say, “I will receive the best from Him” at each Mass/Meal, we shall not die of thirst no matter what waterless place we are in.

(Today’s reflection by Melissa Chia)
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Prayer: We pray that does who do not yet believe may come to know the hope found in your Body and Blood. Amen.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for the mysteries of the Eucharist that inspires us to know Jesus more.
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Upcoming readings:
26 May, Mon – 1 Peter 1:3-9; Mark 10:17-27
27 May, Tue – 1 Peter 1:10-16; Mark 10:28-31
28 May, Wed – 1 Peter 1:18-25; Mark 10:32-45
29 May, Thu – 1 Peter 2:2-5,9-12; Mark 10:46-52
30 May, Fri – Deuteronomy 7:6-11 ; 1 John 4:7-16 ; Matthew 11:25-30 ; Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
31 May, Sat – Zephaniah 3:14-18 ; Luke 1:39-56; Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
01 Jun, Sun – Deuteronomy 11:18,26-28,32; Romans 3:21-25,28; Matthew 7:21-27; Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Thursday, 10 April – Remember the Treasure

10 Apr – Third Week of Easter: Thursday
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Acts 8: 26-40

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Be ready to set out at noon along the road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza, the desert road.’ So he set off on his journey. Now it happened that an Ethiopian had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; he was a eunuch and an officer at the court of the kandake, or queen, of Ethiopia, and was in fact her chief treasurer. He was now on his way home; and as he sat in his chariot he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and meet that chariot.’ When Philip ran up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’

‘How can I’ he replied ‘unless I have someone to guide me?’ So he invited Philip to get in and sit by his side. Now the passage of scripture he was reading was this:

Like a sheep that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a lamb that is dumb in front of its shearers,
like these he never opens his mouth.
He has been humiliated and has no one to defend him.
Who will ever talk about his descendants,
since his life on earth has been cut short!

The eunuch turned to Philip and said, ‘Tell me, is the prophet referring to himself or to someone else?’ Starting, therefore with this text of scripture Philip proceeded to explain the Good News of Jesus to him.

Further along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘Look, there is some water here; is there anything to stop me being baptised?’ He ordered the chariot to stop, then Philip and the eunuch both went down to the water and Philip baptised him. But after they had come up out of the water again Philip was taken away by the Spirit of the Lord, and the eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip found that he had reached Azotus and continued his journey proclaiming the Good News in every town as far as Caesarea.
____________ ______

John 6:44-51

Jesus said to the crowd:

‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
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.’

____________ ______

… is there anything to stop me [from] being baptised?

Human beings are strange creatures; we never appreciate what we should truly treasure until the time comes for that object or person to be removed. In the same way, the eunuch’s desire for Baptism stemmed from an intrinsic desire to be part of the Church after hearing the Word of God being broken by the apostle Phillip.

The Catholics who were baptised as infants did not have a choice of religion compared to those whom converted at adulthood. Some lament that they were thus forced unto something that they wished they could break free of. Yet I have seen at least one of my friends in church who was posted to an Islamic country for business-related purposes. In our conversation, he was sharing with me how he began to realise that the Catholic identity that he had grown up with would soon become a memory because of the new environment that he was going to.

In such a situation, we can learn from his experience and not take God for granted. Today’s Gospel is a continuation from yesterday and dwells on the Bread of Life that is the life of the world. Let us always remember to give thanks to God during Holy Communion for being so close to us and to seek his forgiveness whenever we forget Him in our daily lives.

(Today’s reflection by Nick Chia)
____________ ______

Prayer: Lord, we seek your pardon whenever we forget about You in our daily actions.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for Jesus Christ who came to become the Bread of Life.
____________ ______

Upcoming readings:
11 Apr, Fri – Acts 9:1-20; John 6:52-59; Memorial for St Stanislaus, bishop, martyr
12 Apr, Sat – Acts 9:31-42; John 6:60-69
13 Apr, Sun – Acts 2:14a,36-41; 1 Peter 2:20b-25; John 10:1-10
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Wednesday, 9 April – Sustaining Our Faith

9 Apr – Third Week of Easter: Wednesday
____________ ______

Acts 8:1-8

That day a bitter persecution started against the church in Jerusalem, and everyone except the apostles fled to the country districts of Judaea and Samaria.

There were some devout people, however, who buried Stephen and made great mourning for him.

Saul then worked for the total destruction of the Church; he went from house to house arresting both men and women and sending them to prison.

Those who had escaped went form place to place preaching the Good News. One of them was Philip who went to a Samaritan town and proclaimed the Christ to them. The people united in welcoming the message Philip preached, either because they had heard of the miracles he worked or because they saw them for themselves. There were, for example, unclean spirits that came shrieking out of many who were possessed, and several paralytics and cripples were cured. There was great rejoicing in that town as a result.
____________ ______

John 6:35-40

Jesus said to the crowd:

“I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.
But, as I have told you,
you can see me and still you do not believe.
All that the Father gives me will come to me,
and whoever comes to me
I shall not turn away;
because I have come from heaven,
not to do my will,
but to do the will of the one who sent me.
Now the will of him who sent me
is that I should lose nothing
of all that he has given to me,
and that I should raise it up on the last day.
Yes, it is my Father’s will
that whoever sees the Son and believes in him
shall have eternal life,
and that I shall raise him up on the last day.”
____________ ______

There was great rejoicing in that town as a result

A common saying that we always come across is that the occurrence of an unfortunate event is a “blessing in disguise”. The believers in the Jerusalem church were persecuted bitterly for believing in Christ. In seeking refuge away from the persecution, they ended up becoming the first missionaries.

I believe that at that moment, the Christians in the early church must have felt miserable and questioned the reason for their persecution. To be uprooted from a familiar environment is often a traumatising and painful experience for many. Yet these Christians took heart in the Risen Christ. They were promised by Christ in today’s Gospel that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. This requires steadfast faith and belief in the face of the type of persecution that the early Church faced.

They could not have sustained such faith using their own strength but it was only through faith and the spiritual sustenance of the Holy Eucharist that they managed to survive such a terrible ordeal. Similarly, we should offer up our daily toils, joys and sorrows to our Lord in the Eucharist and be nourished by the Bread of Life.

(Today’s reflection by Nick Chia)
____________ ______

Prayer: Lord, we pray that you strengthen the faith of the brethren that have no opportunity to attend Mass and receive you in the Holy Eucharist.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the privilege of attending Sunday Mass
____________ ______

Upcoming readings:
10 Apr, Thu – Acts 8:26-40; John 6:44-51
11 Apr, Fri – Acts 9:1-20; John 6:52-59; Memorial for St Stanislaus, bishop, martyr
12 Apr, Sat – Acts 9:31-42; John 6:60-69
13 Apr, Sun – Acts 2:14a,36-41; 1 Peter 2:20b-25; John 10:1-10
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8 April, Tuesday – Eat Ya Vitamins Kids!

8 Apr – Third Week of Easter: Tuesday
____________ ______

Acts: 7:51-8:1

Stephen said to the people, the elders and the scribes: ‘You stubborn people, with your pagan hearts and pagan ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted? In the past they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, and now you have become his betrayers, his murderers. You who had the law brought to you by angels are the very ones who have not kept it.’

They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.

But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, d not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep. Saul entirely approved of the killing.
____________ ______

John 6:30-35

The crowd said to Jesus:
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”

So they said to Jesus,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
____________ ______

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit

This modern aged places a premium on bodily strength and health. To be strong and full of vitality is the modern way of proclaiming that one is leading a fulfilling life that others should follow. To achieve this goal, many consume food and other forms of supplements that enable one to lead a healthy life. Today’s readings also carry that theme albeit in a spiritual sense of keeping healthy.

Today’s readings are a continuation from yesterday and we read about the martyrdom of St. Stephen. He gave up his temporal body in order to achieve the ultimate aim of eternal happiness and this occurred at the pinnacle of his spiritual health. Whilst it may seem foolish to our human minds, we must remember that the reason for us to stay healthy is to enable us to survive competition. An athlete who is healthy is able to better face the competition present in the sporting world. Similarly, we need to remain spiritually healthy in order to compete in the secular world so that our light will be brighter than the darkness that challenges the faith of those around us.

Jesus offers us the one and only ‘supplement’ that we need to take and that is of his Body. By receiving Holy Communion, we become one with the goodness in life because He is the Bread of Life. This Bread will certainly fortify us and enable us to face the difficulties in the world. The best part is that it is freely available but we do not partake of it frequently enough. Let us resolve to make a point to receive Holy Communion in an effort to develop our spiritual health.

(Today’s reflection by Nick Chia)
____________ ______

Prayer: Lord, we pray that you strengthen us through Holy Communion with your graces

Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity to receive Him in Mass.
____________ ______

Upcoming readings:
9 Apr, Wed – Acts 8:1b-8; John 6:35-40
10 Apr, Thu – Acts 8:26-40; John 6:44-51
11 Apr, Fri – Acts 9:1-20; John 6:52-59; Memorial for St Stanislaus, bishop, martyr
12 Apr, Sat – Acts 9:31-42; John 6:60-69
13 Apr, Sun – Acts 2:14a,36-41; 1 Peter 2:20b-25; John 10:1-10
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Friday, 4 April – The Everlasting Bread of Life

4 Apr – Second  Week of Easter: Friday
____________ ______

Acts 5:34-42

But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. Then he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, consider carefully what you propose to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and disappeared. After him Judas the Galilean rose up at the time of the census and got people to follow him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them – in that case you may even be found fighting against God!”

They were convinced by him, and when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonour for the sake of the name. And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.
____________ ______

John 6:1-15

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
____________ ______

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready.

How long does the bread in your kitchen last before it turns mouldy and can no longer be eaten? A few days? Perhaps up to a week? Maybe longer if you store it in the freezer… but definitely no longer than a year. On the other hand, the bread that Jesus gave us 2,000 years ago is still fresh and is still nourishing us. This bread is the bread of life, the body of Jesus himself, which we receive and eat every time we go for Mass.

In the first reading, Gamaliel tells his peers in the Sanhedrin that if this movement of the apostles were of human origin, it will break up of its own accord; but if it does come from God, it will not be destroyed by humans. Two thousand years after Jesus first broke bread and distributed it to his followers, we are still breaking that bread and distributing it among ourselves. This bread, and indeed this movement of the apostles, definitely comes from God, for if not, the bread and this movement would definitely have turned mouldy by now.

Knowing that this bread that we eat at Mass is Jesus himself, and that the Church today, as it was in the past and will be in the future for generations to come, is from God, how does being a member of this Church affect the way that we live our lives on earth? How does being part of a movement started by God and sustained by His Holy Spirit over 2,000 years affect the way that we live? Let us pause for a few minutes and consider the wonder of the transcendental nature of the Church.

(Today’s reflection by Daniel Tay)
____________ ______

Prayer: We pray for more people to come into the Church and be fed and nourished by the Bread of Life.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to Jesus for feeding and nourishing us with His body.
____________ ______

Upcoming Readings:
Sat, 5 Apr – Acts 6:1-7; John 6:16-21; Memorial for St. Anselm, bishop, religious, doctor
Sun, 6 Apr – Acts 5:27b-32, 40b-41; Revelation 5:11-14; Jon 21:1-19 or 21:1-14; Third Sunday of Easter
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Wednesday, 2 April – The Life of Light

2 Apr – Second Week of Easter: Wednesday
__________________

Acts of the Apostles 5:17-26

The high priest intervened with all his supporters from the party of the Sadducees. Prompted by jealousy, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the common gaol.

But at night the angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and said as he led them out, “Go and stand in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new Life.” They did as they were told; they went into the Temple at dawn and began to preach.

When the high priest arrived, he and his supporters convened the Sanhedrin – this was the full Senate of Israel – and set to the gaol for them to be brought. But when the officials arrived at the prison they found they were not inside, so they went back and reported, “We found the gaol securely locked and the warders on duty at the gates, but when we unlocked the door we found no one inside.” When the captain of the Temple and the chief priests heard this news they wondered what this could mean. Then a man arrived with fresh news. “At this very moment,” he said, “the men you imprisoned are in the Temple. They are standing there preaching to the people.” The captain went with his men and fetched them. They were afraid to use force in case the people stoned them.
__________________

John 3:16-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

“God loved the world so much
that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe
in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer
darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth
comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.”

__________________

Go and stand in the Temple , and tell the people all about this new Life.

The main theme of Easter revolves around Life – new Life, to be specific. This new Life is, in today’s readings, shown in stark contrast to the old life, the life that is led by those who reject Christ. Those who accept Christ are given new Life, which frees a person and enables him to stand in the light. He does not fear the light which exposes all his actions, because he has nothing to hide.

In contrast, we see the behaviour of the high priests and his supporters, who arrested the apostles out of jealousy. This jealousy is a mark of the old life, one that rejects Christ, who is the light of life. A person who rejects Christ is one who is afraid of the light. He is afraid that the light will expose all his actions, especially those which he is ashamed of.

The great irony of this is that only by exposing our actions to the light of Christ can we be truly free, and not fear the light anymore. The Church gives us the light of Christ and invites us to bask in His light, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we are called to expose our actions to the light by confessing it to the priest. Regularly receiving this sacrament therefore becomes the way for us to constantly expose ourselves to the light of Christ. And since this is a sacrament of mercy, we have no fear of God’s judgement, because we have already accepted Christ.
__________________

Prayer: We pray for all Catholics to come to the realization of the great gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and that all Catholics may receive the light of Christ through this sacrament as frequently as possible

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the sacrament which keeps us in the light of Christ, the light of life.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 1 Apr – Acts 4:23-31; John 3:1-8
Tue, 2 Apr – Acts 4:32-37; John 3:7b-15
Wed, 3 Apr – Acts 5:17-26; John 3:16-21
Thu, 4 Apr – Acts 5:27-33; John 3:31-36
Fri, 5 Apr – Acts 5:34-42; John 6:1-15
Sat, 6 Apr – Acts 6:1-7; John 6:16-21; Memorial for St. Anselm, bishop, religious, doctor
Sun, 7 Apr – Acts 5:27b-32, 40b-41; Revelation 5:11-14; Jon 21:1-19 or 21:1-14; Third Sunday of Easter
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