Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

Morning Prayer for Tuesday, January 8, 2019 — God’s Help Allows Us To Welcome Difficulties

January 8, 2019

I know that my new life will not be immune from difficulties, but I will have peace even in difficulties. I know that serenity is the result of faithful, trusting acceptance of God’s will, even in the midst of difficulties. Saint Paul said: “Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may welcome difficulties. I pray that they may test my strength and build my character.

From: Twenty Four Hours a day

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

—Matthew 11:25-30

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“The chains that break you, are the chains that make you. And the chains that make you, are the chains you break.”


See also:

Father Flanagan and Boys Town – He Ain’t Heavy He’s my Brother

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See also:

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Prayer and Meditation for Friday, December 28, 2018 — Walking in The Light

December 28, 2018

“If we walk in the light as he is in the light then we have fellowship with one another and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”

God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth.

Our acceptance is not based on our performance, it’s based on God’s love for us

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Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Lectionary: 698

Reading 1 1 JN 1:5—2:2

This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ
and proclaim to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
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If we say, “We are without sin,”
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 124:2-3, 4-5, 7CD-8

R. (7) Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Had not the LORD been with us—
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive,
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.

Alleluia See Te Deum

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Gospel  MT 2:13-18

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
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Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.
Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore 

28 DECEMBER, 2018, Friday, Holy Innocents


SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  1 John 1:5-2:2Ps 124:2-5,7-8Matthew 2:13-18  ]

Today’s feast of the Holy Innocents is celebrated in memory of the infants who died for Christ for no crime or sin of their own.  They were put to death on account of the insecurity of King Herod over the birth of the new born King.   He thought that Jesus was vying for his throne when in truth Jesus was not interested in his throne.  The only throne that Jesus was interested in was to enthrone himself in the heart of King Herod.  Jesus came to be king of our hearts; not of land and territory. However, He cannot be king of our hearts unless we recognize that He is the king of our lives.  He is the One who comes to save us from allowing Satan, the flesh and the World to dominate and control our minds and our wills.

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Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, Russian icon by Dcn. Paul Drozdowski, Damascene Gallery

Unfortunately, there are many who claim to be innocent without Christ.  The new breed of self-proclaimed Holy Innocents are those who subscribe to relativism.   Relativism teaches that nothing is right or wrong but a matter of preference.  It is based on pragmatism, in that what we think is best for us at a point of time, is acceptable.  Morality does not exist in life because no one has the truth and absolute truth does not exist.  Truth changes with time.  That is why St John wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  This is the real irony of the world.  As the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen remarked that when the Church in 1854 proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, many Christians rejected it because they said that we are all sinners.  But today, if we tell the world that they are sinners, they will deny this because there are no sins and they are no sinners.

Then there is another kind of Holy Innocents.  They are those supposed Christians who claim to believe in Christ but do not walk in discipleship with Him or in fellowship with the Church.  They claim that Jesus saves, and they are justified by faith in Christ.  Having been justified by Christ, no matter what they do, they are saved by the Lord.  Such people, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran, in his book “the Cost of Discipleship”, says was the cause of the downfall of many Christians.  They have turned costly grace into cheap grace.  Costly grace means discipleship, living out the life of Christ and carrying the cross with the Lord unto death.  Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, when a Christian continues to live a sinful life as before, without giving himself to following Jesus.  This was why St John said, “God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”  If we live in darkness, we cannot claim that we have faith in Christ.  To claim that we are justified in Christ means that we live His life according to His word.  St James reminds us that faith without good works is dead.  (cf Jms 2:17) It is true that the laws cannot save us, nevertheless, “the only thing that counts is faith working through love.”  (Gal 5:6)

So who are the Holy Innocents?  They are those who confess that Christ is their Saviour and on their own, they cannot overcome sin because they are powerless to do so since sin dwells in them.  This is what St Paul himself discovered in his own struggle against sins.  Hence, he concluded by saying, “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Rom 7:21-25)

This is the conviction of the psalmist too when he prayed, “Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler. If the Lord had not been on our side when men rose up against us, then would they have swallowed us alive when their anger was kindled.  Then would the waters have engulfed us, the torrent gone over us; over our head would have swept the raging waters.  Indeed the snare has been broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  Our innocence is found in and through Christ, not on our own efforts or because we are without sin.

Hence, St John is urging us to acknowledge and confess our sins so that we can come to realize our need for a savior.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”  Truly, Christ is the one whose blood “cleanses us from all sin.”  Jesus is our advocate on our behalf.  He speaks and acts on our behalf.  To Jesus, we must come to be forgiven and healed of our brokenness, our sinfulness and our selfishness. He “is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”  (Heb 7:25)

Therefore, the path to become “Holy Innocent” is through confession of our sins and confession in Christ as our savior.  Whilst the infants during the time of Jesus and all martyrs and all aborted babies received the baptism of blood, most of us receive the baptism of water through confession in the name of our Lord.  It is through the waters of baptism, that our sins our forgiven and we are made adopted sons and daughters of God.  At our baptism, we become “holy innocent” because our sins have been taken away.  Christ has died in our place.  “Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself.”  (Heb 7:27)

Today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, we must pray that we will recover our innocence as the children of God.  We are called to live out the life of Christ.  We must strive to walk in truth and in the light. We must also suffer injustice at times for Christ, just like those aborted babies and martyrs who died for Christ.  To be numbered among the Holy Innocents is to be one of them, suffering unjustly for the love of Christ and for the salvation of humanity.  Christian discipleship means purifying ourselves to become more and more like Christ.

St John wrote, “Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God. The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters.”  (1 Jn 3:9f)  In saying this, it does not mean that we are sinless before God.  Rather, God justifies us in Christ. “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.”  (Rom 3:23f)

So long as we are sincere in wanting to walk the way of truth and love, Jesus will forgive us our sins.  He knows our hearts as long as we seek to do what is right.  He wrote, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.  Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.”  (1 Jn 3:18-22)

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

What does “walking in the light” mean?

Walking in the light has nothing to do with perfect behavior and everything to do with being known. Walking in the light means that we are willing to be known for who we really are (warts, sin and all). It doesn’t mean we have perfected morality, just that we have stopped hiding.

Walking in darkness means we are still hiding, pretending, putting on airs, attempting to be seen in a certain way, presenting an image that doesn’t reflect the inner reality of our hearts. Walking in darkness is the result of submitting to shame. It means we think we cannot afford to be known for who we really are, because we fear rejection, punishment, abandonment. Appearance is everything for those walking in darkness.

Darkness helps keep reality hidden. And we keep reality hidden because we fear that we need to perform well to be accepted. (Isn’t this the message many of us grew up with?) So we try to appear better than we actually are in an attempt to find acceptance and value from God and other people. Ironically, it never works, because the only way to actually walk with God is to walk with him in the light.

The good news is that we actually can be known for who we really are, because our acceptance is not based on our performance, it’s based on God’s love for us. Walking in the light isn’t something you have to “work up” to, because it isn’t about becoming awesome at life, it’s simply about letting reality be known. Coming into the light, willing to be seen, willing to be known. Walking in the light means actuality over appearance.

This terrifies most people, but it’s the only way we ever really find life. The cool thing is that we can actually start walking in the light today. It simply means giving up the games we play, letting down our defenses and pretenses and “getting real” with God and others. As soon as we are willing to be known for who we really are, God’s healing work begins.

We find that the light we are walking in isn’t harsh, it doesn’t shame us, doesn’t make us sweat. Instead, it is a healing light that allows us to rest in the love of God. The beautiful promise for those who walk in the light is that we have actual fellowship with one another, which means we really know other people, and they really know us.

The second part of the promise is that the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. So we actually can afford to come into the light, stay there and walk in the light, because when we notice sin (because it’s obvious in the light!), we don’t hide it or pretend it isn’t there, we simply give it to Jesus, and his blood purifies us from it, healing us as we walk with others in the light of his presence.

How can you put this into practice? Think about ways you hide from God and others. How can you take a step “into the light” today, sharing more vulnerably with others?

Waking Up Between 3 to 5 a.m. Could Actually Mean You’re Experiencing Spiritual Awakening

December 16, 2018

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep.” – Rumi

Waking up at the same time every night without an alarm clock might be a sign that you need to pay attention to. You are a human being with energies flowing through your body that you may be unaware of.

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Energy meridians that are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. These energy meridians are important for the practices of acupuncture and acupressure.

The energy meridians of the body are also connected to a clock system that according to ancient Chinese medicine is energizing different parts of your body at different times of the day. Waking between 3am and 5am every night is a sign that energies in that corresponding part of your body are blocked or weak.

Trouble sleeping between 9:00pm and 11:00pm

Between 9 and 11pm is typically bedtime for most people. Difficulty falling asleep during this time is a sign of excess stress and worries from the day. Positive mantras, meditation, or successive muscle tension and relaxation exercises are recommended to help you sleep.

Waking between 11:00pm and 1:00am

According to ancient Chinese medicine, this time frame is the time that the energy meridian of the gall bladder is active. Waking up at this time frame is associated with emotional disappointment. Practice unconditional self-acceptance and forgiveness of others in order to get back to sleep.

Waking between 1:00am and 3:00am

This is the energy meridian associated with the Chinese medicine body clock and the liver. Waking up at this time is associated with the emotions of anger and excess yang energy. Try drinking cool water and taking ownership of the situation that caused you to feel angry in order to rest peacefully through the night.

Waking between 3:00am and 5:00am

Waking up between 3am and 5am is associated with the energy meridian that runs through the lungs and the emotion of sadness. To help yourself get back to sleep, try some slow, deep breathing and express faith in your Higher Power to help you.
If the time that you awaken is between 3:00 am and 5:00am, it could also be a sign of your Higher Power alerting you to pay attention to messages that are being sent to align you with your higher purpose. Read more below about this important time frame for wakefulness.

Waking between 5:00am and 7:00am

The energy flow is in the large intestines during this time of the morning. Emotional blockages are also associated with this time of the early morning. Try stretching your muscles or using the restroom to help yourself get back to sleep.

Our brains are not quite fully awake when we suddenly awaken at night.

According to The ‘One of the consequences of waking up suddenly, and too early, is a phenomenon called sleep inertia. First given a name in 1976, sleep inertia refers to that period between waking and being fully awake when you feel groggy. The more abruptly you are awakened, the more severe the sleep inertia.’
When we suddenly wake in the night, the prefrontal cortex part of the brain that is involved in decision-making and self-control is not awake yet. We are not capable of intelligent thoughts when we wake in the night so avoid making any important decisions.

Waking Up and Fulfilling Your Higher Purpose

Your sleep cycle is a time when you dream and you can also receive messages from the Divine about your path. Dreams can reveal details about the spiritual journey that you are on. As a human being on a spiritual journey, you need to be aware of the signs that your Higher Power is sending to you.

In the same way that emotional problems can manifest in the body as pain, your spirituality can also manifest in bodily form as well. The divine inner spark that we all posses is being called upon at the time that you are waking up. This signal from your Higher Power is something to tune into.

Many people believe that we are here to learn and develop our being and to become the best versions of ourselves. Some people call this process of moving to a higher level of awareness or consciousness an ascension. Being aware of your higher purpose is part of this process.

Whether or not you believe in an ascension, when you wake repeatedly between 3:00am and 5:00am, the pattern is something that is clearly not normal for you. Your Higher Power needs you to pay attention at this time so tune in to the messages that are being sent to you, and take action to align yourself with the Divine.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir on Painting Despite Pain and Suffering: “The Pain Passes But the Beauty Remains”

December 15, 2018

“Life brings enough unpleasantness; why not approach it from the light side once in awhile?”

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the most influential painters in art history, but few people know that he suffered from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. Despite his arthritis, he was able to maintain an incredible level of precision and efficiency with his painting. More importantly, he remained positive and did not let his condition affect his passion for painting or take away from the beauty that he saw in the world around him. Renoir applied a wide variety of coping mechanisms and used his ingenuity to come up with different ways to continue painting even as his arthritis weakened him. Renoir’s long battle with rheumatoid arthritis serves as an inspiration to patients who experience the pain and limited mobility associated with this disease, encouraging them to persevere and to develop coping mechanisms that prevent the effects of their impairment from disabling them.


P A Renoir

The history of impressionist art was enlightened by many celebrated artists, but few could match the talent and intensity of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Considered by many to be one of the most influential painters throughout art history, his works have dazzled spectators since his humble beginnings as a porcelain painter, which helped him pay his way through art school. His artistic ability coupled with a skillful use of color enabled him to capture the joy and intimacy of a scene in each one of his paintings and evoke great emotion from spectators of all backgrounds. Through his paintings, he always strove to depict the positive qualities of his subjects, finding inspiration in the harmony of nature and the enchanting beauty of its creations. He once commented that art should be pretty, “Yes, pretty! Life brings enough unpleasantness; why not approach it from the light side once in awhile?” []. Renoir was always careful not to let a scene influence the depiction he envisioned, preferring instead to use the scene as a guide to paint what he was feeling.

Few people know, however, that this remarkable painter suffered a great deal from rheumatoid arthritis during the last 20 years of his life. Despite the debilitating effects of this disease, Renoir was able to overcome the pain and distress to create one masterpiece after another. Renowned art historian Götz Adriani attests that Renoir’s pictures reveal nothing of the trials and worries that were part of his personal life and that he seemed to be happy, despite his initial lack of recognition and the difficulties he faced throughout the years []. Painting was his passion but also served as an outlet to forget his misery. Despite the ever increasing impairment resulting from his progressive rheumatoid disease, he channeled all of his strength into his work, preventing him from ever considering himself disabled.

Many people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis have a difficult time dealing with the pain and physical deformity associated with the disease, leading them to label themselves as disabled []. With rheumatoid hand disease, as with other hand conditions, the mindset of the patient largely determines the perception of impairment or disability []. An optimistic outlook has been shown to boost the psychological status of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other illnesses, whereas a pessimistic demeanor has the opposite effect []. Renoir became famous for his aptitude as an artist, creating thousands of paintings over the course of 40 years due to the resolve and overly critical nature of his character. It was this same tenacity, dedication, and passion for his work, and his optimistic outlook on life that allowed him to enjoy such great success as an artist. No matter how much he suffered or how debilitated he became, he strove to keep things simple and remained lighthearted. Renoir truly cherished the beauty of the world and the love he had for life was disseminated onto every canvas that his brush touched, a feature that shines through in each of his works.

Renoir maintained an incredible level of productivity throughout his years as a painter, with an estimated 4,000 paintings completed during his long and fruitful career []. Even during the advanced stages of arthritis, he continued to paint with an extraordinary amount of precision and efficiency. Through the examination of letters to friends and family, it is possible to approximate that rheumatoid arthritis began to affect the artist around the age of 50 in the year 1892, becoming quite destructive by 1903 (Fig. 1) [].

It is difficult to determine the exact effect the disease had on his painting style primarily due to a scarcity of knowledge regarding the artist’s private life, yet experts continue to debate this subject []. Götz Adriani, a noted art historian previously mentioned in this paper, attests that as Renoir’s hands became more deformed and crippled, “his eyes focused all the more sharply on the splendid intensity of color.” The historian goes on to say that Renoir’s increasingly disfigured fingers “swept with ever-increasing lightness across the canvas, bringing forth a finely woven fabric of color structures in delicate transparent tones.”

However, one thing remains abundantly clear: the emotional aspect of his painting was not adversely impacted by his arthritis, as his optimistic nature remained consistently present in all of his works, even during times of great pain or hardship. A famous painter of the period, Pierre Bonnard, once said of Renoir, “He worked from within his own nature and had the capacity to take a model or a light that at times seemed dull and imprint it with the memory of thrilling moments” [].

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The ulnar deviation and volar subluxation that often accompany rheumatoid arthritis are both clear in this picture of Renoir at age 71

Today, patients utilize a variety of coping mechanisms to deal with the pain, limited mobility, and mental distress that accompanies rheumatoid arthritis. The progression of Renoir’s arthritis forced him to employ different coping mechanisms similar to the coping strategies used by some modern Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients, which permitted him to continue to express the harmony of nature through his paintings. As his arthritis became increasingly problematic, Renoir began to travel throughout Europe to search for treatment options that would help alleviate the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease [].

He not only suffered from the classic hand disfigurement associated with rheumatoid arthritis, but experienced painful ankylosis of his shoulders and elbows, in addition to having nodules on his back and elbows. Once the ankylosis prevented him from standing, he remained mobile through the use of a series of wheelchairs and seats, each designed for a specific purpose. His sedan chair was an armchair with two large poles secured to the sides, used to carry him into his car, up and down stairs, and over landscape that did not permit access by wheelchair. The wheelchair that he used for painting had a seat that was “not too soft” and, although painful to Renoir, it enabled him to sit in the proper orientation that permitted movements essential for painting []. In his later years, the warmer climate of southern France became a necessity to keep his symptoms at bay during the harsh winter months.

As his condition worsened, the expert medical opinion of the time recommended spa treatments to help relieve his symptoms. These spa treatments became part of his therapeutic regimen until his arthritis made the process of traveling to the remote spas more costly than the limited benefit he received from the treatments. Even so, Renoir continued to paint, traveling whenever his condition allowed in search of inspiration for his projects. The recognized artist, Henri Matisse, met with Renoir in his old age and commented, “as his body dwindled, the soul in him seemed to grow stronger continually and express itself with more radiant ease.” This statement is clear when looking at his later works that are saturated in vibrant color and teeming with positive energy [].

There are many reasons it is difficult to determine the effect Renoir’s arthritis had on his paintings, most notably his modest demeanor and the seamless evolution of his painting style over the years. As one expert explains, in terms of his paintings, “there was neither a first manner nor a final period: Renoir’s art developed after the fashion of a normal, average man, neither more poetical or intelligent than another” []. There are clear changes that occur during the progression of his arthritis, yet these cannot be definitively attributed to his disease. In his early paintings, years before he experiences any effects of arthritis, his paintings are distinguished by a bright, happy atmosphere and rich detail, showcasing his masterful use of color. His painting Bal du moulin de la Galette (Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette, 1876), with its fluid brush strokes and expert use of color is a perfect example of this feature. Another of his most well-known pieces, Le déjeuner des canotiers (Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881) displays the beginning of his divergence from impressionism, with slightly more vibrant and vivid colors than previous works (Fig. 2).

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The painting Le déjeuner des canotiers (Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881) demonstrates the beginning of Renoir’s divergence from impressionism

Renoir’s trip to Italy in March of 1881 saw him influenced by the Italian Masters of the Renaissance, evident in paintings such as Deuxsoeurs (Sur la terrasse) (Two Sisters on the Terrace, 1881), which appears much more animated and refined than his previous works, and Baigneuse (Bather, 1882), with its simplified palette, divergence of tone, and contrast in color [].

These two works mark Renoir’s departure from the classic ideal of the impressionist style, although he would never completely abandon this theme, with the skillful use of color remaining the foundation of his paintings. In later years, Renoir was drawn back to his interest of the female form, and with the accompanying evolution in his painting style, the colors and background of his works became softer, almost appearing to blend together. Unlike his earlier paintings containing backgrounds full of activity and intricate detail, his later works featured less elaborate backgrounds designed to draw viewers towards the focal point of the painting. It can be argued that this change in style is a direct result of the progressively limited mobility caused by his arthritis that made it too difficult to paint more complex pieces, but the change could just as easily be attributed to his constantly evolving technique [].

In 1912, Renoir was taken to a prominent physician with the promise of regaining his ability to walk. After weeks of carefully following the physician’s strict treatment regimen, Renoir was able to take several steps by himself for the first time in over 2 years. After a short while, he recognized the immense strain he was putting on his body and gave up walking, stating

“It takes all my will-power, and I would have none left for painting.”

Renoir’s son, Jean, explained that this was the last time the painter would walk, and the love he had for life, which he was no longer able to enjoy physically, was henceforth thrust onto his canvas. Jean commented that even as his palette became “more austere, the most dazzling colors” and “the most daring contrasts issued from it” []. Renoir’s later paintings Baigneuseassise (Seated Bather, 1914) and La Ferme Des Collettes (The Farmhouse at Les Collettes, 1915) (Fig. 3) are both examples of this type of soft yet energetic painting. He was truly a master of his craft and despite any changes in his condition or style, his paintings were always designed to elicit a positive emotional response from the viewer.

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The painting La Ferme Des Collettes (The Farmhouse at Les Collettes, 1915) is another late painting by Renoir showing the transition to a softer style of painting

Studies have shown that psychological comorbidities such as depression have a deleterious impact on the outcomes of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis []. Zautra et al. recently documented that a history of depression increases pain among rheumatoid arthritis patients, finding that both joint pain and bodily pain were linked to a patient’s history of depression []. Coping can be defined as the psychological and behavioral steps taken that help a patient to manage the psychological stress triggered by an illness. There are two main types of coping described in the literature: problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies. The problem-focused coping strategy involves making changes to oneself or the physical environment in order to decrease stress. The emotion-focused strategies are designed to either change the way in which the environmental relationship is acting upon a person or to change the meaning of a particular occurrence in order to limit the psychological stress that is caused by an incident []. Sinclair and Blackburn explain that adaptive coping strategies utilize both problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies to improve functional and psychological outcomes []. In this paper, the Nagi disablement model of impairment and disability is used to elucidate the functional deficits resulting from Renoir’s arthritis. The newer International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) classification system developed by the World Health Organization is designed to evaluate the functional and psychosocial attributes relating to a patient’s dysfunction to assess the patient’s “situation” as a whole. It would have been interesting to see how this model assessed Renoir’s “situation” throughout the progressive stages of his arthritis.

It is apparent that Renoir employed both problem- and emotion-focused strategies to stay positive and productive throughout his struggle with arthritis. The physical coping mechanisms (problem-focused coping strategies) that Renoir utilized demonstrate the passion he had for art and his determination to fight his impairment and prevent disability. These strategies are useful for improving functional outcomes, and Renoir made good use of his ingenuity in many ways to limit his impairment.

One of the creative ways he enabled himself to continue painting larger pieces was through a system of horizontal cylinders and a crank that would bring a particular section of the canvas within reach of his disfigured hand while he remained sitting []. When his hand became so deformed that he could no longer pick up the brush himself, he had the brush carefully placed into his clenched hand that was preemptively wrapped with soft cloth (Fig. 4) to prevent sores from forming.

He would often be driven or carried to areas where he liked to paint so that he could gain exposure to inspirational scenes and events. When he no longer possessed the strength to hold his palette, it was placed between his knees to hold it in place, and later fixed onto his wheelchair in a manner that permitted it to swivel from side to side []. In his old age, Renoir would nurse cats to keep himself warm while painting, as is evident by the cat hair that is now used to verify the authenticity of his later works []. Renoir’s son, Jean, mentions that the artist believed physical exercise would help to halt the progression of his arthritis, becoming a daily part of his routine for many years. He states that Renoir relied on juggling and ball games to keep his hands active and mobile, until he was no longer physically able to hold anything on his own [].

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In this picture, Renoir’s deformed, clenched hands are seen wrapped in cloth to prevent sores from forming. Unable to walk and constantly struggling to avoid becoming cold, the coat and blankets seen covering Renoir became essential to keep him warm in his old age. (Used with permission from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris)

The same psychological coping mechanisms (emotion-focused coping strategies) that Renoir employed to deal with his rheumatoid arthritis are commonly used today to improve a patient’s quality of life. In a study on newly diagnosed rheumatoid patients, Gåfvels et al. found that over half of the study participants had psychosocial problems severe enough to warrant some type of psychological intervention []. This demonstrates the serious impact arthritis can have on a patient’s quality of life and the importance of the emotional coping component. Englbrecht et al. recently found that high coping effectiveness is linked to improved health perception and even to enhanced health status []. They noted that coping strategies may promote coping effectiveness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, which, in turn, can improve the mental and physical well-being of a patient. A recent study on adaptive coping strategies looked at the various coping mechanisms women with arthritis use to deal with their rheumatoid arthritis. The authors found that the first step was accepting role limitations, followed by reclaiming control, reframing their situation, and bolstering courage []. In addition, the women in this study focused on positive changes that they used to construct appropriate coping strategies to help them manage the psychosocial aspects of their rheumatoid arthritis. It appears that Renoir used many of these same adaptive coping mechanisms in his tireless effort to express his emotions through his art.

See the entire article:

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Morning Prayer for Saturday, September 29, 2018 — Keeping With God In a Painful, Suffering World

September 29, 2018

Earthquakes, tsunami, hunger, pain, disease, suffering are all around sometimes. How do we bear it? The way people have for centuries is the answer. We stay together, we pray and we seek God’s help and guidance.

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A woman reacts to the damage in Palu, Indonesia after the earthquake and tsunami, September 28, 2018. (Muhammad Rifki / AFP/Getty Images)

How do I get strength to be effective and to accept responsibility? By asking the Higher Power for the strength I need each day. It has been proved in countless lives that for every day I live, the necessary power shall be given me. I must face each challenge that comes to me during the day, sure that God will give me the strength to face it. For every task that is given me, there is also given me all the power necessary for the performance of that task. I do not need to hold back.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may accept every task as a challenge. I know I cannot wholly fail if God is with me.

From: “Twenty Four Hours a Day”


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Meditation of St. Francis of Assisi 

Morning Prayer for Friday, September 28, 2018 — Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today

September 28, 2018

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We need to accept the difficulties and disciplines of life so as to fully share the common life of other people. Many things that we must accept in life are not to be taken so much as being necessary for us personally, as to be experienced in order that we may share in the sufferings and problems of humanity. We need sympathy and understanding. We must share many of the experiences of life, in order to understand and sympathize with others. Unless we have been through the same experiences, we cannot understand other people or their makeup well enough to be able to help them.

Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today


Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may accept everything that comes my way as a part of life. I pray that I may make use of it in helping other people.



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From The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

28 SEPTEMBER, 2018, Friday, 25th Week, Ordinary Time



Like King Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, the preacher to the assembly of God, we find life a bewilderment and a mystery.  When we look at the world today, we cannot but be apprehensive about how society and life are changing.  Since the foundation of the world, no one has ever questioned the sexual identity of human beings as male and female.  No one had ever thought that marriage could be between two men or two women.  Now the world wants us to believe that there is an X gender as well.  Indeed, the foundations of society, founded on the bedrock of marriage and the family as we know it, are breaking down.

Not only that, the values of the different generations are also changing.  Those from the Pioneer and Merdeka generations came from very poor backgrounds. Through sheer hard work they built up Singapore to what it is today.  They valued hard work, sacrifice (for their children and future generations), fidelity in marriage and family.   The Y and Millennial generations were born at a time when Singapore had already achieved affluence.  They are raised by parents who are well educated, attend the best schools, everything is provided for, including domestic servants at their disposal, multiple holidays in a year, etc. Finance is not an issue.  All they want is meaning, purpose and fulfillment in life.  Born in the digital and technological age, they are technologically savvy and au fait with mass and social media.  Their world no longer comprises their little community or village or even the country, but the entire world.  Hence, they are very much more influenced by the values of the world than their own cultural values.

When we look at world events, we find that history is ever-changing.  Life remains a mystery.  Every age or era has to deal with the vicissitudes of life, the ups and downs, the rise and fall of empires, corporations and religions. Whether it is politics, culture or religion, we cannot escape the inevitable changing situation.  Even the Church has gone from a minority to a majority and now on its way to becoming a minority again.  The Church has had her fair share of glory, scandals, purification and renewal.  The truth is that we are not in control.  This is what Solomon was teaching his people.  Indeed, there is a time for everything, whether it is giving birth or dying, planting or uprooting, building or knocking down, tears or laughter, throwing or gathering, war or peace. 

We cannot truly control the events of history and our own.  But the world’s humanists think otherwise. They believe that reason, science and technology can change the world.  Perhaps, they can raise the standard of living and make the world a more luxurious place to live in, but technology cannot change the evil and selfish hearts of people.  It is in the heart that happiness, peace, joy and love are found; not in things, no matter how much we have of them.  In fact, because technology is blind, when used by people without wisdom, it has the power to destroy humanity, the family and the entire human race and the planet as well.

We must in humble adoration just surrender to God. As the author of Ecclesiastes reflected, “I contemplate the task that God gives mankind to labour at.  All that he does is apt for its time; but though he has permitted man to consider time in its wholeness, man cannot comprehend the work of God from beginning to end.”  St Paul also surrendered himself to God’s wisdom and plans. “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?’  For from him and through him and to him are all things. Amen. (Rom 11:33-36)

This does not mean that we should cop out of the world.  Rather, we are called to cooperate with His divine plans for humanity, doing what we can and leaving the rest to Him.  We should not seek to take control of the world, of the destiny of our children and of society.  We should not be too disappointed because things are not going the way we think they should.  There is this deep desire in us to control and make things happen according to our ways.  However, the truth is that the wisdom and plan of God is beyond human grasping.  Isaiah says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isa 55:8f)

The gospel clearly reiterates this truth.  After the profession of faith in Christ as the “Christ of God”, the Lord instructed the disciples, giving them “strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this.  ‘The Son of Man’ he said ‘is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’”  Why did Jesus forbid the apostles to reveal to others that He was the Christ of God?  This was because the Jews believed that the Messiah to come was a political and revolutionary messiah.  He would deliver the people their enemies, especially the Romans, in a triumphant and victorious battle.

Again, Jesus shattered their vain speculation on how the Messiah could establish the Kingdom of God.  He spoke of His imminent suffering, rejection, death and resurrection.  He repeated this twice to them saying, “‘Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.’  But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.”  (Lk 9:44f)  The way of God is through the suffering and death of His Son.  By dying, Jesus conquered hatred with love of sinners, death with life.  In putting death to death, we too have conquered the fear of death and we look forward to eternal life.  Jesus surrendered His life to the Father in faith at the cross, trusting that somehow the Father would bring His mission to fruition not in His way but in God’s way.

Indeed, the way to life, as Jesus tells us, is to carry our own cross daily.   Following the passion prophecy, the Lord invited His disciples to follow Him accordingly.  He said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.” In other words, as the Preacher tells us, we simply have to do what we can, each in our own way.   We just do our best. We do not withdraw from life by giving up on the world or on God but we continue to do our part in making this world a better place according to our means and ability, leaving the rest to God, for He is in charge.

However, for this to happen, we must first confess in Christ as the Son of God. Unless our faith is founded on Christ, we will not have the courage to surrender in faith to God’s wisdom and divine providence.  If we could say with Peter that He is the Christ, then with the psalmist, we can confess confidently that God is our rock.  “Blessed be the Lord, my rock.  He is my love, my fortress; he is my stronghold, my saviour my shield, my place of refuge. Lord, what is man that you care for him, mortal man, that you keep him in mind; man, who is merely a breath whose life fades like a passing shadow?”  With God on our side, then we should not fear even when all odds are against us.  “Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.”  (Habakkuk 3:17f)

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

Morning Prayer for Tuesday, September 4, 2018 — Praying for Inner Peace

September 4, 2018

Calm my anxious spirit, Lord — Take away my needless worry. Allow me to become a better person each day. Relieve me of the need to solve the cruelty, injustice and wrongs of the world. Teach me humility, forgiveness and the joy of life again.

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Above: Protests in Russia

Meditation for the Day

Do not become encumbered by petty annoyances. Never respond to emotional upsets by emotional upset. Try to keep calm in all circumstances. Try not to fight back. Call on the grace of God to calm you when you feel like retaliating. Look to God for the inner strength to drop those resentments that drag you down. If you are burdened by annoyances, you will lose your inward peace and the spirit of God will be shut out. Try to keep peaceful within.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may do the things that make for peace. I pray that I may have a mission of conciliation.


See also:

Prayer For Inner Peace

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Morning Prayer For Friday, August 31, 2018 — Accepting Other Human Beings Just As They Are Gives Us Peace of Soul

August 31, 2018

“God, Please grant me a peaceful heart and soul. Allow me to accept that each and every human being is exactly the way you want them to be at this moment….”

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Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today.

When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.

— From The Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous


The Five Stages of of Grief and How Hillary Clinton is Hurting the Democratic Party

May 29, 2018

A Message from David Kessler

I was privileged to co-author two books with the legendary, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, as well as adapt her well-respected stages of dying for those in grief. As expected, the stages would present themselves differently in grief. In our book, On Grief and Grieving we present the adapted stages in the much needed area of grief. The stages have evolved since their introduction and have been very misunderstood over the past four decades. They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss.

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief ‘s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss. At times, people in grief will often report more stages. Just remember your grief is an unique as you are.

Read a little about each of the Five Stages here:


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Hillary Clinton, wearing a coat in shirt sleve weather, Memorail Day, 2018.

As we are already amid the primaries for the midterm elections, it may be time for Democrats to seeks some serous help for and from Hillary Clinton. She seems stuck in the first stage of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ famous “Five Stages of Grief,” which is denial.

Any psychologist can tell you, denial for over a year, and a very public denial of the sort Hillary Clinton is displaying, helps no one. It is just a place to get stuck on the road to acceptance.

It is a cry for help.

A little introspection may be in order. If it’s too late for that: some guys in white coats can probably help.

Many psychologists can also tell you that people grieve over all sorts of things: lost jobs, lost dogs, even the death of a loved one.  In this case, Hillary’s “loved one” seems to be international acclaim — something she may have achieved from the White House. But now, after demonstrating an unusual and prolonged inability to “get it,” she may be more a candidate for psychiatric care than higher political office.

Meaning, after over a year of public mental illness, she may never be able to find any kind of acclaim at all. In fact, members of her own party are now praying she leaves the stage in order to actually help the Democratic Party.

We feel sorry for Hillary Clinton.

All she had to do was “Let Trump be Trump” and to show a few molecules of grace in defeat and she would almost certainly have gained followers. She may have had another shot at the top job. Or she might have been a “Kingmaker.”

Not she is just a loser. And a bad loser at that.

Members of both parties are now wondering about the mental health of America’s leaders.

If Hillary had only been graceful in defeat, the character defects of Donald Trump could have been the only show in town.

Peace and Freedom