Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Morning Prayer for Friday, October 12, 2018 — “Fear is not a proper motivator. Hope wins out.”

October 12, 2018

“Fear is not a proper motivator. Hope wins out. If you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want to think about life and their opportunities, do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful?”


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Prayer to Overcome Fear

Lord, You are a good Father. Your love and care is endless. You care more about my wellbeing that even I do, no matter how much I worry over it. And you are all powerful – able to protect me completely and fully from anything that might arise. Lord, I confess I forget these truths. I confess I am prone to believe that I am alone and without any protection. Lord, I know that this is a lie I tell myself, and it only works me up into worry and fear. I repent of that worry and fear now… ultimately, I know it stems from not trusting in Your goodness toward me. Help me believe and live out of the truth that you are always close, always protecting me, always watching over every step of my life. Thank you Lord for your great love for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Short Prayer for When You’re Afraid

God, you haven’t given me a spirit of fear. Come and replace my fear with your power and your love so I may have a sound mind to live each day glorifying you. Amen.

Quote at the top from Michelle Obama



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“Anxiety increases in direct ratio and proportion as man departs from God. Everyone in the world has an anxiety complex because each of us has the capacity to be either a sinner or a saint.”

“Despair and anxiety are possible because there is a rational soul. They presuppose the capacity of self-reflection. Only a being capable of contemplating itself can dread annihilation in the face of the infinite, can despair either of itself or of its destiny.”

— Both quotes from “Peace of Soul,” Chapter 2, By Fulton J. Sheen, first published in 1949.


The most often repeated instruction to man in the Holy Scripture is: “Do not be afraid.”

This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Nada Te Turbe (Let nothing disturb you)
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.— St. Teresa of Avila


What We Can All Learn From The Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford Episode

October 5, 2018

The American political world has been on high alert these last several weeks as everyone, it seemed, became immersed in the ins and outs, highs and lows of the Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford controversy.

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Unfortunately, Americans have no Holy Oracle to go to to resolve such difficulties.  And our media, including social media, which is good at giving us lots of information and view points (often political propaganda), which is good for our animal and herd instincts, often cannot get us to the core problem troubling the intellect.

We offer this as a glimpse of light in an effort to find the potential “core problem.”

Every human being, from every part of earth, and in every era of history, has suffered some dreadful wrong, painful event, disease or hardship.  People on this planet have gone through poverty, drought, cancer, stroke, war, rape, assault, revolution and every other kind of hardship.

In just the last few days, the people of Indonesia experienced earthquake, tsunami and then a volcano eruption.

In each and every hardship, each human being is called to figure out what happened and what to do.

We happen to know many immigrants and refugees. Almost every one of them wants to get on with his or her life. They want jobs, families and the “American Dream.”

Among all the refugees and immigrants we know, not one has elected to return to Cuba, or Venezuela, or Honduras, or Vietnam, or China or Yemen, or Ukraine, or Poland or anywhere else and make a life built upon tearing down the government they hold responsible for their pain and suffering.

The want jobs, good lives, families and the American dream.

It just seems to us that wanting to lash out at a part of the human race is of almost no avail. Human beings cannot run their lives for long on hatred, anger, resentments and rage.

After World War II, even most Holocaust survivors wanted to get on with life, family and whatever prosperity they could muster. Usually, people who survive such ordeals have a deep sense of gratitude, often a sense of some Godly intervention in their unexpected salvation and deliverance.

Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl which explains his personal response to the death camps and his life after.

Although there were Nazi hunters, who made it their duty to find and bring to justice certain people responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the mass of society is often ill suited to such work and they “just want to get on with their lives.”

The Nazis were deplorable, but Victor Frankl didn’t write books about the deplorables.

In my own family, after the War Between the States, people wanted to return to their families, to their farms and to their homes. Some were “broken” but they wanted whatever happiness they could find.

One, ancestor, a Catholic Chaplain during the Civil War, wrote a book about his wartime experience that is almost completely devoid of resentment, or anger or the notion to hold others accountable.

But after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election, a wide mass on the left decided to “resist.”

To me, the very word “Resistance” has a kind of sacred connotation, being the name of the freedom fighters in occupied France under the Nazi government.

But America has no Nazi government — but a lawfully and democratically elected President. To say otherwise does damage to those that unjustly claim it — and to the fabric of the democracy we call America.

By living life in a frenzy of anger, shouting, fear and disruption a segment of our society has made it their mission to go to any length to get what they want. One wonders when and where such a turmoil will result in violence.

We wish both Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford well. In fact, we pray that each will find peace — despite the likelihood of a long-term kind of psychological hangover these kinds of traumatic encounters often-times inflicts.

Every American can consider him and her self at a crossroads. We have all, to some extent, been witness to a gut wrenching event. It isn’t a diagnosis of cancer and death — unless we choose it to be.

As in every case of pain and suffering, we have to choose. To make life, our lives, our families and our nation a place of peace and justice and goodness.

Or Not.

Today, my Grand Daughter, a First Grader, is coming for lunch. I am told she wants to ask me about my Guardian Angel.

My Guardian Angel, is, in fact, her other Grand Father. He survived the war in Vietnam, many years of re-education in a communist run prison camp, and untold suffering and torture.

When he got to America, all he wanted was a job, his freedom and a peaceful life. For many years he had the life he wanted — and every one of his children is now married and has children of their own. A stroke crippled his body and much of his brain, but we could still pray together, in English and Vietnamese. That was what we could do — so that is what we did.

He died with no resentment, no anger and no urge to blame anybody for anything.

We should all be so lucky.



Morning Prayer for Friday, August 10, 2018 — Pray, Hope, Stay With God and Let God Figure Out The Rest

August 10, 2018

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God cannot be outdone in generosity. I should be filled with Gratitude!

For straying from the right way there is no cure except to keep so close to the thought of God that nothing, no other interest, can seriously come between you and God. Sure of that, you can stay on God’s side. Knowing the way, nothing can prevent your staying in the way and nothing can cause you to seriously stray from it. God has promised peace if you stay close to Him, but not leisure. You still have to carry on in the world. He has promised heart-rest and comfort, but not pleasure in the ordinary sense. Peace and comfort bring real inward happiness.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may keep my feet on the way. I pray that I may stay on God’s side.



10 AUGUST, 2018, Friday, St Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr


Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore


As a deacon, one of the primary responsibilities of St Lawrence was to administer the Church’s possessions for the use of worship and for the poor.   When he was ordered by the Roman authorities to hand over the riches of the Church, he gathered all the poor of Rome, the sick, the blind and the crippled, and presented them to the Romans saying, “These are the riches of the Church.”  Truly, the responsorial psalm so aptly applies to him for it says, “Lavishly he gives to the poor, his generosity shall endure forever.”

St Lawrence made himself poor so that others might be rich in him.  He took Jesus’ words to heart when Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.”  More than just giving to the poor, his whole life was a gift to God and to the whole of humanity.  Indeed, St Lawrence was a witness to God’s love to the poor but most of all, to Christ, for he gave his life to Jesus by being a martyr for him.  He took the words of Jesus seriously that “anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for the eternal life.” For this reason, St Lawrence is truly a great saint, having been so identified with Christ in His sufferings.  We can be certain that He would also be where His Master is, since Jesus promised that “If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.”  He gave everything, his whole life to Jesus, his master.  And he gave willingly and happily.

St Lawrence was a cheerful giver. So admirable and solid was his love for Christ that when he was being roasted on the grill alive, he, in his pain, could even tell his executioners, “You can turn me over now – I’m done on that side!”  We remember the exhortation of St Paul when he also said something to that extent, “Each one should give what he has decided in his own mind, not grudgingly or because he is made to, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

What is the secret of his generosity?  St Lawrence knew Christ intimately.  He loved Him so much and thus he was able to see Christ in the poor.  He knew that Christ who lives in us is hungry, thirsty, naked and sick in the poor.  So when we refuse the poor, it is Christ whom we reject since He said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do it unto me.”  In the gospel, Jesus reminds us, “If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too.”

Today, we are called to follow St Lawrence in giving ourselves to others by dying to ourselves; many will benefit from our self-sacrifice.   The call to die to ourselves so that others might live is in imitation of Christ.  By His death, He has brought life to many.  All of us are called according to our vocation in life, to live for others, for the poor includes all, the material and spiritual poor. It also includes those who are emotionally broken and those who lack love in their lives.  But we must do so cheerfully, not grudgingly.  We too can surely learn from St Lawrence because more often than not, even if we do give, we would give grudgingly and reluctantly, whether in kind or in service.  Sometimes we do it more out of obligation than true love for the person in need.

In the light of St Lawrence’s martyrdom for the poor, St Paul reminds us that “Thin sowing means thin reaping; the more you sow, the more you reap.”  We must begin to start giving in small ways now.  We cannot die for Christ as a martyr if we cannot even die to our passions, desires, attachment and sins. But as we learn how to give, our hearts will grow.  So if we do not know how to give, begin by giving small things and doing small works of mercy.  In giving alms to the poor or in serving others, we will experience the joy of loving, which in turn will empower us to give ourselves more and more.  But let us not just talk about giving; do something today by helping someone, especially one who is hungry and lonely.

If we find the call to empty ourselves for others rather daunting, we can find inspiration from St Paul’s assurance that God cannot be outdone in generosity.  “There is no limit to the blessings which God can send you – he will make sure that you will always have all you need for yourselves in every possible circumstance, and still have something to spare for all sorts of good works. As scripture says: He was free in almsgiving, and gave to the poor: his good deeds will never be forgotten.”  We give Him material things of the earth; He gives us the eternal gifts of heaven, especially His mercy and forgiveness.   We give Him our death, He gives us His Life.  Yes, St Caesarius wrote, “give earthly mercy and you will receive the heavenly kind. The poor man asks of you, and you ask of God: the poor man for food, you for eternal life.”

Let us therefore not withhold anything from the Lord who wants us to serve Him, especially in the poor.  The more we give, the more we will receive from Him.  As St Paul wrote, “The one who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide you with all the seed you want and make the harvest of your good deeds a larger one.”  Indeed you will be surprised how the Lord helps you to overcome your insecurities and anxieties about the future and your material needs as you give them away.

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


China — And The Road Toward Greatness

June 24, 2018

We keep hearing a lot about Chinese greatness amid stories of a surveillance state, intellectual property theft, coercion and censorship.

People in the West keep hoping China will become “more like us” but that is not likely ever to happen. At least not in the near future.

The Chinese people today can be viewed as an army of national patriots in service to Emperor Xi Jinping. But they could be slaves to their own repressive government and the surveillance state.

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Chinese leaders certainly see the maelstrom of chaos someday choking western democracies to death. But true adherents to democracy, often Asian immigrants, see counties that operate by principles of freedom, human rights, transparency, and free and fair elections.

China watcher Gordon G. Chang recently appeared on a cable news segment to say he was proud of the American system and that democracy is working. He said our transparency and public debate would never be allowed in China.

If China’s version of the FBI was embroiled in a political scandal we would never even know. The perpetrators would be in prison, perhaps tortured, or dead.

So instead of Americans constantly ripping down their government and their president, they might look around and be grateful for their right to protest, exercise free speech and offer solutions.

Calling people Nazis accomplishes nothing except adding fuel to hatred.

“Resistance” was a cherished word of anti-Nazi freedom fighters in France during World war II — when trains full of people were being sent to death camps and Zyklon B “showers.”

Since we are still allowed to pray, let’s pray that China finds a new path toward greatness and human rights and freedom.

Because a New World Order is coming. The post-World War II, Berlin Wall, Soviet Union, early EU era may be running out of time. Peace could actually break out in Korea — a nation at war since 1950. The rush for nuclear weapons could be replaced by calls for denuclearization. Ballistic missiles could someday be mere museum pieces.

Palestinians might even live in peace with Israelis.

Maybe even the problems of immigration and migration could be solved.

Closed minds and hatred don’t seem to be working.

But we can hope. And work toward a better world.

The world needs to think Big.

Thinking small since the dawn of the new century in 2000 has gotten us where? In a mess of religious wars and terrorism. We don’t need to be killing Uyghurs or Rohingya.

Unless we want to leave a world in chaos and oppression and hatred and death to our children and grandchildren.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

We mourn and salute our colleague and friend Charles Krauthammer.

See also:

China is World-Leading Censor With ‘Total Control’ Over News: Press Freedom Group

China is World-Leading Censor With ‘Total Control’ Over News: Press Freedom Group


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CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61 — US suicide rates increased more than 25% since 1999 —

June 8, 2018

Anthony Bourdain was found unresponsive in his hotel room in France early Friday

Fr. Cantalamessa: Homily at Celebration of Lord’s Passion (FULL TEXT) 2018

March 31, 2018

“He Who Saw It Has Borne Witness”

© Vatican Media

Pope Francis on Good Friday, March 30, 2018, presided over the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica.  The homily was presented by the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.

The Vatican-provided text of the homily:

When they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness – his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -that you also may believe. (Jn 19:33-35).

No one could convince us that this solemn attestation does not correspond to historical truth, that the one who says he was there and saw it was really not there and did not see it. What is at stake, in this case, is the honesty of the author. On Calvary, at the foot of the cross, was the mother of Jesus and next to her, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” We have the testimony of an eye-witness!

He “saw” not only what was happening as everyone looked on, but in the light of the Holy Spirit after Passover he also saw the meaning of what happened: in this moment the true Lamb of God was sacrificed and the meaning of the ancient Passover was fulfilled; Christ on the cross was the new temple of God from whose side, as the prophet Ezekiel predicted (47:1ff), flowed the water of life; the spirit that he gave up at the moment of death began the new creation, just as in the beginning “the Spirit of God,” hovering over the waters, had transformed the chaos in the cosmos. John understood the meaning of Jesus’ last words: “It is fulfilled” (see Jn 19:30).

But why, we can ask ourselves, this unbounded concentration on the significance of the cross of Christ? Why is the Crucified One omnipresent in our churches, on altars, and in every place frequented by Christians? Someone has suggested, as a key to understanding the Christian mystery, that God reveals himself “sub contraria specie,” under a form contrary to what he is in reality: he reveals his power in weakness, his wisdom in foolishness, his riches in poverty.

This key, however, does not apply to the cross. On the cross God reveals himself “sub propria specie,” he reveals himself as he really is, in his most intimate and truest reality. “God is love,” John writes (1 Jn 4:10), oblative love, a love that consists in self-giving, and only on the cross does God’s infinite capacity for self-gift manifest the length to which it will go. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1); “God so loved the world that he gave [meaning to death!] his only Son” (Jn 3:16); “The Son of God . . . loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).


In this year in which the Church will hold a Synod on Young People and aims to have them as the center of pastoral concern, the presence on Calvary of the disciple that Jesus loved holds a special message. We have every reason to believe that John joined Jesus when he was still quite young. It was a real falling in love. Everything else suddenly took second place. It was a “personal,” existential encounter. Whereas at the center of Paul’s thinking is the work of Jesus—his paschal mystery of death and resurrection—at the center of John’s thinking is the being, the person, of Jesus. This is the source of all the “I am” statements with divine resonance that punctuate his Gospel: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; “I am the door”; simply “I am.”

John was almost certainly one of John the Baptist’s two disciples who, when Jesus appeared on the scene, followed him. When they asked, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus answered, “Come and see.” “They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour” (see Jn 1:35-39). That hour decided the course of John’s life, and he never forgot it.

It is appropriate during this year that we make an effort to discover together with young people what Christ expects from them, what they can offer the Church and society. The most important thing, however, is something else: it is to help young people understand what Jesus has to offer them. John discovered it while staying with him: “fullness of joy” and “abundant life.” Let us do this in such a way that, in all the speeches about young people and to young people, the heartfelt invitation of the Holy Father in Evangelii Gaudium will resonate as an undercurrent:

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord” (EG, n. 3).

To encounter Christ personally is still possible today because he is risen; he is a living person, not a personage. Everything is possible after this personal encounter; without it, nothing will be stable or enduring.


Besides the example of his life, the evangelist John has also left a written message to young people. In his First Letter we read these moving words from an elder to the young people in the churches he founded:

I write to you, young men because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world. (1 Jn 2:14-15)

The world that we must not love and to which we should not be conformed, as we know, is not the world created and loved by God or the people in the world whom we must always go out to meet, especially the poor and those at the lowest level of society. “Blending in” with this world of suffering and marginalization is, paradoxically, the best way of “separating” ourselves from the world because it means going in the direction from which the world flees as much as it can. It means separating ourselves from the very principle that rules the world, self-centeredness.

No, the world we must not love is something else; it is the world as it has become under the dominion of Satan and sin, the “spirit of the air,” as St. Paul calls it (see Eph 2:1-2). It plays a decisive role in public opinion, and today it is literally a spirit “of the air” because it spreads itself in infinite ways electronically through airwaves. One famous exegete writes that this spirit “is so intense and powerful that no individual can escape it. It serves as a norm and is taken for granted. To act, think or speak against this spirit is regarded as non-sensical or even as wrong and criminal. It is ‘in’ this spirit that men encounter the world and affairs, which means they accept the world as this spirit presents it to them.”1

This is what we call an adaptation to the spirit of the age, conformity. One great believing poet from the last century, T. S. Eliot, has written three verses that say more than whole books: “In a world of fugitives / The person taking the opposite direction / Will appear to run away.”2 Dear young Christians, if you will allow an old man like John to address you directly, I would exhort you: be those who take the opposite direction! Have the courage to go against the stream! The opposite direction for us is not a place but a person; it is Jesus, our friend, and redeemer.

A task and a mission are particularly entrusted to you: to rescue human love from the tragic drift in which it had ended up: love that is no longer a gift of self but only the possession—often violent and tyrannical—of another. God revealed himself on the cross as agape, the love that gives itself.

But agape is never dissociated from eros, from a love that welcomes, that pursues, that desires, and that finds joy in being loved in return. God not only exercises “charity” in loving us, he also desires us; throughout the Bible, he reveals himself as a loving and jealous spouse. His love is also “erotic” in the noble sense of that word. This is what Benedict XVI explained in his encyclical Deus Caritas est:

Eros and agape—ascending love and descending love—can never be completely separated. . . . Biblical faith does not set up a parallel universe, or one opposed to that primordial human phenomenon which is love, but rather accepts the whole man; it intervenes in his search for love in order to purify it and to reveal new dimensions of it. (nos. 7-8)

It is not a question of renouncing the joys of love, attraction, and eros but of knowing how to unite eros and agape in the desire for another, the ability to give oneself to the other, recalling what St. Paul refers to as a saying of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

This ability, however, does not come about in one day. It is necessary to prepare yourselves to make a total gift of self to another creature in marriage, or to God in consecrated life, beginning by making a gift of your time, of your smile, and of this period of your lives in the family, in the parish, and in volunteer work. This is what so many of you are already quietly doing.

On the cross Jesus not only gave us an example of self-giving love carried to the extreme; he also merited the grace for us to be able to bring it to pass, to some extent, in our lives. The water and blood that flowed from his side comes to us today in the sacraments of the Church, in God’s word, and even in just looking at the Crucified One in faith. One last thing John saw prophetically at the cross: men and women of every time and place who were turning their gaze to “the one who was pierced” and who wept tears of repentance and of consolation (see Jn 19:37 and Zac 12:10). Let us join them in the liturgical actions that will follow.


[1] Heinrich Schlier, Principalities and Powers in the New Testament (New York: Herder and Herder, 1961), pp. 31-32.[2] T. S. Eliot, Family Reunion, Part II, sc. 2, in The Complete Plays of T. S. Eliot (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), p.110.English Translation by Marsha Daigle Williamson


Good Friday 2018 Serrmon By Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa: “God desires us. His love is also ‘erotic’ in the noble sense of that word.” — “‘Blending in’ with this world of suffering and marginalization is, paradoxically, the best way of ‘separating’ ourselves from the world…”

March 31, 2018


Pope’s preacher today once again fills a singular slot

Capuchin Father Rainero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Papal Household. (Credit: CNS.)

ROME – In a deliberately provocative turn of phrase, the Preacher of the Papal Household on Good Friday told worshippers in St. Peter’s Basilica, including Pope Francis, that the love revealed by Christ on the Cross wasn’t just about sacrifice and self-giving – it was also erotic.

“God not only exercises ‘charity’ in loving us, he also desires us,” said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, delivering the traditional Good Friday meditation.

“Throughout the Bible, he reveals himself as a loving and jealous spouse,” Cantalamessa said. His love is also ‘erotic’ in the noble sense of that word.”

Cantalamessa said the understanding of love today has suffered a “tragic drift,” which is forever contradicted by Christ on the Cross. Love, he said, is no longer “a gift of self, but only the possession – often violent and tyrannical – of the other.”

By way of contrast, he said, God’s love is always both eros and agape – both desire for the other, but also a willingness to sacrifice for them.

“It is not a question of renouncing the joys of love, attraction, and eros, but of knowing how to unite eros and agape in the desire for another, the ability to give oneself to the other, recalling what St. Paul refers to as a saying of Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’,” he said.

Now 83, Cantalamessa has served as the Preacher of the Papal Household for 38 years, having been appointed to the post by St. Pope John Paul II in 1980. Since 1753, it’s been reserved by papal edict to the Capuchins, the fourth largest men’s religious order in the Catholic Church after the Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscans.

(As a footnote, the name “Cantalamessa” in Italian literally means, “sing the Mass.”)

Cantalamessa’s comments on the erotic element of God’s love came in his homily during the Good Friday service, in the context of reflections on young people in a year in which Pope Francis has called a summit of Catholic prelates from around the world, known as a Synod of Bishops, to Rome in October.

A recent March 19-24 gathering of more 300 youth in Rome, buoyed by the participation of 15,000 more young people via Facebook, was intended to provide input to that synod.

RELATED: Youth leaders in Rome struck by ‘polarized’ American climate

Speaking about the upcoming summit, Cantalamessa expressed hope that, “in all the speeches about young people and to young people,” rather than focusing primarily on what youth can offer others, the accent will be instead on what Jesus offers them.

“It is appropriate during this year that we make an effort to discover together with young people what Christ expects from them, what they can offer the Church and society,” he said. “The most important thing, however, is something else: It is to help young people understand what Jesus has to offer them.”

The Capuchin preacher urged youth to take the evangelist St. John as a role model, since, according to tradition, he was quite young when he took up the call to follow Jesus. In particular, he pointed to John’s counsel to “not love the world or the things in the world.”

“The world that we must not love and to which we should not be conformed, as we know, is not the world created and loved by God or the people in the world whom we must always go out to meet, especially the poor and those at the lowest level of society,” he said.

“‘Blending in’ with this world of suffering and marginalization is, paradoxically, the best way of ‘separating’ ourselves from the world, because it means going in the direction from which the world flees as much as it can,” Cantalamessa said.

“It means separating ourselves from the very principle that rules the world, self-centeredness,” he said.

It’s that self-centeredness from which Cantalmessa urged youth to flee, however counter-cultural doing so may be. To drive the point home, he cited the American-born poet T.S. Eliot: “In a world of fugitives, the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away.”

Later tonight, Pope Francis will preside over the annual Via Crucis process at Rome’s Colosseum, recalling the steps of Christ on his way to the Cross, and which this year also has a focus on youth.

On Saturday, the pontiff will lead an Easter Vigil Mass beginning at 8:30 p.m. Rome time. On Sunday, he’ll celebrate a Mass for Easter morning in St. Peter’s Square, then deliver his traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing, “to the city and the world,” at noon. Generally, popes use those addresses to deliver a sort of 360-degree review of the global situation, often indicating their most pressing diplomatic and political priorities.


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Peace and Freedom Note: There is a lot of Christian literature that speaks to the nature of the love between God and man. Many authors refer to the erotic or jealous love — as Fr Cantalamessa did on Good Friday.

See also:

Why Sexual Metaphors of Jesus and His Bride Embarrass Us

Many Americans prefer to think of God as the father in the “Prodigal Son” parable.

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Book: “Return of the Prodigal Son,” by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen says the book should have been called “Return to the All Loving, All Forgiving Father.”

Art by Rembrandt.

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, January 11, 2018 — The Lesson of Total Defeat and the Cure of a Leper — Never Surrender Hope

January 10, 2018

Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 308

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Lepers beg Jesus that they be healed

Reading 1 1 SM 4:1-11

The Philistines gathered for an attack on Israel.
Israel went out to engage them in battle and camped at Ebenezer,
while the Philistines camped at Aphek.
The Philistines then drew up in battle formation against Israel.
After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines,
who slew about four thousand men on the battlefield.
When the troops retired to the camp, the elders of Israel said,
“Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today
by the Philistines?
Let us fetch the ark of the LORD from Shiloh
that it may go into battle among us
and save us from the grasp of our enemies.”So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there
the ark of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim.
The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were with the ark of God.
When the ark of the LORD arrived in the camp,
all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth resounded.
The Philistines, hearing the noise of shouting, asked,
“What can this loud shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?”
On learning that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp,
the Philistines were frightened.
They said, “Gods have come to their camp.”
They said also, “Woe to us! This has never happened before. Woe to us!
Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods?
These are the gods that struck the Egyptians
with various plagues and with pestilence.
Take courage and be manly, Philistines;
otherwise you will become slaves to the Hebrews,
as they were your slaves.
So fight manfully!”
The Philistines fought and Israel was defeated;
every man fled to his own tent.
It was a disastrous defeat,
in which Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers.
The ark of God was captured,
and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were among the dead.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 44:10-11, 14-15, 24-25

R. (27b) Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
Yet now you have cast us off and put us in disgrace,
and you go not forth with our armies.
You have let us be driven back by our foes;
those who hated us plundered us at will.
R. Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
You made us the reproach of our neighbors,
the mockery and the scorn of those around us.
You made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
R. Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
Why do you hide your face,
forgetting our woe and our oppression?
For our souls are bowed down to the dust,
our bodies are pressed to the earth.
R. Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.

Alleluia  SEE MT 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Jesus heals


Gospel  MK 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Pope Francis’ Reflection For 1 Samuel 4:1-11 and Mark 1:40-45

Faith makes the difference between victory and defeat, says Pope Francis, and faith is not something we learn in books, but simply a gift — a gift we should ask for.

The Holy Father contrasted the defeat of the Israelites recounted in the First Reading with the victory of the leper recounted in the Gospel.

Taken from Samuel, the First Reading speaks of the Philistines’ conquest: “the slaughter was very great,” and the people lost everything, “[even] their dignity,” the Pope noted.

“What led to this defeat?” he asked. It was because the people “slowly walked away from the Lord, lived in a worldly fashion, and even kept with idols.”

The people went out to the Sanctuary of Shiloh, but, “as if it were a mere cultural habit,” he said. They had lost their filial relationship with God – they did not worship God – and He left them alone.

Even the Ark of the Covenant was viewed more as a magic talisman, Francis said. “In the Ark,” he recalled, “was the Law – the Law that they did not keep and which they had abandoned.” There was no longer “a personal relationship with the Lord – they had forgotten the God who had saved them,” and were defeated.

Thirty thousand Israelites were slain, the Ark was taken by the Philistines, the two sons of Eli, “those criminal priests who exploited people in the Sanctuary of Shiloh,” met their end. It was “a total defeat,” the Pope said. “Thus does a people that has distanced itself from God meet its end.”

Moving mountains

The Gospel of the day, however, speaks of a victory, the Pontiff explained:

“At that time, a leper came to Jesus and begged him on his knees – precisely in a gesture of adoration – and said, ‘Look, you can make me clean.’ He challenged the Lord, saying, ‘I have been defeated in life’ – the leper had suffered defeat, insofar as he could not live life in common with others, he was always cast off – ‘but you [he said to the Lord] can turn this defeat into victory!.’ That is: ‘Look, you can make me clean.’ Before this Jesus had compassion, he stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘I desire that you be made clean!’

“So, simply: this fight is over in two minutes and ends in victory; that other lasts all day long, and ends with the defeat. The man had something that drove him to go to Jesus and send up the challenge: he had faith.”

The Apostle John says that the victory over the world is our faith. “Our faith wins, always!”:

“Faith is the victory. Faith: like [that of] this man [who said], ‘If you want to, you can do it.’ The losers of the First Reading prayed to God, bearing the ark, but they had no faith, they had forgotten it. This leper had faith, and when you ask with faith, Jesus himself told us, mountains will move. We are able to move a mountain from one place to another: faith is capable of this. Jesus himself said, ‘Whatever you ask the Father in my name, you will be given. Ask and you shall receive; knock and it shall be opened,’ but with faith – and this, this is our victory.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily with this prayer:

“We ask the Lord that our prayers always have that root of faith, that they be born of faith in Him. The grace of faith: faith is a gift. You do not learn [it] from books. It is a gift that the Lord gives you, but just ask for it: ‘Give me faith!’ ‘I believe, Lord!’, said the man who asked Jesus to heal his son: ‘I ask Lord, that you help my unbelief.’ Prayer with faith … and the man is healed.

“We ask God for the grace to pray with faith, to be sure that everything we ask of Him we will be given, with the confidence that faith gives us – and this is our victory, our faith.”



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Homily from the Abbot of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
It is not easy for us to understand being excluded completely from society, as were lepers in much of the Old Testament and even in the time of Jesus. Perhaps at this time in history, a close approximation to this situation would be someone who has just returned from a countrywiththeebola virus. There can be an enormous fear of being infected and a complete rejection of the person who has beeninanebola area.Thinking aboutebola and the scare that it can cause helps us understand the first reading and the Gospel today. The first reading, from the Book of Leviticus, tells us about how lepers are to be treated. We understand this attempt at quarantine as an effort to protect the community as a whole. Such efforts are not rejection of a person but an honest attempt to deal with the disease the person might spread and which could affect the whole people.The person afflicted with leprosy seeks healing in order to be allowed back into normal society.

Most of us don’t want to be completely shunned by others! We want to belong to society even if we don’t need to be the center of attention. Sotoo the person with leprosy. He or she would want to become part of the community once again but it would be impossible for most of them. For a few, whatever disease afflicted them might disappear and they could be readmitted.In the Gospel, a leper comes to Jesus and is cured. Jesus tells the leper not to tell others. That is impossible. The Gospel tells us that then Jesus begins to remain outside, in deserted places. That is to say, Jesus begins to live as most lepers lived: apart from others and in deserted places. It is almost as if Jesus trades place with the leper after he cures him.Two challenges present themselves to us today. Am I willing to pray for the life of others and to ask God to cure them? Most of us Christians, followers of Jesus, are able to pray for others. But am I willing to offer my own life for the sake of another person? It is not just the healing of the other person, but am I willing to take on the form of a slave, as was Jesus?

Am I willing to become outcast from all others so that another person can be accepted once more within the human community? Am I willing not to seek my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved? This is the teaching of the First Letter to the Corinthians in the second reading today.

To follow Jesus and to ask the healing presence of Jesus is not about doing good without a cost! Instead, I must be willing to give up my life for others, as did our Lord Jesus. There is no life in Christ without being willing to give up my life. There is always a cost to following Jesus. Yet we know that if we give all, He also will give us all in His Kingdom. Praise God forever!


Commentary on Mark 1:40-45 from Living Space

This healing story does not actually belong to that “Day in the life of Jesus” which we reflected on over the past two days.

Lepers were among the most piteous of people in scriptural times. Although little was known of the origin of the sickness, it was clearly known to be contagious and therefore greatly feared. The only solution was to isolate the victim and not allow him/her to approach people. So, apart from the appalling physical disintegration of body and limbs, there was the social ostracism, the contempt and the fear which the victim engendered.

What was probably even more tragic was that many who were branded as lepers were suffering from some other ailment, which may not have been contagious at all – such as ulcers, cancer or other skin diseases (some of them perhaps purely psychosomatic). The signs for diagnosis are given in chapter 13 of the Book of Leviticus and, by our standards today, are rather primitive indeed. The room for a wrong diagnosis was huge. It was a question of being safe rather than sorry.

The leper in the story indicates his great faith and trust in Jesus, a necessary and sufficient condition for healing in the Gospel. “If you wish, you can make me clean,” he says. He knows this because he has undoubtedly seen or heard of what others have experienced.

Jesus is filled with a deep sense of compassion for the man’s plight. Highlighting the emotional feelings of Jesus is a characteristic of Mark’s gospel and is seldom found in Matthew. What Jesus feels is compassion not just pity. In pity we feel sorry for the person; in compassion, we enter into the feelings of the other, we empathize with their experience. And in doing so Jesus does the unthinkable – he reaches out to touch the leper. This must have been a healing act in itself. The leper was by definition untouchable. “I do will it.” says Jesus, “Be made clean.” The man is immediately healed.

But that is not the end of the story because the man has still to be reintegrated into the community – this is the second part of the healing process. He is told to go to the priests to make the customary offering of thanksgiving. They will examine him and then pronounce him fit to re-enter society.

He is also told not to say anything to anyone about it. Jesus wanted no sensationalism. But how could the man refrain from telling everybody about his wonderful experience of coming in contact with the whole-making power of Jesus? He becomes an ardent evangeliser, a spreader of good news – something we are all called to be.

What is the outcome of our experience of knowing Jesus? How come we do not have the enthusiasm of this man? It is worth noting that that experience was the result of his first having been the victim of a terrible cross. It is often in our crosses that grace appears.

Once again, Jesus goes out into the desert to avoid the enthusiastic crowds. Jesus was not interested in having “fans”, only genuine followers. He would not be ready until his full identity was recognised. That would only happen as he hung dying on the cross (Mark 15:39)

Before we leave this story, we may ask who are the lepers in our society today? One very obvious group are those who have contracted contagious diseases like HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases which are becoming ever more widespread. Even though these are of little danger to most people who have no physical contact, the victims are often rejected in fear or disgust or embarrassment by family members, friends, employers, colleagues, even medical people.

There are also people like homosexuals. If many of them are not lepers it is simply because they dare not reveal their orientation. They dare not do so because they are most likely to be “leper-ized” by even family and friends. There are other marginal groups – nomadic groups like Romanies, drug addicts, poor single mothers, the homeless, alcoholics… Indeed, we have many lepers among us. Let us examine our attitudes today and revise them if necessary.


The leper women as shown in the film “Ben Hur”
Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
11 JANUARY, 2018, Thursday, 1st Week, Ordinary Time

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 SM 4:1-11Mk 1:40-45   ]

When we experience failure at work or in ministry, we tend to blame others for our difficulties.  We try to look for scapegoats for our mistakes.  This was the case of the Israelites.  When they were defeated by the Philistines, “about four thousand of their army were killed on the field”, they began to ask “Why has the Lord allowed us to be defeated today by the Philistines?”  Instead of looking at themselves, the morale of the soldiers, the moral standards of the officers, their military preparedness, they sought other reasons.

Oftentimes, when we feel guilty about our sins, we can become overly superstitious.  Instead of putting our house in order, we think God is taking revenge on us.   The Israelites came to conclude that it was because the Ark of the Covenant was not there.  Instead of repenting for their sins, they took out the Ark of the Covenant.  They said, “Let us fetch the ark of our God from Shiloh so that it may come among us and rescue us from the power of our enemies.’  So the troops sent to Shiloh and brought away the ark of the Lord of hosts, he who is seated on the cherubs; the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, came with the ark.  When the ark of the Lord arrived in the camp, all Israel gave a great shout so that the earth resounded.”  Religion became a means to satisfy their selfish interests.  Instead of being used by God and allowing Him to work in our lives, we seek to make use of God and to control how He is to fulfill our whims and fancies.

The Israelites’ faith in God was based on a mere superstitious belief in the mechanical action of God through the Ark of the Covenant, when in fact it was but a symbol and a promise of His presence with them.  Unless they were open to His presence and faithful to His covenant, the Ark could not save them. As a result, they were slaughtered by the Philistines.  “So the Philistines joined battle and Israel was defeated, each man fleeing to his tent.  The slaughter was great indeed, and there fell of the Israelites thirty thousand foot soldiers.  The Ark of God was captured too, and the two sons of Eli died, Hophni and Phinehas.”

This is true for many of us.  There are many Catholics who hardly pray or attend Church services regularly and least of all, live an upright life, but they would carry their rosary and wear blessed medals for divine protection.   Some think that if they wear the scapular, they will be protected from all harm and be assured of salvation, regardless what they do.  Such thinking is no better than the way the Israelites made use of the Ark of the Covenant.  When we are not ready to look into the source of our problems, we will end with more dire consequences.  Just blessed medals alone cannot protect us unless we have a faith relationship with God.  Unless we know Jesus, His strength and His power, when it comes to the test of faith, we will falter.  The blessed medals can only protect us provided we believe in the power of the one whom the medal represents.   But this presupposes that we have a living relationship with Jesus or Mary or the saints that are represented in the medals.  What the medal or scapular does for us is to help us to recall the presence of the saints so that we will not be afraid or think that we are alone in our time of difficulty.

What was the real reason for the Israelites’ failure to defeat their enemies?  It was their sinful life that pushed God out of their lives.  The leaders, including the religious leaders, were laxed in their moral life.  As a result, God had abandoned them to themselves.  Earlier on, the Lord said to Samuel, “On that day I will fulfil against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I tell him that I am about to punish his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering for ever.”  (1 Sm 3:12-14)

Holiness of life is essential to the success of our ministry.  This is the key to fruitfulness in ministry and work.  But we also cannot be superstitious in our relationship with God as the Israelites did over the Ark of the Covenant.  We must not treat our prayers like magic or instruments to control God.  Today, we must be like the leper who begged for healing.  We must begin by acknowledging our sins and our need for mercy.  “Yet now you have rejected us, disgraced us; you no longer go forth with our armies. You make us retreat from the foe and our enemies plunder us at will. You make us the taunt of our neighbours, the laughing-stock of all who are near. Among the nations, you make us a byword, among the peoples a thing of derision.  Awake, O Lord, why do you sleep?  Arise, do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face and forget our oppression and misery?”  We must confess our sins humbly, especially in the Sacrament of reconciliation so that we can begin our relationship anew with the Lord.

Most of all, we must listen to the Word of God attentively as Samuel did.  This also explains why the author said, “Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.”  (1 Sm 3:1)  They could no longer hear the voice of God.   Indeed, when our lives are not in order, we cannot act in accordance with the will of God.  Without hearing the Word of God, we cannot act according to His word.  If we want to act in union with the Lord, we must seek His will.  This is what the Lord asks of us.   “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”  (Mt 7:24f)

Faith in God’s power is dependent on us hearing the Word of God first.  For this reason, Jesus preached the Word before He healed.  He instructed the disciples, “And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.  You received without pay, give without pay.” (Mt 10:7f) He solicited faith in the person before He performed the miracle.   So too, in our healing ministry, the Word of God always precedes the sacramental action.  The Word of God comes before the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  Without faith the action that we perform would be meaningless and lacking in power.  Preaching must always be accompanied by signs.  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. And these signs will accompany those who believe.”  (Mk 16:15f)

We ask the Lord to redeem us because of His love.  This is what the psalmist prayed.  We must place our confidence in His love for us.  The leper approached Jesus humbly and with trust in His love and power.   He was assured that Jesus would not reject him, for lepers were not supposed to come near to the people.  Jesus is ever ready to heal us and empower us, for that is what He said, “A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’  Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.  ‘Of course I want to!’ he said.  ‘Be cured!’  And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured.”   Indeed, Jesus showed forth not just His power but His love by touching the untouchables.  Not only did Jesus heal his body but also his heart which needed much acceptace and human love.

However, like the leper, we must cooperate with His grace.  He was told to see the priest and make an offering.  “Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’”  We must cooperate in prayer and conversion of life.  Many of us are not fruitful in our ministry, nor in our workplace, or even in family life because we are not living a righteous life.   St John Mary Vianney once asked a priest who lamented that his ministry was not fruitful, whether he had prayed, fasted or did penance.  If he had not done all these, then he had no reason to complain.  Let us renew our love for the Lord, beg for His mercy and open our hearts to His healing grace.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh

Prayer and Meditation for Monday, January 8, 2018

January 7, 2018

The Baptism of the Lord
Lectionary: 21

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Reading 1  IS 42:1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

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IS 55:1-11

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.


ACTS 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”


1 JN 5:1-9

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three that testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10

R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.


IS 12:2-3, 4BCD, 5-6

R. (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.R/ You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Alleluia CF. JN 1:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
John saw Jesus approaching him, and said:
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 1:7-11

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Homily from the Abbot
My sisters and brothers in Christ, . The Holy Spirit is our focus today as this Spirit comes down upon Jesus.  Once the Holy Spirit has come upon the Lord Jesus, then the Lord Jesus begins His public ministry.  It is the Spirit that drives Jesus into the desert and the Spirit that He gives to us when He dies. Already in Isaiah 42, the first reading today, we can sense this deep longing for a savior who will have the spirit of God guiding him.
All of us want to be saved when we find ourselves in difficult places of life.  We are invited to meet the Lord Jesus as our Savior.  Isaiah reflects the longing of the people and in time the Savior comes who brings light into the darkness. Jesus can bring light into our darkness if we let Him do that.
It is important that we come to see how we deal with the darkness around us.  What do we do when we feel conflict, when we are aware of our own brokenness, when we are tempted to things not good for us?  Quite often we do nothing until we find ourselves with problems in our lives because of our actions! What do we do when others cause problems in our lives?  What do we do when outside circumstances create difficulties for us?
What do we do when we lose a job, when we don’t have enough money, when life seems impossible?  Looking at how we respond to life tells us about our belief in a Savior. The reading from the Acts of the Apostles today tells us that whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.
Do we even think of God?  Do we ask the help of God?  Do we have a confidence that God will get us through every situation?  We are invited to live in the Spirit as Jesus did and begin to trust completely that God will walk with us and show us the way! The Gospel of Matthew today shows us the baptism of Jesus.
The life of Jesus changes from this point forward in a way that we can see.  Jesus walks with God and begins to relate to others, proclaiming the Kingdom of God.  May we come to rejoice in our own baptism and to know that we are changed.  May we live our lives as people called by the Lord to proclaim His Kingdom.

We can only do this if we are completely open to His help, to a complete conversion, to an awareness that nothing else in life really has meaning outside of the Kingdom.  My sisters and brothers, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

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Baptism of Christ by Brian Jekel
Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
This Gospel fragment (Mt 3:13-17) is part of a narrative section of Matthew the Evangelist, the section that introduces the public life of Jesus. After the flight into Egypt, Jesus lives in Nazareth. Now, as an adult, we find him on the banks of the river Jordan. The meeting of the two is part of the concluding section dedicated to John the Baptist.
Anyone who wishes to go deeper into the personality of John and his message (Mt 3:1-12 has already been presented to us in the liturgy of the second Sunday of Advent) needs to keep in mind the whole of chapter 3 of Matthew. Our passage concentrates especially on the acknowledgement of the divinity of Christ at the time of his baptism. God the Father reveals the identity of Jesus.
A division of the text as an aid to its reading: . Matthew 3:13 : setting Matthew 3:14-15 : dialogue John-Jesus Matthew 3: 16-17 : epiphany/theophany .
A moment of silent prayer … that the Word of God may penetrate our hearts and enlighten our lives.
Some questions . ….to help us in our meditation and prayer. . Why does Jesus “appear” after his hidden life in Nazareth? . How does awareness of his identity and mission grow? . Have I, at some time, taken on something new in my life? . Who or which experience has most revealed to me my identity, vocation and mission? e) What does the memory of my baptism mean to me?
Meditation A key to the reading: Together with a historical-chronological reading of the passage, the episode of the baptism of Jesus and his meeting with John before he begins his public life, we need to keep in mind also a symbolical reading, assisted by the Fathers of the East, a symbolism that is the framework of this liturgical season of Christmas and which concludes with the full manifestation of God as man: a synthesis of the manifestation-epiphany of the Son of God in the flesh.
A commentary on the text: Mt 13: 13 The adult Jesus After John “appears” on the scene (13:1), Jesus of Nazareth, where he spent his childhood and early youth (Mt 12:23), goes to the river Jordan. As a good Israelite, he watches the authentic religious movements that spring up among the people. He shows that he approves of the work of John and decides to be baptised with water, not, of course, to receive forgiveness for sins, but to unite himself and share fully in the expectations and hopes of all men and women.
It is not humankind that goes to Him, but He who goes towards humankind, according to the logic of the incarnation. Mt 13:14-15 the dialogue of John with Jesus John’s attempt to prevent the baptism of Jesus is his acknowledgement of the difference between the two and an awareness of the new (the New Covenant) making its appearance.
“The one who follows me… will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire… his winnowing-fan is in his hand… will clear… will gather… will burn…” (vv.11-12). Jesus’ attitude is still one of submitting to God’s saving plan (in this way, do all that righteousness demands), respecting the manner (in humility-kenosis) and the times (the time-kairos).
We also see the difference between the two from their families of origin (priestly for John), from the places (Jerusalem for John, Nazareth for Jesus) from the manner of conception (a proclamation to the father, Zachary, in the old style; a proclamation to the mother, Mary), the parents’ ages (those of John old).
Everything points to the passage from the old to the new. Matthew prepares the readers for the newness of the Christ: “you have heard it said, but I say to you” (Mt 5). Mt 13:16-17 the presentation of God the Father and the Holy Spirit In Matthew’s Gospel we have the solemn “adoration of the Magi” in acknowledgement of the royalty and divinity of Jesus. Luke also adds the acknowledgement of Elisabeth (Lk 1:42-43), of the angels (Lk 2:13-14) of the shepherds (Lk 2:20), and of the old Simeon and Anna (Lk 2:30; 28).
All the Evangelists record the proclamation of the divine identity of Jesus by God the Father and the Holy Spirit present in the form of a dove. Matthew says clearly “This is” not “you are” my Son, the Beloved. . Jesus is divine by nature and also the new Adam, the beginning of a new humanity reconciled with God as well as nature reconciled with God by means of Christ’s immersion in the waters.
The heavens are reopened after being closed for such a long time by sin, and earth is blessed. The descent of Christ into the waters prefigures his descent into hell and the words of the Psalmist come true (Ps 74: 13-14), he crushes the head of the foe. The Baptism not only prefigures, but inaugurates and anticipates Satan’s defeat and the liberation of Adam. However, it will not be easy to recognise the Messiah in his weakness. John himself has some doubts when in prison, and he sends his disciples to ask “are you the one who is to come or have we got to wait for someone else?” (Mt 11:3). .
For those who wish to go deeper into the liturgical and ecumenical aspects . In the tradition of the Eastern churches, the Baptism of Jesus is the most important liturgical feast of the Christmas cycle. On 6 January they celebrate together the baptism, birth, visit of the Magi, the wedding feast of Cana, as one fact. Rather than the historical development of the life of Jesus, they stress his theological-saving relevance.
They do not dwell on the sentimental aspect, but on the historical manifestation of God and his acknowledgement as Lord. Cyril of Jerusalem says that Jesus gives the waters of baptism “the colour of his divinity” (III mystagogic catechesis, 1). . Gregory Naziazen writes that the creation of this world and the creation of the spiritual world, once foes, reunite in friendship, and we humans, united in one choir with the angels, partake of their praises (PG 46,599). The descent into the waters corresponds to the descent into the bowels of the earth symbolised by the birth in a cave.
The destructive waters become waters of salvation for the just. The Old Testament readings of the liturgical Vespers recall the saving waters: the Spirit hovers over the waters at the time of creation (Gn 1), the waters of the Nile save Moses (Ex 2), the waters open for the people of Israel to go through (Ex 14), the waters of Mara become sweet (Ex 15), the waters of the Jordan open before the Arc (Jos 3), the waters of the Jordan heal Naaman the leper (2Kings 5) etc. .
Jesus then at the wedding feast in Cana transforms water into wine (Jn 2) as a sign that the time of salvation has come. At this feast in the eastern liturgy, there is a tradition of blessing water in a spring or river by immersing the cross three times (the triple baptismal immersion). This recalls the prophet Isaiah: let the wilderness and the dry lands exult (Is 35:1-10), come to the water all you who are thirsty (Is 55: 1-13), draw water joyfully (Is 12:3-6).
Psalm 114 (113) . Alleluia! When Israel came out of Egypt, the House of Jacob from a people of foreign speech, Judah became his sanctuary, and Israel his domain. The sea fled at the sight, the Jordan turned back, the mountains skipped like rams, the hills like sheep. Sea, what makes you flee? Jordan, why turn back? Why skip like rams, you mountains? Why like sheep, you hills? Tremble, earth, at the coming of the Lord, at the coming of the God of Jacob, who turns rock into pool, flint into fountain.
Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
08 JANUARY, 2018, Monday, Baptism of the Lord
08 JANUARY, 2018, Monday, Baptism of the Lord

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ISAIAH 55:1-111 JOHN 5:1-9MARK 1:7-11   ]

“Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come! Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy?”  Indeed, many are seeking meaning and fulfillment in life.  We know that the things of this earth cannot satisfy us, no matter how much we have.  We might have a luxurious life.  We might have plenty.  Yet, our lives are empty and meaningless.  Money, food, luxury alone and even career cannot give us real happiness in life.

Who, then, can give us fullness of life?   St John wrote, “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  (1 Jn 5:11f)  Faith in Christ is the key to the fullness of life.  This faith renders us a share in Christ’s sonship.  “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten by God; and whoever loves the Father that begot him loves the child whom he begets.”   The way to share in Christ’s sonship is through baptism which is given through faith.

Indeed, today, when we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord, we are reminded of our own baptism.  The baptism of Jesus is the basis for Christian baptism.  Christ Himself did not need to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins because He was sinless.  Yet, He insisted on John the Baptist baptizing Him for our sake. In being baptized with the waters of the Jordan, rather than being sanctified, Jesus sanctified the waters of the Jordan.  By extension, He sanctified all the waters for the use of baptism.  Through the symbol of water, the Lord saves us from our sins by His death and resurrection, since baptism is a call to being immersed in the water and to rise up a new person.  Baptism is a commitment to die to our old selves and rise to a new life in Christ.

But water is also a symbol not just of death and newness of life, it is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  We are reminded of the Samaritan Woman who asked for the living water.  Jesus said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”  (Jn 4:10)  Christ is the living water and the one who will baptize us in the Holy Spirit.  John the Baptist said, “Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”  Consequently, the psalmist invites us, “Truly, God is my salvation, I trust, I shall not fear. For the Lord is my strength, my song, he became my saviour. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

Cleansed of our sins and given a new rebirth in the Holy Spirit, we are made sons and daughters of God.  It is the Holy Spirit living in us that makes us children of God.  It is the Holy Spirit living in us that gives us the experience of being sons and daughters of God, loved and empowered by Him.  This was the experience of our Lord.  “No sooner had he come up out of the water than he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’”  It was this consciousness of His sonship that propelled Him to begin the mission of proclaiming His Father’s unconditional love and mercy.   St Paul affirmed this fact when he wrote,  “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”  (Rom 8:14-17)

Becoming a son and daughter of God entails that we are brought into complete union with Christ through the Sacraments of Initiation, namely, Baptism, the Eucharist and Confirmation.  It is through the Sacraments of Initiation that we are made truly sons and daughters of God, sharing in the life of Christ. For this reason, St John wrote, “Who can overcome the world? Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God: Jesus Christ who came by water and blood, not with water only, but with water and blood; with the Spirit as another witness – since the Spirit is the truth.”

Baptism is but a necessary gateway to all the sacraments of the Church.  Baptism itself is not sufficient to save us.  It only gives us the grace and the possibility to grow to adult manhood in Christ.  St Paul makes is clear that the gifts He gave us are meant “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.”  (Eph 4:12-14)  After baptism, we must make full use of the means to sanctification provided by the Church of Christ, the other sacraments, the Eucharist, devotions, instructions and service to the community and to the poor.  Through these means, we can grow in our discipleship.

Unfortunately, many of us are born again in baptism but never grow to full maturity!  We do not take our dignity as sons and daughters of God seriously.   St John wrote, “We can be sure that we love God’s children if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us; this is what loving God is – keeping his commandments.”   If we do not live the life of Christ, then we are just children of God in name, not in fact.  A nominal faith in Christ will not save us.  In the commissioning, Jesus told His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”  (Mt 28:19f)

The truth is that parents do not instruct their children in the faith, or lesser still, show the way of faith by their examples and their Christian way of life.  This explains why many of our children lose their faith, or their faith never truly grows.  A number of them do not go to church, or for catechism classes and for the sacraments because their parents either do not bring them or discourage them from going. They would wait till it is the time to receive their First Communion or Confirmation, then they might bring them to Church.  Of course, with such half-baked Catholics, many would leave the Church after Confirmation as they do not have a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus, and a relationship with Him.

Prophet Isaiah invites us to “seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near.”  We are called to nurture ourselves in the Word of God.   God’s word is effective and efficacious if we take the Word of God which we read, “not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.”  (1 Th 2:13) Indeed, “as the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.”

Through our love for the Word of God and the Eucharist as the Bread of Life, we will be able to nurture ourselves in the faith, strengthen our relationship with the Lord and with His body, the Church.  Because many of us hardly pray the Word of God and meditate on it, we are not directed in our lives by the Spirit of Christ but by the spirit of the world.   In addition, because we do not reinforce ourselves as members of the body of Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist, our link with the Church is weak.  Thus, when tempted by the world, we are easily deceived by the world.  Without a love for the Word of God and the Eucharist, we cannot be enlightened in the truth or be more incorporated into the life of Christ.

One sure way we can grow in our faith is to be His witnesses.  The Holy Spirit is given to us not just to build the Body of Christ and our personal faith but also to be His witnesses in the world.  Only by testifying to Christ by our words and deeds, can we draw others to the Lord as we grow in our faith and love for Him. Indeed, baptism is the beginning of mission as was in the case of Jesus.  It was His conscious experience of His sonship and the love of His Father that enabled Him to go about proclaiming the love of His Father.  So too we cannot say that we are baptized and yet not be His witnesses.  The failure to be His witnesses means that our baptism is just a ritual, a nominal faith.  If we really believe that we are God’s children, that God loves us and that Christ is the Son of God, we will not stop sharing Christ with the world and those who are seeking fullness of life.  So let us take to heart the exhortation of Isaiah “See, I have made of you a witness to the peoples, a leader and a master of the nations. See, you will summon a nation you never knew, those unknown will come hurrying to you, for the sake of the Lord your God, of the Holy One of Israel who will glorify you.”

Written by The Most Rev William Goh
Image may contain: one or more people

Book “Holy Spirit” by Edward Leen. Father Leen was a teacher who encouraged everyone to “invite the Holy Spirit into ourselves and our lives.” He encouraged all to seek “The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit”

The “Indwelling of the Holy Spirit,” if we seek — will reward us with a good conscience — an inner feeling or voice that drives us always toward, love, the good and the right. If we work to develop this indwelling we will be rewarded.
Unfortunately, in today’s secular society, we seem to have fewer who are seeking. So how can they possibly find?
The Gospels tell us to pray, meditate and consume Christ — make him a part of us and us in him.
This is intertwined with the mystery of the Eucharist….
We don’t have to “get it.” But we’ll be a lot happier if we do it!

Man’s Spiritual Dimension Governs All Human Rights

We seem to live today in a world of upheaval.

The Islamic State proclaims a caliphate, and promises heavenly rewards for the killing of those who reject Islam.

Christians are being slaughtered in great numbers.

All around the globe, people argue over human rights.

But where do our “human rights” come from?

China’s Communist government says only the Communist Party can bestow human rights. In the Muslim world, there seems to be a belief that only adherent to the Quran merit human rights. Apparently, murder and beheading of non-Muslims is acceptable to the Profit.

Yet Christians believe that human rights are bestowed by God. Christianity is rooted in the belief that man has an undeniable spiritual dimension. Many Christians believe that the Holy Spirit dwells within each and every human being — and this spirituality can be increased or minimized by the way each of us lives the Gospel.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
Related here on Peace and Freedom:
God, I offer myself to Thee –
to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love and Thy Way of Life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank You God, AMEN!

Rohingya community expresses sense of relief after meeting Pope — “Life is a suffering for us. Pope Francis said God almighty will shower blessings on us.”

December 4, 2017

Pope Francis gestures during a news conference on board of a plane on December 2, 2017, during a flight back from a seven-day trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh. (AFP)
DHAKA: Eleven-year-old Shawakat Ara could not hold her emotion after meeting Pope Francis on Friday evening. For some time she could not utter a word.
“Pope assured me that everything would be fine and he would fight for our rights,” said Ara, narrating her brief interaction with the pontiff in Dhaka.
With eyes moist and voice quivering, Ara said she felt “emotionally touched when Pope held her hands and put his hand on my head. I felt someone is there to hear and understand my pain.”
Ara was the youngest of the 16-member Rohingya group that was brought in from the refugee camps in Cox Bazar, southern Bangladesh, to meet the Vatican chief.
Narrating her personal tragedy to Arab News, Ara said: “My parents, grandparents, maternal aunts, brothers and sisters were killed by the Burmese military in a shoot-out last year before Eid.
“I witnessed the killing of my parents from the hiding place in my home. My younger brother was also beaten to death. I fled home along with my fellow villagers and after two days of hard journey I took a boat and reached a refugee camp in Bangladesh.
“I have lost my home, my parents. I have nothing to look forward to. I hope the Pope really does something for me and my community.”
Hajjera Khatun, 29, nurtures a similar hope. Last year, when she was fleeing her Imam Para village in Buchi Dong area of Myanmar, she was subjected to gang rape by the Myanmar army when she lost her way in the melee and got separated from her husband. When she regained consciousness, she resumed her journey in a condition so heart-wrenching that the boatman at the Myanmar-Bangladesh border took pity on her and ferried her to the other side of the river without charging any money.
“I narrated my travails to the Pope and all the brutalities I have gone through. He told me God is almighty and He will shower blessings on me,” said Khatun.
Talking to Arab News she added: “Pope told me that when he goes back home he will discuss about my issue and the issue of the community with others.”
On the penultimate day of his Bangladesh trip, Pope Francis met a group of Rohingya refugees and assured them all of support in their fight for rights in Rohingya.
“Pope’s gesture is very important and this will help in galvanizing international political and moral support for the cause of the hapless Muslim community in Myanmar,” said Nezam Uddin, a Rohingya activist, living in Naya Para refugee camp in Cox Bazar in Bangladesh.
“Pope advocated for the rights and dignity of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. This will further put pressure on the Buddhist regime in Myanmar to treat us with respect that we deserve,” Nezam told Arab News.
“Hope something comes out of Pope’s visit. Life is a suffering for us and the world community should take note of that and address our problem,” said Sayadur Rehman, a carpenter living in Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.