Posts Tagged ‘humility’

Morning Prayer for Monday, January 14, 2019 — Obey God and Walk With Him

January 14, 2019

I will learn to overcome myself, because every blow to selfishness is used to shape the real, eternal, unperishable me. As I overcome myself, I gain that power which God releases in my soul. And I too will be victorious. It is not the difficulties of life that I have to conquer, so much as my own selfishness.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may obey God and walk with Him and listen to Him. I pray that I may strive to overcome my own selfishness.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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Related:

(Includes What Drives This Alcoholic: A Life Mission)

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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14 JANUARY, 2019, Monday, 1st Week, Ordinary Time

MOTIVATED BY A HIGHER CALLING IN LIFE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  HEB 1:1-6PS 97:1-26-79MK 1:14-20 ]

Christmas and New Year celebrations are over.  Students are back to school and we are back to work and the daily drudgery and humdrum of life.  As we begin the first weekday of the ordinary liturgical year, the Church wants us to see everything in perspective, lest we live an unreflective and fragmented life.  We need to ask what direction we are taking in life.  What are we living for and what are we supposed to do?  This was the case of the apostles.  Peter and Andrew, like the rest, were just casting nets to catch fish.  So too were James and John.  They were mending their nets.  They were doing mundane things.   They did not have a higher vision and calling. They were just going through life. Like many of us, they were just surviving, not living.  When we do things for the sake of doing, we will not live life to the fullest.  When we just go through the mundane things of life, we cannot live with excitement and passion.

The scripture readings today provide us with a higher calling for each of us.  Yesterday, we just celebrated the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  Today, the scripture readings provide us with a clearer vision of what our baptismal calling is all about.  At His baptism, Jesus revealed to us the higher calling of life.  He came to show us the way to live our life to the fullest.  He could do it simply because, at His baptism, it was revealed that He was truly God and truly man.

The first reading from the letter to the Hebrews confirms that Christ is the revelation of our calling in life.  This is because He is the revelation of God.  He is greater than the angels.  He is God’s first born Son, that is to say, He holds the highest privilege, rank and honour, just like all first-born.  Indeed, Jesus as the Word of God shows us what life is all about and what our calling is.  This is what the first reading tells us. “At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son.”

He is not only truly God but truly man.  For this reason, He wanted to be baptized by John so that He could identify with us in our humanity and most of all, to suffer the pain of sins.  For this reason, immediately after His baptism, He was led to the desert to be tempted by the Evil One.  “And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.  He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.”  (Mk 1:12f)  St Mark inserted this event between the baptism of Jesus and the proclamation of the Good News in order to assert that Jesus could identify with us in our struggles against the Evil One.  But more than just being identified with us, He wanted to show us that it is not impossible to overcome the temptations of the Devil.  Rightly so, the author of Hebrews testified that “he has destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty.”

Vatican II in the Constitution of the Church underscores Jesus as the One who could give us meaning and direction.  “Nevertheless, in the face of the modern development of the world, the number constantly swells of the people who raise the most basic questions or recognize them with a new sharpness: what is man? What is this sense of sorrow, of evil, of death, which continues to exist despite so much progress? What purpose have these victories purchased at so high a cost? What can man offer to society, what can he expect from it? What follows this earthly life?

The Church firmly believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, can through His Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme destiny. Nor has any other name under the heaven been given to man by which it is fitting for him to be saved. She likewise holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point and the goal of man, as well as of all human history. The Church also maintains that beneath all changes there are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ, Who is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever. Hence under the light of Christ, the image of the unseen God, the firstborn of every creature, the Council wishes to speak to all men in order to shed light on the mystery of man and to cooperate in finding the solution to the outstanding problems of our time.”  (GS 10) 

Christ continues the work of salvation.  God is not just the creator but He is also our Redeemer.  Through Christ, He created the world and through the same Christ, He will redeem us.   Hence, the author wrote, “He is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, sustaining the universe by his powerful command; and now that he has destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty.  So he is now as far above the angels as the title he has inherited is higher than their own name.”

What, then, is the higher vision and mission of life?  What is His message of salvation? Jesus began His mission by proclaiming the Good News from God.  “‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand.  Repent, and believe the Good News.’”  In other words, Jesus wanted us to know that God’s reign of love, mercy and justice is here.  He is the light of the nations and the hope of humanity.  This world is not under the reign of Satan and his angels but He has come to restore creation under the rule of God’s love and mercy.

With the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we too share in His calling and mission.  We are called to share in His mission of proclaiming the Good News.  What does this mean?

Firstly, in all that we do, our focus is on humanity and people; not on work and things.  Peter and Andrew were simply catching fish day in and day out for their livelihood, but they never lived.   Jesus called them to a higher purpose of life, which was to catch men. Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.”   Indeed, whatever we do, especially in our work and jobs, we must not forget the objective of what we are doing.  If we work, it is to contribute to the development of the world and of humanity.  In our work too, we want to earn money to support our family and our loved ones so that they can have a happy life.   In whichever vocation we are in, the end target is not simply getting things done or performing well but to offer the best service to those people whom we are serving.  Ultimately, we are serving God by serving humanity.  So we must not do our work and only see it as work but rather to give a better life to our fellowmen.

Secondly, our mission is to heal and mend lives.  We read that James and John were mending nets in their boats. “He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.”  Instead of simply mending nets we are called to mend lives, to put lives in order, to forgive and to heal.  This is what our work is all about.  We want to let sinners know that they are forgiven and that Jesus loves them still, so that knowing they are loved by God, they will repent on hearing this Good News that they are loved and forgiven.  Our ministry is one of healing and restoration, whether as parents, bosses or workers.  We must show the mercy and compassion of the face of Christ in the world.  

Realizing that this is our call, what is demanded of us is a decisive response.  Why?  Because it is the Lord who calls!  This explains why the first disciples of Jesus left their work and their nets, that is, their possessions and even their loved ones, in this case, the father, immediately and followed after Jesus.  When the Lord calls, we cannot tarry any longer.  The answer must be a decisive “Yes” like Mary, and it must be immediate.

Of course, this following of Jesus is an ongoing process because it appears that the disciples were called a few times later.   We have other stories of Jesus calling the apostles in different ways.   In other words, following Jesus begins with a decisive response but it is an ongoing process of growing in faith in Jesus.  We need to search and clarify our call daily.  So as we work and live each day, we need to ask how faithful are we to our call to “catch men” and “heal lives” so that they fall in love with God and with us.  Make your vocation and all that you do to bring people to Jesus so that they can live their lives meaningfully and purposefully.

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

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Morning Prayer for Sunday, January 13, 2019 — I pray that I may always call on God’s strength

January 13, 2019

Before we came to the fellowship, we were living an unnatural life physically and mentally. We were punishing our bodies by loading them with alcohol. We didn’t eat enough and we ate the wrong things. We didn’t get enough sleep or the right kind of rest. We were ruining ourselves physically. We had an alcoholic obsession and we couldn’t imagine life without alcohol. We kept imagining all kinds of crazy things about ourselves and about other people. We were ruining ourselves mentally. Since I came into the fellowship, am I getting better physically and mentally?

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Meditation for the Day

I believe that my life is being refined like gold in a crucible. Gold does not stay in the crucible, only until it is refined. I will never despair or be despondent. I now have friends who long for me to conquer. If I should err or fail, it would cause pain and disappointment to them. I will keep trying to live a better life.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may always call on God’s strength, while the gold of my life is being refined. I pray that I may see it through, with God’s help.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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There are our “top overnight reads” at Peace and Freedom:

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What Drives This Alcoholic: A Life Mission

After 16 years of sobriety, my friend relapsed and started to drink again.

When I asked him how it happened, he said, “The alcohol just jumped into my mouth.”

When I asked him what was it that made him get out of bed in the morning, what was his mission, and what gave his life meaning, there was a long, uncomfortable silence.

I need to thank God continuously for the great gift of sobriety.

For me, a Christian in Alcoholics Anonymous, AA and my faith are in complete and perfect symmetry. I cannot imagine one without the other. I need both to sustain me.

I need meaning in my life. And I need interior peace — because that’s where I’ll hear God. I need to meditate.

A.A. is the beginning and not the end. Without true meaning in life, without a real mission, this particular alcoholic would be forever adrift and in danger.

I need friends, family, community and support. I need my sponsor and my wife sometimes equally and sometimes one more than the other.

But as a Christian, I also need Jesus. I need to seek him out and find him. I need to knock.

I need the hope of eternal life.

Nothing in this world can fill my need anymore. Once sober in A.A., we discover our spirituality — our spiritual nature and our spiritual life.

Truly now I am a spiritual being having what I hope is a temporary physical experience. I am no longer wedded only to this world. I am pointed toward the next.

For me, this is the goal of A.A. To give us a greater meaning, and greater goals. Selfless service to others is one of the best ways to stay sober and stay spiritually fit. So I must do that.

“Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps” is the goal. I must stay sober to keep my future shot of eternal life alive. If I don’t my spiritual life will end. I must live by the principles of the program and the teachings of the Christian life to have a shot.

All this is why many in A.A. with long-term sobriety are much better people than they were before. Now that we have tools, principles, fellowship and mission, we do better.  With real life tools and goals, we have a chance at eternal life.

And the joy of life and giving back every day.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

  • Honesty. We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • Hope. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • Faith. …
  • Courage. …
  • Integrity. …
  • Willingness. …
  • Humility. …
  • Brotherly Love.
Here’s the pathway to a better life:
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Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly
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The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
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  • Prayer and Meditation Description: Specifically, Kelly notes that this consists of a daily routine of prayer. “Am I saying the other 93 percent of Catholics don’t pray? No. Their prayer tends to be spontaneous but inconsistent. The 7% have a daily commitment to prayer, a routine” (p. 8).
  • Study Description: “[Dynamic Catholics] see themselves as students of Jesus and his Church, and proactively make an effort to allow his teaching to form them” (p. 14). Kelly also notes that on average they spend 14 minutes each day learning about the faith.
  • Generosity Description: Generosity covers not only time and money, but also generosity in all things. This generosity is a way of life.
  • Evangelization Description: While many Dynamic Catholics don’t consider themselves to be evangelists, they “regularly do and say things to share a Catholic perspective with the people who cross their paths.”

Interestingly, Alcoholics Anonymous teaches the same four characteristics:

— Prayer and Meditation
— Study
— Service to others
— Twelve Step Work (Evangelization)

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Third Step Prayer (Alcoholics Anonymous)

God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to 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!

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Lord, I ask your pardon, I have sinned again

Lord, I ask your pardon, I have sinned again. This, alas, is what I am capable of doing on my own! But I abandon myself with confidence to your mercy and your pardon, I thank you for not allowing me to sin even more grievously. I abandon myself to You with confidence because I know that one day you will heal me completely and, in the meantime, I ask you that the experience of my misery would cause me to be more humble, more considerate of others, more conscious that I can do nothing by myself, but that I must rely solely on your love and your mercy. Amen.

By Jacques Philippe

Book: Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence

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What is unique about Christianity?  Faith in the incarnation or the resurrection is not peculiar to the Christian Faith.  Other religions also believe in some form of incarnation of gods, and even resurrection.   Perhaps, what makes Christianity different from other religions is that we believe in the doctrine of grace.   In other words, salvation is purely the grace of God; not the work of man.  Grace is given to us irrespective of what we have done in life.  We cannot earn merits before God but we are called to receive His love, mercy and salvation graciously.

In most religions, there is always a belief in some form of Karma, the effects of what we do in life, good or evil.  If we do evil, we will be punished.  If we do good, we will be rewarded.  In other words, what we sow is what we reap.  Even St Paul appeared to affirm this principle.  “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  (Gal 6:7f)  However, the context of St Paul’s saying is that bad consequences will happen to us when we reject the grace of God.

This grace is given to us through Jesus Christ.  It is said that the word, “GRACE” is the acronym for “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”  Through Christ, we are given the grace of salvation freely and without reservation.  This is what the second reading from Titus tells us.  “When the kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.”

Baptism, therefore, is the expression of this grace of God given to us freely for our salvation.  There are no conditions for baptism except faith in His grace alone.  We are justified through faith in Jesus Christ who wrought for us the grace of reconciliation. St Paul in his letter to the Romans wrote, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith.”  (Rom 3:22-25)

The baptism of children is a clear example of grace, when they are made sons and daughters of God, heirs of Christ without any merit of their own to show.   St Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Eph 2:8-10)  They are given a new life in Christ and assured of eternal life.  All who are baptized are given a new dignity as adopted sons and daughters of God through the forgiveness of sins and the bestowing of the Holy Spirit.  Our sins are what cause us to lose our sonship and daughtership.  With our sins taken away by Christ and the bestowing of the Holy Spirit, we are now able to live out our sonship and daughtership in the power of the Holy Spirit.   Only in the Holy Spirit, can we live out our sonship.  From now on, even if we do good, it is not something that we can boast about except that the grace of God enables us to do good.  St Paul wrote, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Cor 12:9f)

We can do good also because of the example that Christ has set for us to follow.  He has taught us how to love and how to be good.  “God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions.  He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.”  Indeed, Christ has revealed to us our destiny in life, which is to share in the fullness of life with God.  We are called to die to ourselves with Him in baptism so that our lives will be reflective of our sonship in Him.

Hence, today as we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord, we are reminded to be grateful for our own baptism.  Being baptized is not just for our own salvation but baptism also means that we are given a mission as well to bring others to Christ.  The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of His mission.  Whereas the feasts of Christmas and Epiphany celebrate the human face of God in Jesus, the feast of baptism reveals the divine face of man by showing our real identity as God’s sons and daughters.   This is who we are.  Necessarily, baptism obliges us to live out our sonship and daughtership seriously so that others will come to see the human face of God in us and the divine face in man.  St Paul urges us, “we must be self restrained and live good and religious lives here in this present world, while we are waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the Appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Christ Jesus.”

Thus, baptism imposes on us the duty of witnessing to the Lord and to be apostles of Christ.  The command of the Lord before He ascended into heaven was this, “Therefore go 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 I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Mt 28:19f)  Like John the Baptist and the prophet Isaiah, we are to be joyful messengers of the Lord.  “Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God.’  Here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him. The prize of his victory is with him, his trophies all go before him.  He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.”

We are called to clear the path for people to accept the Lord into their lives by helping them to remove all the obstacles that prevent them from coming to the Lord because of pride, fear, selfishness and brokenness.  This is what the Suffering Servant said, “Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, let every cliff become plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  Many people today are too wounded to be able to see the face of God because of the injustices they suffered or their pride of intellect, thinking they can solve all problems of life and find happiness in pleasure, power and success.  To such people, we bring the Good News, words of consolation and encouragement.  “Console my people, console them. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for.”  Jesus began His mission thus, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18f)

This mission is possible only when we become conscious of the dignity of our sonship and daughtership in Christ.   We read, “While Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove.  And a voice came from the heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests with you.’”  To regain our sonship, like Jesus, we need to enter into prayer and intimacy with the Father so that the Spirit of God can rest upon us anew and reinforce our consciousness that we are sons and daughters of God so that we can live accordingly in the power of His Spirit.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Morning Prayer for Saturday, January 12, 2019 — Gratitude and Humility

January 12, 2019

I will say thank you to God for everything, even the seeming trials and worries. I will strive to be grateful and humble. My whole attitude toward the Higher Power will be one of gratitude. I will be glad for the things I have received. I will pass on what God reveals to me. I believe that more truths will flow in, as I go along in the new way of life.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be grateful for the things I have received and do not deserve. I pray that this gratitude will make me truly humble.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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Grace is an Unearned Gift

Paul sometimes uses “grace” as a broad catchall term to declare the way God acts toward His converted but still occasionally sinful children. In every case, whether referring to a singular gift or a continuing package of gifts that result in salvation, grace must always be perceived as unearned. Here, “grace” is used as a kind of shorthand for the entire ministry of Jesus Christ through which we are given salvation.

Notice that Paul exclaims, “Grace has appeared,” just as the manna, cloud, and fire appeared to illustrate God’s faithful presence to the Israelites through the entirety of their pilgrimage. Thus God is shown freely providing them with guidance, daily sustenance, and security. Recall that in John 14:18 that Jesus says in relation to giving the Spirit of truth, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” Paul is implying in Titus 2 that Jesus is following the pattern that He established with Israel for the church’s benefit.

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Paul also describes Christ as the personification of grace, salvation, redemption, teaching, hope, and the instruction and inspiration to live godly lives of overcoming and good works. All of these are shown as aspects of one huge gift that is continuously flowing in our lives.

Even as Paul describes Jesus as the personification of grace, he also uses Him as a synonym for grace and all of its powers and benefits, as though Christ exemplified all aspects of grace rolled up in one package. In this way, we can more easily identify and understand it and its meaning to us. Notice further what Jesus—grace—is doing: It is teaching us. Teaching represents the empowerment of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, inspiration, and discernment regarding our responsibilities. It also helps us to identify the subtleties of Satan’s devious, anti-God systems.

We should not make the mistake of thinking of grace as an entity; it is not a “thing” God dispenses. “Grace” is a term that represents the freeness of God’s personal, patient, and concerned generosity—His blessings and saving acts that are continuously flowing on our behalf to assist us along the way.

God’s saving work in us is not merely an extending of life to everlasting life. It is a creative labor on His part, forming us into the image of Jesus Christ, that requires our freely given cooperation for it to succeed. One of our major problems in fulfilling this responsibility by faith is to think about Him consistently, seeking for and acknowledging His benefits, and then returning thanks and praise to Him for His forgiving, patient generosity.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and God’s Grace (Part Two)

https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/17275/Grace-as-Unearned-Gift.htm

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, January 12, 2019 — “He must increase; I must decrease.”

January 11, 2019

Here John shows the essence of humility, which has many forms. In what ways do I exemplify humility?

Image result for Jesus and his disciples in Judea,, art, pictures

Detail of “The Charge to Peter” by James Tissot.

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Saturday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 217

Reading 1 1 JN 5:14-21

Beloved:
We have this confidence in him
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask,
we know that what we have asked him for is ours.
If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly,
he should pray to God and he will give him life.
This is only for those whose sin is not deadly.
There is such a thing as deadly sin,
about which I do not say that you should pray.
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.We know that anyone begotten by God does not sin;
but the one begotten by God he protects,
and the Evil One cannot touch him.
We know that we belong to God,
and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One.
We also know that the Son of God has come
and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.
And we are in the one who is true,
in his Son Jesus Christ.
He is the true God and eternal life.
Children, be on your guard against idols.
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Responsorial Psalm  PS 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B

R. (see 4a)  The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.  Alleluia.

Alleluia MT 4:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  JN 3:22-30

Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea,
where he spent some time with them baptizing.
John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim,
because there was an abundance of water there,
and people came to be baptized,
for John had not yet been imprisoned.
Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew
about ceremonial washings.
So they came to John and said to him,
“Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan,
to whom you testified,
here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.”
John answered and said,
“No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.
You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ,
but that I was sent before him.
The one who has the bride is the bridegroom;
the best man, who stands and listens for him,
rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.
So this joy of mine has been made complete.
He must increase; I must decrease.”

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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12 JANUARY, 2019, Saturday after the Epiphany

THE JOY OF RECONCILING MAN WITH GOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  1 JOHN 5:14-21PSALM 149:1-69JOHN 3:22-30 ]

Christmas celebrates the gift of God to us in the person of Jesus.  In assuming our humanity, Jesus reveals to us our identity as children of God.  Indeed, God became man so that man could become god.  However, many of us fail to recognize our dignity as children of God and as a consequence do not live as one.   This is because of sin.  Indeed, our sins prevent us from being conscious of our identity as sons and daughters of God.

St John in the first reading warns us of the danger of sin.  “Every kind of wrong-doing is sin, but not all sin is deadly.”  The truth is that a man begins by committing small sins.  If such things spring from his wounded nature and the manifestation of his human weakness, it is a venial sin.  Such sins are normally committed because of temptations and the weakness of the will to resist sin.   Such sins can be forgiven through prayers and the reception of the sacraments.  This is why, St John says, “If anybody sees his brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to the sinner – not those who commit a deadly sin; for there is a sin that is death, and I will not say that you must pray about that.”

However, the sins that really destroy us are those deliberate sins which we purposefully seek to commit, knowing full well that it is a sin.  When such sins are planned and a person chooses to go against God’s will and hurt his neighbours, it is a serious sin leading to death.  Hence, we call them mortal sins.  St Paul says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Rom 6:23)  The truth is that one begins with a small sin and then we become more daring and commit bigger sins because our hearts and minds are clouded by our sins and selfishness.  After some time, what is sinful and serious is no longer felt in our conscience.  We become dead to sin and as the consequence of sin, we hurt ourselves more and more by hurting others.

Once we commit a serious sin, unless we repent and turn to God in contrition, it will lead to a repetition of our sins.  This is what the Lord warns us.  That is why a sin of lust will lead to another and more serious sin of lust. Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  (Mt 5:27f)  An act of anger will lead to revenge and eventually killing.  “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Mt 5:21f)

Prayers will help a person to grow in holiness and be attuned to the will of God.  “We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, and it is in accordance with his will, he will hear us; and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us, we know that we have been granted what we ask of him.”   St John is saying that Christ will hear our prayers if we pray in accordance with His will.  Indeed, all prayers are directed towards finding and doing the will of God.  Many of us think that prayer is to change the mind of God.  Rather, prayer is to align ourselves with His holy will, which is always best for us.  That is why, if our prayers are to be answered, we need to be obedient to His will.  Indeed, we must ask whatever the Lord wants of us.  Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  (Jn 14:13f) To ask in the name of Jesus is to ask everything for His sake and for the glory of His name.  Therefore, there is nothing more effective in growing in holiness than through prayers and intimacy with the Lord.

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Prayers will help us to know Jesus.  Knowledge of Jesus is the key to overcoming our sins because using our will is not sufficient because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  St Paul struggled with sin himself.  “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Rom 7:21-25)  Indeed, through our own strength alone, we cannot be delivered from sin except in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus’ love and mercy helps us to conquer sin, not out of fear of punishment but out of love for the Lord.

This is what St John meant when he wrote that if we are baptized, we will not sin.  “We know that anyone who has been begotten by God does not sin, because the begotten Son of God protects him, and the Evil One does not touch him.”  It does not mean that Christians can no longer sin.  What St John meant is that we do not sin deliberately because of God’s spirit in us.  But we will still sin out of weakness.  However, we do not fall into despair but continue to trust in the mercy of God, knowing that He has won victory over sin.  “We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One. We know, too, that the Son of God has come, and has given us the power to know the true God. We are in the true God, as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.”   This is what baptism is all about.  We have Jesus in the gospel baptizing in the river Jordan.  To be baptized is to ask for forgiveness of our sins and most of all, to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus so that we can share in His sonship.

Today, like John the Baptist, we are called to direct sinners to the Lord.  Today, it is very difficult to convince people of the truth because of relativism.  We are bombarded with all kinds of philosophy and reasoning.  There is so much information and so many viewpoints on any issue that many of us are more confused than ever after reading all the different views.  We no longer know what is right or wrong anymore.  When reasoning and all arguments fail, the sure way to get people to accept Jesus is to lead them to Him.  If they know Jesus and if they fall in love with Him, then they will be able to see everything from the perspective of our Lord in the scriptures.  So instead of seeking to reason out with those who are disagreeable, although, it still might be necessary at times to defend our faith, yet, the better approach is through the testimony of our lives and our faith. Only through a life of holiness and faith in our Lord, can we convince others to come to Him so that He can be the Lord of their lives.

For this reason, we must pray for sinners even as we seek to reach out to them in compassion and love.  Our Lady, in all her apparitions, constantly urged us to repent and pray for sinners.  If words cannot change them, then prayers will change their hearts through God’s grace.  It is not enough just to pray for physical health and material needs.  If the body is important, how much more important is the soul because that soul is destined for eternal life.  We need to pray for the salvation of souls so that united with the Lord, they are saved for eternity, not just for this world.  If God answers prayers for material and physical needs, more so, He will hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners.

Indeed, like John the Baptist, great is our joy when we bring a sinner to Jesus to be reconciled with God.  “The bride is only for the bridegroom; and yet the bridegroom’s friend, who stands there and listens, is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This same joy I feel, and now it is complete.”  In bringing sinners back to God, we also save our own souls.  St James wrote, “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”  (Jms 5:19f)  Indeed, like John the Baptist, we must be conscious of our role as mediator to Jesus.  Once that is done, we should move aside and not be an obstacle for others to come to know the Lord.  With John the Baptist, we say, “I myself am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent in front of him. He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.”

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

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Reflection from Lectio Divina

Both John the Baptist and Jesus indicated a new way to the crowds. But Jesus, after having adhered to the movement of John the Baptist, and after having been baptized by him, advanced a step ahead and created His own movement. He baptized  people  in the Jordan River when John the Baptist was also doing it. Both of them attracted the poor and abandoned people of Palestine by announcing the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

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• Jesus, the new preacher, had a certain advantage over John the Baptist. He baptized more people and attracted more disciples. Thus, a tension arose between the disciples of John and those of Jesus, concerning the “purification,” that is, concerning the value of baptism. The disciples of John the Baptist experienced a certain envy and went to John to speak to him and informed him about the movement of Jesus.

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• John’s  response to his disciples is a beautiful response, which reveals his great spirit. John helps his disciples to see things more objectively. He uses three arguments: a) Nobody receives anything which is not given by God. If Jesus does such beautiful things, it is because he receives them from God (Jn 3:27). Instead of having envy, the disciples should feel joy. b) John reaffirms once again that he, John, is not the Messiah but only the precursor (Jn 3:28). c) In the end, he uses a comparison taken from the wedding feast.

At that time, in Palestine, on the day of the wedding, in the house of the bride, the so called “friends of the bridegroom” waited for the arrival of the bridegroom to present him to the bride. In this case, Jesus is the bridegroom, the crowd is the bride, John the friend of the bridegroom. John the Baptist says that, in the voice of Jesus, he recognizes the voice of the bridegroom and can present him to the bride, to the crowds. At this moment, the bridegroom, the people, leave the friend of the bridegroom and follow Jesus, because they recognize in Him the voice of their bridegroom! And for this reason the joy of John is great, “complete joy”. John wants nothing for himself! His mission is to present the bridegroom to the bride! The last sentence summarizes everything: “He must increase, I must decrease!” This statement is also the program for anyone  who follows Jesus.

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• At the end of the first century, in Palestine as well as in Asia Minor, where there were some communities of Jews, there were also people who had been in contact with John the Baptist or who had been baptized by him (Acts 19:3). Seen from outside, the movement of John the Baptist and that of Jesus were very similar to one another. Both of them announced the coming of the Kingdom (cf. Mt 3:1-2; 4:17). There must have been some confusion between the followers of John and those of Jesus. And because of this, the witness of John about Jesus was very important.

The four Gospels are concerned about transmitting the words of John the Baptist saying that he is not the Messiah. For the Christian communities, the Christian response, John’s response, “He must increase but I must decrease” was valid not only for the disciples of John at the time of Jesus, but also for the disciples of the Batiste or Cambric community of the end of the first century.

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-john-322-30

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Homily By Pastor Mark Driscoll

How odd would it be if you attended a wedding in which the star of the show was one of the groomsmen? Imagine if he demanded to be at the center of the photos, stood in front of the pastor for the ceremony, cut the cake, and had the first dance.

That would be incredibly awkward and wrong. Why? Because that is not his place.

Humility literally means, “to know your place.” Being humble requires knowing and accepting your place. None of us can say we are humble, but we should seek to say that we are pursuing humility by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Before Jesus started His ministry, John the Baptizer’s ministry began and got off to a rocket-ship launch. Before long, some of the people and leaders following John left him and started following Jesus instead. Some of John’s leaders were a bit miffed, so they brought their concerns to John. John’s response is amazing. In humility, he says that Jesus is the groom, the Church is the bride, and he was just the groomsman there to help – he’s not the star of the show.

The phenomenon of people leaving one ministry for another is nothing new. When someone transitions, some people immediately think it’s a bad thing and start to blame others. Sometimes the leader, ministry, or person leaving is tagged as bad.

John reveals that sometimes it is good for a person to transition from one ministry to another. Jesus and John the Baptizer were both good leaders with good ministries, and the people moving to Jesus’ ministry from John’s were seemingly good people. John rightly saw this as a good thing.

At the end of the day, people belong to God, not to the human leaders in a ministry. Sometimes, God moves people from one ministry to another because they are needed. This is precisely what John is saying – that the people were being sent by God to help Jesus, which is a good thing. This is a healthy model for handling transition in a godly way.

Are you more prone to encourage or criticize other ministries? If God calls you to move from one ministry to another, how can you do that in a healthy and godly way?

https://markdriscoll.org/he-must-increase-i-must-decrease/

Related:

More later….

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Bishops Describe Retreat With Father Raniero Cantalamessa

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although the weeklong retreat for U.S. Catholic bishops emphasized quiet reflection, several bishops spoke out on social media during the retreat and after it wrapped up Jan. 8 with positive reaction about it and to give shoutouts to the retreat leader, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who has preached to popes and top officials of the Roman Curia for nearly 40 years.

One bishop said listening to Father Cantalamessa was akin to being in the presence of the early Christian theologians. “Clear, intensely filled with the Holy Spirit, and all for the Kingdom of God,” Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Boulette of San Antonio said in a tweet. “Let us continue to pray for one another, our church and our world. A blessing to be here!”

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the official preacher of the papal household, delivers the homily to U.S. bishops during Mass Jan. 3 in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mundelein Seminary during the bishops’ Jan. 2-8 retreat at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois, near Chicago. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, tweeted that the retreat leader was a “true instrument of the Lord” and that the Holy Spirit was at work during the retreat.

Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania, described Father Cantalamessa’s talks and homilies as “powerful and engaging.”

He tweeted that he was glad they had time to reflect and pray about their role as shepherds, stressing: “We must start there to be able to offer healing. I am taking this very seriously but feeling positive.”

Boston Auxiliary Bishop Mark W. O’Connell said it was a “truly blessed experience” to be on retreat with Father Cantalamessa and fellow U.S. bishops.

“The Holy Spirit was powerfully present, and I was quite moved,” he tweeted. He also thanked the pope for giving the bishops this gift.

Pope Francis suggested the bishops hold the retreat and offered the services of the 84-year-old Father Cantalamessa, who has served as preacher of the papal household since 1980. The time of prayer Jan. 2-8 at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake near Chicago was planned largely in response to last summer’s revelations of allegations of sex abuse that reached the highest levels of the U.S. church.

In a Jan. 8 column for Angelus News, the archdiocesan news outlet of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said the bishops’ retreat leader focused “our attention on the vocation and responsibility of bishops in this moment in the church.”

“We are praying together as a visible sign of our unity as bishops and our communion with the Holy Father. There is a collegial spirit here and a firm commitment to address the causes of the abuse crisis we face and continue the work of renewing the church,” he added.

The archbishop said Father Cantalamessa asked them to “trust more in the Holy Spirit. We need to have confidence that we are always living in God’s loving presence.”

Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services listens to the homily during Mass Jan. 3 in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception during the bishops’ Jan. 2-8 retreat at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois, near Chicago. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, wrote a few blog posts about the retreat with some reflection about the retreat leader’s message.

 

He said they heard about the need to emphasize in their preaching the fundamental belief in Jesus before delving into his message and teachings.

He also said Father Cantalamessa emphasized the need to root out “love of money” and all that it implies, including material possessions, honor or power.

“If this pursuit for ‘money’ needs to be rooted out from our Christian lives, then we need to embrace a true spirit of detachment,” the bishop wrote, adding that he would add more to that topic in the days ahead.

The theme of the U.S. bishops’ retreat was “the mission of the apostles and of their successors” drawing from Mark 3:14, which says Jesus “appointed 12 — whom he also named apostles — that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach.”

Reflections from the retreat do not seem to be about the crisis in particular, maybe for a reason.

In an email to Catholic News Service weeks before the retreat, Father Cantalamessa said he would “not talk about pedophilia and will not give advice about eventual solutions; that is not my task and I would not have the competence to do so.”

“The Holy Father asked for my availability to lead a series of spiritual exercises for the episcopal conference so that the bishops, far from their daily commitments, in a climate of prayer and silence and in a personal encounter with the Lord, can receive the strength and light of the Holy Spirit to find the right solutions for the problems that afflict the U.S. church today,” he added.

In a Jan. 9 column for the Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper, Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said the pope’s intention for the retreat went beyond “this particular moment or challenge facing us bishops.”

“We are not leaving this retreat with all the answers to the important questions facing the church in these days,” he wrote, but he said the bishops now have a renewed sense of the importance of taking their cues from “Christ’s spirit rather than our own efforts.”

Another blessing from the week, he said, was being drawn closer to each other and to the pope.

“I have no doubt that just as the early church relied on Peter’s unique ministry to meet the challenges of the day, so we will draw strength and insight from our unity with his successor,” he said.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

Source:https://cnstopstories.com/2019/01/10/bishops-describe-their-retreat-as-inspiring-spirit-filled/

Morning Prayer for Thursday, January 10, 2019 — Finding Power in Humility (Caution: This is Counter-Culture)

January 10, 2019

The Objective: To be restored to sanity.

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Before we started on a spiritual path, most of us were full of pride and selfishness. We believed we could handle our own affairs, even though we were making a mess of our lives. We were very stubborn and didn’t like to take advice. We resented being told what to do. To us, humility looked like weakness. But when we came into A.A., we began to be humble. And we found out that humility gave us the power we needed to overcome drinking. Have I learned that there is power in humility?

Meditation for the Day

I will come to God in faith and He will give me a new way of life. This new way of life will alter my whole existence, the words I speak, and the influence I have. They will spring from the life within me. I see how important is the work of a person who has this new way of life. The words and the example of such a person can have a wide influence for good in the world.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may learn the principles of the good life. I pray that I may meditate upon them and work at them, because they are eternal.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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Dr. Bob often encountered doubters of his professed recovery through a spiritual path. Once he was asked by a hospital patient to describe the “spiritual part” of A.A.

Dr. Bob said, “The whole thing is spiritual.”

Related:

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 (Those words, spoken to an advocate of sex, drugs and rock and role, changed everything)

Morning Prayer for Monday, January 7, 2019 — God’s word is spoken to the secret places of my heart

January 7, 2019

Thought for the Day

When temptation comes, as it does some times to all of us, I will say to myself: “No, my whole life depends on doing the next right thing.” Besides, I have promised that Higher Power that I wouldn’t do the wrong thing. I know that God doesn’t want me to drink and I won’t break my promise to God. I’ve given up my right to drink and it’s not my decision any longer. Have I made the choice once and for all, so that there’s no going back on it?

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Meditation for the Day 

In silence comes God’s meaning to the heart. I cannot judge when it enters the heart. I can only judge by results. God’s word is spoken to the secret places of my heart and, in some hour of temptation, I find that word and realize its value for the first time. When I need it, I find it there. “Thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may see God’s meaning in my life. I pray that I may gladly accept what God has to teach me.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

Related:

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“What is God teaching you?”

I hated that question. How can you fake an answer to that one? Even if I could fool my bride (unlikely), I could certainly not fool the object of the question. I would hem and haw and then come to the uncomfortable truth.

Not much.

And that was a real revelation to me. If I could not answer that question then there is not much going on in my relationship with God. When I could not answer that question I was stagnant in my walk at best, and headed in reverse at worst.

Recently I have not dreaded the question from my beloved, because God is teaching me a lot during our joint journey through Joni’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Not long after diagnosis day (cancer patients and family understand the impact of D-Day), I wrote a blog about the beginning of our journey. The article was called “Sentences that change your life”. I reviewed that as I pondered what I have learned.

So what is God teaching me through this trial? Three things immediately come to mind:

  1. I am learning that my trust is only in Him. I have no ability to control this situation. I cannot make a joke that will diffuse cancer. I can’t come up with a clever plan to circumvent this disease. I can’t ignore it and hope it goes away. I can’t procrastinate and deal with it later. Cancer is in my face and I have no control over anything. It has been humbling and frustrating. But ultimately I have had to confess that I am helpless. King David understood in Psalms 18 where his strength came from… I love you, LORD; you are my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold.
  2. I am learning that most of what we agonize over in the mundane struggles of daily living is a giant pile of, uhh, balderdash. This has been a lesson and a struggle at the same time. I find myself getting frustrated and even angry when others get upset over insignificant things. I am learning that is my problem and not theirs. I am accountable for me. I want to grab these whiners by the shoulders, shake them, and tell them how much they have to be thankful for. But I am learning that my response is to silently be grateful for my blessings. And one of those blessings is not going ballistic over nothing. My fear is that I will forget this lesson when we finish this arduous journey. Feel free to call me on that if you observe me forgetting what matters. Please.
  3. I am learning that God is in control of everything. Joni told me yesterday an amazing insight that God is teaching her. Part of the struggle of this journey is your expectations of how others respond. You go into a crisis like this expecting that this person will respond this way and this person will respond that way. If your experience is like ours you will be wrong much of the time. We have been amazed at how some people come out of nowhere to support and uplift your spirits. Others you would have expected to do that do not respond according to your expectations.

    Joni found a devotion in a book called Praying Through Cancer. This particular article was talking about how God chooses those people that He wants to care for us. He places in their hearts a desire to pray, comfort, and reach out to us. We have been so blessed by so many who have done that in our journey. But Satan causes you to dwell on someone you “expected” to be there. I am learning that God is in control of even who cares for us. Why should I dwell on a negative when He has chosen so many wonderful people to share this journey with us.

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Paul writes powerfully to the Romans 8:35-39:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Joni and I are learning so much. It is a tough class. We are ready to finish this course and advance. But I pray we will never forget what God is teaching us through this time.

May I annoy you by asking… what is God teaching you?

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/the-dreaded-question-what-is-god-teaching-you-1412380.html

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Meditation Can Transform Your Mental Health

If someone told you they knew of a way to change your brain and put you in control of your mental health, would you be willing to try it?

For years, a practice that has the power to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD, has been written off as metaphysical and treated as an “out there” spiritual practice.

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In reality, meditation isn’t a new-agey, trendy ritual, but rather one that has been practiced in Taoist China and Buddhist India since 6th century BC, and has since taken on a variety of forms.

Regardless of how it is practiced, the benefits of meditation are undeniable and it can no longer be disregarded when treating mental health.

Recent studies show that meditation has a powerful impact on our brains and how our bodies respond to stress. Because of these marked internal changes, adopting a meditation practice has the ability to treat a variety of mental health conditions, and in some cases, is powerful enough to replace pharmaceuticals.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a treatment combining meditation for mindfulness and cognitive therapy, has shown to be as effective as antidepressants and is a powerful addition to other forms of mental health treatment.

The Benefits of Meditation

While the exact powers behind this ancient practice remain unclear, there are proven physical benefits to establishing a regular meditation ritual including:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved concentration
  • Decreased depression
  • Improved resilience
  • Encouraged healthy lifestyle
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increased happiness
  • Increased acceptance
  • Slowed aging
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Improved immunity
  • Eased chronic pain
  • Boosted mood
  • Balanced eating habits
  • Increased focus
  • Boosted creativity
  • Improved breathing and heart rate

See more:

https://alorecovery.com/new-age-not-regular-meditation-practice-can-transform-mental-health/

Related:

God Doesn’t Want You To Be A Big Shot

January 6, 2019

If we do not have humility and sincerity of heart, God is able to reveal Himself fully to us…

“A grateful heart is always thankful, in all circumstances; a discontented heart complains, even in paradise.”

By  – @inquirerdotnet

Teacher: What do you call the star that is in the north?

Students: North Star, Ma’am!

Teacher: What do you call the star that is in the south?

Students: South Star, Ma’am!

Teacher: What do you call the star in the middle of the two?

Students: “‘Bituin’, Ma’am!”

Today is the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. It is God who reveals himself to us. On our own we cannot know God, for our minds cannot truly comprehend Him. Only in humble listening and diligent searching can we truly encounter Him. If you have that “SUPERSTAR” feeling about yourself, most likely, you will not find God.

In today’s Gospel (Mt. 2, 1-12), we hear how the Magi were led by a star to Baby Jesus. It was a star that brought them joy and peace. What star are you following? Is your star making you truly joyful and peaceful? Today, let us ask ourselves if what we are pursuing in life is really worth it all. Let Jesus be the superstar of our lives.

Herod was surrounded by money and power and people at his beck and call, but he did not find the Lord. Neither can we, if we do not have humility and sincerity of heart. It is to a humble and contrite heart that God is able to reveal Himself fully.

Feeling superstar ka ba? Forget it. It’s an illusion. The sooner you let go of that thought, ambition or feeling, the better for you and for the people around.

Let us learn from the Magi. They were wise, not so much because of their knowledge, as because of their humility that made them accept that there was someone greater than themselves. They prostrated themselves and paid homage to the Baby Jesus. A person who thinks himself/herself big is a fool, and, yes, stupid. Humility, humility, humility!

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It is with gratitude that we say goodbye to the year that was. It is with humility and trust that we say yes to the year that is ahead of us. Our greatest confidence is the Lord’s promise that He will be with us every single day of 2019. We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future, and that is enough.

Let me end with a story about an elderly woman sitting behind the bus driver who kept giving him peanuts. Out of curiosity, the driver asked her: “Grandma, why do you keep giving me peanuts?” The woman said: “Oh, it’s just the chocolate coating that I like!”

Let us examine today the quality of our giving. All too often, we give calculatingly, and sparingly, all done within our comfort zones. Let the Magi remind us to go out of our way, and to really bring out our treasures for the Lord and for His people. Unless and until we do that, we will never really find and encounter Him.

Sharing with you this text message from my accountant friend Rudy Besinga: “Birth is your opening stock; what comes to you is your credit; what goes from you is debit; your ideas are your assets; your character is your liabilities; your happiness is your profit; your sorrow is your loss; your knowledge is your investment; your age is your depreciation; death is your closing stock; and God is your auditor who will come back to you sooner or later, so you better share with all, and keep your books in proper order.”

Think about this: “A grateful heart is always thankful, in all circumstances; a discontented heart complains, even in paradise.”

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, You and You alone, are the Superstar of my life. Amen.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/118694/that-superstar-feeling#ixzz5bpJGQMEG
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Morning Prayer for Thursday, December 27, 2018 — Following Good Guidance

December 27, 2018

I need the principles of the program for the development of the buried life within me, that good life, which I had misplaced, but which I found again in this fellowship. This life within me is developing slowly but surely, with many setbacks, many mistakes, many failures, but still developing. As long as I stick close to the fellowship, my life will go on developing, and I cannot yet know what it will be, but I know that it will be good. That’s all I want to know. It will be good. Am I thanking God for the fellowship?

Meditation for the Day

Build your life on the firm foundation of true gratitude to God for all His blessings and true humility because of your unworthiness of these blessings. Build the frame of your life out of self-discipline; never let yourself get selfish or lazy or contented with yourself. Build the walls of your life out of service to others, helping them to find the way to live. Build the roof of your life out of prayer and quiet times, waiting for God’s guidance from above. Build a garden around your life out of peace of mind and serenity and a sure faith.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may build my life on good principles. I pray that it may be a good building when my work is finished.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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Step 1 – Honesty

Step 2 – Hope

Step 3 – Faith

Step 4 – Courage

Step 5 – Integrity

Step 6 – Willingness

Step 7 – Humility

Step 8 – Brotherly Love

Step 9 – Justice

Step 10 – Perseverance

Step 11 – Spirituality

Step 12 – Service

Related:

Meditation on the Birth of Christ

December 24, 2018

Leo the Great of Rome, Homily 21, On the Nativity, 1

Written by Leo the Great of Rome.

I. All share in the joy of Christmas

Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness.

There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life.

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For the Son of God in the fullness of time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine counsel has determined, has taken on him the nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered through that (nature) which he had conquered. And in this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on great and wondrous principles of fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the lists with His savage foe not in His own majesty but in our humility, opposing him with the same form and the same nature, which shares indeed our mortality, though it is free from all sin.

Truly foreign to this nativity is that which we read of all others, no one is clean from stain, not even the infant who has lived but one day upon earth” ({bible}Job 19.4{/bible}). Nothing therefore of the lust of the flesh has passed into that peerless nativity, nothing of the law of sin has entered. A royal Virgin of the stem of David is chosen, to be impregnated with the sacred seed and to conceive the Divinely-human offspring in mind first and then in body.

And lest in ignorance of the heavenly counsel she should tremble at so strange a result , she learns from converse with the angel that what is to be wrought in her is of the Holy Ghost. Nor does she believe it loss of honour that she is soon to be the Mother of God. 

For why should she be in despair over the novelty of such conception, to whom the power of the most High has promised to effect it. Her implicit faith is confirmed also by the attestation of a precursory miracle, and Elizabeth receives unexpected fertility: in order that there might be no doubt that He who had given conception to the barren, would give it even to a virgin.

II. The mystery of the Incarnation is a fitting theme for joy both to angels and to men

Therefore the Word of God, Himself God, the Son of God who in the beginning was with God, through whom all things were made and without whom was nothing made” ({bible}John 1.1-3{/bible}), with the purpose of delivering man from eternal death, became man: so bending Himself to take on Him our humility without decrease in His own majesty, that remaining what He was and assuming what He was not, He might unite the true form of a slave to that form in which He is equal to God the Father, and join both natures together by such a compact that the lower should not be swallowed up in its exaltation nor the higher impaired by its new associate. 

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Without detriment therefore to the properties of either substance which then came together in one person, majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality: and for the paying off of the debt, belonging to our condition, inviolable nature was united with possible nature, and true God and true man were combined to form one Lord, so that, as suited the needs of our case, one and the same Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, could both die with the one and rise again with the other.

Rightly therefore did the birth of our Salvation impart no corruption to the Virgin’s purity, because the bearing of the Truth was the keeping of honour. Such then beloved was the nativity which became the Power of God and the Wisdom of God even Christ, whereby He might be one with us in manhood and surpass us in Godhead. For unless He were true God, He would not bring us a remedy, unless He were true Man, He would not give us an example.

Therefore the exulting angel’s song when the Lord was born is this, Glory to God in the Highest, and their message, peace on earth to men of good will .

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For they see that the heavenly Jerusalem is being built up out of all the nations of the world: and over that indescribable work of the Divine love how ought the humbleness of men to rejoice, when the joy of the lofty angels is so great?

III. Christians then must live worthily of Christ their Head

Let us then, dearly beloved, give thanks to God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy Spirit , Who for His great mercy, wherewith He has loved us, has had pity on us: and when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together in Christ (Ephesians 2:5) that we might be in Him a new creation and a new production. Let us put off then the old man with his deeds: and having obtained a share in the birth of Christ let us renounce the works of the flesh.

Christian, acknowledge your dignity, and becoming a partner in the Divine nature, refuse to return to the old baseness by degenerate conduct.

Remember the Head and the Body of which you are a member.

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Recollect that you were rescued from the power of darkness and brought out into God’s light and kingdom. By the mystery of Baptism you were made the temple of the Holy Ghost: do not put such a denizen to flight from you by base acts, and subject yourself once more to the devil’s thraldom: because your purchase money is the blood of Christ, because He shall judge you in truth Who ransomed you in mercy, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

http://www.monachos.net/content/patristics/patristictexts/655

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Book: The Imitation of Christ

Philippines: President Duterte Urges Catholic Group To “Emulate Mary’s Qualities”

December 8, 2018

Despite his tirades against some members of the Catholic Church, President Duterte joined the Catholic community in commemorating the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary yesterday.

Duterte, who has cursed Catholic priests and even called God “stupid,” urged the faithful to “emulate Mary’s qualities.”

“Let us emulate Mary’s qualities as a humble and caring person and remain guided by her faithfulness as we strengthen our devotion and nurture our lives with unconditional love and good deeds that will benefit the Filipino people,” he said.

President Duterte gets a hug from one of the guests during the Department of Tourism’s Food and Travel Festival dubbed ‘Kaon Ta!’ held at the Abreeza Mall in Davao City the other day.

In a one-page message, Duterte urged Catholics to remember Mary’s selflessness, describing her as an epitome of faith.

“Every year, our thoughts and hearts unite to celebrate the life of Virgin Mary, whose simplicity, kindness and humility we truly adore and admire,” he said.

“Since the advent of Christianity in the Philippines, she has been an epitome of faith and a source of inspiration for our people, especially during times of challenges and uncertainties,” Duterte said.

“May the narrative of her Immaculate Conception be a constant reminder of her selflessness when she accepted the invitation to become the mother of Christ so that the plan of salvation would be realized,” he added.

Duterte wished the Catholic community a “happy and meaningful” commemoration.

CATHOLIC CHURCH, IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, RODRIGO DUTERTE, VIRGIN MARY

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/12/09/1875464/lets-emulate-virgin-marys-qualities#D6G5zVLTzd3qOWDy.99