Posts Tagged ‘self-abandonment’

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 Wednesday, January 9, 2019 — I pray that I may put this day in the hands of God

January 9, 2019

There was a time when many of us had no real faith in anything. We may have said that we believed in God, but we didn’t act as though we did. We never honestly asked God to help us and we never really accepted His help. To us, faith looked like helplessness. But when we came into the fellowship, we began to have faith in God. And we found out that faith gave us the strength we needed to overcome my many problems. Have I learned that there is strength in faith?

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Meditation for the Day

I will have faith, no matter what may befall me. I will be patient, even in the midst of troubles. I will not fear the strain of life, because I believe that God knows just what I can bear. I will look to the future with confidence. I know that God will not ask me to bear anything that could overcome or destroy me.

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Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may put this day in the hands of God. I pray for faith, so that nothing will upset me or weaken my determination to stay on the right path.

From: Twenty Four Hours a Day

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Related:

 

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Leap of Faith

Book: Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by J. P. de Caussade

Related:

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Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God — Mother Teresa

Our Lady Star of The Sea Nativity, Lake Hopatcong, NJ - Blogs - PaperModelKiosk.com

St. Francis of Assisi in stained glass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church, Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. .

Morning Prayer for Monday, December 31, 2018 — Faith, prayer, and hope are the cornerstones

December 31, 2018

I shall be loyal in my attendance, generous in my giving, kind in my criticism, creative in my suggestions, loving in my attitudes. I shall give A.A. my interest, my enthusiasm, my devotion, and most of all, myself. The Lord’s Prayer has become part of my fellowship thoughts for each day: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not to temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Have I given myself?

Meditation for the Day

As we look back over the year just gone, it has been a good year to the extent that we have put good thoughts, good words, and good deeds into it. None of what we have thought, said, or done need be wasted. Both the good and the bad experiences can be profited by. In a sense, the past is not entirely gone. The result of it, for good or evil, is with us at the present moment. We can only learn by experience and none of our experience is completely wasted. We can humbly thank God for the good things of the year that has gone.

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Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may carry good things into the year ahead. I pray that I may carry on with faith, with prayer, and with hope.

From Twenty Four Hours a day

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

December 28, 2018

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

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

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

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Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Lectionary: 698

Reading 1 1 JN 1:5—2:2

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

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

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

Alleluia See Te Deum

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

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
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Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore 
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28 DECEMBER, 2018, Friday, Holy Innocents

WHO ARE THE HOLY INNOCENTS TODAY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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What does “walking in the light” mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://churchplants.com/articles/5747-what-does-walking-in-the-light-actually-mean.html

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, December 22, 2018 — “My soul magnifies the Lord” — We Hand Over Our Lives To God At Christmas

December 22, 2018

The Father gave up His only begotten son for us.  Christ gave Himself up in return.   Hence, we do not make this sacrifice alone but with Jesus, Mary and Elizabeth and the whole Church.  We give ourselves so that others can live. We live for Jesus and His Church. Like Mary, it is not enough to sing our song of thanksgiving and give glory to His name, but our whole life must be like that of Mary, truly a sacrifice of thanksgiving so that His name will be kept holy and known for all generations.

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Art by Sassoferrato

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Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
Lectionary: 198

Reading 1 1 SM 1:24-28

In those days,
Hannah brought Samuel with her,
along with a three-year-old bull,
an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine,
and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
After the boy’s father had sacrificed the young bull,
Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said:
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Art: Hannah Presenting Samuel to Eli, by Clark Kelley Price
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“Pardon, my lord!
As you live, my lord,
I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD.
I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request.
Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD;
as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.”
She left Samuel there.

Responsorial Psalm  1 SAMUEL 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8ABCD

R. (see 1a) My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“My heart exults in the LORD,
my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in my victory.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“The bows of the mighty are broken,
while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,
while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“The LORD puts to death and gives life;
he casts down to the nether world;
he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich,
he humbles, he also exalts.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“He raises the needy from the dust;
from the dung heap he lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 1:46-56

Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months
and then returned to her home.

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Magnificat

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnificat

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Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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22 DECEMBER, 2018, Saturday, 3rd Week, Advent

CHRISTMAS IS TO HAND OVER OUR LIFE TO THE LORD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 SAMUEL 1:24-28LUKE 1:46-56   ]

As we approach nearer to Christmas, the liturgy focuses on the theme of joy.  So what do we mean when we speak of the joy of the gospel? What is Christmas joy?  All the scripture readings today recount the joy of those who encountered the Lord’s mercy and power.

In the first place, we see the mercy and compassion of God in the way He responded to the prayers of Hannah.   She was then barren, and the Lord gave her the grace to conceive Samson, taking away her shame and humiliation.  This was something totally unexpected and indeed a gracious act of God. This is what the psalmist says. “He lifts up the lowly from the dust, from the dungheap.  He raises the poor to set him in the company of princes to give him a glorious throne.”  That our God comes for the lowly and the poor is most consoling.  This God we worship is a God who has a special preferential love for the poor and the needy.  Consider those times when we were down and out, but the Lord came to our help, whether because of the mistakes we have made in our life or at work, or when we faced financial or personal difficulties.

Secondly, we see the power of God at work in our lives.  That Elizabeth was able to conceive John the Baptist in her old age was indeed a miraculous act of God.  What was thought impossible happened, as Mary summed up in the Magnificat, “He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the proud of heart.  He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.” Indeed, the psalmist declares, “It is the Lord who gives life and death, he brings men to the grave and back; it is the Lord who gives poverty and riches. He brings men low and raises them on high.”

Whenever we experience a divine intervention in the events of our daily life, we cannot but be filled with joy, especially when He intervenes on behalf of the poor and the lowly, those despised by the world.  Indeed, we know that there are so many occasions when we feel the situation is hopeless; an incurable illness, children who are wayward and failing in school, or someone difficult to work with in the office, yet the Lord intervenes to bring about a change of attitudes and events.

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What is important to take note is that this joy that Mary, Elizabeth and John the Baptist experienced was not a joy that came from this world.   It was a joy that came from on high, from the graciousness of God.  Salvation is not man’s doing but primarily the work of God in and through us.  The incarnation reminds us that we are saved not by our good works or by our efforts but by the power of God. True joy must come from God.  It comes from encountering His love and mercy and His power at work in our lives.  That is why the joy that comes from God is liberating, fulfilling, amazing and life-changing.  It brings true peace.  This is because God is the source and the origin of that joy.

Human joy is just the opposite.  Human joy is not necessarily bad, but because it comes from the human heart and that of this world, it tends to be transient. It ends

as soon as it finishes.  It is not lasting.  Anything not enduring is not godly joy, as when you attend a party, eat good food, receive a gift or when you are successful in your projects, work or studies.  Such joys are not necessarily evil, unless they are immoral.  However, the point is that they do not last as they are passing and transient. True joy therefore cannot be our own creation.

True joy comes in the final analysis in meeting Jesus, the love of God made present.  In encountering Jesus, we cannot but be filled with joy.  We can therefore understand the joy of Mary for experiencing this indescribable joy of the Son of God dwelling in her womb.  Contemplating on this joy of knowing that Jesus is within her is the cause of the Magnificat that she sang in thanksgiving.   Indeed, with Jesus, there is nothing else to fear.  The Magnificat recounts the greatness and mercy of God, especially for the poor and the undeserving.  God has come for the lowly and the humble of society.  It speaks about God’s fidelity to His promises made to our father Abraham.   God is faithful and reliable.  The coming of the Messiah therefore spelt great hope for the people of Israel.  The joy of deliverance, redemption and victory over sin and their enemies was the cause of great joy.

What about us?  How do we know we have encountered true joy?  The first sign is that of announcement.   When we meet the Lord, we cannot contain that joy, like Mary, Elizabeth and John the Baptist.  Joy was written all over their faces, in their entire being.  They could not keep the joy of encountering Christ in their hearts.  They expressed it in their lives, in their words, in their feelings and in their prayers.   Indeed, if it were a real and true encounter, we too will become like Mary, going out of the way to announce the joy of the gospel.  So those who have a deep experience of God tend to be reaching out and not turning in towards themselves.  If there is nothing to proclaim about God and what He has done for us in our life, then we have not encountered Jesus.  This joy is not faked, created or a pretense but comes deep from within our hearts, of wanting to let people share our joy.

The second sign of having encountered the Lord is an attitude of contemplation and thanksgiving to God.  This was the way of Mary. The Magnificat is not just a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God but it comes out of a deep contemplation as to what the conception of Jesus in her womb meant for her and for the people of Israel.  So too, Elizabeth and John the Baptist sang the praises of thanksgiving to God for the wonderful work He had done for them.

But the most important sign is that of sacrifice.   A true experience of God and the outcome of that joy is also expressed in gratitude leading to sacrifice.  We read in today’s first reading how Hannah handed over her only child for the service of the Lord. She said to Eli the priest, “‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’ There she left him, for the Lord.”

When we are truly grateful and joyful, we give away what we have and what we received because we know that what we have is a gift from God, given freely by Him.  As such, we too are called to give to others freely as well.   Indeed, Jesus told us, freely received, freely given.   In the case of Hannah, she was ready to give her only child to the Lord because she knew that the child was truly God’s gift to her. Otherwise, which mother would hand over her child to the Lord for service in His temple or church?

We would want to keep our gifts for ourselves.  If we do that it means that we have missed out the real symbol of the gift that we received from God and others.  Gifts are but expressions of this joy of encountering unconditional love. Gifts however are merely symbols of love, inadequate as it might be.  The gift is not the real thing but just an attempt to express our love and appreciation when it is genuinely given from the heart.  As it is said, the gifts are secondary but what is important is the thought that comes with it.  Of course, what is more important is what the thoughts are, are they sincere, genuine, real or just only customary and superficial.

At the end of the day, no gift can truly express the heart of the person, short of giving oneself entirely.  This is what Christmas is all about.   God gave us His only begotten Son.  Christ came to give Himself to us by emptying Himself first of His divinity and then of His humanity by His death on the cross.   Hannah, Mary and Elizabeth too were called to give their sons, their only sons, for the service of God and His people, and not keep them for themselves.  This is why some of us become priests and religious, to return the gift that we have received.  There are many people, young and old, who give their lives to the Church.  Their experience of God’s love and the joy in their hearts made them give up their lives for others.

Why must we give away the gift that we received?  Why can’t we keep the gift for ourselves?  Because by not giving away what we received, we will delimit the joy of partaking in God’s love and joy.  A wise person gives away all he receives to others, keeping little for himself except what he needs to live on.   By giving away what we have received, we retain both the meaning of the gift and an added joy of sharing a gift with others.  Giving away the gift we have received does not mean that we lose the gift.  Rather, we retain the love that comes with the gift and that love cannot be taken away.

Today, we are all called to make ourselves a living sacrifice, like Jesus who offered His life for us. This is what Christmas is all about, the giving of oneself to others.  The Father gave up His only begotten son for us.  Christ gave Himself up in return.   Hence, we do not make this sacrifice alone but with Jesus, Mary and Elizabeth and the whole Church.  We give ourselves so that others can live. We live for Jesus and His Church. Like Mary, it is not enough to sing our song of thanksgiving and give glory to His name, but our whole life must be like that of Mary, truly a sacrifice of thanksgiving so that His name will be kept holy and known for all generations.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Morning Prayer for Monday, December 3, 2018 — “In Thee, O Lord, I have put my hope. Let me never be confounded.”

December 3, 2018

Fret not your mind with puzzles that you cannot solve. The solutions may never be shown to you until you have left this life.

The loss of dear ones, you may not know the inequality of life, the deformed and the maimed, and many other puzzling things until you reach the life beyond. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” Only step by step, stage by stage, can you proceed in your journey into greater knowledge and understanding.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be content that things, which I now see darkly, will some day be made clear. I pray that I may have faith that someday I will see face to face.

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“Christianity established a a rule and order and the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”

— G. K. Chesterton (In his book “Orthodoxy”)

“Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence” by de Caussade — the goal is total dependence upon God. To get a new self; most human beings need to get rid of the old self.

Morning Prayer for Sunday, November 11, 2018 — I am not so important after all

November 11, 2018

When I think of all who have gone before me, I realize that I am only one, not very important, person. What happens to me is not so very important after all. I have learned to be more outgoing, to seek friendship by going at lest halfway, to have a sincere desire to help. I have more self-respect now that I have less sensitiveness. I have found that the only way to live comfortably with myself is to take a real interest in others. Do I realize that I am not so important after all?

Meditation for the Day

As you look back over your life, it is not too difficult to believe that what you went through was for a purpose, to prepare you for some valuable work in life. Everything in your life may well have been planned by God to make you of some use in the world. Each person’s life is like the pattern of a mosaic. Each thing that happened to you is like one tiny stone in the mosaic, and each tiny stone fits into the perfected pattern of the mosaic of your life, which has been designed by God.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may not need to see the whole design of my life. I pray that I may trust the Designer.

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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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“Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence” by de Caussade — the goal is total dependence upon God. To get a new self; most human beings need to get rid of the old self.

Jean Pierre de Caussade (7 March 1675 – 8 December 1751), advice on people having great troubles, anxiety, depression:

“They have only to fulfill the simple duties of the Christian Faith and of their state of life, to accept with submission the crosses that go with those duties, and to submit with faith and love to the designs of Providence in everything that is constantly being presented to them to do and to endure, without searching for anything themselves.”

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, October 4, 2018 — Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi

October 4, 2018

I am sending you like lambs among wolves

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few

A detached man will see the uselessness and vanity of earthly pursuits for power, recognition, popularity.  He sees the stupidity of clinging to things and people and places.

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Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.

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Meditation of St. Francis of Assisi 

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lectionary: 458

Reading 1 JB 19:21-27

Job said:

Pity me, pity me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has struck me!
Why do you hound me as though you were divine,
and insatiably prey upon me?

Oh, would that my words were written down!
Would that they were inscribed in a record:
That with an iron chisel and with lead
they were cut in the rock forever!
But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives,
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust;

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St Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy, c.1598
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Whom I myself shall see:
my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him,
And from my flesh I shall see God;
my inmost being is consumed with longing.
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Responsorial Psalm PS 27:7-8A, 8B-9ABC, 13-14

R. (13) I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

Alleluia MK 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Pope Francis holds his General Weekly Audience in St. Peter’s Square on August 29, 2018, in Vatican City. Giulio Origlia/Getty Images
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Gospel LK 10:1-12

Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.’
Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day
than for that town.”
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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04 OCTOBER, 2018, Thursday, 26th Week, Ordinary Time

THE NEARNESS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ JOB 19:21-27LK 10:1-12  ]

Very often, we hear people in their struggles to grow in their spiritual life remark that growing in spiritual life is very difficult, implying that it is impossible to experience the life of the kingdom of God on this earth.  If that were so, then today’s gospel message will make no sense at all.  For twice in today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that the Kingdom is very near.

The question we need to ask is, how near is ‘very near’?  I believe that very near means that the Kingdom is already here.  That is to say, it is within our reach. The fact is that these words were spoken to the disciples two thousand years ago, and we are still saying that it is ‘very near’ today.  Surely two thousand years cannot be said to be very near!  Thus, to say that the kingdom of God is ‘very near’, it must mean that it is already here, at hand, within our reach.   It therefore does not simply mean it is imminent, but that it is already here.  Indeed, the kingdom of God is already so near to us that we can easily overlook it, just like the way our eyes often overlook our nose.

The next question we need to ask then is, how do we know that the kingdom of God is here already?  The gospel gives us the answer.  The Kingdom is already here for those who live a life of detachment.  For this reason, Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the Good News, adopting a life-style of detachment.  He told them, “Do not carry a walking staff or travelling bad, wear no sandals”, etc.  In a nutshell, the disciples of Jesus had to learn to be detached from things, people and places.  Only a detached man can live in true freedom; and only real freedom can lead one to experience the kingdom of God.  Truly, the Kingdom man is one who understands the futility of the strivings and pursuits of life.  A detached man will see the uselessness and vanity of earthly pursuits for power, recognition, popularity.  He sees the stupidity of clinging to things and people and places.

The kingdom of God is also here for those who live a spirit of contentment.  In telling His disciples to be grateful and appreciative of whatever was offered to them when they entered a house, Jesus was telling them to be contented.  Man is miserable because he lives a life of discontent.  He is unhappy with himself.  He wants to be somebody else.  He is unhappy with his situation; he wants to be in another place.  He is discontented with his lot; he wants to have something else, etc.

Truly, a discontented man is an unhappy man.  The point is that if we are not happy where we are now, we can hardly be happy anywhere else.  If we are not happy with who we are, we cannot be happy with anybody nor with anyone else.  One cannot expect to experience the presence of the kingdom when one is choosy and always comparing.  Contentment is the key to interior peace within ourselves.  A contented person is non-egoistic nor grasping.  He is already happy within himself.  Therefore, he does not choose nor discriminate.  He takes whatever is given to him.  He is totally open to God and His providence.

To live a detached and contented life is simply to live in the present.  It is within this context that we can understand why Jesus insisted that His disciples must not hoard and be prepared for any contingency.  This is because Jesus wanted His disciples to live entirely for the moment and for the present.  But one can live entirely for the present only when one has nothing to hang on to in life except life itself.  So long as one lives in anxiety about the future, one cannot experience the kingdom of God.  When the mind hankers for the future, one cannot but miss the presence of the kingdom of God.

When a person is detached and contented, he becomes very free. Contentment brings real freedom to oneself.  Only when a person is truly contented with himself, can he stop hankering for popularity, acceptance and recognition.   A contented person is one who is simply himself.  He goes about doing his work, helping others without any expectations.  By living this kind of life, he sets others free as well.  Indeed, such a person does not impose even his goodness and his good news on others. He is so free that he allows others to be free as well.

Yes, the kingdom of God can only be for those who experience true freedom in his own life.  Once he experiences that freedom, he will no longer judge and discriminate.  How can a man be truly happy when he continues to judge others?  A mind that is always judging cannot be at rest and therefore be at peace.  Thus, Jesus in the gospel told His disciples that when they go out to preach the Good News, and if the message is rejected, they should simply leave the place.  There is no need to compel people to accept and believe what we say.  A man who cannot allow others freedom suggests that he is simply an insecure man.  Such a man finds no peace, and therefore lives outside the kingdom.

However, in order to live such a detached and contented life without discriminationwe must adopt a foundational attitude of trust and confidence in God’s providence.  We must learn to trust in God and surrender our lives to Him as Job did in the first reading, even in our darkest moments.  Like Job, we need to trust that God will stand by us and that all things will work out for our own good. It is this trust in God, in His love for us, that can deliver us from our insecurities, from living in the future, and from the compulsion of wanting to be accepted and loved and recognized by others.

A great man came to see a Zen master for enlightenment.  And the master told him these simple things.  And the man replied, “But all that you said, even a five-year old child knows about it.”  The master replied, “It is true that even a five-year old child knows about it; but not even an eighty-old man has done it.”  In other words, to know the way to the Kingdom does not equate with being in the Kingdom.  We must begin to live it.

That is why I say that the Kingdom is very near in the sense that it takes a moment of decision to allow the Kingdom into our lives.  The moment we decide to live a life of detachment, contentment, freedom and trust in God, the Kingdom is immediately available to us.  Hence, Jesus told His disciples that whichever house they entered, to say, “Peace upon this house”.  If this peace is accepted, then that household would find peace.  If not, the person would not find peace at all.   Consequently, entry to God’s kingdom is as near as a moment of decision.  That is why it is at hand, within our reach.  It is so near – any moment when we decide to live the way of the Kingdom, the Kingdom becomes ours.

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

Source http://www.catholic.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Paperback Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence : Abandonment to Divine Providence Book

Book: Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence By J.P. de Caussade

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Morning Prayer for Tuesday, October 2, 2018 — Am I Going God’s Way Or My Own Way?

October 2, 2018

“Thy will be done” must be your oft-repeated prayer. And in
the willing of God’s will there should be gladness. You should
delight to do that will because when you do, all your life goes
right and everything tends to work out for you in the long run.
When you are honestly trying to do God’s will and humbly
accepting the results, nothing can seriously hurt you. He who
accepts the will of God in his life may not inherit the earth,
but he will inherit real peace of mind.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may have a yielded will.
I pray that my will be attuned to the will of God.

Above from the book, “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

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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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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

02 OCTOBER, 2018, Tuesday, The Holy Guardian Angels

ANGELS ARE OUR COMPANIONS ALONG THE WAY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ EXODUS 23:20-23MATTHEW 18:1-5,10  ]

Today, we celebrate the feast of guardian angels.  On 29th September, we celebrate the feast of the Archangels, St Michael, St Raphael and St Gabriel.  They are called archangels because they played a more critical role in the plan of God’s salvation for humanity.  Like all angels, they are messengers at the service of God to reveal His plan to humanity, to protect and to guide.  It is within this perspective that we also celebrate the feast of the Guardian Angels.  As this feast suggests, the angels are assigned to us to protect us from harm and from all dangers.  This is what the Lord said, “See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.”

Traditionally, the Church invites us to pray to the angels for protection and guidance.  The prayer that was taught to us when we were children is still useful for us as adults to pray in faith. “Angel of God, my guardian dear.  To whom God’s love commits me here.  Ever this day be at my side, To light and guard, to rule and guide.”  In this prayer, we are given a theological interpretation of the work of guardian angels as guiding us and guarding us in our every day life.  This is what the first reading from the book of Exodus suggests to us.  God told the Israelites that He would send “an angel to guide them and guard them.   “I myself will send an angel before you to guard you as you go and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. My angel will go before you and lead you to where the Amorites are and the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, the Jebusites; I shall exterminate these.”

Indeed, the psalmist assures us that those who trust and rely on God will be protected by His holy angels.  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High and abides in the shade of the Almighty says to the Lord: ‘My refuge, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust!’  It is he who will free you from the snare of the fowler who seeks to destroy you; he will conceal you with his pinions and under his wings you will find refuge.  You will not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plaque that prowls in the darkness nor the scourge that lays waste at noon.  Upon you no evil shall fall no plaque approach where you dwell. For you has he commanded his angels, to keep you in all your ways.”  With the angels protecting us, we can live our lives without fear because he will be at our side.

Besides praying to the angels, we are called to listen to them because they are the voice of God prompting us to do good and to avoid evil.  Again, the Lord said to the Israelites, “Give him reverence and listen to all that he says. Offer him no defiance; he would not pardon such a fault, for my name is in him. If you listen carefully to his voice and do all that I say, I shall be enemy to your enemies, foe to your foes.”  We must be alert to his voice in our lives, often coming in ways that we least expect, sometimes through a voice inside or outside of us, sometimes through strange events that are mysterious to us; and sometimes the angels work through us as well, prompting us to reach out and to do good.  This is why we must listen to the angels and obey their voices.  To listen to the angels is to listen to the voice of God because God chooses to use His intermediaries to communicate with us as He did with Abraham when three angels appeared before him (cf Gn 18); and to Gideon as well, ordering him to go and save his people.  (cf Jdg 6:11-23) The angel also forbade the ass of Balaam to move ahead to collude with the pagan king to curse Israel.   He was then asked to bless Israel instead.  (cf Num 22)    Like St Peter, we are called to listen and obey the angel when he told them to leave the prison and proclaim Christ crucified to the people.   (Acts 12:1-11)   Obedience to the angels is the way we serve God in truth and in love.

For this reason, we should become more aware of the angels in our lives.  We must thank God for our Guardian angels.  The problem with the world today is the emphasis on sensuality, which has made it difficult for us to be in contact with the spiritual world.  Because of science and human pride, we tend to dismiss the angels that we cannot see.  This is dangerous because it will lead us to distrust and disbelief in the spiritual world.  When we are no longer aware of the spiritual beings, good or bad in our lives, we become indifferent to them.  To be ignorant of the presence of the angels is at the same time to be unaware of how the evil spirits work in our world and in our lives.  The Church is clear that just as there is an order in the material world, there is also an order in the spiritual world.  St Paul speaks of the different hierarchy of spiritual beings.  (cf Eph 6:10-12) The spirits are therefore real.  We are called to be alert and fight against Satan and his angels who are prowling round to devour us.  (cf 1 Pt 5:8) For this reason, we need to intercede with our Guardian Angels to pray for divine assistance in our lives.  The letter of Hebrews tells us that angels are ministering spirits to help us.  (cf Heb 1:14)

So instead of behaving in an arrogant manner, dismissing the reality of the spiritual world, we must, as the Lord advised us, be humble as a child learning to accept things beyond his understanding.  “‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”   With the psalmist we pray, “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.”  (Ps 131:1f)

At the same time, we are called to imitate the Holy Angels in praising and thanking God in our lives.  Angels, although pure spirits, are creatures of God.  Their whole life is to give praise and thanksgiving to God. We are told in the book of Revelation that the angels unceasingly praise God in worship, singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord!”  But they not only praise God in prayer, they praise God in their lives by offering themselves to do good for others, reaching out to those in need and leading them to God.  We too must follow the angels in rendering praise and thanksgiving to God in unceasing prayer, and most of all in our lives.  For this is what St Paul urges us, to pray unceasingly throughout our life.   We are called to be angels to each other and to give support to each other in this journey of life.

Most of all, we are called to be angels to the little ones, children and those who are most vulnerable in life.  In no uncertain terms, the Lord said, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.”  We must be the ones to protect the little ones under our care.  The Lord warns us “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!”  So let us protect the faith of our little ones whom we have a custodian role, whether we are referring to little ones or those new in their faith.  We must seek to protect and guide them, leading them to Christ.

Indeed, let us not walk alone in faith.  We have the Guardian Angels to accompany us in this difficult journey to God.  We only need to turn to them for guidance and for divine protection.  He is ever ready to come to our assistance.  Indeed, we read that Jesus in His Temptations in the desert, and especially in His last moments in the agony in the Garden, was consoled by the angels.  (cf Mt 4:11Lk 22:43) Truly, if the Lord needed the assistance of angels in His journey of life, so we too must turn to the angels who can give us the courage to obey His will.  Let us pray to our Guardian angels and ask them to intercede for us.

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

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http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, August 25, 2018 — “I saw the glory of the God.” — “Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

August 24, 2018

Image result for scribes and the Pharisees, photos

Who is the greatest among us? Who gets special honors and attention? We see this problem among out politicians, business leaders, our media personalities… Big shots, Movie Stars, Rock Stars are all around us but are they better than anyone else? “Who then is the greatest?”

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Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 424

Reading 1 EZ 43:1-7AB

The angel led me to the gate which faces the east,
and there I saw the glory of the God of Israel
coming from the east.
I heard a sound like the roaring of many waters,
and the earth shone with his glory.
The vision was like that which I had seen
when he came to destroy the city,
and like that which I had seen by the river Chebar.
I fell prone as the glory of the LORD entered the temple
by way of the gate which faces the east,
but spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court.
And I saw that the temple was filled with the glory of the LORD.
Then I heard someone speaking to me from the temple,
while the man stood beside me.
The voice said to me:
Son of man, this is where my throne shall be,
this is where I will set the soles of my feet;
here I will dwell among the children of Israel forever.

Responsorial Psalm PS 85:9AB AND 10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (see 10b) The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD –for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

Alleluia MT 23:9B, 10B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You have but one Father in heaven;
you have but one master, the Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Image result for scribes and the Pharisees, photos
The scribes and the Pharisees

Gospel MT 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
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See also:
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Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12 From Living Space

We begin today chapter 23 of Matthew which consists of a severe indictment of the Pharisees and Scribes by Jesus. This is not to be taken as a blanket condemnation of every individual Pharisee and Scribe, because we know that many of them were good people. One outstanding example is Gamaliel who appears in the Acts of the Apostles as a man of justice and integrity. Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night and was involved in Jesus’ burial, was also a Pharisee.

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The passage certainly reflects some of the conflicts which arose between the early Christians (especially those who were Jews themselves) and those Jews who were opposed to the Christian Way, who saw it as a heresy and who often subjected the Christians to verbal and even physical attacks and harassment.

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What Jesus is attacking is not so much a particular people as certain attitudes of mind. And these attitudes can be found just as easily within the Christian community of that time and every period since then. We should listen to Jesus’ words, then, directed not so much to abstract “Pharisees and Scribes” but to ourselves. It is for our benefit and reflection that they have been included in the Gospel. The Gospel is written for us and to us; it is not a historical diatribe against certain people in the past.

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Jesus first of all emphasises that as people in authority and experts on the subject, the Scribes and Pharisees should be listened to with respect and they should be obeyed when they teach. But Jesus says that in their behaviour their example should not be followed. “Their words are bold but their deeds are few.”

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They have no hesitation in drawing up rules which are difficult for people to carry out but they do absolutely nothing to help in their implementation. The Church has not always been without guilt in this kind of thing, even in our own day. Nor have civil legislators or other people in authority, including parents of families or teachers in schools, been without fault.

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This is the double standard, where people set the rules which they themselves do not keep: “Do as I say, not as I do” or “You will do it because I tell you to do it.”

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Secondly, the Pharisees are attacked because everything they do is to attract attention to themselves. But it is all on the outside. What we call today ‘image’. Their phylacteries were bigger than others’ and their tassels huge. The phylactery was a small box containing some of the central words of the Law. It was worn on the arm or the forehead, a literal interpretation of the exhortation in Exodus (13:9), “[the Law] shall be as a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead”. There were four tassels, sewn at each corner of one’s cloak.

Related image

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The message is clear: “We are better, we are holier.” But it is a sham because it is all on the outside. But when it comes to ‘image’ our contemporary world has nothing to learn from the past.

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They also expect special attention to be given to them: the first row in the synagogue, places of honour at banquets, special honorific titles. Sad to say, we have seen this not infrequently among church clerics in our own lifetime. We see it daily among our politicians, business leaders, our media personalities. They are not only given these things; they soon expect them as a right. It is the VIP syndrome and often it is pathetic: the private jet, the executive lounge in the airport, the special table in the restaurant, the limousine from the hotel…

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Even ordinary people become slaves of the image: the brand label on the clothes they wear, the places where they live, the cars they drive, and all the other consumer baubles with which they surround themselves. None of these things, says Jesus, makes a person great.

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The greatest is the one who serves, that is, the person who uses his or her gifts for the benefit of others, whose whole life is dedicated to making this world a better place for others to live in. A person to whom such trappings are totally irrelevant.

https://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2207g/

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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25 AUGUST, 2018, Saturday, 20th Week, Ordinary Time

SPIRITUAL WORLDLINESS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ EZEKIEL 43:1-7;  MATTHEW 23:1-12  ]

In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel was writing to the Israelites in exile to give them hope that they would be restored to their homeland and their former glory.  In their exile, they felt the abandonment of God.  But God was with them, preparing them to return to Jerusalem.  This was the vision of Ezekiel.  “I saw the glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east.  A sound came with it, like the sound of the ocean, and the earth shone with his glory. The glory of the Lord arrived at the Temple by the east gate.  The spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; I saw the glory of God fill the Temple.”  This was his vision of the glory of God returning to Israel.   He continued, “And I heard someone speaking to me from the Temple while the man stood beside me.  The voice said, ‘Son of man, this is the dais of my throne, the step on which I rest my feet.  I shall live here among the sons of Israel forever.’”  The Temple remained the dwelling place of God where He lived in their midst.

However, for God to return, the people had to first repent of their sins of idolatry and show the will to restore the Temple to its former glory.  “Now let them put away their idolatry and the corpses of their kings far from me, and I will reside among them forever. As for you, mortal, describe the temple to the house of Israel, and let them measure the pattern; and let them be ashamed of their iniquities.”  (Ezk 43:9f) The period of exile was meant to be a time for them to reflect on their sins and purify themselves so that they would live a life of holiness.  Only such a life can reflect the glory of God.  So too for us.  If we feel the absence of God in our lives, it is because of our sins.  By not living a life of holiness, we deprive the glory of God from shining through us. St Paul wrote, “For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Rom 3:23)

Yet, the return of the Jews from exile led to another form of worldliness.  It was the temptation to spiritual worldliness, which Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical “Evangelii Gaudium.” [Spiritual worldliness, which hides behind the appearance of piety and even love for the Church, consists in seeking not the Lord’s glo­ry but human glory and personal well-being. It is what the Lord reprimanded the Pharisees for: “How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (Jn 5:44). It is a sub­tle way of seeking one’s “own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:21). It takes on many forms, depending on the kinds of persons and groups into which it seeps. Since it is based on carefully cultivated appearances, it is not always linked to outward sin; from without, everything appears as it should be. But if it were to seep into the Church, “it would be infinitely more dis­astrous than any other worldliness which is sim­ply moral”.]  (EG 93)

This was what the Lord is warning us in today’s gospel.  There is a temptation for us to use religiosity and piety to hide the real intention of our hearts, which is to glorify ourselves and for our personal interests.  When we are not sincere in serving the Lord and living a life of holiness, we use religious practices to cover up the wickedness and selfishness in our heart.  This is seen when we seek our glory instead of the glory of God.  The religious leaders of the day were more concerned about seeking their glory than the glory of God. Jesus remarked, “Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.”  Indeed, all of us, priests, religious and lay leaders included, often seek positions of glory and honour.  We put on a good show that we are holy, but are not living a life of holiness.  We participate in religious activities and rituals but our lives are far from what we claim to believe and worship.

Pope Francis gave us concrete examples of how spiritual worldliness is manifested in the Church today.[“This insidious worldliness is evident in a number of attitudes which appear opposed, yet all have the same pretence of “taking over the space of the Church”. In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the con­crete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few. In others, this spiritual worldliness lurks behind a fascination with social and political gain, or pride in their ability to manage practical affairs, or an obsession with programmes of self-help and self-realization. It can also translate into a concern to be seen, into a social life full of ap­pearances, meetings, dinners and receptions. It can also lead to a business mentality, caught up with management, statistics, plans and evalua­tions whose principal beneficiary is not God’s people but the Church as an institution. The mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, is not present; closed and elite groups are formed, and no effort is made to go forth and seek out those who are distant or the immense multitudes who thirst for Christ. Evangelical fervour is re­placed by the empty pleasure of complacency and self-indulgence.] (EG 95)

The Lord reminds us that in whatever we do, we are to refer people to God, not to us.  We must not be the center of focus, taking away the glory of God.  Unless, our lives lead people to see God and not us, we would have failed in our responsibilities.  Those in positions of authority and influence must not allow their ego to consume them and think that they are the focus for others.  This explains why the Lord said, “You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one Master, and you are all brothers.  You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven.  Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ.”  Our task is to help people to be the glory of God by living a life of holiness.   When titles are given to us, we must never forget that we are acting on behalf of God for He is the only Master, Father and Teacher.  We all derive our authority from Him for the service of His people.  We are only ambassadors and servants of the Father.

The Lord said, “The greatest among you must be your servant.  Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”  At the end of the day, it is not about us but about God and His people.  A leader does not focus on himself, his interests and his glory but that of God and the people that he serves.  Therefore, as servants of God, we must be careful that we are not serving our interests.  This can happen when theologians and priests redefine faith and morals according to the standards of the world in order to gain popularity and acceptance. Catholics who would only accept those Catholic teachings they like and reject those that they do not are also self-serving.  Catholics who are afraid to live out their faith because of fear of rejection from society fall into the same category of spiritual worldliness and hypocrisy.  Most of all, we too suffer from spiritual worldliness when we use devotions and church involvement to cover up our need for power and recognition.

Yet, the fact remains that we are weak and sinful.  In truth, we all lack the courage to stand up for what we believe.  In different ways, we live hypocritical lives even when we appear to be good Catholics.  Even religious leaders fail us, not just those in authority.  The Lord has this to advise us when we face hypocritical leaders or those who fail to live up to what they preach.  “The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses.  You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practice what they preach.”  So it remains our constant challenge as leaders to seek authenticity and integrity lest we be accused of being those who “tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them?”  Instead of condemning others for seeking spiritual worldliness, we must look into ourselves and honestly examine those areas in our life where we have failed to live sincerely, with the right motives for what we believe and what we teach.  Let the glory of God shine through us by our lives of humble service.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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First Thoughts From Peace and Freedom
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The Reverend Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675–1751) encouraged others to “live in the moment,” accepting everyday obstacles with humility and love. He counseled against worry about our lives before today and worry about our future lives. The important thing for de Caussade is that we get today right.
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Although Fr. de Caussade was a learned follower of the teachings of St. Francis de Sales, he himself was a Jesuit, so readers of his works sometimes see both the Ignatian and Salesian forms of Catholic Spirituality.
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Here’s a taste of de Cuassade writing about humility:
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Humility should be sweet and tranquil, without self-contempt, or   annoyance with ourselves or others, without despondency or voluntary   vexation….
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Far from losing, we gain all in abandoning ourselves entirely to God by love and confidence. The sight of yourself: that confused heap of weaknesses, miseries, corruption, should never distress you. It is on this account that I say boldly, all is well, for I have never known anyone   endowed with this keen insight, so humiliating, to whom it was not a most special grace of God; nor who has not found in it, combined with a true   self-knowledge, that solid humility which is the foundation of all perfection. I   have known, and do know many saintly people who, for their sole possession have that profound conviction of their weakness, and are never so happy as when they   feel themselves, as it were, engulfed in it. They then dwell in truth, and consequently in God who is the sovereign truth. If you but knew how to walk  before Him, your head bowed in this spirit of self-effacement, you would find in   it all that makes the spiritual life. It only remains to know how to preserve this spirit of peace and abandonment.
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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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