Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

Social Media and Suicide: The Tragic Real Thing

December 16, 2018

Fox 2 Detroit meteorologist Jessica Starr takes her own life

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Fox 2 Detroit (WJBK-TV) announced on air Thursday morning that meteorologist Jessica Starr has killed herself.

“All of us here at FOX 2 are in deep shock and cannot believe that such a wonderful, bright and intelligent individual will no longer be with us,” Fox 2 wrote in an online statement.

[If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.]

Other Fox 2 employees, along with media personalities from other outlets, expressed their grief on Twitter Thursday morning.

“Our hearts are broken,” wrote morning anchor Amy Andrews alongside a photo of herself and Starr.

Also read: Friends, fans mourn loss of Fox 2 meteorologist Jessica Starr

In October, Starr received Lasik surgery for her vision and was out of work for several weeks, according to her Facebook page. She posted about dealing with dry eye and her frustration with recovery.

Starr’s last tweet was from Nov. 14, reading in part, “Yesterday was a struggle for me. I really wanted to come back but need more time to recover. Please keep me in your thoughts during this challenging time.”

Jessica Starr

@Jstarrfox2

Update; yesterday was a struggle for me. I really wanted to come back but I need more time to recover. Please keep me in your thoughts during this challenging time. Will keep you updated. 🙏🏻

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Starr had been with Fox 2 Detroit since 2012.

She began her career at WLNS-TV (Channel 6) in Lansing as the weekend meteorologist. She came to Fox 2 after four years covering weather and community events for WBFF-TV (FOX 45) in Baltimore.

Read more: 

Starr was a Michigan native, born in Southfield and raised in Commerce Township, according to her Fox 2 biography. She earned meteorology degrees from Michigan State University and Mississippi State University.

FOX 2 Detroit

@FOX2News

Last night we were informed of the heartbreaking news that our friend and colleague, meteorologist Jessica Starr took her life. All of us here are in shock and cannot believe such a wonderful, bright and intelligent individual will no longer be with us. https://bit.ly/2EtyUy8 

Meteorologist Jessica Starr passes away

Last night we were informed of the heartbreaking news that our friend and colleague, meteorologist Jessica Starr took her life.

fox2detroit.com

3,961 people are talking about this

How to get help

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255 to speak to a counselor if you’re in a crisis. Or call 911.

Among the warning signs of suicide are: talking about suicide, expressions of hopelessness, personality changes, depression or giving away possessions. To learn more, go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Read more:    

Roop Raj

@rooprajfox2

It is with a heavy heart that I post this. Our dear friend and colleague Jessica Starr has died. She leaves behind a husband, two beautiful children and a loving family. I send my deepest sympathies to her family. Our hometown girl will always be remembered fondly.

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

December 15, 2018

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

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

 

P A Renoir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the entire article:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3508015/

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Related:

Morning Prayer for Saturday, December 15, 2018 — I pray that I may have faith that the bright days will return

December 15, 2018

Service to others makes the world a good place. Civilization would cease if all of us were always and only for ourselves. We all have a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the well-being of the world. We have a common problem. We find a common answer. We are uniquely equipped to help others with the same problem. What a wonderful world it would be if everybody took his own greatest problem and found the answer to it and spent the rest of his life helping others with the same problem in his spare time. Soon we would have the right kind of a world. Do I appreciate my unique opportunity to be of service?

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Meditation for the Day

Today can be lived in the consciousness of God’s contact, upholding you in all good thoughts, words, and deeds. If sometimes there seems to be a shadow on your life and you feel out of sorts, remember that this is not the withdrawal of God’s presence, but only your own temporary unwillingness to realize it. The quiet gray days are the days for doing what you must do, but know that the consciousness of God’s nearness will return and be with you again, when the gray days are past.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may face the dull days with courage. I pray that I may have faith that the bright days will return.

Related:

(“Stay in the present moment.”)

See also:

Conscious Contact with God – The Mindful Path of the Spiritually Awakened

https://addictionblog.org/spirit/conscious-contact-with-god/

How Loneliness Is Tearing America Apart — Plus some thoughts on how God might help

November 24, 2018

When people have a hole in their life, they often fill it with angry politics.

America is suffering an epidemic of loneliness.

According to a recent large-scale survey from the health care provider Cigna, most Americans suffer from strong feelings of loneliness and a lack of significance in their relationships. Nearly half say they sometimes or always feel alone or “left out.” Thirteen percent of Americans say that zero people know them well. The survey, which charts social isolation using a common measure known as the U.C.L.A. Loneliness Scale, shows that loneliness is worse in each successive generation.

A man sits on a bench near John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., November 5, 2015 (Carlos Barria/Reuters )

This problem is at the heart of the new book “Them: Why We Hate Each Other — and How to Heal,” by Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska. Mr. Sasse argues that “loneliness is killing us,” citing, among other things, the skyrocketing rates of suicide and overdose deaths in America. This year, 45,000 Americans will take their lives, and more than 70,000 will die from drug overdoses.

Mr. Sasse’s assertion that loneliness is killing us takes on even darker significance in the wake of the mail-bomb campaign against critics of President Trump and the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, both of which were perpetrated by isolated — and apparently very lonely — men. Mr. Sasse’s book was published before these events, but he presciently described what he believes lonely people increasingly do to fill the hole of belonging in their lives: They turn to angry politics.

In the “siloed,” or isolated, worlds of cable television, ideological punditry, campus politics and social media, people find a sense of community in the polarized tribes forming on the left and the right in America. Essentially, people locate their sense of “us” through the contempt peddled about “them” on the other side of the political spectrum.

By Arthur C. Brooks
Opinion
The New York Times

There is profit to be made here. The “outrage industrial complex” is what I call the industries that accumulate wealth and power by providing this simulacrum of community that people crave — but cannot seem to find in real life.

Why are we becoming so lonely? One reason is the changing nature of work. Work is one of the key sources of friendship and community. Think of your own relationships; surely many of your closest friendships — perhaps even your relationship with your spouse — started in the workplace. Yet the reality of the workplace is rapidly attenuating, as people hop from job to job, and from city to city, as steady work becomes harder to find and the “gig” economy grows.

Mr. Sasse worries even more, however, about a pervasive feeling of homelessness: Too many Americans don’t have a place they think of as home — a “thick” community in which people know and look out for one another and invest in relationships that are not transient. To adopt a phrase coined in Sports Illustrated, one might say we increasingly lack that “hometown gym on a Friday night feeling.”

Mr. Sasse finds this phrase irresistible and warmly relates it to his own life growing up in Fremont, Neb., a town of 26,000 residents. He describes the high school sports events on Friday nights that drew the townspeople together in a common love for their neighbors and community that made most differences — especially political differences — seem trivial. He relates with deep fondness the feelings he experienced, after moving away for a couple of decades for school and work, when he returned to Fremont’s small-town life with his family, and the deep sense of belonging it created.

In what might be called “the social capital of death,” Mr. Sasse charmingly describes the sense of being rooted that it gives him, at a robust and healthy 46, to own a burial plot for himself in Fremont’s local cemetery. A précis of Mr. Sasse’s recommendations to America thus might be this: Go where you get that hometown-gym-on-a-Friday-night feeling, put down roots and make plans to fertilize the soil.

That can be a tricky proposition for many of us. On reading the book, I asked myself where I might get that hometown-gym feeling, where I have natural roots, where I can imagine being buried. No specific place came to mind. I have no Fremont — not even Seattle, my hometown, which is a perfectly nice place, but one I unsentimentally left behind 35 years ago.

All this is particularly germane to my wife and me at the moment, as we prepare to move from Maryland to Massachusetts in the coming months. We fear the loneliness we are sure to feel as we enter a completely new place where neither of us grew up or has ever lived. Is a thick community and the happiness it brings out of reach for rootless cosmopolitans like us?

I recently put these questions to Mr. Sasse. He told me I had it all wrong — that moving back home and going to the gym on Friday aren’t actually the point; rather, the trick is “learning how to intentionally invest in the places where we actually live.” In other words, being a member of a community isn’t about whether I have a Fremont. It isn’t about how I feel about any place I have lived, nor about my fear of isolation in a new city. It is about the neighbor I choose to be in the community I wind up calling my home.

And there lies the challenge to each of us in a country suffering from loneliness and ripped apart by political opportunists seeking to capitalize on that isolation. Each of us can be happier, and America will start to heal, when we become the kind neighbors and generous friends we wish we had.

Arthur C. Brooks (@arthurbrooks) is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a contributing opinion writer and the host of the podcast “The Arthur Brooks Show.”

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on FacebookTwitter (@NYTopinion) andInstagram.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: Loneliness Is Tearing America Apart.
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From Peace and Freedom:
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Ben Sasse gets one thing right: if we are angry all the time, lonely, and isolated, maybe we have the wrong thing (or things) at the center of our lives.
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Mr. Brooks talks about “When people have a hole in their life.”

In 1670, Blaise Pascal published Pensées, which was a defense of the Christian religion. (It should be noted that this book was published after his death in 1662.)

In that book, he has a quote:

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)

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Since then, the concept has taken on a life of its own and the phrase “God-shaped hole,” a close approximation of the concept, has been found throughout many Christian circles. (Recently, in 2002, a book was published with the title ‘God-Shaped Hole’.)

https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/2746/where-does-the-concept-of-a-god-shaped-hole-originate

See also:

The God-shaped Hole

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/enlightened-living/200807/the-god-shaped-hole

This presents something of a conundrum for many a modern man, who often reject the notion of God.

Related:

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The God-shaped hole concept is often discussed in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Of course, as Mr. Brooks points out, one doesn’t need to be an alcoholic to feel loneliness, despair, powerlessness and even suicidal thoughts. Every human being, and in fact, any human being can feel these dreadful emotions. Especially when pain, suffering and loss becomes a dark shadow over life, many feel lost, alone, angry at and in life.

See:

AA and Me

https://www.thefix.com/content/aa-is-a-cult-10050?page=all

and

God-shaped Holes: Filling Them in Recovery

https://www.drunkless.com/soberblog/god-shaped-holes-filling-them-in-recovery

My own journey toward, or for God, started as a desire to stop depression, despair and addiction. I cannot say that I found God, or that maybe God found me. But I can say this: a dedicated life toward God is stupendously better than the God-less, soul-destroying many in the world we now live in. Politics, social media, and money are no longer “the center’ for me. I had to throw out wild sex escapades and other forms socially dysfunctional behaviour too. But this has made me a more sane, helpful, and responsible human being. Sober. Dedicated to others. Alive. And free.

Knock and the door will open. Seek and you shall find.

Related:

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

Morning Prayer for Saturday, November 24, 2018 — Making Progress — Reflection on The Promises

November 24, 2018

Instead of pretending to be perfectionists, we are content if we are making progress. The humanness of man is a bulwark against perfection. The main thing is to be growing. Just as every team doubts its chances of reaching the Super Bowl, every man on every team strives to get to that final destination.

We realize that perfectionism is only a result of false pride and an excuse to save our faces. We are are willing to make mistakes and to stumble, provided we are always stumbling forward. We are not so interested in what we are as in what we are becoming. We are on the way, not at the goal. And we will be on the way as long as we live. No person on this earth has ever “arrived.” But we are getting better. Am I making progress?

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Meditation for the Day

Each new day brings an opportunity to do some little thing that will help to make a better world that will bring God’s kingdom a little nearer to being realized on earth. Take each day’s happenings as opportunities for something you can do for God. In that spirit, a blessing will attend all that you do. Offering this day’s service to God, you are sharing in His work. You do not have to do great things.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that today I may do the next thing, the unselfish thing, the loving thing. I pray that I may be content with doing small things as long as they are right.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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Related:

 (Bishop Goh in Singapore says: “We will either end up with faith in God or in total self-destruction.”)

There are promises in many Segments of Life: These Are the Promises of Alcoholics Anonymous

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

The Promises (pg. 83, Big Book)

We first put the AA promises with the reading for the Feast of Saint Anthony. It seems fitting that we put the AA promises on the feast of Saint Anthony, who, preached above all, love of God and proper order. Alcoholism is, above all else, a disease of disorder.

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Saint Anthony of Padua and “Jesus jumping out of the book.” When the book of your life is written, what will be jumping out?

Related:

God Bless You Lenny! We Miss You!

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, November 10, 2018 — What is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God

November 10, 2018

The just one shall be in everlasting remembrance, pleasing to God, exalted in glory

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“As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Poverty, humility, honesty, integrity, service to others, generosity

Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 490

Reading 1 PHIL 4:10-19

Brothers and sisters:
I rejoice greatly in the Lord
that now at last you revived your concern for me.
You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity.
Not that I say this because of need,
for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself,
to be self-sufficient.
I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

You Philippians indeed know that at the beginning of the Gospel,
when I left Macedonia,
not a single church shared with me
in an account of giving and receiving, except you alone.
For even when I was at Thessalonica
you sent me something for my needs,
not only once but more than once.
It is not that I am eager for the gift;
rather, I am eager for the profit that accrues to your account.
I have received full payment and I abound.
I am very well supplied because of what I received from you
through Epaphroditus,
“a fragrant aroma,” an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm PS 112:1B-2, 5-6, 8A AND 9

R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia2 COR 8:9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich,
So that by his poverty you might become rich.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 16:9-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Pharisees, who loved money,
heard all these things and sneered at him.
And he said to them,
“You justify yourselves in the sight of others,
but God knows your hearts;
for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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10 NOVEMBER, 2018, Saturday, 31st Week, Ordinary Time

PARTNERSHIP IN THE GOSPEL

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ PHILIPPIANS 4:10-19LUKE 16:9-15 ]

In the gospel, the Lord declares, “No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn.  You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.”  Is this choice really necessary?  Can we not be rich and yet serve God?  What about those who are blessed with riches?  Are they not saved?  Riches themselves are not the obstacles to finding life but it is the way we make use of them.  St Paul, writing to Timothy advised him saying, “As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”  (1 Tim 6:17-19)

This, precisely, is the point in today’s gospel reading.  What the Lord is condemning is not those who are rich but those who become slaves of money.  This was the case of the scribes and Pharisees.  “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and laughed at him.  He said to them, ‘You are the very ones who pass yourselves as virtuous in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts.  For what is thought highly of by men is loathsome in the sight of God.’”  Indeed, when money becomes our master, we will lose our priority and our focus in life.  St Paul warns us, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”  (1 Tim 6:10)

Rather, we are called to be like the dishonest steward who knew how to make use of money for the greater good in the future.  Even his master commended him for his resourcefulness.  “And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”  (Lk 16:8)  Jesus reiterated the principle of how money should be used.  “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when is fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity.”  Money is for the use of developing relationships and making people feel loved and looked after.  Money must be used for others and not only for ourselves.  When money is used to give life to others, then money becomes a servant at our disposal rather than our master.

Most of all, money should be for the spread of the gospel.  Those of us who have resources must use them for the proclamation of the gospel.  This was what the Christians in Philippi did.  They helped St Paul with his finance so that he could continue to proclaim the gospel.  They came to the help of St Paul when he needed their help.  St Paul was ever grateful to them for their generosity.  “In the early days of the Good News, as you people of Philippi well know, when I left Macedonia, no other church helped me with gifts of money.  You were the only ones; and twice since my stay in Thessalonika you have sent me what I needed.”  Then again, the Philippians never failed to remember St Paul in his needs.  “Now for the time being I have everything that I need and more: I am fully provided now that I have received from Epaphroditus the offering that you sent, a sweet fragrance – the sacrifice that God accepts and finds pleasing.”  How many of us are as generous as the Philippians in extending their resources to help other Christian communities who are building up the faith of their people? Without their funding, it would have been more difficult for St Paul to give himself fully to the work of preaching and teaching the gospel.

So the money the Lord has blessed us with must be employed for partnership in the proclamation of the gospel.  This also means that the money should be used also for the service of the poor.  This is what the psalmist reminds us.  “The good man takes pity and lends, he conducts his affairs with honour. The just man will never waver: he will be remembered for ever.  With a steadfast heart he will not fear.  Open-handed, he gives to the poor; his justice stands firm for ever. His head will be raised in glory.”  Giving to the poor is also one way of helping to proclaim the gospel indirectly.  When we love our money more than the poor, we are poorer in love.  Instead of being possessed by love, we allow money to possess us.

When we use our wealth and money for the spread of the gospel, we are truly responsible stewards of God’s grace.  We are called to be responsible for what has been entrusted to us by the Lord.  By using them well, it shows our character, values and generosity of heart.   It shows whether we are serving God or mammon.  This is what the Lord said, “The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great.  If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?”  There are more important things in life than money.

True riches is about serving God and our fellowmen.   The genuine riches that the Lord wants to give us are peace, love, joy, generosity and goodness.  (cf Gal 5:22)  These are the fruits of the Spirit for using money properly.  Indeed, there is a saying among the Jews, “The rich help the poor in this world, but the poor help the rich in the world to come.”   So if God gives us riches it is for us to help the poor and so gain a place in the heart of God in heaven.  And if we are poor, God is using us to help the rich to expand their capacity to give more. Money, in the final analysis, is just a means to an end.  What is the end if not that money is used in such a way that we grow in the capacity to love and give, the joy of sharing with others who are in need, and the grace to manifest the presence of God to them?

Indeed, when people are generous to us, what we must thank God for is not so much that we are the recipients but that they have the generosity to share and to give.  Only one who shares in the heart and life of God can give as much as the Lord has given to us.  This is what St Paul said to the Philippians.  He said, “There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength.  All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships.”  By alleviating the hardship of Paul, the Philippians showed themselves to have the capacity to love like God Himself.  So when people are generous to us, we should not be grateful that we are the recipients but we should be more grateful that God has blessed them with the virtue of sharing, for by so doing they share in God’s life and love, which is greater than any earthly blessings. This is what St Paul said to them, “In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can.”   Only God can fulfil our desires in the final analysis.

So let us not pursue money, that “tainted” thing, not because it is intrinsically evil, but because it leads us to sin, selfishness and worldliness.  How often, because of the love of money, people will steal, kill or destroy their health?  How often, beautiful relationships are broken because of greed, dishonesty and cheating.  When we love money more than people, we begin to make use of people for ourselves instead of genuinely loving them.  So with St Paul, our attitude towards money must be one of contentment.  “I have learnt to manage on whatever I have, I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too.  I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty.”  We must learn detachment with regards to material things.  When we have them, we should make good use of them.  When we do not have, we should not crave for such things.  Our sufficiency must be found in Christ alone.  In Him, we have all.

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

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

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“No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross.  No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ.

Pope St. Leo the Great

November 10 is the Memorial of St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Image result for St. Leo the Great, pictures

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St. Leo the Great was born in Tuscany. As deacon, he was dispatched to Gaul as a mediator by Emperor Valentinian III. He reigned as Pope between 440 and 461. He persuaded Emperor Valentinian to recognize the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in an edict in 445. The doctrine of the Incarnation was formed by him in a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who had already condemned Eutyches. At the Council of Chalcedon this same letter was confirmed as the expression of Catholic Faith concerning the Person of Christ.
All secular historical treatises eulogize his efforts during the upheaval of the fifth century barbarian invasion. His encounter with Attila the Hun, at the very gates of Rome persuading him to turn back, remains a historical memorial to his great eloquence. When the Vandals under Genseric occupied the city of Rome, he persuaded the invaders to desist from pillaging the city and harming its inhabitants. He died in 461, leaving many letters and writings of great historical value. His feast day is November 10th.
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He is also a Doctor of the Church, most remembered theologically for issuing the Tome of Leo, a document which was foundational to the debates of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. The Council of Chalcedon, the fourth ecumenical council, dealt primarily with Christology, and elucidated the orthodox definition of Christ‘s being as the hypostatic unionof two natures—divine and human—united in one person, “with neither confusion nor division”.
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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, October 15, 2018 — Saint Teresa of Avila

October 14, 2018

Peter Paul Rubens 138.jpg

Let nothing disturb you,
nothing frighten you,
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God is enough.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

https://www.joanszymko.com/works/ind/nada-te-turbe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_%C3%81vila

Art: Saint Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 467

Reading 1  GAL 4:22-24, 26-27, 31–5:1

Brothers and sisters:
It is written that Abraham had two sons,
one by the slave woman and the other by the freeborn woman.
The son of the slave woman was born naturally,
the son of the freeborn through a promise.
Now this is an allegory.
These women represent two covenants.
One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery;
this is Hagar.
But the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother.
For it is written:
Rejoice, you barren one who bore no children;
break forth and shout, you who were not in labor;
for more numerous are the children of the deserted one
than of her who has a husband.

Therefore, brothers and sisters,
we are children not of the slave woman
but of the freeborn woman.

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm
and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 113:1B-2, 3-4, 5A AND 6-7

R. (see 2) Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Praise, you servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
both now and forever.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
From the rising to the setting of the sun
is the name of the LORD to be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD;
above the heavens is his glory.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Who is like the LORD, our God,
who looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
He raises up the lowly from the dust;
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Alleluia  PS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 11:29-32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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21 FEBRUARY, 2018, Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent
THE UNCONVERTED CONVERTED

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Jonah 3:1-10Ps 51:3-4,12-13,18-19Luke 11:29-32 ]

The call to repentance and conversion is often heard and responded to by those who are non-Catholic and those who consider themselves great sinners; more so than by those who are already in the Church.  This precisely was the feeling that Jesus had when He tried to preach to His own people about conversion.  In spite of His preaching and the miracles He worked, the people remained unconverted, especially the Jewish leaders.  Indeed, the gospel says, “The crowds got even bigger and Jesus addressed them, “This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign.  The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.”   Jesus was of course referring to His passion, death and resurrection, which would be the ultimate sign that He was from God. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days, Jesus was in the tomb for three days before He rose from the dead.

But greater is the judgement on those who have had the privilege of seeing Christ and yet remain unconverted.  This was the warning of Jesus to His contemporaries.  “On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Indeed, this is the tragedy of life, that we do not appreciate what we have.  We tend to take our privileges for granted.  This is true for us Catholics as well.  We have 2000 years of testimony of God’s love in Christ.  We have 2000 years of tradition and spirituality in the Church where many have encountered the Lord.  We have all the means to salvation, especially the sacraments.  Many of us have easy access to the Eucharist, just a 5 to 10 minutes’ drive from our house.   In many Churches, there are talks and retreats and prayer services held.  In terms of knowledge and information, the internet gives all kinds of information about the Catholic faith, including homilies and talks on video and you-tube.  So we are not short of access and avenues to grow in the faith.

Yet many of us are indifferent to the call to repentance.  Our response is half-hearted.  We might go for Penitential service just before Christmas and Easter.  But it is merely a routine confession, saying the same old sins without making any effort to overcome them.  We are just happy to have a superficial confession, but there is no real examination of conscience, no serious preparation – just a routine.  This explains why such confessions will not change lives because our sins are forgiven only when we confess them fully and sincerely with a humble and contrite heart.  Like King David, we must be genuinely sorry for our sins in order to find the forgiveness of God.  “Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.  In your compassion blot out my offence.  O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For in sacrifice you take no delight, burnt offering from me you would refuse, my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.  A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.”

This was the case of the Ninevites when they heard the preaching of Jonah.  They were pagans but when  they heard that Nineveh was going to be destroyed, “the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. The news reached the king of Nineveh, who rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. A proclamation was then promulgated throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his ministers.”

Not only did they fast, but they also renounced their evil behaviour and the wicked things they had done.   They had confidence in God’s mercy saying, “Who knows if God will not change his mind and relent, if he will not renounce his burning wrath, so that we do not perish?”  Indeed, “God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour. And God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he threatened.”  A contrite heart is not simply one that feels remorseful for one’s sinful actions and past but it is a heart that takes the necessary actions as well to change one’s way of life.  Indeed, all that God wants of us is that we change our lives so that no harm would befall us.  God wants us to repent, not to punish us.  He allows us to suffer the consequences of our sins in order that we will stop doing things that will hurt us eventually.  Hence, it must be clearly understood that even the penance that is imposed on us after we make our confession is not to be seen as a punishment for the offences we committed.  Rather, they are means that the Church provides to help us make amends for our sins and to strengthen our spiritual life so that we can ward off future temptations.

Why, then, is it so difficult to preach repentance and conversion to those who are already coming to Church?  Firstly, many of us have spiritual pride.  We think we know much about the Church and the doctrines.   We have heard the same messages read and preached in different ways by the priests.  Intellectually, we might know much about the teaching and doctrines of the Church.  However, they are merely knowledge on the cerebral level.  Such knowledge does not engage our entire being.  It does not engage our heart.  Therefore our hearts are not moved.  What we do not feel, we remain detached.  Our hearts are hardened and numbed, like the Israelites and the contemporaries of Jesus.  Whereas for the real sinners and the common people, they take the Word of God to heart.  They recognize their failures in living up to the gospel life.   Like the early converts after hearing the first sermon of Peter, “they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’”  (Acts 2:37)

Secondly, because of familiarity.  Indeed, it is said that familiarity breeds contempt.  We often take for granted the love of our spouse, the care of our parents and our friends until they are taken away from us.  We do not appreciate the freedom of worship until one day we are deprived of it, as in some countries.  Not only does familiarity breed contempt, but it brings about the loss of the sense of the Sacred.  This is particularly true for Church ministers, including the lay ministers.  We handle the Eucharist and our sacred items so often that we lose the sense of the sacred.  When we lose our taste for the sacred and sacred things, we merely go through the motions; there is no real contact with God.  It is worship without a relationship.

Thirdly, it is because of routine.  Sometimes, we can be performing sacred actions without any real consciousness of what we are doing, be it celebrating the mass, hearing confessions or distributing Holy Communion.  We forget what we are doing and what we are celebrating, unlike our first encounter, when we felt the closeness of God.  Or when we are before the Blessed Sacrament for adoration or for mass.  Initially we may feel His presence, but when we get used to it, it can become just a routine. This is how Catholics behave.  They attend mass and say their prayers in a perfunctory manner.  This was how Isaiah condemned the people, The Lord said: “these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote.”  (Isa 29:13)

So today, we are called to be humble and have a contrite heart.  Let us hear the message even if it were the same one, not just as words or something that we have heard before.  Christ is speaking to us directly. St Paul calls us to accept the Word of God that is preached, “not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.”  (1 Th 2:13)  Let the psalmist’s words be ours as well, “A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast away from your presence.”   Let us be conscious of His love and mercy for us so that we can repent and treasure His presence once again.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
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Commentary on Luke 11:29-32 From Living Space

Today’s readings are about doing penance for our sins and they are linked by the name of Jonah.

In Mark’s gospel the crowds are often shown as recognising God’s presence in Jesus better than the Scribes and Pharisees do. In Luke, however, they are sometimes shown as people curious to see signs and wonders but without any real commitment to following Jesus.

So today we are told that “the crowds got even bigger” and Jesus spoke to them. But what he said was not very flattering. “This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign.” The only sign they will get will be the sign of Jonah. Jesus, like Jonah, is a call to repentance and radical conversion. And Jesus implies that many of his listeners are not ready or willing to hear that call. They don’t need any signs; Jesus has been giving them an abundance of signs through his teaching and healing work.

On the judgment day, they, the chosen people of God, will be surprised to see the Queen of the South rise up because she, pagan that she was, came a long distance to listen to the wisdom of Solomon – and Jesus is someone far superior to Solomon. They will be surprised to see the people of Niniveh, pagans that they were, rise up because they repented at the preaching of Jonah – and Jesus is far greater than Jonah.

We too, who claim to be God’s People, may be surprised to see who will be called to God’s side on judgment day because they heard and followed God’s word according to their capacity. The question is: where will we be on that day? Thomas A Kempis, the writer of a famous medieval treatise, called The Imitation of Christ, asked that very same question. He was worried about whether he would persevere in serving Christ to the very end of his life. He said he was told in answer to his prayer: “Do now what you would like to have done then, and you will have nothing to worry about.”

Where will I be on the Day of Judgement? The answer to that question can be decided by me this very day and every single day from now on.

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St. Teresa of Avila

Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada

Born at Avila, Old Castile, 28 March, 1515; died at Alba de Tormes, 4 Oct., 1582.

The third child of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda by his second wife, Doña Beatriz Davila y Ahumada, who died when the saint was in her fourteenth year,Teresa was brought up by her saintly father, a lover of serious books, and a tender and pious mother. After her death and the marriage of her eldest sister,Teresa was sent for her education to the Augustinian nuns at Avila, but owing to illness she left at the end of eighteen months, and for some years remained with her father and occasionally with other relatives, notably an uncle who made her acquainted with the Letters of St. Jerome, which determined her to adopt the religious life, not so much through any attraction towards it, as through a desire of choosing the safest course. Unable to obtain her father’s consent she left his house unknown to him on Nov., 1535, to enter the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation at Avila, which then counted 140 nuns. The wrench from her family caused her a pain which she ever afterwards compared to that of death. However, her father at once yielded and Teresa took the habit.

After her profession in the following year she became very seriously ill, and underwent a prolonged cure and such unskillful medical treatment that she was reduced to a most pitiful state, and even after partial recovery through the intercession of St. Joseph, her health remained permanently impaired. During these years of suffering she began the practice of mental prayer, but fearing that her conversations with some world-minded relatives, frequent visitors at the convent, rendered her unworthy of the graces God bestowed on her in prayer, discontinued it, until she came under the influence, first of the Dominicans, and afterwards of the Jesuits. Meanwhile God had begun to visit her with “intellectual visions and locutions”, that is manifestations in which the exterior senses were in no way affected, the things seen and the words heard being directly impressed upon her mind, and giving her wonderful strength in trials, reprimanding her for unfaithfulness, and consoling her in trouble. Unable to reconcile such graces with her shortcomings, which her delicate conscience represented as grievous faults, she had recourse not only to the most spiritual confessors she could find, but also to some saintly laymen, who, never suspecting that the account she gave them of her sins was greatly exaggerated, believed these manifestations to be the work of the evil spirit. The more she endeavoured to resist them the more powerfully did God work in her soul. The whole city of Avila was troubled by the reports of the visions of this nun. It was reserved to St. Francis Borgia and St. Peter of Alcantara, and afterwards to a number of Dominicans (particularly Pedro Ibañez and Domingo Bañez), Jesuits, and other religious and secular priests, to discern the work of God and to guide her on a safe road.

The account of her spiritual life contained in the “Life written by herself” (completed in 1565, an earlier version being lost), in the “Relations”, and in the “Interior Castle”, forms one of the most remarkable spiritual biographies with which only the “Confessions of St. Augustine” can bear comparison. To this period belong also such extraordinary manifestations as the piercing or transverberation of her heart, the spiritual espousals, and the mystical marriage. A vision of the place destined for her in hell in case she should have been unfaithful to grace, determined her to seek a more perfect life. After many troubles and much opposition St. Teresa founded the convent of Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Primitive Rule of St. Joseph at Avila (24 Aug., 1562), and after six months obtained permission to take up her residence there. Four years later she received the visit of the General of the Carmelites, John-Baptist Rubeo (Rossi), who not only approved of what she had done but granted leave for the foundation of other convents of friars as well as nuns. In rapid succession she established her nuns at Medina del Campo (1567), Malagon and Valladolid (1568), Toledo and Pastrana (1569), Salamanca (1570), Alba de Tormes (1571), Segovia (1574), Veas and Seville (1575), and Caravaca (1576). In the “Book of Foundations” she tells the story of these convents, nearly all of which were established in spite of violent opposition but with manifest assistance from above. Everywhere she found souls generous enough to embrace the austerities of the primitive rule of Carmel. Having made the acquaintance of Antonio de Heredia, prior of Medina, and St. John of the Cross, she established her reform among the friars (28 Nov., 1568), the first convents being those of Duruelo (1568), Pastrana (1569), Mancera, and Alcalá de Henares (1570).

A new epoch began with the entrance into religion of Jerome Gratian, inasmuch as this remarkable man was almost immediately entrusted by the nuncio with the authority of visitor Apostolic of the Carmelitefriars and nuns of the old observance in Andalusia, and as such considered himself entitled to overrule the various restrictions insisted upon by the general and the general chapter. On the death of the nuncio and the arrival of his successor a fearful storm burst over St. Teresa and her work, lasting four years and threatening to annihilate the nascent reform. The incidents of this persecution are best described in her letters. The storm at length passed, and the province of Discalced Carmelites, with the support of Philip II, was approved and canonically established on 22 June, 1580. St. Teresa, old and broken in health, made further foundations at Villanuava de la Jara and Palencia (1580), Soria (1581), Granada (through her assistant the Venerable Anne of Jesus), and at Burgos (1582). She left this latter place at the end of July, and, stopping at PalenciaValladolid, and Medina del Campo, reached Alba de Torres in September, suffering intensely. Soon she took to her bed and passed away on 4 Oct., 1582, the following day, owing to the reform of the calendar, being reckoned as 15 October. After some years her body was transferred to Avila, but later on reconveyed to Alba, where it is still preserved incorrupt. Her heart, too, showing the marks of the Transverberation, is exposed there to the veneration of the faithful. She was beatified in 1614, and canonized in 1622 by Gregory XV, the feast being fixed on 15 October.

St. Teresa’s position among writers on mystical theology is unique. In all her writings on this subject she deals with her personal experiences, which a deep insight and analytical gifts enabled her to explain clearly. The Thomistic substratum may be traced to the influence of her confessors and directors, many of whom belonged to the Dominican Order. She herself had no pretension to found a schoolin the accepted sense of the term, and there is no vestige in her writings of any influence of the Areopagite, the Patristic, or the Scholastic Mystical schools, as represented among others, by the German Dominican Mystics. She is intensely personal, her system going exactly as far as her experiences, but not a step further.

A word must be added on the orthography of her name. It has of late become the fashion to write her name Teresa or Teresia, without “h”, not only in Spanish and Italian, where the “h” could have no place, but also in French, German, and Latin, which ought to preserve the etymological spelling. As it is derived from a Greek name, Tharasia, the saintly wife of St. Paulinus of Nola, it should be written Theresia in German and Latin, and Thérèse in French.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14515b.htm

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Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), was a prominent Spanish mysticRoman Catholicsaint,Carmelite nun and author during the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer in the Carmelite Order of her time and the movement she initiated, later joined by Saint John of the Cross, eventually led to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites, though neither she nor Saint John were alive when the two orders separated.

In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and on 27 September 1970 was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.[5] Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work El Castillo Interior (trans.: The Interior Castle), are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices. She also wrote Camino de Perfección(trans.: The Way of Perfection).

After her death, Saint Teresa’s cult was known in Spain during the 1620s, and for a time she was considered a candidate to become a national patron saint. A Santero image of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo, said to have been sent with one of her brothers to Nicaragua by the saint, is now venerated as the country’s national patroness at the Shrine of El Viejo.[6] Pious Catholic beliefs also associate Saint Teresa with the esteemed religious image called Infant Jesus of Prague with claims of former ownership and devotion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_%C3%81vila

Morning Prayer for Tuesday, October 9, 2018 — God Grant Us Peace

October 9, 2018

In our raucous world, how can we humans find peace?

Is your heart troubled? Are you feeling like the psalmist, who asked his own soul, “Why are you in despair? And why have you become disturbed within me?” One of the hardest parts of knowing peace is understanding how it has nothing to do with control. If you’re having trouble with trust or finding the words to pray above the howling of the scary storms, feel free to offer up these words to the Lord now!

“Coastal Landscape From Martinique (The Bay of St.-Pierre, Martinique), 1887” is among 17 paintings Paul Gauguin completed while on the island for four months that year.Credit Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, via Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Dear Lord: I surrender and admit.  I can’t control people, plans, or even all my circumstances, but I can yield those things to you, and focus on your goodness. Thank you today for every good gift you’ve given, every blessing you’ve sent, all the forgiveness I did not deserve, and, yes, for every trial you’ve allowed into my life. You bring good out of every circumstance if I’ll only let go and believe you. I know that when I pray and give thanks instead of worrying, you have promised that I can experience the kind of peace that passes all understanding. That’s your kind of peace, Lord. And it’s the kind I crave.

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/prayers/a-prayer-for-inner-peace.html

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One of the best but least recognized guides to Peace of Soul is Saint Leonard of Port Maurice (1676-1751), a Franciscan friar known for his preaching in defense of the Immaculate Conception.

He offered four “rules” to help achieve peace of soul.

1. To be attached only to God. Status and wealth may be beneficial, but to be overly concerned about them is to invite inner spiritual havoc. The soul’s primary need is communication with its Creator. One needs to view objects and persons in reference to God and His will if peace is to reign. To be “dead” to the world and creatures is paramount.

2. To surrender to Divine Providence. All Catholic spiritual writers are unanimous on this point: Sanctity and inner peace are attained only when God’s will holds sway. The Lord knows best. Humbly accepting His will is vastly different from reluctantly putting up with it. When a person yields to the divine plan, he demonstrates a belief that God will sustain him–come what may.

Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence: Abandonment to Divine Providence

3. To welcome suffering and hardship. Human nature tends to resist difficulties. Yet, spiritual perfection entails carrying the cross of Jesus. Scorn and rejection from others–while hardly pleasant–must be seen as an opportunity to experience solidarity with the suffering Christ.

4. To undertake only that which our situation in life demands. Often a person takes upon himself too many activities at once. “The more, the better” does not necessarily apply in the realm of good works. Prudence dictates what one can accomplish. Inner turmoil may spring from a plethora of activities, even when they are morally good acts. Prayer and counsel will determine what to undertake and what to forego.

Catholics should take heed of the advice offered nearly three centuries ago by this Italian preacher.

Happiness of soul occurs when a person conforms himself to Christ through acceptance of the Father’s will. Only then may one experience the peace which the world cannot give (cf. John 14:27).

https://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=1960

Related:

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Meditation of St. Francis of Assisi 

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

October 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or Not.

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

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

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

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

We should all be so lucky.

 

 

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.

Related:

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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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