Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

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

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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

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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.

Image result for u.s. capitol, photos

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.

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Meditation of St. Francis of Assisi 

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lectionary: 458

Reading 1 JB 19:21-27

Job said:

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

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

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

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

Alleluia MK 1:15

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

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

THE NEARNESS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Morning Prayer for Monday, October 1, 2018 — “Help us to bear the unbearable”

October 1, 2018

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Today we pray for sexual abuse victims, people trapped by war, poverty, tsunami, earthquakes; people afflicted by drug addiction and alcoholism and cancer and all other painful diseases — and people trapped in deadly man-made and natural disasters.

Our Lord, we offer this prayer to stem the tide of despair and depression for those who have in their mind that there is no way out:

“Dear God, help us to bear the unbearable that we cannot even understand. Give us solace in our suffering and pain. Help us all to recover quickly into the hope of a better world by your everlasting care. Reach out to all those who have lost hope or are in danger of losing hope this day. Give them all that they need to bear the unbearable until they see the sunshine again. Amen.”

South Vietnamese mothers sheltering with their children beside an American paratrooper during a battle against Viet Cong in swampland 20 miles west of Saigon

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Photo at the top: Man carries dead child in tsunami aftermath in Indonesia. The child was killed in the tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. A powerful earthquake rocked the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday, triggering a 3-meter-tall (10-foot-tall) tsunami that an official said swept away houses in at least two cities. (Photo by RIFKI / AP)

Morning Prayer for Sunday, September 30, 2018 — Seeking The Healing Touch of God

September 30, 2018

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When you look to God for strength to face responsibility and
are quiet before Him, His healing touch causes the Divine
Quiet to flow into your very being. When in weakness you cry
to God, His touch brings healing, the renewal of your courage,
and the power to meet every situation and be victorious. When
you faint by the way or are distracted by feelings of inferiority,
then rely on the touch of God’s spirit to support you on your way.
Then arise and go forth with confidence.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may lay myself open today to the healing touch of God.
I pray that I may not falter or faint by the wayside, but renew
my courage through prayer.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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30 SEPTEMBER, 2018, Sunday, 26th Week, Ordinary Time

UNIVERSALITY AND INCLUSIVITY OF THE SPIRIT

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  NUM 11:25-29PS 19:81012-14JAS 5:1-6MK 9:38-48 ]

In both scripture readings, we have the theme of inclusivity and recognition of the universality of the working of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. The world is becoming a global village. Through migration, interaction and exchange of cultures, appreciation of other religious practices and doctrines, collaboration in the work of social justice and assistance of the poor, we are realizing more and more the mission of the Church, which is to be a sacrament of unity, peace and love for the world.

But this work of fostering unity through inclusivity and a real recognition of the universality of the work of the Holy Spirit is constantly being threatened by narrow-minded people who cannot accommodate the diversity of cultural and religious values of peoples in the world.  There is this tendency towards superiority in our attitude towards others, whether in faith or in culture.  We want to impose our values on others.  We think that our culture is the best and others must follow what we do, just like some nations that want to impose their understanding of democracy, freedom and human rights on others.   We want to restrict the gifts of the Holy Spirit to ourselves.  We think that only Christians can do good works, perform miracles and possess the truth.   Others, if they do good, are working by the power of Evil Spirits and whatever good they do are questionable.

However, the first reading and the gospel in no uncertain terms speak of the inclusive attitude of Moses and our Lord.  When Moses was told that two men among the seventy elders who stayed back in the camp prophesied and received the Spirit as did those who were in the Tent, he was not disappointed.  When Joshua wanted him to stop them from exercising the gift of prophecy, Moses saw the bigger picture and said, “Are you jealous on my account? If only the whole people of the Lord were prophets, and the Lord gave his Spirit to them all!”  Moses never claimed to be the owner of the gift of the Spirit.  He was not the controller of God’s gifts. He respected the sovereignty of God and His choice.  He was a recipient like the rest.  He did not merit the gift that God gave him.  So who was he to hinder the Lord from giving His Spirit to whom He chooses?

In the gospel, Jesus had a similar experience as well when some people who were not part of His group of disciples were exorcising using His name.    John said, “‘Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him’. But Jesus said, ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.’”   The response of Jesus was open-minded and accommodating.  The Lord was not jealous of others who had gifts that He had.  He was not territorial or parochial-minded.  He did not seek to restrict others from doing good even if they came from other groups.

This was because He was clear of His mission, which was to extend the kingdom of God’s justice and mercy through preaching, healing and exorcism.  So if others are doing good and more so when they are exercising these gifts in His name, all the more, we should be happy that through their services, more people can come to encounter God. So long as people are touched by the Lord and encounter His mercy and love, regardless whether it is through us or not, is immaterial.  We should rejoice with those who rejoice; and thank and praise God for them, for the gifts that the one Sovereign Lord has given to them as well. There is no need to be jealous or envious of them or feel insecure because our position is threatened or our popularity and influence is compromised.  By doing good as we do, they are helping to realize God’s vision for humanity, which is to be one family of God.

Indeed, we must not only permit others to do their works of mercy and spread the Good News of their religions, we must encourage them as well.  Jesus made it clear, “If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.”  In the eyes of our Lord, all of us share the same Father and He is identified in every human person.  Indeed, “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”  (Mt 5:45) In the parable of the Last Judgement, the Lord said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  (Mt 25:45) And if the world fails to realize this, it is because, as John wrote, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  (1 Jn 3:1)  St Paul reiterates this when he taught, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.”  (1 Cor 12:4-6)

And with regard to the teachings of other religions, Vatican II says, “Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing ‘ways’, comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.”  (Nostra Aetate, 2)

What we should be on guard only are those who are selfish and exclusive.  This is what St James said of the rich.  “Now an answer for the rich. Start crying, weep for the miseries that are coming to you. Your wealth is all rotting, your clothes are all eaten up by moths. All your gold and your silver are corroding away, and the same corrosion will be your own sentence, and eat into your body. It was a burning fire that you stored up as your treasure for the last days.”   If we use our wealth, gifts and position for ourselves, we are going against the gospel of Christ.  What we have are given to us on trust so that we can use them for others and for the good of the community.  Indeed, as St James says, we cannot take anything with us when we die.

But worse still is that riches can lead us to act wrongly against our fellowmen.  Because of greed and selfishness, we cheat and destroy others in the process.  We have many sad cases of political, corporate and even religious leaders cheating people of their money and resources, and using them to fund their luxurious lifestyle.  They are not concerned with the people but with their own.  Against this is the warning of St James to those who ill-treat their workers.  “Labourers mowed your fields, and you cheated them – listen to the wages that you kept back, calling out; realise that the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. On earth you have had a life of comfort and luxury; in the time of slaughter you went on eating to your heart’s content. It was you who condemned the innocent and killed them; they offered you no resistance.”  Eventually, those who do not care for others will hurt themselves by their narrow, inward-looking behavior.

That is why the Lord urges us not to allow such selfish and protectionist attitudes to destroy us and the community.  He exhorts us that if our foot, hand or eye causes us to sin, then it is “better for you to enter into life crippled, than to have two hands and go to hell, into the fire that cannot be put out.”  The foot stands for the outreach that we must strive at, the hand stands for the assistance we must give to our neighbour, regardless of race, language or religion, and the eye symbolizes the way we look at them, whether as our brothers and sisters in the Lord or as our enemies or people whom we can take advantage of.  We must think of the larger interest and the good of the community instead of our narrow concerns.

Indeed, the Lord warns us that “anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck.”  Let us not be the obstacles of faith and love to those under our charge.  Those of us who are leaders must also foster unity and inclusivity.  We cannot just be taking care of our groups and our interests only.  Rather, we should encourage those under our charge to reach out to other groups, even those of other faiths, encourage them to work together for better mutual understanding so that together we can build a people of love and unity, valuing our diversity and enriching each other by our beliefs and culture, so that we grow into the fullness of truth and love.  

Let us walk in the precepts of the Lord as the psalmist invites us.  We must encourage everyone to walk in the ways of the Lord, which is wisdom and truth.  “The law of the Lord is perfect, it revives the soul. The rule of the Lord is to be trusted, it gives wisdom to the simple. The fear of the Lord is holy, abiding for ever. The decrees of the Lord are truth and all of them just. So in them your servant finds instruction; great reward is in their keeping. But who can detect all his errors? From hidden faults acquit me.”  Most of all, we must pray that “from presumption restrain your servant and let it not rule me. Then shall I be blameless, clean from grave sin.”  Let us learn humility when we approach others who are different from us.  We must not be presumptuous but ready to learn and listen to each other.   This is the key to unity in diversity, truth in love.

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

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

September 29, 2018

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

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

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

Prayer for the Day

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

From: “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

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Meditation of St. Francis of Assisi 

Morning Prayer for Thursday, September 27, 2018 — Seeking willingness, honesty, open mindedness and meaning in life

September 27, 2018
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Continuing the consideration of the term spiritual experience: “What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self discipline. With few exceptions, our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource, which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves. Most of us think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves the essence of spiritual experience. Some of us call it God consciousness. In any case, willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery.” Have I tapped that inner resource which can change my life?

Meditation for the Day

God’s power in your life increases as your ability to understand His grace increases. The power of God’s grace is only limited by the understanding and will of each individual. God’s miracle-working power is only limited in each individual soul by the lack of spiritual vision of that soul. God respects free will, the right of each person to accept or reject His miracle-working power. Only the sincere desire of the soul gives Him the opportunity to bestow it.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may not limit God’s power by my lack of vision. I pray that I may keep my mind open today to His influence.

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From the Book: “Twenty Four Hours A Day”
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From The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

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27 SEPTEMBER, 2018, Thursday, 25th Week, Ordinary Time

ENTRUSTING THE LABOURS OF OUR WORK TO THE LORD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ECCLESIASTES 1:2-11LUKE 9:7-9  ]

“For all his toil, his toil under the sun, what does man gain by it?”  Indeed, this is an inevitable question that we have to ask ourselves sooner or later.  No one can escape from this question in life.  What sustains us in the work we do, day in and day out?  Do we find meaning in what we do?  Are we fulfilled?  Are we contented with our achievements?

The stark reality is that after a long process, we will come to the same sentiment of King Solomon who is the author of this book. He has accomplished much in life.  He was a great king, full of wisdom.  It was in his time that the kingdom of David flourished and there was peace and unity among all the tribes of Israel and freedom from the attacks of foreign countries.  Yet, in spite of all his achievements, he looked back at all that he did and concluded, “vanity of vanities!”

This life is such a struggle, fraught with anxieties, fears, competition and pain.  It is the survival of the fittest.  We need to struggle and compete with others in order to find our security and fulfill our needs.  Whether at work or at home, in the community or in Church, we find people competing with each other for more power, recognition, promotion, money and fame.  The alternative is to cop out of this world.  But if we do, it means that we would be left behind to rot.  No one will bother about us.

Yet we wonder whether all our toils are worth it?  For those of us who work for a vision, do we really find happiness when we arrive at it?  We spend years, endless days and nights, working hard to cultivate and promote our vision, be it for the country, the organization or even for the Church.  After many years of laboring, we think we have attained the vision we set out.  Then another person takes over our job. He projects another vision and the one we painstakingly built is forgotten overnight.  Indeed, the values of hard work, strong family life, time immemorial moral principles, etc have all been discarded by today’s generation.  What were then considered to be the right direction or right values are no longer relevant or even considered wrong today.  So all that we have worked for in our life will be undone by the next generation.

For those of us who think that having an ambition can satisfy us and give us meaning in life, this again may not necessarily be the case.  Those of us who aspire to climb the social ladder will find ourselves lacking real freedom when we arrive at the top, because our fear of losing popularity, position or power will prevent us from doing what we want or believe to be right.  We will realize that there is so much political backstabbing and competition among leaders.  We will not be able to call a spade a spade.  We have to use politically correct language so that no one will be annoyed with us.  We are silenced from speaking the truth. We see corruption and manipulation of those who are weak.  There is much jealousy, greed for money and power.  We think that being the top man, we can change situations and put things right.  Yet, often the top man is powerless because he is controlled by those who support him.  He has to pander to their selfish needs so that he can get their support.  Without their support, he cannot accomplish his tasks.  So he is in a dilemma.

If our ambition is to become rich, we too will realize when we get there that money cannot buy happiness.   We do not have real friends.  In truth, we do not need so much money because we can never spend it all.  75% of our money will be passed down to our children who will not be appreciative of what they receive, as they would not understand the value of money that they did not earn.  They will squander what we have miserly saved and worked so hard for over the years in no time.  So we wonder whether it is a wise thing to save so much money for our children when they do not value what they have.

If we are driven by an ideology, we too will find everything is futile even if we could change the views of people.  Would our ideology bring about the happiness we desire?  Those who advocate same-sex union, do they really believe that this would make the world a better place, that there will be more holistic and happy children, stronger families, population will grow, etc? The communists were promoting socialist ideology as a panacea to all the sufferings in the world.  Have they achieved it?   Even if they had managed to raise the material standard of living in their country, were the people happy or fulfilled without God in their lives?

In the final analysis, we have to come back again to the question of the meaning of life and all that we do.  If all that we have done, built, cultivated and promoted are going to be destroyed soon or even before we are gone, then why waste so much time and effort trying to control the direction of the world?  We might as well just throw it to the beast to devour it.  What is the use of trying to promote our values and work hard for the people and our country when we know that all these would not last for long? So says the preacher about the rise and fall of dynasties, nations and civilizations.  “A generation goes, a generation comes, yet the earth stands firm for ever. The sun rises, the sun sets; then to its place it speeds and there it rises. Southward goes the wind, then turns to the north; it turns and turns again; back then to its circling goes the wind. Into the sea all the rivers go, and yet the sea is never filled, and still to their goal the rivers go.”

The truth and wisdom that we can acquire from King Solomon, is that life and the world are beyond our control.  We can only do our best according to the constraints and resources available to us.  We are called to do our part as well as we can.  We must leave the rest to God ultimately, for He is in charge.  With the psalmist, we say, “You turn men back to dust and say: ‘Go back, sons of men.’ To your eyes a thousand years are like yesterday, come and gone, no more than a watch in the night.  You sweep men away like a dream, like the grass which springs up in the morning. In the morning it springs up and flowers: by evening it withers and fades.”  Indeed, let us remember that we are finite beings.  We are not God and so we do not need to play God and pretend that we are in charge of this world.    At the end of the day, success or failure is all in the hands of God.  The psalmist says, “In the morning, fill us with your love; we shall exult and rejoice all our days. Let the favour of the Lord be upon us: give success to the work of our hands.”

However, we must do all we can within our power and influence.  We simply have to do our part and play our role, but the outcome belongs to the Lord.  This was what the Lord told Ezekiel about fulfilling our role as God’s sentry for His people.  “So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.”  (Ezk 33:7-9)  St Paul urged Timothy to do the same.  “Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.”  (2 Tim 4:2)

Otherwise, we will live a life of regret and bear the burden of a guilty conscience, like King Herod in today’s gospel.  He was feeling guilty that he had executed a holy man of God who had now reappeared in Jesus and he was anxious to find out.  He “had heard about all that was being done by Jesus; and he was puzzled, because some people were saying that John had risen from the dead, others that Elijah had reappeared, still others that one of the ancient prophets had come back to life.”  Herod said, “John? I beheaded him. So who is this I hear such reports about?”

Our hearts should be at rest knowing that we have acted according to our conscience, regardless.  We do not have the answer for the next generation.  History will teach them and divine grace will work in its own ways in their lives so that they will learn wisdom like us.  Great men have come and gone and so will we when our time comes.  Indeed, history repeats itself in new ways.  “No man can say that eyes have not had enough of seeing, ears their fill of hearing. What was will be again; what has been done will be done again; and there is nothing new under the sun. Take anything of which it may be said, ‘Look now, this is new.’ Already, long before our time, it existed. Only no memory of remains of earlier times, just as in times to come next year itself will not be remembered.”

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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George Michael: Tragic Story of Aging, Addiction Often Repeated Among Show Business “Stars” — And Help Is All Around

September 25, 2018

POP legend George Michael “tried to stab himself 25 times” in rehab, according to lover Fadi Fawaz.

Fadi Fawaz posts throwback video of the late George Michael

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George Michael early in his career

The hairdresser also claimed the Faith singer made four failed suicide attempts leading up to his death, including in 2013 when he leapt from his car on the M1.Fadi says the tragic singer was hooked on party drug GHB, also known as liquid ecstasy and the date rape drug, often mixing the depressant into glasses of Coca-Cola before having sex.Fast Love singer George died on Christmas Day 2016 from natural causes.But Fadi, who was with George for six years, described how he was at first convinced the pop star had killed himself when he discovered his body in bed that morning.
George Michael with Fadi FawazSHUTTERSTOCKLOVERS: George Michael with Fadi Fawaz back in 2012

“He has tried to kill himself four times, whilst in rehab he tried to stab himself 25 times”

Fadi Fawaz

Fadi said in a rambling statement posted to his Instagram account: “I thought that’s it, he f nally did it and I finally saw him dead in his bed.

“I always begged him not to do this but he was so depressed.

“All he wanted to do is die.

“He has tried to kill himself four times, whilst in rehab he tried to stab himself 25 times.”

He added: “He never told me how he did it when he was taken for three days to Marlybone. I would say aren’t you glad May 16th didn’t happen, referring to one suicide attempt and he would say ‘no’.

George MichaelSWNSFlowers and tributes left outside George Michael’s Highgate home
“He wanted to die so badly and it was powerful to hear him say it. I think life stopped for him a long time ago.“Everyone wanted him for who and what he is. ‘Everyone wants me alive’ is what he would say.”Fadi also went into great detail about their early days in 2009 and how they began sleeping together when George still had a “live in partner”.His drug abuse was already evident, as the singer refused to have sex until he had taken GHB, said Fadi.And he says his lover started using drugs more heavily after a hospital visit for pneumonia in 2011. He added: “Whilst George was still skinny from his illness I saw him with cocaine in aluminium foil. He told me what it was.

“Nobody knew about this. George also had something brown, I don’t know what crack looks like. “George told me that he didn’t want to use and he wasn’t happy he was taking it.

“He wanted to clean his life but he didn’t know how.

“He was never the same again after pneumonia and as a result, we were never the same.”

But fans of the singer dismissed Fadi’s claims last night, calling him “disgusting”.

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/showbiz/731968/george-michael-death-suicide-attempts-fadi-fawaz

In the U.S., go to any Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting or “Google” and phone either. Help really is all around and you can easily meet people who have recovered from the very worst kinds of addiction, pain and suffering.

Related:

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George Michael ‘was discovered passed out in bath full of water after overdosing on GHB,’ claims pal

Whitney Houston

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The Loss of Our Interior Peace Is Disastrous Because In Peace, God Accomplishes Great Things

September 16, 2018

One of the most common strategies of the devil in his efforts to distance us from God and to slow our spiritual progress is to attempt to cause the loss of our interior peace.

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Here is what Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, one of the great spiritual masters of the 16th century [and author of The Spiritual Combat], who was highly esteemed by Saint Francis de Sales [author of Introduction to the Devout Life], said; “The devil does his utmost to banish peace from one’s heart, because he knows that God abides in peace and it is in peace that he accomplished great things.”

It would be well to keep this in mind, because, quite often in the daily unfolding of our Christian life it happens that we fight the wrong battle, if one may put it that way, because we orient our efforts in the wrong direction. We fight on a terrain where the devil subtly drags us and can vanquish us, instead of fighting on the real battlefield, where on the contrary, by the grace of God, we are always certain of victory.  And this is one of the great secrets of spiritual combat — to avoid fighting the wrong battle, to know how to discern, despite the ruses of our adversary, which is the real battlefield, what we truly have to struggle against and where we must place our efforts….

Related:

 (More from Jacques Philippe)

See also:

Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe

Source:https://richardconlin.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/searching-for-maintaining-peace-by-fr-jacques-philippe/