Posts Tagged ‘surrender’

Morning Prayer for Tuesday, November 6, 2018 — Calm Down and Do the Next Right Thing — The antidote to fear is faith

November 6, 2018

Fear and worry had me down. Drinking and using drugs increased them. I worried about what I had done. I was afraid of what the consequences might be. I was afraid to face people because of the fear of being found out. Fear kept me in hot water all the time. I was a nervous wreck from fear and worry. I was a tied-up bundle of nerves.

I had a fear of failure, of the future, of growing old, of sickness, of personal ruin, of suicide. I had a wrong set of ideas and attitudes.

We have to surrender these fears and worries to a Higher Power.  I now try to think faith instead of fear. Have I put faith in place of fear?

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Meditation for the Day

Spiritual power is God in action. God can only act through human beings. Whenever you, however weak you may be, allow God to act through you, then all you think and say and do is spiritually powerful. It is not you alone who produces a change in the lives of others! It is also the Divine Spirit in you and working through you. Power is God in action. God can use you as a tool to accomplish miracles in people’s lives.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may try to let God’s power act through me today. I pray that I may get rid of those blocks which keep His power from me.

From Twenty-Four Hours a Day (with some edits in para one)
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Fear, Anger and Resentment

Source:https://addictioncounselor.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/f-a-r-fear-anger-and-resentment/

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

October 4, 2018

I am sending you like lambs among wolves

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few

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

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

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Meditation of St. Francis of Assisi 

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lectionary: 458

Reading 1 JB 19:21-27

Job said:

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

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

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

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

Alleluia MK 1:15

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

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

THE NEARNESS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 2, 2018

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

Prayer For The Day

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

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

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Third Step Prayer (Alcoholics Anonymous)

God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

02 OCTOBER, 2018, Tuesday, The Holy Guardian Angels

ANGELS ARE OUR COMPANIONS ALONG THE WAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer and Meditation for Monday, October 1, 2018 — What do we all really seek in life? — Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus (“The Little Flower”)

October 1, 2018

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Thérèse of Lisieux taught abandonment to God’s merciful love

God would not make me wish for something impossible.”

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 455

Reading 1 JB 1:6-22

One day, when the angels of God came to present themselves before the LORD,
Satan also came among them.
And the LORD said to Satan, “Whence do you come?”
Then Satan answered the LORD and said,
“From roaming the earth and patrolling it.”
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job,
and that there is no one on earth like him,
blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?”
But Satan answered the LORD and said,
“Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?
Have you not surrounded him and his family
and all that he has with your protection?
You have blessed the work of his hands,
and his livestock are spread over the land.
But now put forth your hand and touch anything that he has,
and surely he will blaspheme you to your face.”
And the LORD said to Satan,
“Behold, all that he has is in your power;
only do not lay a hand upon his person.”
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.And so one day, while his sons and his daughters
were eating and drinking wine
in the house of their eldest brother,
a messenger came to Job and said,
“The oxen were ploughing and the asses grazing beside them,
and the Sabeans carried them off in a raid.
They put the herdsmen to the sword,
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, another came and said,
“Lightning has fallen from heaven
and struck the sheep and their shepherds and consumed them;
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

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While he was yet speaking, another messenger came and said,
“The Chaldeans formed three columns,
seized the camels, carried them off,
and put those tending them to the sword,
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, another came and said,
“Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine
in the house of their eldest brother,
when suddenly a great wind came across the desert
and smote the four corners of the house.
It fell upon the young people and they are dead;
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Then Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair.
He cast himself prostrate upon the ground, and said,”Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back again.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!”

In all this Job did not sin,
nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 17:1BCD, 2-3, 6-7

R. (6) Incline your ear to me and hear my word.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. Incline your ear to me and hear my word.
From you let my judgment come;
your eyes behold what is right.
Though you test my heart, searching it in the night,
though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.
R. Incline your ear to me and hear my word.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Show your wondrous mercies,
O savior of those who flee
from their foes to refuge at your right hand.
R. Incline your ear to me and hear my word.

Alleluia MK 10:45

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man came to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples
about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child
and placed it by his side and said to them,
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest.”Then John said in reply,
“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name
and we tried to prevent him
because he does not follow in our company.”
Jesus said to him,
“Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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01 OCTOBER, 2018, Monday, St Therese of the Child Jesus

COMMON VOCATION OF LOVE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ IS 66:10-14PS 1311 COR 13:4-13MT 18:1-5  ]

What do we all really seek in life?  Not things, not power, not fame but simply to be loved and to love.   It is love that makes sense of life.  In truth, we do not need very much to be happy.  Indeed, when we have all these things, we will eventually come to realize the vanity of our pursuits because they are nothing in the end.  They cannot bring real happiness, meaning and fulfillment.  That is why, St Paul ended his long exposition on the gifts of the Spirit by saying, “But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”  (1 Cor 12:31)

What is the highest goal in life we should strive for if not love alone? Indeed, nothing can replace love in life.  What do children seek from their parents?  They do not want things. Parents often substitute their time with their children by compensating them with things.  What they want is a personal relationship with their parents, one that is supportive, caring, understanding, patient, forgiving and encouraging.  This is what gives the child self-confidence, knowing that he or she is loved unconditionally and that there is someone in this world who continues to trust in him or her even when he or she is difficult and naughty at times.  It is the lack of love that makes us suffer from insecurity and low self-esteem.  This pushes us to ambition and trying to win over the love of others and their approval at all costs.

St Theresa discovered this truth for herself.  She wrote, “Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of St. Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer. By chance the 12th and 13th chapters of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand. Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace. I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others. For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind.”

Indeed, St Theresa knew that there is only one vocation in this world.  It is the vocation of love.  Regardless of what we do in life or whatever state of life we have chosen, all of us are called to love without exception.  Every vocation, every career, every situation is an invitation to love God and our fellowmen.  It does not matter whether we are priests, religious or single or married.  She said, “When I had looked upon the mystical body of the Church, I recognised myself in none of the members which St. Paul described, and what is more, I desired to distinguish myself more favourably within the whole body. Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation.  I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love.”

Indeed, only in the context of love do the gifts that God has endowed us with become meaningful.  St Paul in placing chapter 13 on the theme of love between chapters 12 and 14 on the gifts of the Spirit wants us to remember that all gifts must be exercised for the service of love.  The gifts themselves cannot make us happy unless they are shared and used meaningfully for the good of others.  In love we found joy and strength. We are not to be puffed up by our talents, wealth and resources.  This will only harm us further.  But we must receive with gratitude and thanksgiving and use them for the love of the mystical body of Christ. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  (1 Cor 12:7)

Love is the foundation of the mission of the Church.  St Theresa wrote, “I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realised that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting.  Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love.”

Love in all things and in our actions is the key to holiness.  St Theresa makes it clear that it is not when we do heroic deeds that God will be happy with us.  Rather, unless we do everything out of love, all will be done in vain. St Paul says, “If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”  (1 Cor 13:3)  The truth is that we do many things in life out of obligation and duty and responsibility but lack love.  We don’t realize this but that is the way we “love” our loved ones.  We take care of the children, of our spouse and elderly.  We make sure their needs are taken care of but often we do them grudgingly and even at times unwillingly.  We are not loving in our actions but perform like them like a servant, as a duty and a chore.  St Theresa said, “You know well enough that our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”

What we need to do to transform work and chores into means for holiness is when we put in love in all that we do.  When we are motivated by love and do everything for the love of God and neighbor, this is what holiness is all about.  It is about emptying ourselves for the other person.  It is about tolerating the weakness of another, his or her eccentricities, as St Theresa did for one of her sisters and continued to smile at her and loved her even though she made herself a nuisance.  When we do little things out of love and for love, we grow in holiness.  We can become a saint just by doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way when we make every action a deed of love that comes from the heart.  Indeed, in a world so permeated with individualism and materialism, and arrogance that comes from intellectual knowledge, St Theresa shows that the way to live our lives meaningfully is to walk the humble path of love and that gives meaning to all that we do.

But we all know how difficult it is to love.  The greatest way to love is not to reach out to the whole world (this is not excluded), but to love people in your backyard.  St Theresa herself had a strong sense of what it meant to love Christ, if not to love the Church, the community that we are in.  Community living is the place where we are purified in our love for God and neighbour.   She lived with the same women in the monastery for nine years.  Some of them lacked social graces and good judgement.  Some were uneducated, uncouth and insensitive to others.  Instead of running away from the problems and challenges, she committed herself to loving them and being a good Samaritan to heal them by a good deed, an encouraging word or a smile.  Holiness and love is an invitation to self-emptying and giving ourselves to others.  Instead of being focused on ourselves and our needs, we are called to focus on the needs and sufferings of others.  She lived an ordinary life of grace, dealing with the daily crosses of life, practising sacrificial love to unkind people.

That is why, we must first sit at the feet of Jesus and our Mother Church to draw strength to love.  St Theresa teaches us that the path to holiness is through ‘The Little Way’, which is one of child-like love and trust in God.  She offered all her small acts of unconditional love for Christ which she called her “Little Way.”  She sought to remain a child of God, to live in love and work through love.  In spite of her littleness, poverty and helplessness, she surrendered all her inadequacies to the Lord. She said to the Lord, “Jesus, I ask You for nothing but peace and love, infinite love without any limits, other than Yourself, love which is no longer I, but you.”

The real knowledge of God is not intellectual knowledge of Him but to know Him as love.  St Paul wrote, “Love does not come to an end. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I am a man, all childish ways are put behind me.”   When we know God is love, and that He loves us, we will be able to find the strength and that capacity to love as He has loved us.

This is what the first reading is inviting us to do.  Like St Theresa, we must come to the fount of love and mercy in Christ.  “Rejoice Jerusalem! That you may be suckled, filled, from her consoling breast.  At her breast will her nurslings be carried and fondled in her lap.  Like a son comforted by his mother will I comfort you.”  Just as a mother would embrace all her children regardless whether they are intelligent, with low IQ, weak or strong, so too God embraces us all and would not refuse us any help, especially to those who are weak and vulnerable.  This is what the Lord said to us. “And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”

Yes, in humility we must turn to the Lord, knowing how weak and ignorant we are with regard to what love entails and what depth is His love for us.  The Lord reminds us that the way to the kingdom is much easier that we thought.  He said, “I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”   With the psalmist, we say, “O my Lord, within my heart pride will have no home. Every talent that I have comes from you alone.  Lord, my eyes do not look high nor my thoughts take wings for I can find treasures in ordinary things.”

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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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Two and a half years before her death in 1897 at the age of 24, as Thérèse Martin began writing down her childhood memories at the request of her blood sisters in the Lisieux Carmel, few could have guessed the eventual outcome. Yet this Story of my soul, first published in 1898 in a highly edited version, quickly became a modern spiritual classic, read by millions and translated into dozens of languages around the world.

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Decades later, in response to growing requests from scholars and devotees of the Saint, a facsimile edition of the manuscripts appeared, along with more popular French editions of what the Saint had actually written. Here, expressed with all of Thérèse’s original spontaneity and fervor, we rediscover the great themes of her spirituality: confidence and love, the little way, abandonment to God’s merciful love, and her mission in the church and world today.

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Father John Clarke’s acclaimed translation, first published in 1975 and now accepted as the standard throughout the English-speaking world, is a faithful and unaffected rendering of Thérèse’s own words, from the original manuscripts. This new edition, prepared for the centenary of the Saint’s death, includes a select bibliography of recent works in English on Thérèse, along with a new referencing system now widely used in studies of her doctrine.

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Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called her the “Little Flower”, and found in her short life more inspiration for their own lives than in volumes by theologians.

Yet Therese died when she was 24, after having lived as cloistered Carmelite for less than ten years. She never went on missions, never founded a religious order, never performed great works. The only book of hers, published after her death, was an brief edited version of her journal called “Story of a Soul.” (Collections of her letters and restored versions of her journals have been published recently.) But within 28 years of her death, the public demand was so great that she was canonized.

Over the years, some modern Catholics have turned away from her because they associate her with over- sentimentalized piety and yet the message she has for us is still as compelling and simple as it was almost a century ago.

Therese was born in France in 1873, the pampered daughter of a mother who had wanted to be a saint and a father who had wanted to be monk. The two had gotten married but determined they would be celibate until a priest told them that was not how God wanted a marriage to work! They must have followed his advice very well because they had nine children. The five children who lived were all daughters who were close all their lives.

Tragedy and loss came quickly to Therese when her mother died of breast cancer when she was four and a half years old. Her sixteen year old sister Pauline became her second mother — which made the second loss even worse when Pauline entered the Carmelite convent five years later. A few months later, Therese became so ill with a fever that people thought she was dying.

The worst part of it for Therese was all the people sitting around her bed staring at her like, she said, “a string of onions.” When Therese saw her sisters praying to statue of Mary in her room, Therese also prayed. She saw Mary smile at her and suddenly she was cured. She tried to keep the grace of the cure secret but people found out and badgered her with questions about what Mary was wearing, what she looked like. When she refused to give in to their curiosity, they passed the story that she had made the whole thing up.

Without realizing it, by the time she was eleven years old she had developed the habit of mental prayer. She would find a place between her bed and the wall and in that solitude think about God, life, eternity.

When her other sisters, Marie and Leonie, left to join religious orders (the Carmelites and Poor Clares, respectively), Therese was left alone with her last sister Celine and her father. Therese tells us that she wanted to be good but that she had an odd way of going about. This spoiled little Queen of her father’s wouldn’t do housework. She thought if she made the beds she was doing a great favor!

Every time Therese even imagined that someone was criticizing her or didn’t appreciate her, she burst into tears. Then she would cry because she had cried! Any inner wall she built to contain her wild emotions crumpled immediately before the tiniest comment.

Therese wanted to enter the Carmelite convent to join Pauline and Marie but how could she convince others that she could handle the rigors of Carmelite life, if she couldn’t handle her own emotional outbursts? She had prayed that Jesus would help her but there was no sign of an answer.

On Christmas day in 1886, the fourteen-year-old hurried home from church. In France, young children left their shoes by the hearth at Christmas, and then parents would fill them with gifts. By fourteen, most children outgrew this custom. But her sister Celine didn’t want Therese to grow up. So they continued to leave presents in “baby” Therese’s shoes.

As she and Celine climbed the stairs to take off their hats, their father’s voice rose up from the parlor below. Standing over the shoes, he sighed, “Thank goodness that’s the last time we shall have this kind of thing!”

Therese froze, and her sister looked at her helplessly. Celine knew that in a few minutes Therese would be in tears over what her father had said.

But the tantrum never came. Something incredible had happened to Therese. Jesus had come into her heart and done what she could not do herself. He had made her more sensitive to her father’s feelings than her own.

She swallowed her tears, walked slowly down the stairs, and exclaimed over the gifts in the shoes, as if she had never heard a word her father said. The following year she entered the convent. In her autobiography she referred to this Christmas as her “conversion.”

Therese be known as the Little Flower but she had a will of steel. When the superior of the Carmelite convent refused to take Therese because she was so young, the formerly shy little girl went to the bishop. When the bishop also said no, she decided to go over his head, as well.

Her father and sister took her on a pilgrimage to Rome to try to get her mind off this crazy idea. Therese loved it. It was the one time when being little worked to her advantage! Because she was young and small she could run everywhere, touch relics and tombs without being yelled at. Finally they went for an audience with the Pope. They had been forbidden to speak to him but that didn’t stop Therese. As soon as she got near him, she begged that he let her enter the Carmelite convent. She had to be carried out by two of the guards!

But the Vicar General who had seen her courage was impressed and soon Therese was admitted to the Carmelite convent that her sisters Pauline and Marie had already joined. Her romantic ideas of convent life and suffering soon met up with reality in a way she had never expected. Her father suffered a series of strokes that left him affected not only physically but mentally. When he began hallucinating and grabbed for a gun as if going into battle, he was taken to an asylum for the insane. Horrified, Therese learned of the humiliation of the father she adored and admired and of the gossip and pity of their so-called friends. As a cloistered nun she couldn’t even visit her father.

This began a horrible time of suffering when she experienced such dryness in prayer that she stated “Jesus isn’t doing much to keep the conversation going.” She was so grief-stricken that she often fell asleep in prayer. She consoled herself by saying that mothers loved children when they lie asleep in their arms so that God must love her when she slept during prayer.

She knew as a Carmelite nun she would never be able to perform great deeds. ” Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.” She took every chance to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem. She smiled at the sisters she didn’t like. She ate everything she was given without complaining — so that she was often given the worst leftovers. One time she was accused of breaking a vase when she was not at fault. Instead of arguing she sank to her knees and begged forgiveness. These little sacrifices cost her more than bigger ones, for these went unrecognized by others. No one told her how wonderful she was for these little secrethumiliations and good deeds.

When Pauline was elected prioress, she asked Therese for the ultimate sacrifice. Because of politics in the convent, many of the sisters feared that the family Martin would taken over the convent. Therefore Pauline asked Therese to remain a novice, in order to allay the fears of the others that the three sisters would push everyone else around. This meant she would never be a fully professed nun, that she would always have to ask permission for everything she did. This sacrificewas made a little sweeter when Celine entered the convent after her father’s death. Four of the sisters were now together again.

Therese continued to worry about how she could achieve holiness in the life she led. She didn’t want to just be good, she wanted to be a saint. She thought there must be a way for people living hidden, little lives like hers. ” I have always wanted to become a saint. Unfortunately when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by. Instead of being discouraged, I told myself: God would not make me wish for something impossible and so, in spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint. It is impossible for me to grow bigger, so I put up with myself as I am, with all my countless faults. But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new.

” We live in an age of inventions. We need no longer climb laboriously up flights of stairs; in well-to-do houses there are lifts. And I was determined to find a lift to carry me to Jesus, for I was far too small to climb the steep stairs of perfection. So I sought in holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and I read these words: “Whosoever is a little one, come to me.” It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up: I must stay little and become less and less.”

She worried about her vocation: ” I feel in me the vocation of the Priest. I have the vocation of the Apostle. Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and this dream has grown with me. Considering the mystical body of the Church, I desired to see myself in them all. Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love. I understood that Love comprised all vocations, that Love was everything, that it embraced all times and places…in a word, that it was eternal! Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my Love…my vocation, at last I have found it…My vocation is Love!”

When an antagonist was elected prioress, new political suspicions and plottings sprang up. The concern over the Martin sisters perhaps was not exaggerated. In this small convent they now made up one-fifth of the population. Despite this and the fact that Therese was a permanent novice they put her in charge of the other novices.

Then in 1896, she coughed up blood. She kept working without telling anyone until she became so sick a year later everyone knew it. Worst of all she had lost her joy and confidence and felt she would die young without leaving anything behind. Pauline had already had her writing down her memories for journal and now she wanted her to continue — so they would have something to circulate on her life after her death.

Her pain was so great that she said that if she had not had faith she would have taken her own life without hesitation. But she tried to remain smiling and cheerful — and succeeded so well that some thought she was only pretending to be ill. Her one dream as the work she would do after her death, helping those on earth. “I will return,” she said. “My heaven will be spent on earth.” She died on September 30, 1897 at the age of 24 years old. She herself felt it was a blessing God allowed her to die at exactly that age. she had always felt that she had a vocation to be a priest and felt God let her die at the age she would have been ordained if she had been a man so that she wouldn’t have to suffer.

After she died, everything at the convent went back to normal. One nun commented that there was nothing to say about Therese. But Pauline put together Therese’s writings (and heavily edited them, unfortunately) and sent 2000 copies to other convents. But Therese’s “little way” of trusting in Jesus to make her holy and relying on small daily sacrifices instead of great deeds appealed to the thousands of Catholics and others who were trying to find holiness in ordinary lives. Within two years, the Martin family had to move because her notoriety was so great and by 1925 she had been canonized.

Therese of Lisieux is one of the patron saints of the missions, not because she ever went anywhere, but because of her special love of the missions, and the prayers and letters she gave in support of missionaries. This is reminder to all of us who feel we can do nothing, that it is the little things that keep God’s kingdom growing.

https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=105&PHPSESSID=9b123881fa76a3661a12f9375df56e11

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

The book that has most embodied the practice of abandonment, for us, is “Self Abandonment to Divine Providence” by Jean Pierre de Caussade.

Morning Prayer for Tuesday, September 25, 2018 — Am I Working Toward a Spiritual Experience?

September 25, 2018

Let us consider the term “spiritual experience.” Here is one well known definition: “A spiritual experience is something that brings about a personality change. By surrendering our lives to God as we understand Him, we are changed. The nature of this change is evident in people who are recovered. This personality change is not necessarily in the nature of a sudden and spectacular upheaval. We do not need to acquire an immediate ad overwhelming God consciousness, followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook. In most cases, the change is gradual.” Do I see a gradual and continuing change in myself?

Meditation for the Day

“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” For rest from the care of life, you can turn to God each day in prayer and communion. Real relaxation and serenity come from a deep sense of the fundamental goodness of the universe. God’s everlasting arms are underneath all and will support you. Commune with God, not so much for petitions to be granted as for the rest that comes from relying on His will and His purposes for your life. Be sure of God’s strength available to you, be conscious of His support, and wait quietly until that true rest from God fills your being.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be conscious of God’s support today. I pray that I may rest safe and sure therein.

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The definition of the term “spiritual experience” is as given in Appendix II of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Morning Prayer for Monday, September 24, 2018 — True Faith Requires Our Complete Surrender

September 24, 2018

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“Lord, to whom shall we go but to Thee? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” The words of eternal life are the words from God controlling your true being, controlling the real spiritual you. They are the words from God, which are heard by you in your heart and mind when these are wide open to His spirit. These are the words of eternal life, which express the true way you are to live. They say to you in the stillness of your heart and mind and soul: “Do this and live.”

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may follow the dictates of my conscience. I pray that I may follow the inner urging of my soul.

— From the Book “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

“Half measures availed us nothing.”

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St. John tells us: After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68). Peter, at that moment, declared to Jesus what the Church would continue to say until the end of time. Jesus’ words truly are life and by not trusting His word, we cannot trust Him. True faith demands that we do not go half-way. True faith in Jesus Christ demands our entire surrender.

Source:https://orthodoxcatholicism.com/2013/03/30/lord-to-whom-shall-we-go/

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Morning Prayer for Wednesday, September 19, 2018 — With spiritual laws, you can expect your share of joy and peace, satisfaction and success

September 19, 2018

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“These things have I spoken unto you, that your joy may be full.” Even a partial realization of the spiritual life brings much joy. You feel at home in the world when you are in touch with the Divine Spirit of the universe. Spiritual experience brings a definite satisfaction. Search for the real meaning of life by following spiritual laws. God wants you to have spiritual success and He intends that you have it. If you live your life as much as possible according to spiritual laws, you can expect your share of joy and peace, satisfaction and success.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I will find happiness in doing the right thing. I pray that I will find satisfaction in obeying spiritual laws.

Related:

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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19 SEPTEMBER, 2018, Wednesday, 24th Week, Ordinary Time

LOVE IS THE KEY TO WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 COR 12:31-13:13LUKE 7:31-35  ]

There are many questions in life for which we seek answers.  Many of us have questions regarding their faith and the existence of God.  We wonder whether He loves us and cares for us, or even if He could help us at all.  We cannot understand why we have to suffer and why there is so much innocent and senseless suffering in the world.  We also feel powerless to do good, and even if we do, we end up doing evil and selfish things.  No matter how we search, we know that every answer is inadequate and imperfect.  This was how St Paul felt when he wrote, “When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I am a man, all childish ways are put behind me.  Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but them we shall be seeing face to face.  The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known.”

Indeed, in this life, we can never have the full answers to the mysteries of life.  Our minds are finite and limited.  We will never be able to comprehend everything even if they are revealed to us because we do not have the capacity to understand, just like a child who does not understand why his or her parents make him or her do certain things.  When compared to the mind of God, our minds are like little children.  St Paul exclaimed, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”  (Rom 11:33-36)  Like St Paul, we can only surrender in faith to the mystery of God’s plan and love for us.

It is not the answers to our intellectual questions that we ultimately need, so long as we are assured that we are safe and secure in love.  We look for answer after answer simply because we do not trust God enough to surrender our lives to Him.  In the same way, if we do not trust someone, we will always be suspicious and keep asking what he is doing or where he is. We will keep checking on that person because we are unsure of the person’s love and fidelity.  However, if we know that the person loves us above everything else and will protect us in love, then all questions and doubts will cease.  When there is an assurance of love, all the questions become secondary.  One does not need to know all about the person in order to love.  One only needs to know that the person loves us for us to entrust our life to that person.

So too, it is, in our relationship with God.  When we know that God loves us, we will stop asking all the intellectual questions about Him.  Those of us who keep doubting God and asking questions are simply saying that we do not know Him well enough to entrust our lives to Him because He might not even exist, much less that He loves us.  St Paul makes it clear, “among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.”  (1 Cor 2:6f) For this reason, St Paul remarks, “there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.”  When there is love, our faith in Him is strong and our hope is certain.  Only faith, hope and love give us the grace to persevere in times of difficulties and trials.   Love pulls faith and hope together in this journey of life.  So long as there is love, we will continue to keep our faith in God or in anyone whom we love, never giving up hope in God or in anyone.

It is love that enables us to see life from the perspective of our beloved.  Love is not self-centered but always focused on the other.  “It is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish.”  Love makes us able to enter into the other person’s life. Such a love is always non-judgmental and always understanding.  Even when the person fails us, love is always patient and kind.  Indeed, St Paul says that love “does not take offence, and is not resentful.  Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.”  Love therefore is the key to enter into the heart and mind of our beloved.  Instead of judging them from our vantage point, we see them the way they look at themselves and their life.

When we lack this kind of love, then we become judgmental and inconsistent, like the religious leaders during the time of Jesus.  They were not ready to accept the love of God and His Word spoken through John the Baptist or Jesus.  They were always finding excuses and rationalizing to reject the truth spoken by them.  “For John the Baptist comes, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, ‘He is possessed.’  The Son of Man comes, eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”  Jesus likened them to children in the market square shouting to one another, “We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn’t dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn’t cry.”  Their wisdom was the human wisdom of the world.  It was not the wisdom that came from their love of God.

This also explains why many of us do not know how to truly love, because our love lacks trust.  For many people love is reducible to having gifts from their loved ones.  We need tangible signs for us to encounter the love of someone.  Like the Corinthians, we seek to have more and more gifts, and we think that the gifts we receive is love itself.  But it is not the gifts that we need, what we need is love itself.  Gifts are important, but they are just signs.  St Paul wrote, “But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear.”

Consequently, St Paul urges us, “Be ambitious for the higher gifts.  And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.”  The only gift that can fulfill and complete us is when we have the love of God in our hearts.  Otherwise, “If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all.  If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.”   When there is love, we are always happy.  The gifts we possess are means for us to express the love in our hearts when we share them with others.  Unless the gifts come from a heart of love, they will only be used to manipulate others for our self-interests and insecurity. 

To find the greatest love in life is to find Christ.  The true wisdom is God’s love for us in Christ crucified.  This is what the Lord prophesied, “Yet wisdom has been proved right by all her children.” St Paul wrote, “Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  (1 Cor 1:22-24)  Christ’s love is captured in St Paul’s poem of love.  His love is unconditional and forgiving.  His love is enduring and faithful.   When we experience such love, we can surrender our lives completely to Him as St Paul did.   With the psalmist, we say, “They are happy, whose God is the Lord, the people he has chosen as his own. May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.”

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

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, September 19, 2018 — Can we surrender our lives completely to Him as St Paul did?

September 19, 2018

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Love is patient, love is kind.  It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude…

Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 445

Reading 1 1 COR 12:31-13:13

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 33:2-3, 4-5, 12 AND 22

R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
For upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Alleluia  SEE JN 6:63C, 68C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life,
you have the words of everlasting life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 7:31-35

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare the people of this generation?
What are they like?
They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.
We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine,
and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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19 SEPTEMBER, 2018, Wednesday, 24th Week, Ordinary Time

LOVE IS THE KEY TO WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 COR 12:31-13:13LUKE 7:31-35  ]

There are many questions in life for which we seek answers.  Many of us have questions regarding their faith and the existence of God.  We wonder whether He loves us and cares for us, or even if He could help us at all.  We cannot understand why we have to suffer and why there is so much innocent and senseless suffering in the world.  We also feel powerless to do good, and even if we do, we end up doing evil and selfish things.  No matter how we search, we know that every answer is inadequate and imperfect.  This was how St Paul felt when he wrote, “When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I am a man, all childish ways are put behind me.  Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but them we shall be seeing face to face.  The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known.”

Indeed, in this life, we can never have the full answers to the mysteries of life.  Our minds are finite and limited.  We will never be able to comprehend everything even if they are revealed to us because we do not have the capacity to understand, just like a child who does not understand why his or her parents make him or her do certain things.  When compared to the mind of God, our minds are like little children.  St Paul exclaimed, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”  (Rom 11:33-36)  Like St Paul, we can only surrender in faith to the mystery of God’s plan and love for us.

It is not the answers to our intellectual questions that we ultimately need, so long as we are assured that we are safe and secure in love.  We look for answer after answer simply because we do not trust God enough to surrender our lives to Him.  In the same way, if we do not trust someone, we will always be suspicious and keep asking what he is doing or where he is. We will keep checking on that person because we are unsure of the person’s love and fidelity.  However, if we know that the person loves us above everything else and will protect us in love, then all questions and doubts will cease.  When there is an assurance of love, all the questions become secondary.  One does not need to know all about the person in order to love.  One only needs to know that the person loves us for us to entrust our life to that person.

So too, it is, in our relationship with God.  When we know that God loves us, we will stop asking all the intellectual questions about Him.  Those of us who keep doubting God and asking questions are simply saying that we do not know Him well enough to entrust our lives to Him because He might not even exist, much less that He loves us.  St Paul makes it clear, “among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.”  (1 Cor 2:6f) For this reason, St Paul remarks, “there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.”  When there is love, our faith in Him is strong and our hope is certain.  Only faith, hope and love give us the grace to persevere in times of difficulties and trials.   Love pulls faith and hope together in this journey of life.  So long as there is love, we will continue to keep our faith in God or in anyone whom we love, never giving up hope in God or in anyone.

It is love that enables us to see life from the perspective of our beloved.  Love is not self-centered but always focused on the other.  “It is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish.”  Love makes us able to enter into the other person’s life. Such a love is always non-judgmental and always understanding.  Even when the person fails us, love is always patient and kind.  Indeed, St Paul says that love “does not take offence, and is not resentful.  Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.”  Love therefore is the key to enter into the heart and mind of our beloved.  Instead of judging them from our vantage point, we see them the way they look at themselves and their life.

When we lack this kind of love, then we become judgmental and inconsistent, like the religious leaders during the time of Jesus.  They were not ready to accept the love of God and His Word spoken through John the Baptist or Jesus.  They were always finding excuses and rationalizing to reject the truth spoken by them.  “For John the Baptist comes, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, ‘He is possessed.’  The Son of Man comes, eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”  Jesus likened them to children in the market square shouting to one another, “We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn’t dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn’t cry.”  Their wisdom was the human wisdom of the world.  It was not the wisdom that came from their love of God.

This also explains why many of us do not know how to truly love, because our love lacks trust.  For many people love is reducible to having gifts from their loved ones.  We need tangible signs for us to encounter the love of someone.  Like the Corinthians, we seek to have more and more gifts, and we think that the gifts we receive is love itself.  But it is not the gifts that we need, what we need is love itself.  Gifts are important, but they are just signs.  St Paul wrote, “But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear.”

Consequently, St Paul urges us, “Be ambitious for the higher gifts.  And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.”  The only gift that can fulfill and complete us is when we have the love of God in our hearts.  Otherwise, “If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all.  If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.”   When there is love, we are always happy.  The gifts we possess are means for us to express the love in our hearts when we share them with others.  Unless the gifts come from a heart of love, they will only be used to manipulate others for our self-interests and insecurity. 

To find the greatest love in life is to find Christ.  The true wisdom is God’s love for us in Christ crucified.  This is what the Lord prophesied, “Yet wisdom has been proved right by all her children.” St Paul wrote, “Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  (1 Cor 1:22-24)  Christ’s love is captured in St Paul’s poem of love.  His love is unconditional and forgiving.  His love is enduring and faithful.   When we experience such love, we can surrender our lives completely to Him as St Paul did.   With the psalmist, we say, “They are happy, whose God is the Lord, the people he has chosen as his own. May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.”

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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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Morning Prayer for Saturday, August 18, 2018 — Seeking a Power greater than ourselves

August 18, 2018

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Thought for the Day

“We of agnostic temperament have found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which we call God. As soon as you can say that you do believe or are willing to believe, you are on your way. Upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.” Am I willing to depend on a Power that I cannot fully define or comprehend?

Meditation for the Day

We seek God’s presence and “they who seek shall find.” It is not a question of searching so much as an inner consciousness of the Divine spirit in your heart. To realize God’s presence you must surrender to His will in the small as well as in the big things of life. This makes God’s guidance possible. Some things separate you from God – a false word, a fear-inspired failure, a harsh criticism, a stubborn resentment. These are the things that put a distance between your mind and God. A word of love, a selfless reconciliation, and a kind act of helpfulness – these bring God closer.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may think and say and do the things that bring God closer to me. I pray that I may find Him in a sincere prayer, a kind word, or an unselfish deed.

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