Pope to Georgian Catholics: imitate St. Therese’s ‘little way’

It’s important to follow the example of St. Therese’s “little way,” trusting in God and his consolation with the faith a small child, Pope Francis said Saturday, which marked the feast of the young saint and Doctor of the Church.

Quoting from her autobiography, he said St. Therese “shows her ‘little way’ to God, the trust of a little child who falls asleep without fear in his Father’s arms, because ‘Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude.’”

“To receive God’s love we need this littleness of heart: only little ones can be held in their mothers’ arms,” the Pope said during his homily at M. Meskhi Stadium in Tbilisi, Georgia Oct. 1.

“Here in Georgia there are a great number of grandmothers and mothers who unceasingly defend and pass on the faith,” he said, adding that they “bring the fresh water of God’s consolation to countless situations of barrenness and conflict.”

Tbilisi is the Pope’s first stop during his Sept. 30-Oct. 2 visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan. Expected to largely focus on the topics of peace, ecumenism, and interreligious dialogue, the trip is seen as a conclusion of his Caucasus tour, following his visit to Armenia in June.

In Georgia, Eastern Orthodox make up 84 percent of the population, Muslims 10 percent, Apostolic Armenians close to three, and Catholics less than one percent.

The Pope’s homily at the public Mass centered on the comfort of God as being like the comfort of a father to his children.

“As he looks at us, he is always moved and becomes tender-hearted, with a love from the depths of his being, for beyond any evil we are capable of, we always remain his children; he wants to take us in his arms, protect us, and free us from harm and evil,” he said.

It is God’s presence that frees us and gives us joy, even amid conflict or turmoil in our lives, Francis said. “For this reason, if we want to experience his consolation, we must give way to the Lord in our lives.”

“There are doors of consolation which must always be open, because Jesus especially loves to enter through them: the Gospel we read every day and carry around with us, our silent prayer in adoration, confession, the Eucharist. It is through these doors that the Lord enters and gives new flavor to reality.”

“When the door of our heart is closed, however, his light cannot enter in and everything remains dark,” he added.

Pope Francis noted also the importance of community, saying that “in the Church we find consolation, the Church is the house of consolation: here God wishes to console us.”

“It is when we are united, in communion, that God’s consolation works in us,” he said, explaining that we must ask ourselves if we who are in the Church truly bring God’s consolation to others and welcome them, consoling the tired and disillusioned.

“Dear brothers and sisters, let us take up this call: to not bury ourselves in what is going wrong around us or be saddened by the lack of harmony between us.”

“It is not good for us to become accustomed to a closed ecclesial micro-environment,” but rather “to share wide horizons open to hope, having the courage to humbly open our doors and go beyond ourselves,” Francis said.

The Pope also stressed the need to always trust and hope in the surprises of God. Doing this, he said, “will help us to remember that we are constantly and primarily his children.”

We are “not masters of our lives, but children of the Father; not autonomous and self-sufficient adults, but children who always need to be lifted up and embraced, who need love and forgiveness,” the Pope continued.

“Blessed are those Christian communities who live this authentic gospel simplicity!” he said. “Blessed are the Shepherds who do not ride the logic of worldly success, but follow the law of love: welcoming, listening, serving.”

“Blessed is the Church who does not entrust herself to the criteria of functionalism and organizational efficiency, nor worries about her image,” he added.

Pope Francis offered encouragement to the “little and beloved flock of Georgia,” telling them to receive the encouragement of the Good Shepherd who “takes you on his shoulders and consoles you.”

“The true greatness of man consists in making himself small before God,” he said, adding that God is not known through “grand ideas and extensive study, but rather through the littleness of a humble and trusting heart.”

“To be great before the Most High does not require the accumulation of honor and prestige or earthly goods and success, but rather a complete self-emptying.”



Mercy & Forgiveness


Triduum for the Feast of St Therese: Day 2, 29 Sep 2016

“There was once a man who was not a very nice person. He mistreated his wife very badly, and he had a son, whom he didn’t treat well. After a few years, he abandoned both of them and disappeared.

The son grew up filled with resentment and hatred for his father. Years later, the father returned one day, telling his son he wanted reconciliation.

The son looked at his father with disgust, and he said that never in his entire life would he want to forgive him. He felt the father had created so much misery for the family, so he wanted the father to feel the same pain and be punished for the rest of his life.

Unknown to the son, one of the reasons his father came to seek reconciliation, was that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and he was starting to have dementia. The son didn’t know this, and the father left, very sad.

After a few years, a family friend told the son that his father was in bad shape and suggested he pay a visit. Very reluctantly, he went to visit his father, who was in an advanced stage of the disease.

When he saw his father, he was filled with a lot of anger and resentment again, but the person sitting in front of him was just smiling. His father couldn’t recognise him or respond much, and just kept smiling.

The son shouted at him, saying he was supposed to feel pain. He berated him for smiling back at him. The old man didn’t react and continued to smile.

Finally, the son broke down. After crying a while, he looked up and said: ‘I’ve had enough of this. I want to move on. Today, I want to tell you, I will forgive you for all the things you’ve done in the past.’

The father didn’t respond and just smiled, but the son suddenly felt a very heavy burden lifted. All that darkness within himself just dissolved.

We realise then that forgiving the father was not so much for the father’s benefit, but it was for the son to set himself free.

Today, we are talking about mercy and the family. Yesterday, Father Simon Pereira spoke about the need to go out and show mercy. But we need to focus on our own families too.

This is very real. Many people who come to us priests for confessions say they cannot forgive a particular person in their families.

What can we learn from the parable of the prodigal son? The father should be very much angry with the wrongdoings of the son, but he focused on healing the relationship.

To bring about mercy within our families, we have to learn to be very sensitive to people around us. This is the first challenge I want you to ponder on.

Such sensitivity doesn’t come naturally to all of us. If you have such a virtue, grow and nurture it. For some of us, we must work more on this, to be more aware of what the other person is going through.

That is the core of the word ‘mercy’, which is from the Latin word ‘misericordia’. It combines two words: ‘miseriae’ means misery, and ‘cor’ or ‘cordis’ means heart.

The meaning of ‘misericordia’ is to be able to go into the heart of the other person, to experience the pain the other is feeling.

Here is where the next challenge comes: To bring about reconciliation.

Many of us have heard this: We have to forgive, but we don’t have to forget. Because the reality is that things have been done.

The forgiveness? It is not something that we feel we want to do. Rather, we make a choice to forgive someone. It is therefore an act of intention. I can still feel annoyed with you, but I can choose to forgive you.

Ask yourself: Can I make this choice?

We are also here tonight, preparing for the feast of St Therese this weekend.

St Therese was someone who truly valued her family and she shared a lot about relationships within families. She also admitted that sometimes, family relationships are not perfect.

She said: ‘True charity consists in bearing with all the defects of our neighbours and our family members, and in not being surprised at their failings, but edified by their smallest virtues. Charity must not remain shut in the depths of the heart, but to enlighten and make joyful, not only to those who are dearest to us, or to me, but to all who are in the house, even those we are not very happy with.’”

– Fr Terence Wee, CSsR

This post is copied from the Facebook page of Church of St. Teresa (Singapore) wherein posts concerning reflections, homily are available aside from parish-related news/events.

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St. Therese Novena Day Six: Purify Me Lord

Great read! 🙂


Words of St. Therese

There is one sister in the community who has a knack of rubbing me the wrong way at every turn; her manner, her speech, her character just strikes me as unlovable…I was not going to let this natural antipathy get the better of me. I reminded myself that charity is not a matter of fine feelings; rather it means doing things. So I determined to treat this sister as if she were the person I loved best in the world. When I felt tempted to take her down with an unkind retort, I would put on my best smile instead, and change the subject…when the struggle was too much for me, I would turn tail and run.

One day she asked me: “What is it about me that gets the right side of you. You always have a smile for me.” What really attracted me about her was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul; Jesus makes the bitterest mouthful taste sweet. I could only say that the sight of her always made me smile with pleasure – naturally I did not explain that the pleasure was entirely spiritual.

Our Novena Prayer

Dear Therese, it is so refreshing that you also experienced people who irritated or challenged you. Like you, I have trouble seeing good qualities in people who aggravate me, and how they might image God.

Clarify my sight about the people whose goodness is blinded from me. Inspire patience with imperfection. Give me your eyes. Help me to see the image of God and the presence of Jesus in each person I meet, especially where it is not obvious to me. Soften my negative judgments about them. Teach me to smile rather than grimace. I want your heart, Therese, your heart which seeks Jesus deep within each person. Enlighten me, Little Flower of Jesus, to see the beauty of God’s artistry in each one of His creatures.

St. Therese Novena Day Six: Purify Me Lord


The experiences encountered in doing thesis resulted to several adjustments along the way, the recent being waking up early instead of staying up late. This week and last week saw some visitors that paid surprising visits- the common colds. While I am taking up vitamins, perhaps the presence of such colds signals that changes in diet is the next adjustment to be taken care of (e.g. eating fruits, esp those rich in Vitamin C). It’s challenging to be sick.

Parable of the Good Samaritan

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today we reflect on the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Luke 10:25-37). A Doctor of the Law puts Jesus to the test with this question: “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 25). Jesus asks him to give the answer himself, and he gives it perfectly: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind: and your neighbor as yourself” (v. 27). Then Jesus concludes: “do this, and you will live” (v. 28).

Then that man poses another question, which becomes very valuable for us: “who is my neighbor?” (v. 29), and he infers: “my parents? My fellow countrymen? Those of my religion? …” In sum, he wants a clear rule that enables him to classify others in “neighbor” and “non-neighbor,” in those who can become neighbors and those who cannot become neighbors.

And Jesus answers with a parable, placing at the scene a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan. The first two are figures linked to the worship of the Temple; the third is a schismatic Jew, considered as a foreigner, pagan and impure, namely the Samaritan. On the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, the priest and the Levite come across a dying man, that brigands had assaulted, robbed and abandoned. In similar situations, the Lord’s Law foresaw the obligation to help him, but both passed beyond without stopping. They were in a hurry … The priest perhaps looked at his watch and said: “But I’ll be late for Mass … I must say the Mass.” The other one said: “But, I don’t know if the Law allows me, because there is blood there and I will be impure …” They go on another way and do not approach him.

And here the parable offers us a first teaching: it is not automatic that one who frequents God’s house and knows His mercy is able to love his neighbor. It is not automatic! One can know the whole Bible, one can know all the liturgical rubrics, one can know all the theology, but from knowing, loving is not automatic: loving has another way, intelligence is needed but also something more … The priest and the Levite saw, but ignored; looked but did not provide. Yet true worship does not exist if it is not translated into service to one’s neighbor. Let us never forget it: in the face of the suffering of so many people destroyed by hunger, by violence and by injustices, we cannot remain spectators. What does it mean to ignore man’s suffering? It means to ignore God! If I do not approach that man, or that woman, that child, that elderly man or elderly woman that is suffering, I do not come close to God.

But let us come to the center of the parable: the Samaritan, that is, in fact, the one who was scorned, the one on whom no one would have wagered anything and who, nevertheless, also had his commitments and his things to do — when he saw the wounded man, he did not pass beyond like the other two, who were linked to the Temple, but “he had compassion” (v. 33). So says the Gospel: “he had compassion,” that is, his heart, was moved; he was moved within! See the difference. The other two “saw,” but their hearts remained closed, cold. Instead, the Samaritan’s heart was attuned to God’s heart itself. In fact, “compassion” is an essential characteristic of God’s mercy. God has compassion for us. What does it mean? He suffers with us; He feels our sufferings. Compassion means: “to share with.” The word indicates that something within us moves and trembles on seeing man’s ill. And in the gestures and the actions of the Good Samaritan we recognize God’s merciful action in the whole history of salvation. It is the same compassion with which the Lord comes to meet each one of us: He does not ignore us, He knows our sorrows; He knows how much we need help and consolation. He comes close to us and never abandons us. Each one of us should ask himself the question and answer in his heart: “Do I believe this? Do I believe that the Lord has compassion for me, just as I am, a sinner, with so many problems and so many things?” Think of this and the answer is: “Yes!” But each one must look into his heart to see if he has faith in this compassion of God, of the good God who comes close, who heals us, who caresses us. And if we refuse Him, He waits: He is patient and is always at our side.

The Samaritan behaved with true mercy: he dressed that man’s wounds, he took him to the inn, took personal care of him and provided for his assistance. All this teaches us that compassion, love, is not a vague feeling, but it means to take care of the other even to paying in person. It means to commit oneself, taking all the necessary steps to “come close” to the other, to the point of identifying oneself with him” “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Behold the Lord’s Commandment.

The parable having ended, Jesus turns around the question of the Doctor of the Law and asks him: “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (v. 36) Finally, the answer is unequivocal: “The one who showed mercy on him” (v. 27) At the beginning of the parable, for the priest and the Levite their neighbor was the dying man; at the end <of the parable> it is the Samaritan who came close. Jesus turns the perspective around: not to classify others to see who is a neighbor and who is not. You can become a neighbor to anyone you meet in need, and you will be so if you have compassion in your heart, that is, if you have that capacity to suffer with the other.

This parable is a stupendous gift for all of us, and also a commitment! Jesus repeats to each one of us what He said to the Doctor of the Law: “Go and do likewise” (v. 37). We are all called to follow the same path of the Good Samaritan, who is a figure of Christ: Jesus bent over us, made Himself our servant, and thus He saved us, so that we too are able to love as He loved us, in the same way.

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]


In Italian

I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, in particular you, faithful of the dioceses of Chieti-Vasto, Novara, Alessandria, Chiavari and Pavia, led by your respective Bishops, and I hope that your Jubilee pilgrimage is rich in fruits for the benefit of your diocesan communities. I greet the faithful of Pattada, Tradate, Sant’Andrea in Andria and Santa Maria Maddalena in Dossobuono.

A thought goes to the Redemptorist Missionaries, to the priest educators of the Major Seminaries affiliated to the Urbanian University and to all those taking part in the Seminar promoted by the University of the Holy Cross.

I greet the young people, the especially numerous pupils of the schools, the sick and the newlyweds. To you, dear young people, I wish that you always be faithful to your Baptism, witnessing the joy that comes from the encounter with Jesus. I exhort you, dear sick, to look at Him who conquered death and who helps you to accept your sufferings as an occasion of redemption and salvation. Finally, I invite you, dear newlyweds, to think and live the daily family experience with a look of love that “bears all things and endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).


[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]

General Audience: On the Parable of the Good Samaritan


SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalm 32:4-5,18-20,22; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45 (or >< 10:42-45)

One of the essays we have our young children write about in school is: “What is your ambition in life?”  Indeed, in asking this very important question, we are helping our young people to develop a clear direction in life.  If not, many of them would be studying without a goal and therefore without any motivation.  But ambition alone cannot make us happy or give us fulfillment because it tends to be inward-looking.  It is mainly about self, about amassing honour, status and material gains.  In the gospel, we read how the apostles of Jesus were fighting for positions to fulfill their ambition.  Their motives for following Jesus were no better than ours.  They wanted glory, power and honour.

Ambition is not only self-destructive but often leads us to jealousy, competition and even destruction of others.  It may move some to resort to slander to destroy their opponents in order to achieve their ambition.  It makes us see everyone as a threat and causes us to create enemies.  It fills us with anger and revengefulness, consuming us with thoughts of how to destroy our opponents and winning at all costs.  That was the way the other apostles reacted when James and John sought positions from Jesus.  The evangelist noted, “When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John.”

Provoking jealousy does not help to bring peace and unity in our community.   Such a competitive spirit divides people.  Hence, ambition might not bring the desired outcomes of joy, love and unity for ourselves and those whom we work for.  Look at the office politics, not just in secular and corporate offices but even within the Church and in voluntary organizations. There is so much infighting, politicking, scrambling and competition for power, authority, and recognition.  So much so that much of our energy is expended on fending off our enemies, leaving us with not much energy left to employ our resources, skills and talents for the service of God and His people.  So we can fulfill and achieve our ambition, but at the cost of the loss of joy, peace and love.

That is why we must seek for something more than ambition.  We must be driven by higher and more sublime goals in life.   This is called vocation.  Only vocation can bring true happiness and fulfillment in life.  This is because we no longer work for ourselves but for others.  When our energy is no longer directed at ourselves, we have nothing to protect.   Instead, our energy is now directed towards others with a certain sense of detachment, doing all we can for their good.  When we expend all our energy in loving and serving, that energy is not only expansive but keeps on increasing from strength to strength.  Love makes love grow! Indeed, this is what the Lord said about the Suffering Servant, “By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself.”

Vocation, unlike ambition, is a call to serve God and humanity, rather ourselves.  Vocation is for the service of others before self.  The interests of those whom we serve come before ours.  Vocation is at the service of life and love.  This entails sacrificing ourselves for others.  Like the Suffering Servant who suffered for his people and for the Lord.  “The Lord has been pleased to crush his servant with suffering.”  Indeed, this is how Jesus saw Himself in His vocation and mission.  He said, “For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Vocation is servanthood.  Jesus instructed His disciples, “You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you.”  Vocation is humble service, and being a servant and a slave to all.  Jesus said, “No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all.”   The greatness of a servant lies in the way he serves, humbly, selflessly and totally.

Vocation comes first and foremost as a call from God.  God has put into our hearts a passion for something.  Not only has He put this passion in our hearts, He also provides us the skills and the charisms for the vocation.  It is a call that begins from within before it comes from without.  Unless the Lord has already put that passion in us, regardless of what is without will not evoke in us.  In other words, God has planted the seed of our vocation even before we were born.  Hence, we know it is our vocation when what we are called to do is also matched by the skills and talents the Lord has blessed us with.  In responding to that call in us, we find peace and fulfillment.

However, this voice in us most of the time remains latent until it is stimulated by a voice that comes from without; from our loved ones, from society and from the Church.  Vocation comes from identification and solidarity with the suffering. Like the suffering servant, we are called to take upon the sufferings of others in our own bodies.  We are called to identify ourselves with them in their pain and sufferings and make them as our own so that we can grow in compassion and sympathy. This is what we read of how Jesus identified Himself with us sinners.  “For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin.”

It often entails vicarious suffering for others.  It is a great challenge. Vocation is not meant for the weak and the unenlightened.  Many want to do great things for God and for people, but do not have the capacity to suffer.  In moments of trials, they give up doing good.  That is why Jesus warned the disciples to think through carefully the demands of a vocation.  He said, “You do not know what you are asking.  Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised? …  ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptized.”  We will not be exempted from suffering when doing good.  We will be misunderstood, ridiculed or even opposed by selfish people who are threatened by our good works.

Sacrificing for the greater good of the future and for humanity brings great blessings.  This is what the Lord says, “If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.”  Indeed, the true reward of humble service and love is not honour and glory but the growth in our capacity to love, the experience of joy and peace.  This is what the Lord told His disciples, “but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.”

It is within this context that we look at our vocation in life and our profession.  It is not enough to have a profession, but we must see our profession as our vocation.  Once we see our profession as more of a vocation, then our orientation and motive become different.  We feel empowered and our lives become very meaningful.  It is no longer work or simply as a means to make money, but a means to give life to others, to share our love and joy.  Regardless of whether we are priests, doctors, nurses, social workers, lawyers, etc, we are called to give life to others.

When our profession is one with our vocation, we live a life of integrity, peace and unity.  We become who we are and what we do.  Our message and work become our identity as well, when doing and being are one.  Only in this way, can we live an exemplary life in whatever profession we are in.  Jesus was able to walk the talk by being exemplary because His work is the expression of Himself.  The cause and the messenger are one.  It is not enough to exercise our skills and be competent in our profession, but we need to walk the talk and be good examples of what we teach and preach.

In the final analysis, we need His grace to live out our calling.  The author of Hebrews invites us, “Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.”  On our own strength, we cannot live out this vocation of love because the demands on love are too overwhelming.  But if we turn to Him for strength by basking in His love and mercy for us, filled with gratitude, we can then continue to serve humbly and selflessly.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
© All Rights Reserved

The Girl in the Scooter

Here’s one inspiring story.
While in the library (8th floor), I saw a lady riding a scooter. I thought she’s a staff. Later I realize that she’s a student.
Then I notice that she’s indeed crippled. The scooter was her tool of navigating the library.
Since the library is on the 6th floor, one option of getting there is elevator. So I am assuming that she used the elevator so her scooter can fit in. From time to time, a staff from the library would give her the books she need.
Honestly, it’s one moving scene and inspiring as well.
That despite her disability, it did not prevent her from pursuing her dreams in life.
It made me also realize that intelligence is not the ONLY factor.
We have legs that can walk to the library.
We have eyes that can read books.
We have hands that can help us write and take down notes.

It also helps to be sensitive at times.

The Lord could show us something that directly answers our concerns.

Like the scene in the library a while ago.

God bless. 🙂