St. Therese Novena Day Six: Purify Me Lord

Great read! 🙂

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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

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Where St. Teresa of Calcutta Found Her Strength

“Do not grow weary in doing what is right.” (Galatians 6:9)

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who died on September 5, 1997, was one of the greatest spiritual “overachievers” of our time. She accomplished so much, that we might think she rarely took a break from tending to the human misery that surrounded her.

 

However, she spent hours every day before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration of Jesus, who was her source of strength and goodness. In fact, she is quoted as saying, “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.”

What a concept—to love without getting tired. We often don’t realize how tired we really are until we have reached the meltdown stage. The mountain of responsibilities before us each day—whether at home, at work, or both—and the demands on our time and attention can be overwhelming. The old adage to “love until it hurts” is sometimes taken too seriously. On top of that, when we fall short of our expectations, we carry a burden of unrealistic guilt. This self-defeating pattern can cause us to “burn out” as a parent, spouse, friend, or member of the body of Christ.

Perhaps Mother Teresa’s example of giving the first hours of the day to Christ is not practical for you, but maybe giving him the first five or ten minutes could be. Offer your tiredness to the Lord, and ask him to renew your strength for whatever lies ahead of you that day.

And make a habit throughout the day of sharing with God your joyful moments as well as your challenges. The Lord, who is always with you, will renew you, so that you can keep going on those very busy days.

The rhythms and responsibilities of our lives will often require us to make adjustments in the amount of effort we put forth. We aren’t capable of doing everything—which is as important for us to realize as it is for those who depend on us. But with God’s grace, we can cheerfully love and give as much as we are able.

“Lord, help me to accomplish my tasks today. Inspire me, energize me, and give me the positive attitude I need to show your love to others.”

(C) ANNE COSTA

https://wau.org/resources/article/where_st_teresa_of_calcutta_found_her_strength/?utm_content=buffer81392&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

IS YOUR PROFESSION A VOCATION OR AN AMBITION?

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

Priest talks about ‘love truths’ from AlDub

http://www.cbcpnews.com/cbcpnews/?p=63236

PASIG City, Sept. 6, 2015 – It’s top rating on TV and white hot on social media, but a priest said the AlDub love team can teach the Filipino faithful a thing or two about real love.

“Whatever Lola Nidora’s challenge may be, even if it’s seems like a death wish, Alden does it for Yaya Dub. When you love, you don’t measure. The true measure of love is love without measure,” said Fr. Joel Jason in Filipino during a Mass at the most recent CFC – Young Couples Assembly held at the Bayanihan Center.

The newly-installed parish priest of parish priest of Mary Mirror of Justice parish in Makati added: “When you become legalistic, you become minimalistic (in loving). But when you love, you’re ready to do more than what is required…like Alden.”

‘Maximalistic’

“You don’t ask, ‘How far can I hurt my spouse until she leaves me?’ or ‘How far can I cheat you?’”, stressed the former Dean of Theology of the San Carlos Seminary.

“We should be maximalistic.. The motto (of CFC) ‘Love More’ is good. It shouldn’t be ‘less’. The question should be, how can I add to the love I give?”, Jason stressed in Filipino.

According to the priest, Filipinos sometimes apply this thinking to their love relationship with God, explaining how people often ask him about the “latest” time they can go to Mass without sinning.

“’Oh, so as long as I make it to the Gospel it’s ok’…But that is not the attitude of someone who loves,” said Jason in Taglish.

Similarly, people who love and are loved, he explained, should not fear laws, especially God’s laws.

“Let us not be afraid of the law. When you love something you surround it with laws. When you love someone you surround it with laws in order to protect it… That is also what happened to Israel. They were the beloved of Yaweh. And that is the reason why Yaweh surrounded them with laws,” Jason said, referring to the 613 commandments in the Torah, the Jews’ holy book.

Laws + love

“Every relationship has to have a law. When you love something you surround it with laws. Why? Because you’re protecting your covenant (with each other),” said Jason in Filipino.

“We feel as if [we are] being confined by this fence by God’s commands. Don’t look at it as a fence. Look at it as a guard rail, something that protects us against danger,” explained the priest, a leading Theology of the Body advocate in the country.

According to Jason, people believe that trusting in God completely means becoming His slave and losing all freedom.

“There’s nothing farther from the truth. Everything God does is not for Him, but for us. Without those commandments we are nothing,” he stressed.

Some 500 young husbands and wives attended the 4th YCs’ assembly which focused on the topic “10 To Do’s after ‘I Do’”. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCP News)

JOY AS THE INTERNAL DRIVER AND LOVE IS THE ENGINE OF MISSION

SCRIPTURE READINGS: EX 34:29-35; MT 13:44-46

When we look around us, we find that many of us are lacking passion in whatever we do, be it in our work, relationship or in Church ministry.  How is that so?  How could we have started on something so passionately, as in a project or even in an intimate relationship, but now no longer have that fire, that enthusiasm that got us started in the first place.  We have fallen into routine, mediocrity and become lackadaisical.

The root of it all is a lack of love in us.  When the passion of love is lost, joy is absent.  When there is no joy in doing what we are doing, everything becomes an obligation, a commitment we try to live up to for fear of breaking our promises. So like the religious leaders and the contemporaries of Jesus, we are satisfied with an external performance of our duties and fulfilling our responsibilities. We become calculative with our time, our involvement and ministry activities.  Married couples live like intimate strangers, not feeling, sharing or caring for each other.  They behave more like business partners looking after the family inc.  Parents give the impression to their children that they are a nuisance and a burden to them, restraining their movements and activities and even hampering their career.

Clearly, for such people there is no joy.  When joy is taken out of work and ministry, then it becomes drudgery.  Such activities are no longer empowering or uplifting.  These sentiments are just the reverse of that of the man who found a hidden treasure in the field and the merchant who found the pearl in today’s parables.  They were so filled with indescribable joy and enthusiasm when they found their pearl of life.  They were cognizant of the value of what they found in relation to whatever they possessed.  Hence, they were even ready to give up everything for the treasure they perceived will make them fulfilled and happy in life.

Without doubt, joy is the clear sign that we are passionate in what we are doing; and joy is what pulls us to continue to do what we are doing.  But where does joy come from?  Is joy sufficient to sustain us in our ministry, work and relationship?  Is joy always the cause of our passion?  One can be passionate and yet not find true joy.  Why?

When we observe closely those who are passionate in their work and ministry, many also do not find true joy and happiness.  What they find is only apparent joy.  Why is this so?  The truth is that we can be passionate for many reasons, even for selfish or at least less noble motives.   We can be passionate about something because we are ambitious, trying to achieve a goal so that we feel good about ourselves and before others.  We might be diligent, meticulous, and responsible; giving our whole being to whatever we do, merely to earn some credit and laurels for our crown.  For such people, joy is found almost always at the end, rather than in the process, since they look forward only to the reward and forget that joy is found in the course of giving ourselves entirely to what we find meaningful to do. Even then, such joy is only temporary.  Very soon, when the emotions fade and the celebration is over, one returns to emptiness and loneliness.

Joy is also incomplete if our passion is derived from our interest in something.  It could be a hobby or anything that occupies our mind and heart, e.g. gardening, art, music, pets, etc.  Such joy is never complete even though it gives lots of satisfaction, because it is focused on self.  Hobbies are self-fulfilling in that they are more for one’s pleasure than giving joy to others.  Of course, it could also be used to give pleasure to others.  If that is the primary motive, then it becomes a service of love and we move to another level of joy, namely, love of others, which includes animals as well.

If we contend with merely working for success, achievements and finding pleasure in life, we will not go very far in experiencing true and lasting joy.  So we must move to another level of joy, which is love and relationship.  Compared to worldly and human pursuits, human love brings us closer to what true joy is all about.  Love and union are but a prelude to absolute and pure joy.  It is a prelude only because human love is finite, limited and egoistic, even whilst it seeks to be altruistic.  Still, for human beings, this would be the highest level of joy that one can attain.  Indeed, many of us have experienced the joy of love in relationship, the joy of union, of being in the arms of someone who loves us.  Such joy cannot be purchased with silver or gold.  It is simply a given and simply received as a gift. Unfortunately, human love is so fragile and it can be lost anytime due to infidelity, misunderstanding, temptations and death.  When that happens, joy ceases.

That being the case, where can true and lasting joy be found? This joy can only be found in God alone. That was what happened to Moses.  He encountered the face of God.  The consequence of that meeting resulted in his face being radiantly white. Moses’ face was radiating and exuding joy. This is the joy that Jesus speaks about in the parables of the treasure and the pearl.

So if we want to have true, absolute, ultimate and lasting joy, it has to be a joy that comes from encountering God, or having God reign in our hearts.  Only this kind of joy will be enduring, like that of Moses who was always radiant whenever he met the Lord.

It is therefore necessary to search our hearts and ask the true nature of our joy.   As Jesus remarked, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt 6:21)  So what is your treasure and pearl?  Is it your ambition, your pet project or your loved ones?  If your joy is based on these alone, you have made them your absolute treasure, which is tantamount to giving them the status of God.  Then you would have committed idolatry, the former of self and the latter of things and creatures.  What is not absolute cannot last!  Real and lasting joy comes from finding the absolute treasure.

This ultimate treasure can only be God alone and no other! That was what St Paul realized at the end of a long search for joy and fulfillment.  He thought his status, his academic and religious credentials; his religious works, could give him security and joy, until he met Christ.  Indeed, St Paul found everything else as dung, compared to knowing the love and power of the Lord in His passion, death and resurrection.

Truly, the greatest joy is in the love of the Lord.  This has always been the sentiment of all the saints.  The great mystic, Blessed Angela of Foligno realized that although she had renounced everything, there was still something she did not do, and hence did not experience fullness of joy, which was to desire God and God alone.  She wanted God but also other things.  When she grasped this, she cried out, “I Want God!” And God Answered Her: “I shall fulfill your wish.”  At that moment, her soul was united with God and she was in perfect joy, experiencing total freedom from all things that restrained her from the fullness of joy and love.  To desire God is to desire the Kingdom of God!

How then can we find this amazing and transcendental joy?  The first way is by pure grace alone, as in the case of St Paul’s conversion.  His conversion is exemplary of the parable of the man who found the treasure hidden in the field.  So, too, there are many conversion stories of people who have been transformed by the grace of God.  The more radical and unexpected the encounter with God’s presence and healing grace, the greater is the transformation. This could be considered the mystical stage of spirituality.

The second way of encountering God is by the ordinary way, namely, through ascetical means of struggling to be faithful to our prayer life, study, penance and mortifications. This approach requires human cooperation and effort.  This does not mean that grace is excluded.  It only means that we need to strive and show our sincerity in desiring God before He shows His face to us.  What we do ascetically is but to prepare the way for grace to show itself. This, then, is the way of contemplation on the face of Christ as exhorted by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter “Novo Millennio Ineunte”.

Consequently, we must pray for the grace to meet the Lord and encounter Him deeply, if we are to be filled with joy, a joy that would lead us to spread this joy to others.  That is why, to love God above all things does not mean that we cannot love other creatures or created things.  On the contrary, we will love them even more, but not for them as such, but for the love of God and from the love of God.  Everything we do now is for others, not for ourselves; and not even primarily for them but for the love of God so that God might be glorified, known and love.

Once we discover this joy, we must make a decision to choose Christ as the only joy of our life.  Choosing Him is a decision that we have to make.  We only need to say “Yes” to Him and He will reign in us and the kingdom is ours.

Finally, for those of us who have found the Lord and had a God-experience in Jesus, we need to return to this Christ-experience again and again. Forgetting this experience will lead us to mediocrity, indifference and lukewarmness.  That was what Moses did.  We read that again and again, he would return to meet the Lord so that he could pass his orders to his people. We, too, must relive this experience, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist when we “do this in memory” of Him.  Otherwise, we fall into the same pitfall of those who have received the grace to encounter Christ but through neglect and tepidity, become worse than before their conversion.  Let us bear in mind the warning of Jesus, “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”


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

Perspectives on Fear

We might avoid evil because of fear, but fear might also prevent us from doing good. –@CardinalChito

Violence is motivated by fear; individualism is a manifestation of fear. –@CardinalChito

When fear runs our lifestyle, it makes us numb. –@CardinalChito

One impulse of fear is self-preservation. When this becomes a lifestyle, fear is making us self-centered. –@CardinalChito

Jesus responds to fear simply by saying, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” –@CardinalChito

The more prayerful you are, the more sensitive you are to the needs of others. –@CardinalChito

When you’re convinced that Jesus is near, the problems remain but you’ll have more courage rather than paralyzing fear. –@CardinalChito

We can rest knowing that as we are tossed here and there, Someone sees us. Jesus is our compassionate brother. –@CardinalChito

We go beyond fear through faith. –@CardinalChito

The compassion of Jesus gathers people. Fear scatters people. –@CardinalChito

When a society is governed by fear, compassion disappears. –@CardinalChito

Instinctive compassion is prevented from blossoming because of our fear. –@CardinalChito

When we enter the heart of Jesus, miracles happen. The secret of Jesus is compassion. Have no fear. –@CardinalChito

With faith and compassion, we can go beyond fear. – @CardinalChito

Fear can lead to a denial of Jesus. But, the Risen Lord extended love, mercy, and compassion. –@CardinalChito

There is no room for fear if there is love. Love conquers fear.@CardinalChito

In the Bible, the opposite of fear is not courage… It is love! –@CardinalChito