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Monthly Archives: January 2014

APART FROM YOU, LORD, WHAT DO I WANT ON EARTH?

APART FROM YOU, LORD, WHAT DO I WANT UPON EARTH?

God has created me to do him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling.

Therefore, my God, I will put myself without reserve into your hands. What have I in heaven, and apart from you what do I want upon earth? My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the God of my heart, and my portion for ever. Amen.
– Bl. John Henry Newman

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HOW TO BRING ABOUT “AN ENORMOUS TRANSFORMATION IN OUR DAY, EVEN TO THE POINT OF INCREASING OUR EFFICIENCY”

THE RATHER TOUCHING STORY OF CORNELIUS
“If you have read the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible, you will recall the rather touching story of Cornelius, commander of the Roman garrison at Caesaria. Although he was a Gentile, Cornelius believed in the true God and gave much time to prayer and to acts of charity. An angel appeared to Cornelius to say that God was pleased with his piety and that he should invite Simon Peter to come from Joppa to instruct him. Cornelius did so, and gathered all his family and friends together to listen to the Apostle. Peter came, and the essence of his sermon was that Jesus ‘went about doing good and healing all who were in the power of the devil; for God was with Him.”

BLUEPRINT FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING

In that one sentence is contained, for all of us, a summary of the Christian life. Jesus’ interior life was devoted to adoration of the Father Who was ever present in Him. His exterior life was devoted to ministering to the ills of others.

This is the blueprint for our own lives also: an exterior life characterised by a sustained kindness towards others, stemming from an interior life in which the presence of God is never for long forgotten.

HABITUAL KINDNESS

It may sound like a simple formula to say that habitual kindness is the chief mark of a true Christian. It is simple, in the sense that such kindness gathers together all the threads of religious obligations and releases us from the complicated network of do’s and don’ts, musts and must nots. This is because, while almost anyone can be kind on occasion, it requires a high degree of unselfishness, generosity and self-control to be uniformly kind to all persons at all times.

SELF-FORGETFULNESS

Anyone who has the self-forgetfulness to be always alert to the burdens, the worries and the handicaps of others, plus the strength to be patient with the ignorant and stupid, gentle with the aggressive and hostile, cheerful and helpful on bad days as well as good – that person never will fall an easy victim to temptation of any kind.

A SIMPLE FORMULA

Yes, habitual kindness is a simple recipe for a fully Christian life, but it does not mean it is an easy one. Indeed, it will be impossible to maintain an attitude of unvarying kindness unless we imitate Jesus, however weakly, in His spirit of adoration; unless we learn to live, as we commonly express it, in the presence of God. It is only then that His will becomes our unfailing norm and guide.

We cannot keep our eyes directly upon God all of the time. In one way or another, we have to be about our business (and His) through the day. But we never must let ourselves be wholly oblivious to the fact that we stand in His presence.

To achieve this ‘fix’ on God (as a navigator makes his ‘fix’ on a star) is within the capacity of anyone, but it does require effort. The effort consists principally in the formation of the habit of THINKING about God. It is a matter of throwing God a quick glance from time to time, with a brief but fervent movement of the heart.

‘MY GOD, I LOVE YOU’

At one time it may be, ‘My God, I love you.’ At another time, ‘My God, I adore you,’ or, ‘Dear God, help me to love you as I should,’ or, ‘Take me, God, and use me. I’m all yours,’ or, ‘Forgive me, God, for not doing better,’ or, ‘Thank you, God, for all your graces of this day.’

A dozen (and, with practice two or three dozen) swift but ardent advertences to God’s presence need not interfere with the flow of our work. On the contrary, this periodic flicking of the eyes Godward can work an enormous transformation in our day, even to the point of increasing our efficiency. One such instant of recollection every hour (or even half hour) would not consume a total of more than two or three minutes in the entire day. Yet these minutes could be more spiritually profitable than quadruple the time given to routine prayer only at the day’s beginning and end.

Constant kindness on the outside, springing from a spirit of adoration within; this is Christ’s own blueprint for living, traced by His personal example.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 
 

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“WATCH OVER YOUR PEOPLE” – INTERCESSIONS THROUGH ST JOHN BOSCO

Let us pray through the intercession of Saint John Bosco:

R. Watch over your people and guide them!

For the young and those who form and educate them:
– be their light, O Lord. (R.)

For troubled youth and those physically, morally, or spiritually endangered by their environment:
– be their life, O Lord. (R.)

For children and young people who have been abused or abandoned:
– be their help, O Lord. (R.)

For all Christian teachers and all who administer programmes of Christian formation:
– be their foundation, O Lord.

(Personal intentions)

Our Father…

May the Lord our God bless us in all the work that our hands undertake. (cf. Dt 14:19)

 
 

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30th JANUARY, GOSPEL READING (MARK 4:21-25)

A LAMP IS TO BE PUT ON A LAMP-STAND. THE AMOUNT YOU MEASURE OUT IS THE AMOUNT YOU WILL BE GIVEN.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Would you bring in a lamp to put it under a tub or under the bed? Surely you will put it on the lamp-stand? For there is nothing hidden but it must be disclosed, nothing kept secret except to be brought to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.”

He also said to them, “Take notice of what you are hearing. The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given – and more besides; for the man who has will be given more; from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 

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30th JANUARY, RESPONSORIAL PSALM (PSALM 131)

R. The Lord God will give to him
the throne of his father David.

1. O Lord, remember David
and the hardships he endured,
the oath he swore to the Lord,
his vow to the Strong One of Jacob. (R.)

2. “I will not enter the house where I live
nor go to the bed where I rest.
I will give no sleep to my eyes
to my eyelids will give no slumber
till I find a place to the Lord,
a dwelling for the Strong One of Jacob. (R.)

3. The Lord swore an oath to David;
he will not go back on his word:
“A son, the fruit of your body,
will I set upon your throne. (R.)

4. If they keep my covenant in truth
and my laws that I have taught them,
their sons also shall rule
on your throne from age to age. (R.)

5. For the Lord has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling:
“This is my resting-place for ever,
here have I chosen to live.” (R.)

ALLELUIA

Alleluia, alleluia!
You will shine in the world like bright stars
because you are offering it the word of life.
Alleluia!

 
 

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30th JANUARY, BIBLE READING (2 SAMUEL 7:18-19, 24-29)

WHO AM I, LORD, AND WHAT IS MY HOUSE?

King David went in and, seated before the Lord, said:
“Who am I, Lord, and what is my House, that you have led me as far as this? Yet in your sight, Lord, this is still not far enough, and you make your promises extend to the House of your servant for a far-distant future. You have constituted your people Israel to be your own people for ever; and you, Lord, have become their God. Now, Lord, always keep the promise you have made your servant and his House, and do as you have said. Your name will be exalted for ever and men will say, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel.’ The House of your servant David will be made secure in your presence, since you yourself, Lord of hosts, God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, ‘I will build you a House’; hence your servant has ventured to offer this prayer to you. Yes, Lord, you are God indeed, your words are true and you have made this fair promise to your servant. Be pleased, then, to bless the House of your servant, that it may continue for ever in your presence; for you, Lord, have spoken; and with your blessing the House of your servant will be for ever blessed.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
 

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WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENS AT THE HOUR OF DEATH?

At the moment of death, the moment of separation of soul and body, the soul’s destination for eternity is irrevocably fixed.

“Everyone will be judged at death, as well as at the last day: ‘Since men only die once, and after that comes judgement’ (Heb 9:27).” (Penny Catechism, 76)

THE MOMENT OF DEATH (from the writings of St Catherine of Siena)

“The demons can do nothing against souls but what God permits them to do to test their virtue and so that they may gain salvation and sanctification. Every soul receives the necessary graces from God to overcome temptations and, if it falls into sin, that happens because it wanted to. Upon death each soul will have for its judge its own conscience and by itself, if it is not converted, it will be condemned for all eternity.

THE DEATH OF THE JUST AND OF SINNERS

‘You see, then, that they are my ministers to torture the damned in Hell, and in this life, to exercise and prove virtue in the soul. Not that it is the intention of the devil to prove virtue to you (for he has not love), but rather to deprive you of it, and this he cannot do, if you do not wish it.

FREE WILL

Now you see, then, how great is the foolishness of men in making themselves feeble, when I have made them strong, and in putting themselves into the hands of the Devil. Wherefore, know, that at the moment of death, they, having passed their life under the lordship of the devil (not that they were forced to do so, for as I told you they cannot be forced, but they voluntarily put themselves into his hands) – arriving at the extremity of their death under this perverse lordship, they await no other judgement than that of their own conscience, and desperately, despairingly, come to eternal damnations.

Wherefore Hell, through their hate, surges up to them in the extremity of death, and before they get there, they take hold of it, by means of their lord the devil.

As the righteous, who have lived in charity and died in love, if they have lived perfectly in virtue, illuminated with the light of faith, with perfect hope in the Blood of the Lamb, when the extremity of death comes, see the good which I have prepared for them, and embrace it with the arms of love, holding fast with pressure of love to Me, the Supreme and Eternal Good. And so they taste eternal life before they have left the mortal body, that is, before the soul is separated from the body.

Others who have passed their lives, and have arrived at the last extremity of death with an ordinary charity (not that great perfection), embrace My mercy with the same light of faith and hope that had those perfect ones, but, in them, it is imperfect, for, because they were imperfect, they constrained My mercy, counting My mercy greater than their sins.

The wicked sinners do the contrary, for, seeing, with desperation, their destination, they embrace it with hatred, as I told you. So that neither the one nor the other waits for judgement, but, in departing this life, they receive every one their place, as I have told you, and they taste it and possess it before they depart from the body, at the extremity of death: the damned with hatred and with despair, and the perfect ones with love and the light of faith and with the hope of the Blood. And the imperfect arrive at the state of Purgatory, with mercy and the same faith.’ (Dialogue, c. XLII).

THE PEACE OF HOLY SOULS AT THE MOMENT OF DEATH

‘Oh how happy is the soul of the just when they come to the moment of death… To such as these the vision of the devils can do no harm, because of the vision which they have of Me, which they see by faith and hold by love; the darkness and the terrible aspect of the demons do not give them trouble or any fear, because in them is not the poison of sin. There is no servile fear in them, but holy fear.

SUPERNATURAL LIGHT

Wherefore they do not fear the demon’s deception, because with supernatural light and with the light of Holy Scripture they know them, so that they do not cause them darkness or disquietude. So thus they gloriously pass, bathed in the Blood, with hunger for the salvation of souls, all on fire with love for their neighbour, having passed through the door of the word and entered into Me; and by My goodness each one is arranged in his place, and to each one is measured of the affection of love according as he has measured to Me.’ (Dialogue, c. CXXXI).

THE DEMON AND THE DYING SINNER

‘How terrible and dark is their death! Because in the moment of death, as I told you, the devil accuses them with great terror and darkness, showing his face, which you know is so horrible that the creature would rather choose any pain that can be suffered in this world than see it; and so greatly does he freshen the sting of conscience that it gnaws him horribly. The disordinate delights and sensuality of which he made lords over his reason, accuse him miserably, because then he knows the truth of that which at first he knew not, and his error brings him to great confusion. In his life he lived unfaithfully to Me, self-love having veiled the pupil of the most holy faith, wherefore the devil torments him with infidelity in order to bring him to despair… In this battle he now finds himself denuded and without any virtue, and on whichever side he turns he hears nothing but reproaches with great confusion.’ (Dialogue CXXXII).”
– This article was published in “De Vita Contemplativa” (Monthly Magazine for Monasteries), Year VII – Number 11

 
 

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