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“WHEN HE HEARD THIS, MY FRIEND STARTED TO CRY BECAUSE HE KNEW THAT IT WAS OUR LADY WHO HAD LED HIM BACK TO HER SON JESUS”

HE STOPPED AND LOOKED AT MARY AND SAID TO HER, ‘ARE YOU REAL? BECAUSE IF YOU ARE I NEED YOU BECAUSE I’M DYING HERE!’

“… One friend of mine was leading a self-destructive lifestyle, he hated himself for something he had done in the past and he couldn’t forgive himself.

So for a number of years he drank heavily and took drugs. One night he stayed at his mum’s house and at the top of the stairs she had a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As he was passing it, he stopped and looked at Mary and because of the despair he was feeling he said to her, ‘Are you real? Because if you are I need you because I am dying here!’ and nothing happened so he went to bed.

NO CALL TO MARY EVER GOES UNHEARD; SOONER OR LATER SOMETHING SHE OBTAINED WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN

A VERY UNPLEASANT SHOCK

The next morning he awoke to the sound of the Hoover going downstairs in the living room. Now it was a Sunday morning and his mum would never normally clean on a Sunday.

Then he remembered that he had hidden his stash of drugs underneath the settee in that room and he knew she had found them. The rest of that day he was in fear of the confrontation that he was sure would arise because of this discovery.

Later that day his dad came up to him and asked him to come outside. Then he held out his hands towards his son. In one hand were the drugs his mum had found and the other hand was empty.

Then his dad said to him, ‘Today I’m giving you a choice, you can take your drugs and you can leave this home because we will not watch you destroy yourself any longer, or you can take the hand of the family that loves you and you can change your life and be our son again.’

That day, he decided he wanted to change and not long afterwards the love of God touched his life in a deep way and he committed himself to live for the Lord.

HE COMMITTED HIMSELF TO LIVE FOR THE LORD

A few years later he was asked to give a talk on Our Lady at his local parish and he decided to use the picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from his mum’s house. When he took it down off the wall he was surprised to find the names of all his brothers and sisters written on the back with his own name written at the very bottom.

So he went to his mum and asked why his name was written on the back of the picture of Mary? She replied, “When you were in your wildest times and I was worried sick about you and I couldn’t even sleep at night, I went on a retreat and the priest said, ‘If you are worried about your children, consecrate them to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and she will look after them because she loves them even more than you do.’

When he heard this, my friend started to cry because he knew that it was Our Lady who had led him back to her son Jesus!

St Pio always used to say, ‘Pray, hope and don’t worry.’ I think that is very good advice, because there is always some situation that will worry us and rob us of our peace if we allow it to.”
Pray, hope and don’t worry!
– This is an excerpt of an article by John Pridmore which was published in “The Pilgrim” issue October 2013. More about the Archdiocese of Southwark including vocation information at http://www.rcsouthwark.co.uk (external link).

 
 

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“LOSING WEIGHT WITH EUCHARISTIC SUPPORT” – THE IMPORTANCE OF LETTING JESUS TRANSFORM ALL ISSUES OF OUR LIVES

WEIGHT LOSS – PLEASURE VERSUS HAPPINESS

Knocking off unwanted pounds is a battle that many people have to wage nowadays, but with the majority it seems to always end up as a losing battle that they wage. The negative outcome seems to stem from a confusion that arises in the person’s mind – a confusion between two similar realities: pleasure and happiness.

Happiness is what we are all made for, and even Jesus in his final discourse encouraged his disciples, saying, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11) and again, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete (Jn 16:24). Further Jesus observes, “But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves” (Jn 17:13).

Because of this inner mental confusion, we fail to see that while there are a few similarities between the two, they are as different as chalk is from cheese.

Pleasure is generally localised at some point in the human body, is intense but fleeting and short-lived and hence leaves behind a feeling of dissatisfaction and a craving for more. Again, pleasure is experienced mainly when we get something for ourselves. Happiness is more spiritual and can last much longer than does pleasure and is generally associated with giving to others, making them happy, meeting their needs and helping to solve their difficulties.

HOW HAPPY ARE… THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

No wonder Jesus could say in his famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’: “Blessed (How happy) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mt 5:3-12).

CHASING AFTER PLEASURE LEAVES US DISSATISFIED

Another strange fact with regard to chasing after pleasure is that the more we taste of it the more insistently do we go after it; we never seem to be satisfied! While with genuine happiness it does remain with us sometimes even with a mingling of some painful aspects and no matter how long or short its duration it somehow makes us glow from within. Adapting the line from the psalm (84:10) we could say, ‘One moment of true happiness is better than a thousand fleeting moments of pleasure!’

Applying all this to the question of losing weight, we see that while this exercise does not often bring us pleasure – rather we have to forego a lot of pleasure if we are to truly lose weight and keep it down – but there is a lot of genuine happiness in being a person who is fit and totally in control of one’s life.

EUCHARISTIC SUPPORT

When Jesus walked this earth, he told his disciples several times, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full!” (Jn 10:10). But to attain that fullness of life, one would need to ‘take up one’s cross and follow Jesus!’ In fact, one of the key reasons why we celebrate Eucharist each Sunday [go to Mass at least once a week] is precisely to bring our own little sufferings and unite them with the suffering of Jesus as he offers them to the Father. United with his redemptive suffering, our little aches and pains take on a tremendous value and become redemptive too ‘for the life of the world’. But this is true only if we do unite our crosses consciously to the sufferings of Christ. That is one of the reasons why the liturgical rubrics at the time of the presentation of Gifts suggests that if at all there is singing it should be ONLY while the gifts are brought up in procession.

Once they reach the altar, the singing should stop. Or, if there is no substantial procession, then preferably there should be no singing. This is to allow the people enough silence to figure out what exactly they mean to unite with the gifts of Jesus as the second part of the Eucharist begins. The more clearly we think this out the better would be the “fruit” of our celebration.

REAL OFFERING AFTER CONSECRATION

It is worth noting also that while the gifts are presented, there is no real ‘offering’ as our gifts by themselves have no great value. It is only after the Institution Narrative in which our gifts are transformed into ‘the body and blood of Jesus’ that they are OFFERED to the Father (see Eucharistic Prayer III where the word ‘offer’ and ‘offering’ come only after the Consecration). Unfortunately, most Christians are accustomed to singing a hymn at this time – in fact they feel that if they do not sing at this point, they do something wrong! But the unfortunate effect is that they have neither the freedom nor the atmosphere to quietly reflect on what really do they present to God as symbols of themselves!

A SIMILE

If we place ten hosts on the altar at the Presentation, Jesus would be able to transform only those ten, while if we did place a hundred, it is a hundred that he would transform. The principle then is, that Jesus can transform only what we consciously place before him on the altar. So, if we place only 2% of our lives together with the bread and wine on the altar, Jesus will be able to transform nothing more than those 2% of our lives because that is all we have surrendered. Even if the rest of ourselves is present before the altar, he will not forcibly transform that which hasn’t been freely and lovingly surrendered. So, by our unnecessary singing we could be reducing the effectiveness of our participation in the Eucharist. [Returning to the weight loss/comfort eating/lack of exercise – issues, or other habits we find difficult to quit or change, it is important to bring these before Jesus instead of participating in singing.] The more deeply we are conscious of how much we are blessed, the more heartfelt and sincere (and lasting) our gratitude.

How deeply do we appreciate God’s blessings showered on us so lavishly that we often take them for granted? How deeply do we value the freedom God gives us to take charge of our lives and become the kind of persons we freely choose to be?!?
– This is an excerpt of an article by Fr Erasto Fernandez, entitled “You are What You Make of Yourself”; published in “Don Bosco’s Madonna”, issue May 2012. For subscriptions etc., contact: Shrine of Don Bosco’s Madonna, Matunga – Mumbai – 400 019 – India

 
 

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PRAYER FOR SOMEONE TO BE FREED OF AN ADDICTION

God of mercy,
we bless you in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who ministered to all who came to him. Give your strength to (name the person), one of your children, enfold him/her in your love and restore him/her to the freedom of God’s children.

Lord,
look with compassion on all those who have lost their health and freedom. Restore to them the assurance of your unfailing mercy, strengthen them in the work of recovery, and help them to resist all temptation.

To those who care for them, grant patience and understanding and a love that perseveres. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 
 

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