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Tag Archives: generosity

“A REMARKABLY SIMPLE TOOL FOR BRIGHTENING THE LIVES OF OTHERS”

“PRAISE IS EASY CHARITY

One of the nobler aspects of human nature is the fact that we find pleasure in being of help to other persons. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. There are individuals who are too self-centred even to see the needs of others, let alone minister to those needs. Most of us experience a brief inner glow, however, when we know that some word or act of ours has eased another’s burden.

DOING GOOD

More often than not, a vocation to the priesthood or religious life begins with a youth’s vision of the great good he or she can do in bringing souls to God and to happiness. Many – if not most – young people who study medicine are motivated by the challenge of easing suffering of their fellow men.

HELPING OTHERS

In such professions as nursing and teaching, where the material rewards are so meager, only the pleasure of helping others can account for the recruits who annually flock to these callings. Peace Corpsmen and lay missionaries are other examples of this almost universal urge to lighten our brother’s load.

SMALL DEEDS OF NEIGHBOURLINESS

Most of us, by reason of our circumstances, have to be content with less noticeable acts of mercy – the small deeds of neighbourliness which are scattered through our days. Of this we can be certain: a person who rarely does anything to bring joy or relief to another, is a very unhappy person. He cuts himself off from one of life’s greatest satisfactions.

A SIMPLE TOOL

This being so, it is surprising that so many of us neglect a remarkably simple tool for brightening the lives of others. This tool, so available and so often ignored, is the word of praise. It costs nothing to speak a word of praise. Yet most of us are stingier with our commendations than we are with our money.

ENORMOUS HAPPINESS-POTENTIAL

To appreciate the happiness-potential of praise, we have only to recall how quickly our own morale rises with a pat on the back. ‘That was a good job you did.’ ‘That was a smart idea you had.’ ‘You handled that situation beautifully.’ ‘You have such excellent taste.’ How our spirits do soar on the wings of a sincere compliment!

WHY ARE WE SO STINGY WITH PRAISE?

Why are we so miserly with our words of praise? Some times the reason may be envy or jealousy – basically pride. It hurts us to admit that anyone can do, say or think something better than ourselves.

More commonly, however, it is a matter of thoughtlessness. It just doesn’t occur to us to speak the laudatory word when the opportunity presents itself. Perhaps we take it for granted that the person already knows that he is clever or capable. Or we may be so unobserving that we do not even notice that a friend or acquaintance has said or done something a little above average.

WATCHING FOR OPPORTUNITIES

If we wish to make a habit of spreading happiness through praise, we have to learn to watch for opportunities. Once we begin to seek for such occasions, we may be surprised to discover how often other persons do commendable deeds or exhibit laudable traits.

It may be something very small: a tasty salad, an attractive hairdo, a successful home-repair job or a child remembering to hang up his coat. The moment’s happiness that is given by a compliment is not to be measured by the smallness of the point that is praised.

‘ROOM FOR PRAISE’

We never need fear that the recipient of our praise will become conceited or that our praise will spoil a child. There is hardly a one of us who does not suffer from some degree of inner insecurity and self-doubt. Without any danger of becoming conceited or spoiled, we can absorb far more praise than most of us ever will get.

The majority of people carry a daily load of care and anxiety. When we reflect how much support and encouragement can be imparted by a bit of recognition or approval, it seems a shame that we are not more liberal with our approbation. It is especially lamentable since, by our silence, we rob ourselves of the pleasure that comes from giving pleasure.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

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“BLESSED ARE THE MEEK” – HOW DO WE IMPROVE OUR LEVEL OF MEEKNESS?

WEEPING FOR OUR SINS

“Being a disciple of Christ means being meek and gentle. And from what source may we draw this meekness? If we are continually mindful of our sins, if we grieve for them, if we weep for them. A soul which habitually feels such contrition does not permit itself to become vexed and angry.

In truth, where there is sorrow, anger cannot be; where there is compunction, anger is altogether out of place; where there is contrition of soul, there is no irritation. The soul that suffers the lash of contrition has no time to be aroused to anger, but it groans bitterly and weeps more bitterly.

‘HAVE MERCY ON ME, O GOD, ACCORDING TO YOUR GREAT MERCY’

Now, I know that many laugh when they hear these words, but I do not cease mourning for those who laugh. The present time is the time for mourning and grieving, because we commit many sins in word and deed…

Indeed, hear what the Prophet said: ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your great mercy.’ Well, then, we also must have mercy on our neighbours in this way: according to the great mercy shown to us. For we shall obtain the kind of treatment from our Lord that we give to our fellow servants.

And what is ‘great mercy’ like? When we give, not from superfluities, but from our necessities. But if we do not even give from our superfluities, what hope will there be for us? When shall we be rid of those sins of ours? Where shall we be able to flee and find salvation?”
– St John Chrysostom

 

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14th MARCH, GOSPEL READING (MATTHEW 5:20-26)

GO AND BE RECONCILED WITH YOUR BROTHER FIRST.

Jesus said to his disciples: “For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill, and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court.

But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother ‘Fool’ he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin, and if a man calls him ‘Renegade’ he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.”

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

 

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THE WHOLE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS BASED UPON THE CROSS – THE FOUR DIMENSIONS OF THE CROSS

THE MYSTERY OF THE CROSS IN THE FOUR DIMENSIONS

“The cross, the glory of the divine Redeemer, must be the boast also of his disciples, as St Paul admonishes and – St Augustine continues – it must be so since all of us ‘are upon it.’ The whole of the Christian life is based upon the cross, as upon a firm edifice, and the Bishop of Hippo, by his marvellous contemplation, takes pleasure in revealing the mystical meaning of the four dimensions of that blessed wood: the width, length, height and depth.

[By St Augustine of Hippo]

‘Listen to the Apostle saying to you, ‘But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Let us too make it our boast, if only because we lean totally upon it. Let us all glory in it, o good brethren; in it may we glory. Perhaps it is there that we shall find both width, and length, and height, and depth. These words of the Apostle, you see, somehow set up the cross before our very eyes. It shows, in fact, the width in which the hands are nailed; it shows the length, as the trunk inclines from there to the ground; it also shows the height, since from the same transversal trunk to which the hands are nailed, it protrudes somewhat and there the head of the Crucified One is placed; it shows also the depth, which means to say, the part that is fixed into the ground and which remains unseen. Consider the great mystery. From that depth, which is unseen, is raised on high all that may be seen.

THE WIDTH, THE LENGTH AND THE HEIGHT OF THE CROSS

So where is the width? Turn your mind to the life and behaviour of the Saints, who say, ‘Far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ We find in their way of life and behaviour the width of charity; which is why the Apostle himself gives this advice: ‘Open yourselves wide, lest you should be bearing the yoke with unbelievers.’ And from the moment that he exhorted them to open their hearts, listen to what he adds: ‘Our mouth is open towards you with sincerity, Corinthians; our heart is completely open.’ It follows, therefore, that the width means charity, which alone fulfils good works. The width shows that God loves those who give with joy. In reality if someone finds himself to be in dire straits, he will give reluctantly; if he will give and be at the same time afflicted by this, what he gives will be lost. Generosity of love, therefore, is necessary, so that your good deeds will not be lost. But because the Lord said, ‘When iniquity abounds, the charity of many will grow cold,’ he gave me also length.

What is meant by length? ‘Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.’ This is the length of the cross, where the whole body is stretched; where after a fashion it is standing, the kind of standing by which one perseveres. So if you are seeking, you that make the cross your boast, to have the width of the cross, make sure you have the virtue to do good. If you want to have the length of the cross, make sure you have the long-suffering capacity to persevere.

But if you want to have the height of the cross, make sure you know the meaning of the words you hear, ‘Lift up your hearts,’ and where you hear them. Well, what does it mean, ‘Lift up your hearts’? Place your hope up there, place your love up there, ask for strength from up there, look for your reward up there. Because if you do good, and give cheerfully, you seem to have the width; if in the same good works you persevere to the end, you seem to have the length. But if you don’t do any of this for the sake of the reward up above, you won’t have the height; which means you won’t have the real width and real length either. In what consists, in fact, possessing the height, if one does not have God in his mind, and that means to love him gratuitously, He Who succours, He Who looks, He Who crowns, He Who grants the reward? It consists also in considering Him as the reward, in not wanting anything from Him except He Himself? If you love, love gratuitously; if it is true that you love, He will be the reward that you love. Or is it not true, in fact, that all things are dear to you and that you despise He who has made all things?

THE DEPTH OF THE CROSS

In order that all this may be possible for us, the Apostle has bent his knee, above all so that it will be given to us. The Gospel, in fact, makes us fear with the words: ‘To you has been given to understand the mystery of the kingdom, but to them it has not been given. Thus to he who has it will be given.’ But who is he who has and to whom will it be given but to he to whom it has been given? ‘But to he who has not, from him will be taken what he has.’ Who, on the other hand, is he who has not, but he to whom it has not been given? Why has it been given to one and not to the other?

In this consists the depth of the cross and I dare to say it. From the depths, I know not what, of the judgements of God, which we are unable to penetrate and contemplate, proceeds all that which is possible for us. From the unfathomable depths of the judgements of God, which we are not able to use for the object of our contemplation and are incapable of penetrating, there proceeds all that which we can contemplate. I see that which I am able to see: I do not see that which I might be able to see; this is solely because even that which I can see I do so only to the point of recognising that it comes from God. But the fact of attributing it to one and not the other is beyond my comprehension; it is an abyss, it is the depth of the Cross.”
– This item was published in “De Vita Contemplativa” (Monthly Magazine for Monasteries) Year VII – Number 9 – September 2013.

 

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LORD JESUS, HELP ME TO REALISE THAT RICHES AND FAME DON’T NECESSARILY GIVE LIVE MEANING

PRAYER TO BE GENEROUS IN GIVING:

Lord Jesus,
You came to tell us
that the meaning of life consists in giving.
You told us that those who cling too tightly to what they have –
end up by losing everything.
You gave us new values
by which to measure the worth of a person’s life.

Help me to realise it is not
temporal success or riches or fame
that necessarily gives life meaning.
Rather it is the service rendered to others
in Your Name
that brings fulfilment
and makes my life worthwhile.
May all my activity help build God’s Kingdom:
my suffering bear genuine fruit,
my obedience bring true freedom,
and my death lead to eternal life.
Amen.

 
 

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PETITIONS FOR TODAY

Bring peace to our world. Where oppression and conflict thrive may harbingers of goodwill arise to bring to birth solutions built on justice so that people may live at peace one with another.

Bless our Pope. Guide him and protect him from harm. Help him to lead the universal Church.

Bring the comfort and the warmth of human friendship to those who live alone.

Look with compassion on the struggles of the poor; the perils of nations; the ordeal of captives and refugees; the anguish of the incurably sick and the failing strength of the elderly.

Help us to realise that we are but stewards of all that we possess and to use our gifts wisely and generously.

Send fair weather and rain in due season so that we may enjoy the fruits of the earth.

Touch the distressed in mind and body.

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-9)

CHRIST BECAME POOR FOR YOUR SAKE.
Here, brothers, is the news of the grace of God which was given in the churches in Macedonia; and of how, throughout great trials by suffering, their constant cheerfulness and their intense poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity. I can swear that they gave not only as much as they could afford, but far more, and quite spontaneously, begging and begging us for the favour of sharing in this service to the saints and, what was quite unexpected, they offered their own selves first to God and, under God, to us.

Because of this, we have asked Titus, since he has already made a beginning, to bring this work of mercy to the same point of success among you. You always have the most of everything – of faith, of eloquence, of understanding, of keenness for any cause, and the biggest share of our affection – so we expect you to put the most into this work of mercy too. It is not an order that I am giving you; I am just testing the genuineness of your love against the keenness of others. Remember how generous the Lord Jesus was: he was rich, but he became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty.

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

 

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