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St Paul, Apostle

It was Saint Paul more than anyone else who showed what man is and how great is the nobility of our nature, as well as what capacity for virtue this human animal has. Every day he advanced in stature, every day he fought with ever-renewed keenness against the dangers threatening him; he showed this when he said: ‘I forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead.’ When he was expecting to die he summoned others to share his joy, saying, ‘You also should be glad and rejoice with me.’ Again he actually leaped with joy at the dangers and insults and every dishonour which pressed on him, as he wrote to the Corinthians, ‘I am content with weaknesses, insults, persecutions.’ He called these the weapons of righteousness, showing that from them the greatest benefits are reaped.

Therefore he was always undefeated by his enemies. Everywhere he was beaten, insulted, and reviled. He treated it all as though it were a triumphant procession setting up trophies of victory everywhere on earth, glorying in them, giving thanks to God, saying, ‘Thanks be to God who in Christ always leads us to triumph.’ So he sought dishonour and insults in his preaching of the gospel more readily than we seek honours. He sought death more than we seek life, and poverty more than we seek riches; and he looked for work to do more than others look for rest. It was not simply that he looked for more, he looked for much more.

There was one thing, and one thing only that he feared and shunned, and that was to give offence to God. Just as there was one thing he longed for, to please God.

He was rich with the love of Christ which was the greatest of all things to him. While he had this, he reckoned himself the most blessed of men. Without it he had no wish to be numbered among princes and rulers and powers. Possessing love he wished to be among the lowliest of men, among those being chastised, rather than without love to be among the loftiest and honoured. There was one torment for him, to fall away from this love. That for him was hell, that was damnation. That was the sum of all evils.

Even so to find this love was joy. This to him was life, it was the whole world, his angel, things present, things to come, the kingdom and the promise. This was the sum of all blessings. Anything else which was not concerned with this he regarded neither as painful nor as pleasant. Things visible he considered of no more worth than withered grass. Tyrants or peoples breathing fury seemed to him like gnats. Death, torture, and a thousand torments he thought of as child’s play, provided only he could endure something for Christ’s sake

A reading from a homily by St John Chrysostom Hom 2 on St Paul.

It says in the Bible Alive for 25 January: ‘At the very heart of everything that Paul wrote and did was his lucid and clear understanding of what happened to him on the road to Damascus’. Everyone has this moment of conversion when we were going one way and we turned and went another. Why? It says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1428 that it is a movement of a “contrite heart,” drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first. It happened to me. It happens to you. That moment should be nurtured, remembered, and dwelt on often as Paul could not be separated from that moment he met Jesus.

Indonesia – Good News

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has turned into “a promising oasis of religious and priestly vocations,” Father Luigi Galvani, pioneer of the Camillian mission of Flores told Agenzia Fides. “In fact, the continuous opening of new religious communities and seminaries is the clear testimony of this favourable moment.”

“In Maumere, on the island of Flores, one is impressed to see the largest philosophical and theological Seminary of the Catholic Church in the world, led by Divine Word Missionaries, with more than a thousand seminarians,” Fr. Luigi marveled.

“If in the past decades Indonesia had been a destination country of evangelization, now it is giving back this gift to the nations with the sending of its missionaries” – the Camillian further specified. “In fact, several dozen Indonesian missionaries from various religious institutes, with the Verbites (Divine Word Missionaries are also known as Verbites in different parts of the world) in the front row, reach other countries of the world each year to carry out pastoral and missionary service.”

Centre far left Fr P Erik is missioned to Ireland. All are missioned.

We are very proud of the diversity of our missionaries and the wonderful service our Indonesian priests, brothers and sisters perform in the more than 80 countries where we are present!

A Very Happy New Year

Today the dawn broke on another year. We look out on it as it stretches ahead of us, full of hope, and we pray and ask for grace. As we are all too aware, the passage of time is relentless and unstoppable. The young urge time to go faster that they may grow up more quickly and do all the things they want to do. The more mature among us simply do not know where the years have gone. Time is a mystery, for sure. However, there is one thing that we know for certain about time and that is that

when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (and daughters).”

Time itself changed forever when, in the fullness of time, Jesus was born to the young virgin, Mary of Nazareth, in the small town of Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. Time itself became charged with the very presence of God in a new and special way.

We owe Mary, our Mother in Faith, a debt of gratitutde we can never truly repay. For with her embrace of God’s plan, with her ‘Yes’, with her co-operation and docility to God’s will, the plan of God’s salvation could begin. Today, lift up your voice in praise and thanksgiving to God the Father for Mary, for through the fruit of her womb we receive our dignity as children of God and are privileged to have the Spirit of God living in our hearts. Mary’s obedience overthrow Eve’s disobedience and opened the way for Jesus’ obedience to overthrow the disobedience of Adam and therefore Satan’s hold over the human race.

Cling to this truth today; hold on to it, bring it to mind and pray over it because the whole gospel message hinges on it. We do not know what the New Year holds; we cannot know what it will bring. What we can know is that we face whatever comes as the beloved children of a gracious and merciful heavenly Father, who was willing to sacrifice his own beloved Son so that no one single person on this earth would perish.

Everything comes from love, all is ordained for our salvation, God does nothing without this goal in mind.’ (St Catherine of Siena).

Taken from Bible Live for 1st January 2020 www.alivepublishing.co.uk

Relationships in Heaven

In heaven the institution of marriage will be succeeded by a new kind of relationship with God and each other which, despite us having a new body, does not involve procreation. We believe in the salvation of the whole person, body and soul, and although there is no marriage in heaven, we believe that we will be reunited with our loved ones. This is a mystery deep in the heart of God but it is our hope that death is not the end.

But what about those who have had a negative experience of earthly marriage, an experience of misunderstanding and suffering? Won’t the thought of this be for them rather than a consolation, a reason for fear? No, for in the passage from time to eternity the good remains and evil falls away. The love that united them, perhaps for only a brief time, remains; defects, misunderstandings, suffering that they inflicted on each other will fall away. Indeed, this very suffering, accepted with faith, will be transformed into glory. Many spouses will experience true love for each other only when they are reunited ‘in God’, and with this love there will be the joy and fullness of the union that they did not know on earth. In God all will be understood, all will be excused, all will be forgiven.

Lord, I believe that you are the resurrection and the life, and that death is not the end, but the beginning of life, life to the full.

This reflection is taken from Bible Alive 23rd November 2019. Luke 20:27-40 – www.alivepublishing.co.uk

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

This great mystery of your love, of how you come to us, each of us, of how you come to share our lives, in spite of all our unworthiness, in spite of our preoccupation with so many worldly things!

This indescribable wonder of how You, Lord of all, have a place for each one of us in your heart, in your kingdom, and how you wish to share your life with us, your divinity, and of how you wish us to share our lives with you to find a place for you in our hearts!

Such is the infinite wonder of your unbounded love for us.

This is the inside page of a little booklet called Light of the World – a treasure for anyone and written by The Prayer Trust www.theprayertrust.org.uk.  

These thoughts appear in the front cover of the booklet called Light of the World by THE PRAYER TRUST www.theprayertrust.org.uk.

The Lord’s Prayer

Albert Einstein was once at a lecture in New York when, as it finished, a student who wanted to go and study for a doctorate asked him what area of study he could recommend.  Einstein replied, “Study prayer; we have got to find out more about prayer.” The student, himself a scientist, was gobsmacked; he thought the Nobel Prize winner and world famous physicist would point him towards nuclear studies or further work on the atom but no, he recommended prayer.

Today we encounter Jesus’ teaching on prayer, which is more radical, challenging and life-changing than we may at first realize because it encourages an approach or attitude to prayer which we might not share or even appreciate. The Lord Jesus positively and unambiguously encourages a bold, confident, even brazen attitude towards approaching God in prayer. The Lord wants us to cultivate a way of praying that is hopeful, expectant and sure of God’s goodness and generosity.

No prayer captures this more beautifully and perfectly than the Our Father, which the Lord himself taught us to pray.  The Our Father is the Magna Carta, the blueprint, for all prayer.  Despite being so short and compact, it encapsulates the essence of prayer and the very heart of our relationship with God. St Augustine said of the Our Father: “If you run through the petitions of all holy prayers, I believe you will find nothing that is not summed up and contained in the Lord’s Prayer.”  Jesus further uses the story about a bold and persistent neighbour, who has the hind of a rhino and simply refuses to take no for an answer, to reveal that God the Father is not like the unwilling neighbour, but is a generous, kind and benevolent provider for his children’s needs.

‘Who is God?’ and ‘What is God like?’ are the most important questions we can ask.  Today’s Gospel sheds a dazzling light on these eternal questions. We discover who God is more through prayer than any other spiritual exercise, for it is in prayer that the Spirit works in us to expand not just our minds but our hearts, our imagination and our horizons.

The Lord’s Prayer is the best of all prayers. All prayer requires five excellent qualities which we find here – our prayer needs to be confident, ordered, suitable, devout and humble.’ (St Thomas Aquinas)

Extract from Bible Alive for Sunday 28th July 2019 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

One Being, Many Names

I can no longer believe in any kind of external God who will shrink my tumour just because I bombard him with prayers, pilgrimages, sacrifices and repeated religious routines. But I believe more and more in the indwelling Holy Spirit who is the love-energy of whatever I’m called to endure, to suffer, to accept and to be transformed by. As you read these pages of personal meditation you will notice this recurring insight as I try to cope as best I can with my current situation.  The key to so much of our dis-ease, our wisest religions insist, is that we want life to be other than the way it is, “Wisdom begins”, wrote Jean Vanier, “when we stop wanting to fight the reality of the present as if it should not exist, and start to accept it as it is”.  As I’m swiftly learning to my cost, the secret of Christianity, too, is to learn how to live as one with the daily unfolding of what happens.  No more, no less.  Rather than asking for miracles from above, my prayer now must be about how to gladly accept what is happening in the here and now.  This insight, in Buddhist teaching too, is on the Noble Truths about how to lessen our suffering.

As these reflections flow in and out of my consciousness, I can’t help wondering how these thoughts affect my current darkness and fear.  The nearest I can get to some kind of peace is to continue surrendering whole-heartedly to that all-embracing Reality, that river of love, that God beyond God, that whole divine milieu that holds and caresses everything that lives, everything that grows, everything that keeps happening at every second of evolution:  personal and universal.

Richard Rohr reminds us that this kind of total trust is achieved through a moment by moment choice and surrender. This reminder always gives me hope. Total trust takes time. Too often we think that the grace of sacramental vision, of the new way of seeing, of the desired intimacy with God, comes suddenly and then stays with us. In a sense that is true; all we have to do is to become aware of this sublime gift. But awareness takes time. God’s incarnate grace is, in a sense, bound by the laws, times and tempo of an evolving and developing Creation.

St Paul mentions the light of God’s eyes that we try to reflect each day until, after much practice, we begin to become the light itself. Ours is an Incarnation-inspired spirituality.  It has its own timing. We awaken slowly from the sleep of our limited conditioning to know the transforming potential that is latent within us all.  A huge problem is that this rude awakening usually comes with an All-Mighty and tragic shock.  If this is true, does it make you desire to take your life really seriously before being forced to do so when the bad times come?

Dancing to my death with the love called cancer.  The last masterpiece from the bestselling author Daniel O’Leary

This book was written when Fr Daniel O’Leary was dying. I bought the book because I had watched some of the Astonishing Secret which is a book and a video. Coming to Dancing to my death – I found it very heavy but the chapters are short and often quote other writers and has also stories in it. It is well worth reading and I am sure you can get the feeling from this 26th chapter that what I say is true. Carmen

Corpus Christi

The only begotten Son of God, wishing to enable us to share in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that by becoming man he might make us gods.

Moreover, he turned the whole of our nature, which he assumed, to our salvation. For he offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation; and he shed his blood for our ransom and our cleansing, so that we might be redeemed from wretched captivity and cleansed from all sins.

Now in order that we might always keep the memory of this great act of love, he left his body as food and his blood as drink, to be received by the faithful under the appearances of bread and wine.

How precious and how wonderful is this banquet, which brings us salvation and is full of all delight! What could be more precious? It is not the meat of calves or kids that is offered, as happened under the Old Law; at this meal Christ, the true God, is set before us for us to eat. What could be more wonderful than this sacrament?

No sacrament contributes more to our salvation than this; for it purges away our sins, increases our virtues, and nourishes our minds with an abundance of all spiritual gifts.

It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that it may be beneficial to all, as it was instituted for the salvation of all.

Finally, no one is capable of expressing the delight of this sacrament, through which the sweetness of the Spirit is tasted at its source, and the memory is celebrated of that surpassing love which Christ showed in his passion.

And so, in order to imprint the immensity of this love more deeply in the hearts of the faithful, at the Last Supper, when the Lord had celebrated the Pasch with his disciples and was about to pass from this world to his Father, he instituted this sacrament as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It fulfilled the types of the Old Law; it was the greatest of the miracles he worked; and he left it as a unique consolation to those who were desolate at his departure.

This reading is from the works of St Thomas Aquinas OPUS 57,1-4

Most Holy Trinity

The experience of the love flowing to us from the Father and the Son and back from us to the Father and the Son is common to all Christians.

This enables us to live in unity with one another and to love one another.

None the less, we must also exercise our own wills. We must decide to love one another and overcome all disunity between us, drawing upon the power of love living within us, the power of the Spirit.

By relying on the divine love indwelling within us and by drawing on its power, we shall attract others to believe in Jesus for they will see Jesus, living within us, as the source of our unity and our love for one another.

Taken from Bible Alive for 13th June 2019