Friday, November 26, 2010

Mary and Pentecost


" With one heart all these joined constantly in prayer, together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.(Acts 1: 14)

Mary was over-shadowed by the Holy Spirit at the incarnation of the Son of God. She was present with the Disciples of Christ at Pentecost. With them, she was filled again with the Holy Spirit. With this gift, Mary was led to the fullness of the truth about her Son and his mission.

Leo XIII wrote in his Encyclical, Adiutricem Populi, of September 5, 1895,"With a generous heart Mary undertook and discharged the duties of her high but laborious office, the beginnings of which were consecrated in the Cenacle. With wonderful care she nurtured the first Christians by her holy example, her authoritative counsel, her sweet consolation, her fruitful prayers. She was, in very truth, the Mother of the Church, the teacher and queen of the Apostles, to whom, besides, she confided no small part of the divine mysteries which she kept in her heart."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Paul Set Apart Before Birth

"Go and preach to all nations: baptize them and teach them all I have commanded you"(Matthew 28: 19-20).

Paul pondered the meaning of these words for his life. He understood the specific demands of Christ in calling him to be an apostle of the gentiles and responded fully to its pressures.

Paul's autobiography in his letter to the Galatians reveals the depth of his commitment.

"But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood"(Galatians 1:15-16).

PAUL: The Man

Paul, a child of Jewish parents was born a Roman citizen in Tarsus. He became a tentmaker by profession and studied under Gamaliel. Paul opposed vehemently the young Christian movement and persecuted the Christians. On his way to Damascus to arrest Christians, he encountered Christ Jesus. This dramatic incident marked his conversion. After this event, Paul traveled to Jerusalem where he met the apostles. From there, he began his missionary journeys. He traveled to Europe and Asia Minor. He was the apostle of the gentiles and was responsible for the conversion of thousands of people. Paul wrote fourteen of the New Testament letters. Paul and Peter were arrested in Rome under the persecution of Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded while Peter was crucified upside down.

Sean Kelly & Rosemary Rogers in their book: SAINTS PRESERVE US! describes Paul humorously thus: "He was a convert and, like many converts, 'more Catholic than the pope.' In Paul's case, the pope was Saint Peter, with whom he frequently disagreed. Paul was God's own CEO, a motivator, an organizer, a hands-on manager, a tireless leader-by-example, a Take-Charge Guy with his eye on the Big Picture. He bought into a tiny Hebrew cult, and personally transformed it into a Multi-National, the biggest and richest in the world."

Fulton Sheen wrote in Treasure in Clay on the conversion of St Paul: "It is hard for you to kick against the goad.' In other words, 'It's no use trying to resist my grace. For a long time I have had great things in store for you. Try no longer to be a rebel. I have marked you out to be a great apostle. It is hard. I have struck you down as a rebel, but I will raise you up as a chosen vessel unto me." Paul is the patron saint of public relations and tentmakers and his feast day is June 29.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Spirit of St. Patrick

"He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God his savior. Such is the race that seeks for him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob." (Psalm 24: 5-6)

Every 17th of March is remembered as St Patrick's Day in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and some other countries. Why is this saint who was born in 386 AD still remembered and honored today? St Patrick is remembered in history for bringing Christianity to Ireland. He is the patron saint of Ireland, a small country with great influence in the world. For me, Ireland is best known for its missionary spirit. St Patrick survived many hardships and achieved his life's purpose because of a spirit of strong faith and tenacity.

Patrick was abducted from his home in Kilpatrick in England at the age of sixteen and enslaved in Ireland. He worked as a herdsman for six years before he got an opportunity to escape into Gaul, modern France. There he prepared for the priesthood and was ordained a priest. After his ordination, Patrick returned to Ireland and worked for the conversion of the Irish people.

St. Patrick died in 461. March 17 is the feast of St Patrick. March 17 is also my birthday. I was born on St. Patrick's Day in St. Patrick's parish at a time when the feast of St. Patrick was a school holiday in my country. But I was not baptized Patrick but Emmanuel. I had often wondered why. I never had the opportunity to ask my parents before they died. Most probably the reason may be that my parents chose the name Emmanuel before I was born.

Prayer of St Patrick

Christ is with me,

Christ is before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Patience is Power

"I waited, I waited for the Lord; who bent down and heard my cry"(Psalm 40: 1)

A few years ago, I learned how long it takes a tree to bear fruit. The occasion was when I helped Manny plant a mango seed to celebrate his first communion. This young mango seedling faced many challenges to its survival in its early years. Storms, strong winds, too much rain, insects threatened its existence. But it survived. One beautiful day exactly 1350 days after it was planted, it yielded its fruit, a beautiful greenish yellow mango fruit.

St James recommends to us the patience of the farmer when he wrote: "Think of the farmer: how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains! You too must be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord's coming will be soon" (James 5: 7-8). The farmer trusts the seed to yield fruit at the right time. Jesus compares the word of God to a seed. When a seed is planted in a fertile soil, it must bear fruit in due season.

A caption I saw somewhere proclaims: "To be a man is not a day's job." Human beings face much the same challenge as any seed in order to realize their full potentials. Patience is the key to success. The psalmist urges us: "Wait quietly for the Lord, be patient till he comes."(Psalm 37:7). Learning to wait is the most difficult lesson but it is also the most beneficial. Waiting is preparation time. He who can wait is powerful and can achieve his dreams. Therefore: "Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14).

My favorite scripture on patience:

"Then the Lord answered me and said:

Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,

so that one can read it readily.

For the vision still has its time,

presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.

The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. (Habakkuk 2: 2-4)

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Simple King

" Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.(Luke 2:11)NJB

The story of the birth of Jesus reveals the simple surroundings in which the King of glory was born. "Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger because there was no room for them in the living-space." (Luke 2: 6-7) When Mary and Joseph arrived at the small inn at Bethlehem to seek for a room, they were unable to obtain one Was it because the inn had no spare room or the couple could not afford the tariff? Whatever the reason, Mary and Joseph found an alternative accommodation in a nearby stable. Mary must have pondered the unfathomable mind of God, who allowed His only begotten Son to be born in a stable. The handmaid of the Lord submitted herself to God's disposal of events. Jesus started life in very simple surroundings and He grew up to love simplicity. From His birth to His death, He possessed very little. Jesus learned simplicity from His mother. The first people to visit Jesus in the stable were simple shepherds.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

St. Louis-Marie de Monfort

"The Lord has sworn an oath and he will not retract; you are a priest forever, in the line of Melchisedech" (Psalm 110:4)

Louis de Monfort was born on the 31st of January 1673 in Monfort in France. Louis was educated in the Jesuit
College at Rennes and was ordained a priest in 1700. His great contribution was in fostering devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the holy Rosary.

In 1715, he founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary. Among his books which are still in print are: TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN; SECRET OF THE ROSARY Louis de Monfort made the Rosary one of the most popular Catholic devotions throughout the world. Catholics everywhere are indebted to him for articulating the incredible powers of this simple devotion: The Holy Rosary. His feast is on the 28th of April.