TAKE UP YOUR CROSS

Thursday 19th February – Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Reflection: Luke 9: 22-25

TAKE UP YOUR CROSS

Crucifixion was a torturous means of execution used by the Romans for many criminals during the first century. It symbolized shame and rejection; hence, Jesus’ followers must have been taken aback when he told them that following Him would demand “carrying their crosses daily”. Yet, His words would become real to them as He carried His own cross to the place of His crucifixion. Dear young friend, Jesus words remain as true and relevant today as they were 20 centuries back. He says to you and I: “If you want to be my follower, renounce yourself, take up your cross everyday and follow me…what gain is it if you win the whole world and ruin or lose your very self?” (Luke 9: 23, 25)

The season of Lent brings that call more to our awareness. As you journey with Jesus through the Stations of the Cross this season, think about the crosses you are called to carry: it may be an unpleasant situation at home, school or work; putting up with a very difficult person; persecution on account of your faith; financial difficulties or some struggles in your personal life and journey of faith. Our joy is that we do not carry the cross alone – we carry it behind our master who knows all things and desires to form us into better disciples through those crosses. Let us trust Him to strengthen us as we carry our crosses and follow Him faithfully.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you carried your cross to Calvary without complaining. Please forgive me for the times I have complained about my crosses and help me to carry them faithfully and trustfully. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 277- What are the Stations of the Cross?

Following Jesus on his Way of the Cross by praying and meditating on the fourteen Stations is a very ancient devotion in the Church, which is practiced especially in Lent and Holy week.

HIDE A TREASURE: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” Luke 9:24 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20; Psalm 1: 1-6; Luke 9: 22-25

BROKEN HEARTS OR TORN GARMENTS?

Wednesday 18th February – Ash Wednesday

Reflection: Joel 2: 12-18

BROKEN HEARTS OR TORN GARMENTS?

It was a practice among the Jews to tear one’s garments, put on sackcloth, lie down in ashes and sprinkle ashes on one’s head while observing a fast. Such actions signified sorrow for sin and inner repentance (see Daniel 9:3, Esther 4:3). It is against this backdrop that the prophet Joel called out to the people “Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn” (Joel 2:13). Today as we begin this season of grace, God calls out to you and I with the same message.

Ashes will be placed on our foreheads; the Mass will become more solemn and the joyful songs of “Gloria” and “Alleluia” will be put on hold as we all are called to a season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Will Lent consist of merely these outward observances and changes to the liturgy or are you and I, young Catholics going to respond with broken hearts to this season of grace? God calls us to pause for a while, look back on our lives and seek His mercy for the many ways in which we have failed and taken Christ’s passion for granted.

Dear friend, indeed “today is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). This season is not just for our parents. It includes us as young people, hence Prophet Joel says “…summon the community, assemble the elders, gather the children, even the infants at the breast” (Joel 2:16). Give up something this Lent. It maybe skipping a meal once a week, your favourite TV show, football match or some bad habit like gossiping and spend that time in prayer and studying your Bible or in offering help to someone in need. As you heed the Church’s call and enter into Lent with expectation you cannot but be transformed tremendously by our Lord.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for this special season of grace. Please help me to yield your call to repentance and self-renunciation. Let my heart be transformed this season. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1430 – Jesus’ call to conversion and penance,…does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Joel 2: 12-18; Psalm 51: 3-6, 12-14, 17; 2 Corinthians 5: 20-6:2; Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18

PEACE IS OF THE DIVINE

Tuesday, 17th February – Tuesday of week 6 of the year

Reflection: Psalm 29: 11

PEACE IS OF THE DIVINE

When God created man, He placed the desire for happiness (peace of soul) in man’s heart. Thus, man never ceases to search for peace of soul; this quest is a desire for God who alone can give man peace. Everyone desires peace yet it is often difficult to know what peace really is and where to find it. In today’s world the search for peace and happiness is the source of all human anxiety and frustration because without peace of soul there cannot be peace in the world. The wars we see are only projections of the conflicts waged inside the soul of men, for nothing happens in the external world that has not first happened within a soul. Peace of soul is a divine trait and can only be found in the divine – in God.

The basic anxiety of life is transcended in three ways, each of which brings Peace of soul that only God can give;

1. By controlling desires: anxiety and frustration are often due to uncontrolled desires. Uncontrolled desires grow like weeds and stifle the spirit. Material possessions bring temporary pleasure but sooner or later a sense of emptiness returns. To control our desires we have to take them to the foot of the cross and lay them down for Christ (Matthew 11:28).

2. By shifting our attention from the flesh to and paying more attention to our souls: Christ admonished us to: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Luke 12:31). Christ did not say “some things” or “many things” rather He said “All…”. Thus, direct your love towards God, and you will receive His peace. Turn away from God, and the heart becomes a broken fountain where tears fall.

3. By increasing our trust in God: God who created us is more than capable to give us rest of mind only if we allow Him. Anxiety comes in each time we try to solve things our own way, but we find peace when we hand it over to God to take charge.

As St. Augustine has said, “Our hearts were made for thee. They are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord. Do you seek peace? Turn to our Lord today!

PRAYER: Lord, please grant me divine peace of mind and body and help me to always have recourse in you in all things. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 281 – Why do we yearn for happiness?
God has placed in our hearts such an infinite desire for happiness that nothing can satisfy it but God himself. All earthly fulfillment gives us only a foretaste of eternal happiness. Above and beyond that, we should be drawn to God.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Come to me, all you who work hard and carry heavy burdens and I will refresh you” Matthew 11:28 CCB

Today’s Readings: Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10, Psalm 29:1-4, 9-11, Mark 8:14-21

AVOID JEALOUSY!

Monday, 16th February – Monday of week 6 of the year

Reflection: Genesis 4: 1-15, 25

AVOID JEALOUSY!

Jealousy refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection. It is an unconscious self-condemnation as well as an acknowledgement of the superiority of others. “Jealousy is the tribute which mediocrity pays to genius.” (Venerable Fulton Sheen). Instinctively the jealous persons knows the good that others do, but they are jealous because they have not done it themselves and therefore, seek to nullify it.

Cain resented Abel because his own offerings were not accepted and he became jealous of the good Abel did in offering what was best to God. Jealousy can take many forms; being jealous of the academic success of others; their body shape, friends, possessions, achievements etc. jealousy arises when we try to compete with others, failing to celebrate our uniqueness. It denies one of recognizing opportunities to be a better person and as such, is a self-consuming fire that the jealous one prepares for his/her own destruction. Envy is a capital sin that opens the door for more deadly sins just as it did for Cain.

Dear friend, always remember that you are in competition with no one. Aim instead to become better than you were yesterday. In addition to praying about this vice, here are some ways to overcome it:
1. Praying for the one of whom you are jealous.
2. Imitate the good qualities others possess rather than envying them.
3. Learn to rejoice with other and appreciate the good in them and you will find that there’s a lot of good in you too.

PRAYER: Lord, please remove from me all forms of jealousy and help me to sincerely appreciate your goodness in others and also to recognize the uniqueness of my being. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 318 – What are vices?
Vices are negative habits that deaden and dull the conscience, incline a person to evil, and habitually prepare him for sin. Human vices are found in connection with the capital sins of pride, avarice, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth (or acedia, spiritual boredom).

HIDE A TREASURE: “Therefore I say to you: walk according to the Spirit and do not give way to the desires of the flesh” Galatians 5:16 CCB

Today’s Readings: Genesis 4:1-15, 25, Psalm 50:1,8, 16-17, 20-21, Mark 8:11-13

LIVE FOR GOD’S GLORY – BE CONSIDERATE

Sunday 15th February – 6th Sunday of the year

Reflection: 1 Corinthians 10:31- 11:1

LIVE FOR GOD’S GLORY   –   BE CONSIDERATE

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the Church of God”. 1 Cor 10: 31-32

In this era of individualism with everyone holding on to the slogan: “I must live my own life how I want” there is tendency for us to forget that no one’s life concerns him alone. None of us lives or dies for himself alone. Such interdependency is what invests life with such tremendous significance. Great forces, good or evil, influence our lives from others just as powerful influence flows out of our lives to contribute to the character formation of others. In this light of our interdependency on each other, God asked Cain; “where is your brother?” And Cain, trying to be an island replied: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Hence, St. Paul wrote: “Everything is lawful for me, but not everything is to my profit. Everything is lawful for me, but not everything builds up: let no one pursue his own interests, but the interests of the other” (1Cor 10: 23-24). Dear friend, if you have been privileged to grow in your relationship with God, it is your responsibility to lead others to God and not away from Him. It is your duty to watch your way of life so as not to mislead others even if your action is not sinful in itself.

The glory of God is Man fully alive. The life God offers is all-encompassing (physical, spiritual, emotional, financial, psychological); thus in our spiritual strength we must seek to assist the weak; in our wealth we must reach out to the poor and in our wisdom we must instruct those going astray. God desires that all men live in fullness of life and each of us has been called to fulfill this desire of God. Dear friends, take time today to reflect on how well you have been your brother’s keeper.

PRAYER: Lord, please give me the grace to seek the common good in all I do so that my way of life may daily draw others to you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2287 – Anybody who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they came!” (Lk 17:1)

HIDE A TREASURE: “Do not seek your own interest, but rather that of others” Philippians 2:4 CCB

Today’s readings: Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46, Psalm 32:1-2,5, 11; 1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1; Mark 1:40-45

MIRACLES STILL HAPPEN

Saturday 14th February – Memorial of SS Cyril, Monk & Methodius, Bishop

Reflection: Mark 8: 6-10

MIRACLES STILL HAPPEN

We serve an All-Sufficient God who can make something out of nothing. In fact, He created the whole world out of nothing. It is amazing how God shows up at hopeless situations of our lives to make His power and sovereignty known. In today’s reading, Jesus shows forth both His care and His power as He multiplies bread and fish to feed a great multitude. 

Bearing in mind that Jesus needed no one to tell Him that the multitude was hungry; this miracle should remind us that we serve an Almighty God who is interested in all the affairs of our lives. Sometimes, you may have very little resources at your disposition, and start to worry about where the rest will come from. Nothing should ever make you anxious. Jesus assures us, that we should seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness and every other thing would be added unto us. (Mt 6:33).

As we celebrate Love today, take time to reflect on how much God loves you. Spend some time writing out the blessings you received from Him over the last year and be grateful for them. Focus more on God than on your needs, and then you would see God in action on your behalf. This is the secret to miracles!

PRAYER: Father, I thank for all the blessings you have showered me with. I trust that you are able to supply all my needs according to your riches in glory. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 270: “God is the Father Almighty, whose fatherhood and power shed light on one another: God reveals His fatherly omnipotence by the way He takes care of our needs; by the filial adoption He gives us…and by His infinite mercy.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Instead be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom and with He requires of you, and He will provide you with all these other things.” Matthew 6:33 GNB

Today’s Readings: Genesis 3:9-24; Psalm 90: 2-6, 12-13; Mark.8:1-10

GOD IS NO POLICEMAN

Friday 13th February – Friday of week 5 of the year

Reflection: Psalm 32:1-7

GOD IS NO POLICEMAN

When you see a policeman down the road; what comes to your mind? Do you think of him as a friend or as someone who is watching out for you to punish you at the slightest opportunity? I can imagine that most of us think of the latter. Often times, we approach God with such mindset too – we think of him as a policeman of our lives, always ready to arrest and indict us at the slightest mistake. Yet, beloved, God is not like that. Such description is in fact more appropriate to the devil; the enemy of our souls – he capitalizes on every mistake we make and uses it against us before God. Hence, Scripture refers to him as “the accuser of the brethren”. (Rev.12:10b).

Like the Psalmist tells us today, God is merciful and desires to forgive our offences and impute no guilt on us. Do you feel as if you have failed to walk with God? It’s not too late dear friend: He is the potter and you are the clay. He earnestly desires to reshape our lives so we can fulfill His ultimate purpose for us. Jesus is ready to heal you. He knows exactly where to touch in your life, so as to bring the desired healing and change.

No matter what sin you have committed, don’t despair. It is never too much for God to forgive. Simply go to Him with humility, true repentance and a desire to abandon sin. His arms are open especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, ready to forgive you and give you a new beginning.

PRAYER: Father I approach your throne of grace this day and ask for pardon for the many times I have strayed. Please Lord; fill my life with the fruits of your mercy. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1422: “Those who approach the sacrament of penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against Him, and are at the same time reconciled with the Church…”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Let us have confidence then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.” Hebrews: 4:16 GNB

Today’s Readings: Genesis 3:1-8; Psalm 32:1-2, 5-7; Mark.7:31-37