WATCH YOUR HEART

Thursday 2nd March – Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Reflection: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20

WATCH YOUR HEART

The theme of “choice” is one that we hear about so often, especially as young people. We are constantly reminded that the choices we make daily have a lasting effect on our lives, sometimes a more lasting effect than we may realize. Hence, we can identify with the Israelites whom Moses’ words in today’s reading were directed to as he called on them to make a choice of obeying God’s commandment.

What if they decided to sit on the fence and make no definite choice? What if they did not want to feel out of place amongst the other nations? what if they wanted a sense of belonging and acceptance and decided not to single themselves out as God’s children? That is the dilemma we often encounter as young people…we don’t necessarily want to be disobedient or “bad” but we do not want to be singled out as being Christian either. Unfortunately, our human heart does not work that way. Our human heart is not good at sitting on the fence.

We are wired in such a way that we either cling to God and get serious about living for Him or we drift away with the world around us. Indeed, the tide of evil is so strong that we cannot oppose it without a firm grip on Christ, the anchor of our souls. We are called to constantly watch our hearts lest we get drawn into thinking like the world and Lent gives us a wonderful opportunity to do just that. It gives us the right atmosphere to go into ourselves, examine our hearts for ways in which we are beginning to drift away from God and to return to Him with confidence in His great love and mercy.

Prayer: Lord, I place myself before you, search me and cleanse me from all worldly ways and help me to keep my heart in check always.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 232 – What must I bring to a confession?

Essential elements of every confession are an examination of conscience, contrition, a purpose of amendment, confession, and penance.

Hide a Treasure: “Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Deut 30: 15-20; Ps 1:1-6; Lk 9: 22-25

A MERCIFUL BUT JUST GOD

Wednesday 23rd September – Wednesday of week 25 of the year

A MERCIFUL BUT JUST GOD

Tobit 13: 2, 4, 6-8 (Canticle)

Life is full of choices. We can either choose to live according to the commandments of God or at variance with them. Either way attracts its own consequences. While sin leads to captivity and death (Romans 6: 23; Ezekiel 18:4), obedience to God leads to freedom and eternal life (Jeremiah 38: 20b; John 17:3). Every moment of our lives offers us an opportunity to say “yes” to the will of God and “no” to the subtle suggestions of the evil one; to renounce ourselves and embrace the way of Christ. We are daily encouraged to grow in virtues and intimacy with Christ.

However, this is not always the case with us. We sometimes deliberately go against the will of God to satisfy our selfish desires. We wave aside our shortcomings on the basis that God is merciful and “understanding.” Yes, He is truly merciful (Exodus 34: 6) and knows our imperfection (Genesis 6: 5-7); yet, we cannot continue to deliberately sin and take His mercy for granted. In today’s first reading, Ezra made us realize that the punishment of the Israelites was as a result of their persistent neglect of the Lord’s commandments.

Dearest in the Lord, we are called this day to examine areas of our lives where we deliberately sin against God. Are we indulging in pornography, fornication, abortion, examination malpractices, fraud, drunkenness etc.? As youth of this age, numerous are the temptations and vices raging around us; but as Christians, we must be people set apart for the Lord, shinning as light in the darkness around.

Great are the plans of God for us (Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Corinthian 2:9), we however can lose out on His best for us through some costly mistakes in life. Some mistakes are better prevented then amended. Sin has both temporal and eternal consequences (CCC 1472- 1473). Even after we might have been forgiven, it takes the grace of God to live with the consequences of some past misdeeds. The experience of King David with Bathsheba is an example for us to learn from (2 Samuel 11-12).

PRAYER: Thank you for your abundant mercy Lord; please strengthen me to honour you in every season of my live. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 234 – When is a Catholic obliged to confess his serious sins? How often should one go to confession?

Upon reaching the age of reason, a Catholic is obliged to confess his serious sins. The Church urgently advises the faithful to do this at least once a year. At any rate one must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion if one has committed a serious sin. By “the age of reason”, the Church means the age at which one has arrived at the use of reason and has learned to distinguish between good and bad.

HIDE A TREASURE: Happy are those whose lives are faultless, who live according to the law of the lord.” Ps 119:1 GNB

Today’s readings: Ezra 9:5-9; Tobit 13: 2, 4, 6-8; Luke 9: 1-6

SEEK WISDOM

Saturday 30th May – Saturday of week 8 of the year

Reflection: Sirach 51:12-20

SEEK WISDOM

To get wisdom is better than gold; to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver” Proverbs 16:16

Each day of our life presents us with a myriad of choices. As soon as we wake, we have the choice either to rise up and start the day in thanksgiving or to lie in bed and complain that the night has been too short. All our words, attitudes and actions are a function of the choices we make. Bearing in mind that all our daily choices have consequences, the need for wisdom cannot be overemphasised.

Our first reading recounts the efforts the author made in his quest for wisdom. Such efforts included: ceaseless prayer, humility, hard work and perseverance. You and I need wisdom, especially as we make important life decisions as young people. Yet, we must be weary of embracing the wisdom of this world which is often contrary to the wisdom of God and will not lead us to live out our Christian call effectively.

Dear friends, let us ask the Lord each day for wisdom and open our hearts to the various ways through which He desires to teach us…through His word, life experiences, our parents and teachers and through other people around us. Let us be guided by His wisdom and we will find joy and fulfilment in life ultimately.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please grant me your wisdom so that I can make choices that please you always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 310What are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit?

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. With these the Holy Spirit “endows” Christians, in other words, he grants them particular powers that go beyond their natural aptitudes and gives them the opportunity to become God’s special instruments in this world.

HIDE A TREASURE: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity” James 3:17 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Sirach 51:12-20; Psalm 19: 8-11; Mark 11:27-33

TRUE HAPPINESS

Saturday 28th February – Saturday of the 1st week of Lent

Reflection: Psalm 118: 1-8

TRUE HAPPINESS

Tade was confused. She had made new friends during registration week on her new campus but as they settled down to work, she realised she was becoming more and more alone. All her friends had new boyfriends whom they were into sexual relationships with and were very excited about it as they had all the pleasure they wanted and money to throw around. Should I just join them and enjoy this new exciting life of theirs or should I keep up with my quest for holiness and remain lonely, missing out on all the fun? Tade wondered.

Many young people are familiar with Tade’s experience It is not unusual to find ourselves been lured by peers into immoral relationships, partying, drugs, exam malpractice etc. Those who engage in it are happy; why should I deny myself all the fun, we ask ourselves. Dear friend, true happiness is only found in living the life God our creator has called us to. The excitement sin offers is the devil’s way of luring us into sin; yet, the happiness sin offers is shallow, temporal and filled with regrets.

Do you desire pure and lasting happiness? Do you desire to live with peace of mind, devoid of regrets? God calls you today to a life of blessedness. “They are happy whose life is blameless, who follow God’s law! They are happy who do his will, seeking Him with all their hearts” (Ps 119: 1-2). Set your mind on pleasing God and ask for the grace to overcome the temptation around you. Have you already succumbed to the lure of Sin? Dear friend, it is not too late; repent, approach God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and begin again. His grace is sufficient for you. Only in following God’s law would you find true happiness.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please help me to seek true and lasting happiness in you. May I obey you in all I do and seek to please you always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 407 – Why is the Church against premarital sexual relations?

Because she would like to protect love. A person can give someone else no greater gift than himself. “I love you” means for both: “I want only you, I want all that you are, and I want to give myself to you forever!” Because that is so, we cannot, even with our bodies, really say “I love you” temporarily or on a trial basis.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Blessed are they who treasure His word and seek Him with all their heart.” Psalm 119: 2 CCB

Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 26: 16-19; Psalm 119: 1-8; Matthew 5: 43-48

COMMITMENT TO GOD

Sunday 18th January – 2nd Sunday of the Year

Reflection: 1 Corinthians 6: 13-15, 17-20

COMMITMENT TO GOD

Commitment is the willingness to give your time and energy to something you believe in. As Christians, our faith in God demands that we should be committed to Him with all that we have: our time, talent, treasure, energy, and even our bodies. There is the tendency as humans to believe that we own our lives and thus can do anything we like with it. But as baptized Christians, we have become sons and daughters of God, consequently, we are called to live in loyalty and commitment to our Father (Romans 8:12-14).

Dear friends, God has given us the freedom to make choices; He does not force His will on us but we must not abuse this freedom, bearing in mind that it is precisely because we are free beings that we are accountable for our actions. St Paul reminds us in today’s second reading that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in us and who was given to us by God, for we do not belong to ourselves but to God to whom we are accountable (cf 1 Corinthians 6:19).

Beloved, commitment to God simply requires a conscious rejection of sin, Satan, his cohorts and his empty promises. Let us look at the life of Samuel in the first reading of today, who was totally committed and offered himself as God’s instrument and God was with him (1 Samuel 3:10, 19).

PRAYER: Please help me Lord to flee from sin and Satan and draw closer to you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 286 – What is freedom and what is it for?

Freedom is the God-given power to be able to act of one’s own accord; a person who is free no longer acts under the influence of someone else. God created us as free men and wills our freedom so that we might wholeheartedly in favour of the good, indeed for the greatest “good”-in other words, for God. The more we do what is good, the freer we become.

HIDE A TREASURE: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: 1 Samuel 3:3 -10, 19; Psalm 40: 2, 4, 7-10; 1 Corinthians 6: 13-15, 17-20; John 1: 35-42

SET YOUR PRIORITIES RIGHT

Saturday, 8th February – Saturday of week 4 of the year

Reflection: 1 Kings 3:4-13

SET YOUR PRIORITIES RIGHT

The purpose of man is to live for the glory of God. God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength (CCC 1). This desire for God is written in the human heart, and only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for. God has placed the desire for happiness in human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it.

As humans, we make choices and our choices are based on our desires. The end of all man’s desire is happiness. King Solomon in quest for happiness asked God for “the heart to discern between good and evil”, that he may lead the people right and still be pleasing to God. Thus, God was at the centre of his desire and God gave him more than he asked for. Often times, man searches for happiness in wealth, power, position, and even in all forms of immorality. However, all these cannot give lasting happiness. No created being or thing can give man eternal happiness on its own, for happiness is a divine trait and can only be found in its fullest, in the divine alone.

Dear Friends, we are enjoined in all our plans, our aspirations, our goals, our careers, and in all we do, to put God first and seek for His glory alone and He will bless all that concern us. We are created for Him and Him alone. Thus, our first priority is to live for God. In living for Him, we will find our Peace and Happiness.

PRAYER: Open my heart Lord, that I may know your will and give me the grace to do it. Amen

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC1718 – THE DESIRE FOR HAPPINESS

……How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek for a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Set your hearts first on the kingdom and justice of God and ALL these things will also be given to you.” Matthew 6:33 CCB

Readings for today: 1 Kings 3:4-13; Psalm 119:9-14; Mark 6:30-34