Feb 1 (Mk 4:26-34)

Nature is a wonderful teacher.

Albert Einstein, the renowned scientist says, ” Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

The earth and the sky…the woods and the fields… the lakes and the rivers…the mountains and the seas…

…. are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

Jesus loved the nature very much.

>> Jesus, the Preacher made great use of examples from the nature to put forth His teachings.

The Gospel of Day is a typical example of Jesus quoting from the nature to explain.

All through His teaching ministry, Jesus presents different examples, metaphors and symbols to explain about the Kingdom of God.

Today, Jesus speaks about a man who scatters seeds on the land.

Without his awareness there is a growth.

“…and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how” (Mk 4:27)

One of the most tender ideas that this parable presents is that there are many things in life that are not understood and yet, it turns out to be beautiful!

The seed that grows, unnoticed and unseen, is a sign of the Kingdom of God.

>>> The seed takes root.

>> The seed sprouts.

> The seed grows.

But HOW this takes place, is unknown and unseen…

The effect of the growth is seen, but the process of the growth is unknown!

>>> The result of the progress is observed, but the manner of the progress is hidden!

In John 3:8, we read, “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes…

… so it is with everyone born of the Spirit”

The movement of the Spirit of God is gentle and mild!

>> The growth of God’s Kingdom is hidden and concealed!

This points to the tremendous fact that God is in total charge and control!

…that God is in perfect sovereignty and power!

…that God is in total dominion and management!

We are sometimes people prone to a lot of strategies and planning.

>> When things don’t turn out the way we have planned, we get worried and anxious.

>> When situations don’t fall in line with what we envisaged, we get tensed and upset!

But, today God tells… I am in total control!

When my life seems to be in a complete mess and nothing is understood by us…

>> God says, “I am in total control”

When circumstances around me go haywire and I lose control of things…

>> God says, “I am in total control”

When conditions are highly worse and it seems to be the end of the world for me…

>> God says, “I am in total control”

This is not to say that we need to have a passive and lethargic attitude to life.

>> This is not to say that we need to have a casual and a lazy mentality in life.

>> This is not even to say that we should not have plans and strategies in our life

But this is a great reminder to know and realize that God is the Ultimate Master!

There are no accidents…no “by chance” happenings…

… for a Christian.

>> Everything finds its place, in the Permissive Will of the Lord!

Do I trust in Him to lead through the dark moments into light?

>> Do I believe in Him to lead through the depressing moments into joy?

>>>> Do I have faith in Him to lead through the confusing moments to clarity?

Let us enjoy the silent working of the Spirit within us…

….and be part of the..

… unseen, yet dynamic..

… silent, yet spectacular growth of the Kingdom of God!

As we thank the Lord for the gift of the First Month of 2019, and all His Blessings…

… let us also gently remind ourselves, of some of the resolutions that we might have taken at the start of the year ( or if not… let us seek to pledge a resolution for this year)

>> And thus, with confidence in God’s providence and gratitude for God’s blessings, let us consecrate ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, on this First Friday of the new month of February.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “When you are physically and mentally occupied while fulfilling your duties…

… renew as far as possible – again and again – your “Yes” to the Will of God!

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Jan 31 (Mk 4:21-25)

A little story goes of a young boy who went, one summer, with his parents to Europe.

The family visited many of the great and majestic cathedrals. of the past.

The child was indeed awe struck and amazed to see the wonderful and glorious structures and the massive stained glass portraits of various saints.

On returning back from the tour, the catechism teacher asked the child, “So, I hope you had a lovely time, especially seeing so many spectacular churches and cathedrals. What did you like most in them?”

The child answered, ” I very much liked and was impressed by the immensity and awesomeness of our God, in whose honour and name, these churches are built!”

With a glow in his eyes, the child added, ” And I also realized… what is a saint”.

Recalling the massive and beautiful stained glass windows, he said:

“A saint is a person, through whom the light shines!”

That was indeed an amazing observation…

… a saint is a person, through whom the light shines!

The person who allows the radiance of God’s love to flow through…

>> The person who is pure and transparent to let the rays of God’s mercy to shine through…

….Such a person is a Saint!

The Gospel of the Day is an exhortation and a reminder by Jesus to become a “light to the other”

Jesus presents a simple parable, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel or under a bed and not on a stand?” (Mk 4: 21)

In the ancient world, people did not have electricity like we have today.

Most homes would contain several oil lamps because olive oil was in abundance and therefore not expensive. The oil lamps were the main source of light in every home.

These ancient lamps were usually oval shaped, and flat on top.

>> They were normally made of clay, but the more expensive lamps were made of bronze and sometimes even of gold. Olive oil was available in abundance and therefore lamps were left on for long periods of time, and also gave off a sweet scent.

The Lord presents this common example of the Lamp to highlight…

… that Christian lives also ought to shine and glow

… that Gospel values cannot remain hidden and concealed

… that the power of light, however, little, can dispel the gloominess of darkness

The world we live in is often in darkness and in obscurity.

As Christians, we have a duty and an obligation to hold alight the lamp.

The world often runs into the darkness of sin and evil practices…

>> Can I be a lamp, bringing them to Christ’s light by my holy and sanctified life?

Many people are often forced to remain in the shadows of guilt, shame and abuse…

>> Can I be a lamp, bringing them to Christ’s light by my prayers, sacrifices and good works?

The Lord is inviting us…

… to let His light to pass through our actions, deeds and activities.

… to let His light illumine our thoughts, visions and mentalities.

Let us lead a saintly life, and allow others to experience the Light of God’s love!

>> Let us be glowing with a holy life, to let others to see the Radiance of God’s Peace!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “ Love is like fire – the finer the fuel, the brighter the flame;

>> Similarly the more refined, more spiritual the object of love, then the keener, stronger, more lasting will be love’s attachment!”

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Jan 30 (Mk 4:1-20)

Mr. Bhola was getting late to office…

As he was getting ready and keeping his file and office bag ready…

… he called out to his wife, who was inside the kitchen, preparing breakfast: “Please get me my tie!”

He continued to get ready and as he began to tie his shoes, he called out, little more loudly, to his wife who had not responded to him yet,” Would you please get me my tie?!”

Bhola was by now dressed up, but his wife had not responded yet…

>> Irritated, he went into the kitchen and screamed at her, “Can’t you hear what I said? Please get me my tie!!”

His wife, turned around, and in a louder voice, shouted back: “And for the third time, I am also telling you…

… Your tie is ready on the table!!”

Feeling embarassed, Bhola realised his mistake…

>> It was not his wife who did not hear…

… it was he, who did not hear!

>> It was not his wife who was short of listening…

… it was he, who was short of listening!

Very often…

… listening becomes a problem for us…

… we get short of hearing properly…

>> Does the same happen in our life, with respect to God’s voice?

The Gospel of the Day is a call to hear properly God’s Word and receive His message into our hearts.

The Lord is beside the Sea of Galilee…

A very large crowd of people have gathered around Him…

>> Jesus, during the course of His instructions and teachings said, “Listen!” (Mk 4:3)

The people have a gathered together in a big crowd…

>> There were probably…

… some, who were not able to get a proper sitting place…

… many children and mothers who had to take care of their kids…

… many sick eagerly waiting for the gracious words of the Lord…

The atmosphere would have been a bit chaotic.

>> The situation would have been a bit restless.

>> The circumstance would have been a bit noisy.

It’s in this muddled, disordered and disorganized setting, that the Lord thunders: “LISTEN!”

The voice of the Lord addresses us at many moments in life.

>> His sweet gentle tone speaks to us occasionally…

>> His melodious pleasant expression converses to us many times…

But am I really listening?

>> Am I giving heed to His voice?

Our ‘listening mentality’ could be classified similar to the four types of soil that Jesus mentions in the Parable of the Sower…

1. Like the soil on the wayside, we could be a “passive and unprepared listener”…

… disinterested and uncaring for God’s Words

… unmindful of any consequence or loss of God’s inspirations

… lethargic and careless about many of God’s graces and favours

2. Like the soil on the rock, we could be an “overenthusiastic yet foundationless listener”…

… showing immediate but highly temporary reaction to Godly experiences

… finding only instant gratification and satisfaction in being a devotee of God

… making great plans and resolutions, but hardly translated to real actions

3. Like the soil among thorns, we could be a “distracted and unconvinced” listener…

… confused with many pleasurable activities and diverting matters

… easily wavered by contrasting Gospel messages and inauthentic teachings

… unable to discern between true and false exhortations of faith and beliefs

4. Like the soil in a good place, we could be an “attentive and focused” listener…

… eager to act upon God’s word and make them practical in life

… keen and excited to share the saving message of Christ to other people

… passionate and zealous to become sharers of the Good News of the Lord

The Lord today invites us to become active, attentive, focused and alert listeners.

Let us not be short to hear…

>> Let us not be hard of listening

Instead:

Let us seek…

… to listen to the Lord with a deeper longing and interest.

… to listen to His Will with an intensified love and affection.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “ Since God sends us inspirations by means of His Angels…

…we should frequently return our aspirations to him, by means of the same messengers!”

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Jan 29 (Mk 3:31-35)

A story is told of an elderly lady – who would go place to place, house to house – selling thread, buttons, and shoestrings.

Whenever she would come to an unmarked crossroad, she would toss a stick into the air…

… and go in the direction the stick pointed when it landed.

One day, however, she was seen tossing the stick up several times.

A passerby asked her:  “Why do you toss the stick more than once?”

Because,” replied the woman, “it keeps pointing to the left…

… and I want to take the road on the right!”

She then dutifully kept throwing the stick into the air……

… until it pointed the way she wanted to go!

Very often, in our spiritual life, we are like that:

>> Even though we know what is the Will of God for us…

… we keep tossing our minds in such a way, that we convince ourselves to do what we want to do!

>> Even if we understand what is it that the Lord wants us to do…

… we toss our thoughts in a way, to finally do, what we were desiring to do!

Is doing the Will of God at the centre of our lives?

The Gospel of Day has Jesus focusing the attention of His followers on the most vital dimension of the Kingdom of God: Doing God’s Will.

Jesus is in the thick of His ministry.

>> The place is packed with people sitting on the floor, in the passage-way, around the doors and windows, craving to listen to what Jesus is speaking.

It’s at that time that His family members arrive.

>> His family can’t get through to him, so they send a message in, and it passes from one person to person: “Tell him that his mother and brothers are outside looking for him” (Mk 3: 32)

The message finally reaches Jesus.

It is interesting to consider the feelings and reactions of the different persons…

· The family of Jesus…

….are eager and concerned to get the Lord back home

… are wanting to meet Him and if possible to give Him a break in His ministry

· The crowd around Jesus…

… are understandable that the family of the Lord are keen to meet Him

… are expecting Jesus to stop His preaching to accommodate meeting His kith and kin

This was a significant time and moment.

The Lord loves to make use of critical moments to put across a message…

>> The Lord loves to thrive on crucial situations to send forth a teaching…

Jesus uses the arrival of His physical family as an opportunity to teach about His relationship with His spiritual family.

Jesus brings the focus back on what is most essential.

>> What was most needed was not human relationships…

>> What was most needed was not human affairs…

… But what was most necessary was spiritual relations!

… What was most necessary was spiritual affairs!

Jesus brings to focus…

… the importance to seek and do God’s Will

… the importance to become related in the Kingdom.

What is our own attitude and mentality…

>> Am I concerned more with worldly affairs or do I engage myself more into spiritual realities?

>> Am I disturbed more by earthly concerns or do I share more the anxiety for spiritual growth?

>> Am I obsessed more with worldly gains or do I be zealous for spiritual graces and blessings?

Very often…

… we lose our focus

… we lose sight of the proper track…

>> The Lord, today exhorts us on the essentials of a Christian Life.

Christian life sometimes gets diluted with too many “social” concerns…

… at the expense of spiritual realities.

Christian life sometimes gets polluted with too many “interdisciplinary” matters…

… at the expense of true faith and teachings.

Christian life sometimes gets ruined with too many “compromising” practices…

… at the expense of Gospel values and  standards.

Let us avoid all those temptations that cause us to toss our minds in such a way that deviate us away from the Will of God!

As St Angela Merici, (whose feast was celebrated on Jan 27) says:

>> “In the fulfilment of your duties, let your intentions be so pure that you reject from your actions any other motive than the glory of God and the salvation of souls.”

>> ” Do something, get moving, be confident, risk new things, stick with it…

…  then be ready for BIG SURPRISES”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “ God enables His children to walk before Him.

>> He holds their hand in difficulties; He Himself carries them along…

… in hardships that he sees as being otherwise, unbearable to them!”

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Jan 28 (Mk 3:22-30)

Michelangelo has been one of the greatest artists the world has ever seen.

>> His notable works of “Pieta”, “David”, “Moses”, “The Last Judgment” have been unparalleled in their beauty and perfection.

Another of his fantastic work has been the Frescoes on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling (in the Vatican)

It is said that as this great artist painted the magnificent frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel – lying on his back for endless hours to finish every detail with great care…

… A friend asked him why he took such pains with figures that would be viewed from a considerable distance.

>> “After all,” the friend said, “Who will notice whether it is perfect or not?”

The artist who was known for his perfection at all works replied…

… “I will!”

The motivation for perfection in all things, for Michelangelo, was not from outside…

… it was a based on his conviction that he should be “credible and authentic” in all what he does.

Our spiritual life also follows a similar principle: When credibility and authenticity are lacking in a spiritual endeavour, there is very less spiritual growth and nourishment!

>> It is credibility and authenticity that helps to gain spiritual progress and advancements!

The Gospel of the Day is an exhibition of how true integrity and authority can work tremendous wonders, conversions of heart and transformations of life…

… and how it can also cause some people to “oppose credibility and authenticity” by engaging in calumny and character-assassination!

The Gospel of the Day begins with the statement that…

… “the scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul and by the prince of demons , He casts out the demons” (Mk 3:22)

One of the reasons why the Scribes were irked by the personality of Jesus was because of the tremendous authority that was displayed by Jesus!

Yes, the amazing factor in the ministry of Jesus was His tremendous authority!

>> The wondrous aspect in the ministry of Jesus was His awesome integrity!

Elsewhere, in the Gospel of St Mark, we read…

>> The people “were astonished at his teaching, for He taught as one who had authority…” (Mk 1:22)

>> “… they were all amazed so that they questioned among themselves…. ‘…with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him” ( Mk 1: 27)

This authority and integrity came…

… through His deep union with His Heavenly Father.

… through His faithfulness to the commands of His heavenly Father

… through His undivided devotion to His Heavenly Father

How authentic, credible and integral are we in our life…

… as a Christian?

… in the family?

… as a consecrated person?

Authenticity does not mean arrogance…

>> Credibility does not mean over-confidence…

>>> Integrity does not mean super-importance…

Authenticity, credibility and integrity in the Lord means…

… filled with the power and strength of God’s Spirit

… imbued with a deep passion for the Lord and His Church

… living an honest lifestyle in accordance to God’s Will and teachings

The Gospel of the Day calls us to check and examine…

… is my prayer life and devotion truly authentic and credible?

… is my preaching and spreading of God’s Word filled with His Holy Spirit?

… is my reception of the Sacraments helping me to make an honest effort to be a true Christian?

Let our prayers become a true raising of hearts to God…

>> Let the receiving of the Sacraments become an honest transformation for life…

>>> Let the spreading of God’s Word become a credible witness to God’s Kingdom….

Jesus is our model and example to be true and honest in life!

>> Jesus is our ideal and standard to be faithful and committed to our mission!

Today we seek the intercession of the St Thomas Aquinas, the Great Saint and Doctor of the Church.

Let the motivation in seeking for perfection in all things, be based not from outside…

… rather let it be based on the conviction that we should be “credible and authentic” in all what we do!

May our spiritual life follows the principle: Only when credibility and authenticity are pursued, we can have true spiritual growth and nourishment!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “ Do everything by love…

… and nothing by force!”

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Jan 27, 2019 (Lk 1:1-4, 4:14-21)

Tear down this wall!
– These were the words of Ronald Reagan, President of the USA at a challenging speech, for the reunification of East and West Germany.

November 1989. A historic period in the Life of Germany.
>> For twenty-eight years, a wall had separated East and West Germany…

But finally on November 1989, the wall came down…THE BERLIN WALL!

It was a new beginning… a fresh start…a bright onset!

“Tear down the Walls”…
… is the cry that emerges from today’s Gospel as well!
>> A new beginning is sought… a fresh start is expected…a bright onset is welcomed!

The Gospel of the day is the inaugural Public Act of Jesus, in the Gospel of St Luke.

The Gospel of the Day from Luke 4:14-21 is a dramatic one…with different actions and expressions of Jesus.
>> These different actions also have its personal implications for us…

1. The Entry of Jesus into the Synagogue.
>> Do I allow the Lord into my life and do I welcome Him?

2. The Rising of Jesus to read
>> Do I enthrone the Lord in my activities and allow Him to be in charge of my works and deeds?

3. The Unscrolling of the book
>> Do I open my heart to the Lord and be totally open to His Word in my life?

4. The Reading of the Passage
>> Do I listen to God’s words and be attentive to the various inspirations and insights He renders me?

5. The Rolling up of the Scroll
>> Do I preserve the Word of God deep in my heart and ponder over it, in the light of my life experiences?

6. The Announcement of Jesus
>> Do I let the Lord to govern in my life by the power of His revelation and give heed to His exhortations?

These dramatic and significant actions of the Lord left the people in the synagogue with a Great Challenge: “To tear down the walls”!

>> Tear down the walls…
… which failed to bring good news to the Poor and liberty to the captives!

>>> Tear down the walls…
… which were preventing to give freedom to the oppressed and sight to the blind!

>>> Tear down the walls…
… which blocked the passage to access to God’s Mercy and Redemption!

>>> Tear down the walls…
… which kept away the Gentiles from receiving the rights and privileges of the saved people!

The dramatic and significant actions of the Lord present before each one of us also with this Great Challenge: “To tear down the walls”!
>> Tear down the walls… of Sin…
… that divide the relationship between God and me!

>>Tear down the walls…of Hatred…
… that divide the members of the society and of a community!

>> Tear down the walls…of Unforgiveness…
… that divide the relationship between my fellow beings and me!

>> Tear down the walls…of Discrimination…
… that divides human beings on the basis of colour, caste and race!

>> Tear down the walls… of Immorality…
… that divides the interior being of a person and leaves one discontented!

>> Tear down the walls…of Indifference…
… that divides the world with a sense of hopelessness and lack of empathy!

Building of walls and division is sometimes a natural offshoot of our egoistic minds and sinful pride …
>> Building of walls and partitions is sometimes a likely possibility of our individualistic tendencies…

But with the Grace of God combined with our efforts, we can pursue every attempt to Tear down these Walls!

We need a new beginning…
… a fresh start
… a bright onset

Let us not Reject the Lord..
>>> Rather let us permit Him to Enter… to Rise… to Unscroll… to Read… to Roll… and to Announce His Gospel in our Lives!

May we allow the Lord to take possession of our lives…
… and in the process, “Tear Down many Walls”!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “ Let us not forget the maxims of the saints, who teach us to advance a little further, each day, on the road to perfection.
>> This thought should encourage us not to be surprised or to feel miserable whenever we have something to correct…
… Each day, we must begin again, with renewed courage!
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Jan 26 (Lk 10:1-9)

A familiar story goes such…

A man just got married and was returning home with his wife.

>> They were crossing a lake in a boat, when suddenly a great storm arose.

The man was a warrior, but the woman became very much afraid because it seemed almost hopeless:

The boat was small and the storm was really huge…

… and any moment they could be drowned.

But the man sat silently, calm and quiet, as if nothing was happening.

The woman was trembling, saying:

“Are you not afraid?”

>> This may be our last moment of life!

The man laughed and took the sword out of its sheath.

>> Then he brought the naked sword close to the woman’s neck, so close that just a small gap was there, it was almost touching her neck.

He said,” Are you afraid?”

She started to laugh and said:

” Why should I be afraid?

>> If the sword is in your hands, why I should be afraid? I know you love me.

The man put the sword back and said:

“This is my answer, as well!

>> I know God Loves me, and the storm is in His hands!”

The man was willing to trust in the Lord!

>> And thus, any passage through any storm, would be without any fear!

What about us…

>> Do we trust in the Lord?

The Gospel of the Day is an exhortation by the Lord to grow in the Virtue of Trust!

>> By listening to Him

>> By giving heed His Word

>> By being obedient to Him

“Jesus appointed seventy (two), whom He sent ahead of Him, in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit” (Lk 10:1)

They were “chosen and appointed”.

>> Why were these chosen?

… and not others?

>> Well… we can only make some guess-works… because the bottom-line is:

“They were ‘chosen'”

Choice is always a gift, and not a merit!

>> This gift cannot be demanded…. it is given by the Lord, out of His Will

Therefore, it demands a sense of “gratitude” and a spirit of “responsibility”!

The choosing of the seventy (two) also reflects Jesus as the New Moses!

Moses had chosen seventy elders.

We read this in the Book of Numbers:

“The LORD said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people.” (Num 11:16)

The “seventy” were chosen from the elders of the tribes of Israel to assist Moses.

>> They were to become an extension of the work that was entrusted to Moses, by Lord Yahweh

In the Gospels, the seventy (two) disciples are also called, by Jesus, for the similar task:

>> They were to become an extension of the work that was entrusted to Jesus by the Heavenly Father.

In this task of “becoming an extension”, one of the most important essentials was that of “listening to the words of the Master” – TRUSTING IN HIM

>> Obedience to the Word is a necessary criteria to become a true extension of the Lord!

Jesus very specifically lays downs rules and regulations to be followed in their mission journey and task:

“Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road….” (Lk 10:4)

These exhortations by the Master would cause…

… a sense of insecurity for the disciples

… a feeling a being stranded in the problems that they could encounter.

Yet, the disciples were strongly urged to…

… Listen to His Exhortation

… to Trust in His Providence

… and to be obedient to His Word

• The disciples were to listen to Jesus, the Beloved Son and grasp His teachings for life

• The disciples were to listen to Jesus, Beloved Son’s commitment in the path of suffering

• The disciples were to listen to the Beloved Son’s trust in God’s Will at every moment

Each one of us is called and chosen, as Christians, to be a disciple of Christ – “an extension of the Lord’s tasks in this world” …

… “You did not choose me, but I chose you; and appointed you to go and bear fruit; fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16)

• Life will take us through many storms and rough seas of difficulties.

• Life will put us through various tempests and hurricanes of hardships.

But in all such moments, are we ready and open to Trust in the Lord?

The Lord will take us through…

… every storm

… every squall

… every tempest

>> Because, He loves us!

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8: 31)

>> Let us grow in our efforts to trust in the Lord!

>> Let us pray for His grace to be truly listening and following the voice of our Master!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “When we abandon all to Him, He takes a tender care of us…

… and His Providence for us is great and small, according to the measure of abandonment!”

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