May 26 (Jn 14:23-29)

A story is told of a famous violinist who was to perform at a concert hall of world renown.

As he stood before the packed house that night and played his violin, he mesmerized the audience with his prowess and skill…

…and he was given a standing ovation.

He looked at the crowd for a moment and walked off the stage…

… only to return to render another performance.

To the amazement of the crowd, this performance was even more beautiful and flawless than the first.

He looked to the audience and left the stage for the second time, but was beckoned back by the deafening roar of the multitudes…

… and rendered a third performance.

This sequence was repeated several more times until finally the man finished his piece, looked to the audience…

… nodded his head and simply walked off the stage…

… while the cheers could still be heard.

Reporters pressed outside the violinist’s dressing room, waiting to catch a word from the man who had just given the performance of a lifetime.

As he emerged from the small room, one reporter asked the question, “Sir, why did you give so many encore performances?

>> You could have stopped after the first and everyone would have been amazed.”

The violinist stopped and replied, “For the very first time in my career, my master, the one who taught me to play the violin, was in the audience.

When I finished my performance, everyone stood except for one person.

>> I played again, and everyone stood to applaud except for him.

I continued to play.

On the conclusion of the last, I looked into the seats and I noticed that everyone, including my master, was standing and applauding!

It was only then that I was satisfied that I had done a good job.”

What about us?

>> Do we live our Christian lives in such a way that is pleasing to Jesus, our Master?

Do we allow Him to find a place in our hearts…

… so that we can reflect His Divine Touch, by our words and deeds?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus throwing light on this beautiful theme of God wishing to make a home in our hearts: “Those who love me, will keep my word, and My Father will love them and we will come and make our home with them” (Jn 14: 23)

The story of the Bible is a God who longs to dwell with His people.

In the Old Testament, we see the Garden of Eden was a beautiful communion of the first parents with God.

The atmosphere was so much homely… so much loving

But sin caused a rupture in this homely bonding between God and human beings.

But the Lord, still longed to dwell with His people…

>> He accompanied the Israelites in their journey through the desert…being with them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

>> He also established His glory among the people of Israel by dwelling in the ark of the covenant.

Every now and then, the people sinned and lost this presence of the Lord

Through the prophets, the Lord would invite the people to come back to His homely presence.

Finally, in the fullness of time, God decided to dwell with humans, when the Eternal Word became flesh..

>> Jn 1: 14, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us”

To perpetuate His continual presence, Jesus also gave us His Body and Blood, in Real Presence, when He instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper with the culmination of His Sacrifice on the Cross, and His rising from the dead.

This then, is the story of the longing of a God who yearns to dwell with His people.

Jesus re-iterates this constant longing of the Lord, by promising, “Those who love me, will keep my word, and My Father will love them and we will come and make our home with them” (Jn 14: 23)

The Lord wishes to dwell more close to us..

He longs to have a home in our hearts…

>> Do we make the space for Him?

The Lord promises to come and make His home in our hearts, if we love Him and keep His Word.

Loving Him requires giving Him the highest priority and precedence in our lives

>> Keeping His Word requires following His teachings and commandments at all times.

Loving Him means to constantly long for Him and to have our thoughts centred on Him

>> Keeping His Word means to make decisions and choices based on His Gospel virtues

Loving Him means to free our hearts from undue and inordinate attachments

>> Keeping His Word means to go against our personal choices to preserve His Will and plans

Let us seek to live our Christian lives in such a way that is pleasing to Jesus, our Master!

Yes, let us allow Him to find a place in our hearts…

… so that we can reflect His Divine Touch, by our words and deeds!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast…

… and our trust fixed on God!”

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May 25 (Jn 15:18-21)

The Boxer Rebellion  or the  Boxer Uprising was an anti-imperialist uprising which took place in China towards the end of the 20th century.

It was initiated by the Militia United in Righteousness (Yihetuan),known in English as the “Boxers,” and was motivated by proto-nationalist sentiments and opposition to foreign imperialism and associated Christian missionary activity.

The well-trained, athletic young men were referred to as “Boxers,” because of the martial arts and physical exercises that they practiced.

On one such occasion, during this Boxer Rebellion, some insurgents captured a Christian mission school and blocked all the gates but one.

In front of that one gate, was placed a Cross – flat on the ground.

Then the word was passed to those inside that any who trampled the cross underfoot would be permitted their freedom and life, but that any refusing would be shot.

Terribly frightened, the first seven students trampled the cross under their feet and were allowed to go free.

But the eighth student – a young girl – refused to commit the sacrilegious act.

Kneeling beside the cross in prayer for strength, she arose and moved carefully around the cross, and went out to face the firing squad.

Strengthened by her example, every one of the remaining ninety-two students followed her to the firing squad!

The example of the one brave and faithful child inspired others to also be bold in their defence of faith.

These children, strong and courageous, laid down their lives, to be obedient to their faith.

>> Fear of death could not strangle their faith!

>> Fear of persecution could not suppress their conviction!

The Gospel of the Day is a mighty invitation by Jesus to remain steadfast and bold even in the face of persecutions in defence for our faith in Him.

And this steadfastness is in imitation of Jesus, our Master, who Himself underwent a miserable series of pain, persecution , suffering and humiliation, and yet remain totally faithful to His Mission.

Jesus says, “If the world hates you, realise that it hated me first… If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15: 18, 20b)

The Lord is very clear in His teaching and preaching:

>> Friendship with Jesus would mean hostility from the world.

>> Non-compromise with Jesus’ teaching would result in antagonism from the world.

Our Lord Himself had to undergo this pain of rejection, persecution and opposition throughout His life…

>> At His birth, King Herod sought to terminate His life

>> After Baptism, Satan sought to tempt Him out of His mission.

>> During His ministry, the Pharisees and Scribes would misunderstand and misjudge Him

The Lord alerts His disciples that the same will be true in their lives too, if they too chose to remain faithful to their vocation.

As a follower of the Lord, we too need to be aware that sufferings and hardships on being Christian is sure to come our way.

What is our attitude and disposition to these trials that we face because of our faith in Christ?

Do we be bold and courageous…

… even when we are to face isolation or seclusion due to standing firm in our values and principles in the Lord?

Do we live our life in joy and calmness…

… even when we have to face misunderstandings and become an object of laughter, or called as “old-traditionalist” as a result of being staunch in following the Gospel values?

The world constantly ensnares us with temptations to abandon the Cross…

>> The evil one very often traps us with hardships to dilute our faith in the Lord…

Are we going to yield in to such temptations and enticements…

>> Or are we prepared to face any amount of difficulty, to uphold our Faith in the Lord?

Are we going to stamp the Cross of Christ and Faith in Him…

>> Or we bold and courageous to sustain our witnessing to Jesus in the world?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear…

… rather look to them with full hope, that as they arise, God – whose you are – will deliver you out of them.

>> He is your keeper.

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May 24 (Jn 10:22-30)

In many parts of the world, it is now summer!

The effects of global warming are being clearly experienced in many of the countries..

…with increased temperatures

… unusual climatic changes

But it’s pretty interesting to note, that even though externally, the climate is warm…

.. there could be many areas in our life… which remain cold!

Isn’t it?

Perhaps….

… we are experiencing a “coldness” in many of our relationships

… there is a sense of a “cold wave” in our work-places, studies or in our undertakings and activities

We need the “tender touch” of our Blessed Lord to “warm” our “cold hearts” …

… and in order to come to experience “abundance of life” in Him!

The Gospel of the Day presents the dimension of “coldness” that was experienced by the people, who encountered Jesus, in accepting Him as the Lord of Life.

The Gospel passage the Day begins with St John giving a dual-context in the encounter between Jesus and the people…

1. The religious atmosphere of the time: “The Feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem” (Jn 10: 22a)

2. The physical atmosphere of the time: “It was winter” (Jn 10:22b)

The Feast of Dedication was also called as Hanukkah.

This feast celebrated the liberation of the city of Jerusalem from Antiochus, the Syrian King.

>> This King had desecrated the Jerusalem Temple by building an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs on the Temple Altar.

The Feast of Dedication celebrates the day that Israel regained control of the temple and re-consecrated it to the one true God!

However, it is to be noted that though year after year, they gathered to celebrate the re-dedication of the Temple…

… their hearts were, perhaps, still far from God Yahweh!

.. their lives were, perhaps, still, yet to be in accordance with the Will of God!

This is what St John, the Evangelist, points to, when he speaks of the physical atmosphere of the time: “It was winter” (Jn10:22b)

This statement was not just about the weather or the season of the year

>> He was describing “a season of life… a season of faith”!

It was his style of diagnosing the interior condition of the “Faith of the People” who had come for the Feast of the Dedication!

Many of the people of Israel, were in a season of “winter”…

…”cold” in their hearts: to accept the person of Jesus – the One Who had inaugurated the Kingdom of God, going about doing a lot of works of salvation and healing!

… “cold” in their minds: to accept the teachings of Jesus – the One Who was exhorting them to live God’s commandments not just externally, but with the sincerity of the heart!

… “cold” in their lives: to accept the challenge of Jesus – the One Who was convicting them of their sinfulness and inviting them to a life of repentance and holiness!

It was this  being in a “season of winter” that prompted them to ask Jesus with a sense of apathy and irritation:

“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?

If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly” (Jn 10: 24)

“Tell us plainly” was the utterance of a frozen people…

…who had “winter” in their hearts and their minds

… who were “cold” and had begun to take their faith for granted

… who were “frozen” and were merely satisfied with external dedication of the Temple, without an inner renewal of the heart!

                                                                   

We need to examine our lives and check….

…. Am I also a “frozen person?”

>> Am I also, in a “season of Winter”?

… Is my relationship with the Lord, a mere utterance of the lips and fails to affect my daily living?

… Is my practice of devotion and my participation in the liturgy and sacraments, a plain ritualistic and a routine custom, without making me to truly enter into intimacy with the Lord?

… Is my life of faith, just an ordinary and lethargic one, taking the grace and blessing of the Lord for granted, and not wanting to make efforts to grow in love of the Lord and neighbour?

The Lord gives us the one straight answer: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow Me” (Jn 10: 27)

>> Let us seek to dedicate not just our externalities to the Lord; but much more our internalities – our hearts, minds and lives to His Providence

>> Let us seek to come of the “Season of Winter”….

… be warm in the love of the Lord

… be enthusiastic, receiving the touch of the Divine

… be ardent, to seek, hear and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – ” _Be what you are, and be at its best!_”

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May 23 (Jn 15:9-11)

One of the wonderful SMS’s that has been read and circulated by many of us, goes thus….

“Life is like having a cup of coffee…

You sit by the window, lift the cup, take a careless sip…

… and find no sugar.

Too lazy to go for the sugar, you somehow manage with that sugarless cup.

>> On finishing, you find undissolved sugar crystals, settled at the bottom!

That is life!

>> We don’t make any effort to value what is around or within us.

So look around… Maybe, the sweetness you are looking is much closer than you think!”

How often is our spiritual life also lived similarly…

>> We go through the rigours of spiritual practices…

… but they sometimes become mere routines

>> We perform many chores of religious exercises…

… but they sometimes turn out to be ritualistic.

Spiritual life becomes tasteless…

>> Spiritual life loses its fascination…

But Jesus, in the Gospel of the Day invites us to have a deeper excitement and happiness in life, by abiding in His love.

>> He tells us, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy maybe in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn 15: 11)

The Lord wishes each of His follower to live a life of immense joy and happiness.

Jesus, Himself lived a very joyful life.

What was the recipe of His happiness?

>> A life, that was lived in perfect communion with His Heavenly Father…

… seeking union with the Father through moments of solitude in prayer

… raising His Heart to the Father in gratitude and thanksgiving at every situation of life.

>> A life, that was lived in absolute obedience to the Will of His Father…

… willing to shed any personal comforts or desires to be faithful to the mission entrusted

… readiness to undergo any amount of pain and suffering, even death, to be totally committed

Jesus hands over this same recipe to us, to discover true joy and happiness in life.

When we seek to live in Communion with the Heavenly Father…

       … in intense moments of prayer

       … with a heart of thanksgiving

And we seek to being obedient to God’s Will…

       … even at the cost of some personal comforts

       … ready to bear sufferings to be faithful to Him

It is then…

… that we will experience real joy and happiness

… that we will treasure heavenly experiences in our hearts

Life grinds us through many tasteless moments and situations…

> We get upset easily…

>> We tend to get defensive…

>> We get into a mode of being lethargic…

But the Lord says… “Stir up your lives!”

“Stir up your lives” to savour the sweetness of joy, peace and serenity…

… to taste the joy that is guaranteed by obeying God’s commandments

… to taste the peace that is assured by letting our lives be symphony of service to others

… to taste the serenity that is promised by always abiding in the loving presence of the Lord

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Bloom where you are planted!”

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May 22 (Jn 15:1-8)

The Time Magazine in its issue dated 19th November, 1965, reported of a major electricity breakdown along the US-Canada border.

This was called as the Northeast Blackout of 1965.

The impact of the breakdown was so great that it affected people in nearly 80, 000 sq.miles along the border!

The whole area was submerged in deep darkness.

The cause of the failure was the tripping of a protective relay, or a fuse, which was just the size of a bread box!

The safety relay, which was to trip if the current exceeded the capacity of the transmission line, was set too low.

A failure in the single fuse, of such a tiny size was able to cause the breakdown of an entire power grid of such a huge magnitude!

·      A tiny failure in the connections caused a mighty collapse!

·      A minor malfunction in the grid caused a major disintegration!

It is therefore highly essential that the most basics aspects of life, however small or tiny they may appear, be given the proper and appropriate attention.

Such is the case too, in our spiritual lives…

·      If the connection with the Lord, the Fuse of our life trips, our whole life will be in darkness!

·      If the link with the Lord, the Safety Relay of our life overloads, our whole life will collapse into obscurity!

The Gospel of the Day invites us to continually nurture and nourish our relationship with the Lord and to reflect the fruits of this affiliation in our daily lives.

Jesus says that, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Whoever remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit, because without me, you can do nothing” (Jn 15: 5)

These are highly powerful words of the Divine Lord…”WITHOUT ME, YOU CAN DO NOTHING!”

There are a few implications of these powerful words….

1. Its a great message of hope

The statement of the Lord is a deep assurance that in every moment of our lives, we can bank on Him.

St Paul realized the deep understanding of this message of hope and could cry out, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13)

We can place our hope in the Lord…

… even when all seems lost and crashed in life

… even when things hit rock bottom in our life

2. It’s a great message of warning

The statement of the Lord is also a grave warning that in every moment of our lie, we can crack without Him!

The Prodigal Son realized the depth of such a break of relationship, when he had gone away from his father, and found himself in dire needs.

He would therefore say, “I shall get up and go to my Father and I shall say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you…’  (Lk 15: 18)

We are warned by the Lord…

… in every moment, we need to be dependent on the Lord

… in every situation of life, we cannot achieve true success by our own merits and talents

Sometimes in life, when things go on well and when everything seems fine, we tend to forget that it is the Lord, who is ultimately leading and guiding us.

We get into a feeling that it is my achievements and hard work alone, that is the cause of every success and smile that I enjoy.

But once in a way, when darkness engulfs our lives, maybe by way of…

… a sickness or a death…

… a financial difficulty or uncertainty of the future…

… crisis in relationships or breakage of human bonding

… or any other problem or difficulty…

We realize that there is a tripping in our relationship with the Lord, the Fuse of our life!

Unless we stay connected to this Mighty Fuse, our lives will stay in gloom and shadow

·      When we are connected with the Lord, even in the midst of any crisis, the supply of inner joy and peace will always remain constant!

·      When we are in link with the Lord, even with problems encompassing us, the streaming of Divine calm and happiness, will always remain uninterrupted!

As St John of the Cross says, “Oh, how happy is this soul that is ever conscious of God resting and reposing within its breast!”

Let us always seek to be united with the Lord, the light of our lives, so as to enjoy an uninterrupted and continual supply of the power of joy, peace and happiness in our lives!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Those who pray from the heart do not think about the prayer they are saying…

… but about the God to Whom they pray.”

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May 21 (Jn 14:27-31)

Sphygmometer is the device that is used to measure blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the strength of the blood pushing against the sides of the blood vessels.

A increase in BP puts extra strain on the arteries and this may lead to heart attacks or strokes.

The use of Sphygmometers, is on the rise these days…

… with an increased number of people affected with high blood pressure.

One big reason of an increased blood pressure is the rising tension levels and anxiety factors.

·      We engage in works which trigger greater emotions.

·      We let ourselves get affected with situations that cause great panic

·      We react quicker to situations and bring upon unnecessary worries and fears

Such uncontrolled and unrestrained increase in anxieties and troubles can cause a great deal of harm to our health.

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus, the heart-expert, warning us of this danger of increased anxiety levels and troubled moments and instead invites to lead a life of peace.

Jesus says in Jn 14: 27, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid”

The context of this statement of Jesus is the discourse at the Last Supper.

Jesus informs of his imminent going away from the disciples, which made them sad and anxious.

·      They had placed their hopes in Him.

·      They had offered their lives to Him.

But His announcement of departure caused worry and anxiety to the disciples.

But Jesus, who knows their hearts and gauges their emotions assures them, ” Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give it to you” (Jn 14:27)

The disciples entered into an anxiety-mode as their hearts got wearied with what was to come immediately.

But Jesus invites them to go beyond such peripheral worries, and be assured of a peace that comes as a result of trusting in Him, the Lord of all future!

·      When one is imprisoned in the immediate worries of life, one fails to enjoy the true freedom of peace and joy

·      When one is landlocked amidst the borders of impending fears and troubles of life, one is unable to move out to experience real inner tranquillity and serenity

Are we finding ourselves often in situations, when our “hearts are troubled” (Jn 14:27b) and as a result, our BP levels go high?

Then Jesus, the Master Doctor of hearts, needs to be immediately consulted…

·      He would give us the tablet of His peace which would subside our fears

·      He would give us the tonic of His soothing Word which would calm our troubles

Troubles will, without any doubt, always haunt us…

Problems will, for sure, often beset us…

But we need to grow in our understanding that in all this, Jesus, is in perfect control of our lives.

                        

The Sphygmometer levels may show a higher level of BP…

>> But can we allow our Trust levels in the Lord to have a greater increase?

The reading on the Sphygmometer may show a greater count of BP…

>> But can we let the reading on our Faith Meter to show a greater count?

Let Jesus, the Doctor of hearts, take complete charge of our lives

In Him, we shall experience fervent joy.

>> In Him, we shall live with true peace.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.

>> Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever…

… even if your whole world seems upset!”

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May 20 (Jn 14:21-26)

God knocks at my door, seeking a home for His son.

“Rent is cheap”, I say.

>> “I don’t want to rent. I want to buy”, says God.

“I’m not sure I want to sell, but you might come in to look around”.

>> “I think I will”, says God

“I might let you have a room or two”.

>> “I like it”, says God, “I’ll take the two. You might decide to give me more some day.

I can wait”, says God

“I’d like to give you more, but it’s a bit difficult. I need some space for me”.

>> “I know”, says God, “but I’ll wait. I like what I see”.

“I’d like to give you the whole house, but I’m not sure”

>> “Think on it”, says God. “I wouldn’t put you out.

Your house would be mine and My Son would live in it.

>> You’d have more space than you’d ever had before”.

“I don’t understand at all”.

“I know”, says God, “but I can’t tell you about that.

>> You’ll have to discover it for yourself.

That can only happen if you let me have the whole house”.

“A bit risky”, I say.

>> “Yes”, says God, “but try me”.

“I’m not sure – I’ll let you know”

>> “I can wait”, says God, “I like what I see”.

– excerpts from a poem titled “Covenant” by Sr Margaret Halaska

It shows the beautiful dialogue between a soul and God, who desires to dwell in the heart of a person..

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus throwing light on this beautiful theme of God wishing to make a home in our hearts: “Those who love me, will keep my word, and My Father will love them and we will come and make our home with them” (Jn 14: 23)

The story of the Bible is a God who longs to dwell with His people.

In the Old Testament, we see the Garden of Eden was a beautiful communion of the first parents with God.

>> The atmosphere was so much homely… so much loving

Sin caused a rupture in this homely bonding between God and human beings.

But the Lord, still longed to dwell with His people…

·      He accompanied the Israelites in their journey through the desert… being with them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

·      He also established His glory among the people of Israel by dwelling in the ark of the covenant.

Every now and then, the people sinned and lost this presence of the Lord

Through the prophets, the Lord would invite the people to come back to His homely presence.

Finally, in the fullness of time, God decided to dwell with humans, when the Eternal Word became flesh..

>> Jn 1: 14, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us”

To perpetuate His continual presence, Jesus also gave us His Body and Blood, in Real Presence, when He instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper with the culmination of His Sacrifice on the Cross, and His rising from the dead.

This then, is the story of the longing of a God who yearns to dwell with His people.

Jesus re-iterates this constant longing of the Lord, by promising, “Those who love me, will keep my word, and My Father will love them and we will come and make our home with them” (Jn 14: 23)

The Lord wishes to dwell more close to us..

He longs to have a home in our hearts…

>> Do we make the space for Him?

The Lord promises to come and make His home in our hearts, if we love Him and keep His Word.

·      Loving Him requires giving Him the highest priority and precedence in our lives

·      Keeping His Word requires following His teachings and commandments at all times.

·      Loving Him means to constantly long for Him and to have our thoughts centred on Him

·      Keeping His Word means to make decisions and choices based on His Gospel virtues

·      Loving Him means to free our hearts from undue and inordinate attachments

·      Keeping His Word means to go against our personal choices to preserve His Will and plans

The Lord wants a space in our hearts, to dwell in us…

·      Maybe, some rooms of our heart has been rented to many unwanted habits…

·      Maybe, some areas of our lives are occupied by unfit tenants of sin and evil…

·      Maybe, some quarters of our mind are accommodated with unholy and bad thoughts…

God is knocking at our doors, seeking a home for His Son…

We might feel it’s “a bit risky”…

“Yes”, says God, “but try me…

I can wait…

>> I like what I see!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “To live according to the Spirit…

… is to love according to the Spirit!”

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