✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Dec 28, 2022: Wednesday

“Let Christmas be an occasion for all of us to renew our commitment to the cause of justice and peace in the world, and make this earthly pilgrimage more meaningful!”

(Based on the Feast of the Holy Innocents & the 400th Death Anniversary of St Francis de Sales)

Christmas is one of the most – if not the most – popular Fest in the world!

This Fest is – besides the spiritual nourishment – greatly celebrated…
… with a lot of joy and merriment
… with the aspect of renewing relationships through get-togethers
… with a lot of decorations and festoons to amplify the exciting tone

But for a moment, when we think of the very First Christmas Night…
… we begin to understand that such was not exactly the mood back then!

There were many elements on that First Christmas Night which were very ordinary and some even, sad and scandalizing!
… the long and arduous travel of the “expectant Mother with Child” and the “uncertain father” towards Bethlehem
… the Holy Family failing to find a place in the inn (perhaps, refused to be given a place!)
… the birth of the Messiah, the Creator of the entire universe, in a manger – which was actually the place of feeding for the animals!
… the terrifying and indecisive flight into Egypt

As the famous Carol goes, it was in all probability more of a “Silent Night…!”

Another importantly sad and scandalizing event was that of the “Killing of the Innocents” under the age of two, at the order of King Herod (Mt 2: 16-18)

On this fourth Day of the Christmas Octave, Dec 28th, Holy Mother Church celebrates this Commemoration of The Holy Innocents.

The news that a new King of the Jews was born caused great ordeal for King Herod (Mt 2: 3)

He became all the more furious when he heard that the Magi had deceived him (Mt 2:16)

The easiest solution found was to kill all the males under the age of two.

To react negatively, in a situation of hardship, often seems to be the easiest way out.

But it is an extremely cheap and low way of going about

But Herod fell into this snare of “negative reaction” and had little babies killed.

These babies, too little and young to form a will and a desire to love, became martyrs of Blood. (Mt 2:16)

St Augustine would say, “They are the first buds of the Church killed by the frost of persecution;
.. they died not only for Christ, but in his stead!”

The number of children killed is uncertain. >> There are several views on the actual number of children who were killed.

The Byzantine Liturgy (Greek) says that Herod killed 14,000 boys

The Syrian Liturgy speaks of 64,000.
Another scholarly study suggests that Bethlehem was a tiny town, at the time of Jesus, with a population of maybe 300. The number of children below the age of two could be very less – maybe six or seven.

But the fact remains, that it was a tragedy gravely foul and grievously painful.

The death of the little children is a reminder that our earthly life is a pilgrimage…
… to be oriented for the eternal life in heaven

The dreadful massacre of the innocent children can easily cause a question to arise in us:

Why did God allow the helpless death of the children before their own parents?
Why did these little children have to be murdered, for saving the Divine Child?
Could not God have planned a noble way of saving Him?

Such questions can cause our faith to be disturbed or even be scandalized by the ways of God.

But it brings home an important truth: Our earthly life is a pilgrimage.

No one knows how long we will live
… some die in infancy, some in their old age
… some die prepared, some suddenly and tragically.

This is the reality that we find in the world – we like it or not, we accept or not.

It, therefore, is a call for us, to nurture life in the best way possible

Our own lives by living in holiness and fidelity to the Will of God
Preserving, nurturing and enhancing others – including the little infants in the wombs.

This commemoration of the Holy Innocents is a reminder to open our eyes to see the tragedies of the world and become courageous torch-bearers of justice.

This passage of King Herod and the Holy Innocents might sometimes seem to be like…
… “the unwarranted bone” in the tasty meal of Christmas
… or the “jarring note” in the melodious music of Christ’s Nativity.

We often like to live in “cozy and comfortable” situations – even if it means, closing our eyes to the stark and tragic realities of life.

But it is the obligation of every Christian to “get out of every comfort zone”…
… and enter into the “suffering sections” of the society, and give them hope and consolation

The “cry of the mothers of the innocent children”…
… Mt 2:18 – “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation”… is also a “Carol”, that is heard every Christmas

Yes, let us genuinely understand that Christmas – the birth of Christ, ought to not merely be a “festival of fun or frolic”…
… but also should lead us to hear the many “cries of innocents” today – the oppressed and the abused, the voiceless and the helpless, the sinful and the lonely etc.

Christmas is undoubtedly, one of the most – if not the most – popular Fest in the world!

But let not this Fest be drowned only in external celebrations and merriment

Rather, let it also be an occasion for all of us to renew our commitment to the cause of justice and peace in the world…
… and make this earthly pilgrimage more meaningful!

Today we also commemorate the 400th Death Anniversary of St Francis de Sales (SFS)

St Francis de Sales died on 28th December, 1622 – on the feast day of the Holy Innocents.

In St Francis de Sales, we have a Saint who passionately loved God and compassionately served God’s people.

Today, we are presented with his life, to imitate Christ in humility, gentleness, simplicity of life and joyful optimism.

St Francis de Sales was convinced, that nothing is greater than “seeking and doing” the Will of God.

He would in fact, say: “Do everything calmly and peacefully. Strive to see God in all things without exception, and consent to His Will joyously. Do everything for God, uniting yourself to Him in word and deed.”

Undoubtedly, in doing the Will of God, we will have to face moments of loneliness, as we will find ourselves…
… swimming against the currents of the world.

But in all such situations, the Lord assures us, with His five beautiful words: I WILL BE WITH YOU!

Let us seek the mighty intercession of the Gentleman Saint to “seek and do” God’s Will at all times and thus “to soar high in the skies of sanctity!”

Salutations to the Holy Innocents and Glory to the Divine Babe, Jesus!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE PUNISHMENTS OF SIN

The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains.
While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace.

He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.” (CCC #1472)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Dec 26, 2022: Monday

“Like St Stephen, being filled with a deep passion and courage that comes from the New Born King, so as to be a dynamic and enthusiastic soldiers for His Kingdom!”

(Based on the Feast of St Stephen, the first Martyr)

Stones were flying from different directions…

The atmosphere was very tense and highly apprehensive…

The people had become enraged and were very badly instigated…

St Stephen… the man filled with the power and spirit of God, however, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God. (Acts 7: 54-56)

And then a surprising thing happened….
He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God!

Usually, we always read or say in our prayers that Jesus is sitting at God’s right hand…

But here, Jesus is seen standing!

Jesus is probably giving a standing ovation..
… to St. Stephen, the one who became his brave witness.

The mighty display of faith by St Stephen was worthy of a standing ovation by the Son of God!

The Majestic King was tremendously proud of His Faithful and Committed Soldier!

We are on the first day after Christmas…
Yesterday, we celebrated child Jesus in the crib…

We sung the “silent night” and “joy to the world”…

We remembered the angels praising “Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to people of good will”…
We exchanged a lot of smiles and shared much fun…

But suddenly today, there is a shift…

The atmosphere of fun and frolic has turned sombre and serious…

The carols of mirth and joy are substituted by cries for death and vengeance…
The shining gold vestments at Holy Mass are replaced with blood-red vestments…

The peace and joy of Bethlehem is contrasted by the tragedy and heartbreak at Jerusalem…

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of our eternal King.

Today we commemorate the triumphant suffering of His faithful soldier.

Yesterday our King left His place in the Virgin’s womb and was born in the world.

Today His soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.

Yesterday a group of enthused and excited people visited and paid homage to our King.

Today, a group of proud and ferociously evil mob execute His soldier!

Why does the Church celebrate this tradition of commemorating the gruesome stoning to death of St Stephen, soon after the celebration of the tender Babe?

The Church’s long tradition of celebrating the memorial of St. Stephen soon after the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, does not serve to demote Christmas…
… but to continue & manifest more clearly an important meaning of the Christmas celebration.

Christmas essentially means becoming a true disciple of Christ…

And a true disciple ought to tread the way of the cross – “If any want to be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Lk 9: 23)

Christ the Master, Himself walked this path of trials and difficulties.

The signs of suffering and pain were foreshadowed very much already in the Crib of Christ…

The manger where the babe was laid, foreshadowed the Cross on which He was to be laid.
The swaddling clothes of the babe, foreshadowed the shroud which will cover Him in His tomb.
The lack of room in the inn, foreshadowed the lack of room for Him to be buried after His death.

Christmas is the celebration of Life that was pledged to be given up in death, in order to win back life – life in its fullness!

Christmas becomes a true reality when Jesus is born in our hearts…

When Jesus comes to dwell in our hearts, that heart cannot remain without effect.
There is a contagious enthusiasm.
There is a great transformation.
There is a tremendous zeal.

And this birth of Jesus took place in the heart of St Stephen.

He underwent a Real Christmas.

He experienced the joy of having Christ born in His life.

And this fact that Christ was born within, led Him to be a dynamic and bold soldier of His King!

Nothing could stop Him from being a witness…

The experience of Christmas in His life had made St Stephen…
… to be a bold soldier.
… to stand firm for the truth.
… to bear the pain of stoning
… to shed His blood for His Lord

Have we also experienced Christmas in a way that transforms and makes us authentic disciples?

Have we also celebrated Christmas which makes us to pledge every breath and cell of our life to the Lord?

Have we also enjoyed Christmas in order to find immense power and strength in being a true and authentic Christian?

The blood of St Stephen sings the beautiful carols of Jesus who was born in his life!

Are we ready to discover still further, the true and genuine meaning of Christmas in our life?

Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords gave a wonderful standing ovation…
… seeing the spectacular display of faith and courage of His Beloved soldier, St Stephen.

Let us also be filled a deep passion and courage that comes from the New Born King and be His Dynamic and Enthusiastic Soldier for His Kingdom!

Happy Feast of St Stephen, the First Martyr of the New Born King of kings!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE PUNISHMENTS OF SIN

To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence.
Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin.
On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory.

This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. (CCC #1471)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Dec 25, 2022: Sunday

“Making our hearts a ‘place of party’ to
celebrate God’s love and mercy!”

(Based on the Solemnity of Christmas – the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Cycle A)

Tony Campolo, an American author in his book, “The Kingdom
of God is a party” narrates a heart-touching experience…

One, very early morning, Tony sat in a cafe.

As he was drinking coffee at the counter, a group of
prostitutes walked in and took up the stools around him.

One of the girls, Agnes, lamented the fact that not only was it
her birthday tomorrow but that she never had a birthday party
in life.

Tony thought it would be a great idea to surprise Agnes
with a birthday party!

He got the necessary information from the café owner that the
girls came in every morning around 3:30 am.

They both agreed to set up the place for a party – a surprise
birthday party for Agnes!

Word somehow got out on the street, so that by 3:15 the next
morning the place was packed with prostitutes, the cafe owner
and his wife, and Tony.

When Agnes walked in she saw…
… banners and balloons; the Café Owner holding a birthday
cake
… and everyone screaming out “Happy Birthday!”

Agnes was overwhelmed with deep emotions!

She was stunned and shaken
Her friend grabbed her arm to steady her
Tears poured down her face as the crowd continued to sing
“Happy Birthday to you….”

It was a party that was hard to believe…
… a party that celebrated Love – inviting all to know that God
wants everyone to come to His Heart of Love!
… a party that celebrated Mercy – acceptance of human beings
as images of the Loving God!

Am I willing to make my heart a “place of party” to celebrate
love and mercy…
… by accepting the unwanted, the rejected and the lonely?
… by sharing the precious gifts of God’s Mercy and Love to all?

Christmas is the beautiful feast of God becoming man, and
hosting “a Divine Party – celebrating His Love and Mercy!”

Christmas is the holy and happy day when we celebrate the
coming of God’s Son into the world – the incarnation of God
(Cf. Jn 1:14)…
… celebrating His intense and saving love for us (Cf. Jn 3:16)

St Mathew presents the narration of the Birth of Christ with
the account of the genealogy of Christ (Cf. Mt 1:1-17)

This is one of the passages of the Bible that many of us tend to
skim through or altogether skip it!

The very long list of hard-to-pronounce names; the
mention of some dubious personalities; the lack of awareness
of the lives of many of those persons…
… all of these may cause us to “omit the reading and reflection”
of the Genealogy!

But St Matthew very purposely introduces us to the Person
of Jesus Christ – the Saviour of the world – by spelling out His
genealogy!

This is his way of saying, “What I’m going to tell you is
something that has actually occurred in history – in time and
space!”

And this brings to us an important and distinguishing
characteristic of Christianity: the core of Christianity is not a
set of teachings, but it is about what God has done for us – our
redemption from sins!  

This is expressed in the very meaning of the name Jesus:
JESUS means “God saves!”
(The name JESUS, is the shortest and simplest prayer that we
can make – as we call on the salvific power of God [Cf. Rom
10:13])

Christmas, therefore, comes with the strong message that
“every external act of festivity ought to be accompanied by an internal surrender of one’s life to Christ, our Saviour!”

The decorations that we do, find authentic meaning, when
we allow Christ’s Love to glitter our life!
The sweets, cakes and other food that we prepare, have
real value, when we allow our faith in Christ to nourish and
nurture us!
The stars we put up and the carols we sing, find true
importance, when we allow Christ’s Mercy to radiate and
harmonise us!

That is why, the greatest and the truest act in the celebration of
Christmas is accepting Jesus as the Saviour of our lives!

All other external expressions ought to flow forth or lead
towards this sole requirement: Jesus is to be born in our hearts!

We are also called to reflect on some other essential messages
of the Solemnity of Christmas
.

  1. Christmas is the beautiful saga of God humbling Himself,
    and as the Good Shepherd (Cf. Jn 10:11) going to any extent to
    win us back to him

Birth in the manger demonstrates the abasement of the
Divine
Baby Jesus, lying on the manger is also a prefiguration
of Jesus dying on the Cross, fulfilling the act of humiliation
signified in Incarnation! (Cf. Phil 2:6-8)

  1. Christmas is the amazing story of hope and courage

Joseph and Mary displayed tremendous hope and courage
as they join hands with the Will of God (despite the many challenges and obstacles that came their way)!
Zechariah and Elizabeth exhibited much hope and courage,
as they held fast in faithfulness, to experience the miraculous
birth of John, the precursor of Jesus
The shepherds and the wise men showed much hope and
courage, as they boldly trusted in the signs given to them,
which culminated in their offering of service and worship.

  1. Christmas rings in the good news that “the one who trusts
    in God” will always be blessed! (Cf. Ps 146:5)

Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, Elizabeth, the shepherds, the wise
men – everyone experienced tremendous blessings because
they “chose to trust in God!”

Life often takes us through crossroads and dangerous curves

Are we ready to make a choice – of trusting in the Lord…
… and thus experiencing His mighty blessings!

Christmas is indeed history – HIS story
… the fantastic story of Him Who loves us immensely
… the fabulous event of Him Who is born for us – for our
salvation

This Christmas, let us make our hearts a “place of party” to
celebrate love and mercy…
… by accepting the unwanted, the rejected and the lonely!
… by sharing the precious gifts of God’s Mercy and Love to all!

With much faith and joy, let us celebrate God’s intense and saving
love for us!

Merry Christmas to you all!

God Bless! Let’s always… Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
INDULGENCES

The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.
What is an indulgence?
“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven
… which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church

… which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.” (CCC #1471)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Dec 23, 2022: Friday

“Listening to our Lord Who speaks to us, even in the silence of our life!”

(Based on Mal 3:1-4, 23-24 and Lk 1:57-66 – Friday of the 4th Week in Advent)

Ssshhhhhhh…………………..Silence!!

For some people, Silence causes an awkward feeling in this our noisy world.

For some people, Silence creates an uncomfortable feeling.

For some, not so much.
For others, definitely yes.
For many of us, silence is rare.

And when silence is rare, silence can be uncomfortable.

A moment of silence when we listen to our favourite song causes a little irritation.
A pause of silence by an eloquent preacher causes people to focus back the attention.

Silence sometimes is much louder than any noise or sound
… Right?

The Gospel of the day takes us through a fascinating journey of Silence.

God who breaks His silence by blessing His People with a Prophet.

A father whose silence is broken by his faithful response to an amazing Divine intervention.
A Child who sets free the silence of a Mother who had been shamed in society.

The Birth of John the Baptist is a beautiful drama through the medium of Silence.

  1. God who breaks His silence

The Bible is a witness to many people feeling God taking a moment of silence.

In 1 Sam 3.1: “Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.”
In 1 Sam 28: “And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or Urim, or by prophets.”
In Amos 8.11: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I will send a famine on the land – not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.'”

The silence of the Lord was very much profound…

And then after Prophet Malachi, there was again a great silence…

For nearly 400 hundred years, there was no prophetic writing.
These are called “The Silent Years”…

But with John the Baptist, the silence of the Lord was broken…

This speaking of the Lord could be compared to a lover eagerly waiting for her partner to talk to her after a long time…

The silence was very long
… the silence was a bit painful too..

But once the silence is broken, there is great thrill and happiness…

God, the Lover, renews His soothing and comforting talks with His People and ushers in the time to invite them to His love and affection

  1. A father whose silence is broken
    The birth of John the Baptist also lead to the breaking of the silence of his father, Zechariah.

When the angel Gabriel had appeared to Zechariah, he did not believe the message of the Angel of God and as a result, was rendered speechless (Lk 1: 20)

The silence of Zechariah could also be symbolic of the silence of God….

Just as John the Baptist signalled the breaking of God’s silence, Zechariah, his father too had “his tongue loosened and spoke, blessing God” (Lk 1: 64)

The silence was broken with a shower of praises and glorification of God.

The silence was banished with a shout of genuine worship and honour of God

  1. A Child who sets free the silence of a Mother

The Birth of John the Baptist also led to people praising his mother, Elizabeth, who for long had been barren and had been in disgrace. (Lk 1: 25, 58)

She had suffered much disgrace in silence.
She had underwent much agony in silence.
She had gone through much humiliation in silence.

But now there was every reason to break the silence and rejoice with gladness!

Is my life going through a period of Silence with God?

Is my life in a silent mode because of many disturbing factors and crippling issues?
Is my life passing through a desert of silence as a result of storms of troubles and nights of calamities?

We are invited to look into the incident of the Birth of John the Baptist and find hope!

We are invited to meditate on the Birth of John the Baptist and discover optimism!

The Lord speaks to us in the Silence of our Life.

There is much treasure hidden in the silent moments of our living.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn 1:1)

Through the breaking of His silence through John the Baptist, God is preparing us to receive His personal Word, His Son.

At times God seems silent…
But He is never distant.

He is near.
He is close.
He is personal.

And He speaks through His Word made flesh – “Jesus!”

Ssshhhhhhh…………………..Silence!!

Listen to Him!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE EFFECTS OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION

It must be recalled that . . . this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin.
The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth.

He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church.

He is reconciled with all creation. (CCC #1469)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Dec 22, 2022: Thursday

“With Mother Mary, seeking to joyfully proclaim our BIG GOD through the Magnificat – ‘My soul proclaims the glory of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour’”

(Based on 1 Sam 1:24-28 and Lk 1:46-56 – Thursday of the 4th Week in Advent)

One of the things that, some of us did as children, as we grew up, was to measure our height against a wall.

We know how this method works…

We stand next to a wall and make a pencil mark of our height.

A few weeks or months later, we come back to this place and measure how much we have grown.

Why did we do this?

In order to see how much we have grown…

In order to check how much more we would wish to grow…
In order to know, “How big have we become!”

Today, we need to make a similar “height check” with respect to our God.

“How big is God in my life?”

The way we answer this question will determine how we live as a Christian.

The Gospel of the Day is a great expression of how Mother Mary considered the “height” of God in Her life.

She realized the mighty presence of the Lord in Her lowly life.

She understood the huge favour of the Lord bestowed in Her humble nature.

And so, with much acclaim and exclamation, Mary cries out, “My soul proclaims the glory of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1: 46-47)

The Angel Gabriel had announced to Mary that she been chosen to be the Mother of the Son of God.

The angel also declared that her cousin, Elizabeth had conceived in her old age.

In Her deep concern, humility and spirit of service, Mary makes a visit to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth called Mary as Blessed ‘for believing what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled’ (Lk 1: 45)

It’s in this context, that Mary exclaims the Magnificat.

The image of Mother Mary in this hymn of the Magnificat is that of a powerful and courageous lady.

And these are evident in Her words of the Magnificat…

He has shown the strength of His arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for He has remembered His promise of mercy (Lk 1: 48-54)

These are not words of mere pious sentimentality or tender words of affection…

These are words which express immense bravery and courage!

The mighty works and wonders of the Lord had made Mother Mary to declare…
… Courage in a God who overpowers the proud and the haughty
… Faith in a God who takes decisive action on behalf of God’s people.
… Hope in a God who vindicates the righteous and condemns the wicked.
… Love in a God who liberates the oppressed, the powerless, the poor and hungry.
… Trust in a God who casts away the self-asserting rich and accept the dependable poor.

Mother Mary declared Her strong assertion and powerful claim in a MIGHTY God!

How Big and Mighty and Strong is God in our life?

Do we believe in the mighty strength of God even in seemingly impossible situations of life?
Do we trust in the awesome majesty of God even when the boat of our lives hits rock bottom?
Do we rely in the colossal power of God even when earthquakes of life wreck havoc in life?

The way we live is a direct consequence of the size of God in our lives!

If we have a view of a Shrunken God…
… then we will live in constant anxiety of the world.

If we have a view of an Insignificant God…
… then we will live in immorality and casualness

If we have a view of a Tiny God…
…then we will live in lethargy, disinterest and indifference.

When we make God small in our lives…
… we offer prayers without faith, worship without awe, service without joy and undergo suffering without hope.

When we make God big in our lives…
… we live a life of daring faith, fearless obedience, zealous worship and passionate evangelization.

Let us measure the height and check the mark… “How BIG is our GOD?”

With Mother Mary, let us also seek to joyfully proclaim the BIG GOD through the Magnificat

“My soul proclaims the glory of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE EFFECTS OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION

In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life.
For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin.

In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and “does not come into judgment.” (CCC #1470)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Dec 21, 2022: Wednesday

“Leaping for joy with the Power of the Holy Spirit, so that our joyful and happy lives, may attract and enthuse many people to embrace Jesus, the Lord of all Joy!”

(Based on Song 2:8-14 and Lk 1:39-45 – Wednesday of the 4th Week in Advent)

A story is said of a man in a mission land, who was extremely critical of religion and religious practices.

Once, this man went to a missionary who had been in the place for some years.

He told the missionary, “I want to hear about your religion”

The missionary was pleasantly surprised, and asked him: “Oh that’s great!

But how is it that you would like to hear of my religion.
I have heard of your dislike and aversion to religious practices”

To that, the man answered:
“Well, its very true, that I don’t cherish religion.

But ever since the day you came to our place, I have been observing you.
You are always cheerful and happy.

I have also heard a lot of laughter in your house and in the houses of my village people, who have embraced your faith”

The man continued, “And if you have anything that makes people so joyous, I too want it!”

Joy was the nectar that attracted the man to experience the sweetness of Christ and Christianity.

Am I a person who radiates happiness?
Am I a Christian whose life exudes with joy?

The Gospel of the Day is the delightful description of the joyful encounter between Elizabeth and Mother Mary and the “joyful leap” of John the Baptist, in his first meet with Jesus, the God of Joy!

The Gospel is the beautiful meeting of Two to-be-Mothers, with Two Special Children in their wombs…
… Elizabeth, with John who would be called as the Baptist
… Mary, with Jesus, who would be called as the Messiah

This wonderful encounter begins on a Divinely joyful note:
“When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb” (Lk 1:41)

This is an interesting word – “leaped”

The Greek word for “leaped” is “skirtao”

We find the usage of this word “skirtao” in different places in the Bible…

In Gen 25:22: Rebeccah’s twin children – Jacob and Esau – “struggled (skirtao)” within her
In Ps 114: 4, 6: The mountains “skipped (skirtao)” like rams in the presence of the Lord
In Mal 3:20: Those who fear the Lord’s name will “skip (skirtao)” like calves.
In Lk 6:23: The chosen ones should rejoice and “leap (skirtao)” for joy

When the mother, Elizabeth, heard the greeting of the Messiah’s Mother, the babe John, “leaped for joy”

Later in his ministry, John would testify to this fact, when he would say: “… the best man, who stands and listens for Him, rejoices greatly at the Bridegroom’s Voice” (Jn 3:29b)

There is great rejoicing, in Divine Presence is a powerful message that we receive.

The presence of the Mother of Jesus, delighted Her cousin, Elizabeth
The presence of Jesus, delighted His cousin, John.

As we gear up ourselves for the Season of Christmas, this ought to be a reflective question that we need to ponder and make amends, if lacking…
… Is our Christian life, one that “leaps for joy?”

Things around us may seem confusing and uncertain…
… just as it was for Mary who conceived of the Holy Spirit and Elizabeth in her old age

Yet, they were able to rejoice…
… because, their trust was in the Power of the Lord Who had blessed them

People may sometimes reject us, misunderstand us or even humiliate or be indifferent to us…
… just as it was for Mary who would face misunderstandings and Elizabeth who had undergone a lot of shame.

Yet, they were able to rejoice…
… because, their strength was in the favourable Love of the Lord, Who, they knew, had accepted and chosen them, for His cause

Life may sometimes make a fool of us by taking us through roads which are illogical, unreasonable and irrational…
… just as it was for Mary who had to tread unknown paths and Elizabeth who had to take on new responsibilities as a mother at an odd age

Yet, they were able to rejoice…
… because, their hope was in the faithful grace of God, in which they trusted and to Whom they had pledged their life in fidelity and loyalty.

Joy is to be the hallmark of every Christian.
As St Francis de Sales says, “A sad saint is a sorry saint!”

Our lives ought to be a “Gospel of Joy!”

As we get closer to the celebration of the Birth of the “Cause of our Joy”, we need to look into this dimension of Christian holiness: the aspect of Joy.

It is not simply a joy that is manifested…
… by some “plastic smile”
… or with some artificial activism
… or with any created humorous traits

Christian Joy is…
… a result of trusting deeply in the Providence of God
… a felt experience that manifests, effortlessly, in every aspect of life
… an honest expression of the inner peace and serenity – a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, Joy is to be the nectar that attracts others to experience the sweetness of Christ and Christianity.

Let us always “leap for joy” with the Power of the Holy Spirit…
… and may our joyful and happy lives, attract and enthuse many people to embrace Jesus, the Lord of all Joy!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE EFFECTS OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION

This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion.
The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion…
… but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members.
Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ…

… whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland. (CCC #1469)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Dec 20, 2022: Tuesday

“Embracing Mary, the beautiful instrument chosen by God, and being led to love the Lord more!”

(Based on Isa 7:10-14 and Lk 1:26-38 – Tuesday of the 4th Week in Advent)

A little six-year-old boy had often heard his Catholic companions reciting the prayer “Hail Mary.”

He liked it so much that he copied it, memorized it and would recite it every day.

“Look, Mommy, what a beautiful prayer,” he said to his mother one day.

“Never again say it,” answered the mother who was against Catholic practices. “It is a superstitious prayer of Catholics who think Mary as a goddess. After all, she is a woman like any other. “

From that day on the little boy discontinued his daily “Hail Mary” and gave himself more time to reading the Bible instead.

One day, while reading the Gospel, he came across the passage about the Annunciation of the Angel to Our Lady.

Full of joy, the little boy ran to his mother and said: “Mommy, I have found the ‘Hail Mary’ in the Bible which says: ‘Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women.

‘Why do you call it a superstitious prayer?”

On another occasion he found that beautiful Salutation of St. Elizabeth to the Virgin Mary which said, “Blessed are You among women and blessed is the Fruit of Your Womb”

This little boy, as he grew up…
…. made a serious study of both Protestantism and Catholicism.

He found the latter to be the only true religion and embraced it and became one of its most ardent apostles…
… going on to become a Priest!

Mother Mary is indeed the beautiful instrument chosen by God, to lead many more to His Love.

The Gospel of the Day presents the miraculous incident of the Annunciation of the Good News to Mother Mary.

Mother Mary, at the Annunciation teaches us many things…

  1. Mother Mary teaches the supreme goodness of obedience
    Heaven had chosen a simple girl, Mary to be the Mother of Jesus, the Saviour.

When Angel Gabriel was sent to seek Her consent, Mary, after the initial moments of fear, bowed Herself in obedience: “Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to Me, according to Your Word” (Lk 1: 38)

This obedience to God’s Will would turn out to be Her fortress and strength – in moments of uncertainty, loneliness, dread and agony.

  1. “Faithfulness, thy true Daughter is Mary!”
    One of the most outstanding qualities to be admired and imitated from our Blessed Mother is “to be faithful”

In Mother Mary, we have a person, who remained faithful at all times…
… even when there were dark clouds of unwarranted humiliation looming over her
… even when unforeseen difficulties encountered Her during the birth of Jesus
… even when she encountered many situations which were not understood by Her
… even when life surrounded her with agonising moments and heartbreaking instances

The “Fiat” at the Annunciation would be lived all through Her life

This act of being “faithful forever” was a result of the constant choices that She made to listen and obey to God’s Will always.

  1. Mary was ready to be moulded and shaped by God
    When Mary was entrusted with the greatness of the task, She gave Herself readily to the power of God

She didn’t hold back anything; She was complete in Her surrender

It is when we offer ourselves wholly and be ready to be moulded and shaped by the Lord, that He can perform wonders through us.

  1. Mary held on to Jesus as the Greatest Treasure of Her life
    The greatness and the eminence of Mother Mary came as result of Her single-minded focus and love: Everything for Jesus and in Jesus.

When in womb…
… Her sole attention was on Jesus

While in the manger…
… Her whole care was for Jesus

While in His ministry…
… Her thoughts were centred on Him

While on the Cross…
… Her entire self, rested on Him

It is when Jesus becomes the Treasure of our life, that our lives gets enshrined in Grace and Holiness

  1. Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant, bearing Jesus.

The Scriptures easily point to the fact that Mother Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant

The ark in the OT travelled to the land of Judah and remained for 3 months (2 Sam: 6:1-11)

The Ark in the NT, Mary travels to Judah, to meet Her cousin Elizabeth and remained for 3 months (Lk 1:39, 56)

David danced and leaped, and shouted before the ark in the OT (2 Sam 6:14)

In the NT, John, the babe, leaped and Elizabeth exclaimed with a loud cry before Mary (Lk 1: 41, 43)

Inside the ark of the Old Covenant was the manna – the miraculous bread from heaven, the staff of Aaron, the Priest and the tablets of the covenant (Heb 9:4)

The NT Ark, Mother Mary had within Her Jesus, the Bread of Life, Jesus, the Eternal Priest and Jesus, the Law-giving Word!

As the New Ark of the Covenant, Mother Mary deserves our highest veneration and honour, which will lead us to a greater closeness and intimacy with the One…
… She derives all Her praise – Jesus, Her Son and our Brother!

May we embrace Mary, the beautiful instrument chosen by God…
… and be led to love the Lord more!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE EFFECTS OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION

“The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.”
Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.”

Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God. (CCC #1468)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Dec 19, 2022: Monday

“Firmly holding high the banner – ‘Semper Fi – Forever Faithful!’ in our Christian lives and living in loyalty and allegiance to Christ, our Great Commander”

(Based on Judg 13:2-7, 24-25 and Lk 1:5-25 – Monday of the 4th Week in Advent)

Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton is a former Marine Corps sergeant in the US.

On Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a truck load of explosives into the Marine Camp at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon, killing 241 soldiers.

Nashton, a lance corporal, just 23 at that time, was among those severely injured in the attack.

Nashton had many tubes, running in and out of his body, with grave injuries all over.

A witness would say, that ‘he looked more like a machine than a man’.

Yet, he survived!

It is said, that two days after the bombing, while lying on the hospital bed in Weisbaden, Germany…
… in deep pain and agony, Nashton scribbled two words on a note and gave to his commander, Marine Commandant Paul X. Kelley.

The two words on the note read: “Semper Fi”

“Semper Fi” is the Latin motto of the Marines.
It means: “Forever Faithful!”

The pledge of “Semper Fi”…
… strengthened the injured man, in his moments of agony and struggle!
… became the reason for the wounded person, to remain steadfast in the face of anguish!

Every Christian ought to have this pledge to the Lord – “Semper Fi : Forever Faithful” – firmly adhered to Christ and faithfully lived in love.

The Gospel of the Day is the inspiring story of two exemplary persons- Elizabeth and Zechariah – who displayed the courage “to remain faithful” even while staring at hopelessness and despair.

St Luke begins his Gospel, after a brief introduction, with the amazing story of Elizabeth and Zechariah.

It’s interesting to note the meanings of their names…

“Zechariah” meant “The Lord remembers”
“Elizabeth” meant “the oath of God”

Combined, their names would mean, “The Lord remembers His Oath!”

However, life seemingly handed them something quite opposite…

Their childlessness caused to seem that the Lord had totally forgotten!
The barrenness of Elizabeth caused to seem that the Lord had His memories lost!

How true is this situation in our own lives too?

We bank on God’s promises that “He would provide” everything…
… but when some of our expectations fall short, we feel God is just not with us!

We feel joyful to know that God’s Providence will guide us through…
… yet, when some unforeseen and sudden mishaps happen, we feel God has forgotten us!

We feel assured to realise that God will always shelter us…
… however, when we find ourselves in the thickets of problems and crises, we feel God has left us!

This is where we need to look to Zechariah and Elizabeth and be inspired by their amazing faith.

Though life did not move the way they wished…
Though many of their honest longings were not fulfilled…
Though they had to go through occasions of shame and dishonour…

Though all possibilities of hope and expectation was “lost”, humanly speaking…
… they still kept the faith!
… they still remained true to the Lord!
… they still continued to be devout to God!

The Gospel says, “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless” (Lk 1: 6)

Yes, Zechariah and Elizabeth firmly held up the placard of “Semper Fi” – Forever Faithful – to God!

And this is what we too are called to do, in our Christian life of faith – to hold up the banner of “Semper Fi”…

Being “Forever Faithful”…
… even when our life ahead seems uncertain and the road ahead looks too dark

By firmly trusting Divine Providence and obeying His Will in our lives

Being “Forever Faithful”…
… even when undeserved sufferings crush our life and unfair behaviour is meted out to us

By strongly pursuing the paths of justice and holding firm to the values of the Gospel

Being “Forever Faithful”…
… even when sin traps us and we find it miserable to let go off our evil ways

By resolutely making efforts to do away with sinful tendencies and seeking to be holy

The “Forever Faithful” principle of Zechariah and Elizabeth was mercifully looked with favour by God…
… and thus the joyful words were addressed: “…your prayer has been heard! Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son” (Lk 1: 13)

Yes, “the Lord remembered His oath” and announced that He is indeed “The God Who is Gracious” by blessing them with John (= God is Gracious)

Our God is a God Who cares much for His people…

Our God is a God Who deeply loves His Own…

This deep care and love, however, deserves our steadfast faithfulness and uncompromising fidelity.

Yes, let our Christian Lives be a life of loyalty and allegiance to Christ, our Great Commander…
… and may we, firmly hold high the banner – “Semper Fi – Forever Faithful!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE MINISTER OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION

Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, the Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him.
He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents’ lives.

This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the “sacramental seal,” because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains “sealed” by the sacrament. (CCC #1467)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Dec 18, 2022: Sunday

“Nurturing a deeper and tender affection for Jesus, Mother Mary and St Joseph, and being close to Them, to lead a pure and holy life!”

(Based on Isa 7:10-14, Rom 1:1-7 and Mt 1:18-24 – 4th Sunday in Advent, Cycle A)

A child standing in front of the Christmas Crib was looking for quite sometime at the statue of St Joseph.

The mother, tapped his shoulder and asked: “Why is it that you looking so long at St Joseph?”

The boy with an innocent smile replied:
“Mamma…St Joseph was such a great person, isn’t it!

He had the honour to be so close with the two holiest persons of this world – Jesus, the Son of God and Mary, the Immaculate Mother!

I wish that we would talk and pray to St Joseph more..
… than just think of him, only during Christmas season!”

The boy was recounting the greatness of St Joseph…
…who often remains hidden in the backdrop, amid the great galaxy of Biblical Stars!

The Gospel of the day is a beautiful glimpse to understand the person of St Joseph.

Let’s learn a few of his important virtues.

  1. St Joseph was ever attentive and obedient to the voice of God

One of the standout qualities that we observe in St Joseph is his prompt obedience to the voice of God

He listened to the Angel, in moments of dilemma, and obediently took Mary as his wife (Mt 1:20-24)
He listened to the Angel, in moments of danger, and obediently took the Mother and Child to Egypt (Mt 1:13-15)
He listened to the Angel, in moments of doubt, and obediently settled the Holy Family in Nazareth (Mt 1: 20, 22b)

St Joseph was able to let go of his personal choices and his desired comforts and give top priority to do what God wanted him to do.

Holiness consists in doing what God wants – when and where He wants

  1. St Joseph teaches us the love for Jesus and Mary

Ever since he recognised the plan of God in his life, St Joseph displayed a tremendous commitment and love to Jesus and Mary

He had many occasions of choices to let go of them…
… to leave Mary when she was found with Child, even before the marriage
… to leave his pregnant Wife when they found no place in the inn
… to abandon the Child and Mother when a life-danger against them was sensed

But, nothing could deter St Joseph from leaving or abandoning them.

He knew that in God’s plan, They belonged to him, and he would safeguard Them – treasuring Them close to his heart.

Our faith has blessed us with love for Jesus and Mother Mary.

Can we also imitate St Joseph, in holding Them close to our hearts?

  1. Humility is a virtue radiated by St Joseph

St Joseph had to face many moments of humiliation, disappointment and uncertainty.

But in his humility, he remained true to God in all those moments

Life sometimes drags us into situations of sadness and even shame.

Many times we let go of God’s Hands, saying that “He is not fair” or “He doesn’t understand me”!

St Joseph teaches us that there is much value in humbling oneself, before the mighty power of the Almighty

  1. St Joseph was content to be the “silent worker” in the awesome work of Salvation

St Joseph, was honoured to be sharing the most intimate physical presence with the two holiest persons of this world – Jesus, the Son of God and Mary, the Immaculate Mother.

And yet, he contented himself to be the “silent hard-worker”.

He is a mighty challenge to our world, where seeking for honour, position, fame and reputation become cheap motives, in doing works of charity or even, sadly to say, in ministries of the Church.

  1. St Joseph is the model of chastity

Mary is the New Ark of Covenant, bearing Divinity in Her.

St Jerome, says that St Joseph, the son of David, shared his royal ancestor’s fear of coming into overly close contact with the Tabernacle of the Lord: “Who am I,” asked King David, “that the Ark of the Lord should come to me?” (2 Sam. 6:9)

Chastity is the virtue that moderates the desire for sexual pleasure according to the principles of faith and right reason.

In married people, chastity moderates the desire in conformity with their state of life
In unmarried people who wish to marry, the desire is moderated by abstention or unless they get married
In those who resolve not to marry, the desire is sacrificed entirely.

St Joseph is often depicted with a White Lily in his hand, to depict purity and holiness

  1. St Joseph was prefigured in Joseph of the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, we read Joseph, the son of Jacob, had stored up, in Egypt, grain to provide bread for the preservation of the People of Israel (Gen 42)

In the New Testament, St Joseph, safeguarded, in Egypt, the Bread of Life, for the salvation of the People of God. (Mt 1: 14)

  1. St Joseph is a model leader

True to being a Father, St Joseph displayed many leadership qualities, which needs to be imitated by us, in our practical life

Defender of the community/team members: St Joseph preserved Mother Mary from idle talks of gossip and malicious speculation
Protection of those in care: St Joseph did not give up in the face of hostile situations, when it was time for the Birth of the Child
Needful and prompt action: St Joseph acted quickly and promptly, in response to situations of danger and of need

St Joseph invites us to grow in obedience to the Will of God – with promptness and joy

Let us pray that we will be able to nurture a deeper and tender affection for Jesus and Mother Mary and be close to Them, to lead a pure and holy life.

May the greatness of St Joseph inspire us

And may we talk and pray to St Joseph more…
… than just think of him, only during Christmas season!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE MINISTER OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION

The confessor is not the master of God’s forgiveness, but its servant. the minister of this sacrament should unite himself to the intention and charity of Christ.
He should have a proven knowledge of Christian behaviour, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity.

He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord’s mercy. (CCC #1466)

CELEBRATING CHRIST, THE WORD! – DAY 17


(A journey through Verses from the Bible – with practical applications – to Love Jesus & Live Jesus!)

DAY 17: HAVE YOU ACCEPTED JESUS AS THE SAVIOUR OF YOUR LIFE?

BIBLE VERSE
(Mt 1:21) “You are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins!”

CONTEXT OF THE BIBLE VERSE
Heaven reveals the Name of the Son of God – Jesus – giving all of us the Good News…
… that this Precious Name which means, “God Saves” is the invitation of God to everyone to receive salvation!
… that the primary purpose of the celebration of Christmas, is for all of us to pledge to move away from sin, and to live faithfully doing God’s Will!

WHAT IS CHRIST SPEAKING TO ME, THROUGH THIS BIBLE VERSE?

There is salvation and power when we call on the Name of Jesus, and live by His Teachings
We are all called to a life of sanctity – away from the corruption of sin – and embracing the way of holiness!

HOW CAN I CELEBRATE CHRIST, THIS CHRISTMAS?

  1. Repeat the Name “JESUS” ten times, as you surrender your to His Care and Love!
  2. Think of one sin/bad habit that is bothering your life; take a resolution to give it up, and do the necessary follow up to stay in holiness!

LET’S PRAY
Lord Jesus, as I renew my commitment to You as the Saviour of my life, give me the Grace to live in holiness and sanctity, Amen!

Let us celebrate Christ, the Word, this Christmas, and live like Him!

God Bless! Live Jesus!