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Archive for the ‘Feast Days’ Category

Ask anyone what is the date of the birth of Jesus. Almost instantaneously, the answer of, Christmas 25th December, is replied. Now ask the same person where does he/she obtain the information that Jesus was born on 25th December. Perhaps you may get a bewildered expression from the person or the answer could be because everyone says so that Christ was born on 25th December. That’s why it is called Christmas.

Was Jesus Christ really born on Christmas Day which falls on 25th December?

Sharing an article written by Fr William Saunders which coul shed some light on this question: Was Christ really born on Christmas Day?

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sunday gospelLk 2:1-14
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

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Catholics celebrated the annual Feast of All Saints on 1st Nov. A day to commemorate the saints who have led a simple and holy life, an extraordinary one too. Last Saturday, I attended a remembrance ceremony held at Dover Park Hospice. A simple gathering of the families whose loved ones have passed through the doors of the hospice. A hospice whose medical, administrative, operations staff and the volunteers tended to the medical, physical and psychological needs of terminal patients who stayed there during the last days of their lives before they pass on.


^ Dover Park Hospice.


^ As the names of the deceased were read, the family members pasted a little note on the dove. Written notes of remembrance of the dearly departed whose lives we were once a part of.


^ As a symbolic gesture of “letting go” the anguish of missing our loved ones. Balloons made ready for the family members.


^ As we get over the death of our loved ones, the release of the balloons signify that “letting go” to allow us to gain the strength to continue with our lives.


^ A time to remember our dearly departed loved ones.

The arrival of the casket, the tears and sobs of relatives heard from the rooms on the death of a loved one, the empty bed where once a patient used to lie on…to stare at death in the face every possible day by the staff and volunteers of the hospice, you can’t help but realise that these ordinary people, from whichever race, creed, religion they are from, have rendered their best palliative care from the bottom of their hearts to the terminally ill in their chosen profession. These are the ordinary saints amongst us.

And while we remember the Saints on Nov 1, Nov 2 was the Feast of All Souls. A day we remember the dearly departed. Those whom have shared their lives with us.


^ Mass at Church of St Teresa on All Souls Day, 2nd Nov 2008.


^ The blessing of the columbarium at Church of St Teresa by Archbishop Nicholas Chia. 2nd Nov 2008.

May it be a day for us to remember our dearly departed. It is also a timely reminder to cherish the moments we share with those who are still alive…our spouse, family members, relatives and friends.

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Hungry?

As we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi this Sunday, the introductory story of the celebrant’s homily is pretty interesting. Here’s how it went.

Story:
During a clear night sky, little John pointed to the moon and asked his mom: “Mommy, is Jesus present in the moon?” “Of course” came the reply. Again, little John pointed to the beautiful flowers in the vase. “Mommy, is Jesus present in those flowers?” Mommy said: “Yes John. Jesus is present in those beautiful flowers too.” Once again, little John pointed to his tummy asking: “Mommy, what about here? Is Jesus present in my tummy too?” Mommy looks pretty bewildered not knowing where are all these questions leading to. Nevertheless, she replied: “Yes John. Jesus is present in your tummy too.” With a michievous grin, John said: “Mommy, I think Jesus is hungry for ice-cream.”

We are hungry in various ways. We need food to satisfy our physical hunger in order to sustain life. On another aspect, we need spiritual nourishment to sustain our spiritual well-being. During the celebration of the Eucharist, the bread and wine has been transform through transubstantiation into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ which we receive during Holy Communion. Catholics are called, not just to receive Jesus during the celebration of the Eucharist but also to live their lives in the way Jesus has taught us. His all-encompassing commandment:

Love One Another As I Have Loved You.

Are you “hungry”?

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Sunday 18th May 2008 marks the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. At the beginning of Mass after the “Greeting of the Altar”, the celebrant will take his place at the cathedra and he will extend a Greeting to the People Gathered Together by saying one out of three formulas of the Greeting. One of which is:

Celebrant: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

All: And also with you.

This Greeting of the People Gathered Together can be found at 2 Cor 13:13.

And perhaps the next time we meet someone who may not be of the same religion/belief, we will still extend a friendly greeting for it is the first step towards relations.

Trinity Is a School of Relations
Gospel Commentary for Feast of the Most Holy Trinity By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

ROME, MAY 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Why do Christians believe in the Trinity? Is it not hard enough to believe that God exists without having to add the puzzle about God being “one and three?”

There are some today who would not be upset if we dropped the Trinity. For one thing, they would say, it would help dialogue with the Jews and Muslims, who profess faith in a God who is strictly one.

The answer is that Christians believe that God is triune because they believe that God is love! If God is love, then he must love someone. There is no such thing as love of nothing, a love that is not directed at anyone. So we ask: Who is it that God loves so that he is defined as love?

A first answer might be that God loves us! But men have only existed for a few million years. Who did God love before that? God could not have begun to love at a certain point in time because God cannot change.

Another answer might be that before he loved us, he loved the cosmos, the universe. But the universe has only existed for a few billion years. Who did God love before that so that he was defined as love? We cannot say that God loved himself because self-love is not love, but egoism, or, as the psychologists say, narcissism.

How does Christian revelation answer this question? God is love in himself, before time, because there is eternally in him a Son, the Word, whom he loves from an infinite love which is the Holy Spirit.

In every love there are always three realities or subjects: one who loves, one who is loved and the love that unites them. Where God is understood as absolute power, there is no need for there to be more than one person, for power can be exercised quite well by one person; but if God is understood as absolute love, then it cannot be this way.

Theology has used the term “nature” or “substance” to indicate unity in God and it has used the term “person” to indicate a distinction. Because of this we say that our God is one God in three persons. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is not a regression, a compromise between monotheism and polytheism. On the contrary, it is a step forward for the human mind that could only be brought about by God.

The contemplation of the Trinity can have an important impact on our human life. The life of the Trinity is a mystery of relation. The divine persons are defined in theology as “subsistent relations.” This means that the divine persons do not “have” relations, but rather “are” relations. We human beings have relations — of son to father, of wife to husband, etc. — but we are not constituted by those relations; we also exist outside and without them. It is not this way with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We know that happiness and unhappiness on earth depend in large part upon the quality of our relationships. The Trinity reveals the secret to good relationships. Love, in its different forms, is what makes relationships beautiful, free and gratifying. Here we see how important it is that God be seen primarily as love and not as power: love gives, power dominates.

That which poisons a relationship is the will to dominate another person, to possess or use that person instead of welcoming and giving ourselves to him or her.

It should be added that the Christian God is one and three! This, therefore, is also the feast of the unity of God, not just God as Trinity. We Christians believe “in one God,” but the unity that we believe in is unity of nature not of number. It resembles more the unity of the family than that of the individual, more the unity of the cell than that of the atom.

The first reading presents us the biblical God as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness.” This is the principal trait that the God of the Bible, the God of Islam and the God (or rather the religion) of Buddhism have in common, and which provides the best basis for dialogue and cooperation among the great religions.

Every sura of the Quran begins with the following invocation: “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” In Buddhism, which does not know a personal, creator God, the basis is anthropological and cosmic: Man must be merciful on account of the solidarity and responsibility that binds him to all living things.

The holy wars of the past and the religious terrorism of the present are a betrayal and not an apologia of one’s faith. How can one kill in the name of a God that one continues to proclaim as “the Merciful” and “the Compassionate”?

This is the most urgent task of interreligious dialogue that believers in all religions must pursue for the sake of peace and for the good of humanity.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for this Sunday are Exodus 34:4b-6.8-9; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18.

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Today, Sunday 11th May 2008 marks the Feast of Pentecost.

A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the “feast of weeks” or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10). Read more at Catholic Encyclopedia (New Advent).

As the Holy Spirit empowers and inspires us to bring the Good News to others, do we straightaway go knocking door to door clutching our Bibles and spewing scriptures verses with the aim of converting someone? Here’s a story from the celebrant’s homily to share with all readers:

The Squirrel and the Owl
There once lived a squirrel and an owl in the same forest. One day the squirrel asked the owl: “Dear wise old owl, can you tell me how heavy is a snowflake?” The wise old owl pondered for a moment and replied: “The weight of a snowflake is nothing more than nothing.” The squirrel thought for a while and asked again: “Are you sure the weight of a snowflake is nothing?” The owl replied: “Sure! Very sure.” The Squirrel sat for a moment and told the wise old owl: “During winter, I counted the number of snowflakes that landed on the tree branch I was resting on. When I was about to count the one million, nine hundred and fifty two thousand, one hundred and seventy fifth snowflake, the branch broke and I fell to the ground with it.” Looking at the wise old owl, the squirrel said: “That was sure a lot of nothing.”

This story brings to mind the little things we can do in our daily lives as an exemplary Bible to those around us. We may not have profound knowledge of theology or scriptures. But we can, in our own little ways, in our sincere expression of words and actions, treat family members, friends, strangers or even those of other religion/beliefs who we are by following the ways that Jesus has taught. For in you, others read You, the Bible. Not how much you know about Christ but how much you practice His ways.

Leaving you with a quote from a Catholic nun who was well respected from all ethnic and religious groups for her deeds in the image of Christ:

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love. ~ Mother Teresa

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