7 August, Friday — Spiritual dryness and emptiness

Aug 7 – Memorial for St. Sixtus, pope, martyr, and companions; St. Cajetan, priest

Sixtus (d. 258) was an adult convert to Christianity. In his papacy, he dealt with the controversy concerning Baptism by heretics. He believed that anyone who was baptised with a desire to be a Christian, even if the Baptism was performed by a heretic, was truly baptised into the faith, and that the validity of his faith was based on his own desire and actions, not the errors of the person who performed the sacrament. He was martyred with six deacons and sub-deacons.

Cajetan (1480-1547) was offered governing posts, but turned them down for a religious vocation. He was aware of the need of reformation in the Church and felt called to enter a religious community to serve the sick and poor. With three others, he formed the Congregation of Clerks Regular (Theatines) with the mission of fostering the Church’s mission and reviving the spirit and zeal of the clergy. He also founded a bank to help the poor and offer an alternative to usurers (loan sharks); it later became the Bank of Naples.

St. Cajetan was known for a gentle game he played with parishioners where he would bet prayers, rosaries or devotional candles on whether he would perform some service for them; he always did, and they always had to ‘pay’ by saying the prayers. He is a patron saint of the umemployed.

Patron Saint Index

Nah 2:1,3;3:1–3, 6–7
Mt 16:24-28

“What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life?”

When I read this passage, it reminded me of a time back in life when I experienced spiritual dryness and emptiness. Life had been going very well for me. I had just gained admission to a reputable course in one of the local universities. Many people were envious of my many academic successes in life. My family was well-to-do and famous too, and we were leading comfortable lives. Everything we wanted in life, we got. Shopping and eating became our favourite activities.

However, something was not quite right. Despite having all the material things that I could have in my life, I often felt a gnawing sense of despair and desolation. I did not know why I was feeling so sad and empty. There was nothing I could do to chase these feelings away, except when I went to church for Sunday Mass. In church, I was filled with happiness. And so much joy. It was not before long that I realized I was becoming so materialistic to the point of neglecting my spiritual life. Only Jesus could fill that void in my heart.

Since then, I have been trying my best to incorporate Jesus into my life by praying more frequently throughout the day, visiting the sacraments more regularly, and joining a young adults Catholic community in my university to keep one another in spiritual support. However, I admit that it has never been easy. At times, I feel complacent – like there is always this temptation to slacken in my prayer life because everything is going well in life.

But one thing I discovered is that God will not sit back and watch us accumulate our material wealth and fame before striking us unexpectedly with a sudden loss. He will keep calling us to spend time with Him. He has given us the free will to grab these opportunities and spiritually replenish our souls, so that we can win the whole world and not lose our souls as well. It is up to us whether we want to spend time with the Lord and pray to Him.  

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to keep close to you, just as You are our vine and we are your branches. Help us to always remember to spend time with You and listen to You in the midst of our hectic and frenetic lifestyle. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank You for never failing to call us to spend time with You, and for always loving us even though we do not deserve Your love and mercy. Amen.

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