27 January, Thursday — Blessings

27 Jan – Memorial for St. Angela Merici, virgin

St. Angela Merici (1474-1540) became a Franciscan tertiary at the age of 15. She received a vision telling her that she would inspire devout women in their vocation.

In Crete, during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she was struck blind. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going on, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.

In 1535, she gathered a group of girl students and began what would become the ‘Institute of St. Ursula’ (the Ursuline Sisters), founded to teach children, beginning with religion and later expanding into secular topics; her first schools were in Desenazno and Brescia.

  • Patron Saint Index

2 Sam 7:18-19,24-29
Mk 4:21-25

…and with your blessing the House of your servant will be for ever blessed.

There is a song we would sometimes sing at retreats, which never failed to bring a tear to my eyes. Depending on the day/session and the flow of the Spirit as the talks went, we would get a chance to worship with the song at the appropriate juncture. It spoke to all retreatants about praying for God’s comfort and blessing as we sleep…and that His blessings could come through raindrops, his healing through tears or that our trials in our lives are His mercies in disguise.

Brothers and sisters, those of us who search for God sometimes forget that most times, He doesn’t come to us in His majestic splendour or with a loud cymbal clash. He can come in the whisper of a slight breeze (it has been a bit more breezy lately, here in Singapore), or the greeting of a stranger. He is certainly there at mass (it is so heartening to see more ‘new faces’ at mass these days) and certainly during ministry gatherings. The question is, do we let him into our homes? How many of us have an altar or a quiet place at home for us to retreat to in prayer?

I am guilty as charged. My home has some sort of a table where we have a few small statuettes of Mother Mary and Jesus. We have never been much of a praying family and I have always sought Him outside of my home. Strange, isn’t it? Surely the very first place to seek God would be in our own homes. The very places that we retreat to each day after a day battling colleagues at work and the vagaries of life. I recently shared about how I began to ‘build a sanctuary’ at home after a retreat I attended in November. While the space has not been blessed, I have been seeking some solace in that room — watching Netflix and reading. It IS where my table of religious items sit but I have yet to devote the space to Him in prayer. On the other hand, I have begun to say the rosary religiously each day — on my way in to work, to the golf course (perhaps that explains my recent good run of form), whenever I have time.

My point is this — God cannot be forced into a box or constrained to one particular room/area in any home. He lives within us and dwells in our hearts. I read a reflection recently that encouraged us to seek Him in the difficult moments we face when we are angry, bitter, disappointed, grieving…not externally (inside the situation or the person we are directing our feelings toward), but WITHIN ourselves — in our hearts. Only then can we truly understand and appreciate His blessings, His presence and His graces that flow when we truly seek Him.

The trouble is — we are all human. And we tend to give in to our emotions. We lash out and we seek revenge, comeuppance, payback when we are wronged. We judge and we condemn, just like the baying crowd did (“Crucify him, crucify him!”). We pour scorn and contempt on those we deem ‘not worthy’. Where then, is God, in those moments we stumble and fall as His children? In our ‘human-ness’, how do we find solace in God and start to walk the path that Christ did for us?

I am not sure any of us has an answer. I know that when we are in pain, when we feel betrayed or disappointed in others, we can cling to Him just by opening my heart that little bit more…or by picking up the rosary and praying that our blessed Mother will intercede for us and for those we lift up.   

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you are there all the time in our darkest periods. You are there for us when we falter and fail as your sons and daughters. You are there in our homes, our sanctuaries and in our prayers. Help us to appreciate your abiding presence in our hearts whenever we feel sadness, anger, bitterness, fear and anxiety. Give us the desire to seek You in those dark moments so that we can carry on in hope.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for being the light in our lives and for giving us Jesus in our hearts.

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