27 May, Friday — Joy in our heart

May 27 – Memorial for St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop

St. Augustine (d. 605) was a monk and abbot of St. Andrew’s abbey in Rome. He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great with 40 brother monks, including St. Lawrence of Canterbury, to evangelize the British Isles in 597. Before he reached the islands, terrifying tales of the Celts sent him back to Rome in fear, but Gregory told him he had no choice, so he went. He established and spread the faith throughout England; one of his earliest converts was King AEthelberht, who brought 10,000 of his people into the Church.

He was ordained a bishop in Gaul (modern France) by the Archbishop of Arles. He became Bishop of Canterbury, and was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He helped re-establish contact between the Celtic and Latin churches, though he could not establish his desired uniformity of liturgy and practices between them. He worked with St. Justus of Canterbury. The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury are still referred to as occupying the Chair of Augustine.

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Acts 18:9-18
Jn 16:20-23

[B]ut I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy…”

I enjoyed watching chinese martial arts shows when I was young. These were often productions from Hong Kong and featured the journey of pugilistic masters seeking to rule the domain. Very often, the antagonist would be driven by revenge to accomplish his aims. The sad part is that once this cause of revenge is removed, the purpose of his life has ended. I do feel very sorry for the character because it seems that this aim seems very futile and meaningless.

The world we live in seems to be filled with a tremendous amount of bad news. Be it economic gloom or conflicts in various nations, it has indeed affected the general mood and sentiment of the people around me. There seems to be a sense of negativity and unhappiness which has caused others to lose hope in the future. Some of us continue to soldier on because we are driven by practical needs to pay the bills. The readings of today remind us that we need to have Christ within us so that we can be joyful in our response.

The Christian is often faced with the reality of the world. It requires us to work with people who do not know Christ and, as a result of that, are unable to handle the challenges which life throws at them in a manner which is charitable and life-giving. What makes it worse is that we, as Christians, also respond in this manner and thus may be a source of unhappiness to the people around us. St Paul himself was faced with the tremendous challenge of having to deal with the persecution of his faith in Jesus. He could have easily disavowed his faith in Christ, but he chose to remain close to Jesus and drew strength from knowing Jesus.

The world we live in is yearning for Christian hope. We need to be able to provide this hope by remaining close to Jesus through the Sacraments. These channels of grace allow us to discover the importance of remaining faithful to God and to allow us to see that Jesus works through our lives to touch the hearts of others. As we continue towards Pentecost, let us discover what Jesus has for us and remain in prayer and worship throughout our lives.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Jesus, fill us with your spirit of Joy and love.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all spiritual directors.

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