Today, we welcome on board Esther Leet, who grew up in a Catholic household, attended catechism classes and participated in church activities dutifully in her teenage years but became a lapsed Catholic after she went abroad for further studies in her 20s.
Through the grace of God, she found her way back to church. She attributes her return to marrying a ‘nice Catholic boy’ (also a contributor with us), who is her role model for faith, attending a Franciscan parish that spurred her to be involved in ministry, and the life-changing, heart-turning Conversion Experience Retreat at CSC. Esther is now #proud2bcatholic.
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May 26 – Memorial for St. Philip Neri, Priest
St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) came from a poor family, though he was related to Italian nobility. His father, Francisco Neri, worked as a notary. Philip’s brother died in childhood, but his two sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta survived. He was a pious youth and was taught humanities by the Dominicans.
He moved to San Germano in 1533 to help some family with their business, and while there would escape to a local Dominican chapel in the mountains. He received word in a vision that he had an apostolate in Rome. He cut himself off from his family and went there, where he was befriended by Galeotto Caccia, who took him in and paid him to tutor his two sons. He wrote poetry in Latin and Italian, and studied philosophy and theology. When he tired of learning, he sold all his books and gave the money to the poor.
He began to visit and care for the sick and impoverished pilgrims. He founded a society of like-minded folk to do the same. He was a friend of St. Ignatius. A layman, he lived in the city as a hermit. During Easter season of 1544, while praying in the catacomb of San Sebastiano, he received a vision of a globe of fire that entered his chest, and he experienced an ecstasy that physically enlarged his heart.
With Persiano Rose, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity. He began to preach, with many converts. In 1550, he considered retiring to the life of a solitary hermit, but received further visions that told him his mission was in Rome. Later he considered missionary work in India, but further visions convinced him to stay in Rome.
He entered the priesthood in 1551 and heard confessions by the hour. He could tell penitents their sins before they confessed and had the gift of conferring visions. He began working with youth, finding safe places for them to stay, and becoming involved in their lives.
Pope Gregory XIV tried to make him a cardinal, but Philip declined. His popularity was such that he was accused of forming his own sect but was cleared of this baseless charge. In 1575, he founded the Congregation of the Oratory, a group of priests dedicated to preaching and teaching, but which suffered from accusations of heresy because of the involvement of laymen as preachers. In later years, he was beset with several illnesses, each of which was in turn cured through prayer.
- Patron Saint Index
“Do you love me?”
This is a phrase I often ask my husband of 22 years. It is not that I doubt his love for me — I know my husband loves me. But I have a huge inferiority complex – I am always worried that I am not good enough to be loved, and so I am comforted by his verbal affirmations.
But words mean nothing without action. I know my husband loves me, not just because of what he says, but because everything that he does for me, he does with a lot of heart.
For example, when he makes coffee in the morning for me, it is not out of convenience – not because he is also making a cup for himself. Rather, the daily morning coffee is a deliberate act of his love for me — he waits till I am awake, then he prepares my coffee so that I can enjoy it hot.
I appreciate this. I remind myself to never take such gestures for granted. I know I am very blessed to have him as my spouse and in turn, I hope that my actions tell him how much he is loved by me.
In today’s gospel passage, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. God knows our hearts – he certainly does not need words of affirmation from any of us. Then why does he even ask this question? I think it is so that Peter, stirred by his profession of love, will do as commanded by Jesus – to grow and lead the Church. Because when you love someone passionately, you will want to show your love in action.
I can only imagine St Peter’s exasperation when he had to answer the same question not once, but three times. If Jesus were to ask me the same question, “Do you love me? “, my immediate response would also be “Lord, you know that I love you”. But with the repeated questioning, I would be thinking – how do I make you believe me when I say I love you, Lord? What can I do to show my love for you?
In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments”. And his two greatest commandments for us are to love God, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt 22:37-39).
Such simple instructions – yet, I struggle to keep them daily. In the busyness of my everyday life, I do not always put him first. And to love my neighbour, especially when I am dealing with politics in the workplace, is even harder to do. But this is something that I continue to strive for, to constantly remind myself to be conscious of my interactions with other people, so as to live his commandment to love my neighbour; and in following his commandment, show my love for him. Because love is not just a verbal response – it needs to be shown in action.
Brothers and sisters, how are you showing your love for those around you today?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Esther Leet)
Prayer: Lord, please guide me in all my interactions, that I may be life-giving to all whom I come into contact with today. In everything that I do, please help me to show love for my spouse, my family, my neighbour and most of all, for you, Lord.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your love for me and for teaching me to love. Thank you for blessing me with people who love me. Help me to share the gift of love with others.
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