Today we commemorate Saint Thomas Aquinas. He was born in Italy in 1225 (only four years after Saint Dominic’s death). In 1244, he entered the Dominicans and in 1245, he moved to Paris (and later to Naples, Rome, and Cologne) to study, teach and write. Written toward the end of his life, Thomas Aquinas’s most noted work is the Summa Theologica, in which he posits five arguments for the existence of God. But, Saint Thomas’s genius is attributed to much more than a single work. He is honored as a Doctor of the Church, and is the patron saint of scholars, schools, and students. Nearly eight-hundred years after his death, his legacy continues to teach much about grappling with truth, learning, and how both are essential to faith.
Today we read in Hebrews 11 about the importance of having faith. In our everyday life we encounter many problems. These problems could be health issues, financial or job insecurity problems, having a bad relationship with some friends or family members and so on and so forth. However, there is one thing that we, as Christians share and it could help us a lot in those hardships. This is called Faith. Faith in God does not only mean that we believe that there is God who created us. It also means that we believe that God is still present everywhere and at any time in our life. He is timeless and he has no limitation in existing at the same time in the past in the present and in the future. Sometimes we see that in the present the things in our life are not as we would like them to be. We hope we deserve better and we feel that our cross might be a bit bigger that we could carry. In those situations it is good to remember Hebrew 11:8-19 saying about Abraham who trusted God and who had full faith which means that he know that all the hardships he was struggling with were there for some reason. He moved to the Promised Land even though he could not know what this new land would bring him. But he trusted that God is in control of the future and he trusted that God had a plan. This chapter reminds us that God also has a plan for every single person. Especially the verses 11 and 12 –
And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
This is what we could call the Faith in Action. I guess that we all have struggles with having strong faith in absolutely every period of the life. Sometimes we feel unjust, or we feel hurt or we feel that we do not deserve the things that are happening to us. But still, it is important to remember also that Job was the most righteous man of his time and God allowed the devil to make many temptations, loss and hardship to his life. Yes we know the past, and sometimes it can be hard to remember it, yes, we also live our present and we could sometimes feel blue about it, but what we do not know is the future. God is in the future and he knows why we have certain hardships or temptations. But he gave us the Bible and he thought us that we will always have the cross that we can carry. He gave us the faith and he thought us through Abraham what having faith means. As a perfect example of faith is the readiness of Abraham to sacrifice his own son. As we read in verses 17, 18 and 19 –
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
A God example of perfect faith is that Abraham knew that God could even get Isaac back from the death. The lesson about Abraham and the importance of strong faith is the lesson that we all should repeat in our everyday life. People tend to lose or minimize their faith in the moments of hardships. Many years after Abraham, Our Lord Jesus also experienced the lack of faith of his followers when he was sleeping on the boat while there was a storm coming. As we read in Mark 4:35-41. In verse 38 they asked –
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
This is the sentence we probably often ask when struggling with the storms of our everyday problems. We are not used to let us be guide by Jesus and trust him. But happy news are that we could always rely on Him because he was the one killing down the wind and calming the storm. And he wants us to be always reminded about the question he asked in verse 40 –
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
My prayer for today is that we all could have the faith as Jesus thought us. The faith strong as the one that Abraham had. And to always remember that God is in control. Amen.
Reading 1: 1 Jn 3:7-10
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 98:1, 7-8, 9
Alleluia: HEB 1:1-2
Gospel: Jn 1:35-42
Liturgical colour: White.
Today we come together as a church and as children of God, to commemorate the Memorial of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton who is my name saint within the Order of preachers Independent, due to our Prior (and Presiding Bishop) feeling there apparently , many similarities between the life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and that of my own life.
Throughout Biblical history and even in current times, we sometimes come across people who have endured much within their lives and who, regardless of this, remain strong and devout within their faith. Today we remember St Elizabeth, whom is one such person from whose life, heart and devotion, we can take inspiration within our own spiritual life.
Elizabeth was the very first native-born citizen of the United States to be Canonized to sainthood.
Elizabeth was born as Elizabeth Ann Bayley in New York city on the 28th August in the year 1774, and she was a child of the Revolutionary war. She was raised Episcopalian which was the faith of her parents.
Elizabeth married at the tender young age of only nineteen years old, to a man named William Magee Seton. He was a young but wealthy merchant and together they parented a total of five children.
Elizabeth had a very deep devout faith and concern for the poor even as a very young woman and she shared this devotion with her sister-in-law, who was Rebecca Seton, and with whom she became very close friends. Together, Elizabeth and Rebecca undertook various missions for the poor and for the needy of their region and they adopted the name of the ‘Protestant Sisters of Charity` for their mission works.
Elizabeth’s life changed after only the short time of four years of marriage and her life became rather burdensome in nature. Elizabeth and her husband were left with the responsibility for seven half-brothers and sisters of William’s father when he died in the year 1798.
Elizabeth suffered even further in the year 1801, when her own father with whom she had a very close relationship, especially since the loss of her mother at aged only three, himself passed into the care of the Lord.
Then yet again she suffered after only another two years, when both her husband’s business and his health failed. Filing for bankruptcy, Elizabeth and her husband sailed to Italy to help his health and to try to revive his business.
Whilst in Italy, Elizabeth suffered even further, as William’s condition worsened. He was quarantined and subsequently died of Tuberculosis in December of 1803. Elizabeth remained in Italy for several months after his death and during this time, was more fully exposed to the Catholic faith.
Elizabeth returned to New York city in June of 1804, only to suffer yet again with the loss of her dear friend and sister-in=law, Rebecca Seton, in the very next month.
At only the young thirty years of age, Elizabeth had endured the loss of so many who were close to her and she seemed to have the weight of the world upon her shoulders. Even so, throughout all this, Elizabeth still remained fervent in her faith.
The months ahead were life-changing for Elizabeth and she seemed ever more drawn to the Catholic faith and to the Mother Church, much to the horror of her friends and her remaining family who were firmly Protestant.
Elizabeth Ann Seton was received into the Catholic Church on the 4th March 1805. Her conversion cost her dearly in the areas of her friendships and in the support from her remaining family.
Elizabeth relocated to the Baltimore area and there she established a school for girls. She also founded a religious community along with two other young women and she took vows before the Archbishop Carroll as a member of the Sisters of Charity of St Joseph. From this time forward, Elizabeth was known as Mother Seton and she left a legacy of care and education for the poor. She even established the first free Catholic school of the nation.
In so many ways, the journey into the Catholic faith, helped Elizabeth to much more appreciate and to embrace her faith even more profoundly. Elizabeth was willing to endure all things to follow Christ. In her journal, she even wrote, ‘If I am right Thy grace impart still in the right to stay. If I am wrong Oh, teach my heart to find the better way’.
Many of us who have chosen the Catholic faith have experienced some setbacks and have had to endure issues with relationships, but for this brave and devout woman of faith, the cost was even greater.
Elizabeth died aged only 46 on January 4th 1821 from Tuberculosis and she was Canonized on September 14th 1975.
On this your special day, St Elizabeth Ann Seton, Pray for all of us who follow your pathway of faith. Pray that we likewise to yourself will say yes and will accept all that will come to us in the years ahead, and to allow our earthly endurance to further our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Reading 1:’ACTS 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Responsorial Psalm: PS 31:3CD-4, 6 AND 8AB, 16BC AND 17
Alleluia: PS 118:26A, 27A
Gospel: MT 10:17-22
Liturgical colour: Red.
Feast of St Stephen, The First Martyr
Today, the day after all the joy, and celebration of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour, and after all the traditional enjoyment and pomp of the traditional festive food and of gift giving, we come to the stark contrast, to the Feast of St. Stephen the first Martyr.
Throughout the Old Testament we see faithful Christians persecuted and often even killed by those who are faithless. But it’s not just an Old Testament phenomenon. This is what humans can do in their natural and unredeemed state. We don’t like our sins to be pointed out to us. We manage to convince ourselves that we’re really not all that bad. We work hard to justify our own sins. We find the really, really sinful people in history—men like Nero or Stalin—and we compare ourselves to them and actually start to feel pretty good about our own standing before God. And that’s when one of God’s faithful workers comes along—someone who, while by no means perfect, is living a life renewed by grace and who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit—and suddenly all the illusions we’ve built up about our own goodness dissolve and we get angry. Like Cain, instead of acknowledging our sins and instead of repenting, we torment, persecute, and sometimes even kill God’s people when they show us up.
My brothers and sisters, Our Lord and Saviour has told us:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are we when others revile us and persecute us and utter all kinds of evil against us falsely on his account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before us.
He prepares us for the fact that as we joyfully follow him, as we joyfully do the work of his kingdom, and as we witness the great Christmas joy we’ve found in the manger and at the cross—as we live a life of joy before our King—we will face the persecution of the world. To submit ourselves to that seems nonsensical. How can we find joy in persecution? We find it there, because when we make Christ our Lord, he gives us that eternal perspective we’ve been hearing about through Advent. Suddenly the things of the world are so much less important. Our focus is on Jesus and on building his kingdom. Our focus is on being witnesses of his new life and taking his Good News to the world. And that change in perspective means that if we can effectively communicate the Gospel to someone while being tormented or even killed, well then, so be it. Our joy in living in and sharing Christ is greater than our joy in the things of this world—even in life itself, because we know that our share in eternal life is so much greater. But it’s not just about joy. It’s about love too. That’s another theme that carried through Advent. We saw Love Incarnate in the manger yesterday. And now because God has so changed our perspective by loving us, we start loving as he did—we can’t help it! And it’s not just that we love God’s Church or that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, but that we even love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. That’s the hardest command of all for us to obey, but the reason it’s so hard is because we haven’t been perfect in love ourselves. The closer we grow to Christ, the better able we’ll be to live it. But it’s also true that the better we live it, the closer we will be to Christ!
Living that way is hard. We so often get bogged down in the world. We focus more on life here than we do on life in the New Jerusalem. We fall back into living in fear instead of living in faith. The witness of St. Stephen should focus our eyes on our Lord and Saviour and on living the life he has given us. No one knows for sure why this feast falls on the day after Christmas, but one thing I’ve realised is that it’s easy to be excited about grace and to live as Christmas people on Christmas Day. But friends, we’re incredibly fickle, and the next day we forget about being Christmas people and go back to living in fear and faithlessness. We forget our witness. How often do you come to worship God on a Sunday morning, getting excited about grace, and yet even as you drive home someone on the road does something that makes you angry and you forget all about grace; or you get bad service while you’re out having lunch, and you forget all about grace; or you get a bad news the next morning about your job, and you forget all about grace. The Church reminds us today that being Christmas people requires real commitment on our part and that as much as it’s joyful work, it’s hard work and work that requires real faith in the promises of God.
The story of Stephen actually begins in Chapter 6. He was among the group of seven men appointed the first deacons by the apostles. They were the servant-ministers of the Church in Jerusalem. Stephen was excited about his work. Acts 6:8 tells us:
Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.
He was doing what he was supposed to do as a Christmas person and he attracted attention. The problem was that he attracted the attention of Jews who didn’t like what he was doing. Now, I say “the problem”. That just shows how our perspective isn’t fully where it should be. We see it as a “problem” when we face persecution. We forget that God is sovereign and that he’s working everything out for the good of his people and the spread of his kingdom. Persecution is hard and painful, but it’s still “good”. Remember, Jesus tells us that we find blessing in it. So it was a “problem” that the Jews were upset by what Stephen was doing, but it wasn’t really a problem. God was still in control. We need to keep that in mind in our own lives: Christians don’t have “problems”, we have “opportunities” to exercise our faith.
And Stephen knew that, even as these angry men dragged him before the Sanhedrin and produced all sorts of false witnesses who attested that he was as a blasphemer. He was on trial and it wasn’t going in his favour. And yet even as these men told lies about him, St. Luke tells us that Stephen sat there with the face of an angel—he was peaceful even in the face of condemnation. The one other place in Scripture we hear a description like this is of the face of Moses after he had been with God. Stephen was close to his Saviour and was experiencing the “peace of the Lord”.
In fact, when the high priest gave Stephen a chance to defend himself, what did Stephen do? He didn’t try to explain away the things he had said and done that he got him into trouble in the first place. No. He took the opportunity to preach the Gospel to the whole Sanhedrin! He addressed them and started with Abraham and told the story of redemption down through Joseph and Moses. He told them the stories of their fathers who were rescued from slavery in Egypt and then again how God cared for them in the wilderness and drove out their enemies in Canaan to give them a home—and he stressed how all these things were made possible by God and were his gifts. And as he told the story, he noted how over and over the people rejected God—gladly claiming the great things he gave them, but never truly receiving God himself. And with that Stephen brings them right down to Jesus and he says:
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it. (Acts 7:51-53)
He doesn’t pull any punches. He tells them that in rejecting Christ, they’re doing the same things that their fathers had done before them in rejecting the grace of God and in being disobedient. We don’t have time this morning to read Stephen’s full sermon, but I urge you to read through it—Acts 7—sometime this next week. This was a man who was full of passion for his Lord. He was full of passion to share the Good News, even when he was in the lion’s den. What strikes me is how what Stephen does here runs counter to so much of what the Church today tells us to do in terms of evangelism. We’re told today not to be confrontational; we’re told not to talk too much about sin—or not to talk about it all—because that might turn people off; we’re told to focus on the positive; we’re told to witness the Gospel with our lives and that we might get into trouble sharing it with our mouths. Look at what Stephen does! Not only does he live the Gospel, but he speaks it out loud and clear! He confronts these men right for being the religious hypocrites they are. Stephen didn’t just sit there, quietly and say to himself: “I’m not going to bother with these guys. I’d just be casting my pearls before swine.” No, he shared the Good News with them and he did it peacefully and joyfully. And he did it because he was living in the grace and love of Christmas. He knew that these men might never come to know the Saviour but for his witness, but he also knew that if they were truly reprobate, their rejection of his Gospel sermon would simply confirm to them and to the world their rejection of the Saviour, and God would have greater glory in their condemnation. God’s Word never returns void. Stephen knew that.
St. Luke continues the story and tells us their response:
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:54-60)
We might read that story and think, “Wow. Stephen certainly had a bad day!” Our eyes are blind to God at his work. Stephen took a faithful stand for his Lord, and even as they got ready to drag him out to be stoned, God granted him a vision of his own glory and of Jesus enthroned beside him. Stephen’s “bad day” was a good day for the Church, because on that day God set Stephen before the rest of us as a witness—a lesson as to what it means to be Christmas people—people of his grace and his love and his power. He showed himself to Stephen so that Stephen could show himself and his faith in Christ to the rest of us.
But Stephen’s story does more than just encourage us to share the Good News and to stand firm in our faith. He reminds us what it means to witness the Gospel in our deeds. Stephen had that vision of the Lord Jesus before his eyes, and so even as these evil men started hurling stones at him, he responded with Christlike love. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, do you remember what he prayed? He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know now what they do.” To the last Jesus was concerned with the souls and with the eternal state of the people around him—even his enemies. He was an evangelist to the end, even when there were no more words to say to his persecutors and murderers, he was praying for them. And Stephen, with his eyes on Jesus, does the same. There was nothing left to say to these men and there was nothing left for him to do, and so he prayed for them: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Luke tells us that St. Paul was there that day. He was holding coats so that people could do a better job throwing rocks at Stephen. Of course, this is when he was known as Saul—before he met Jesus on the Damascus Road and had his life changed forever. The next verse, 8:1, tells us that Paul approved of Stephen’s execution. What we don’t know is what impact Stephen’s loving and gracious response had on Paul’s future conversion. But Luke certainly included this detail for a reason.
Brothers and sisters, Stephen reminds us that we need to be living as Christmas people, not just on Christmas, but every day. But he also shows us very dramatically what it means to live in the life and grace of Christmas—especially in light of St. Luke’s note that Paul was there that day. We never know who is witnessing us and how those around us may, or may not, be impacted for the Gospel by what we say and what we do and by how we deal with the circumstances of life. Who would have thought on that day that Saul of Tarsus—Hebrew of Hebrews and member of the Sanhedrin, the man who hunted down Christians and brought them to trial before the Jewish authorities—who would have thought that Stephen’s witness of love and grace that day might change the whole course of Church history as Saul later became Paul, the apostle to the gentiles.
And lastly, Stephen teaches us something about the extreme nature of grace and love and forgiveness. These men were more than just run-of-the-mill enemies. These weren’t just men who didn’t like him or were just angry with him. These were men who saw him as a threat to their existence and wanted to kill him—who did kill him. Stephen didn’t reciprocate their anger. No, he saw them as Jesus saw them: sinful men whom he loved and who would face eternal damnation without the Gospel of love and grace. Stephen knew the love that overcomes a multitude of sins and he knew it because he had experienced it himself through Jesus Christ. St. John reminds us that anyone who claims to love God, but hates his brother is a liar—that you can’t have experienced the redeeming love of God and still hold grudges and hate in your heart against those who have wronged you. Friends, to hold a grudge, to resent the sins of others, to fail to show a forgiving spirit, is to be self-righteous—it’s to ignore what God had done for you! Stephen could look on these angry men with love, precisely because he had himself experienced the love of Christ and God’s forgiveness—and he knew that there was nothing these men could do to him that was as bad as even his own smallest offences against God. God had forgiven him so much—and he realise that so well—that it was a “small” thing for him to forgive these men and to show them love. Lest we think that Jesus and John are just speaking in hyperbole when they tell us to love our enemies, St. Stephen shows us how the love of Christ really does work out in our lives—or at least how it should, if we truly claim to love God and to have experienced his grace and forgiveness.
So remember today: We are a Christmas people, living in the grace and love of God. But remember too that God calls us to be Christmas people every day. The joy of Christmas is something that should permeate every aspect of our lives that we might be witnesses, even to our enemies and even to those who would kill us, of the love and grace that God has shown us through his Son. And so we pray, “Grant, O Lord, that in all our sufferings for the testimony of your truth we may look up steadfastly to heaven and see by faith the glory that is to be revealed and, filled with the Holy Spirit, may learn to love and pray for our persecutors as St. Stephen your first martyr prayed for his murderers to you, blessed Jesus, where you stand at the right hand of God to help all who suffer for you, our only mediator and advocate. Amen.”
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Mt 5:8
Today we celebrate the Feast of All the Saints of the Dominican Order.
We come together as one Dominican Family today to celebrate not only Our Saints, but also our many Blesseds, Holy Friars, Nuns, Sisters, and Laity who have lived over the past 800 or so years.
We are so privileged to celebrate them as they provide us with an example by which we follow in our religious lives, by their wonderous fellowship in their communion and in their much-needed aid to us by their intercessions to God on our behalf. We celebrate all of those Dominicans who were faithful in their lives lived with great prayer, silence, and penance, those who have educated thousands of souls, and Third Order members who have sanctified the world.
We celebrate in thanks to God on this important feast day for our Order and turn to the examples of our Saints, their lives, and their intercessions for us to that they may guide us on our spiritual journey.
Our Spiritual Father, Saint Dominic left us a wonderous legacy of teaching and preaching by word and example of how we should live our lives. It is, then, joyous and encouraging that so many of our Dominican brothers and sisters have been beatified and canonized.
How fitting that the Gospel appointed for today includes these words spoken by Our Lord:
…..but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out ‘Lord,’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.” (Lk 24: 34-38)
Let us pray then in the example we have been taught to ask our dear saints to intercede for us, and to thank our God for all the saints of our Dominican Order and for the fruits of our order to be pleasing in his sight by joining in the Dominican Order Litany of Saints:
God, the heavenly Father have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God have mercy on us.
Holy Mary pray for us.
Saint Mary Magdalen pray for us.
Holy Father Dominic pray for us.
Holy Father Dominic pray for us.
Holy Father Augustine pray for us.
Holy Father Francis pray for us.
Blessed Jane of Aza pray for us.
Blessed Reginald pray for us.
Blessed Bertrand pray for us.
Blessed Mannes pray for us.
Blessed Diana pray for us.
Blessed Jordan of Saxony pray for us.
Blessed John of Salerno pray for us.
Blessed William and Companions pray for us.
Blessed Ceslaus pray for us.
Blessed Isnard pray for us.
Blessed Guala pray for us.
Blessed Peter Gonzalezpray for us.
Saint Zdislava pray for us.
Saint Peter of Verona pray for us.
Blessed Nicholas pray for us.
Saint Hyacinth pray for us.
Blessed Gonsalvo pray for us.
Blessed Sadoc and Companions pray for us.
Blessed Giles pray for us.
Saint Margaret of Hungary pray for us.
Blessed Batholomew of Vincenza pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas pray for us.
Saint Raymond of Penyafort pray for us.
Blessed Innocent V pray for us.
Blessed Albert of Bergamo pray for us.
Saint Albert the Great pray for us.
Blessed John of Vercelli pray for us.
Blessed Ambrose pray for us.
Blessed Cecilia pray for us.
Blessed Benvenuta pray for us.
Blessed James of Varazze pray for us.
Blessed James of Bevagna pray for us.
Blessed Jane of Orvieto pray for us.
Blessed Jordan of Pisa pray for us.
Saint Emily pray for us.
Blessed James Salomonio pray for us.
Saint Agnes of Montepulciano pray for us.
Blessed Simon pray for us.
Blessed Margaret of Castello pray for us.
Blessed Augustine Kazotic pray for us.
Blessed James Benefatti pray for us.
Blessed Imelda pray for us.
Blessed Dalmatius pray for us.
Blessed Margaret Ebner pray for us.
Blessed Villana pray for us.
Blessed Peter Ruffia pray for us.
Blessed Henry pray for us.
Blessed Sibyllina pray for us.
Blessed Anthony of Pavonio pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Siena pray for us.
Blessed Marcolino pray for us.
Blessed Raymond of Capua pray for us.
Blessed Andrew Franchi pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer pray for us.
Blessed Clara pray for us.
Blessed John Dominic pray for us.
Blessed Alvarez pray for us.
Blessed Maria pray for us.
Blessed Peter of Castello pray for us.
Blessed Andrew Abellon pray for us.
Blessed Stephen pray for us.
Blessed Peter Geremia pray for us.
Blessed John of Fiesole pray for us.
Blessed Lawrence of Ripafratta pray for us.
Blessed Anthony della Chiesa pray for us.
Saint Antoninus pray for us.
Blessed Anthony Neyrot pray for us.
Blessed Margaret of Savoy pray for us.
Blessed Bartholomew of Cerverio pray for us.
Blessed Matthew pray for us.
Blessed Constantius pray for us.
Blessed Christopher pray for us.
Blessed Damian pray for us.
Blessed Andrew of Peschiera pray for us.
Blessed Bernard pray for us.
Blessed Jane of Portugal pray for us.
Blessed James of Ulm pray for us.
Blessed Augustine of Biella pray for us.
Blessed Aimo pray for us.
Blessed Sebastian pray for us.
Blessed Mark pray for us.
Blessed Columba pray for us.
Blessed Magdalen pray for us.
Blessed Osanna of Mantua pray for us.
Blessed John Liccio pray for us.
Blessed Dominic Spadafora pray for us.
Blessed Stephana pray for us.
Saint Adrian pray for us.
Blessed Lucy pray for us.
Blessed Catherine Racconigi pray for us.
Blessed Osanna of Kotor pray for us.
Saint Pius V pray for us.
Saint John of Cologne pray for us.
Blessed Maria Bartholomew pray for us.
Saint Louis Bertrand pray for us.
Saint Catherine de Ricci pray for us.
Blessed Robert pray for us.
Blessed Alphonsus and Companions pray for us.
Saint Rose pray for us.
Saint Dominic Ibanez and Companions pray for us.
Blessed Agnes of Jesus pray for us.
Saint Lawrence Ruiz and Companions pray for us.
Saint Martin de Porres pray for us.
Blessed Peter Higgins pray for us.
Blessed Francis de Capillas pray for us.
Saint Juan Macias pray for us.
Blessed Terence pray for us.
Blessed Ann of the Angels pray for us.
Blessed Francis de Posadas pray for us.
Saint Louis de Montfort pray for us.
Blessed Francis Gil pray for us.
Saint Matteo pray for us.
Blessed Peter Sanz and Companions pray for us.
Saint Vincent Liem pray for us.
Saint Hyacinth Castaneda pray for us.
Blessed Marie pray for us.
Blessed George pray for us.
Blessed Catherine Jarrige pray for us.
Saint Ignatius and Companions pray for us.
Saint Dominic An-Kham and Companions pray for us.
Saint Joseph Khang and Companions pray for us.
Saint Francis Coll pray for us.
Blessed Hyacinthe Cormier pray for us.
Blessed Pier Giorgio pray for us.
Blessed Bartolo pray for us.
Blessed Michael Czartoryski pray for us.
Blessed Julia Rodzinska pray for us.
Sister Dollie Wilkinson, pray for us.
All holy Dominican brothers and sisters pray for us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Let us pray.–
God, source of all holiness, you have enriched your Church
with many gifts in the saints of the Order of Preachers.
By following the example of our brothers and sisters,
may we come to enjoy their company
for ever in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your Son, who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today, we commemorate a saint who was a simple man of prayer who did many menial tasks such as sweeping floors in a Dominican friary.
There are stories that this man had the ability to be in two places at the once, levitating and exuding light whilst praying, and of having the ability to walk through locked doors, as well as having powers as a healer.
This Saint went on to become the patron saint of hairdressers, race relations, innkeepers, African-Americans, public schools, interracial harmony, Peru, people of mixed race, social justice and more.
This gifted man is non other than St. Martin de Porres, and it is his feast day which we commemorate as the church today.
Let us take a look at the life of this Saint:
St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579 to a Spanish father and a freed black slave.
“His father rejected St. Martin for his dark skin and because of that, his childhood was one of poverty. He experienced everything the poor went through— he suffered hunger, starvation, rejection, and abandonment.
“Most who grow in poverty can become bitter with the world, but God had graced St. Martin at an early age. He allowed Christ’s love to change his heart. His poor background enabled him to relate to others. Even as a child, he would give his scarce resources to beggars whom he saw as less fortunate than himself.
“He reflected Christ the humble servant, Christ who came to serve and not to be served. That is what made St. Martin de Porres unique. His whole life was an attitude of humility.”
He was apprenticed to a barber at age 12.
“At that time, being a barber meant not just cutting hair, It also meant medicine, doctoring, treating wounds and fractures, prescribing medicine, like a doctor and pharmacist would do.
Martin became so good that people left his master and went to him instead. He became very successful and made great wealth, but he gave it all to the poor.”
In his mid-teens, St. Martin felt the call to religious life with the Dominicans, but did not deem himself worthy of becoming a priest or a brother.
He joined the Dominicans as a third order lay person, performing menial tasks, like sweeping and cleaning.
“It wasn’t long before the Dominicans realised the person they had in their midst, and St. Martin was asked by the Dominicans to join the order.
“St. Martin de Porres surrendered to God with complete humility. When you surrender to God, when you are humble, you allow divine providence to provide the means to become holy.”
After decades of serving with the Dominicans in various capacities, St. Martin de Porres died on Nov. 3, 1639.
Let us pray:
Oh God Our Father, Who has given us in Thy Humble Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the model of all virtue and perfection, grant to us the virtue of humility. We think so little of Thee because we are so full of self. We cannot love Thee more until humility shows us our own nothingness and makes us rejoice in our complete dependence upon Thee.
You have given to the world a glorious apostle of humility, St Martin de Porres. Guide us by his example and strengthen us through his intercessions in our efforts to conform our hearts to the humble Heart of Thy Crucified Son.
Renew, O Lord, in these days, when pride and forgetfulness of Thee are so widespread, the wonders which You performed through Thy humble servant, Martin de Porres, during his lifetime. We pray that all the world may know of St Martin and of the surpassing value of the virtue of humility. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
DOMINICAN HERMITAGE & ORATORY of St’s Peregrine and Sebastian in Gevgelija, Republic of Macedonia, Europe
I lost one very good intimate friend, two years ago, I lost my dad 17 years ago, my grandparents, my gran grandparents, some school friends too, many neighbors and relatives during my 44 years life on this earth.
This Memorial of ALL SOULS Day, is a day of reflection, day to open and search my family photo albums, the archives, days when I ask some of the oldest members in our family, to refresh their memory with my million questions and details about members of our household that are gone and I want to hear stories about them.
I want to provoke in my family and relatives and friends too to think about our beloved people that are in Heaven.
We will all go in Heaven one day, and what’s hold me in the Divine hope is the Scriptures verses that all are fell in sleep, waiting for the sound of the trumpet.
Some people are sad of the missing of their late beloved friends and family, some reflect on this day with gratitude, some with sadness.
I want us to encourage that its one in a year dedicate memorial for each and every one missing person, for all those who don’t even have a grave mark, those brave soldiers who fought for us today living in peace.
For all those not yet canonized in the church bureaucratic policy but are saints cos each soul living in God’s presence is holy, saved and a saint too.
This is a feast for millions and billions of souls, that only God knows them perfectly by name and origin.
I am thankful for this memorial that exist and for many many who are gone due of covid illness.
This is a memorial day for all of our deceased members of OPI and UOCC, I will mention dear deaconess Dollie, and bishop elect venerable Philip Gerboc, so deeply loved and deeply missed and never forgotten.
We all die, we will suddenly all fell in God’s sleep, to rest until He comes soon again to raise all who patiently believed and hoped for better life in heaven.
Today is a feast of all my family and friends that are gone for all of these years.
The Church is one and holy, one on earth preaching and sharing holy sacraments, the other is the Church in Heaven celebrating God with all martyrs, deceased ancestry, they in Heaven are worshiping, singing, and interceding for the petitions and needs of the Church on earth.
I will say, all souls of God from the beginning of the world until today that are in Heaven saved with the blood of Jesus are holy intercessors for us.
I light the candle and bring some flesh flowers in my oratory’s altar, offering my prayers of thanksgiving for their lives on earth.
Reading I: Eph 2:19-22
Responsorial Psalm: 19:2-3, 4-5
Alleluia: See Te Deum
Gospel: Lk 6:12-16
Liturgical colour: Red.
My dearest Brothers and sisters=in=Christ:
Today we come together as the church to celebrate the feast day of Saints Simon and Jude. Little is known about either of these saints apart from the fact that they were called by Jesus to be among his band of disciples and were later named amongst the Apostles.
Let us firstly look at Saint Simon:
Simon was a simple Galilean, a brother of Jesus, as the ancients called close relatives in those times, including such as uncles and first cousins. He was one of the Saviour’s four first cousins, together with James, Jude and Joseph. These were all sons of Mary, the wife of Alpheus, or Cleophas, both names being a derivative of the Aramaic Chalphai. According to tradition Cleophas was the brother of Saint Joseph, Jesus earthly father. All the sons of this family were raised at Nazareth, close neighbours of the Holy Family.
All were called by Our Lord to be Apostles: pillars of his Church. Saint Mark tells us that Simon was born in Cana, the place, according to Saint John, of Jesus’ first miracle. Some traditions identify Simon as the bridegroom at that wedding and suggest that he became a disciple as a direct response to witnessing that miracle, a miracle that was, after all, performed, at the request of Mary, to get the newly-weds out of a somewhat embarrassing predicament.
Saint Simon is not mentioned anywhere in the New Testament except in lists of the Apostles’ names.
Tradition has it that Saint Simon preached in Mauretania (an area which approximated to present day north-west Africa and southern Spain), in Egypt and in Libya, leaving behind him the fertile hills of Galilee, where he had been engaged in cultivation of the vineyards and olive gardens. He later rejoined his brother Jude in Persia (modern day Iran) where they laboured and died together, probably martyred, hence the change to a red altar frontal in their honour on this their feast day. At first the Persian king respected them, for they had manifested power over two ferocious tigers that had terrorised the land. With their king, sixty thousand Persians became Christians, and churches rose over the ruins of the idolatrous temples. However, when they visited other parts of the Persian kingdom unconverted, pagan hordes commanded them to offer sacrifices to the Sun god. They prayed for mercy and offered their lives to the living God but the idolaters fell on the two Apostles and massacred them, while they blessed God and prayed for their murders.
Now let us look at Saint Jude:
Saint Jude is also known by a variety of other names. He is called Lebbaeus in Matthew chapter ten and Thaddaeus in Mark chapter three.
In the end of our Bibles, we find The Epistle of Jude. It is a short work of only one chapter containing just 25 verses. Here we are warned against corrupt influences that have crept into the church.
St. Jude is often and popularly referred to as the patron saint of desperate or lost causes, the one who is asked for help when all else fails. Possibly due to prayers for intercession, to be asked of the other Apostles first. Hence, Jude has come to be called ‘the saint of last resort’, the one whom we ask only when desperate.
What, then, can we in today’s world learn from the lives of these two relatively unknown Apostles? Firstly, they, like the rest of the twelve, ‘forsook all and followed Jesus. Can we be accused of doing that? Could we, and should we, give up some of our modern comforts and privileges and live our lives more like our Lord? Secondly, if tradition tells us, St Simon was the recipient of Jesus’ first miracle. We should be reminded that, even two thousand years later, that miracles still happen. We must always be aware that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world and he does not always do things in the way in which we would have him do them.
Thirdly, judging by his epistle, Saint Jude proved to be an avid supporter of gospel truths.
So then, are we truly passionate enough about the tenets and doctrines of our faith? Do we hold fast to the creedal affirmations of the Church?
Both Sts Simon and Jude, spent their lives preaching the gospel to a very pagan world and it is believed that they died a martyr’s death for their faith. We may not be called to be martyrs like they were (hopefully), but we shall be called to make other sacrifices. Are we ready to suffer for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?
Let us, thank God for the lives of his Apostles Saint Simon and Saint Jude.
Let us pray:
you revealed yourself to us
through the preaching of your apostles Simon and Jude.
By their prayers,
give your Church continued growth
and increase the number of those who believe in you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Today we commemorate archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. In the past I didn’t know much about them. And in order to write this sermon I investigated and I found out interesting information that is useful for all of us who are Christian. In my native country, however, people celebrate Saint Archangel Michael as a special saint. There is a tradition called – Slava which is the day when family celebrate a saint or an angel believing that they are their family protector. My grandparents also celebrate Slava in commemoration of Saint Archangel Michael. Let me say a bit more about this custom. Slava (Serbian Cyrillic: Слава, lit. ‘Glory, Celebration’, pronounced [ˈslâʋa]) is a tradition of the ritual of glorification of one’s family’s patron saint, found mainly among Serbian Orthodox Christians. The family celebrates the Slava annually on the saint’s feast day. During the year there are hundreds of saints, but the most of the Slava celebrations occur during the winter. Dates and saints that are most common are: November 8th Sveti Dimitrije (St. Demetrius ), November 21th Sveti Arhanđel Mihailo (St. Archangel Michael), December 19th Sveti Nikola (St. Nicolas). This custom of honoring a family patron saint, celebrated chiefly by the Serbs, but also by some Macedonians, Montenegrins, Bulgarians and Gorani. If we look further, angels are not only celebrated in Orthodox Church. They are celebrated worldwide. If we investigate more we can find out more details in Christian sources about angels and demons.
Who are angels in Christianity?
Angels are represented throughout Christian Bibles as spiritual beings intermediate between God and humans: “Yet you have made them [humans] a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.” (Psalms 8:4–5). Christians believe that angels are created beings, based on (Psalms 148:2–5; Colossians 1:16). There are 4 types of angels: First Sphere, Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. However, chapter 20 of the Book of Enoch mentions seven holy angels who watch, that often are considered the seven archangels: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Saraqael, Raguel, and Remiel. The Life of Adam and Eve lists the archangels as well: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Joel. It is also good to know about bad (fallen) angels who are called demons. 7 fallen angels are named after entities from both Christian and Pagan mythology, such as Moloch, Chemosh, Dagon, Belial, Beelzebub and Satan himself. Following the canonical Christian narrative, Satan convinces other angels to live free from the laws of God, thereupon they are cast out of heaven. Some medieval scholars of demonology ascribed to a hierarchy of seven archdemons the seven deadly sins: Lucifer (Pride); Mammon (Avarice); Asmodeus (Lechery); Satan (Anger); Beelzebub (Gluttony); Leviathan (Envy); and Belphegor (Sloth).
In today reading we read: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14, Revelation 12:7-12 and John 1:47-51 where angels and archangels are mentioned, too. I would like to share these verses in order to let us learn more about the Bible prospect of angels.
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
I would like to conclude that in one hand we have fallen angels who are tempting us. Many sins that we commit we do with demons` help even though we might not be aware of it. Here are their names and sins they help us to commit – : Lucifer (Pride); Mammon (Avarice); Asmodeus (Lechery); Satan (Anger); Beelzebub (Gluttony); Leviathan (Envy); and Belphegor (Sloth). But as Christians we are blessed with angels and archangels who are also praying for us and helping us in doing well. As mentioned in chapter 20 of the Book of Enoch there are seven holy angels who watch, that often are considered the seven archangels: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Saraqael, Raguel, and Remiel. This means that we should also pray to archangels and angels the same way that we pray to saints and Holy Mary in order to pray for us and to help us in our daily life. Wishing you a blessed celebration of archangels in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayer to Your Guardian Angel
Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.
(‘From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their (the angels) watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united to God. ‘ – from the Catechism of the Catholic Church; 336.)
When you are old, you will stretch out your hands and another
will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go
Today we commemorate St. Peter and St. Paul. This day honors the martyrdom of the two saints, sometime between AD 64 and 68. While the church recognizes that they may not have died on the same day, tradition says that this is the day that they were both martyred in Rome by Emperor Nero. Peter was the rock on which Christ formed His Church, and became the first Pope as the specialized Shepard of Christ’s Flock on Earth. Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament, with 13 letters ascribed to his name (most scholars agree that 7 are objectively his, yet the other 6 are of contested authorship). St. Paul (born as Saul) is often considered to be the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity. His epistles (letters) have had enormous influence on Christian theology, especially on the relationship between God the Father and Jesus, and on the mystical human relationship with the divine. St. Peter and St. Paul had been imprisoned in the infamous Mamertine Prison of Rome and both had foreseen their approaching death. While I was reading today more information about apostles Peter and Paul I was inspired to talk about one thing from the Bible. I read John 21:15-19. In this chapter Jesus is talking to Peter and here is what it says:
”When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
While reading Bible for today I was very touched with this last sentence saying:” …when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” This sentence brought me back to some memories that I have experienced almost 13 years ago. In 2009, when I was preparing to become a novice in order to become an orthodox monk I was instructed by my spiritual father (abbot) that before moving to monastery I should serve the army and I was told to serve civil army in Gerontology Centre. This is how we call the nursing home for old and week people. I applied for the civil army and in that year I spent 9 months helping and serving people in need who were users of the services of the Centre and who lived there. There were more than 300 people mostly between 70 and 90. Many of them were left alone. Their children (if they had them) usually were living far away and there were no cousins or friends to help them in their daily needs. Such as preparing food for them, bringing medicines or accompanying them to the doctor. I remember that many of them were suffering on daily level. Few times I even witnessed some of them dying. At that time I was readying Bible every day and I was regularly attending prayers in the local church. While caring the old sometimes I used a chance to spontaneously mention Jesus. If they were eager to learn more about Jesus we kept the conversation in that direction. And I remember a very important thing that I was regularly noticing between old and sick who were atheists and those who were believers. Atheists were usually depressed and often unhappy. They were feeling that they are at the final period of their life. Left alone, sick and depending on the care of Gerontology Centre workers. With one word depressed and hopeless. And they were often complaining. Another group was a group of the people in the same position. Same old, same sick and same alone. But actually they were not alone. They were not complaining. They were thankful for having people around them, thankful for the rest of their life, thankful for everything. Their mindset was positive and the only thing that distinguished these two groups was faith in God. The happy group was alone, but actually not alone. They had God, they had joy and happiness. Today in readings I found another important sentence that I may bring into correlation to the story that I shared. We read in 1 Timothy 6:17-18:
”Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
The sentence that I would like to pay attention to advises us to put our hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment and in the other hand not to put our hope in wealth. Again I remember my experience from working and helping in nursing home for old people for nine months. There were people who were rich for the local Serbian standard. They could afford better service in the Gerontology center, with private nice equipped apartment and additional health care service. But still, they were not very happy. Additionally there were old people from poor background who could only afford a bed. They had shared bathroom, shared room and poor conditions. But those among them who were having Jesus were really happy, relaxed, grateful and complete. In the end of this sermon I would like to bring the message to all of you that as Jesus said. Maybe one day when we are older and sick another will dress us up and take care of us, maybe we would be alone or even feeling hopeless. But also let us then remember that God also says we should put our hope in God and surely our life will have much better quality and with Jesus we would be complete, happy and loved. Also, I would be happy if this sermon help you remember your neighbor who might be old and sick and might be needing help. Let us help to those in need and let us be blessed with prayers of the apostles Peter and Paul. Glory be to our God. Amen.
Today we commemorate St. Catherine of Siena (25 March 1347 – 29 April 1380), a lay member of the Dominican Order. She was a mystic, activist and author who had a great influence on Italian literature and on the Catholic Church. She was canonized in 1461, and she is also famous as a Doctor of the Church. As a teenager, she took a vow of perpetual virginity and gave herself over to prayer and worship. To thwart her family’s attempts to marry her off, Catherine cut her hair off, scalded herself, and became a nun. Catherine of Siena is one of only four women who were named doctor of the church, meaning that her writings, including the mystical The Dialogue and her prayers and letters, have special authority in Roman Catholicism. She was an important defender of the papacy (at that time) and a patron saint of Europe and of Italy. At the beginning of this sermon let us all pray to her saying – St. Catherine of Siena pray for us to Lord Jesus to encourage us in our everyday life and give us strength to live in the prayer and Christian purity. Amen.
When I was reading about the life of St. Catherine I remembered the time when I was 17 years old. The time when I started thinking of becoming a monk. I remember October 2004 when I was travelling over Greece visiting historical places. I visited orthodox monasteries in a place called Meteora. The Meteora (Μετέωρα [meˈteora]) is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos. This place is so beautiful. It makes you want to pray and it calms you down. In this place for the first time in my life I had a feeling that nothing material is as important as being with Jesus and having a prayer in your mouth. I remember that at that time I used to read eastern Christian books and the desire of becoming a monk was getting bigger and bigger. As I read in St. Catherine biography as a teenager she took a vow of perpetual virginity and gave herself over to prayer and worship. I remember that at that time, when I was a teenager visiting Greece I had the same desire.
Now, when I am 35 I am thinking about the fact that even though lost virginity we cannot be back, but – what about the lost prayer? As you can guess, prayer and worship we can always get back in our life. And this is a beautiful possibility available to everyone. We all have daily struggles, problems of various types. Sometimes this life routine can keep us away from prayer or to hold us a bit away from the Church. Sometimes even, in the opposite situation when everything is going great and when our life seems to be happy and complete we might also forget about prayer or even neglect the church. In each situation it is good to remember that the prayer is something we can always have. And this is what in my personal opinion gives very beautiful sense to our Christian life. Recently I experienced how prayer, believe in God and trust to God is a special gift from heaven. I had a difficult period because I lost my job. And in my country it is usually hard to get a new one. I had to cancel my rental and even go back to my parents` house. This might not be something very usual in the USA or in the UK but in Balkan countries we have this uncertainty and sometimes life can be very hard and full of negative surprises. What I would like to share to all of you today is how actually grateful to God I am. In my life I experienced various situations when I was feeling hopeless. Losing a so called stable job, losing the salary I make a living with, losing a loving family members or friends or even losing partner are situations when people can feel how everything is temporal. Everything has its expiry date. In this temptations I usually remember St. Job, the righteous man from the Old Testament. A man who lost all but had never lost his faith and prayer. I learnt a lesson from him and I try to believe that whatever is happening to us, it is happening with some deeper reason. It might seem to be illogic or unjust or painful. But God knows why it is good for. God is in control. Today`s Bible reading refers us to John 6:1-15 the story about how Jesus feed 5.000 people who were hungry. I would like to read together this paragraph and to meditate on this miracle. Let us read:
Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberius), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
After we read this paragraph from the Bible let us truly see what Jesus has done. He took five small loaves and two small fish and he feed five thousand people. What would happen if Jesus come today and we go with a crowd of five thousand people to hear His message and if there is no fast food restaurant around? Would we trust Jesus that we will be feed. Five thousand of us, with only two fish and five small breads (not to even mention that some of us are vegans, or gluten intolerant). This is a question that I would like us all to think about today? Think about our daily struggles. Maybe we are not only physically hungry but maybe we are hungry for righteousness, hungry for friendship, hungry for a new job, a life stability, or the thing I consider the most important – hungry for the love. If Jesus feed five thousand people. He can feed us too. Let us all remain faithful and trust to Jesus. May He bless us all with the prayer of St. Catherine of Siena.