Power trip

Your brother B., and whoever may succeed you as Prior, must always keep in mind and put into practice what our Lord said in the Gospel: Whoever has a mind to become a leader among you must make yourself servant to the rest, and whichever of you would be first must become your bondsman.

Rule of St. Albert, No. 22


Because of the authority, power and responsibility that some people are privileged to have been lent with, they sometimes forget that such authority, power, and responsibility must be exercised with the humility of a servant, just like Christ, and not as a king like Herod or the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’s time.

A brother once came to me, distraught and disturbed. When he called a community of missionary sisters catering to migrant workers, asking permission to pray in their chapel for a few minutes, he was greeted by a very warm and grandmotherly voice, happy to hear that a group of brothers would visit them. She said she’d ask permission from their superior first, a common protocol among religious communities. The line went silent for a few minutes, but a few minutes later, he said that he was surprised to overhear a very angry lady shouting to the top of her breath. She was telling someone to lie and say that their chapel was under renovation. The brother who overheard the conversation, did not know what to do. He did not know how he should react, knowing that it was the sweet grandmother who was scolded by the angry lady.

A few minutes later, the comforting voice on the other end of the line came back, apologizing, saying that their chapel was being repaired. He wanted to console the person on the other line, believing that he must have caused the nice old lady sorrow, but he decided to just thank her and placed the phone down.

What really bothered him was when he heard that a few days later the nun superior of that congregation reprimanded his superior because he intruded their convent and that he called at a very unholy hour of the night. Allegations which he said were not true, because as a religious himself, he knows that the nuns have schedules to follow, especially when it comes to prayers.

All of us have issues to face, but when we are placed in the position to be the first among our brothers or sisters, that does not give us the right or the authority to lord over our brothers and sisters, so much more, on others who has nothing to do with us, except perhaps for an occasional crossing of paths. And definitely, it is just not right for us to use the influence being afforded to us, just to satisfy whatever issues we may be facing at the moment.

How much of a brother/sister have I become for others?

Mark 10:35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?”  And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Prayer
Lord, grant me a humble heart, one with the desire to serve my brothers and sisters with an ever grateful and happy heart. And allow me to understand others who are in pain. Amen.

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Being with the people – experience or experiment?

Here then are a few points I have written down to provide you with a standard of conduct to live up to; but our Lord, at his second coming, will reward anyone who does more than he is obliged to do. See that the bounds of common sense are not exceeded, however, for common sense is the guide of the virtues.

Rule of St. Albert, No 24


Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM., secretary for the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, told a group of young religious from different congregations in the Philippines that he does not believe in month-long immersions to different marginalized sectors because most of these immersions would actually end up experiments.

What he wants is for the religious to actually experience the life of the marginalized and that means being one with them for the rest of one’s religious life – in their pain, in their hopes, in the challenges that they face.

It is no wonder that for many, immersions to marginalized communities is a grand vacation, a time when a simple professed religious, or seminarians in general, is away from the scrutinizing eyes of the formators.

A friend confided to me once that he was disturbed when an old lady elder of a tribe where they had their immersion came to him crying, “Brother, your companion said that listening to our stories is not part of your being here. He said you are simply here to just live with us.”

Every opportunity we get to be with the people is an opportunity not just to understand them or their situation but also to show them that we are one with them in their most difficult time.

Listening to their stories, no matter how “uninteresting” they may be or “un-educated” or “contra-intellectual” they may be is part of our being one with them.

It is simply recognition of the trust and confidence that they have gifted us with. A gift that is very precious and rare, for they only share their story to those whom they consider to be part of their family, their tribe, their community, with someone who they consider to be special.

Besides, for a religious, vowed to follow the footsteps of the man from Nazareth, no story will ever be uninteresting, for every story, every encounter is an encounter with the Divine.

As children of God, how willing are we to go beyond our comfort zones and give more than what we can give to the people who needs us the most?

Matthew 14:13-16
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

Prayer
Lord, grant me a compassionate heart that’s willing to give more than what I can offer, knowing that all that I have, all that I am is yours. Amen.

Weapon against deceit

Your loins are to be girt with chastity, your breast fortified by holy meditations, for as Scripture has it, holy meditation will save you. Put on holiness as your breastplate, and it will enable you to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength, and your neighbour as yourself. Faith must be your shield on all occasions, and with it you will be able to quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked one: there can be no pleasing God without faith; and the victory lies in this – your faith. On your head set the helmet of salvation, and so be sure of deliverance by our only Saviour, who sets his own free from their sins. The sword of the spirit, the word of God, must abound in your mouths and hearts. Let all you do have the Lord’s word for accompaniment.

Rule of St. Albert, No. 19


On one of his broadcasted sermons, a famous tele-evangelist in the Philippines warned his congregation of the wiliness of the enemy. He said that the devil would even use God’s words – the Bible – for the purpose of misleading the faithful.

How does he, the devil, do this?

The preacher said, by making insignificant and un-noticeable twists especially on the interpretation of the scriptures. He continued, “But you don’t need to worry because now, God himself has personally appointed me to show you the right path.”

Case closed.

The devil indeed is very foxy. And despite the obviousness of the erroneous use of the scripture, thousands still continue to flock. Why?

Out of our need and our vulnerability, we tend to be easily convinced by people with great charisma, people who have authority when they talk, people who seems to know what to say and what we need to hear.

And if we are not familiar with God’s Word, if we do not make it a habit to read and contemplate on his Word, we make ourselves vulnerable to such trickeries of the devil.

Reading the Bible is not a taboo in the church, rather, the faithful are encouraged to read and study it, to discuss it with other believers and to make every Word of God alive in their hearts, minds, and actions.

One such practice is the Lectio Divina, or the prayerful reading of the Holy Scripture.

During the World Synod of Bishops in 2008, Auxiliary Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales of Valparaiso, Chile, pointed out in his explanatory exposition on the Lectio Divina that in reading the Holy Scripture, “we must understand the Word to discover what God teaches us through the inspired author.”

He added, “We must practice the Word to call upon life, learn its meaning, better our mission and reinforce hope.” 

How do you use God’s word?

Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water,
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Prayer
Lord, grant me a heart that delights in your Word. One that is full of excitement to know of your love for me. So excited that I could not stop it from overflowing to every people I meet. Amen.

Speak to bless

The Apostle would have us keep silence, for in silence he tells us to work. As the Prophet also makes known to us: Silence is the way to foster holiness. Elsewhere he says: Your strength will lie in silence and hope. For this reason I lay down that you are to keep silence from after Compline until after Prime the next day. At other times, although you need not keep silence so strictly, be careful not to indulge in a great deal of talk, for as Scripture has it – and experience teaches us no less – Sin will not be wanting where there is much talk, and He who is careless in speech will come to harm; and elsewhere: The use of many words brings harm to the speaker’s soul. And our Lord says in the Gospel: Every rash word uttered will have to be accounted for on judgment day. Make a balance then, each of you, to weigh his words in; keep a tight rein on your mouths, lest you should stumble and fall in speech, and your fall be irreparable and prove mortal. Like the Prophet, watch your step lest your tongue give offence, and employ every care in keeping silent, which is the way to foster holiness.

Rule of St. Albert, No. 21


Have you ever listened to yourself talk? I mean, have you ever tried to listen to what you’re saying, like, how do you sound to the person you’re talking to? Do you come as arrogant or, perhaps, insincere?  How about sincere and humble?

Do they feel that they are loved by the way you speak to them? Would they be inspired by your words? Or would they be angry and bitter?

Eight years ago, Edita Burgos, a secular Discalced Carmelite and mother of disappeared (desaparecido) political activist Jonas, brought before the Catholic bishops of the Philippines her burden of looking for her son.

In response, then CBCP president, Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo, broadcasted on YouTube a prayer for her son. Her spirit was lifted and she was given the courage to pursue her cause. She felt relieved and comforted that the church was on her side.

On the sixth-year anniversary of the disappearance of Jonas in 2013, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle called on the perpetrators to surface Jonas, saying, “I’m calling on those holding Jonas and many others who are being searched by their mothers, fathers and siblings, you will face God. You must face God now.” And her strength to continue the search and the fight for justice was refreshed.

Kind words bring life to a drought-ridden heart. It’s like rain in the desert. But harsh words break a person.

The old Christian communities were beset by irresponsible talk and so, in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he said, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29).

But then there are times when we unintentionally release unkind words.

Our emotion color the way we speak, and so we could sound arrogant and defensive when we are angry and say things which we would later regret. Or when we feel vulnerable, our speech would come as submissive and weak.

That is why Paul said, “be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil…. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32).

When we are full of God’s love, only love would come out from our mouths for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34).

Do my words inspire or discourage?

Matthew 12:33:37
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! how can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Prayer
Lord, grant me a heart filled with your love, so that it would overflow to my mouth and only inspiring words would flow from it. Giving hope to the pained, encouraging the disheartened. Amen.

Praying together

An oratory should be built as conveniently as possible among the cells, where, if it can be done without difficulty, you are to gather each morning to hear Mass.

– Rule of St. Albert, No. 14


In one of his homilies during our novitiate year (2014), Fr. Billy Bong Manguiat, OCarm, our then novice master, reminded us that as religious and as Carmelites we should develop a love for the Eucharist as this is a reminder of God’s constant presence in us, of the resurrected Christ embedded and alive deep within our hearts.

Jesus said that if two or three would come together in his name, he is in their midst and that if they ask for anything to the Father, it will be given to them. (Matthew 18:19-20).

That is the value of community prayer.

For Carmelites, as should be for all Christians, prayer and contemplation are at the center of our spiritual life.

It is the fuel that drives us, and as such, to pray as a community is an essential part of our day to day life.

It’s not just an obligation but a fulfillment of a desire to create heaven on earth by first building a community strengthened and anchored in Christ through prayer.

The mass is also a form of community prayer where we acknowledge our full dependence on God, where we admit our sinfulness and repent our sins, where we praise and glorify His name, and where we ask for God’s blessings as one Christian family.

And although often times Jesus withdrew from the crowd to be alone with the Father, many times he also prayed with them by bringing them to God and bringing God to them through his teachings and in his every interaction with them.

So, as much as we should have time for solitude, we should also have time to praise God as a community, in that way we’d be able to transform our community into God’s family here on earth.

In what way would I be able to experience my belongingness to God’s family and how could I make others experience this?

Hebrews 10:19-25
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Prayer
Lord, grant me the heart to appreciate the value of community and for me to realize that your kingdom is what we make of our community. Amen.

The dignity of work

You must give yourselves to work of some kind, so that the devil may always find you busy; no idleness on your part must give him a chance to pierce the defences of your souls. In this respect you have both the teaching and the example of Saint Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put his own words. God made him preacher and teacher of faith and truth to the nations: with him as your teacher you cannot go astray. We lived among you, he said, labouring and weary, toiling night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you; not because we had no power to do otherwise but so as to give you, in your own selves, as an example you might imitate. For the charge we gave you when we were with you was this: that whoever is not willing to work should not be allowed to eat either. For we have heard that there are certain restless idlers among you. We charge people of this kind, and implore them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they earn their own bread by silent toil. This is the way of holiness and goodness: see that you follow it.

– Rule of St. Albert, No. 20


In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he warned the faithful against idleness emphasizing the rule which they gave to them, “If any one will not work, let him not eat,” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) while citing themselves as examples that the Thessalonians should follow.

“We were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you,” said Paul. (2 Thessalonians 3:7-8).

As much as we want to dedicate our lives to God, we must also take care of our body and we do this by working, so that we would be able to provide for what we eat and for our other needs, without becoming a burden to others.

Working is also a way of showing how much we care for our community and our being part of a family. By the fruits of our labor we are able to help meet the needs of our community.

Working is also a celebration of God’s greatness, through his most precious creation – man.

In the words of Pope St. John Paul II, “Through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed in a sense, becomes ‘more a human being.'” (Laborem Exercens, Ch. II, 9).

How much value have I been putting on work?

2 Thessalonians 3:-13
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing.

Prayer
Lord, create in me a heart that appreciates and respects the beauty of labor. Allow me to appreciate the royalty of humility through work, recognize the beauty of serving others, and celebrate the dignity of your creation. Amen.

Time for God

Your loins are to be girt with chastity, your breast fortified by holy meditations, for as Scripture has it, holy meditation will save you. Put on holiness as your breastplate, and it will enable you to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength, and your neighbour as yourself. Faith must be your shield on all occasions, and with it you will be able to quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked one: there can be no pleasing God without faith; and the victory lies in this – your faith. On your head set the helmet of salvation, and so be sure of deliverance by our only Saviour, who sets his own free from their sins. The sword of the spirit, the word of God, must abound in your mouths and hearts. Let all you do have the Lord’s word for accompaniment.

– Rule of St. Albert, No. 19


Do you always think of God? How often do you remember him?

Most of the time, we only remember God when we are down and troubled, often, we even remember him last, instead calling first on every possible saint that would come to mind. We overlook the fact that these holy people reached their state of holiness because of their profound love for God and for Christ as evidenced by the way they lived their lives.

A very obscure Discalced Carmelite (OCD) brother in the 17th century, unable to contain the fragrance he emitted, caught the attention of many prominent people of his time, and even centuries after.

Bro. Lawrence of the Resurrection lived a simple life as cook for his community, yet even the vicar general of the Archbishop recognized his holiness, prompting the latter to record, as much as he can, the secrets of Bro. Lawrence. But then he has just one secret – constant remembrance of God.

He said, “It is only necessary to realize that God is intimately present within us, to turn at every moment to him and ask for his help, recognize his will in all things doubtful, and to do well all that which we clearly see he requires of us, offering what we do to him before we do it, and giving thanks for having done it afterwards.”

This constant interaction with God has blurred the line between prayer and work for everything he does becomes a form of prayer.

How much time do we give to God?

Ecclesiastes 11:9 – 12:8
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

Remove vexation from your mind, and put away pain from your body; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain; in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets; before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.

Prayer
Lord, grant me a heart constantly longing for your presence. Never allow me to forget you, Lord, not even in times when I am loaded with things to do. Amen.

Humiliated? Give honor.

You other brothers too, hold your Prior in humble reverence, your minds not on him but on Christ who has placed him over you, and who, to those who rule the Churches, addressed these words: Whoever pays you heed pays heed to me, and whoever treats you with dishonor, dishonors me; if you remain so minded you will not be found guilty of contempt, but will merit life eternal as fit reward for your obedience.

-Rule of St. Albert, No. 23


As sisters and brothers in Christ, we are expected to love each other, and more so when it comes to none believers of the Christian faith.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul said, “Love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10).

So, if a brother offends you, if you feel that you are being degraded by a brother, whether in private or in a group, just smile.

Pray for patience, pray for understanding. Breathe and in your heart reaffirm your love for the brother. As Paul said, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14).

Carmen de Sojo, a devoted wife and a Carmelite tertiary, took her vows sincerely, especially humility and simplicity.

Being married to a doctor and coming from an elite family, she was expected to live up to her status, but her convictions and dedication to her faith made her desire none of these.

Because of this, she earned snickers and criticisms from people. One time, two ladies made fun and belittled her. Thinking that Carmen was so simple minded they used French in their conversation, convinced that she won’t understand anything. But Carmen understood very well because she was fluent in French. When they left and bid her goodbye, she did not give even a hint that she understood what they said, which were all criticisms and mockeries of her person.

When people misjudge her, she does not complain. Actually, it’s one of her favorite practices. Not to retaliate, not even to show a hint of disappointment, anger, embarrassment, or such other negative feelings against her associates’ malicious treatment of her.

So, don’t argue, don’t negate, don’t say anything.

Smile and love the brother even more, because in all honesty, he is bringing you closer to God.

It is better to appear stupid than to lose a brother. That is how different God’s ways are.

What is your initial reaction when you feel slighted? What is a more Christian way of dealing with such a situation?

Romans 12:9-21
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Prayer
Lord, grant me a humble heart, willing to accept criticisms, snide remarks, humiliation, and injustice. And Lord, please allow me to love the brother and sister who is giving such wonderful donations of criticisms, snide remarks, humiliation and injustice to my person, without me needing and wanting redress. Make me be more like Christ. Amen.

Authentic faith

Your loins are to be girt with chastity, your breast fortified by holy meditations, for as Scripture has it, holy meditation will save you. Put on holiness as your breastplate, and it will enable you to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength, and your neighbour as yourself. Faith must be your shield on all occasions, and with it you will be able to quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked one: there can be no pleasing God without faith; and the victory lies in this – your faith. On your head set the helmet of salvation, and so be sure of deliverance by our only Saviour, who sets his own free from their sins. The sword of the spirit, the word of God, must abound in your mouths and hearts. Let all you do have the Lord’s word for accompaniment.

– Rule of St. Albert, No. 19


A friend once expressed his frustration to me. Being a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, the authenticity of his faith was questioned by some of his formators.

“How could they say that my faith is not aunthentic? What’s the basis of their conclusion?” he asked.

This made me think. Can other people determine the authenticity of one’s faith?

When Thomas doubted the resurrection of Christ, Jesus appeared to him and said, “Stop doubting and believe… blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:27,29 NIV).

In our need for assurance of God’s presence, we chase after the externals. We flock to apparitions and spend considerable amounts of resources to visit such famous apparition sites or buy relics and other sacred objects, even to the point of using them as charms and amulets. We say very long prayers and do a lot of penance, thinking that these would save us. Are these manifestations of our deep faith in God or our lack of faith in Him?

St. John of the Cross once rebuked his brothers for chasing after and desiring mystical experiences like apparitions, visions, and such, saying that one’s need for such simply shows one’s lack of faith in Christ, for how could one say that his faith is mature when he needs evidence of God’s presence. (Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Ch XVIII).

Another great though obscure Carmelite, Bro. Lawrence of the Resurrection, OCD, in one of his conversations with Abbe Joseph de Beaufort, said, “It was a pitiable condition that we had so little faith. Instead of taking it for our rule of living, people gratified themselves with petty acts of devotion which varied from day to day.” (Practice of the Presence of God, Conversation One).

We have different ways of expressing our faith, whether we do it by reciting long prayers or by helping the least of our brothers, it’s really up to us and no one can say whether our practice is an expression of the authenticity of our faith or not, except ourselves.

The important thing is that our choice of living out our faith should bring us closer to Him.

How do we live our faith?

John 20:24-31
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

Prayer
Lord, grant me a faithful heart that never doubts your presence in my life. Let me live my faith in you by being a good brother to all I meet. Amen.

Work and the “little way”

You must give yourselves to work of some kind, so that the devil may always find you busy; no idleness on your part must give him a chance to pierce the defenses of your souls. In this respect you have both the teaching and the example of Saint Paul the Apostle, into whose mouth Christ put his own words. God made him preacher and teacher of faith and truth to the nations: with him as your teacher you cannot go astray. We lived among you, he said, laboring and weary, toiling night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you; not because we had no power to do otherwise but so as to give you, in your own selves, as an example you might imitate. For the charge we gave you when we were with you was this: that whoever is not willing to work should not be allowed to eat either. For we have heard that there are certain restless idlers among you. We charge people of this kind, and implore them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they earn their own bread by silent toil. This is the way of holiness and goodness: see that you follow it.

Rule of St. Albert, No. 20


What is work?

“Simple,” you might say, “It’s those things we do that eats up our time, are stressful, not fun to do, but brings food to the table.”

Would you then consider studying as work? How about household tasks? Or, for a priest, presiding in a mass?

While giving a talk at the Institute of Spirituality in Asia on a Sabbath (that’s Saturday), Rabbi Fred Morgan clarified to a group of spiritual travelers that what he was doing is not work but a spiritual obligation. There is a difference.

If we would remember, Jews are very strict when it comes to working on a Sabbath. They would even consider defending themselves as work and so they’d rather die than lift a sword to defend themselves on a Sabbath. (1 Maccabees 2:35-38).

For us Christians, work should be an opportunity, a privilege for us to serve God by serving others; by becoming a true brother or sister to all; by not being a burden to anyone. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13).

And when we work out of love, no matter how big a task is, it becomes easy; or no matter how small a task is, it becomes significant.

St. Therese of Lisieux lived her “little way” by showing her love to her sisters. For her, she need not do anything great, but to be able to do an unnoticeable little task in her community or to a sister like simply doing her best in her tasks and by giving herself even to the difficult members of her community, that for her is enough.

What are the little things that I’ve done for another, today?

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.  For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you,  we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you.  It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate.  For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat.  For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.  Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living.  Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing.

Prayer
Lord, grant me a humble heart, willing to share myself to others through the works of my hands. Amen.