(Usus Antiquior) Septuagesima Sunday (II Classis) – Sunday, 1 February 2015 : Gradual and Tract

Liturgical Colour : Violet


Psalm 9 : 10-11, 19-20

Adjutor in opportunitatibus, in tribulatione : sperent in Te, qui noverunt Te : quoniam non derelinquis quaerentes Te, Domine.

Response : Quoniam non in finem oblivio erit pauperis : patientia pauperum non peribit in aeternum : exsurge, Domine, non praevaleat homo.

English translation

The helper in due time, in tribulation : let them trust in You, who know You, for You do not forsake those who seek You, o Lord.

Response : For the poor man shall not be forgotten to the end, the patience of the poor shall not perish forever. Arise, o Lord, let not man be strengthened.


Psalm 129 : 1-4

De profundis clamavi ad Te, Domine : Domine, exaudi vocem meam.

Response : Fiant aures Tuae intendentes in orationem servi Tui.

Response : Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine : Domine, quis sustinebit?

Response : Quia apud Te propitiatio est, et propter legem Tuam sustinui Te, Domine.

English translation

From the depths I have cried to You, o Lord. Lord, hear my voice.

Response : Let Your ears be attentive to the prayer of Your servant.

Response : If You shall observe iniquities, o Lord, Lord, who will endure it?

Response : For with You is propitiation, and by reason of Your Law I have waited for You, o Lord.

Thursday, 22 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we hear about Jesus, who healed the people from their sickness, cast out demons from them and teach them about the laws of God, and about what God desires from them. In the first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, as is the theme of the most of that letter which we have repeated yet again and again, is the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ as our High Priest, the One who offered the perfect sacrifice which liberated us from the hands and clutches of sin and Satan.

The Lord had done this out of His love for us, which He showed perfectly through Jesus, by whose action He had made the whole mankind, the entire people of God being justified and made righteous, as long as they profess Him as their Lord and their Saviour. Through His works in the world, by the healing of the sick, the casting out of demons and other works, He had shown us all, what the love of God for us is truly about.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord is worried about us all, as to Him, we are all about to be lost forever, due to our inability to appreciate the love and commitment which He had shown us all. Since the days of the first man, Adam, we have been rebellious and wayward in our ways. And we know that from that moment on, we have sinned and sin separates us from our Lord.

He wants us back, and that was why He gave us and sent us Jesus, His Son, that through Him, we may receive salvation and new life. For Christ is indeed our High Priest, who offers for our sake, the perfect offering of Himself, and through that sacrifice which He Himself made, He made us whole, cleanse us from our afflictions and corruptions, and brought us closer once again to our Lord, our loving God.

And by that action, He also nullified the need for the priests of old, who offered the daily and regular sacrifices of the lambs, goats, turtledoves, wheat and other offerings which they offered as sin and burnt offerings to temporarily resolve and forgive one’s sins through God’s grace. For through Christ, He had once and for all, absolved all the sins of all mankind, and carried with Him the burden of our sins as He went on His passion to the cross at Calvary.

Then, we may be asking, how come then, our priests today celebrate the Holy Mass and the offering of the gifts of bread and wine? Did Jesus not nullify the works of the priests of Israel of old? It was mentioned in the first reading today, that their sacrifices and offerings were just shadows and imitations of the true heavenly sanctuary and its celebrations?

That is because, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Holy Mass is the real, one and only celebration that is indeed the heavenly celebration, and the sanctuary of our churches where we celebrate the Holy Mass are truly transformed to the real heavenly sanctuary, and our celebration is real and concrete celebration.

For the Holy Mass is the one and same sacrifice which our Lord Jesus had made on the cross at Calvary, and the bread and wine which we offer are transformed completely in the matter and spirit to become the same Body and Blood which our Lord shed and poured down upon us to be our redemption. This is our faith, and this is what we fully believe in. Doubt no more and believe with all of our heart!

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Vincent, a deacon of the Holy Church of God and also a holy martyr of the faith. St. Vincent was also known as St. Vincent of Saragossa, who was martyred during the height of the great persecution of the faithful by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. St. Vincent was a great and dedicated servant of the Lord, who was a faithful deacon that ministered courageously to the people of God despite the difficulties he faced.

And it is in the defense of that Faith he had in the salvation that Christ had given us all, that he stood up and defended his faith, and he spoke up so courageously for his faith, that while the bishop he defended before the governor was only exiled, and St. Vincent was martyred for his faith. Even though we do not have to go to the extent of martyrdom, but it is this kind of faith for the Lord which we need to have, and we should give the Lord the best love we can give.

For I have mentioned that He had done so much for us, offering and sacrificing Himself in our stead, that we all may have eternal life through Him. The world clearly does not like Him, for He brought us the truth that dispels the falsehoods of the world, the myriads of lies of Satan, with which he tried to deceive the people of God. Therefore, let us all be inspired by the example of St. Vincent of Saragossa, holy martyr of the faith, and be exemplary in all of our actions, founded in faith. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, and St. Sebastian, Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees as well as with the teachers of the Law, who confronted Him on His apparent disregard and disobedience against the Law of God, which to them, the law of the sabbath was one of the most important of them all. But in that, they have entirely misread and misunderstood the true meaning and purpose of the Law.

The Pharisees were very particular about the observation of the many laws of the Lord as revealed to the world through Moses, of which according the elders there were six hundred and thirteen laws and customs in all the people should follow and obey to the last word, and not to disobey them in any way. And the law of the sabbath was the most important of all, just as the people of Israel today still observe it with full severity.

The sabbath day is the seventh and last day of the week, which is the day when the Lord rested from His work in creating the universe, as written in the Book of Genesis. As such, the seventh day is a day to be dedicated to the Lord, as a Holy Day consecrated to God, where everyone ought to also rest from their work and commitments and focus their attention solely on the Lord.

Then, one may just ask, did God not give the law of the sabbath and spell it out clearly in the Law itself, that no one ought to do or commit anything on the sabbath day? Then why did our Lord Jesus disregard the Law by allowing His disciples to pick from the grains of the field and heal the sick on the sabbath day? There must surely be a good reason for that, and indeed, the reason is nothing less than, because our Lord loves us all with all of His heart.

The Sabbath and its laws was never meant to put an obstacle to the people of God or to make their lives difficult. Sabbath is meant for the people to rediscover the Lord and find His love for them by shutting themselves out of the distractions of the world and refocus their attention on the Lord. This was done because by nature the people of God was always so stubborn to the point that God had to be hard on them so that they would not go astray.

But the people misunderstood the Lord’s intentions, and they thought of Him as a tough and strict God who only cared about obedience and devotion, who punishes those who disobeys Him and brings His wrath upon them and their children. But in truth, our God loves us all, and if He was not compelled to do as He had done, He would likely not have done what He had done.

God is concerned about all of us, about our wellbeing and our safety, and that is why He imposes such a rule on His people, Israel, who had disobeyed Him many, many times, abandoning the Lord for pagan gods and idols, and therefore, they were meant to be destroyed, but God instead gave them another chance, which He gave through Jesus His Son.

What He is concerned about, is not whether the people obeys His Law and commandments or not, but He is primarily concerned about whether the people would receive the word of God and act accordingly according to the word which has been revealed to them through Jesus His Son. Thus, what our Lord Jesus had told us this day is the revelation of God’s truth, the simple truth that God loves us all mankind.

Thus, Jesus said that sabbath was made for men, and not men for the sabbath. It was always meant for men from the beginning, that they might avoid temptations and resist against it, by the dedication of a holy day to be spared for the Lord within a week. There are too many distractions in this world, and it is not easy for us all to resist those temptations. By the dedication of such a day, it is the attempt to help us to refocus our attention on the Lord.

However, it should not be an excuse to stifle us from doing good deeds according to the will of God. What the Sabbath is meant is to restrain us from committing the same evil that had permeated our entire lives. But Sabbath should not stop us from doing the works of God, or otherwise, it would be defeating its own purpose. Whe we do the will of God, it is essentially the same as praising and glorifying the Name of God, and hence, what Jesus rebuked the Pharisees with hit them right at the spot.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Fabian, Pope of the Church and martyr of the Faith, and St. Sebastian, another holy martyr of the faith. These two holy and great men were important pillars of the Church and the Faith, whose lives can truly be inspiration to all of us. St. Fabian was a great worker of the faith whose works had helped the Church greatly in the midst of opposition by the world, that is the persecution by the Roman Empire.

Pope St. Fabian worked to maintain the unity of the Church amidst persecution and led the Church in an era of difficulty. He also strived to spread the Gospels to the areas where the people have yet to hear of the Good News of the Lord. But eventually, he too was martyred for the faith when the persecution against the Church intensified under the Emperor Decius. He led the faithful in the firm refusal of the demands of the Emperor to worship the pagan idols and the Emperor himself.

Meanwhile, St. Sebastian was a soldier in the Roman army, who was a covert Christian under the Emperor Diocletian, who was famous for his stubborn opposition against the Faith and for the great persecution he launched against the Church and the faithful. St. Sebastian was tasked to bring punishment to saint brothers who refused to give offerings to the pagan gods and to the Emperor, but instead, he freed them, and from his works, he also converted many others including his own peers whom he persuaded to abandon the falsehoods of the pagan gods and embrace the true Faith.

St. Sebastian was eventually punished by the Emperor for his betrayal and he was sentenced to death by being shot with arrows while being tied to a tree, which is the depiction we now often see of St. Sebastian. He was also a defender of the Faith and a faithful servant of the Lord, who did not fear of the rejection and the oppression of the world in spreading the true faith in God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, may the example of St. Sebastian and Pope St. Fabian be an encouragement to all of us the faithful, that we will always strive to reject the approaches of Satan and the dark forces in this world, and instead to remain faithful to our Lord, by following what He had taught us, and share the love He had given us through Jesus, His Son, by loving one another and caring for our fellow brethren. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 18 January 2015 : Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, World Day of Migrants and Refugees and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the calling of Samuel, who had been called by God in his youth, when he was still under the tutelage of Eli, the judge over Israel. He was called to be the servant of God, and to be the one who would lead the people of Israel back to the Lord, as the messenger of His will and desire for His people.

And in the Gospel we heard about the parallel story of how the Apostles, that is the chief disciples of the Lord, were called. They were called from their respective lives to be the bearers of the Good News of the Lord. And therefore, just like Samuel, they brought much goodness to the people of God. They were after all called to be the bearers of God’s great Light to a people who lived in a great darkness, to dispel that darkness and bring them all back to the true Light.

Why was Samuel called by the Lord? And why was the Apostles and the disciples of Christ called by Jesus to follow Him and to do His will? That is because there is indeed much wickedness in this world, so much so that it disgusts our Lord to see such great darkness and wickedness existing among us His people. Thus, He called His servants and all those whom He had chosen to be the bearers of His will to His people, to call them to repentance.

The people at the time of Samuel was led by the judges whom God had appointed over His people. But they were only faithful as long as the judges were alive. As soon as they passed away, they returned to their old way of sin and wickedness, following the customs and practices of their Canaanite neighbours. Therefore, God was angry with them and they suffered greatly at the hands of their persecutors.

Similarly, the people at the time of Jesus lived at a time when they were adrift among the false practices of the people around them. Just a century or so before the birth of Christ, if we read the Book of the Maccabees, then we should know how many of the people of God readily submitted to the pagan ways and rejected the way of the Lord, and they sinned greatly before God.

Nevertheless, it does not mean that God did not love His people. It is neither that He desired their destruction and annihilation. In fact, God loves all of them, and He desires only for their salvation. And that is why, He called Samuel to bring His warnings and His truth to the people, that they might repent and follow Him again. And in the same way, He called His Apostles through whom He made clear His truth and teachings, and from them, the same truth is passed down to all of us.

In the second reading, St. Paul in his letter to the Church in Corinth reminded the faithful that they must avoid all forms of sins and fornications, of the flesh and of the spirit. He reminded the people that they are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, that is the very Temple and House of God where God Himself resides. If they committed sin and fornications, then they would have defiled the very House and Presence of God Himself, and they committed grave sin that threatened condemnation on them.

Therefore it will be the same for all of us if we choose to live wickedly and be filled with sin. All of us who have believed in Christ and accept Him into ourselves through the Most Holy Eucharist have been made into the dwelling and the house where God Himself resides. Thus, we are all the Temples of the Lord’s Holy Presence and we have to maintain the purity and sanctity of this Temple, that is our body, our mind, our heart and our spirit, so that no taint of sin or wickedness may come and harm our purity.

How is the reading today relevant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is because all of us have been called to be the disciples and followers of Christ, and we all have been baptised in His Name, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have been granted such great grace to have the Lord Himself dwelling in us. Thus first, we have to maintain ourselves in a state of purity and avoiding the taints of sin as best as we can.

But we cannot just stop there, brethren, as the gifts and graces which we have received are the same gifts which God had given to Samuel, and also the same gifts as He had granted the Apostles and disciples in the ages past. Therefore, we too have the same obligation and duty as that which had been given to the prophets and the Apostles, that is to bring the revelations of God’s truth to mankind and to call mankind back to the Lord, abandoning their sins and embracing fully the way of the Lord.

Are we able to be like Samuel and say courageously to the Lord, “Lord, speak, for Your servant is listening!”? It is very difficult for many if not most of us to listen and to allow God to speak in us, within our heart. He speaks to us in a subtle way, and if we allow ourselves to be distracted by the many things in the world, the many pleasures and evils in it, then I would say that, we would be deaf to the Lord calling for us, to repent and to follow Him with all of our heart. Let us change our ways therefore, that we may truly be faithful and active disciples of our Lord.

And again therefore, it is related once again to how we live our lives. No one will believe in what we preach should we not live according to what our faith tells us. No one will follow us if we do not do as what we have preached to them. Thus, our faith in God must be truly a living faith, and in living our faith, we too can preserve the sanctity of our Temple, the Temple of God that is our body, our mind, our heart, and our soul.

Today we mark the World Day of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees. We ought to pray for all those who have been displaced by various causes, either by war, injustice, oppression or any other reasons, which cause them difficulties and sufferings. If we are truly the Temples of God, the dwelling place of our Lord, then by nature all of us should act according to what our Lord would have done, that is to love those who are least, weakest, the ostracised and the rejected ones in our society. Migrants and refugees are often among these, and if we do not love them, then who will?

Let us share some of our love and our joy, our blessing and our grace with them, the migrants, those who have travelled far from their homeland, as well as refugees who have been displaced from their lands. After all, was not Abraham a migrant too? He travelled far following the will of God, and he obediently followed His commandments, and his descendants Israel also have to move from place to place, suffering difficulties along the way. Thus, let us all share a thought for this, and give them the best we can do. Do not shun them, or ostracise them or reject them, but let us welcome them all with love.

Today we also mark the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, where we pray for the eventual reunion of all the faithful and all those who profess faith in Christ, under the orthodox and true teachings of the Faith, according to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church under the sovereignty and leadership of the one and only Vicar of Christ, the Pope of Rome, whom God had appointed to be His sole representative on this world.

Thus as we begin this solemn week of prayer, let us all commit ourselves to keep ourselves pure and righteous, following the Law of God and be obedient to His teachings, so that all others who see us, will believe and repent from their sins. Let us pray sincerely for the conversion of heretics and schismatics who have separated themselves from the true faith in particular, that they may have their eyes opened and their senses awakened, so they may know what the true Faith is like and abandon all forms of lies and falsehoods which Satan had planted in them to divide the Church of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be true to our mission in life, that is to keep ourselves faithful and at the same time, bring our brethren who are still in darkness and all those who have gone wayward, to return them to the path towards the Lord. Hence, now we pray, we act and we do things that will show the faith we have in our Lord, our loving God, and He who sees it all and knows it all, will reward us richly forevermore. God bless us all. Amen.


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Friday, 16 January 2015 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about how Jesus healed the paralytic man, by saying that He forgave the sins of that paralytic man. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law cried foul at this, and they accused Jesus of blaspheming against God. They were indeed so blinded by their jealousy of Jesus and His popularity, as well as the truth in His teachings, that they failed to see that in Jesus and all that He did, He showed the fullness of the works and the love of God.

If we read the first reading today from the letter and Epistle to the Hebrews, we may be scared and some of us may think that our Lord is an angry and wrathful God. But we should not be deceived by appearances and by what we perceive from what we hear and witness. On the contrary, we know through what Jesus had done, that God does not wish for our destruction but instead for our salvation and safety in Him.

God indeed hates sin and all of its forms. Sin is a filth and a stain on the otherwise immaculate and beautiful creation, all the universe and including all creatures and us mankind. Sin prevents us from rejoining our Lord who is all good and perfect, and it is a chasm that separates us from His love and from the inheritance which He intended for us.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, suffering and death are not what we have to face in this world if not for sin that cause these to happen to us. It is we ourselves by our disobedience and refusal to listen to the Lord calling and imploring us to change our ways. And that was the attitude shown by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who thought that they were doing the right thing, but what they did was in fact an act of disobedience and defiance, blindness against the love that God had shown through Jesus.

Instead, our attitudes should be like that of the paralytic man and those men who had helped him to get to Jesus. They wanted to see the Lord and be with Him so much, and for the paralytic man, he wanted to be healed so much, that they all did the amazing things to bring themselves, particularly that of the paralytic man, to the Lord Jesus. For their faith, especially that of the paralytic man, they received great graces and the favour of God, and he was healed from his afflictions.

Truly, all of us are sick, brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all sick from that sin which prevents us from finding our way to be reunited with God our loving Father. We are all sick inside, in our heart, soul and mind, and through that sickness, often even our physical self is also affected. Jesus knew what is important for us, that beyond the facade of our physical suffering, like that of the paralytic man, lies the even much more serious affliction of our souls, that is sin.

For his faith, Jesus forgave his sins, and through that, He also made his body whole once again too. On the contrary, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, while outwardly seems to be good and healthy in their body and physique, but inside they were truly rotten and corrupted by sin and the force of their human desires, pride, jealousy, greed and many others.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, the ball is in our court to decide on what to do from now on. Shall we be like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, being prideful and haughty, being unbending and lacking humility to seek the mercy and forgiveness of God? Shall we be fearful and refuse to seek the forgiveness of God just because we are afraid of His punishments and wrath set against us all due to our sins?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God is like a father to us, and He is indeed our Father. He cares for us and loves us all with all of His heart. Which father will not be angry or will not admonish his son or daughter when they do something wrong? Which father will stay silent or pretend not to know when his children are doing something wicked or something that can harm their lives?

Obviously, our Lord and Father had shown His ultimate love for us through the giving of Jesus His Son, who became the perfect and complete manifestation of that love He has for us. He admonishes us and chides us because He cares for us, and He does not want even a single one of us to be lost to eternal death and suffering because of sin. And that is why He gave us Jesus, to be our Saviour and to bring us back to Himself.

Hence, brethren, shall we all appreciate the love which God has for us, and the healing which He had offered through Jesus His Son? Let us all throw far, far away all forms of sins and fornications from our lives. We have to embrace the fullness of God’s love, and we can only do that when we commit ourselves completely and fully to the love which Jesus had taught us. Let us ask God humbly for His mercy and forgiveness, that we may all be gathered together again one day and praise Him forevermore in heaven. God bless us all. Amen.


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Monday, 5 January 2015 : Monday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the works of God made real and manifest in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God incarnate as Man by the Holy Spirit, and who by the same Holy Spirit did many wonderful works that only God can do. And through Jesus, God exercised His mighty power, teaching and healing the people from their afflictions, bringing the Good News long awaited into full and complete fulfillment.

Yesterday was the Feast of the Epiphany, the commemoration of the moment when the Lord revealed Himself to His people, by the means of the gifts of the three Wise men or the Magi, who presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In that celebration we continue to reaffirm our faith in our Lord Jesus who is Lord and King, who is God and one true God incarnate into flesh, and the One who was to suffer the consequences of sin so that we may be saved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we know who is the Christ, and what He has done. The Gospel today precisely spoke about the things that Jesus had done, reaffirming the call of St. John the Baptist, calling the people to repent and to change their ways, so that they would sin no more but enter into the grace of God, thus becoming worthy of the salvation which Christ brought into the world.

Why would the Lord to bother with all these? Why would He come to save the stubborn people who continue to refuse His love, even until today? We know of how many people who were lost along the way, who preferred the ways of the world and succumbing to their heart’s desires and greed. Many lived a debauched life filled with wickedness, with no regard for the Law and commandments of God.

Yet, if we know of the Lord, we should know how much He treasures each and every one of us without exception, even for the greatest of sinners. He does not want to let even a single one of us to be lost without His effort to try to bring us all back to Him. That is why He put so much effort into the attempt to reunite us with Himself, to the point that He Himself came into the world, so that we will not be lost.

As we continue to proceed through our daily celebrations of life, we have to grow stronger and better in our realisation of the love that the Lord has for us all, and the mercy which He wants to show to us. It is too often that we lack the necessary gratitude and acknowledgement of what God had done for us. Thus in this time and season, we have to grow more dedicated and devoted to Him.

How do we do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is by practicing our faith genuinely through our actions and deeds. We cannot be true disciples of the Lord unless if we ourselves have already practiced our faith with real actions and deeds. If what we are doing contradict what we believe in, then our faith in the Lord is meaningless, but if we do what our faith had told us to do, then our faith will benefit us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this world, there is still great darkness and many people are still lost in it, wandering around seeking for their Lord and God, and many were blinded by their own emotions, ego, greed, desire, jealousy, hatred and many others. Thus it is now entrusted to all of us, for us to continue the works of Christ in this world, proclaiming His salvation for all the peoples, and by our examples and actions, may we all be able to inspire more and more people to embrace the way of the Lord and abandon their old ways of sin.

May Almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ, help us on our journey in this life, that we will always be able to stay faithful to His ways and remain steadfast in our faith to Him. May all the peoples find their ways to the Lord and be saved as one people, that we may rejoice together at the end of time, blessing His great Name. Amen.


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Friday, 26 December 2014 : Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, the day after Christmas, is the feast of the protomartyr of the Faith, that is the first of those who have died for their Faith in God. He is St. Stephen, one of the seven deacons appointed to serve the people of God, sharing and giving the nourishment, and in charge of the Church’s charitable acts and works.

One might be wondering, why after the joy of Christmas, then we immediately go on to celebrate a tragedy, that is the death of a faithful and holy servant of God. But truthfully, if we have understood what Christmas is truly about, then this would not surprise us at all, and indeed, it would have fit perfectly into the order of things. Christmas joy and happiness is not about the glamour, the parties, the revelries and the things we do to make things look great, but it is truly about the Joy we have, for our God has given the perfect manifestation of His love for us and His faithfulness through Jesus.

Did Jesus come into the world to affirm His people and praise them? No, in fact, He did not mince His words, and His words are true, and filled with criticisms at those who have misinterpreted the Law, and worse still for those who even misled the faithful with their sinful ways. As such, as we all should know, Jesus did not have an easy time, and oppositions always came His way, particularly from the Pharisees and the chief priests who viewed Him as a rival to their power, influence and authority.

This is exactly what Jesus mentioned in the Gospel today. He mentioned how those who believed in Him will also suffer just as He had suffered. The world had rejected Him, and all those who placed their trust in the world also rejected Him. Then, the same too would also happen to all those who walk in the way of Christ. The world will also reject them and attempt to eliminate them, just as they had tried to eliminate Christ.

It is to say and highlight that following Christ is not an easy path, and it is certainly not for those who seek to be complacent and desire acceptance by the world. As St. Stephen had shown us, as well as many other martyrs of the Faith that followed in his footsteps, being faithful to God and obedient to His will is a tough one, and often life is placed on the line, and many lost their lives refusing to abandon their Faith in God.

Christ came into our world, incarnate as the Baby Jesus that we celebrate as Christmas, but many would not want to listen to Him and what He had come to tell them, because they were misled, they were deep in the lies of Satan and they embraced to much of worldliness that prevented them from realising the truth about themselves.

That is why when Christ came into the world and bring the truth to them, many found it difficult to accept what He had told them. The Pharisees and the elders of the people refused to listen to St. Stephen as well. St. Stephen spoke at length, telling them all about God and His wondrous works throughout the ages, and he highlighted how the stubbornness of the people of God prevented them from receiving the grace of God and understanding His will.

They closed their ears and covered them, while shouting and lusting for the death of St. Stephen. They tortured him and stoned him to death. This is a clear example of how mankind often refuses to listen to the truth and instead prefer to be buoyed and bought over by the lies of the devil. We are often distracted from the truth, and when the truth comes our way, we come up with a thousand excuses and more to deny that truth.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us live in denial, and we do not recognise our sinfulness before God. We tend to shut God out of our lives, and that is why many of us do not recognise the true value and meaning of Christmas. Christmas is about the coming of the Saviour, whose truth and love would dispel all falsehoods and lies, and we have to face the truth no matter how horrible and ugly the truth is.

Therefore, as we continue to rejoice in the joy of this Christmas season, let us also heed the examples of St. Stephen and the other holy martyrs, who had given up their lives for the Lord, in defense of their faith. They did not hide the truth, but reveal the entirety of the truth they have received from Christ. Therefore, we as the disciples and followers of Christ must also not mince our words, and we must not compromise on the Faith.

Let us preach the Good News of the Lord and the fullness of faith with complete trust and confidence in God’s providence. Practice the Faith through our words, actions and deeds, just like St. Stephen, who did not become angry or hateful to those who have condemned him to death, but instead like Christ, he forgave them and begged that their sins may not be counted against them.

Thus, foremost in our concerns should be the propagation of the unadulterated and unchanged Faith in all its fullness. We cannot be witness to half faiths, or else we witness for nothing. Instead, let us persevere, even against the opposition of the world, to be the bringer of the Joy of Christmas into the world. May Christ be with us all, His peoples and disciples, give us strength and renew our courage and resolve to live our faith with full effort and sincerity. God bless us all. Amen.


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Thursday, 4 December 2014 : First Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the readings of the Holy Scriptures, it is very clear that is a very strong message which those passages can show us and lead us in how we live out our faith. Today’s readings are about our foundations of faith and the foundations of our lives. It is our choice to have either a strong foundation and security, or to have a weak and shaky foundation and thus risking our own faith and our lives.

And it was also mentioned that, our foundation truly should be in the Lord, who is the Rock of salvation and the Rock of all. He is the strong and unbending Rock who will not be moved by anything, and He is the perfect foundation for us all. No one who put their complete trust and faith in God will be disappointed, for their Lord will secure them and care for them such that, none of them will be lost, no matter how strong the storms of this life can be.

Yes, this world of ours, and all of our lives in this world, no matter how different they are, are filled with many storms. These storms represent the difficulties and challenges which we will encounter on our path, and some of them are serious while some others are less serious but yet still a challenge for us all. In order for us to get to our ultimate destination, we have to go through these storms and endure them to reach safety in God.

What are some of these challenges and difficulties in life, brothers and sisters in Christ? They are the temptations of this world, the many temptations and offerings, which although not all of them may be necessarily bad and evil, but many of these can steer us away from our devotion to God and mislead us into following the evil one and our own human desire and selfishness.

It is in our nature to be selfish and thinking about our own good and benefits, as well as seeking for the pleasures of life. This is our human nature, brethren, and it is easy for us to be trapped in it, if we are not careful. If we allow them to take over us and conquer us, it is indeed then just the same as what the Lord mentioned as the house which was built on the foundation of sand, as when the storm comes, it will wreck the house as its foundation is weak.

This is what will happen, if we place our trust in ourselves, in our own power, in our own possessions and in the things and ways of this world. We are mere humans, brethren, and we are truly fragile. When things that are unexpected come our way, it is very often that we succumb and fall prey to the situation, and this is also the cause of much of the sorrows in this world.

Let me ask you, brothers and sisters in Christ, how many times is it in our world, that mankind had committed violence and acts of hatred, out of their fear and worry about themselves, out of their insecurities and problems? Many of this world’s tyrants and dictators were so worried of losing their power and control, and all that they had attained, their wealth and possessions, that they did all they could to preserve those, and the result is hardships, oppressions and wars.

How many of us lose our friendships or loved ones because of our fear, our worries, and especially our jealousy? It is very often for many of us to covet others’s things and privileges, because we fear and we think that in these things lie our strength and our hope. Then we are sorely mistaken, brethren. For all the things of this world are temporary in nature. Imagine, if someone is to store all his riches and treasures, all the rich cloths and goods in a storehouse and it suddenly burst into fire one day. And imagine if someone stores all of his or her wealth and possessions in a bank, or trusted them to the stock market, and one day the bank goes bankrupt or the stock market crashes.

All these show that while we mankind think that we are mighty and powerful, and if we think that we can put our trust in ourselves only, then we have to rethink it through. Trusting in mankind’s power is risky and fragile, just like a house built on sand. The wealth and possessions, fame and power that we built up in this world is not going to be carried over to the world that is to come.

Remember that Jesus said, build up our wealth in God and not in this world? This means that rather than worrying and fearing about what we need and what we have in this world, we should rather trust everything to God, knowing that He will care for us and provide for us everything that we need. Use our energy and strength instead on giving others the love, care and help which they deserved! And let me share with you the life of a saint whose feast day we celebrate today, and whose actions may inspire us to live deeper in trust to our God.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John of Damascus, or St. John Damascene, a philosopher and teacher of the Faith, who lived in a difficult time, as during his lifetime, the place where he stayed had been overrun and under the reign of the unbelievers. Yet, regardless of all these and all the difficulties he faced, he continued to serve the Lord in various ways and became a great source of inspiration for many in the matter of the Faith.

Through his writings he revealed the great wonders of the Lord to the people, and they became rich sources of the Tradition of our Faith. And when there were heretics among the faithful who sought the destruction of holy images and icons, in contravention to the true beliefs of the Faith, St. John of Damascus was not fearful to oppose such heresy, even if that means opposing the rulers of the world, the Roman Emperor of the East, who happened to support the heretics’ faith.

The actions and perseverance of St. John Damascene is an inspiration for all of us in how we ought to live our faith. More often than not, our lives in this world will be difficult and filled with many challenges, but if we put our complete trust in the Lord rather than in our own power and judgment, then we are bound to receive the great graces and favours of our Lord, who will guard us and protect us.

Yes, therefore, following the examples of St. John Damascene, the way of a Christian is to be true brothers and sisters to one another, showing mercy and love to those who need them, to be forgiving and loving in all things, and to be completely and fully devoted to our Lord. If we put our trust in the Lord, we shall never be disappointed, for the Lord is the Rock of our salvation, and if troubles come our way, and we anchor ourselves strongly in Him, nothing can harm us, for He will guard and protect us. God, be with us all and bless us all the days of our lives. Amen.


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Apostolic Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis on the Year of Consecrated Life (30 November 2014 – 2 February 2016)







Dear Brothers and Sisters in Consecrated Life,

I am writing to you as the Successor of Peter, to whom the Lord entrusted the task of confirming his brothers and sisters in faith (cf. Lk 22:32). But I am also writing to you as a brother who, like yourselves, is consecrated to God.

Together let us thank the Father, who called us to follow Jesus by fully embracing the Gospel and serving the Church, and poured into our hearts the Holy Spirit, the source of our joy and our witness to God’s love and mercy before the world.

In response to requests from many of you and from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, I decided to proclaim a Year of Consecrated Life on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, which speaks of religious in its sixth chapter, and of the Decree Perfectae Caritatis on the renewal of religious life. The Year will begin on 30 November 2014, the First Sunday of Advent, and conclude with the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple on 2 February 2016.

After consultation with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, I have chosen as the aims of this Year the same ones which Saint John Paul II proposed to the whole Church at the beginning of the third millennium, reiterating, in a certain sense, what he had earlier written in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata: “You have not only a glorious history to remember and to recount, but also a great history still to be accomplished! Look to the future, where the Spirit is sending you in order to do even greater things” (No. 110).


1. The first of these aims is to look to the past with gratitude. All our Institutes are heir to a history rich in charisms. At their origins we see the hand of God who, in his Spirit, calls certain individuals to follow Christ more closely, to translate the Gospel into a particular way of life, to read the signs of the times with the eyes of faith and to respond creatively to the needs of the Church. This initial experience then matured and developed, engaging new members in new geographic and cultural contexts, and giving rise to new ways of exercising the charism, new initiatives and expressions of apostolic charity. Like the seed which becomes a tree, each Institute grew and stretched out its branches.

During this Year, it would be appropriate for each charismatic family to reflect on its origins and history, in order to thank God who grants the Church a variety of gifts which embellish her and equip her for every good work (cf. Lumen Gentium, 12).

Recounting our history is essential for preserving our identity, for strengthening our unity as a family and our common sense of belonging. More than an exercise in archaeology or the cultivation of mere nostalgia, it calls for following in the footsteps of past generations in order to grasp the high ideals, and the vision and values which inspired them, beginning with the founders and foundresses and the first communities. In this way we come to see how the charism has been lived over the years, the creativity it has sparked, the difficulties it encountered and the concrete ways those difficulties were surmounted. We may also encounter cases of inconsistency, the result of human weakness and even at times a neglect of some essential aspects of the charism. Yet everything proves instructive and, taken as a whole, acts as a summons to conversion. To tell our story is to praise God and to thank him for all his gifts.

In a particular way we give thanks to God for these fifty years which followed the Second Vatican Council. The Council represented a “breath” of the Holy Spirit upon the whole Church. In consequence, consecrated life undertook a fruitful journey of renewal which, for all its lights and shadows, has been a time of grace, marked by the presence of the Spirit.

May this Year of Consecrated Life also be an occasion for confessing humbly, with immense confidence in the God who is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8), our own weakness and, in it, to experience the Lord’s merciful love. May this Year likewise be an occasion for bearing vigorous and joyful witness before the world to the holiness and vitality present in so many of those called to follow Jesus in the consecrated life.

2. This Year also calls us to live the present with passion. Grateful remembrance of the past leads us, as we listen attentively to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today, to implement ever more fully the essential aspects of our consecrated life.

From the beginnings of monasticism to the “new communities” of our own time, every form of consecrated life has been born of the Spirit’s call to follow Jesus as the Gospel teaches (cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 2). For the various founders and foundresses, the Gospel was the absolute rule, whereas every other rule was meant merely to be an expression of the Gospel and a means of living the Gospel to the full. For them, the ideal was Christ; they sought to be interiorly united to him and thus to be able to say with Saint Paul: “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21). Their vows were intended as a concrete expression of this passionate love.

The question we have to ask ourselves during this Year is if and how we too are open to being challenged by the Gospel; whether the Gospel is truly the “manual” for our daily living and the decisions we are called to make. The Gospel is demanding: it demands to be lived radically and sincerely. It is not enough to read it (even though the reading and study of Scripture is essential), nor is it enough to meditate on it (which we do joyfully each day). Jesus asks us to practice it, to put his words into effect in our lives.

Once again, we have to ask ourselves: Is Jesus really our first and only love, as we promised he would be when we professed our vows? Only if he is, will we be empowered to love, in truth and mercy, every person who crosses our path. For we will have learned from Jesus the meaning and practice of love. We will be able to love because we have his own heart.

Our founders and foundresses shared in Jesus’ own compassion when he saw the crowds who were like sheep without a shepherd. Like Jesus, who compassionately spoke his gracious word, healed the sick, gave bread to the hungry and offered his own life in sacrifice, so our founders and foundresses sought in different ways to be the service of all those to whom the Spirit sent them. They did so by their prayers of intercession, their preaching of the Gospel, their works of catechesis, education, their service to the poor and the infirm… The creativity of charity is boundless; it is able to find countless new ways of bringing the newness of the Gospel to every culture and every corner of society.

The Year of Consecrated Life challenges us to examine our fidelity to the mission entrusted to us. Are our ministries, our works and our presence consonant with what the Spirit asked of our founders and foundresses? Are they suitable for carrying out today, in society and the Church, those same ministries and works? Do we have the same passion for our people, are we close to them to the point of sharing in their joys and sorrows, thus truly understanding their needs and helping to respond to them? “The same generosity and self-sacrifice which guided your founders – Saint John Paul II once said – must now inspire you, their spiritual children, to keep alive the charisms which, by the power of the same Spirit who awakened them, are constantly being enriched and adapted, while losing none of their unique character. It is up to you to place those charisms at the service of the Church and to work for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom in its fullness”.[1]

Recalling our origins sheds light on yet another aspect of consecrated life. Our founders and foundresses were attracted by the unity of the Apostles with Christ and by the fellowship which marked the first community in Jerusalem. In establishing their own communities, each of them sought to replicate those models of evangelical living, to be of one heart and one soul, and to rejoice in the Lord’s presence (cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 15).

Living the present with passion means becoming “experts in communion”, “witnesses and architects of the ‘plan for unity’ which is the crowning point of human history in God’s design”.[2] In a polarized society, where different cultures experience difficulty in living alongside one another, where the powerless encounter oppression, where inequality abounds, we are called to offer a concrete model of community which, by acknowledging the dignity of each person and sharing our respective gifts, makes it possible to live as brothers and sisters.

So, be men and women of communion! Have the courage to be present in the midst of conflict and tension, as a credible sign of the presence of the Spirit who inspires in human hearts a passion for all to be one (cf. Jn 17:21). Live the mysticism of encounter, which entails “the ability to hear, to listen to other people; the ability to seek together ways and means”.[3] Live in the light of the loving relationship of the three divine Persons (cf. 1 Jn 4:8), the model for all interpersonal relationships.

3. To embrace the future with hope should be the third aim of this Year. We all know the difficulties which the various forms of consecrated life are currently experiencing: decreasing vocations and aging members, particularly in the Western world; economic problems stemming from the global financial crisis; issues of internationalization and globalization; the threats posed by relativism and a sense of isolation and social irrelevance… But it is precisely amid these uncertainties, which we share with so many of our contemporaries, that we are called to practice the virtue of hope, the fruit of our faith in the Lord of history, who continues to tell us: “Be not afraid… for I am with you” (Jer 1:8).

This hope is not based on statistics or accomplishments, but on the One in whom we have put our trust (cf. 2 Tim 1:2), the One for whom “nothing is impossible” (Lk 1:37). This is the hope which does not disappoint; it is the hope which enables consecrated life to keep writing its great history well into the future. It is to that future that we must always look, conscious that the Holy Spirit spurs us on so that he can still do great things with us.

So do not yield to the temptation to see things in terms of numbers and efficiency, and even less to trust in your own strength. In scanning the horizons of your lives and the present moment, be watchful and alert. Together with Benedict XVI, I urge you not to “join the ranks of the prophets of doom who proclaim the end or meaninglessness of the consecrated life in the Church in our day; rather, clothe yourselves in Jesus Christ and put on the armour of light – as Saint Paul urged (cf. Rom 13:11-14) – keeping awake and watchful”.[4] Let us constantly set out anew, with trust in the Lord.

I would especially like to say a word to those of you who are young. You are the present, since you are already taking active part in the lives of your Institutes, offering all the freshness and generosity of your “yes”. At the same time you are the future, for soon you will be called to take on roles of leadership in the life, formation, service and mission of your communities. This Year should see you actively engaged in dialogue with the previous generation. In fraternal communion you will be enriched by their experiences and wisdom, while at the same time inspiring them, by your own energy and enthusiasm, to recapture their original idealism. In this way the entire community can join in finding new ways of living the Gospel and responding more effectively to the need for witness and proclamation.

I am also happy to know that you will have the opportunity during this Year to meet with other young religious from different Institutes. May such encounters become a regular means of fostering communion, mutual support, and unity.


What in particular do I expect from this Year of grace for consecrated life?

1. That the old saying will always be true: “Where there are religious, there is joy”. We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek our happiness elsewhere; that the authentic fraternity found in our communities increases our joy; and that our total self-giving in service to the Church, to families and young people, to the elderly and the poor, brings us life-long personal fulfilment.

None of us should be dour, discontented and dissatisfied, for “a gloomy disciple is a disciple of gloom”. Like everyone else, we have our troubles, our dark nights of the soul, our disappointments and infirmities, our experience of slowing down as we grow older. But in all these things we should be able to discover “perfect joy”. For it is here that we learn to recognize the face of Christ, who became like us in all things, and to rejoice in the knowledge that we are being conformed to him who, out of love of us, did not refuse the sufferings of the cross.

In a society which exalts the cult of efficiency, fitness and success, one which ignores the poor and dismisses “losers”, we can witness by our lives to the truth of the words of Scripture: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).

We can apply to the consecrated life the words of Benedict XVI which I cited in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but by attraction” (No. 14). The consecrated life will not flourish as a result of brilliant vocation programs, but because the young people we meet find us attractive, because they see us as men and women who are happy! Similarly, the apostolic effectiveness of consecrated life does not depend on the efficiency of its methods. It depends on the eloquence of your lives, lives which radiate the joy and beauty of living the Gospel and following Christ to the full.

As I said to the members of ecclesial movements on the Vigil of Pentecost last year: “Fundamentally, the strength of the Church is living by the Gospel and bearing witness to our faith. The Church is the salt of the earth; she is the light of the world. She is called to make present in society the leaven of the Kingdom of God and she does this primarily by her witness, her witness of brotherly love, of solidarity and of sharing with others” (18 May 2013).

2. I am counting on you “to wake up the world”, since the distinctive sign of consecrated life is prophecy. As I told the Superiors General: “Radical evangelical living is not only for religious: it is demanded of everyone. But religious follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way.” This is the priority that is needed right now: “to be prophets who witness to how Jesus lived on this earth… a religious must never abandon prophecy” (29 November 2013).

Prophets receive from God the ability to scrutinize the times in which they live and to interpret events: they are like sentinels who keep watch in the night and sense the coming of the dawn (cf. Is 21:11-12). Prophets know God and they know the men and women who are their brothers and sisters. They are able to discern and denounce the evil of sin and injustice. Because they are free, they are beholden to no one but God, and they have no interest other than God. Prophets tend to be on the side of the poor and the powerless, for they know that God himself is on their side.

So I trust that, rather than living in some utopia, you will find ways to create “alternate spaces”, where the Gospel approach of self-giving, fraternity, embracing differences, and love of one another can thrive. Monasteries, communities, centres of spirituality, schools, hospitals, family shelters – all these are places which the charity and creativity born of your charisms have brought into being, and with constant creativity must continue to bring into being. They should increasingly be the leaven for a society inspired by the Gospel, a “city on a hill”, which testifies to the truth and the power of Jesus’ words.

At times, like Elijah and Jonah, you may feel the temptation to flee, to abandon the task of being a prophet because it is too demanding, wearisome or apparently fruitless. But prophets know that they are never alone. As he did with Jeremiah, so God encourages us: “Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).

3. Men and women religious, like all other consecrated persons, have been called, as I mentioned, “experts in communion”. So I am hoping that the “spirituality of communion”, so emphasized by Saint John Paul II, will become a reality and that you will be in the forefront of responding to “the great challenge facing us” in this new millennium: “to make the Church the home and the school of communion.”[5] I am sure that in this Year you will make every effort to make the ideal of fraternity pursued by your founders and foundresses expand everywhere, like concentric circles.

Communion is lived first and foremost within the respective communities of each Institute. To this end, I would ask you to think about my frequent comments about criticism, gossip, envy, jealousy, hostility as ways of acting which have no place in our houses. This being the case, the path of charity open before us is almost infinite, since it entails mutual acceptance and concern, practicing a communion of goods both material and spiritual, fraternal correction and respect for those who are weak … it is the “mystique of living together” which makes our life “a sacred pilgrimage”.[6] We need to ask ourselves about the way we relate to persons from different cultures, as our communities become increasingly international. How can we enable each member to say freely what he or she thinks, to be accepted with his or her particular gifts, and to become fully co-responsible?

I also hope for a growth in communion between the members of different Institutes. Might this Year be an occasion for us to step out more courageously from the confines of our respective Institutes and to work together, at the local and global levels, on projects involving formation, evangelization, and social action? This would make for a more effective prophetic witness. Communion and the encounter between different charisms and vocations can open up a path of hope. No one contributes to the future in isolation, by his or her efforts alone, but by seeing himself or herself as part of a true communion which is constantly open to encounter, dialogue, attentive listening and mutual assistance. Such a communion inoculates us from the disease of self-absorption.

Consecrated men and women are also called to true synergy with all other vocations in the Church, beginning with priests and the lay faithful, in order to “spread the spirituality of communion, first of all in their internal life and then in the ecclesial community, and even beyond its boundaries”.[7]

4. I also expect from you what I have asked all the members of the Church: to come out of yourselves and go forth to the existential peripheries. “Go into all the world”; these were the last words which Jesus spoke to his followers and which he continues to address to us (cf. Mk 16:15). A whole world awaits us: men and women who have lost all hope, families in difficulty, abandoned children, young people without a future, the elderly, sick and abandoned, those who are rich in the world’s goods but impoverished within, men and women looking for a purpose in life, thirsting for the divine…

Don’t be closed in on yourselves, don’t be stifled by petty squabbles, don’t remain a hostage to your own problems. These will be resolved if you go forth and help others to resolve their own problems, and proclaim the Good News. You will find life by giving life, hope by giving hope, love by giving love.

I ask you to work concretely in welcoming refugees, drawing near to the poor, and finding creative ways to catechize, to proclaim the Gospel and to teach others how to pray. Consequently, I would hope that structures can be streamlined, large religious houses repurposed for works which better respond to the present demands of evangelization and charity, and apostolates adjusted to new needs.

5. I expect that each form of consecrated life will question what it is that God and people today are asking of them.

Monasteries and groups which are primarily contemplative could meet or otherwise engage in an exchange of experiences on the life of prayer, on ways of deepening communion with the entire Church, on supporting persecuted Christians, and welcoming and assisting those seeking a deeper spiritual life or requiring moral or material support.

The same can be done by Institutes dedicated to works of charity, teaching and cultural advancement, to preaching the Gospel or to carrying out specific pastoral ministries. It could also be done by Secular Institutes, whose members are found at almost every level of society. The creativity of the Spirit has generated ways of life and activities so diverse that they cannot be easily categorized or fit into ready-made templates. So I cannot address each and every charismatic configuration. Yet during this Year no one can feel excused from seriously examining his or her presence in the Church’s life and from responding to the new demands constantly being made on us, to the cry of the poor.

Only by such concern for the needs of the world, and by docility to the promptings of the Spirit, will this Year of Consecrated Life become an authentic kairos, a time rich in God’s grace, a time of transformation.


1. In this letter, I wish to speak not only to consecrated persons, but also to the laity, who share with them the same ideals, spirit and mission. Some Religious Institutes have a long tradition in this regard, while the experience of others is more recent. Indeed, around each religious family, every Society of Apostolic Life and every Secular Institute, there is a larger family, a “charismatic family”, which includes a number of Institutes which identify with the same charism, and especially lay faithful who feel called, precisely as lay persons, to share in the same charismatic reality.

I urge you, as laity, to live this Year for Consecrated Life as a grace which can make you more aware of the gift you yourselves have received. Celebrate it with your entire “family”, so that you can grow and respond together to the promptings of the Spirit in society today. On some occasions when consecrated men and women from different Institutes come together, arrange to be present yourselves so as to give expression to the one gift of God. In this way you will come to know the experiences of other charismatic families and other lay groups, and thus have an opportunity for mutual enrichment and support.

2. The Year for Consecrated Life concerns not only consecrated persons, but the entire Church. Consequently, I ask the whole Christian people to be increasingly aware of the gift which is the presence of our many consecrated men and women, heirs of the great saints who have written the history of Christianity. What would the Church be without Saint Benedict and Saint Basil, without Saint Augustine and Saint Bernard, without Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Angelica Merici and Saint Vincent de Paul. The list could go on and on, up to Saint John Bosco and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. As Blessed Paul VI pointed out: “Without this concrete sign there would be a danger that the charity which animates the entire Church would grow cold, that the salvific paradox of the Gospel would be blunted, and that the “salt” of faith would lose its savour in a world undergoing secularization” (Evangelica Testificatio, 3).

So I invite every Christian community to experience this Year above all as a moment of thanksgiving to the Lord and grateful remembrance for all the gifts we continue to receive, thanks to the sanctity of founders and foundresses, and from the fidelity to their charism shown by so many consecrated men and women. I ask all of you to draw close to these men and women, to rejoice with them, to share their difficulties and to assist them, to whatever degree possible, in their ministries and works, for the latter are, in the end, those of the entire Church. Let them know the affection and the warmth which the entire Christian people feels for them.

3. In this letter I do not hesitate to address a word to the consecrated men and women and to the members of fraternities and communities who belong to Churches of traditions other than the Catholic tradition. Monasticism is part of the heritage of the undivided Church, and is still very much alive in both the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church. The monastic tradition, and other later experiences from the time when the Church in the West was still united, have inspired analogous initiatives in the Ecclesial Communities of the reformed tradition. These have continued to give birth to further expressions of fraternal community and service.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life has planned a number of initiatives to facilitate encounters between members of different expressions of consecrated and fraternal life in the various Churches. I warmly encourage such meetings as a means of increasing mutual understanding, respect and reciprocal cooperation, so that the ecumenism of the consecrated life can prove helpful for the greater journey towards the unity of all the Churches.

4. Nor can we forget that the phenomenon of monasticism and of other expressions of religious fraternity is present in all the great religions. There are instances, some long-standing, of inter-monastic dialogue involving the Catholic Church and certain of the great religious traditions. I trust that the Year of Consecrated Life will be an opportunity to review the progress made, to make consecrated persons aware of this dialogue, and to consider what further steps can be taken towards greater mutual understanding and greater cooperation in the many common areas of service to human life.

Journeying together always brings enrichment, and can open new paths to relationships between peoples and cultures, which nowadays appear so difficult.

5. Finally, in a special way, I address my brother bishops. May this Year be an opportunity to accept institutes of consecrated life, readily and joyfully, as a spiritual capital which contributes to the good of the whole body of Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium, 43), and not simply that of the individual religious families. “Consecrated life is a gift to the Church, it is born of the Church, it grows in the Church, and it is entirely directed to the Church”.[8] For this reason, precisely as a gift to the Church, it is not an isolated or marginal reality, but deeply a part of her. It is at the heart of the Church, a decisive element of her mission, inasmuch as it expresses the deepest nature of the Christian vocation and the yearning of the Church as the Bride for union with her sole Spouse. Thus, “it belongs… absolutely to the life and holiness” of the Church (ibid., 44).

In the light of this, I ask you, the Pastors of the particular Churches, to show special concern for promoting within your communities the different charisms, whether long-standing or recent. I ask you to do this by your support and encouragement, your assistance in discernment, and your tender and loving closeness to those situations of suffering and weakness in which some consecrated men or women may find themselves. Above all, do this by instructing the People of God in the value of consecrated life, so that its beauty and holiness may shine forth in the Church.

I entrust this Year of Consecrated Life to Mary, the Virgin of listening and contemplation, the first disciple of her beloved Son. Let us look to her, the highly -beloved daughter of the Father, endowed with every gift of grace, as the unsurpassed model for all those who follow Christ in love of God and service to their neighbour.

Lastly, I join all of you in gratitude for the gifts of grace and light with which the Lord graciously wills to enrich us, and I accompany you with my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 21 November 2014, Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary



[1] Apostolic Letter to the Religious of Latin America on the occasion of the Fifth Centenary of the Evangelization of the New World Los caminos del Evangelio (29 June 1990), 26.[2]SACRED CONGREGATION FOR RELIGIOUS AND SECULAR INSTITUTES, Religious and Human Promotion (12 August 1980), 24: L’Osservatore Romano, Suppl., 12 November 1980, pp. I-VIII.

[3] Address to Rectors and Students of the Pontifical Colleges and Residences of Rome (2 May 2014).

[4] POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord(2 February 2013).

[5] Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (6 January 2001), 43.

[6]Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 87

[7] JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata (25 March 1996), 51.

[8] BISHOP J.M. BERGOGLIO, Intervention at the Synod on the Consecrated Life and its Mission in the Church and in the World, XVI General Congregation, 13 October 1994.

Friday, 28 November 2014 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the readings are about what is to come at the end of time, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as King and Master of all, and ultimately as the Judge of all creations. Our Lord Jesus Christ is going to come in triumph and glory, vanquishing and defeating evil once and for all, and cast them all into the utter darkness and the eternal lake of fire prepared for them.

In the first reading, it was told about the final defeat of Satan, who will be cast down and have his power forever broken. The authority which Satan once has over us, through sin, has been broken through the actions of our Lord Jesus, by His death and resurrection, and then the might and kingdom of Satan itself will be crushed when the Lord comes again.

That is because, brothers and sisters in Christ, as long as mankind still commit sin and evil in their actions, in their words and deeds, they will always come again under the rule and tyranny of Satan, who is the lord over evil and sin. As long as we sin and commit things evil and abhorrent in the eyes of God, Satan is our master and we are his thralls.

And as long as we remain in sin, and allow sin to affect our hearts and our lives, then death will also have power over us. This is the first death, and also will be the second death for us, if we do not change our ways. What is the first death and the second death, brothers and sisters? The second death was mentioned in the first reading today taken from the Book of Revelations. It is an eternal death and an eternal suffering, from which, all those who suffer that second death, will never be able to escape.

All of us mankind were not meant to suffer death or suffering, brethren, for our ancestor Adam, the first man, and his wife, Eve, the first woman, were created to enjoy the eternal bliss and happiness of the Lord’s creations in Eden. They were meant to enjoy for eternity the goodness of God and not to suffer death and suffering in this world. Alas, sin entered the hearts of men by the disobedience of men, who listened to the sweet lies of Satan, who charmed and twisted them away from true devotion to God.

Satan appeared to Eve as a snake, the most cunning and intelligent of all the creatures, and it is the same old snake that the angel of God will chain up at the end of times, Satan the deceiver, to be bound up so that all of us may be freed from his tyranny and control. Satan played on our desires and our curiosity, and those took the better of us, when he managed to persuade the first men to eat from the forbidden tree and thus sinned against God.

After mankind sinned against God, then we deserve to be punished, and that punishment, is to suffer in our life, whereas the original intention had been for us to enjoy our life in bliss and happiness, and then also to die, suffering from death, just as the words say that, ‘from dust you have come, and to dust you shall return’. This is the first death, the death because of men’s disobedience against God, and all of us mankind are subject to this.

Yes, one day we will all die, and all those who have gone before us have also tasted death, and those who are yet to be born, will one day also suffer death, the first death, but not a final death. For our Lord Jesus Christ had come as our Saviour, who offered a new hope and light amidst the darkened outlook of our future. By His death on the cross, He broke free the chains of sin that enslaved us to death, and by His resurrection, He brought us the offer of a new life everlasting.

And thus, we have no need to fear death, the first death. After all, all of us will go through it at one point of time or another. We will all die, but what matters is, if after that first death, whether we will suffer the second death or instead go into the eternal life promised by our God. This will depend on our actions and deeds in this life on earth, and will be judged upon us at the time of the Last Judgment.

Yes, the second part of our first reading today tells us about the Last Judgment, where the Lord will separate those who have done good and those who have failed to do so, or those who did what are wicked in the sight of God. The good ones He will give His promised reward of everlasting life, in the fullness of glory and happiness which He had always intended for His beloved men from the very beginning, but taken away from us because of the sins of our ancestors and also our own sins.

How about those who are found to be wicked and unworthy then? They will be judged and condemned for their actions, and the second death will be their portion. The second death is eternal, hell-like suffering of total and eternal separation from God and His love, and no hope is to be found there, for there is no escape, and those who are found wicked will be cast down there together with Satan and his fellow fallen angels, who also rebelled against God and brought mankind down with them.

Ultimately, the Gospel today reminds us of the fact that we need to do something, and that we can no longer be passive in our faith and in our lives. Jesus was talking about the signs of nature and the seasons, and how if the people of His time could tell of the coming of the season and time by observing the nature around them, then the coming of the Lord Jesus and the end of time can surely also be known by us, not in exact timing, but in the imminency of it.

Jesus always told us that the coming of the kingdom of God will be like that of a thief, sudden and unannounced. And indeed, only God Himself knows the exact time of His coming. If we think that we still have time and remain idle, not doing things which may help us to secure our salvation, then we may be caught unaware and unprepared, and at that time, if we are judged to be among the wicked, then no amount of pleading or begging will help us anymore.

Therefore, what we need to do brothers and sisters in Christ? We have to be proactive in our faith, and practice it with full sincerity and genuinely show love, as what the Lord had taught us. We have many opportunities in this life, every single day, hour or even minute. Whenever we see that there are people being ostracised, treated badly against, hungry or lonely, are we courageous enough to show them our love? Or do we prefer to remain idle and ignore them?

The choice is clearly ours, to be loving and good, or to be selfish and wicked. The ball is in our court, and it is our choice whether to take up the opportunity and use them, or let them go to waste. May Almighty God awaken in us the courage as well as the sense of urgency to seek Him and do what He had taught us to do, so that at the end of the days, He may find us worthy and righteous, and worthy to enjoy the eternal graces and happiness which He had prepared for all of us. God bless us all. Amen.


First Reading :



Psalm :



Gospel Reading :