We have now entered the great season of lent. It is important for us to realize that our life is a journey, a movement towards God and the way to prepare ourselves to receive Him fully. During the season of Lent, the Church invites us to examine our lives, to repent of our sins and do penance. By means of fasting, penance and prayers, the faithful obtain the strength they need to overcome our sinful tendencies.
What makes each Lent different is our response. This special time can be an opportunity for real conversion of heart. Turning away from the trap of selfishness, turning towards Jesus who gives fullness of life, lasting into eternity, starting here and now.
At the beginning of chapter six of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to give to the poor, to pray and to fast. But He prefaces this call with a warning not to “practice these good deeds before people in order to be seen by them.” Three times He repeats “your Father, who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.” Lent is a time for that deeper meeting with God and the true conversion of our hearts. Only out of that conversion can come any good deeds worthy of the name.
A Different Approach to Fasting... Fasts have a tendency to be oriented toward things like giving up food or television. But there are many other creative ways we can welcome Jesus' healing touch. Here are suggestions we may want to consider. *Fast from anger and hatred. Give our family an extra dose of love each day. Give up anger - Be more patient. *Fast from judging others. Before making any judgments, recall how Jesus overlooks our faults. Give up gossiping - Control your tongue. *Fast from discouragement. Hold on to Jesus' promise that He has a perfect plan for our life. Give up discouragement - Be full of hope. *Fast from complaining. When we find ourselves about to complain, close our eyes and recall some of the little moments of joy Jesus has given us. Give up complaining - Focus on gratitude. *Fast from resentment or bitterness. Work on forgiving those who may have hurt us. Give up bitterness - Turn to forgiveness. *Fast from spending too much money. Try to reduce our spending by ten percent and give those savings to the poor.
Finally, make this Lent a time to rediscover the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Don’t wait till Holy Week, but find a time early in Lent to reflect on where you need forgiveness and healing and bring it to Confession. The priest will welcome you and help you. The prayer of Absolution is beautiful for the truly penitent to hear.
Wishing you Peace, Love, and Happiness during Lent and let’s pray for one another as we journey to Easter.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil
One day, Mother Teresa was asking a baker for some bread to feed the hungry children in her orphanage. The baker was furious with her request for free bread. Not only did he turn her down, he spat at her. In response to his outrageous actions, Mother Teresa calmly reached deep into her pocket, took out her handkerchief, wiped the spit off and said "That was for me; now what about some bread for my poor children?" The baker was touched by Mother Teresa's love and greatness, complied and thereafter provided bread for the children in the orphanage. What makes a disciple of Jesus Christ different from everyone else? What makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace - treating others, not as we deserve, but as God wishes us to be treated - with loving- kindness and mercy.
I do not know if you have heard this already. An unknown author said something about what a Christian is all about. This is what he said:
This weekend’s Gospel speaks of the essence of holiness. And why should we be holy? It’s because God Himself is holy and we have been created in His image. The passage concludes with Jesus saying, “Be perfect, then, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This obviously is an ideal, a goal to be aimed at. And the perfection intended is not total perfection but rather to aim at that total impartiality of a God who extends His providential care and love equally to all. What Jesus wants is for us to adopt a divine perspective and to see other people as they really are. He wants us to pray for everyone and to love them as God loves them. Jesus understands perfectly well that the best way to get people to be more open is to treat them with dignity and to appeal to their better instincts.
So let's take up the challenge Jesus gives us today. Let's try to be perfect, in each decision we make and in all that we do. Strive to be perfect!
Fr. Dantus Thottathil
Wednesday 26th February: Ash Wednesday 6:00pm Mass
The message of this weekend’s Gospel is for us to understand the fundamental value of Jesus calling us to have a heart that is forgiving, faithful and trustful. This is the wisdom of God that comes as a gift from God. It is not mere human wisdom. In bringing the law of God to completion, Jesus calls us to live in love, a love that completes us and makes us whole because it is God’s love. God calls us to a radical way of living. We are called to be more than just moral: God calls us to be virtuous. We become virtuous by faithfully choosing to do good. Naturally we are not perfect, but God calls us to reflect on how we live and to understand what He desires for us. Such reflection can lead us to insight that will help us to live better and be more virtuous in the future. Therefore, by reflecting on our experience in the light of faith we grow in wisdom.
In today’s Gospel Matthew emphasizes the close relationship between Jewish Law and the teaching of Jesus. Here Jesus explains that He has not come to abolish the Law and the prophets but to bring them to completion. He tells us that the Law still has its force and will not pass away till it has achieved the purpose for which it was given. Jesus gives us the new law, namely the law of love. In the first reading Sirach affirms that God knows every human action. As a wise teacher he urges his listeners to make the right choice in life. They have the commandments to guide them. In the second reading Paul reminds us that God has many riches for those who love Him and tells us that the rulers of this age failed to recognize God’s wisdom in Christ. True wisdom however is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
Today Jesus is sharing with us the wisdom of forgiveness, faithfulness and trustfulness. Let us pray today and everyday that we might be able to forgive, to be faithful and to be truthful. But let us also remember to first choose to love and be loved.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil
Saint Therese of Lisieux, died at the age of 24, after living as an enclosed nun from her teenage years. Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called her the "Little Flower", and found in her short life more inspiration for their own lives than in volumes by theologians. Some of the other nuns thought that Therese had achieved nothing at all in her short life. Yet within a generation, this young nun who had never left her convent was proclaimed patroness of the missions, not because she ever went anywhere, but because of her special love of the missions, and the prayers and letters she gave in support of missionaries. This is reminder to all of us who feel we can do nothing, that it is the little things that keep God's kingdom growing.
Even from her cloister she let her light shine out. Salt and light. This is what Jesus tells His disciples they are. This is what Jesus is telling us today that we are, namely, salt and light. “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.” Yes, you and me. That’s who we are. In both instances Jesus is telling us that our lives need to be a source of inspiration, hope, joy, peace and life to the people around us.
We can make a positive difference in the world because both salt and light make a positive difference. Salt is essential for life and it was and still is used as a preservative and flavouring. So like salt, we help to preserve life or keep life good and Godly but we also make it pleasant and enjoyable – our presence should add joy and love to the lives of others. In the same way a light brings hope in the darkness and it provides guidance and direction, but light is also essential for life and so again as a light to the world our lives provide hope to those around us and
to the culture in which we live.
Think how different our world would be right now if we all fully embraced these values and allowed this energy to shape our thoughts, words and deeds. By being friendly, kind and cheerful in our words spoken and shared on social media, our world would be different. We would look different. None of us in this Church can do everything, but all of us in this place can do something in our homes and parish communities that the light of Christ may shine more brightly in the world.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil
The Relics of Sts. Therese, Louis and Zelie will be at the Ormiston Carmelite Monastery Church on the 12th and 13th February. See here for more details.
Whatever we are waiting for usually shows up sooner or later:
A major part of our lives is spent waiting. We wait for a baby to be born, for our children to grow up and be independent, for retirement; indeed, we spend a lot of time waiting. Besides that we also have to wait for people who are late, we wait for the bus or train and whatever. But there is something interesting about waiting. Most of the time, whatever we are waiting for shows up sooner or later. Simeon and Anna had waited for a long time, and
finally their hope was fulfilled.
Simeon was not alone in recognizing the Lord's presence in the temple. Anna, too, was filled with the Holy Spirit. She was found daily in the temple, attending to the Lord in prayer and speaking prophetically about God's promise to send a redeemer. Anna was a woman of great hope. Advancing age and the disappointments of life can easily make us feel hopeless if we do not have our hope rightly placed. Anna's hope in God and His promises grew with age. She never ceased to worship God in faith and to pray with hope.
All those who, like Simeon and Anna, persevere in piety and in the service of God, no matter how insignificant their lives seem in people’s eyes, are instruments the Holy Spirit uses to make Christ known to others. In His plan of redemption, God uses these simple souls to do much good for all mankind. In other words, the Holy Spirit employs ordinary men and women with simple faith as His instruments to bear witness to Christ, His ideals and teachings, just as He used Simeon and Anna. The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of the Lord to us when we are receptive and eager to receive Him.
Let us be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us to recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord with us and in others. We need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to see the presence of Jesus in ourselves and in others. What do you hope for? The hope which God places within us through the gift of the Spirit enables us to persevere with confident trust in God even in the face of trails, setbacks, and challenges that may come our way. The hope which God places in our heart is the desire for the kingdom of heaven and everlasting life and happiness with our heavenly Father.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil