Friday, December 28, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
While researching on December 28, I came to know that according to Catholicism, December 28 is the Feast of the Holy Innocents or Martyrs. During this octave of Christmas, the Church celebrates the memory of the small children of the neighborhood of Bethlehem put to death by Herod. Sacrificed by a wicked monarch, these innocent lives bear witness to Christ who was persecuted from the time of His birth by a world which would not receive Him. It is Christ Himself who is at stake in this mass-murder of the children; already the choice, for or against Him, is put clearly before men. But the persecutors are powerless, for Christ came to perform a work of salvation that nothing can prevent; when He fell into the hands of His enemies at the time chosen by God it was to redeem the world by His own Blood.
Our Christmas joy is tempered today by a feeling of sadness. But the Church looks principally to the glory of the children, of these innocent victims, whom she shows us in heaven following the Lamb wherever He goes.
The Daily Readings for December 28, 2012 will be as follows:
Reading 1, First John 1:5--2:2
This is what we have heard from him and are declaring to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 If we say that we share in God's life while we are living in darkness, we are lying, because we are not living the truth. 7 But if we live in light, as he is in light, we have a share in another's life, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say, 'We have no sin,' we are deceiving ourselves, and truth has no place in us; 9 if we acknowledge our sins, he is trustworthy and upright, so that he will forgive our sins and will cleanse us from all evil. 10 If we say, 'We have never sinned,' we make him a liar, and his word has no place in us.
1 My children, I am writing this to prevent you from sinning; but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the upright. 2 He is the sacrifice to expiate our sins, and not only ours, but also those of the whole world.
Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 124:2-3, 4-5, 7-8
2 if Yahweh had not been on our side when people attacked us, 3 they would have swallowed us alive in the heat of their anger. 4 Then water was washing us away, a torrent running right over us; 5 running right over us then were turbulent waters. 7 We escaped like a bird from the fowlers' net. The net was broken and we escaped; 8 our help is in the name of Yahweh, who made heaven and earth.
Gospel, Matthew 2:13-18
13 After they had left, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.' 14 So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I called my son out of Egypt. 16 Herod was furious on realising that he had been fooled by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or less, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. 17 Then were fulfilled the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 18 A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.
Every year, during Christmas we decorate a Christmas tree, ideally an evergreen conifer such as pine or fir, traditionally associated with the celebration of Christmas. But this year we are going to decorate an artificial one though I am not too fond of artificial Christmas trees. We all have already got into the Christmas spirit with our wine and other traditional recipes.
Every day we are playing Christmas carols and we immensely enjoyed the four-day Mira-Bhayander Christmas Carol Carnival organized by our church. I honestly feel that Christmas time is most magical time of the year filled with unique attractions, events and activities. Honest to my Lord God, I never enjoyed any of the ‘pagan’ festivals which I used to celebrate earlier the way I enjoy this Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus.
I will be spending a lot of time this week scurrying around, looking for the “perfect” gift for my kids. But whatever it is, I fully agree with David Jeremiah when he said that “All the Christmas presents in the world are worth nothing without the presence of Christ”. How well I understand this now. Christmas (from Old English Cristes Maesse or “Mass of Christ” should be actually a reminder for us about the trials and tribulations of Jesus Christ. It should be a reminder for us that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son on earth on Christmas to redeem us from our sins. Christmas is all about Jesus and nothing else. Christmas is the bell God uses to remind us a savior was born.
Jesus was born about 7 BC in Bethlehem in Judea and with His miraculous birth; He is considered the Son of God and God himself. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made”. Jesus Christ is the person who changed the world forever with His teachings of love and faith, using logical parables. He embraced fishermen and tax collectors and turned them into some of the most influential men to ever live.
The most central biblical names for Jesus are Son of God, Son of Man, Christ, Lord and Savior. The history of Jesus Christ is contained in four books or Gospels; outside these it cannot be pretended that there is any reliable narrative of His life. No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Today is 18th December. This day has a special place in my heart. It was on this day, twelve years ago, that I had received the Good News of Jemimah, my first born. It was on this day that the angel Gabriel of my life had proclaimed the good news that little Jemimah will be born to me in August. How happy I was on that day. How happy I am today.
There has been so many upheavals in our life but I still sentimentally remember this day every year. We had nothing but since the day Jemimah is born, we haven't looked back in life. We have just moved on. Alone - at that time, the three of us and now, the four of us. Nothing much has changed. There has been no help for us from anywhere. The four of us have just trughed alone in life.
So I am very sentimental about 18th December. Old memories are just flashing on in my mind. Some good, some bad and some ugly memories. But the happiness of conceiving Jemimah which I had felt that day still remains incomparable. Its a feeling which only a mother can understand.
Though I am not the most perfect being, I am working hard to become one. I fail most of the times but still I keep trying. I need to emulate Mother Mary who is the perfect role model of a loving mother.
Onion is known as phalandu in Sanskrit and has a good source of fiber and vitamin C and might inhibit tumor growth. It’s amazing to know that an onion is capable of fighting infections and healing the human body and is rich in sulfur-containing compounds.
Onions include substantial relief from number of diseases such as common cold, asthma, bacterial infections and respiratory problems. Onions contain flavonoids such as quercetin which reduces the risk of colon cancer. It is because of health benefits of onion, that in ancient Mesopotamia, onion was believed as cure of all illness. Physicians in ancient Egypt prescribed onion and during 16th century, onion was prescribed to cure infertility in women.
Onions can be helpful in reducing inflammation in arthritis as well as reversing bone loss. The health benefits of onion are endless because of its powerful anti-septic and anti-bacterial properties and it also prevents cancer tumor growth, improving sinuses and helps to treat earaches.
I am finding onions hard to avoid since the time I have come to know about their considerable health benefits and since these are naturally free of fat and cholesterol and also low in sodium, they are very beneficial for women who are at a risk for osteoporosis. It has blood sugar lowering ability and one of the most popular health benefits of onions is alleviating the symptoms of diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing the production of insulin. Onions contain load of organic sulfur, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. They help prevent and treat several different types of cancers. Hold on, it’s not enough – onions also reduce risks of heart attack and lowers cholesterol. If that’s not enough, onions are often used to prevent tooth decay and hello there, it’s found that onions can destroy osteoclasts that break down bone during menopause.
So, hats off to an onion!!!
Coconut water is not only high in potassium; it contains many other magical health benefits as well. We have been consistently drinking coconut water from last few months to regulate our intestinal function. Though I was never a cola fan and a juice person, I have adapted to this natural juice which is packed with simple sugar and electrolytes. It acts as a natural detoxification.
I used to have coconut water while I was pregnant and now I have started having it regularly. People with dry skin can apply tender coconut water on their face directly. So I guess I should apply this on my face now since this supposed winter season has made my skin quite dry.
We all know that lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C and so consuming lemon water daily has provided a lot of health benefits for me. Some of the health benefits of drinking lemon water include liver cleansing, improved digestion and elimination, increased body alkalinity, and much more. But one of the major health benefits of drinking lemon water is that it has paved way for losing my weight faster, thus acting as a great weight loss remedy for me. And I can already feel that.
Lemon water also helps me in eliminating my liver toxins and waste products: I drink 5 litres of water each day and I make sure that it has lemon in it. Besides enormous health benefits, this inexpensive and easily available citrus fruit is excellent for my skin care and it protects my skin from infections. What I learnt just now is that lemon juice mixed with water and honey brings glow to the skin and so its time about I start adding honey to my lemon water. It will enable moisturize my skin. And most importantly, drinking lemon water regularly has also prevented constipation.
I can vouch that drinking lemon water throughout the day has revolutionized my health and has definitely brought a sense of achievement and pride in me as a woman.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Its a great book and I really like some of the Bible quotes she has used while defining FAITH and which even I would like to share in my post.
In Chapter 4 (page number 44), she quotes Benedict XVI's DEUS CARITAS EST, 1. It says: "One does not become a Christian through an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but through an encounter with an event, a person who gives life a new horizon, and with this, a decisive direction". I just love this.
Then on page number 51, she takes an extract from Rom 12: 1-2 which says: "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect". Simply beautiful...!!!
On the same page, she writes, we need to return to Jesus Christ and to His Gospel daily. How very true...!!!
In Chapter 6 (Faith and Witness) on page number 68, her writing touched me the most. Here she writes that "We are in the community only because Jesus has called us. He loves, calls and enables the person to overcome one's own brokenness and thus enables him/her to be in relationship with Him. Each one whom Jesus calls has a particular relationship with Him and through Jesus each one has relationship with one another. Jesus has His own style of bringing people into community and communion". Amazing truth - just what happened to me this year...!!! Nothing can be truer than this...!!!
She continues: "The wonderful vision in Ez 36: 24-28 speaks eloquently of this. From all nations and countries, God will gather and bring us to our own land. After purifying our hearts, He will grant us a new heart and a new spirit and how beautiful it is to be assured that He will put His own spirit within us". I was touched by these lines because this is what exactly happened to me. Its amazing how my life too went through a similar journey. I was born and brought up in Bhilai, then I went to Durgapur, and from there I was taken to Vasai. Its really a bit dramatic how I met my Golu (a Christian) and how I got married to him. God gathered me from different places and brought me to my own land. He then purified my heart, granted me a new heart and a new spirit. Alleluia...praise the Lord...!!!
To add further, in the next paragraph she quotes: "Ez 11: 17-20 offers another striking vision, God will gather us from wherever we have been scattered and will give us the land of Israel and give us a new heart. It is amazing to know that an intimate relationship of love is at work between God and His people". How true, Lord, how true...!!!
She ends the paragraph writing: "God's unique gift to each person is the name by which He calls him/her. Intimacy with God and familiarity with Jesus leads to childlike faith and total surrender". Whoof...something I can vouch on...!!!
On page number 70 she writes: "Family prayer is a powerful means to draw down God's blessings in abundance on each and every member of the family".
The last paragraph on this page says: "God is guiding and leading us with immense love. Everything that is happening to us is lovingly guided by Him and therefore is concrete expressions of God's love for us. It is His way of weaving our personal salvation history". Alleluia...!!!
Here's something which has given me a lot of confidence. I always get nervous when I have to say or do something in public. To get over this she quotes Luke 12: 4-12 -- "Do not fear the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what to say". To this she adds: It is the Holy Spirit who will put appropriate words in our mouth at the correct time.
Somewhere in the middle of the book she has written that "When everything around us seems to be utterly dark, the Lord Jesus is ever close to us, therefore we forge ahead whispering frequently in our hearts: our trust in You, Lord God".
For conclusion she writes: "Perhaps there were times when our faith in the power of prayer faltered. Unlimited trust in Jesus can help us to go back to him over and over again even when we falter". What soothing words...!!!
So I guess everyone must read this book to increase their faith in Christ Jesus in this Year of Faith.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
The year has flown by like the wind.
Beginning October 11, 2012, and concluding on November 24, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI has declared as the "Year of Faith" because it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and also the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). During the Year of Faith, Catholics are asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the catechism so that they may deepen their knowledge of the faith.
But much before this was declared, I was already becoming ‘faithful’ towards Jesus Christ. Personally, this year has been a “Year of Faith” for me in its true sense – in fact, 2012 has been a major “year of change” in my life. Soon after the dragon of Chinese astrology arrived with the Lunar New Year in January, constructive changes started taking place in my life. 2012 has been a landmark year for me. Twenty four years back, 1988, was yet another memorable year of my life. It is the happiest year of my childhood and now 2012 has been an extremely happy year.
Though I don’t remember much about 1988, all I can say is that I was happy – I had scaled academically and I had a lot of friends whom I have been able to locate on Facebook now. About 2012… Well, it has been good to me right from the beginning because I dared to bring in change in me. It was on January 24 that the “bitter realization” donned on me and I decided to bring in the much-needed change in my life. Obviously, I couldn’t do this alone – I had to take the Lord’s help and the Lord was good to me and helped me bringing this change in my life!
I started off by being faithful to the Lord by reading books on Him and listening to His songs of praise. These were the first couple of steps I had to undertake to bring in the change in my life. Though I stumbled initially, I kept growing in faith. In March, I completed my Bible studies and applied for the post of a Sunday School teacher (catechist). I had wanted to teach the lower grades but I feel that God wanted me to take up bigger challenge and so I became a Confirmation (eleventh standard) teacher. What a way Jesus exalted me in my life for being humbly faithful to Him! More than my own self, Jesus knew my capabilities better. By June, I was a catechist. Praise the Lord.
In July I dared to bring in professional change in my life. This fulfilled my long-cherished dream of becoming a work-from-home mom. My daughters’ crèche was stopped – what else could I ask in life? But if that was not enough, yet another dream of mine got fulfilled around September – I adopted two puppies and gave shelter to two homeless souls – Peter Pan and Tinker Bell! Despite the messy home, life couldn’t be any more beautiful!
October is considered as the month of Rosary and this year I attended all the days except the day I was in Delhi. So Mamma Mary blessed me and interceded to her son Jesus Christ to make me an Eucharistic Minister for my faithfulness. In November, I became an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. This has been the highlight of my spiritual life in 2012.
According to C.S. Lewis, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward”. Since the time I decided to let go and started moving forward with the help of Jesus Christ, there was no looking back for me this year. And as Marilyn Monroe has said: “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together”, better things started falling in my life in 2012.
As according to Price Pritchett “Change always comes bearing gifts”, all the spiritual changes in my life brought in the gift of Jesus Christ for me. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, it’s written – “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” I became a new creature in Christ.
At the very beginning of the year, St. Paul was greatly instrumental in making spiritual changes in my life. As he had said: “What shall I do, Lord?” And the Lord said to him, “Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do” (Acts 22:10). Much in the same way, in my own way, I had asked the Lord “what shall I do” and the Lord asked me to “rise” and “go into Damascus” and after that I had on my own known “all that was appointed” for me!
Soon after that I had read a book on the life of St. Augustine which also brought in spiritual changes in me. Since then there has been only faith formation in my life this year. But I still feel that this is just the tip of the iceberg – a lot more waits for me! I have to keep growing in faith by constantly reading the Bible, reading about saints and martyrs, spending time in personal prayer, and knowing my catechism perfectly well.
St. Augustine has said that “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us”. And so I have been humbled by the kind of love God has shown for me this year. He has also said that “He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent” and so because I asked the Lord to save me, He answered my call and set me free from all my iniquities.
And like St. Augustine has also said that “If we live good lives, the times are also good. As we are, such are the times” and so in 2013 also, I aspire to live in Christ’s spirit. I aspire to live a good spiritual life and grow in faith each passing day.
Lastly, again to quote St. Augustine, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee”, I am always restless without my Jesus Christ. I want to be with Him at all the moments of my life in 2013. I don’t want Uncle Onida to bother me anymore.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
My first-ever Kanjee (I would like to call it so) isn’t at all a simple contrast border silk saree but has gold zari dots and patterns and definitely holds a place of pride among my various other sarees.
My Kanjee is a resplendent blue real zari pure Kanjeevaram silk saree embellished with zari work along with same material blouse. Finally, I have managed to add something ravishing with traditional touch to my wardrobe. I am so glad that I decided to own this saree because Kanjeevaram silk sarees have been able to maintain their grandeur and style even today and I feel proud to say that my saree gives out a royal look and makes me feel rich.
Since Kanchipuram sarees are a must for every bridal trousseau, I have decided to wear this saree on my thirteen wedding anniversary night on 28th December. These sarees are termed as proud possessions of womanhood and since a Kanjeevaram saree is a must have in every Indian woman's closet, now it’s there in mine.
A Kanjeevaram saree is made to last a lifetime because it will never go out of fashion. Kanjeevaram sarees are considered as heirlooms and are passed down from generations. So I guess I will have to buy another one to pass it on to my two daughters. :)
Our response: Lord hear our prayer
1. God of love, we pray for our Holy Mother Church, may our Pope, Bishops, priests, religious and laity continue to experience your tender love and compassionate care as disciples of Jesus. For this let us pray to the Lord, Lord….!
2. Lord, inspire and guide the leaders of our nation and all the surrounding nations that they may rule the values of liberty, equality and fraternity. We also pray for those holding important positions in society, various organizations, churches, etc. that they may use their power and position for the welfare of the fellow brethren. For this…….!
3. We pray for all the sick people in our parish and in our community that through the healing power of the Lord, may they receive the healing from all kinds of illnesses. For this…..!
4. We pray for all the priests of our parish, our SCC spiritual director, parish coordinator, area coordinator, animators and their families who are working tirelessly for the parish that You may bless them abundantly. For this……!
5. Let us pray for our personal and local needs. For this……!
But sadly, I couldn’t get a chance to distribute communion because there were too many ministers already present.
It is believed that after Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven, St. Andrew went to Greece to preach though he was a native of Bethsaida, a town in Galilee, upon the banks of the lake of Genesareth. He was the son of Jonah, or John (Matthew 16:17; John 1:42) and was the brother of Simon Peter. But whether elder or younger the Holy Scriptures have not acquainted us. It is usually said that St Andrew was among the top three Apostles of Jesus.