Living as a christian means reaching out to those in need, which my parents practised regularly. Today I was thinking of our parents and all the good they did for us growing up, so I would like to share some memories! My father did not spare us to face the realities of life when reaching the age of reason of 7 years, when we made our First Holy Communion. He was a a quiet man, tender, loving and we had a peaceful family life, but he was an authoritative figure in the family as well for raising his family with good morals according to the teachings of the catholic church. He did not have to show his anger vocally or physically to invoke fear in his family. He voiced his instructions on how we were to behave or there would be consequences if we didn’t obey. I suppose he inherited this trait from his own father who had many children too. They would just give the ‘stern look’ and cleared their throat, (when in the company of other people) sometimes a few times for us to hear it!

In these days of parents deciding on what to expose their children to, makes me think of other third world countries, where children see life and death first hand and there’s no escaping it. Its a tough world and you have to know that life is not only about being happy and getting whatever you want, there are serious situations to face and think about and act on. We saw poverty on the streets, beggars, disabled people, homeless people. The face of Christ! Living in a very hot climate with limited electricity, water and food is a life challenge, some people give up hope in these situations. If a beggar came to our front door, they were never turned away in vain, my mother would always give them money or food, a coat or blanket if it was cold day. During the riots my parents helped shelter some families escaping persecution.

My first experience of growing up was my dad taking the elder kids to our first funeral of a close relative. I was about 8 years old and a bit nervous about it all as I held my father’s hand walking down the street. I remember him speaking about it that we were old enough to understand this. We were told to pay our respects and say a prayer, which is a duty of every christian to pay their respects to the dead. We learn that in our catechism. I asked many questions about death later and also learned at school from the Catechism. When I was about 13 years old my maternal grandfather passed away and in those days, they kept the body of the deceased at home overnight, so we were around our grandfather’s body while his family prayed non stop. Life also had to go on, house routines kept going on, as there were other family members and children to be cared for. It was very difficult time.

Attending Holy Mass and Confession: My father would take us elder children to Holy Mass on a Sunday or Christmas & Easter and afterwards walk to the cemetery to visit his parents grave, which was a ritual. Holy Mass was usually at 8.30 am at St Xavier’s Church. At the cemetery he would take out his rosary and tearfully say the rosary for his family. At church, I would see my father line up for Confession before Mass every time. There was always Confession at Mass and usually a long line, so you had to try and get in early. If someone didn’t make their Confession, they did not go up to receive Holy Communion, mostly because they knew that they could not receive Holy Communion unless in a state of Grace. They knew their conscience. I myself as a young child would observe this, as my parents would instil this teaching to us as well. If you don’t get a chance to go to Confession and Holy Communion is being distributed at that time, because of the long queue, you cannot go up to receive Holy Communion. It felt disappointing not to receive Jesus, but we had to accept it.

Dad would help mum by taking the elder kids to church sometimes while she was home caring for the other younger kids on a Sunday and preparing the meals for the day.

The 3 Hour Fasting before Holy Communion and Latin Mass!. On the subject of being well behaved and quiet at church at Mass. In those days (1960s before 2nd Vatican Council relaxed the rules), Mass was a good hour, sometimes said in Latin! We had to fast from food 3 hours before Mass to receive Holy Communion! I remember seeing a few people faint in church if it was a hot day and they were weak. People used to carry ‘Smelling Salts’ or strong perfume dabbed on their handkerchief in their handbag to help the fainted person. A few times I would feel faint in church, but would pray earnestly ‘Lord please keep me alert as I dont want to faint, it looks scary!’. Our mother followed the rule of fasting, even though she had little babies to nurse and care for. As long as I can remember, mum would walk straight down the long aisle of the church to the front row with all her little kiddies hanging around her. There was never (or hardly) any behaviour problems in the church, no running after little kiddies. If we misbehaved, it was reported back to my father and he would carry out his discipline as he said. No sweets or toys or going out to the park that day to play with your friends. You had to stay indoors while the rest had a good time outside! And that was enough to remember to behave next time! In those days, there was no television, computer to play on. We only went to a movie once or twice a year when a famous movie was on. We had to handwrite ‘I must not do … again ‘ a hundred lines and crying while we do this thinking of our siblings having fun in the park! A good lesson to learn!

On being respectful to our elders, he would instruct us to go and visit our aunts and uncles to wish them at Christmas, New Years Day, Easter and Birthdays. At family parties, dad also ensured that we did not run around too much in another person’s house, but to behave. If any of the other kids wanted us to join them on a game of chasy or run around the building and end up in a quarrel with someone or some child would fall and be in tears, not allowed. They had to come and ask my father’s permission first. Only if he approved of who he could trust his kids to would he grant permission. He would leave early at parties, to make sure we went to bed early. My dad also would not allow little children to be present when adults were talking about some family issues or any other world views. He would ask us to go play outside, or read a book in another room. He was very firm about this as he would say ‘little piggies have long ears’. We felt a bit left out but this is a lesson I learned and still impart to our family too. It is a wise thing to do and makes sense for family peace in the long term.

Many young friends came and went by our front door of our house wanting to go and play while we were studying inside. Perchance some kid was curious and dropped in, my dad would be sitting outside the door relaxing after a long day at work, enjoying nature as he always did with a cup of tea and a smoke, the kid would look at him for approval to come in, dad would look quietly at him or her, observe quietly, ‘have you got some homework to do or your mum needs help?’. Some would say ‘yes I have done my homework’, ‘Okay then you have to wait while my kids finish their homework, come back later’. He just had this quiet, stern, no nonsense look. That kid would nod and run off! To hear children these days who are a bit rebellious, it would not even cross my mind to question my parents’ decisions on what time to play or with whom we made friends with. I did not even feel a spirit of rebellion to challenge my parents words.

Dad was specific with timetables of a large family household, meals on time, bed time, prayer time, play time. Every night after dinner, all the kids had to kneel and say the rosary or shorter prayers (if we were tired or sick), sing a hymn together. To this day, people who lived around our house remember hearing us say our prayers and sing our hymns. Still he had time to share his love with each of us at the right time.

Life is tough, God gave us the Ten Commandments to follow a good simple set of rules, so that we will find inner peace and as a consequence the rest of society will live in peace. We each have a choice, God gave each of us free will to choose between good and evil. The Ten Commandments relate to honoring God, our family – parents, our spouse and respecting our neighbors. Sometimes we have to give up our selfishness to take whatever we want to gratify ourselves (whether its people, things, food, external material possessions), but when we learn to suffer and endure the hungers, do we receive Grace from God to fortify our souls for life’s tough journey.

Thank you Dad and mum for giving us our life and our faith, for being faithful to one another in life and death and passing on life’s wisdom, teachings, sharing our family history and memories and our catholic faith. I am so grateful for your wisdom and discipline you taught us so many valuable things of respecting and caring for others, what it is to hope for tomorrow in hard times, to keep looking to the light of Jesus, keep praying, have faith in God, suffer in silence for the good of the other, keep moving forward, because our God is faithful, He is always there with you right by your side!

The secret to imbuing the Church with holiness isn’t really that secret at all. Some preliminary ideas I had for my own life included:

  • Cut down on distractions so I have more time for prayer (for me, that meant saying sayonara to Facebook for the time being)
  • Find a regular time for spiritual reading (for me, that’s first thing in the morning, a few chapters of the Bible with my cup of coffee)
  • Anchor the day in prayer. We can’t all spend hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament each day, but we can consecrate our day by saying a prayer in the morning before starting work/school/family responsibilities; pray the Angelus at noon; say grace before meals, and examine our conscience before sleeping.
  • Pray the Rosary. In my case, this means praying it more with my young kids. Sometimes that’s just a decade, but that’s okay.
  • Practice Friday penance. Contrary to common belief, as Catholics we are still asked to give up meat on Friday or choose another penitential practice. What better way to unite our suffering Church to Christ, than to remember His Passion?
  • Almsgiving/charity. I’ve never heard of a saint that isn’t generous. Some of us have more financial means than others to give a lot of money, but we all have something to give. Perhaps it means giving up luxuries to give to others or perhaps we can give in the form of a meal for someone who is sick, clothing for a family in need, or time spent with the sick or lonely.
  • Recommit to Church community. Yes, our Church is broken. She is also the Bride of Christ. How can we draw closer to our Church community? Perhaps you can ask your pastor if there is a ministry that particularly needs assistance. Maybe you can commit to staying after Mass for 15 minutes each week to lend a listening ear to fellow parishioners. We can all definitely (as I recently was reminded at a conference) decide to pray for our priests more than we criticize them.
  • And (saving the best for last) we can increase our participation in the Sacraments. Sunday Mass is not just an obligation, it’s a privilege. If there is a way for you to make it to daily Mass, you won’t regret it. The Sacrament of Penance can be, admittedly, intimidating, but this is what all of us are called to — to humbly recognize our failings and resolve to avoid temptation in the future.

One thing we can know with certainty is that “the gates of hell will not prevail” against the Church, as Christ Himself told us. We may certainly be called to be St. Catherine of Sienas and raise our voices against sin the hierarchical Church. But we are also most definitely called, this year and our entire lives, to unite ourselves with Christ.

Taken from uCatholic website.

Dear reader

Reminding you of God’s gift to us through receiving the Sacraments regularly in our life. We receive food for our souls – Grace which sustains us in our life struggles.

Do you try to include attending Holy Mass and receiving the Sacrament of Confession and Holy Communion, Eucharistic Adoration – regularly – in your weekly timetable?

I must admit it was and still is a daily and weekly reschedule to make sure I do participate in the Life of the Church and receive the Sacraments. Some days I might miss out due to a last minute change in my diary but I try and make up for it the rest of the week. Putting God as your No.1 priority in your life will change your life immensely – for your good, for your peace, for a greater understanding of life, the Holy Spirit will inspire you, Jesus will speak to you directly, comfort you when you need comfort and guidance. This is every single day of your life – we cannot guarantee what tomorrow brings. We need God’s Grace to sustain us for that next moment in our lives when we are faced with a challenge and we won’t know who to turn to for help. Every baptized Christian needs to receive the Sacraments by participating in the Life of Christ and the Church, to help us in this life on earth and prepare us for our eternal home.

Here is a great video clip entitled Power and Grace, produced by Ascension Press, to help you on your way:


An extract to share:

Those trifles of all trifles, and vanities of vanities, my one-time mistresses, held me back, plucking at my garment of flesh and murmuring softly: “Are you sending us away?”

And ” From this moment shall we not be with you, now or forever?”

And: ” From this moment shall this or that not be allowed you, now or forever?” What were they suggesting to me, O my God?…

I hesitated to shake them off and leap upwards on the way I was called, for the strong force of habit said to me: “Do you think you can live without them?”

But by this time its voice was growing fainter. In the direction towards which I had already turned my face and was quivering in fear of going, I could see the austere beauty of Continence honorably soliciting me to come to her and not linger, her hands full of multitudes of good examples…

“The Lord their God gave me to them. Why do you rely on yourself and so fail to stand at all? Cast yourself upon Him and do not be afraid; He will not draw back and let you fall. Cast yourself on Him without fear; He will receive you and heal you”…

This disputation within my heart was nothing other than a struggle between myself against myself…

When my most searching scrutiny had drawn up all my vileness from the secret depths of my soul and heaped it in my heart’s sight, a mighty storm rose up in me bringing a mighty rain of tears.

In order to give release to my tears and lamentations, I got up and went out… I flung myself down somehow under a certain fig tree and no longer tried to check my tears, which poured from my eyes in a flood, an acceptable sacrifice to Thee.

And I spoke to you freely: “And thou, O Lord, how long? How long, Lord, will you be angry forever? Remember not our former iniquities.” (Ps 6:4; 78:5)… And I continued my miserable complaining: “How long, how long shall I go on saying tomorrow and again tomorrow? Why not now, why not this very hour?”

And suddenly I heard a voice from some nearby house, a boy’s voice or a girl’s voice, a sort of sing-song repeated again and again: “Take and read, take and read.” I stopped weeping and immediately began to search my mind most carefully as to whether children were accustomed to chant these words in any kind of game, and I could not remember that I had ever heard any such thing.

Damming back my flood of tears I rose up again, interpreting the incident as quite certainly a divine command to open the book of the apostle Paul and read the first passage on which my eyes should fall…

I returned hastily and took up the book and read what I had seen before:

“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscence,” (Rom 13:13).

I had no wish to read any further, and no need.

For in that instant, with the very ending of the sentence, it was as though a light of utter confidence shone in my heart, and all the darkness of uncertainty vanished away.”

The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. In one way or another, we go on living between the hands of robbers and the teeth of raging wolves, and in light of these present dangers we ask your prayers. The sheep moreover are insolent. The shepherd seeks out the straying sheep, but because they have wandered away and are lost they say that they are not ours. “Why do you want us? Why do you seek us?” they ask, as if their straying and being lost were not the very reason for our wanting them and seeking them out. “If I am straying,” he says, “if I am lost, why do you want me?” You are straying, that is why I wish to recall you. You have been lost, I wish to find you. “But I wish to stray,” he says: “I wish to be lost.”

So you wish to stray and be lost? How much better that I do not also wish this. Certainly, I dare say, I am unwelcome. But I listen to the Apostle who says: Preach the word; insist upon it, welcome and unwelcome. Welcome to whom? Unwelcome to whom? By all means welcome to those who desire it; unwelcome to those who do not. However unwelcome, I dare to say: “You wish to stray, you wish to be lost; but I do not want this.” For the one whom I fear does not wish this. And should I wish it, consider his words of reproach: The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. Shall I fear you rather than him? Remember, we must all present ourselves before the judgement seat of Christ.

I shall recall the straying; I shall seek the lost. Whether they wish it or not, I shall do it. And should the brambles of the forests tear at me when I seek them, I shall force myself through all straits; I shall put down all hedges. So far as the God whom I fear grants me the strength, I shall search everywhere. I shall recall the straying; I shall seek after those on the verge of being lost. If you do not want me to suffer, do not stray, do not become lost. It is enough that I lament your straying and loss. No, I fear that in neglecting you, I shall also kill what is strong. Consider the passage that follows: And what was strong you have destroyed. Should I neglect the straying and lost, the strong one will also take delight in straying and in being lost.”

“The people in the parks, the alcoholics, the homeless, they are looking at you. Do not be those who look and do not see. Look and see.” St Teresa of Calcutta

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