St Lucy is a renowned saint who was persecuted and became a Christian martyr. Not only is she accepted as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church but also in the Anglican, Lutheran and Orthodox Churches. St Lucy’s feast day is celebrated on the 13th of December, it was held in her honour in early Britain around the middle ages. Lucy was born into a rich family; however, it has been said that her father passed away when she was only 5 years of age. She consecrated herself to Jesus and wanted to give her life to the needy and poor. So, she hoped to distribute her settlement of marriage to them. Her mother suffered a bleeding disorder and without knowing the decision Lucy had made to God, her mother who was worried about her future; arranged her marriage with a wealthy young pagan man.
St Agatha played a big role in St Lucy’s life. In a dream, she came to Lucy and revealed that God was pleased with her life and the way she lived out her faith. She promised that she would be the glory of Syracuse as she was of Catania. As a reward, St Agatha told that her mother would be cured because of her faith. Later she discovered that her mother was completely healed.
After this, Lucy persuaded her mother to give away the fortunes that belonged to them to the poor. It has been quoted that she said “…whatever you give away at death for the Lord’s sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Saviour, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death.” The news spread to her fiancé that her jewels and valuable items were being distributed among the needy. This enraged him and he denounced her to the governor of Syracuse. Here they tried to force her to burn an offering to the image of the emperor and to this she refused. It was said that when the guards came to collect her they were unable to move her! Additionally, bundles of wood were put upon her and set on fire, however, it would not burn! Finally, she was put to death by a sword.
Through St Lucy’s life, we can understand the love and care she had towards those who were needy. One major factor that we can notice is her boldness to say no to sin when she was asked to burn an offering. May we also get the courage and boldness to stay strong in faith and say no to sin like her! Legend has it that her eyes were gouged out. This is one of the reasons that St Lucy is the patron saint of eye illnesses. When her body was prepared for burial in the family mausoleum it was discovered that her eyes had been miraculously restored.
The emblem of eyes on a cup or plate apparently reflects popular devotion to her as protector of sight, because of her name, Lucia (from the Latin word “lux” which means “light”). In paintings St Lucy is frequently shown holding her eyes on a golden plate and a palm branch which is the symbol of martyrdom and victory.
– by Nihaal Manoj from Derby, UK
The devil has a way of making a sin look like no big deal when you are thinking of committing it, but too big of a deal for God to forgive you after you’ve done it. We’ve all experienced the endless voices of harsh thoughts after we’ve made mistakes. So, how do we know which voices are from God?
If you have fallen in your pursuit of purity, it’s important to know the difference between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation is the voice of guilt that makes us feel damaged, worthless and shameful. This was the reaction of Adam and Eve when they hid from God in the garden. Their feelings of condemnation resulted in their failure to run to His mercy— and this was what hurt Him most of all! Conviction, on the other hand, allows us to see how we have failed and therefore calls us to change. This is why St Thérèse could say that her weakness and wretchedness were like an elevator that kept her close to God. Conviction motivates us to hold fast to mercy.
How about you? Have you made mistakes? Have you fallen in your path to purity? Have you made choices you aren’t proud of? Do you feel the weight on your conscience? Do you hate your sin? Welcome to the club! We’ve all heard people talk about “Catholic Guilt.” The misconception is that Catholics are shamed into good behaviour because of inner condemnations. On the contrary, when we make a mistake, our conscience knows we were created for more. The healthy version of “Catholic Guilt” gives us the drive to find out what that “more” is all about.
Chances are you’ve heard some follow-up chatter in your mind and felt it in your heart as you’ve wallowed in guilt. So, how do you know if these thoughts and voices come from God? Here are some ways to discern God’s voice from all the others: God speaks with conviction, not condemnation. His voice never encourages shame, only an invitation to conversion. It’s God’s kindness that pursues our brokenness. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long”(Psalm 23:6).
The voice of God doesn’t make us feel hopeless, but always provides a way out. “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). God’s voice is usually gentle, not harsh or obtrusive. The devil will make you feel like there are these daunting labels put upon you that are too overwhelming to overcome like – you’re selfish, worthless, impure. God will call you to precise, specific ways to turn from sin and encounter Him. “And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). God’s voice makes us feel like everything is under control. “ In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you” (2 Chronicles 20:6).
The God whose words created the universe wants to speak peace into your life. The devil wants to speak discord and indignity. “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account” (Philippians 4:17). God came not to ruin our joy but to fulfill it. When you encounter a voice ask, “Does this voice bring me abundant life or shrink my heart?” “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). God’s word strikes us in a place that no one else can access. His word penetrates us in a way nothing else can. “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
To hear the Lord, we must give Him a chance to speak. Our lives are so full of distractions and in every moment the world is vying for our attention! God wants to speak His love into our shame. It’s in this relationship with Jesus that we can discover that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. His mercy wants to recreate us in His love! Jesus doesn’t come to us in anger but rather with a desire to reconcile so that we can be together with Him forever. Let His voice calm the storm in your heart and heal you in the way only He can!
This article originally appeared on www.womaninlove.org
– by Katie Hartfiel, USA
As follower of Jesus was going through a very tough time. Despite appealing to the Lord in prayer there seemed to be no relief from his suffering. Then one night he had a dream. In the dream the Lord came to meet this struggling Christian and together they went to a large warehouse which were full of crosses. The disciple was amazed to see so many different types of cross in one place. There were tall ones, small heavy ones, smooth ones and rough ones of all sizes. The Lord then lovingly invited His disciple to choose the cross he would most like to carry.
For the next few hours he tried out many crosses, some were too heavy, others too large to hold, still others were too rough and gave splinters. After much searching the disciple presented the cross of his choice. “My child,” said the Lord gently, “this is the very same cross that I in my loving wisdom had chosen for you, the one you have been carrying.”
The Way of the Cross
Jesus said to all who would listen ‘whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 9:23). This is not popular and never has been, however the reality of the cross is central to our faith. The only way for Christians is the way of Jesus, and that is the way of the cross. For not only is Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life but also since the earliest days of the Church, Christians have been known as ‘followers of the Way’.
Perhaps there are times when, like the disciple in the story, everything seems too much and we feel we cannot go on. Our Lord Himself knows all about this. During the Stations of the Cross we meditate on His falling three times on His way to Calvary. Jesus fell under the weight of the cross, under the weight of our sins, so He knows best of all how heavy the cross is. However, each time He got up and continued His journey. Jesus also knew what it was to accept the help of others; Simon of Cyrene physically carried the cross and the presence of His Mother Mary consoled Him on His journey. Sometimes we too need to allow ourselves to be helped by others.
Becoming Mature Christians
The weight of the cross shows the weight of God’s love because Jesus bore everything due to His love for us. The cross has not only set us free, purchasing forgiveness and healing, but also offers us the possibility of a totally new life. God loves us too much to leave us as we are, so He is continually at work in our lives, through the cross, to transform us into saints. If we accept the work of the cross in our lives we can be progressively liberated from self-centred and destructive ways of living.
The Bible, in Hebrews chapter 12, reminds us that God our loving Father makes use of suffering as part of our training. He does this to make us mature, so that we might share in His own holiness. It promises that our suffering will ultimately bear fruit in peace and goodness if we remain with the Lord (Hebrews 12:1-13).
The most wonderful news is that the weight of the cross gives way to something much greater- the weight of the resurrection! Our troubles and sufferings, which will soon be over, are preparing us to carry a much greater weight, the weight of eternal glory! St Paul tells us that “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Imagine a weight lifter building up his strength in training. He uses lesser weights to build up his strength. Over time he is able to bear a much greater weight. So it is with us, God makes use of trials to mature us and prepare us to receive the full weight of eternal glory, not just in heaven but even in this life we can taste the peace and joy of the risen Jesus. Jesus has conquered sin and death, through His cross and resurrection everything is transformed, even our sufferings, for now we see them in an eternal perspective.
Lord Jesus, help me to take up my cross every day and follow you. When I fall under the weight of the cross please give me the strength to get up again. Help me also to accept the help of others on my journey of faith. I praise you Lord that you are using my trials to mold me and prepare me for eternal glory with you. Amen.
-by Alex Heath, the Adviser for Adult Faith Formation, Catechetic and Chaplaincy in the Northampton Diocese in the UK
The message of the entire Bible gives us encouragement because it is a depiction of God’s love for us. It contains the promise that God has a wonderful plan for us. It’s reassuring to know that God’s love and mercy for those created in His image is never ending! “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). What an encouragement to anyone who has ever had doubts about their salvation and God’s love!
He understands that we are weak and fragile. In His love, He reassure us that His grace is sufficient for us. “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). Imagine hearing the voice of God, singing over you!
In this issue, we meet a God who is greater than all the problems we face and how we can turn our disappointments into becoming a true disciple and what God has to say about our feeling of guilt and shame. Happy reading!