Lockdown Or Timeout

The Robin Couple
This spring, I had been watching a “robin couple”, who build their nest atop the lamp fixture by our front door. They were quite busy bringing the right twigs and feathers and plastering them together. Then the mama bird laid eggs. The couple took turns to sit on top of the eggs. To give them peace of mind, my family tried not to open the front door too much. Spring is my favourite season. There is so much action in nature! With frequent rains that water the earth, we see the trees budding, flowers and shrubs blooming. The grass looks so bright and fresh; even a weed like the dandelion looks so pretty on its best day! This reminds me of what Jesus said: “Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these” (Mathew 6.29).

Pandemic COVID-19
Though all the dangers associated with COVID-19 seemed overwhelming, I found peace by enjoying the beautiful nature that was unfolding around me. It made me wonder if the rest of God’s creation was affected by this virus, but it didn’t appear so at all! The birds, animals, trees, plants and all other creatures seemed to be thriving. I heard news reports that the earth was in fact healing, as there were lesser emissions and pollution. Only humanity, the supreme of all God’s creation seemed to be affected. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that humanity was being given a timeout by our Heavenly Father!

Break Up Your Fallow Ground
Timeout is a disciplinary action taken by parents when their kids misbehave. During a timeout, the kids are stripped of any fun activities and they are asked to stay indoors and reflect on their actions. In the same way, because of the lockdown, it felt like the entire humanity, irrespective of colour, race, education or social status, had been given a timeout. Was this a blessing in disguise, in that it gave us an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with God, our neighbours and the rest of creation? “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12).

Let us examine our lives and assess our relationship with God. If it has been a shallow relationship, this is the chance to go deeper. Ask the question, why did God make me? I remember what I learned in my religious classes, God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him. Are we doing that to the best of our ability? If not, let us grab this opportunity of being under lockdown, where our social life and many other distractions are removed. Let us also examine our relationship with our neighbors, friends and family. If things need to be repaired, this is a great time to do it! The Gospel of Mathew 6:25- 34 is very relevant in today’s world. Jesus repeatedly says, “Do not worry”. This seems to be ambitious, especially when the majority of the human race is overcome with fear and anxiety. Yet we need to trust in His words if they are to bear fruit in us. The same Lord who created us in His own image and likeness knows what’s best for each one of us: “For surely, I know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not harm; plans to bring you a future full of hope” (Jeremiah 29.11).

A Path in the Desert
One of my friends recently told me a wonderful story of how God acted in her life during the pandemic. When she was hired to work for the government sector a year ago, her starting her job with utmost sincerity. After a year, her boss called her to offer her a promotion along with an awesome salary increase. According to her boss, no one in the company had ever been promoted within the first year of their employment. Further, this happened during this pandemic, when it was next to impossible to have any promotion files moved!

Our God works in mysterious ways but at the most opportune time. As for us, we need to get into that personal relationship with our Abba Father and trust that He knows what’s best for us.

By Geenu Kunnengode,USA

The Power Of The Holy Eucharist

The recent changes that have come about in my life have compelled me to share about the power of prayer and the Holy Eucharist. Over the last three or four years, my relationship with my parents has been deteriorating to a point where I practically had nothing to talk to them about. This was partly due to my habit of lying all the time and not being able to confide in them. Even for the smallest things, I would drop a little white lie, just to run from the consequences of my actions. My most recent fiasco involved organising an overseas trip with my friends, without having first consulted with my parents. By the time I had brought it up with them, everything had already been booked. Even then my parents took the effort to come to an understanding with me and allowed me to go on the trip. I could feel the pain in their hearts, but I convinced myself that what I was doing was okay.

Three months later, my mom told me about a retreat in Brisbane called School of Evangelisation conducted by AFCM (Anointing Fire Catholic Ministries). She insisted that I attend it. At that point, I thought to myself, “I can do this. It’ll be a quick retreat – a four-day in-and-out mission. Once I get back,I can return to how I was living before.” And so I agreed to go on the retreat.

The first day of the retreat was smooth, just like all the other ones I had been to. The second day the power of the Holy Spirit really began to take shape. During the second day, we were encouraged to make a full confession. At that moment, I thought to myself, “Look, they’ve given us step by step instructions on how to do a full confession, so I might as well go through with it”. Making that confession has been one of the most relieving things I have ever done. I could almost physically feel the weight of sin being lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed the beauty of a true confession. Now I felt free.

On the last day of the retreat, before the final goodbyes, we had Adoration. There I was, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament. At this point, I was thinking “Yes, the final stretch. Just a little more time and I’m out.” Things were going smoothly when suddenly, I got a message in my head. The message said, “Maybe you should consider apologising to your parents.” I didn’t think this was such a big deal, but the Holy Spirit brought up a past memory to my mind. When I had returned from my overseas trip three months ago, my father had taken me to our prayer room. In front of the altar of Jesus and Mother Mary, my dad got down on his knees and held my feet. He said to me, “My dear son, if I have wronged you in any way, please forgive me.”

I finally understood the true meaning of what this action meant, and when this memory came into my mind, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I could feel the full force of all the prayers my parents had ever said for me over the last four years, as well as the prayers of those interceding for the retreat. During that time in front of the Holy Eucharist, the fog in my mind was cleared and I could see clearly what I needed to do. I heard a message in my head, “Your family is ready to receive you, they still love you.” At this point, I understood that this life of sin was not what I wanted. What I wanted was a true connection with Christ, as well as with my parents Throughout Jesus’ life on earth, He was very prayerful and maintained a strong connection with His Father in heaven. However, when He was crucified on the cross, He bore the weight of all the sins of the world on Himself. During that time, He cried out to His Father, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” (Matthew 27:46). Just as Jesus cried out to the Father, so do our souls cry when we lose our connection to Christ. No matter how much we have convinced ourselves that we are happy with this life of sin, there will always be a yearning from the bottom of our hearts to be closer to God. During Adoration, I was able to see clearly this yearning, and with the grace of God, I was able to pursue that connection.

Anyway, after the retreat, I went home and hugged my parents. I apologised for all the wrongs I had committed against them and begged for their pardon. My parents told me that they had been praying for this moment for a long time. God had now given their son a second chance to come back to them and share in their love. It felt so good for me to be back with my parents. There is so much grace in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. It is rare to get an opportunity to sit before the Eucharist and pray out loud, so take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way to be in the presence of the Lord.

By Emmanuel Joseph, Australia

Don’t Worry Be Happy

My grandma used to tell us grandkids, “Worry is a sin!” It wasn’t until years later that I experienced for myself and realized why it is a sin. Simply stated, sin is when we place more trust and importance on the things in our life more than we do on God. On reading a commentary once, I suddenly realized that worry denies the wisdom of God; it says that He doesn’t know what He’s doing. Worry denies the love of God; it says He does not care. And worry denies the power of God; it says that He isn’t able to deliver me from whatever is causing me to worry. We can’t do both – we either worry or we trust God to handle the problem and guide us.

God’s Word tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Don’t worry, be happy!

By Deacon Bill Kintz, USA

A Window Chat

COVID-19 has introduced social distancing in our communities around the world. People are not permitted to visit each other’s houses or meet in public places. Local, state and country regulations have to be obeyed. Today the whole idea of relationships has changed. What a world we live in now!

To be safe, we keep a distance from everyone. The young and capable are still able to maintain contact with each other through social media and modern technology but what about those people who have to be in isolation because of their age or health conditions? Yes, I am speaking about vulnerable people and the elderly. Since they are more vulnerable to this disease, they are prohibited from venturing outside.

On the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus, Pope Francis invited young people to make a gesture of tenderness towards the elderly, “especially the most lonely ones in homes and residences, those who have not seen their loved ones for many months.”

The church has always had a communal aspect. It’s our responsibility during this pandemic to reach out to those near to us who are in isolation, through the telephone or through a ‘glass window chat’. Yes, they deserve it. They can’t go out and most of them are not able to reach out to anyone through social media. Many are incapable of using mobile phones as well. In communities around the world, social isolation is keeping the elderly safe from coronavirus, but it is also preventing them from going to church. This is proving extremely difficult for many. We cannot abandon them in these difficult times. If we don’t reach out to them, then who will? It’s our duty to reach out to them and bring a smile to their faces. Speaking after the Angelus, the Pope told young people, “each of these elderly people are your grandparents. Do not leave them alone… they are your roots.”

By Fr Shyju Naduvathaniyil, Beaconsfield, UK

September 2020 – Editorial

God performed many miracles through Moses and led the people of Israel out of Egypt. The terrified Israelites camped near the Red sea, as the army of Pharaoh came closer. But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still” (Exodus 14:13-14). As Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, God divided the sea and led the Israelites through dry ground. God showed His might and His faithfulness. At times we too might have a Red sea experience in our life. Just like how the Israelites stood in front of the Red sea in fear, today the world is engulfed in fear of the pandemic – COVID 19. But we know that nothing happens without the knowledge of God. Nothing is impossible with Him. Let’s put our hope in the Lord. “In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by” (Psalm 57:1). God invites us to a new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and thereby into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading (1Peter1:3-4). I implore you to embrace the hope that is in Christ and believe that He will carry us through this storm. In Christ, there is still hope for the world― there is still hope for us.

St Lucy

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.

A Miracle

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

Guilt? Shame?

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

The Weight of the Cross

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).

Eternal Glory
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

March 2019 – Editorial

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!