The Sacred Gateway

>> Saturday, July 26, 2008

In our busy lives, we sometimes fail to stop and pause for a while to pray. I have found this perfect site, SacredGateway, where one can pray in front of the computer. It explains that one need not pray only in the premises of a church or in the privacy of your room because God is everywhere and He is present among us. Do not be ashamed. Even when in the office, you can create your own sacred space for just 10 minutes online. A prayer is just what you need to kickstart your day. With God present in your life, what could go wrong?


Praying with Jesuits: the Anima Christi

Soul of Christ

Jesus, may all that is you flow into me.
May your body and blood be my food and drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you by my side enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow of your cross.
Let me not run from the love which you offer,
But hold me safe from the forces of evil.
On each of my dyings shed your light and your love.
Keep calling to me until that day comes,
When, with your saints, I may praise you forever. Amen.

- David L. Fleming SJ

Note: Every Saturday, beginning today, I will be posting Jesuit prayers that have touched me deeply and helped me in my journey as a Christian and Catholic. It is my hope and prayer that through this Praying with Jesuits prayers, your lives may be touched as well. May your days be blessed! AMDG.


Service and Sacrifice

>> Friday, July 25, 2008

Today's Readings:
First Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Psalm 126
Gospel: Matthew 20:20-28

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.He said to her, "What do you wish?" She answered him, "Command that these sons of mine sit, one at your right and the otherat your left, in your kingdom." Jesus said in reply, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going drink?" They said to him, "We can." He replied, "My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, (this) is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,and the great ones make their authority over them felt. BUt it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be greatamong you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did notcome to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

"...the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28

All of us have different callings or vocation. Some of us are called to the religious life, some called to single blessedness, and some to married life. But all these vocations have one thing in common: to be in the service of others.

Serving others entails responsibility and sacrifices. I, as a wife and a mother, have a responsibility towards my husband andmy child. To do that, there are certain things in life that I have to let go. I am a licensed Chemical Engineer, and was previously employed in my field in one of the multinational companies in the Philippines. But because my family is 2nd on my list (God is on the 1st), I left my job and joined my husband here in Japan. I know that I would have to let go of my career for the meantime if I want to help build a strong foundation for our marriage.

Raising our first child, Sam, also meant that I have to make little sacrifices - waking up in the middle of the night and in the wee hours of the morning to feed her, cut back on my time browsing the internet to take care of her, and stay at home full-time to simply be with her. And my, these sacrifices come with great rewards! Although our marriage is still young at one year and six months, I can say that we are happy together, because we have a strong prayer life and I am proud because God has kept us this way. Plus, I am able to witness our child's development and experience the joys of being a mother that working mothers do not have the opportunity of having.

I pray that I may be able to serve my family in the way I know how and in the way that God has planned for me so that Imay be able to serve Him through the persons that I love.


Heeding the Call

>> Thursday, July 24, 2008

Today's Readings:
First Reading: Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13
Psalm 36
Gospel: Matthew 13: 10-17

The disciples approached him and said, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" He said to them in reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speakto them in parables, because 'they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.' Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says, 'You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is theheart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.' But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

"But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear." Matthew 13:16

In the Bukidnon province of Mindanao is a small school for Indigenous children. This small school is supported and funded bythe Cartwheel Foundation. It is a non-religious, non-stock and non-profit organization which believes that education is the key to economic development. I have many friends in this organization because I, too, believe in their mission of bringing education where it is needed the most.

One of Cartwheel's programs is the construction and operation of preschools in Miarayon, Bukidnon. These preschools aim at providing indigenouschildren ages 2.5-7 years the venue for learning in preparation to elementary. Why preschools? This is "to ensure a proper learning environment that will develop children into life-long learners capable of being self-sufficient in the future."

I know the great need of these children for free education and basic services and I am hopeful that one day I will be able tohelp in the sustainability of their preschools by sponsoring an indigenous child to school. For the meantime, I try to support some of their programs by buying Cartwheel merchandise. I especially love their desktop calendars and their Christmas and everyday cards, which are artworks made by the IP children themselves.

If you would like to learn more about this organization and would like to help out these children, visit the Cartwheel Foundation website at

May God bless those who have eyes and were able to see, have ears and were able to hear. And may these IP children know in their hearts that they will always be special in the eyes of God.


Sharing your gifts

>> Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today's Readings:
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10
Psalm 71
Gospel: Matthew 13: 1-9

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. SOm efell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose, it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty fold. Whoever has ears ought to hear."

"But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty fold." Matthew 13:8

My parents have always taught me to use and develop my talents and skills because if I don`t, God will ask me what I have done with the gifts that He has bestowed upon me on Judgement Day. I know now that they have a point, although it came as sort of a threat.

I don't really consider myself as a talented person. I know how to paint a little, dance a little, sing a little, make something creative a little - but I`m not really on to the big stuff. But I try to use them as much as I can to serve others. I gave handmade gifts to friends and realized that they appreciate it more. I volunteered for some school productions and helped out design the stage. I joined the church choir to sing songs of praise to God.

However, I believe that God has bestowed me the gift of being available to those in need. I am that kind of person who would like to help in any way I can.Back in college, when my classmates were having a hard time with Algebra and Trigonometry and wanting to shift into other courses, I encouraged them and gave them some free tutorials and organized study groups. I showed them that succeeding the course would entail a lot of work and belief in one's self. Today, whenever I see my friends, who have now become licensed engineers, they always thank me for what I have done to help them. And I look back to those days of hard work, and I smile and say to myself, Thank God for I have made a difference in my friends' lives.


Holding on to God

>> Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Today`s Readings:
First Reading: Songs 3:1-4
Psalm 85
Gospel: John 20:1-2, 11-18

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don`t know where they put him." But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, "Women, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don`t know where they laid him." When she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, "I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and what he told her.

"They have taken my Lord away, and I don`t know where they have put him!" John 20:13

There are moments in our lives when we feel that we have lost our hold on God. I have read and heard countless stories about epileptics, who, before their seizure attacks, have this "10-second window" to brace themselves and keep themselves from hurting in any way. When the seizures come, they get this terrible feeling of losing themselves. When they recover from their seizures, they are overwhelmed with so much emotion. Perhaps because they get this feeling that in the moments when their seizures have taken hold on them, they have lost their hold on God. It must be a very terrifying experience for them!

But I admire these people for their strength. How they must have endured such an experience amazes me. Whether they know it or not, I believe that God provides them with the strength that they need to go on living their lives despite the reality of their condition.

May God, the source of our strength, continue to lift us up so that we may be able to serve Him in the many ways that He has called us to.


In God`s Hands

>> Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today`s Readings:
First Reading: Micah 6:1-4, 6-8
Psalm 50
Gospel: Matthew 12:38-42

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, "Teacher we wish to see a sign from you." He said to them in reply, "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here."

"Teacher we wish to see a sign from you." Matthew 12:38

Every now and then, I would go on a personal retreat to re-evaluate myself and find out where God is leading me. I find these retreats a time for me to contemplate on God`s words, discern what he wants of me, and see how I have lived my life so far. It is also during these times when I realize that I have doubted my God at points in my life when I can`t seem to get what I want or get things to work my way, times when a situation just hurts too much that I begin to wonder if he had already forsaken me.

As I comtemplate more on these doubtful moments in my life, I realize that I would never get things to work if I only wanted it to work. I must allow God to work in me and give my full trust in Him, and allow Him to take control of my life. For these doubts to go away, I must have the faith and the belief that with the Lord, I am in good hands.

How about you, when have you doubted God? What brought about these doubts?


Giving Alms

>> Friday, July 18, 2008

Today`s Readings:
First Reading: Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22. 7-8
Psalm 38
Gospel: Matthew 12:1-8

At that time Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of the grain and ate them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath." He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of the God and ate teh bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

"I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Matthew 12:7

Little acts of kindness, of mercy and compassion are pleasing to the One who gave us life. While we have our own problems, we must bear in mind that others have problems greater than our own so that it would not be difficult for us to share or help those who are in dire need.

In this day and age, why do you think there are people living in poverty (and when I say poverty, not only materially but also emotionally and spiritually)? The very existence of poverty is due to the fact that we have this "me-first" attitude. Human as we are, we always want to be on top of things, on top of the game, on top of the world, because we want to be recognized, regretting the reality that others need our attention and help to enrich their lives.

Have you ever tried reaching out to someone who needed help? Doen`s it feel very good to see their eyes light up knowing that someone cares for them? In our day to day life, there are so many others needing a generous heart and hand. Just giving a smile to a tired saleslady, thanking the security guard, talking to a streetkid for a while or praising general services personnel for a job well done makes a whole lot of difference. Even if we have our problems, even if we don not have enough, it is not an excuse for us to close our doors to those who are in dire need. Let us not turn a blind eye to those who are in need. Remember the Prayer for Generosity? To give and not to count the cost... Now, are you up for it?


Light and Easy

>> Thursday, July 17, 2008

Today`s Readings:
First Reading: Isaiah 26:7-9, 11, 16-19
Psalm 102
Matthew 11:28-30

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Who do you go to when you feel exhausted and at the point of giving up? Let me share with you a song that has touched me and really very fitting to today`s gospel. It is entitled Lift Up Your Hands, originally sung by Basil Valdez.


God`s Plan

>> Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Today`s Readings:
First Reading: Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16
Psalm 94
Gospel: Matthew 11:25-27

At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the son wishes to reveal him."

" have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike." Matthew 11:25

Everything that has happened to me, all that I am now, is God`s plan for me. I may have not known and realized this before, but I know now that God has revealed Himself to me when he gave me a second chance at life. I was still a little eight-year old when I had a car accident. Before my accident, I was hard-headed, would argue often with my siblings, would not listen to my parents advice, always got what I wanted and very, very persistent. Well, maybe that`s what small kids are. All that changed after my accident. From then on, I became patient and worked hard for things that I wanted to have and to do, I learned how to listen instead of shout, I learned how to obey instead of doing it my way... most of all, I became closer to my parents and established a prayerful relationship with the Lord.

I know I am not a perfect person - I still stumble and fall countless times. But the Lord raised me up again so that I can start anew. Having that second chance at life allowed me to evaluate myself. I know it sounds peculiar - even I can`t understand it myself. Because how could it be? An eight-year old realizing just that? But the accident had transformed me into the person that I am now. The transformation was not sudden of course, but the experience when I was still small became my guide. It was like, hey, this is my second chance. God allowed me to live, so I might as well make good use of it and do what God wills for me.

God works in so many ways, in many different shapes and sizes. His revelations are out there, all right... we just have to be willing to see and obey His will to see Him. How about you? How did the good Lord revealed Himself to you?


Marvelous is the Lord

>> Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Todays Readings:
First Reading: Isaiah 7:1-9
Psalm 48
Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

Then he began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgement than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: `Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.` For if the might deeds done on your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be mroe tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."

"Then Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented." Matthew 11:20

God, in His infinite love and mercy for us, has always been gracious to our family. He has answered our prayers in His own time and we are so happy to be blessed by Him.

God has blessed our family and our marriage countless times. Last year, when we were still trying to settle down in Tokyo, we were swamped with worries and problems - financial difficulties, pressures from work, job security, arguments on family support in the Philippines, saving up money for our coming baby - all that stuff. Despite the problems, we held on to our faith in God, praying that He will answer our prayers in time and doing the best we can to solve our problems one at a time. And indeed, they were answered. God has been so good. Before the year ended, my husband found a new job at a multinational company, we were able to save up for our baby`s birth and found ways on how to get by. Another great blessing was the birth of our firstborn, Samantha Ysabelle. Indeed, God works in wonderful and marvelous ways. Our 2008 started off very beautifully and all of these blessings that we are enjoying right now are because of God. Sometimes, I would wonder, "Does God love us more than He does others?" Nah, I know He loves all of us equally.

But God is also a just and righteous God. We know that He will give punishment when it is due so that we try to avoid sinning as much as we can. We pray that we may continue to give thanks and reverence to God for all the goodness that He has shown us. May He unceasingly guide our way so that we will be able to resist temptations. And may we resolve, with God`s grace, to be repentant and change our sinful ways. Amen.


World Youth Day 2008

>> Monday, July 14, 2008

'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.' Acts 1:8 - This is this year`s theme for the 2008 World Youth Day.

Thousands of Catholic youth from different parts of the world meet once again for the World Youth Day 2008 to witness the power of God`s love from July 15 to 20, 2008 in Sydney, Australia. WYD08 is the 10th international gathering since the first one in Argentina in 1987.

I believe that the youth - no matter what their color, shape and size - have commonalities in faith and that they can make a difference in the world today. Praying together as one church, I know that this event will have touched many young hearts, and in the process touch the lives of others as well. Blessed indeed are the youth who will participate in this great event founded by the Catholoc church.

For most of us who cannot participate in this event, we are lucky indeed to follow what is happening in the
Official WYD08 Media Player.

I am praying for the success of this event. May the power of the Holy Spirit continue to enrich and empower the lives of the youth today so that tomorrow, they may become better leaders and the world will be a better place to live in.


Taking Up The Cross

Today`s Readings:
First Reading: Isaiah 1:10-17
Psalm 50
Gospel: Matthew 10:34-11:1

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man `against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against a mother-in-law; and one`s enemies will be those of his household.` Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet`s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man`s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple -- amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward." When Jesus finished giving these commands to his twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and preach in their towns.

"...and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:38

It is not easy to follow God`s way. There are many obstacles on the path of Jesus. The cross that Jesus had to carry is far heavier than mine, yet sometimes I refuse to carry my own. Perhaps because I don`t want to be in a difficult situation or have a hard time that I sometimes deny my problems. And I would wonder, why is it that is so much easier to give into temptation than to turn away from it? Why is it easier to lie than be honest to our friends? Maybe because we don`t want to hurt our friend`s feelings? While telling some "white lies" won`t hurt our friend`s feelings, it would leave a mark on the friendship. The reality is that, things just don`t work out for situations and relationships that are built on lies... the eventually go down the drain.

Why would we want the easier way out? Maybe because that is what the devil would want... taking the shortcut instead of following the road. It may be true that while taking shortcuts would get us there fast and easy, we are not sure of the dangers and risks associated with it. But as Christians, we are taught that even if Jesus` way is the hard way, there is a very good reward for it - our salvation. We cannot really appreciate the beauty of the morning sun without experiencing darkness; we cannot really bask with glory in our successes without putting all the hard work into it; we cannot really harvest our fruits without laboring for it. They say, "No pain, no gain" and "No guts, no glory".... I say, behind the cross are God`s blessings.

Still afraid to carry your own cross? Don`t be... God will guide your path... Just keep the faith. God bless.


On Obedience and Endurance

>> Friday, July 11, 2008

Today`s Readings:
First Reading: Hosea 14:2-10
Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Matthew 10:16-23

Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the son of Man comes.

"...but whoever endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:22

In life, we encounter so many things. We encounter people, difficult situations, problems, obstacles. In these encounters, it is up to us to decide which course to take - whether to follow what we think is right for us or to follow the will of God. Because of our own free will, we tend to follow our own will, thinking that by doing so, life will be better for us. When we are faced with problems, most of the time we deny it and take actions to forget it, sometimes resorting to actions that result to another problem or even taking our own lives. How many have thought of taking their own lives or even tried doing it but failed? Countless, I may say. Sometimes, we just forget the fact that the best way to solve the problem is by embracing and facing it.

As Christians, God calls on us to obey his commandments and His will for us. But this is easier said than done. In our journey, the path that we take is not always smooth. We sometimes face hindrances - such as oppression and apathy. Even financial difficulties sometimes prevents us from obeying God`s will. The challenge that our family is facing is the fact that we live in a non-Christian nation, where religion is not of importance and life is just easy to take. But God indeed is gracious and faithful to us, His children. Because he always gives us the grace to take on any challenge in life. Even if we face very tough times, God always provides for us - in one way or another. No matter how big the argument, no matter how tight the budget, no matter how insignificant we sometimes feel, God has been gracious and merciful to us and showed us how to forgive and to sort things out. And that amazes me. God, in His infinite love, has sustained our family. And I think to myself, there is indeed power in prayers. And I know that we will endure because God will always guide us to the right path, and He will show us the way.


Pay It Forward

>> Thursday, July 10, 2008

Today`s Readings:
First Reading: Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9
Psalm: Psalm 80
Gospel: Matthew 10:7-15

As you go, make this proclamation: `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.` Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive our demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belt; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever the town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words - go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

"...Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give." Matthew 10:8

Generosity is a virtue. All of us are called to be generous - to give and not to count the cost as St. Ignatius` prayer for generosity tells us. And I am sure, once in our lives, we were able to perform a generous deed without expecting anything in return. It need not be a grand gesture. Helping out a friend, teaching a colleague at work, accompanying an old woman to cross the street, volunteering for a just cause - these small simple gestures of generosity and love makes a lot of difference.

As Christians, we are called to open our homes to others. As Christians, we are called to spread God`s message of love and compassion. And what better way to do this than through the acts of kindness and generosity. In the Filipino language, generosity is translated as "pagiging bukas palad". This has a very profound meaning in the sense that when we give to others, when we extend our help to them, we do it with palms open thus, bukas palad.

I am very glad that we joined the Couples for Christ here in Japan. Through this, we were able to serve our fellow countrymen in prayer and fellowship and do simple acts of generosity. And we always look forward to the household meetings because it is the time when we gather as a community in prayer and it allows us to strengthen our Christian faith. And there is also that warm Christian hospitality. Thankful for the hospitality of our brothers and sisters, we gladly open our home to host some of our prayer meetings. Through this community, we became stronger in our faith in God and hopeful that all shall be well. And it is such a joy when you see the happy faces of your brothers and sisters, singing songs of praise and worship, praying for one another and giving reverence to the Father. And at the end of the day, we realize that even though we do not expect anything in return for our generosity, we receive something - and that is the happiness and peace that comes into our homes.

Lord, please teach us to be generous. May our little acts of kindness today make a big difference in the lives of those we encounter. We pray, Oh Lord, that they return the act of generosity, not to us, but to others, so that those who seek You may realize that You are just near, here with us, through the generosity of our brothers and sisters. We also pray, O God, that we may be able to pay it forward - these small, simple acts of kindness and generosity. Amen.

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