#MoralStory: Act of Kindness and Goodwill

Mr. Phillips was just getting ready to leave his office and he remembered that his wife had asked him to bring 1KG of Bananas. When He stepped out, he saw an ill-looking old lady across the road. She was selling fresh bananas on the street. Mr. Phillips usually buys bananas from a grocery shop few blocks away from his office but since he was in hurry to reach home today, he thought about buying them from across the road only.

He went to the old lady and asked her the price. She quoted $7 per 1KG. He told, “But the store where I usually buy from gives them for $5 per 1KG, can you not give me for the same price?” The Old Lady told, “No Sir, I can not afford to match that price. I can sell them to you at $6 per 1KG. That’s best I can afford to give you for.” Mr. Phillips told her, “nevermind”. He left in his car towards the usual grocery shop.

He went inside and picked up a good bunch of bananas. He went to the cashier to pay for them but he was surprised when the cashier told him that price per 1KG is $10. He told the cashier, “I have been buying bananas from here only for some years and this is a steep price increase, can’t you offer me a better deal for being a loyal customer?” The Manager overheard him and came there. He told Mr. Phillips, “Sorry Sir but our prices are fixed, we do not bargain.” Mr. Phillips felt little bad with that flat attitude. He thought for a second and put those bananas back. He went back to the old lady. She recognized him instantly and told him, “Sir, I can’t match that price, I won’t be able to earn any profit.”

Mr. Phillips told her, “Don’t worry about the price, I will pay you $10 Per KG! Now, give me 2KG.” The Old Lady got very happy, she packed 2KGs of Bananas and said, “I can’t take $10 but I will take $7 per KG. I appreciate your kindness.” She also told him, “My Husband used to own a small fruit shop but he got very sick. We have no child or any relatives who could support us. We had to sell his shop to cover his medical bills but he could not survive.” Tears were flowing from her eyes. She said, “But now to support myself I am trying to sell what I can afford to buy and sell, so I can survive for what’s left of my life.”

Mr. Phillips told her, “Do not worry, You are doing good and from tomorrow on, I will only buy bananas from you.”  He pulled out his wallet and gave her $100 extra and said, “Take this, Bring more different fruits to sell tomorrow, consider this an advance payment for fruits I will be buying from you. You can earn more if you have more choices of fruits to sell.” The Old Lady thanked him.

Later, He recommended many of his colleagues to buy fruits from the lady which they did. And with the support from Mr. Phillips and many other buyers, she made a better living.

Moral: Often we choose to go in big malls or big grocery shops for a shopping. We always pay the fixed price without bargaining. That is fine as we all have choices and people who run their business have their liabilities too. However, we need to spare a moment and think that why we have no courage or reason to bargain while shopping at big shops and why we try to bargain heavily with small street vendors? Think wisely. Always be helpful and supportive to someone who works hard to earn and has a need for it.

Here I Am To Worship

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Light of the world, You step down into darkness.
Opened my eyes let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore you hope of a life spent with you.

[Chorus]
And here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you’re my God,
You’re altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.

King of all days,
Oh so highly exalted Glorious in heaven above.
Humbly you came to the earth you created.
All for love’s sake became poor.

Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you’re my God,
You’re altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.

I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.
I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.
And I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.
No I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.

Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you’re my God,
You’re altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.
So Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you’re my God,

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#ShortNews: Court paves way for sale of Los Angeles convent to Katy Perry

A California judge has cleared the way for the sale of a convent by the Los Angeles archdiocese to entertainer Katy Perry.

Judge Stephanie Bowick ruled that a previous sale of the property, by community of women religious who once lived there, had been invalid because it did not have the written approval of the archdiocese. The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who have vacated the property, have sought to block the sale to Katy Perry, because they wish to control the proceeds from the sale and because they disapprove of Perry’s public activities.

http://www.foxnews.com/real-estate/2017/03/20/katy-perry-closer-to-buying-los-angeles-convent-against-nuns-wishes.html

#ShortNews: Pope tells European leaders: solidarity will overcome populism, ‘fruit of egotism’

Addressing 27 European heads of state on March 24, Pope Francis said that the founders of the European Union rightly understood that “the heart of the European political project could only be man himself.

In 1957, the Pontiff recalled, European leaders were “full of hope and expectation, enthusiasm and apprehension.” The founders of the European community, he said, had a goal that went beyond economic alliance:

The founding fathers remind us that Europe is not a conglomeration of rules to obey, or a manual of protocols and procedures to follow. It is a way of life, a way of understanding man based on his transcendent and inalienable dignity, as something more than simply a sum of rights to defend or claims to advance.

Unlike his predecessors, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who had frequently warned against the lost of Europe’s shared Christian identity, Pope Francis did not focus on that theme. He devoted only one paragraph of his lengthy speech to the Christian heritage, quoting Alcide de Gasperi, one of the principal founders of the European community, who said that “at the origin of European civilization there is Christianity.”

In the remainder of the speech the Pontiff spoke more generally about the foundation of European society. He said that the “pillars” of the European community are “the centrality of man, effective solidarity, openness to the world, the pursuit of peace and development, openness to the future.”

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/03/24/pope_francis_address_to_eu_heads_of_state_and_government/1300895

#ShortNews: In Africa, faith is a ‘happy matter,’ says Cardinal Arinze

Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze said that he is not considered a “conservative” in Africa, during an interview with John Allen of Crux.

Cardinal Arinze drew sharp distinctions between the prevailing attitudes of Africans and Westerners during the interview, which took place during a Notre Dame conference on African theology. The cardinal explained: “In Europe and North America, the culture is secularistic. Religion is treated as a private matter, and people seem to apologize for their religion.”

Cardinal Arinze, who is the retired prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said that “religion is a happy matter” in most African societies.

https://cruxnow.com/africaund/2017/03/23/cardinal-african-standards-im-not-conservative-im-normal/

Solitude is Healthy Loneliness

There is a plethora of songs and poems written about the pains and struggles of loneliness. Just the mere abundance of this is evidence of the human resistance and opposition to being alone. It seems to weigh down the heart, cut one off from community and society, revealing that deep inside each one of us lies a longing and a yearning for communion at some level.

How we react to this and cope with this in our lives may reveal quite a few things about us. The easy way out of this is to go ‘hunting’ for company, and the prevalence of singles’ bars in cities all over the world are a testimony that this seems to be a go-to place to address this need. The ‘one-night-stand’ culture that is quite often the result of these casual encounters purport to satisfy this insatiable need for deep and meaningful company and companionship, but as many, if not most will tell you, they leave one feeling more empty, more void of depth and more lonely than the night before. Rather than feeling more energized, as meaningful relationship should, these often leave the individual simply enervated and dissipated. But the fact that these people return over and over again to this defeating spiral shows that there is something terribly addictive in addressing loneliness in an easy, when there is little or no responsibility involved, and more importantly, when the default choice seems to have no true personal investment of the self.

On the contrary, what lasts, what has depth and what leads to true growth and maturity is far more difficult and requires a deeper investment of the self.

If loneliness is an emotion that we share in our broken humanity, what is the best response to it that we can have? Knowing that so much problems and heartaches result from turning to using people or substances to stave off this fear of having to face being alone, where then can we find a true way of coping that is sustainable and still gives us room for growth and maturity? For many, marriage is one way to do this, but when one enters into marriage largely for the purpose of staving off loneliness, the partners in the marriage will very easily find themselves either using each other or abusing each other. The sad truth is that there are many marriages in which there still exists very much loneliness. What had not been addressed before marriage as far as loneliness and filling that void in the heart meaningfully was concerned, is often then simply imported into the married state, leaving one to make it possible to live a ‘married single’ life.

Fr Rolheiser once shared about how one of his friends who was a mentor to seminarians asked a young man why he wanted to become a priest, and his reply was rather jolting. He said, “I grew up in a large family and I never had anything of my own. I had to share everything – room, food, television, stereo, visitors, and even my parents’ affection. As a celibate, I will have the private space and the privacy that I’ve wanted all these years. My life will be my own!”

Rolheiser remarked that it was a very bad reason to become a priest. I probably would have expressed it in a less charitable way.

When one has not dealt with the mystery of loneliness and the innate longing for healthy and meaningful bonds of human connection, even a celibate life can be one in which others can be used and abused. I suppose this can help to explain why there are many priests who experience vocational crises in their priesthood, or who may even be parish terrors.

There is a deep difference between loneliness and solitude. Solitude is nurtured when there is a healthy understanding of waiting which develops the virtue of patience. This is experienced when one is not constantly craning one’s neck to look out for the next distraction in life, when one is appreciating the things and the people in one’s life at any one moment in time, and when one is not harbouring the hope of being somewhere else other than where one is in at the present moment, or to be with someone else. When this happens, one is training oneself to wait in a healthy stance. This is undoubtedly more difficult and requires more self discipline than turning to any act of immediate gratification which at best may keep at bay the inner hungers for a short span of time, but at worst will leave us feeling drier and hungrier than before.

Perhaps it is for this reason that all religious and priests need to take seriously that daily one hour of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament for the rest of their lives. Among other things, it serves to shape the loneliness that the celibate life necessarily imposes to become the solitude that brings holiness to one’s life, and more importantly, to allow this holiness to steep into the relationships and ministry work that the priest or religious is involved in. My personal experience has been that this does help me very much in being as present as I can to the person who is standing right in front of me.

I am also convinced that it is only when a celibate is integrated with his or her aloneness with God, that one can be truly joyful in service. Otherwise, celibates can easily end up being as cheerful as consecrated refrigerators.

Posted by Fr Luke Fong

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Saint Virginia Centurione Bracelli

Virginia Centurione was born on 2 April 1587 in Genoa, into the family of Giorgio Centurione, duke of the Republic of Liguria in the year 1621-1622, and Lelia Spinola. Both of them were of the ancient noble origin. Virginia was baptized two days after her birth, and received her first religious and literary formation from her mother and private tutor.

She soon felt the need for a cloistered life but she had to succumb to her father’s strong will and marry Gaspare Grimaldi Bracelli on December 10, 1602. Gaspare’s family was both illustrious and wealthy, but he was wholly taken up with gambling and living a dissolute life. She gave birth to two daughters: Lelia and Isabella.

The conjugal life of Virginia did not last long. Gaspare Bracelli, despite his marriage and his fatherhood, did not abandon his pleasures, and these brought about his premature death. Virginia, with great patience, prayer and affection, tried to convince her husband to lead a modest life, but unfortunately, Gaspare became ill and died on June 13, 1607, in Alessandria. Virginia became a widow at the age of 20. She refused another arranged marriage brought on due to her father’s influence and took up a vow to live a chaste life.

She lived in her mother-in-law’s house, taking care of the education and the administration of the goods of her children and dedicating herself to God through prayer and acts of charity.

In 1610, she felt a special call “to serve God through the poor”. Although she was strictly controlled by her father and never disregarded the care for the family, Virginia began to devote herself to the needy. She personally helped the poor by sharing half of her wealth with them. To help alleviate the poorness in her town she founded the “Cento Signore della Misericordia Protettrici dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo”. The center was soon overrun with people suffering from the famine and plague of 1629–30 and soon she had to rent the Monte Calvario convent to accommodate all the people that came in. Around 1635 the center was caring for over 300 patients and received recognition as a hospital from the government. Due to declining funds given from the middle and upper classes the institute lost its government recognition in 1647.

The beneficiaries of Our Lady of Refuge became for Virginia her excellent “daughters”, with whom she shared food and clothing. She taught them catechism and trained them to work so that they could earn their own sustenance. Virginia spent the remainder of her life acting as a peacemaker between noble houses and continuing her work for the poor.

Gratified by the Lord with exultations, visions, interior locutions and other mystical gifts, Virginia died on December 15, 1651 at the age of 64. She was beatified on 22 September 1985 and canonized on 18 May 2003 by Pope John Paul II.

#MoralStory: Sam and His Prayer (a short story)

Once upon a time, there was a man who had great dreams. His name was Sam. He wanted to change the world. Be some form of change agent if you will. He was constantly looking for opportunities to give aid and help to those who are hurting. If there were conversations that he had with people, he would often speak with a tone that spoke motivation. He always gave a positive outlook on things. And like all motivational people we know, Sam was full of energy.

One day in his room, Sam knelt down and prayed. Like he often did. But this time was different. Something changed, or it was like God answered his prayers. Yes, some prayers don’t get answered, but sometimes there are those that get answered. Don’t ask me, I’m just trying to tell you a story.

In his prayer, this is what Sam uttered,

“Dear God, I look at the world and see all this hurt. God, please give me the strength to be an agent of motivation for the hurting. Like a superhero, you know. With some kind of super power. A power to be a motivation for the hurting. To aid them and give them motivation to live. Dear God, if you’re listening, hear my prayer. AMEN.”

That was all he said and he went to bed. No, he didn’t have those prayers that lasted hours and hours. Just something uttered in less than a minute. You should try it sometimes.

Now the next morning, when Sam woke up. He got a phone call. His parents who went travelling on their way to visit him were involved in an accident. Both died on the spot. Sam was grieved. Tears flowed like a rushing river from his eyes. To lose those whom you love is always hard. It cut through his heart, piercing him like a sharp blade.

While still suffering the shock of his parents tragic death, he noticed that his apartment was in some ways empty. A theft had occurred.  Now almost everything was gone. Sam was feeling numb at trying to comprehend all that was happening to him. It was all too much to take at that time. And soon after Sam went into depression.

A month has passed and Sam wasn’t looking very good. All you could say was that he was in a mess. His never shaved from the day all hell broke loose, his hair was in a mess, his apartment in disarray, he rarely ate anything. Sam was down right depressed. He would sit for hours just staring in the darkened room. He would look at the sunset as it feel like the sadness of goodbyes.

At one point, he was venting his frustration at God. He remembered the prayer he said and this was not the thing he asked for. He was shouting hysterically and tears were falling from his eyes, mucus and saliva dripping down for he was in a rage. For this was a mortal man speaking at the injustice that had now befallen him.

But after there were no more anger to be vented, and all his shouting subsided, a still small voice spoke out. God said,

“Didn’t you ask about how you wanted to motivate the hurting and those in pain? For how can you motivate those if you have none of what they are feeling and suffering?”