The Apostle, Saint Paul

The Apostle,Saint Paul.1

On 29 June the universal Church celebrates the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Doesn’t it seem strange that Saint Paul is accorded equal status with the first Pope, Saint Peter? Paul was definitely not one of the 12 apostles. He was not even a disciple of Jesus during his public ministry and did not know him personally. In fact, after the death of Jesus Paul hated and persecuted the Christians. Scripture says, “Cursed be the man who hangs upon a tree” (Deut 21:23). Jesus was crucified — he hung upon a tree, so he was cursed by God. How could people be disciples of a man cursed by God? For Paul such a movement/religion referred to as “the Way”, had to be eradicated. Conversion came when Paul experienced the risen Christ (Acts 9:3-6). Paul inferred that if God raised Jesus from the dead, he was blessed and not cursed by God. Now the Indefatigable zeal of Paul in persecuting “the people of the Way” turned in equal measure to preaching that same ‘Way’, the Christians! The whole of the rest of his life thus came to be concentrated on Christ. “For me to live is Christ” (Phil I :21), he went on to claim. “I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have :hrist and be given a place in him” (Phil 3:8).

The Acts of the Apostles, the second writing of Saint Luke after his Gospel, is actually the Acts of the Holy Sp through the apostles of Christ. In the first half of the Ac Peter occupies centre stage. The second half concentrates on Paul while Peter fades away.

The Jesuit writer, Luis M. Bermejo states, “It is largely due to Luke that Peter and Paul are inseparably linked together in the Christian mind after Luke devoted half of Acts to Peter and the second half to Paul”.1 His next sentence quoting Sandmel is very significant and can shock many: “Next to Jesus Paul was the most significant person in early Christianity”.

Paul’s influence is not confined to early Christianity but is seen as extending to the very end of the world. He preached in cities (Corinth, Philippi, Damascus etc.), but, as a wandering preacher, he covered around 15,000 kms., by land and sea, often walking from place to place. He continues to preach after his death through the letters written by him or written by a disciple of his (Hebrews) which comprise 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament. All the four Gospels were written after Paul’s letters.
The year 2008 dedicated to Saint Paul was not meant to keep us busy with just his teaching but to help us know the man, his temperament, his passion, his sufferings, his joys, and sorrows. He was a man like us with strengths and weaknesses but totally dedicated to Christ and to the mission Christ entrusted to him. He challenges us to live totally for Christ.

This excerpt is taken from the Book “Life and It’s Values.” Order Now

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Christian Education

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On 2006 the Catholic Bishops of India in their General Body Meeting deliberated on the theme “Catholic Education and the Church’s concern for the marginalized”. It was decided that a policy document on Catholic Education in India should be made available to the entire Catholic Community of the country.

After much dialogue, discussion and collaboration at various levels of the Church the ‘All India Catholic Education Policy 2007″ was promulgated on 1 June 2007 by Cardinal Felesphore Placidus Toppo, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
“Education is the key to development and progress. With so much investment in personnel and money by the Church In the field of education, let the implementation of this policy usher in a new era in the life and mission of the Catholic Church in India”, said the Cardinal. In a fast-changing world, we cannot remain in the “Maintenance” mode but have to shift gears. Our educational institutions cannot be judged Icy academic results alone. We also need to pay attention to the poorer sections of society, even as we simultaneously evaluate our contribution to society.

“We ensure that our institutions do not pursue the narrow 00,11 of academic prestige, with a strong focus on marks and medals, but instead aim to foster human values and spiritual maturity among the staff and the students.In fact, if a Catholic institution, excellent as an academic institution, does not find it possible to implement the essential characteristics of our Christian values and is not committed to our Mission, we would consider it a radical failure on our part. Our educational endeavor is meant to lead us to the transformation of self, others, communities, and societies.Christianity is called to contribute to the building of a new society based on love, justice, and peace.

The policy statement needs to be widely discussed and put into action- otherwise, it will remain just a beautiful document with no bearing on our lives whatsoever.

This excerpt is written Taken from the Book “Life and it’s Values”

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Where Was God?

Where Was God_

Looking at the scale of the tragedy of the tsunami one wonders: Is there is God? Is he a Loving God? Then where was He and why did he not prevent this tragedy?

When God the father created man and woman He endowed them with a free will.He will never take back this gift because He is Love and awaits our response of love.Love without freedom is not love but manipulation.

The Father could have created us as robots and at the press of a button or at a command we would proclaim, “We love you father.We praise you.We worship you.We glorify you.”

In giving us a free will the Father took a very grave risk.We can not only use but also abuse the free will we possess.Just look at the state of the world.Can we blame God for the exploitation, the denial of human rights, violence, corruption, abuse of women and youngsters we see in the world?

Creation was entrusted to human beings.We are called to be stewards looking after what has been placed in our care.Have we been good stewards? Speaking in 2004 to ambassadors of different countries working in the Vatican Pope John Paul II enumerated the many challenges human society faces today.One challenge is “the protection and the prevention of natural disasters.”

“Man, especially in our time, has without hesitation devasted wooded plains and valleys, polluted waters, disfigured the earth’s habitat, made the air unbreathable, disturbed the hydrogeological and atmospheric systems, turned luxuriant areas into desert, and undertaken forms of unrestricted industrialization, degrading that ‘flowerbed’ – to use an image from Dante Alighieri- which is the earth, our dwelling place.”

People, the pope insisted, must “encourage and support the ‘ecological conversion’ which in recent decades has made humanity more sensitive to the catastrophe to which it has been heading.”

The underground testing of nuclear arms has had its repercussions on Mother earth.

So also in the Nicobar Islands- so many people lost their lives, but not the aborigines.Their God-given natural instincts saved them.Civilized men and women have lost their natural gifts and now depend on scientific warning systems.Is God at fault?

We will never understand the cause of the tsunami and earth disaster with the huge loss of lives mostly of poor and innocent people.But it is worth reflecting on the following fact.In the wildlife sanctuary in Kodaikanal, Tamilnadu, there were 1800 black bucks, 250 spotted deer, 40 feral horses, wild boar, and jackals -over 2300 animals.Suddenly all of them dashed to higher ground.8-10 minutes later the tsunami struck and flooded the sanctuary.All except a wild boar that was old or sick scaped.Their God-given instinct saved them.

There are many stories of how people were saved by clinging for days to an uprooted tree or some wooden planks.Our faith in God and His goodness has to be a plank for us.We do not know how or why but we cling to our faith.

Ultimately it is not how a person died that matters but how he lived.We are called to pray, respect life and do what we can to restore normalcy of life for the survivors.That is what God expects of us-the right use of our free will.

The Excerpt is taken from the Book “Life and it’s Values.” by Bishop Valerian D’Souza

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Role of Emotions in Prayer

Emotions prioritize thinking by directing attention to important information.While driving I pay attention only to the road and events happening on the road in front of me especially if I am on a busy road with lots of traffic.My fear of getting into an accident makes sure that my attention is focused.Emotional mood swings may change the individual’s perspective from optimistic to pessimistic, encouraging consideration of multiple points of view.One day I had a heated argument with the administrator of the Institute where I was teaching regarding the lack of facilities in the classroom after that, I went to the classroom to teach.I found that I could not focus on my teaching at all.I got irritated when the students asked me questions.My students were not aware of what of what had happened outside the classroom.They could only sense that I was irritated and impatient with them when they asked me questions.

Your thinking habits can make your own life and that of others heaven or hell.While working with some tribal groups that believed in black magic, I have seen the power of belief in black magic.Once I was called to help a man who was very sick and was dying.While talking to him, I realized that the cause of his serious sickness was his emotions and feelings connected with black magic.A week before my meeting with him, he saw a chicken with its throat slit lying in front of his house and blood smeared at the entrance of his house.He believed that an enemy was plotting his death and that his fate would be the same as that of the chicken whose throat was slit, the fear of which was so overwhelming that he immediately fell critically ill, to the point of death.Only when an antidote for the black magic was given to him, he began to recover.thinking, emotions, and behaviors intertwine very closely and each can affect each other: Voodoo deaths seem to come from the great anxiety and loss of hope in the cursed person caused by one overwhelming thought, the belief that death inevitably awaits.

Emotions affect our bodies and the current condition of the body affects emotions, in turn.

When we’re scared, anxious or angry, we have physical reactions like muscle tension, stomach churning, shortness of breath, head pounding and aching backs.Both negative and positive emotions have physical side-effects; we experience them in our bodies.Emotions travel through our bodies through the medium of neuropeptides and bind to small receptors exist in many locations throughout the body.Emotional information travels on neuropeptides and is able to bind to its receptor cells through the binding substance of ligands.The information is sorted through the differentiation of receptors, i.e, certain information binds to certain receptors.So our emotions are constantly being processed by our bodies.The brain and the body are exquisitely intertwined systems that are constantly interacting with the environment.All five senses are connected to this system and field information that determines our unique response to anything from petting a cat to being slapped.In fact, the more the number of senses involved in an experience, the more the brain tends to remember it and the deeper the imprint on our emotional systems.Traumatic experiences create deep, long-lasting physical/emotional impressions that do not easily yield to insight alone or resolution in a few therapy sessions, especially if they have been stored and built upon from childhood.

When we are feeling emotionally low, we find that there are many things we can’t seem to do.The truth is that we can’t do anything unless we feel like doing it.Our emotions affect the quality and effectiveness of our actions in a big way.On the other hand, when we are in a heightened state of emotion, we are able to express ourselves in ways that we never thought we could in the place and setting we are in.Positive states and emotions open up to most amazing abilities and talents to display.

This Article is taken from the Book “Transformation of the Heart.”

 

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The Gift of Self- Confrontation.

Sometimes a life of compassion offers a gift you are not so eager to receive the gift of self-confrontation.The poor in Peru confronted me with my impatience and my deep-seated need for efficiency and control.The handicapped in Daybreak keep confronting me with my fear of rejection, my hunger for affirmation, and my never-decreasing search for affection.

I remember quite vividly one such moment of self-confrontation.During a lecture trip to Texas, I had bought a large cowboy hat for Raymond, one of the handicapped members of the house in which I lived.I looked forward to coming home and giving him my gift.

But when Raymond, whose needs for attention and affirmation were as boundless as my own, saw my gift he started yelling at me ‘I don’t need your silly gift.I have no place for them in my room.My walls are already full.You’d better keep your gift.I don’t need.His words opened a deep wound in me.He made me realize that I wanted to be his friend, but instead of spending time with him and offering him my attention, I had given him an expensive gift.?Raymond’s angry response to the Texan hat confronted me my inability to enter into a personal relationship with him and develop a real friendship.The hat, instead if being seen as an expression of friendship, was seen s a substitute for it.

Obviously, all of this didn’t happen consciously on my side or on Raymond’s side.But when Raymond’s outburst brought me to tears I realized that my tears were, most of all, tears about my own inner brokenness.

This self-confrontation too is a gift of the compassionate life.It is a gift very hard to receive, but a gift that can teach us much and help us in our own search for wholeness and holiness.

This excerpt is taken from the Book Here and Now by Henri J.M.Nouwen.

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The Legend of Santa Claus

The Legend of Santa Claus

The Santa Claus, the most famous Christmas gift, bringer, is only 200years old.This Christmas figure has now become popular all over the world eclipsing other figures including the British Father Christmas.This name “Santa Claus” evolved from the Dutch use of the name St Nicholas (270-346).The Dutch used ‘Sinter Klass’ as a shortened form of “Sint Nikolaas” (i.e. Dutch words for Saint Nicholas).Parallel to the American Santa Claus, there are similar Christmas figures in other parts of the world; they are Father Christmas, Christmas Papa, Saint Nicholas or St Nikolaus, Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle, Pere Noel, Baba Noel, Joulupukki, Baboo Natale, Weihnachtsmann, Saint Basil and Father Frost.

In Italy, the principal bearer of gifts is not Santa Claus but La Befana.The Word “La Befana” is a corruption of “Epiphania”.According to Legend, La Befana was asked by the Magi to join them on their journey to worship the newborn king.When she took time to put her house in order before taking up the journey, she missed seeing child Jesus.Ever since she has wandered the globe seeking Jesus.On Epiphany, she brings present to children and leaves a bag of ashes for bad kids.

The Legend of Santa Claus goes back to St Nicholas, the bishop of Myra, a location in modern Turkey.It is said that he frequently visited the countryside helping the poor and the sick.In the course of time, his popularity grew and he became the protector of children and sailors.In 2809 Washington Irving popularized Sinter Klass stories by referring to him as the patron saint of New York in his book the History of New- York.Against the British influence of Father Christmas, the popular image of Santa Claus was created by the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1920); by the 1880s Nast’s portrait of Santa evolved into the form that we know today as Santa- Claus.Advertisers standardized the image of Santa Claus in the 1920s.In Latin American countries such as Venezuela and Columbia, people hold the tradition that Santa Claus gives toys to Baby Jesus and it is Infant Jesus who distributes them to children in their homes.

The above excerpt is taken from the Book “All About Christmas” written by Fr(dr) Sebastian Kizhakkeyil. Order Now: https://goo.gl/brRzCv

All about Christmas

“This Day You will be with me in Paradise.” The Second Word.

 

 

There is a legend to the effect that when, to escape the wrath of Herod, Saint Joseph, and the Blessed Virgin were fleeing into Egypt with the Divine Child, they stopped at a desert inn.The Blessed Mother asked the lady of the inn for water in which to bathe the Babe.The Lady then asked if she might not bathe her own child, who was suffering from leprosy, in the same waters in which the Divine Child had been immersed.Immediately upon touching those waters baptized with the Divine Presence, the child became whole.her child advanced in age and grew to be a theif.he is Dismas, now hanging on the Cross at the right hand of Christ! Whether the memory of the story his mother told him now came back to the thief and made him look kindly on Christ, we do not know.It might have been that his first meeting with the Saviour was on the day when his heart was filled with compunction on hearing the story of a certain man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell intimation that he was suffering with the Redeemer came to him as he turned his tortured head and read an inscription which bore His name, “Jesus”; His city, “Nazareth”; His crime, “King of the Jews”. At any rate, enough dry fuel of the right kind gathers on the altar of his soul, and now a spark from the central Cross falls upon it, creating in it a glorious illumination of faith.he sees a Cross and adores a Throne; he sees a condemned man, and invokes a King:”Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Our Blessed Lord was owned at Last! Amidst the clamor of the raving crowd and the dismal universal hiss of sin, in all that delirium of  man’s revolt against God, no voice was lifted in praise and recognition except the voice of a man condemned.

It was a cry of faith in Him whom everyone else had forsaken, and it was only the testimony of a thief.If the son of the widow of Nain, who had been raised from the dead, had cried out a word of faith in the Kingdom of One who was seemingly losing His Kingdom; if Peter, who on the Mount of Transfiguration had seen His dace shine like the sun and His garments whiten like snow, had acknowledged Him; if the blind man of Jericho whose eyes were opened to the light of God’s sunshine had been opened anew to proclaim His Divinity, we should not have been surprised.Why, if any of these had cried out, perhaps the timid disciples and friends would have rallied, perhaps the scribes and Pharisees would have believed! But at the moment when death was upon Him, when defeat stared Him in the face, the only one outside the small group at the foot of the Cross to acknowledge Him as Lord of a kingdom, as the Captain of Souls, was a thief at the right-hand of Christ.

At the very moment when the testimony of a thief was given, Our Blessed Lord was winning a greater victory than any life can win, and was exerting a greater energy than that which harnesses waterfalls; he was losing His life and saving a soul.And on that day when Herod and his whole court could not make Him speak, nor all the power of Jerusalem make Him step down from the Cross, nor the unjust accusations of a court-room force Him to break silence, nor a mob crying,”He saved others; Himself He cannot save,” He turns to a quivering life beside Him, speaks, and saves a thief:” No one before was ever the object of such a promise, not even Moses nor John, not even Magdalen nor Mary!

It was the thief’s last prayer, perhaps also his first>He knocked once, sough once, asked once, dared everything and found everything.When our spirits stand with John on Patmos, we can see the white-stoled army in Heaven riding after the conquering Christ; when we stand with Luke on Calvary, we see the one who rode first in that procession.Christ, who was poor, died rich.His hands were nailed to a Cross and yet He unlocked the keys of Paradise and wons soul.His escort into heaven was a thief, May we not say that the thief died a thief, for he stole Paradise?

Oh, what greater assurance is there in all the world of the mercy of God? Lost sheep, prodigal sons, broken Magdalens, penitent Peters, forgiven thieves! Such is the rosary of Divine Forgiveness.

God is more anxious to save us than we are to save ourselves.There is a story told to the effect that one day Our Blessed Lord appeared to Saint Jerome, saying to him, “Jerome, what will you give Me?” Jerome answered,”I will give You my writings,” to which Our Lord replied that it was not enough.”Then,” said Jerome, : what shall I give You? My life of penance and mortification? But the answer was,”Even that is not enough!” “What have I left to give you? cried, Jerome.Our Blessed Lord answered,”Jerome, you can give Me your sins.”

This Article is taken from the book The Seven Last Words, Written by Fulton J.Sheen.

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Joseph, The Man of Prayer.

A Beautiful Article Written by one of the Famous writer Fulgence Hurhuria in his Book, St Joseph, The Silent Missionary.

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Francis L.Filas, SJ, writes:” Joseph’s dignity required that he be proportionately holy; Joseph’s holiness grew out of the fact that the saint possessed such dignity.”

Now, what is meant by holiness? It refers to freedom from all that is evil, to a supernatural likeness to God, and to the possession of sanctifying grace, evangelical perfection: Perfect freedom from sin, intimate union with God, all ruled by the supreme norm of truth.

The Gospel of St Mathew gives explicit testimony to Joseph’s Holiness when it calls him a ‘just man’ (Mt 1:19), or ‘right minded”.The narrative of his life reveals his magnificent character even more pointedly.Among the great virtues he manifested are his unwavering faith, deep humility, consummate prudence, virginal chastity and instant obedience.These are the effects appearing on the surface, as it were, that connote an underlying love of God which brings the saint to a high order of sanctity” (Joseph Most Just, Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee, U.S.A. 1956, p. 42. 18).

Joseph’s heart, as a matter of fact, was so habitually absorbed in God, that his whole life was a continual prayer. His soul thus receiving a daily increase of virtues produced abundant fruits for eternal life. Joseph’s faith was deeply rooted in God and was in continual union with Him through prayer. He offered his Maker nothing special, neither bull, nor goat, nor lamb, just his whole being for the love of Him with his ordinary daily deeds, thereby sanctifying himself. God was so pleased with Joseph, that He elevated him to the dignity of the spouse of the Mother of God and the foster father of the Divine Master. No saint had such a privilege.

The cause of Joseph’s holiness was obviously his prayer life — a perfect example of a person who has understood its importance, its significance, and its advantages, has immersed himself in it. We may safely believe that it was with this holy exercise that he began and sanctified his days, his actions, his every move. Indeed, it is not for nothing that Joseph is honored as a father, model, and formator of the contemplative souls. St Bernadine of Siena says that he had received the gift of prayer to a very high degree. St Teresa relates that she always noticed that those who prayed to St Joseph with confidence made rapid progress in mental prayer. Is it for nothing then that the Church invokes him as a formator and master of contemplation?

It was the prayer that helped Joseph keep himself habitually in the presence of God, whereby he was frequently favored with heavenly communications. And in a special way, he was made known the mysteries of the incarnation, suffering, death, and resurrection of his foster son Jesus, and thus so to say, the redemption of humankind. Not only his mind and heart, but his whole person was entirely filled with the continual providence and presence of God in recollection, so much so that even his daily labor could cause him no distraction. He was thus able to follow the inspirations of grace and accomplish in all things the designs of God.

It was not only the habitual thought of God that regulated the life and actions of Joseph; rather, God Himself was present before him in the person of Jesus Christ. Most truly might he exclaim with St John: “We saw His glory, the glory as it were, of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). After the Blessed Virgin, St Joseph was the first human being to see the newborn Messiah.he spent thirty years of his life with Jesus, Living with Him under the same roof, sharing his meals with Him, watching Him at play, prayer, and work.Even sleep did not interrupt the Holy Patriarch’s union with his ‘son’, Lord, and Master, Jesus Christ.

You can find such Article in the Book St Joseph, The Silent Missionary.  Available Now!

The Book touches on St Joseph's life actually makes up for what is lacking in sacred scripture concerning him.

Surrogacy and The Church.

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What is Surrogacy?

It is a method or agreement whereby a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy for another person, who will become the newborn child’s parents after birth.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Techniques that entail the disassociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral” [CCC #2376].

Catholic teaching understands that children cannot be manufactured with the technology and distributed via a market.children come as a gift from God via a sexual relationship, within the context of the marriage of a couple, both husband and wife being committed to responsible parenthood, instead of being procured as a product or thing.Any reproductive procedure for creating a child in the laboratory to the use of another person as a surrogate to carry the child through pregnancy is unacceptable.

The fact that certain individuals will not be able to become biological parents is a painful one, but the church claims this is one off the hard truth that we must endure if we believe that children are gifts with their own inherent dignity, rather than things we have the right to purchase in the open market.

This short article was written by Dt Jeanette Pinto which is taken from the Book I’m Pro-life Are you?

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Why did Jesus say “I Thirst”

 

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This is the shortest of the seven cries.Although it stands in our language as two words, in the original it is one.At the moment when Our Saviourresumes His sermon, it is not a curse upon those who crucify Him, not a word of reproach to the timid disciples at the border of the crows, not a cry of scorn to the Roman soldiers, not a word of hope to Magdalen, not a word of love to John, not a word of farewell to his beloved Mother.it is not even to God at this moment! Out from the depths of the Sacred Heart there wells through parched lips one awful word: “I thirst!”

He, the God-Man, Who threw the stars in their orbits and spheres into space, Who “swung the earth a trinket at his wrist,” from Whose fingertips tumbled planets and worlds, Who might have said, “The sea is Mine and with it the streams in a thousand valleys and cataracts in a thousand hills,” noW asks man — man, a piece of His own handiwork — to help Him. He asks a man for a drink! Not a drink of earthly water, that is not what He meant, but a drink of love. “I thirst” — for love!
The last word was a revelation of the sufferings of a man without God; this word was a revelation of the sufferings of God without a man. The Creator cannot live without the creature, the Shepherd without the sheep, the thirst of Christ’s love without the soul-water of Christians.
But what has He done to be entitled to my love? How much has God loved me? Oh, if I would know how much God has loved me, then let me sound the depths of meaning of that word “love”, a word so often used and so little understood, Love, first of all, means to give and God has given His power to nothingness, His light to darkness, His order to chaos, and this is Creation. Love means to tell secrets to the one loved, and God has told in the Scriptures the secrets of His Nature and His high hopes for fallen humanity, and this is Revelation. Love means also to suffer for the one loved, that is why we speak of arrows and darts of love — something that wounds — and God is now suffering for us on the Tree of the Cross, for “greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friend.” Love means also to become one with the one loved, not only in the unity of flesh but in the unity of spirit, and God has so loved us as to institute the Eucharist, that we may abide in Him and He in us in the ineffable unity of the Bread of Life. Love wishes also to be eternally united with the one loved, and God has so loved us that He has promised us His Father’s mansions, where a peace and a joy reign which the world cannot give and time cannot take away, and this is Heaven.

Certainly, love has exhausted itself. There is nothing more than Christ could do for His vineyard than He has done.Having poured forth all the waters of His everlasting Love on our poor parched hearts, it is no wonder that He thirsts for love.If Love is reciprocal then certainly He has a right to our love.Why do we not respond? Why do we let the divine Heart die of thirst for human hearts?

This Article is taken from the book The Seven Last Words.

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