Daily Archives: December 21, 2017

LECTIO DIVINA (3) — Contemplation and action


In our third and final piece on lectio divina, we focus on the fourth classical step of lectio divina, that is, contemplation. We shall add a fifth step!




The fourth moment of lectio divina is contemplation (contemplatio). It is described as a return to paradise (Guigo). It is a silent and loving admiration for what has been read and what is being suggested by the Holy Spirit” (D. de Pablo Maroto). Mental prayer ends up in an act of love, a simple loving gaze, a faith vision of God: “The contemplative sees the resurrection in the cross, life in death, the Risen in the Crucified Lord” (Bernardo Olivera). “Trinitarian doxology is the goal of all Christian contemplation” (St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae).

The word contemplation scares some of us a bit! What is contemplation? An expert, Thomas Merton answers thus: “Contemplation is essentially a listening in silence, and expectancy. True contemplation is… a theological grace. It is sharing through the Holy Spirit in the infinite charity of God” (Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer). Contemplation is like returning to the maternal womb, but without forgetting the world and history. Contemplation is a deep experience of the presence of God – the words have taken us to the Word, to the Crucified and Risen Lord. It is interior silence of the heart, where God speaks – silently -, where He is adored. It is a paschal experience: “I have seen the Lord.”

After passing through penance and meditation, and being already substantially detached from external things and from discursive reasoning, the soul is introduced in “simple contemplation of intelligible truth” accompanied by spiritual joy. “The ultimate perfection of the contemplative life is the Divine Truth not only seen but also loved” (St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II). Hence, “At its heart, prayer is contemplative, a pure looking at God, a pure acquiescence to his being as to ourselves, to his quality as Father and to our condition as his children” (S Pinckaers, OP, Passions and Virtue). I remember this lovely story. One day St. John XXIII seemed to have disappeared from the Vatican quarters. The secretary looked for him. Nowhere to be found. Finally, he found him in one of the private chapels. The secretary asked the Holy Father what he had done so long a time. The Pope answered him smiling: “I sat here and said: ‘Dear Lord, You are there and I am there’. The secretary: “Only that?” Pope: “Only that.” Contemplating God: You are there, I am there! (In Anselm Grun, The Art of Aging)

Contemplation integrates the contemplation of the crucified Lord and of the neighbor. It is intimately connected with action. “Contemplation is not an evasion from history, but the capacity to look intensely at Christ crucified, and afterwards to recognize him in the history of each person and of the entire world.” To separate contemplation and action, Mary and Martha is not good at all: “Faithful to Christian tradition are St. Thomas, with his well-known ‘contemplata aliis tradere’, and St. Ignatius of Loyola: ‘contemplativus simul in actione’” (Fabio Ciardi, OMI).

BITE-SIZE PHILOSOPHY (45) — Have you ever seen animals “coming up with new ideas”?

Rev José Mario O Mandía


Nature is wonderful. Nature is fascinating. Just watch birds build nests, or ants making anthills, or bees constructing beehives.

But have you ever wondered why birds don’t ever design new kinds of nests, why ants don’t ever think of new forms of anthills, why bees don’t ever conceive new structures for beehives? In the animal kingdom, only man is capable of designing a place where he can live. Also, even if two people may live in two flats which are very similar in shape and size and volume, yet they will decorate their flats differently!

Have you ever imagined birds coming together and deciding to elect their own president, monkeys coming in groups and demonstrating to fight for democracy?

Have you ever seen chickens setting up school for their chicks? Have you ever seen dogs organizing concerts, ever seen eagles coming up with new flying tricks and formations, cats trying to invent new ways of catching mice?

Have you ever seen animals “coming up with new ideas”?

APOLOGIA (9) — Is God the subject of sacred science?




Objection 1: When we speak of the sacred, we imply many things that are not related with God.

Objection 2: We speak of sacred in many religious traditions, but lots of them don’t recognize “a god” but different deities, or even emptiness. So sacred science is not related with God.

Objection 3: We are not able to ascertain the nature of God, so He cannot be the subject of any science.

Objection 4: Science needs “hard proof” and we cannot prove God or he will not be God if our mind can understand Him.

On the contrary in Proverbs (1:7) we read that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”


Aurelio Porfiri


Many have observed that the United States had a significant role in the past century that we are rediscovering once more today. This is true in the Catholic Church and in many other areas. What do you think?


Yes, unfortunately there has been a frightening decline of Christian culture in my country. I grew up during the ‘50s, when American society was marked by a Christian character, mostly Protestant but nevertheless faithful to the Christian identity. In those times, we knew about things that have become common today: the reality of abortion, of people who manifest homosexual tendencies, whose personal dignity we always respected, but we were formed to see these acts as absolutely unacceptable, against the nature that God had created for us.

However, in recent decades my country has moved in the direction of a rampant secularism. Now, every year in America, more than a million children are killed in the womb, the practice of recognizing unions between two people of the same sex as marital unions has been imposed, and an attack has been mounted on religious liberty: the government—which has become a very powerful agent of this secularism—forbids the Catholic Church and Catholics from following their conscience regarding the practice of abortion. The Church herself must accept what are considered homosexual ‘marriages’.

Be a gift for others

Sr Sam

Come the month of December, everyone thinks about Christmas and celebration.

Everyone is excited, waiting to buy new clothes, new cosmetics and gadgets. Food and branded sweet items get more attractive. It is noticeable that Christmas has become more commercialized than its original meaning.

Christmas is a celebration, celebration of “giving”. God “giving Himself” to humanity. And this celebration of “giving” will be incomplete, if we, those who celebrate Christmas don’t give ourselves to others, especially those who are in need.   Because it is in “giving”, that one feels happiness and fulfillment. One may wonder, what can I give? Everyone has everything. Though everyone has everything, they are still poor , because they don’t have anyone nearby to talk, to share their feelings with, their difficulties. They are poor, when they don’t have their children nearby, they are poor when they have lost their loved ones. They are in poor when their teenage children land up in drug addictions, they are poor when they are suffering psychologically — depression and loneliness drags them to the darkness of their life.

It is to them we need to give, to give our time, our presence, our consoling words, and our support.

Jesus and children

Rino Cammilleri

As it is well known, Marx was not affectionate with religion (“opium of the people”) and in Christianity, he saw at most the dialectical time of the passage from the ancient world to the medieval one. But of one thing he was grateful to Christianity: to have been taught to love children. We Westerners are now accustomed to soothe them, cuddle them, adore them, so we cannot imagine a time when it was not like this.


If you do not become like children


With this in mind, therefore, we must go back to the Apostles’ dismay when they see their Master embracing the children. They were noisy – as always – and threatened to disturb the venerable Rabbi. The Apostles, therefore, seek to send them away, but they were astonished by Christ’s halt. He not only embraces them, but also goes to the extent of pointing them out as an example: “If you do not become like these children you will never enter the Kingdom …” In fact, the disciples remain astonished. They did not have to become masters in religion, scholars in Scripture and commentaries, no. But candid as children. And even illiterate, if necessary. Unheard of. But Jesus does more: He embraces children. He threatens the most severe sanctions, he that was so merciful – to those who dare to scandalize one of these children: a millstone on his neck and down into the sea.

Unheard of

The world around him considered childhood a nuisance, a harassment to get rid of as soon as possible. The Roman father (and the Romans were the most advanced civilly) waited for the midwife slave, who lay before him his last born. The ceremony demanded that the father would take the child in his arms and lift him up. In this case, the child was accepted. Otherwise he would be “exposed,” i.e., left in some corner or crossroad: if he survived, a slave merchant could decide to raise him. Or leave him there. For females it was even worse, because females – who were not valuable even for the very civil Romans – needed a dowry and so they were, in short, a burden. The females did not even have a proper name, their family name sufficed. Everything depended, in short, on the good heart (or calculation) of the pater familias. And if this was done by the Romans …

COMPASSION AND HOPE — Macau students lend a hand to depressed areas in the Philippines


Honlam Education and Research Association is organizing work camps in the Philippines that give Macau students first-hand experiences on how difficult life in depressed areas can be. We listened to stories of compassion and hope.



From Dec 26-31, the Honlam Education and Research Association (HERA) is going to hold a work camp in the Philippines, aiming to help underprivileged people living in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

“There will be 7 professionals and 2 high school students from Yuet Wah College who will be participating in this program,” the HERA’s organizing member Joseph Sy-changco told O CLARIM.

The work camp consists of visiting depressed communities, where the participants from Macau will pay home visits to the poorest families, besides providing school supplies and giving lessons to about 100 children.

“Christmas gifts will be given to each visited family. And there will be a visit to the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, where Macau participants will have the chance to speak and play with sick children, and talk to their parents. The participants will also pay a visit to the Willing Hearts Orphanage for Street Children,” Mr Sy-changco said. He is Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Macau.

O Rex Gentium – Music by Aurelio Porfiri

Liturgical Mass Sheet

Obedience works wonders

24 December 2017 4th Sunday of Advent December 21, 2014

2 Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Rom 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38


May Tam


With this last Sunday of Advent, Christmas is knocking at the door. Many of us may well be ready for the celebration that is to come. But two thousand years ago, an unknown Jewish girl who brought forth the first Christmas, had her life-changing adventure began in today’s Annunciation story of Luke’s gospel. Let us revisit this extraordinary event.

It was extraordinary because the spiritual realm “touched base” with the material world—the invisible manifested itself to be visible. It was extraordinary because the Almighty God who, being the cause and source of everything and is in need of nothing, includes humanity’s (represented by Mary) cooperation and participation in His salvific plan. By the use of a diptych, we may see what it means.

Jesus is conceived from Mary’s yes

Fernando Armellini SCJ

Claretian Publications, Macau

There is a surprise in the expectations and realization of the messianic coming. He chooses not a valiant liberator like Gideon, not a hero like Samson or a powerful ruler as Solomon, but a woman, a virgin, a poor girl.

The central message of the passage is the opening greeting of the angel to Mary. “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” This greeting was well known to Mary because the prophets had already addressed it to the Virgin Zion from Zephaniah (Zep 3:1).

After the greeting, the angel announced to Mary the birth of a child to whom the Lord God will give the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his reign shall have no end. Almost identical words are found, on the mouth of Nathan (2 S 7:12-17). Placing them on the lips of the angel, the evangelist declares that the prophecy made to David was accomplished in the son of Mary: Jesus is the long-awaited messiah destined to rule forever.