Thoughts To Live By…

Archive for February 2009

Mk 1:12-15 – The Temptation of Jesus
Sunday Gospel Reflection

The longing and  desire for heaven  or the single indestructible longing for God, for an eternity spent in intimate, blessed communion with him is the deepest desire of human heart. Heaven is “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024). This is always what we pray for, what we strive for, what we hope for. But there were and will always be temptations, trials and tests on the way that will prevent us, hinder us and steal away from us the heaven that we long for.

The Gospel for today tells of Jesus’ retreat and temptation in the desert and the beginning of his preaching of God’s good news. Today’s Gospel simply tells of Satan tempting Jesus. But Jesus passed the test and overcame the test and temptation.

What is temptation? A temptation is anything than inclines a person to commit sin. It is enticement to evil, seduction to sin and death. Though it is not a sin it is more than trial or test because it lead us to sin. Once we enter into, give in to and submit to, temptation we are already committing sin which will bring us alienation, corruption, death and ultimately hell where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

What distinguishes temptation from trial? Trials or tests are necessary for growth while temptations incline us to sin. “No one who is tempted is free to say, “I am being tempted by God.” Surely God, who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one” (Jas 1:13). God tests the heart puts his own in trial (1Th 2, 4) while only Satan tempts them (Lk 22,37; Ap 2, 10; 12,9). Trial is indispensable condition for growth (cf. Lk 8, 13ff), for sturdiness (1 P 1, 6f), for the manifestation of the truth (1 Co 11, 9: the reason for Christian divisions) and humility (1 Co 10, 12). When we overcome trials, temptations we are proven to be steady and strong (subok na matatag at subok na matibay. Thus freed, tried and tested Christian knows how to discern, verify and “try” everything (R 12, 2; E 5, 10). Trial is therefore the condition of the Church which is still to be tested, although she is already pure; stll to be reformed, although she is already glorious.

St. Paul assures us that “God will not let you be tested beyond your strength. Along with the test he will give you a way out of it so that you may be able to endure it” ( 1 Cor 10:13; cf. CCC 2848). In fact St. Paul wrote that we should even boast of our tests/afflictions, knowing that afflictions produce endurance, and endurance, proven virtue (cf. Rom 5:3-5; CCC 2897).

Sources of temptations:

  • Some temptations arise from within ourselves. “The tug and lure of his own passion has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches maturity it begets death” (cf. Jas 1:14).
    • Our passions and emotions incline us to long for attractive gratifications even through doing acts we know are evil.
    • Pride incline us to sin.
    • Imperfection of our very nature are sources of sin more particularly concupiscence and bad habits or vices.
  • We also experience temptations from the world. Persons, places and things can be occasion of sins to us. Even things good in themselves can be incitements in us to seek the attractive goods in unreasonable ways.
  • Faith also recognizes Satan, once an angel, but now hostile to God and to us, as one source of temptation. In his hatred for God, he seeks to drive us toward sinful and self-destructive choices (CCC 394-395).

Consequence of being tempted: slavery to sin, alienation and separation, death and ultimately hell where Satan dwells and where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

How do we handle with temptations?

  • Avoid temptations and keep yourself busy. Idleness is the workshop of the devil.
  • Resistance, faith and vigilance. Stay sober and alert because your enemy the Devil is like a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour. Resist him and solid in your faith.
  • Prayer. In communion with their master, the disciples’ prayer is a battle; “only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation” ( cf. Lk 22:40, 46). “Pray that he will not let you be tested beyond your strength” (cf. 1 Cor 10:13). Pray that the Father “lead us not into temptations and allow us to be overcome by it (cf. CCC 2846). Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy…Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.
  • Repentance and conversion. Always return to the Lord with fasting, weeping and mourning. For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Always seek in everything the will of God. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.

Temptations are not themselves sins and no one entirely escape temptation. Hence, be vigilant and pray that God our Father may “lead us not into temptation” or allow us to be overcome by it and “seek it with all our hearts His sufficient grace to overcome temptation and to remain faithful to God (cf. CCC 2848).


turmeric.jpgTurmeric is one of nature’s most powerful healers. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Tumeric has been used for over 2500 years in India, where it was most likely first used as a dye.

The medicinal properties of this spice have been slowly revealing themselves over the centuries. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, recent research has revealed that turmeric is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are 20 reasons to add turmeric to your diet:

1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.

2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.

3. Prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs in mice.

4. May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to commit suicide.

5. Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.

6. Is a natural liver detoxifier.

7. May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain.

8. May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.

9. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.

10. Has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice.

11. Is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor.

12. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.

13. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.

14. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

15. Boosts the effects of chemo drug paclitaxel and reduces its side effects.

16. Promising studies are underway on the effects of turmeric on pancreatic cancer.

17. Studies are ongoing in the positive effects of turmeric on multiple myeloma.

18. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.

19. Speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.

20. May help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Turmeric can be taken in powder or pill form. It is available in pill form in most health food stores, usually in 250-500mg capsules.

Once you start using turmeric on a regular basis, it’s fun to find new ways to use it in recipes. My favorite way to use it is to add a pinch of it to egg salad. It adds a nice flavor and gives the egg salad a rich yellow hue.

Contraindications: Turmeric should not be used by people with gallstones or bile obstruction. Though turmeric is often used by pregnant women, it is important to consult with a doctor before doing so as turmeric can be a uterine stimulant.

Eat This!

Kissing secrets revealed (Getty images)

Kissing is probably one of the best things you can do with your lips. It’s not just the most passionate way of getting close to your partner, it’s also something that enlightens your mood and adds zing to your love life.

So, what comes to your mind when you first think of kissing? A peck on the cheek or a passionate French kiss? Well, if you want to explore what turns on your mate or simply add creativity to your kissing techniques, here are some lip smacking ideas …

Reverse lip kiss – Remember the sensuous kiss exchanged between Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman ? You can re-create the sizzling kiss with your partner. Of course you can’t hang upside down like the famed super hero, so kiss your partner when he/she is lying down or seated. Come from behind and have them tilt their head backwards. Lower down your head and gently kiss their lower lip and feel your partner breathe on your neck. Abhishek, who works with a software company in Mumbai says, “My girlfriend really took me by surprise when I was working on my laptop. She came from behind, tilted my head backwards and gave me a kiss upside-down while I could feel her hair tickle my neck. I must confess I was quite impressed with her initiative and it really turned me on.”

Underwater kiss – Dive to the bottom of the swimming pool, embrace your lover under water and suck in as if you were sucking air from their mouth. Leave them gasping for breath just for a few seconds. By the time you run out of air, reach the top, breathe and get set for the act again. If you are a guy, just pull your babe up above the water, while remaining in the pool and gently caress her thighs while rolling your tongue around her navel to provide the ultimate erotic sensation. Ashish Singh (name changed on request) says, “I would love to lock lips with my girlfriend under water. I love water sports and I think it would just add to the sizzling underwater action. What can be more sensuous?”

Ring kiss – When you and your partner are sitting together on a couch or lazing in bed, gently hold his hand and start kissing. Then smoothly, suck a ring out of his finger with the help of your teeth. Roll your tongue and slide the ring slightly to hold it around your tongue. Then share a passionate kiss by rolling the tip of your tongue to trace his lips. Let him suck the ring from your tongue and you can try stealing it again, it will heat up the scene.

Foot kiss – This one’s not just amorous, but also an erotic gesture. Gently move your fingers on his/her bare foot. It may tickle your partner initially, but relax and enjoy the sensations! Then, gently kiss her foot and suck her toes. You can make the act even more intense by rolling an ice cube on her foot as you gradually move the cube up her legs and then to her inner thighs. “My partner turns me on by massaging my foot. He rubs his thumbs in circular motions from the heel to the toe and then sucks my toes one by one. Some people think it’s kinky, but you have to try it to believe it. It works for me and it’s even more fun if you do it in the 69 position and face each other’s feet,” says newly married Meenakshi (name changed on request) .

Nip kiss – When you kiss your partner next time, gently nibble on his/her lips. Be careful not to bite too hard and hurt them though. While smooching on one’s lips is enjoyable, use your imagination and try exploring other body parts as well. Nibbling on the neck, for instance, is a great turn on. If you do it well, this kiss ignites flames of passion that will arouse you to explore your beau’s body further. Arvind (name changed on request) , who got married a year ago, says, “If I really want to drive my wife wild, nibbling is the best way to do so. It makes her squirm with desire. It is the best foreplay act and gets you in the mood for more action. Biting her gently at the right time and the right place just makes her scream for more.”

Earlobe kiss – As the name suggests, gently sip and suck your partner’s earlobe. Cuddle close to your sweetheart, bite gently to make him/her moan and whisper something naughty. Let him hear you breathe and feel your wet lips. This will surely make him want you more than ever. However, take extra care to avoid loud, sucking noises.

“My hubby simply loves it when I bite him on his earlobe. And if I say something wild or naughty during the act, it sets his mood right. Just telling him what exactly I want him to do to me…the dirtiest of things makes him long for more,” says Suchita Mishra (name changed on request) from Pune.

24 Feb 2009, 0000 hrs IST, RAKSHITA PANDEY

Why men like wet kisses? (Getty images)

When you share a kiss with your man, you reveal a lot more than just passion.

US scientists have found that modern man uses smooch to pick up traces of estrogen in a woman’s saliva and thus gauge her fertility.

Anthropologist Helen Fisher of Rutgers University says that such behaviour may explain why men like wet kisses with more ‘tongue action’. While at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago, Fisher said that wet kisses could also be an unconscious attempt to transfer testosterone to the woman, which would stimulate her sexual interest.

“Men see kissing early in a relationship directly as a step to copulation,” she said. According to Wendy Hill, a neuroscientist at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, kissing may also serve as a way to assess the quality of a mate.

Helen said that research has shown that the majority of men and women rate their first kiss as either “the kiss of death” or the blossoming of a new relationship. The expert recently developed a personality test that measures four universal temperaments by using statistics from 40,000 people on the Internet dating site

Each temperament type was linked to activity levels of the brain chemicals dopamine/norepinephrine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen/oxytocin.

Helen found that a person’s temperament guides which type of mate they select—boosting her belief that love involves some very powerful brain chemistry.

“People sing for love; they dance for love; they write about love; live for, kill, and die for love,” Helen told National Geographic News. “It’s a wonderful addiction when (a relationship is) working well—but perfectly horrible when it’s working poorly,” she added.

27 Feb 2009, 0800 hrs IST, ANI

27 Feb 2009, 0000 hrs IST, CHARU AMAR

The 10 kissing commandments (Getty Images)

“Our date was extremely romantic, until I offered to seal the night with a kiss, which unexpectedly turned out to be quite awkward. While, I was gravely ashamed, never came back,” shares 23-year-old, Rishi Gulati (name changed on request), a sad victim of a kissing-faux-pas.

Well, the misfortune of a bad kiss can fall upon any of us. Consider yourself lucky if your kiss left your partner craving for more. And keep your fingers tightly crossed for no one plans a kissing blunder, it simply happens! And mind it, you are hardly left with anything to mend the embarrassment caused by a ‘dud kiss.’ If a perfect kiss can register success in your relationship

, a kissing bummer is good enough to bring your love journey to a dead end even before it starts.

Follow our ’10 commandments of perfect kissing’ and you’ll never be tagged as a ‘poor kisser’…

1. Thou shall not be a stinking fish
Nothing can kill a kiss like foul breadth. So, the first commandment keeps you off kissing, if your mouth is stinking due to hygiene issues, food, tobacco or excessive smoking. If you don’t want your partner to remember the kiss for all the wrong reasons, try to look out for solutions. Dr. Kamal Bisht, a general physician suggests, “Begin by brushing your teeth before you go out on a date, irrespective of the time. Cleaning your tongue is also important as it removes bacteria. Avoid kissing if you have just had smelly food products like garlic, onions etc. Keep a breath spray handy and use it periodically throughout the day.” Last but not the least, if you are a smoker, the pleasure of smooching your partner can be your motivation to kick the butt!

2. Thou shall open your mouth with care
“My girlfriend has this habit of opening her mouth very little while kissing, which does not allow me to enjoy a passionate kiss to the fullest,” avers Rajdeep Bhawmik, a Delhi-based architect.

While, there’s no accurate rule for opening the mouth, it’s generally seen that a deep kiss using tongue is a huge turn on. Equally terrifying are gulpers who open their mouth wide open while kissing, ready to swallow their partner. The trick is to keep one’s lips lose enough to let the lips of both the partners glide smoothly over each other making it a yummy kiss. Also, “start with a lip-to-lip kiss and gradually taste the depths of pleasure,” suggests sex expert, Dr. Rajan.

3. Thou shall not be a dead dud
“For both men and women, responsiveness is the chief factor that makes for a better kisser,” says author William Cane in his book, The Art of Kissing Book of Question and Answers . So, rather than pouncing upon your partner’s mouth, try and figure out the styles and movements that your partner enjoys. Try to figure out his/her likes and dislikes and adapt your technique accordingly.

Going with the other partner’s rhythm is crucial. Don’t expect your beau to do all the work while you enjoy his kissing moves. “My girlfriend is a hesitant kisser. She doesn’t even move her head; forget about getting playful with her tongue and lips. It’s just like I’m trying to find pleasure with a stiff stick,” reveals Chandan Gupta, a 20-year-old college student.

4. Thou shall be a learner
No body is a born kisser. So, if you are an amateur kisser, who is apprehensive about locking lips, just follow your partner and the rest will fall into place, the way it happened with Jayati and Mayank. “During the initial days of our courtship, my girlfriend Jayanti was quite clueless about kissing, which was a big turn-off for me. But soon she realised her awkwardness and made a smart move. She simply started copying my style and now she can beat me in a passionate kiss,” tells Mayank Taneja, a Mumbai-based PR professional.
Remember kissing is all about adapting and learning.

5. Thou shall use your hands appropriately
Agreed, that using hands results in elevating levels of passion. But do not pull his hair or grab her waist as if she’ll run if you leave. Kissing is about imparting pleasure rather than inflicting pain. “Keep your hand movements limited to sensual and soft strokes on your lover’s arms, back, neck, waist and hair or simply cup the face,” suggests Cane. Don’t get too aggressive in the name of showing wild passion. “My first boyfriend almost gave me bruises every time we kissed. Pinching and grabbing me gave him a sense of high, but I failed to match up with his wild passion and we broke up after a few dates and kisses,” relates Madhurima Goel, a 19-year-old college student.

6. Thou shall not let your tongue go loose
You don’t have to gag your partner by shoving off your tongue deep down into his/her mouth. Take it easy. The kissing rule for tongue says –less is more! Let the tip of your tongue perform the magic with subtle and gentle strokes. You can use your tongue for exploring, but that doesn’t allow you to reach between your partner’s teeth –as it can be a big turnoff. “Remember, slower the tongue movements, hotter is the passion,” says Dr. Shivi Jaggi.

Valentine’s Day: Celebrating love

7. Thou shall not give me a saliva bath
Wet kisses undoubtedly work when it comes to getting into some raunchy action, but that doesn’t give you the liberty to go lap,lap,lap all over your partner’s face. “My girl is a passionate kisser. But, the only problem with her is that her kisses are really wet. She licks my chin, cheeks, forehead etc, which becomes quite messy for me,” complains Jatin Sharma, a 24-year-old, management student. So, slobbery is not welcomed while kissing.

8. Thou shall not have sex on your mind
It is not necessary for a kiss to end in some hot action between the sheets. Your kiss shouldn’t give away the hint that you are getting desperate to hit the bed. “Kissing brings people close physically and emotionally. And this closeness satisfies a deep emotional need for connecting with your partner,” explains Cane.
So, while you are kissing, be sensitive to your partner’s need. He/she may or may not be ready for sex immediately. Don’t use a kiss as a means to reach a sexual climax. Let your kiss be romantic rather than plain sexual.
“I can still remember my first kiss, though for unpleasant things. The way the guy was busy groping me, gave clear clues that he wanted to have sex with me on our first date itself and I wasn’t ready. And soon after that date, within no time I made up my mind to never meet him again.”

Another way to keep your first kiss plain romantic, rather than hard core sexual can be to keep your hand-work limited to the non-erotic zones like the neck, arms, back waist etc., rather than reaching out to the erotic zones. Though, imagination and experimentation can be your yardstick if both of you are ready and enjoying.

9. Though shall not stare while kissing
You might be curious; you might feel like watching your partner taking pleasure in the act, but continuously staring at him/her while kissing is a big no no! Whenever a person is enjoying something to the hilt, their eyes automatically shut. Closing the eyes is an autonomous stimulus to pleasure. So, kissing is no exception to this rule and people tend to close their eyes. “Also, the sight of your partner almost eating you might not look very beautiful if you watch it continuously, though there’s nothing wrong in getting a peep every now and then,” suggests Dr. Rajan.

10. Thou shall be confident of your kiss
Be it a plain pucker or a passionate lip lock, not just the initiator, but even the recipient ought to be confident. Remember, to go with the flow and you’ll do fine. When passion reaches its zenith, no guide-book or tips remain in one’s mind. So, just be yourself and let the warmth of your lips take over. “Be it approaching your lover for a kiss or accepting his proposal, both should be utmost confident. Jitters may spoil the mood, irrespective of who is getting them,” explains Dr. Jaggi.



Mt 6:1-6, 16-18 –  Almsgiving, Prayer and Fasting
Ash Wednesday & Universal Day of Fasting and Abstinence

Today is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday begins the great season of Lent, when we are invited to “return sincerely to the Lord our God with fasting prayer and mourning” (Jl  2:12) and to offer to God a sacrifice of a humble and contrite spirit.  It is the time of the year when we are reminded again that we are dust, and to dust we will return. On a more positive note, we are reminded “to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

Today is universal day of fasting and abstinence. Catholics all over the world are encouraged to pray, to fast and abstain, and to share to the poor and the needy. Simply put, to do penance. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer and almsgiving (Cf. Tob 12:8; Mt 6:1-18), which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God and to others (CCC 1434).

What is penance? What does it mean to do penance? “Penance is concrete daily effort of a person, supported by God’s grace to lose his/her own life for Christ as the only means of gaining it; an effort to put off the old man and put on the new; an effort to overcome in oneself what is of the flesh in order that what is spiritual may prevail; it is a continual effort to rise from the thing of here below to things above, where Christ is. Penance is ,therefore, a conversion that passes from the heart to deeds to the Christian whole life” (JP, PR).

Penance such as prayer, fasting and almsgiving prepare us for the liturgical feast; they help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart (Cf. CIC, cann. 1249-1251; CCEO. Can. 882)

How do we make our penance fruitful and meaningful?

  • Let us do our penance out of personal conviction and in freedom. Let us guard ourselves of legal formalism and superficiality which the prophets had already denounced, pride and ostentations if one fasts “in order to be seen by men. It must be done in secret, with sincerity and voluntarily.
  • Let us fast, pray and share to the needy as our penance out of our love for God and neighbor. This is the greatest commandment. This is the summary of the all the laws of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.
  • “This rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread to the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked, and not turning your back on your own” (Is 58:6-8).
  • Penance finds its fulfillment, meaning and relevance only in the context of “Jesus call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes”, fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance (Cf. 2:12-13; Is. 1:16-17; Mt. 6;1-6; 16-18).

Interior repentance is a radical orientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our hearts, an end to sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of the spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of the heart) (Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1676-1678; 1705; cf. Roman Catechism, II, V, 4).

Fasting, prayers and almsgiving are interconnected and complimentary. Fasting is the soul of prayer. Mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So when you pray, fast; when you fast, show mercy.

Starting this Ash Wednesday as we begin the season of lent, strive to be humble and “return to God with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts not your garments, and return to the Lord  your God. For gracious and merciful is He, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment” (Jl 2:12-13).

“Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool” (Is. 1:18)


Related Article:

Eating cheese can be heart healthy. Women who ate a serving a day (about the size of four dice) had higher HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad) than those who ate less, according to a study at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Men didn’t reap the same benefits, possibly because they tend to pick cheeses with more saturated fat and salt.

Please your palate and your heart.
Please your palate and your heart.

To please your palate and your heart:

  • Stick to part-skim. Slimmed-down versions of mozzarella, Cheddar, and other cheeses have less saturated fat but just as much taste — and you don’t have to sacrifice good-for-your-arteries calcium and essential fatty acids.
  • Skip fat-free products. Most are loaded with sodium to make up for lost flavor, and the texture’s often rubbery.
  • Go gourmet. Specialty cheeses are high in fat — but their intense flavors are satisfying, so you can more easily stick to a small serving.

February 2009
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