"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blessed Mary

        If the Catholic Church is the most misunderstood church in the world, then Mary the Mother of Jesus must be the most misunderstood women in the world. 
        As I mentioned in a previous post, I am basically a simple and even naive person. To me, if I love Jesus, how can I not love his mother?  On the cross, the Lord gave her to St. John to be his mother before he expired. If she's good enough for St. John, she's certainly good enough for me. The death of her Son had made her suffer more than anyone else (as prophesied by Simeon at the Presentation of Jesus).  At the wedding in Cana, Mary told others to do whatever Jesus tells them. She always wants all to do God's will, leading them to her Son. Invite her to be your partner in doing God's will and you cannot go wrong.
        A loud and clear note: We Catholics do not worship Mary because she is also a creature like us, albeit a very special one favored by the Lord.  A lot of us simply love her very much.    

First Thing First

        How can you deal with all the problems of life?  How can you be less self-centered?  How can you not let others upset you?  How can you find peace?  It feels like there are so many things to resolve, to settle, to square away.
        "First thing first" means seeking the union with Christ first before all else, then everything will automatically fall into place over time.  The closer you are united with Christ, the more you think and view the world like him.  Then you will learn not to worry or be anxious about anything (remember his counsels in the Gospels?).  You will have great courage in facing all the problems in life.  You can actually become fearless.  Achieving the greatest possible union with the Lord in this life should be your foremost goal in life.        
        A footnote.  Ralph Martin's book The Fulfillment of All Desire describes the various stages of union with God.

Being Lost

        In general, no one likes to be lost.  If you're lost in the wilderness, you would worry or even panic.  Sometimes when you don't know what to do in a situation, you are lost too.  But if you are lost in Christ, then that's totally different.  In fact, it's the best thing that could ever happen to you.  To be lost in Christ is to be found by him.  To be found by him is to be lost in his love.  And this love will beget freedom, peace, and joy.  So don't be a lost soul, but be a "lost" believer instead.     

Offer of Unconditional Love

        God's love for us is unconditional.  It's offered to us independent upon how good or bad a person we are.  Jesus has demonstrated how great this love is and it's ours for the asking.  Unconditional love is equivalent to unlimited mercy.  If you do not embrace this love yet, then what is your "good" reason?  Remember that the offer is valid only in our lifetime.  

Monday, June 28, 2010

One Sin of Omission

        This morning at Mass, the Lord made me see that if we don't ask him to make us holier and to love him more after receiving him in Holy Communion, then we shall have received him in vain.

A Simple Faith

        Compared to most people, I am a relatively naive person.  It follows that my faith is rather simple too.  I just believe in God's love and that this love is sufficient to sustain, nurture, and more than satisfy me.  I much prefer reading authors who write with their heart than with their intellect or brain.  Books like Carretto's Letters from the Desert just suits me fine.  Anything theological or that which gets into deep analysis or just wordy doesn't generate much interest in me.  Maybe this gets me close to believing like a child as Jesus likes.  I am lucky that when I look into my heart, I do not find any tangled mess, knots, or cobwebs ~ the Lord must have taken all that away.  This is why St. Therese of Lisieux appeal to me so much and I had asked her to be my spiritual director.  I hope that you will find your own personal way of believing that suits you.         

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ecstasy Defined

        Practically speaking, ecstasy is rapturous delight, bliss, great delight.  In theory, ecstasy is simply doing God's will.  What could be happier than knowing that you are making God happy?? 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Judging Others

        Jesus wants us to notice the plank in our own eye before seeing the speck in our brother's eye.  And he asked whomever without sin to cast the first stone  at the adulterous women caught in the act.  St. Therese learned to never speak ill of anyone and only say the good things about a "bad" person.  All these examples teach us not to judge others.  Those who love to criticize others are unhappy people, because they fail to see that God loves everyone, including the critic.

Life Beyond

        Sometimes at home you happen to see or find something that's a gift given to you a long time ago by someone and the giver is no longer here in this world.  Of course, you wish that he or she has found peace in the Lord.  Yes, where we end up after this life is over is of extreme importance, unless you just don't believe that there is life after death.  I think most people do believe that the soul lives on, yet they don't do much to make sure that they go to the right place after death.  Why?
        In the context of eternity, we are only here in one blink of the eye, yet we plan and live as if we are going to live forever.  It seems that this world is a trap, in which we're easily made to forget to  consider this most important question of life.  I remember the saying: "Everyone wants to get to heaven, but no one wants to die to get there."  The wise with true vision will want to look into the life beyond as early in their life as possible.  Happy are those who have already found Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Beauty of God's Love

        "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son..."  We've all heard this so many times, but have you really thought about it to feel and sense the immensity and depth of this Love?  Today we might call it "extreme love."  Jesus himself said that there's no greater love than laying down your own life for others.  Yes, Jesus did it for each one of us!  To some of us, he must be insane.  Yet to God, this is his nature.  It's so incredible that this love becomes extremely beautiful.  Once you see and feel this, you can't help but fall in love with the Lord.  If you appreciate beauty, then I urge you to discover the beauty of his love ASAP.  The reward will be not just peace and joy in this life, but also in the next for all eternity.   

Repentance Is Happy

        Yesterday was the Solemnity of St. John the Baptist.  Immediately, the word "repentance" came to my mind.  This is not a happy word to many, since it calls to mind a sinful state.  Yet when I think about it more, I see repentance as something truly beautiful.  Repentance is to say "I am sorry" to God.  It is a prerequisite for reconciling with God.  When we repent, God forgives us, thus removing our burden of guilt and any prior barrier that existed between God and us.  Heaven rejoices and definitely, we should too.  Now, can you think of a happier word than "repentance"?       

Friday, June 18, 2010

Range of Beliefs

        Many Christians claim that they believe in God, but what does that mean? 
        Some merely believe that Jesus existed as a historical figure.  Some want to follow him, but they don't have the time to pay him much attention.  Some attend church regularly, but nothing happens much to them spiritually; they continue to "do their own thing" in life.  Some pray to God only when they face a crisis or just have a need to fulfill.  Some believe sincerely, but when they face a test, they give up.  Some only accept the teachings of the Church they like and reject or at least not try to face those they don't feel comfortable with.  Some only attend Mass for Christmas and Easter yearly, thinking that maybe this is sufficient to keep God happy.  Some believers always have questions about their faith.  Then there are those who study and know a lot about Jesus, but don't know him personally.  This reminds me of a non-Christian tour guide in Holy Land whose knowledge of Jesus was most impressive.  There are others who find one priest or fellow Christian offensive or just unfriendly to them and leave the Church.  Some never bother to take the time to study or learn the teachings of the Church.  Some think that they are good enough believers, compared to others.  Since the word "sin" is rarely heard in homilies nowadays, some have forgotten about the importance of repentance as a precondition for growth in holiness.  
        The above is not meant to criticize anyone, it's just assessed reality and we can certainly and should do better with prayer and God's help.         

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Be Hidden in Christ

        The Gospel Reading for Mass two days ago: Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18.  It's so beautiful to be hidden in Christ so that when others see you, they see him.  In him alone, there is true freedom.  Experience it in this life and your admission to the next life will be free.  Alleluia!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Pure Shall See God

        Yesterday the memorial to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was celebrated at Mass.  When we think of the Blessed Mother, purity of heart comes to the mind.  The homilist pointed out that only the pure can be humbled and will remain strong.  Mary is our perfect example.  The world is not happy and is afraid to approach God, because it is impure.  When you are pure, you feel light and know that you are with God.  "Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God."  What a wonderful feeling!   

New Awareness of Intimacy

        The day before yesterday the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was celebrated at Mass.  We know that St. John, the beloved apostle of Jesus, reclined next to Jesus at the Last Supper.  I am sure that all of us who love the Lord would love to do that too, a chance to touch him in whom we trust.  That would give us such a comfortable and secure feeling.  As this thought surfaced during Mass, the Lord suddenly let me see that receiving the Holy Eucharist is receiving his body, blood, soul, and divinity, all of him, and nothing can be more intimate than that.  This was not exactly news to me, but at that moment, it struck me so hard that I became sharply aware of this fact more than ever.  Just thinking about how he loves us by giving himself to us in this way is overwhelming!  It's a tremendous blessing to know that he remains within you as you go about living your daily life.  Indeed, when you have him, there is nothing else you will want.
        Lord, who am I that you should choose to receive this most precious gift from heaven?  I thank you with all my heart.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Ways of the Lord

        Pope Benedict XVI: "The ways of the Lord are not easy, but we were  not created for an easy life, but for great things, for goodness."  Amen. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Church Under Attack

        Today, the Mother Church is coming under "attacks" in all forms from both within and without.  To all Catholics, religious or lay, who do not agree on any issue with your bishops, or any guidance or teaching of the magisterium and feel like speaking out, please realize that anything you say that would result in confusing the faithful or disunifying the Church in any way can not have come from the Holy Spirit ~ God will never ask you to disobey the very Church he has established for us.  No matter how urgently you feel like speaking out, this is the ultimate test.  If you do not pass it, the voice is your own and not that of the Holy Spirit.   
        The Church is being ridiculed, laughed at, belittled, insulted, slandered, stepped on, and accused for just about anything not pleasing to the attackers nowadays ~ this is because we do have the true church!  Look at what the Lord himself went through on earth ~  how can you expect the Church, being the Body of Christ, not to suffer likewise?  The good news is that the Lord guarantees that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his Church.  Rejoice that we are being persecuted for Christ's sake.  This is the perfect time to practice what he taught about forgiving others and loving your enemies.  Pray extra hard and love the Lord even more fervently.  Seek total union with him first before all else.   

How Oppression Works

        Found on one webpage: "Everyone who supported slavery was free. Everyone who supports abortion was born. And that, my friends, is how oppression works."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Values Worth Dying For

        A thought from Pope Benedict XVI:
        "Where there is no longer anything worth dying for, life is no longer worthwhile."  Amen.

First Beatitude

        The first Beatitude:  "How blest is the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs."
        What does 'poor in spirit' mean?  I wasn't sure until I came across Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis' beautiful explanation.  Note that this Beatitude is in the present tense. 
        In essence, he explains:  "The poor in spirit are those who literally 'beg for their life's very breath' ~ those who depend upon God the way we all depend upon air to breathe.  Poverty of spirit is the grace of those who have emptied themselves of everything but the desire for God's presence.  And those who achieve poverty of spirit have their reward in the present as well as the future, for to live in poverty of spirit is indeed to live in God."
        Praised be Jesus.  

Two Become One

        I used to pray to God, seeing him as a separate being in front of and high above me.  Now I realize that he dwells in me and we are now one, inseparable.  In such an intimate union, we know each other so well that he makes his will clear to me.  It's no longer going out of myself to seek another for answers.  God simplifies everything and simplicity leads to freedom.  How glorious is his love!