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

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Awareness Advantage

        Once I accepted Christ, the eternal life question was settled and the void of life, filled.  Now that I've known the Lord better, I see another advantage.  That is, I am starting to see the world through his eyes.  I see clearly what's truly important and what's not, what really matters and what's just wasting time.  I discern what's from God and what's not.  I understand more how God's ways are different from ours.  This awareness alone is worth the price of admission.    

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Two Lives; Two Deaths

        Today is the memorial of St. Martha.  In the Gospel reading of John, Jesus told Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life; and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die."
        It's clear that there are two lives: the earthly life and the eternal life.  If one can never die after this life, then a second death is implied ~ that is the loss of eternal life.  Let's make sure that after we die, we'll have eternal life with the Lord and not eternal separation from him.  The first life and death are relatively unimportant, while the second life and death are of infinite importance. 
        The best way to take care of this matter is to love the Lord with all your heart, strength, and soul in this life.

Starve Your Ego

        One way to build up humility: After you have done a good deed, don't tell anyone about it.  Not only that, don't even think about it.  Know that every time you go through what you've done in you mind, you feed your ego.  And you want to starve your ego instead.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Free Soul

        I didn't know what to blog today until after morning Mass. During prayer, the understanding of the free soul emerged in my mind.

        Most of us who are not quite free yet, get unhappy because we don't get our way or things just don't turn out the way we'd expected or wanted. A free soul so longer seeks her or his own will. S/he leaves everything up to God, seeking his will alone. Even in seeking God's will, s/he does not move until God shows the way. (You might say that waiting is the name of the game.) Since it's no longer our ways that matter, the heart is now free and untroubled. Pretty simple stuff really.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reasons to Rejoice

        I rejoice today because I had been called by the Father.  Knowing Jesus has given me meaning to life.  I know why I am here and where I am going.  I have the Lord's example to follow and everything is on track.  There's nothing else in this world I need for fulfillment.  Only seeing Jesus in heaven will fulfill my longing for him.  Psalm 23 comes to my mind.  The soul is ready to fly to him the moment he calls.  It's my foremost daily prayer that all will be called to enter the fold of the Father.
       

Monday, July 26, 2010

No Losers

        I used to be a worse sinner.  Read St. Augustine's story and you see how he completely turned around.  If you are familiar with Fr. Corapi, he surely was a lost soul before the Lord got him.  Jesus truly loves sinners. 
        This leads me to think of the people who are unattractive, unkempt, annoying, or even obnoxious, the kind that normally turns others off.  The lesson to me is to never look down on any of them because they may one day be transformed by the Lord into saintly creatures. 

A Guideline on Not Sinning Badly

        If we sin and no one except the Lord knows about it, that's one thing.  But if our sinning is known to others and causes them to fall away from their faith, then it becomes a lot more serious.  We should never do anything that would drive others away from Christ and/or his Church.  Instead, we should always be like a shining beacon, drawing others to Christ.  (Remember that there are people who do not always think clearly.  If you don't behave as a Catholic, they put the blame on Christ and/or the whole Church.) 

True Body and Blood

        I happened to come across 1 Corinthians 10, 16 again.  As you know, many non-Catholic denominations believe that the bread and wine (or grape juice in their case) as offered by the Lord are only symbolic of his body and blood.  If it's true, tell me if Paul would have written the above-mentioned verse the way it is?
        The verse: "Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?  And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ?" 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thoughts on Praying

        Today's reading from Luke 11 at Mass contains the familiar "Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you."  Elsewhere, the Lord advised praying with persistence.  Obviously, God doesn't mind our twisting his arm a bit if we feel the need to do so.
        When Jesus was going through his agony before his crucifixion, he prayed if the cup could pass him by, yet at the end he said "Your will be done."  I think this is the model we should follow.  It is consistent with what Jesus teaches in the Our Father he gave us.  
        By the way, the saints, after having totally abandoned themselves to God, merely ask God to do whatever he wishes with them.  This is prayer at the highest level.     

Improving Humility

        Today someone praised me for something, and the Lord showed me that every time someone praises you, it is the perfect occasion to ask him to take your ego down a notch by giving you another dose of humility.  Hence, being praised turns into a blessing.  My afterthought was that if I start putting this advice into practice, a lot of praises may come my way.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Faith Question

        Jesus said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can make a mountain move.  I am trying to understand that faith and how we can possess it.  If I see a bald person and ask him to let me pray for him and believe that he is going to start growing hair again ~ is this the right kind of faith?  I don't think so.  This seems to me more like a blind, presumptuous faith not directed by the Holy Spirit, unless God has already given me the gift of healing.  
        When we pray to God to heal someone who's sick, in the back of our mind we often wonder if the healing is going to happen.  But one time many years ago, when my own son was attacked by a virus causing his heart to almost stop beating and the doctors to consider a heart-transplant operation should he survive, I walked to his bedside in ICU, made the sign of the cross on his forehead pronouncing "Be healed in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit" without hesitation, and he was discharged from the hospital four days later.  I said my prayer as if it was a command and afterward, did not even think about how God was going to answer me.  Looking  back, I do feel that my prayer was prompted by the Holy Spirit as it came out boldly and resolutely.  By the way, my son recovered completely in time.
        I remember when Peter was learning to walk on water, he started to sink the moment he took his eyes off Jesus, and the Lord chided him for having little faith.  So it seems that focusing our eyes on the Lord is a required condition.
        Last, we must acknowledge that we cannot create faith by forcing ourselves to believe, as faith is basically a gift from God.
        To obtain the kind of faith Jesus would like us to have, let's try to summarize.  We must (1) pray for the gift of faith, (2) be lead by the Holy Spirit to exercise this faith, and (3) focus on the Lord always to maintain this faith.  (One more thought: when we are at it, we might as well ask for faith the size of a water melon.)                       

Friday, July 23, 2010

Be Good Soil

        Today I heard the parable of the seed read at Mass.  To be good soil so that the seed will yield grain a hundred- or sixty- or thirtyfold, we must make sure that our soil is deep, not rocky nor compacted, and have no thorns growing on it.  This means that we must not harden our hearts but be receptive and attentive to God's words, and avoid associating with anything that may impede our spiritual progress. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spiritual Progress

        Over the centuries, the stages of spiritual growth have been classified as the Purgative way, the Illuminative way, and the Unitive way.  St. Teresa of Avila further divided the journey into seven stages, which she called "mansions."  (Read Ralph Martin's book The Fulfillment of All Desire.)
        I'd like to look at the journey in a simpler way from a different point of view.  As you progress spiritually, imagine that you are traveling along a straight line. When you reach the point on the line that represents Total Surrender (TS) to God, you have finished the first part of the journey.  Beyond that point you have the next and last part of the journey.  Basically, you have a line divided into two parts.
        Many will not reach the point of TS in their lifetime.  On the other hand, we have saints such as Therese of Lisieux who got there in her young age (she died at the age of 24).  Spiritual progress is made as you travel along the road (line); but thorough, speedy transformations come only after you have gone beyond the TS point because God is now completely taking over.
        Today is the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene.  She was a great sinner, but because of her love for Jesus, she was transformed into a saint.  What we should do is not to be so concerned about whether we can reach or go beyond Total Surrender, but to concentrate more on loving the Lord as Mary Magdalene did and let Jesus lead us as far along the road of progress as he wishes.     

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Living" Your Faith

        The word that came into my mind during this morning's Mass is "live," as a verb used with an object.  When I pray the rosary, the Lord wants me to live the mysteries.  When I read the gospel, he wants me to live the story.  Similarly, if we have faith, we must not just hold or hide it ~ we must live it!  Yes, following the Lord is intense living.  Pray for this zeal in your spiritual life and you'll be very happy. 

How to Pray

        When you pray, take your time and mean what you say from the bottom of your heart.   After you have prayed, do not second-guess what God is going to do ~ just wait and let him surprise you.

Doubling Our Love

        The world is in turmoil.  There is no need for me to list all the terrible things happening daily in our own country and around the world.  Let's not make the situation any worse.  Show love always.  Christ said, "Blessed are the peacemakers."  Promote peace every chance you get. 
        Since Christ is loved so little and persecuted so much today, let's double our love for him to compensate for the lack of love from others.  This seems like a natural thing to do for all who truly love him.    

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Holy Spirit the Surgeon

        We are usually apprehensive about having to undergo surgery, because the outcome is not always predictable.  Only cataract surgery was known as "happy surgery" since no one dies from it. 
        The Holy Spirit also operates on us by removing the "bad" parts of our soul, leaving behind a cleansed, purer soul.  I would call this Joyful Surgery.  Ask the Holy Spirit to operate on you if you feel the need.  Celebrate the occasion if grateful tears follow.          

Jesus The Shortcut

        I recall that quite some years ago, various news media reported that many celebrities went abroad to seek out spiritual gurus for guidance and fulfillment.  Yet Jesus, being the Way, the Truth, and the Life, was completely overlooked.  Was it because the pastures always look greener elsewhere?  Or was it because Christ had been around too long at home and was not exotic enough for them?  Perhaps they were looking for something less demanding and more palatable to their taste? 
        When I say Jesus is the shortcut, I mean he is right here in front of us, offering the instant and sure way to eternal life.  You don't need to travel thousands of miles to find someone who is seeking the truth himself.  Jesus preached away from his hometown area because local prophets were not appreciated for whatever reason, but let us not be blind and miss the greatest treasure shining before us.        

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quality over Quantity

        In serving God, it's best to do everything with care and love than trying to do too much.  If you try to do too many things, it could become self-serving and you risk getting burned or stressed out.  Since we are supposed to serve God in all the things we do, the principle then applies to doing anything.  (If someone asks you to do something that's not necessarily pleasant but would be helpful to someone, consider bypassing that person and doing it for God and you'll feel a lot better.)  

Dependence upon God

        This morning on my way to Mass, I came to sense my total dependence upon God.  If he does not sustain me by keeping my heart beating and my lungs pumping, I would be dead right now.  Everything I depend upon for my living, health, enjoyment, intellectual and spiritual growths ~ all come from God.  If he hadn't planted the thoughts I am expressing right now in my mind, I wouldn't have anything to enter today.  My eternal destiny depends upon the Lord.  This dependency is a fact, whether we are aware of it or not.  Believers, being little branches, receive further nourishment directly from Christ the vine.                  
        Once we realize the existence of this dependency, trust follows.  We now know that God is always there to support us, catch our fall, and keep us in his love without fail.      

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Martha & Mary

        Today's reading from the Gospel is taken from Luke.  Jesus was welcomed by Martha.  Her sister Mary just sat beside Jesus at his feet listening to him speak.  Martha, burdened with much serving, complained to Jesus that Mary wasn't helping her.  Jesus pointed out to her that "Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
        The Lord made it clear that we need to spend time listening to him.  Since he is not physically present today, we need to do it through prayer.  Of course, there are many other things to take care of.  As long as we aim to please God by doing everything with our best effort and love, we are turning our doings into prayers.  This makes "praying unceasingly" possible.       

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pieces Fit Together

        (1) Jesus as God showed what the Father is like.  (2) Jesus as man showed what we should be like.  (3) Jesus asked us to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect.
        So, imitate Jesus.

Being Hypocritical

        If we know what the word "lord" means, and we address Jesus as Lord but do not listen to him, then we are being hypocritical.        

Thursday, July 15, 2010

No Time to Waste

        Obviously, God has a plan for each one of us.  Sometimes we think that God is not leading us anywhere because nothing "spectacular" is happening.  Well, maybe God just wants us to remain unknown and hidden.  We must be patient and wait for the Lord to lead us.  If we rush ahead, we'll end up wasting more time, and time is limited in our life.  By the way, the saints regard patience as a sign of holiness. 
        In today's society, we're easily conditioned to go, go, go, so we don't hear God speak and his plan for us is set back.  "No time to waste" doesn't mean that we hurry to do all kinds of things; it simply means we must seek and do God's will in the short lifetime we have.     

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Looking Good

        For many, to look good before others is very important.  They spend much time looking at themselves in the mirror, keeping up with the latest fashion, shopping for name brands, etc.  If we are to live a balanced life, we should at least be equally concerned about "looking good" before God too.  

Another Paradox

        I posted two paradoxes on Dec. 2 last year.  Here's another beautiful one based upon Matthew 11, 25:  
        The more you believe like a mere child, the more God reveals to you what has been hidden from the learned and the clever.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We Are Naked!

        We don't like to appear naked before other people for various reasons.  But before God, we are always naked, for there's nothing we can hide from him ~ he sees everything in our heart, our mind, and our soul.  What we should do is make sure that there is nothing in us that will make us feel, to put it mildly, embarrassed. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

On Abortion

        Abortion is a heavy topic.  Let's first talk about the claim that a woman has the right to do whatever she wants with her body.  Is this really a right?  The child conceived in the mother's womb is a separate being residing temporarily in the mother's body, not a part of it.  This fact invalidates the claim of having such a "right."  Let's now say that the child in the womb is indeed a part of the mother's body, then abortion becomes the mutilation of one's own body.  This the law must not allow, just as we have the seat-belt fastening law to prevent injury to the body of the motorist.
        Having an abortion is like dropping the bomb from the air ~ when you don't see what really takes place at the other end, it's not that hard to go through.  If God had made the body transparent so that the mother could see exactly what happens to the baby during the abortion process, I doubt if there would be many abortions performed.
        I believe that many of the pro-choice people really haven't thought about the issue yet.  When you hear that a woman shouldn't be told what to do, that sounds pretty "right."  Once at a photo workshop, I met a man who told the group that he just couldn't believe that his own mother was pro-life, holding such an outmoded view.  There are people who really don't see that abortion is murder.  (I myself once thought that divorce was fine.  What's wrong when two people couldn't get along and break up?  I was young and idealistic, loved to go against the conventional ways to show my progressiveness.)  So education is needed.
        One friend I had, a very nice person, held a high position in Planned Parenthood at the time.  We talked about abortion a little bit.  My parting remark to her was that anyone who has experienced the love of God would never consider abortion as an option.  Let's pray for this love to touch all on the other side so that they may see the truth.                 

Seeking Praise

        Jesus told his disciples that after having done all they have been commanded to do, say, "We are useless servants.  We have done no more than our duty." (Luke 17).  We are to be content after serving the Lord and not to seek his praise.  
        Nor should we seek human praise, for it can inflate our ego and set us further back on your spiritual journey.  Honors, popularity, fame... ~ all these things do not make it easier for us to get to heaven.  
        Again, quoting St. Therese, "All is vanity except loving and serving God alone."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Be like the Willow

        Watch a willow tree in a breeze ~ its pliable, hanging branches just swing and sway as the breeze wishes.  When the Holy Spirit prompts us like a breeze, let's be as pliable as those willow branches.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gratitude

        Went to vigil Mass today.  When I heard "this is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" proclaimed, I felt tremendous gratitude.  In life we are grateful for the many things others do for us, but the Lord taking away our sins ~ that's in a totally different league, for it affects our eternal destiny.  If sins are not taken away, forget about a smooth journey to heaven.  When I realized this, I was deeply moved by God's generosity and love.

Who Gets Saved?

        Recently, a renowned Protestant minister announced that only those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved ~ all others are doomed.  If God is really like that, I would be horrified.  And if this minister really believes this way, then he should spend every moment of his life informing all in the world about it, because any nonbeliever he misses is going to hell due to his laxity. 
        I don't believe that it's all black-and-white like that.  God's mercy is infinite.  If someone has never heard of Christ, do you think that our God would condemn him or her to hell for that?  (I do not recall Jesus ever saying something like "If you have not heard of me, you will not have eternal life.")  There are also those who have heard the good news preached to them but still honestly have not come to the point of believing yet.  Are they doomed too?  I have personal non-Christian friends who are kind and more loving than a lot of Christians ~ what about them?  Would God prefer a bad person who had accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour at one time over a super-good non-Christian?? 
        All I believe is that God is merciful and just and it's not our business to proclaim who gets saved and who doesn't.  Often the last shall be first.  If a great sinner ends up ahead of me in line for heaven, praise God.  I believe only those who outright reject Jesus as Lord and Saviour will be doomed. 
        A footnote.  When sinners of all stripes and colors get saved due to God's mercy, the Catholic teaching of the existence of purgatory makes perfect sense.   

How to Love God More

        I remember way back when I belonged to a different parish, one lady took one of her friends to Mass regularly, hoping to get her to return to the Church.  At one time I learned from this friend that no one was going to take her to the next Sunday Mass, I volunteered to drive her.  Later when the other lady found out about it, she was not happy because she thought I was trying to snatch her "catch" from her.  Another lady was in charge of buying books for the parish library.  When I told the pastor that I knew of some good books, he asked me to buy them.  Again, the lady in charge found out and was upset, because she felt that I had done something she alone was supposed to do.  Another example in the same category ~  someone heading a certain parish ministry wants to control everything.  
        It's easy to forget that we are supposed to serve God and not ourselves.  Wouldn't it be great if each one of us wishes that everyone else will love God a thousand times more than we love God?   

To Change or Not?

        Some people are not happy with the way they are, yet they refuse to change.  One particular person always says that she can't change because God has made her that way.  Well, what can you say?  
        Clear thinking is required.  It's not how God has made you that's important (by the way, God does not make junk); it's what he wants you to turn into that matters. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

On Obeying God

        I remember that when my grandmother was upset for some reason, she wished that she'd die, and all the grandkids who loved her would say "no, no, no ~ please don't die!"   When Jesus revealed that he was going to be put to death, Peter reacted the same way like us and the Lord rebuked him for expressing what Satan wished.  Wow!  Even if it's God's will to do himself harm, we are not to stand in the way.  It just shows how we must absolutely obey God, once we recognize his will.  There are times we must go against our grain, common sense, or feelings; but if it's clearly doing God's will, we must ask no questions.              

Ego Cure

        As one grows spiritually, one must guard against spiritual pride.  This is the remnant ego surfacing.  I picture the ego as a hot-air balloon.  As soon as I see it rising, I ask the Holy Spirit to pop it with the tip of his cleansing and purifying sword right away.  This mental imaging helps.  Of course, to uproot the ego completely, I need to become totally humble.  Humility and meekness are more powerful than arrogance and haughtiness.
         

Be Greedy & Reckless

        In one of my earliest posts, I advised all at the time of receiving Holy Communion to ask for all the graces you need to make you whole and holy.  This is the time to be greedy and say "give me the works" as when you're ordering a pizza.  (Just wonder if I should say "ask for the whole enchilada" too.)  God will be most pleased, I assure you.
        Now, when should you be reckless?  No, not when you are driving a fast car.  I talked about Letting Go a week back, which is the same as abandoning yourself to God.  This is the time!  Reckless abandonment in God will make him happy and you carefree.

Don't Laugh If...

I tell you that you can become a saint.  I am being dead serious.  God can take a little pebble or even a flea and turn it into a saint and you are so much better material!  He can wipe out all your sins and make you whiter than snow, then you are ready for the transformation.  If there is no hope for you, then why would Jesus waste his time telling us to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect?  

The Holy Spirit Unifies

        Today at morning Mass, I became aware that it's the Holy Spirit that unites all the faithful to the Lord.  This union brings about the Communion of the Saints and all of us who believe.  We together form one body in the Lord.  All this could have been said in my post Why Be Lonely? the day before yesterday.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Beautiful Picture

        Promoting my favorite saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, again.  She wrote: "My heart is filled to the brim with the will of Our Lord so that nothing else can find place there, but glides across like oil over tranquil waters."  What a beautiful picture! 

Life Is...

a battleground.  The warfare in which you engage is a spiritual one.  You fight by making the right choices.  If there's a decision to make, you may chose either to glorify or offend God.  Of course, sometimes the right choice is not clear and we need to pray about it.  If the decision is difficult to make, you'll know that you've made the right one if peace follows in your heart.  It helps also to know that you should never make any decision that you know will make you regret later, no matter how much gratification you can get out of it.    

In Sync with Jesus

Let the joys of Jesus be your joys, and the sorrows of Jesus be your sorrows. 

Mary's Humility

        Those outside the Church who do not venerate Mary often point out that there's not much in Scriptures, especially the Gospels, to justify the honors bestowed upon her by the Catholic Church and the great devotion many Catholics have developed for her.  Not long ago, I read The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics.  The book had been compiled entirely from the visions and private revelations of St. Elizabeth of Schoenau, St. Bridget of Sweden, Venerable Mother Mary of Jesus of Agreda, and Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich.  What is interesting is that from the story I found out that Mary, being humble, did not wish anyone to write about her in order to let Jesus alone be in the spotlight.  What holy humility! 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's the Lord!

        Yesterday I read John 21, The Fishermen.  Jesus appeared (the 3rd time after his resurrection) on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias.  The disciples fished all night and caught nothing.  After daybreak, Jesus in the distance suggested to them to cast the net off to the starboard side and they made a big haul.  Then John cried to Peter, "It is the Lord!"  On hearing it, Peter threw on some clothes and jumped into the water.
        I love this excitement!  Receiving the Lord in the Holy Eucharist should give you the same feeling, because you could truly yell out "It is the Lord!" right after consecration.  Also, when you see God working every moment in your life, you can proclaim "It is the Lord!" continuously.  A great way to be aware that he is there at all times.

Why Be Lonely?

        The other day on TV, I heard the story of someone who at one time didn't feel that he fitted in with his peers in college, felt inferior to his more talented sister, got really depressed, and tried various escapes to overcome his loneliness.  This kind of feeling is pretty common among all of us, myself included in the old days.  We all want to feel liked or admired by others and be somebody ~ it's that ego in us. 
       Of course, when you do become that somebody, you may lose any old friends who really care about you and gain new ones not necessarily of the desirable kind.   The truth is that you can have a lot of friends and buddies and deep down still feel lonely.    
        But, once you get to know the Lord well, all things change (as happened later to that person I mentioned at the beginning).  When you have Jesus as your friend, the emptiness in life is gone!  Do you know that "lonely Christian" is an oxymoron?  The only time a disciple of Christ could feel "lonely" is when it discovers that he or she no longer belongs to the world.  The Lord alone is more than sufficient for us.              

Monday, July 5, 2010

Saints Having Fun?

        In my early Christian years, a saint to my mind was someone rather old, who  likes solitude, prays a lot, and lives a disciplined life, thus missing all the fun in the world.  Being a saint certainly wasn't attractive to me.  Now that I have advanced more spiritually, I know that a saint forgoes the pleasures of the world  because he or she has experienced a much greater and more delightful joy, and it's God who draws him or her into deep prayer.  In fact, it's the unbeliever or weak believer who sooner or later finds emptiness in all the fun in the world, missing out on inner peace and joy.  Our mental images or impressions do not always reflect the truth. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Treat for the Devil

        This is a humorous, true story.  Way back, when  I felt the need to pass gas while I was praying, I always felt awkward, slightly guilty, and apologetic, hoping that the Lord would understand.  Then one day I heard a Father D (I've forgotten to spell his last name correctly) of San Francisco talk exactly about this situation (I didn't bring up the subject).  He said that when that happens, all you do is stop praying momentarily, turn to the Devil, say "this is for you", do it and resume.  This has worked beautifully for me.  God does have a good solution to any of our problems, big or small.         

Ignoring the Devil

        Question: Should you pay attention to the Devil? 
        If you focus all your attention on the Lord and remain humble by acknowledging your total helplessness without him, then you may safely ignore the Devil, for the Evil One wouldn't dare touch any humble souls with a hundred-foot pole. 

Not See But Believe

        This morning while driving to Mass, I got the feeling as if I was going to meet Jesus face-to-face.  It turned out that today was the Feast of St. Thomas, who didn't believe that Jesus had risen until he saw and touched the wounds in him.  And the Lord said to Thomas, "You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me.  Blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe."  I did not see the Lord at Mass, but I felt blessed extra. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Letting Go (in God)

        July 4th is only two days away.  And I am going to start off with a big bang by talking about "letting go".  If you really trust in God, then this is the way to go.
        Yesterday my car got dented.  A car is basically an inanimate object made for my convenience.  There is no point in getting attached to it.  Enjoy using it while you have it, but let it go if it you can't use it anymore for whatever reason.  Sadly, there are people today who "worship" cars more than they care about God.  They spend so much of their time babying their cars.  Wouldn't it be infinitely more profitable to spend some of those hours in prayer?   
        If you lose money, maybe a lot of it, let it go.  All things belong to God and you are only his temporary steward on earth.  Our duty is to use his money wisely for his glory.  If the loss is due to your own negligence or self-centeredness, learn the lesson and move on.  
        What if you lose a loved one?  This could be hard on you emotionally, but think of all of us as belonging to God alone.  (In heaven, we'll all be God's children and our earthly relationships will no longer exist.)  If you're sure that the loved one has gone to the Lord, then you should rejoice instead.  If you're not sure, just pray for the soul and take comfort in that God is always just.  Don't let the joy of knowing that Christ has risen ever be superseded by your sorrow.  In all things, we should just pray our very best and leave the outcome entirely to God.
        The same applies to praying for members of our own family who have strayed away from the faith.  Again, they belong to God and not to us.  Be detached to them so you could be attached to the Lord even more.  He knows exactly what to do.  See this as an opportunity to deepen your own faith.  Pray the Novena to St. Monica for extra help.  
        What if someone wrongs you?  Get things straightened out if you can.  If you can't, then let it go.  After all, it's only God's understanding that counts in the end.  Don't forget that here is a great chance to pray for the wrongdoer.
        Should you forgive someone who has hurt you?  If you've read the Gospels, you would already know the answer from Jesus.  Know that the Lord loves the other person as much as he loves you.  To want to revenge or get even is to go against God's will, let alone the fact it's going to affect your own health, leading to another sin.  To make another person feel bad so that you can feel good ~ what's the point?  Isn't this basically being selfish?  Is this really what "feeling good" is all about?  It would appear even more foolish later if the person upon whom you have inflicted injury doesn't seem to care. Therefore, let go and pray for the person and the situation, giving God a chance to turn things around or work a miracle.
        If something happens and crushes you ego, then rejoice, for God can now occupy more of your heart.  Thank the Lord for teaching you to be more humble.  What others think of you doesn't count one iota in the end.  Your faith should be such that even if everyone else in the whole world ignores you, you still rejoice in the fact that God has died for you.  What can be more uplifting than that?  
        When you are ill, use the opportunity to turn to God even more.  Letting go here means not dwelling on your own illness, not feeling any self-pity, believing that you are in good hands, and focusing your mind on the Lord.  Sometimes you can be so ill that saying prayers is no longer easy.  Just praying the Holy Name "Jesus" or expressing your love for him with your heart is good enough to please him.  When we fall ill, we realize that life is temporary and fragile, and God is our true home and father to return to.
        In any case, let go in God under all circumstances and you'll experience freedom and peace.  We are so limited in every way that not to let go in order to rely upon God is indeed being foolish and sinful too.  Since we have God's love, we can afford to let everything else go.  
        Happy Independence Day!  May this country appreciate God's blessings.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dealing with Car Accident

        This morning my parked car was accidentally hit by another car, creating a big dent.  The years-ago I would have felt distressed because of my attachment to a car that had been preserved in good shape for almost 14 years.  But today the initial distress felt came from thinking that I now must deal with filing an insurance claim, finding a repair shop, facing the inconvenience of not having the car, etc. ~ not exactly fun.  I have learned to offer up all my sufferings to God and realize that what I now have to go through is really a form of suffering.  And of course, there are no accidents ~ everything that God allows to happen has a purpose behind it.  Yes, I am repeating again that everything is a grace as St. Therese said.  The distress is all gone and I feel grateful that the Lord always lovingly shows the way.
        Speaking of offering up my sufferings, if they are caused by things totally out of my control, I don't find it hard to perform the act ~ I guess I just become resigned to the inevitable outcome.  Then once I caused suffering to myself entirely due to my own fault, I found it hard to let go.  I think it's because I blamed myself and thought that I deserved to suffer.  In the end, God showed me clearly that it doesn't matter who or what caused the suffering ~ any suffering offered up to him is meritorious and pleasing to him.