Joined 40 Days for Life this morning outside an abortion clinic for a couple of hours. As I thought about how much abortion pains the Lord, I experienced a tiny fraction of his sufferings on the cross and our union was strengthened. By the way, one car entered the clinic parking lot, turned around and came back out ~ due to the presence of eight of us holding signs and praying, the pregnant mother changed her mind. One life saved ~ praise God!
"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
God's love is pure love, uncluttered and detached from everything else. As I drove home after morning Mass, I suddenly understood why he could teach us to love even our enemies. Since he created all of us, he must then love all of us equally. Therefore, if we are to receive his love, we must promise to love everyone equally too.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
With Hurricane Sandy, the largest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, pummeling the U.S. East Coast causing unprecedented devastation and chaos, let's pray for all the victims who suffer great personal losses and property destruction. But let's also pray that we as a nation will realize that God has an important message for us in every single event, for nothing can happen without his permission. As the saying goes, there are no accidents. Catastrophic events are usually severe warnings. His intention is always to get us to return to him, to accept his love, to believe in him, and to love each other on earth ~ all these acts are long overdue!
I do not have any desire to travel to see new places anymore. I suppose that one of the reasons is because I have already "seen" the incomparable beauty of Christ. A friend of mine still tells me that one scenic place she had visited was so beautiful that I must go see it. I believe her, and I know that I'll never truly understand what she experienced if I don't go there myself. The same can be said about the beauty of Christ. You can hear me tell you about it ten thousand more times, but you still will not know it unless you enter him yourself.
In life, there are just two choices: to walk with God and to walk away from God. To choose the latter is easy, but you are going to lead a tough life because you are now on your own in a world filled with all kinds of traps ready to snare you. To choose to walk with God is harder, but once you've made that choice, your life can become heaven. The best thing about it is that now the Lord does everything for you, for all you want to do is his will. I want him to draw me close to him and he does just that. I want him to heal my soul and he accomplishes that too. This is letting God live your life for you!
My last post talks about our unwillingness to submit ourselves to God. In today's first reading at Mass from Ephesians 5, St. Paul urges all to be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Then I realize that when Jesus became one of us and died on a cross, it was a clear case of submitting himself to us in order to save us. When he consecrated the bread at the Last Supper, saying: Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you, he made his submission to us clear. So who are we who are not willing to submit ourselves to God?
It becomes clear to me that people do not believe in God simply because they have ranked themselves No. 1, putting themselves ahead of their creator. This is, of course, a colossal mistake that can be fatal. Making yourself more important than the Lord is definitely a bad idea; just by changing your ranking from No. 1 to No. 2, your margin of safety will go way up. If you really want to play it safe, then be as humble as the saints, who don't even consider themselves worthy to be ranked before God.
Monday, October 29, 2012
This morning after Mass while I remained at church, I watched two faithful parishioners took great care of the flowers on the altar. The Lord made me see very clearly that we are merely agents here to use all things supplied by him to work for his glory. Even ourselves like everything else were made by him. Whether you agree or not, he owns us, but we do have the choice to rebel or obey.
In view of all the recent horrible acts of violence committed against the Christian minorities around the world, I am proud of the fact that our Lord, Jesus the Christ, has set the highest standard by his example and his teaching that we are to love even our enemies. Who can possibly measure up to him? He stands alone as the truth and our beacon.
Jesus said to his disciples at the Last Supper, "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him" (John 14:23). Here the Lord promises that he will come to enter into union with us. If God is in us, then surely we are in him. This is the most desirable state for the soul.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Since God has a plan for each of us, we must be sure that it unfolds without our interference. Naturally, all things happenings around us can affect the unfolding, but the Lord will take care of that part. We can easily kill his plan if we just go our own way, so this is what we need to guard against. To be in union with God is an excellent way to ensure that his plan for us will work out for him to his glory.
If you tell yourself or others that you are such a poor sinner that you can never be good enough to become a saint, make sure that it's not false humility. If you really believe so, then it's almost like saying that you are so sinful that God cannot save you anymore ~ such belief then becomes a grave sin. The correct attitude to fully believe that the Lord can make you into a saint no matter how sinful you are now ~ this is putting all your trust in the Lord and not limiting him in the slightest, showing in fact, true humility.
When we pray to the Lord, we must mean it from the heart. When we want to hear from the Lord, we must mean it from the heart too. Patience is often required since he speaks to us at his chosen time. We must also be prepared to obey whatever he tells us to do. A sincere, trustful relationship between the Lord and us is the foundation upon which our relationships with all others are to be built.
to trust in God with reckless abandon. Either God is trustworthy or not trustworthy. If you believe that he is, then this is the way to go. When Mother Teresa wanted to serve the poorest of the poor in India, that was a first. She abandoned herself to the Lord and her missionary work became a worldwide success. We can do the same in what we are called to do.
I'd like to share something else I read in St. Teresa's Meditations of the Song of Songs. She gave the following.
In spite of all the wisdom of the Blessed Virgin, our Lady, she asked the angel: How can this be? But after he answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you; the power of the Most High will overshadow you, she engaged in no further discussion. With great faith and wisdom, she understood at once that if these two intervened, there was nothing more to know or doubt. She did not act as do some learned men, for they want to be so rational about things and so precise in their understanding that it doesn't seem anyone else but they with their learning can understand the grandeurs of God. If only they would learn something from the humility of the most Blessed Virgin!
Saturday, October 27, 2012
I have posted before that the journey of following Christ can be considered to be a two-part one, with the point of division being the point at which we surrender to God. The first part may be labeled "Struggling mostly on you own" and the second part "God doing all the work," leading to union with the Lord. As for the usually much shorter journey between hearing God's call and becoming a follower, it also has two parts ~ they are marked by the point at which we repent our sins before God.
Let's look at the spectrum of love. At one end, we have the love of God for us, a pure love as demonstrated by Christ, also known as agape. At the other end, we have love for sex, money, or other material things just to satisfy our selfish desires (it's unfortunate that the word "love" is used here to mean basically "craving"). Close to the love of God is the natural love of parents for their children. Of course, it's possible that the love is a mixture of the pure and the impure. For example, a man and a woman can love each other so much that they are willing to die for each other. What I want to concentrate upon is God's pure love. At the beginning, being human we are not really aware of the existence of such great love. One day we hear the gospel and discover that this love has always been there and that it has the power to change our lives ~ God is now calling.
Friday, October 26, 2012
I believe that no matter how bad a person we are, most of us will unhesitatingly help someone in immediate danger ~ that's the good part in us. If you believe in God, do you realize that a vast numbers of people are in danger of losing their souls at any moment? Shouldn't we do something about it? The least we could do is to be holy ourselves and pray for them. It's easy to be unaware of this reality, but it's utterly urgent. Do something for them ~ it's loving your neighbor, which is the same as loving God.
While watching Life on the Rock on EWTN, the Holy Spirit just brought to my mind vividly what I already knew, that I had been called by God to love him, that this was a special grace, that with all the angles and saints, I now belong to his family and have Jesus as my brother, and that there is nothing more I would ever need, and that I am not a nobody anymore in existence. The Lord surely ends my day on a joyful note.
Early all morning since I woke up before 5 a.m., I really felt the presence of the Lord within me. Then I should be happy ~ right? It turned out that I felt great sorrow because I sensed the coming of increasing persecution of our Church. Most of the world, including sadly, much of the Christian population, just does not care or care enough about the moral teachings the Church. I did ask the Lord why it's so. I saw that as disciples of Christ, suffering along with him is unavoidable. I must trust that the Lord knows what he is doing. Then I went to Mass and received him in the Holy Eucharist and he made me see that the joy he had given us outweighs all sorrows. Hence we are to suffer gladly, not in sadness. He restored me.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
We probably see ourselves daily in the mirror every morning after we get up and before we go to bed. Next time take a good look at your mirror image, but see it as another person. In the questions that follow, I assume that the subject is a male for simplicity, but feel free to change him to a female as the case may be.
"How does he look to you? How do you feel about him? What do you think of him? How is he living his life? How is he coping with it? Is he happy inside? If not, why not? Do you admire or feel sorry for him? Is he happy to continue the way he's been? Is anything missing in his life? Does he need changes in his life? How well does he know God? Should he love God even more? What would be your best advice for him?" I think that this is a good way to look at oneself. Hopefully, this examination will bring you closer to God.
Jesus said (to the Pharisees and Herodians), "Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." He said (to a would-be follower), "Let the dead bury the dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." In a similar way, I could hear Jesus telling us: "Leave the things of the world to the world and remain in union with me where you belong."
It is so easy to want to do what I like to do or to make things happen the way I like to see happen and forget all about giving God glory. The "I" looming large in front of us, though not in any obtrusive way, still shows the lack of perfect humility. It points to the need to consult the Lord always before proceeding.
In today's Gospel reading from Luke 12, Jesus said to his disciples, "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three..." As long as sin exists on earth, being his disciples will unavoidably receive skepticism, criticism, misunderstanding, ridicule, or even persecution from others ~ sin and God just do not mix. All you need to do is look at the Lord himself. If he could not even escape harm from division, who are we to run away from it? He was not even honored in his hometown, as we sometimes are not understood among our own kin. As long as we remain in union with the Lord, we need not let division disturb our peace, as the cause of it is sin, not us.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Here's a link that shows how talented God can make us: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-20036511. After watching this 7-year-old, also watch the video up next about the 9-year-old who is an amazing painter. If God can create such prodigies, imagine how infinitely amazing God himself must be!
Basically, we all want to be gods, so we disobey the only true God by shoving him aside or ignoring him (as we don't have the guts to confront him directly). An onlooker on the side would see the scene of billions of battles being waged by each psuedo-god against the true God. I feel sorry for the psuedo-ones because they are basically fighting a losing battle. And I feel sorry for the Lord because it's billions-against-one and these battles do hurt him because the wounds are inflicted upon him by his own whom he loves.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
If you do not know God through Jesus, you'll never know if he is the true God or not. Once you believe in Jesus and come to know God more and more, this Lord will let you know without a doubt that he indeed is the true God. This is his gift for those who love him. Now you are well on your way to freedom.
Once you know the Lord, you begin to see the world by his standards, and the world falls far short ~ you see that it is in such a sorry, pitiful state and is dull, boring, and even nauseating in God's presence. Know the Lord and his glorious light will reveal the true worth of everything to you.
Monday, October 22, 2012
In today's Gospel reading from Luke 12 at Mass, Jesus told the parable of the rich fool. In it, God said to the rich man, "You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong? Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God." Let me add that in Matthew 6, Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, but store up treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." So we need to set our hearts on eternity. Store up treasures in heaven starting right now by doing everything that matters to God and you will be rich in heaven.
The Response to Psalm 100 at this morning's Mass: "The Lord made us, we belong to him." If he did make us, then what did he intend to do with us? To discard us? To leave us alone? To enslave us? I don't think so. Jesus told us that God even takes good care of the birds and flowers. To love us has to be the answer. That's why he reached out to save us when we went astray ~ he wants us to belong to him.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
This is October, the month in which 30,000 to 100,000 people witnessed the miracle of the sun near Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. The extraordinary solar activity, lasting approximately ten minutes, occurred after Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the three young shepherd children at noon. Here I quote from Wikipedia: "According to many witnesses, after a period of rain, the dark clouds broke and the sun appeared as an opaque, spinning disc in the sky. It was said to be significantly duller than normal, and to cast multicolored lights across the landscape, the shadows on the landscape, the people, and the surrounding clouds. The sun was then reported to have careened towards the earth in a zigzag pattern, frightening those who thought it a sign of the end of the world."
This just made me realize that whoever can move the sun easily like that had to be the creator of our universe.
Children in my parish are preparing to receive confirmation, so I think of the Holy Spirit. If you read my old postings, you might remember that I questioned the Lord at one time how I might know that the Holy Spirit was dwelling in me. Now I fully understand that if we do not surrender to the Holy Spirit, we will not experience his presence in us, for he is most gentle. How much his power is felt by us depends upon the extent to which we surrender to him ~ you can say that we are in the driver's seat. To go at full speed, surrender fully to receive full power.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 10 at Sunday Mass, Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." Again, the Lord challenges us and he knew exactly what his mission was. We must absolutely pay attention to these sayings of his, for neglecting them risks not entering his kingdom of heaven. Let's believe that he did come to give his life to save us and ask him to empower us to be meek and humble in order to serve.
I see that all my past desires for things of the world are self-centered because I wanted them to satisfy myself. But the desire for God is different ~ when he draws you, you are touched and moved by his love and the desire for him is given to you by him. Therefore, this desire is basically self-giving. Self-centered desires always enslave one, while the self-giving desire for God makes you feel even freer.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Jesus said to his disciples, "To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." Another way of saying this truth could go: "Expect more and you will receive more; expect nothing and you will have nothing."
I want to talk about the business of entertainment in this country. It is a huge business that sucks in practically everyone. Television, radio, stage shows, concerts, gambling casinos, magazines, websites, YouTube broadcasts, i-pads, background music, even advertisements and commercials...all aim at entertaining you. We become so addicted that we have to listen to music while exercising or doing homework, watch a TV show when we are cooking or balancing checkbooks. The big names in the entertainment business have egos to match, their admiring fans following them everywhere. Entertainment has a place in our society, but when it starts to "dominate" my lives, the balance is lost. It robs us of prayer time, keeps God away from us and even leads us into sin when it's impure. In short, too much entertainment definitely endangers our soul.
St. Teresa in her Meditations on the Song of Songs writes that we are not to dwell upon the many mysteries of our faith and what we do not understand in the Holy Scripture. I agree that as long as the message of salvation is crystal clear and we are certain that God loves us, it's sufficient for us to submit to him with all our heart. "Believe now and question later" is not a bad idea.
The Lord showed me that the institution of the Holy Eucharist is an invitation to union with him, signifying that this union is possible. When we receive the Holy Eucharist, it should signify that we are committed to seeking union with him.
Friday, October 19, 2012
There are two sides to each coin. A glass can be seen as half full or half empty. There's the story about two shoe salesmen who visit a village where no resident wears shoes. One comes back and says that there is no point in going there to sell shoes, while the other sees the opportunity to sell shoes to every single villager. One sees believing in God as a way of avoiding going to hell, while another sees it as a way of going to heaven. We yearns for God ~ it could be that we are tired of living or that we are in love with God. Attending Mass every Sunday is fulfilling an obligation for some and a chance to unite with God again for others. In each case, both ways of seeing can be valid, but one is usually superior to the other. When it comes to making spiritual progress, seeing it as seeking union with God is definitely superior to seeing it as struggling to become holier on you own.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
In my last post, I said that our mind is limited, but it can still have considerable power. I thought it would be fun to give you problem to solve at this point in the middle of all the serious talks. So here we go.
There are ten identical containers with each holding ten identical pills. Nine of the containers hold pills weighing 10 mg each and one container holds ten pills weighing 9 mg each. All pills look exactly alike. There is an electronic scale available for your use. The problem is that the batteries in the scale are so weak that there is only one weighing left. So, how would you weigh the pills just once and identify the container holding the 9 mg pills?
The solution is not that obvious. Some people have solved the problem in a couple of hours, but others in a couple of weeks. Try your best, but don't lose any sleep over it.
Our physical strength is clearly limited. Our mind too ~ when I use mine to solve a problem, I can only go so far. When I want to praise God, I run out of words to say. Now, when it comes to our heart, it knows no such bounds as it responds to the Lord directly. He can make us love him and others as much as he wants to with no cutoffs. If I yearn for God, he can increase that desire as much as he wishes. It's all up to him. A heart responding to God unites us to God, giving us unlimited power to change ourselves and the world.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
If you are physically more endowed, intellectually more astute, verbally more skillful, artistically more talented, spiritually holier, better educated, more famous or wealthier than others, never compare yourself with them because all that you possess do not belong to you ~ they came from God. Furthermore, remind yourself that you are also inferior in so many ways to others. Your first priority is to please the Lord, and being humble would surely do it.
Today is the Memorial of St. Ignatius. The Entrance Song from Galatians 2 starts out: "I am crucified with Christ, yet I live; no longer I, but Christ lives in me." This is such a simple but profound statement. It's all about union with God. It reveals the secret of perfect living and is a recipe for attaining freedom of the spirit.
I started reading a little bit about what Muslims believe. I learned that they believe that God is in one Person only, so this wipes out the Christian belief in the Holy Trinity. They believe in angels and the prophets of the Old Testament, but Jesus was just a prophet, not divine ~ this wipes out the Christian message of salvation through Christ, and I wonder why he even got crucified. (Later I read that they believe that someone else took the place of Jesus on the cross.) Muslims believe that Muhammad was the prophet with the last word on God's revelation to us. If that were true, then Jesus cannot possibly be a true prophet. They also maintain that messages and revelations from God previous to Muhammad's appearance on the scene had been partially changed or corrupted over time, so what can you say? At any rate, Islam and Christianity are fundamentally different. One can only believe in one, not both.
While exercising on a treadmill this morning at a nearby gym, you could hear the background music coming through the constant noises made by people working out on various types of machines. It was rock with a persistent beat and "sung" in indistinguishable words ~ rather annoying. The thought of the world sleepwalking through life, not being aware of the love and mercy of God and the bright hope of salvation there is for us, came to my mind. It's indeed easy to live on and not think about our ultimate destiny with time passing and gone forever. God has sent prophets to his people through the centuries and finally his own Son to all of us, yet so many of us now still sleepwalk through life. What do they truly want? I suppose that when you are sleepwalking, you can't really think about what you want.
Jesus shows us how to think right, to see right, to hear right, to speak right, to feel right, to love right, and to live right. Among all the gurus and spiritual teachers of the world, he is the standard and most trustworthy one because he alone has shown the greatest possible love for us. Besides, he is God!
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
During Mass, it just hit me that there is no mystery about Christianity at all. The message of salvation is plain, clear, logical, and based entirely upon God's love. Receiving Holy Communion was a monumental moment for me. I felt deeply anchored in the Lord. I was completely in him, yet feeling completely free ~ another paradoxical fact of Christianity.
When I was shaving in front of the mirror this morning, the thought flashed into my mind that one day I wouldn't see myself like this anymore. Our future in this life is never certain, so what should we do? The best we could do to be guided by we already know to be the true way. John 21:18-22 come to my mind.
Jesus said to Peter, "Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me." Then Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved. When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus said to him, "What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me."
What we can learn here is that we are not to be concerned about what's going to happen to us in the future ~ we are to just follow Jesus.
Monday, October 15, 2012
If we love God, we will love all others. If we reconcile with God, we will be able to reconcile with all others too. If we do not offend God, we won't offend others either. Work on our relationship with God and all our relationships with others will straighten out.
Today is the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila. The Entrance Song at Mass consists of Psalm 42:2-3: "As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God." I've been talking about how God plants such longing in our soul. Today he lets me know that he does it so that he can fully satisfy us one day.
As I was praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary this morning, I saw that the Lord lived his life "quietly." After he made a leper clean, he told him not to tell anyone. After he was gloriously transfigured before Peter, James, and John, he did not ask them to publicize what they saw. Jesus did all his deeds quietly without fanfare or any self-promotion, although the Resurrection and Ascension speak loud enough by themselves. This is how we should live. If God be so humble, who are we to be otherwise? Let's imitate the Lord by living quietly in his shadow so that his glory alone may shine among us.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
I have learned that anytime I put my trust in people, I am taking a chance. Sometimes they become completely different persons. My conclusion is that when an opportunity arises for them to take advantage of you, they turn against you. So love all sinners, but be careful not to trust to them too much. God alone is worthy to be trusted, for he will never fail us.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Christ died in our place ~ God always gives all of himself to us. His love being boundless, he becomes completely selfless. That's why Jesus rightfully commanded us to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind.
If we leave God alone (imagine that we are not even around), everything will turn our fine. But we love to interfere with his will! We rebel and offend him nonstop ~ no wonder that the world is in disorder. In other words, we mess God up. The only solution is for us to be as perfect as God is, then his will will be done. Again, to quote what Jesus said in Matthew 5.48: "So be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect."
Friday, October 12, 2012
I saw the TV program The Family Hearth on EWTN, featuring Br. Fishman telling the story of Elisha and the healing of Naaman the Syrian. Since Br. Fishman is a Jew, I thought how especially satisfying he must have felt when he realized that Jesus, his Savior, was a fellow Jew. This had to be an extra joy on top of the joy of finding the Messiah the Jewish people had been long expecting.
God made all kinds of creatures with intelligence at different levels. God alone is infinite and all creatures are finite with some more finite than others. A dog is certainly more finite than a human being. You feed the dog and he eats the food, not knowing where the food came from. You give him a ride in your car and he joins you, not understanding anything about the car. You take him to the vet when he is sick and he goes along with trust. So the dog does not question, knowing that you are his loving master.
God is obviously infinitely more knowing than we are and he had come to tell us that he wanted to save us if only we would believe in him. Then, being finite as we are, why do we keep questioning him and not want to trust in him? If we can't do better than a dog, then our ego must have grossly overestimated our intelligence.
Man wants to conquer Mt. Everest. The climbers spend a lot of money and years of training in preparation for the risky venture ~ risky because over 200 climbers have perished so far on the mount. I suppose that people want to do it because they feel good and proud if they can accomplish something so challenging. I have no desire to challenge myself like that. I brought this up because by contrast I see that I can "conquer" almighty God, to me the highest peak we can possibly reach, without even trying hard ~ all I need to do is to trust and let go in him and he lifts me right up to him. Not only the view from up there is beautiful, there is also absolute security.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
There is only one thing we need to settle before we die ~ to make our peace with God. This is of critical or crucial importance. Without such a settlement, we shall not have peace for all eternity! We know that we are to leave everything behind when we die, but don't forget to include unconfessed sins! The wise have already made their peace with God, but the foolish think that there will always be a tomorrow and tomorrow may bring the biggest shock of their life.
Today's Gospel reading at Mass came from Luke 11. Jesus emphatically told his disciples: "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Obviously, the Lord wants us to feel free to approach him, let him know of our needs, and be persistent about it. It is a great consolation to know that God is always ready for us and we are welcome despite our sinfulness. Any hesitancy to go to him can only come from us. (We are always our own obstacles!)
You give myself completely to God ~ he starts to transform you ~ gradually you become like Christ ~ finally, realizing that you and he are alike, you yearn to become one with him ~ you fall deeply in love with God and your deepest desire is fulfilled.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
To straighten everything out in our life and become master of our new life, all we need to do is to go straight to the very highest top, our God, and hand ourselves over to him. Then he will help us become his faithful, truthful, and trusting children. In the process, we'll invariably fall in love with him, learn to love all others and have no more enemies. The Lord will handle our tendency to sin and our own struggle to overcome our own sins will be no more. Nothing will be able to deter us in any way. When we are OK with God, everything is OK with us. (In other words, the superior way is to seek union with God first.)
Practically everybody receives Holy Communion nowadays at Mass. Do they receive the Lord merely out of habit? Do they seriously understand what they receive? Let me relate to you some of the things St. Teresa says about reception of the most Blessed Sacrament in Chapter 34 of her The Way of Perfection.
She advises that we don't lose so good an occasion for conversing with God as is the hour after having received Communion. We should strive to leave our soul with the Lord ~ he is within us. This is a good time for him to teach us and for us to listen to him. Since you have the Lord himself present, strive to close the eyes of the body and open those of the soul and look into our heart. And he will reveal himself to us. [I would like to vouch for the fact that I made the most spiritual gains during the time I shared my heart with the Lord after receiving him in the Holy Eucharist. On the average, I spent about 40 minutes each time.]
Teresa continues. His Majesty lets all those who love and desire him greatly know that it is he who is present in the most Blessed Sacrament; these are his true friends. Whoever is not his true friend will never trouble with requests that he reveal himself. Such a person will hardly have fulfilled what the Church requires when he will leave and quickly forget what took place. Thus, such a person hurries on as soon as he can to other business affairs, occupations, and worldly impediments so that the Lord of the house may not occupy it. [This is worse than not receiving the Lord.]
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
If people say wrong things about me, I am not bothered simply because what's said is not true. Then there are people who falsely believe in some things about me, and I feel that I should explain things to them to clear up any misunderstanding. Now I see that these two cases really belong to the same category, so the second case no longer bothers me. It is God's understanding alone that matters. Since God always understands, there is not a thing to be bothered about.
The Gospel reading at Mass was taken from Luke 10, the well-known Martha-Mary story. Jesus was at their house and Martha was burdened with serving, while her sister Mary just sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha complained to the Lord that Mary had left her by herself to do the serving and wanted Jesus to get Mary to help her. The Lord replied that "Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her." I see that Martha's work was necessary, but perhaps her attitude was not the best. One thing is clear ~ we must set spending time with the Lord as our first priority in life. Better yet, integrate the awareness of his holy presence into our lives, then we shall be sitting at his feet and listening to him speak at all times.
In today's first reading from Galatians 1, Paul mentioned the Apostles before him, since he was called by the Lord most likely three years after the Apostles were. It dawns on me that the Lord can call anyone at any time. We who have been called are to be his apostles too! We can imitate the original Apostles by following the Lord everywhere, listening to him, learning from him, obeying him, and even dying for him. We are given the chance to continue spreading the glory of God today ~ what an honor and privilege!
For those of us who do not belong to a monastery or convent, we can also live a life of prayer and obedience to God. For the religious, there are established rules to follow and personal guidance. The difference may be likened to that between working out at a gym under the supervision of a personal trainer or working out at home by yourself on your own machine. The same result can be achieved. You don't need to be a religious to achieve sanctity or union with God. The Lord's help is available anywhere.
St. Teresa of Avila in Chapter 28 of her The Ways of Perfection wrote: "The Lord doesn't give himself completely until we give ourselves completely. He never works in the soul as he does when it is totally his without any obstacle, nor do I see how he could." This is really saying that God does not have a freehand in shaping us if we have not surrendered to him totally. Wonders happen only when we let God do whatever he wants with us.
Monday, October 8, 2012
(1) Care only about what God thinks of you; never mind what the world says about you. When the world praises you, consider it a curse because it can snatch you away from God. When the world condemns you, consider it a blessing because you are now closer to Jesus. As for God, he'll never condemn you, and any praise coming from him will make all the praises you can get from the world look like dung.
(2) Following God and following the world are like two tracks running parallel to each other. Which one you travel on is a matter of great consequence. Many travel on the world track and occasionally get on the other track or get on it the last minute ~ this is not good enough. We should stay on the track to be with the Lord at all times lest we risk losing our life in the end.
Today's Communion experience. When I heard the priest repeating these words of the Lord at the Last Supper during consecration of the bread and wine: "Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you" and "Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins," these had to be the sweetest words I had ever heard. I was ready to be transported to anywhere he wants me to go.
In today's 1st Reading at Mass from Galatians 1, Paul wrote: "...the Gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ." I can't help lamenting the fact that today we have so many Christian denominations following various human leaders whose teachings do not agree with each other's. They all have their own way of interpreting the Scriptures and own version of the gospel to preach. Chaos and confusion result when humans replace the divine.
Before Mass began this morning at church, I experienced a tremendous yearning for Jesus. I just wanted to be totally absorbed into him, to be "lost" in him, to be an integral part of him.... You don't just want to be drawn to him ~ you want to be drawn into him! What happened? The answer is that the powerful, sweet love of Jesus leaves an indelible imprint on your soul and you are transformed forever. He then sends you on an enthralling journey heading straight for heaven where your name is written. Do you think that you can wait?
We are to give ourselves entirely to God and not be concerned about how much of himself he is going to give us. Our duty is to love and serve him irrespective of how much we are going to gain for ourselves. God will never shortchange us in the end. Jesus said to Thomas, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed" (John 20.29). I could also hear the Lord saying: "Blessed are those who have not received any consolation from me and have believed."
Sunday, October 7, 2012
This evening I sense just how much we need God. If there is no God and we are strictly left to ourselves, how can we possibly lift ourselves up any higher? We would be "buried" in our world all our life. We wouldn't know which way to turn for sure and where we are going to end up ~ in other words, we'd be groping in the dark, as it were. Then I think of God. Jesus has made the way absolutely clear. By his power and grace, he lifts me up high and one day I'll be as high as where he is and that day is coming fast, since life is so brief. It's as if the train is passing through and if you don't get on board, you are going to be left behind for ever. What a difference Christ can make ~ we do need him!
In John 10.9, Jesus said, "I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved...." I did mention earlier how I discovered the inner spaciousness of the Lord, so the saying "I am the gate" now takes on a new meaning for me. Figuratively speaking, once I enter him, I see all kinds of treasures in this infinite space and I get very excited, eager to explore the immense riches there is. Complete freedom has been granted me to learn, absorb, and enjoy ~ this is truly dwelling in the house of the Lord!
Today the first Sunday of October has been designated Respect Life Sunday by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. So it is the right time to take another look at abortion.
A person may choose to abort the unborn child, but please do not consider it to be your right. Does saying you have the right to terminate (I am not using the word "kill") another human life sound good to you? You can say pro-choice instead of anti-life, call it a fetus instead of an unborn child, argue that the unborn is not a person yet (even though the dictionary defines a person as a human being)...there is no getting around the fact that abortion ends another life ~ in this case, a totally innocent, defenseless life of your own child, a life whom God has created! The total number of victims that had been terminated by the Nazis during the Holocaust is estimated to be between 11 million and 17 million; the number of legalized abortions performed in the U.S. alone since 1973 has exceeded 50 million! If abortion is truly OK, then I suppose I could also say that there is no such thing as evil anymore.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Today's Communion experience. Because there's no Mass scheduled at the nearby seminary this morning, I went to a church almost seven miles away. I was impressed by the large turnout on a Saturday.
Before receiving the Holy Eucharist I asked the Lord to fully remove all my sins because I desired the closest possible union with him. After receiving the Holy Eucharist, he gave me more joy than usual, so much so that I could hardly contain it as it penetrated my soul. I became totally helpless before the Lord. When God wants to do you a favor, there's no use turning away or fighting it ~ he just accomplishes what he wishes to accomplish. See how he changed St. Paul from a persecutor of Christians to a faithful disciple! We can take advantage of this facet of the Lord. If we fail to change ourselves on our own, surrender to him and let him do the work, then it'll be done without our help.
In today's Gospel reading at Mass from Luke 10, Jesus said to the seventy-two disciples who had just returned, "All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him." These are truly earthshaking statements that we must take seriously ~ either they are completely true or completely false. I can vouch for their truthfulness because through Christ I now know the Father.
Friday, October 5, 2012
Today I feel that Jesus is the one who sustains me every moment; keeps me alive and will give me life after my death; is my bright hope, refuge, guide, inspiration, and much, much more; grants me freedom of the spirit, peace, and the sweetest joy; is all I need; and makes me want to live with zeal and die for him happily. You can totally destroy me by taking him away from me. But that is not going to happen because nothing in the world can possibly separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus the Lord (Romans 8.38-39). Therefore, I keep rejoicing.
After finishing reading her Life, I am continuing with her The Way of Perfection which she wrote for her nuns under her charge. Here is a couple of important points that is good to know.
(1) Love: The love we have for others is to be perfect. It must not be affected by how attractive or unattractive the person we love is, how much affection we have for the person, or whether he or she is going to appreciate us or love us back. In other words, the love must be the pure, unconditional love of God. In this way, we remain free. (By the way, the more St. Teresa was persecuted by others, the stronger her love for her persecutors grew.)
(2) Detachment: Not only are we to be detached from all things of the world, we are to do so from ourselves. Humility and detachment always go together. This way, we become fearless of anyone.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Today is the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, who actually lived the gospel. After receiving Holy Communion, I saw in my mind the following.
To be transformed by God is to be drawn into Christ. Once we have completely entered the Lord, transformation takes place "automatically" ~ we can't help it because the consuming love of God simply melts our heart and we are completely his. Let God's will prevail and miracles happen.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
God's holiness is awesome, the most awesome spiritual state I can think of! Relative this holiness, every other single spiritual state is to be evaluated. The extreme opposite to God's holiness, wickedness or impurity, is exposed as the ugliest state. Without God, there would be no absolute concept of holiness. The fact that we can conceive both holiness and wickedness proves that God must exist.
Today's Communion experience. Before receiving the Lord, I saw his goodness and great mercy. After receiving him, I saw that this heavenly bread was preparing me for eternity. I then realized that everything God does has to do with eternity. He just does not solve our problem for a day ~ he plans everything for eternity, since he himself lives forever. Jesus did everything with the goal of saving us for eternity. If we do everything with eternity in mind, we shall be with our infinite God for all eternity.
The heart matters the most to the Lord. Today I see that the head can be helpful too. Once we are convinced that God exists and loves us, we can tuck that information away in our head. Then if we experience dark nights of the soul, encounter strong temptations, or when our faith is being severely tested, we can retrieve that information, hold onto it, knowing that it is certain and that feelings and emotions are not to trusted, and ride through the trying times.
In today's Gospel reading from Luke 9 at Mass, Jesus said to some would-be followers, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God." For us, it means that we must go all out in following God. This is as it should be. It's very much like competing in a race. One should run as fast as he can without looking back if he wants to be rewarded with eternal happiness in heaven at the end.
A saintly person regards all others to be holier than him or her. In reality, this cannot be true, but it's a great way to practice humility. You could say that going overboard provides the cushion you need. It's like an arched bridge or one of those long truck beds ~ the slight upward curve provides a lot extra strength for carrying the load, hence a greater safety factor. Similarly, being "over-humble" is a good way to become more humble.
When you are in deep love with God (a common occurrence in Christianity), you are aware of your loved one's presence at all times. So your receive strength, courage, consolation...whatever you need to accomplish his will, right then and there. It's an ideal relationship!
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
After Mass ended, I tried to pray without saying any words nor thinking any thoughts since the Lord already knew what's in both my heart and mind. So I just rested in him and enjoyed his presence. Sometimes trying hard is achieving less. I don't need words or thoughts to reach the Lord ~ he and I are already in each other!
The sad reality today is that as we grow up in our secular, materialistic, egocentric world, our thoughts, speech, actions...all become rather unholy, if not downright evil. Younger people are looking up to the wrong persons as role models. Our only hope of becoming pleasing to God is to let Jesus "detoxify" us by ridding us of the effects of all the "poisonous" influences of the world. Fight evil with God's love and we can become holy and wholesome again.
Today is the Memorial of the Guardian Angels. In the Gospel reading taken from Matthew 18, Jesus said to his disciples, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven." Here is the key to entering the Kingdom of heaven: we are to believe in the Lord with no pride whatsoever and with complete trust. Any resistance can come only from us, not God.
Yes! The reasons are simple. First of all, knowing Jesus everyday is a joy and now I am getting even closer to seeing him, the one I love, in person. Secondly, for each day I live on, it's more time for me to be drawn closer to him ~ after this life, I won't have this chance anymore because I'll be either with him or not. The Lord knows exactly how much longer I shall live and I know that the time I have left will be exactly right for me.
Monday, October 1, 2012
Today is the Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, my beloved saint and spiritual director. The Entrance Song, adopted from Deuteronomy 32.10-12, reads: "The Lord led her and taught her, and kept her as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle spreading his wings he took her up and bore her on his shoulders. The Lord alone was her guide." This last sentence I italicized impresses me the most. This should be our guideline: "The Lord alone is to be our guide."
It crossed my mind this morning that God is a quiet gentleman. He waits for me most of the time and gently nudges us once in a while, never hitting us on the head or doing anything like that. He is always genuine and sincere. On the other hand, we are often loud and get violent, emotionally anyway. We inflate ourselves or try to be a different person when we want to impress others or achieve our self-centered goals. In other words, we are not what we really are. With God's help, we can become true to ourselves at all times. There'll be nothing for us to pretend or hide anymore; the true person reflecting the light and love of God comes through. And we'll be as quiet, gentle, genuine, and sincere as the Lord. After all, we are created in his image.