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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Truth Hard to Swallow

        I read a comment on a YouTube video. The writer said she left the Catholic Church because she was not comfortable with the teaching on sins, eternal damnation, etc. She wanted to find a religion that makes her feel good. My suggestion would be not to pick any religion, then she could do whatever she pleases. In today's first reading at Mass from 1 John 2, the apostle mentions that many antichrists have already appeared. In the Gospel from John 1 that followed, we heard read, "Jesus came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him." The division had started right from the beginning. It just shows that truth is hard to swallow.
       I don't like to end the year on this somewhat sour note; but again, reality is rarely pleasant. Then the bright and shining hope given to us by God through Christ has made it possible for us to endure it all.

Some Signs of Holiness

        (1) Willing to listen more and talk less to others (more difficult with those you know well).
        (2) Willing to help those who do not love you.
        (3) Not expecting any reward after helping others. 

In God Only We Trust

        We see "IN GOD WE TRUST" printed on the back of all US bills. I'd like to advocate that in God only we trust. This is not saying that all others cannot be trusted or would not help us when we are in need. We still love them, but placing our trust in God alone ensures that he is Number 1 in our lives. When we do this, we eliminate all disappointments in our lives. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

We Become like God

       Today is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The following thoughts came to me before Mass began.
         Since we were created by God, we belong to God. Then naturally, we should obey God. By obeying him, we then become like him. 

On Using Our Talents

        This is something I have posted about, so here's taking another look at it. I was a pretty good photographer with a unique, personal vision. I reached the point that you could pretty much tell that it was my work when you see it. In those days I spent a lot of time and energy pursuing photography. Like most other artists, I justify what I was doing by telling myself that I was just using my God-given talent. Of course, the motives to become well-known and to make some money were there too. Was I justified?
        This is how I see it in general today: 
        (1) If what I do helps to bring others closer to God in some way, then I am doing the right thing.  
       (2) If not, then no matter how talented I am, what I do is basically self-centered or at most neutral. [If I were still doing photography today, I would do it with detachedness so that it never gets in the way of serving God first.] 

Unique Joy from Jesus

        Jesus also sets the standard for our joy. The joy he gives to the soul comes directly from him, purifying the heart and intoxicating the spirit. All the joys you receive from the world are just not on the same level, if you can call them joy.

A Sad State of the Soul

        Jesus, our ultimate judge, came into this world and showed us clearly what is good and what is evil. Tragically, today there are still so many who sin so easily and are not even aware that they are offending God!        

God to Be Taken Seriously

        It is almost the end of 2012, less than one and a half days away. People have started making New Year's resolutions. Looking ahead, I feel great sorrow when I see the shape our present world is in. Every day you read about terrible, senseless killings all around the globe, resulting in the losses of innocent lives, including women and children ~ does human life mean anything anymore? And I must again mention the evil of abortion. Due to its sheer magnitude and horror, this evil has to be ranked ahead of all other crimes. Of course, besides the obvious killings, there are myriad other, shall we say, subtler sins. One particular example that offends me personally are those TV talk shows on which sordid personal stories are exposed for the sole purpose of entertaining an audience with absolutely no sense of any shame. I hope that they really don't know what they are doing!
        I am neither a prophet nor one of those doomsday forecasters, but I do believe that we cannot go on offending God without any chastisement coming our way. In Luke 17 (and Matthew 24), Jesus said, "In the days of Noah before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." [I am thinking that the sinking of the Titanic also happened unexpectedly, when passengers were still enjoying the luxuries of the ship. Then those who lost their lives in the recent tsunamis didn't have any idea of what's coming to them either.] Let's also remember the prophecy given to us through our Holy Mother at Fatima during the time of World War I ~ she warned the world that if people did not cease offending God, another worse war would happen, and that was the World War II we had.
        We must absolutely take God seriously or take the consequences.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Fantastic Leap

        Today's Communion Experience. It amazed me that I could receive the Lord. I am a great sinner and he is all holy. I finite and he infinite. I a creature and he my creator. I totally helpless on my own and he omnipotent. I nothing and he everything. I must learn to love and he is love. Now, receiving the Holy Eucharist actually brought me into union with him! Imagine the Lord reaching all the way down from heaven to lift me all the way up to his heart ~ what a fantastic leap for me!

Friday, December 28, 2012

No Escape from God

        The Lord showed me that not one iota of what we think, say, or do goes unnoticed by him. For whatever we do for love of him, we will be rewarded in this life or if not, the next. For whatever sin, big or small, committed against him, we will be exposed. His mercy is great, but his judgment is precise. Expel all darkness in your heart, mind, and soul now so that you may be ready for the light of the Lord to shine upon you.

A Free, Loving Relationship

        I realize that since God has given each of us a unique soul with free will, he never forces himself on us the way evil spirits take possession of a soul. The Lord will never makes us into his puppets or slaves. Even when we are in union with him, there is always interaction going on ~ we talk and listen to, or even argue with each other, continuing building up the loving relationship.

Love God Under Any Circumstances

        We may never experience visions or ecstasies, we may go through dark nights and not feel God's presence at all, we may win the lottery or lose our shirt, we may become seriously ill or be badly hurt by others...whatever happens, still God is to be loved, as he never stops loving us. 

Attaining Equanimity

        Before we know God, we basically live for ourselves. After we get to know him as love, we begin to live for him ~ the whole emphasis starts to shift. When we reach living fully for him alone, we attain perfect equanimity in the Lord. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Being Linked to God

        Communion experience. As I received the Holy Eucharist, I knew that I was going to be directly linked to God. This is a strong, inseverable link originated by God to connect to my soul. I am now his sheep, his branch, and his child. There is nothing I lack.

Christ Is the Way

        Today is the Feast of St. Stephen, first martyr. Here is my fourth realization of the day. Stephen was tried before the Sanhedrin, condemned, and stoned to death by a mob. I see clearly that any other way of living other than for Christ is dead-end, leaving you with no peace in both this and the next life. If you live for Christ and even die as a martyr, you are still assured of peace in the next life.     

Staying Dry and Safe

        Before Mass began this morning, I visualized the following picture. All things of the world, including all the people and what they did and are doing are like a running stream flowing swiftly downstream. They pass by and are gone forever. Since I am with the Lord, I am standing on a bridge overlooking this stream going under me. I say to myself that I certainly don't wish to be part of this stream, rushing onward to oblivion.

Secret of True Happiness

        Another early morning realization. My roof is leaking again, ruining quite a bit of the interior wall. A couple of other things around the house are not working either. I realized that one should be happy with a roof over his head, enough food on the table, a car good enough for transportation, etc. Anything in excess is unnecessary and uncalled-for. Contentment in God is the secret of true happiness. 

Letting Disappointment Be Bygones

        Early this morning, the Lord made me see that no matter how I feel or wish and what I do, he is in charge of the whole situation. Therefore, if I follow his will, then I will not ever be disappointed.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Speak Little and Suffer Much

        The Guardian Angel of St Gemma dictated to her: "Remember, my child, that whoever loves Jesus speaks little and suffers much. I command you, in the name of Jesus, never to give your opinion unless it is asked, never to hold to your opinion but to yield. When you have committed any fault, acknowledge it immediately, and do not wait until you are taxed with it." A challenging lesson in humility for sure.

Do We Have Room for Jesus?

        At Christmas Eve Mass, Pope Benedict XVI asked a pressing question: Will people find room in their hectic, technology-driven lives for children, the poor and God? At this Christmas time especially, how much room do we make for the Lord? It is a question we must face, reflect upon and answer to order to find peace and salvation. Are we like the innkeeper who had no room for the birth of Jesus to take place? In that case, Mary had to take Jesus elsewhere to be born. I say, let Jesus take up all of the room in us, then we'll have him forever with us, making us truly temples of the Holy Spirit. 

Best Christmas Present

        Jesus has given himself to us totally ~ there's no present that can top that! On this Christmas day, the best present we can give to the Lord is to try to match him by giving ourselves entirely to him.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Blessings

        Having faith in God is such a beautiful thing! Not seeing, yet believing; not believing in any god, but the true God of Christ. 
         A beautiful, holy and peaceful Christmas to all!

God's Sanctifying Power

        This morning's Communion experience. As I received the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, I felt his power to make me holy. 

Feeling Good About Jesus

        It's Christmas Eve and I see Jesus as my lifeline. I have caught this line and am saved for all eternity as long as I don't let go of it. Rather than having to hold onto him for life, I feel more as if he is holding me securely in his own hands. Knowing that God loves us is exactly the missing link for completing our lives. Normally, we feel good when we meet someone who happens to like us. I still remember the time when I was working in an organization, one colleague in the same department told me in private that he wished that I could be his department head, as the head at the time wasn't making everyone happy. I was flattered, but nevertheless, felt good. Then I met another person on a pilgrimage many years ago who loved to share his spiritual thoughts with me as if I was his confidant ~ I felt good too. Now, it's the Lord God himself letting me know how much he loves me ~ that has to be the best possible news that can make me feel good!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Natural Consequence

        The more we ask for God's mercy upon us, the less we become judgmental of others.

Suffering to Be Welcomed

        Crosses are facts of life. Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). The crosses Jesus gives us as his disciples are always for our edification, never so heavy that we could not bear. There cannot be spiritual advancement if we are not willing to suffer. And if we are willing, suffering for Christ's sake becomes a great joy and strengthens our union with him. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Getting More out of the Gospels

        I caught 3/4 of part 1 of "The Path of the Messiah" on EWTN. Raymond Arroyo and Jeff Cavins traveled the path Jesus took in the Holy Land. I could read all the things Jesus did in the Gospels, but seeing the real locations on a screen and hearing the Gospels read and explained, I received a knockout experience. The Holy Spirit generated so much deep joy in my soul that I felt physically drained at the end! So, the next time you read the Gospel, take your time and imagine vividly what really happened, and you'll get much more out of your reading.  

What Is "Doing Well"?

        I only hear people talk about someone doing well when that person has lived to a ripe old age, especially if his or her health is good, when the person has succeeded in graduating from college, when the person has landed a good job or made a lot of money in his business...it always has to do with that person's achievement in the world. I have never heard people talk about someone doing well when he or she has come to know the Lord well. Why? On the other hand, this may just work out fine because those who know the Lord well are most likely humble enough not to want to be known for anything in which their are doing well!                 

Mind as an Aid to Heart

        It's true that God looks mainly at the heart. Since we are human, often external distractions, our own emotions, feelings, and physical discomfort, etc. go against the heart's inclination. As Jesus said, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." This is where the mind should step in. Even if one is going through dark nights losing all feelings of God's presence, the mind can still take charge and help him carry on the task of loving God.    

Heavenly Relationship

        The Lord and any of his faithful followers do many things for each other. They love each other; they serve each other; they are friends to each other; they understand each other; they listen to each other; and they would willingly suffer for each other. This is a relationship prescribed in heaven.

Staying with Christ

        I no longer look back nor forward. I am totally content because I know that as long as I stay with Christ, the eternal one, I'll be eternal with him.

Two-Way Belonging

        I went to morning Mass this morning. It was a relatively cold and windy, rainy day. Inside the chapel, you could hear the the rain water loudly gushing out of the downspouts outside. This was the kind of day that definitely makes you want you to be indoors. Yet I felt most content because I have my most precious treasure, the Lord God. But this is not a one-way thing ~ since I have him, I belong entirely to him too.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pleasing Jesus Alone

        St. Gemma was always intent on pleasing Jesus alone, so even when others offended her, like calling her a stupid girl, she remained calm and collected. When she suffered, she knew she was suffering along with Jesus. Here is a great example for us to follow. Of course, there will be times when we must take action, but there is a big difference between reacting calmly and reacting with strong negative emotion. We should please others only if it pleases Jesus. Otherwise, whatever they do to us is not worth paying attention to.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great Wonderment

        I was watching a Globe Trekker Special on volcanoes on TV and saw how vast our earth was. At the same time I realized that the creator of it all I knew most intimately. In fact, he resides within me. This is indeed a great wonderment!

The Missing Virtue

        Humility is the foundation of all sanctity. I continue to read about St. Gemma. She was a most humble servant of God. In one of her visions, Jesus showed her a vast plain studded with trees. In the center was a square from which a majestic tree rose above all the others. He said to her: "Those trees are the virtues, but the tallest and the most majestic tree is holy humility." This is what this world sorely needs. 

Living in the World of Jesus

        Reading about St. Gemma makes me realize that she lived totally in the world of Jesus. This is what it should be with anyone who follows the Lord. To live in his world is to be detached from our world. In his world we are aware of his holy presence at all times and pleasing him becomes our only concern. Living in the world of Jesus is really another way of describing being in union with Jesus.         

Following God with Trust

        In today's Gospel reading from Luke 1, the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she would conceive in her womb and bear a son to be named Jesus. We do not have angels showing up to relay messages to us; but if we trust in God, we'll know that he is always leading us, even if we do not receive messages from him. In this sense, God is always speaking to us. It's very much like the situation of two people in love ~ no spoken words needed; looking at or being with each other is sufficient. 

God's Greatest Love

        Another quick re-realization. The one who died on the cross was not just an ordinary human ~ it was God himself! Shocking and incredible, but awe-inspiring and unimaginably magnanimous. Yes, I am a sinner and I need to be saved. The Lord has done the right thing for all of us, for which I'll be eternally grateful. Now I can rejoice!

Key to Freedom

        During Mass this morning, it became clear to me in a flash that submitting to Jesus is the key to freedom (end of misery)! That's just it because he is truly our Lord and Savior!

Free Will Power

        God gave us each free will so we have the power to make free choices. When St. Maximilian Kolbe was still a child, in a vision the Mother of God came to him holding two crowns, one white and the other red. She asked him if he's willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that he should persevere in purity and the red that he should become a martyr. The saint said that he would accept them both. As you might know, he died at Auschwitz in 1941. 
       Similarly, in the case of St. Gemma Galgani, her guardian angel appeared to her holding two crowns, one of roses and one of thorns, inviting her to choose one. She chose the one that obviously belonged to Jesus, the one of thorns. The manifestation of her suffering the pain of being crowned with thorns Jesus experienced followed afterwards.
        Thus every choice we make matters because it charts our journey toward eternity. Wield the power of our free will for the glory of God always and our future glory will be assured.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Communion Desire

        Today's Communion experience. After attending such a heavenly banquet, how could I not let it leave a permanent mark on my soul? How could I just leave right after Mass as if nothing extraordinary had happened? Right there and then, I wanted to be totally absorbed into the abyss of God's love and become nothing, yet desiring all of him.   

Our Only Option

        We must realize that God sees and knows so much more than we do. This means that we are more sinful than and not as holy as we think we are. We are only worthy to prostrate before him and beg for mercy, letting him do whatever he wishes with us. Total submission becomes the only option. This is heeding what Jesus had said: "Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Our Simple Role Made Clear

        True humility is to know our inabilities and limitations before the Lord. Basically, we are not capable of accomplishing anything without him. Any finite quantity compared to infinity has to be zero. God created and shapes all things. Our simple and clear role then is to obey, trust, and follow. 

Made Simple and Easy by God

        At church this morning before Mass began, I wanted to praise God the Father, but words failed to express my feelings. Frustration set in. I realized that as finite creatures, we are loaded with inabilities. Then the Father understood and helped me see that instead of trying so hard, all I need to do is to remain silent, passive, and enjoy his presence. God makes all things simple and easy for us.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Go Eternal

        Do not dwell on anything that is passing or has passed. What is passing includes ourselves, and what has passed is the past. Dwell on the Lord God alone who never changes. Hold onto the Eternal and we shall be eternal too. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Reacting to Shocking News

        Today's news headlines are shocking after the horrific school killings in Connecticut that happened three days ago: (1) "Deadly Oregon shooting at shopping center," (2) "Delhi woman gangraped in moving bus," (3) Six Hyundai workers kidnapped in Nigeria," (4) Pakistan blast: Market bomb kills 17," (5) North Iraq bomb attacks kill 25," (6) Bangladesh factory fire was sabotage ~ inquiry (111 workers were killed).
               What are we to do? I believe that every single person living should repent our sins before God for failing to make our world a holier place and cry out for his mercy to save us. President Obama promising to use the power of his office to do all he can to prevent another massacre of the innocent and senators starting to discuss more strict gun control do not understand the cause of such violence at all. (On the same day the Connecticut school tragedy took place, it was reported that a man with a knife (not gun) wounded 22 children and an adult at a primary school in China.) We have turned the world into an evil place and only God can turn us and all things around.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"I Need You, Jesus"

        Two days ago, I posted "Acknowledging Our Need for God." I have found saying "I need you, Jesus" often during the day most edifying. When I say it, I feel the Lord coming right over to me. When I am required to do a chore, I say it and find the Lord giving me strength and patience needed for doing a great job. This practice builds up the trust we need in him. I hope that you'll try saying it and let me know of your experience.

Looking for God

        I see life as a journey whose end goal is to find God, whether you realize it or not. For some, this realization comes early ~ for example, both St. Therese and St. Gemma felt in love with God when they were still a child. For others, they don't turn to God until they are on their deathbed. Anyway, if you believe as I do about life as stated above, you might as well start looking for God right now if you do not know him yet.  

Go to God First!

        You get a lot of spiritual advices from many sources such as books, friends, retreats, and the homilies we hear at Mass. Generally, you are advised to love God and others more, to pray more, to forgive others, to do more charity work, etc. All good advice, but I am afraid that they miss one big point ~ here's what I mean. 
          These advices ask you to initiate the doing by yourself and it always turns out to be a struggle and progress is usually slow. It may sound uncharitable for me to say that in a way God is excluded from the endeavor. Remember that nothing is impossible with God ~ this specifically implies that we cannot make spiritual progress without God's involvement and help. Therefore, if we have a problem, go to the Lord, the source of our power, first to ask for his help. Basically, it comes down to seeking union with him first, then he will draw you to him, making all things easy for you. "The Lord is my strength" (Psalm 28). "The Lord is my helper" (Hebrews 13). Go to him first for strength and help and your spiritual life will become airborne.  

Preparing for The Lord's Entry

        The opening song at morning Mass today consisted of only the line: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." To me, this is preparing our hearts for the Lord to enter, which is something we should have done and always do before we receive Holy Communion each time. The Lord has come, is here, and wants to enter, so it's up to us to get our hearts ready. We rejoice that Christmas is approaching and that the opportunity offered by the Lord for us to be united with him is ever present as long as we are still alive on this earth.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Ego Exposed

        The best hiding place for us is God, but our ego knows how to hide itself! The ego makes us focus upon ourselves and lose our focus on God. If we did something good, we love to go over it in our mind. If we said something clever, we love to guess how others might have received it. The ego fools us into thinking that self-importance is OK and that we are quite good already. Don't fall for it! We need to hide ourselves completely in the Lord in order to expose the ugly ego. God and ego do not mix.

To Be at God's Disposal

        Some nervous people are again preparing for doomsday, this time December 21 based upon Mayan prophecy, less than six days away. Jesus wants us to be alert for his second coming, but no one except the Father knows the time and day. Actually, we only need to be alert to what the Lord wants us to do at any moment by putting ourselves completely at his disposal, then we'll be ready. To be at God's disposal ~ what an awesome, ideal post for us! 

Occupation by Jesus

        When one is fully occupied with Jesus, there is neither time left for him to think about sinning nor any space left in his mind for sinful thoughts to occupy anymore. Besides, sins are already repulsive and nauseating to him. Let the Lord occupy you fully and you become holy.  

Our Presentation to God

        Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." Then what better way is there to be with God than to give your heart to him? This thought came to me today when I was meditating on the 4th Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Giving our heart to God seems to be an ideal way of making our "presentation" to God.

Perfect Balance

        As we grow older, our exterior appearance becomes less attractive to others, but we can balance it with an interior that's more beautiful for God to behold.

The Big Message

        Being in Advent, today's Gospel Acclamation at Mass, Luke 3.4,6 reads: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. All flesh shall see the salvation of God." It struck me that "the salvation of God" is the big message that we really should pay attention to. We can be so busy doing shopping, decorating the house, planning the Christmas dinner...and the salvation of God couldn't be further from our mind. But this message is BIG! It is big because it is beautiful, relevant, special and of critical importance to us. We should think about it and thank God for it every day. 

How Good Are We?

        We seem to know how good we are as a person; after all, we should know ourselves. But should we, especially if we have a big ego? Often, others do not see us as the person we think we are. Of course, it could be their problem. At any rate, what we need to be concerned about is how God sees us ~ we need to see ourselves through the eyes of the Lord. To cut to the chase: how is God going to judge us on the last day? My good suggestion: Concentrate on loving God and don't even think about how good you are.      

Friday, December 14, 2012

Where Is God in You?

        Today's horrible news: Killing in a Connecticut school leaves 27 dead, 20 of whom were children. God is always present, so the question is: where is God in you? Without God in our hearts, we are doomed! Think of the continuous silent killing of over one million unborn babies each year in this country ~ is it less horrible? Mark my words, as long as we have that abortion-is-OK mentality, other killings will continue. Lord, have mercy on all those who offend you and all those they victimized. 

Acknowledging Our Need for God

        If we acknowledge that we absolutely need God for us to do anything, then we will become totally dependent upon him, we will not rush ahead doing anything on our own, we will know that we are following his will, and we will be courageous and have peace. This wonderful acknowledgement works wonders.

Holy Eucharist Essential to Union

        At the beginning, receiving the Holy Eucharist means mostly a physical union with the Lord. Gradually, as we let the Lord draw us deeper into him, it becomes more a spiritual union. Then one is in full union with God and receiving the Holy Eucharist reinforces that union. 

My Shortlist of Saints

         (1) St. Mary ~ If you love Jesus, how can you not love his mother? She is the greatest saint and our mother in heaven. I love her especially for her obedience to God.
            (2) St. John the Apostle ~ I love him because he knew that Jesus loved him.
            (3) St. Therese of Lisieux ~ I love her because of her total abandonment in God.
            (4) St. Gemma Galgani ~ I love her for her willingness to suffer for God.            

Patience Needed

        We must never rush into action. Let the Holy Spirit initiate all things. Therefore, patience is a virtue to acquire. When someone tells me a story, I have the fault of prematurely assuming that it's not worth listening to, before I had a chance to hear the rest. Impatience is insufficient love. This quote from St. Teresa of Avila is good: "Let nothing disturb you, let nothing dismay you. All things pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God lacks nothing: God alone suffices."

Fount of Our Joy

        The "J" in the name of Jesus has to be associated with joy. The following is a partial list of joys that accompany the Lord.
           (1) Hearing his word, his voice
           (2) Talking and writing about him               
           (3) Following him closely
           (4) Calling upon his holy name
           (5) Waiting for him to speak
           (6) Asking for his forgiveness
           (7) Enjoying him in silence
           (8) Receiving him in Holy Communion!        
           (9) Suffering for him
           (10) Dying for him

The World and Us

        The entrance antiphon at Mass, Galatians 6.14, reads: "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Here Paul showed his complete detachment from the world ~ a total severing between the two. This is understandable because after seeing the glory of Christ, the world would be about as attractive as a heap of dung. We face the same choice: the cross of Christ or the world.

This Numb Generation

        In today's Gospel reading at Mass from Matthew 11, Jesus let the crowd know that their generation was unresponding and "hard to please." He said, "John (the Baptist) came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, 'He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'" Their generation sounds just like ours ~ we look but don't see and hear but do not understand. Alas, our total immersion in this world has both blinded and deafened us, making us numb to the gospel truth.

God Alone Is Trustworthy

        Today is the Memorial of St. John of the Cross, priest and Doctor of the Church. He was also a great Spanish mystic and Carmelite friar. As a reformer of the Carmelite Order, for a period he was imprisoned and harshly treated by other Carmelite friars who opposed the reform ~ it was Christians against Christians. All the more we see that God alone is worthy to be trusted because he alone is holy.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Persist in Your Race

        A lot of things not really pleasant came up which I must attend to. It just shows that life never remains the same. St. Paul likened living for Christ to running a race. You're in it to finish and win an imperishable crown. Joy comes from the Lord, but tests too. Many saints (St. Teresa, St. John of the cross, St. Gemma, Blessed Mother Teresa, and others) all went through dark nights. What the Lord showed me is that we must absolutely persist even to the point of serving him mechanically if we do not feel his presence. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me" (Psalm 23). Before you know, life will be over. And if you haven't run a good race, you are likely to look back with sadness.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Making a Beautiful Connection Is...

talking to God from the heart.

Listening to God Is...

always doing his will.        

Forsaking Happiness in This Life

        In Luke 14, Jesus taught, "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach and say, 'Give your place to this man,' and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, 'My friend, move up to a higher position.' Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table."
       We can apply this lesson to our expectations in life. To avoid disappointment, it's better not to expect happiness in this world because things can go bad at any time. But we can certainly expect great happiness in the next world if we remain faithful.       

Preparing for Eternal Union

        Since God is all love, for us to return to him for full union we must be all love too. Seeking union with him on earth is preparing ourselves for that eternal union.

What Abortion Does

        Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The miraculous image of the Holy Mother as appeared on Juan Diego's tilma shows a sash around her waist, indicating that she's pregnant with child. I thought of the evil of abortion today again. When a baby is conceived in the mother's womb, the Lord creates the soul for it at the same time. When the baby is aborted, the soul no longer has a body to dwell in. What a cruel, dirty act that directly thwarts the will of God for life! (In case you are not familiar with Our Lady of Guadalupe, I encourage you to find the beautiful story online and read it.)  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Still Gossiping

     The Holy Spirit has made it clear to me that speaking ill of anyone, even if only mildly, even if it is fact, and even if no name is mentioned, in an ordinary conversation is still gossiping and is displeasing to the Lord. There is no point in making that person look bad to others when God already knows all about him.

God's Holiness

        Communion experience. What a great way to start off a new day! Not with hot coffee, a big breakfast, or nice wake-up music, but with an encounter with the Most Holy One! As I received the Lord, I sensed God's awesome holiness, so dazzlingly pure and refreshing, which makes one not want to touch anything else anymore!      

On Finding Jesus

        In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 18, Jesus, wanting to let his disciples know that it's not the heavenly Father's will that any of the little ones be lost, said to them, "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray." This is absolutely true and brings to my mind how one rejoices over Jesus after he searches all over and finds him to be the Lord and truth.  

Holiness to Be Thorough

        In Luke 16:10, Jesus said to his disciples, "The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones." As I continue reading the biography of St. Gemma Galgani, I am impressed by her holiness in every little situation. This should inspire us to be holy in performing all our little acts.

The Blessing Illusion

          In John 20:29, after Thomas finally saw the resurrected Lord and believed, Jesus said to him, "Blesses are those who have not seen and have believed" ~ so having seen is not necessarily a blessing.
        In Matthew 19:24, Jesus said to his disciples, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven" ~ so being rich is not necessarily a blessing either. 
         It is a fact that it's easy for one in prison or a foxhole to pray to God and for one who lives quite comfortably not to even think of God ~ so having an easy life is not necessarily a blessing either.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jesus Is Joy!

        Before I received the Lord at Mass today, I saw Jesus as my joy. Sure enough, after I received the Holy Eucharist, great joy flooded my soul ~ jubilation time!

Wanting to Be in God's Presence

        The Gospel reading at Mass today from Luke 5 was about the healing of a paralytic. Some men brought on a stretcher a paralytic to where Jesus was teaching. Finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. Impressed by their faith, Jesus not only forgave the paralytic's sins, but also healed him.
       What impressed me was the faith expressed in eagerly wanting to be in the Lord's presence. Today we can express the same desire by attending Mass or Eucharistic Adoration. Best yet, seek union with the Lord and you'll know his presence within you at all times!

A Short Exhortation

        Enter deep into Christ to discover and enjoy his breathtaking beauty.

Finding Our Own Spirituality

        We are all called to be holy. But since we are also individuals with different personalities and talents, God's plans for us are all different too. He draws us to him via various avenues. There are many saints we can learn about and it's good to find one whose life experiences and spirituality appeal to you, then you can follow his or her ways. I've already mentioned St. Therese of Lisieux as my model because I admire her total abandonment to God and love her simple Little Way. 

Loss of Inner Peace

        The loss of inner peace stems from our disobedience to God. Obey the Lord and inner peace is restored ~ a simple and direct cure. Besides being love, God is also the source of our joy and peace.       

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Everything in Its Right Place

        I'll always remember many years ago in a music composition course I took, the professor said that Beethoven's symphonies are great because every note is in its right place. Not long ago, I needed a black cord for a small crucifix to wear around my neck, but I could only find a reel of white nylon cord around the house. So I took about 30 inches of it and started coloring it with a black permanent marker on top of a large rectangular sheet of white paper to keep the ink from staining the desktop. It took a while and I got it done ~ the dried cord came out perfect. Later I noticed that the pen strokes left on that piece of background paper formed a beautiful abstract image ~ there's something cosmic about it, reminding me of a galaxy perhaps. What I like about it is that every line and every dot seem to be in the right place. [When an art gallery curator asked me to submit a work for a group show as a former founding member of the gallery, I submitted that image.] 
         I now look at my own life in Jesus and also see that everything under his watch and care is happening at the right time, that is, falling in the right place. This indicates that my life in the Lord is going to be perfect too.  

Loneliness and Self-Pity Banished

        Speaking of fringe benefits of being employed by the Lord (see my last post), I can mention two probably many millions of people in the world now desperately need. (1) When God becomes your Lord and friend and begins to use you to serve him, loneliness vanishes. No human companionship can possibly compare with his. (2) You know that God loves you and will lighten any burden that's too much for you to bear alone, so you don't ever feel sorry for yourself anymore. Both loneliness and self-pity are exiled forever.     

Being Employed by God

        Recently, an event triggered some old memories which I thought would be interesting to share with the family members involved. I did not get a chance and at the same time the Lord made me see that there's really no point in looking back or reminiscing about the past because I belong to him now. As my own man, I can do whatever I feel like doing. As a follower and servant of Christ, I am now his "employee" and must do whatever he wants me to do. May I add that since the pay, the rewards and fringe benefits are out of this world (pun intended), I am more than happy to follow his orders.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Bold Exhortation to All

        When we were born, we were pure, innocent babies. Then we grew up in our morally corrupt societies and became morally corrupt beings. Life is short. How much time do you have left? In the time you still have, I exhort you to turn to God, ask for the forgiveness of all your sins, and start seeking union with him so that you may be transformed into a saint ~ yes, a saint. Make this bold move and you'll lose nothing and gain all of God! Love him with all your heart and live the greatest life the rest of the way until you are welcomed into the kingdom of your heavenly Father. This has to be the most sane, logical, wise, and profitable decision you'll ever make!   

Communion of Saints

        During today's Mass, I also felt that I knew the Blessed Mother and all the other saints in heaven intimately. It is the love of God that breaks down all the barriers and unites all those who love him into one family, one body. Before them, I am comfortable in being who I really am ~ nothing for me to pretend or hide anymore.  And I know that they will intercede for me whenever I ask for their help. We are all in spiritual communion with God.   

God Is Good!

        Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  At Mass, I felt being so blessed by God ~ there's the most satisfying, wholesome feeling in living in the Lord. The Gospel from Luke 1 was read and we heard the account of the Annunciation. Mary's final response to the angel Gabriel ~ "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word" ~ showed precisely how we should respond to the Lord each time. During Communion I felt in my untroubled heart great gratitude for the unbelievable amount of grace he had poured upon me. God is good! 

Most Sensible Act

        The first commandment Jesus gave us is to love God first. If we truly love God, we shall love all our neighbors too. And if someone we love offends God, the pain we feel is doubled because the Lord is hurt and the offender's soul could be in jeopardy. To love God and avoid offending him, all we need do is surrender to his love. This surrendering brings us home, back to where we came from ~ it is reconciliation, reunion, restoration of order and harmony, fulfilling God's will. There is absolutely nothing more sensible for us to do than surrendering to Love.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Speeding up Spiritual Union

        Today is the Memorial of St. Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church. After receiving Holy Communion at Mass, I realized that it is truly the food that feeds the soul. Earlier almost two years ago, I first saw receiving the Holy Eucharist as a physical union with the Lord that "triggers" the spiritual union to follow. This is still true, but today the Lord made me see that the Holy Eucharist also expedites the spiritual union as much as we wish! When we are ready to be God's, he is ready to be ours.     

Thought Checking

        WWJD to many stands for What Would Jesus Do. It is a good question to ask if you are not sure about what to do in a situation. I think it is also good to ask yourself when a questionable thought enters your mind: What Would Jesus Say? It's WWJS to keep our thoughts pure.

The Biggest Miracle

        It is Jesus coming down to earth to give his own life so that all of us (now numbering over seven billion) may have eternal life.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

All We Need to Know

       God is all-knowing. To me it means that a clear, overall plan for all things is in existence always. From Scripture reading, we could safely say that God knew the plan of salvation before the world began and that he knew each one of us before we were born. I don't believe that every little thing is rigidly predetermined because God still has to deal with our free will. As we sin, rebel, repent, return to him, start praying harder...God must accommodate all these variations in his overall scheme. 
        We are not all-knowing, but we have the good fortune that the Lord has already revealed to us all we need to know, that is, the good news that he so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Inappropriate Thought

        Any thought that makes us want to be noticed by others does not come from the Lord. Entertaining such thoughts prevents us from ever experiencing inner peace.

St. Gemma Galgani

        For me, reading the writings of past saints and servants of God has been most inspiring and rewarding spiritually. One of the very earliest books I read was St. Therese's The Story of a Soul which affected me a great deal. Over the years, I've read more of her writings as well as many other books about her ~ I consider her to be my spiritual director. Yesterday I discovered St. Gemma Galgani whom I didn't know on www.mysticsofthechurch.com, a site maintained by Glenn Dallaire of Connecticut. I became immediately attracted to her extraordinary love for Jesus, so I am going to read up on her. (Late last night I was pleasantly surprised to be informed by a fellow parishioner that the relic at the altar of our church is St. Gemma's.) 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How God Responds to Us

        When we look for some kind of response or sign from God, we usually look externally. The better way is to search deep within your inner heart and you'll often find messages which the Lord has already quietly placed there for you. 

God Needs a Chance

        Why do so many Catholics say that nothing is impossible with God, yet ruling out the possibility that they can become saints? Do they think that they are not good enough material, that is, God did not do a good enough job in making them? Or do they think that God does not wish them to become so holy? Search the heart and find the true reason. And if that reason is self-planted or unjustified, then ask the Lord to remove it so you can be on your way to becoming a saint for his great glory. All the Lord needs is to be given a chance to show you how truly he can work miracles in you.

Most Exciting Journey

        At morning Mass today, the Lord made me see the following:
        (1) When a soul no longer minds suffering for Christ's sake, he or she is free.
      (2) Following Christ every step of the way to the summit is the most exciting and rewarding journey you can ever make.  

Living in the Kingdom of God

        (1) FAITH: One of the most dramatic early cures that took place at Lourdes was that of Justin Bouhort who was not yet two years old. He was on the point of death when his mother said a prayer and plunged him into the icy water at the grotto for what seemed like a terribly long time, while the shocked onlookers screamed in protest. The child recovered within days. He lived long enough to attend Bernadette's canonization in Rome on December 8, 1933. What's so beautiful was the mother's faith, so abandoned to God that it seemed even reckless. Of course, the Lord did not let her down. Such spontaneous faith, not contrived, works miracles.
         (2) OBEDIENCE: This was exemplified by St. John of the Cross. When one obeys God, all else, great sufferings included, no longer matter. Pleasing God became St. John's sole wish and what heavenly joy it was!
     (3) ABANDONMENT: Abandonment in God leads to total freedom of the spirit. Nothing in the world can now perturb the peace and tranquility the soul experiences in the Lord. St. Therese of Lisieux comes to my mind.   

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

All God Asks of Us

        I like to picture myself as an empty receptacle completely open before the Lord, ready for him to deposit whatever he wished to give me in it. Again, it illustrates a passive state of our total dependence upon him. This is all God asks of us ~ obedience and trust ~ all for our eternal happiness.

Settling Our Dwelling

        Creations always have a beginning. We were all created at one time or another, but our souls will last forever because God created us in his image and out of love. Our physical lives on earth will end one day, so where the soul is going to dwell afterwards the rest of the time, which happens to be eternal, should be of pressing concern to all. But for those of us who have been baptized and become temples of the Holy Spirit, God is already dwelling in us, and this union assures that we'll continue to live with him for all eternity.    

No More Mysteries!

        For things to exist, there must be beginnings. In fact, since nothing can possibly pop out of nothing to exist as something, there has to be the existence of something or someone who has always existed, for whom there is no beginning ~ and that is God our creator. If God has no beginning, then there will be no end for him either ~ so he is everlasting. In John 8:58, Jesus said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM" ~ he said it all. Therefore, there are no longer any mysteries about the universe and us. Furthermore, the greatest mystery, the Lord himself, has been revealed to us through the Old Testament prophets and in particular, his own beloved Son Jesus. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Be Prepared Now

        Advent began yesterday ~ another opportunity for us to start preparing our hearts and minds for the Lord's coming. The preparation must be full and thorough, not partial or careless, since we do not know the day or the hour of his coming. Don't be like the five foolish virgins who failed to take enough oil for their lamps to meet the bridegroom ~ they didn't get into the wedding banquet in time and the door was already shut (Matthew 25:1-13). Be prepared and live expectantly.

The Way to Live

        Things in this life never always go our way, but we can still be happy about it if we live for God and see all things that happen to us as willed by him for good reasons. At Lourdes, the Blessed Mother said to Bernadette in her 3rd apparition, "I cannot promise you happiness in this world but only in the next." This is reality. Whether it's enjoying a good meal or suffering from a head cold, all experiences will be forgotten when we are with God in our next life. Therefore, live for him now.        

Sunday, December 2, 2012

God's Exclusive Invitation

        During Communion rite at morning Mass, the priest held up the consecrated bread and wine said, "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb." I felt this invitation to Holy Communion to be most exclusive ~ exclusive in the sense that it is special, privileged, and most intimate to the one who is invited. It is being reminded that you've been chosen to be God's child!

Triple Assurance

        God the Father ~ he is the one in whom I can completely trust, for he takes me under his personal care.
         God the Son ~ he is the one to whom I'll always be grateful, for he has done all the hard work for my salvation and brought peace and contentment to my heart.
        God the Holy Spirit ~ he is the one who guides me, teaches me, and shields me from all evil, fulfilling the Son's promise that he is with us always, until the end of the age. 

Dealing with God

        In the world of technology, you constantly hear about new exciting breakthroughs and achievements. Even in piano performance, by finding out more about the composer and the composition, improving playing techniques, listening to other interpretations, and talking to other musicians, the pianist learns to play better. So I start thinking about discovering new ways of loving God more. And I realize that unlike all other areas, loving God more does not involve labor-intensive work nor superior brainpower ~ all we need to do is to surrender to and rest in him more. Dealing with the Lord is always straight and simple. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Become Free Now!

        I watched on YouTube an interview with Valerie Tryon, the British-born classical pianist who resides in Canada now. She said that she's playing the piano less and less because there are other things she wants to attend to and she does not want to play the piano in her coffin. I thought that was a wise statement which we could benefit from. If we are attached to many things in this life, it's time to start detaching them so that it'll be easier for us to go when the time inevitably arrives. There is nothing we can take with us ~ everything in the entire universe belongs to God anyway. The sooner we let go, the sooner we become free. Doing it the last minute will be nigh impossible after living a whole life in slavery.  

Preconditions for Eucharist Reception

        Communion time thoughts. Where God's light shines, sin cannot survive. We should not let God and our sins cohabit in us. Before we receive the Holy Eucharist, we must first be free of mortal sin and secondly, desire to be purged of all our venial sins through reception of this Most Holy Sacrament. 

God's Great Mercy

        Jesus is the Messiah. He came into the world not to condemn sinners, but to save them. The message was made crystal clear to all ~ anyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart that God raised him from the dead will be saved (Romans 10). The gate of mercy is wide open. Therefore, anyone who does not make it through that gate has only himself to blame.