Life is our testing ground to see if we can make heaven after we die. It is also a time for those who choose God to prepare themselves for going there. In the meantime, how do we deal with all the problems we face on earth? We can pray to God, but problems don't usually vanish instantly like magic. I see only one way: to go even deeper into the Lord, making him truly our rock and refuge. Any other way without him will be lost effort. God may not promise us happiness in this world (as he told St. Bernadette through our Holy Mother), but he'll definitely give us the strength and courage to endure any trials and tribulations and keep us safe from all evil if we dwell in him.
"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Our own life is normally the most important thing to us, followed by our family and last, my material possessions. Therefore, if we can hand our own life over to God, then everything else will follow. That's why surrender to God brings so much freedom.
Today Wednesday I recited the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. I felt that the Sorrowful Mysteries were the most amazing of all the Mysteries of the Rosary, because they could not be taken for granted ~ Jesus actually underwent suffering and death to redeem us. His love truly shines forth as we meditate upon these mysteries.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
When you are in union with God, your will and God's will are in perfect harmony; therefore, you are free to do whatever you want. Today's Response to Psalm 55: Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you. When you are in union with God, you automatically throw all your cares on the Lord. Today's Gospel Acclamation (Galatians 6.14): 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. When you are in union with God, you can boast all you want.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Communion experience. The Most Holy One, the Perfect One, entered me. How should I respond? What an opportunity to welcome him, to tell him that I adore him, worship him, love him, and want to belong to him forever! What a perfect time to let go in him, offering my heart and all to him! As much as possible, I enjoyed the greatest intimacy with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! It's truly "there is nothing I lack."
Liken a life unfulfilled to a picture puzzle with an important piece missing, then Jesus is that missing piece. Naturally, to complete the puzzle you must fit that piece into the empty spot. Likewise, you must seek union with Christ to live a completely fulfilled life.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Jesus established his Church on earth to guide us. The teachings of the Church can inspire us and her sacraments provide us with the grace to become holy. But if we do not have the desire to become holy, the Lord can't do much. In a word, we have the final say. Therefore, holiness starts with a yes to God from us and the Holy Spirit does the rest.
Friday, February 21, 2014
What makes a cross? Most crosses we endure and suffer are caused by our lack of perfection ~ we distrust and disobey God, are selfish and not loving enough. God does not want us to be afraid or anxious so that we may have peace, but we don't listen and make everything (including ourselves) even more complicated, worsening our burden. The rest of the crosses are those inflict upon us or given to us by God ~ here we must see them as blessings that can benefit us spiritually. It's in our willingness to carry our cross and follow Jesus that we receive strength and joy. In conclusion, all self-created crosses can be eliminated and the rest, lightly carried with God's help.
Today's Gospel reading from Mark 8 at Mass truly challenges us. Jesus said to the crowd and his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.... Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." These are hard words we must face or dismiss. They are either truth or rubbish. Ignoring them does not make them go away.
Jesus wants us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect and to think as God does. Apparently, he thinks highly of us, his creation. How do we regard ourselves? We can feel sorry for or even hate ourselves, we can brush aside God and go on our own way, we can halfheartedly follow him ... all these options are wrong because they disappoint God by ignoring the potential he sees in us. As a matter of fact, it is sinful to not believe that God can transform us. We should thank the Lord for wanting to make us holy so that we may enter union with him and be joyful forever from this life on. Therefore, think about not yourself, but what God thinks of you.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Nothing is impossible with God. No matter how hopeless you feel, God can fill your life with hope. No matter how low you have sunk, he can lift you up high. We've seen examples in the lives of many, not all of them saints. I can testify to you that the highest points in my spiritual life followed some of the lowest points. "Never give up" can be foolish, unrealistic advice, but it works perfectly when you involve God, for he loves to help those in low spirits.
Today's Communion experience. In the world one can experience highs by riding a roller coaster, winning the lottery, or taking drugs; but the high you get after receiving the Lord is in an entirely different realm, touching the soul deeply. I got the incredible, humbling feeling today after the Lord entered me, putting me in place; he let me know that he is God and I was receiving the greatest possible favor from him. He humbles those whom he loves.
Also in today's Gospel reading from Mark 8, after Jesus revealed to his disciples openly that he must suffer, be rejected, and be killed, Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this Jesus, before the disciples, rebuked Peter for thinking not as God does, but as human beings do. Human beings are good at following their own wishes, which amounts to ignoring God's will. In essence, Jesus wants us to be in union with God so that we may think like God.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 8, Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" They said in reply, "John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets." And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said to him in reply, "You are the Christ." Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.
From an objective point of view, you can see that Jesus knew exactly who he was and what's going to happen to him. He first asked the disciples questions to test them. Once they knew that truth, he told them what's going to transpire. Here's nothing other than our all-knowing God being himself.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I thought more about surrendering to God at Mass this morning. I acknowledge that God created me, so all of me belongs to him except the free will he has given me. If I give that up as well, then I am all his ~ this is crucial to having faith in God. To surrender to God is to return to my creator to be united with him forever, as it should be. It's letting God take over completely so that I totally vanish in him. This is the process that liberates our heart, mind, spirit, and soul! We are free only when we are no longer aware of our own independent existence. Perhaps you argue that this way a person becomes like a puppet of the Lord. Then I say that if you play your own god, you are just your own robot. To be a "puppet" of God is infinitely better than being a master of yourself or whatever else you can think of.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Truth exposes falsehood. That's why the more you get to know and learn from the true God, the more you realize that you've been living in falsehood. Therefore, ask the Lord to open your eyes, your ears, and your mind so that you may see exactly how you are supposed to live. The goal of life should be to discover the truth and discard falsehood.
When we are on earth, we need God because we have health issues to deal with, natural elements to confront, and most of all, sins to fight. After we get to heaven, we no longer need God because we already have him, and all the above-mentioned problems no longer exist. The Christian journey skips to its best part right after the first part.
I am pretty much back to normal and resumed attending daily Mass this morning. As Jesus indicated to his disciples in today's Gospel reading from Mark 8, without faith we can have eyes and not see, ears and not hear. He made me see that if we have faith, everything will be well. This is the theory, logic, also a simple formula that always works. Faith makes us follow God, and since God can never lead us astray, everything works out well at the end. The ultimate example: Faith in Christ leads to eternal life.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Conscience is like a clear window pane God implants in each one of us at our birth. The pane gradually gets soiled and stained by the sins of our world, losing its clarity over a period of time. Now the person no longer sees clearly what's right and what's wrong. God is the one who can wipe it all clean again if you give him the go-head. While he is at it, ask him to clean out whatever filth and dirt your muddy conscience has allowed into your heart and mind as well, and you'll be clean all over again. This was Jesus' mission when he came into the world, for the Lord specializes in making all things clean.
I still have one more day to go on my antibiotic, but my cough is almost gone. I attended Sunday morning Mass, feeling God refreshing me once again. Letting go in God relaxes the body, mind, and spirit. How good it is to have the Lord at our service anytime we wish to relax!
First things first:
(1) Awareness ~ know that you're only passing through this world.
(2) Action ~ make sure you'll enter heaven after this life ends.
(3) Pullback ~ relax and enjoy living.
Note: People do not enjoy living because they jump to step 3 without going through the first two steps in order.
The Lord wants us to see him in every fellow human being so that we may treat all with love and respect. I got on this because I saw how easily old folks got ignored by others. It is Jesus' commandment that we love our neighbor as ourselves. One caution though: we love others, but not be attached to them, for we attach ourselves to God alone.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Many people are not ready for Jesus, the most basic reason being not ready to give themselves up yet. In two cases I ran into, the reasons given me were not what I had expected.
Case one ~ the person told me that he was a businessman and he's afraid that should he accept Jesus, he'd have to cease being dishonest in his dealings with others, and that would make it hard for him to conduct his business. Here's an honest answer, but his decision made me lose all my respect for him.
Case two ~ I was to give the person some literature or simple prayer cards. He didn't want to take any because he said that should he find the material uninteresting, he would have difficulty in dumping any of it ~ apparently, he associated the material with God and felt that discarding it might offend him. Here's a person believing that God might be real, but didn't want have anything to do with him. He's not quite being logical, but there's hope for him.
Since God simplifies us, unbelievers are more complicated than believers.
We may feel pretty secure inside our own home, but looking down from an airplane, you see only the roof of our house over our head. Seeing the earth from the satellite further shows how exposed and vulnerable our earth is in the vast space. Physically, we have little protection. However, spiritually, things are definite. God sees our hearts clearly. When we stay away from him, we can lose his protection; but if we remain with him, we have complete protection.
News today: Virginia's same-sex marriage ban has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. My thoughts. God made man and woman for the purpose of procreation ~ that's why marriage is reserved for the union between a man and a woman and considered a sacrament in the Church. To think that God also sanctions other types of "marriages" is muddy thinking. Pro-abortion people are also muddy thinkers. They question that life begins at conception. I question, if not, how you can explain the growth of an infant in the mother's womb from the very beginning. They argue that the fetus is not a person or don't want to acknowledge that abortion is murder, but hiding behind words and legalities does not alter the truth. Considering that the infant is a part of the mother's body is another example of muddy thinking. The muddiest thinking of all has to be thinking that we can look away from God, deviate from his intended purposes, and still be all right.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Giving our will to God is surrendering to him, but we can specifically surrender all the things difficult for us to control too ~ for example, impatience, anger, unforgivingness, our hang-ups, obsessions, prejudices, painful memories and even disturbing dreams. When we're willing to let them go, the Lord removes them from us.
For God, there is no beginning, no end, for he is eternal. As I once blogged, view God as light and Einstein's theory of relativity shows that he must remain the same forever, be all over the universe at the same time, and for whom time stops. All this amazingly makes perfect sense. Therefore, it's a "mistake" to view Jesus' first coming into the world as something that happened 2,000 years ago and his second coming as something that might not happen for a long time from now. With God's perspective in mind, we might as well compress the events of the whole Biblical history, creation, man's fall, the Incarnation of Jesus, his Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and yes, the final judgment too, all into the present moment. Then we can respond to the Lord more urgently as we should.
We want to be as holy as possible, shining the brightest in the world. Yes, we want to be the best ~ elitist you could even say. Why? Because God deserves it. No, we don't do it for our own sake. If others show up holier and shining brighter, we cheer. All for God's glory!
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
I heard this morning that one person chose to go on a certain expensive trip because it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Then I thought that choosing to follow Jesus is also once in a lifetime in the sense that you get that opportunity only in your one lifetime. Since I choose to follow Jesus, my trip will be one-way and end in heaven, leaving me there to enjoy the Lord for all eternity! It's my prayer that all of us on earth will plan for this trip before going on any other trips.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
This morning on Nation Public Radio, I heard about the sisters of Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, for the first time. They are topping the Billboard classical charts with their albums of sacred music. Mother Cecilia, prioress of the abbey and the group's music arranger, was being interviewed on air. She talked about how her exposure to sacred music lifted her spirit to God, and made her think on eternal things, up out of the petty things of life. "Eternal things" ~ I immediately wondered how much time do we spend thinking on eternal things in place of the petty things of life. At the end, Mother Cecilia impressed me by saying, "The CDs are something God has allowed to happen. It's a wonderful thing insofar as it brings souls closer to God, and in the meantime helps us pay our debt, but other than that, life just flows along at the priory just the same way it did before. And that's the way we love it; that's the way we want. No tours, no concerts, you know? Just simple monastic life." Elsewhere I also read that earlier last year when one of the albums topped the charts for weeks, the sisters couldn't care less. Mother Cecilia said, "These CDs are absolutely non-essential to our life of prayer. It we hadn't recorded, or if we don't record again, it really wouldn't have any bearing, any effect on our life." What a wonderful attitude ~ dwelling on what's eternal and being detached from all that's temporal!
I'd also like to add that Mother Cecilia was a gifted French horn player of the Columbus Symphony, Columbus, MO, before she joined the Benedictines of Mary order. When that happened, people thought she was throwing her life away, wasting her talents. I like her thoughts expressed here too: "The funny thing with God is, when you give him everything, he takes that offering seriously, and he does as he promises: He gives a hundredfold." Amen.
We can take advantage of every life situation to get close to God. Each situation provides us with opportunities to love, obey, honor, and glorify God, storing up treasures in heaven, and to shine as light of the world, drawing others to Christ. What wonderful living! How blessed are we to be able to serve God and enter heaven later! To make the most of our Christian life, aim for total union with God.
After over nine weeks, my cough still hasn't completely left me. My doctor finally prescribed an antibiotic for me to take. Knowing that I am in God's hands no matter what, I see no point in worrying or projecting what might happen to me, and I remain peaceful. Rebelling against God always robs one of inner peace. Obedience (trust in this case) and peace go hand in hand with each other.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Jesus looms large, challenging us to decide if he is true God or not. Once we believe that he is, we are challenged to decide if we are willing to surrender to him completely or not. To me, these are invigorating challenges, tests to meet in the adoption process of becoming sons and daughters of God the Father.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
I was with someone who I felt was somewhat stuffy and snobbish and disagreed with his view on a certain matter, and I aired my contrary view. As a result, the disagreement got a little heated. Later I saw my mistake this way. Probably most of us have heard the saying "Hate the sin and not the sinner." Applying this in my case, I should have made the distinction between a person's attitude and the person. It's so easy to identify the view expressed by the person with the person. Keeping this in mind, I would have had a civilized discussion or exchange without getting emotional. This tip should also prove useful in any evangelization effort.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
It doesn't mean that we sit around and do nothing, waiting for some special sign from God. On the contrary, we remain alert and active, always acting sensibly, prayerfully, and without ego. This last italicized condition distinguishes "following God's will."
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 6, when Jesus saw the vast crowd following him, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. My last post can relate to this. Choosing to follow our own passion is choosing to remain lost without a shepherd to guide us, while choosing to follow God's will is choosing to follow Christ as our shepherd, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14.6).
In essence there are just two paths to take in life: follow your own passion or follow the will of God. The general advice your get today is that if you feel like doing something, then go for it. This may be exciting, but your path will not be smooth because you may have veered from God's plan for you. In the end, you are not any closer to God. On the other hand, if you follow God's will, never rushing ahead on your own, you lose all anxieties of life and enjoy peace. It may seem that you are not going anywhere, but you are with God every step of the way. These two different paths are exciting in their own way, but they lead to completely different ends.
We all have secrets we don't want to reveal because they can shame or embarrass us. Even in confession, it's easy to tone down what truly bothers us. Perhaps one would air more to a paid psychiatrist to get his money's worth. At any rate, we should feel free to tell every hidden thing to God. In a way, this is easier than sharing it with another human being because God already knows everything about us. He specifically wants us to tell him to show that there is no barrier between him and us. In telling, God often gives us insights unbeknown to us previously. The greatest benefit is that once we see things clearly, he takes away our heart-felt trouble! Way back I declared God to be the greatest psychiatrist in the whole universe ~ he who creates us knows us best. Feeling free to share everything with God is a sign of good relationship with him ~ the beginning of union with God.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 6, Jesus began sending the Twelve out two by two. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick ~ no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. It's clear that Jesus wanted the Apostles to live simply and put all trust in him. I can't imagine that he would advise us differently today. "Travel light" definitely applies to living the spiritual life, and it's made possible by full trust in God.
Today there are many shows popular in the entertainment media featuring competitions in cooking, home decorating, etc. On BBC I saw the first episode on how 12 young British designers competed to win the opportunity of working alongside Philippe Starck, the celebrated French design guru, for six months at his agency in Paris. Over many weeks, Starck would whittle the twelve down to just one student. Right off the bat, two candidates failed their first challenge and got eliminated. I could see the shock and disappointment in their face. They were first selected among the hundreds of applicants, traveled all the way to Paris, full of hope, and now with their dream dashed, had to go home and face the people who congratulated and hoped for them. I sympathize with their predicament.
I can't help thinking about how Jesus selects us for the opportunity of living in heaven with him for all eternity. First of all, he includes everyone so that there's no competition, no whittling down. Next, he does not judge and has already given us the chance of being selected. We don't get eliminated at our first failures. In fact, we can't get eliminated unless we voluntarily give up. Seize this opportunity and we'll never experience shock or disappointment and our dream will come true to boot.
Lying in bed this morning, I felt my heart beating in rhythm and marvel at that. The human body is like a well-built machine and no machine can run without an operator. Here we have God keeping us alive. I became aware that my breathing, pulsation of the heart, the abilities to feel and to think... all depend upon God. How can we not acknowledge that he is our Lord?
Sin acts like a boomerang ~ any sin committed will return to haunt you, causing regret. You can harden and choose to ignore it, but this is like sweeping things under the rug ~ you won't have your peace back. Sinning hurts God foremost, yourself, and others too. To sin to gain some momentary pleasure or satisfaction at the expense of others, risking losing your soul in the process ~ this is definitely not cool, to put it mildly. In conclusion, sin is not worth committing. Therefore, let's welcome the coming of Christ into our world, imparting the good news of saving us from sin once and for all. He is the only one who can wipe our spiritual record clean.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
To know God through Christ is to reach the end of the ultimate journey. It is truly going home to our Father. Jesus has made it so clear and certain that there can not be another path as straight and direct. Blessed are those who have heard God's call and followed Christ.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 6, Jesus came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. He began to teach in the synagogue and astonished many who heard him. And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." [I think we all feel that way sometimes.] So he, amazed at their lack of faith, was not able to perform any mighty deed there. My observation: without faith, we won't see God in action; with faith, we get to experience all the wonders of God.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
People live for various things in life. For example, I have friends who live intensely for playing music. There is no question that a lot of people live mainly for making more money. The drawback in all such cases is that if some misfortune such as illness or financial failure happens, they would be devastated or ruined. But if we live for God alone, no matter what happens, life is always joy-filled for he is uplifting and forever dependable.
In today's Gospel reading at Mass from Mark 5, a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years went up behind Jesus in a crowd, saying to herself, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be healed." She touched his cloak and immediately her flow of blood dried up. Jesus, aware that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked who touched his clothes. The woman came up in fear and trembling, fell down before Jesus and told him the truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."
This passage makes me think about faith again. What is considered great faith? Obviously, faith can work wonders. What I've noticed is that the woman who suffered hemorrhages was in a rather desperate situation and had no hesitation in believing that Jesus could heal her. These two requirements need be present to demonstrate our faith. If I suffer a cold, I know God can heal me, but there's no urgency here. Ask the Lord to cure me of my cold miraculously would be to force myself to be "unreasonable," you could say. I had blogged in the past how my son was miraculously saved from death when I prayed for his recovery without hesitation ~ the situation was desperate and my request just came out spontaneously. I think we all have faith, but we don't know how strong it is until we are being tested. One thing is certain: if you seek union with God, the Lord will automatically (my favorite adverb) make your faith strong.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
When Jesus and I are one, I no longer view or talk to him as a separate person. We are now in each other, inseparable. We talk and listen to each other. We glance at each other at the same time. We trust in each other. We belong to each other. One exception: I am in his love, but I can't say that he is in mine because all my love came from him.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
In this morning's Gospel reading from Mark 4 at Mass, Jesus and his disciples were in a boat crossing to the other side. A violent squall came up and waves broke over the side so that the boat started filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. The disciples, fearing that they were perishing, woke the Lord up. He rebuked the wind; it ceased and there was great calm. He then asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" It follows conversely that if we have faith, we shall not be afraid of anything.