Once when I was still a young man, I dreamed of becoming a great pianist. So I thought how great it would be if I possessed the talents of all the great pianists of the world. Of course, that was pure foolish and self-centered fantasizing. During Communion today, I had the great desire to learn from the Lord. Then I thought why not ask all the great saints in heaven to teach me too. This time, I was sincere, with no ego involved, and definitely not fantasizing.
"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Monday, March 31, 2014
Today at morning Mass, I realized that it's the Incarnation of Jesus that had made God truly endearing to us. God is not just Lord and God, he became our most beloved, our friend, our brother, and even our servant; even his mother became our mother ~ all made possible by love.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Here's a beautiful Ave Maria supposedly to have been written by the Polish film-score composer Michal Lorenc and sung by the Polish soprano Olga Szyrowa, although I could not find any information on Google to substantiate these claims. The clip, very moving, came from the movie The Passion of the Christ. Christ died for us out of love for us ~ it's our turn to die for him for loving us. What a beautiful way to go home to our heavenly Father!
As human beings with physical senses living in a physical world, we sense how far anything is from us by its actual location in terms of measured distance or whether we can hear or see it. Wrongly, we tend to perceive God and heaven the same way. The spiritual world is not a physical world ~ the moment we die, we are there! And we don't need to travel any distance to go to God either ~ he is ever present and already dwells in those who love him.
The big bang theory describes how the universe began in a rapid expansion about 14 billion years ago, but some major problems still remained. Now the big bang theory modified by the inflation theory seems to have solved these problems. Inflation refers to the expansion of space lasting just an instant right after the big bang. Afterwards the universe continues to expand at a slower rate. All this is rather mind-boggling, and I become aware that God has given us this wonderful sense of wonderment. With this unique gift, we are able to enjoy these amazing perceptions of the universe and our even more amazing God.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
The word "surrender" is usually associated with unpleasant circumstances ~ for example, we surrender the city to the enemy, the thief surrenders the stolen goods to the police, one surrenders himself to a life of imprisonment, you surrender your office to someone. But there is one exception: when you surrender yourself to God, you gain unrestricted freedom (and eternal life to boot)!
Read through all the Gospels and you see that Jesus always spoke and acted with authority. Many attempted to trip him up with questions and he always had the right answer. Of course, there are many others in the world who speak with authority, but they do it only as experts on a particular subject or in a certain area, never as the all-knowing God himself! ~ this is the huge difference.
God's mercy is great. Jesus went through his Passion, died on the cross, but he never complained or condemned anyone. On the contrary, he prayed for those who put him to death. Everyone, including the ones who hammered the nails through his hands and feet, can be forgiven if they only repented and believed. Jesus asked us not to judge anyone as he never did while on earth, always leaving open the door to salvation. But there will be a final judgment, for mercy with no justice served is not true mercy.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Remembering how Jesus rebuked Peter for wishing that he's not going to suffer greatly and be killed? We must realize that Jesus, in carrying out the will of the Father, welcomed the cross; gladly suffered and died for us out of love. [How I wish that all nonbelievers see this.] To feel sorry for him is not what God wants from us. Instead, we should praise God, thank him for what he has done for us, and rejoice that we are so loved by God.
In today's Gospel reading from Luke 11 at morning Mass, Jesus drove out a demon that was mute. The crowds were amazed and some of them said that he drove out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons. Jesus said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?" It is true that every nation, government, political party, organization of any kind, or family divided will remain weak and eventually disintegrate. A person alone can also be divided if he is unhappy about life and dislikes himself, and will fall in time. Only unity can produce strength and stability. And this leads me to see that the best (and most profitable) unity we can have is union with God! Such unity will make us so strong that no evil can touch us in this life. Since it's a unity not of this world, it will extend into our next life for all eternity too.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Why do we have fears, worries, get anxious, or feel self-conscious? Answer: because we are still attached to ourselves, still think we are somebody, don't fully trust in God yet, and care about what others think. Galatians 2.19, 20 provide the clue to the solution we need: I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me. When Christ displaces us in us, nothing can affect us negatively anymore. The wicked will only make us feel sorry for them and we'll be able to forgive our enemies. No longer shall we be concerned about our own image; we simply do what the Lord wants us to do and let what follows follow. With God taking over our lives, we are set free.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Transformation of the world must start with the transformation of each one of us. And our transformation starts with following Christ, becoming humble, loving, and holy as he is. We may not witness notable success in our lifetime or even lose our life in the process, but we must take this path as it's the only right way.
Monday, March 24, 2014
As always, before we receive Communion at Mass, the priest says: 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. And we all say: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. This morning, I felt great joy in asking the Lord to heal my soul because a healed soul is close to God, enjoying still greater intimacy with him.
Last night after going to bed, I had the intense desire to pray to God for anything. Today's Response to Psalms 42 at Mass, verse 3 from the psalm, confirmed my feeling: At thirst is my soul for the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Sunday, March 23, 2014
God is our most solid reality and there is no escape from that. Anytime you try not to face him, you're trying to avoid reality. If your heart is troubled for whatever reason, don't do anything to forget your trouble or get yourself distracted temporarily. The right thing is to turn to God right away and lay everything before him to get his guidance and help. Escaping from reality is wasting our precious, limited time on earth. Live realistically by living every moment with the Lord and in the Lord.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
I am a well-known person, well known to God, that is. Being my creator, he knows everything about me. He is the only one who understands me perfectly, and this gives me great comfort. Being love, he cares for me and watches over me, making me happy. To hide from such a God is to be the biggest fool in the entire universe.
Friday, March 21, 2014
This morning's first reading at Mass from Genesis 37 tells the story of Joseph and his brothers. Their father Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons; out of jealousy, the brothers plotted to kill Joseph. Indeed, jealousy can be a deadly sin, deadly to the those who are jealous, that is. Therefore, feel sorry for anyone who is jealous of you for whatever reason and pray hard for the person. For only God can change a jealous heart.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Communion experience. As I received the Holy Eucharist, it was the meeting of the infinite and the finite, the high and the lowly, the mighty and the weak, the holy and the guilty, the pure and the defiled, the perfect and the imperfect, the wholesome and the sick, the merciful and the one who needs mercy, the selfless one and the selfish one ... such an incredible meeting!
The Gospel reading at Mass came from Luke 16, which tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man died and landed in the netherworld, while Lazarus the poor man died and was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. I see quite a bit of the rich man in most of us. For example, he dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day ~ we might have enjoyed dressing and eating well at one time or another. After the rich man learned that there was a chasm permanently separating his side and Lazarus', he begged Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers at his father's house, lest they too end up in his place of torment. So there was kindness in him, as in most of us. Of course, his request was denied because Abraham told him that they already have Moses and the prophets to listen to. Well, we have Jesus, the Son of God, to listen to ~ but are we listening? We can be pretty nice people, but without love and paying God attention, we also risk landing in the netherworld.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
I've never been to heaven, but these few things I am sure will no longer exist in heaven: (1) the toiling necessary for making a living, (2) the burden imposed upon us by the physical body, and best of all, (3) evil. The list can go on and on. Without even mentioning the existence of one good thing, heaven already sounds most enticing.
Here's another simple view of mine, and I believe in it with all my heart. God will be victorious over evil in the end. Therefore, I choose sides right now, making God my ally, and my eternal future is assured. [I must admit that I did not see it this way before I knew the Lord well, so it's now the view from a mature believer.]
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Again, Matthew 5.48: "Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." Since God is always holy and perfect, the only way for us to become one with him is for us to become perfect. In the verse above, the Lord indicates his desire to be one with us.
God only looks at our heart because what's in the heart defines (also defiles) the person. He may speak through our mind to reach the heart, but more often we hear him directly in our heart. The words of Jesus are always intended for the heart to hear. If there's no change of the heart, we fundamentally are still the same person. To be heart-to-heart with God, we also need to aim at the heart of God.
We discern what God wants us to do. Are we called to be married or become a religious? Should I go into engineering or social work? We are called by God to enter different vocations or professions, but there's one call that's the same for all ~ that is the call for each one of us to become a saint.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Today the optional Memorial of St. Patrick was celebrated at morning Mass. The Gospel reading came from Luke 5. Jesus called Simon Peter the fisherman to catch men. But before Jesus did this, he, sitting in Simon's boat, asked him to put out into deep water and lower the nets for a catch. Simon had worked hard all night and caught nothing, but he did lower the nets at Jesus' command. The result was that the catch was so great that the nets were tearing. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful men." There are various lessons we can draw here. What I learned was that "if we obey the Lord in all things, he will lead us to many souls whom we in turn can lead successfully to him."
I went to the seminary chapel for morning Mass today. That was where I started attending daily Mass in November, 2007, for a number of years until our church was built. That's where the Lord drew me close to him by changing me. That's where he taught me things all the money in the world could not buy. That was how I fell deeply in love with Jesus. The chapel is being renovated, so the Mass was held in another room. It didn't matter ~ all the sweet memories came back and my heart was flooded with joy. I am truly grateful that our heavenly Father could be so good to me.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Many left the Church because they got themselves into some jam and don't know how to get back. The good news is that no matter how difficult a situation they might be in, God through the Church has a solution for them. The Lord is here to lift our burdens off us. For him, there are no cases hopeless and nothing too far gone. God's love is unchanging; we're the ones making life hard for ourselves. If you can't face yourself anymore, it's time to face God.
Some people have difficulty believing in Jesus because they view him as a man. Seeing him being so different from the usual men, they are puzzled. Of course, he was a man, but also God. If you can see that, then everything clicks into place. Looking beyond the man, you see clearly God at work.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
At the beginning of Mass this morning, I desired the Lord to break me into a million pieces, sift out what should not be present in me, and put me together again. I do realize that this has to be continuous desiring on my part so long as I am still a human on this earth.
In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 5, Jesus teaches his disciples to love their enemies. This strikes me as a revelation, for the teaching goes against our grain ~ so he must be revealing how he views us. It follows that we must think as he does.
Friday, March 14, 2014
After watching a short clip of the Bill Maher show on YouTube, these thoughts came to me. In searching for God, questioning at the beginning is fine as long as it's done with an open, unbiased mind. But questioning must cease at some point and let faith take over ~ this is a normal, logical process. It's clear that those who never stop questioning will never find God, since they are not aware of their finite (or rather, infinite) limitations. Back to "only the humble will find God."
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Today's Gospel reading came from Matthew 7, and the Communion Antiphon was the 8th verse: Everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. It just shows that God hears us and cares for us. Here's one "ask" to cover all other asks: "Lord, draw me into full union with you."
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
I participated in the 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil today. As I prayed outside the abortion clinic after noon with others from three churches of our area, I noticed the beautiful blue skies above and the colorful flowers in the planter areas below; but ugly things were happening inside the building. A Stericycle truck in the parking lot was picking up medical waste, most likely containing parts of aborted fetuses. One drive-by woman shouted at us that abortion saved her life ~ obviously forgetting to mention the termination of another life. We were also "honored" by another person who stuck out her middle finger at us as she drove off. One clinic escort kept taking our pictures, even though we were only praying. The Lord made me see that all the ugly things would end one day. My prayer was that it would end before the day of judgment.
In today's Gospel, Jesus taught the disciples to pray what we know today as The Lord's Prayer or the Our Father. After hearing the Gospel read, it became clear to me that when we say this prayer with all our heart, we are truly asking for union with God! Then we receive the Lord in the Holy Eucharist and we are on our way.
In today's Gospel reading from Matthew 6 at Mass, Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and added at the end, "If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions." What a terrible thing it is to not be forgiven by God ~ this we must avoid at all costs! Therefore, let's always forgive (and not judge) others. Even if we cannot turn around emotionally, our sincere intention must be made clear to God.
Our ordinary existence can be likened to being trapped in a cage or stuck in a rut ~ no matter how hard and long we try to find true happiness and inner peace on our own, we fail at the end. I testify to you that Jesus can lift us out of our mundane existence to live on a higher plane, free from the burdens and snares of the world and drawn into the love of the heavenly Father. Here's letting all know that Jesus is the perfect liberator for us.
Monday, March 10, 2014
I am no prophet, but this I can say for sure: Without knowing God through Christ, one will never find true happiness. Unhappiness is caused by sin, our own and others'. It's true that sin is always around us and we get hurt by it all the time. But those who know Christ feel sad only because God is hurt, while remaining joyous in the Lord for they know that they are heading for eternal happiness.
Why do we lack inner peace? Here are some causes: (1) We still don't think as God does. (2) We still have not completely detached ourselves from all things other than God. (3) We still have not completely abandoned ourselves to God yet. (4) We still mind what people think of us.
I have the picture book Jesus, the Son of Man, a Our Sunday Visitor publication, illustrated with paintings by the great Danish painter Carl Bloch. Since I knew all the New Testament stories, I just left it on a coffee table. Yesterday for some reason I picked it up and, reading the complementary Scripture texts next to the beautiful images, the stories came alive. I meditated and didn't get beyond the Annunciation and Mary's Visit to Elizabeth. The Holy Spirit made me see that they were part of the miraculous events, mapped out by God to continue through the Resurrection and beyond. Once I saw that, my faith surged. What God had planned out for us was beautiful ~ it's the true God showing us the way!
Sunday, March 9, 2014
After seeing my grandkids working so hard at school and participating in so many extracurricular activities, and many adults who were not only involved in various church ministries, but also busily making wines at home, build woodworking shops, etc.; I wondered why we keep ourselves so busy. Are we self-serving or God-serving? It turned out this was also the message from the pulpit this morning at Mass.
Accomplishing a lot make us feel good, but doesn't that build up our ego too? Let's say I am talented at playing the piano, so I do it all day long. It's easy to justify my action by saying that I am obligated to use this talent God has given me so that people get to enjoy listening to the music I play. This may be stretching quite a bit, as deep down I really want to enjoy myself, become famous, and not be concerned about the rest of the world. There is no humility here. So what appears to be is not what it really is. In general, ambitious people serve themselves first. Common goals are to feel good, to look well to others, to get rich or famous, to get ahead in society.... Without aiming for God's glory, we'll always have that hypocrite part in us. If you want to be a superman or superwoman, then be one for God.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Today's realization is that God is in control of everything. I do my best to do what is necessary in each situation, but leave the outcome to him. This is what trust is all about. It's obeying the Lord in all things and leaving where I'll end up in his hands.
Friday, March 7, 2014
I saw people concentrating so much on shaping and conditioning their bodies that some didn't even stop training after their had caught a cold or virus. This made me think that if we focus too much on anything in the world, we are likely to miss the boat at the end. God exists forever, but if you don't even look in his direction, you will miss him for sure. And this would be the greatest tragedy of your life.
On this first Friday, there was adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass. At the beginning of the Exposition, we sang the Salutaris by Thomas Aquinas. It's very beautiful, so here are the verses.
O saving Victim, op'ning wide
The gate of heav'n to all below,
Our foes press on from ev'ry side;
Thine aid supply, thy strength bestow.
All praise and thanks to thee ascend
Forevermore, blest One in Three;
O Grant us life that shall end
In our true native land with thee. Amen.
I pray to Jesus a lot and to the Holy Spirit too. At Mass today, I felt called to pray to the Father just as much. I thanked him for having created me so that I might enjoy him in this life and forever in the next. It is unbelievable that we have such a loving Father.
Forgiving others can be the most difficult thing for many of us. Let's look at the matter this way. Here's someone you dislike or even hate, and get angry about. Now think of hell, such a horrible place, where one is cut off from God and suffers for all eternity ~ would you honestly wish that your "enemy" be condemned to hell? If you do have a heart that hard, which I don't believe you do, then perhaps you should reconsider whether you deserve to go to heaven for God loves your enemy as much as he loves you. If your answer to the question is no, then simply forgive your enemy.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
In leading us, God does not show us every little thing we need to do; he usually brings us to the point where we finally realize on our own what he wants us to do. This is good learning because it teaches us to remain patient and trust in him always.
I thought of Adam and Eve who committed the original sin and got banished from Eden. And that sin was disobedience to God. To this day, this has been the same sin that alienates mankind from the Lord. Start obeying God now is the only but sure way of returning to the state of grace.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
St. John of the Cross spoke of dark night of the soul. We all have or had our own dark nights. Mother Teresa had hers that lasted for decades! Whether it's the feeling that God is totally absent, sickness, or any other form of suffering, I see all of them as proof of God's existence or his love. It's because God exists so that we notice his absence. It's because God loves us that he sends us trials and suffering to purify us, readying us for joining him in heaven. We must welcome whatever the Lord sends our way.
I just finished reading Colleen Carroll Campbell's My Sisters the Saints. She is a gifted writer and I enjoyed reading this spiritual memoir of hers. Even though I am already familiar with the saints she grew to love, it's good to read about them again, knowing that we are in communion with all the saints and they can definitely inspire and help us in our spiritual journeys.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Common things out of order: (1) Casting stones at others when we have plenty of our own sins. (2) Judging others when we don't see our own faults. (3) Asking for God's blessing when we don't even fully obey him. (4) Asking God to protect us from external evil when we neglect to ask for deliverance from our internal evil. Our only business should be to become saints before God.
In today's Gospel reading from Mark 10, Jesus tells his disciples that anyone who has given up everything for his sake will receive a hundred times more in the present age, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. It's clear that giving up all to follow Jesus does not mean that all our problems will be gone. It only ensures that we'll get through this life safely to eternal happiness. This is plenty good enough for me.
This morning's Entrance Antiphon, based upon Psalm 18.19-20: The Lord became my protector. He brought me out to a place of freedom; he saved me because he delighted in me. How good to read these verses! God protects me; he freed me; he saved me and loves me ~ everything is true. All he expects from us is to love him back.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Nonbelievers get their strength and courage in themselves, whereas believers get the same in God. Nonbelievers with troubled hearts find their escape in alcohol and other distractions of the world, whereas believers take their trouble to God and "escape" in him for solace and guidance.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
The Gospel reading at Mass, Matthew 6.24-34, is a great one. Again, it's exactly what I needed to hear today. When Jesus told his disciples not to worry about life, I understood that he doesn't want us to worry about anything in this life, that is, he doesn't want us to worry, period. He's really telling us to have faith in him. Where faith is, fear can not exist.
An excerpt from today's Reading 2 at Mass from 1 Corinthians 4: It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord. I needed to hear these words today. I don't want to judge anyone nor be concerned about others judging me; I trust only in the Lord's judgment of me.
Here are two examples with completely different focii to help you decide: (1) I want to leave my mark on the world and want the world to always remember me. (2) I want to reconcile with everyone, be completely detached from all worldly things and sufficiently pure to go home to my Father without trepidation.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Reading the news today, I am greatly saddened by the horrible things happening all around the world. At the same time, I feel the love of those close and devoted to me. But good or bad, everything is passing. Whatever is good I cannot hold onto because I am passing myself. It becomes crystal clear that only God is forever and never changing, and he is the one we should hold onto.
This is our generation. When we are young, we don't think about death and believe that we can solve all our own problems. We are confident or even cocky, but that's because we are ignorant and shortsighted. Reconciliation with God remains unsettled and hidden in our conscience. As we age or have a crisis in life, we finally begin to feel it gnawing at us. God, the ultimate reality, can never be wished away.