Vulnerability is beautiful.

Lord, I am far from you now. I’m practicing some traditions: I serve in my parish, I read your Good News, I try to go to church everyday, and I engage in outwardly expressions of my faith in the hopes of getting in touch with my soul that yearns to worship you. Yet, how can it be that my heart feels further from you than I wish it would?

Perfection is You. I am only human. Sinless is only something You can be, Lord. Righteous is only something you You can be. No matter how many times I go to church, or confess, or practice rituals, read the bible, or serve your people, I can never reach the Perfection that You are. You have to do it for me, O Lord.

Then in my silence, He replies to me, “Daughter, my dearest child, I already have.”

I am fasting from anger and hatred, from self-judgement and from judging others. I’m fasting from a hunger of righteousness for the sake of itself and a pressure to appear faultless and strong. I’m fasting from narrow roads of thought and from the high concrete walls that surround my heart. I’m fasting from the complacency of dwelling in the past and the familiar patterns of sorrow that surround the unforgiving poison I inflict upon myself. I am fasting from the bickering voice in my head that never stops feeding itself with negativity. I’m fasting from the fear for the unknown future, the fear of the past repeating itself, the fear of getting hurt, the fear of defeat, the fear of being normal and unnoticed, the fear of my own self-pride and self-destruction, and the fear of being unloved and criticised.

Fasting from these things will leave me vulnerable and even more in danger of being tempted by sin. I am a sinner. No matter how many times I try, I would eventually be defeated, because the devil is more cunning and a lot smarter than I am. I have committed the same mistake, time and time again, of underestimating his evil ways. But everyday that I fast and focus on the Lord, when I look upon the cross at Jesus Christ and His frailty and in His deep love for us, I can find hope in Him, whose life shows me that vulnerability is beautiful. His vulnerability is all that I need to defeat the devil. His sacrifice gives hope to sinners like me.

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Vulnerability is beautiful. This little artwork of mine shows just how far off from perfection I am.. This is honestly not something I can say I would normally be proud of, but by embracing my vulnerability and imperfections, by the love that God has allowed me to have for myself and for His generosity, for the gifts he has blessed me with, this is still as beautiful an expensive piece of art.

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Love your enemies

Let’s face it. There are people that just really tick you off, piss you off, get under your nerve, disappoint you, mistreat you, betray you, take you for granted, insult you, step over the line, and irritate you to the bone, step on your beliefs, hurt you, and all those negative things – all those things you don’t like and just cannot stand. Let’s admit it. They exist. For what ever hurt they did to you in the past, or for how they continually hurt or irritate and annoy you … ‘hate’ is such a strong word, but there are people that you might have so much anger for that you sometimes hate them with a passion.

You cringe at the sound of their names when you hear it being called, and get tired when you are reminded of what they did to make your life more difficult. … But then, I remembered my 16-year-old brother. I once asked him what he does when other people get on his nerves, and what he told me was amazing. He said, “I pray for them, because … when I do that, I am no longer coming from a place of hatred and anger, I am coming from a place of love, acceptance, and forgiveness.”

Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ Matthew 5:44

… I am achieving this with great difficulty, and the first and hardest step is looking passed their faults, and all the trouble or hurt or discomfort you are put through … You must will it. Then do it.

So last night, I did. I prayed for those that have been giving me a hard time … even if it doesn’t matter to them, I prayed for their happiness, I prayed for their well being, for good health, for their loved ones, for their jobs, and for the things that are important to them. … It is truly better to love than to hate. … And throughout my prayers, my heart felt lighter. I even found healing.

‘… you are the children of your Father in heaven. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?’ Matthew 5:45-47

It is always easier to stay angry, or stay enemies. … But what reward is there in doing things that are easy?

Set yourself apart, because you are children of God.

Confessions Over Coffee

spill it lowres

It is a Monday, a day that most employees in every busy city dread. Ugh. Right? Sometimes, things get too hectic and frantic, anxieties pile up, stress adds greys to your hair, or if you’re a man, stress reduces your hair……. But anyway, Mark 6:31 says, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” This is so that amidst all this chaos, we will be able to find serenity and hear the voice of God.

Today, after some quiet, I had a yearning to talk to someone from our BLD community — just talk, you know, normal chit-chat — and God answered my prayers right away when I bumped into one of the mother figures from our church. Some may say it was divine providence. To me, it was weird… Because there I was, walkin’ around, being the normal person I am (or so I think I’m normal), neutral and a bit relaxed, and then as soon as I start talking to her, I found myself fighting to hold back my tears. Weird.

But after some time, I just gave into it and we sat down in a nearby coffee shop. Unknowingly, I needed to unload some things. I had a confession to make… and it was this:

Since December, I had been struggling with my faith… Nobody knew, but whenever I was asked to participate in an church activity, or simply hang out with people in the community, I found myself initially not wanting to go. If not, I was thinking: Ok, I will go, but I’ll disappear from the scene right when I feel the urge to. I didn’t want to show anyone I was weak, and at the same time, I wanted to brush away whatever hurt I was feeling. But those things never happened. I faced weakness and I was always present despite my hesitation, even if it meant shame or embarrassment.

During those times, I felt like I was living in the darkness as I found myself feeling the after effects of many losses. I was taking family for granted, my path in my career was once again uncertain, past traumas haunted me once more, and I felt most alone and wanted to remain alone to wallow in my weakness. It was a sad sight, really. I was at times, angry at myself and I was especially angry at the situation. I was also questioning God if He really heard me — these were the down days of my faith.

But then, I stumbled upon this quote by Al Gore: “In a time of darkness, you don’t curse the darkness, you light a candle.” And on the 24th of December last year, when I felt that it was most dark for me, I lit a candle.

That tiny flame was the only light in my room, and it symbolized how much I felt God present in my life at that particular moment. A mere 2 seconds, I felt an inkling of Jesus’ presence in my heart. That was enough, at least on that day. In the succeeding days, I lit up more candles — more and more when the days progressed. It was just like our SE Grand Reunion theme: “Blessed are all who wait on the Lord” (Ps 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6) I was waiting on the Lord.

John Ortberg writes: We have to wait for the Lord to make the storm disappear. In some ways, ‘waiting on the Lord’ is the hardest part of trusting. It is not the same as ‘waiting around.’ It is putting yourself with utter vulnerability in his hands.

And everyday I waited as I lit up candles in my room. Until today, after confessing and talking about it with a caring woman from our community, I don’t feel the need to light one anymore.

John 8:12 says: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

My situation hasn’t changed — all that I lost is still lost — but lighting those candles made me grow more in faith. Now that I don’t wallow in my weakness and focus more on the strength of God, I feel like I am able to step into situations with more confidence, own up to my past failures and accomplishments, open my heart up more to experiences, and start and end my days with a huge smile on my face. All there was to do was wait for the Lord during that dark storm in my life and come aside by myself to listen for His voice… He was there. He had always been there.

Sink To Swim

This short film has always moved me. It is Julie Gautier’s artistic piece of the world champion freediver Guillaume Nery base jumping underwater into Dean’s Blue Hole — the world’s largest underwater sinkhole. It has captivated me especially because I can very much relate it to emotions I associate with my faith and submitting myself to the Lord.

Have you ever tried walking underwater? Not in a pool, but at a beach or something? No? Hmmmm… Well… Okaaay. When you are walking underwater and you open your eyes, you only see a few meters in front of you. Like Guillaume walking slowly underwater, you see nothing else but the first few steps before you. Everything else is murky; dark and unclear. It’s quite scary. You’ll also find that it is difficult to move underwater, as you feel like forces are moving against you and not with you, but you still push forward, unknowingly.

Isn’t this how we find our position in life sometimes as well? I’ve felt this many times and I know it all too well. It’s when we are tried and tested in life and all forces are working against us. It’s when we complain the most. When we allow our problems to slow us down and blur our vision. Direction? None really. We are only able to see the first few steps to move forward. And is ‘forward’ really the direction we are moving? Who knows? Everything is so confusing, difficult and unclear. The end result: unknown. Then, at some point, we find ourselves unable to move forward anymore. We find ourselves incapable. We feel like we’ve reached the end. … or in this case, in our case, for us who believe that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and Lord, we reach an edge. On this edge we are faced with a decision which requires a tremendous amount of courage — a giant leap of faith into the unknown. We are asked to surrender.

2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I can recall one vivid memory when I fully surrendered myself and all my problems to the Lord. It was on the evening of September 11, 2010 to be exact, during Single’s Encounter Weekend. The feeling was exhilarating. I believe everyone during that weekend felt the same.

After I surrendered, I sank. Everything that I knew of — my human understanding of my situation, difficulties, and plans — I let go of. I submitted to the Lord, all my worries, doubts, and fears, and they all sank until there was nothing left but the Lord. I was… During that weekend, we were all, then, renewed by the Holy Spirit and we felt His divine presence working actively in our lives. We became stronger by God’s grace. Our worries were replaced with reassurance, our doubts, trust, and our fears were replaced with a stronger faith in the Lord.

Refreshed.

It’s been a while

Yes, it has been from the last time that I’ve been actively contributing to the blogging world — a very long time. Sharing my faith online and living it out at the same time is not easy. It challenges me to be more honest, accountable for my mistakes and shortcomings, vulnerable in a way I am not comfortable with, and the most important, quite frankly, it takes a lot of inner work and willingly battling through darkness.

I have to be honest. I don’t always find myself looking up towards His Radiant Light. There were days when I was battling through my inner darkness, afraid of myself. “Trust everyone. Just not the devil inside them.” Something I heard from the Italian Job movie. And I guess you could say, I didn’t trust the devil speaking deep inside to me. It got so dark that sometimes, I couldn’t distinguish the Voice of God from the snares of the devil. What’s so scary about being in the dark is, that you don’t know that you’re there until you finally get out, and what lures you there is not one major and obvious event, but little simple decisions everyday… Like a witch, luring you into her house with a path of candy on the floor. One day, it’s forgetting to pray. The next day, it’s forgetting to read the word. The next day, it’s not wanting to go to prayer meetings. The next day, it’s neglecting anything associating with religious believers. The next day, it’s judging other believers for no good reason but your own unforgiveness. Then, before you know it, the little seed of bitterness planted into your heart has turned into veins of poison ivy. It no longer beats to songs of praise and worship, but it has turned black and heavy like a starless sky on a dark night.

I know the dark. And right now, I am far enough away from it to talk about it so candidly. Thank You Lord that I am living in Your Light and I am now very in confident saying this. I’ve been in it long enough to know where I am and now, where I live. I live in Your Light.

I have to be accountable for my mistakes and shortcomings. I know how I was led into the dark — I was hurt. People usually associate me with being a strong person, but I was hurt in a way that made me appear weak. I wasn’t used to being weak and vulnerable. Vulnerability was something I stayed away from, and the friends that I had gained from the time of my weakness don’t know my strength either. The people I met and got to know when I was weak, only know my weaknesses. I had become more and more sensitive, easily hurt, because I was already wounded deeply. I didn’t want anyone seeing me so vulnerable or weak, my pride got in the way. So I stayed away from the people that could have been able to help at the time — but God is so good. He was walking with me, even while I was being lured into the darkness. My eyes were mesmerised in the dark and I could only focus on one thing, my pain. But the Lord was (is) my strength — my shield and my shining sword — even if I couldn’t see Him or feel Him. He was fighting off the devil and He conquered him. Even without me knowing. Once the devil was powerless, the Lord took me into His arms… and I was able to open my eyes again in His Light. The first thing I did was cry without any knowledge or understanding of why. Maybe it hurt too much to be in the Light again. Like how your eyes are blinded by bright lights, my heavy soul was not used to all this abundance of Love that the Lord had (has) for me. I was in the dark too long that I just cried like a baby. And the more I cried, the lighter I felt.

I had (have) to be vulnerable, especially when uncomfortable. And after my encounter with darkness, vulnerability, comparatively, became easier to live with. I would rather be candidly weak in the Lord’s Light, than appearing strong in the devil’s darkness — the Lord has conquered my pride. I would rather trust the unforeseeable Promises of the Lord, than focus my eyes on the clear paths of past pain — the Lord has conquered my fear. I would rather love those who do not love me, than hate the people who hurt me — the Lord has conquered my unforgiveness. He has done all of this because I allowed myself to be open to the work that He can do in me. I allowed myself to be vulnerable to His Love.

I have to do a lot of inner work. Journeying with the Lord means that you have to look at yourself honestly but lovingly, acknowledging that you make horrible mistakes, humbling yourself when you feel like you have done great things (nothing is possible without the Lord), embracing the fact that you are weak but the Lord is strong, not succumbing to self-pity nor inviting others to your pity-party, knowing that you are just as capable as the next person in doing bad things too. Inner work is authenticity and being genuine. Inner work is knowing who you are as a person and who you’re not. Inner work is like consulting your everyday conscience or therapist. Knowing your own human disposition, having awareness — words that I’ve heard often growing up in my 20s. Reflection, contemplation, meditation. Inner work. There’s a whole lot of work in the inner work. And nobody really sees it or values it. The results of this inner work is not tangible. It’s not something people give you credit for. It doesn’t add to your reputation, or honour, or influence or power. It’s not something you can brag about on social media. But inner work is delighting the Lord. Inner work helps us develop the gifts of the Holy Spirit that the Lord so values. It’s joyous work.

I have to willingly battle through darkness many times. Part of inner work means you have to journey into yourself. There are things that you might not want to face, but you have to willingly and voluntarily hold the Lord’s hand and walk right to it. I have to rephrase my statement though, because it is not you who will do the battling… the Lord will battle through your darkness. You just have to continually be open and walk in. He will bring your darkness to light.

What is the will of God?

What is the will of God in my life? That is a question that has been on my mind for quite a long while now. I’ve made changes, some major life decisions, and acted differently to cultivate some sort of new habits because of this eagerness to do the will of God and know what that is. Choices and commitments I’ve made have been tested. I’ve been detaching myself constantly from certain addictions and passions that grew as I was caught blind sighted. I have struggled through unpredictable circumstances, and I’ve battled with my own selfishness and pride on many occasions. I’ve tossed and turned on the question … and finally, just recently made the decision to let go of my results driven attitude — of my eagerness to know what — and instead, submit to this prayer …

Father, I am doing all of these things because I Love You. You know this.
… But teach me how to Love You more.

Today I’ve received a blessing. Our Loving Father has given me a wonderful Gift. He has provided me with an answer.

I realize that I may have been asking the wrong questions. It’s not so much what, but how. I’ve been asking for a concrete task, but He has already provided me, instead, with a Guide. Knowing the task is not as important (it will tempt you to control the process and manipulate an end result). Trusting the Master is.

Do you also want to leave?

This Jesus Challenges Me

I use force, and He says, “Forgive.”
I am afraid, and He says, “Take heart.”
I doubt, and He says “Trust.”
I feel anxious, and He says, “Be calm.”
I desire to be left alone, and He says “Come, follow Me.”
I make my plans, and He says, “Let’s go this way.”
I want security, and He says to me, “You will be persecuted for my sake.”
I want to live, and He says, “Give me your life.”
I believe I am a good person, and He says, “That’s not enough.”
I want to be in-charge, and He says, “Serve. Obey.”
I want to understand, and He says, “Believe.”
I want clarity, and He speaks to me in parables.
I want poetry, and He speaks of realities.
I want tranquility, and He wants me to be disturbed.
I think of revenge and He says, “Turn the other cheek.”
I speak of peace, and He says, “I have come to bring a sword.”
I want to hide, and He says, “Let your light shine.”
I seek out the first place, and He says, “Sit in the last place.”
I want to be seen, and He says, “Pray in secret.”
I want to hang-on, and He says, “Let go.”
I want to win, and He says, “Surrender.”

No, I do not understand this Jesus. He provokes me. He confounds me.

Like many of His disciples, I, too think I would like to follow a different teacher; one who would be more clear, and who would ask less of me.

But it is as true for me as it was for Peter. When Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the Words of eternal life.”

By Unknown

Forgiveness

I have always had a struggle with forgiveness. I know this very well. I forgive up until the point of understanding… But when I no longer understand, it would have been a hard fought battle if I managed to forgive.

We are forewarned. 1The Word of God says that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He comes to steal the promises and blessings of God from your life. He is determined to kill your faith and joy. And he won’t be satisfied until he has destroyed your relationships on three levels –  with God, with yourself (your self-esteem), and with other people. This crafty, devious troublemaker revels in our blind spots, and dances a delighted jig when we crash. He leaves us lying in the debris of our shattered hopes and dreams, mad at God, mad at ourselves, and bitter toward others. Satan knows our blind spots very well. He is aware of my need for approval, my need of belonging, my need to understand, and my need for an apology or at least a humble acknowledgement of a fault. These things I am very much content that, by the grace of God, I am aware of now – my blind spots, and I’m slowly trying to detach myself from these so called ‘needs.’ I would like to be able to forgive freely and lovingly, and not let these ‘needs’ stand in the way so that I won’t have to take so long to make a choice to love.

Acceptance is humbling, and surrender means trusting in the Lord that difficulties are placed on your path not as punishment for your sins but for the purification of your soul, so that you may come a few steps closer to Christ and the Father with the help of the Holy Spirit. God is a Loving God, and I am a loving follower. This I claim in Jesus’ name. Again, I forgive. 70 x 7.

2I forgive the tears that I was made to shed,
I forgive the pain and the disappointments,
I forgive the betrayals and the lies,
I forgive the slanders and intrigues,
I forgive the hatred and the persecution,
I forgive the blows that hurt me,
I forgive the wrecked dreams,
I forgive the stillborn hopes,
I forgive the hostility and jealousy,
I forgive the indifference and ill will,
I forgive the injustice carried out in the name of justice,
I forgive the anger and the cruelty,
I forgive the neglect and the contempt,
I forgive the world and all its evils… 

I will be capable of loving, regardless of whether I am loved in return,
Of giving, even when I have nothing,
Of working happily, even in the midst of difficulties,
Of holding out my hand, even when utterly alone and abandoned,
Of drying my tears, even while I weep,
Of believing, even when no one believes in me.

1. Michelle McKinney Hammond, What To Do Until Love Finds You
2. Aleph, Paulo Coelho

Losing and Gaining Direction

When I handed in my resignation letter to my Managing Director at TCOB, I had high hopes for myself. I had discerned the decision of leaving my previous position in the company as Head of Design, and it brought me peace. I had managed and trained my team to be fit enough to handle the company’s Design Department in my stead, and looked forward to a time for me to take a short break to figure out my next path. It was a very smooth transition at my now former workplace, and I planned for myself a month to recharge and contemplate on the direction in which God was pointing me towards since TCOB no longer provided me with professional or personal growth. What I saw in my time off was a simple case of stepping back to think and enjoying alone time to recharge. However, God had different plans.

What I thought was one big change turned into several, and I found myself struggling. Problems came up from every side and I didn’t quite understand why. It left me living through my days with emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual challenges. My relationships were tested, too – with friends, with loved ones, with myself, and with God. What I thought was one of my strongest and most valued traits, turned out to be what brought me down and tired me out. My understanding had its limits and thinking too much became a bad habit. Most days I lived through with a heavy heart, unable to think straight or to do certain things on my own, but found hope and help from little kind gestures and (I know this may sound cliche but) smiles and talks with children. The simple things kept me going.

When my mom went away for a few weeks, she left me with the responsibility to keep the household intact and running well in her absence. Being busy with mom’s household system of doing domestic labour (like doing the laundry, going to the market, shopping for groceries, cleaning, organizing, cooking, etc for my whole family) helped massively. The routine helped me catch my breath even if it was physically tiring. Everyday manual labour simplified my life, and living away from the city is another good thing. Even if I still heard the echoes of some unwanted voices in my head, it took me away from the source of the real noise.

On days when my mind was running too fast and almost hitting over drive, I picked up my running shoes and went out for a real run. When I was swimming in a pool of my own negative emotions, I packed up my swim suit and went out for a real swim. And when I found myself falling into an abyss made up of all my thoughts and seriousness, I found a loved one bringing me back up with his sense of humor: “Hawak ka nalang sa muscle ko.” Which means in English, “Just hold onto my muscles,” and I would laugh… Because it was ironic. He keeps me grounded and also led me to the Lord’s beautiful words in Jesus Calling:

1Understanding will never bring you Peace. That’s why I have instructed you to trust in Me, not in your understanding. Human beings have a voracious appetite for trying to figure things out, in order to gain a sense of mastery over their lives. But the world presents you with an endless series of problems. As soon as you master one set, another pops up to challenge you. The relief you had anticipated is short-lived. Soon your mind is gearing up again: searching for understanding (mastery), instead of seeking Me (your Master). 

The wisest of all men, Solomon, could never think his way through to Peace. His vast understanding resulted in feelings of futility, rather than fulfillment. Finally, he lost his way and succumbed to the will of his wives by worshiping idols. 

My Peace is not an elusive goal, hidden at the center of some complicated maze. Actually, you are always enveloped in Peach, which is inherent in My Presence. As you look to me, you gain awareness of this precious Peace.

And when I found myself desperate and drowning deep into my thoughts again to the point that I let those thoughts affect my walk towards the Lord, I turned to a priest. I was blessed. He was a priest whose presence radiates with joy, and just by looking at him, even if he was just sitting down expressionless, you’d still catch yourself smiling. His words were these: “Be simple. Don’t complicate things by thinking of so many things. God is Love, so Love.” God was speaking to me through that priest.

The next day in my meditations book, I came across a similar message which read: 2We who desire to follow Jesus very closely, to be truly His disciples, should remember that the Christian life consists not so much in thinking a lot as in loving a lot. 

It’s a struggle, and at times I still get lost in my journey towards Christ because of my need to keep thinking things through. It’s tiring. My over-thinking is a tough habit to break, and my need to understand things is easily forgotten until another huge problem makes me aware of it again. But the Lord is merciful to keep sending me signposts to direct my path, as today I came across a quote by a design and advertising practitioner saying, “The wise think very little.”

The signposts Our Lord gives us have to be trusted. They are not restrictions imposed on mankind, they are not onerous burdens. They are radiant sources of light which illuminate the road, enabling us to see and to travel more easily. The person who tries to respond sincerely to the grace of God will discover true freedom by following Jesus. On hearing His Voice one sees, at last, one’s way.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
– Proverbs 3:5-6

1. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
2. cf John Paul II, Homily Avila, 1 October 1982; St Teresa, The Inderior Castle, IV, 1, 7;
3. Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God

Live by Faith

Above is a photograph of a man leaping from a wooden tower without any safety equipment, and instead with only two tree vines attached to his ankles. It is an amazing capture of the ritual of land diving in the southern part of Pentecost Island, Vanuatu. This ritual is associated to the yam harvest. It is said to be a test of manhood and of religious beliefs that the higher a man jumps and the closer his head reaches the ground without touching it, the richer the crops will grow and the more bountiful the harvest.

When I look at the picture, I try to reflect on how it must be like at that particular moment, the long climb up that unstable-looking wooden tower, being tied with only two tree vines around the ankle and no safety harness, the climactic feeling looking down before the jump and the plunge itself. What must have that man been going through? Or if giving the opportunity, what if it were me up there? Would I even dare?

It gets me thinking about my faith. I look at that picture and automatically, the words that pop into my head are ‘Leap of Faith.’ People know me as a risk-taker, malakas ang loob, daring … That’s just a mere personality trait though. It’s my adventure seeking attitude. When it comes to faith, it cannot be compared to a personality trait or someone’s characteristics. Spirituality involves less of the human will and more of the Will of God. When it comes to faith, I know that I need to pray for the grace to be daring for the Lord, for 1faith belongs to the humble, not to the proud. There is less of me, and more of the Lord working through me. Submission.

There is much about faith that I have yet to understand, and when I say, ‘I try to live my life by faith’, I may only know even less than half of what that statement means. But I do know this: when it comes to a life that is filled with faith, the full submission, that enormous courage, embodiment of grace, ever-enduring love, complete self-surrender and that daring act of living for the Will of our loving Lord, a gentler image comes to mind — Our Blessed Mother.

She is that 2good instrument, completely identified with the mission received. Once she learns of God’s plan, she makes it her own. Her plans are not something added on. In the just fulfillment of these plans, she completely disposes her intelligence and will and all her energies. She is never an inert puppet: not when she sets out joyfully through the mountains of Judaea to visit her cousin Elizabeth; not when, truly exercising her duty as mother, she seeks and finds the Christ Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem; not when she causes our Lord’s first miracle; not when she appears — without being called — at the foot of the Cross on which her Son died … By saying ‘Be it done’ she freely disposes her entire person to the fulfillment of her calling. This calling does not seem foreign to her: God’s interests are her own interests. She does not run the risk that her plans might pose an obstacle to the plans of God; her plans are perfectly identified with His.

Hail Mary! Full of grace, indeed, the Lord is with you.

1 St. Augustine, Catena aurea, vol VI
2 J.M. Pero-Sans, The Sixth Hour, Madrid

In Conversation with God

It has been about three mornings that I’ve been sleeping in, and very early this morning I woke up to a Voice that told me, “Get up. And cook breakfast for your family before your father goes to church.”

To which I, in my sleepiness imagining the chore of cooking another early meal, whined like a child, “But I’m too tired, sleepy, and haven’t had enough rest. I don’t want to cook breakfast.”

After some moments, the Voice called out again, “Then just get up.”

Suddenly out of nowhere, I recalled the passages I had just recently read in my father’s book ‘In Conversation with God’ which had reminded me of complete self-surrender, love, and self-giving… Then I grumbled to myself, “Deny yourself. Mortification. Sacrifice,” and got out of bed.

When I got out of my room, I scratched my head and squinted my eyes in the morning daylight. To my surprise, I saw that the breakfast table had already been set, and my father was just getting ready to go out to hear the morning mass. He asked me what I was doing.

“I want to go to church with you,” I didn’t know why I said it.

He nodded with an “Ok. We’re leaving in 5 minutes.”

We arrived at the Fanling Church before half past six, which gave me enough quiet time in the church to read the readings before the Chinese mass started. When I finished, I looked up at the cross and in an arrogant way said with my eyes, “Alright God, you got me here. Now, what do you want?”… I complained a little, but had to remind myself not to. … And when I opened up my little devotions book, Jesus Calling, He then told me His humble, loving answer to my selfish question:

1“Meet Me in early morning splendor. I eagerly await you here. In the stillness of this holy time with Me, I renew your strength and saturate you with Peace.”

My heart fell. “I’m sorry Lord.” I couldn’t count what emotions were going in and out of me during the moments when I read those lines. I hear Him speak to me. I actually heard Him! In my sleepiness, I took it for granted… And during the many times during my days that I overlook it, He speaks directly to me. I recall my SE love letter to God and His response to me was only one line: “You already know what I say to you.” And at the time in my naive mind and jealousy, I thought to myself … How come I only get one line? But now, it’s all crystal clear. I am humbled. I am honored. I am in awe.

1“While others turn over for extra sleep or anxiously tune in to the latest news, you commune with the Creator of the universe. I have awakened in your heart a strong desire to know Me. This longing originated in Me, though it now burns brightly in you.”

At this point, I imaged a very bright white light shining in me and through me. And God looking at me with His loving eyes and a grin on His face as the late reaction and/or after-shock of His wake-up call brought me out of my sleepiness. Then my mind, in its shocked state, did what it automatically does in situations of extreme panic and emotion — my mind hit overdrive. Over-analysis to the max! Trying to recall every single moment in my life when I heard His Voice but overlooked the significance of it, overlooked the Love that accompanied it … How could I have overlooked the value of this great grace? How dare I? Then I found myself trying to understand and recall with my logic all the times it had happened — When? Why? How? What time? What was I doing?Through what medium? What message? Was it a sound? Was it an image? Was it another sense?

Dizzy. Too. Much. Thinking. Must. Calm. Down.

1“When you seek My Face in response to My Love-call, both of us are blessed. This is a deep mystery, designed more for your enjoyment than for your understanding.”

Deep breath.

1“I am not a dour God who discourages pleasure. I delight in your enjoyment of everything that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable. Think on these things, and My Light in you will shine brighter day by day.”

“Thank you, my Lord,” and that’s all I am able to say.

I’ve always known that I could hear His Voice, I have constantly acted upon hearing it already. But today was different. With all the changes, with the new guidance, with me currently detaching from certain stuff, with the shifts, and with me realizing with confidence in the Lord that He has laid down before me, my own path, the path He has prepared for me… Today, when I heard His voice again… It was extra special.

“Write all the words I have spoken to you in a book.” – Jeremiah 30:2

1 Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, August 16

Potter’s Clay

There are many changes happening in my life at the moment, changes that I don’t want to over dramatize or magnify, because they are already magnificent in themselves. They are big changes, not necessarily characterized as negative or positive. It is not right to judge, especially in the early stages of each of these changes.

This word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
Rise up, be off to the potter’s house; there I will give you my message.
I went down to the potter’s house and there he was, working at the wheel.
Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.

Then the word of the LORD came to me:
Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done’ says the LORD.
Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel. –  Jeremiah 18:1-6

Each change — whether it be career, relationships, friendships, community life, living situation, family life, emotional growth, spiritual growth, and spiritual guidance — teaches me and reminds me of a few big things about my faith.

1. Prayer

Jesus would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. – Luke 5:16

Sometimes, there is just too much noise and now, I’ve heard enough of it and the echoes that they leave inside my head… And the man-made wilderness is washed away when I remember and run off to seek nature’s wilderness, to the waves on a beach with the sand under my feet and the ocean in my hair. I pray to God to wash me clean and make me new. He truly heals, and even if I don’t live by the beach, I carry it with me to remind myself.

2God is with us. God is in us.

2. Trial

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with. – Matthew 18:20

In moments of weakness, I am blessed to have special persons there to remind me to pray, to bring me back to Scripture and to daily devotions when I allow the other voices get a hold of me. The Holy Spirit works in us, and through us. The Lord sends us His graces at the moments of need. 3If God is for us, who can be against us?

And these troubles and sufferings of ours, are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessings upon us forever and ever. – 2 Corinthians 4:17

4A holy soul once experienced difficult trials. One calamity after another befell her, and each succeeding disaster seemed worse than the one before. Finally, that soul turned affectionately to our Lord and asked, ‘But Lord, what have I done to you?’ And in the depths of her heart came the reply, ‘You have loved me.’ She thought of Calvary and understood a little better how our Lord wanted to purify her and draw her close to the salvation of many who were lost, far from God. She was then filled with peace and joy. 

3. Faith and Sight

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight.
– 2 Corinthians  5:6-7

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 1:11

When we are discerning the will of God in our lives, what I’ve realized is that many eyebrows are raised, and most people are hasty to judge for what they see on the outside. Most people are comfortable judging my actions, my decisions, my choices … but those judgements don’t tell me anything about myself. The criticism only reveals the truth about the critic and not the criticized. To consider the concerns if there are any, would be wise, but to allow them to affect me would either immobilize me or take me off the path that I have constantly discerned and persistently prayed for. They may not see what is happening to me, they may not know how the Holy Spirit is working in my life, and they don’t have to know or see anything for me to move forward in my faith journey. I have nothing to prove to anyone but to the Lord Himself.

4. Learning and Love

The Lord will fight for you, and you won’t need to lift a finger. – Exodus 14:14

It’s funny how at the time 2 years ago and even last year when I was most spiritually high and filled and I felt the fierce fire of the Holy Spirit burning within me, the Lord chose to put me in a community that was hurting each other. I heard two sides of the same story, and people talking about how much they hurt and need healing. … I’ve learned a lot out of that experience, and what is of God and what is not of God. So now even if others go to me with their judgements, I still come from a place of Love. Even if others go to me with their heaviness and frustrations, I still come from a place of Love. Even if others don’t show me kindness and are tactless with their words, I still come from a place of Love. The Lord will heal me, Love will heal me.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

5. Humility

Others may be more educated than me, older than me, been in the community longer than me, and have had more experience than me… But in the Lord, we are all equal. We are all children of God, and we are all trying to find our way. I am blessed to have a father who is strong in faith and practices it persistently, contemplatively, consistently, and most important, humbly. I will end this entry with a wonderful email he sent me a few weeks ago and his wise words this morning while we were in the kitchen, preparing our lunch, “When the Lord is working in you and changing you, you will find it difficult. Mahirap siya. But that is sacrifice. That is your cross. Carry it, and remain humble.” :

The road to Humility…

To the question, ‘How shall I become humble?’ corresponds the immediate answer, “Through the grace of God”… Only the grace of God can give us clear vision of our true condition and the awareness of the dignity that comes from humility. That is why we should desire this virtue and ask for it incessanty, convinced that with it, we shall love God and be capable of great enterprices despite our weakness… 

Everything the sun touches is bathed in light… 

Lord fill me with your clarity, bathe me in your divinity so that I may identify my will with your adorable Will and become the instrument you wish me to be. Given the madness to undergo the humiliation you underwent, which led you to be born poor, to work in obscurity, to endure the shame of dying sewn by nails to a piece of wood, to your self-effacement in the Blessed Sacraments.

May I know myself: may I know myself and know you. I will then never loose sight of my nothingness. Only thus will I be able to follow you as you wish, and as I wish: with a deep faith, a great love and without placing any obstacles in the way. 

One of the reasons why men are prone to praise one another, to overestimate their own value and abilities, to resent anything that tends to lower them in their own eyes or in the eyes of others, is that they see no hope for hapiness outside themselves. That is why they are often so hyper-sensitive, so resentful when they are critized, so upset by anyone who contradicts them, so insistent on getting their own way, so desirous of being well known, so anxious to be praised, so determined to control their surroundings. They secure themselves to themselves like a shipwrecked man holding on the straw. And life goes on and they move further and further away from happiness.

1. Video: Rob Machado & Alaia
2. Matthew 1:23
3. Romans 8:31
4. R. Garrigou-Lagrange, The Saviour
5. Photo: In the Light of Tuscany by Jaroslaw Pawlak

Change Something

It’s been a month or more that I’ve been having inconsistencies in my prayer life. I spent my Saturday, again, just lying down curled up under my covers in my bedroom, going on facebook every now and then, only getting up for meals or the bathroom, streaming videos, and sleeping. Disappointingly unproductive on my part, but I needed the rest. As of lately, I feel as if I’m tired and drained everyday. Energy levels are low, I’m getting sick more often, and I’m losing sight of God. I am aware that I didn’t get here by accident, and I have to face facts that the everyday choices that I had made for myself in the past month or so has turned into a bad habit that has brought me to where I am now.

My day used to be divided up well:

7am-9am | Everyday commute to work (bus or taxi plus a train).

I wake up on a work day and the first thing I check on my phone was the Word of God. I’d get ready and on the way to the train station, I’d read my daily devotional ‘Jesus Calling’ by Sarah Young. In the Fanling – Central train ride, I would write my own prayers down, some of my own reflections, and simply thank the Lord for the day ahead. If I had time, I would stop by Catholic Center to kneel in silence and just enjoy His Presence. … Sometimes, I’d even be early enough to hear mass.

9am-1pm | Work.

I’d usually whisper His Mighty name from time to time when I encountered a challenge or something wonderful came up. ‘Jesus, help me’, ‘Jesus, save me’, or ‘Thank You Jesus’.

1pm-2pm | Lunch Break.

If I have time, I would go to Catholic Center for confession. I would either do that or visit ate Yeng at her office and have a productive chit chat.

2pm-6:30pm | Work again.

6:30pm-8:30pm | Everyday commute back home.

I would have praise songs stuck in my ear, and on the train, write some reflections again. If not, I would have lovely fruitful & spirit-filled conversations with ate Yeng or other very spiritually guided individuals.

Now, nothing. … Just writing all of this now is depressing. I don’t do any of these things anymore.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. – Psalm 42:2

I try to write, but nothing comes out. I try to reflect, but I can’t think straight. I try to stay still, but I can’t even quiet down the clutter of my own thoughts. I’ve prioritized God less, and other people more. I don’t like where I am at the moment. Something needs to change.

So from today on, I’m going to Give Myself The Gift Of Limits (Click the link. It’s a wonderful article by Bo Sanchez). 1When you give yourself the Gift of Limits, you end up giving the world a bigger Gift of Love.  If you don’t build your boundaries, then you won’t help anyone—including yourself.

I need to take responsibility for my actions and make better choices for myself and my life. Make God the center of my life again. I’ll make the choice to do better, and to be better. If I don’t make that choice, no one else will make that choice for me. I don’t know about other people, but I believe that though we ask God for His pity, self-pity ain’t pretty. I’m going to love myself a little more and give myself a little more self-value, because it’s not only good for me, it’s good for the people around me whom I also love.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31

Living Word (June 11-12)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3 5-6

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Acts 13:2

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 5:1-16

Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you propose.”

1 Kings 17:13

When I call, answer me, O my just God,
you who relieve me when I am in distress;
Have pity on me, and hear my prayer!
Men of rank, how long will you be dull of heart?
Why do you love what is vain and seek after falsehood?
Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one;
the LORD will hear me when I call upon him.
Tremble, and sin not;
reflect, upon your beds, in silence.

Psalm 4:2-5

Quiet Reflection for Spiritual Preparation

Beloved:
Concerning the salvation of your souls
the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours
searched and investigated it
investigating the time and circumstances
that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated
when it testified in advance
to the sufferings destined for Christ
and the glories to follow them.
It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you
with regard to the things that have now been announced to you
by those who preached the Good News to you
through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven,
things into which angels longed to look.

Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly,
and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Like obedient children,
do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance
but, as he who called you is holy,
be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct,
for it is written, Be holy because I am holy.

1 Peter 1:10-16

Beloved:
Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct,
handed on by your ancestors,
not with perishable things like silver or gold
but with the precious Blood of Christ
as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.
He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through him believe in God
who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God.

Since you have purified yourselves
by obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love,
love one another intensely from a pure heart.
You have been born anew,
not from perishable but from imperishable seed,
through the living and abiding word of God, for:

“All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like the flower of the field;
the grass withers,
and the flower wilts;
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.

1 Peter 1:18-25

Jesus said to them, “The chalice that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

Mark 10: 39-40

Brothers and sisters:
Let love be sincere;
hate what is evil,
hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.
Do not grow slack in zeal,
be fervent in spirit,
serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
exercise hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
do not be wise in your own estimation.

Romans 12:9-16

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.

Isaiah 12:2-3

Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Luke 1:46-55

Beloved:
The end of all things is at hand.
Therefore be serious and sober-minded
so that you will be able to pray.
Above all, let your love for one another be intense,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another
as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God;
whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies,
so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Beloved,
do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you,
as if something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ,
so that when his glory is revealed
you may also rejoice exultantly.

1 Peter 4:7-13

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.
Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf,
he went over to see if he could find anything on it.
When he reached it he found nothing but leaves;
it was not the time for figs.
And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!”
And his disciples heard it. …

… Early in the morning, as they were walking along,
they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.
Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look!
The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Have faith in God.
Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’
and does not doubt in his heart
but believes that what he says will happen,
it shall be done for him.
Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer,
believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.
When you stand to pray,
forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance,
so that your heavenly Father may in turn
forgive you your transgressions.’

Mark 11:12-14, 20-25

Beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand
by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit.
Keep yourselves in the love of God
and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ
that leads to eternal life.
On those who waver, have mercy;
save others by snatching them out of the fire;
on others have mercy with fear,
abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.

To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you unblemished and exultant,
in the presence of his glory,
to the only God, our savior,
through Jesus Christ our Lord
be glory, majesty, power, and authority
from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen.

Jude 17:20-25

O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.

Psalm 63:2-6

“… This is why you must now know,
and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God
in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today,
that you and your children after you may prosper,
and that you may have long life on the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”

Deuteronomy 4:39-40

Brothers and sisters:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

Romans 8:14-17

Beloved:
May grace and peace be yours in abundance
through knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has bestowed on us
everything that makes for life and devotion,
through the knowledge of him
who called us by his own glory and power.
Through these, he has bestowed on us
the precious and very great promises,
so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature,
after escaping from the corruption that is in the world
because of evil desire.
For this very reason,
make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control,
self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion,
devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.

2 Peter 1:2-7

In you my God, I place my trust.

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
Say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2

Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;
I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in distress.

Psalm 91:14-15

Beloved:
Wait for and hasten the coming of the day of God,
because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames
and the elements melted by fire.
But according to his promise
we await new heavens and a new earth
in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you await these things,
be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.
And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.

Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned,
be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled
and to fall from your own stability.
But grow in grace
and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
To him be glory now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:12-15, 17-18

Jesus said to them,
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”

Mark 12:17

For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

He saved us and called us to a holy life,
not according to our works
but according to his own design
and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began,
but now made manifest
through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus,
who destroyed death and brought life and immortality
to light through the Gospel,
for which I was appointed preacher and Apostle and teacher.
On this account I am suffering these things;
but I am not ashamed,
for I know him in whom I have believed
and am confident that he is able to guard
what has been entrusted to me until that day.

2 Timothy 1:6-12

To you, O Lord, I lift up my eyes.

If we have died with him
we shall also live with him;
if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.

Remind people of these things
and charge them before God to stop disputing about words.
This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen.
Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God,
a workman who causes no disgrace,
imparting the word of truth without deviation.

2 Timothy 2:11-5

Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Matthew 12:29-31

You have followed my teaching, way of life,
purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions,
and sufferings, such as happened to me
in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra,
persecutions that I endured.
Yet from all these things the Lord delivered me.
In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus
will be persecuted.
But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse,
deceivers and deceived.
But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed,
because you know from whom you learned it,
and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures,
which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation
through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching,
for refutation, for correction,
and for training in righteousness,
so that one who belongs to God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.

2 TImothy 3:10-17

Though my persecutors and my foes are many,
I turn not away from your decrees.

Psalm 119:157

Princes persecute me without cause
but my heart stands in awe of your word.

Psalm 119:161

Those who love your law have great peace,
and for them there is no stumbling block.
I wait for your salvation, O LORD,
and your commands I fulfill.

Psalm 119:165-166

David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said:
The Lord said to my lord,
‘Sit at my right hand
until I place your enemies under your feet.’

Mark 12:36

Healing

Let go. Let God. Let flow.

I was hoping to write about something on my experience during my week long vacation, but since exhaustion crept in and overtook me, I was forced to just rest. This delayed me from processing the whole thing altogether. I’ll take it as a sign from God that it isn’t time to process the experience yet, and that He still hasn’t finished with what he is trying to communicate to me. If I am stubborn and hard-headed and try to figure things out on my own now, the message will be half-cooked, and I will miss out on the main course. I will let my need to understand my experiences go; I will open my heart to listen to the Word of God and how he continues to communicate daily in my life, and I will let the Holy Spirit flow freely in me and through me and through whatever happens in my everyday.

Today I had surgery to take out the benign tumor near my lower spine. The operation itself was painless except for the first few needle pricks from the local anesthesia, and it only took about half an hour. I didn’t feel the blade of the knife as it was cutting me. I didn’t feel pain when they were removing and cutting away the tumor. But I felt the tugging. It was like they were forcefully pulling out and snipping away parts of my flesh. What popped into my head was a cartoon image of a tiny thumb-sized doctor playing tug-of-war with a rubber chicken toy  from the cut in my back (the toy is a metaphor for the tumor). I tried to entertain myself because I was a little scared. After the operation was done, they informed me that they were stitching me up, and then they put (what looks like to me: a sanitary napkin) a bandage or dressing, on my back to cover the wound. They told me I’d feel pain, but I’ll have pain killers so there was nothing to worry about.

The pain killers don’t really work, but I take them anyway. Pain is a reminder. It keeps you cautious about areas that need time to mend, especially when there was something there that was cut away. The drowsiness from the anesthesia made me sleep all day again, but I don’t mind. This is vital for healing, and I know that it takes a while for a cut to heal.

On the eve of 2011, I told a group of friends that last year would be about healing. The healing has carried over still through 2012, and I think it will continue to move through each year that passes. Sometimes during prayer meetings and masses (and sometimes even on the train) I start to cry because of lines spoken by the reflector, prayers said by the prayer leader, a memory that has resurfaced, a current experience, or Words taken from the Gospel I have read or that have been spoken by a priest. The tears flow without my control, but I don’t try control them because I know they need to be shed. Sometimes I know the specific wound that is being healed because of my tears, other times it is all a bit hazy, but I know all tears shed mean that I am being touched by God. God had performed an operation without my knowing or feeling it, stitched up the wounds, and now the tears and pain are manifestations and/or aftereffects of His healing power.

1Time beats like God’s vast heart, expanding and contracting.

I imagine myself inside a chamber of God’s vast heart. I can feel the pain near my lower spine, and I acknowledge it. Then I look around and see empty space–the pain disappears. I see the stars and a vast Universe, expanding and contracting, as if breathing. I see the creation of the world. I see the world destroying itself and being renewed. I see it prospering out of the destruction and the people in it bearing fruit with the Holy Spirit. Then, I see the whole process repeating itself over and over again… and as I type these words I am trying to practice restraint yet I am being overcome by something else unexplained. Then suddenly, I am no longer in a dark space. I am in my bedroom with a pain on my lower back and my macbook on my lap.

I don’t know what God is trying to do in my life, but with the experiences He has laid before me, I know that this pain is vital and that these tears are vital for me to push forward into some kind of renewal. I know that these tears are shed not only because I am healing but because of love and forgiveness.

1I forgive the tears that I was made to shed,
I forgive the pain and the disappointments,
I forgive the betrayals and the lies,
I forgive the slanders and intrigues,
I forgive the hatred and the persecution,
I forgive the blows that hurt me,
I forgive the wrecked dreams,
I forgive the stillborn hopes,
I forgive the hostility and jealousy,
I forgive the indifference and ill will,
I forgive the injustice carried out in the name of justice,
I forgive the anger and the cruelty,
I forgive the neglect and the contempt,
I forgive the world and all its evils… 

I will be capable of loving, regardless of whether I am loved in return,
Of giving, even when I have nothing,
Of working happily, even in the midst of difficulties,
Of holding out my hand, even when utterly alone and abandoned,
Of drying my tears, even while I weep,
Of believing, even when no one believes in me.

For 1anyone who knows God cannot describe Him. Anyone who can describe God does not know Him. The same is said about Love for 2God is Love. For anyone who knows Love cannot describe Love. Anyone who can describe Love does not know Love. Because 3to define is to limit. And who in their right mind would want to limit the Love that is of God?

4There is no remedy for love but to love more. And to love more, means for me to expand my boundaries, to challenge my limitations, to break down my walls, and to allow God’s amazing Love and grace to flow freely in me, through me, and beyond me.

Thank You, Father. I am ever grateful, for no words can describe Your Love, Your mercy and grace. Nothing in this world can match it. Thank You Lord.

1 Aleph, Paulo Coelho
2 1 John 4:8
3 The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
4 quote by Henry David Thoreu

Move On

Yes Lord, only with You can I move on.


How do I end up in the same old place,
Faced again with the same mistakes,
So stubborn thinking I know what is right,
But life proves me wrong everytime,
Taking roads that lead me nowhere,
How do I expect to get there,
But when, oh when will I learn to just put You first.

I come to You now when I need You,
But why do I wait to come see You,
I always try to do this on my own
But I was wrong cause only with You can I move on.
Can I move on.

When I am weak it’s You that makes me strong,
And I know that You’ve been with me all along,
So many times I begin to close my eyes and listen to my heart,
With You life is so easy why do I make it hard,
Oh taking roads that lead me nowhere
How do I expect to get there
When will I learn to just put You first.

I come to You now when I need You,
But why do I wait to come see You,
I always try to do this on my own
But I was wrong cause only with You can I move on.

I get out of my own way, let you have Your way.
Cause I realize I’m no good on my own,
I’m there for You, I’ll serve for You
I can’t live without You.

I come to You now when I need You, why do I wait to come see You,
I always try to do this on my own but I was wrong, I was wrong, I was wrong.
With only You, only You, with only ou.
Can I move on, can I move on, can I move on…

Empty

“Allow me to die, Father, so that others might live” is the prayer I wrote to the Lord about 7 years ago. Nowadays, it has evolved to, “I am crucified with You, O Lord Jesus Christ,” and most prayers have been like this lately…

And today I realized this… As I went to church this morning before work to pray, while I was kneeling down telling God:

“You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows…” Psalm 23:5 And you bring so much love into my life… Love that You have put in me, Love that is in me, love that I brought out into the world and was able to express through words, through actions, and Love that was again filled back into my heart. It was too much to contain!! Lord Jesus, how can I ever reciprocate all the good that you have given me… All I can do is receive this love, take it, give it, use it, pay it forward, multiply it, express it, only to be filled with it again … But Lord Jesus, this love belongs to You… And so, I give it back to You… All of it. For Your glory, for your Name… For You Alone… Lord, I give it back to You, as I empty myself again, I empty myself completely… I take all that is in my heart and give it back to You… And as I do this, I know… You will fill my heart again with more grace… with more love… with more of You… For the more that I empty myself, there is less and less of me… and more and more of You… This is all that I want. To be filled with Your Everlasting Love, to be filled with Your Mighty Presence, to be filled with You….

I realize now that this emptiness… this emptying of myself… this is bliss.

Amen.

Before I say ‘good night’ to the world…

I have a flight on Saturday, my bags are unpacked, no place to stay for 2 days, travel arrangements all in disarray, work all crazy busy in millions of ways that I can’t even begin to understand or explain, delegations, managing staff, managing clients, managing bosses, and I’m left with one Friday to figure all this out. But … I am at peace. I am thankful … and I realized this morning, that I really am surrounded by Love. I can see it, I can feel it, I can sense it, I can smell it … I am surrounded by it. … and this truth, I lived throughout the day until now, and I will continue to live, all the days of my life.

“Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” Psalm 23:6

In the taxi on my way to work this morning, if only by God’s grace, I realized this. A regular morning, reading the first reading, while I was looking out of the window and over to the horizon… I  saw a tree. It was just a regular looking tree, same colour as any other, nothing that would physically distinguish it from all the other trees I’ve ever seen before… It was just there, a tree… Standing tall, in the midst of all its other tree-relatives… So alike in appearance to every other, and yet it was only with that one tree that I realized God’s truth. God created that tree with love! It is a product of God’s everlasting love. We – all of us – are a product of God’s everlasting love. The entire earth, the universe, is a product of God’s everlasting love. We were made out of perfect love. … Because our Creator, our Father, is God who is Perfect Love.

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God, He created them; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27

Everyday, we are not faced with challenges… We are faced with opportunities – opportunities to love. We are a product of love, therefore we are capable of that same love. But what is this love?

“Love is patient, love is kind…

I was given the opportunity to be patient with my colleagues today, in numerous occasions. I was given the opportunity to be kind to those who were even unkind or rude to me… On the train, in the cue, even some clients… With friends, with family, with enemies…

“It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…

I was humbled by the circumstances, and I was given the opportunity to appreciate people rather than be envious of them for having what I lack, for getting the opportunities which I had wanted but not been given…

“It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, …

I was given the opportunity to keep silent, in the Presence of God when I was being praised… and give God, our Father, all the glory, rather than being proud… Because I am constantly reminded, if only by God’s amazing grace, that my gifts are not for myself but for the benefit of others.

“It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Blame is a waste of time, and it is a waste of energy. I was given the opportunity to overlook the shortcomings of others, and look into their intentions and effort. Look into their hearts…

“It does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth…

There is no gain in seeing another person suffer, but if the pain is caused by a truth, that pain is vital for growth… with experience as the best teacher. Tough love, so to speak.

“It always protects …

Look out for other people’s good and benefit… Safety and care.

“… always trusts …

Yes, my Lord Jesus, I will always trust in You.

“… always hopes, always perseveres…” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love keeps you going. God keeps you going.

For now, this is the time I can say my good nights. Continue on for the rest of 1 Corinthians 13 another time. But I cannot thank the Lord enough to opening my eyes to see all the opportunities to love. I am surrounded by it.

“Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” Psalm 23:6

Good night… to those who will sleep now… I end greeting with love. And a new morning awaits as I claim that it will also start with love. : )

What am I standing for?

I had to leave the office today. Many times. I constantly found refuge outside the confines of that little room. It feels so heavy in there nowadays, and there are so many voices and noises that I get lost in my own tiredness. I lost track of what I was working on or for or if I had a purpose or not or direction or meaning or a clear next step. Do I stand for a truth, or do I just get my orders from a client. Where am I leading the people that I am leading? How do I lead them even? Do I even know where I am going? I know deep down inside that my truest purpose is to explore the potential that God has gifted me with… but to what end am I working at? What am I standing for?

(Image taken from: https://www.facebook.com/akqa)

I read a quote the other day that went something like, “Life’s too short to keep looking for answers. Enjoy the questions.” … Maybe, maybe I’ll just try to enjoy these questions… for now, until God decides to grant me His answers.

Heavy Lifting.

The more aware I am of myself and this life, and the more I try to understand where God is leading me, the more I don’t understand… But the more I am aware of His Presence, and the more I am aware of Who is in control.

I am giving up the need to understand the chaos that is this life… for I lift it up to God’s very capable hands. I will not force it upon myself to attain understanding out of neediness. Understanding and grace will come if my Father grants it. My only action is that of receiving. Acceptance and obedience to His will comes first.

I am giving up the burdens that I unknowingly carry, these burdens are not only mine, but they belong to those who bravely tell me their stories from their own chaotic lives…

Lord, I do not know why she has opted to open up to me with all these things. I do not know why a lady who masks herself with strength has chosen to trust me and let me see her cry.

The weight of the unbeliever’s cross is enough to bring me to my knees, begging for God to forgive the slander in her tongue when she speaks of You unrighteously. Good intentions are powerless if not lifted up to the Lord, and for His Glory.

Help her Father. Have mercy on her. And help me emotionally detach myself. Allow me the grace to let go and lift up my intentions to Your Loving Hands… ready to accept Your will and receive Your loving embrace. This will bring me to Your place of peace.

Proverbs 4

Listen, my sons (my daughters), to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
For I too was a son to my father,
still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
“Take hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”

Listen, my son (my daughter), accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.
Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evildoers.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.
For they cannot rest until they do evil;
they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
They eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.

My son (my daughter), pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.