The faith chronicles
Monday, July 30, 2012
Note to self: Songs to learn and teach
359 Taste and See
362 Te Deum
220 Look Beyond
211 Lift High the Banner of Love
173 In Your Light We See Light
427 Yea My Life
373 The Light of Christ
122 He Has Covered Himself with Glory
244 My Soul Finds Rest
232 Make a Joyful Noise
215 Lift Up Your Heads O Gates
405 Unto the House of the Lord
86 Fight the Good Fight of Faith
128 Here I am Lord
48 Bethlehem Rejoices
Psalm 95 Come let Us Sing for Joy to the Lord
122 He Has Covered Himself with Glory
339 Sing to the Lord
89 Defend Me O Lord
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Psalm for self: Quantity vs quality
You were justified in your anger, Lord. You're punishments were just, as always, even as I was incredulous each time. With a life so rich that you've bestowed on me -- alternatively rich, that is -- I have no right to complain even when I face what I think to be punishments or upsets or misfortunes. The real problem is me, or the standards I have set so high for myself and, tragically enough, in comparison with others, especially my peers.
Ye what have I been doing frittering away the hours moping which I could have surrendered to you in prayer? Instead of wasting time constantly wondering how my life could be better according to the measure set by the world, I should thank you for having given me too much already.
That's what I realize whenever I flip over the pages of the four gratitude scrapbooks I have made just for this purpose: to remind me of your blessings, of your goodness to me, which I tend to take for granted.
Like the priest at last Sunday's Mass said, we tend to quantify, instead of qualify. For instance, he said, we tend to see people dying young as a tragedy, the poor having less as a catastrophe, and the rest having more infinitely better people, even if we also know that more and 'better' doesn't always mean happier.
"If a child dies at 12, does that make his life bad, unfulfilled, unaccomplished?" he said. "Remember that our Lord Jesus Christ died at 33. Does that make His life inferior?"
"We are always more attracted to the quantity, rather than quality, to what is more, higher, bigger, costlier, wealthier, etc.?" (He made the lofty motto of the Olympics -- "Citius, altius, fortius" (faster, higher, stronger) -- sound bad, but he was right.
"What is the most surprising thing about the miracle of the loaves and fishes?" he said. "Is it the multiplication of loaves and fishes? No, God is a God of miracles. Is it the young boy? No, God loves the innocence of little children. Is it the number of people? No, a flock of thousands followed Jesus in His healing sessions. Is it the miracle of sharing? No. It is that someone doubted God (the God of miracles) in His face and in front of His followers!"
I know this mindset of quantity-over-quality first-hand, in fact, because in grade school, I was almost always on top, and yet I didn't feel happy. I would always top exams and town quiz bees and during closing ceremonies down to graduation day, and all these made me feel respected (in the worldly sense) or feared, but not really approved or accepted. Being always number one didn't leave me satisfied because I felt inferior in other ways, especially in physical strength. At home, I struggled with sibling rivalry, because I felt less loved than my younger brother. I didn't feel high at all being at the top is deceptive; it was all a deceptive mirage.
Mother Teresa, as the sermon pointed out, was so right: "We are not called to be successful; we are called to be faithful." If I have done Your will willingly, that is enough, in fact more than enough. If I followed Your commands with love, then I am successful. Nothing else matters.
Yet a part of my mind always revert to having a difficulty grasping what I just said. Maybe it's because my faith is weak. Maybe because I don't trust God enough.
When, oh, when, my soul, are you going to be still in the love of the Lord?
Where is thy faith, oh foolish men?
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Talk summary: Vocalized prayer and praise
VOCALIZED PRAYER AND PRAISE
In a gathering like ours, everyone is encouraged to vocalize one’s prayer.
What are vocalized prayers/praise? They are prayers said aloud, usually one sentence, then later longer prayers.
They do not replace the traditional forms of praying, but vocalized prayers are very helpful when people gather together to worship God. Vocalized prayers are usually said after the first song in the worship session during a prayer and worship assembly.
They are also normal prayers, as can be seen in Biblical accounts, including shouts, songs, dance, and playing of musical instruments. (See Ps. 81:1, 95:1-2, 150:3-6.)
Why pray this way? Because vocalized prayers inspire people and encourage us to speak directly to God.
When the vocalized prayer is a praise, this is often accompanied by the raising of hands. It’s not just the born-again Christians and Evangelicals who do this, but the ancient Jews as well. (See Ps. 66:12, 150:3-6, 81:1, 95:2, 104:33; Heb. 13-15; 2Tim. 2:8; Rev. 19:4-6.)
Why praise God? Because He is God, superior, perfect, and deserving. Because it is very human. We praise everything we admire (books, movies, etc.), so why not God?
Why raise hands? Because it’s a sign of greeting, welcome, salutation, joy, respect, victory, surrender, and identification.
We should not be embarrassed when praising God.
While vocalized prayers and praises do not replace traditional prayers (memorized/formula, silent), we can choose to pray aloud in praise and worship whenever we gather together.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Sidelights from Fr. Cres’s retreat talks
Do not demand growth. Simply allow. Allow the community to grow but without strict manmade laws. Sometimes we’re too focused on the quantitative.
Mother Teresa once said, “We choose to be poor. Please respect our way of life.” Trust for today!
Someone asked me, “Father, what will happen to you if you get old? You have no child.” I answered: “There are many old people with children who don’t take care of them.” There is hope!
I learned that I can turn anything negative into positive by shifting my point of view, from a worldly point of view to God’s perspective.
You can respond to a serious situation in a joke so you won’t be too serious and then be filled with anger.
It is worth to be abnormal to the world. The result is also abnormal.
Are you sick? Don’t complain. Look at St. Therese of Liseaux. She had TB and endured it, offering up her sufferings.
Everything belongs to and is created by God. Animals are “good.” Man is “very good.”
Learn acceptance. Sickness doesn’t mean punishment. It is salvific, redemptive suffering. The sick are not useless. If you die, you will be eternally, immortally healthy all the time.
Fwd: Email from Jesus
From Jesus to All:
If you never felt pain, then how would you know that I am a Healer?
If you never had to pray, How would you know that I am a Deliverer?
If you never had a trial, how could you call yourself an overcomer?
If you never felt sadness, How would you know that I am a Comforter?
If you never made a mistake, How would you know that I am a forgiver?
If you knew all, How would you know that I will answer your questions?
If you never were in trouble, How would you know that I will come to your rescue
If you never were broken, Then how would you know that I can make you whole?
If you never had a problem,How would you know that I can solve them?
If you never had any suffering, Then how would you know what I went through?
If you never went through the fire, Then how would you become pure?
If I gave you all things, How would you appreciate them?
If I never corrected you, How would you know that I love you?
If you had all power, Then how would you learn to depend on me?
If your life was perfect, Then what would you need me for?
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Who is Jesus?
Who is Jesus?
I. It is a question we take for granted that, if asked, we are surprised about our own answer. We often answer “Jesus is God,” or do we really believe it, or our parents did for us?
II. Who is Jesus in history?
- carpenter, itinerant preacher, never been to large cities, died by crucifixion at 33
- should have been forgotten but now the most famous, honoured, loved person in the world
- most impactful person in history whose coming was preannounced and expected, split history into BC and AD, and came here to die instead of live (unlike all of us)
III. Common misconceptions about Jesus
- Jesus Christ Superstar: most sensitive human but with identity crisis
- sociopolitical revolutionary like Gandhi or Karl Marx
- great religious teacher like a rabbi
- great moral teacher like Buddha or Lao Tze
IV. Who does He claim He is? (Jesus Christ’s claims in the Bible)
- Possesses all authority in heaven and earth (Mt. 28:8)
- Forgives sin (Mk. 2:5-7)
- Gives life (Jn. 5:21-23; 18)
- Will judge the world (Mt. 25:31; Mk. 14:61-62)
- Claims to be God (Jn. 8:51-58)
- Receives worship as Lord and God (Jn. 20:28)
V. What is our response?
- If He is God, do I believe or not?
- If He is not God, then He must either be a liar/deceiver, a madman, or the devil!
- He said, “You will die in sin unless you believe (Jn. 8-24), and the Bible confirms this (Jn. 11:41-42; 2Pt.1:12-18).
- He wants us to repent, believe, and have a personal relationship with Him.
VI. Personal sharing
- Who is Jesus Christ to me? In my experience, what does it mean to have a personal relationship with Jesus? How do I express my belief or faith in Him? Give a concrete example.
Talk 3: New Life in the Holy Spirit/Power and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Talk 3: New Life in the Holy Spirit/Power and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Introduction. Our first talk was about God’s unconditional love, and the second talk was about Jesus, our Lord and Savior. The third talk is about the Holy Spirit.
Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Holy Trinity, “the sanctifier and giver of life to the Church.” God the Father loves us so much that He wants us to have a new life, through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-15).
• Because He knows we can’t live life through human willpower alone, He gives us His grace through the Holy Spirit.
• Since all of us have been baptized and confirmed as Christians, all of us already have the Holy Spirit in us. What we need to learn is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. This empowered life means opening the gift we have already received.
• This way, we experience God in a more personal way. We will feel that He is alive and more actively involved in our lives, that He wants to have a personal relationship with Him.
• There’s nothing new with this. It’s Biblical/historical. Read the Pentecost story in Acts 2:1-18; 37-47. During the Pentecost, the disciples were told to wait for the Holy Spirit, so they waited and received it through an exciting experience – through wind, fire, speaking in tongues – transforming them from being scared and cowardly apostles to being persuasive, leading to 3,000 instant conversions! This is how Christianity spread beyond Jerusalem. The power of the Holy Spirit converts souls!
• In the same way, we invite you to wait for the Holy Spirit and anticipate excitement in this encounter. We can have the same experience if we want it. What we read in the Bible comes alive!
What are the promises of the Holy Spirit? 1. Knowing God by experience. 2. Praying in a new way. 3. Word of God and sacraments come alive. 4. Fruit of the Holy Spirit develops in us (the virtues we have discussed). 5. Power of serve God and others through the spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, wisdom, faith, healing, miracles, discernment, etc.
How do we receive the Holy Spirit? In faith, ask Jesus to fulfill His promise (Lk. 11:9-13), not because we have earned it but because He loves us and that’s what He wants us to have.
What are the things to expect? Personal experience of God’s presence, peace, joy, gifts, etc.
What are the obstacles to receiving the Holy Spirit? Feeling unworthy, doubt, pride, and fear of what others will think. Therefore we should believe and just be open.
Speaker’s testimony of his/her experience with the Holy Spirit.
Questions on the Holy Spirit welcomed.
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