PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Saturday, March 29, 2014

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Days 25 & 26: new thorns, but where's the joy?


(Note: This post was put together in two days)

So I have two news sources of heartaches, one, no thanks to a client, and another, no thanks to some relatives. But where is my thankfulness? Where is the heart of joy that cries, "Ah, sweet suffering?" Where is the heart that offers pain joyfully to God?

Obviously, I'm no saint material (yet). But at least I try not to complain much. A far cry from what I used to be. At least I no longer write long rants detailing each offense. At least there is none of that old desire to get back, get even, or at least demand an explanation, if not an atonement or reparation. I'm a changed man, to some extent. Actually to a large extent, considering everything.

I mean, I know that the only way out of this is forgiveness. It used to be that forgiving was difficult. It's only after I saw that God can easily forgive my own sins that I realized I should also forgive as easily, without conditions, no matter who the person is and no matter what he or she has done.

Forgiveness doesn't mean the hurt will no longer be there, but at least I am freed of the burden of resentment, even though I don't share yet the saintly's joy in suffering. After all, if I have really, truly forgiven them, then I would've been praying for their well-being, I would've been praying for blessings to come their way. I don't think I have reached that point already, and sheesh -- me and my big mouth -- since I have mentioned the matter at all, I am now obliged to do so pronto.

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Day 24: Two breakthroughs so far


I am glad that, at this point, my Lenten reflections are bearing fruit. The other day, I was watching TV and the face of a personality I didn’t want to see for the longest time came up. Because the topic was important, I stay tuned, and I was forced to stay put and watch. I was also forced to confront myself.

Why, oh, why, do I wish not see the face? Do I have something against that face? It turned out yes. I didn’t know I was harboring hate in my heart, but there it was, the cause of my hatred staring back at me, so to speak.

As we all know, about a year or two years ago, there was this intense debate about a topic that stirred up everything in my being: ‘RH.’ It proved to be a hot-button issue, fiercely debated on both sides, and I lost no time expending energy debating online and wherever I could help shed light on the issue. I took sides with the desire to defend what I thought was the truth.

Little did I know, in my incredulity at other people’s reaction (how could they defend the subsidy of contraception, the possibility of abortion, the intrusion of government in the bedroom, etc.) slowly planted the seeds of hate in my heart. For the longest time, I couldn’t bear staring at the face of the person because I blamed the person for what I felt was a losing battle, or my side of the battle. Pure vitriol emerged from my passive-aggressive reaction of not staring. Not staring, it appears, was my own way of saying, “As far as I’m concerned, you’re a goner, you don’t exist in my life, you’re an enemy, you are automatically walled off from my conscious memory.

I am thankful I was able to cry off my anger. Shedding tears, copiously at that, is a good sign: it means I was no longer in a state of denial. I am already accepting my pain; I am already owning it, embracing it as real, as something that happened to me. It means I am ready to move on. Even though I was surprised I had been harboring this, I was hardly surprised I was capable of ‘erasing’ people that way.

Realizing that my reflex reaction was un-Christian – after all, the person remains to be a child of God like myself – I was equally ‘forced’ to tell God how sorry I am. Even though I am not inclined to change my views/belief/convictions on the issue (it's something I will defend up to my last breath when I know it's the plain truth), I know that I still have no right to hate or close off souls I encounter in my journey. I believe that, after I have done my duty of proclaiming the truth like a prophet of old, it's time to dust off my feet and move on to the next ear willing to hear.

Meantime, as a Christian, I will always be called to love all, include my worst enemies, including those who have walled me off in the same way.

May the Lord continue to teach me how to love, especially the unlovable.

***

There was another breakthrough – I think an even greater one, but I am not sure it is for public consumption. It has something to do with fear of the future, fear of getting old and alone, and so forth. This was also equally blessed with tears of clarity. Maybe I'll give more clues on the next post.

Thank God for these two mind-openers. I felt relieved somewhat of some heavy baggage.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

 

St. Faustina quotes

My child, you please Me most by suffering. In your physical as well as your mental sufferings, My daughter, do not seek sympathy from creatures. I want the fragrance of your suffering to be pure and unadulterated. I want you to detach yourself, not only from creatures, but also from yourself. My daughter, I want to delight in the love of your heart, a pure love, virginal, unblemished, untarnished. The more you will come to love suffering, My daughter, the purer your love for Me will be. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

O my Jesus, You know that there are times when I have neither lofty thoughts nor a soaring spirit. I bear with myself patiently and admit that that is just what I am, because all that is beautiful is a grace from God. And so I humble myself profoundly and cry out for Your help; and the grace of visitation is not slow in coming to the humble heart. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Sorrow will not establish itself in a heart which loves the will of God. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Eternal God, Goodness Itself, whose mercy is incomprehensible to every intellect, whether human or angelic, help me, your feeble child, to do Your holy will as You make it known to me. I desire nothing but to fulfill God's desires. Lord, here are my soul and my body, my mind and my will, my heart and all my love. Rule me according to Your eternal plans. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

O my God, let everything that is in me praise You, my Lord and Creator; and with every beat of my heart I want to praise Your Unfathomable mercy. I want to tell souls of Your goodness and encourage them to trust in Your mercy. That is my mission, which You Yourself have entrusted to me, O Lord, in this life and in the life to come. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Day 23: In place of self-love, God's love

My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety. These will deprive you of the ability to practice virtue. All temptations united together ought not disturb your interior peace, not even momentarily. Sensitiveness and discouragement are the fruits of self-love. You should not become discouraged, but strive to make My love reign in place of your self-love. Have confidence, My child. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Now this one is driving me insane, tormenting me with another round of guilt at the mere mention of anxiety and the operative word momentarily. I sometimes have exaggerated anxieties, which may not be "momentary" at all but in extended periods.

The mention of self-love also convicts me. Indeed, I can be overly sensitive and prone to discouragement, what with the lot I have to deal with right now.

Good thing the succeeding words are such consoling words. Without self-love (of the toxic kind, I'm sure), God assures that His brand of love is at the ready to do the filling in.

At this point, there is nothing sensible left to do but beg for pardon and mercy for my faults and weakness. May the Lord be glorified for saving me from these spiritual ills, I claim right now with uncharacteristic boldness, in Jesus' name, amen!

Come, Yahweh's love; begone, self-love!

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Day 22: Keeping the faith even without consolation


God, in His unfathomable decrees, often allows it to be that those who have expended most effort in accomplishing some work do not enjoy its fruits here on earth; God reserves all their joy for eternity. But for all that, God sometimes lets them know how much their efforts please Him. And such moments strengthen them for further struggles and ordeals. These are the souls that bear closest resemblance to the Savior who, in the work which He founded here on earth, tasted nothing but bitterness. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

This thought is a great consolation for me today. My mind brings me to the same message I 'received' during a Mass in community: "Your rewards will not be in this life but in the life to come."

Why would I be touched by such a line in the day's reading? It seem to me I had been anticipating a reward for every good deed I had on earth. Maybe I got so used to being consoled in amazing ways that I had come to expect it each time.

Ah, but God is not juvenile in His thoughts and ways. Apparently, He wanted to invite me to trust in Him more than ever, to keep on keeping on believing despite the lack of consolation. It's a tough one, this call -- no less than a litmus test -- but with His mercy and grace, may I learn to endure, to abide, if I have to be more and more Christ-like. In concrete terms, I should see more and more evidence of joy (frequent smiles, good mood, happy disposition, hopeful thoughts) in me no matter how bad the circumstance.

Meanwhile, I pray that God will let me know that he is pleased with me and all my efforts.

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Day 21: Why fear?

"Why are you fearful and why do you tremble when you are united to Me? I am displeased when a soul yields to vain terrors. Who will dare touch you when you are with Me? Most dear to Me is the soul that strongly believes in My goodness and has complete trust in Me. I heap My confidence upon it and give it all it asks." - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Frankly this passage made me feel convicted, totally guilty. If I am truly in union with God, then why do I fear at all? Why do I fear? What do I fear? Don't I trust God enough?

When is fear normal and when it is abnormal?

Forgive me my abnormal and sinful fears, Lord. Teach me to trust completely in you.


 

Message

If there's someone who understands you best (far more than you understand yourself), it is Me.

This is the message I heard God whisper to me after being so agitated one afternoon due to an unconfessed sin and there was not a priest in sight. Yes, I could be that paranoid, but thank God He is far more kinder, far more understanding than I thought possible. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

 

St. Faustina quotes

Why are you fearful and why do you tremble when you are united to Me? I am displeased when a soul yields to vain terrors. Who will dare touch you when you are with Me? Most dear to Me is the soul that strongly believes in My goodness and has complete trust in Me. I heap My confidence upon it and give it all it asks. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

"Act in such a way that all those who come in contact with you will go away joyful. Sow happiness about you because you have received much from God; give, then generously to others. They should take leave of you with their hearts filled with joy, even if they have no more than touched the hem of your garment." - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Sorrow will not establish itself in a heart which loves the will of God. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

In the evening, He gave me to understand how fleeting all earthly things are, and [how] everything that appears great disappears like smoke, and does not give the soul freedom, but weariness. Happy the soul that understands these things and with only one foot touches the earth. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

God, in His unfathomable decrees, often allows it to be that those who have expended most effort in accomplishing some work do not enjoy its fruits here on earth; God reserves all their joy for eternity. But for all that, God sometimes lets them know how much their efforts please Him. And such moments strengthen them for further struggles and ordeals. These are the souls that bear closest resemblance to the Savior who, in the work which He founded here on earth, tasted nothing but bitterness. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety. These will deprive you of the ability to practice virtue. All temptations united together ought not disturb your interior peace, not even momentarily. Sensitiveness and discouragement are the fruits of self-love. You should not become discouraged, but strive to make My love reign in place of your self-love. Have confidence, My child. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy. - Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

(via And These They Gifts blog)

 

Homily: Sin and separation

(This is my attempted reconstruction of last Sunday’s beautiful homily by a Rogationist priest at a mass in Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Parish, Kalayaan Village, Pasay City)

“Whenever there is separation, chances are there is sin.

Sin separates. That’s what sin essentially means. In the gospel about the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at the well (John 4:1-42), separation is a recurrent theme.

The woman had to fetch water at high noon. In the Middle Eastern desert, that’s a sign of social separation: she had to go there when nobody else was present.

It turns out this woman is an outcast among a group of people already considered outsiders in Jewish circles. She has been living in sin: she has had five husbands.

Being a woman, she also expected not to be treated as an equally by a man, especially a Jewish man.

So when she met the opposite of sin, she got the surprise of her life: God doesn’t dwell in separation, but in unity.

The narrative arc of this story is of particular interest. At first, the women addresses Jesus as a “Jew” and how Jesus Christ is referred to next in the passage evolves through the following transformation, from the separation (of alienation) to communion (or union in deification)
  • Jew
  • Sir
  • Messiah/Christ
  • Rabbi
  •  Savior

Interestingly, too, the woman, at the end of the passage, is no longer ashamed, as she returns to her fellow Samaritans. Freed from sin, she moves from isolation to communion, to community.

Sin isolates, sin separates us from God, making Him a stranger to us, and separates us from one another. (We can perhaps extend this thought by saying sin separates us from ourselves deep within, from our true or authentic self, the self made for love and belonging.)

God doesn’t want separation. He wants each of us to be united to Him and to each other, by freeing us from sin, by forgiving us our sins.” 

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Day 20: Zero self-love

"Destroy completely within me my self-love and enkindle in my heart the fruit of your perfect love."
 "From today on, [my] will does not exist."
Sr. Faustina's words are killing me. I am not sure if I could go on with this book, which is supposed to be just a diary.
All the while, I've been coming from this paradigm that I got to love myself first before I get to love others right. I hope I got that part down pat by now.
But to be 100% submitted scares me, honestly. I think I have voiced out that fear already in this same blog. "What if God told me to evangelize in China" or North Korea? Or to retire to a desert in Algeria like Carlo Carretto did?

Is zero self-love a repudiation of healthy self-love? I figure it's not: it presupposes it. I can understand both extremes, actually, and I know going beyond oneself is quite hard: it means stepping out of your comfort zone, exposing your weakness in the hope of attaining God's strength in nonlogical, irrational manner, so that in the end you can "boast only in the Lord."

But to expose oneself totally to the will of God -- it's a terrible plunge for me to do, like diving and skydiving. Maybe I have divinophobia (maybe I am afraid of God or the x in God, the unknown).
Will I go chicken on this diary or not?
Decisions. Decisions.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Day 19: What is my adversity quotient?


From a homily by Fr. Glen Paul Gomez, SVD, in a TV mass today, I learned about Paul Stoltz inventing what he calls AQ or adversity quotient. With AQ, Stoltz establishes(?) what is called the science of resiliency. According to this view, there are three kinds of people in terms of AQ:

1. Quitters - those who quit when trouble strikes
2. Campers - those who like to climb the mountain of adversity but get easily exhausted and don't finish the climb
3. Ones who persevere

Where am I in these categories? Am I like Walt Disney, Thomas Alva Edison, and others who persevered through great ordeal? I have, to be honest, a little of each of the three categories in me. I know intimately how it is to quit, to camp, and also to persevere, depending on the problem.

Applying AQ in Christian life, Fr. Glen asked: Where do you fare in terms of these three major hurdles of the journey?

1. I need a Savior.
2. I know my Savior.
3. I (like to) imitate my Savior.

No question about number 1 -- totally sold on that. Number 2 is an ongoing process -- as the Italians would grimly say, there's no rest from learning "until the coffin." As for the third, I am having a big problem imitating my Savior in terms of his Passion and especially death. Because of my past, I am afraid to get hurt (on all levels),  and I especially dread death, whether figurative or physical and most especially physical. I am such a coward that way. But I love myself enough to accept this (instead of deny) and work on these issues slowly.

There is  another way of looking at the Christian life using the AQ self-assessment test, to quote Fr. Glen further:

1. Am I connected to God?
2. If I am disconnected in some way, in what areas do I need to be reconnected?
3. Am I intensely connected to such an extent that I go beyond myself and my own issues? Do I give alms? Am I involved in issues that, for a change, are not all about me?

Tough questions to ask myself today, but I'm gladly taking the challenge. Thank God for His chosen pastors.

 

Nouwen: The Ways to Self-knowledge

The Ways to Self-knowledge

"Know yourself" is good advice.  But to know ourselves doesn't mean to analyse ourselves.  Sometimes we want to know ourselves as if we were machines that could be taken apart and put back together at will.   At certain critical times in our lives it might be helpful to explore in some detail the events that led us to our crises, but we make a mistake when we think that we can ever completely understand ourselves and explain the full meaning of our lives to others.

Solitude, silence, and prayer are often the best ways to self-knowledge.  Not because they offer solutions for the complexity of our lives but because they bring us in touch with our sacred center, where God dwells.  That sacred center may not be analysed.  It is the place of adoration, thanksgiving, and praise.

Friday, March 21, 2014

 

Nouwen: Claiming the Sacredness of Our Being

Claiming the Sacredness of Our Being

Are we friends with ourselves?  Do we love who we are?  These are important questions because we cannot develop good friendships with others unless we have befriended ourselves.

How then do we befriend ourselves?  We have to start by acknowledging the truth of ourselves.  We are beautiful but also limited, rich but also poor, generous but also worried about our security.  Yet beyond all that we are people with souls, sparks of the divine.   To acknowledge the truth of ourselves is to claim the sacredness of our being, without fully understanding it.  Our deepest being escapes our own mental or emotional grasp.  But when we trust that our souls are embraced by a loving God, we can befriend ourselves and reach out to others in  loving relationships.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Day 18: No rest from suffering

"It would be a very ugly thing ... to seek relief from suffering" - Sr. Faustina

Ah, Sr. Faustina... you say the darnedest things, don't you? I don't know what to make of it, although I do get you totally. You're basically saying if you're committed to be a Christian, you ought to be committed to a life of suffering.

This, of course, goes against my desires and wants. Why would I not seek an end to suffering? It's my overweening goal in life, the subject of many an intercessory prayer and prayer request. But the above is consistent with God's crazy logic of love.

What will you say next, Sr. Faustina? What will Jesus say next to you, to me? You always pull out the rug from under me. I am not sure if I can take more surprises at this point.

Okay, the rightness of the statement cannot be overestimated. I am just so embarrassed to realize -- in public at that -- that my prayer life is mostly that: asking to be spared from suffering. It's mostly about "deliver us from evil," if not "do not bring us to the test" because I know I am weak and cowardly on my own. Is my spiritual life at a juvenile stage, after all? I don't care, as long as I still have a spiritual life to talk about. In the first place, I have a prayer life at all, and I pray for others too when asked.

But of course it's good to level up in quality. On second thought, I also have other kinds of prayer, though not as often as I pray for an easier, more comfortable, happier life for me and for others.

My target, really, is to pray as the Holy Spirit leads, to pray that only the depths of my soul and the Holy Spirit can understand. I have had a taste of that in the charismatic life. All I had to do is to get back to it, to the "fervor of my first love." How did I lose it in the first place?

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Day 17: Suffering as melody?

"Suffering is the most harmonious melody of all." - Sr. Faustina

If I am not Catholic, maybe I'd dismiss this statement as a ridiculous, even dysfunctional, statement of sadomasochism. But to be fair, I understand what Sr. Faustina means. It is not because she enjoyed going through the fires of hell on earth, but because out of her great love, she was ever-ready to sacrifice, making her sufferings not just bearable but beautiful, like wounds that make a man attractive because what otherwise would have been marks of imperfections become badges of honor and courage. Wow!

As for me, never mind. It's hard for a coward like me just to dwell on this thought. I hope you can sense it: It's not easy for me to even write this post. Who wouldn't shudder at the thought of someone chasing after sufferings anyway? But no, seriously, I admire this nun profoundly. She reminds me of another woman with the same depth of love for God, a God-instigated deepness, no doubt: St. Therese of Liseaux.

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Day 16: Fair exchange?


"When you are obedient, I take away your weakness and replace it with my strength" - Jesus

I wish I could achieve this state of obedience just to get rid of my many weaknesses. I wish to attain that spiritual state that the psalmist often sings: someone "not afraid to receive bad news, someone whose every work is met with success, someone who is favored in everything he does," etc.

I wonder how I am being disobedient in such a way that I end up clinging to my weaknesses instead of taking the higher road. "'Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord." I need more reflection in this area.

For now, this means maybe I have so many fears because I am not obedient enough to God. This is such a depressing thought, if it is not countered by the thought of a merciful and understanding God. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

 

Lenten 2014 reflections: Day 15: Breaking my will


How do I know I am following God’s will in my life and not my own intransigent will? Sr. Faustina was lucky she had guides in flesh and blood (religious superiors, confessor/spiritual director), and she heard Jesus talk to her directly. Ordinary mortals like me are like crossword puzzle enthusiasts: I have to constantly look for clues, or be sensitive to any of the hints that are given out in the most subtle ways possible.
In a bid to make my life a lot easier, I live by what I learned in community about knowing God’s will: if the revealed word of God (a.k.a. the Bible, duh :p and messages in my prayer life), life circumstances, and discernment by elders in the faith triangulate, then it’s a bingo.
This, however, is not always satisfactory, particularly when I have to make certain decisions on the fly, without the luxury of consult. In times like this, I will most probably rely on the Holy Spirit prayer: “Come Holy Spirit!” Or I ask God direct with all the presumption I could muster, hoping He’d answer in His own inimitably unpredictable style. In this case, I only get to have consultation with the more spiritually mature people of the faith as an afterthought or after the fact (post-facto) – and that’s only when a religious or cleric is unavailable, which is oftentimes (because right now I am not fortunate enough to live in their vicinity).
It can get more complex. Thankfully, I am reminded of these additional resources:
Here, it says I may also rely on inner peace, right priorities, and signs, aside from God’s voice, the Holy Spirit’s whispers, Scripture, and life events that make a certain choice the more obvious one to take.

Choice-making has been especially hard for me when it comes to the job opportunities that have come my way. I am still not 100% sure right now whether I made the right decision every step of the way (knowing the many pitfalls of choosing*), but I trust that since I surrendered to God each time, I made the right move.  The uncertainty, however, is made a tad more complicated and difficult by the knowledge that God largely gives us the freedom of choice – we are actually relied upon to make the choice, with God hoping in our own judgment, then blessing that choice if it so pleases Him. I guess, in the end, what matters to God is not the choice exactly (in the case of choices that are not an obvious battle between good and evil), but that we made the choice out of love (of God and His ways).
------------------------
*Pitfalls of choosing (as per Terry Mojica)
1. Resentment
2. Praying wrongly
3. Idolatry
4. Human reasoning
5. Opinions of others
6. Human desires
7. Disobedience
8. Taking too little time to listen
9. Doubt


Sunday, March 16, 2014

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 14: My dilemma about apostolic zeal and intercession

“I cannot imagine a life… in Community, and not having an apostolic spirit.”
To paraphrase the above, as I understand it, we must never lose sight of our apostolic duty, our zeal for the salvation of souls apart from our own. Lack of zeal in this area is one indication (among many others) of spiritual death, or so I read from an infographic on Facebook.
My journey in this area is a nice case history to consider. It is a story of many ups and downs.
Post-CLP (Christian Life Program) euphoria sent me into a mental frenzy as I thought of ways of connecting with the people I encounter, especially at work, to attract them to consider Christian community life or at least Christianity.
In case it was not Spirit-driven, you could say the zeal was compulsive, i.e., just so I could have something to show, a concrete evidence of bearing fruit in God’s vineyard. If it was a case of fake (or faked) zeal, then maybe it’s like I wanted to make up for the lost years of my youth, or maybe even more guilt-driven than that: I wanted to pay for my sins – in other words, it’s all about me.
Years into community, that zeal somewhat died down, or maybe just ‘stabilized’ to less energetic levels. I became a less scary evangelist or apostle, you could say. It must be because something troubled me in the interim (interregnum?).
I noticed that, in my years of interceding for the salvation of souls, for conversion of sinners, and for the worldly concerns and intentions being offered up for intercession by someone or another, I have always suffered a little, or even much, each time I exercise "apostolic duty." Each of my ‘yes’ to a random “Please pray for me,” is met with a feeling of being taxed by the BIR for it.
This made me wonder whether I was doing things right. I thought: What’s the point of Christ having won the battle if I had to pay the price in my own little way? Isn't Jesus' one-time sacrifice enough? Aren't we taught that it's more than enough to last eternity?

Is this what it means to “fill up what’s lacking in Christ’s suffering”? In that case, is Christianity really a literal imitation of Christ, from Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Judea, to Calvary and Golgotha? What a scary thought, knowing I have moments when I am more of a little demon than a little Christ.
I once confessed this conundrum to an elder in community and separately to a priest, and what I got are answers that further unsettled me. Both of my consultants had the same incredulous response:  the priest, in particular, hearing how burdened I was complaining I was too unqualified to be a mini-Christ for the job, said that it shouldn’t be the case. We are supposed to be spiritually renewed each time we pray for others, he said.
The conflict escalated. What’s wrong with me, I wondered. Frankly, that got me scared about interceding for others again. When exactly am I making like Atlas and being like Jesus?
But old ways prove to die hard. In time, I reverted to my default mode, come what may. It’s like I couldn’t help it: if people asked for prayers, I had no choice but to say yes and, more importantly, actually do it. If Jesus felt power coming off Him at the touch of the hem by the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 6:19), who am I not to be just as spiritually sapped?
This, however, makes me prone to spiritual burnout that tends to come one after another, resulting in a spiritual roller-coaster ride.
Maybe I just have to accept that suffering a little, or much more, is one of those many unstated givens in the life of a Christian – an inevitability I just have to live with. Then again, maybe I am doing things wrong; maybe I am lacking in something. Maybe I am not filling up my love tank more than I need to, i.e., again and again each time I am sapped. Maybe I am being too careless about my need for rest, that's why I end up being an empty battery while offering my thoughts for others. (Well, there's no arguing that I need all sorts of rests and retreats as often as I can, given my Type A personality compounded by many anxieties.)
Maybe the trick is to just get even by asking others for intercessory prayers just as often as I receive requests. Or maybe it’s just the way it is indeed: Life is all about burden-sharing, whether or not you're a Christian; it's the intrinsic tax to living or being alive. As a Christian, in particular, it is inevitable that I get to share, literally, Jesus’ huge burden by putting in the time and effort for intercessory suffering. If I don't, then I don't live life fully. And If I chip in my ‘little’ (but not so little in my own estimation) contribution willingly and with deliberate awareness, then probably that’s when my suffering officially becomes sacrifice. That's when I probably could claim that my life has been lived fully.

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 13: Sweet suffering


“O my God, how sweet it is to suffer for You, suffer in the most secret recesses of the heart, in the greatest hiddenness, to burn like a sacrifice noticed by no one, pure as crystal, with no consolation or compassion.”
Oh my gosh, I experience this too, but as a sinner, not a cloistered saint. Is that even possible? I don’t know. I’m not trying to be humble or what, but is it possible that my sufferings are not just well-deserved punishments for my mistakes of the past?

But whether this is so or not, suffering is still suffering. I strongly suspect my sort of suffering is useful to God, not just to me (for my own growth), in some way.

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 12: Hope in the ruins


“O Blessed Host, our only hope in the ruin of our hopes and endeavors.”

I strongly resonate with this line, but I can’t expound on it now. Maybe words are too lame for the thought.

Maybe I should dig up this old anonymous chain email that says, When you are down to nothing, God is up to something." Oh, wait, here's what I Googled:

***

My Hut is burning

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened - everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger.

"God, how could you do this to me?" he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.

"How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers.

"We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

It's easy to get discouraged sometimes when things appear to be going badly. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground, it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 11: Sin is its own punishment

(Reaction to yesterday's reflection)

Why should I envy them? As the palmist sings, What does it matter if evil men prosper? They don't have God, willfully separating themselves from Him. They don't have the peace of mind that can only come from God. They lose the access to the divine gifts, to divine wisdom, insights.

No matter what they do or how lofty their climb, they know they are not happy deep down or at peace; they know they will never attain the happiness that the world promises, for no sooner than a goal is achieved than a higher one comes unbidden, hungry for attention, making life a series of insatiable desires.

What does it matter if they are honored by the world that way? Is there anything more foolish than being honored for one's folly?

Sin is a means to an automatic separation from God -- a scary thought. "Who then shall be saved?"

Mercifully, there's the grace of God that we sinners can rely on anytime to the point of abuse.

May I never abuse this grace. May I minimize my own own self-punishment through sinning.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

 

Quote

"Prayer doesn't control God; prayer helps us trust God." - Terry Mojica

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 10: Self-awareness can be good and bad


Sr. Faustina, even though she’s a saintly woman, was always aware how sinful she was, how utterly hopeless without the grace of God. She even went on to the extent of saying that everything that was good in her was not hers, but God’s, or was acquired through His grace.
I wish to have this constancy of attitude, an attitude of humble self-awareness, that apart from God, I am nothing, that everything good in me is God’s, knowing I am, by myself, incapable of good, knowing that every evil thing in me, from the biggest down to the littlest is mine alone – I am totally responsible for it, and I know I should indeed take responsibility.
However, the problem with this mindset, is that devil doesn’t fail to drum that up in my mind, with a focus on how evil I am, how undeserving, unqualified, etc. And he leaves me at that, and I am often baited, weighed down by the depressing thought.
I realize that is pride, on my part, and I am also totally responsible for it, whether or not the thought came from the devil or from the evil in me. In the first place, if it’s from the devil, then why entertain it? It is pride because it means I even entertained the notion that I can save myself somehow through imagined credits of good deeds or innate goodness. Who am I fooling?
It takes humility to acknowledge my dark shadows, my false self, my unredeemed nature, but it also takes humility – and courage – to accept God’s offer of illumination and freedom to claim my true self. I don’t know how to explain this part further, but what’s important it I am totally getting it for now.
But there's a big but. All I'm saying, in long-winded terms, is that there is a chance of saintliness in me in terms of knowing myself. But the big problem -- and it has been tormenting me for quite sometime now -- is that I have yet to internalize God's love for me. I have yet to really feel it deep down inside, not just hear it.

Something I can't pin down is blocking the flow. Shades of Mother Teresa's night/spiritual darkness? Or should I just consult Czikszentmihalyi? As I am incapable of spiritual analysis in this case, this part is best relegated to the realm of mystery.

Meanwhile, I will take Nouwen's lead in patient waiting.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

 

Guilt vs remorse

We read in today's first scripture that the people of Ninevah took an honest look at their sinfulness and repented. But did they repent merely to avoid God's punishment? Or did they actually feel remorse?

When we seek forgiveness only because we feel guilty, we're repenting for selfish reasons. We're protecting ourselves from the punishment of God and the disapproval of others. The central focus of our repentance is ourselves.

On the other hand, when we feel remorse, it's because we care about our relationship with God and we care about those who've been affected by our sin. We're alarmed by the damage we've caused. What matters most to us is that others are hurting. We feel deep regret that someone is suffering because of what we've done.

In Ninevah, the king decreed that everyone should "turn from his evil way." He didn't say they should stop doing evil. Turning from evil means moving in a new direction: the direction of goodness and holiness. It means changing our way of handling situations. It means altering the way we treat others.

God appreciated the actions and the attitudes of the Ninevites when they turned from their evil doings. True remorse is an attitude that causes us to take action. True remorse motivates us to give love to others as expiation for the times we behaved unlovingly. True remorse makes us do good to those we've treated badly, because we want to provide healing where we've caused harm and division.

Being remorsefully alarmed at how we've hurt others requires both humility and self-confidence. Instead of self-protectively worrying about shame, we allow ourselves to feel the pain of what we have done to others, knowing that God cares about us even though we are sinners. This gives us the freedom to turn guilt into the joy of transformation and increased holiness. If we really do care about others, we feel good about being this humble.

True remorse does not come easy. We have to rely on God's help. Whenever we get in touch with the pain we've caused others, we should ask Jesus to multiply our concern for them. He will honor this prayer with great blessings. This is the "sign of Jonah" that Jesus refers to in today's Gospel reading. When we die in humility in the belly of our whale-like circumstances or on our cross of regret, God the Father resurrects us into a holier, healthier, more joy-filled life.

© 2014 by Terry A. Modica 
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Lent 2014 reflections: Day 8: Every slightest sin to be accounted for


Sr. Faustina wrote that every sin, down to the most little, will have to be accounted for before the throne of God on Judgment Day, or words to that effect. I dread to think the extent of discipline/purification/atonement/chastisement/punishment that waits for me, given the assortment and intensity of sins I have committed in my lifetime. I am not sure if I could proceed with the list.

I suppose I should take every opportunity at mortification. I have one long Lent season for that on top of a whole lifetime. I just pray there are lots of consolations, blessings, earthly rewards in between -- or as the irreverent joke goes, I hope "there are coffee breaks in hell" (on earth) just so to make the suffering a little bit more bearable.

Monday, March 10, 2014

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 7: Neglect of answered prayers I didn't ask for

Let me extend yesterday's thought by focusing on blessings we hardly ever consider. In my case, there's far too many.

When Glorietta Mall was bombed, or exploded, I should have uttered thanksgiving prayers far more than lingering on my shock, fear, and anger. That's because I regularly walked that exact same path and regularly checked out that little bookshop on top of "Ground Zero." I could have been one of the fatalities or the injured that 'fateful day'. Clearly it was not yet my time.

***

Remember those two buses falling off the Skyway and landing on the service road near Bicutan? That's the same service road two of my brothers take night and day almost everyday. In the case of the second incident, my brother actually heard the shuttle bus fall and he and his fellow jeepney passengers were lucky not to be hit directly. The reason was that the traffic lights turned green a few seconds before the shuttle bus fell, and the jeepney they were riding had already moved several meters forward from the site of the catastrophe.

Thank God for blessings I didn't expect. Again, I should be more aware of these things.

***

When my grandmother died recently, everyone in my family was still caught off-guard even though my lola was already 93 years old, way, way past a typical earthly stay. My cousin Ate C. referred to her overstaying status as her super-extra “bonus” years. Her brief hospitalization (around four days, I think), wake (four days) and burial all in all cost, say, Php35K. Even though this is a provincial rate, it is still a big amount to me. My folks lived in a different time when there was no government social security system or any form of guaranteed safety nets. And so we were all amazed when the money trickled in one day at a time, making us wonder where it came from. I, the jobless one, just had to do the grim accounting task.
Aunt E. and children gave 5K, Uncle B1 2K, Aunt P 4K, Uncle B2 2K, Sibling R 5K, Sibling M 3K, neighbors 5K, and these are only those I knew of. The rest was shouldered by my father and mother from the meager savings they have. (And that's not counting all the expenses on transpo and the coming electricity and water bills.)

Additionally, there was a couple of relatives, C., Ate L. and Ate P., who readily lent their hands as runner, cook, dishwasher, etc. when needed. And I shouldn't forget how the local barangay office lent us a huge tent for the yard for people visiting during the wake.
My mother said she had been talking to Lola all along about the expenses, but here’s another amazing thing: when we her children and grandchildren were about to go back to Manila and wherever we needed to return to, her son suddenly won a little amount in the lottery and he distributed his winnings equally to everyone. Lola even gave each of us pocket money as though to thank us for coming!
My grandmother’s death brought me to the realization that I seldom prayed for her side of the family because we were not that close, and besides, they struck me as strange, being non-Catholic and all. But a few days before she got even hospitalized for breathlessness, I couldn’t sleep all night and I didn’t know why. I was forced to pray with all my might for whatever reason God had. Now I know why.
It turns out that my mother and my cousin Ate P. were also unable to sleep the whole night around that time. Precognition?
In the last years of her life, my lola had to be closely cared for like a little child, even though she was mobile and thankfully could do her toilet ablutions without any assistance. But it was a huge burden to my mother nevertheless, for she single-handedly fed her five times a day (including snacks in between meals), prepared warm water for bathing, made sure she had clean clothes to wear and she slept well, and emptied her night-time orinola. She was nearly blind and largely hard of hearing, so seeing her each vacation grope her way around the house was painful. I often averted my eyes, rendering her invisible unless she really turned helpless and I had to go back to reality and assist her. Maybe the mere sight of her reminded me too much of my own mortality, of how I will most likely be when I get old. I resented or envied her that she lived long enough like that and lucky to have a loving, caring daughter in my mother, not to mention a largely respectful bunch of grandchildren in us. In a way, she taught us the meaning of the commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother.”
My family had many issues with our maternal grandmother and especially with the rest of her family, but as for me, it was quite easy to forgive her and let go of everything because she was basically a good woman and a godly Baptist. Whenever I took her hand to my forehead as a greeting/respectful gesture, she’d say, “God bless you,” particularly when I was about to leave home for Manila. She would also say “Thank you” whenever I assisted her walking the length of the living room from her room and to the dining table and kitchen sink. I’d feel some faint resentment at this habit of hers because, being her grandchild, it goes without saying that I am obliged to look after her in some way, so there’s no need to say thanks. I thoughts thanks is for friends, distant relations, and strangers, but she taught me that it’s okay to say thanks most especially to family members.
What a life! It is inevitably filled with suffering, yes, but also amazing, supernatural mysteries.

May my spiritual eyes remain always open to see what can be easily unseen.

***

There are more of these I'm sure, hidden in the zipped files of my mental archive.



 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 6: Good is often underestimated


In Sr. Faustina's Diary, part of entry #39 reads, "For your sake, I will bless the entire country."

This is the Lord Jesus consoling the nun after she prayed for her part of the country to be saved from punishment, referring to the city of Warsaw during WWII. The Lord responded to her request by being magnanimous; He opted to spare the whole of Poland instead of just one Polish city just because of one person's prayer.

This illustrates how the great power of goodness is often underestimated, foremost because it is hidden, often done in the secret confines of personal prayer.

I am oftentimes discouraged whenever I pray for big things and nothing happens, or so I presume. I should resolve hereon in to make myself be more aware of how big things happen because I made the right choice, because other people made the right choice.

The whole world is affected positively when a drug addict decides to forego of his favorite poison, or when a porn enthusiast quits. The world becomes a planet worth saving again in the eyes of God whenever someone prays for intentions outside of herself or bigger than himself.

Meanwhile, Henri Nouwen's take on this subject is particularly instructive:

"So many terrible things happen every day that we start wondering whether the few things we do ourselves make any sense.  When people are starving only a few thousand miles away, when wars are raging close to our borders, when countless people in our own cities have no homes to live in, our own activities look futile. Such considerations, however, can paralyze us and depress us."

"Here the word call becomes important.  We are not called to save the world, solve all problems, and help all people.  But we each have our own unique call, in our families, in our work, in our world.  We have to keep asking God to help us see clearly what our call is and to give us the strength to live out that call with trust.  Then we will discover that our faithfulness to a small task is the most healing response to the illnesses of our time."

I should never forget this.

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 5: Dark night


It's a comfort to know that even saintly people -- especially saintly people -- get their version of the Christian blues, or dark night of the soul, Christianity's version of depression that is non-clinical. Maybe it's safe to describe it as some kind of psychospiritual torment that is especially impossible to define medically and psychiatrically, for empirical tests would give normal results.

If these obviously good people go through hell on earth, how much more a sinner like me?

In my life as a charismatic, I noticed that the instances of going through the night of the soul are quite numerous compared to when I wasn't that active in Church. Further, I notice that these attacks happen whenever there's some major spiritual shift happening, like an upcoming Empowered Christian Life Program or a Young Adults activity. It's as though I was being invited to suffer again and again, to sacrifice for a just cause.

Needless to say, a dark night is unbearable. I never welcome it, though I have an internal barometer to detect it when it is about to come: I get a sense similar to what I feel whenever a new school year is about to start. It's both exciting and fearsome. Like entering a new grade, it feels like being invited yet again to step up, to level up, in the spiritual journey. I know the night is beneficial in the long run, but it is always a terrible experience to go through.

Let me make a distinction, though, for fear I might be misinterpreted as assigning myself to the level of the saintly. My night is more of a purification process perhaps, instead of the levels of ascent of Mt. Carmel in St. John of the Cross or steps in St. Teresa's "interior castle." Nevertheless, I need all the strength I need to go through it again and again.

The worst part of my night is going through the pain of being misunderstood or misinterpreted by my 'confreres.' In my case of having problems with anxiety, palpitations, panic attacks, I can easily be written off as someone lacking in faith and courage, someone cowardly, etc. This one almost has zero consolation, except for one stray soul or two telling me the right things. I think, as nights go, this hardship is part of it, and I just have to go through it. Maybe the secret lies in focusing on the prize: the eternal, spiritual glory in exchange for the short bout of the pain and humiliation.

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 4: Christian suffering


What if you are trying very hard to be a Christian and yet you still suffer as someone punished for having done something terribly bad? I’m not sure how I missed this basic Christian view of suffering when it is plainly stated in the Bible -- I surely must have encountered it several times, and yet I couldn’t remember to quote it when needed. Fortunately, I stumbled upon the pertinent passage the other day when I opened my bedside Bible without any agenda except to be surprised by the insight of God:
Suffering for Being a Christian
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[a]
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4: 12-19

***
I am not sure if PJPII's "Salvifici doloris" quoted this passage, so I will go double-check. It’s always a blessing to find the answer in the Bible to long-standing questions, through the prompting (I claim) of the Spirit.

Friday, March 07, 2014

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 3: Waiting for God to speak


The next few paragraphs up to paragraph 15 in the Diary amaze me no end. It's because God apparently kept on talking directly to Sr. Faustina to convey His will. Wow. Was I so envious. If God only told me directly which jobs to take or choices to make, maybe I wouldn't be in such a condition today -- who knows?

Maybe I am far too sinful for God to speak to me that way? Or maybe I am not listening hard enough, or that I am walling off God in some way?

 In my life as a charismatic Catholic, to be fair, I once 'heard' God talk to me directly while praying. I was hesitant to be a servant in our youth group because I felt I was undeserving and unqualified, practically speaking, and yet I 'heard' God say clearly, "Resty, follow Me." I assumed it was God because it was a gentle, loving, fatherly voice, which did not scare me despite the fact that I was alone in my room and it was pitch dark at around midnight or dawn. Apart from that, I don't remember anything else.

But if I hear God speak to me that way again and again, will I not get scared? More important: will I take heed, or will I rebel? Maybe God chooses not to deal with me the supernatural way for He's sure I am not ready?

Right now, the kind of voice I want to hear from God is the voice that tells me I am okay, I am doing fine in His eyes. That will surely console me greatly. Will I hear it or will I not?

In case all I hear is an admonition, may I have the heart to repent and believe and act accordingly.

No matter what God wants to say and how He wants it said, may I have the courage to take heed always.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 2: Why do I do what I do?

Right after her opening prayer, Sr. Faustina didn't waste time saying the reason for writing her diary: it's because the Lord told her to. This touched me immensely because I was forced to ask the question of why yet again. I have answered this question for myself before, but the fact that I had to ask again is quite telling. Maybe I wasn't very much honest about myself?

Why indeed do I write, and write what I write? Is my reason worldly?

Do I write because I want to be noticed, in which case I am KSP or kulang sa pansin in Tagalog? I don't know. Maybe, but that's so childish.
Do I write to charm people in the hope of romance? This, too, but it's quite cheap.
Do I write because I want to be famous? Possibly, but then I am scared of fame.
Do I write because I want to be acknowledged for my writing ability? Possibly.
Do I write because I want to promote my writing and earn from it? Is that so bad?
Do I write out of boredom? to rise above the drudgery, the ordinary?
Do I write because I want to be recognized for something, make my mark in the world, to have a stab at worldly immortality? May be legit but still worldly.

Do I write because I am repairing something in my past, because I am the bright one in the family and I have to live it and constantly underline it?
Do I write because I have a reputation to protect and uphold, because society expects me to, because a consistent honor student is expected to participate in building society if not contribute in concrete?
Do I write because I am angry? because I want take revenge after I was fired in my first job, a writing job?

Do I write out of insecurity, because I want to make something, anything, of myself because I lack any sort of achievement in life?

Do I write out of fear, i.e., if I didn't write or said my piece, I'd be punished, I'd be committing a sin of omission?

Do I write out of compulsion, for some other reason I failed to state above? Is my writing all about me and my desire to be always right and to look good?

Do I write because of passion, because of my genuine love for the craft, whether or not acknowledged by whoever gave it to me? Do I write because I am thankful for the gift and feel responsible for developing at it?

Finally, is it because the Lord told me to? Do I write to help others, to instruct out of charity, to be a prophet of sorts? Was I called to be that, in the first place, or am I deluding myself, appointing myself for the task?

Without God's direct voice saying so, I will never have Sr. Faustina's clarity. And with my great capacity for denial and self-deception, I don't trust my own answer.

When I put my main blog in private mode, I practically killed it by keeping the rest of the world off it. Deprived of an audience, imagined or real, what it is for? Surprisingly, I didn't feel any strong withdrawal effects, except to repost in a new blog a few of the things I thought should be shared to the public. At this specific instance, my motive is clear: I write because I want to share knowledge to a greater number of people, something I hope they would find helpful at least in terms of ethnic pride.

Let the chips fall where they may: Let my own writing output convict me, if not this Lent, then in the coming days.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 1: Hooray for today!


First off, I thank Stef for another opportunity to do this. It has been quite a fruitful exercise for me last year, and so I am excited to do it again this year. I was asked to do the choosing this time, and due to the dearth of material on my end, I had to choose what’s available: Sr. Faustina’s Diary.  This material appealed to me because it is quite hard-core, at least for me and my own circumstances. I’ve been going through a lot the past two years that I felt only the contemplative types are able to guide me. Besides, I’ve never done this sort of reflection before. I’ve read Francis of Assisi’s biography as well as Sr. Therese of Liseaux’s autobiography and I learned so much from them, but I never made an effort to jot down my mental-spiritual experience.

If not Faustina, then I thought we could give John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila a try, but these latter two are even ‘worse.’

What do I expect in this self-administered retreat? Since the famous diary is all about God's unfathomable mercy, I want exactly that this Lent: learn more about God's unfathomable mercy. Being a beneficiary, however, of a long series of retreats in community, I've learned that the better retreats are God-directed, all about emptying oneself for God's inspiration. I hope my ensuing reflections here will create a space for God for whatever His purpose this year is. Of course, I wish greater conversion, a deeper experience of God's love and mercy, but why should I dictate the agenda? Let me and my big ego not get in God's way!

Today, let me react to Sr. Faustina’s opening prayer. In it, she underlines the great blessing that is the present moment, which someone said is a present or gift.
When I look into the future I am frightened.
But why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all.

It is no longer in my power,
To change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that.
And so what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.

O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
You grant me the grace of your omnipotence.
This prayer-poem struck me because it is so Buddhist. I thought Buddhist thought has no place in Christianity, but there you have it – right in Faustina’s prayer. This is the kind of prayer that gladdens my heart and gives me courage because of the great truth contained in it. The past is gone – although I may account for everything I did in the past, “what’s done cannot be undone,” to quote Shakespeare. The only thing I can do is live the present moment to the full after asking forgiveness for the past and doing what I can in reparation.
 It is our great duty to learn from the past, but to be weighed down by the past? That’s a great folly.
Same is true with the future. We must think of the future, but not in a way that makes us anxious in the present moment and blinds us to its new gifts.

This is all for now.

No, wait, what if my today is such an unappetizing, unappealing present? It's nothing like what the unfortunate Syrian and Coptic Christians are going through right now, but let's not compare sufferings -- suffering is suffering, and as a long-time sufferer, I know what it entails and thus I am bound to treat suffering and sufferers with reverence.

Well, what can I do? In life, I've learned that when there's no choice left in a given situation, the only thing I have is my reaction to it -- it effect, it's a contradictory statement because I will always have a choice.

And I choose to live through whatever it is that is bugging me big time today! Wow, that's so easy to put on paper/in print.

Here's hoping and praying I will be able to live my day to day moment with that courageous stance. Particularly this charismatic community song's  (based on Habakkuk 3:16-19stance:

Though the fig tree blossom not, nor fruit be on the vine,
Though the fields produce no food,
And though the flock be lost,

I will joy, I will joy, I will joy in You, my God.
I will joy in your salvation.

You set my feet upon high places.
You make me run like a hind.
Oh, Lord, be swift to answer.
I will wait, I will abide.

I will joy, I will joy, I will joy in You, my God.
I will joy in your salvation.



This is not so much masochism as much as going through the fire willingly or with acceptance -- suffering without shortcuts -- while choosing the side of theological joy or "theological hope" all the while. It means that, amid the pain, I can still hope, I can still have joy in my heart, I can still smile. 

Again, here's wishing I could blurt out the same tagline that a McDonald's ad used recently: Hooray for today!


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

 

"All we are is dust in the wind"


Monday, March 03, 2014

 

Cause of discouragement, according to Mother Teresa

"If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own power. Your self-sufficiency, your selfishness and your intellectual pride will inhibit His coming to live in your heart because God cannot fill what is already full. It is as simple as that."

Saturday, March 01, 2014

 

Quotes on suffering

"Suffering is also an invitation to manifest the moral greatness of man, his spiritual maturity."

"Suffering has a special call [t the virtue of perseverance]."

- Pope John Paul II, "Salvifici doloris"

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