Rejoice, God Loves You Just The Way You Are!

Tags

, ,

imagePeople come in all shapes, sizes — and personalities. There are some individuals who are carefully labelled  as choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic.

But most of us don’t fit neatly in one box because our feelings change and our moods shift. At times, we are confident and exuberant, fully in control as though we’re on top of the world. At other times, we are cautious, hesitant and fearful of the unknown.

One of the most comforting truths about the Bible is that God knows and loves us just the way we are.

With Him we do not have to “play games” and pretend to be somebody we are not. We do not have to make a show that we are on “top of things” when we are really down and fearful in the inside.

The truth is, each one is distinct and unique in the eyes of God. No one is a carbon copy of you. Just as no two snowflakes are the same, no one else in all the world is exactly like you. Whether you’re a vibrant extrovert or a shy introvert, you are unique, one of a kind!

In the eyes of God, therefore, each one is special. You were created to fulfill a specific “mission”. The “mission”, He intends just for you. Thus, no one can replace you in the role that you were assigned by God. You maybe a medical practitioner, a nurse, therapist, artist, carpenter, laborer, a plain housewife, a struggling employee, retiree or whatever you do in life,  – that is your role.

You are most necessary and indispensable for that particular role. Therefore, rejoice and be grateful to the Lord that He has given you a purpose to fulfill – a divine mission to accomplish.

Whether you perform your role perfectly and in a meaningful manner or not, is irrelevant, because God expects each one to do, what one is capable of. He knows your limits, where you are weak and where you are good at. God does not expect ants to carry great loads of timber. Nor does God expects the elephant to fly in the air as do butterflies and doves.

He expects the birds and butterflies to fly and He love them for what they do. He expects elephants to fulfill their role in the forest. And He expects man to live as man. Each one in his own place, in his own sphere, can fulfill a task and gladden the heart of the Maker and contribute something to His plan on earth.

You may feel insignificant, but in the eyes of God, no one is indispensable. No one is useless. No one is lesser. And so, never compare and contrast , because there is no comparing and contrasting in unique things.

Hence, rejoice that you are special to God in His infinite love.

Rejoice that you have your own special place and role to perform in the creation of God.

Rejoice that His love is immediately available to you.

Rejoice that God made you just as you are and His love for you is unchanging and unqualified.

Rejoice that within you is the peace of God.

And most of all,  rejoice that God has called you to a mission, a very special duty to perform, that is, to live the Word, spread the Word and to spread peace to one and all.

Fulfill that mission NOW!

 

image 

Behold The Prince Who Came Down As A Pauper!

imageMark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper” tells the tale of two young boys, who were approximately the same age and were almost identical in appearance. One boy was the son of a King while the other was the son of a pauper. The two boys met and decided to exchange roles and stations in life. But underneath the story lies a truth of vastly greater significance than the boys’ trading lives.

In similar fashion, Jesus came to earth leaving His position at the right hand of the Father. He temporarily exchanged His heavenly position as He came to earth and lived with the reality of sickness, poverty and suffering.

Why did Jesus , the Son of the King temporarily relinquish His “Princehood” to live with men?

It is because of His great love for us that Jesus came to earth. He came to deliver the truth in a world of false beliefs. Because we are sinful, in a spiritually wrecked condition, we are in need of redemption but we could not redeem ourselves.

And so, Christ came into this world to be a final sacrifice for our sins, and this is the main reason why He came down to live with His creatures, men.

What is so amazing about Christ is how He, our Creator, God who is perfect, with all His glory, power and might, righteousness and holiness, came to live with men who are unrighteous and unholy.

He came down to do the will of the Father. For the Scriptures say, “For I have come not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me.” As a servant, He, the Son of God came to obey and fulfill His Father’s will.

“Jesus came for all”, as the Bible says, “The grace of God has appeared to all men.” Christianity is for everyone but  not everyone responds to His call, only those who acknowledge they are sinful.

And for us to know this, we only have to look at God’s standards, His commands and His law, to find that we have not perfectly obeyed them and we have fallen short of keeping them.

The Greatest Love of All

Nothing compares to God’s love for us. It is beyond  measure of any kind. God’s love is unconditional and infinite.

Jesus describes the depth of His love for us, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands, and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:9-11)

He loves us no matter what–even when we disobey. But we will live in His love, enjoy His love, as we obey Him.

When Jesus died on the cross, He defeated the devil and the power of sin. His shed of blood atoned for the sins of the whole world and satisfied the justice of God, once and for all.

No longer would people be powerless against sin and the devil’s schemes. No longer would they have to be separated from God.

As a physical reminder of that, at the moment when Jesus died on the cross, an earthquake shook Jerusalem.

In the holiest part of the temple, the huge, thick curtain separating the people of God tore in from the top to bottom. It was as though God was saying to us,  “Now you may come to Me, because my Son have opened the gates.”

This way is open for us now if we put Jesus into our hearts. Accepting Christ as the center of our life means giving Him all that we are, both the good and the bad, asking Him to help us live for Him. If we believe in Him, we will be saved.

When Jesus hung on the cross dying, He suffered for our sins, not because He had to, but because He wanted to.

As Isaiah puts it;

“Surely, He has borne our griefs and carries our sorrows, yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced by our transgressions, He was crushed by our inequities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–everyone–to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all .” (Isaiah 53:4-6)

            “God’s love is the Greatest Love of All.”

“He lay down His  life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Yes my friend, the Lord Jesus exchanged His life and place for us. He was the sacrificial lamb to save mankind and He brought the gift of eternal life by virtue of His death.

Christ was a Prince who came down as a pauper. What a paradox!

When God gave us a new life, it didn’t come on a silver platter or trimmed in lace and smelling of sweet perfume. Jesus, began His life as a pauper in a smelly, damp stable. He tasted real life, and that will be the flavor of your journey with Christ-no magic, just the promise that He will be with you and He will not abandon you.

And so, isn’t it wonderful that You and I were once a pauper but are now children not just of a King, but children of the  King of Kings and the Lord of Lords? This is because of God’s eternal love for us.

image

 

The Bible And The Fulfillment Of Its Prophecies

Tags

, ,

 

imageOver the years, men have fought over the Bible, argued over it, some have even died for it. We’ve seen dictators ban it from their countries claiming it brought unrest. Others have tried to destroy it, yet it endures.

The Bible has endured because not only is it God’s textbook for living but it also does away from the grim pessimism that grips so many today and tells us that there is hope for the hopeless.

The Bible also gives us prophecies- how the world was created and how it will end. Matthew 24:3-14 tells us that there would be series of events that would lead to the conclusion of the series of things.

I never thought that in this generation, I would consider myself an eyewitness to the fulfillment of the Bible prophecies, that we are now living in the last days. The signs of the times are presently unfolding and happening, critical times hard to deal with, is now taking place.

There is no doubt, all of us, regardless of our culture, race, background and color, are very much affected by the current world events.

The Bible says, “Nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom.”

There are wars and reports of wars, issues on territorial disputes, terrorism, explosions and bombs everywhere. Innocent people are being killed.

Natural disasters like earthquakes, storms and floods., food shortages, increase of lawlessness, deadly diseases such as AIDS, Ebola virus in Africa, MersCoV in the MIddle East, SARS in Asia are shaking the world. Add to this, the global impact of climate change.

We live in a society plagued by abortion, domestic violence, child molestation, blasphemy, pornography, alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling. We all witness strange world events as it unfold before our very eyes. Global situation is escalating from bad to worse, we are living in a more troubled society. Need I emphasize that the world is wallowing in misery and despair?

Is there an end to all of this? Is it now normal to wake up in fear everyday?

The Bible tells us two things; the events and the signs which refer to the end times, that will take place in the present generation. This is now being fulfilled in this generation. “But the coming of Jesus,” the Bible says, “will come much later.”

According to the Scriptures, we cannot know the time of the Lord’s return, but it make it equally clear that we can know the season of the Lord’s return.

You yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night…But you brethren are not in the darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night or darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

imageThis passage asserts that Jesus is coming like “a thief in the night.” But then it proceeds to make it clear that this will be true only for the pagan world and not for believers.

Therefore, His return should not be a surprise to those who know Him and His Word, for they have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to give them understanding of the nature of the times.

Brothers and sisters in Christ,  “So then, let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.”

For Jesus also said,“When you see all these things, recognize that He [the Son of Man - Jesus] is near, right at the door” Matthew 24:33.

 

 

God Is Infinitely Larger

Tags

, ,

image

Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things. Isaiah 40:26

Great artists, inventors, scientists, world leaders and industrialists, all figure out in the list of the most famous people in the world. But would it be fair to say that the true measure of a person is his accomplishment?

Shakespeare for instance, was considered great because of the excellent literary pieces that came from his typewriter.

The Sistine Chapel and sculptures such as  “David” and “La Pieta” are synonymous with the excellence of Michelangelo.

We tend to judge an individual by his accomplishments but Shakespeare was greater than his writings and Michelangelo greater that his works of art. This being true, God is far greater than any or all of His creations.

If God is greater than what He has created, then how big is He?

We cannot even figure out how vast the universe is, or fathom the depth of the sea. There is one thing I am certain though, God is infinitely larger than any challenge, or any problem that shall confront me.

At times when I feel discouraged and the feeling of uncertainty  creeps into my being, I am comforted just by the thought that I am a tiny part of God’s creation. So, I just have to reach out by faith and say, “Thank you O God! You are far bigger than my need, your plans for me are far bigger than what I have planned for myself. I surrender everything to you O Lord. Please take charge of the steering wheel, and wherever you will lead me, I will follow with all my heart.”

My heart bleeds that the Lord Jesus made the supreme example of self-surrender. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus surrendered Himself to God. He prayed, “Father everything is possible for You. Please take this cup of suffering from me. Yet I want your will, not mine”. Mark 14:26

Lord, you agonized so much over God’s plan that you sweated blood. I understand that total surrender is hardwork, it requires intense warfare against my self-centeredness. And so I pray to you.. God, whatever circumstances  that  is needed to fulfill Your purpose and glory, in my life, that”s what I want it too..

Whatever You permit me to do and wherever you will lead me, “LORD GOD, THY WILL BE DONE.”

image

Planting The Seeds of Compassion in the 21st Century

image With the fast evolution of technology, the 21st century is now at its 5th computer generation. The era where various gadgets ordinarily weave themselves  into everyday life. This has created a growing concern among many  how  technology particularly the computer and the Internet have impacted on the moral values of people especially the youth of today.

For many of us Christians, who profess and practice, “love thy neighbor as thyself”  we pose this big question: is technology in part to blame for the desensitization of the masses and the loss of empathy and compassion?

WHERE IS COMPASSION IN THE INTERNET?

Perhaps, one of the most amazing invention that has ever been made for mankind is the Internet. Beyond question, it has consistently been    an efficient tool in communication, media, business and economics and has made almost everything possible and reachable in all corners of the world.

However, while it provides a vast array of positive contributions to humanity, it  has also some adverse effects on people and  their lives as a whole. As a Christian, I am saddened by the fact that generally, many are losing their sense of compassion in the Internet.

Something I have personally noticed within the Internet world  is the large sense of disconnect there seems to be between people and their words. I’ve read and heard people say nasty things to one another in the comment sections, even personally attacking one another in social media like Twitter and Facebook.

One recent trending topic on twitter and facebook in the Philippines was about a celebrity/politician who sent a gift to another celebrity  with this message, “Life is short. enjoy it. You are so bless. Thank you for believing in me, I truely appreciate it”. This  created harsh criticisms over the wrong spelling/grammar  when the celebrity-recipient posted the picture of the message on Twitter.

I felt  sorry for the poor lady who may have suffered endless humiliation from TV interviews here and there as if no one has ever committed such a mistake before and as if such error was so big to create the whole world to condemn and laugh.

I wonder why people are becoming less and less sensitive nowadays. Can we  just put aside our intellect for awhile and just listen to what our hearts say? Can we just forgive others mistakes and weaknesses and focus on their good acts and sincere intentions instead?

Similarly, CYBER BULLYING is also on the rise. There are even  incidence about suicide that have been reported due to bullying in the Internet.

Take this case, during the Summer Olympics back in 2012, British diver Tom Daley reported a rather repulsive comment on Twitter following his gold medal loss. The bully wrote, “You let your dad down, I hope you know that”, referring to the fact that Daley was hoping to win the gold in honor of his father who died the prior year from brain cancer.

These are but a few examples of the callous comments that are made online on a daily basis.

What has happened to the generation of today? Where is the empathy? Where is the compassion and humanity?

VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES TURN-OFF COMPASSION INSTINCTS

Another “invention” in the computer world is the fast rising video games featuring violence which is gaining very high popularity among children and young adults. A new study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology provides more evidence that violent video games desensitize players to violence and makes them more violent in real life.

The study reached to the conclusion that violent video games showed less brain activity to real violence and therefore, turns-off the compassion instincts. Researchers of this study say, “people less emotionally affected by violence can be a coping strategy. They want to be able to turn on the news without having their hearts broken by the latest tragedy.”

When asked why the participants of this study would want to be less affected by violence and suffering, they said it would make it easier for them to function in a world in which violence is inescapable.

Now, I ask, “what would the world be if everyone has this kind of thinking?” Has violence really been a normal part of  human existence?

Sadly, the answer is YES! We see and hear about violence everywhere in the world. From the confines of homes where there is domestic violence, battered wives and children abuse, brutal killings in the streets to raging religious and territorial wars. This is the reality in the 21st Century.

“As we cannot avoid living in this fast evolving computer world, the most we can do is to help one another bring compassion awareness to the world, starting with ourselves and to our families.”

As followers of Christ, we are challenged to help others especially the youth to regain compassion and empathy back into their lives.

PLANTING THE SEEDS OF COMPASSION

Planting the seeds of compassion is the challenge Dalai Lama passes to the next generation. He said,”Turn the 21st century into a peaceful century through dialogue, respect mindfulness and fostering a oneness with humanity.” He further said, “we must make this century as a century of compassion.” The Dalai Lama was born in 1935 to a poor farm family in Northeastern Tibet, the Nobel Peace Prize winner shared warm memories of how his mother planted the seeds of compassion within him as a growing child riding on her back through the fields.

“She was always very gentle”, he recalled. “I think her gentleness sometimes spilled into me,” he said.

“Compassion”, he said “can occur on two levels: an inborn sense of concern for the well-being of others and an intellectual awareness that supporting our communities strengthens humanity. So, destruction of your neighbor is really a destruction of yourself because everyone is inter-dependent, that’s the reality,” he explained.

He stressed that Education is a critical step in nurturing those seeds of compassion. He said, “teaching students skills in mindfulness, respect and how to handle destructive emotions and achieve peace of mind.” 

This being said, parents, teachers and the community play a vital role in planting and nurturing the seeds of compassion.

PARENTS, TEACHERS AND THE COMMUNITY AS PARTNERS

Scientific studies identified compassion as one of the major building blocks of character that must grow into sustained concern for others, and children need certain kind of support and guidance from  adults if they are to turn their early positive inclinations into the mature virtues that constitute good character.

IN THE HOME

The most important place where compassion is learned is in the home. Like The Dalai Lama’s mother who always showed gentleness, parents should nurture their children with love and compassion. Consequently, the love they have instilled in their children will overflow not only within the family, but to others that their children encounter in the school and in the community.

Setting a good example in the home is the best teaching tool for parents. Logic would tell us that children who are brought up with much love and care are naturally more loving and compassionate than those who are not.

  • Children must practice compassion in their daily lives. Difficult encounters with family members, classmates and friends present opportunities to put themselves in another’s shoes. They also practice compassion when they practice giving without expecting anything in return.
  • Instill in them the love of animals-caring for pets is another way of practicing compassion.
  • Help Children to cope with anger. Anger is one of the greatest hindrances to compassion because it can overwhelm and cloud the children’s minds and spirits. We can help children by asking how their anger will help solve their problem and help them see both their positive and negative sides. This will teach them how anger leads to unreliable and destructive outcomes.
  • Teach children to self-regulate. Today’s children tend to be more daring and more aggressive. Therefore, it is very important for parents to teach their children the importance of self-regulation-the ability to stop or delay an action rather than behaving impulsively. Self-regulation is the antidote against self-destruction because it brings more time to fully discern before deciding to do something.
  • Praise children when they regulate themselves. Children will feel internal rewards for feeling appreciated. This serves as a moral-booster for them to continue their good deeds.

IN THE SCHOOL AND  COMMUNITY

Outside the home, the school and the community is where children get their most influence-from teachers, peers, classmates and neighbors.

Developing compassion in children involves all adults stepping up to do their parts. So like parents, teachers and community leaders should likewise be role-models to children.

  • Children can practice compassion through school activities like boyscouts,, sports leagues, charity work and other community service programs. Letting them experience how others are going through life’s sufferings and hardships  will bring them to “compassion awareness.”
  • Teachers should emphasize the moral and personal significance of serving others as these are also powerful inducers of character development.
  • Help children view work and service to others as a sense of “calling”, a means of contributing to the betterment of the world by using one’s personal skills and talents.
  • Also a hindrance to compassion, is bullying. Parents and teachers should work hand in hand to minimize if not to eradicate bullying in the home, in the school and in the community.They should emphasize that bullying is totally unacceptable and never tolerated.  If there are signs of bullying, they should address them early , before the behavior and its impact get worse. In this regard, it is important to create a safe and caring school and community.

In the 21st century and beyond, the rapid change in technology may be creating a great challenge to people’s moral values and their lives as a  whole, but empathy and compassion will always flourish and will continually thrive,  from the hearts of people especially the youth where the seeds of compassion are planted.

 

 

 

 

Of Living and Loving for 29 Years and Counting

Tags

,

image Having been married to each other for almost 3 decades wasn’t at all that easy. Like any other “normal” married couple, we also had our shares of “stormy weather.” But with God’s grace and guidance we had stood by each other through thick and thin, and together we had endured the tests of time..  29 years ago, on July 28, l985 at Our Lady of Lourdes Mangato Church, we vowed, “to love each other… for better or for worst, till death do us part….”

And today, as we celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary, we renew our vows as we pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for the graces and blessings you have given us during the past 29 years of marriage. We celebrate and recall the day when we are joined together as partners in life and we thank you for being with us on our daily journey together through life’s ups and downs.

We fervently ask you to increase our sense of belonging to each other, just as Jesus says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.” (Matthew 19:5,6 NIV)

We thank you that you have freely given us Your presence, strength, help and hope. We pray that we will continue to grow in our ability to work together for the good of each other, for the good of our family and for the good of the world. Fill us with love, forgiveness, patience and trust.

Guide us with the light of your word where it says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

Increase our sense of companionship and friendship. Grant us the ability to laugh at our mistakes and the means to share the simple pleasures of life together. Enable us to speak the truth in love. Help us to be good listeners. And grant us wisdom and a spirit of cooperation as we make your good plans together on the tough issues and challenges we face.

We also ask you Lord to surround us  with good friends and neighbors. Protect our home. Care for our family. Provide for our needs. Guard our health. And may we enjoy many other anniversaries together. In the name of Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, we pray…..AMEN.

May I share this  HOMILY that I have researched  honoring long-married couples just like many of us…May it inspire, enlighten and strengthen us more as we continue our matrimonial journey…

Homilies

‘A living witness that God is love’

Archbishop Wenski’s homily at annual Mass honoring long-married couples

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Archbishop Thomas Wenski – The Archdiocese of Miami

Archbishop Thomas Wenski’s homily at the annual Mass celebrating married love, and couples marking 25, 50 and more years of marriage. The Mass took place Feb. 12 at St. Mary Cathedral with more than 100 couples and their families in attendance.

The human race, male and female, were created in the image and likeness of this God who is love. Understanding that we are made in the image and likeness of God can help us to understand why God put into the humanity of man and woman the vocation – and thus the capacity and the responsibility – of love and communion.

imageToday, we honor you because your response to that vocation, with the help of God’s grace, has endured through the trials and tests of time. We honor all those celebrating significant milestones in your years of married life, especially those celebrating their golden or silver anniversaries.

Your vocation to a common life lived in the Lord – that is, within the holy bonds of sacramental marriage – is a witness to the fact that God does love his people.

Your coming together “in one flesh” in a relationship of mutual and exclusive fidelity “until death, do you part” is an image and symbol of the new and eternal covenant that unites God and his people.

As a sacrament, matrimony is a living and outward sign of Christ’s own love for his bride, the Church. Your unconditional love one for another, the mutual and exclusive fidelity of your love for one another, your love’s openness to life expressed through its fruits – your children and your good works – reflect the love of Christ himself.

He loves us to the end with a love that is unconditional, faithful and, through the gifts of his Spirit poured into our lives, fruitful. Yes, by your love for each other – in sickness and in health, for better or for worse – you give a living witness that Deus Caritas Est, God is Love.

It is a witness sorely needed today when so many people – and society itself –are confused about the meaning of marriage and family. Today, more than ever, we need your witness about the true “facts of life”, about the ultimate meaning and truth of conjugal life.

The many years you have shared together – and certainly no one can pretend that they were always easy or that there will be no difficult days ahead – but those many years have given you experience – but more than experience, they have given you wisdom. You must share that wisdom if young people today are to discover the beauty of the vocation to love.

As Pope Benedict XVI pointed out in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, the word “love” today is frequently used and misused. Most commonly, it represents what the ancient Greeks called “Eros”; that is, the erotic love between a man and a woman. But the Church, from her earliest days, proposed a new vision of self-sacrificial love expressed in the word “agape”.

The natural human love between a man and a woman is a beautiful and sacred thing but it needs discipline and maturity, it needs “agape” lest it lose its true dignity and purpose.

Our modern society certainly has exalted “Eros” but at the same time it has also debased the human body and in doing so has impoverished Eros. Eros, reduced to just “sex”, has become a commodity – a mere “thing” to be bought and sold. The lack of modesty, our complacency with the “soft porn” that has invaded our popular culture, is not a sign of our society’s “being at ease” with the body – as opposed to an older generation’s supposed prudish uptightness. Rather, it is a sign of our society’s contempt for the human body.

Men and women today consider their bodies and their sexuality are purely material – somehow outside of themselves as if they were “extra baggage or an external shell” and thus to be able to be used and exploited at will.

Today, we see that many, including the President of the United States, believe that somehow fertility is a disease and pregnancy is pathology. And so, our government in its zeal to classify contraception, sterilization and chemical abortion as “preventive health care” is willing to ride rough shod over the religious freedom of Catholics and other Americans.

As Catholics, we do not believe that we are Platonic “ghosts in machines” or Cartesian “substantive minds”. We believe that we are “ensouled bodies” – we have one human nature, made up of a unity of body and soul.

Our bodies – and our differentiation into male and female – are not extraneous to our selves, to our very beings; rather our body and our sexuality are part of our identity as persons. Just as we speak of a sacrament as an outward or visible sign of an inner or spiritual reality, our bodies sacramentally display our souls.

As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council reminded us, man can only realize himself through the sincere gift of himself. The “Theology of the Body” developed by Pope John Paul II speaks of “nuptial meaning” of the body, for the human body, constituted male or female, reveals man and woman’s call to become a gift for one another, a gift fully realized in their “one flesh” union.

The body also has a “generative meaning” that (God willing) brings a “third” into the world through their communion. In this way, marriage constitutes a “primordial sacrament” understood as a sign that truly communicates the mystery of God’s Trinitarian life and love to husband and wife – and through them to their children, and through the family to the whole world.

In this way, we can speak of the language of the body. Our body language can communicate the deepest sentiments of the human person created by God for love and communion. However, to be authentic, this body language must reflect the truth about human nature as created by God.

Only manifestations of self-giving that correspond to that truth will tend to that communion of persons to which humanity is directed. For this reason, adultery and cohabitation without marriage, one night stands and so called same-sex unions, while certainly described by some as “erotic”, are in themselves incompatible to our true vocation to love.

These expressions of a fraudulent “body language” are not worthy of the dignity of man created male and female in the image and likeness of God. It is a fraudulent body language that “communicates” only the counterfeit of true love.

Eros properly understood, however, does symbolize God’s passionate love for his people – and this Eros that attracts the opposite sexes to one another “leads a man and a woman to marriage, to a bond that is exclusive and therefore monogamous as well as permanent”.

This is exactly what Jesus affirms, when quoting the Book of Genesis, he says: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Matt 19:5-6)

And of course, a distorted notion of Eros is not a just a product of our modern times. Although man’s vocation is to love, our capacity for love was wounded since that original sin of Adam and Eve. Because of that wound, we find the responsibilities of love very challenging, if not impossible. Even the apostles, when Jesus affirmed the indissolubility of marriage, complained: “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” (Matt 19:10)

As Pope Benedict urges in his encyclical, a correct understanding of “Eros” needs to be rediscovered if today’s men and women are to respond faithfully to their vocation to love. A balance, between the ecstasy of “Eros” and the unselfish love of agape, needs to be reestablished.

The key to regaining such a balance, the Holy Father tells us, is found in a personal relationship with God and an understanding of the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.

We are in need of grace to be healed of the wounds of sin: only God’s sanctifying grace can overcome the hardness of heart that led Moses to permit divorce. Only through the redemptive power of Christ’s paschal sacrifice was marriage restored according to God’s plan from the beginning and thus was raised by Christ himself to the dignity of a sacrament.

The hopes that people place in marriage are increasingly fragile in our age of easy divorce. Too many people, especially among our young, are cynical about the possibilities of entering into a joyful marriage that will endure until death. The hopes that people place in marriage are capable of being fulfilled only by acceptance of the Gospel.

For this reason we gather today at this “agape”, this celebration of the self-sacrificial love of Jesus Christ which is the Holy Mass. Here, we come wounded but seeking wholeness from the Physician of souls and bodies, Jesus Christ. And we are confident in the power of his grace – the grace that restores us to the spiritual health that makes reconciliation with him and with each other possible as is represented in today’s Gospel with Jesus curing the leper.

We ask you to once again renew the commitment that you made to each other so long ago, a commitment that has been tested and refined over the years, and a commitment that is now blessed and enriched by the wisdom of age. And we thank you for this witness.

     
         

 

Let There Be Peace

Tags

, ,

image

Beyond shadow of a doubt, we now live in constant state of unease an anxiety, feeling like there is more to do and more to worry about. We stress about our to-do lists, even though no matter how many items pop-up, more will take their place. Isn’t that something familiar to you?

We feel like we can’t relax and be happy until we have achieved some goals, but when we get what we want, we just want more and more. There seems to be no satisfaction in the blessings that we are receiving from God, or have we forgotten to count our blessings?

In this chaotic world where we live, I am most certain that what most people look for, but are unsure how to obtain, is PEACE.

Here are some guidelines that may mean the difference  between peace and turmoil:

REDIRECT YOUR PERSPECTIVE TO GOD’S PERSPECTIVE

To lead a peaceful life we need to redirect our perspective to God’s perspective. It is only when we follow God’s path and God’s perspective that we also obtain God’s peace, and this is  through meditating on the Scriptures and becoming a living witness  of the Word.

Talking with His disciples, Jesus said, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

PRAY

When your life is filled with bitterness, not much peace can fill your heart.

Pray, “Lord Jesus, I have sinned, I need you to fix the problem of my heart, I beg for your forgiveness and I fervently ask for your peace.”

Let us remember that Christianity is more than preventive psychiatry; it is a gift that brings eternal life and its by-product is peace.

BE CONTENTED

In a world that honors outward achievement, tells people they will never have enough, and encourages an impossibly busy life, peace and contentment can feel like a distant dream.

But here is the secret: there can never be inward peace without being satisfied with what the Lord is giving us. Think about it this way: As parents, we only give what is best for our children and when and  our children are not contended with what we are providing them, and they do not even show their gratitude, will that make us happy? This is similar to our Father, who provides us countless blessings.

Let us always be grateful and be contended with what life is giving us and we will find inner peace.

BE AN EFFECTIVE LIVING WITNESS OF CHRIST

Your old nature demands exoneration. Stop playing the “blame game” with your spouse, son, daughter, boss or even yourself. It produces anger, irritation and turmoil.

As you exonerate your old self, and you follow the Word of God through your actions, you become an effective witness for Christ in a lost world. A “witness” is someone who attest to a fact, so in order to be an effective witness, you must have a first-hand knowledge of Him.

John the Apostle speaks of this in 1 John 1:1-3, when he says, “That… which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at, and our hand have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life.”

Today, we who have experienced a new life in Christ give an account of His love and forgiveness, both verbally and in the way we live our lives. This is “witnessing”.

Have peace, be an effective living witness of Christ.

HOLD OUT THE OLIVE BRANCH

Life is too short to live with broken relationships. You’ll be amazed how different you feel when you say, “I’d like to be your friend. Let’s settle that issue that have divided us.” In short, hold out the olive branch.

 

So then, maybe instead of wringing our hands about  apalling evil acts in the world that creates turmoil and chaos, we ought to look within our own hearts. At our anger. Lust. Greed. Pride. Laziness. Indifference. And even hypocrisy.

We certainly cannot stop chaos in this world but we can find God’s peace in our own hearts. We can’t eradicate the evil in this world but we surely have a choice, but for us Christians we only have one:  to do good and be good.

 

Just Think Of The Sparrows

Tags

, ,

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As I celebrate my birthday on the 20th of July, I had wanted a bird for a gift. But instead, God gave me thisimage “imaginary sparrow”, so that I could share it with everyone.

When I read my final draft of this article, I cried…because I soon realized that not only did God answer all the questions I’d been asking Him for sometime  but He also guided me to find out the answers, myself.

Yes, I am a self-confessed “sparrow”.

Please take time to read and maybe if you’ll think of the sparrows, you will say a li’l prayer for me as well..

Thank you and may God bless us all!

Sincerely,

Mayrose

image

It amazes me that the sparrows are mentioned in the Bible numerous times.. And how the sparrows predominately find themselves in the language of the Bible, amazes me even more. What is so special about them? Just for kicks, I made a research about this particular kind of bird.

Here’s what I discovered, out of the more than 9,000 varieties of birds in the world, none is more common than the sparrow. The sparrows are simply small and pretty insignificant birds. This gave away the answer, it is their being insignificant that made them significant to the Lord.

It is no wonder then that Jesus use them as an object lesson that we may not soar like the eagles or strut like the peacocks but like the sparrows, we are just as important to our Heavenly Father.

From my perspective, I could see a bit of the “sparrow” in everyone of us. The “sparrow” within us  manifests in different forms. There are times when we feel so worthless and  feels like nobody loves us and no one even cares anymore if we are still alive. Also those times  when it’s like the world is against us. Those times when we ask, “Where are you God?” amidst our feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.  Those are the times that we become a “sparrow-on-the-whole”.

Such is not always the case however, the “sparrow” within us may also manifests in bits and pieces in  our lives, like  when we are successful in our career but flops in our marriage or other similar cases.  In other words, there are some areas in our lives that may have drawn us to feel insignificant, or at least we had some experiences of “sparrow moments”- that time when we felt so small, unloved and unnoticed.

Have we not all gone through this at some point in our lives? Then, everyone of us is a sparrow. So, as followers of Christ, we are all “Christian-sparrows” and therefore no one is excluded from the love of God. In short, we are ALL important to the Lord.

From my research, I have also found that sparrows have different species- american tree sparrow, house sparrow, henslow’s sparrow, to name a few, each  have their own distinct color and characterstics. Similarly, as we have diversified traits, culture and total personality make-up, we deal with the “sparrow” within us differently. Like the bird sparrow,  there are also different types of  “Christian-sparrows”.

TYPES OF “CHRISTIAN-SPARROWS” :

1. THE DORMANT “CHRISTIAN-SPARROW”

This could happen because of chronic adverse circumstances that can be  due to disease, bad home or job situation or anything that may affect our life on a major scale. This could result to a feeling of worthlessness and despair. “Sparrow moments” huh?

Here’s what may have happened..We have all heard of the word “erosion”, right? When something erodes, it is either eaten away or worn out. Erosion is a process whereby something which was once a thing of beauty or a strong pillar of some type has deteriorated.

We have all seen or heard about a landslide  or mountain erosion that causes damage to its surroundings. Well, this is parallel to our Christian walk, all of a sudden, we just stop and become dormant. As we go in years, the same can occur in each of us.

WHAT TO DO:

We may have “eroded” in our Christian walk but unlike soil erosion which maybe irreparable we can always start a new walk with the Lord Jesus.

How? If we are going to understand the world and its circumstances, then we must be ceaseless students of the Bible. Keep in mind that the Bible comes from the mind of God and it is the ONLY source of the true perspective of God.

And so, if we are to regain our equilibrium and continue our walk with God, then it is necessary to return to the Word of God.

2. THE “CHRISTIAN-SPARROW’ WHO PATIENTLY WAITS

Sometimes, we go through circumstances that make us feel overlooked and brushed aside. We see the success of others and wonder when it’s our turn. Others receives accolades while we are quietly doing our own thing, and instead of being recognized we even get criticisms for it.

Sometimes, God places us in quiet seasons, seasons hidden and tucked away. In those times, it can be easy to feel cheated and gipped.

WHAT TO DO:

I think the most important thing we can do with our lives is quietly go with God’s purposes for us. But in the meantime, we can have  some “sparrow moments”, we feel small and insignificant. We wonder why she got that job, or he got those accolades. or why the family is living luxuriously when we could barely make both ends meet.

Here’s the truth of the matter. God sees us and He is just preparing us for the right time until we are ready to get that promotion that He intends just for us. YES…we, too will have that promotion…in HIS time.

We may want something and we may want it rightaway…BUT God says..”WAIT, just wait! I have bigger plans for you..this is just not  the right time.”

In these quiet waiting seasons, when we feel stuck and left behind, God does His great work of refining us. He is teaching us lessons, dealing out pearls of wisdom, but only if our hands are open to receiving them.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

3. THE HOPELESS “CHRISTIAN-SPARROW”

Amidst the multiple problems that our world faces today- unemployment, food shortages, energy crisis, spiking cost of basic commodities, religious wars add to these the burgeoning global population,  it’s inevitable that many are gripped with a quiet despair, uncertain of their future, wondering even if they could survive till their next paycheck. They flit from one task to another, doing the best they can.

At other times, their life is smooth sailing but  only for a time, then they find themselves sinking once more…This is the reality of what a majority of the population is going through during this modern times..but God is so good that when we were born, He gifted us with “survival instincts” to help us cope and survive in difficult situations. And so, we don’t easily give up, we continue to fight and  we become resilient. Unfortunately however, there are times when we have given our best shot, have done everything we can and yet we fail.

WHAT TO DO:

At times like these, learn to put into God’s hands what you cannot change. Learning more about Him will give you confidence that He’s able to take care of your storms in life. Giving up and not being able to overcome your difficulties on your own  doesn’t always mean you’re weak, it means you have strong  faith that God will see you through like the sparrows.

This is the time  to remind yourself too that self-reliance maybe an admirable trait in our society, but when you have given it all and still you haven’t or never succeeded, then you have to accept the simple truth that there are things that only God can do.

The psalmist says, “For in the day of trouble, He will keep me safe in His dwelling, He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”

4. THE ‘CHRISTIAN-SPARROW’ WITH A BIG HEART

This is my favorite type.

In the homily during a mass I attended, the priest related a touching story about an old woman who never fails to attend the early morning mass. “And everyday”, said the priest, “the woman would get the broom and sweep the floor after the mass”. Then one day, the priest could no longer resist asking the woman, “how much are you paid for it?” “Nothing Father”, the woman replied. “Since I do not have money for the alms, I serve the Lord in my own little way. This is my humble love-offering to Him”.

Such an admirable tiny sparrow with a BIG heart for Jesus. Can we be like this woman? Like her, every Christian can serve the Lord even in little things coupled with love.

imageSo, to which type do you belong?

How wonderful it is when Jesus spoke of sparrows to let us understand that He notices even them and that we are of far greater value.

Simply put, the next time you feel shunned by the outside world, neglected, small and unimportant…My friend, have faith! Just think of the sparrows.

 

 

 

 

 

Rewrite Your Song

Tags

, ,

image

A singer/composer was interviewed on TV and was asked where he gets his inspiration. He replied, “from my own life story and the lives of others that spark my interest.” Before the show ended, he obliged to render a song that goes….”According to you, I’m stupid.. I’m useless… I can’t do anything right…..According to you….”

While I listened, I was wondering whose life story that was. What I am sure of is that, NOBODY would ever want to be labelled as stupid or useless. I am even more certain that whoever owns that story or something similar to it would want a BETTER life. A life that deserves a BIT of respect, dignity and honor.

I believe everyone’s life makes a good SONG. And if you want your song to be even BETTER, it is NOT too late to rewrite the lyrics and bring the melody attuned to GOD’s teachings of righteousness.

As Bill Graham said, “Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our Earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day”.

So, COMPOSE the SONG of your LIFE to be so beautiful, that even when you are long gone…when the music is played, you will always be remembered.

MAKE YOUR SONG, YOUR LEGACY!

 

Gleamy Stairways

Tags

, ,

image

Trials and tribulations come in different forms, sizes, kinds and descriptions. They form part of human existence. Unfortunately, most often than not, they sneak at the backdoor as unexpected and unwelcome surprises that usually take us off guard. How we handle these difficult situations is what psychologists call as “coping with crisis”. I view them as “Gleamy Stairways”.

Metaphoric and literal, stairways make us stop and ponder. In life, we spend a lot of mounting and alighting in steps both figuratively and literally. We go up, we go down. Sometimes we trip, falter or fall. Also on some occasions, our life spiral in every which way. But as believers, we never stop climbing. We NEVER give up because the LORD is with us.

NONE are too good to be spared from trials, and none are too bad to be excluded from GOD’s help when trials come.

WHEN DEPRESSION SETS IN

When our trials and tribulations come one after the other, we become overwhelmed. This leads us to a whirlpool of mistakes and our coping mechanisms fail. Such may bring us to a state of depression.

Loneliness creeps in from time to time but when it lingers on (we call it chronic in medical terms) and it interferes with all areas of our life including work and social relationships, it can be a serious problem.

As a registered nurse, I have learned that depression is more than just sadness. People with depression experience a lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or excessive sleeping, lack of energy, inability to concentrate and WORST- recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Doctors also found that there is a chemical imbalance in the brain due to the lack of the “feel-good hormone” known as dopamine.

Incidentally, according to Global Statistics conducted by WHO, there are 350 million people worldwide who are suffering from depression. In the U.S., 1 out of 10 Americans suffer from depression and more than 3.4% of people with major depression commits suicide.

And there is this New Global Report from WHO: “Depression predominant cause of illness and disability among adolescents”. It says further, “many serious diseases in adulthood have their roots in adolescence”.

Everyone is vulnerable to depression including the rich and the famous like the celebrities and other prominent people. How many have turned to drugs and have committed suicide because of extreme loneliness?

Would you believe? Even in good times, an average of 16 million new cases of depression occur in the US each year. Apparently, depression has taken a serious toll around the world leading me to ask, “What is really going on here?”  So, allow me to share my thoughts on this. First, let me start with the causes of depression.

CAUSES OF DEPRESSION

  • DEPRESSION may be attributed to familial disposition. Yes, it is not only acquired but may be inherited. A person whose family member suffered from depression will have a greater chance of acquiring it than someone who has none.
  • It can also be traced back to an unresolved conflict/s or crisis as in persons who were abused during chiildhood.
  • A result of refusing to accept failures as when one cannot come up to his/her lofty ambitions or the high expectations of parents or loved ones.
  • loss of a loved one, a job, failed relationships or  unsuccessful businesses resulting to financial disaster.
  • It may be physiologic- deficiency of some chemicals in the brain as mentioned earlier.

Just as happiness is subjective and so is loneliness. In short, there are as many causes of depression as you can think of that may make one extremely unhappy.

DEPRESSION IS TREATABLE

In the medical field, depression is considered as a “mental illness” Hence, sufferers bear the stigma of being told they are “mentally ill”.

As a “soul-centered” nurse, however, I believe depression is NOT primarily another word for unhappiness, nor is it “mental illness”. It is rather in many instances a response to a “lack of spiritual life”.

I strongly believe that my advocacy in nurturing and healing the spirit as an integral part in the holistic healing of the body IS what makes me  a “soul-centered” nurse.

So to continue, one thing that makes our life difficult sometimes is that we’re out of God’s physical presence. God didn’t say it would be easy but He promised, He would be there when we needed Him. Even though it feels like it sometimes, we must always remember that we are not alone in our journey.

While there is no substitute for seeking medical help and taking medications, it is MOST important to make our own personal spiritual assessment to determine the level of our spirituality for the ULTIMATE HEALING FORCE in depression or in any other forms of afflictions for that matter  is a GOD-centered life.

To attain  a GOD-CENTERED LIFE you must:

FIND YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE

Every person is driven by something. It could be the desire for money, fame, pleasure or success. Whatever it is, something drives a person’s life. Do you know what drives your life?

It is hard to move forward when you don’t know where you’re headed and why. GOD’s plan gives us the basic answers to life’s basic questions like “What’s your purpose in this life?”, and “What happens when I die?”. You can find all the answers in the Scriptures. Until you bring God into the picture you will never fully understand what life is all about.

Knowing our purpose in life give us hope and help us find peace and joy.

BE OPTIMISTIC

VIEW life in a positive way.

The power of positive thinking for the believer is rooted in what we believe about God and His word. In addition, meditating on God’s word on a regular basis equips a believer to live righteously because the Bible clearly leads us in the direction of positive thinking in our Christian walk.

As believers, we have the power of God to control our thinking: choose only those that are positive and eliminate all  the negative ones  as they do not come from God.

Thereafter, the fruit of godliness springs up within our soul.

LIVE EACH DAY AT A TIME

“One day at a time-this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past., for it is gone. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering”.-Ida Scott Taylor

One cause of depression is that you feel overloaded and you try so hard to deal with so much at once. Things are much more manageable when you do it one at a time. When you try to handle everything at once, you often don’t know what to do first and you end up doing nothing at all. And this can even aggravate your depression.

Embrace today! It is a gift, live one day at a time and live it to the fullest.

BE REALISTIC

Set goals that are attainable and realistic.

Ambitions that are too high demand equal amounts of stress and pressure such that when you fail  it can be so unbearable. In fact, according to new research, while  lofty ambition can help you achieve a very prestigious education and corporate success, these may not make you happier in the long run. It says, “Ambition could make you rich but not happy”.

Here is the result of a study led by Timothy Judge, professor of Management at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business:

The results of “On the value of aiming high”: The causes and consequences of ambition surprised him, he said,  There was a stronger than expected correlation of ambition, educational and career success. But those who led successful life in this regard were not, despite what you might expect, marked happier or longer lived. And those whose achievements failed to match their ambitions lived less happily and died earlier”

The takeaway? For one thing, “if you have high aspirations, you better make good on them”, said Judge.

EXPRESS YOUR LOVE, GRATEFULNESS and APPRECIATION

Live each day as if it was the last day of your life. Express your love to those dear to you. Show appreciation even in little things. Sometimes, a mere “thank you” brings joy to one’s heart. It opens up the giver’s spirit to share more to people who are grateful.

FORGIVE

This is the most crucial of all. When our physical bodies are injured, it may heal by itself because of our natural defense system called antibodies but when we are deeply hurt by someone’s words or actions, it may take a very long time for us to heal or we may NEVER heal at all. Consequently, the hurts are pent-up deep within that may lead to depression.

Forgiveness is an antidote for bitterness, wrath, anger and depression. When we forgive someone, we do not exonerate their behavior, we give ourselves the permission to let go and put down a great weight we have been carrying.

The sacred act of forgiveness  free us from the bondage  of undesirable thoughts and feelings and gives us inner peace, joy and happiness.

TAKE TIME TO LAUGH AND BE HAPPY

To laugh makes us fully human.

When my hubby and I were down with flu for several days, I did a little browsing for some funny anecdotes. Indeed, it made our spirits high. The spontaneity of humor reflects the way God created man,. Truly, it is both physically and emotionally beneficial to us.

Life as hard as it is can  even be harder if do not take time to laugh and be happy. Laughter brings family together and can also keep a tense situation from ending in bitter words and hard feelings.

Every believer can and should rejoice, because our best days are always ahead of us. Moreover, everyone has the right to laugh and be happy.

PRAY, PRAY and PRAY

Prayer is for anyone and everyone.

NOTHING is more powerful than PRAYER. It is so powerful that it can do many things, even the IMPOSSIBLE. Fervent and sincere prayers come from the heart and not from the lips. It is very simple and it can be done anywhere at anytime.

My mind speaks of worship and prayer ALL THE TIME,  in everything that I do even when I am doing the dishes or taking a shower. It helps me put my mind back on track when it wanders and it also wards off unnecessary and undesirable thoughts.

Bouts of unhappiness can be alleviated, prayer can lift you into a new lightness of heart, joy, peace, happiness and serenity.

If you are plagued with resentment and bitterness regarding a person or situation, prayer can bring a new understanding that will fill you with a new and amazing love.

Moreover, when you are fearful, prayer can transform you into a person of great courage.

PRAYER IS THE ANSWER for depression or  any other kind of sufferings because prayer is power, It can change all things that need changing in your life, yourself, or  condition of any kind. When you pray, you have placed yourself in the stream of blessings that is available to you and to everyone for you have  fervently asked in FAITH.

BE A BETTER PERSON

Trials can either make or break us. We can turn to be  better or bitter after our storms of life. As children of God, we view tests as   another step to the stairways of spiritual maturity that gives us life’s treasured lessons.

Finally, for depression and other afflictions-GOD is the ULTIMATE HEALER and amidst trials, HE is the LIGHT to our STAIRWAYS making our way up easier to negotiate. Thus, with the LORD, our life’s STAIRWAYS are always GLEAMY.

1 Corinthians 10:13

1No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. wGod is faithful, and xhe will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

image 

   
   
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 416 other followers