Showing posts from March, 2011

Mary's Tears

I got this article on my inbox this morning and found it very enchanting to read about the tears of Mary.  Very little is said about the Blessed Virgin and the mystery of her life is something that captivates me.  The grace of her demeanor.  The strength of her resolve.  And although I cannot really grasp everything about her life, there is just something that draws me to keep getting to know her.  
I'm pondering about this article written by Leon Bloy who is a French Novelist and poet who "reflects a deepening devotion to the Catholic Church and most generally a tremendous craving for the Absolute. His devotion resulted from a complete dependence on charity."  I'm imagining how a writer like him lived his life dependent on donations from friends and acquaintances just to sustain his pursuit of the craft.  I'm imagining how his circumstances have led him to ponder upon the spiritual truths that led him to gaze face to face at the Virgin's tears.  What an intim…

On Pleasing Sundays and Community Life

A journal repost.  Written January 23, 2005. I've been thinking a lot about the readings for today. Resonating with them quietly this morning. I usually begin my day with Him now. Even before I brush my teeth. And I realized that making Him that present at the start of your day makes you remember better how He is with you all throughout.
It's noon and it's hot. I ate a quick lunch because I'm so full from a heavy breakfast. I'm sitting quietly on my desk and looking at the bright green leaves of the mango tree outside my window. Their rustling makes them glitter underneath the Sunday sun.
Still lingering on the high from last night's worship. It was powerful. It was amazing. It was overwhelming. I've never worshipped on stage before a theatre-full of people before but it was amazing. The lights blinded me and through the silhouettes of the congregation I basked in the awe of God's presence. Last night we were one community. Last night we were…

The Gratitude Rundown

The weekend has ended and I'm about to enter into another week that looks quite hectic and loaded with things that I am not entirely so excited about.  But I have chosen to learn how to be grateful for everything and I will start that by saying thank you.  
Thank you for a fruitful ministry during our praise and worship practices.

Thank you for a new handy gadget that is entertaining me right now. (Yes secondary phones are necessary especially where I work.)

Thank you for conversations with Mom and Dad which don't really happen as often as I would have wanted but thank you anyway.

Thank you for a renewed faith in community and rejuvenated relationships with friends

Thank you for getting the chance to eat another DQ sandwich yesterday.

And for those other moments I am grateful for--that can no longer be taken in snapshots, like comforting words from friends, wonderful illuminating books, rich discussions that happen online and offline--I should bring them to surface a little bit more…

A Letter from Etty Hillesum (ii)

People complain about how dark it is in the mornings.  But this is often the best time of my day when the dawn peers gray and silent into my pale windows.  Then my bright little table lamp becomes a blazing spotlight and floods over the big black shadow of my desk.  Last week it really felt marvelous.  I sat engrossed in The Idiot, solemnly translated a few lines, wrote them down in an exercise book, made notes and suddenly it was ten o'clock.  Then I felt: Yes that's how you should always work, so deeply immersed that you forget the time.  This morning I am wonderfully peaceful.  Just like a storm that has spent itself.  I have noticed that this always happens following days of intense inner striving after clarity, birth pangs with sentences and thoughts that refuse to be born and make tremendous demands on you.  Then suddenly it drops away, all of it, and a benevolent tiredness enters the brain, then everything feels calm again, then I am filled with a sort of bountifulness,…

To Exist in Love

It is one of those Sundays where I am left pondering on thoughts I haven't entertained during the week because of busyness and other things.  So here I am sifting through these thoughts in an attempt to evolve into someone who is able to sit peacefully with them.   Accepting that they are part of human life and growing from the realizations I stumble upon as I write myself into believing in them.
I find myself silenced in my own needs. Almost imprisoned by them. I want to shut them up and just escape them and yet I can't. It almost feels like I am forced to deal with them in this helpless disposition because I have tried everything and still I find myself in a place where I can't change my circumstances. When favorable interactions are present, I am assured. When they are absent, I am stricken with fear. And it is in this fearful place I am trying to learn about love.
The discomfort is intense. It gnaws. It scrapes at my insides and yet to escape it is just to post…

Coming Alive for Ministry

I haven't written in days.  The words are all stuck up there somewhere.  In between memories and cluttered thoughts.  The last I wrote was 8 days ago and it feels like so much has happened since.  I don't know why it is so necessary to chronicle every moment or feeling.  Like laughing in the middle of praying or the heaving sobs I released during last weekend's retreat.  Like the queasiness of my stomach awaiting responses to questions posted about the faith or the agony of the journey towards healing.  
So much has happened and I haven't begun absorbing it all.  
But this much I know, I have felt the calling to serve the Church once again.  I've realized a lot of things while sitting through the 2 day weekend retreat meant to rejuvenate the spirits of community members and save them from falling out or further alienation.  I remember all the moments I've felt alienated in community.  And it was comforting to know that I wasn't the only one.  In the end, my i…

Starting Up Why Church Discussion Group

The past few days have been quite exciting for me as I realized there are so many inquisitive young minds hungrily searching for truth.  

Early this week my friend Martin and I decided to start a Facebook group called "Why Church...Add some Salt!" It's supposed to be a forum for young people who wanted to pose questions but never had the guts to ask them.  We've reached about 35 questions in 48 hours and over 600 comments.  Traffic has died down now but re-reading through the threads have filled me with so much enlightenment and vigor.  
The answers aren't really the priority right now.  But I think what makes the activity meaningful is the fact that people are coming together in an honest way through a modern medium to seek truth together.
Here are some of my favorite questions and insights from young people.
If I loved someone through the overflowing love of the Lord, why does He allow the person to hurt me in the end?

Why should I stay Catholic?

Facebook Made Me Tear

Something made me tear up during the quietness of lunch break today.  I was tagging some old photos in Facebook.  Most of them are of my parents.  And my Mom commented on two of them.  

the first picture (1)

the second picture (2)

It has taken a long while before my Mom and I have really improved our mother-daughter relationship.  Mostly, our communication gap has been mainly because of how she often comes off quite unapproachable.  Stern.  Uptight.  Over the years I have realized that there were reasons why she had to stay tough and pull herself together the way she did.  It's one of the things women do when they're trying to keep themselves from falling apart.
Mom and I never had a lot of mother-daughter conversations.  We don't know how.  It's always awkward to talk heart to heart when we come face to face.  It's always easier to say the words when we write them down or email them.  Or post a Facebook comment such as this.  
The thought of mortality starts to nag when …

Growing Into a Prayer Habit and Befriending Milk Tea

I've started to find a rhythm of prayer that has somehow helped me get through the day.  Spending about 20 minutes of quiet time in the morning and 20 minutes at night has seemed to keep my emotions and thoughts well in order.  
On my way to work this morning I realized that the multitude of sensory stimuli that we experience everyday from Facebook notifications, to text messages, to phone calls, to and overload of emails, to human interactions, to environmental noise, and so on and so forth is enough to make us feel all clogged up in our ability to respond and digest it all.
Perhaps that's why we become irritated or annoyed.  Perhaps that is why we are never able to come to grips with ourselves when it is most needed.  
There are just too many things to think about.
Yesterday I was reading this article from Catholic Culture and it emphasized the value of having a really good prayer life.  I've come to understand prayer as what allows us to attune ourselves to the quietness of…

Into the Dust I shall Return

It's LENT and unlike all other seasons of Lent that I've experienced in my life, I actually want this one to make sense.   I actually want this one to work.  I want it to be more than a "family affair" that I feel "dragged into".  I want it to be about real reflection and pondering.  I want it to be about transformation.  And not just those periodical transformations because it's such a fad or "I feel like it".  I want a real one.  One that will and can stick for good.  
Transformation is such a heavy word.  I think about the things I have to change at work, home life, ministry.  There are so many, I have to shamefully admit.  Not to mention my eating habits.  I was telling myself this morning that I will skip the morning break and not drink coffee because I want to try fasting.  I failed.  I ended up eating an egg sandwich.  Transformation costs something.  I need to eventually learn how to pay that price.

For the past few days I haven't be…

A Dark Night

I've read about the dark night of the soul more than 5 years ago.  I've also agreed that I've gone through this phase in spiritual life.  I just didn't think that it could go on this long.

Here's to more surrendering.

Letters from Etty (i)

Sunday March 9, 1941.  Here goes then.  This is a painful and well-nigh insuperable step for me: yielding up so much that has been suppressed to a blank sheet of lined paper.  The thoughts in my head are sometimes so clear and so sharp and my feelings so deep, but writing them comes hard.  The main difficulty, I think, is a sense of shame.  So many inhibitions, so much fear of letting go, of allowing things to pour out of me, and yet that is what I must do if I am ever to give my life a reasonable and satisfactory purpose.  

It is like the final, liberating scream that always sticks bashfully in your throat when you make love.  Love does indeed suit me to perfection, and yet it remains a mere trifle, set apart from what is truly essential, and deep inside me something is still locked away.  The rest of me is like that too.  I am blessed enough intellectually to be able to fathom most subjects, to express myself clearly on most things; I seem to be a match for most of life's problem…

Ignatius Calmed Me

I'm awake unusually early and have decided to get ready to leave for work.  Yesterday was quite uneventful.  Experienced losing my center entirely and just let myself drown in the abyss of all thoughts.  Scrambled my way back by focusing on St. Ignatius rules on spiritual discernment.

The feelings stirred up by good and evil spirits are called “consolation” and “desolation” in the language of Ignatian spirituality.Spiritual consolation is an experience of being so on fire with God’s love that we feel impelled to praise, love, and serve God and help others as best as we can. Spiritual consolation encourages and facilitates a deep sense of gratitude for God’s faithfulness, mercy, and companionship in our life. In consolation, we feel more alive and connected to others.Spiritual desolation, in contrast, is an experience of the soul in heavy darkness or turmoil. We are assaulted by all sorts of doubts, bombarded by temptations, and mired in self-preoccupations. We are excessively rest…

Befriending Etty Hillesum

An unexpected downpour of rain and Etty Hillesum's diary tonight for company.  It arrived after about 6 days.  It pays to have express courier.  I must be really desperate for new insight.  I didn't notice Etty Hillesum's cover photo was of her holding a cigarette.  Such an ironic photo for a supposed spiritually awakening book.

Thanks to Rachel who's taste in contemporary spiritual and Catholic literature has greatly informed me about these things, I've decided to befriend Etty and hopefully learn from her journey to authentic faith and interior freedom.
"God, take me by Your hand, I shall follow You dutifully, and not resist too much....I shall follow wherever Your hand leads me and shall try not to be afraid. I shall try to spread some of my warmth, of my genuine love for others, wherever I go. But we shouldn't boast of our love for others. We cannot be sure that it really exists. I don't want to be anything special, I only want to try to be true to t…

Visio Divina: Rublev

As we place ourselves in front of the icon in prayer, we come to experience a gentle invitation to participate in the intimate conversation that is taking place among the three divine angels and to join them around the table.  The movement from the Father toward the Son and the movement of both Son and Spirit toward the Father become a movement in which the one who prays is lifted up and held secure. (Henri Nouwen)

His Pain Like Mine

Right now I'm at loss for words.  I'm struggling with a lot of things.  Leadership.  Faith.  Family life.  I'm struggling with what I believe and how I'm seeing life play out.  I'm struggling with values.  I'm struggling with feeling persecuted.  
This past week has been painful.  Pressured by all the demands at work and helping everybody that needs to be helped, I find myself weary.  I find myself asking God, "If you have gifted me with so much ability to help other people, why can't I help myself?"  
I go back to Henri Nouwen's words and trying to find what I can be thankful but right now is just hard.  Circumstance after circumstance piling one after the other.  My parents saying harsh words to one another. Watching my mom struggling her way through aloneness.  Uncertain of her health.  People at work becoming unreasonable and uncooperative with demands that are too high to meet.  Directions that do not make sense.  Work has become unfulfilli…