Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Seven Deadly Sins


A while ago and I don't remember how long, because it happened gradually, I said goodbye to an old friend, one of my very important gods, among few that I worshiped, and perhaps the cleverest and most aggressive of them all. His last words to me were "You will be back, they all come back, no one leaves me forever." At the time, his words sent chills through my spine. He still shows up every now and then cleverly disguised seeking me with new creative methods, repeating old words of glorified promises and empty threats, but it is all in vain, since he is not allowed through the gates of my soul.

To use an image from Saint Padre Pio, this old god reminds me of a desperate dog on a chain, who can do nothing but bark while angrily wishing I come within the reach of his fangs. His aim is to devour me and consume me into his being. But as long as I remain at a distance, all that this vicious dog can do is bark. Let him bark for all I care, for God through his generous grace on me, has kept me at a safe distance.

Many today are easily outsmarted by this god and blinded by his short lived promises. They live their lives worshiping at his filthy altars. This worship chokes the remaining good within them, and destroys the love that God and others pour on them. It brings them, and those around them, lots of misery and suffering. It finally leads them to self destruction, utter darkness, and despair. Some are so used to slavery, as a way of life, that they have become unaware of their misery. Others are well aware and try to escape, but become convinced after many futile attempts that they can never be truly free.

The truth is, their god's words are nothing but deceitful lies emanating from the spirit of the father of lies who has been deceiving the human race from the beginning. But he could not deceive the entire race. Many times, and all the way to the cross, he challenged Christ seeking to be worshiped, seeking to deviate him from His Father's will for him, seeking to bring him down from the cross, in exchange for earthly instantaneous gifts and other lesser goods, yet he found the man Jesus much more powerful than him, bounded to his Father's will and driven by an unconditional love for us.

Today, I specifically write to witness to the truth proclaimed by the Apostle in Romans 9, that in Christ Jesus our Lord, nothing can separate us from the love of God, and that "In all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us." It is also important to humble oneself and be totally dependent on God with regards to when the freedom from these gods is given to us. God in his wisdom uses every experience we have and every second we live for our good and the good of others. So regarding time, let us say to God "Your will be done."

How does He set us free? The Holy Spirit incites us to call upon God's mercy through our prayers and fasting. God in his mercy speaks to us through his Son in scripture, and through his Church on earth and in heaven. He speaks to us through our spouses, children, family, friends, strangers, and those whom we least expect. He speaks to us in dreams, in thoughts that come to us while in prayer or meditation. He speaks to as as well in creation such as the stars, the moon, the flowers, and the birds, and every grace that surrounds us.

When God speaks to us, he invites us to welcome Jesus as Lord of our life, as sovereign King of our entire being. A kingdom cannot have two kings for our Lord tells us in Matthew 6:24 that "No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other". We must choose between serving the one who enslaves us for ever, or the One who call us His children, suffers and dies for us and our salvation, in order that we partake in His heavenly joy.

When we say yes to God, we must not look back to what we have left behind, like Lot's wife who looked back and lost her soul (Genesis 19:26). For Jesus tells us in Luke 9:62 that "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

A yes to God comes with faith that He will dwell within us, empowering us to accomplish what we thought is impossible for Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:26 "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible." When Christ lives within us, we live according to the light of truth which sets us free forever.

Now everything that relates to the old defeated god must go, his tools of worship, his filthy altars, all of it, even the slightest smallest thing ever must go with him. If not, we have lied to ourselves, leaving room for darkness where light must reign. For tell me ... where is the slightest presence of darkness in the sun?

When God is the Lord of our life, we are not concerned with tomorrow; we live in the eternal present where God lives. For the creator who is not subject to the created time, identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:15 as "I AM." So when the barking of the dog gets louder and the empty threat of our imminent future defeat comes our way, the Spirit of God reassures us that today "we conquer overwhelmingly" and tomorrow is of no concern to us. Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 6:34 "Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil." Therefore our victory is always in the now, with no anxiety about tomorrow. Having said that we are well aware that God's providence is assured eternally.

God also reminds us that it is never too late to turn away from what enslaves us. In Luke 5:32 He tells us "I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners." Being his children, Jesus never leaves us, in fact he always comes to us. He tells us in Mark 2:7 "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do."

Lastly, let us remember that throughout our life, we must continue to carry our cross. This cross can sometimes simply be our struggle to say no to temptation. We must be aware of this cross and not willing to let go of it as long as God allows it in our lives. Our example is Christ, who was challenged over and over again to let go of it. He was tempted to do so by Satan in the desert (Matthew 4:3-11), and then by Peter after Jesus gave him his name (Matthew 16:18-23), and then at the crucifixion by those who asked him to save himself from the cross if he really is who he claims to be (Luke 23:35-36).

Likewise, in this earthly life, we will be challenged to let go of our cross, to stop the struggle of saying no to our temptation, to choose the easy broad way. Our savior, instead, calls us to "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14). Let our answer to these temptations be Christ's answer: "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mark 8:33)

The Apostle himself had asked God to remove an element in his life that has caused him pain, and God in II Corinthians 12 said to him "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness" and the Apostles adds "Therefore, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Pray for strength to love enough to carry your cross, following Christ alone, and slave to no one. Remember his Resurrection will set you free. What does darkness have to do with light? "Take care, then, that the light in you not become darkness." (Luke 11:35)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Come and See

I was looking for a place to live. I passed by this very nice place and realized that it is too expensive for me, so I moved on to the building complex next to it. I noticed several rooms from the outside with very beautiful arch window design. I entered this great big building complex and found myself in a room on the first flour occupied by three young guys. One of them knew I wanted to tour the complex and reluctantly took me on a tour.

We went up to the second floor and I noticed right away that it was semi-dark and filled with clutter. Going from room to room, we had to maneuver around high clutter of papers, laundry, boxes, and junk. The rooms were also occupied with few peoples. All in semi-darkness and hard to see. I saw an old lady on crutches wearing a Halloween mask; she stopped and looked straight at me without a word. Then I saw two women working next to large windows and they told me without saying a word that they are keeping watch on who enters the building on the first floor which they can see from where they are. I followed my guide throughout the second floor. It was nothing but darkness and clutter.

I thought to myself I would never live here, this is a very sad looking place overwhelmed with clutter and unnecessary things. I thought again to myself, why don't they open these large windows and get rid of all this clutter and clean up this beautiful place. This place can really be transformed into a very beautiful place to live in if only they would let the light in and the clutter out. As I was thinking these thoughts I woke up.

I feel so great and so happy. I also feel very sad. Very happy and very sad at the same time. God has answered my prayers and has given me a gift to see my soul. To start to know myself made me so happy. What an amazing gift to be able to see oneself while walking into one self's soul guided by an angel. Saint Teresa of Avila's visions have started (I hope) to materialize in my life through this dream.

I am however very sad to discover that I have so far only achieved an entrance into the first mansions of my interior Castle like St. Teresa of Avila calls it. I had thought when I started learning from St. Teresa that I am one of those souls that have advanced toward the inner rooms closer to God. I had wondered how far in my castle I have advanced. Too bad I am not even beyond the first mansions and clutter and darkness are everywhere. How sad! How much I lack humility!

I am also sad that although I did not bring reptiles with me into the castle's first mansions, (as Teresa warned), thanks be to God, I had collected instead a large amount of clutter that prevented the light from moving between and within the rooms of my soul, making it semi-dark and chaotic. That I thought is sad and not good. The whole building must have been the first mansions because I was aware of some light coming through the windows and according to Teresa it is God in the center of the soul that gives light to all the mansions. She was also right regarding the darkness that I felt all around me.

Then it occurred to me that St. Teresa was very clear that God is present despite not seeing him. She compared it to dust on our eyes that prevent us from seeing the light. Sure enough I thought to myself "Don't be sad, Jesus is walking with you throughout the mansions and he loves you despite the darkness and clutter, he is there with you at all times." This gave me some comfort. Also knowing that the rooms are intrinsically beautiful gave me hope.

My dream enticed me to clean up things, to let go of garbage that I don't need, to throw away all this clutter in the first mansions that does nothing but blocks the light to my eyes. I also learned that our soul is amazingly large and has great potential which Teresa also pointed out. I learned that despite my prayers, love for others, rosaries, and few acts of good deeds, I am so much a beginner in spirituality, an infant with a diaper that needs to be changed, and a pacifier that need to be abandoned. I am so a beginner in this spiritual journey. But even as a beginner, Jesus is with me walking with me.

All of this ties to our priest father Joe who reminded us the other day that when Jesus entered the temple and saw everyone selling and buying and using God's temple for their own gains, that we too have used our soul for our own gains and we have set a market place in it rather than making it a place of worship.

Thank you God for my dream, thank you St. Teresa for your gift. Now that I started to see within myself more clearly, I have so much work to do, or better yet God has so much work to do within me.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Where are you?

I know God that you are well aware of everything. I know that you are in control of everything and that you permit what happens to happen. Oh well, it hurts. There are things that happen that really hurt. They can be stopped by you and they are not. I prayed yesterday for a two years old girl to live after having drowned in a pool at a party. I was very convinced that she will live because I believed that my Mass offering and my Rosary will save her. I heard this morning that she died. Oh Well. Yes she is for sure in your arms oh God ... but what about her family? Oh the pain! Oh the suffering! And why? Could not have been another way? We go on laughing and enjoying life while knowing that few houses from us, this tragedy has struck so hard. What a virgin I am when it comes to suffering!

God you have a tough heart to allow all this. Oh I know you are soft but you appear so tough and hard. We have trusted you with our kids, we have asked you over and over again to protect them. And then this happens. God you have saved them one million times and this time you did not. What is the secret of this mystery? What is the lesson of this tragedy? Can words of wisdom calm our hearts? Can biblical passages calm our raging seas? Time is the only one that will do it. Time, the only only thing faster than light is now going slower than everything.

I am sorry God that I seem mad at you. I have prayed for that 2 years old girl. I have trusted in you that you will save her from death. You did not. You are my God and you will always be my God, my trust in your providence overshadows all else, but I am confused and upset. Is it necessary God that we go through such suffering? I don't even know the girl but I feel the pain of her family, how much more do they feel?

I tell all that you are good. I tell all that you will not disappoint those who trust in you. I truly believe so, as if what is happening around me is nothing but a dream and it will pass away. Oh God I trust in you and I love you but you have let me down today.

Who am I to question you? Who am I to say anything at all? I know you will not hold my ignorance against me for I speak to you from what comes to my heart. Why do I blame you as if anything that goes wrong must be your fault since you are able to stop things?

God you have moved the clouds when I asked you and you have proven yourself over and over again to me. God I know of your presence and I believe in your power. I know you are love. Today I simply do not understand you. Nevertheless I love you and I ask you to strengthen her family and especially her parents and siblings so they can overcome this very dark tragedy.

Despite what happen, I love you because deep down I trust in your eternal love. Have mercy on us God. Have mercy on me God. Have mercy on her mom and dad. I trust in you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

To Trust God

Trust in God in every situation that you find yourself in. Know that he is loving beyond what you can imagine: trust in his love. Know that his wisdom transcends time and space, which he creates and sustains: trust in his providence.

When the universe tumbles around you, do not be troubled, do not be afraid, do not question, remain focused on God's will and unify it with yours. When life crushes you, trust in God and say "yes" to him. Be still and know that he is God.

When God makes you aware of his interaction with you, you may realize that God is speaking to you, not knowing that he never had stoped interacting with you since he created you. God relates to you by sowing into your soul the seed of himself. Being free in God's image, your will controls the growth of the seed. Your level of trust in God is directly related to your knowledge of him. If you know him marginally you will trust him marginally and his seed in you will also grow marginally. A marginal trust is like a dry soil that lacks the moisture necessary for the seed to grow properly. If you know him well and trust him but have no strength to hold on him when the concerns of this world and its time table overwhelm you, then his word is chocked within you by life's thorns. Be a rich soil: ask him to create you as such.

Sometimes you do everything right: you pray, you ask, you focus, and life comes very hard at you, I mean real hard, not just that things are not going your way, but things are purposefully designed to crush you, crush your family, destroy you on the inside, and they come in bundles and they do not stop. Your life becomes so hard and you ask "My God are you not there? Do you not see what is happening to me? Why do you continue on forsaking me?" His silence will puzzle you at first, then it will anger you, then it will depress you until darkness smothers all hope in you. Then from no where, a butterfly dances around you, the sun peaks at you, a bird crosses your path, a purple flower draws your attention. Ah! "God is with me", you breath a sigh of comfort and recommit yourself to him.

What is so important about the world's time? What is so valuable in it that takes precedence over God? Be smart and recognise that it is God who gives and God who takes. As Catherine of Siena proclaims, your sanctification is what he want most for you. The fruit of life's hardships will take you there if your soil is rich. Trust in God, in his love and in his wisdom, and no matter what do not be shaken by anything at all. Focus on Christ.

Monday, September 14, 2009

To Be Humble

If you ever ask God to make you humble, he will not hesitate nor delay, and after you feel that you are humbled, he continues on humbling you for a long time. He loves answering the humility prayer! Why is that?

There must be a direct relation between humility and sanctity. The faster way to sanctity must be humility. It is said that humility is the knowledge of self and the understanding of one's limitation and dependency on others and on God. Why is it so?

You are in the image and likeness of God, but God is not dependent, so why are you? Perhaps it is not so much dependency but relationality that defines humility. God is Triune and hence relational. You are created relational with others and with God. From the moment you are conceived you are in relation with your mother and that relation gives you life and gives her joy. When you are born you continue to be in relation to those around you who love you. When you die, those who love you bury you and pray for you.

To be truly human you must die to self and live to God. It is only by dying to self that you gain yourself. God does not dwell in sinless hearts, he rather dwells in humble hearts. The fruit of humility is exaltation to a world of meaning and joy of heart emanating from a complete trust in God.

When you are humble, you realize that you are made to have God live in you. You realize that your true nature is a being in constant and eternal relation with God. When you are humble you are strong in God not in yourself. The price of humility is the cross and its reward is the resurrection to a new life where God dwells in you.

When Gabriel, the Angel present before God, spoke to Mary, she said "I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the one who is full of grace, the one who is overshadowed by the most high, the mother of God, the most blessed among women, the mother of the Lord, went to serve her cousin.

You cannot be humble if you tried, for that itself is pride. You can only be humble if you ask God to humble you. But be careful what you ask for, since the cross of humility is not easy to carry. You must also ask him to carry your cross with you, he was humble enough to ask you to do the same.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

To Pray

God told Catherine of Siena "Whenever you think of me, I think of you". When you pray, your first thought is God, and just before you finish praying your last thought is God. When you grow to pray better, then every thought in between is God too. When you pray like God wills you to pray, you will not enter prayer nor exit it, rather your entire being will remain in prayer through every thought, feeling, and action. Your being becomes an everlasting flow of giving glory to God. Until then you must go on reentering and reexiting the experience of prayer.

When you pray and think of God, you appear before God and heaven, in a similar way that an angel from heaven appears before mankind. The instant you direct your being toward God, he simply exists all within you, and around you. Catherine describes it like the fish in the ocean and the ocean in the fish. Job complains until he enters into communion with God, and then nothing matters anymore. Thomas Aquinas' value for his multitude of writings on faith and intellect faded before him like a straw consumed by fire when he entered into a mystical communion with God.

When you pray with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, you become a new being, no more the same. "How"? You ask. "I am the same and my problems are here present before me." Yet knowing that you age, you do not question it, for although the process is hard to track, it nevertheless continues. It is the same in prayer. When you pray, you enter into communion with God and the experience becomes greater than the subject on your mind. It is God who prays within you and it is God who offers your prayers, and it is God who receives them. You become one with God, without loosing who you are. You become a beloved child in God's Triune Being, loved like an unborn in her mother's womb, one with her, yet not her. Then God gives birth to you and you are new again, but your blood is nourished with his blood and your soul is vibrant with his light.

Pray and make time stands still. When you pray know that God thinks of you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

To Be Aware

You must be aware. Your awareness is demanded of you sooner or later and as long as you refuse to be aware then you are dead to everyone, including yourself. You are never dead to God, but God is the one who demands your awareness. God created you to know and to love and you cannot do either if you are not aware.

Aware of what? Aware of who you are and what you are. Aware of those around you. Aware that you are an individual dearly loved by God into existence. Aware that you are dependent on others before you and after you and most dependent on God. Aware that everything is under God's providence and nothing happens without his knowledge.

Be aware that God dwells within you and within your neighbor. Be aware that God took a name for himself and lived among us. He took joy and suffering and the human experience. Be aware that just like he is fully God and fully one of us humans, in participation with him we participate in being God. Be aware however that you are the created one and he is the creator who sanctifying you by inviting you to partake in his divinity.

Lift up your head and know that you are a child of God, and lower your head and love him in your neighbor like Catherine of Siena taught. Scripture tells you that you cannot love God and not your neighbor, so you might as well start from now recognizing him in your neighbor and love him and serve him there, because it is precisely there that he needs you.

Be aware now or be aware later, but until then you are dead to yourself.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Trusting Providence

"TRUSTING PROVIDENCE", p. 99, Mother Angelica's Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures. Double Day 2008.

"Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well" Matthew 6:33

"Now it is fine to pray, and after you pray, leave it alone. That's trust. You trust that whatever you do sincerely in the eyes of God, whatever the outcome, it will be good for you. Trusting is to love someone enough that you trust whatever it is they do. You're willing to stand by them if they fail. God will stand by me if I fail. But constant worry, depression, anxiety, frustration, thinking 'nothing's going to change' --that is a total, total lack of trust.

It's so bad because what does it do? It keeps your mind and heart away from Jesus. And that's the whole thing. It's one of the cleverest tools of the enemy, because he makes you think you're doing right. He make you think that you've got to solve the problem, so you have no trust that God will solve the whole thing in His time. That can have a paralyzing effect on the soul.

If you don't have trust in your life, you have little love, because trust comes from love. If you love someone deeply, you trust them. You may not understand God's ways, but you can trust that everything is going to be okay. That's what the blessed mother did. Just look at what she said yes to. That takes real trust. Work on trusting God, my friend, in little and big ways throughout the day. There's a beautiful book called Abandonment to Divine Providence --that whole book is one total act of trust. You can ask for things, but if you don't get them, keep your peace and drop it. That's trust."