Sacred Ordinary

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… simple prayers are sacred acts. They’re tender and profound. They aren’t the formal prayers of the institutional church. They aren’t the ecstatic utterances of a miraculous vision. They are dignified, homely and eloquent, the ordinary and yet sacred stuff … Continue reading

Sophie’s Choice

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Making a choice in cutting off ties in any situation is difficult when it’s a no-win situation, an unbearable option that one is forced to choose. Even thinking that it is the lesser of two evils, it can still remain … Continue reading

The Person and The Saint

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Historically, Birgitta and Saint Birgitta are not really the same person. It is difficult at times to know what parts are historically accurate and which part is the image of the saint. As a person, Birgitta was born in 1303 … Continue reading

We are not made of sugar. We are the salt of the earth.

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The rain came when we visited the ruins of Cistercian Alvastra Abbey in Östergötland. We are the salt of the Earth. We are not made of sugar. We will not melt. With high winds and strong rain, we aborted the walk … Continue reading

What is it about Mary?

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Between Time and National Geographic, these magazines are constantly in search for Mary featuring the many images of her face. It sells. I must admit I bought the Time special reissue of Life’s Classic edition not that I am searching … Continue reading

Good vs. evil: The answer is found in Easter itself

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It’s God’s gift that enables peace. The supernatural message of Easter is that Jesus overcomes death, and when people believe that and act upon it, it changes the headlines. Spiritual beliefs change how people respond to evil. The bloody cross … Continue reading

Bringing back fond memories

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Today marks the first day of advent. A day of excitement filed with hope and grief. But hope trumps! It’s Not This Time of Year Without… a message of hope, everlasting hope. The message is to step out of our head … Continue reading

The Power of Tiny

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When I was a tiny girl, everyone looks gigantic. But this story is not about me. The story started when I was a tiny girl watching my sister sew clothes for a living. I remember she kept a little statuette tucked … Continue reading

Through the little things

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He asked a question: How come you never become a nun? Thoughtfully I responded: I did not hear the call. We were discussing about Mother Teresa when she a heard call on the train on her way to Calcutta, “I … Continue reading

Mother T. How I met her.

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It was a warm afternoon when I suddenly came out of my meditation hearing the voice “Mother T died.” Mother T? Who is Mother T? Where did that voice come from? Perplexed, I ended the meditation and continued the daily … Continue reading

Unforgettable Face

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No artist can ever draw this face for her maker created her perfectly and thus became incorruptible. This is the incorruptible Face of Bernadette of Lourdes. Song of Bernadette Songwriters: COHEN, LEONARD/ELLIOTT, BILL/WARNES, JENNIFER  There was a child named Bernadette I heard the story … Continue reading

The Earth is Our Sanctuary

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Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light. Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory. Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning. Earth teach me caring ~ … Continue reading

Finding Time

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Joining a guided walking and sightseeing holiday in Cuba with Walker’s World is not actually a pilgrimage. However, I made sure that I consider it as one for I always consider myself a pilgrim on this earth. Visiting Churches is … Continue reading

Way of Praying

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Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have … Continue reading

Grant me the Grace to desire it.

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Litany of Humility O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being loved… From the desire of being extolled … From the desire of being honored … Continue reading

Find your strengths

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1. Wisdom and Knowledge – Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge Creativity [originality, ingenuity]: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it Curiosity [interest, … Continue reading

Teach Us To Sit Still.

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Today is Ash Wednesday and nothing is more fitting than to share with you the poem of T.S. Eliot’s long poem “Ash Wednesday” written in 1927. The last three lines of this stanza struck me personally. Ash Wednesday by T. … Continue reading

Waiting for us

This post resonates what is written in my “About” page. One cannot hurry up the waiting process. Trust in the slow process on waiting even though one is not religious. De Chardin has proven his point and Friar pointed it so well.

friarmusings

waiting1There are lots of different ways to wait. Scripture has over 162 verses that describe all sorts and manners of waiting. I suspect you are familiar with a good portion of the different kinds of waiting – after all, we all wait. In the military, the common experience was to “hurry up and wait.” We all wait. It is a common experience, and yet there are differences in waiting. There is a difference between expectant, on the edge-of-your-seat waiting; the patient “it will happen in its own good time and there is nothing I can do about it” waiting; and the waiting of dread, tedium, and despair. I think our “are we ever gonna’ get there waiting” because a flight to Europe can take 8+ hours, would fall on deaf ears for our ancestors who traveled months on boats to reach these distant shores. But things change, the world has…

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Thanksgiving on nature.

Bee and Fuchia“I have noticed in all the serious circumstances of my life that nature always reflected the image of my soul. On days filled with tears the heavens cried along with me; on days of joy the sun sent forth its joyful rays in profusion, and the blue skies were not obscured by a single cloud.”

Our Thanksgiving Prayer

Thank you for the variety of seasons and moods in my life.

Thank you for the love affair You have with me and the whole creation reflected in the changing seasons of sun, shadows, transformations, dormancy and renewed life; seasons of light, darkness, rain, heat, cold and warmth, worry and warmth.

Thank you for the exchange and intimacy of life I so often take for granted.

Source: Little Flower

Transformation: Sit and Wait

Sit and Wait

Sit and Wait

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
which shall be the darkness of God.
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
for hope would be hope for the wrong thing;
there is yet faith.
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
(T.S.Eliot – Four Quartets)

 

 

Source : The School of Meditation: Letter 12
Meditation is a universal spiritual wisdom. All traditions recognize the value of a contemplative practice and the need for the community that flows from it. The School of Meditation of The World Community for Christian Meditation supports this. To find out more about the World Community for Christian Meditation visit our main website www.wccm.org.

Conversion: The thing that we are.

It was the year 1998, staying at a friend’s place in North Vancouver, I was in bed, waking up to the breaking of dawn. I closed my eyes, said my morning prayer, and suddenly a violent wind surrounds me. Thinking that I left the window open, the mighty wind will disturb everything in the room. I wanted to get up to close it but my body cannot move, and I fell into deep peace.

This is the detail of what happened to me written in this post.

In 2010, I found this article taken from the journal of Jacques Fesch, a young Frenchman who was sentenced to death in 1957 murdering a police officer. He had a profound experience in his prison cells that lead to his conversion to faith.

Jacques Fesch Journal

Jacques Fesch Journal

When Fesch had his conversion, I wasn’t born yet, but to see that our experience is similar is uncanny. What is it that we were both given this sanctifying grace that is available to anyone, believer or not, saint or sinners, young or old.

From a Catholic perspective, I can only relate to this experience from this verse:

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. [Acts 2:2-4]”

It is a moving experience.

The unbelievable thing about conversion is that the new person that we are become transformed that we joyfully forget the way we were before.

Look at it at this point of view of Shakespeare’s play As You Like It.  Oliver, the would-be murderer that conspires to kill his brother Orlando, undergoes a powerful conversion.  He confessed, “I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion so sweetly tastes, being the thing that I am.”

I will live the present moment and fill it with love.

ucan
It is true. All prisoners, myself included, constantly wait to be let go. I decided then and there that my captivity would not be merely a time of resignation but a turning point in my life. I decided I would not wait. I would live the present moment and fill it with love. For if I wait, the things I wait for will never happen. The only thing that I can be sure of is that I am going to die.

No, I will not spend time waiting. I will live the present moment and fill it with love.

When the Communists put me in the hold of the boat, the Hai-Phong, along with 1500 other prisoners and moved us to the North, I said to myself, “Here is my cathedral, here are the people God has given me to care for, here is my mission: to ensure the presence of God among these, my despairing, miserable brothers. It is God’s will that I am here. I accept his will”.  And from that minute onwards, a new peace filled my heart and stayed with me for thirteen years.

The words of Bishop John Walsh, who had been imprisoned for 12 years in Communist China, Waiting in captivity.

All Around Us.

bee at naramata

We don’t have to go far to find the treasure we are seeking.
There is beauty and goodness right where we are.
And only when we can see the beauty and goodness
that are close by can we recognize beauty and goodness
on our travels far and wide.

There are trees and flowers to enjoy, paintings and sculptures to admire;
most of all there are people who smile, play, and show kindness and gentleness.
They are all around us, to be recognized as free gifts to receive in gratitude.

Our temptation is to collect all the beauty and goodness
surrounding us as helpful information we can use for our projects.
But then we cannot enjoy it, and we soon find that
we need a vacation to restore ourselves.

Let’s try to see the beauty and goodness in front of us
before we go elsewhere to look for it.

by: Henri Nouwen

A little girl’s letter to Einstein: Do scientists pray?

einstein
The Riverside Church

January 19, 1936

My dear Dr. Einstein,

We have brought up the question: Do scientists pray? in our Sunday school class. It began by asking whether we could believe in both science and religion. We are writing to scientists and other important men, to try and have our own question answered.

We will feel greatly honored if you will answer our question: Do scientists pray, and what do they pray for?

We are in the sixth grade, Miss Ellis’s class.

Respectfully yours,

Phyllis

***************************************************************************************************

January 24, 1936

Dear Phyllis,

I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:

Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.

However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.

But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.

With cordial greetings,

your A. Einstein

 

source: brain pickings

No attachments

No attachment

Quite the contrary.  I must say I have grown fond of writing down thoughts that came to my mind, sharing it with you, your comments and banter.  To read so many good post of essays, haiku, poems, personal thoughts, humour, arts and photography, I will sorely miss.  And that is an attachment in some ways.  One thing that I don’t want to lose sight is my belief and faith.  And that is not an attachment.  It’s my life.

On the other side of life, I received notices from friends in Facebook that they will be off-line during Lenten season as part of fasting.  Thinking about fasting, I will be participating as well not in Facebook but from posting blogs.  In Facebook that’s where I do most of the spiritual side of me.  Lent will start on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday, March 5 to April 20, 2014.

The good news about fasting during Lent, weekend is not counted.  Maybe, just maybe, I will participate on the Weekly Photo Challenge and post the Sunday Snippet.  Whew, that is relief for me. This does not mean that I will abstain from reading your post and liking it. I will still be hovering around at a lesser frequency during weekdays.

What I will abstain from is commenting, thus the sound of silence.

This is really how it is

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I was looking what to post yesterday that is more palatable to readers when it comes to spirituality for Sunday Snippet.  I am very much aware when it comes to the topic of religion, it’s hardly entertained.  Using Parabola is … Continue reading

Temptation

Assisi overlooking Porzuincula, Italy

Assisi overlooking Porzuincula

Every day the sun rises.  The light and the warmth of the sun give life to everyone and every living thing.  Not just the sun.  There’s the water, air and earth, they, too,  give freely.  They simply offer to us all that is good to sustain our well-being. There is no exception, no discrimination, and no judgement.

I am using these four elements as an analogy to how I can understand a scripture verse and apply it on my daily life.

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”

I suppose I have to look at this more on a personal level.

First, I am not perfect therefore who am I to judge?  Second, maybe it would help me to put myself in the other person’s shoe.  How would I feel if I am the one being judge?  And finally, I think judging is a sign of weakness on my part.  And to put it in a facetious way, I can only imagine how ugly-looking I am should I have a “log” in my eye.

This verse reminded me about another verse “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”  Again, I can imagine that there will be a lot of blind and toothless people running around the world.

Seriously, I need to hold back or bite my tongue no matter how tempting it is to be righteous.  This verse does not say anything about goodness or love but I believe this is the heart of it all.  It isn`t  easy to be as generous as the sun, water, air and earth but who says being a follower of Jesus would be easy?

A Poem for a photo

Israel has so many places that is steep in history.  One of them is this Church on the hill.  I believe it’s Baha’i.  We stopped by to take pictures and to admire the beauty of this place.
Church on a hill

The church on the hill

I went up the hill to visit the old man who lives there.
“It’s been a long time,” he said, “Since I’ve seen you.”
“Yes,” I said, “I know. But I’d not forgot you.”
Then, in welcome, he sang to me.
But what I had remembered as a youthful voice
full of vigor and fit for forever was turned now into a croak,
a rasp, a sad affair of the heart.
When he dies, I thought, a little of me will die with him.
“These bones go deep,” he said with an effort
as he stood there proud yet, “How can you forgive yourself?”
I thought about that as I kissed him goodnight
and laid him down to rest, up there on that hill.
“In nomine Patris,” I said gently, “In nomine Patris.”

The poem is written by Book of Pain by John Etheridge.  John wrote a synopsis of this poem and it’s quite touching.  Thank you, John.

On Being Thankful

Being Thankful When Depressed

Sometimes it can be difficult to be thankful when you feel miserable.  That misery usually becomes worse when well david-and-bathsheba-chagallmeaning people remind you of what you should be thankful for.  So, let me offer a prayer of gratitude for all who struggle with depression, or any other mental or emotional condition.

Dear Lord,

  • Thank you for giving me the courage to get up and face another day, and the stamina to work for health.
  • Thank you for holding me close when I have wanted to end my life, and for holding others who did die from depression, bipolar, or schizophrenia.
  • Thank you also for understanding when I couldn’t get myself out of bed to go to mass or feared confession because the very thought of facing my sins only made me feel more unworthy of love.
  • Thank you for providing the ability to hold up my head when people judged me, gossiped about me, or backed away during the times I became ill.  Likewise, for granting me patience and understanding when those who saw me at my worst could not accept my health and so treated me as if I were still “fragile.”
  • Thank you for teaching me how to carry my cross for love of you, focusing on you rather than my specific pains.  I know I don’t do that perfectly but you don’t care and for that I am most grateful.
  • Thank you for modern medicine, competent therapists and spiritual directors, understanding clergy, and Saints who had mental health difficulties.  These can bolster my hope, lessen my sense of isolation, and even make me healthier.
  • Thank you especially for those moments, days, and sometimes months of remission when joy and a clear mind return.  These are a foretaste of what heaven will be like after I have finished fighting the good fight in faith and hope.
  • Most of all thank you for accepting the offering of my imperfect, broken, and sick self at mass and responding by feeding and strengthening my soul with the Eucharist.

For all these things I thank you.  Amen.

 

Credits:
Article: Depressed and Catholic
Image: Friar Musings

 

Conversion: Existential Point

st. paul conversion

I am always fascinated what other people’s belief system and doubly fascinated when they turned 360 degrees and changed their belief system.  What gives?

Reading some extraordinary stories of conversion mostly in Christian’s perspective, they are saying the experience moves them that they acted in obedience toward a reality which paves the way and does not originate from them.

To become a “new creature” is a wonderful thing during this conversion process and that they joyfully forget the way they were before.  It is a tremendous grace to receive such a gift to be transformed even from a living a life of despicable act.

“I was in bed, eyes open, really suffering for the first time in my life… It was then that a cry burst from my breast, an appeal for help.  My God!  … and instantly, like a violent wind which passes over without anyone knowing where it comes from, the spirit of the Lord seized me by the throat.  I had an impression of infinite power and kindness and, from that moment onward, I believed with an unshakeable conviction that has never left me.”  This was written in a prison cell by Jacques Fescha French man who received death penalty for killing a police officer in 1957.

With a tinge of envy, I suppose I want to experience this without having to commit a capital crime.

Currently, I know of a person that gave up prestige, a good paying job and driving a sports car by serving the poor, the marginalized, the homeless, the addicts and prostitutes all for the glory of her God.  I don’t know her story, and it does not matter.  She is a vision of happiness.

Happiness: Buddha style

Happiness is not about maximizing and accumulating pleasurable experiences. As the Buddha pointed out, impermanence is the order of the day. Pleasures are inherently fleeting and don’t provide a solid foundation for enduring satisfaction.

When you take care of meaning, positivity has a way of taking care of itself. In other words, you don’t have to strive to be happy and collect all those extroverted types of “happy” experiences. Instead, when you engage with meaningful projects in the present moment, particularly ones that benefit others, positive emotions naturally follow.
buddhaThe Buddha’s version of happiness might be most aptly captured by the term that often gets translated as equanimity. Equanimity refers to being there in the middle of things, without needing things to be different than they are. Equanimity brings acceptance and interest to what is happening at the moment.

From this perspective, it is possible to be “happy” even when things are not going well. There is great freedom found in the capacity to be equanimous. Perhaps this is why the Buddha always has that contended little half-smile on his face.

The Buddha didn’t need excitement, thrills, and “good times” to be happy. His happiness was quiet contentment that abided in every moment, regardless of what was happening. Introverts, like the Buddha, have access to a rich interior experience. We need to learn to keep that inner intensity from becoming an obsession, rumination, and worry.

We can embrace this aspect of our Buddha-nature when we expand our definition of happiness to move beyond high arousal, extrovert-dominated one to include low-arousal introverted-based feelings.

Happiness resides in contentment, peacefulness, and appreciation of everything that is happening around us in every moment. This version of happiness is more robust, available, and enduring. Happiness is always ever a breath away.

To read the full article, click on this link:   Psychology Today: The Buddha was introvert

 

 

“I am only a man, just like you.”

Andre Bessette

Trait D’espirit / Drawn by the Spirit

“It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures,” said St. André Bessette.

He is just another man, a real person that I would have very much wanted to meet personally.  Unfortunately, he was born way ahead of me and died 20 years before I was born.  If you ask him who he is, the response was “I am only a man, just like you.”

André Bessette is a native of Canada born frail in a poor family in Quebec.  He became an orphan at the age of 12 and had hardly any education at all.  In his early twenties, he entered the Holy Cross congregation in Montreal.  Nobody wanted him.  The main task given to him was menial as a porter, someone who opens the door and greets people who come to visit the Oratory.  Yet he did his duty for 40 years accepting the little he had and turning it into a holy act.

One would not think that he lacks formal education when he is an effective teacher of faith by his action, love, kindness, and example.  He used the simplest means.  It is his complete trust with divine providence is what made him an exceptional person.

His dream was to build a church devoted to St. Joseph.  He trusted that if he is really doing the Lord’s will the Lord would bring it to fruition.  And it did happen.

How I would have wanted to see him open the door for me when I visited the Oratory in Mount Royal.   I felt small as an ant standing at the first rung of the steps looking up at the Oratory.

In a world filled with educated minds and an era of countless celebrity, glitz, and glamour, I am amazed at what a simple man can do.

Brother André is what I call him and has left me a legacy to place my trust in Jesus.