The lover and the beloved

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Yes, I remember. This was my response more than a decade ago. I had been involved in retreat work but I was busy ministering to others who came to be healed and renewed. I had the grace to take time off and I signed up for a short retreat  which seemed to have been tailored for my needs.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the Cenacle Sister Bubbles who conducted the retreat was excellent as God’s instrument. She helped me and guided me so well that I came away enriched and empowered. How wrong I had been about so many issues, and how long I had been holding on to my own views.

It took a short retreat to help me have a paradigm shift, and I am so glad I went.

Praying Our Belovedness – The Unique Voice of Henri Nouwen – This was the title and I dare say that all would benefit from it. Praise God for Sr. Bubbles who incidentally is joyful and has a LOVELY voice to sing the hymns that are so very beautiful.

Retreats, long or short, are good for our well being. Truly it is a necessity to put time aside so as to enjoy a real vacation with the Lord. At the retreat, one is assured again and again of God’s unfathomable and immense love.

God’s  love is for all time, long before we ever get hurt by anyone or suffer any rejection. God loves us so much, and only poor creatures like us need to be convinced of the fact that we are God’s beloved children. Each person is so precious, so very precious in the eyes of our Lord.

Our true spiritual work has to do with letting ourselves be loved fully, completely and to trust that in that love, we come to the fulfillment of our vocation. This is Henri Nouwenʼs gift and challenge, his enduring legacy for all time.

I would like to comment too on the photo attached to this post. It was painted by my young friend Gerry and this was one of her earliest works and if I may say so, one of her masterpieces. The simple rendition seems to be an expression of her inner life. It is an honest rendition of one’s relationship with God, and this painting seems to say it all. One need only to look at the Good Shepherd and the sheep to see what kind of friendship is shared.

Yes, if one wanted to, it would be easy to pray one’s belovedness with the painting as well. Do try! Praise God!

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I stand in awe of You

Someone once said to me, ‘Have you ever been told that you are too much of a Christian?’

To take this question seriously, one would have to understand that there is really no middle ground. Yes, you are either a Christian or you are not. Ours is not a religion where you could pick and choose, and yet, we all know that many find this easier and actually do that – picking and choosing what they want to accept and rejecting or totally disregarding what they think hard to swallow. TRUTH – it is not easy to face, but it is what can set us free.

The truth is, there is no grey areas – so are you for black or for white? Are you for TRUTH or FALSEHOOD? Is it God you worship or something else?  We are not to domesticate the Lord Jesus and make Him out to be what our imagination wants.

We are intrigued, captivated by God made man, by Jesus who came down to earth to be one among us, but without sin. Two standard responses would be: awe and fear. Can one not stand in awe of a Man who can feed five thousand men, not counting women and children, with five loaves and two fish? Can one not be astounded by a Man who can calm the sea? Indeed, a whole life time would not be sufficient to know our Lord deeply. So, let us begin!

May I have the grace to persevere in knowing Him who first loved me, and in so doing, may I love Him even more deeply. Praise God!

The power of God’s Word

 We are blessed.

We are literate. We are able to read and write.

We are blessed.

We have the Word of God. We understand.

We obey. We cherish God’s Word.

We seek to follow the Lord by listening to him.

We are also given the grace to trust and to never stop hoping that God’s Word must and will fulfill what He wants to do.

So we are blessed.

We are enriched.

I will never forget the words from the Gospel of St John Chapter 14.

It was the year 1993. I had just been converted. My mother had just gone Home to her eternal rest. I was with my nephew, a young man of 19. He was the first Christian in the family.

On a particular afternoon, we were both at a prayer group meeting. The nun who was leading the service placed the Bible in my hands and asked me to read a few lines so we could all be nourished.

Being new to the faith, I handed the Bible to my nephew Michael. He turned the pages and then,  with great confidence, he read the first few lines from St John’s Gospel.

The words, so meaningful and so encouraging, touched my heart.

I trembled just to hear them.

Such beautiful words and they are all true.

Today these words continue to remain in  my heart. Trust in God. Trust in Jesus. Let nothing trouble you.

Mary Mother of God

O Mother, we come to you and place our trust in you. Pray for us. Pray for the world.

This night I am filled with a sense of Melancholia. . . not all things are right in this world.

Sad news prevail. Bad forecasts have been given. Unemployment. Health care costs are ridiculously high. Marriages do not last.

Yes, there seems to be just bad news.

But Mother, I am not going to focus on the bad news. I have handed them over to you.

Now my eyes are on your beautiful face. You look at us and you just love us.

You love us in our struggles. You love us in our pain.

You also love us as we run to you, confident that you will intercede for us most powerfully.

Dearest Mother, in a Thanksgiving Mass this night, I  heard about the shepherds who hurried to adore our Lord Jesus.

He is Emmanuel, God with us. So we too desire to run to Him and fix our eyes on Him.

May we have the simplicity and the spontaneity to do so. We hurry, we hasten, we want to see Jesus!

We want to adore the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

Abba Father, we cry out to you, confident that you hear us. We run to you, and you open your arms to embrace us.

We are your children. We need your love, your peace, your joy.

Abbe Father, we love you!

The day the Angel came. . .

AR4A3232This is from a stained glass window in Inner Mongolia. It is apt that one takes a second look at it. The Angel Gabriel comes to the Blessed Virgin and she says those marvellous words of her: Let it be done unto me according to thy word.

Life was never the same again for Mary. The day she gave herself completely to our Lord, she gained heaven. Total giving. Not half and half. God is not interested in fractions or percentages. God sent Jesus, His only begotten Son. God gave the Best Gift of a Saviour without holding anything back. What about us?

We are too good at calculating, are we not? We ask ourselves first: what will I  get out of it? Is this a good deal?

If we would but stop to consider who is sustaining us from moment to moment, giving us life even if it is for a brief span of time on earth, we might perhaps seek another response to the call of God.

May our Blessed Mother intercede for us!

Moments of truth

In a week, I made four visits to a government hospital. Each visit brought some new thoughts. Each visit also gave me opportunities to speak with friends working at the hospital. I came away with a grateful heart, and I thanked God for the vocation of nursing and care giving.

With my friend who works in the radiology department, I was able to speak of the patients who were in their dying moments. A moment of truth hits the patient. I am not going to make it. I have no control over my life. For a lay person it is bad enough since no one is a machine; all of us have blood coursing through our veins and arteries. But for a medical doctor, the truth is harder to accept. No matter what expertise one has, the Author of Life is God, not the medical practitioner. So it is always humbling when one faces one’s mortality and knows that the end is near.

My friend said that it was good that Dr Richard Teo, whose testimony is being read by thousands of people, was able to go in peace. He learnt to accept and to let go. The grace of his baptism was there. Once a person is baptised, the person is marked with the sign of the cross for life.  The mark is indelible. The baptised person is a child of God, and God, who is faithful and infinitely merciful, is all ready to embrace the lost sheep again. No matter that it was twenty years since one even considered living out one’s baptismal vows. No matter that at the last moment, the truth hits home and one realises that it is time to go Home to one’s maker. Praise God!