what binds you?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity….” —Jeremiah 29:11-14

What binds you?

What holds you down?

What keeps you from being a man or a woman “fully alive”? St. Irenaeus said: “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

Well, God wants to bring YOU back from captivity. He wants to loosen those chains, and to free you from sin. Or from despair. Or from being despondent.

Or from not caring. Or being reckless. Or from thinking “my life means nothing.” Or from thinking “I don’t get this all, I’m just going to do whatever…”.

God wants you to find YOUR meaning and purpose, and to revel in the fact that He has gifted you with life, and life ABUNDANTLY (John 10:10), in order to be exactly who He created you to be!

Someone not bound up, but someone free in grace– free in His life within you!

Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Confession when He told His apostles: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” –John 20:23.

Priests have the power to, in the place of Christ (in “persona Christe”), bestow upon us Christ’s sanctifying grace that frees us from our sin and makes us alive in Him!

Let’s pray to Him. Let’s call out to Him.

God promises that He is listening.

Let’s seek Him with all of our heart.

We will find Him.

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This is Who we are really going to in Confession: Jesus Himself.

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rest and why Heaven isn’t boring (zZz)

Alas, some nights we just need rest.

No… I take that back.

Alas, all nights we need rest.

I’m not just talking about fake “rest” where you’re worried about all of the things of the next day. I’m talking about really resting in Our LORD, knowing that you’ve done what you could today, and that tomorrow will have its own tasks. Matthew 6:33-34 reads: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

Sometimes I wonder: will there ever be a moment of complete “rest” in married life, from your spouse or from children of whom you take care? Unmarried now, I do have the opportunity to just completely “rest” in the LORD without spousal or parental ties lingering in the back of my mind at all times. This is why I have much respect for the parents of the children and teens that I work with: parenting is a tireless job. And I have respect for married couples without children as well. Keeping up a healthy marriage is no easy feat. It requires constant sacrifice and work.

And speaking of families… do we forget Whose family to which we ultimately belong?

We all need to be a “child” at the end of the day.

Whose child? God’s child.

Every day, we must know how to be God’s child and how truly to rest in Him. We must practice rest and perfect rest in Christ! For this is what we were made for, for all eternity: to rest in Him and to rejoice in Him in Heaven! 

This “rest” will not be a dormant or boring or dreary sleep, however; it will be an alive and captivating and invigorating eternal state of affairsThe “rest” will be from the battle between our will and the Will of God: no longer will we be inclined to turn away from Him, but to truly REST in Him, to Whom we belong!

Nothing up there in Heaven will be of our own will, but only of the Divine Will.

If the thought of Heaven does not strike our fancy today, then what are we even working for here on earth, and why is working here on earth even exciting?

If we do not look forward to “resting” in Heaven, then we must certainly be amiss about the Heavenly ecstasy that awaits us and for which all things on earth should be ordered! I’ve actually told my little cousins that maybe the word “rest” is deceiving, for when we think about “rest” in a Divine sense, it is defined much differently. I told the little cuties that perhaps gravestones shouldn’t say “Rest in Peace” but “Have Fun in Heaven!” Why? I didn’t their little brains to think Heaven was a boring place where people just sleep forever in the presence of God!

Up in Heaven, “rest” will simply mean being fully alive, without our own human sin and worries getting in the way. We will be fully trusting in Our LORD, and having a grand time in ecstatic UNION with HIM and with EVERYONE ELSE up there! We will be praising our LORD with every bit of ourselves, and we will be in perfect love with Him and all of the angels and saints above. We will be rooting on and being prayer warriors for all of the saints in the making on earth (“intercessory prayers” will be answered by us!).

I like to think that Heaven will be one huge, crazy, ecstatic family party; everyone, a child of God. Everyone, united in one purpose: to Love God (and others in His name)  and to be Loved by God.

I don’t know about you, but this vision of Heaven makes me yearn and desire to rest in the LORD today and for all eternity! (And no wonder some of the saints prayed to die early if it were God’s Will: they simply wanted to be united to Him and to all the angels and saints sooner rather than later in that Divine ecstasyanything but boring!)

Well, I have many more thoughts to write about tonight, but hey, I better go rest in Our LORD… at least, for just the night, in my sleep. 🙂

Sneak peak:  I believe that is the #1 thing that I desire after I go to Confession is rest as well: to rest in Christ’s mercy! After every Confession, I realize that I usually sneak over to the Blessed Sacrament to just gaze at our LORD, to smile at Him as I rest in His endless mercy and forgiveness.

To be continued…

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Me, my grandma who taught me to live life as a prayer (since I was a baby), and some of my cousins a couple of years ago during her 86th birthday celebration. She raised 8 kids, and I wonder how she ever found time to rest in the LORD! Her mother had 8 kids as well, and was a third order Carmelite. Crazy!

so, if YOU were off to see the Wizard…

The Scarecrow wanted a brain. The Tin Man wanted a heart. The Lion wanted courage. Dorothy just wanted to go home.

Like Dorothy and her friends…

We’re all looking for something, whether we admit it or not.

We’re all broken, whether we admit it or not.

God isn’t looking for you. He’s pursuing you. He knows exactly where you are, and He would like to fill that hole in your soul that only His love can penetrate!

God isn’t broken, but He did let His only Son, Jesus Christ, break for you, that you might be healed. In Christ’s death, you are being offered life!

What are you looking for?

How are you broken?

Jesus would like you to come home to Him, no matter how “prodigal” you may feel. Come to Him in the Mass. Come to Him in Confession. He is waiting with a piercing love.

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The Gospel of Saint Luke 10:25-28:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

the happiest people

I think that the happiest people are the ones who admit when they are wrong.

The happiest people are the ones who can own their past faults with no shame, knowing God’s mercy reigns.

The happiest people are the ones who can be sorry for their sins, acknowledge they must change, try their best to change, then smile at their own humanity during the entire journey to change.

There are no secrets with the happiest people. Rather, there is but one truth to proclaim to the world: Jesus, the King of Light, has come to dispel the darkness of the world!

“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

People who revel in their imperfection show the world that they are loved perfectly… by a God Who Himself is Love. They are their own kind of beautiful in Him. And they are proud.

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from death unto LIFE: the Alpha and the Omega, MY Beginning and MY End

Last Friday, I saw my supervisor for the last time. When I said goodbye to her that evening, little did I know that would be the last time that I would see her with God’s breath within her earthly body.

Tonight I have chosen to meditate upon a Psalm that has me thinking about my human finitude on earth and God’s infinitude in all Creation, Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”

Have you ever felt liked God was renewing you, refreshing your soul with His love, His joy, His mercy, His sweet sweet kindness, His downright romance?

There are so many points in our lives, day by day, not big turning points, but  tiny unseen ones, in which God turns us back to Him: our Ultimate Reality and Purpose!

I also often think of this Psalm before and after I go to Confession. For God offers me grace to re-turn my direction towards Him. I am either going towards Him or away from him; there is no standing still in this race of life. As St. Paul says, we are to “fight the good fight, finish the race, and [keep] the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Even in the darkest of hours, the driest of times, spiritually, I can still ardently say, “I am waiting, O Lord!” when none of my emotions feel that He, in fact, is going towards me. But oh, how He is always pursuing my heart! Like a Lover, attracted to me so sweetly and yet so fiercely at the same time (“Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree…”).

Sometimes, His cutting off that emotional love and making it purely “decisional” on our end is simply what makes for a more passionate re-uniting with Our Lord in the end. He makes the greatest of saints-in-the-making suffer the hardest.

Throughout our lives, we have endings and beginnings of various chapters. Our beginnings? Re-awakenings to God in the new chapters of our life. As I ponder on Psalm 51:10, I realize that I have my beginning in my Creator, and I have my end in Him as well. I have a beginning and I have an end: the Alpha and the Omega: my Lord and my God!

God creates and sends every individual to renew and to refresh the face of the earth with His grace in some unique way! And then… it is His ardent desire to be able to call every individual back to Heaven to be with Him, where He has a room for him or her with which he or she may dwell with Him forever. God desires this, but ultimately it is our choice to claim His as the Lord of our lives for all eternity. He does not condemn us to Hell; we do that to ourselves. How he so ardently longs for us!

God was my supervisor’s beginning; He is her end as well. Not only is He the Alpha and the Omega. He is HER Alpha and HER Omega. He is MY Alpha and MY Omega. And He should be YOUR Alpha and YOUR Omega, too. What are you waiting for?!

Jesus tells us: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

Linda’s steadfast spirit truly inspired me to be ALIVE, to follow God’s Will without abandon, to make Him my beginning and my end. May Linda not only rest in peace in the room reserved for her by Our Lord, but also dance merrily, sing songs of praise, and be our fierce and active prayer warrior as she intercedes for us in Heaven!

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Stanford University has a non-denominational church and I saw this wallpaper in its foyer. I liked the Alpha and Omega symbols, as well as the keys of Saint Peter. (The church is secretly Catholic, it just doesn’t know. Ha!)

“You’re my Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End. You’re my Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, and Friend. You’re my Prince of Peace. And I will live my life for You!”

Purity & the Purifying POWER of Confession: Living a Revolution Against Sin

When following Christ, is there no hope for someone who has fallen in their pursuit for purity, or who has given away his or her “V-Card” — virginity — sleeps with their boyfriend/girlfriend, or lived life promiscuously?

Is there no hope for someone who continuously falls to the sins of the flesh, such as willfully entertaining impure thoughts, masturbating, looking at pornography, etc.?

No. Absolutely not!

There is enduring hope found in genuine repentance, the willingness to change… and the Confessional.

Matthew 5:8 reads: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.”

Obviously, if God never thought we could be clean, He wouldn’t torture us so with the thought that we could never see Him. But as baptized children of God, we are called to imitate Christ’s holy purity and given the power to do so: Christ’s very grace within us!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph #2345 states: “Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort. The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.”

We will never be able to escape our fallen will or our concupiscence, including our inclination to lust. However, we CAN grow in our virtues and in our holy purity; we CAN grow more inclined to fight off these temptations! Better yet, Christ instituted the Sacrament of Confession to freely return to sinners the gift of sanctifying grace that they reject when they sin.

When we commit mortal sin, we willingly reject the life of God within our soul (the very definition of “grace”). A mortal sin is only considered “mortal” when we know it is a grave sin and can cut us off from God and we fully decide to commit the sin anyway.

Yet during Confession, Christ Himself– via the priest who acts “in persona Christi”– infuses His grace, His very LIFE– back into the penitent!

Jesus Himself exhorts us: “Be you therefore perfect, as also your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Striving to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect is only possible when we have the sanctifying grace of Christ within us as our strength to choose what is right and to reject what is evil!

After we sin, we may think: “Well, I still believed– I just went the wrong way, and sin/darkness overcame me, and now I’m sorry and I’m coming back to You, LORD.” Yet such a prayer to reconcile with Him is not enough if a sin is mortal; we must Confess in a sacramental prayer, to a priest, a representative of God.

This is pointed out in the Bible. St. John says: “If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray” (1 John 5:16-17).

It is for these “deadly” sins– these mortal sins, including most sins of impurity– that we must go to Confession.

Again, we must not worry, just be aware, and take ardent hope!

As we repeatedly commit sin, including sins of impurity; Christ Himself longs to unite us to His Cross and repeatedly purify us via Confession, that we may be always be ready again to give ourselves as pure offerings to one another and to Our Father.

Just as the “once and for all” sacrifice at Calvary can mysteriously permeate all time and space in the perpetuation of the Sacrament of the Eucharist (the timeless Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ), so too can this “once and for all” sacrifice at Calvary mysteriously permeate all time and all space in the timeless perpetuation of the Sacrament of Confession (the timeless Mercy & Justice of Christ!).

Hebrews 13:8 says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” So, too is the Power of His Cross: in the Eucharist, when the Sacrifice of Calvary is re-presented perpetually till the end of the age, and in Confession, when the cleansing of sins and re-infusion of grace is re-presented perpetually till the end of the age.

Our Savior Jesus Christ died 2000 years ago on the Cross, and His sacrifice was a “once and for all” redemption, but Christ’s saving graces permeate all time and all space and save us in mysterious ways.

Yet Jesus Himself warns of our ability for sin to separate us from Him when he heals the paralytic on the exterior (his illness) and the interior (his sin), but still warns the paralytic: “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:16).

Jesus posits that sin can indeed make something worse happen to us after He heals us: we can willingly separate ourselves from Him if we sin again; we sin again over and over.

Yet Jesus is more than willing to purify us again and again in Confession, that we may truly be clean of heart, and so blessed as to be able to see Him (Matthew 5:8)!

LORD Jesus, blessed be the Sacrament of Confession, which allows the redemptive power of Your Cross to work mysteriously, outside of time, to perpetually save us from ourselves, when we willingly separate ourselves from Your saving Cross. You alone can save us, o LORD!