and O! Your flesh and blood

“Jesus, I am not worthy. I am a broken (wo)man. But only say the word and I shall be healed again”!

I cannot WAIT to show this to my Confirmation students tomorrow morning.

What beauty there is in the Eucharist! What joy, what strength! For in the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ therein lies the beginning and the end of every human creature.

Every bit of his precious flesh, every drop of his precious blood– all of this man-made-God Jesus’s soul– given up for me on Calvary AND simultaneously forever in the Eucharistic sacrifice!

This is the food that will heal my generation.

This is is the drink that will create a revolution of peace, of love in the world.

He is our answer.

#EucharisticGeneration

Amen.

a lesson in the cry room

Honestly, I used to be “on the fence” about church “cry rooms.” But since I’ve become a mama, I’ve definitely come to appreciate them. Especially since we have such a loud and active infant. 

We recently visited my hubby’s home parish in the ‘burbs. It had a tiny cry room, and it was jam packed.

One family particularly struck me: a mother, father, and four small kids. The father and one of the children was away for a very long while (potty break?). When he was gone, the mother was trying her best to corral her other three very active kids. Her youngest even kept crawling head-on towards the actively opening and closing door. Yikes! 

All the while, this same young mother’s head was also submerged in her missal for all other moments BETWEEN her re-directing her children.  I admired how this mother still tried to follow along with the Mass in her missal. 

I also noticed a married couple to our left who had three tiny kids. One of their little girls was a wee little infant who LOVED screaming– er, SCREECHING. The parents took turns herding their little ones so that the other respective spouse could be more engaged in the Mass. Such a good display of teamwork so that they could both participate better at Mass! I admired how they both kneeled so reverrently too.

Lastly, I noticed a family with a couple teens, a pre-teen, and an infant. The infant was being quiet fidgety. One of their teenage children also seemed not in the least interested in Mass. Yet I could see– rather, hear– the two parents in this family really lifting up their voices to God, and particularly the father doing so. His soul seemed to emanate from his vocals. He was singing with his whole body; he was almost swaying to the music! 

All of these parents shared one look: that of being TIRED. Yet they also shared another look: that of being ENGAGED IN MASS ANYWAY. What INSPIRATION to be found in that jam-packed cry room.

Yes, we parents were tired, we were treading on that fine line between exhausted and crazy, yet we were participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass together. What better gift could we have from God than the gift to be there? Screaming babies and all.

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they’re one in the same

Ah, this.

Yes, this.

Silence.

My two boys asleep: my hubby and my son.

Silence! Time to think uninterruptedly. Alas…. alas!

And yet, I am so tired. It is SO late.

Who knew the vocation of motherhood could be so exhausting?! Really, zillions of other women have gone through this?!

And yet, it’s an exhilarating feeling that I am left with at the end of the day. Honestly, I’ve dreamed of being a mommy even before grade school. (As I experience all of this joy being a new mommy, I can’t help but pray even more for those struggling with infertility and miscarriage– I cannot imagine that pain. <3)

All of those moments that I want to bang my head during the day when my son is fussing, screaming, or just being overactive and not napping… they are put to *shame* when, at the moment that my baby finally DOES fall asleep, I pull out my smartphone and peruse my photos and videos of him. Ha! Ha! Ha ha ha ha!

What I am learning about motherhood is this: sacrifice. Isn’t that the single word that comes up numerous times on this blog?!

Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. Whew!

Yet what I am also learning is this beautiful, mysterious paradox: that I revel in this sacrifice. That at the time that I hate it, I also love it, because I know that it is edifying.

Sacrifice and love: one in the same. THAT is what I have been learning. 

I am being edified… refined… purified.

The one event that has made me “grow up”? Having a child of my own. Cliche, yes. But true, so true.

I often wonder if this is how God feels with me as his daughter. He sees me crying, he sees me blindly hurting myself, he sees me confused, he sees me needy, he sees me being just a little bit naughty sometimes (or maybe other times, very, very in the wrong), he sees me THIRSTY… he sees me HUNGRY. AND IN IT ALL, HE LOVES ME! He only wants the best for me! HE SAYS, “COME, DRINK MY BLOOD. COME, EAT MY FLESH.” Oh my! ” ❤

My motherhood is teaching me soooo much about my daughterhood of the King Most High…

But I am exhausted. So, good night for now! 🙂

#tobecontinued

“Look mom! Sushi! Mmmmm” 😛

My great uncle took a candid of us at dinner one day... we never get family shots! Life is going by too quickly. Hope we get another one soon. ;)

A (blurry) candid of us at dinner one day… we never get family shots! Life is going by too quickly. Hope we get another one soon. 😉

love, as per this day in June…

love is…

…your boyfriend staying up late to talk to you even though he’s an early sleeper. oh, and paying for every single plane ticket for you to visit him.

…your mother going on business and working so hard, so close to retirement, because she still wants to provide for the family by paying the mortgage on a house where all the family parties are.

…your 88-year-old grandmother being patient with you as she waits for you to assist her as you speak with your boyfriend on the phone.

…your whole family getting together for your cousin’s high school graduation. aunts, uncles, cousins, everyone.

…your father telling you there’s coffee ready with enthusiasm.

…your older brother letting you borrow his laptop for over a month so that you can use it for graduate school, as yours has broken.

…your older sister being so hospitable to you when you visit her home even though she has a newborn and a toddler boy of whom to take care.

…your brother-in-law making you extra food and saying, “well, it’s there and if it magically disappears, then that’s good too!” after you tell him you’re full.

…your “lil sissy” being so appreciative of the humble chocolate chip cookies and card you gave her for her high school graduation.

…your 4-year-old nephew’s eyes lighting up when you tell him you can take him to the park.

…your cousins’ Facebook threading and tweeting and texting you at random hours of the day, sometimes about completely ridiculous and fun things, other times about serious things like prayer requests.

…your middle school cousin saying, “what? who says you can move? I say we take a vote!” then having all of your cousins take a “vote” in which only one of many say you can actually move! LOL

…Jesus waiting for you in the Eucharist.

The list goes on and on. That’s why I dated this post– because I know it will be a forever “to be continued.”

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The day they took the “vote.” LOL! This is just a few of ’em… I wonder what would happen if they all voted.

lesson from JP2 & Pope Francis: love vs. lust

Bl. JP2 always talked about how young men and women, to their very core (even if they didn’t know it!), really just want to find eternal happiness by giving a total “gift of self [themselves]” to one another…. to others… and most of all, to God.

In “Love and Responsibility,” Bl. JP2 talks about how the core of love is sacrifice. The core of love is giving, not taking! (Boy, the world’s media today’s got that one a little mixed up.) Moreover,  Bl. JP2 expounds upon how lust focuses on “what’s in it for me?” while love focuses on “how does this affect the other person?” (or God, or others, or both of you together).

In the same vein, I recently came across this “Made In His Image” image that says: “Love can’t wait to give. Lust can’t wait to get.” Exactly what Bl. JP2’s “Love and Responsibility” gets at!

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In great serendipity, I came across this quote by Mahatma Gandhi as well:

“There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Politics without principle; Science without humanity; Business without ethics.”

What’s interesting is that, immediately after reading this, I equated “religion” with “Jesus” who IS Love (1 John 4:7-8). Therefore, without even thinking, I was translating it into this: There is no such thing as love without sacrifice. No such thing!

And lastly, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel a few days later, while praying before the Lord Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist, I conveniently flipped to this excerpt from the Book of Tobit in my Bible app:

When Sarah’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah rose from bed and said to his wife, “My sister, come, let us pray and beg our Lord to grant us mercy and protection.” She got up, and they started to pray and beg that they might be protected. He began with these words:

“Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors;

blessed be your name forever and ever!

Let the heavens and all your creation bless you forever.a

You made Adam, and you made his wife Eve

to be his helper and support;

and from these two the human race has come.

You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;

let us make him a helper like himself.’

Now, not with lust,

but with fidelity I take this kinswoman as my wife.

Send down your mercy on me and on her,

and grant that we may grow old together.

Bless us with children.”

They said together, “Amen, amen!” Then they went to bed for the night.

“Not with lust…” I read the words and I pondered over them. The words brought me such joy, such light. This Tobit knew what would be the foundation for an everlasting marriage bond. Love. Not lust. Giving. Not taking.

So much in our life is about what we want– even the most holy and good things– and yet, if we desire those things in inordinate ways, in all honesty, we are lusting over them.

We should never place anything over Eternal Happiness. His name is Jesus.

Everlasting peace of soul is only to be had from Our LORD– the only One who can offer us anything eternal: solely HIMSELF. We were not made for anyone else, no matter how holy, nor anything else, no matter how noble and pure. Made in His Image, we were made for HIM.

No one creation can compare to the One who created us, the Creator.

It is only when we FIRST give ourselves to Him, and THEN give ourselves to others in His name, including our spouses or perhaps the Church or those we serve (if we are consecrated religious) that anything at all makes sense!

It is so, so, so very easy to fall into the trap of confusing seeking the good, holy, pure gifts of the Giver rather than the Giver Himself. Yet we must detach from everything and everyone but Him. We must even be detached from spouses and children, to an extent, if we are in the marriage vocation. (God shows this with Abraham and Isaac… and Job…. and Jesus, HIS Son, of course! We must be willing to forsake even  mother and father and sister and brother for Him.)

It is so, so, so very easy to have “ulterior motives” but not even really realize it. For instance, do we do good only because of the feelings that doing good begets? Or do we do it because we want to love and to give and to sacrifice, even when it hurts or does not feel good or feels futile, unfruitful, un-returned?

I know I have leaps and bounds to grow spiritually. The tweets of our new papa, Pope Francis, have really made me think twice recently about my intentions of my spirituality. The true core of my spirituality should be to love God first, always, in everything, and in everyone: to give, not to take; to love, not to lust.

For Jesus or Against Jesus: NO MEDIOCRE FOLLOWING!

We are either for Jesus or against Him. Christian discipleship is not for the faint of heart, the indecisive, or the person who is satisfied with the mediocre. It is only for the courageous and the ambitious. We cannot strive to be “a good person” and stop at that. This complacent spirit will not suffice.

We need to give our whole and entire selves to Christ, and to embrace responding to our unique vocations to the full! A vocation is a call. We are to answer back with the way we live our life!

In the Eucharist, Christ teaches us how to give our whole and entire life to God…. And to one another. After all, He is the Bread broken for all! 1 Corinthians 10:16 reads: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”

Moreover, 1 Corinthians 10:21 reads: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” Whoa now! This gives me shivers. I’m either for or against Jesus. There is no middle ground.

God Himself tells us that if we are lukewarm, He will spit us out. Revelation 3:16 reads: “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”

In fact, I never realized that 1 Corinthians 10:31 contains a direct reference to the Eucharist. I always thought the eating and drinking reference was random… But it refers to eating Jesus’s Body and drinking Jesus’s Blood! It reads: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

After we receive our Lord in the Eucharist, by His grace, we become Him whom we have received (as St. Augustine says). Thus, fed by Christ Himself, and one with Him, we are called to do ALL for the glory of God!

Are we giving entire and whole– that is, Eucharistic-like– gifts of self to God and to others?

Are we answering back to our unique calling from God (“vocation”)… with our very living?

We are meant to be living sacrifices, just like Jesus, who Himself is alive in the sacrificial Eucharistic host.

We are either for Him or against Him.

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Jesus: a living sacrifice. He’s alive in that tabernacle. Are we living sacrifices too? (And look who snuck into the background! Bl. Pope John Paul II.)

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Blessed Pope John Paul II, in books like “Love and Responsibility” and his “Theology of the Body” audiences, always spoke of love as sacrifice. Bl. JP II stressed how love required a “total gift of self.”

All in or all out.

the Holy Mass > service + praise and worship

When I attend (or rather, “pray”) the Holy Mass, readings from the Old Testament and New Testament are read, and the Gospel is proclaimed. This is called the “Liturgy of the Word” and it is the common denominator of most Christian worship services, Protestant and Catholic. However, at a Catholic Mass, instead of “praise and worship” following, the “Liturgy of the Eucharist” follows. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Our LORD gives Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist: body, blood, soul, and divinity!

In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Jesus offers me a perfect Oblation and Sacrifice: Himself! None of my own human emotions can change His gift to me. However, I feel that in praise and worship, the focus is on offering my human emotions to God. I realize that others may see this differently than I do. However, this is my own personal experience.

Truly, in the Mass as well as at a “service” or “praise and worship session,” we must similarly offer ourselves to God (physically, spiritually, and emotionally). However, in the Mass, that’s only half of the equation. In Mass, Our LORD comes down to us physically, as well as spiritually, in the Eucharist! In His decisive love, regardless of our merely human emotions, He offers Himself to us in a re-presentation of His Sacrifice at Calvary!

1 John 4:10 reads: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.”

That second half… “that he loved us and sent his son”: now, that’s the entire gist of the Holy Mass… the Son of God coming to us! Body. Blood. Soul. And Divinity. Amen.

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The man who died and rose for us… and offers us Himself to be broken in the form of bread… is also the son of Mary and Joseph. As well as the Son of God. Amen!

Eucharistic LORD: You never change!

It’s so awesome to know that no matter where you are in the world, if you go to Mass, you can expect to see and to receive the very same LORD Jesus Christ: present there before you, body, blood, soul, and divinity… and to enter into you wholly.

Hebrews 13:8-9 reads: “Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same for ever. Be not led away with various and strange doctrines. For it is best that the heart be established with grace….”.

Truly, Our LORD is always the same. In the light and in the dark, in the ups and in the downs, in the certainty and in the confusion… may we not only know, but believe and feel that He is LORD of Heaven and Earth, for all eternity.

Jesus, You never change. I at times feel like I change with the wind. But let me know that I am always your beloved daughter, no matter what. In the light and in the goodness (that I can only do through Your grace)… in the dark and in the sin… I am always loved by You, Love Himself.

May You, in the Eucharist, be the source and the summit of my life! Until we meet alas face to face.

You never change. Give me the grace to have a faith as true as Yours to me.

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the sanctuary of silence

I drove to a newly-constructed church today. It has a new Blessed Sacrament Chapel as well. You know how sometimes, you can hear the buzz from the electric lights? Or the humdrum of the air conditioner? Well, there was none of that in this chapel. It was utterly silent.

A few men came and went. But for about an hour, I had just two elderly ladies as steady companions.

The walls in the chapel were bare white…

The sunlight was cascading in…

You could hear a pin drop in there.

It was utterly glorious.

But what’s up with my generation? Well, I can tell you what’s all around it: NOISE. Smart phones, tablets, portable music players, satellite radio, news  streams, instant messaging…. and the old-fashioned cable and radio. Consequently, there is never a moment we can really hear God.

I intentionally try to quiet that noise from our entertainment-focused, work-obsessed society. And even then, it’s still my voice that’s the last thing to go. It’s my often my overthinking that I have to get rid of last.

But just being in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel WITH Our LORD, in silence, for more than 15 minutes… is already so counter-cultural as it is… and is so different than what I’m used to.

Be still and know that I am GOD.

Be still and know that I AM.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be.

That last line, “Be”?

Well, that’s where He finds me.

Author Matthew Kelly often refers to something he calls “The Classroom of Silence.” I’d like to re-coin that phrase to “The Sanctuary of Silence.”

I truly believe that in the quietest of moments, God speaks to us.

I’m still learning how to detach completely from thinking about my duties and my anxieties and my racing thoughts.

I’m still learning how to listen.

I’m still learning how to be— so His Spirit can get into me! (Well, more, and even deeper, that is.)

How frustrating, and how utterly romantic. I know I will die trying. But His words to me are worth the relentless effort, so long as I am courageous enough to persist!

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The view I had waking up among millions of teen and young adult pilgrims at World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain. It was the morning that we were to meet the pope (he was to drive through the crowds on a gigantic airfield). It was insanely quiet. Upon waking, I smelled an intense scent of roses (often a sign of Mother Mary’s presence– I was pleasantly surprised and delighted!)… and I heard God in the most inaudible way. There He was, somehow conveying to me: “Good morning, my beloved daughter! I love 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!