Alleluia! Alleluia!

Psalms 108:1-5: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to thee, O LORD, among the peoples, I will sing praises to thee among the nations. For thy steadfast love is great above the heavens, thy faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let thy glory be over all the earth!”

Tonight I went to the Easter Vigil with my dear boyfriend. I could not believe our Lenten journey was coming to a close. But my, was I ready!

I was ready to enter Mass with the lights off… With lit candles… With the Exultet proclaimed to the Heavens for Our LORD!

I was ready to go through the 7 Old Testament readings, 7 Psalms, the Easter Old Testament readings and Gospel, the Easter intercessions, and the Litany of the Saints!

I was ready for them to turn on the lights in the sanctuary to signify the conquering of darkness and death by Light and LIFE!

I was ready to see the elect became members of the Body of Christ: baptized, confirmed, and receiving their first Eucharist! (This was so moving.)

I was ready to renew my own Baptismal vows! (I remembered why I am alive!)

What a journey it has been trying to uphold a spirit of sacrifice and penance in order to await this glorious day: the Feast of the Resurrection of Our LORD Jesus Christ, Easter!

I’d have to say that of the various Lenten sacrifices and “holy additions” to my life I have made these past forty days, my favorite has been trying to regularly frequent Confession again.

I am glad to conclusively and to confidently say that I re-met Mercy Himself this Lent. And He had a name: Jesus!

Jesus is not only Love; He is also Mercy.

AMEN.

ALLELUIA! (We can finally say it!)

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Sundays During “Lent” = NOT LENT.

That’s right, folks. Go ahead and eat that chocolate. The Sundays “during” Lent are actually not considered part of Lent.  Blasphemy?! Nope! I speak no heresy.

Sundays are Sabbath days. They are Divinely-mandated days of rest, feasting, and rejoicing. Jesus Himself says that He wants us to keep holy the Sabbath day in this particular way, sans mourning, fasting, penance, et cetera– even during the Lenten season. Sundays, besides Palm Sunday, are simply not considered part of the Lenten season.

This has always kinda confused me. I’ve wondered if I should “break” my Lenten fasts or not stick to my Lenten resolutions just because it’s a Sunday during Lent. And if I have “broken” them (the ones that don’t have to do with abstaining from a particular sin, that is), I’ve felt some cognitive dissonance and guilt. But we shouldn’t be guilty if we choose to do so!

A lot of people say: “Yeah, but that’s such a bad excuse. It’s better to go all 46 days fasting or doing your resolutions. After all, Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. Why not us?”

OK, true. But are we Jesus? No! He is Our King. And He told us to keep holy the Sabbath day in a particular kind of spirit– one of rejoicing– even during Lent. So while we want to emulate Him in that way during Lent, even He recommends not doing so.

In Matthew 9:15, Jesus teaches us the true spirit of the Sabbath:

And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

O, how great is Christ’s mercy! In our humanity, He knows how broken, how lost, how empty we will regularly feel, most especially if we do not regularly rejoice in Him, the Ultimate Gift of our life. On Sundays in particular, we are to remember that He is with us. We shall not mourn or fast.

Knowing that we may simply work ourselves into a dead end, Our LORD in His goodness has commanded us that on Sundays, we must stop working and must simply revel in receiving Him.

So, if you’d like to have a little rest from your Lenten fasts or resolutions during Lent (caveat: so long as they are not sinful in nature, duh!), then go ahead! Rest away and do not worry about your Lenten penances and practices. Rest in Him and rejoice in Him!

Amen.

Don’t worry– the “Alleluia” is soon to come!

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(c) Life Teen

Twenty days till the Easter Vigil, guys!

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 Divine romance

“May Jesus be in your mind, Jesus in your heart, Jesus on your lips, Jesus in all your works.” –Saint Gaspar del Bufalo

My mind, my heart, my lips, my works. Does Jesus rest in them all?

You see… I am not just a Roman Catholic… I am also a romantic Catholic! *cymbal clash* Haha 😉

Romantic because Jesus always has me on His mind, His heart, His lips, His works! In this Divine romance,  how can I offer back to Him all of me? Well… if I really look into my core, the purity of my intentions matters.

As for my mind… do I merely wish to be powerful?

As for my heart… do I merely wish to “use” God to fulfill my “needs”?

As for my lips… do I merely wish to sound filled with the Spirit, in my own search for human approval?

As for my works… do I merely wish to appear a devoted daughter of God?

I have no power; it is Christ’s power alone.

My heart is a heart of flesh because of the One who made me. Otherwise, it would be a heart of stone.

My lips speak goodness only because He has first spoken goodness to me and offered me tenderness, mercy, and an image of a love that touches and affirms and endures, even in infidelity.

My works are mere gifts from Our Lord. My devotion is nothing of my own doing. I simply give my “fiat” and cooperate with God.

God is the source of all grace! In Him alone do I trust. In Him alone do I learn how to truly love. I pray that I can always grow better at having Jesus in my mind, in my heart, on my lips, and in all my works.

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Jesus in the Eucharist, in the center tabernacle, in the heart of San Francisco. My boyfriend and I took a mini pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Saint Francis!

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Jesus in the Eucharist, exposed in a monstrance, in the heart of New York City. My boyfriend and I took a mini pilgrimage to the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine!

 

no radio for Lent?: PURITY is God’s work, not mine!

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Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was a young adult with a pure heart on fire for the LORD. He was truly a living tabernacle of JESUS in the middle of the world!

“Purify my heart
Let me be as gold
And precious silver

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold
Pure gold

Refiner’s Fire,
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord

I choose to be
Holy
Set apart for You, my Master,
Ready to do Your Will

Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within,
And make me holy

Purify my heart,
Cleanse me from my sin
Deep within”

–“Purify My Heart,” Brian Doerksen

Do I love others with a pure heart? How do my selfish intentions and how does my pride get in the way? Who cares about how others see me… when what really matters most is how God sees me?

Do I love God with a pure heart? Do I love myself with a pure heart… or do I simply want to make a god of myself and think highly of myself?

As I journey through Lent, the idea of purity of mind, heart, and body… has been on my, well, mind, heart, and body! (God designed us as truly integrated beings.)

This particular Lent, one of my sacrifices is not to listen to secular music or the radio. Instead, I am listening to either Christian/Catholic music or audiobooks.

Most of the songs on the radio are about romantic love, Eros (sexual desire), lust (disordered Eros), and incredible lows/highs. After just over a week of not listening to secular radio for a couple hours a day, I feel my mind focusing on higher ends, such as God’s love  and IDEAS that I have always wanted to ponder more deeply over!

I once heard a priest say that listening to a song on the radio is, in a sense, agreeing to let your emotions be influenced or controlled by whatever lyrics or melody you happen to hear. This priest’s “anti 24/7 entertainment” stance moved me.

I don’t want to simply experience life as a reaction to entertainment. I want to LIVE life as a journey that I venture! I do not want to be a product of society; I want to help shape society.

This Lent, I hope that my thoughts will gradually become more oriented towards the Divine. I hope that I will be more focused on living out my vocation as a disciple of Our Lord. I want to be centered on what is holy, noble, and pure… and most importantly, on Our Lord Who is Love.

Moreover, I increasingly realize that it is GOD who cleanses me from my worldly detachments and purifies me.

PURITY: not my work or power that is effecting the change within, but GOD’S work and power that cleanses me and makes me holy!

A living tabernacle, holding Jesus, in the middle of the world: now that’s what I want to be!

I pray that Our Lord keep the faith in me forever young.

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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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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what time is it?

This Lent might mean spiritual renewal for you. Or it might mean great suffering. It might mean sacrificing an extra thirty minutes of sleep per day to go to daily Mass. Or it might mean adding in an extra thirty minutes of time per day to spend with a loved one.

Whatever this time means to you, remember that it is a commodity.

Are you going towards God, or are you going away from Him?

For everything, there is a time and a season. God has a time for everything.

What time is it in your life?

“1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Old-World-Clock

“giving up chocolate for Lent” = finding grace in the wilderness?!

“The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness…. I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:2,3

Finding grace in the wilderness… now that’s what Lent is about.

What’s that “wilderness”? It’s that emptiness, that wild place that you’re left when you’ve said no to your desires and will and you’ve said yes to that vast unknown called “God’s Will”: what He desires for your life.

How do we find grace in the wilderness? By abandoning ourselves. How can we do this? Well, yes, even by little things such as “giving up chocolate” for Lent. I know everyone beats up on that idea, but there indeed can be deep meaning behind such a simple sacrifice. So, speaking of chocolate…

Last night, my professor passed around Hershey kisses. I grabbed a few, only to realize: Hey, it’s Lent… maybe I should put these down. Then I gave myself an excuse: Well, I’ve already got them here in front of me… it’s too late. I just couldn’t handle the temptation. I then proceeded to enjoy all three chocolate kisses within a couple minutes.

Nope, I didn’t “give up chocolate” for Lent. In fact, I gave up a plethora of other things (and added in some new things I’d like to do, too).  But still…. it was so hard to say no to those three little pieces of chocolate. And after I ate them, I knew that I had missed an opportunity to tell our Lord “I love You.”

Tonight, I face a similar battle. Yes, as I write this post!

The Valentine’s Day cookies that my nephew and I made are beckoning me. However, I realize that my saying no to having a cookie can be a simple “yes” to God.

“Yes, Lord, I love you more than this cookie.”

“Yes, Lord, I love you more than these three Hershey kisses.”

Eventually, with an attitude like this, in which we gladly die to ourselves in the little things, we can find strength say no to the big things– including the big sins.

When we practice saying no to little harmless desires, we will one day find ourselves being able to say no to bigger harmful temptations. It is then that we can say: “Yes, Lord, I love you more than this sin, which I know is not good for my soul, or anyone else’s…. and which I know hurts You.”

As we detach from ourselves this Lent, may we find grace in the wilderness, and attach our hearts to Our Lord!

May we be able to say no to the chocolate, and via such little ways, come to love Him with an everlasting love, just as He loves us!

After all, love works and builds bit by bit… struggle by struggle… kiss by kiss. 😉

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the mystery of every person… the mystery of me.

“Eliminate and concentrate.”.

I  heard this phrase from a classmate tonight, when we were discussing the process of simplifying one’s life.

“Eliminate the unnecessary… concentrate on the necessary.

Eliminate the noise… concentrate on the core of the matter.

Get to the heart of it.”

…I thought.

Tonight, during the same class, I chirped in my two cents about my personal thoughts about the experience of being in the psychotherapy room with clients.

I like to think every person has his/her own “-ology.” For example: Is your name John? Then you have your own John-ology. When I am with clients, I pray that the Holy Spirit helps me to learn every unique client-ology, which I believe is just a tiny study of the Total Mystery of Our Lord, the ultimate “-OLOGY” Himself.

Our LORD is the Ultimate Being to be studied. He is the Alpha Omega Mystery! But, O, how exhilarating to know that we can still know bits and pieces of Him by studying all of Creation, including the -ologies of various academic disciplines, as well as every human soul itself, a creation of the Creator.

We, God’s children, are all a part of Him. Baptized in Christ, we too are bone of His bones… flesh of His flesh. We are made in very His image and likeness. We possess an -ology, a mystery all our own, as unique sons or daughters of God.

As a counselor AND equally in my life outside of being a counselor, I like to pray to the Holy Spirit: How can I eliminate what is going on in my life… concentrate on this soul before me… and tap into the mystery of this person? Holy Spirit, help me tap into the MYSTERY of this PERSON!

Yes, every person that I meet introduces me to God in a unique way. In fact, I will never know God in that unique way in the face of ANY other person. How beautiful is that?!

Tonight my classmates and professors were moved by what I said, but I knew that I could take none of the credit. It’s all God’s. And all of this thought about the “mystery” of every person relates to what I have learned from Blessed Pope John Paul II, who always spoke of the “dignity” of every person.

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As Lent 2013 starts to unfold, I realize as I “eliminate and concentrate” on GOD Himself, Our Lord will not only reveal more about His own mystery to me, but also more about how I reflect His mystery, and how I truly am His beloved!

“The root of all holiness is romance.”

This Lent, I am excited to try to grow in holiness so I can fall deeper into that Mystery of Love who has created me as bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh… out of pure love for me.