Getting together as a family is often a challenge for us – My husband, Daniel and our son, Mathieu works Sunday. It’s often only Aleeza and I at home. All the craziness of maintaining one bubble under Covid-19 lockdown takes it toll on each of us psychologically and emotionally. While our world is thrown into chaos, our love and faith in God remains steadfast.
A look back to Easter Sunday was a special day for our family. It’s the first time we were able to get together to go to Sunday Mass. This was before lockdowns and curfews. We maintained our family bubble in St. Ignatius. It was a bit daunting for me, as the number of times I have been out in public since Covid – 19 can be counted on one hand – 3.
With great blessings from God, Aleeza was baptized and I was confirmed at St. Ignatius in Montreal into the Catholic Faith.
Getting involved and participating in these groups really helped both my daughter and I to stay focused on Jesus. It helped in answering hard knock questions about the meaning of life and our path in it.
Getting involved in a group setting via Zoom was at first daunting on me. As I have expressed in previous post, I am very much the awkward nerd who is not at ease in socializing. My passion/s rips across me, and I often need to minimize my behavior not to scare those around me. Hence direct and candid as I am, I often have to harness myself. My own daughter often tells me, “Mom! Tell me in simple language. I don’t understand you”. I was not sure I would be able to participate in either Alpha or my Camino group. Thanks be to God, these groups have enriched in my spiritual growth.
Trusting in God’s hand to lead me is based on prayer. It is also an open humbleness on my part to know my will is strong, and that for change to happen in my spiritual life, I must let go of my need to control, and give it into His Almighty hands to guide me. Walking by faith and not by sight.
It is only by letting go, that God’s abundant graces pours down upon me. Sometimes it is like a torrential downpouring that can overwhelm me, but I have come to understand that only by the immensity of it, that I can be knocked down onto my knees in complete adoration of Him.
I have discovered that my Jesus, is a jealous lover, who does not want my focus to be anywhere else except upon Him. Since my confirmation, my soul has fallen more deeply in love with Him. I long to please Him. Endless songs of praise pieces my heart:
my hands stretched upwards
with eyes tightly shut
ifeel your caress
like a gentle wisp of breeze
delicate and feathery
my whole being soaring
Out of my heart come forth songs
to a lover who i know waits patiently for me.
i am His earthly bride, and all i long for
is to please Him in every thing i do
There is a new found purpose
in every steps i take in this dust bowl
All my shortcoming exposed
there is no shame in sharing with Him
the deepest secrets of my soul
For i know He forgives me
washing away the stains that separates Him from me
Betrayal comes from the one closest to us. It cuts deep into our core, and creates within us a veil of distrust. I was betrayed by someone I thought was my “bestie”. She was a friend with whom we shared many fun moments. Our families use to spend a lot of time together. However, when my husband and I hit rock bottom and lost our financial standing, all our friends disappeared. I realize afterwards they were predators. There were there for the free ride when the going was good, but when all that was gone, they too left.
What hurt me the most during this challenging time was the person with whom I thought was my “bestie”, was among the list of friends who left us. It hurt me that she wasn’t able to be emotionally supportive.
Disillusionment harden my heart, and it took me a while to trust in people again. It could have lead to many negative and irrational judgements on my part, but the Holy Spirit lead me to forgive. It was a hard lesson into the meaning of friendship and the human soul. I came to understand that true friendship transcends the challenges of life. It is a bond that is a based on – love.
Is the most misconceived word. Do we truly know what it means?
Love is the friend I have in Jesus. No matter how rocky our road can get, experience has taught me that Jesus is faithful. That year, through divine providence, we experienced many miracles. I can’t even grasp how Jesus made it possible, and I can only picture a tapestry of intertwining treads (different life threads). The hand of God was evident in our lives as He pulled cosmic strings to help us. There was the stranger who gave us two bags of groceries and gifts for our children that fateful Christmas. A family member stepped forward to help us out financially. A financial institution helped us reorganize and downsize (we sold all our real estate holdings), and we kept only our house. We also felt the stress lift off our shoulders. My husband who found himself unemployed during this period also found a new job. God’s hand was felt as He taught us a lesson in humility and humbleness. Our children also changed to public schools. My son telling us years latter that his years in private school was like being in “prison”.
We journeyed through this period as a family trusting in God’s hand in our lives.
My God is now my strength. He taught me to forgive and walk forward.
Most of all, God journeyed with us and did not let our hearts fall prey to Satan. God was there holding us up.
Jesus Foretells His Betrayal
21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ 26 Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.27 After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.John 13:21-33
Let us examine our lives and not become disillusioned. Trust in Jesus, and do not let your heart and soul fall prey to Satan’s lies and guiles. I know – I almost fell prey to my social status when the going was good. Upon reflection, I realize the many “things” I hold dear in life are temporal. They can literally be here today and gone tomorrow.
Betrayal’s bite can hurt. Let Jesus heal us when we are bitten. Let His hand lift us up when we fall. Let Him guide through the thorns and bristles of life.
Praying has become my daily substance. Not only does it refreshes my soul, but it helps me begin my day with the inner knowledge of God’s grace and presence. I can hear my inner voice singing my own version of Psalms – praising God for a new day, and asking for strength and sustenance.
As a new Catholic, this will be the first time I celebrate the season of Lent. I had many questions: Why do Catholics celebrate Lent? What is Lent? When does it start? How long is Lent? What do we do during Lent? The researcher in me was curious. To find my answers, I asked Catholic friends and did an online search. This is how the hand of God lead me to The Pray More Lenten Retreat.
As we draw near to the season of Lent, the Pray More Lenten Retreat is being offered online. I love the fact that I can participate from home and at my own pace.
“A retreat?” some may ask. Yes! An online retreat devoted to deepening our relationship with Christ. For those like me who juggle many roles and having hectic days is the norm, I like the fact I can tune in when I can, and journey at my own pace. I am excited by their list of speakers. I love inspiring insights that guide me towards a greater focus upon our Savior.
Starting February 17, it will add to my Lent experience, as it is a time to reflect and deepen my prayer life. This retreat will definitely guide me and all participants towards a fuller life in Christ.
Paying to participate in this retreat is not mandatory, as it gives all participants the option to pay or participate for free.
I encourage my readers to sign up for this retreat.
Let us bring before our Lord Jesus all our baggage and put it at His feet. Let Him help us carry our personal yokes, and let us go on a journey of healing with Him. We all lead busy lives, and some of us more hectic than others. Lent is a time for us to take time out to joyfully reflect and draw nearer to Him, and participate at your own pace 💖
Many years ago, when my children were young, a neighbor invited our family to attend Catholic Mass with her. I must say at the time, my eyes were closed and all my prejudice towards the Catholic faith prevented me from appreciating the experience. Now many years later, I can honestly say that I was ignorant. I was blinded by many wrong ideas about the Catholic church.
Now, I can humbly say I was wrong in all my misconceptions of the Holy Mass and of the Holy Church of God.
When Covid-19 forced Christians to stay at home and churches were closed worldwide, I found that my quiet time with God was littered with a restless and wondering mind, and I was sometimes at a lost as to what to study or mediate on in the scripture. I felt a lack of self discipline. I prayed for help. I search and watched YouTube steams from different evangelical denomination, from Dispensationalist with their fear inducing fire sermons on the one hand, to feel good meditative scripture reading with a positive vibe, and to mega churches and their use of contemporary music and multimedia to draw in our tech savvy youths. All these magnified a gap for me. I was missing the feeling of a home, and of being a part of a family.
Writing in down my thoughts and prayers, and asking for guidance, I found I was serendipitously being guided towards books by Catholic writers, live stream of Catholic commentators, and other Catholic YouTubers. I remember my exclamation at the time was, “really God, the Catholic Church!”
I read Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahns, and although I am not a Bible academic, I understood the issues in doctrine that He addressed along with what moved him towards the Catholic church. I recall asking much of the same questions as I went from one Protestant denomination to another, always feeling something was missing. I could relate to his experiences.
I grew up within an Alliance tradition and returned to the Alliance tradition (when St. Stephens closed), but did not feel a sense of belonging. My own family was divided. My husband and son wanted a church like the Anglican one we use to attend, but this church has long closed. They both loved the family feel as well as the all cultural and socio economic diversity of St. Stephens Anglican Church. For myself, I longed for the feeling of family, and a total experience of worship. I wanted a Church that encompasses discipleship, discipline, structure, history, and true substance. Please note these are my experiences and am not trivializing or criticizing Evangelicalism Christians. My daughter still favors Churchome and their style of sharing God’s words. I encourage her to continue to be a part of Churchome. She is also in a teen Alpha group member of a Catholic parish. In the end, I think what’s important is getting closer to Jesus.
I recently confessed to my siblings of my walk towards Catholicism. It’s a walk that requires acceptance by the Catholic Church, and a journey into a deeper understanding and relationship with Jesus. After much prayer and asking God for signs, and being the proactive person that I am, I looked for a Catholic Church in my parish. They also have a 7 day live stream of their Mass.
I recall my child like “awe” when I heard the scripture at the beginning of Mass, and I recall thinking to myself, “Wow, the Mass uses Bible scriptures!” When I think about it, I can honestly say, “I was so ignorant, what else would the Mass be about if it’s not the Scriptures?”
It was during the Holy Eucharist and partaking in the Body and Blood of Jesus, that I realized this is what I have been missing. For the first time, “communion” came alive for me. After Covid-19 I felt it was so trivialized when I recall one Pastor telling his congregation any carb would do for the Body, and any drink would do for the Blood as long as we imagined it to be just that – the Body and Blood of Jesus. I was quite annoyed when my daughter went to get a muffin and juice saying it was what she was using. I didn’t want to scold her as she was participating. For myself, I felt it was a trivialization of a Holy experience, especially as the next time we had virtual communion, my daughter grabbed a bowl of chips and juice because the Pastor said it was ok as long as it was carb.
I had to put my foot down spiritually, and found myself in front of the Catholic Church.
My post today is especially for members of my family, to understand why I am here. To guide them in understanding that the Catholic Church is a home coming experience for me. I feel I am now a part of a Christian family with members world wide. I share with all of them the same daily Scripture readings, and participate with all of them in the daily Holy reunification with Jesus in partaking in His Body and Blood. It is a family that respects and acknowledges the history of the early church. Moreover, it looks to the early church as a bedrock for it’s faith and commitment to Jesus.
The living Jesus is with me in my daily prayer. I find myself having a deeper understanding of His sacrifice for us as I pray the Rosary. Each day my appreciation deepens for Mary the Mother of Jesus. Just as I have renewed respect and appreciation for all the Saints who have sacrificed themselves for Jesus.
Praise be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
Exploring The Christian Faith
As a starting point, I suggest Alpha. I have taken this course 30 years ago, and will redo it in January as part of my journey into the Catholic Church. It is an awesome course with a limited number of people to maximize on sharing questions about life as well as a journey in the exploration of faith in the Christian faith and in Jesus. Try Alpha | Find an Alpha Course Near You to Try
Different Christian groups regardless of denominations have Alpha courses available. It may take a little research to find one in your area.
For Newbies to the Mass
I suggest you look for a Catholic Church near your neighborhood. A local parish takes care of believers in their area. They also provide programs and charity work for the needy in their area. This is way to support your community.
The Mass for new comers can be a bit confusing and intimidating, but if you prepare ahead of time, it will be less daunting, and you will find yourself having a deeper experience. The Mass starts off with Daily Readings. All Catholics worldwide have the same readings. All readings are from the Bible. Although my parish sends me out a weekly reading list, I also use an app on my iPhone: Laudate – CatholicApps.com, or you can subscribe to a number of Catholic sites (in the U.S.A.): Daily Bible Readings, Audio and Video Every Morning | USCCB.
I am lazy so I like to have these readings on my iPhone. I read them in the morning before Mass. This helps me follow along.
In Canada, the readings come from the The Revised Standard Version Catholic Bible or the NIV, while in the U.S. they used the The Ignatius Bible which is a Revised Standard Version. There are free Catholic Bible apps. The one I use is One Bible. I like this apps as I use a few different versions, and sometimes will read a few interpretations for better insight. If I am online using Microsoft Edge, I use BibleGateway.com.
After the Readings, the Priest proceeding over the Mass reads from the Gospels followed by a short message based on the readings. My Priest always leaves an opened ended question at the end – food for thought. As I am a visual learner, I follow along by using the Sunday Missal, which has a collection of all the Eucharist, special Prayers, etc. for the year. Your local parish supplies this.
To help me understand that I was not the only one looking for home, the program The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi | EWTN helped me when I needed signs from God. I had read Hahn’s book, so watching His interview on this program was an affirmation for me.
Dr. Scott Hahn’s First Interview:
Dr. Scott Hahn 2020:
This is my personal journey. I wanted to share this with my readers, especially my own family. During quiet time this morning I had asked the Holy Spirit for inspiration and guidance. I have been feeling a bit “blah” yesterday and felt I had nothing to write about or share. While I was making lunch, images of my family flashed in my mind along with this feeling of light bursting out from within. I was ready to share with them my story.
This is a seemingly simple statement. In fact, it can be very difficult to do.
What is will? How do I define it?
I needed a day in reflection and pray to understand more deeply what God wanted me to understand in this prayer. I had a challenging time praying this prayer yesterday, and had to make a conscious effort to buckle down and pray it 15 times. I actually felt a glimmer of rebelliousness in me, and I procrastinated until I summited to God’s will and made the time to pray the Christ the King Novena – Day 6 – My will verse God’s will. This is a very real phenomenon in my prayer life. It is when I feel my rebellious nature surface that I inwardly recognize I must submit to God, because there are worldly factors coming into play to create a division between me and Him.
What does the concept of “will’ means to me? I had to reflect upon its meaning in my life. My will – my human ability to make decisions of outward expressions or actions, from what is amplified from within. At the most basic level it is my personal selfishness.
I See, I Want, I Act
At the most basic level – let’s follow the basis understanding that – my will is one based on one characteristic of my humanity. Let’s look at my selfishness. When I think about it, I can define will as the inner action or desire which moves me to act outwardly. Sometimes, my inward desire can lead me to an impulsive bad action, like it did the other night when I saw a plate of Ferrero-Rocher on the counter. I liberally helped myself to 3, and ate it one after the other. What motivated me? Well, I love the taste of milk chocolate. Seeing the half empty plate of Ferrero-Rocher, I didn’t even try to control my impulse. Why eat three in a row? I was greedy to eat it and one was just not enough. Let’s not forget I was being gluttonous, “I better eat them now before they all disappear!”
Wow this also made me think of impulse shopping, but will not mention it here, but my point is we are flawed human beings that act on instinct and sometimes we don’t have the control mechanism to stop.
How often has my own desires lead to actions contrary to the will of God. What is God’s will? What does it mean God’s will mean to me?
Yes, I am ashamed to admit that instead of reining in my inward desires, I let my outward behavior act out.
When I think about God’s will, I think of the Lord’s Prayer which we pray daily.
Pray, then, in this way:
“Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven . . .”
Matthew 6:9-10 (NASB)
Your will for me is for me to abide by Your will, and live it as if your Kingdom is already here. It means for me to take action first by inviting you into my life. First, I confess to my Lord Jesus that I am a sinner. I cannot control my own impulses, and I am flawed through and through. It is only by Your redeeming grace I am saved.
As I have freedom of will, and it is my choice to acknowledge my sins, and confess it. It is also based on my freedom to chose that I invite the Holy Spirit to come into my heart (being) and guide me.
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven,” is my clear invitation for Your guidance, and to open my eyes so that I can see clearly the difference between right and wrong. I invite Your grace to give me the strength to abide in the will of God – His will and His alone.
Yes, I will falter, and I am ashamed to admit it. However the next time I am tempted, I will have a better understanding and awareness of my flaws. The next day my husband included in his grocery bag, 4 cans of Pringles. After nagging him to not buy junk food anymore, I refrained from eating any (actually said a silent prayer asking for self control), for if I start, I will eat the whole can in one sitting. I realize this is a very silly example, but it is something that came to mind as I spend the day reflecting upon my will verse God’s will. These two examples are also my way to include a dose of honest humor. After all, in our walk with Jesus there are often funny anecdotes, just as there are deeply moving ones.
I know if we think about it, there are many examples in our lives that can highlight examples when our will and God’s will clashes, just as there are many examples of how when we sincerely ask for God’s Holy Spirit to work in us, there are also many example of His grace at work in our lives. I pray that we continue to pray for “His kingdom come, and His will be done” in our lives.
This Advent is a time for me to really reflect and draw closer to Jesus, and to prepare my life from a proactive standpoint to receive and truly live my life with Him with sincerity and love.
Day 6 and Day 7 Christ the King Novena 2020 Links:
I pray for the grace to place You above the powers of this world in all things.
Christ the King Novena
We live in a world today ridden by not only Covid-19 fears, but this narrative is continuously being supported by governments of all nations, our main stream media, and social media platforms. As soon as we turn on our news, one is confronted by all the negative that arises from this pandemic.
In the same instance, as the anticipated second wave of the Covid-19 hits Canada, in my province, Christmas has been cancelled. Those living in the red zone will not be allowed to gather during this festive season. The exception are those in yellow zones, 10 people can gather for Christmas, and in orange zones, the limit is 6. But nearly all of Quebec is currently red.
This is the new norm in our lives, and as responsible citizens we need to follow these protocols.
The second wave of the Covid – 19 pandemic is now upon us. It continues to separate families, and separate the Church from it’s people, we cannot let this deter us from remembering and celebrating the birth of Christ, nor can we stop ourselves from asking for the Grace to open our eyes so that we see Jesus. I am grateful for zoom. It will be a zoom Christmas with my family across Ontario and Quebec. I will participate with my family and watch the live streaming of Mass.
More so than ever, I think I need to be diligent and help out in any ways I can. This starts with my family, my neighbors, and my community at large. This is a time to reach out to family members. Call one another, and if there are any bad feelings between one another, it is the time to reach out and say, “I am sorry.” “Forgive me!” “I love you!”
This is the time to drop some food off to your local parish or to the organization helping those in need. This is the time to let those around you know you care and are thinking of them.
For the power that be in our world, it is a time for prayer. Asking in a sincere heart that the Hand of God will moved our hearts towards peace and love. It is also the time to ask for the God’s Hand to be in the heart of decision makers, asking specifically they act with calm and wisdom before making rash decisions that can effect the well being of all citizens.
On a more personal level, do I see Jesus offering love and redemption in the middle of all the noise from the powers of this world? During a time when I am bombarded from all sides by the powers that be in our world, from the mainstream media, and from all our social networking platform sending out narratives of doom and gloom, am I asking Jesus to open my eyes?
Live Your Best Life
Let me resound this and ask, are we asking our beloved Savior to open our spiritual eyes to see?
Do we see Christ everywhere in our lives?
Are we asking Him to help us judge wisely of all the things of this earth?
Are we asking Him to give us the strength, courage, and faith to stand firm with God?
Last night after my prayers, I found myself scrolling through my media feeds, and the majority of the news was NEGATIVE. To discern if what I am reading is fake or real, I find myself doing research that often can take me down a rabbit hole with no end in sight. Sometimes, there are news I really don’t want to know about, because it touches on the real evil that exists in our world.
“Ignorance is bliss”, is my husband’s motto. I on the other hand have a natural curiosity. “Curiosity killed the cat” idiom comes to mind. Urgh! Sometimes I have to abandon threads as they really are scary and sacrilegious.
“I pray for the grace to place You above the powers of this world in all things.“
The above quote came to mind last night and again a glimpse of it in my prayer this morning, which tells me it’s something for me to address, discuss and share. It’s so easy to fall prey to the powers of this world – whether it be reading something that is totally left field from the word of God and deemed so evil, it is better for me to stop. If my heart and head is not able to handle the profane, it is best I mentally stop delving deeper. Why? False teachings is Satan’s way of planting seeds that can bear the fruits of doubt and lead one astray.
During this advent, more than ever before, let me live my best life in Christ Jesus!
I pray for the grace from my Savior to open my spiritual eyes, so that I may discern what is the truth and positive from what is not good for my soul. Most of all, I ask Christ the King for the spiritual eyes to see your grace around me, so that I can judge wisely the things of this earth and stand firm in Godliness.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen
(….I’ll edit later for grammar…my Chinglish comes through sometimes….)
Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to your Kingship
Praying Christ the King Novena
I was playing Black Desert Mobile well passed midnight. For those of you who don’t know some of my less attractive habits, I am an avid gamer, and in the past 20 years, I have played and beta tested a lot of online mmo (Massively Multiplayer Online (gaming)). It started with the Atari 520 ST computer back in the days when having a computer at home was a new phenomenon. To win in a mmo, my character needs to have the best gear and weapon to be able to compete with NPC (Non-Player Character) or against other players. Getting the best gear is one of the basic premise of a game. This often means patience. It is also time consuming, as most of the game is gathering material to craft your gear, or “farming”. Farming is the boring part of a game. Farming is killing mobs of evil monsters in the hope that items will drop. Items that drop can be material for crafting, silver for buying in game goods (like potions for stamina or extra boost), and sometimes if you are lucky, a good piece of gear. I love Korean and Chinese games for their auto play features in them. I often have the game on auto play while I work (don’t ask, it’s a gamer thing. My own kids think it’s idiotic to play a game that’s on auto…they say “what’s the use of playing it?” )
This morning as I was reflecting on “Christ the King” Novena, I was thinking how in “real” life, we need to also gear up against the “evil” that permeates our society and lives. When I ask in the “Christ The King Novena” to “renew in me allegiance to your Kingship”, it also suggest I need to make changes in my life before I can put God first. A commitment to the game so to speak (gamer talk). What? Yeah, it means I need to be proactive.
The questions that come into play is “What can I do to strengthen my spiritual health?”
Taking spiritual nutrients is an important part of my daily routine with God (virtually due to Covid -19) during the morning broadcast of the Eucharist during Mass). Just as I take vitamins to keep my body strong in a world ridden with Covid -19, flus and colds. I ask for the Grace of Jesus to heal me spiritually as I partake in His Holy Sacraments.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins
It is a reaffirmation of my personal covenant with God, that His Holy Spirit resides within me and heal me.
Next, I need put on The Armor of God so that I can combat and stand against all devilish schemes:
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:14-17
Wow and this is free, I don’t have to pay in game money, and I don’t need hope for drops from fighting mobs. God’s gifts are free. He only calls to us to ask for us to be proactive.
During this Advent, I wanted to really think about how I can strengthen and deepen my faith in Christ the King. To all you non gamers, understanding for me often means looking at my life and often there is an analogy for me to share. I stayed up later than usual to gear my game character. This morning this was still imprinted in mind as I started my Rosary. I quickly wrote it down so that this thought wouldn’t rain throughout my 20 minute Rosary time.