God Is Near

Busy busy

Coming from a traditional Chinese cultural back ground that placed emphasis on education, family and hard work, I have been non stop most of my life doing exactly that. With a zealous work habit, I studied and work full time while I was in university. Upon graduation I continued this non stop work ethic raising a family while working long hours during the day. There was no personal time, nor was there time for spiritual growth.

Being a supermom (parent), the focus was on my two children. Perhaps the guilt of being a two parent working household, my husband and I loaded our kids with the same busy busy (the paranoia of wasting time). This meant extra curricular activities during the weeknight and weekends. In hindsight, I think we (my husband and I) stressed them out as much as we stressed ourselves out.

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I look back now, and I have no idea where my energy and adrenaline came from. I can see now why I literally burnt out. Where was God in my life? No where. God was pushed into the background. As a family, we were not regular church goers – except during Christmas and Easter. God was a distant din.

As I look back, my husband and I kept ourselves so busy working long hours during the week, capping it off with extracurricular activities for our children that we literally had no time left for God. The buzz of our busy lives overshadowed God. I regret not providing a consistent Jesus centered focus in our family. However, God is patient. God waits. In the flow of our daily lives, God creates and provides many opportunities for us to reunite with Him.

God is near

God is a loving God. He has a way of guiding us back on track. In my case, God used my isolation during the onset of Covid 19 pandemic in 2020 to bring me back into His embrace. As churched closed their doors during the Covid 19 pandemic and were forced to adapt online, this was a grace for me, as it allowed me to schedule – time for God. Out of a negative situation arose hope. It was through viewing online Catholic platforms that guided me back to God. This journey for me is special as it lead me back to Jesus through the Catholic faith, especial through Mother Mary. What was a negative experience (forced quarantine) was was turned into a blessing. When I think about it, He was always there, waiting to hear from me. Just as God is waiting to hear from you.

I remember calling out to God and asking Him for guidance. A broken me, I made the conscious choice to “return home”. The broken me couldn’t do that alone without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 43:1-7

43 But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

God personally cares for me and you. He knows each of us by name. He knows each one of us and loves us dearly. His protection extends to not only to me, you, but to our families, and to our circle of friends. In my minds eye, I have this inner vision of God’s energy flowing around me. God’s hand is there.

You are mine, and I am Yours

💖

FINDING GOD IN ALL THINGS

Since the summer (2021), I have been on a journey of discovering God in all things. With the help of a Spiritual Director from the Jesuit – St. Ignatian Spirituality.

It has been a journey of discovering a “stronger me in my own existence”, to asking for the graces of faith, hope, and charity, along with a deeper intimacy with God through daily Bible scripture, prayer and journal writing.

I reached a point in my faith journey where I felt the need for deeper spiritual guidance. I was not sure where to start. I asked the Deacon of my Parish, who in turn directed me to St. Ignatian Spirituality. The online information my Deacon provided me, opened up a whole new approach in my faith journey that is tailored to “Me”. More importantly, I have the mindful ear of a Spiritual Director.

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St. Ignatius of Loyola – the soldier

A former soldier who was severely wounded and bedridden for many months, St. Ignatius of Loyola spent many months in quiet contemplation and meditation of Biblical scriptures. During his convalescence, St. Ignatius developed spiritual exercises which is used today for those seeking a deeper spiritual journey with Christ. Below, I have included links to some online resources for further research:

The videos included in the above link offers a wealth of resources in understanding the basics of how to discern, and view my life through Ignatian lens. It also guided me to pray for a stronger me in my own existence.

Working with an Ignatian Spiritual Director is God’s way of leading me to draw nearer to Him and to live a Christ filled life.

💖

RESOURCES:
JESUITS
IGNATIAN SPIRITUALITY

Although there are free copies of the St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises online, I personally think that working with a Spiritual Director is enriching my personal journey with God through her mindful weekly sessions with me.

I suggest using the link below, or a google search for your local St. Ignatius Spiritual Center or Jesuit center.

The Eucharist

The Dispptation of the Holy Sacrement/ La disputa del sacramento (Raphael)

There is indeed something missing in my week if I haven’t received the Blessed Sacrement. Since becoming a Catholic, going to Mass and celebrating the Blessed Sacrement in the Eucharist has become an important part of my spiritual renewal and journey with Jesus Christ.

When I was a Protestant, I always felt there was something missing – the act of Holy Communion is a visible symbol of the last supper of Jesus in the Upper Room. I always felt that looking at it as a symbol to live by was not spiritually enough for me.

Since my journey with Jesus, participating in the Eucharist represents for me His real presence. Following  St. Augustine of Hippo: it is an outward sign of an inward grace, that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. When I close my eyes, I see Jesus before me – His body and blood – given to me for the renewal of my soul and the forgiveness of my sins.

I am His, and, He is mine.

The short film below amplifies what the Holy Sacrement means to me. It is the real presences of Jesus:

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Why Pray the Rosary

It’s been many months since my last post, and as it is the Feast Day of the Rosary, I was moved to share my personal insights. For me, praying the Rosary is an integral part of my walk with Jesus Christ.

Through daily meditation on the Passion of Jesus, I was drawn into a more intimate knowledge of Jesus. Each decade and daily prayer gives me insights into His birth (Joyful Mysteries), miracles, life (Luminious Mysteries). His death (Sorrowful Mysteries), and resurrection (Glorious Mysteries). This in turn led to my own healing in His embrace.

Praying the Rosary daily has it’s blessings in keeping me focused on Jesus, as well as an understanding that through the mother – Mary, I can also ask her to intercede for me and bring me to her son. Through daily prayer and meditation of the Rosary, I also discover new insights into a stronger me in my own existence.

For more information on “How to Pray The Rosary”:

A Stronger Me

Ephesians 2:4-10

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

A stronger me in my own existence

Above drawing is from my series on “a stronger me in my own existence”.

Meditation:

How did I get here?

I got lost in my journey

cold and dark

my deadpan eyes looked for You.

i was lifeless, but

Your hands reached out for mine and held them

my body felt the tingling flow of your warmth

Your love

You pulled me into your embrace.

Just as i am

dirty and soiled

Your healing touch

my soul refreshed

You showed me a glowing orb

Mesmerized, I held it in my hands

lifting it up high

together in the dark

we walk the road ahead

Thoughts:

The beauty of God’s mercy is in His abundant love for us. Where we were once tainted by our brokenness – our sins, by God’s grace, we have been saved by faith. What a wonderful gift He gives us.

Corpus Christi

Today is the Solemnity of the Corpus Christi – that is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus – the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Solemnity of Corpus Christi

Before I was confirmed into The Catholic Faith, I felt a deep dissatisfaction with my Protestant faith over the Communion. Communion is offered biweekly or monthly – depending on the denomination. It is also only symbolic. The bread and wine (or grape juice) is only symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus. This realization really hit home for me during the Covid-19 shut down of all churches and all religious activities. Worship moved online. For Communion from different Evangelical Protestant online services, we – the virtual congregation were asked to grab any carbohydrate to represent the bread, and a liquid to represent the blood.

On one such occasion my 14 year old daughter immediately went to the pantry and got a bowl of chips. From the refrigerator she grabbed a soft drink – telling me “Well, he said a carb and liquid”. This was 9 am in the morning and I was livid. After a few months of this, I was so turned off, I literally tuned out.

I prayed for Gods intervention – and that He did. He lead me to the Catholic Faith via Divine Mercy at The Divine Mercy, Scott Hann’s books (Rome Sweet Home, and Hail, Holy Queen), St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, and St. Faustina’s journal. This in turn sparked within me a journey into researching Catholicism further. I was confirmed this Easter, and my 14 year old baptized into the Catholic Faith.

My personal pet peeve

In Protestantism, the communion – the bread and wine (grape juice) are merely symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus. This is problematic for me, as I see symbols as a vehicle for humans to make sense of their world.

Symbolism and their meanings are culturally defined, and, is a superficial way to comprehend the depth of what is (un)perceived as real. It is easier for our human mind to make symbols to understand and comprehend that which is sacred and profane.

To make a long story short, what drew me into the heart of the Catholic Faith is the belief that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, and the Virgin Mary is holy and the mother of Jesus. Hence she is also Queen of Heaven.

Having studied the Bible more deeply now, I have come to realize that although I had read all this in the Bible, I was not able to see the truth until God lifted my veil. The truth was in front of me, but I was not able to see until the grace of God let me see. The veil is lifted, and now I see. Praise be to God!

The real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is not a belief shared by all. To see and believe in the richness of the Eucharist is to see the body and blood of Christ in it. This means stepping into faith and embracing Jesus’ presence in it. It also means rereading the Gospel with eyes that can visualize, feel, immense body and soul into His words and teaching.

Corpus Christi

Fr. Chris in his Corpus Christi homily takes us through the Eucharist step by step, and explains succinctly it’s profound and sacredness with scripture.

The Bread of life by St. Thomas Aquinas

Available on Amazon: The Bread of life : or St. Thomas Aquinas On the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar: Aquinas, St. Thomas, Rawes D.D., Fr. Henry: 9781979664905: Amazon.com: Books

Also free to read online: The Bread of Life, St Thomas Aquinas on the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar – Immaculata Library

In this blog: Ongoing Series – Be Inspired! (rejoiceandpraise.ca) please see CONTEMPLATING THE EURCHRISTIC MYSTERY OF SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS.

Mary’s Visit

How do I share the Gospels with my friends and family?

For those of us who walk with Jesus, grace overflows within us, and it is only natural we want to share and embrace those around us into our joy. Jesus changes us. Jesus has healed us. It is natural we want to let others know.

The journey to the cross has been a long and winding one for me. When I think about it, Jesus has always been with me – at times walking beside me, and at other times holding me in His embrace as I meandered here and there in secular life. There were many times, I pushed Jesus away. He was always there. When I was ready – I fell upon His feet – humbled and in awe – for finally, I was ready to submit all of me to Him.

Healing comes from the grace of God – “a stronger ME in my own existence.”

A sketch for my series “a stronger ME in my own existence.” May 24, 2021

Healing from Jesus is the willingness on my part to give into God’s will for me, and to be guided by the Holy Spirit. For my own journey with Jesus, this means daily meditation and contemplation into His words – The Bible and in prayer. In the beginning it was daunting to find a starting point, and there are many vehicles to guide us. I chose to follow along daily with The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz) – available in many podcast online. Having the Sacraments became important to me, and I try to make it to mass at my local parish at least once or twice a week, but when I can’t receive the Holy Eucharist daily, I watch online via Divine Mercy – YouTube. Sometimes I watch the morning mass broadcast online from my local parish (Holy Name of Jesus Parish | Laval, QC, St. Ignatius of Loyola MTL | You Matter to God. You Matter to Us. (stig.ca).

Prayer is the most important part of my walk with Jesus. Each morning I take the time to praise and talk to Him. I also pray the Rosary after. This sounds like a routine, but it works for me. Praying the Rosary is an important part of getting to know Jesus. It is through contemplating the mysteries of each decade that I have come to have deeper insights into the passion of Jesus. I find when I let the Holy Spirit guide me in prayer, there is a rich understanding and depth into the life of Jesus that is heart felt.

Coming from a Protestant background that denied Mary’s holiness, finding the Holy Virgin Mary through the Rosary was an intense awakening for me. It gave me a Holy Mother who bespeaks to me the importance of being thoughtful and mindful.

I have got to say that I feel such a burst of joy within me, that it is only natural to want to share that light with others around me, especially those with whom I love, and with friends with whom I know are having challenges in their lives. It is natural I want to share with them the wonderful love and grace of Jesus. I want to shout out and let those around me know that in Jesus, there is Divine Mercy – forgive and healing.

Well, I have come to realize that sharing the Gospel means praying for them – those around us may be too invested in the secular world to want to hear about Jesus. I know I was! They may not be at a point in their life journey to think about their soul or eternity. They want to enjoy the now.

I invited many to join Alpha, and even after sharing my own story, not one of my friends or family members signed up. It took me some time to realize that they just were not ready, or too invested in “life” to want to know about Jesus. Their “no”, had me reflect upon my own journey to Jesus. I thought about my mom who never stopped praying for me.

How I can be effective is be a light through my own example – in the way I live my life – and continue to pray, love and care for those around me in my own actions, words, understanding and kindness. When others are ready or being called by Jesus, perhaps then, I will be the one used by Him to be there for them as one of the many “angels” there for them when they are at a crossroad.

Jesus, I trust in You 💖

Sharing with you an awesome homily from Fr. Chris on Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Luke 1:39-56)

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Mary’s Song of Praise

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

This post is part of my series on Holy Virgin Mary. Here is a link to all the post:

Mary’s Month – Be Inspired! (rejoiceandpraise.ca)

Mary’s Trust – Be Inspired! (rejoiceandpraise.ca)

Mary’s Thought – Be Inspired! (rejoiceandpraise.ca)

Why Mary? – Be Inspired! (rejoiceandpraise.ca)

Know Mary – Be Inspired! (rejoiceandpraise.ca)

Who is Mary? – Be Inspired! (rejoiceandpraise.ca)

Creative Expression

It’s been years since I’ve work on my own themes and images. For the past 30 years, I’ve worked on small and large scale projects for work. Much of these themes were related to children and education.

For the past two weeks, I have been sketching again…building a body of background drawings for larger paintings.

God Is Love
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4 | NRSV

Today, I feel free to express what I want to without constraints. I can be creative and express through my sketches and drawings for myself again. I can laid bare my soul in praise of God and His amazing love.

I have also been working with an art therapist along with a spiritual guide from St. Ignatius Spiritual Centre. Both have helped me deal with all the stress and anxieties that COVID-19 has produced in my workplace and communities.

Officially I am on sick leave, and taking the time to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Praise be to God for looking after all my needs. I can take the time to glorify Him in everything I do.

❤️‍🔥 My heart is on fire for Jesus!

Page with more of my sketches: https://rejoiceandpraise.ca/recent-sketches/