The First Day Of A New Beginning

Today marks the first day of the beginning of a new liturgical year. As it ends, I can only thank the Lord our God for all the love and graces He has bestowed upon me and those around me.

Today is a new day! This is also a special day for me, as it marks my first Advent as a Catholic. It also marks the first time my family and I celebrate it in a spiritually meaningful way – full of joy in God’s embrace.

It is a time for us to prepare spiritually as we wait upon Jesus – for the return of Jesus Christ. It is a time to recall His humanity and divinity. We are reminded of His humble birth, for the world (inn) was not prepared for His arrival. It is a time for reflection as we ready ourselves with HOPE, because God is faithful.

We pray for the conversion for those trapped in our secular world as we recall the prophets of old:

Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2)
Further Meditation
  1. Hope: Isaiah 11:1-3; John 1:14-18; Matthew 24:30-35; Titus 2:11-14
  2. Prophets: Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:2-7
Our Hope comes from God!
Celebrate With Candles
1st Sunday (Hope / Prophets): Purple candle
2nd Sunday (Peace / Angels): Purple candle
3rd Sunday (Joy / Shepherds): Pink candle
4th Sunday (Love / Magi): Purple candle
Christmas Day (Birth of Jesus!): White candle (the Christ candle)

Today and as we head into a new week, let’s light a purple candle or wear something purple and reflect on HOPE and pray:

Dear Jesus, you are the hope of our world. Help us to slow down and turn off all the white noise around us. Help us to mindfully and quietly listen to your voice, and to focus on what’s really important. We place our hope and trust in you as we prepare our hearts to celebrate your birth on Christmas. Amen.

💖

It’s All About Love

John 3:16

To believe in God is to know love.

If we believe and know God, then we are privileged to the simple truth that, God loved us so much that he gave us His beloved son – Jesus – to die on the cross for us. With faith, we know that through His sacrifice we are redeemed from the sins inflicted upon humanity by our first parents (Adam and Eve). Through faith and hope, we can look forward to a new life and eternal life with God.

To believe is to know our journey has just began.

God’s love changes everything for us. It changes our inside, and in turn this changes our outside. Believing that Jesus died for you and me – we are united. Through faith, we are brothers and sisters – the children of God.

There is nothing I want more than to shout out and rejoice in the love of God the Father. Every day and every hour, Jesus guides you and me, to the heart of the Father.

In our secular world, you and I may stand alone, but we are united in spirit with other Christians world wide. We stand strong against all the secular agendas that blow our way creating an environment of division, uncertainty and fear. Through the secular forces of this world: cancel culture, political correctness, identity politics, gender politics, LGBT, global warming, abortion, health (Covid-19), class and economic politics reign and the raise of socialist and communist agendas, these all points towards us like sharp blades, poking and shearing away from you and me the truth that is only found in Jesus. It’s goal is to divide, and creates an atmosphere fear and doubt. They divert our attention away from God.

We know these are the works of Satan. To believe is to know we are all equal and children of God. In the end, it is our belief that Jesus died on the cross for each of us, that unites us.

The question is do we believe or not?

Let us be united in Faith, Hope and Charity – LOVE.

God Bless 💖

For The Souls Who Have Gone Before Me

Image of a fiery purgatory by Ludovico Carracci

As November has been traditionally the month to offer sufferages for all THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED AND HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY, I thought about the many souls who are alone and with whom no prayers have been offered.

To remember the souls who have gone before us is one of the beautiful traditions in Chinese culture (Ancestral Worship had it’s roots in Buddhism, but has evolved over time into a veneration and respect for ancestors who have passed away, thereby keeping the family tree alive). It represents a respect for our ancestors, their heritage, their unique social and cultural identity. The Catholic tradition of praying for souls – that is offering intercessory prayer on behalf of someone who has gone before us. Praying for souls lesson the the time required for the purification. The temporal punishment left by stains on the souls – that is sins – which have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession, is shortened through our prayers.

Because of the communion of saints, the faithful who are still pilgrims on earth are able to help the souls in purgatory by offering PRAYERS in suffrage for them, especially the EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE. They also help them by almsgiving, INDULGENCES*, and works of penance.” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.211)

My own thoughts drifted towards all of my ancestors who did not know Jesus. Who most likely were Buddhist or practiced Confucianism. What becomes of their souls? What about the millions of souls who died tragically? What about souls who have no one to pray for them. So many forgotten souls! I especially thought of my grandfather who lived in a town far away from the early missionaries in China. His death was a tragic one. At the age of 25, he along with all his male clansmen (between the ages of 20 to 30) were executed by the occupying Japanese forces during World War 2. Their deaths represented one of the many unspoken tragedies and causalities of the Second World War. Their stories have long been forgotten and buried in the past. I was moved by my grandfathers story, and it was the first time my mother talked about his death. She was a young girl at the time, and lived through the tumultuous cruelty of World War 2 – she suppressed the sadness. She herself only came to know Jesus Christ after she immigrated to Canada as a young bride in the late 50s.

I was very touched by her conversion story, but deeply sadden by the fact that my grandfather and those who died alongside him did not know Jesus, nor His Divine Mercy. The only thing I can do is remember them in prayer, especially during this month -as I Pray for the Dead.

I started praying the Saint Gertrude prayer for souls. I pray for the salvation of those who have gone before me, especially those who never heard of Jesus, and who never knew of God’s Divine love for humanity. There is an inner joy in praying for 1000 souls, and I sing within my heart and rejoice in the greatness of my God. I envision the loving embrace of God as He receives the 1000 into his immortal arms.

God Bless 💖

To Be Free

See the source image

There seems to be so much worry, anxiety and confusion in our world today. This leads to negative implications in our lives – Covid – 18, social media correctness and cancel culture, to a suppression of free speech under the premise of political correctness, racism, sexism, and gender issues, and the mores. When all this is thrown into a confusing moral matrix, it becomes all the more dauntingly confusing.

This morning after spending time in mindful prayer, a Sunday School (Christian) song I learnt long ago echoed in my mind. Songs, especially those from our early childhood memory are a great source of comfort. They remind us of God’s closeness. They also remind us of God’s care for us, as well as His immense love for each of us. Most of all, they recall a time of innocence and freedom from the scars of our world.

Lyric: To be free

In this world of confusion, discontent, disillusion, do you have what it takes to be free.

Are you free from disaster do you know what you’re after. Do you have what it takes to be free.

To be free… to be free..

Do you have what it takes to be free.

Are you free from disaster do you know what you’re after.

Do you have what it takes to be free.

There’s a life that’s worth living, there’s a way of forgiving

All your sins, grief and trouble you’d seen.

Just let Christ be your master then you’ll find what you’re after

And you’ll have what it takes to be free.

To be free… to be free..

Do you have what it takes to be free.

Just let Christ be your master then you’ll find what you’re after

And you’ll have what it takes to be free.

(Unknown)

I am thankful for the freedom that only Jesus can offer me.

See the source image
Restoration and Protection Promised

43 But now thus says the Lord,
    he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my sight,
    and honoured, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
    I will bring your offspring from the east,
    and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up’,
    and to the south, ‘Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
    and my daughters from the end of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.’

Meditating in prayer on the above verse also makes me realize how loved I am. How close God is, as well as how much He cares. God is ever present and loves each of us. It’s up to each of us to accept God in our lives. That is, we have the freedom to choose God or not.

💖

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.

See the source image

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

💖

I Surrender

19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. Galatians 2:19-21 | NRSV

The old me was not a nice person. I was arrogant and self indulgent. Everything revolved and was about – me. Through the grace of God – he called my name when I was at my worse. I was broken. I was busy filling up my well of needs. Filling up empty holes, lead to bigger ones. I was empty. Nothing brought me joy. In fact, when I looked into the mirror, I saw an pretentious me.

Through the grace of God, he lifted me up and embraced me with his divine grace and mercy. He now holds my heart!

Surrendered

Death has no hold on me now. The me today is renewed and has surrendered to the love of Jesus. His death on the cross has refreshed this lump of clay. Through faith and surrendering to Jesus, I am being remade – the me – I am meant to be.

My sin washed away in His blood, my body renewed with His death. I have been crucified with Christ. The life I now lead is a testament to His hand in my life.

Prayer:

I ask for the grace of God to work freely in me. Amen.

God Bless ❤️

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.