Looking within without being self indulgent and being honest with myself is a humbling experience.
SIN – not my favourite topic, but necessary as I lay bare my soul to God – it is because I don’t like it that I must look at my sin and the impact it has to those around me – because sin has consequences.
SIN – the realization that my sinful acts have consequences not only in my relationship with God, but it also impacts those around me – “Sins of the Father” – is a huge responsibility that I never thought deeply about.
My sins sets a bad example for my own children to follow – a bad role model. It may inadvertently lead others astray. Hence my very action – negative thoughts or anger acted upon influences those around me – creating a snowball effect of negativity.
God doesn’t want to punish me – He is all about love. Instead, God want me to be aware of my sinfulness through the grace of inward reflection and examen of my conscience. My loving God gives me freedom to chose – to sin or not to sin!
Here is where I deeply need the help of the Holy Spirit to help me battle my inner demons – sin. Here is when I need decide is it worth it to commit the sin and be eternally damned, or I seek God’s help to walk sin free.
I sin, you sin, we all sin – it is the reality of our human condition – our fallen nature. God’s gift of His son, Jesus Christ – whose death freed us from our sins:
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness, today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery to Your mercy — to Your compassion, O God; and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out. Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles! O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding, Who are acquainted with our misery through and through, and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You: anticipate us with Your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in us, that we may faithfully do Your holy will all through our life and at death’s hour. Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your children, await Your [Son’s] final coming — that day known to You alone. And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite of all our wretchedness. For Jesus is our Hope: through His merciful Heart, as through an open gate, we pass through to heaven (St Faustina Diary, 1570).
From personal experience, praying the rosary is my spiritual weapon. This is especially needed, for the closer I draw near to God’s embrace, the more sneaky the evil one is in attacking me. Think Eve in the garden of Eden, especially upon how the serpent seduced her with tricky words:
Being on guard to how my wandering thoughts, words and heart can betray God through Satan’s tricky is something I need to be aware off. This is why praying the rosary (“Hail Mary”) stops me before a sinful desire or a licentious thought can entrap or take hold of me. When I want to read a trashy romance, I ask myself – is it worth it to give up heaven for temporal pleasure? Is it worth giving up heaven for my addiction to my devices and spending hours on end on social social media (time once past is gone forever). It’s easy to fall into Satans grasp! That’s why the rosary (a mother’s fighting stance) and verses from the Bible are my spiritual weapon.
Genesis 3:1-5 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition
The First Sin and Its Punishment
3 Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When we invite Holy Mary into our lives through the rosary, we are using a weapon given to us by God – for she will crush Satan’s head with her feet:
Genesis 3:15 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
We have the Immaculate Heart of Mary battling for us! I want to share with all my readers a must watch video with Fr. Luke:
Solemnity of the ImmaculateConception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Gospel Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Mary’s “yes” always moves me and leads me to ponder over my “yes” to God. I always ask myself what “yes” have I said to God. I recall a time when I would ignore Gods call. I also recall a time when I told Him I was not ready. Throughout my “no” and “not yet”, God was always patient and faithful. When I finally said “yes”, the power of the Holy Spirit filled me with inner joy, peace and love – so that no matter what life challenges I face, Jesus gives me the strength to endure all.
Let us ponder on the “yes” we say to God. Let us rejoice on how our “yes” has lead to transformations within our own lives.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. 6 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— 7 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.
Many homes in my area have already decorated for the holidays. It’s so nice to see the outside adorn with pine garlands, Christmas wreaths, and lights.
After being pestered by our children to decorate for Christmas, my husband finally took out our artificial tree and several boxes of decorations.
As my daughter and I decorated the tree, I shared with her the stories behind some of our ornaments. There were “Baby’s First Christmas” bells and balls, to their first kindergarten Christmas crafts, to their own collection (my husband’s best shopping day is Black Friday and Boxing Day. He delighted in a yearly trek amidst the crowd to let them chose a decoration for their own collection – at 50% off). There were also decorations gifted by my mother-in-law, as well as decorations to Meimei from her aunt.
It’s touching to see our children decorating their rooms this year. They wanted to personalize their room with their own decorations.
For many, it will be the first Christmas alone or with the immediate family. We normally travel to Toronto to see my side of the family, but due to Covid-19 restrictions we are not traveling. My side of the family decided to keep it simple, and we’ll have a zoom gathering on Christmas Day.
In Montreal, Christmas has changed in the past few years. We live in an age of political correctness. Christmas is now refer to as the “Holiday Season”. Festive window decorations in stores are a thing of the past.
There was a sense of wonderment when children watched the mechanical display. I use to bring my children to see this display after the Santa Claus parade.
Since the onset of Covid-19, one of the things I miss most is going downtown. I have fond memories of walking along the main streets to look at all the colourful Christmas lights.
My husband and I have always focused on the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Pre Covid-19 Christmas Eve, we would attend Candlelight service and sing hymns.
This year most churches will have a limited seating capacity of 25. Most have adapted to COVID-19 restrictions and will use zoom or live stream to celebrate the birth of Christ. I pray that all of you will be able to celebrate Christmas via one of these technological platforms.
Today as we live and adapt to new norms, I find we need to create our own Christmas tradition. A tradition that embraces and envelopes those around us in love and peace. After so many years of celebrating Christmas with the family, we are kind of forced to isolate. We shouldn’t let this stop us from sharing with one another. We can text, zoom, email, or call someone on the phone. We can use snail mail and send a card. I think the important thing is to not leave anyone out.
I really appreciate my neighbours decorating early this year. They drew me into their warmth. This helped create the mood in me to decorate and celebrate. My neighbours added to the Christmas ambiance by sharing their joy and love of the season. I think this is the most precious part of this year’s Christmas – sharing the peace and love of Christmas with one another with a festive heart.
I’m embarrassed to show my watercolours, as they are often quick ink sketches. They are like journal entries, expressing of my thoughts about Jesus and my relationship with Him.
They are also about finding hope in Christ in our lost humanity. His Salvation and Glory is free. All we need to do is accept it as Zaccheus (Luke 19: 1-10) did.
Jesus died for the mankind’s original sin (The Fall of Man in Genesis 3) so that we may be redeemed if we believe in Him. When I think about His death on the cross, I am thankful that an unworthy sinner like me can be forgiven all my sins. I thank God for letting me draw closer to Him.
In return I send praises to my Almighty God, to Jesus the Son, and to the Holy Spirit for giving me the gift of faith. I, in turn, share my faith with all of you.
That each of you find the time to pray and draw into a closer relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
This week the “The Parable of the Talents” surfaced a number of times for me. It was discussed in a book I was reading, upon which I looked it up in the Bible (Matthew 25:14-30). It was also the Gospel reading in both yesterday’s and today’s Mass.
Three times the charm so to speak! What is God trying to tell me?
Needless to say, this parable was on my mind.
Who am I in this parable? Am I the one with the 5 talent? Am I the one with the two Talent? Or am I the one with 1 talent?
After praying on this Parable and rereading 3 different interpretations of it (NASB, Passion, and the NRSV) I can discern many different ways to look at this verse – from the standpoint of popular financial management to the more profane and spiritual.
But what does this parable say to me specifically?
I believe God is asking me, as well as all of us, to step out and use my/our “gifts” in praising and serving Him.
God knows us, and He will never give us more than we can handle. To those who can take on more, He will give more responsibility, but the fact remains, God does not want us passive and living in fear.
What skills or gifts?
In my case it could be through writing, my art, or my ability to time manage or multitask. It could be through the simple act of giving donations to your Parish or your Church.
Many local churches along with parishes are having a hard time financially especially in light of the restrictions imposed by the government due to COVID-19. Many parish, like mine have laid off staff, yet despite all these challenges, Gods work is being done. That’s thanks to volunteers who serve God and their community with love.
In many neighborhoods many families have been hit hard financially especially in the service industry or restaurants. Giving groceries to your local church and parish will allow them to send out food baskets to those in need. This is much needed as we head into December and the holiday season.
Believe me when I tell you receiving a food basket makes a difference to a family in need. 10 years ago my husband lost his job, and we were in deep financial difficulties. We were at rock bottom. A stranger from an organization sent us 2 bags of groceries along with gifts for our children. It was one of the most touching and humbling experiences in my life. I remember praying in thanksgiving to God. Sometimes it’s only when we experience pain, that we can see the salvation of Jesus. Nothing could contain my tears.
Gods immense love for us in the Holy sacrifice of His Son Jesus – a man who was sinless and divinely perfect – is a mystery many may never fully comprehend. I am unworthy, yet God calls me and you to his presence. He gives us the freedom to decide if we want to be a part of His family or not – how can I not shout with happiness and joy.
I have the freedom to chose. I can do do nothing, like that man with 1 talent, or I can be proactive and use all the skills and gifts I gave to glorify Him and make a difference.
We all have talents – whether it be the art of story telling, teaching, blogging, or something in the creative field in web design, painting, drawing, or photography. Then there are those with musical talents who can sing like an angel. Some are musically inclined, while others have talents in other areas. Cooking is another skill, one I wish I had. I do try cooking up a meal using Pinterest, but somehow it’s never as tasty as my sister-in-law’s cooking. Of course there are other skills like being able to manage time, multitasking, or use a computer. Some have the talent to make money through their investments. The skills and gifts we have is unique and different from one another.
There are also many of us who possess skills we may not be aware of. Why? We never challenged ourselves to step out of our comfort zone. I bet many of us have skills burrowed within us – and not yet actualized.
God calls for us to use our gifts.
So what does the “Parable of the Talents” mean to me? It means showing how much I love God in all that I do, whether it be in writing, making a meal for the family, or stepping out of my comfort zone to show kindness and love to my family, my neighbours, my Parish community, my colleagues and the people around me. It is to make that 1 talent double, triple and grow by using the gifts I have with a sincere heart to glorify God – My Master!
The Parable of the Talents
14“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents,[f] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:14-30 NRSV
Aside: Basically we give and help where we can. My son asked me if we were having take-out tonight. For a family of four that’s almost $75 plus. I told him instead of take out, I’ve donated the amount to our local parish. Seeing his disgruntled face, I explained to him I could cook a meal. I furthered explain, how would it look if God were to ask me, “what did I spend on this month?”