Alpha

Starts May 26th

Sign up at: https://stig.ca/alpha/

 “Just do it!”

It has been such a beautiful journey as I meet people from different parts of our world. Using Zoom as the tool to connect, I got the opportunity to meet people I otherwise would never have met. Alpha brings together people from all walks of life. On a personal level, it provided me with a platform and opportunity to share and talk about my faith and discuss all those questions that I don’t normally discuss with my friends or family. More importantly, it is a safe space.

My group was international with some joining from outside of Canada. Bonds and affinities are made between each of us as we journey together in a deeper understanding of ourselves and how we fit into the bigger picture called life. Each week, I enjoyed sharing my personal story, and greatly looked forward to hearing their stories. Together we shared in understanding some basic truths about life and our journey in it. 

It has lead to my own personal growth. Now, how awesome is that?

God’s Hand

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.

Praise be to God!

We give thanks to her Teen Alpha teen Ignation | St. Ignatius of Loyola MTL for drawing her into God’s embrace. Nothing can express the joy of being in God’s grace and love. Along with my own new found family at St. Ignatius via my Camino and Alpha group Alpha | St. Ignatius of Loyola MTL.

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.

Rare Family Picture

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:

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Your Hands

my hands stretched upwards

with eyes tightly shut

i feel 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

So that all His love

in the outpouring of his mercy and grace

flows easily into my being

His hands mold and shapes me

so that i am anew – glowing in light

His bride waiting so patiently for Him

God Bless 💖

They’ll Know We Are Christian

After my confirmation Easter Sunday, I felt my spirit lift in joy as I received the grace of God into my soul. At the same time this pass week has been a time of great reflection. Lord God, where do you want me to go from here? What do you want me to do?

All I know is that every cell of my body and soul yearns to put Jesus at the center…to never walk back into a life of secularism and sin. 40 years of wandering in the wilderness to finally come before Jesus – humbled – here I am. Finally I submit to His will, and His alone.

Photo by Thomas Schütze on Unsplash

That night, a song I recall singing as a child came to mind:

They’ll Know We Are Christians” 

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
We are one int he Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
And we pray that all unity will one day be restored.

Chorus: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand;
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand;
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.

We Will work with each other, we will work side by side;
We will work with each other, we will work side by side;
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.

All praise to the Father, from whom all things come;
And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son.
And all praise to the Spirit who makes us one.

After some research, I discovered it is a Christian hymn written in the 1960s by then Fr. Peter Scholtes.

The blessed message I got from God that night was, my journey is just beginning. I must regardless of my fears, go out and share the love of Jesus by my actions:

35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:25.

No it will not be easy, especially as I live in a world gone astray. It embraces secularism and makes a mockery of all things Holy. It is hard to step out in a world where the TRUTH is veiled in lies and deceit. It is even harder today amidst our cancel culture, as one thought or word that is not politically correct, immediately gets labelled as “crazy” or a “radical”. How do I express love in a world that embraces the “me” god. After a week of contemplation and prayer, I can only say, Jesus I trust in you!

Jesus I trust in you.

Jesus I trust in you.

Jesus I trust in you.

Know that as long as we “love” one another with a charity of heart, Jesus is right there propping us up.

Jesus, grace me with the gift of charity, to be able to love – especially those I find hard to love.

Traditional Choir:

Piano version:

Folksy Version:

May God bless each of you as you radiate His love in a world that has forgotten who He is.

Let each of us join with the Spirit of God to alight into the hearts of those near us – love.

Let us pray for a rebirth of sleeping souls.

Jesus we trust in You.

Amen💖

The New Normal

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I just finished writing a paper for a course on hybrid pastoral ministries. This course focuses on adapting new technology to spread the Gospel. What surprised me the most is how behind our local churches and parishes are in adapting to technology.

Here, I echo Pope Francis’ warning, the church today must go into the trenches – into the dark crevices in our world where the light is very dim or cannot reach:

“Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.”

Pope Francis

Those who step into the trenches even in the midst of Covid-19 and using technology are radiating a light for lost souls. These warriors come from many directions, with the goal of sharing the Gospel.

I want to take the time here today to thank the many warriors out there who have used their pen (coughs, ok our keyboard!) to share in our Christian and Catholic Faith. Many have been an inspiration to me during my own walk with Jesus. There were times when their words of encouragement, and their daily reflections have sparked a new insight within me.

Today, I want to take the time to thank you all (and the many other bloggers, I have yet to discover).

God Bless, 💖

Here is a list of Christian and Catholic Bloggers I follow:

For daily reading and devotion

www.ourgivenpurpose.com | Our Given Purpose

Daily inspirational about his walk with Jesus,

josephsdailywalkwithjesus | A closer walk with our beloved friend. (wordpress.com)

A daily Catholic blog which gives me great guidance and comfort in a world where Satan’s seed is everywhere in our social media.

AnaStpaul – Breathing Catholic

A Christian life style blogger, her writing looks at the beautiful graces of the everyday. In the busy hum of our lives, do we take the time to look at God’s miracles around us?

Becoming HIS Tapestry – Christian Lifestyle Blogger

Two other lifestyle blogs I follow,

BeautyBeyondBones

A survivor whose blog is a source of light. This blogger draws from her insights and recovery from a eating disorder – anorexia.

A Minute with Melissa – A Small Girl with a Big God

Melissa shares daily glimpses into her walk with Jesus. I can learn a lot from her blogging style – keep it short and to the point.

Coming Home

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.

What changed?

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.

Thanks for reading, and God Bless!

(Chinglish-I’ll edit later:p)

The Battle of Wills

I pray that You will reign in my will.

Christ the King Novena 2020

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.

God’s Will

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.

Invitation

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.

Sasha Freemind (@sashafreemind) | Unsplash

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.

God Bless!

Day 6 and Day 7 Christ the King Novena 2020 Links:

I will edit my Chinglish a bit later in the day:)