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.
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!
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.
I ask for the grace of God to work freely in me. Amen.
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.”
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:
Many years ago, Mathieu was 5 years old, my husband and I took him to Indigo – a bookstore located in the heart of Montreal. I recall leaving him with my husband with specific instructions to keep an eye on him. They were browsing through magazines, and I thought that little Mathieu would have enough to occupy himself with.
I went to browse, and 30 minutes later, “Where is Mathieu?” Upon which my husband looked around hazily and responded, “I though he was with you!”
Oh boy did I bellow out, “Mathieu!”
The whole book store went silent for about 30 seconds – I swear you could have heard a pin drop (sorry for the pun here, but truly that’s how it felt like at the time). “How does he look like?” “How old is he?” Just as quickly after shouting out, “Five, Asian child….”, I heard the someone call out, “FOUND HIM!” “He is in the Children’s Book Department!” I recall my prayer of thankfulness for Mathieu’s safety.
I can almost understand the panic Mary and Joseph must have felt when they discovered Jesus was not among them, and rushed back to the city to find him – 3 days later. The anxiety that wells up in a mother’s heart upon discovering her child is missing is the fear and angst of all mothers. I can imagine the panic Mary must have felt.
A mother’s mission
Through prayer and in my journey towards the Catholic Faith, I feel a song in my heart. I also feel being moved to tell others of my love for Jesus. There is a desire for me to share this light and let it shine out – God’s Divine Mercy and love. I have felt this calling in the past but was not ready to listen to Jesus. Through prayer and mediating on His word, I have asked how he wants me to do this. During praying the Rosary (about 4 weeks ago), I saw an image during prayer of our Holy Mother. The vision was short, but in my vision, she was sad, as if she was telling me that her sadness stems from many in our world who do not know or venerate her. I wasn’t sure what to do with this vision, and I have been asking for the Holy Spirit to guide me.
I am not a theologian, but I can share and give some insights into who Holy Mary is in my life. This is how I can contribute.
A mother’s help
This morning was one of those morning when I am awaken from a dream I can’t recall, but feeling alone and seriously down. It is one of those moments in my life when I wrestle with inner demons. I woke up washed with a tsunami of tears amidst a wall of insecurities – weighted down by the sins of my past. It is a flood gate of self doubt, and I am reminded of the torturous darkness of my soul. How can God love or even want someone like me to serve Him.
My usual tactics to get rid of Satan’s infiltration did not work this morning, and continued to mar my mind with an array of self deification. “You are wasting your time!” “Remember how peaceful your life use to be?” “You are wasting your time blogging.” “You are wasting your time writing” An endless steam of Satan’s bombardment attacked me all morning. Even praying became a battle ground, where Satan used my emotions to prevent me from praying. When I tried to pray, I was strangled with silence as a voice inside me echoed, “Why bother?” “What makes you think God is listening to you?”
“God, how have I displeased you?”
“Mother Mary, Father Joseph help me!” “St Michael, defend me!”
Yes, Satan is real, and he loves nothing more than to create and stir doubt within me. I had to ground myself in prayer, and believe me, that itself was hard today. Praying all of a sudden became a struggle between me and Satan. I felt the struggle. I turned on my Rosary apps from Divine Mercy, and couldn’t even utter the first few parts of the prayer…my tears fell, and I could not utter a word. I listened as I battled my inner demon, and only by the 3rd decade of the Rosary could I start to pray, “Hail Mary Full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee…”
A mother’s comfort
As fast as I was attacked by Satan’s lies and guiles, Mother Mary, along with Father Joseph, St. Michael and all the saints came to my aid – Satan ceased his attacks.
I am just as overwhelmed now as I write this. “Is this the kind of things one writes in a blog?” “Is this the kind of things I can talk about?” Why am I sharing this?
Our journey with God is not always a smooth path, at least not for me. I can say with a sincerity of heart – Satan will use every means to attack. Battle readiness is a must! I am thankful for our Holy Mother’s intervention, and St. Joseph’s help – he is after all the terror of demons. Just as St. Joseph saved the Holy family by taking them out to Egypt, he helps me battle the guiles of Satan.
My comfort is that I can call to Mother Mary (and St. Joseph, St. Michael and all the Saints) to intercede for me. It is not because Jesus does not hear my cries for help, He needs me to trust Him. He also needs me to be in total submission to His will. Just as He had to battle Satan for 40 days and night, I had to by faith accept HIs divine grace and mercy, and know that through His death on the cross for my sin, I am saved.
Getting to know Mary is also getting to know her son, Jesus.
That is really a simple truth for me. As I drew closer to Mary in praying the Rosary daily, I started to think about my role as a mother to my own children, and through mediating on the Rosary, I saw the perfect mother mirrored back at me. She is not only my role model, but she is a light that guides me closer to her son, Jesus.
Meeting and greeting people does not come naturally for me. I am awkward, and lack social finesse. Simple greetings can cause anxiety for me. With time, I learnt how to put on my social mask, and with effort participate in group settings. Getting to know Mary was much the same for me, especially coming from a Protestant background which carries it’s own baggage about our Holy Mother and saints in particular.
With each step I took towards her, I was drawn into her warmth. As I am an organized person, fitting the Rosary into my schedule was easy. Most days, I pray the Rosary in the morning. It starts my day on a positive note. Sometimes, especially when it is sunny and brisk out, I pray the Rosary as I walk the dog early in the morning. There is a wonderful array of online apps, along with material available via Apple music. I am sure the same is available for android devices.
Maintaining a prayerful routine each day has helped me get to know Mary. It has also drawn me closer to Jesus. Mediating on each of the “Sorrow” or “Mystery” has given me insightful depth into my human soul – and my humanity reflected back at me has shown me how flawed I am. The darkness of my soul healed by Jesus.
Know Mary, for she is love. Touched by the Holy Spirit, she carried in her womb our Savior Jesus.