Hope and Faith

Since the closure of all churches in Quebec (Canada) since Christmas, I have no other choice but to celebrate my faith via the internet or zoom. Tuning in for daily Mass and making an Act of Spiritual Communion and Thanksgiving within the confines of my home has started to take its toll on me. I miss going to Mass! I miss being in God’s Home.

I find myself having self talk dissertations with God about the craziness we find ourselves in, and asking if the Hybrid (in person/internet) the future of worship? Is this the new normal? What happens if there is a blackout? Has anyone ever thought about what would happen if there was a world wide cyber outage?

I think back to Jesus, His apostles and the beginnings of the early Christian church, from small in home gatherings to the feeding of 5000. It is about community, socialization, communication, and it also is about being present – it is about one another – people. I thought about organizing in home worship, but in Quebec, the restrictions limit the numbers of “bubbles” allowed. Not only that, but most are living in fear – of catching Covid, or one of it’s variant. People have become afraid of getting together.

Fear!

Urgh!

So I sit here and muse about the early church, and feel a sense of sadness, as I reflect on what I miss most about being in God’s house. I miss seeing the faces I always see during the week – mostly the elderly, along with young mothers. I miss the occasional crying of a child in the background. I miss walking through the church and taking some time in each area – the Divine Mercy statue, pictures of past popes, the stations of the cross, and saying a silent prayer after I light a candle. I miss greeting members of the congregation, “How are you?”

I miss standing before the altar and kneeling – giving thanks to God. I miss adorating the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I miss watching the candles flicker on the altar, and I miss being in awe.

No virtual mass can replace the feeling of Holiness in God’s house. No virtual mass can replace the feel of the Holy Spirit moving through the congregation. No online service can reproduce the tactile feel of receiving the body of Jesus. I miss gnawing and chewing the Holy Host and saying to myself, “You are mine, and I am Yours”.

We are part of the family of God, and being present in Mass is very much about love for one another, community, along with all the dynamics of social interaction. I pray for an end to forced isolation and vaccine passports. I pray for the right of each Christian to some way, somehow, connect again socially – not by zoom, or via online mass, or chat boxes, but in person so that we can lift up our praise, adoration and love of Jesus and worship him as a family.

I hold on to the belief that we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and, whose death on the cross as given us the way to the Father. So the little struggles I have now of being isolated from my family in Christ, is making me stronger (Romans 5:1-11):

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we[c] boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Let us remain strong in Jesus. I know that it has been hard for many around the world who are experiencing the same lockdowns and restrictions. I also know many are suffering emotionally, mentally, socially and financially. Let us give our suffering to Jesus, for that little pain is nothing compared to the suffering our beloved Jesus went through when He died for me and you.

Let us lift our voices, and ask God to ensure that each of us is provided for – that our daily bread is met.

God Bless 💖

Make Haste

As part of my St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises (The Ignatian Adventure, Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life, by Kevin O’Brien, SJ.), I have been praying and mediating on a “grateful awareness of the many ways in which God calls me”, and the past week, I have been reading, rereading, reflecting, and praying on Luke 5:1-11. The depth of it’s meaning came to light a few days ago – “God, how can I be a fisher of men? Moreover, I ask myself how can I serve You in our world today? Next week begins a new challenge – I won’t be able to attend Mass and the Holy Eucharist due to new government restrictions. I was feeling so down about it. How do I live in the new normal – a world of Covid-19 fears and now Omicron restrictions? How can I continue to be a disciple of Jesus?

Luke 5:10 reminds us:

Jesus always said to us, “And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.”

I was greatly comforted by Luke’s reminder.

I have low immune system, and I am very careful, especially mindful of those around me, and isolate myself at the first signs of illness. Today, was one of those days, when I felt a migraine and under the weather. Being the last day I could attend Mass before new restrictions set in, I felt guilty and terrible that I did not go.

In the face of challenges, it is a miracle the way God’s hand is constant in my life. Not only did I feel uplifted and full of joy watching online mass this morning, but I felt renewed. Today’s lectionary reading Luke 1:39-45 touched me, and I was reflecting upon it since last night when I flipped open my Bible and read it while procrastinating rereading Luke 5: 1-11. God is ahead of me! God knows my worries.

See the source image
Carl Heinrich Bloch’s painting – The Meeting of Mary and Elizabeth

Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Three key words come to mind – “Mary set out and went with haste…”, the second is the power of the Holy Spirit in the bonding these two woman with inner and outer joy – “For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy...”

I am reminded that in Jesus, there is joy. His birth into this world and walking among us is a testament of God’s eternal love and plan for us. Hence, no matter how many obstacles the world may throw my way that prevents me from going to Mass to worship, I can still praise and sing glory to my God, because I take the time today to keep the Sabbath Holy in my home – my place of refuge.

How to keep the sabbath holy

Making my home a sancturay for God

Making my home a refuge, and adorning it with objects that reminds me of the Blessed Family, God, Jesus, our Blessed Mother, and Father Joseph. Sanctified with Holy Water is also a good idea.

The point here is having a quiet place to spend time with God.

Spend time in prayer and read the day’s Mass reading

Daily reading from the Catholic Calendar is a special contemplation I do on top of my own personal Bible journey. Daily readings are centered around liturgical themes, and they help guide the believer into a better understanding of the Old and New Testament, as well as insights from all Saints, religious, and all who have gone before us. The following two sites are a great resource for daily Catholic readings:

The Morning Offering

Weekday Lectionary
Make a Spiritual Communion and Thanksgiving

I can’t make it to Mass for the Eucharist, and instead of getting stressed out about it, I watch the Mass online and make an act of spiritual communion and thanksgiving. God doesn’t want us ridden with anxiety and stressed out. Jesus loves us, and wants us to be near to Him and filled with inner joy.

watch the mass online or on tv

Here is a list of some of my favorite Catholic organizations:

EWTN

https://www.ewtn.com/

The Divine Mercy

https://www.thedivinemercy.org/

Bishop Barron (Word on Fire)

https://www.youtube.com/user/wordonfirevideo

Father Mike Schmitz and Ascension Presents

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVdGX3N-WIJ5nUvklBTNhAw

rest and reflection

Remember God rested on the 7th day. Enjoy a day of stillness, rest and reflection on God’s day.

In all things, remember to give thanks

Make the day beautiful, peaceful, and joyful. I like to spend part of God’s day smiling and thinking of how wonderful my God is, and am thankful for His hands in my life and the lives of those around me. I love to listen to music of praise and worship on God’s day of rest. Just as I am sitting here sharing with each one of you my love for our Immortal God. Jesus, I trust in you❤️

I love to listen to the Virgil Project:

May the hand of God hold each of you in His warm and protective embrace, and know that as long as we focus our attention on Him, we do not need to feel fear! God is faithful, and knows our hearts more than we do. Let each of us take the time to pray on a greater awareness of the many ways in which God calls each and every one of us.

God Bless 💖

I Am Fire

Meet Father Henry Kowalczyk, 1965-2020.

I want to share his story. It’s the story of Fr. Henry, and his transformation from a hard rocker to a priest whose vocation moved the souls of all who crossed his path.

I was personally moved and felt God was talking to me through this film (just released a today). There were many moments when Fr. Henry spoke to me, especially his love for Jesus and our Blessed Mother, as well as his love of the Eucharist and the real presence of Jesus.

Fr. Henry is also an exemplification of Jesus – giving his ministry and pain all to Christ. His life is a testament to each of us to strive to be holy and saintly.

I Am Fire – The Story of Father Frank Kowalczyk, SHM 1965-2020

God has a plan for each of us:

11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 RSVCE

Fr. Henry embraced God with his all. Let us trust in God’s plan for each of us.

God Bless🌹

For Each Year of My Life

green ceramic mug beside book
Aaron Burden on https://unsplash.com/photos/4eWwSxaDhe4

Each day since November 7th, I have put aside 20 minutes each morning to pray the Divine Mercy Prayer for each year of my life. I am only at the 23th year of my life, I have many more days to go before I complete this. I must say that since I have started to pray this prayer for each year since my birth, I am filled with peace and healing. God’s amazing grace has helped me recall long forgotten and unsavory memories of unconfessed sins. Each sin remembered and forgiven is a testament of God’s divine mercy and love.

I have just completed praying for those long forgotten turbulent and rebellious teenage years to my mid 20s where the secular world was much more appealing then God. Through this process, I have greater insights into who I am, as well as an insight into how and why I was lead astray. There is insights into how one evil seed planted snowballed into greater sins which eventually lead me down a dark path. The gravity of my sin left God on the sidelines. I can imagine how sadden and grieved Jesus was as I recalled how hurt and angry my own parents were.

Jesus being the Good Shepherd,

23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23

Praying the Divine Mercy prayer gave me a chance to heal from the pain I caused not only to my own body, soul, mind, and the pain I caused to those around me.

Thank you God, for your love for us, and for Your Divine mercy and forgiveness.

Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Song

Below is a homily by Fr. Anthony, MIC. He gives an insightful teaching on the importance of praying for souls in purgatory, but also for each year of our lives.

Praying for Souls in Purgatory and Each Year of Our Lives

As I prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus and His return, I want to meet my groom free of all sinful stains upon my soul.

When I was praying the Divine Mercy Prayer earlier today, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to share this with all of my readers. May each of you find peace and healing in Jesus!

God Bless 💖

What is Garabandal?

See the source image
Mary’s Apparition to four children in Garabandal

Todays post is a bit of a departure from my regular postings, but I feel that it is an important message to share, especially in light of many controversies within the Catholic Church.

Blessed Virgin Mary Apparitions

Blessed Mother Mary has appeared many times in the history of our world, especially during times of turmoil, and especially when it concerns the church and the salvation of mankind. During these apparitions, our Blessed Mother has asked us to lift our hearts in prayer, to mediate on the Passion of Christ, pray for all religious and the church, and as an act of love, we are asked to pray for one another.

I link two videos, and I hope you will take some time out during your busy day to watch them. The first is Garabandal, Unstoppable Waterfall, a documentary about the visit of our Blessed Mary to four children in Garabandal (1960s).

The second video Garabandal And The Priesthood is by Fr. Luke:

We know that the second message of Garabandal was very grave in its statement about Priests, Bishops and Cardinals. In our present day it might not seem as that far fetched that Our Blessed Mother said that many of them were on the way to perdition and bringing many souls with them. Our Lady did also show a very motherly tenderness to her priests in Garabandal. Also the major emphasis that was given to the Eucharist was also indicative to the importance of the priest. In tonights podcast Father Luke will discuss our current crisis of priest in light of what Our blessed Mother said in Garabandal as well as provide practical advice as to how we can live this current situation.

Fr. Luke (Servant HM Films)

What does our Blessed Mothers’ apparitions mean to me? What is her message for the church? How can I be a good disciple of Jesus? What can I do as a Catholic? How can I help make positive changes in my life, and in the life of the church?

For myself, I make time each morning to pray the Saint Gertrude Prayer (Prayer for Holy Souls in Purgatory – https://rejoiceandpraise.ca/2021/11/10/for-the-souls-who-have-gone-before-me/) and Divine Mercy Chaplet ( https://rejoiceandpraise.ca/the-divine-mercy-chaplet/) for all – religious, sinners, the lukewarm, the lost sheep – that the truth and righteousness of God reigns first and fore most in the heart of all religious, that lukewarm souls may find renewal, the lost sheep to be found, and for sinners to come know God’s Divine Mercy.

Let each of us find the time to pray, not for what we want, but for those around us – our family, community, parish, church and all religious. Let us all share our Blessed Mother’s message to those around us.

God Bless 💖

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

💖

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:

💖

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 ❤️