Protected: Hebrews 11:8

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Advertisements

Dated 29 august 2016

Hi everyone! i hope that this little finds you well. may the Lord keep you!

the leaven of god @ sfx has underwent transformation as usual, and more so these months. log brings itself ever so much closer to the next stage of life, vocational priesthood marriage or lay singlehood, with sec 4s in tow like some pregnancy. there are real worries and fears present individually and in the community. there are expectations at the workplace and in family life. those who are single struggle to find a partner or enter the ministerial priesthood while those attached prepare for marriage. frantic discernment on many things that matter in life.

do not despair! cling to god and to the holy life. keep the faith and stay in hope. i urge you ever to be gentle to yourselves, to community and to the people in your life. believe in the mercy of God in these times of economic famine and drought. stay the wilful hand, word and thought as soon as emotions run high.turn to God when desires to fill the void overwhelms. recognise god’s faithfulness in your life and strive to respond in like. take up your cross and find rest in Jesus. take courage and find the joy amidst the many moments of life.

there comes the times when community seems divided, each taking to his way. there are many cares, aspirations and views. individuals prioritised different things. the ever fragile unity teeters on the edge. perhaps you feel that people can’t understand or empathise you, or maybe you just cannot connect. only the power of the Holy Spirit may bring 2 or more people together. In spite of bariers and the lacking of possibilities, let His Will be done here in log.

always remember the joy of listening of dialogue. may it be blessed with fruit in community! the demographics of log will surely change. to quote “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity”. perhaps the coinage of diversity is needed to give every one a place, unity comes when dying to one’s self for the sake of community or a member. true unity cannot exist without diversity. always remember that “for this is my brother/sister i will do this for him/her” just as Christ came down and died for us.

issues with community life regarding the form and intensity and the associated state have been undercurrent and surfacing. there are matters to ponder:

  • what is the role of cells?
  • on session timings, celebrations and rituals
  • the nature of sessions
  • the changing experiences of community
  • spiritual growth-direction
  • discernment-communal and individual
  • 1co12 and parish matters
  • communications on internal and external matters
  • ministry and mission
  • and other stuff

the lord of harvest has sole authority on the fruit and results on everything. pray that he sends labourers to the harvest

community is a gift and only God may call and bind a community

by the way uni kids don’t feel you’re forgotten. don’t be shy to shout out if you feel that way

love

#bemagis

Hi friends!
I’ve missed you all & I hope you’re all doing good 😉 It’s been a few weeks since WYD ended and since I think I’ve finally consolidated all my thoughts, I figured I’d share some of my experiences (though I’m not sure how palpable all my excitement will be, expressed in writing LOL, but ah well).
Where do I even begin?
Magis
To be honest, Magis for me was a deeper spiritual experience than WYD itself and the whole #bemagis, or ‘be more’ thing has continued to resonate with me. It started off on quite a high note with lots of super high energy worship “concerts”, which were… interesting, but gave me an opportunity to literally jump around, and dance and sing rly like cray. It helped that the songs were SUPER catchy, and not in the typical catchy pnw song sort of way- I mean we were legit dancing to Beyonce, I kid you not (this is when I wish I was home so I could show y’all and make y’all dance with me but I guess that will have to wait).
But the amazing thing for me was how down-to-earth and at times, pretty damn cool everyone was, including and especially the Jesuits themselves. A memorable moment (I think for many of us) was the when our ‘mc’, who had been hyping us up, singing and dancing, and beatboxing for like the entire day, suddenly quietened us down and went, “So actually I’m a priest and now I’m gonna give you all a blessing”. LOL, I died. (And perhaps so began Raphael’s obsession with European Jesuits, lololol)
IMG_9718
A big source of apprehension for me going into WYD was my fear of what everyone would say about me going on a “pilgrimage”. I think I too may have judged myself a little, believing I had placed myself among these “churchy” people (with all the connotations of this you can imagine) and freaking out a little at the prospect having to be holy and pray for two weeks straight (oh, the horror!). But these beginning moments of Magis gave me a bit of hope for something more and the gathering of people from such different cultures and ways of faith made me pretty excited for the week to come. And furthermore, these were the beginnings of the joy and freedom I was to experience in my experiment.
Bibliodrama
Don’t ask me what bibliodrama is. Jk, I’ll try my best to explain but just saying- they didn’t tell us either, like up till now. But first, some context. I was in a group of nine- three Singaporeans, four Colombians and two Zambians; pretty diverse group- different ages, different backgrounds and very different ways of practising the faith. We stayed in the Jesuit house in Czestochowa, where the sanctuary of the Black Madonna was (hence why I was able to catch Jes and the rest of OYP on their visit) and also where the closing ceremony of Magis was to be 1 week later.
IMG_9785
So bibliodrama felt like a week-long yoga retreat cum speech and drama workshop. Each day would begin with yoga, with us doing this improvised sun greeting that was put to a prayer apparently by this Indian priest. This was usually followed by some other movements as well as meditation, which, lets be real- you would have slept doing too. But all this was meant to be for us to surrender our day to God and start it in the right spirit. And after the first couple of days, I started to believe it. I was so.. not grumpy after it and I guess it just opened me to receiving whatever God had for me each day.
IMG_9955
IMG_9956
And this openness was important because we really did some of the strangest things. Apart from freeze frames and acting out bible scenes, we also did a lot of movement exercises- acting like fish, plants, paintbrushes. At some point we were even crossing the border to some sort of promised land free of mobile phones. It was interesting. Each day, there was some sort of theme and a reading that all the activities were related to, and even reading the day’s scripture required us to get creative. On some days we would whisper it (we did this for the Annunciation I think) and on other days we would read it to each other in our own languages (Spanish, English or Bemba (? if I’m not wrong)). But I think the most challenging day was the one when we had to beat box the reading. I mean, can you even imagine that? It was a common sharing in our Magis circle for that day that we struggled to lose our inhibitions, trust God and go for it. It really did help that everyone was so spontaneous and didn’t take themselves too seriously; this really drew me out of my shell quite a bit. But you see the sort of spiritual message behind the activities and I have to say I really experienced a lot of freedom and joy, even though oftentimes I felt very much like a kid on a sugar high.
IMG_9818
One of the more memorable days was when we had to paint the backdrop of a picture, expressing our feelings that morning. So I drew dawn over the sea (‘cause I didn’t get the memo that it was meant to be some kind of landscape LOL). And then we were taken into the garden and told to go and choose a flower or plant that appealed to us “or let a flower or plant choose you [us]”. That last bit of the instruction really struck me because I almost couldn’t fathom it, like I was all ready to go out there and to pick the prettiest flower and be done with it. And when I was in the garden, it just didn’t feel right picking the sunflower even though I really liked it, so I don’t really know why but I went with this little purple flower, with a long and bendy stem that moved with the wind. Then we had to pretend we were painting the flower in the air, with a movement, which everyone else was then made to imitate. This was either really beautiful or really ridiculous-looking, but we went along with it and were eventually tasked to add these flowers to our actual drawings. And so since I didn’t draw any land, I decided to turn mine into a boat because I felt like my movement really mimicked that of a boat on the waves and I felt that both the flower and boat were susceptible to the movements of other forces (ie. the wind and the waves) and I likened it to myself being susceptible to the will of God- an idea which still doesn’t sit super well with me but in some sense that day, I felt physically what it was like and I saw it.
IMG_9881.JPG
I wrote in my journal on one of the days that “being in a context where people see and seek God in vastly different ways makes me feel like I can come as I am, seeking God in whatever way I can”. And this was one of my biggest takeaways from my experiment- that God doesn’t really care whether or not I lift my hands in worship or whether I dance and clap during mass (although I have to say the priest looked a little scandalised when we decided to dance LOL), He just cares about me. He gives me the freedom to come as I am and the capability to be enough by just being.
Coming out of my experiment, I felt free and somewhat different, and the priest encouraged us to live our lives differently, embracing the the new persons we had become during our experiment. And I wanted to. “But I still can’t help but think of what people will think, I think I’m somewhat embarrassed to live a life of passion in Christ. I’d probably be happy to be a good person but probably not about the perceived lack of freedom. I pray that I will come to be convicted of the greater/larger freedom promised by a life in Christ,” I wrote, hopefully, in my journal, though still apprehensive about rejoining the rest of Magis.
Mercy and Our Lady of Czestochowa
So after being in Czestochowa for a week, the other two Singaporeans and I felt some kind of strange ownership over the place, as everyone joined us there. That Sunday (I think?), we made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, where we had been prancing around for a while now, so I really wasn’t expecting to experience anything special; it was kind of like ‘been there, done that’ and we were very happy to show everyone around- to the gift shop and also where the cheaper souvenirs were HAHA.
IMG_9809.JPG
That evening, there was to be a reconciliation service before a vigil with Our Lady. So this guy asked me if I was gonna go to confession and without giving it much thought I was like, nah I just went at CYD, probs not. So I just kinda sat there, feeling quite smug that I’d already been to confession (also cause I hate confession so mental pat on the back for actually going during CYD). But at some point during the service, I thought, you know what- it’s the year of mercy, maybe I’mma just go see what mercy I can get. And so I went, not really having thought much about my sins because, well, I was (quite) clean (I thought, LOL), so I joined this priest perched next to this rock wall, next to a massive field of sinners (HAHA, sorry just thought it was a funny image) ready to confess the root of all evil- pride, because it’s so deeply rooted that I’ve probably acted out of it without even realising, I thought. But once I started talking I just couldn’t stop and I went on describing how so many things stemmed from my pride- envy, jealousy, etc etc and once I stopped myself, I broke down. But omg I swear I got the nicest priest ever- he was so reassuring and I think that’s what made me cry more because it seemed like he knew me or something and he genuinely cared about me haha, Idk how to describe it. But anyway, he told me something that I probably would have never figured out on my own- that I needed healing. I needed to recognise the areas of insecurity in my life and seek healing.
Pride is a scary thing because, in retrospect, my instinct would have been to ask, what insecurities? But that’s how steeped in pride I was- in so deep that I was conditioned not to recognise weakness, insecurity. And so my penance was to go sit in the shrine and ask for Our Lady’s intercession in recognising my insecurities and being healed of them. I think that’s the first time I actually really experienced a vigil because for some reason I was really invested, in my tears if not in anything else. Lol, jk, it felt good- knowing and feeling like I was being healed, even if I didn’t yet know what from, but I was hopeful and I guess I now know what mercy feels like. HAHA.
Onward! To world youth day.
Krakow
Okay. As I’m sure you guys have heard, WYD itself was quite a mess LOL- a fun, interesting mess. I mean I was happy to cheer and dance and stuff at Magis but this was next level. But I won’t say I was as disturbed as everyone else. In fact, I was getting frustrated that everyone was frustrated at the lack of quiet. It was frustrating at times, for sure- the crowds, the noise- but it was really quite a sight. And I was amazed at how excited everyone was about Jesus (and the Pope). I mean by this point I was pretty excited too but not this excited.
IMG_0011
IMG_9983
Either way, the week went on and I’m really really grateful that we were at the English speaking arena place; lots of great talks. Less on this because I’m sure people have shared and also I didn’t see Audrey Assad, even though I thought I did. But anyway, my biggest realisation during the talks was that while it is important to give mercy to others, I also need to be merciful to myself, embracing my flaws and relying on God because “the biggest sin of our times is thinking you can do things yourself” and this has been and continues to be my biggest sin. But I’m workin’ on it!! And I know God’s working with me too.
Post WYD, I spent 1 week in my house in Edin singing YOUR WORLD’S NOT FALLING APART ITS FALLING INTO PLACE to myself and being quite joyful, I had a two-week streak of daily mass which I broke recently, and I still think #bemagis is the best slogan to live by. And while the world remains the same, I guess you can say I’ve changed? It’s all a bit weird and in many ways, I’m still me (maybe even more me).
13686557_10154162880275250_3135746934344636222_n.jpg
Either way, it’s still a journey and I’m still growing but for now I can say I’m rly rly grateful I went to Magis & WYD.
Srzly #NORAGRETS
Many lurves to all,
Alex ❤

not my 2016

it’s sunday, God.

 

it is 2 weeks into 2016, and there’s nothing much to say. it is so easy to ask myself: what is there for me in this year.

2015 has not been without sorrow and debilitating fears, has not been without change, has not been without challenges and stagnancy. discomfort wasn’t absent. 2015 has also not been without heart-hardening heartbreaks, mind-eating heart-gnawing loneliness and silent rejection. has the violence in the heart, that wilfulness that grabs at men and at god, grown and ebbed? still stuck in hopeless and helplessness? and anger, sin and anything else.

this was in community

was it without joy, faith, hope, growth and many other good things?

does the Lord favours me? at least i would admit that He doesn’t favour me over others. much like the older prodigal son, there’s the perceived need for higher favour that stems from insecurity with what is given, or perceived right to more. enjoying God’s favour as it is, in whatever form and colour it takes, while recognizing it comes no lesser or more that it is with others.

with His favour we may enter a new year, not just another year to get by.

may the will of God be done in LoG. may there be growth, increased faithfulness to God, members and others, many joys and blessings.

 

Oh Father

Dear God,

I’m writing to you with a heavy heart because just a few minutes ago, I was told off yet again by my dad. In addition to the other issues I’m currently facing, it feels like I’m being dragged deeper into the forest.

This whole week (first week of school) had been a whirlwind, with everyone teachers and students alike, trying to regain momentum and prepare for the End-of-Year exams. After a long and tiring week, I sought a day out on Saturday after Science Day in school. And because he saw that I had time for my friends and not for my sick aunt, he brought up his list of “things-I-have-failed-at”.

When he was done, I was left hurt and feeling like I have been wrongly accused (because I had made plans to visit her this coming week but had not shared those plans with him) and then it made me angry that he was always jumping to conclusions and assuming things, instead of clarifying.

Amidst an array of negative thoughts and feelings, I decided to seek solace in reading and meditating on God’s word. As I was reading the reflections for today’s gospel, the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” stuck out to me. It got me thinking if God was trying to speak to me and then if there was actually some truth in what my dad was saying.

I know that there are times when I would get carried away with having my own fun and take the people closest to me for granted. I started to feel a sense of guilt wash over me as this time, I realized that the person I have been neglecting is you, my Lord and my God, who silently, patiently and ceaselessly walks by me.

I was then prompted to surrender my guilt and my sin of pride, at the foot of the cross.

As I finish this letter, I see the image of Jesus’ comforting embrace in my mind and am filled with a sense of peace and renewed hope.

Thank you and I love you, please continue to walk with me and call me back to you.

-Clair

A Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for all the blessings and guidance you have given me. As I approach the next phrase of my life, I pray for more guidance with the coming decisions that I will have to make and that you would use it for your Glory.

Ryan

I Don’t Know

Dear God,

Today is my second day in Taiwan. But you already know that. Today I went up to the top of Taipei 101. But of course, you already know that. Today I bumbled along the narrow streets of Taipei on a bicycle, which I’m not at all confident in riding. But you already know that too. Today I got frustrated at how my friends were all sailing off into the distance while I struggled to keep my balance behind. And… Yeah you know what I’m going to type next.

Yes, today’s been quite an exciting day to write about, were this an ordinary blog. But this isn’t an ordinary blog. (we both know that). Today I saw the world as how You must see it: from high above, people going about their daily lives faaaar below me, each one inconsequential and indistinguishable from the next. Yet I know that’s not how you see us.

Know know know know know. For a word that’s supposed to bear so much certainty, it sure doesn’t seem so certain to me. I know that you’ve been there today, somewhere, somehow. I know that every grace I have comes from you. I know that you care and you love me. Or, well, I think I know. But for all this knowing, I sure don’t feel it. I’m as distant to you as I was to all those tiny people below me when I was 89 floors up.

I knew as I went into today that I was going to write a blog post. I also was pretty sure that there wouldn’t be much to link to you about. But I guess, that sums up my more recent faith life. Things happen, life goes on, interesting or not, but somehow I don’t know where you are anymore.

Yet still, I cling to some tiny string; I still wonder where you are; I still write my blogposts. So there’s some hope there.

But you already knew that, didn’t you? I wish I did.

Justin

“You do not know what you are asking.”

Dear God,

Hmm, this is ridiculous.

I have racked my brains but to no avail. I can’t really think of anything to say to you. Well, this might mean that we are such great buddies that you already know all that I have to share. I suspect, though, that we are quite estranged.

This morning, as I lumbered along to the MRT with little joy and lots of dread, I spotted a fellow community member! Usually, I would bounce up enthusiastically, full of thanksgiving for the community members you send my way. But today, I could not muster any cheerfulness to approach that logger. Whoops, missed out on your goodness and love there. I’ll try harder next time.

During lunch, I went for mass because I wanted to improve my disposition before writing this blogpost. But I got all caught up in your cryptic message. Jesus, you were characteristically blatant when you told James and John, “You do not know what you are asking.”

Clearly, where important life choices are concerned, desire is not sufficient. Prudence, self-knowledge and humility are as important huh. James and John had the desire to be close to you, but they had not the knowledge or ability to cope with the implications of being close to you. Similarly, I have the desire to do good in my life (as a lawyer, since you led me to law school). Yet, perhaps I lack the knowledge or ability to cope with the implications of being a lawyer. That would explain why I have been languishing through law school and work.

God, you didn’t warn me 5 years ago, “You do not know what you are asking.” Instead, you sent people to encourage me to read law; you set in my heart the desire to do good; you allowed me to believe in myself and in you. Now, why don’t you help me maintain that belief and confidence in myself and in you?

Anyway… dinner was wonderful. A nice quiet meal at home with family made a peaceful end to the day. Thank you, God. I even had time to read my storybook whilst returning home from a send-off at the airport. Thank you very much!

God, you should know that I’ve been feeling sorely unproductive and unfulfilled. Looking back at the past 12 months saddens me, for I realise how stagnant my soul has become. I don’t have much hope in you or in myself these days. People have more hope in me than I have in myself! Well of course I still cling to faith. I have faith that you have a Plan. I have faith that some day, I will discover your Plan. I just don’t really have great hopes in the goodness of your Plan.

With these thoughts, I’ll say, Good night God! Good night the world! Tomorrow will be a better day.

Hilda

500 miles with God

Dear God,

8.15 am – I miss you. I miss us. This dryness can be so suffocating even if it is interspersed with small moments of grace. I miss hearing you loud and clear. This morning was yet another one spent with the pray-as-you-go podcast but the words fell like stones on a desert plain. Plonk plonk plonk. I run through my mind as the music invites a time of reflection but ah, I don’t even remember the question. What’s up with my prayer life, Lord? I put on some Audrey Assad and as she sings “His eye is on the sparrow, I know He’s watching me”, Father I pray for the grace to be faithful to you even if this distance between us tells me otherwise.

12.30 pm – Jesus I thank you for this meal. Help me to be loving to my teacher and the people around me.

5.45 pm – I wonder if I should head for mass today. I’m lazy and after all, is there a point of going in this dryness? Has the Lord even been lazy to me? No.

6.25 pm – Fr Luke shares that today’s readings present two opposites – Heartwarming vs Heartbreaking. Two stories of hospitality and rejection. Which is life? Both, he answers. My heart tingles, his answer is all too familiar to me. Fr Luke shares that the Christian call is not to a life of success, comfort and constant consolation. God would be spoiling us if that were so. I think to myself, “Lord, I’m a kid who wants to be spoiled” Fr Luke continues that growth always entails an entering into pain, suffering and even death as God stretches our hearts to receive him and then to be more hospitable to the people searching for Him.

6.35 pm – It’s a simple message, one that you revealed parts of to me last Friday. But evidently, truth that my heart has yet to fully accept. Thank you for reminding me that in what seems like dryness, you are enlarging my heart for you. You are disciplining me not to be dependent on consolations. But Lord, I’m still a kid who wants to be spoilt so please be patient with me as I grow. I’m still gonna have my bratty moments.

8.15 pm – Mini victory in a sister’s life. Praise God!

10.30pm – Dear Jesus, thank you for your presence today. Help me surrender my expectations of consolation and how you might reveal yourself to me. Spirit, You’re a God of surprises, so open my eyes to recognise them in the new day. Amen

Jess