Suffering is part of your training

A few Wednesdays ago, the gospel passage during weekday mass could not have been any more apt to affirm that the ‘suffering’ I was going through then will bear fruit.

My mind that week was preoccupied with work. Meeting up with my friends was reinvigorating as we shared our stories of ‘educational sessions’ given to us by our mentors, whether diplomatically or harshly. Our stories reassured each other that we have much to learn and that everyone makes mistakes.

Making mistakes became an everyday affair, and so with each call or email we received, our hearts would skip a beat thinking it would be a mentor requesting us into their office for another ‘educational session’.

Then came the gospel at lunchtime mass. Replace all references to the Lord with references to mentor and trainee mutatis mutandis, and Hebrews 12:5-13 will dovetail with what we were and are going through…

“When the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you.”

“Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him?” 

“Of course, punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness.”

“So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.”

…just the things I needed to hear. I made it a point never to complain about work.

Thank you Lord for giving us such great mentors. We trainees will make mistakes, and we will stand guided by their ‘educational sessions’.

Love,
PY

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Have you experienced the Word?

Sometime last year, I asked the question ‘How can I go deeper in my faith?’. I desired a more intimate daily relationship with Jesus – not a God encounter sorta way, but a deepening of knowledge and love for Christ. So I picked up the bible (or downloaded it on my phone).

Every morning, I open up and read the daily mass readings on the way to work. Then, I head to http://www.csctr.net for Archbishop William Goh’s daily reflections. It has become a morning routine. I don’t always have amazing insights, some days I’m distracted, tired or just lazy to ponder on the words. But there are good days too, where my mind and heart are open to see what God is speaking to me and I experience how powerful the Word is.

Sometimes a phrase strikes me and it goes onto a postit for my work desktop. Currently, it says ‘Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy’ (Lev19) which I came across at the start of Lent. I think it’s the Father’s personal invitation and assurance to me this Lent. I’ve been wrestling with my ugly traits, feeling inadequate and lousy everytime I fail in holiness and fall to sin. So it’s a reminder that God calls me to imitate Him in word, thought and deed; but also that it is He who will grant me the grace to be holy in my life.

We all have favourite bible passages/phrases that stick with us, which is testimony to how alive the Word is, that Jesus himself is fully dwelling amidst us. In scripture, we encounter the Living God, and His words strengthens us, challenges us and reminds us of the depth of His love. There’s SO MUCH to experience – a reminder, a new insight or perspective.

So if you’re looking for Jesus, why not find Him in scripture today? 🙂 just 15 mins and allow God to surprise you.

– Jess

Love Letter

Dear Jesus,

I can barely remember the first time we met; I know it wasn’t a love at first sight kind of thing. My memory only brings me back to quiet whispers while I served on the altar or that faint touch when I first received communion. I barely took notice of you in my life, but slowly you began to fill the depths of my soul.

You stuck around throughout my school days and soon you became a big part of my life. I somehow always found myself in your Father’s houses or talking to your mother. Before I knew it, we got really close. Sometimes I imagined us spending time together you and I sitting on a wooden bench beneath a wise oak tree. Though imaginary, a part of me knows that they really happened; a touch of eternity whispering times past and yet to come.

I remember those times in deep prayer and sheer grace where you showed me the whole of heaven arrayed before my eyes and the hidden gears of the universe turning by the mere will of God. Those incredibly short moments always left me breathless, restless and yearning for more; but they were rare and I spent many a day trying to replicate them.

As we grew closer you showed me the work you had to do and the Kingdom you had to build. You asked me to carry my cross and feed your lambs. But amidst the voices of the world, at times I did not listen, for which I’m sorry. Jesus sometimes I wish to return to those simple days of simple joys. But I understand and I will do what you ask of me. As you gave me your life, I shall give you mine.

Love,

Andrew

Little Steps

Little steps are made; a slow walk begins accompanied by eyes fixed on a huge cross.

A heart is beating with a mind filled with voices shouting out “I am broken, sinful, filthy, unworthy and everything but your child Lord”

In the silence, I say, “My heart Lord yearns for you and it is restless until it rests in you.”  As you enter, I am consumed by this immense peace.  I know that the God of my life has entered me.  A wonderful silent journey begins and my entire being is being healed and liberated once again. .  As I kneel, I allow my heart to be poured out to you and in that silence; I await to hear your voice.  You do speak to me in that small gentle voice, I hear it. You affirm me of my identity; you open the ears of my heart to truth and truth alone.  Once again, I am reminded and affirmed of my decision to say my “Yes” to you and my heart is overjoyed.

Truly Lord, here in this time, here in this place, here we are standing face to face.  Here in my heart, here in my life, YOU are here.  Here for the broken, here for the strong, here in this temple I belong.  Here in my hearts, here in my life, YOU ARE HERE.  What an amazing time with you, as I hear your voice in this entire half an hour of my life.  The choice to come for daily mass is always worth it Lord!

CCC 1355: In the communion, preceded by the Lord’s prayer and the breaking of the bread, the faithful receive “the bread of heaven” and “the cup of salvation,” the body and blood of Christ who offered himself “for the life of the world”

– Greg

Freedom & Peace

I always think back of the times when I travelled around Europe myself with a backpack and wonder what is it really, that made those times so memorable and satisfying. Remembering a part of those travels reassures me of myself and God’s hand in my life; becoming an anchor for my life.

And I think I found that answer, and I had to do that, by looking at myself from the outside in.

The life in Singapore stifles me, but I enjoy the busy days and multiple responsibilities. I can maintain my faith just alright, but it is stagnant.

When I am alone overseas, I am free. Not just the freedom to do anything I want, eat anything I want or walk where I want to, but the freedom from the day to day worries about school, family, finances; the freedom to relook at all my views about life and to remove the biases, grievances; freedom to then see who I really am, and the graces God has showered upon me. Only then, am I really free to praise God for what He has done in my life because I can finally recognize them clearer and mean what I say in my whisper of a prayer.

I don’t exactly find this freedom, but I avail myself to it. Avail myself by being in a foreign land, by myself, and by being spontaneous and open. Then praying comes so naturally because God reaches me so easily. I feel sometimes, we try to hard to pray or try to hard to reach God, but as Opening to God would explain, prayer is about being open to God – that’s all!

And then I receive peace, something I constantly look for in my faith life, and of which I need more certainly in 2013.

– Mark

Confessions

The sacrament of confession is pretty close to my heart. When I start feeling lousy, my mood becomes sour; I become agitated easily, I know its time for confession.

In essence, I really do feel sin weighing me down.

In the past, I always assumed these feelings were part and parcel of life, and had no link to the sins I was committing. Only in recent times, as I started to rediscover my faith, I realized that those feelings were becoming more pronounced. I became more aware of both my emotions and my wrongdoings.

But still, I didn’t draw the link about sin and feeling shitty.

But as God would have it, I kind of stumbled onto the most incredible confession of my life. And let me tell you that since then, all the confessions have been great!

It had been sometime since my last confession, and I was feeling shitty. The time came for confession (probably because a day of obligation was drawing near), and so I went. As mentioned earlier, the nuances of my sinning were becoming more pronounced. During that confession, as I was being absolved of my sin, I could feel “power” coming over me. I could literally feel my shitty self actually turn happy. I tried to rationalize the process of my change of emotions. I couldn’t.

The only thing that I could conclude from that episode is that sin weighing the physical and emotional self is very real. Confession has become a remedy of sorts for me whenever I start to feel really shitty. A hundred percent of the time, the shittiness I feel results from the weight of sin.

So, when you feel troubled or weighed down, go for confession! I can certainly tell you that the feeling of absolution is truly incredible!

Raphael

From Wonderland to Heaven

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–“said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,'”said the Cat.

– Lewis Caroll

————-

Open our eyes.

We wander, we maunder
Flitting from flower to flower
“So many things, so little time”
Yes, we know the phrase.

This world is a whirl
Paths change, twirl and intertwine
Certainty brews uncertainty
But where do our sights lie?

We search, we forage
Too often do obsessions spring forth
Like oversized mushrooms and talking flowers
Detracting us from what truly matters.

This life is a quest
Always seeking, always hoping
One door opens another
But where do our hearts lie?

We run, we scamper
Fighting or fleeing the storms
Unclear of which direction to go
Yet do we remember God’s rainbow that awaits?

This journey is a test
Do we persist or do we resist
That which may be our dearest hope
But where does our faith lie?

We leap, we prance
Around the flowers which bloom in splendour
And in communion we rejoice
As we taste that bit of Heaven.

This day, and every day is a gift
With wonderful dreams and possibilities
A treasure none can pillage away
But where do our praises lie?

We trudge, we strive
We see the sun setting in the distance
Believing it would rise again
One way or another.

This odyssey is a choice
Whether simple or profound
And at the end of the day
Where does our salvation lie?

Open our eyes – God awaits.

————-

Perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves: have we formed that direction towards God in our faith journeys and in our lives?

– Kong

Discernment

Recently in life I had a big decision to make, which required great discernment on my part. I was taught this by a Canossian sister:

To answer the question “Should I do X?”

1. Begin with a prayer to surrender all distractions; desires and expectations, to let His will be done.
2. On paper, write, “Do X” and list the pros and cons of making this decision. Leave this paper alone for 2-3 days. Don’t think about it.
3. Repeat above steps for the “Don’t do X” decision.
4. In the process of leaving it alone and not thinking about it, discover where your heart is prompting you towards.
5. Pray on why you feel this way, and if God is calling you to this decision.
6. Have the courage to make the decision.

I followed this process, also making sure to discuss it with those affected by the decision. No point discerning if you may not have the freedom to make the decision.

It was a month long process, meeting God in prayer, adoration and people. I was frustrated because I couldn’t find an answer. But I kept at it, until God revealed to me this line, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion…”

On some level, I wanted the answer to be “Do X” but I was afraid God was calling me to say no. As a person not keen on letting others down, this was extremely difficult. But as I continued praying, God revealed to me more reasons for this decision and gave me courage to say no. Today, I am fully humbled by what it means to submit myself to the will of God, to let myself decrease and let Him increase within me.

– Poey

20 Signs That Assure Me God Is There According To Maryanne

In no particular order,

1. The Blessed Sacrament.

2. Being told you are loved and cherished, especially by those whom you too love and cherish.

3. Stars!

4. Heart to heart conversations with friends

5. Getting an A on essays or more than one math question right in a row or being praised by teachers for my hard work/intelligence.

6. Christmas- the spirit of giving that hangs in the air.

7. When a schoolmate I had never met before gave me his OCK curry puff for free, just because I was hungry. (And other such purely altruistic acts of kindness)

8. Receiving unexpected texts from friends who genuinely care about me and are checking up on me.

9. Finally seeing how certain events in my life fit into the greater scheme of things.

10. Feeling like I can achieve anything that I can set my mind to.

11. Belonging to my team and clique from TK.

12. Knowing there are dreams that cannot be, but that all storms can be weathered if only for God’s grace.

13. Learning new things and getting it immediately.

14. Spontaneous moments where I sing and dance for myself and at times, others.

15. When I pray and my eyes twitch.

16. When I say the rights things at the right time to someone who needs to hear those words.

17. Reading a book/watching a show that relates directly to my life.

18. When I am forgiven for doing something wrong.

19. Having a perfect day, where everything is right, according to me.

20. Being naturally gifted at something.

This list is personal, as is the assignment. God is everywhere. This is how he appears to me. Sometimes all we need to find God is to remember the signs he’s shown us, right?

How can I keep from singing

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens,
brown paper packages tied up with strings,
these are a few of my favourite things. 

Admit it – when you read those words you just had to put a tune to them in your head (or sing them out loud, like I would)!

And now you’re laughing. See what I did there?

Now think of something positive that happened to you today or in the week that’s past. Can you help but smile at the many things that colour your world with a tinge of joy as you go through a tiring day, a tedious week, an arduous journey through life? Reflecting deeper, we’d probably realise that God was always there with his nifty paint brush, waiting only to blend in a helping hand, create a stroke of happiness or add a dab of family time to lift our spirits and imbue our hearts with the joy that only He can give.

And yet how often do we tell ourselves it’s easier to be sad? How many times do we decide that it’s just easier to wallow in self-pity and our own vexation with an unforgiving, merciless world that cares not for poor souls such as ourselves, and neglect to recognise the wealth of blessings that have been so abundantly bestowed upon us?

I believe the song ends something like this:

When the dog bites, when the bee stings, 
when I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
and then I don’t feel so bad. 

So in the week ahead, I challenge you, in your times of trouble, to remember your favourite things – cling tight to the blessings that God has given you, cling tight to Him and then perhaps you, too, won’t feel all that bad.

❤ Alex