Category Archives: Divine Guidance
Ben: What if he doesn’t make it?
Blake: I know that this sounds crazy, but you have to trust me that he will.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:19-23)
Reflection: If you were given the chance to take just ONE THING with you when you die, what would it be?
Lord, your word is life for us.Fill me with your light and truth, and give me understanding of your ways.Free me from all that is false, illusory, ugly, and unloving. Let my heart know only one treasure-the joy and bliss of union with You (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)
Originally posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Disclaimer: All my own opinions. Read at your own risk!
Discernment is like the start of “A Tale of Two Cities” -> ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.’ It’s the BEST cos the world seems so lovely.. God loved us first, so our hearts have the capacity to love others. But it’s the WORST cos you’re suddenly confronted with a whole new world of change, of seeing how far you will go for Your Beloved. Wisdom given by God shows me the Way, but the foolishness and pride from myself keeps me from the Way.
I don’t think i will ever stop discerning God’s Will in my life. Everyday, every single minute is filled with choices. Some are easier than others (99 year old, bed-bound 10 years, Alzheimer’s with pneumonia. Intubate? Erm, NO) and some are slightly more complicated (What should i have for dinner? Ramly oblong chicken burger or nasi goreng kerabu seafood?! I like both! How?!) The day i stop discerning, is the day my pride and arrogance has won…
But i digress. The discernment I’m referring to is discernment for state of life. Many many many learned scholars have written many many many books on Discernment. Unfortunately, i haven’t read many books on this. I figured, the only one who can discern God’s Will for my state of life is myself, with God’s grace of course. I’ve noticed that He’ll drop hints and tips on and off on which direction He wants me to go.
So here’s what I’ve garnered, in a nutshell:
1. There is NO such thing as coincidence, no matter how much people around you will try and convince you that it exists.
If you are discerning, then you know that everything happens for a reason and for God’s purpose (hikmah, as my friends would say). But if that is the premise, then there is no room for the existence of this animal called ‘coincidence’… We might perceive it as coincidence, but in God’s eyes, He’s got something more up His sleeve!
2. Pride is a deadly sin.
Which i am guilty of fairly often… Being young and feisty, thoughts of morbidity and mortality lie far way from my mind. I assume that my family, friends, colleagues, patients need me, and how could they possibly do without me?! It’s fine if I’m alive and well. But who’s to say i don’t walk out the door and get hit by some crazed mat rempit? If i die, that’s a good thing. If i don’t die and am left paralysed from the nose down, then who will be caring for WHOM now…? So note to self: I am not God. Presumably if my GPS (God Positioning System) tells me to turn right/left cos there’s an obstacle or ravine ahead, then i can either follow instructions or choose to ignore my GPS on AOR (at own risk) basis.
*This GPS is more reliable than my Garmin, which likes to take me on the longest and most expensive route possible to get to my destination…*
3. Take it one step at a time
As Sr Anne fsp (a very wise person) would say “God gives us JUST enough grace for the day”. Basically, God will give you X amount of grace/day. Therefore, by the time you reach Obstacle A, you’d have enough accumulated grace to overcome said obstacle. You can speculate what might be ahead, but don’t be overly stressed about it. It’s like the lamp analogy – Life is like walking on a dark path with a lamp (and that ‘GPS’ in your heart) to guide your steps. With the lamp, you can see just one or two steps ahead, but that’s about it. The oil that keeps your lamp burning is prayer, all the good deeds you do, all the virtues you accumulate, and most importantly, God’s grace.
4. Be careful about picking the logical choice
Let’s face it.. This whole vocation thing is just NOT logical. I mean, if you look with the eyes of human logic, none of this makes sense! God falling in love with me? Leaving everything behind to follow a Divine Spouse that no one can physically see? But if you feel with your heart, everything makes perfect sense…
So practical applications! Just need to answer two questions:
A) How much do i love God (and, this being a relationship, how much does He love me..) and am i willing to give up all that i’m comfortable with right now, for Him?
– This one, only you and God can answer it. Generally, your heart knows what it wants, but your brain just has to catch up.
B) Which congregation/order?
– I credit this answer to my dear friend, Dr Anita Gonzalez.. She says “Choose the one you feel most at home with.” I interpreted this as – Let’s say you decide on Order X. If you happen to meet a Sr Grumpy (or, more likely, a whole bunch of Sr Grumpys) would you still stay with Order X? Cos entering an order is essentially like marrying a 100 husbands (this quote, i credit to my mother, Dr Gertrude).
If you can tolerate all their funny habits (no pun intended), and still love them for whom they are despite being Sr Bad Mood and Sr Perpetua(lly) PMS, then this is your home… Don’t choose based on logic, i.e. I’m a doctor, i should apply for FMM/FMDM/LSP/medically-related orders. Follow what your heart tells you (does NOT apply if you’re marrying a normal guy btw. That one, follow your head.) and choose that one, no matter how illogical it may seem to you!
5. Do a Gedankenexperiment (Google it…)
– This one is credited to Sr Shirley Chong, fsp. Well, she didn’t say this exactly, but i expanded on what she did. She used to lie down on her bed and see if she could imagine herself as a nun.
– What i did was lie down and imagine:
Scenario 1 – What my plan is for my life, i.e. transfer to a Klinik Kesihatan, then resign, then be a GP + charitable works + travel and see the world from time to time. Perfect! But…. had this tiny niggling feeling of uneasiness. Couldn’t quite figure out why. It looks like a great plan, don’t you think? Future certain, all systems GO!
Secnario 2 – With great reluctance and much scepticism, i acknowledge that PERHAPS, just MAYBE, remotely possible that my path is to enter the religious life. Pathway ahead is seriously unknown. Chances of practising as a doctor is not in my hands. How does THAT feel? Again with much reluctance, i have to admit that i felt peace and a deep joy within my heart, although my brain said “Heart, are you crazy?!”
– So try it out! It just might work for you… It worked for Einstein!
His greatest trick is to make you think he doesn’t exist. Remember that other forces are at work here. Whenever something happens (good, bad, or neutral), just kind of step back and evaluate the situation. Look with your heart, then look with your brain. Both can contribute! Heart is attune to God. Brain is better at recognising the devil.
1.The crux of it all is that if your will is in line with the Holy Spirit within you, then you will feel at ease and at peace. The easiest way is to keep praying – “God, if this is not what You want for me, then please oh please take this desire away from me, cos it’s really stressing me out!” Things will happen.
2. I have heard that this lovey dovey feeling doesn’t last forever. One day, there will be a Dark Night of the Soul (dig out your St John of the Cross from the shelves). Hopefully, i’ll be ready for it and will mature, not regress.. So walk by faith, not by feeling. My heart will bring me closer to God, but my brain will sustain my vocation too.
3. If you’ve thought and pondered and discerned that this is the life for you, then STOP stressing on whether you’ve made the right decision! Done is done… Stop waffling!
Suggested Reading (if you only have time for one book)
-Story of a Soul by St Therese of Lisieux
Just my opinion, but i suspect your reaction to her writing will pretty much be a hint on which direction God is tugging your heart towards!
Please guide me and all the other confused folks. I only want to do Your Will, for i know when You are happy, i will be at peace too. Help me to persevere through this path You have chosen for me, and may i one day be the person You want me to be. I know if my vocation is love (as St Therese said so eloquently), then everything else will fall into place, for me and all those around me.
This entry is taken with permission. Thank you Melanie!
Bear in my this entry of mine is not to discourage you for buying insurance. I received a phone call from insurance agent working for bank few hours ago. He explained to me five important reasons why I should purchase the insurance policy. As he was asking me whether I want to proceed with the purchase or not, I told him firmly: ‘Thanks for your explanation! It is not necessary for me! Jesus is my greatest insurance!’ The guy was speechless. Yes! This short event really affirmed my personal conviction that Jesus is the greatest insurance in my life. He rules my life. No premiums. Full coverage. Eternal life. Period. Would you agree with me?
Dear God, A new year is starting, what will it hold?
Will I be kind and thoughtful? Will I be brave and bold?
Will I stand up for what’s right and be a good friend to others?
Will I be helpful around the house and obey my father and mother?
I want to be a good person, but I may sometimes slip.
I want to always be honest, but sometimes I may fib.
I know that if I keep you close and thank you each day,
That you, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will show me the way.
Stand by me, Lord, through the smiles and through the tears.
I have a feeling this will be a very good year!
The highlighted part in my previous entry (as below) triggered me into something beyond my comprehension. Would you like to know what was that something? The term life-long learning brought me into another quite related phrase: Eternal life. It was like a sudden thought at that time and it triggered me to have a very strong desire for becoming a religious priest.
I suggested to her that pupils could self-study and read English story books independently during that time. She said that reading story books was not a good idea and raised her tone, saying that I have failed my Year 6 pupils up until this moment. She wanted me to focus more on UPSR format questions which I felt was not the best solution, since my pupils don’t have strong grammar and lack vocabulary. The ironic thing was that she agreed that my idea was indeed good for the pupils’ long term andlife-long learning. That’s what I believe! To prepare pupils for life-long learning, not just prepare for the UPSR.
Through the phrase, ‘Eternal life’, there are two specific verses that captivated me which can be found in the bible; John 3:16 and Matthew 19:16-22
In John 3:16 Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whomsoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
Meanwhile in Matthew 19:16-22, it is about The Rich and the Kingdom of God (New International Version)
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honour your father and mother,’and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
What kind of treasure do you store up for yourself in this life and in view of eternal life? Life on this earth is not eternal. He who believes in Christ and is sorrowful for their sins is capable of having not only eternal life in Heaven, but also Christ in them, and they in Him while they are here on earth. The world in which I have grown up is a world so full of grades, scores, and statistics that, consciously or unconsciously, I always try to take my measure against all the others. Much sadness and gladness in my life flows directly from my comparing, and most, if not all, of this comparing is useless and a terrible waste of time and energy. Our God, who is both Father and Mother to us, does not compare. Never. I believe if we were to put Jesus first in my life, everything else will be in place. As long as we belong to this world, we will remain subject to its competitive ways and expect to be rewarded for all the good we do. (gain recognition) But when we belong to God, who loves us without conditions, we can live as does. The great conversion called for by Jesus is to move from belonging to the world to belonging to God. In silence, I would like to ask myself deeply two questions in the process of my discernment: ‘Would you say yes to My love invitation after your 5 years contract? What are the things that bothering me to say yes to Jesus?
p.s: It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly or crazy. I can choose to listen to the voices that forgive and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred. (Inspired by The Return of the Prodigal Son written by Henri J.M. Nouwen)
Thank God it’s Friday.
On this day, let’s
LOOK AT JESUS AS MARY DID
SEE His bleeding wounds.
SEE the nails in His hands and feet.
SEE the thorns in His head.
SEE His side open for us to enter.
SEE how much He loves us.
HOW do you think our Lady felt?
HOW should we feel?
If Jesus loves us so much, what are we going to do for Him today?
Blessed New Year 2013! It’s a first day of schooling. My teaching goal for this year: Put God first. Pray more. Grades do not define who they are.What I should be concerned about is what went wrong! Teach them how to fish and not giving them fish freely. May I be a faithful and loving instrument in the building up of your kingdom on earth as I try to follow the example of your Son Jesus Christ, the greatest Teacher.Amen.
On this first day of schooling also, I’m
Finding God in A New Serenity Prayer by James Martin, SJ as below:
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.
And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.
Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m
By JAMES MARTIN, SJ
Saint Genesius serves as quite an interesting model for those involved in performance art of any kind. During a play in which he performed before the fourth-century Roman Emporor Diocletian, he acted out a mockery of the sacrament of baptism. During the course of the play, he underwent a conversion and desired actual baptism. Diocletian, known for killing Christians, was infuriated, and demanded that Saint Genesius be brought before him. After Genesius refused to deny his Christianity, he was beheaded for the faith.
The most famous legacy of Saint Genesius is perhaps his shrine in the theatre district of Manhattan, New York, at the Church of Saint Malachy, also known as the ‘Actor’s Chapel.’ Also, the Fraternity of Saint Genesius was founded in 2007 to assist actors in their pursuit of the Church’s call to the New Evangelization.
Saint Bernadine of Siena
The most lamentable thing about the life of Saint Bernadine is that it was lived in the fifteenth century, five hundred years prior to the digital age. He was a dynamic Italian preacher with the Friars Minor, who called for cultural reform, particularly in the areas of gossip and vanity. As we well know, gossip and vanity are connected. Our impulse to stain the images of others is often an attempt to make ourselves look superior. Who better to be the patron of advertisers?
Saint Bernadine was known for hosting ‘bonfires of the vanities,’ which allowed people to cast into the fire those things which served as obstacles to their relationships with God, a practice that still holds some modicum of appeal to those of us who feel conflicted by our relationship with the media. If the idealism so often common to advertising appeals to our vanity, then Saint Bernadine can serve as a powerful example and helper in the court of heaven.
Blessed Fra Angelico
Michelangelo is, at least officially speaking, not on the path to sainthood. Someone who is, however, is a Dominican who took the name of Fra Giovanna and who spent the early part of his life in fifteenth-century Italy illuminating manuscripts. His skill was quickly recognized, and he moved on to paint frescoes, altarpieces, and other magnificent works that remain with us today.
In recognition of the holiness and unique talent of the man who came to be known as Fra Angelico, Blessed Pope John Paul II gave him the honour of beatification in 1982, and the distinction of being the patron of artists in 1984. Fra Angelico serves as a model to all those who have artistic gifts in this digital age, to use them to the glory of God and not to the Glory of self.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel
It seems almost elementary that the archangel who announced messianic prophecies to Daniel and Zachariah and announced the conception of the Messiah himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary would be the patron saint of broadcasters of all kinds. Gabriel was charged with proclaiming the message of Christ to the people of God, and his patronage of broadcasters is a reminder to those of us who also have the ability to publicly proclaim things to make sure that what we are proclaiming is in line with the truth.
Muslims believe that Gabriel was the one who delivered the Qur’an directly to Muhammad, the book which serves as the words that inform Islam. We as Christians know, however, that Gabriel’s real role has always been to deliver the message that the Son of God, the Word or Logos of the Father, which is a person of the Trinity, is among us and must be taken notice of. We who are involved in the production or consumption of broadcast material can use the example of Saint Gabriel the Archangel to remind us of the distinction between mere words and the Word.
Saint Francis de Sales
When it comes to presenting Church teaching in the midst of cultural distortions, the life and ministry of Saint Francis de Sales is unparalleled. As bishop of Geneva in the years directly following the massive influence of the protestant reformer John Calvin, he certainly had his work cut out for him. This ‘gentleman saint,’ as he has often been referred to, took advantage of his platform not to deride or belittle his opponents, but to present the truth in a spirit of love and joyfulness. This popular quote is attributed to Saint Francis: ‘You can catch more flies with spoonful of honey than with a barrelful of vinegar.’
In 1877, Pope Pius IX declared Saint Francis a doctor of the Church due to his voluminous and insightful writings, and in 1923, Pope Pius XI designated him as the patron of communicators, most specifically those involved in Catholic media. Saint Francis de Sales reminds us that we are not only called to proclaim the truth; we are called to proclaim it in fullness of charity.
Saint John the Apostle
It’s no surprise that the beloved disciple, the son of Zebedee, should be associated with publishing careers of all kinds. After all, in addition to writing one of the four Gospels, Saint John gave us three epistles and the book of Revelation. Outside of Saint Paul, he is, traditionally speaking, the greatest contributor to the texts of the New Testament.
Perhaps most significant in the life of Saint John is his track record of fidelity to the truth. When all the apostles, even Peter, abandoned Jesus during his passion, John remained faithful to what he had heard. He stayed with his saviour at the foot of cross, even at the risk of his own life. May all responsible for transmitting information take heed to John’s example when it comes to keeping our communications faithful to the truth.
Saint Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore, the seventh-century bishop of Seville, was given the distinction of patron of the Internet due to the fact that he wrote dictionaries, encyclopedias, and histories, cataloging information in a comprehensive and accessible fashion. For those of us who look to digital media to satiate our endless appetite for information, Saint Isidore of Seville (who was proclaimed a doctor of the Church in 1722 by Pope Innocent XIII) can assist us and lead us to that which is true and edifying in the midst of so many false and destructive Internet resources. There are even prayers that have been composed to Saint Isidore that some people keep next to their computer and pray before logging onto the Internet.
Saint Maximillian Kolbe
When it comes to detailing the life of Saint Maximillian Kolbe, it is difficult to figure out where to begin. He is known as the man who gave his life in exchange for another man’s in a World War II concentration camp, but before that, his involvement in Catholic media was prototypical of so many who desire to spread the faith through new media.
Saint Maximillian’s father ran a religious bookstore, which no doubt was formative for the young saint. This promoter of the Miraculous Medal was also a promoter of various forms of social communication. He founded his own magazine, which at its peak, had a circulation of some seven hundred fifty thousand copies per month. He also began a Catholic newspaper, and was able to base a radio station out of his monastery as early as 1938. For intrepid new-media enthusiasts, Saint Maximillian Kolbe models the leap of faith so many of us are inspired to take in service of the Gospel.
The heroism of Saint Cecelia, particularly given the youthful age at which she was martyred, struck a chord with many in the early Christian Church. After vowing celibacy, she found herself forced into an arranged marriage by her parents. Her husband, upon realizing the purity of Cecelia, agreed to baptism and celibacy himself, and took to the corporal work of mercy of burying martyrs. When he was finally martyred himself, Cecilia undertook the task of providing for his own burial. This didn’t sit well with the governing authorities, and she was arrested.
Cecilia was offered the opportunity to renounce he Christian faith by sacrificing to pagan gods, like so many heroic martyrs, she refused. As it is related to us by written tradition, she sang a hymn to Jesus while facing her martyrdom, which has led her long-standing patronage of all those involved in musical professions.
Saint Paul the Apostle
From the very beginning, if Saint Peter was the authority Christ established to govern his Church, then Saint Paul was his press secretary. Everything about the converted Pharisee, who had once made his living persecuting Christians, was focused upon transmitting clearly the message of Christ crucified and risen. No one has more of a forum in the New Testament than Saint Paul; the bulk of our scriptural understanding of Christ and his Church comes from this saint who had once helped facilitate the persecution of Christians.
Saint Paul was the greatest missionary of the first century Church. The task of the missionary is similar to the task of the public relations expert; indeed, the two vocations are far from mutually exclusive. Instead of a false form of public relations which applies a veneer to an organization’s true dealings, we should look to Saint Paul as a model of boldness, truth, and transparency when It comes to communication who we are and what we believe.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
The ‘angelic doctor,’ Saint Thomas Aquinas received a disproportionate abundance of inspiration. How is it that the same man who penned the Summa Theologiae was also graced with the ability to write stunning hymn like the Pange Lingua? Thomas mapped out the possibility of a triune God starting from the drawing board of human reason, and was able to deduce the truth of Catholicism from it in a few thousand pages. Hardly an easy task.
Thomas is the patron of students as well- those tasked with educating themselves before engaging in a profession. All those who aspire to careers in digital media of any kind would do well to invoke his intercession on their path to whatever communications job they intend to seek. The reflection and clarity of Saint Thomas should seve as a model to all who desire to seek the truth and transmit it.
Saint Mary of Egypt
Prior to converting to Christianity, Saint Mary of Eqypt’s reasons for going to church weren’t exactly related to reception of the sacraments. A travelling dancer and a prostitute, Mary visited a church in Jerusalem one morning in hopes of recruiting customers on their way out of Mass. When she came to the doors of the church, she found herself unable to open them. This devastated Mary, as she suddenly realized that it was not a particular church building that had locked her out, but that she herself had shut the door to Christ’s mercy of her own accord.
In penance for her life of lustful indulgence, Saint Mary of Egypt lived the remaining fifty years of her life as a hermit. For those of us who suffer from sexual temptations of any kind, augmented by the digital age, Saint Mary serves as a model of radical virtue over and against the selfish demands of a sex-centred society.
Saint Clare of Assisi
This associate of Saint Francis of Assisi helped facilitate a women’s movement that ran parallel to that of the Friars Minor; an itinerant and evangelistic mendicant order that sought to remind people of the simplicity of the Gospel.
Her patronage of television is tied to an account from her later life. Elderly and bedridden Saint Clare was bodily unable to attend Mass, but we are told that she was able to see images of the Eucharistic sacrifice on the wall of her cell, projected as though on a screen. As an intercessor in heaven, she no doubt has great concern for the challenges and privileges of communicating through the medium of television.
p.s: Sharing & extracted from the book,‘Prayer In The Digital Age’, by Matt Swaim