A World In Need

“Shalom…”

“How Are You?”

“I hope this letter finds YOU in pink of health…”

These were greetings we once used generously but now brushed off as conservative, old fashioned, and uncool.

But we no longer send handwritten letters anymore or do we? Electronic mail or e-mail (I bet you don’t even remember what the “e” stands for anymore) have replaced handwritten letters and greeting cards. We boast of how we “go green” by using e-mails and because it is far more instantaneous than the “snail mail”. Greeting cards section in souvenir stores have shrunk tremendously and post offices have almost halved the number of postmen.

Often times, we no longer end our letters/e-mails with “Yours sincerely” anymore but instead, it has since been replaced by a mere “Rgds” – short for Regards.

But abbreviations is not the intent of today’s post.

I would like to write about how disconnected the world is in this era where connectivity seemed to be readily available. We are so “connected” that we had become disconnected.

Social networking services and social medias that allow us to widen our so called social circles have reduced to nothing but channels that advocate, feed, and promote vanity, narcissism, and egotism.

How many of us are truly happy when a friend of ours posts something good that happened to his or her life?

You see, even something positive like good things happening to a friend can have a negative impact when we apply different perspective to it.

“She is going for her 5th vacation in 2 months! How can she possibly afford all the luxuries?”

We take at face value what our friends post and that feeling of envious slowly turns into self doubt and depression.

How often, that is you?

As if the negative news on the newspapers aren’t enough, social medias these days are filled with negative news and the endless braggings can be quite overwhelming.

And people these days assume that throwing parts of their lives out on social media implies and equates to reaching out to somebody.

“Oh you didn’t know? I posted about it two days ago”

Well not exactly…

To sum up my observation about social networking, it is truly a space for us to compare. We compare and trump each other by posting better and bigger food, frequent travels, and all sorts of events that earn us bragging rights.

What is the psychology behind such behavior exactly?

“Self Praise Is No Praise”

That is exactly what it is. Just because it would seem awkward to praise myself, I had to flaunt it for the world to see.

But why?

Plainly because the world at large is in need and it is deprived of AFFIRMATION and LOVE.

We no longer show our concerns for another person by just asking “How Are You Today?” but instead, jump right in or get straight to the point by asking for what we need for ourselves.

Over the past few months and weeks, we have lost many beautiful and talented people. These are famous people known throughout the world but it wasn’t until their passing that people started taking notice of all the good that they have done.

After reading through the tributes to the late Carrie Fisher (God bless her beautiful soul), I started thinking and wondering about the psychology behind the mind of a celebrity.

It must be a very contradictory life because in the entertainment industry, fame is needed to be successful. In order to obtain fame, one needs to attract attention. Once the attention is gone, people tend to forget and perhaps as a celebrity, one would feel lonely and abandoned. But my observation also tells me that celebrities do not yearn for the “paparazzi”, gossip or tabloid kind of attention. They seemed to feed on the attention of their fans.

That makes me believe that every celebrity yearns for the affirmation that they are really talented. And by knowing that they are genuinely gifted before leaving this world would allow them to be at peace and have eternal joy.

I guess social networking is similar in terms of more “likes” and “shares” for a post denotes the amount of attention one obtains. I sure hope I get more likes for this post because that would mean I could be famous writing random stuff!

But in all seriousness, we have been too sparing with our “I LOVE YOU”. We care about ourselves way too much just to take notice of the beautiful people around us. We have been very frugal with our acknowledgement when we see natural talents.

It does not matter if we are celebrities or otherwise, every person deserves some sense of belonging and to feel included.

Let’s make it simple and easy.

Let’s start with “Hello, how are YOU?”

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The Reason For The Season

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Christmas is finally here. After all the hustle and bustle preparing, it is difficult not to feel the joy that the festive season brings.

For me personally and on a spiritual level, I felt that the preparations we have done as a family throughout Advent was most meaningful this year.

Our family tradition for Christmas each year has been attending the vigil mass on the eve of Christmas before having a meal with a very close friend and her family. This year was no exception. We had a wonderful meal, prayed just before midnight, and wished everyone a Merry Christmas.

It is very clear the theme this year seemed to be about RELATIONSHIPS. As we shared the sermons we have heard earlier at mass, we found that relationships seemed to be the common topic for both priests.

And I started to reflect on how many of the people I know today was a direct and indirect contact made through Christ – they are countless!

As I gaze upon the crib at church this evening, Jesus takes center stage and the spotlight focuses on Him. While Mary & Joseph, the sheperds, and wise men gathered around Him, so we too like them gather and share the love with one another.

It is not about the gifts but rather the giving of oneself unconditionally. The act of giving is an expression of God’s LOVE.

We give our time to nurture relationships with our friends and family. We make each other feel belong, special, and worthy of being loved.

Truly, Christmas was and is the beginning of many relationships.

I wish you and yours a blessed Christmas. A time relationships are rekindled and made new again. A time when new relationships are established and sustained. A time when ALL ARE WELCOME to embrace and be embraced in His love.

Jesus, the reason for the season!

Merry Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!


Last day at work for year 2016 and reviewing what a great year it was career wise. I am grateful and happy to have learned so much throughout 2016. The many small achievements and the numerous milestones added up to an awesome year.

And as I look forward to the holidays, I am feeling excited and at the same time restless because there will be a little break in the routine until the new year.

I believe the anticipation is exactly what Christmas is.

Are we prepared to once again receive Jesus on his “birthday”?

What are we doing in the days leading up to his arrival?

For me spiritually, I will be preparing myself for His arrival starting this evening when I complete the last task for the year and shut down the computer. I am looking forward to the Sacrament of Reconciliation that will mark the start of my journey towards Christmas.

A time I can admit to God that I am human and constantly in need of his Graces and Blessings.

And I wish all of you reading this post A Blessed Christmas – May You Be Filled With Joy and Peace This Holiday Season!

 

Divine In Humanity

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It is the 4th week of Advent and the priest in his sermon yesterday reminded us of the time we have experienced the divine in our lives. By requesting us to recall the darkest moments of our lives and remembering the people we approached for comfort and consolation. He related that the moments these people showed compassion and love towards us, are the moments when God entered humanity and touched us.

Feelings never last but meaningful events in our lives are remembered for eternity. Perhaps that is the reason why we need to constantly remind ourselves of the events and how God has touched us to renew our faith in Him.

A few days back, a friend of mine sent me a video of a story around the bible quote of John 3:16. It was a very good video regarding humanity and explained the quote from a different perspective compared to how I was first introduced to it.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” – John 3:16

Since the day I heard of this quote, I can only conclude that it is THE quote that many who call themselves Christians use to condemn non-believer to hell. In their quest to gain membership, this is THE quote used to instill fear in non-believer just so that they will embrace the religion.

I have refused to subscribe to such interpretation and beliefs. In my life, I have come into contact with non-Christians who have lived very good lives and to think that they are undeserving of a paradise after life is totally unacceptable.

When I recall the many challenging times in my life, some of the people who have came forward to offer consolation, help, and guidance were non-Christians. This made me believe that God uses anyone as instruments regardless of his or her religion. When God makes a way, He do not have preferences.

So when was the last time you were touched by God in that moment he entered humanity?

Perhaps, that is the message behind the birth of a little boy in the manger. To remind us that in all things great and small, God became a human not in a flamboyant way but in an unassuming manger. We should not seek signs in the melodramatic but in the ordinary.

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“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

Indeed, the divine lives in all of us…

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Season of Love

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Please be warned that this post is going to be so random that I am not too sure where I am heading with it.

But here I am, hoping to end what I am beginning to write.

So we have begin the Advent journey 3 weeks ago and during times like this, we may be a little more in tuned with the spiritual side of our lives. We tend to pay more attention to things we have not been able to throughout the year. Perhaps a little more reflective especially towards those in need.

I believe the drive behind this is LOVE.

Throughout this week itself, it has been quite an emotional roller coaster. Stories upon stories that moved me and one of which is the story of Eric Schmitt-Matzen.

If I have only one wish sitting on Santa’s lap, it would be a shift in the culture of religions – an end to how we guilt trip one another using what we perceive as God’s wrath and punishments. We need to stop bargaining for God’s blessing in exchange for good behavior. We just need to be good people inspired by LOVE.

We no longer live in a world obedient and loyal to just a single school of thought. As diversity thrives, it is harder to expect uniformity and consistency. Definitions of things are becoming very dynamic and there is no one size fits all mold anymore. All we can do is never give up the search for hope, love, joy, and peace in all that we do.

May we all in our uniqueness contribute to the greater goodness the world needs today.

I hope you enjoyed reading my randomness today.

Reconciliation

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I am not sure about you but every once in a while, I stumble across a book that not only gives me a new perspective but also compels me to live and emulate the principles that it presents.

My wife had left this book entitled “Whose child is this?” by Pastor Bill Wilson on the dashboard of my car last Saturday and having had some idle time that morning, I decided to give it a read. I finished the book early this morning. It had taken me a good 3 days – the shortest time I had finished a book (I failed speed reading). After finishing the book, I was compelled to write a review about it and found a spot on Google Books. To my surprise, no one had written a review for such a great book but it is not uncommon since the world at large do not always appreciate anything Christian.

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I will leave it to you to get and read the book on your own effort – that is the least you can do for yourself if you are interested to have a life changing experience. And remember, God helps those who helps themselves.

I am not going to make it too obvious which denomination I belong to lest I get excommunicated from the religion I have come to love enough to want to see change. Am I not stating the obvious already?

In all seriousness, I am about to do a comparison that may not go down well with certain folks who are dead set in their ways. Perhaps, I will be labelled as arrogant and deserve no place in the church. Well, it really is for the church to disown me rather than the other way around. How can I abandon a church that I have found solace in and made me the person I am today?

Besides, like many, I have fallen in love with the rich history and the many beautiful architectures belonging to this denomination I embrace as my religion of choice.

But I believe therein lies the first problem with this denomination. We emphasize so much on history and rituals that we are not fluid enough to stay current. We tangle ourselves in all the red tapes, “protocols” and in the end surrender to the fact that it is “God’s will” things are not working. How convenient it is to blame God when one have not even at least try.

I can imagine all the prostestants jumping for joy that I am offering good reasons for them to condemn the Church in attempt to gain more membership for their own. Don’t tell me I am wrong because the reason why I am where I am today is because of a protestant condemning the same church I have fallen in love with. So if a protestant is talking to you and trying to convince you that another denomination prays to the Mother of God or idols, and lists all the “faults” I am about to discuss here, please know that you are speaking to Satan himself. Go to the nearest grotto you can find and Our Lady will come to your aid.

In all its shortcomings, I also see that the Church have the structure in place to provide its members with a wholesome spiritual experience. We even have a free for all counseling/psychological therapy labelled and packaged as “Sacrament of Reconciliation”.

This is infact what I would like to write about.

Before any major celebrations like Easter and Christmas, the Church encourages its people to receive the “Sacrament of Reconciliation” or in simpler term – confession. This is when one practicing the faith confesses his or her sins in exchange for absolution. The way I see it, it is an act or ritual that helps complete the circle of love. It is an affirmation that God loves us and forgives us of all our faults and weaknesses.

It is the season of Advent and we are in the midst of preparing ourselves to once again welcome Jesus in the celebration of Christmas. And the weeks leading up to Christmas, there will be Penitential Services held in every church for the faithfuls to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

After many years, I will be returning to the church to seek this sacrament. Yes, you will read part of my “confession” on this post because I will be sharing with you why I had stopped receiving the sacrament for the past few years.

Just before I do that, I would like to share what finally made me decide to be different this time around.

Last week, the priest in his sermon spoke about how in the past, the church requires the confessors to keep score of each sin committed. That only causes the sins  to be over emphasized and so much so that the faithfuls lost sight of their strength and goodness. Sounded to me that today, the church is taking a different approach.

He went on to say something along the lines of “whenever you complete and received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, you should leave knowing how GOOD you are”.

Likewise, that is exactly what I think should change in how the church shape its faithfuls’ mindset. We are always told to be modest, humble, and fearful of God. We tend to do as required because it is unquestionable obligation. We then just go through the motions just because we have to. We feel meaningless and jaded at the end of the day. We ended up having a church that is poor financially and in spirit.

We really ought to learn from some of the more vibrant Protestant churches. They truly glorify the Lord and make His glory known. These churches has since moved forward with a lot of abundances. Don’t get me wrong, they are not proud, arrogant, or self glorifying. They truly make God’s wonder known and they continue to be blessed. Mock them for the tithe they commit to the church but this practice has brought about manifold blessings to many churches. They are rich in both finances and spirit (thus, the vibrant and lively churches).

Coming back to the reason why I had stopped receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (and I am sure by now, my church friends will look at me queer or even judge me in a certain way),  is because I have grown too tired of “crucifying” myself. What the priest said hits home because all these while, I have been keeping scores of my weaknesses and became too fed up feeling worthless anymore. I have never came away from confession feeling I was any good – a poor doomed sinner. I hope it will truly be a different experience this year.

But this priest has always given me hope and to honest, he has held me firm in my believes and offered me nothing but LOVE in his words and actions.

In all said and done, we are all in need of love. And in the spirit of Christmas, we shall all seek and give LOVE.

God is LOVE, God is GOOD.

Repeating what the priest said, I wish for all of you going for the Sacrament of Reconciliation that you walk away knowing that you are GOOD because in His unconditional LOVE, He forgives and heals your every wound and weakness.

When that happens, God has taken His place in your heart.

How Can I Help You?

There was a period of time in my life that I was struggling to find my place in this world. Naturally, I turned to self-help books to gain clarity and to find methods in “self discovery”. While I gained many ideas, it wasn’t really easy and straight forward in identifying my purpose as a person.
As I continue to learn and grow in this self discovery journey, I found that taking the queue from the people and events around me helps. The following is part of what I have shared on my social media feed and I thought it would be valuable to elaborate in this post.

“How can I help you today?”

A timeless question and also one we have forgotten because it is always about “ME, MYSELF, and I”.

If you have lost direction and purpose in life, start the day by asking someone this question knowing that….

1. God will not give you something you cannot handle.

For the past few years, I have been assigned with many challenging tasks but I also noticed that they are usually preceded by events that have prepared me with the necessary knowledge and skills needed for the said tasks. Such situations usually caught me off guard and I am often surprised by the impeccable timing. It is unexplainable and cannot be coincidence so I like to believe it is divine.

2. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

I once asked a friend the question – Do you think that a mirror can see itself?

It is only obvious that people around us can sometimes see through us easier than ourselves. Others through their observations will be able to tell us both our strengths and weaknesses. If someone asks for your help, it means he/she knows you have the capabilities and you can be depended upon. By helping, it will bring to light your talents and passion.

3. Accomplishments serve as affirmations that strengthens and increase confidence.

You will get a sense of accomplishment by this opportunity to learn something new. It feels good and purposeful knowing you have helped someone.

When we asked a friend of ours to help take photos at our wedding, he eventually took up photography seriously and now can be considered a pro in taking awesome photos.

4. It is OK to say NO.

While you are encouraged to engage and render your assistance, the initial thought of getting out of your comfort zone and status quo can be overwheming.

Therefore, it is absolutely fine to say “NO” because life gives us choices. The beautiful thing is that you can choose to say yes only when you are absolutely ready to take up the challenge.

5. It gets your “engine” going again.

There are a few quotes that motivates us to get out of our comfort zones. And to share a few that I live by:

“God helps those who help themselves”

Yes, the saints that we all know did not just pray to only plant the seed of thoughts into their minds but, they put into action what they prayed so that the “end game” can be achieved.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

And the most recent that I have adopted from my boss:

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Even the law of attraction tells us that we must first visualize the end results before we embark on the journey in attaining them.

Another example would be the initial courtship of a couple. If neither the man or the woman initiate and take the first step in confessing his or her feelings to the other, there is no possibility of a marriage and thereafter, a beautiful family.

So when you make the first move, it sets in motion the progress of moving forward

6. Every challenge is an opportunity for growth.

Being challenged to a point of getting us out of our comfort zones and status quo itself can be counted as progress.

As the quote by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche goes, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

How can I help you today?

May this piece help you gain some clarity in life…

I hope you enjoyed reading my randomness today.