Doing These Before Bedtime Helps the Soul

One of the best things a spiritual mentor taught me way back was to take the counsels of St. Francis of Sales to heart. In his Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis laid out very practical ways for us to go deeper in our relationship with God. Among the chapters, the morning and evening prayer activities have proven to be the most helpful of chapters.

Before one hits the sack, here’s what St. Francis has to say:

As I have counselled you before your material dinner to make a spiritual repast in meditation, so before your evening meal you should make at least a devout spiritual collation. Make sure of some brief leisure before suppertime, and then prostrating yourself before God, and recollecting yourself in the Presence of Christ Crucified, setting Him before your mind with a stedfast inward glance, renew the warmth of your morning’s meditation by some hearty aspirations and humble upliftings of your soul to your Blessed Saviour, either repeating those points of your meditation which helped you most, or kindling your heart with anything else you will.

As to the examination of conscience, which we all should make before going to bed, you know the rules:

1. Thank God for having preserved you through the day past.

2. Examine how you have conducted yourself through the day, in order to which recall where and with whom you have been, and what you have done.

3. If you have done anything good, offer thanks to God; if you have done amiss in thought, word, or deed, ask forgiveness of His Divine Majesty, resolving to confess the fault when opportunity offers, and to be diligent in doing better.

4. Then commend your body and soul, the Church, your relations and friends, to God. Ask that the Saints and Angels may keep watch over you, and with God’s Blessing go to the rest He has appointed for you. Neither this practice nor that of the morning should ever be omitted; by your morning prayer you open your soul’s windows to the sunshine of Righteousness, and by your evening devotions you close them against the shades of hell.

(Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 2, Chapter 2)

Since I started the practice of the evening meditation, I found out how keenly aware one could be with the many things that have occurred during the day, especially the details we might have not seen that would make us forget to be very grateful to the Lord and, likewise, the uncharitable moments of our day that might have wounded another/others (that hint of resentment towards God, that often unnoticed instances of pride, that moment when your ventilating to another turned out to be gossip…etc.).

Reflecting on what happened to us today helps us find meaning in our experiences, enough to retire with smiles on our faces because tomorrow (if God allows) is another day to experience more of God’s grace and mercy!

It won’t take you more than 10 minutes to do these things before you sleep. Maybe tonight is the right time to begin!

Good night. 😉

 

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Some Notes to Remember for a Lifetime from Someone Wise

I recently bade farewell to someone who has guided me for the past months. The eight monthly meetings in an office at a seminary became very formative for me. This very wise person did not really say much but he allowed me to discover a lot of new things. Each meeting would end with a painful lesson on surrender and a virtue I needed to work on. His favorite line was, “But there is no other way than the cross.” 

I’d like to write about this person because at one point, when I was revealing a very dark part of me, I never saw a look of judgement. His face had the same calmness and his eyes, still with the fatherly gaze he is known for. I broke into tears, asking: “Aren’t you going to scold me?” He shook his head lightly and smiled, “Why would I? Look at you. You are still good. You are good.”

The first time I saw him in the seminary last year, he had the same vibe when I was able to hold the hand of Pope Francis. He had that aura of sanctity. And so this person also taught me to pray like I never did before. He told me things about prayer that I realized he was doing, himself. It showed in his way of life.

And so when I learned that he was leaving, I really did not understand the grief. For two weeks, whenever I would be reminded of the fact, I’d find my eyes water that I needed to go somewhere private. I learned later on that he was right in saying that I was being schooled by the Holy Spirit on detachment. “The Holy Spirit IS our spiritual director. I am just a guide.” He was truly Alter Christus. Probably the “grief” was a manifestation of a deeper longing to see God’s face, as another wise person suggested.

His flight was on the day of my birthday. It seemed like he just came at the right time when I needed his wisdom on my 30th year. Someone told me that him leaving on my 31st could be likened to a commissioning. Thanks to this very wise person, I believe something in me has changed greatly to the point that there are people, who I’ve been with before but met again only recently, who would state some changes.

Lest I forget, though I doubt it, here are the valuable lessons that helped me through the last eight months. May the counsels bless you, too:

  • You do not need to explain everything that is in your heart to anyone. The interior life is reserved to be seen only by the Lord. Be prudent in what you share. Even our shared joys may “cause injury to others.” The injury is not our fault, though. But we still keep a lot of things to ourselves. Learn from the saints whose interior lives were not known except by their spiritual directors, confessors, formators and most importantly by the Lord.
  • Be as meek as a lamb in the face of false accusations. “Truth is like a lion, it will defend itself.” Endure. Do not retaliate. Maintain your charity.
  • You do not need to explain yourself to anyone. Continue to be as you are. You do not need to explain how God is speaking to you to everyone. Not everyone will be pleased by what we do. When there are more people who do, rejoice! Be worried if you are well liked and no one dislikes you. Christ was very much disliked by the people who knew Him so well. So when people who you expect to understand you malign and slander you, know that you are in good company.
  • You also do not need to tell these people they have hurt you. Carry on with what God is calling you to do and do it humbly and meekly. If they are praying enough, if they are discerning, the Holy Spirit will be the one to reveal to them their faults. To a proud and stubborn heart, no explanation shall satisfy. In a proud and stubborn heart, the Spirit cannot work so much.
  • Be careful not to be idle. Occupy your time with the matters of the Lord.
  • To admit one’s fault, frailty, weakness is humility. Do not be afraid to expose your sins to those who are guiding you. You will only progress by the degree of openness you have.
  • It may be very hard to understand why now but one day we will know why. Even our sinful moments, when redeemed, have a purpose in God’s design. He writes straight in crooked lines.
  • There will come a point in prayer when our words will cease. You will just sit down before the Lord in silence, no words necessary, only love.
  • Detachment has a purpose. It is to be attached to Christ.
  • Be rooted in Christ. Roots go deeper when nourished by a constancy in prayer.
  • Holy Indifference – St. Francis of Sales wrote something about it. It is something we should desire. It is hard to get there but one day you will. Always subject yourself to God’s grace and desire to gain virtues.
  • Save for God’s will, there should be nothing or no one to occupy us.
  • There will be people who will come into your life only for a certain period of time. We must learn to let go and detach from certain people so we can be more available to a world who is finding Jesus.
  • So if confronted with a choice between persons, things and God, Himself, what is that you shall choose? Choose Jesus.
  • Gazing at the cross in silence teaches us many things.
  • Obedience is founded in love. It will not be very hard to obey when you love the One who calls you to obey. We trust in Him and the people who He appointed to guide us who we need to obey.
  • Love demands sacrifice. Love is merciful but it also demands justice.
  • There is no way to go but to follow the way of the cross.
  • Let Mary guide you when you do not understand. Let Mary protect you. Always seek the Blessed Mother.
  • Mission begins in the family. Charity is hardest to give in the home.
  • Solitude is when we are comfortably alone in the presence of God who never leaves us alone. Solitude allows us to form genuine relationships with others.
  • There will come a time when prayer will lead you to desire persecution and suffering. It will come. And when it comes, you will be ready for it.
  • What is happening is a purification. When we desire to be one with God. It is inevitable.
  • When we are tempted, these temptations signal us what virtues we lack or we need to sharpen.
  • Always check your heart and its intentions. Guard yourself from instances of pride.
  • Do not be too anxious about how the devil can harm you. Live in peace knowing that it cannot kill you and live in peace, especially when you know you are in a state of grace. Just carry on with what you need to do. Mary and the saints and the angels will guard you.
  • It is okay to walk away when to walk away is needed. But never let charity walk away, too. Be charitable doubly to those who hurt you.
  • For as long as you know you are doing God’s will, no one else matters. Nothing else matters.
  • Peace always accompanies the person who is doing God’s will. So be at peace, always.
  • Be careful. Choose what you say yes to. The devil hides even in what appears to be good. You will unmask his lie when you bring all decisions to prayer.
  • God may be silent. He may “hide” sometimes. When you cannot hear Him like you used to, this is where our memories should be at work. Remember His mercies and be at peace.
  • Focus not on the blessings but the One who gives the blessings. This is what will guide us through the dark night.
  • The Holy Spirit is the ultimate Spiritual Director. Pray to the Holy Spirit always.
  • Learn not to sin even in your thoughts. Do not think ill of others because it will reflect in your speech. Purify your speech, too. It shows the state of the heart.

Discerning? Do This First Step to a Lifetime of Adventures

I would often get asked: “What is the first step that we need to do in discernment?”

One year ago, at around 9:00 am in a retreat house in Quezon City, I decided to do something with my life without really knowing what will happen next. I remember that I scribbled this in my journal: “Here’s to a lifetime of adventures!”

Only then, I realized the weight and true value of St. Ignatius’ prayer of total surrender, which was also the assignment I got from the Spiritual Director assigned to me during that Ignatian retreat.

Kunin Mo, O Diyos, at tanggapin Mo
Ang aking kalayaan, ang aking kalooban
Ang isip at gunita ko, lahat ng hawak ko,
Ng loob ko, Lahat ay aking alay sa ‘Yo
Nagmula sa ‘Yo ang lahat ng ito
Muli kong handog sa ‘Yo
Patnubayan Mo’t paghariang lahat
Ayon sa kalooban Mo,
Mag utos Ka, Panginoon ko
Dagling tatalima ako
Ipagkaloob Mo lang ang pag-ibig Mo
At lahat ay tatalikdan ko

When you examine the words closely, those are words of entrusting everything to the Lord, such as that nothing else really matters save for His will. But what could be that first step to totally trusting and obeying the Lord?

St. John of the Cross comes to mind:

If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.

And that is it, I guess! The first step to a life of awe, wonder, surprise and adventure is that we learn how to close our eyes so that the Lord, who knows the way, who is sure of what way we should tread, will lead us to where our heart will find peace and joy.

You know that instance when someone covers your eyes and leads you to a room to surprise you on your birthday? You really do not know what you will see but you trust in the person who is leading you. You know he will not endanger you. Often times, the walk to the room may lead us to fear, to impatience or make us a little jittery but what joy it brings to the heart when our eyes get uncovered!

That is the life of great adventure that God is calling us to respond to!

Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

-John 21:18-19

When Peter told Jesus that he loved him three times, Jesus responded with what mission Peter had to do: “Feed my sheep.” But Jesus gave Peter the first step, too, how he was to go about in fulfilling this task: “stretch out your hand and let me lead you.”

It is not an easy thing to do: to close one’s eyes, to stretch out our hand for God to lead us and to walk in the path that He will lead us to. But if just like Peter, we do love God (though imperfectly), to take this step to a lifetime of adventures is what “our love” should bring us to.

It is also not easy – to abandon the security of seeing what is before us. But God assures us that He will never leave us alone. He is, and always be, with us.

I remember going through the Retreat in Daily Life last year, which was a live out retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. During the first part, my retreat master led me to recognize the God who was calling me and how unconditional His love was for me. It was also at that moment when one would meditate on his or her nothingness and faults. The “humiliation” brings one to cling to the Lord. It was a training in humility.

Not to see is an act of humility. To close our eyes is the beginning of it. It will be a lifelong process to close our eyes completely because we could be very fearful but we will get there when we recognize, and constantly remember, who God is and what His merciful love did for us. This “not seeing,” can be encapsulated by this very beautiful song:

A year has passed since that 9:00 am decision. It had been a struggle to have my eyes closed all the time. There were many times when I would be so afraid and I would disobey and open my eyes to have my own way followed. But God, in His mercy and in His love, knew the deepest intention and desire of my heart for a lifetime of adventures! (And I learned the hard way many times in the past that…it is useless to struggle with God. He always ends up winning anyway so why prolong the drama? Hehe.)

It has been a year of adventure. I cannot begin to enumerate the many wonderful surprises I got to see. I could not number anymore how many times my eyes would well up in gratitude whenever God said, “Okay Lee-an, you may open your eyes now!” The many places, instances, people I got to see and encounter – all because I just had to close my eyes and let the child in me wonder.

I celebrate my 31st tomorrow. This entire year seemed like 50 years in its length and wealth of experiences. I could not wait for what the next year will bring and what adventures God and I will still be taking together. I only know one thing now:

PRAYERGRAPHIC_JPII2

Nothing Coincidental in this Grand Design Called “Life”

Some song has been on repeat lately:

Pardon the romantic mush in me. Not that I can really relate to the song but the narrative intertwined with the heartwarming notes just got me hooked. It got me thinking, though…that song. I realized that it has a serendipitous theme. Like a happy chance. Who would have thought?

The parade
Traveled on
With the sun in my eyes
You were gone
But I knew
Even then
In a crowd of thousands
I’d find you again

But you know, there had been so many “destiny” stories just like this one in “Anastacia.” I think you might have come across a few in your circles. I have my share of stories in mine. I does make you exclaim: “Who would have thought!”

Just this week, I got the chance to dine with an American couple from the CFC FFL community. Over pizza, pasta and chicken wings, that meeting with Mike and April Frigge turned out to be a reminder that in God’s great design called life, there is no such thing as coincidence!

We shared our stories of how we were called by the Lord. It made me look at my own story as I said it and I saw how beautiful were the events of the past year. My goodness! Since I turned 30 last July 10, 2017 up to this day, it feels like I have gone through 50 years of adventure already. They asked me of the minute details of the many instances God shook me this year and as I relayed a part of my story, I was able to “see” details I never got to see before. We all agreed and exclaimed as the clock drew close to 1:30 am: “Who would have thought!”

April let out a line that I had been writing in my journal for the past year. She said it exactly as how I wrote it one time last year: “God weaves the tiniest details in our lives into a grand tapestry to marvel later on.” And indeed, He does!

So many times, I would notice the minute details in my experiences. Graces happening during important feast days, connections with unexpected people, patterns in prayer…etc. Years back, I remember being “accused” of overspiritualizing things only to be corrected by the first spiritual director who taught us that – “All human experiences are religious. All human experiences are God-experiences.” He said that often times, we just fail to see. We fail to recognize that God can be found in ALL THINGS. Nothing is coincidental in God’s great design called life.

If we look closely enough, if we spend time to look within and reflect on our experiences, we can find how God does move in the minute details! I remember being told that the key to discernment and knowing what God wants for us is a constant examination of conscience. St. Ignatius of Loyola introduced what you call the examen. For the Jesuits, they would do the exercise many times in a day. I remember being taught to do so at night before I sleep. For years of doing so, (though not constantly) it has brought me great good. I slowly became at peace at how God moved in my life. Made me appreciate the good and the bad and find how my heart would swell in gratitude. It made me see that everything is grace! It also made me realize my lapses and uncharitable deeds. What virtues to work on more, what I could have done, thought, spoke and what could I have avoided. It ends with the resolution to do and be better the next day, if God allows us to wake again.

Again, nothing happens by chance. The great God whose “now” is eternal, the all-seeing, all-in-all God, knows better than we do. His ways are not ours. If we entrust our lives completely to Him and we anchor our fidelity on who He is as the great Promise-keeper, the God who weaved together the beautiful details of Salvation History, then we are assured that the tapestries of our lives are guaranteed to be perfectly beautiful and good. If we truly believe that everything works for our good when we give our all to Him, we will find ourselves surprised one day when everything comes together into one grand masterpiece for us to see and for others to see.

“In a crowd of thousands,” God sees us individually and works uniquely in us. Everything will fall into place, one day. Every single detail will make sense.

“Little Wounded You, Arise!”

Deeper still, in each wounded child, is the child God destined for life eternal. He/she is hidden within us and when we allow Jesus to heal us, this little child will one day run free from the wounds that stop him/her from gaining wings to fly.

Four years ago, while I was still part of Poveda, I was sent by the school to attend a training called, “Healing the Eight Stages of Life.” For four days, I learned a lot of things about myself and about how we can approach people who may not be aware of the “wounded child within.” In a way, it was an affirmation and a breakthrough for me. An affirmation that the path to a deeper relationship with God needs an integration of our lights and shadows and a breakthrough because I realized that healing the inner child does not happen in one go. Healing may be something we all have to face for as long as we are alive.

A while ago, as I sat in Mass and listened to the proclamation of the Gospel, the words that struck me were the ones Jesus enunciated to bring back to life the dead daughter of Jairus:

He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.

The lines brought me to tears and as I looked at the back of the church, I saw the light of the confessional lit in red and yellow.

There will be times when certain events of our lives may trigger to bring out that little wounded child within us. You see, as one grows up, traumatic and very painful experiences wound us to a great extent. Often times, these wounds are hidden only to manifest themselves later when similar instances happen to us. We ought to be aware since these wounds can potentially break us apart and even wound others as well.

In the spiritual sense, these pyschological wounding can lead us to our tendencies to sin. This is why the challenge to a holy and moral life is that of self-mastery. Through God’s grace, we become aware of these wounds we have and we bring it constantly to the healing light of Christ. When the child “comes out” and does a “tantrum,” we need to know how to tame the little child.

Back in 2012, the major breakthrough for me was undergoing counselling sessions with a really good psychologist who specializes in psychospiritual healing. He led me to see the dark parts of me and from what incidences in my childhood trigger the letting loose of the wounded child within me. Right after that very painful but necessary process of unmasking, I was led to my first ever Spiritual Director who navigated me into a deeper life of faith. (It is his birthday today!)

As I entered the confessional a while ago and silently prayed to the Holy Spirit for whatever was that I felt needed healing, sudden flashes of images came to mind. I realized that for some days now, I was not completely aware… the little Lee-an was out on the loose.

“Talitha koum.”

“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.”

And just like that, the Father took His child by the hand, wiped her tears and let her walk freely again.

Today’s Gospel is an invitation to healing. Often times, we may not be aware of our need to be healed but what will drive us to ask of it from the Lord is faith. It was faith that made the hemorrhaging woman seek Jesus out and touch His cloak. It was also faith that led Jairus to find Jesus and beg Him to cure his daughter. We will never grow deeper into the spiritual life if we will not open our hearts to an encounter with Christ. Yes, it may be painful and very uncomfortable to dig deeper and see the parts of us we are afraid to expose and face but to grow in holiness and whole-ness, there is no other way. If we truly want to follow Jesus and live holy lives, we need Jesus to touch us, hold us by the hand, heal us, make us rise from our slumber and walk again.

“Do not be afraid. Just have faith.” Jesus’ words to Jairus are also His words to all of us who may not be aware of the little wounded child within. Jesus came to give us life and restore us to a newness that will bring us much joy. Fear of pain, fear of facing our wounds and shadows will be the hindrance for us to finally having the peace and joy that accompanied the saints who have given their all to the Lord. To surrender should not be partial; we surrender everything – lights and shadows alike. This surrendering and healing can only be a product of grace. This grace we can receive when we frequent two sacraments that bring healing: reconciliation (confession) and the Eucharist.

“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”

Deeper still, in each wounded child, is the child God destined for life eternal. He/she is hidden within us and when we allow Jesus to heal us, this little child will one day run free from the wounds that stop him/her from gaining wings to fly.

Set yourself free. Rise. And as you get to know yourself and love your scars, see how this rising can set the world on fire.

The Cost of Following Christ

The cost of following Jesus is painful but the assurance of peace and joy is there despite all that. Well actually…even remove that sense of “peace and joy!” Because really… the most important thing is that we gain Christ.

I began my day today just like how I have been routinely going through the first thirty minutes since last year – ruminating about what state of life I had at the moment, including all the responsibilities I had, the mission I was pursuing, the duties that needed to be accomplished. Such exercise might prove weird for some but it has been helping me see if I was still doing God’s will or it was just a product of pride. I would go through each one and ask the Lord if it was still a go. For a year, it was usually a peaceful waking; a “yes” to each area. But a month ago, there was this sudden desolation and suddenly, I would lie down in bed longer than usual.

I was picked up by my cousin and our first stop today was to visit the wake of my missionary friends’ 2-month old son, Isidro. It was a heartbreaking stop and I realized how we can never really know when our time is up. We may never really be certain when God will call us back home. I had my usual “whys” as I stared at the little boy’s lifeless body in a bed of flowers. Each why was met by this silence that was both comforting and disturbing at the same time. I left my questions hanging for God to answer later on. He may do so, He may not. But I left them there, anyway – mingled with the suppressed tears. I took a last look at Isidro’s parents, Kuya Cocoi and Ate Gay and walked away.

We were kind of late for our symposium in Everest International School. A former classmate, Ms. Amelie, invited us to attend “Sexuality, Gender and Education” given by Fr. Joseph Tham. As I entered, I was surprised to see familiar faces with us: the teachers and pastoral team of Don Bosco Technical College – Mandaluyong to whom I gave a workshop recently on new methods of teaching the faith. They were right behind us and the teachers who I encountered became my group mates too.

Fr. Tham gave us the basics of what we believe as a Church with regards to sexuality and gender identity. He ended with a documentary entitled, “The Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” which featured the life experiences of three people who found their way back to Jesus after acting out their same sex attractions. There as the film rolled, I found myself crying. I realized that God was speaking to me in the experiences of conversion I was listening to and that the unquenchable desire for God and Heaven is, indeed, present in every human heart. Since I began teaching and doing missionary work for Live Life, that “unquenchable desire” has always been part of the narrative in all the engagements I was asked to give. It spoke to me again this morning because… that desire has been so alive and burning within for the past year.

We ended the session with a mass and I was grinning at some parts, looking at the crucifix, because two Salesians concelebrated the mass. One was a classmate in Theology. There were funny moments between me and the Lord during the Liturgy. Funny, because, I realized how I never expected “Don Bosco” to be present with me that day but he was. It was really funny, I couldn’t help but smile at times (hoping no one saw the silly expressions!).

Oh but it was that homily from a Legionaries of Christ priest that brought me to tears and the sudden revelation of the ruminations I had that morning and the whys I asked God earlier in the wake. Father began his homily with a curious question about getting hurt when we love. I smiled. I think I knew that too well. And then he reminded everyone of today’s feast – ahhh…it was Sts. Peter and Paul’s Feast Day. To those who know me well, they would know why I would be very emotional at the mention of St. Peter and St. Paul and maybe God did use these moments of the day to remind me of the cost of the “yes” I had been renewing each day.

What made St. Peter and Paul endure to the very end? It was the constant recollection and basking in the mercy and love of Christ. They were both terrible sinners yet chosen to do great things for God and somehow, I found myself in the same position too. When they followed Jesus, what was the cost of it? We all know they treaded a very dark and painful road; it was not a bed of roses for them both. But from that experience of being pardoned and loved and embraced thoroughly by the Lord, it made them single-minded for the mission. There may be points of weaknesses but they both ended just the same way their Master did – in a pool of blood, in persecution, in death. Tragic it may seem but that was what was expected of following Jesus – it was to love without counting the cost and to love until the end. St. Paul would say, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Both their lives ended in Calvary and yet God raised them up to glory. They both found the fulfilment of their “Desire of the Everlasting Hills.”

Why did God take Isidro away? Why did He allow His faithful servants to suffer? Why do we hurt so much when we love unconditionally despite being betrayed by our friends and yet we love them still anyway? Why do we love when reason may tell us it’s crazy and yet we love until the end? Why this road of suffering as the cost of following Christ? Why should we forgive when we have been repeatedly stabbed in the back and in front by people we have considered family for the past ten years? Why should we put “our dreams” on hold for the greatest dream of the “Everlasting Hills”? Why should we go to Calvary? Why the cross?

Father said, “Sts. Peter and Paul looked at Jesus. It was Him. It is He.”

The Gospel today asks this question, “Who do you say I am?” I found myself again in the shoes of Peter. I could not do anything but cry. Because of all the whys I asked and all the whys I had in the past months, I still knew what to do: I shall still say yes to Christ. There was no other way. No other path. No other option. I think I have reached this point when I find no other options to wake up in the morning but to do what He desires me to do. Despite the hush gossips of others who do not understand. Despite the raised eyebrows. Despite the many whys that could go on an endless list unanswered.

It is still Jesus. It is only “He” who mattered. No one else, nothing else. Only Jesus.

I remembered Kuya Cocoi and Ate Gay and Isidro – that was the painful cost of following Christ. Absurd to human reason but faith supplies.

I remembered the three people in The Desire of the Everlasting Hills and the cost of following Christ meant a complete turnaround, a loss of many things but a gaining of Heaven.

I remembered my journey of the past year and how the call to die every single day is still something I am very far from gaining but I would not have it any other way.

The cost of following Jesus is painful but the assurance of peace and joy is there despite all that. Well actually…even remove that sense of “peace and joy!” Because really… the most important thing is that we gain Christ.

“For to me, to live is Christ and death is gain,” (Philippians 1:21) says St. Paul. It is a hard declaration to do but it must reach that point when we desire to lay down everything for God.

Death is gain. Pain is gain. Suffering is gain.

Just recently, I had my last session with my Spiritual Director. He gave me pointers on what I believe the Lord is teaching me now – Holy Indifference. He referred to what St. Francis of Sales wrote in his Treatise on the Love of God:

Take notice, I pray you, Theotimus, how the life of the Apostles was filled with afflictions: in the body by wounds, in the heart by anguish, according to the world by infamy and prisons, and in all these, – O God! what Indifference they had! Their sorrow is joyous, their poverty rich, their death life-giving, their dishonour honourable, that is, they are joyful for being sad, content to be poor, strengthened with life amid the dangers of death, and glorious in being made vile, because – such was the will of God. And whereas the will of God was more recognized in sufferings than in the actions of virtues, he ranks the exercise of patience first, saying: But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses: and then, towards the end, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering.

Sts. Peter and Paul had this Holy Indifference. It is a virtue very hard to attain but much to be desired. The cost of following Christ should lead us to this Holy Indifference: “Not my will but Yours be done,” as Christ said in Gethsemane. And then He walked to the cross. And then He was raised to glory.

Happy Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul!

On Waiting

In the waiting, focus more on the faithful and generous Giver instead of the one you are waiting for. Long for the Lord more than what your heart has been longing for. If we focus our longings on Him who is the only one that satisfies then our hearts will be at rest. And so when the day comes that everything is revealed, there will be much rejoicing in the surprise simply because you waited in peace.

onwaiting

There I stood in the bus stop, I waited. There were no Bicutan-bound buses in sight. I sighed and checked my watch. Thirty minutes had passed and I was still in the exact same spot.

People who were taking the MIA and Ayala Leveriza route rode their buses in ease. I envied them. From outside, one can see how comfortable they were. It was airconditioned, the seats looked neat and the buses still seemed new.

The seconds ticked by and there I saw one passed me by. The sign was big and red: SM BICUTAN-SUCAT. But it zoomed towards the stoplight and though I wanted to run so I can finally go home,  a horde of people rushed towards the dilapidated vehicle and pushed themselves to enter. Wouldn’t want to be caught in a stampede, I thought.

Two buses, three buses, four buses, sixty precious minutes “wasted.” I told the Lord, “Wow, hanggang EDSA, waiting pa ‘rin?” (Wow, even in EDSA, I still have to wait.) And as usual, when I open a conversation with Him just like that, He begins His “lecture” with flashbacks. There He goes again with my memories.

My desperate heart was silenced when in all the memories I “saw,” I found out how much I was loved by the Lord. I realized that in those sixty minutes that I stood in EDSA Shaw, I never even thought of praying. I was too preoccupied with getting a bus and going home that I forgot what was essential in uncertain situations. In the midst of the unknown, go to the one who knows. So I inhaled deeply, closed my eyes and prayed.

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