A fish or an eagle?

Scripture:  Matthew 13:47-53

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 51 “Have you understood all this?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” 53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there.

The Kingdom of heaven is for all, irrespective of race, social status, education or age. It is also a relief to know that it would be the angels, not us humans, who would come to sort out the good and the bad, in God’s proper time. But what struck me most in this passage is the fish and the importance of understanding. What kind of fish am I? I read a story that goes like this:

A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air. Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked. “That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth – we’re chickens.” So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.

It is sad to say that many people are like the eagle who are living all their life as a chicken. I was like that before. I thought I knew who I was until I found out that I knew nothing at all. God showed me who I really am. Through the years, I learned that the more I seek God, the more He gives me a mirror to know myself. It is by His grace that I’m able to see and accept who I really am. And it was not easy, a lot of unlearning to do; and it was not without pain. Later on, God taught me that it’s only by knowing and accepting who I am, that I can truly love others. I would be able to understand them better and accept them for who they are. Forgiveness and compassion becomes much easier. I became more confident and stronger. I felt more free and happier, just as the Lord wants us to be.

1850

THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY (and my cellphone)

“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” CIC, can. 1055 §

Marriage is about intimate communion of love and life. Spouses love each other til death and gives life through childbearing and rearing. I wonder, what if there’s no more love and you can no longer give life, either because of age or health issues, can you still call it marriage? I heard a lot of divorces even among those who have been married for more than 25 years. Many are perplexed as they watch their parents or grandparents break up after several years of marriage. How could they do that? The couple whom we admired so much for staying married for many years, a role model to newly weds, suddenly filling for a divorce. When divorce occurs during the first ten years of married life, most people would probably say that it was never meant to be. But if you have lived together for so many years, born and raised up children together, some even have their own families and grandchildren, it is more difficult to accept. Some might think that it’s the mid-life crisis or menopausal. Whatever the reason, it’s the reality of the world today. Society accepts it more and more. I once heard my friend said that she is unhappy with her husband, but she will stay married until their youngest turned 18, then she would divorce her husband. Her reason? No more small children to take care and they would understand better why they are divorcing when they come of age. Does it make it less painful and easier if you wait until the children have grown up? I don’t know! And I can’t judge anyone who has gone through a divorce. So if I ask some people today, that if love and life is gone in marriage, can you still call it marriage, most people would probably say no, it’s no longer marriage but just surviving. I know of some couples who stay married because of financial reasons. A divorce would cost them bankruptcy. And some couples stay because of fear; fear of the spouse (specially if the spouse is abusive and violent) or fear of being alone (if you have lived your whole married life depending only on your spouse). If you are unhappy with your married life, and there is no more love nor life, is it still worth saving?

My cellphone charger is gone missing since weekend! I can’t find it anywhere and I’ve looked everywhere. It is a nightmare! My cellphone has become an important part of my everyday life!  And going through the day without it, is unthinkable. Looking on its battery icon slowly decreasing, makes me more and more anxious and relentless. It must be here somewhere. We had some guests last Saturday, and I hope that none of them took it by mistake. My son has the same type of cellphone, so I just go and borrow his. But that is only a temporal solution. I need to find the charger or buy a new one, once I get some extra money. Right now, I let my cellphone fully charged in the morning. I have to be careful not to use it much specially the internet or it will use all the battery. Late afternoon before I reach home from work, it will go flat dead. So I would hurry up to my son’s battery charger as soon as I reach home.

This whole experience of my cellphone made me think of marriage life. That’s why I asked, if love and life is no more, can you still call it marriage? I asked a good friend of mine; his answer is yes it is still called marriage. So I asked him, why? He replied back with a question, why not? Of course, I said, because there is no more love and they can no longer have children, therefore it is no longer marriage. Then he asked me, who told you that there is no more love? People have wrong definition and notions about love, that they would easily conclude that there is no more love. That made me really think and ponder about my own life and beliefs. I have been married for more than 25 years. There has been ups and downs; and there were times when there were more downs than ups. To be honest, it was during those trying times that I wanted to give up on everything. The only thing that kept me going and holding on, is my faith in God. And I believe that He is the one who has given me the grace to hope and to trust that everything has reason and purpose. Some things are just like that, whether we like it or not, accept it or not, they are what they are. Like my cellphone, with or without the battery, it is still a cellphone. But it needs the charger in order to function. So is marriage life; sometimes it’s full of love, romance and life, and sometimes it’s full of stress, routines, disagreements, etc….we need the charger to get back to the 100% fully charged life. God is the only source of love and life. Without Him, we cannot function and be what He designed and called us to be, or to reach our full capacity. Sacraments, prayer, dialogues, intimacy, forgiveness, acceptance, awareness….these are the means that links us to the source and tap the love of God into our marriage life.

“Lord, I pray for all married couples, for those who are doing well, may they grow ever more in love with you and with each other. And for those who are struggling in their marriage life, may they find healing, forgiveness and acceptance to each others weaknesses. May they find love and joy in You, in themselves and in each other. Lord, bless our marriage and always reminds us that it is You who called us in this sacrament in order to bring heaven on earth and Your will into fulfillment. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen!”

holding hands

It’s Sunday!

The alarm clock rang at 7 am. I turned it off and went back to sleep. It rang again after an hour, 8 am.  “It’s Sunday!” That was my first thought.There were only two hours to prepare to go to Sunday Mass in the nearby Catholic Church. Thousand reasons came to my mind, why I didn’t need to go to Mass today. We celebrated my daughter’s birthday yesterday and we had a party that lasted til pass midnight. There were lots of things, including cleaning up, that I still needed to do at home. I told myself that if I say a rosary today, maybe God would understand and exempt me from attending the Mass. Besides, kids were still sleeping and they were tired. Or maybe if I just postpone it and just go to the evening Mass in another church instead, then I would have done all the chores and would be able to worship afterwards. That would be good!

I read in a book once that there are three kinds of selfishness when doing an act of charity; the first type is the one where I give myself the pleasure of pleasing myself; the second is when I give myself the pleasure of pleasing others; the third one which is worst, according to the writer, is when you do something good so that you won’t get a bad feeling. You make a sacrifice which you don’t like, so you grumble but not doing it would also give you a bad feeling, so you just do it. “It’s Sunday!” Most Sundays, I would love to wake up early and go to Mass with kids at 10 am, then we would have either breakfast or picnic or would go for shopping or tour somewhere. It’s a kind of a family day. But not this particular Sunday. Sometimes I would struggle just to come out of bed. It’s Sunday! I should be sleeping and resting more, enjoy and relax the whole day. Why do I have to go to Mass anyway? And why does it have to be every Sunday? Why am I doing it? Is it to feel good? Is it to please others, like my kids and friends who would of course think so high of me once they see me in church?  Is it out of obligation and so I wouldn’t feel guilty the rest of the week? Is it to please God? I could think of different answers depending on the mood I’m in or how my mind has been conditioned. And the more I think, the more I get confused.

Putting all these things aside, there is something that stirs inside of me. It’s like a tiny voice or intuition that tells me that I should go. Something is pulling me and drawing me to the church, to worship and to adore. I can’t explain it and I can’t reason it out. And I know deep down that I could only feel whole and complete if I obey. So I went to church, taking the public transportation and walked around one kilometer. I came five minutes before the Holy Mass started. Once again I was reminded of why I need to go to Mass. It’s family day with my Father, together with all the angels and saints in heaven. The best part is, that Jesus comes to meet me personally.  It’s my date with Jesus! Nothing can compare a quality time spent with Him!

After church, I felt much better and lighter as well!! I felt rejuvenated and fully energized! It’s like drinking an energizer drink! Now, I feel that I can take any challenges that come during the week. God loves me and He will be with me all the time. I’m grateful for the gift of His Real Presence. How could I even think of missing this out? Am I being selfish? Maybe I am, so what?

church

Wake up to reality!

Here it comes again! You can feel and see it everywhere! It brings feelings of joy, anticipation and a bit of stress and concerns as well. It is all over Facebook page and other social media sites. I’m talking about summer and summer vacations! At last, the sun is up, the days are longer, the temperature is higher and I could go out with lesser clothes. Oh no! I didn’t reach my goal of loosing the weight I gained during the cold seasons. I still couldn’t fit the dress and the bikini I thought I would be using on the beach this year. Almost all my friends already posted their summer holiday pictures and which country they are spending their holiday this year; white sand beach, tanned skin, hotel rooms and just having the time of their life. I am happy for them. It looks like that they have it all together; good marriage and family life, well balance bank accounts, disciplined children…..wait, wait! Am I sensing some envy and self pity here? Wake up, wake up!!! Wake up to reality! I knew that I wouldn’t reach my goal of fitting the bikini. I didn’t make much effort to do so. And I knew what my friends lives look like. They don’t have perfect life and just like me, they work hard and now they are enjoying a much needed vacation.

Envy and self pity….they come subtly sneaking their way under our skin and into our system. If unchecked, they will take their other siblings as well, like judgmentalism. If they are given access and permission to thrive; misery comes in. It is the very opposite of what God wants for us. He wants us to be happy and enjoy life to the full. It is a happiness that comes from living with a positive and loving attitude.

I, too, am a user of Facebook and other social medias. I’ve heard it before and am guilty myself of calling it Fake-book. Because sometimes reality is totally different from what the people depict in their posts, be it through pictures or status. They have their reason and purpose of why they post, it’s not for me to judge them. But honestly, I occasionally do fall into the trap. When I see pictures of some friends having good time or spending a holiday overseas, and my kids would ask if we could go there as well, envy and self pity come in. When I see selfie-pictures, I could easily say that they are attention-seeekers and vain. Do I take selfie myself? Of course I do!!! I am such a hypocrite!

It is good to know what I am. Now I can move on and grow towards improvement. Knowing who I am and what I am prevent me from falling into the trap of envy and self pity. If I keep on comparing myself and my life to others, I will always end up negative and miserable. I should stop dreaming of things I don’t have but instead wake up and see the gifts that God has given me right now. I need to wake up and look into the realities of life and accept them as they are. It is a way of loving them and hoping the best for them as well. We might not have gone out of the country for a holiday, the sun might not be shining some days during summer, the water in the beach is still too cold and it has been raining and windy most of the time, but as long as we are together, spending quality time together, loving each other; that is more than enough. That is happiness indeed!

 

IMG_2186

Don’t give up!

Last night my daughter came home, obviously upset as she entered the door, said hi and went straight to her room. I knew something was wrong, but I gave her five or ten minutes before I went to her room, knocked on the door and peeked in.  As usual she was laying on her bed, with her cellphone on her hands. I asked if I may come in. I sat on her bed and asked how she was. She said that she was fine. I knew she would tell me that. But I don’t give up easily. She was definitely not fine. Her eyes said everything. I told her that she didn’t look fine and I could see that she has been crying. So I asked her if something happened. I got the same reply. It took me some more minutes before she finally opened up and told me of what really happened. She burst into tears. Apparently, she and her boyfriend had a huge fight. I sat and listened to all her complains, anger, frustrations, pain and everything that was wrong with her boyfriend. Inside, I couldn’t help but smile and also asked the Lord for wisdom and guidance. I wanted to give her more than just advice, but words of wisdom and encouragement. To tell you  the truth, I was tempted to take this opportunity and tell her how bad for her to have a boyfriend, and that she is better off without him. But I held my tongue, and just listened to her.

If you have been given a choice of how a relationship would end, what would you choose? Would you have a slow death, where you could sense something was wrong and see all the symptoms or a sudden one, when he tells you that it is finished, I don’t love you anymore or I found someone else?

I remember for 20 years ago, my grandfather died at the age of 75. He was ill for a long time, and suffered multiple strokes. He was in and out of the hospital for months. In the end, the doctor called my mom and other family members, so we could tell our goodbyes to him. There was not much the doctors could do for him, because his lungs and heart were failing and he only had some few hours left. So we went and prayed for him and said goodbye. We all went home, except my mom, who stayed by his side until the end. We were all sad during the funeral, but at the same time, happy that we were able to say goodbye and that he had a peaceful death. We were all at peace. A few days later, we had an overseas call. My 26 year old brother, who lived in another country, had a heart attack and died. I remember that I was at work and was totally shocked. It couldn’t be true. I rushed home to my mom and found her weeping endlessly. Nobody knew that he was sick. He was still young and healthy, so we thought. A lot of questions came to my mind: all the why’s and how’s. The worst part was the guilt of not talking or saying goodbye to him. I wished I had called him and told him how wonderful he was and that I love him.

So if I had to choose about how a relationship would end, I definitely choose a slow death. Because maybe I could still do something, maybe I could fix the relationship so that it would not end. Even if it does, at least I would be able to tell myself that I tried my very best to save the relationship. If someone whom you love, suddenly just left you, the pain is much more severe. You would be left with many questions. Why did he do that? How could he do that? And you begin to doubt yourself. Is it my fault? Have I done something wrong? Am I not good enough? How could I not see the signs that it is over? It would be a hard blow on your self esteem and would throw you into the uncertainty of the future. It would be hard to plan or imagine a future. It would take a lot of time to heal.

I’ve been married for more than 25 years. Our relationship has been through different kinds of seasons. We have been through a lot of ups and downs. And we are still growing and learning. Because people change and life changes. Everything changes and evolves. Only God never changes, His love remains forever and He never gives up on us. That’s why we don’t give up as well.

So I told my daughter, to give her boyfriend some time and space, so they both would learn and grow. Maybe he needs time to think and learn about himself, about relationship and about her. At the same time, she needs to think too. She needs to understand him, learn more about him and about herself and about relationship. Love is patient and kind.Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endure all things. Love never fails. So, don’t give up!

IMG_8842

Who is better?

IMG_8335

“Do not yield to hatred. We are here in a dark tunnel, but we have to go on. at the end, an eternal light is shining for us.”

– Bl. Titus Brandsma

Yesterday evening, I got into a discussion about people, of how they are and whether to trust them. My friend, whom I was talking with, is leading a prayer group meeting. For me, people are people,  whether good or bad, we have our human nature, our instincts, desires and needs. God knows it and yet he gave us freedom. That was my main argument. I was telling my friend, that he should not put those who attend his prayer meeting in a box called, “holy people”. So my friend asked me whether I think that those who don’t attend the meeting is better than those who attend it? Answering the question by himself, he continued saying, “of course not. Those who attend the prayer meeting and Bible study are better people than those who do not attend. They behave better and pray better. You can trust them better.” That was the end of our discussion. I held my tongue and kept myself from answering back. I am one of those who don’t attend his prayer meeting / Bible study group. It’s not for me to judge who is better and who is not. I don’t want to be like the Pharisee who thanks God for not being like the tax-collector who is a sinner.  And yet, somehow I do feel that I’m better than my friend or thinks that I know better than him. The words of Bl. Titus made me realize that we are all in this together, this thing called life and existence. We are all in a dark tunnel, pushing, bumping, shoveling, trying our best to live and survive, and to get through our journey until the end of the tunnel into His light.

Fr. Anthony De Mello, S.J. wrote in his book entitled, “Awareness”, that most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. Spirituality means waking up.

Am I awake or am I still sleeping? There is a truth in what my friend was saying….others are better than me….but I don’t care. They have their life and businesses to attend to and I have my own. I do know that I am still struggling to be better, to grow and to learn more about this thing called life and existence. By doing so, I hope that I would be closer to God, the source of my life and existence, and to appreciate and enjoy more of this God given gift called life and just plain me.

1st of July – A new adventure

Looking back at last year’s events, I still can’t believe that I would be in the place where I am  right now. Same time last year, I was struggling with lots of things and in all aspects of my life: family, church, finances, health….. I was so depressed and couldn’t see any way out! There was no way that I would even think or imagine that I would end up here today in this new place. For just one year, we lost our house, nearly lost our children and there were disturbing issues in our parish church, that startled my faith.

Now our house is sold, our finances are getting stable, I’m better and our children are happier. I stopped all my church works and activities, focused on my health, started writing and enjoying life!

I thank God for all these experiences! I thank Him for not diverting these incidents in my life, but simply letting me experienced them and seeing me went through them all. He made me stronger and more confident. I know that storms of life come and go, and that I will encounter many more…. but knowing that my God is stronger and bigger than any storms, and that He will never forsake me,  I can just say, “bring it on!”

This one year, has also been a journey, not only of sorrows and pain, but of love, forgiveness, acceptance and lots of self realizations. Believe me, you come to an age, where you thought that you knew almost everything about life, people and yourself, only to be blown up by the truth that you know nothing at all. If anything, only a tiny fragment of what you thought to be truth.

Well, 1st of July, is a good day to begin a new journey….a new adventure with the Lord and juzt plain me!

Prayer and practicality

I’ve always been a great fan of the Carmelite spirituality. Long before I discovered that there is such a thing called “Carmelite”, unknowingly I’ve been practicing their so-called “mental prayer”, so I was told. But honestly, I still struggle with those kind of prayers….meditation and contemplation….. they are such scary words at times…. but very practical. I’m a very busy mom with six children and a full time job. I was looking for an easier and quicker type of prayer that would suit me and my timetable. I’m baptized Catholic and I love the rosary, novenas, scripture prayers etc, that our church provides……but sometimes they seem so long and dry…. Nothing wrong with the prayers, but my life and needs changes, just like the seasons. For now, I love just saying a short prayer and have a friendly conversations with God. Just letting Him lead me….

IMG_6761

Hello world!

I had this idea of blogging for some time now. It’s time to put the idea into action! Hello, my name is Gina and I’m just a regular mom, like any other moms out there who has tons of works to do and at the same time, has unimaginable amount of thoughts through out the day!!! Well, hats off to all moms! We are the superheroes and saints of the day!!!

Anyway, I know my english grammar is not perfect, just like me and being me…..far from being perfect. My reason for blogging is to unload some of those trillion thoughts that go through my mind….right from dishwashing to parenting….being a wife…..a woman….prayer, spirituality…all other (crazy) stuffs…and maybe or hopefully in the process, I can discover and learn new things.

Thanks for reading! Maybe I’ll tell more about myself next time….juzt plain me…