Friday, October 29, 2010

Christ in the Candlelight

Christ in the Candlelight

i am looking into candlelight,
while i hold it firmly, rosary clasped in the other hand,
and gazing longer, i am mesmerized
bedazzled, beguiled by its slim beauty,
a column of yellow light tipped faint blue,
and i am reminded of Christ, mesmerized,
bedazzled, beguiled by His beauty,
the simple Son of God who is love.
the flame flickers, dances, moves in tune
with the singing wind, but never dies out,
and such is my Lord, fully alive,
living each day with passionate intensity,
that He reminds me His coming is
to give us abundant life, and an abandonment of death.
oh warm indeed is His light from the candle,
warm His words that comfort and heal,
warm His spirit and touch.

*inspired by the Candlelight Rosary/Eucharistic Adoration at SIC, Singapore - 29.10.2010*
picture credits here

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Letting the heart catch up

The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of - Blaise Pascal

As Pascal quite rightly pointed out, the heart and reason run on separate lines - and often, the mind is way ahead of the heart. This is most true when it comes to forgiveness, or what we think is forgiveness. Yes, we know that not forgiving is bad for you. It's wrong to hold grudges, it's best to let go and let bygones be bygones. You can't change the past. It's over anyway. And so your mind has neatly worked it out and you congratulate yourself for being able to let go.

Oho. Come the heart, which never forgets. Which feels the sting of injustice and seethes with anger over wrongs done and endured. Time is not the great healer, it only numbs. So when you do look and feel deeper, to your horror, you find that you are still angry. Unforgiving. Resentful. How and why?

And so, we know truth, not only by reason, but also by the heart. Pascal comes to the rescue again. The truth is that we have rationalised the issue, but not forgiven. Forgiveness needs to come from the heart, to be true, and this can take a very long time, especially where the hurts are deep and long-running. We need to let our hearts catch up with our minds and its splendid reasons to forgive and let go. And we can start by acknowledging the extent of our efforts this far without going in deeper is akin to putting a band aid on a breaking heart. Someday we're going to bleed to death and we wouldn't even know why.

Walking around wounded we are, that's what.

(picture credits here)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Moving in the vague direction of OK

(image taken from here)

Imagine if you lived in a room that was enveloped in darkness, and after awhile you got used to the blackness and gloom. You wondered if there was even a need for light, although you did at times, think it would be nice if you stopped stumbling after awhile and could see what you or your room looked like.

Now imagine if one fine day, you drew open the curtains and sunlight came streaming in.
And imagine your gladness at something to brighten your living space, for you to be able to see your face.
And then imagine your horror and disgust at the amount of cobwebs, dust and dirt all about you, which had been invisible before and though you felt them, you pretended to ignore them because you could not see them. You were filled with revulsion, wondering how you had been able to live like that before - you managed through ignorance. But now, what excuse had you to stay in such filthy conditions?


This is the upshot of praying and asking God's light to illumine your heart, soul, strength and mind via the Examen. When He answers your prayer, you begin to see just how tormented and ugly and sinful you are inside, weak to the core. At this point of despair and sorrow, stay with what you feel - don't run away. Stay with it, knowing He is there and that He loves you all the same.

It is an opening of our consciousness to begin seeing our blind spots, things which didn't seem problematic before, but now are seen to be issues that need addressing. It is a realisation that we thought we were moving in the vague direction of 'O.K' but actually we are miles away from being as pure and holy as God's children are called to be.

Yes, it is extremely disheartening to know and realise this, and to be in such pain at the same time... and yet, pain tells me it is simply intolerable to carry on in this manner, and I am comforted by the fact that His grace takes me from day to day. Looks like there are no two ways about it, either come to terms with the pain or live in ignorance. And in spite of the wrenching, twisting feeling, I join Him in via dolorosa - the way of the Cross. After years swinging between fragility and pretended strength, I turn and look at Him and see finally, a pure unconditional love ready to take me through the rest of this life, forming me to be even more like Him.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Kahlil Gibran
There is no coming to consciousness without pain.
Carl Jung

Monday, October 4, 2010

Someday I will

Someday I will thank you for unanswered prayers,
Those wishes and hopes that have faded with time,
Someday I will thank you for chastising and cleansing,
My sins and ill habits have formed a thick layer of grime.

Someday I will sing a song of mourning that turns into praise,
Seeing you in all things makes me lift up my eyes,
Someday I will bless you in the midst of my tears,
For farewells to loved ones are never permanent goodbyes.

Someday I will, Lord, and grant me the grace always,
to revere, serve and love you all of my days,
Let then, this Someday, Lord, be realised today,
This Your servant asks and humbly prays.


(the picture above is by David Dillon and it's called 'To the Horizon' - more details available here)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nourished by the Sacraments - Eucharist

(the Eucharist - taken from here)

It's been awhile since I last attended the talks at LSCO, with time away back home and other stuff- and today I managed to catch 'Nourished by the Sacraments' and today the featured Sacrament was the Holy Eucharist. The talk was given by Brother Lance, a Jesuit novitiate.

He began by asking us 2 questions:-
1. What gets you most in touch with God?
2. What does the Holy Eucharist mean to you?

We wrote our answers on slips of paper and he read them out - there was a range of answers, which Bro Lance said just went to show how different we all were. Nevertheless, what is important to know is that we all have a limited human conception of God for God cannot be boxed in, He is a mystery.

"The fact that you're surrounded by God and you don't see God, because you know ABOUT God" - Anthony de Mello SJ.
or put another way, we're like the little fish in the ocean who says, "Excuse me, i m looking for the ocean. Can you tell me where to find it?" (Anthony De Mello SJ)

The fact is that we're so caught up in our lives, we don't see/feel God, leaving us more and more dead. We bring our 'deadness' to the Sacrament, with no sense of God.

  • Mundane vs Mystical
"We have emptied the Lord's Supper of its mystical union with the divine presence in the bread and wine. We have lost the divine reality it represents"
There is a dual existence to all of us: spiritual/mystical and the physical reality, which is why the fact of the Incarnation, that Christ was fully divine and fully human is so important.
Briefly: the truth of the Incarnation was already laid down as early as 381 AD at the Council of Constantinople and the Council of Chalcedon, 461 AD.

Who am I? Why do I exist? What is my purpose here?

In gazing with love at the Eucharist, it awakens something in us as we get to truly know ourselves as a child of God.

  • Spirituality vs Religiosity
"God would be much happier, according to Jesus Christ, if you were transformed than if you worshipped. He would be much more pleased by your loving than by your adoration, or by saying Lord, Lord ... that's spirituality, that's everything. If you have that you have God"
-Anthony de Mello SJ -

Worship is empty without spirituality, and the sad thing is most of us are ignorant of the spirituality of the Eucharist.

So, how to worship/adore the H0ly Eucharist?
It begins with Awareness.
Are you awake? What is your reality? What is your prayer like?
or Are you asleep? Are you confused? or Are you in touch with God??
The question is do we understand what the deeper reality of life is and are awake spiritually.
To do that, we must learn to listen to God in the silence of our prayer -do we feel anything during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?
One of the members of the audience shared that she felt nothing, heard nothing, but felt patience and peace come much later.

In fact, we sometimes pray without even realising it - what comes from the heart is honest prayer.
Getting to the heart prayer - starts with honesty!

1. Knowing God
2. Knowing ourselves
3. Coming to accept the juxtaposition
Even if the gulf between God and the self is large, it does not matter. Acceptance is the key.

Spirituality , there is not about piety, devotion, religion or worship but is about awareness: to love, to be free, to have joy and peace.
Religion minus Spirituality makes us in danger of becoming mechanical people.

The question put to all of us by Christ is : Who do you say I am?
Master? Teacher? Friend? Lover?
God = the friend to whom we can pour out all our feelings, deep within our heart.
Our lamentations and joys are all prayer.
The Eucharist invites us to a personal vertical relationship with God, calling for a complete surrender to Him in openness.
Are we allowing God to transform us through the Eucharist?

The speaker then moved to the doctrine of transubstantiation - the transformation of the bread and wine into the blood and body of Christ.
The 2 requirements are a priest and bread and wine. Through the process of Consecration during Mass, the bread and wine is changed.
Scriptural foundation for this can be found here:-
1. John 6: 51-56
2. John 6:63, 66
Cf 1 Cor 2:12-14 and 10:16

Take note of 1 Cor 11: 27-29:-

*Herefore anyone who eats the bread** or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily is answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone is to examine himself and only then eat of the bread or drink from the cup; because a person who eats and drinks without recognising the body is eating and drinking his own condemnation. *

Receiving the Eucharist in a state of sin deadens us even more - we are eating and drinking sin on ourselves, living in a state of unawareness, spiritually dead.

Moving on to the historical aspect, the basic features of Catholicism were fixed during the period from Constantine to Pope Leo the Great.
The belief in the Real Presence of Christ was highlighted by many saints, St Ignatius of Antioch, St Justin Martyr and St Cyril the Great.
even though the senses suggest it is just bread and wine, let faith make you firm!

The Eucharist is primarily a calling - reawakening us to the God within us.
What is the real reality of our lives?
Who is calling us? Christ? or our feelings/thoughts?
Thus the Holy Eucharist is the daily saving action of Christ - what was visible during His earthly life is now sacramentalised and rendered visible through the official actions of His body, the Church.
It engages all of who we are - saying Yes to God, and to be the salt and light of the Earth.

This said, although we are so often lost - the disconnect between head and heart i.e. we know but we truly do not know which is all the more reason for us to build a real friendship with the Holy Eucharist.

We could try contemplating Psalm 139 or try the Examen (both personal favourites) and remember that the primary thing to be honest in our prayer - tell God what we are grateful for and not grateful for. In short, to allow God to actually come into our lives.
And when we do that, we love God and all His people
to be special to no one, and love everyone because love shines on good and bad alike, it makes rain fall on saints and sinners alike. (Anthony de Mello SJ)

We all need to learn to focus on true spirituality and not get too caught up in piety.


I have much to share about the Eucharist, but since this has been a long post I'll end now with a lovely Eucharistic hymn, 'One Bread, One Body'