Monday, April 15, 2013


It's becoming increasingly more difficult to be a Christian these days.

We are, in fact, assured by Jesus that, "In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world" (Jn 16:33).

There are many things the world deems good and true, which in fact are neither good nor true. Truth is truth, it cannot be changed. However, the ones who in fact hold firm to truth, are often deemed the enemies of society: discriminatory, narrow, homophobic, anti-choice, anti-feminist, intolerant, close-minded... each issue now-a-days has it's own word for those who do not agree with the 'majority' of society.

Another verse for you: "If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own....If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.' (Jn 15:18-20). In the reading from Acts for today (when I first drafted this, that is), the Apostles, who were arrested, were taken and flogged for preaching about the risen Christ. They were told over and over to stop talking about Jesus if they knew what was good for them. And yet, 'As they left the council, they rejoice that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.' And of course, they did not stop teaching others about Jesus.

What an example! Such inspiration to be strong in our conviction as Christians, as Catholics! It is not a right to be arrogant, rude, impatient toward those who do not believe or do not understand. It is in fact, our place to be servant. It is our place to live by example. To live a humble, service-filled life; not only service toward others, but most of all, service of the Lord. Humble, as in being upright, not trampled over- just as the Apostles exemplify. This also means, following the will of God in your life; something which is at times very difficult to discern. For myself, I can be concerned about what other people will think. However, I have found time and time again that it is precisely that which would make me unpopular, that God is asking of me. Exactly those issues that many people 'go along with' as to not offend others, that as a Catholic, I find the need to speak about.

There are two big issues considered political to many 'Westerners' today (I say Westerners because, living in SE Asia currently, I do not see the same issues being focal points in this society. But, nevertheless, I am still a Westerner, 'European-American' as my dear husband has called me) The issues of abortion and homosexuality are two of the most divisive issues in America. These 'issues', if we should call them that, are more of a moral nature than political. In fact, the root of these 'issues' involve human dignity, and a respect for God's plan in our lives. Please know, this is not to put anyone down, or to seem above anyone- I know plenty of people, some of you maybe, who will disagree with what I write. But please, don't be deterred from reading on.

I stated above that truth just is. Whether we believe the truth or not, is irrelevant. It doesn't matter what we think, it's not going to change what is true or not. Too often, people view this upside down: whatever they (or a group of people) think is true, then it is true. And even if others don't agree, well that's fine, but for us, it's truth. This thinking, is false. This thinking makes everything complicated. Truth is actually very simple, as it should be. Have you ever noticed that when you tell the truth, it's much easier than trying to evade and make something up. Maybe even different stories go to different people and they end up swapping stories! Surely somewhere you'll get caught! It's the same here. It is the un-truths which complicate things; when people don't want to look at the truth, don't want to admit to themselves or others, that which is true. Most of all, when we don't want to CHANGE ourselves to fit what is true... that is the hardest part, and the BIGGEST motivator in sticking with that which is false.

If you followed me at all in that, I thank you for being patient with my writing.

Abortion is the killing of a human being. This human is unborn, but human; smaller, but human; in a different environment, but human. We have all been there. We wouldn't be here today if we hadn't been there. There is not much to complicate this; even science proves the unborn baby is alive. The complication comes with the act of abortion, the act of killing the baby before he is born (or in more and more cases, actually AFTER the baby is born).  The complication is that people now have decided that they do not want the baby, he will be inconvenient, they cannot afford, etc. They believe it is their right to have that conviction. It has even lead people to deny that there is a human life at all, before birth.

We may not like someone, is it our 'right' to have the option of killing them? Of course not! All the recent school shootings, as an example. The government is up in arms (no pun intended) about school shootings (rightly so), but when it comes to other forms of killing... it's ok? This is an inconsistency... an unnecessary complication of life. Sad that a bundle of joy should become such a complicated issue. Sad that so much hatred goes on between people over something as innocent as a child. But, this is what the world is coming to- we actually need to stand up to save lives!

Homosexuality is such a HUGE topic in the US now. Again, I am not writing here to condemn or preach to anyone; I know people who are homosexual. Also, I will not cover all the recent issues over homosexuality, but my thoughts from articles that I have read recently.

Homosexual unions have helped to distort marriage. Marriage is instituted by God, as Catholics it is one of seven sacraments we receive in our lifetime. Marriage is a good and holy union, meant for love and for the procreation of children. Marriage means man and woman. This is a truth. Because God made us, male and female He created us. He created female to be with male. My lowly self cannot deem that female and female 'marriage' or male and male 'marriage' is right, when God (who is ALL of our creator) is the one who created marriage. Love is from God, and He created us to love and to have order in that love. Love begets, which means, love is so powerful that woman conceives from man, and we take part in the miracle of life growing inside. This does not happen from female-female or male-male relationships. That is a fact. And so many may disagree, but it will never change truth.

I want to say something else about homosexuality. I do not hate homosexuals. In fact, I have compassion for them. Let me explain. Everybody, no matter who we are, has a longing for love. It is written on our hearts, it is ingrained in us. After all, we are created in the image and likeness of God, out of HIS love! This great mystery of love reveals that God does not hate anyone. God has compassion. He has compassion and mercy for all of us. None of us are perfect. Every single person on this earth needs forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. We certainly don't give or get enough of that in today's world. And so, I have compassion. Because I know that those in same-sex relationships are seeking love. However, they are seeking it in the wrong way, and as a result can never be wholly satisfied while traveling down that path.

I read an article several months back, which was written by a homosexual man. I greatly respect him. Actually he is married... yes, to a woman.... and they have kids! And, he is happy. He talked about the challenges and what he went through as a young man when he discovered he was attracted to other men. But, he worked through to the root of his issues, and made a decision to follow God's plan for relationships and marriage. This is commendable.

Each of us have our crosses to bear. Each of us must decide in our lives to take up our cross, however challenging this may be. Too often in the media we are fed an image of life that is unreal: we should be always entertained, always having fun, it is our right to have the best. These false images make it all the more harder for us to face challenges in life. And so again, we can look at our example today of the Apostles. Who instead of being deterred by those who disagreed and had the power to harm them, they rejoiced at their pain. Because they bore it for Jesus and for Eternal life.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Meditation Today

I've been thinking and praying quite a bit lately for the grace of increased courage, strength, boldness. Lent always gives us the opportunity, if we allow, to look at ourselves in a true light. A season that we should use to go inward and examine what needs to be weeded out.

Being in transition this past year, especially environmental and cultural transition, has given many challenges. Though I wouldn't trade any of these experiences, it has made me vulnerable in a lot of ways I had never experienced or expected. In fact, I feel I am just now beginning to come out of a sort of fog. With the fog lifting, I now understand more about the country, more about the people, more about the ways of life here in Malaysia (believe me, I know there is a ton I still don't know).

Being newly married has also presented changes and challenges: wanting to be a good wife, take care of my husband in the way I should, care for the house... these have all been new (good, of course!) challenges to add to the mix. Therefore, I have sought courage and strength through prayer a lot. Then why, Lord, I often ask... why do I not seem to always be lacking? Lent can be a such a beautiful time of transformation; however, it seems Easter morning usually comes with me thinking I should have been more focused during Lent, done better in my observances, etc. BUT, the beauty of God is that He even works with our feeble efforts to bring about good and growth in our lives. Even when courage and strength are no more- THAT my friends is when the Lord works in you. And it is true, for when we are weak, then He is strong in us.

I want to share from a daily meditation book of mine, called God Calling by AJ Russell. Today's message:

'I am all-powerful and all-knowing and I have all your affairs in My Hands. Divine efficiency as well as Divine Power is being brought to bear on them. All miracle-work is not the work of a moment as so often men imagine.
My servant Peter was not changed in a flash from a simple fisherman to a great leader and teacher, but through the very time of faithlessness-through the very time of denial-I was yet making him all that he should be. Impetuous spokesman as he always was, ready to lead the other disciples, Peter could never have been the after power he was, had he not learned his weakness. No man can save, unless he understands the sinner.
The Peter who was a mighty force for Me afterwards, who, more than all others, founded My Church, was not even first the Peter who said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," but the Peter who denied Me. He who had tested My forgiveness in his moment of abject remorse, he could best speak of Me as Savior. 
The Kingdom of Heaven can only be preached by those who have learned to prize the authority of its Kingdom. A many-sided training My apostles need. Oh! joy. Oh, rejoice. I love you. Not one test too much will I lay on you.'

I find this so very true! And though it is not scripture, this helps me read between the lines. The times of challenge, the times we need forgiveness, when we feel the lowest- those are the times that God is nearest. Knowing how gracious the Lord is to forgive, to love us, to want us to be strong and to stand up again... it helps me find courage! It gives a reason to try to do better, to try again. Our faults, our own sinfulness may be large or small in others' eyes. The fact is, each of us have these battles in our lives and in our own ways. This is our journey toward sainthood.

Sometimes it is in following our own way, that we get lost. Both Judas and Peter denied Jesus... but Peter humbled himself to accept God's mercy and forgiveness, unlike Judas. Those who don't or can't accept the hope of forgiveness- how can the Lord save? But we must be like Peter- fall and get up again- this time stronger! However many times it takes!