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I came across this beautiful video of an excellent rendition of the “Little Drummer Boy” on Facebook with the status written thereby: “Heaven is sometimes hidden in human voices.” How true!!! I read many years ago, (or did I hear it from a priest or a nun?) that highly spiritual people are musically minded and have wonderful voices. I was tickled to the bones because I am both of those things: musically minded and with a wonderful voice, modesty aside (please forgive the bragging part). It’s truly a grace when all of a sudden, our hearts can open and burst into one big, heartfelt, soulful song of gratitude to God for making us as we are. I am far from perfect. In fact, I have lots of “unpolished edges”, so to speak. But when I hear human voices soar into a song, (or even hear myself singing), I feel like I’m transformed into an angel just by being one with the melody and the voice. In heaven, we will forever sing to God our praise, love and adoration for Him. Maybe that’s why the human singing voice could transport us to unimaginable heavenly heights because singing praise to God will be our eternal activity in heaven.

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“Eye Has Not Seen Nor Ear Heard”

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“The glamor of faces,
“the illusion of brawn,
“empty promises,
“hollow visions.
“Walk away and turn,
“and know the comfort
“and the safety of My Heart.
“See My Beauty,
“Learn My Truth.”

Lead me to Your Heart,
that I may feel Your comfort,
and see Your Beauty, and learn Your Truth.
My eyes long to rest on Your Face.
I paint You on the canvass of my heart,
its stirrings, an impetus to every stroke.
In my mind, I plumb the depths of You.
And I sigh,
With You, never again will a tear fall.
Only in Heaven will I know,
Even as I am known.
Can anyone be as beautiful as You?

(By Teresita Carigma Palos)

The Conversion of St. Augustine in the Garden

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The Conversion of St. Augustine in the Garden

As St. Augustine was distraught and his heart and soul, wrenched, at the conflict between his concupiscence and worldliness and the call of Christ, and the story about the conversion of his fellow rhetoricians and professors in the university, Victorinus, Simplicianus, Nebridius, and Pontecianus, and touched by the calling of St. Anthony, and the Letters of St. Paul, he ran to the garden, beat his breast and cried to God. He said, “You thrust me before my own eyes…. The day had now come when I stood naked to myself.” Through this struggle of heart and soul, he heard the voice of a child from a nearby house: “Pick up and read, pick up and read.”

St. Augustine picked up St. Paul’s epistles and read the first verse that he opened up to: “Let us walk properly, as in the day; not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:13-14). St. Augustine told his friend, Alypius, of his experience. Alypius took the epistle and read the next words: “Receive one who is weak in the faith.” Alypius applied these words to himself and decided to join his friend, St. Augustine, in his resolution to convert to Christianity.

Christian friends will never go to heaven alone. They will bring along with them their friends as company!
(August 27 is St. Monica’s Feast Day. August 28 is St. Augustine’s Feast Day.)

Interior Castle

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Interior Castle

St. Paul says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19).

I was reading the “Interior Castle” of St. Teresa of Avila for the second time when her imagery of our soul as a beautiful castle made of precious diamond where God lives struck me for the first time as vivid and picturesque. Our soul is so precious to God, in a way we can never understand. Then it just struck me how majestic and grandiose God is and it is He Who actually dwells in my soul, created in the image and likeness of Himself. Suddenly, all through my thick layers of human flaws and imperfections, I felt the Spirit of God within the deepest part of me. I felt humbled that such a great God is in me.

Then the imagery of St. Teresa’s silkworm wrapped in its cocoon that has emerged into a beautiful butterfly struck me even more. The worm is myself, very human, very weak. Like the silkworm, I have to use all my human faculties and skills within my power to spin the silk for my cocoon, and God will do His part of transforming such ugly worm into a beautiful butterfly.

Or to use another imagery of St. Teresa, I am just a wax in the Hand of God. For Him to leave His imprint on me, I will just have to let Him stamp His seal on the wax. All I have to do is be pliant.

Suddenly, I thought of the many times when I harshly condemned myself for all my faults and failings. I said to God, “Lord, I don’t want to condemn myself anymore. You know how very weak, very human, very sensual I am. But whatever human part I have, I offer to you completely. I am the human part. You are the Divine part of me. I will do what is within my power as human. I will observe the precepts, teachings and laws of Mother Church. And I leave to You whatever work You want to accomplish in me.”

Then, I felt a kind of peace in me like I never felt before. All my anxieties about pleasing God were dispelled. I only have to cooperate with God. The main action will all depend on Him. Suddenly, things looked relatively simpler than I perceived them before. I will go to Mass as frequently as possible, do my spiritual readings, go to confession regularly, practice charity to my neighbors, and do my work conscientiously. Even my prayer took on a simpler light: pray for priests, for the conversion of the world, and for the salvation of souls. When I entrusted the major work to God, taking on only what really pertains to me as mere human, I felt a ton of burden lifted from me. For the greater part of my life, it was like I was too worried how God would accomplish my salvation, feeling all too burdened by it. The moment I entrusted it all to God, I felt free and light, with a gentle joy and peace in my heart.

God in my soul as His Castle! Keep this Castle pure and worthy of You, Lord. Truly, the Kingdom of God is within us! (cf. Lk 17:21) The King of the Universe dwells in our soul!

Postscript

After several days, I was made to understand that even the human actions that I do are not mine alone. Perhaps, to make me realize that even my efforts at saying my prayers depend on God’s grace, I seemed to have lost one time the sense of devotion and tenderness that I usually had. Truly, everything is grace, both the human and the divine. Even my human nature is a mystery which I cannot arrogate unto myself. Both pertain to God alone! Glory to God forever!

“I’m Always Mary”

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When the Gospel one day was about Mary and Martha, a friend asked me who I was, Mary or Martha. And I answered readily, “I’m always Mary.” Then speaking Jesus’ part, she answered, “You chose the better part. And it will never be taken away from you.”

In my faith relationship with Jesus, I’m always Mary, choosing always to sit at the feet of Jesus to listen to His words, to ponder at the mysterious ways of God, and to relish His mercy and compassion in my life and for the rest of the world. There are times when I’m so loquacious, droning over and over to Jesus about my daily experiences in life, most of the time grumbling away all my pains. But there comes a point when the pain and weariness become so unbearable that you merely stay in silence at the feet of Jesus, crying, just feeling His presence with you, just knowing that He is there and you are not alone. It is like gazing at the face of Love and Truth, and just being merely with Him gives you comfort.

Being Mary at the feet of Jesus, I felt I wanted to be a Tertiary Carmelite contemplative, following the examples of my Patron Saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, and my Spiritual Mother, St. Teresa of Avila. I started as an Observer in November 2012. I was attending the second Sunday formation together with the aspirants, novices and other fully professed Carmelites. Midway, I was rethinking my intention of being a Carmelite, questioning my presence there. After several months as an observer, I stopped going to the Sunday monthly formations. I wanted some actions in my life, like Martha, always restless, always planning ahead of time and of herself. I said to myself, I would rather concentrate on my work, improve my service to the public through my profession, and just do my own readings of the works of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux. I said all these things to myself, despite my earlier promise to God and to St. Teresa and St. Therese that I would become a Carmelite.

It seems that God, and my insistent Spiritual Mother, St. Teresa, do not take a promise lightly. A promise is a promise which is a very serious matter with them. Slowly but surely, I just felt that they wanted me back at the Carmel House, no if’s and but’s, no long winding arguments and explanations, no sagacious interlocutions, they just wanted me there. God seemed to be missing me just sitting there at His feet, and I missed just being there gazing at the Face of Love and Truth. I wasted no time after that realization and in August 2013, I was back at Carmel, together with my Carmelite brothers and sisters. I did not only miss being at the feet of Jesus. I missed my brothers and sisters there.

St. Teresa said we cannot be priests but what we can do is pray for these ministers of Christ and for the conversion of the world. How blessed our calling is!

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

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Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Today, July 16, is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Happy Feast Day, Mama Mary!

I heard Mass today concelebrated by three priests, meaning I heard Mass three times today in honor of our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Sadly, her feast day was not even mentioned in the Mass. Nevertheless, a downpour of graces surely made their way through to me on account of this very special day.

These past few days, I have given up on being good. I was not even trying anymore. Then a friend in college said to me on Facebook that I am the namesake of Mother Teresa, so I have be good like her. I noted that there are many St. Teresa’s who are my namesakes. Then she said I have to be like them. Then, out of nowhere, to my amazement, she asked me If she had thanked me for making her stay in our university dormitory during our college days a happy and memorable one and proceeded to thank me. She said further that she knows for sure that I continue to be a blessing to other people so I need not worry because the Lord is fixing my abode in Heaven. Just when I was about to give up on striving to be good and holy for God, a good friend said all these things to me! And on the feast day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel! This kind of grace is something that only our Blessed Mother can give! I love you, my Mother!!! I offer to you my mind, heart and body! Offer them to your Son Jesus as you would your own mind, heart and body!

My Most Chaste Mama Mary, pray for me always! Totus tuus!! I am totally yours!!!