Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mane nobiscum, Domine

In my semi-regular prayer meeting with people of the CHOICE weekend community, I heard the sharings of many Catholics about Easter: how they celebrate Easter and what it means to them. For the first time, I learnt about my fellow 'journey-ers' and the different 'moods' of faith they experience.

Tonight we meditated over today's Gospel, one of my favorite Post-Passion Gospel passages about the two disciples meeting Jesus on their way to Emmaus, as well as this coming Sunday's Gospel, about Jesus appearing to doubting Thomas in the upper room.

Abraham Bloemaert
"The Emmaus Disciples"-1622

Luke 24
29 but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.
31 And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?"

As much as the annual 40 days of Lent are supposed to prepare all the faithful, individually and communally, to die to our sins and rise anew in Christ, most of us are trapped our own 'cycles' of giddy joy and lowly blues in our relationship with God. And as such, some of us find that the Church's "peak" over Easter does not coincide with our own peaks.

I heard some sharing how touched they have been this Easter, how they reflected anew the meaning of resurrection in their own lives, and how some did not even attend Masses for any of the solemnities. It is with sadness that I heard how for some, Easter Sunday feels just like another mass, and with remembrance of how lukewarm I too had been in my celebration (or non-celebration) of Easter in the past.

As for 'sync-ing' my mood cycles with the solemn mood of the Church, I think right now it's a bit like the stock market graph—lots of daily & weekly fluctuations—but in general, thanks be to God, it's on the upward trend.

This Easter though, I felt something special; as if there's something joyful inside that's bursting out. A reader might give a wry comment that a Christian life should be lived with that kind of joy all the time ;) Honestly it has not been that way for me and I'm working on it!

Those who have read several of my posts in the last few months probably realized I'm in some kind of discernment period. This year's Lent was different precisely because I never had to, never felt the need to discern before, and this year I had to. I identified very much with the two disciples who met Jesus on the way to Emmaus, save for the bit where they saw the Lord breaking bread. They must have felt frustrated and desolate when Jesus died being crucified and then his body went missing by Sunday morning. I too felt frustrated in my discerning process because though I know and believe Jesus is the Messiah, my acknowledgement of this did not seem to set my life on the 'right track'.

Although my eyes of faith know that Jesus is with us always, there were times when, like the two disciples, my feeble senses could not quite believe or recognize Him in my daily situations. I remember reading reflections after reflections, writings of saints and bishops on Catholic websites, wanting so badly to perceive, to recognize, to feel, but could not, some kind of signs that would guide me to be immersed in God's presence, and ultimately, to know His will, and to will His will to be mine and to do it.

For many months I had struggled on my own strength, to discern and almost despaired in the hope of finding it. These last few weeks of Lent, I realized that one requires an attentive prayer life (that I do not yet have) to discern properly and lots of support from people I trust. My search for an answer had been reduced to something akin to finding Jesus' body: is it in the tomb, or is it somewhere outside? I missed the big picture: He is risen! My question now has become, what is God's will for me right here and now? Like the two disciples, I felt my heart burning when I recognized the desire to find the Truth; but as yet unable to make it out. Like the two disciples, I could only feel certainty when in the breaking of the bread, Jesus gave Himself for all of us, in communion, to eat.

This Easter, I resolve to say Yes to whatever He wills, although I don't know what it is as of now, trusting that in His time and His mercy, it will be done. Pray for me that I may gradually recognize God's promptings in every little situation and faithfully choose to carry them out.

John 20
27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing."
28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."

1 comment:

Virgin said...

More often than not I find myself trapped in this great mysterious question. "What is the will of God for me?" After lavishing such great gifts of knowledge and wisdom on me, I know that he wants me to do something for him. But what exeatly does he want of me. The saints had many great visions that strengthened and inspired them to pursue His will for them, but here I am pursuing his Holy will without a dream or Vision. They were lucky indeed who experienced such great spiritual consolations, but I think that those who are able to motivate themselves and forge ahead without any consolations find greater merit in His sight.

Yes, the will of God is a journey to the unknown, a gradual unfolding of His plan for each and everyone of us. An old hymn puts it accross to us when in a stanza it said:

"By and by, when the morning comes

When the saints of God are gathering home

We shall tell the story - how we overcame

We will understand it better by and by"

And so, while waiting on Him to make his way plain to me if he wills, I must costantly think, plan an act within the limits of the knowledge and resources he has given to me. I must strive each day to see the numerous needs surging round my surroundings, to identify myself with the suffering Christ, to cheer up the hearts and faces of all burdened with suffering, guilt and sin. To extend his healing hands of love, mercy and compassion to all I meet along the way.

Not what I want to be , but what he wants me to become (the state of life to which I have been attracted to by super abundant graces). I lived my early life more in solitude/quietness to myself and others, I felt the urge of giving myself humbly to him in Holy Priesthood as a Reverend Brother, but my parents refusal to allow me go then seemed like the end of the world for me. I had heard of the evil lifestyes of youths on Campus and I thought that going to the seminary then would keep me away from evil and help me grow stronger in faith.

But then, as Gold is tested in the furnace of fire, there was need for my faith in God to be tested by the community / lifestyle of my fellow brothers and sisters. But did I actually pass the test? Did my style of life change while on campus? Did my stay on campus prevent me from learning more about my faith in God? What if I hadn't gone to campus, what would have been the fate of those who needed my words / example to lift them out from the flames of ignorance and vice. Fear and courage are two words that shine out.

Even now I stand all the more confused. Marriage or Priesthood - Where do I belong? Single Blessed life is still another vocation I love.

I have suceeded in preparing myself to answer His noble Call to
service. I have grown up now to have a special love/liking for these three vocations, but then Here I am about to make only one choice. The choice I make I will face. And whatever choice I make must not deter me from fulfilling God's ultimate will for me - to become a vessel of holiness and love . A vessel leading others to holiness and love.

Please pray for me Sis. Anthonia, even as I also remember you in my prayers that we may constantly respond to/co-operate with his Grace each day as we gradually come to the complete knowledge of his will for each and everyone of us.

Mother Mary, you quietly pondered God's will for you. Enlighten us in our doubts, Guide us with your Wisdom and constantly rekindle the fire of devotion in us especially at those moments when our oil of devotion runs dry and we seem to cling to our selfish passions or loose confidence in God.


Oh, God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change

Courage to change the things we can

And wisdom to know the difference