Personal

3 years on

3 years ago today, I was baptised, confirmed, and received first communion in the Catholic Church. In the time since then, I guess I’ve become something quite strange.

Back then, I was certainly keen to be Catholic. I devoured everything I could find about the Church: theology, apologetics, writings of Saints etc.. Perhaps I was falling in love with the Church, and wanted to know every little thing about her.

Now, I love the Church in a much deeper way. I no longer desire to know about the Church, but to be ever more fully immersed in her.

And why love the Church? Because in the Church I have found Jesus. In the Church I receive Jesus. In the Church, I am united to Jesus.

Three years ago, I loved God. But in the three years since then, I have come to love God intimately. He is close to me, always. He is not only my friend, but also my food, and I find Him in my flesh and in my heart. 

In fact, I find Him in my wounds, even in my sins. He shares all my wounds on the cross. He touches them, and identifies with them, in His love. He gives them His life whenever I surrender them to Him. He lives in my wounds.

Back then, I was an enthusiastic convert. I was much more careful with expressing my faith, but it was my joy, and the foundation of my life. But now, I feel I’m a crazy Catholic. It’s no longer just the foundation, it is my life. I told a friend I was just getting back from a Church thing, and she laughed and said I am a Church thing. 

Still, I may be getting crazy, but I’m not a Saint by a long shot (just ask my friends). But God is merciful love, and He ‘welcomes sinners, and eats with them’ [Lk15:2]. My love of God is deepening, but only by His goodness. 

I should mention the 3 places that have really formed me in these 3 years. The first is the Catholic society at my university. These are the people who formed me. We have shared our lives, in the life of God. At times, they have been Christ for me. They are my family. 

The second is a Youth 2000 retreat in Walsingham last summer, and the third is the World Youth Day in Krakow last summer. At these events, I found God’s love and mercy for me, in such a powerful way that I don’t think I’ve been the same since.

Honestly, I feel like I’ve grown so much in these years, that I’ve become a whole new person multiple times, but only by becoming more myself. Like I’ve doubled in size every year.

So I say THANK YOU to God and to everyone who has been a channel for God in my life, and I look forward to the future, seeing what God has in store for me. Please pray for me.

God bless you! 

Love your own cross

It’s easy to love other people’s crosses. I think especially about the heroic crosses borne by the martyr’s and saints through the ages, for the glory of God.

Today I was buried with assignments rapidly approaching, that I’m far behind on, so that these really must come before almost anything else. I’m not even able to spend long writing this post, because I need to catch up on sleep, so I can wake up and work some more. It’s painful.

I thought at one point, “Ah! If only I could be living and suffering for Christ’s service, rather than trapped in this work.” And then I saw once more, that this is my cross, this is my way to love and serve God. If I won’t accept this, there’s no way I’d ever accept the greater sufferings and service of the saints. This is how I’m meant to love God right now. This is my gift. This is my prayer.

 

Please pray for me. God bless you!

…Jesus-Host is perfect love for me…

‘At the [Youth 2000] Walsingham retreat, at the communion for the Sunday mass, I realised in a powerful way how incredibly Jesus loves me in the Eucharist. Realising how he’s there, completely, in perfect love for me, giving me all of himself, hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was shaking and crying with love as I received Jesus, and I wanted only to accept him entirely, to love him perfectly and give myself entirely to him.

‘I know God’s love more deeply, and it’s changing me.`

This is how I expressed what God showed me in Walsingham, of how He loves me. It was an incredible experience, and it’s stuck with me.

The fact that Jesus-Host gives me all of Himself, body, blood, soul and divinity, in their entirety, for me to eat, is incredible. Whatever image of closeness and intimacy we might enjoy, does not even compare. If we like to visualise Jesus’ closeness to us, by imagining Him hugging us, or holding us like children, we are wrong not for imagining too much, but because the truth is so much more!

I saw that Jesus-Host is perfect love for me, and I wanted to become perfect love for Him. Jesus-Host gives Himself to me perfectly, body, blood, soul and divinity, and I offered Him my body, my blood, my soul, and His place of divinity in me, that I usurped by sin.

As I looked at Jesus-Host, tasted Him, digested Him, I knew that I was beholding and experiencing, and digesting, absolute love. He is what absolute love looks like, tastes like, feels like.

After communion, I remained a little while in front of Jesus in the monstrance, and prayed St. Therese’s ‘Act of Oblation to Merciful Love’. I had also prayed this during the night/early morning at adoration (there was perpetual adoration :D). I really recommend making this beautiful and powerful act.

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Youth 2000 retreat, with Jesus on display above the “burning bush”

 

The whole retreat was incredible. It had brilliant worship, incredible speakers and workshops, great people all around, and best of all, Jesus was there, in the Eucharist and in the people surrounding me. Youth 2000 is really incredible, and I strongly recommend you to go on one of their retreats. This was my first, but I want another already.

God bless you, and praised be Jesus Christ!

 

Letting go of my blog

[Previously ‘Renouncing my blog’, but then I looked up renouncing and found it didn’t mean what I wanted]

Sometimes, my blog brings me trouble. I find that mid thinking, or reading, or praying, the thought comes: ‘Ooh! I could write a post on this.’ And if I’m not on my guard, I might start planning it out, coming up with my clever points and witty expressions. And then, I try to actually write it, and it sucks. It’s forced, and you can tell. Meanwhile, my thinking, reading and praying have been ruined by the distraction, and I’m left without peace.

The problem is, I become attached to my blog. Often, writing a post has brought me great joy and fulfilment, which is great! Often it’s a deep spiritual joy. But when I become attached to these feelings, and desire my happiness, my success, they become poisonous. I’m no longer writing for the sake of what I’m writing/for God, and it becomes full of effort and self, and therefore lifeless. Meanwhile, I find no happiness or fulfilment, because these come from God alone.

I can’t write for self and for God. If I’m attached to anything finite, I’m constrained from the infinite.

We must be detached from everything, even spiritual pleasure, even the service of God, because they aren’t God. ‘God alone is good.’

So, I have to renounce Blogging. I’m not quitting, but I am giving it up to God.

How do I do this? I have to accept that nothing that matters is in my power, except to love God; then I have to love God, and let Him do what He wants with me and my blog.

‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.’

God bless you!

WYD 2016: The Time of My Life (so far)

Opening mass

(The Opening Mass)

I really don’t know what to tell you about WYD 2016 in Krakow, except that it was the best time of my life. Please bear with me as I ramble a bit, about just part of what it meant to me.

Welcome

Before going to Poland, me and my friends from uni joined with a group of about 300 pilgrims from around the World for a “pre-encounter” in Hungary, organised by Verbum Dei. We listened, we talked, we prayed, we had mass, we joked and sang and danced. But in the most incredible atmosphere of love and friendship I’ve encountered. Everyone was a friend. Everyone smiled and said hello to everyone. And I felt embraced by an inexplicable love. I really experienced the joy of the gospel, and the Kingdom of Heaven.

A good example, is when in the evening, we all learned Hungarian folk dance, and had three hundred of us dancing around the hall in these great circles and lines, soaked in sweat, jumping about, and smiling like madmen. It’s an image of Heaven.

Adoration

My highlight of the pre-encounter came at adoration. Even amongst such love, I was somehow able to start feeling alone and unlovable again. It wasn’t too strong a feeling, but I did feel cut off…

Then, some of my friends began a beautiful piece of theatre/prayer, centred around mercy and removing masks to be loved. At the end of this, the Eucharist was brought out for a time of adoration. A screen blocked me from seeing Jesus as He began proceeding from the tabernacle, and as I tried to prepare myself to see and adore Him, I didn’t feel any closeness to Him. I didn’t feel like He was really present at all, and I worried what this meant.

Then He came past the screen, I saw Him, and I knew it was Him, right there, in love for me. I felt His loving gaze, and it broke me apart. I cried a lot, and didn’t wipe away the tears, because I didn’t want to lose a thing. I kept repeating ‘Jesus, you love me` and ‘Jesus, I love you`. I desired nothing but to belong entirely to Jesus, to love Him and be loved by Him, at any and all cost.

God loved Rudolf Höss

Rudolf Höss

The first thing we did in Poland was to visit Auschwitz. The above sign really struck me. The idea that there was any more blood spilled at Auschwitz after the war, filled me with sadness. The thought of any more hatred, and killing, and saying that people aren’t worthy of life; or of the blood of the innocent and the wicked being mingled, horrified me. The war was won, but where was the peace?

I remembered that God loved Rudolf Höss, and even went to the cross for him. He was incredibly inhuman to his prisoners, because he didn’t believe they were truly human. But the response to this was to see his evil deeds, and say that he wasn’t truly human, that he didn’t deserve life. But God loved and created Rudolf Höss, not for the monster he made himself, but for the human being, capable of love, that he simply was.

It was humans that perpetrated the holocaust. It was humans like you and me. It was us.

As I continued around Auschwitz II- Birkenau, the horror kept growing within me. I felt the need for us all to repent for what the Nazis, and many others, have done throughout history. I felt terrible anger, followed by sorrow and pity, for the perpetrators of all our atrocities.

The more I saw of Auschwitz and human evil, the more clearly I saw that the world desperately needs mercy. There is no other solution.

Welcome pt 2

The People of Krakow (and Wadowice, where we were staying) gave us an incredible welcome. Our host families made us feel truly at home, despite every barrier of language and culture. And our fellow pilgrims too, were all incredibly friendly and welcoming.

I didn’t understand before this trip, just how crucial being welcoming is to being merciful. But how can we ever be merciful if we don’t welcome others? And how could we welcome those who most need it, if not for mercy?

On our long march (about 14km in the heat) to Campus Misericordiae, families who lived along the way came out of the their homes, and out of the sheer kindness of their hearts, gave us cold water. And on the long way back, in the pouring rain, one family came out offering us hot coffee. It was pure grace.

Friendships

So many friends, old and new! And the new, are so close, that they really feel like old friends already. I feel incredibly close to them, because we shared our lives, and our deepest life (Jesus) for this two weeks. In each of them, I discovered incredible depths and beauty I couldn’t have imagined, and each of them showed me Jesus that much more.

I really can’t express my gratitude enough. They’re in the depths of my heart forever now.

Papa Francesco!

Seeing and hearing Papa Francesco was amazing. I think he exudes the love and mercy of God in a very special way.

His speeches and homily were very powerful, and made clear to me how greatly God loves us, and how God wants to use us. How God wants you and me to go out and change the whole world, to build a world of love, mercy, and fraternity. How God dreams of our true happiness, which is not “a good couch”, but a life of love and action!

Holy Communion

As I queued for Holy Communion at the final mass, I was overcome with God’s love for me again, and I began crying once more, desiring for every part of me, from the biggest to the very smallest, to be given to Jesus in love. I didn’t want anything held back. I wanted his light in every last crevice in the depths of my heart. I realised I’d rather God’s love and nothing, than everything except God’s love. And then I realised, that since everything is each moment created out of God’s love, apart from God’s love there is nothing, and within God’s love there is everything, and so I found myself surrounded by God’s love on every side.

The entire World Youth Day was one big Holy Communion, in which I found Jesus over and over and over again. We were all there together, being made one, by the one body, the one love, of our one Lord.

Catholicity

The Church is the unity of humanity :)

Now, the real challenge begins: to take God’s mercy home with us and out to the world…

 

God bless you and pray for us!

Chastity: The Way of Love

God speaks to us in unexpected ways. I was scrolling through Yik Yak (a seriously addictive app to waste your time on), and came across a post that said,

The first sentence of page 45 of the book closest to you describes your sex life.

I somehow missed the word sex, and thought it could be funny to see what it says. So I reached for the closest book to me, a small book of quotes called, Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Dorothy Day`, and turning to page 45, found written no sentences at all, but only the chapter title, ‘The Way of Love’. The description of my sex life is at once, nothing at all and ‘The Way of Love’. When I saw that the post was talking about sex life rather than just life, I realised it was God telling me, chastity is the Way of Love.

So, what is chastity?

Chastity is when sexuality expresses, serves and strengthens love. It views people as people, and not as opportunities for our own pleasure. People are not considered for what they can do for us, but for what we can do for them, and what we can do together. Sex is exalted as something holy, in which both individuals go out from themselves, belonging to each other, placing their centre outside of themselves.

It further demands, that the couple go out of the couple, in openness to welcoming humanity in, in the form of a brand new human being. Sex doesn’t concern only the two people engaged, but humanity itself. Sexuality doesn’t only desire union with one other person, but union with all of humanity. Contraception, then, introduces division to what is an act of union. It refuses the life inherent in sexuality, and so separates from the rest of humanity, and in refusing each other’s power to give life, the partners too are rejected, and cut off from each other.

acbc85a88f0687c145a3ee6b9bd9ee2f

How are we meant to chastely not have sex?

That’s what chastity makes of sex. But another important part of our life of sexuality, is the way we don’t have sex. Biology tells us, sex is for life, and, in a manner, life is for sex (sex being considered in a wider sense). When sex is not for life, it becomes meaningless and destructive. When we pretend life is above sex, we reject humanity, we reject the flesh, and ultimately we reject life.

So how are we meant to chastely not have sex? Is it by completely desexualising everything but sex? No. It is by living in the awareness that each body, each person, is for love and not consumption. So when I notice how attractive a woman is, rather than trying to close my mind off from her, I am to centre my mind not on my desires, but on her beauty and loveliness as a living human being. Rather than desiring possession of her, I am to desire her fullness of life and love.

What about celibacy?

If “life is for sex” as I wrote, in any way, what are we to make of celibacy? Celibacy is not about merely removing intimacy, children and sex from a person’s life. Celibacy means, in giving up having children, loving all humanity as children. It means a non-particular love and intimacy with all the world, in order to help bring forth life for any and all. The bodily life and love of celibate people is put entirely at the service of all humanity, creation, and God.

My sex life: The Way of Love

Like most people today, chastity isn’t easy for me. I have to stay aware of myself, and keep myself in love. But honestly, chastity is much better than lust. When I’m being chaste, I can truly appreciate beauty, but when I’m lustful, I can only feel my own desire for what I don’t have, and that causes nothing but turmoil. Do I want to see bodies as alive or lifeless?

What helps me with chastity? Practising awareness/mindfulness is very helpful for learning self-control and understanding; meditating on the Body of Christ reveals to us how bodies are things of love and dignity; and the Blessed Virgin Mary gives us a perfect image of true beauty, love, and submission to God’s will.

 

It is when we are emptied that we are truly fulfilled.

 

God bless you!

I showed Jesus my wounds

At yesterday’s Good Friday liturgy, I rolled up my sleeves for the first time this year. So what? Well, my left forearm has some scars on it, and in these scars, open wounds on my mind and soul are visible.

In rolling up my sleeves, I wasn’t just responding to the beautiful weather; I was bringing my wounds, and so myself, before Jesus crucified. He is wounded to enter my wounds, He died to enter my death. He is naked before us: how could I hide myself from Him?

We have to let Jesus enter into us, through our wounds, our sins and our death. How? Through faith in Him and through His holy sacraments. In these, Jesus comes to us in our sins, our struggles, and our suffering, and brings us His life that conquers death.

When we give these up to Him, and let Him enter into them, something mysterious occurs. As He touches them with His mercy, He fills and transforms them with His self-sacrificial love, and in doing so, we find them united to His Holy Cross. Our wounds are united to His.

And His wounds have been glorified by His resurrection from the dead.

 

God bless you, and Happy Easter!
He is risen!

san-damiano-cross

I love the San Damiano cross. Jesus’ arms are open wide in a priestly gesture, of offering, gift, and welcome. The Cross is an act of love and freedom.

Me and the Cross

I don’t really talk much about my own life here, and certainly not about my mental health. Suffice to say for now, that it feels like its falling apart; like everything I have relied on and hoped for is being lost before my eyes.

And it serves me right. Why? Because I literally asked for it. It was for a long time my prayer, and still is, that God humble me completely. I guess I just didn’t see it looking like this…

As my “everything” seemingly falls apart (I suspect and hope the situation in many ways isn’t as bad as it sometimes feels), I see that I’ve been trusting and hoping in things that aren’t God. And that’s the way to certain disappointment. Yes, I was hoping in God too, but not in God alone.

When I reached my recent lowest, I felt and believed that all that I have and I am is nothing, that all that I have and I am is completely worthless and useless. What could anyone possibly want with me? What could God ever do with this?

But this is pride. To suppose that my weakness– my nothingness– limits God in any way, is madness.

‘Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.’
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

I look to the cross, and I see that God isn’t victorious by strength, but by faith and obedience. It is in Christ crucified, and in Him alone, that I am to place my trust. It is by dying to self, living in reckless sacrificial love, in union with His holy cross, that I am to live and serve God.

‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.’
Philippians 3:10-11

So here’s me. However much or little (or nothing) I am, I am God’s, and that is all I need. I’m not called to be strong or talented or valuable, but merely faithful; the victory is His concern, not mine: how could I ever achieve resurrection?

I just hope and pray God lets me remember and accept this when I really need to.

God bless you
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P.S. I feel I should also mention, that a part of this feeling of losing everything was the loss of my supposed righteousness when I fell to a certain sin. Thank God I lost this illusory righteousness. I am a sinner, and my only justification is God’s love for me.

I have no righteousness, but I share in Jesus’ own. I have no life in me, except His.

God bless you again