It’s been a crazy week for me. Pardon my tardiness for not sending out my weekly newsletter as scheduled.
After visiting family and friends in Cincinnati, OH, I flew to San Jose, CA with my husband and two daughters to attend college orientation.
The one thing I find hard to do is to let go of the mother’s string that flies this little kite that is my oldest daughter. It’s been a game of tug and let loose these past years. When I give too much slack to this little kite, she dives down. I have to pull the string fast to get her up and ride the wind again. But pulling too hard keeps her from flying high, and she spins round and round, so I have to loosen the string, so she rides the wind and flies high again. I realize that I cannot let go of this little kite completely because based on past experiences of flying kites, letting loose of the string altogether would send the kite high up in the air to fly everywhere, but when the wind dies down, it hits the ground hard and breaks. I may still be able to fix it, only if I find it. I’m not taking my chances on her.
Because she is the oldest, she gets the brunt of parenting blunders. Despite the nursing courses I took on child-rearing practices and units in pediatric medicine, nothing could ever prepare me to become the perfect mother. The techniques that apply to other kids do not always apply to her. And what applies to her does not apply to her younger sister. But one thing was certain, when I mother them too much, they didn’t get much of me. Instead, they got a mother with an “s,” but not the plural form of mother, but smother.
Seated among first-time college parents, I felt relieved to see that it was not just me who seemed nervous to let go of their kid, uncertain whether we’ve prepared them enough to be on their own and make the right choices.
In the past, when my husband and I give her permission to attend some social activity, I’d often say, “Enjoy and have fun but don’t make a fool of yourself.” Hearing one college student say, “the one advice my Mom gave me that kept me from losing myself was ‘Don’t bring shame to the family,’” made me heave out a breath. It’s not just me. This is all normal parenting blues and jitters.
But after the two-day orientation of listening to all the talks from the school staff, administrators, professors, directors, mentors, spiritual directors, co-parents, and students, I am assured. My daughter made the perfect choice. We made the right decision. We found her home away from home, a Jesuit school, where she will thrive and not just survive.
I relearned cultures and traditions that had been with my husband and me when we met as Jesuit volunteers. Magis, to be more and do more, to be men and women for others, and one can only succeed in being and doing through constant reflection and introspection— the Examen, another practical Jesuit tradition, because an unexamined life is not worth living.
So I sat not so much as to be enculturated but to be reminded of what I already had, it felt like getting a refresher’s course on life and my life’s purpose.
The message addressed to the Class of 2022 became the message addressed to me. What is my purpose, my mission, my call?
A very practical guideline resurfaced to me during the opening program.
My purpose is the meeting point of what I love doing, what I’m good at, and what the world needs.
These serve as clues to why God created me.
I’m in my late 40s, and people might think it’s quite late in the game for me to be asking these questions. My daughter is blessed to be put in a learning environment where she could find the answers and pursue her call.
But I’d rather find my answer now while I still have half of my life to pursue that answer. I don’t want to become that someone in her deathbed still asking these questions and hoping that the life beyond would give her the opportunity to pursue her mission.
Although I’ve never been educated in a Jesuit school, through strong bonds and affiliations, as a Jesuit volunteer married to someone educated in the Jesuit tradition from kindergarten to college, I have embraced the Jesuit spirituality among other spiritualities in the Catholic tradition. I walked out of that place wearing another Jesuit hat, one that says, “I’m a Broncos Mom.”
Lately, tons of ideas fill my brain on how I could be creative at home.
But along with this is the compulsion to keep everything worth recycling.
Fortunately, I’m blessed with a house that has minimal storage. This compels me to keep the essentials and let go of the superfluous.
So I made a rule.
For things I could use daily or weekly, I will keep and reuse.
For things I may need within the year, I will keep and repurpose. But only up to a maximum number of three.
For things that have been with me for over a year and have not served its purpose, I will recycle to the recycling bin, thrift store, swap community.
A saint once said, “What you’ve been keeping in your closet for over a year is a thing stolen from the poor.”
I wonder if the same saying goes for ideas.
Someone’s trash is another’s treasure. But if someone’s trash is another’s trash, then it’s obviously trash. These things, I have to throw.
May the Lord grant me the grace to let go and move on.
Detachment from earthly goods will give me wings for heavenly things.
One day, a friend came to my mind. We have not been in contact for so long so I emailed her and just thanked her for being there for me when I needed support the most. I sent it to her work address. Minutes after, the email bounced back. I realized she must have left her place of work. Where was she? Since she was quite prominent in her field of practice, I searched her name in google and found out she had moved to another work. I remembered I still had her cellphone number so I called and left a voicemail. I also sent the message I originally planned to send to her email. Hours later, she called and told me she needed those encouraging words more than ever because it was her second day at her new work. We caught up and exchange stories of how the Lord had moved strangely in our lives and in all the trials and sufferings, He remained and gave us peace and joy. I realized it was the gift of understanding at work when I learned to interpret what it meant when her face flashed in my mind. And by reading the signs, I was led to her to bear God’s message of comfort and assurance.
Lord, help us learn to interpret the signs You send us each day. When things reverberate or come out of the blue and it seem to tell us something, may we ask for the gift of understanding to learn to interpret the signs, to ask You directly, “What does this mean, Lord? Holy Spirit, please interpret and show me the meaning.”
I marvel at God’s way of manifesting His wisdom and revelation.
Our family was beset with two hard choices and this morning my husband had to make the crucial decision. And still had his misgivings about his choice. We have come to know that God manifests His will in the present moment through signs and revelation. But one needs to be on the look out for it.
Picture a patient with a medicine on the counter. She runs a fever and asks for your help. You tell her to drink the medicine but she refuses. Later she complains that the fever had not left her. What would you do?
I'd probably hit my forehead, in lieu of hitting the back of her head.
This is probably how Jesus reacts each time I attend mass and do not pay attention to the medicine and cure before me.
One day, a friend asked for my prayer. And I texted her to offer her mass intentions for this petition as I include her in my own mass.
Later, the Inner Voice prompted me to add details on how to make this mass offering for her intentions.
Surprised overtook me because I had not done it in this complete manner. Usually, I would offer my intentions whenever I'd remember it in any of the parts of the Mass.
Realization hit me that instant.
Although I may have been taking the medicine, I have not been taking it in its prescribed dose.
So here I outline the Lord's inspiration on how to offer our petitions and prayer intentions at Mass:
• Offer your intention before the mass starts.
• During the Prayers of the Faithful, lift up your intention again.
• During the consecration, when the priest raises the cup, say "I immerse (mention the person's name) in your blood o Jesus. Cleanse him/her and heal him/her from all his/her diseases. Send her the person whom You will use as Your channel of healing." (Note: Most prayer intentions would fall under any of the categories of healing from physical, mental, emotional, social, financial, intellectual, or inspirational sickness)
The mass is the highest form of prayer for us Catholics because we believe in the mystery of the transubstantiation whereby Jesus is offered as the unblemished sacrificial Lamb of God in the form of bread turned into His flesh and wine turned into His blood. This is the atonement most acceptable to God the Father in the spirit of the Mosaic Law.
It is our medicine; the cure to our infirmities.
Yet we often approach it with unbelieving hearts and distracted spirits. We fail to use all the opportunities it provides to aid us in our pilgrim journey on earth.
Today, when I heard Mass, I offered my petition as the Lord laid out above.
While in line for Communion, He inspired me to pray for my intentions and add:
"Lord, as I approach You in Communion, once more I lift my heart's intentions to Your Most Sacred Heart that my will may be united with Yours so that my heart's desires may become Yours as Yours become mine."
It was then that I realized that during the Mass, through the Scriptural readings, responsorial psalm, and homily, God already makes His will known, His answer to the prayer intentions revealed if only I care to listen.
Sometimes, it's an affirmation, a yes; on other times, it a no and it comes with an admonition or rebuke; and still on other times, it's a not yet, or wait. And when He is silent, that's when I learn that the intention could be in accordance with His will, but needs to be purified in motive (in my part or the one who asked for my prayer).
I marvel at the completeness of the sacrifice of the Mass. It's I, who am incomplete and lacking in faith.
The medicine is there, and although I am taking it, I'm not fully compliant to the prescription of intake.
Lord, open my eyes to the great mystery behind the sacrifice of the Eucharist that it may cure me and the people You have entrusted to my intercessory care.
Have you said something in a habitual and automated fashion, only to realize later on how stupid you must have sounded?
It happened to me on several occasions and it almost happened again the other day, when I returned the keys to the rental car counter and the white-haired man said, "Thank you and have a safe flight!"
"I almost blurted out, 'You, too!' and realized you're not flying anywhere!" I said and laughed.
The old man laughed and said, "Who knows, I may just jump in to the next plane."
I bet that was not the first time it happened to him. On my ride to the airport terminal, I pondered on the ailment of automaticity. The things that I say or do everyday become so habitual, sometimes I do it without much thought on why I'm doing it. My body get so immersed into the routine and motion, my heart and mind are no longer in it.
"Have a good one," someone would say, and by instinct I'd reply, "You, too!"
"How you doin'?" someone would ask, and leave even before you'd get to answer.
Time in, time out, and it's just another day at work.
This is probably the reason why some work no longer fulfill the employees or why some companies lose touch with their customers' needs.
Even in my prayer life, I had to resist automaticity. When the Our Father, the rosary or the daily mass had become a routine, my body disintegrates from my heart and mind.
I had to exert an effort each time to recollect my senses and bring myself into the Holy Presence of God so He comes close to me and becomes personal. Only then does the door of my heart open to welcome Him; His Words come alive and able to touch me.
I realize that my daily routines also need such mindfulness so I don't fall into automaticity with how I deal with my spouse, children, and people I come in contact with everyday.
No wonder the "how's school?" routine question gets a routine "so-so" shrug answer. Parents nowadays seemed too busy to look into their children's eyes when they speak.
Automaticity. Personal touch. These two should not fall at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Automatic personal touch, how about that?
When I got to the airport terminal and hopped down, the driver said, "Take care and have a safe flight."
This time I had more presence of mind to say, "You have a great day!"
When talking to someone, take the time to look him or her in the eye and give all your attention to the person. That is love at its simplest form.
Are you in a tight and oppressive predicament right now? Is there something challenging and overwhelming your faith?
Did you know you can ward off the attack of the enemy with a sword that is the Word of God?
Say this today and claim it for yourself:
We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
You ask, "How?"
“I am God the Almighty. Walk in my presence and be blameless.”
Do not allow a white lie or a slight amount of deceit to infect your life. You are to live a pure life. Any small trace of the enemy will be like a tooth decay that will eventually grow big. Do not think something small will be insignificant. A bad tree will bear bad fruit. And it will perpetuate unless you cut it down. Make your heart pure and good, so it will constantly bear good fruit.”
"Wouldn't I suffer from scrupulosity, my Lord?" I asked, and He answered me.
People don't die from scrupulosity, but it can get annoying to the people around you. Suffer the scrupulosity like it would be the purifying fire burning your imperfections.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be and favored.
Although I had not willed what you did, but because you asked for my blessing, I shall bless it, but I will bless the work that I have willed for you more than this. And I keep My promises.
But see that you tell no one. Some things need to be kept hidden until you've done what is required and then you can tell people so that there is proof for the miracle and your testimony becomes reliable, trustworthy and credible.
My Lord, grant me the grace to do what I need to do to fulfill Your will. Thank You for blessing even those endeavors that sprung from my own will and initiatives. Purify my heart so that no trace of impurity will serve as a barrier from my hearing Your voice and Your will and I could obey You perfectly because the path You have prepared for me is a path of blessing and leads to an abundant and prosperous life. Anoint me that what I do and say will reverse my misfortune and make it work out in my favor. This I pray, in Your Name Jesus with the intercession of Mama Mary and all the saints and angels, Amen.