04 April 2014

Hope in the Resurrection - Mama Mary's fearless love & hope exposed in Michaelangelo's La Pieta

We're approaching the 5th week of Lent, where the Liturgy invites us to reflect on the Resurrection. I was so so blessed, during my short live-in at Carmel, to spend a day meditating on Michaelangelo's La Pieta. Our bodies teach and express a lot about us, and our relationship with God. An in fact, there is a wonderful theology in our bodies. In a very visual way through La Pieta sculpture, Mary taught me, by the theology of her body, something about loving fearlessly, and hoping in the Resurrection. Let's begin by remembering that this work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. So she has already been through all the things a mother should never have to go through.

Mary offers Jesus to us

Despite Jesus' Passion and Death, the look on Mary's face is not the look of someone experiencing desolation, heartbreak or fear. It is a look of trust and fearlessness. Just how much she loves God and trusts Him inspires me to approach God's Will for me with her essence of acceptance. She is not angry with God or possessive of His Greatest Gift to us - His and her Son, Jesus. She doesn't clutch Jesus to her breast, as I would imagine a Mother who has just lost her child (no matter what age) would. Instead, she offers Him to us in confidence and strength. A strength founded on her relationship with not only Our Father, but Jesus Himself, in the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Trinity is her Rock, Stronghold, Foundation... and this brings her to offer Jesus to us fearlessly. In her love, rooted in the Trinity, Jesus could quite easily slide off her lap. How gracious her offering to us little ones! And yet, she leans back, as if to say "My God above, here is Your Beloved Son - He is totally Yours." How much this inspires me to give Jesus to the world in such a co-directional way Mary does. What a great joy it would be for us to do as Mary does, with her strength, and her love. I believe every soul in the world ought to be given the chance to receive Jesus from her loving, motherly arms, because she offers Him to us perfectly! She points me to the right hand of Jesus, that even in death, looks to be clinging to the fabric of her clothing, as if to say that death has not separated them entirely  - such was their union. 

Mary cares for Jesus' lifeless body for a reason

Mama Mary's faith in the Resurrection shines radiantly to us. Her raised right knee exposes Jesus' body to us as something so precious still... worthy of treasuring still. She cares for His body in how she holds him; and how she holds Him is with such great belief that His body must be carefully dealt with because it is needed - essential - to the Resurrection. Only she had this fearless trust in God's plan for us all: His plan of the Resurrection of His Son.

Mary is always protected

She was given the freedom to be mother to Jesus because she had the best protector: St. Joseph. But during this scene, St. Joseph was no longer on earth to protect her or Jesus. At my disheartened feelings that Mary was completely singled, a widowed outcast, I realised with great hope that Our Father had provided and entrusted her to an earthly protector... for she was entrusted to the care of St. John. True believers in the Resurrection are chosen especially to trust in God ever more openly and generously, because they have the assurance of divine protection. God, in His magnificent Providence, never fails to provide holy protection for us. 

Mary is counter-cultural

After all that had happened throughout Jesus’ Passion, and death, Mary didn't fear the jeering, mocking or the ridicule from onlookers to come. It seems she had not a care for the world's opinion of this event that all of Heaven and Sheol would be all in a kerfuffle about. And yet, she looks as though she cares so much for the world, that she is willing to remain faithful in this disclosed secret of the Resurrection.

Mary ponders love that costs

Mary's pondering heart bleeds invisibly from the sword that has pierced it, but she, who is fearless, shows no outward sign of the honour that she has for this sword. Nothing in the Pieta is about her, despite all the activity or movement coming from her body. What does her heart ponder now, but pure love? The sword pierces her heart so that God's love can pour out through her, the Love that is on her lap... the love also within her that gives us hope, and encourages us to increase our belief in the Resurrection. Her hope is not a hope of desperation...

Mary teaches me to Hope in His promises

Her downcast face points me to the Hope that comes down, rather than my human hope that seeks to look up. She looks down with fearless hope in the Father's Will for the Spirit of Jesus to rise Him up once more - and so it is not a look of sorrow or desolation. It is a look that signals to me that Hope comes down to meet me, to bring me out of any depths of desolation I experience. In her charity, she has exposed the Hope in a situation that seems completely hopeless, and inspires me not be afraid now because Hope is coming down to meet me. The fulfilment of this hope all depends on my response to it in all the situations of my life. Mary is one who loves so fearlessly because she was confident in God's promises, full of faith and trust that all will go according to His plan.

Our responses

As long as we believe, trust and give everything of ourselves in love towards the Resurrection, we don't need to be afraid of the tough times, the moments of desolation, the feelings of abandonment from God, periods of grief, experiences of darkness, desperation and hopelessness, and most of all, any fear that we allow to take over our capacity to give, live and love. God conquers our fears with the Love of the Resurrection. But believing in the Resurrection is something that we do every single day, and embrace it into our way of life. It's not easy, but it is possible. Jesus has given us Mary, whose example we follow. 

Mother of Christ, pray for us.

11 September 2013

Guide to writing & giving your 3 minute testimony!

This was originally put this together for Youth 2000 retreatants at Walsingham Prayer Festival. But it is still useful to everyone who has come away from any kind of event where God has really touched your heart deeply...

Stories are powerful! We all love stories!  And as God’s beloved, you have a powerful story to tell...

Sharing how you came to Jesus and the difference He’s made in your life can help others discover how they, too, can know God personally.

But how do you divulge a lifetime of experiences into a few minutes and communicate the significance of your faith in a way others can understand? This is a challenge!

It’s the reason we’ve put together some guidelines to help you draft a three-minute personal testimony that you can share with individuals or groups. A carefully prepared testimony, empowered by the Holy Spirit, can be a tool you can use anywhere to effectively share a unique message of God’s love. This has come from a variety of sources mostly found on Google, but have been adapted for you.

Getting started

As you set out to gather ideas, begin by asking God to bathe this process with His Spirit, and give you Wisdom as you write. Doing this before the Blessed Sacrament and asking Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, for her intercession is our top tip! Your objective at this point is to write freely without editing. Simply get all your ideas on paper.

The outline below will provide a solid frame to build your story on. Try to think of specific examples and details that relate to each question.

1. What was your life like before you identified that you believe in Jesus Christ?

  • What were your attitudes, needs and problems?
  • What did your life revolve around? What was most important to you?
  • Where did you look for security, peace of mind and happiness?
2. How did you come to accept Christ and His immense love for you?
  • Was there a moment or series of moments when you first realised that God is real?
  • Was there a particular place or event that became a prominent feature in your faith journey?
  • Was the Virgin Mary, or any of the Saints, people who have inspired you to draw closer to Christ?
  • Have your parents / other specific people you know helped you grow deeper in your faith & love of the Church? 
  •  Are there any Sacraments that you experience/d where you have been profoundly touched by God’s Love?
3. How is your Life In Christ now?

  • What changes did you see in your life? In your attitudes? In your actions?
  • What does Jesus Christ, your Catholic faith, the Church mean to you now?

Threading it together

During this second step, it’s time to get selective and decide which details to include. Read through your ideas, and using a highlighter, underline the most important feelings, examples or incidents that relate to each of the three points in the outline above. Use the ideas you highlight to begin writing your story, and make sure you explain what your life was like before you knew Christ, how you came to know Him, and what your life is like now. This section will help you shape your story:

  • Begin in a spirit of sharing the Truth of your life.
  • Be positive & joyful from start to finish.
  • Be specific. Give enough detail to arouse interest (– especially about the Holy Trinity).
  • Be realistic. Do not imply that Christ removes all of life’s problems, but, rather, that He walks with you through them.
  • Use one or two Scripture verses, YouCat or doctrinal snippets, but only where they would directly relate to your experience and fit in naturally.
  • Edit and rewrite as needed. Consider writing your first draft and setting it aside for a day so you can go back to it with a fresh perspective.
  • Write a conclusion that makes your testimony sound finished and complete but that God works in your life daily, and you are still on a journey.
There are certain things you should filter from your story to avoid detracting from its essential message. 
  • Don’t lie or embellish.
  • Don’t harshly criticize the church, organizations or other people.
  • Be careful not to glamorize how “bad” you used to be [i.e. don’t glorify sin!]

Telling your story

It might seem tough the first time or two, but the more you share your story, the easier it will get. Most people will appreciate your willingness to talk openly about your life, and no one can argue with your personal experience.
  • Rehearse your testimony until it becomes natural. Practice sharing it with friends or family members.
  • Share your story with enthusiasm, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Smile often. Ask the Lord to give you a pleasant expression.
  • Speak clearly, in a natural, relaxed tone. Speak loudly enough to be heard.
  • Stick to your time limit. Go too long and you’ll lose your audience.
  • Tailor your story to your audience. Use examples from your experience that will relate to theirs.
  • Beware of nervous mannerisms that can distract others as they listen to your story, such as rubbing your nose, swaying, swinging your foot, jingling coins in your pocket, playing with a pencil, clearing your throat, or using many “you knows”, "errrrms" and “uhs.”
Remember that a testimony should never be a “preachimony.” Stay humble; never argue or use high pressure methods to persuade people to make decisions for Christ. And also remember that people will approach or contact you if there was something mentioned in your testimony that touched them that they want to know more about.

Keep it fresh

New chapters of your life are being written all the time, so in one sense, your story is never complete. Feel free to add new content and revise to keep your testimony fresh and reflect God’s ongoing work in your life.

Look for openings

Ask God to give you opportunities to tell your story, and look for openings. People you meet may comment that there’s something different about you, or even ask you why you’re such a “religious” person. Such situations are windows of opportunity to tell your story of faith. Also consider that these are opportunities to give others the Hope of Jesus, or to simply make a massive difference to a person's day by the attention you give them! These are opportunities of faith and charity for sure...

Besides sharing your story one-on-one or in group situations, consider putting your testimony in written form to give to people you meet.
Be creative in sharing your life! And enjoy sharing with others the incredible story of what our Awesome God, is doing in you and through you! And don't forget to share it with us too! To see each and every one of you glorify God by your witness and life gives us a renewed sense of thanksgiving for God's Light and Love, and that there is no-one better we can possibly serve!

19 August 2013

On my Baptismal Anniversary 2013 - What it means to me to be a baptised Catholic today!

St. John Eudes
- Love of the Mass, Eucharist & Communion
- My devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary
- My Patron Saints
- Praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory and young people
- My Guardian Angel

These five things above help me on my pilgrimage to eternal life. Permit to me explain!

Today is my baptismal anniversary. Glory to God. On 19th August 1984, at 3 months old, I was baptised at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Botwell, Hayes (Greater London, UK). The priest who baptised me was called Fr. Bernard (please say a prayer for him). I do not really celebrate my birthday anymore... and prefer to celebrate my baptismal day instead. This was really when I was born in Christ! Of course, both are important, but if I could, I'd still prefer to celebrate the anniversary of when I first came into existence at conception, than when I was born!

The testimony of Catalina on the Holy Mass

Over the last 3 years since my reversion to the faith, I cannot express more fervently than now, what a gift the Holy Mass & Communion has been to me. Roughly this time two years ago, as I was putting in my application for Evangelisation School, the Holy Spirit inspired me to write
"the Mass has really come alive for me. The very depths of me rejoices solemnly at every sacrifice of the Lamb at Mass. Understanding that life for many people is very busy, I can empathise that not everyone can receive Jesus in the Eucharist everyday... but I find it a tremendously beautiful thing to meet Christ in the Eucharist every day. If people only knew the significance of Holy Communion, then this foretaste of the glory and splendour of the Father's heavenly banquet would shake 'the world' to it's awakening". 

We in our limited mindsets cannot possibly comprehend the magnificence of all that takes place in the Mass - but our hearts can certainly partake in a tiny way in it. One day, I stumbled upon this testimony of Catalina on the celebration of the Eucharist: http://www.michaeljournal.org/holymass.htm. It felt like this woman was expressing everything that I feel during the Mass. I beg you to read it, because it breaks down the Mass in a vivid and understandable way to us. It's not unnecessarily theological neither - a teenager with a humble disposition of heart can understand it. I recommend it to anybody who struggles to understand what Mass is really all about.

I wish to share with you a beautiful prayer that I have been saying just before I receive Holy Communion:
My Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God of love and of goodness, on the altar, you have just renewed the Sacrifice upon the Cross, and Your Will is to consummate it in my heart. Lord, Your Will is that I should receive You, in order to participate in all Your merits, to profit by Your graces, to receive from You all the help my weakness needs. O Loving Lord Jesus, I am only a sinner, how should I dare to take my place at Your table?... But it was You who commanded me to do so, or pay the penalty of having no life in me. Do, then, prepare my heart which You are about to enter: cleanse my soul; say to me as You said to Zaccheus, 'Make haste, for this day I must abide in your house'.
I hope that you will be inspired by this prayer of Fr. John Croiset S.J. in whatever way the Lord leads you!

My devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

My family prayed the rosary everyday when I was growing up. So I prayed everyday as part of the prayers to the Sacred Heart & Immaculate Heart... but of course, they didn't mean anything to me. Not until that pivotal moment in my life when Jn 14:6 became a reality to me and Ezk 36:26 actually happened! These are hearts of Love that simply invoke a desire for contemplation, thus drawing us into the merits of increased faith, reparation, increased hope, thanksgiving and increased charity

My Patron Saints

Two years ago, I did not know who my Patron Saints were. Although everyone calls me Claz, that is not my full first name. And I do not have a middle name, which would normal be given during baptism. So I have no saints name! I will admit that even my Confirmation name is made up (long story - and how I got away with it, I have no idea!)! For at least a year, I prayed to God to reveal to me who my Patron Saint would be. At the moment of my profound and mystical experience with God, one of the seeds He'd planted in my heart was to learn more about the lives of the Saints. The first saint I was drawn to was St. Augustine, and I fell in love with him. I also fell in love with St. Mary Magdalene, as I really empathised with her in the fact that she was given a second chance after living such a sinful life. St. Paul was another that I fell in love with because of his conversion being somewhat similar to mine! In fact... after reading more about the saints, I was falling in love with them all. Particularly the Mystics. St. Gertrude for her love of Holy Souls for example.

God eventually answered my prayer. I was born on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. So naturally he is one of my Patron Saints. I'm just about to read a highly recommended book about him: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mystery-Joseph-Benedict-Groeschel/dp/0972598138. And the other, St. John Eudes, I discovered when I was researching Saints for 19th August, came upon this site and knew in my heart with certainty that he was another of my Patron Saints after discovering that he founded the Society of Jesus and Mary.

Praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory & young people

I thoroughly believe that my reversion to the faith partly came about because of my prayer for my grandaddy's soul whilst I was pilgrimaging El Camino. Ever since that time, I have increased in devotion to praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Please do pray for them - they desperately need our prayers. If you can even have Mass offered for them, please do! I would be eternally grateful. I reckon that today, at least 6 Masses have been offered for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and I leave it to Our Lady to decide which souls merit the offerings. Knowing the need of the Holy Souls helps me to understand better how my baptism benefits the Church - Triumphant, Militant & Suffering. And this is a tremendous grace for me.

Earlier I spoke of the seeds planted in my heart during a mystical moment with Our Father in Heaven. The other seed was 'Youth Evangelisation', which is where my life is currently committed.

My Guardian Angel

My special companion throughout my whole journey in life. [H]e's been with me through absolutely everything. Present during my sin, my joys, my hurt, my pains, my prayer, my  relationships, my rest. I can't recommend enough getting to know your own Guardian Angel. Without my Guardian Angel, my baptismal journey would not be where it is today. I would not even know what holiness is all about. Neither will I be able to get to where my baptism is meant to take me: Heaven.

My Prayer on my Baptismal Anniversary

And so my day today will be devoted to praying for the Holy Souls and all those praying and having Masses offered for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Also in my prayers in a big way today will be those who are discerning their life vocations like I am, the evangelisation of youth & young adults in the world, and those suffering and in turmoil with same-sex attraction. I return to the Church where I was baptised to contemplate the gift of my life, and to offer God myself, as His slave of Love.

Loving Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of this day, for the gift of my Baptism, and that I still benefit to celebrate it this day. Grant me Your Peace and

11 August 2013

The importance of sharing testimonies of evangelisation (World Youth Day 2013 - Shalom in Fortaleza)

It has been over a week now that I have been back from World Youth Day in Brazil. HOW AMAZING it was!!! I believe EVERY young person ought to experience this love and joy brought to life at a World Youth Day - whether you are of faith or not!

I went with Shalom Community (a Brazilian Catholic Community who have missionaries in London), and spent the first week in Fortaleza on mission. 8 of us from our little group joined much larger groups from different countries: Italy, France, Australia, Israel... and Switzerland, who we grew closest to as we spent much time during the day together on mission.

On our first official day, our group (London and part of Switzerland) were sent on mission to evangelise door to door at people's homes. It was such a blessed experience, and I still remember clearly the people who opened their doors to us and invited us into their homes. For me, it was as if witnessing them opening their hearts to Christ, letting strangers into the place they call home. I still particularly remember a lady named Ivonne (or could be Yvonne) who I felt God had a special message for... a message of deep love and welcome. If you could say a prayer for her this very moment, I would be eternally grateful!

When we arrived back, we had a moment to share some testimonies, and so here are the videos of those testimonies!

Really sorry that on this last video, I didn't capture the German translation... my recording device was running out of space, and I was afraid it wouldn't capture the whole testimony.

In my opinion, it is so important for us to hear these testimonies, to motivate us to do the same... to go out and be disciples... and to make disciples of all nations! All souls deserve to know and hear the boundless Love and Mercy of our Triune God, and for this reason, we have no reason to be afraid to do this. After all, the Church exists to evangelise. This is what being part of the Church is all about.

07 June 2013

The Sacred Heart of Jesus & The Eucharist: Reflections by Fr. John Croiset on the exceeding desire of Jesus Christ to unite Himself to us

On the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2013
Reflections on the exceeding desire of Jesus Christ to unite Himself to us from ch. 8 of 'Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus'
By Fr. John Croiset –  last Spiritual Director to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque


Let us consider, that, the union of hearts is the final effect of love; it is also that which Jesus Christ willed when He instituted this august Mystery, wherein He treats us as being the Spouse of our sous. In this Sacrament, love impels Him, as it were, to go out from Himself, to live henceforth only in those whom He loves. “In this Banquet, He hath consecrated the Mystery of our union,” says St. Augustine (this TOB back in the 5th century here!!). It is true that by the Incarnation God united Himself perfectly to our nature, but this Hypostatic Union was not the end of Incarnation, whilst the sacramental union was the end attained by the institution of the Holy Sacrament. He united Himself to our nature in order to have a body capable of suffering the pains He willed to endure for us; but He only gives Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist in order to unite Himself intimately to us. By His promises He invites us to this Banquet: Come to Me, all you… and I will refresh you (Mt 11:28). He impels us to it by His threatenings: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you shall not have life in you (Jn 6:54). He commands that we shall be compelled to go in: Compel them to come in (Lk 14:23). Indeed He leaves nothing undone to excite in us a great desire to go to Him, so that He may satisfy His loving desire to come to us and unite us with Himself. Could any proof of greater love be possible? Hast Though then, O my Lord, forgotten the ill-usage Thou didst receive amongst us? Hast Thou not foreseen that to which the excess of Thy love for us exposes Thee? The heart of one who is pure and fervent is an abode well pleasing to Thee, but how many such wilt Though find? Canst Thou endure the coldness of this crowd of lukewarm Christians who will receive Thee – their disdain, their feeble faith, and, above all, the terrible corruption of their hearts? Surely these obstacles seem insurmountable for a Heart that can suffer no spot nor stain, but the might of Thy love overcomes them all.

The greatest Mystery of Love

Let us endeavour, as far as we can, to imagine God’s hatred of sin. It is infinite. And yet it seems, in some sort, outdone by His desire to come to us, since He chooses rather to expose Himself to the sacrileges of the most infamous sinners, than deprive Himself of the delight He takes in uniting Himself closely to those who love Him. So exceedingly does our Saviour show His love for us in this adorable Mystery, that He, God Himself, wills therein to be our recompense: I am Thy reward (Gen 15:1). How great a marvel! But that Jesus Christ Himself should be our Food – My Flesh is meat indeed, and MY Blood is drink indeed (Jn 5:56) – is a miracle of love which passes all bounds, a generosity in which, as it were, our Lord Jesus Christ empties His reassure-house upon us. Such are the effects of the tender and immeasurable love of Jesus.


1.    We believe all this, and yet remain cold before this excess of love.
2.    It is astonishing that our Divine Saviour wills to love mankind to this degree; and, oh, how strange that men should not love this Divine Saviour, and that no motive, no benefit, no excess of love can inspire in us any feeling of gratitude!
3.    Ungrateful and unfeeling man! What is there in Him that can repel you? Has He not done enough to win your love? Alas! He has done more than we could have dared to wish, more than we know how to realise, more in a certain sense, than seemed fitting for His Divine Majesty. And we still deliberate as to whether we will respond to such gracious advances, or whether we will continue to despise them.
4.    A token of friendship, an act of kindness, wins a man’s heart: it is only to Jesus, after having done for us, in this Mystery of love, all that can be done, and giving us all that He has to give, even Himself, that men’s hearts remain closed.
5.    Everybody owns that Jesus Christ infinitely loves us, that He is infinitely worthy of our love, that He has done more than anything we could have imagined to make us love Him, and yet how few persons truly love Jesus Christ!
6.    How comes that He so eagerly desires to enter into us, and that we must be urged and constrained to go to Him? It is because His love for us is infinite, and ours for Him is nothing at all.
7.    How is it that we return from Communion as cold as ice, in spite of having been nourished by the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is a living fire? It is because we go to It with a heart wholly taken up with the love of creatures, with a heart shut up and impenetrable to the darts of His love. It is because, however ready His Heart be to enter into ours, our heart remains aloof from entering into His: we should even, so to speak, be displeased to enter therein.
8.    Men would rather give up Communion than their vices. They would be obliged to love Jesus more, to lead a more regular life, were they oftener to partake of the Bread of Angels. The love of Jesus Christ would inconvenience them: they prefer to abstain longer from this Bread of Life, and even condemn frequent Communion, because their heart, in a certain way, revolts against the Blessed Body, and even the Sacred Heart, of Jesus Christ.
9.    With a great desire, our Lord Jesus might say to us, now, I would seek to unite Myself closely to you: With desire I have desired (Lk 22:15). Whence comes it, then that nothing is left undone to render MY desires of no effect? And how am I straitened? (Lk 12:50)
10.    Jesus desires to come often to us, knowing that by this means only an we be rendered less unworthy: and there are Christians, who, under the pretext that they are not worthy, make themselves still more unworthy than before, by withdrawing themselves from Jesus Christ.
11.    If this feeling arose from true humility, it would prove that they possessed the first virtue requisite for the reception of Holy Communion; but it arises merely from the distaste they have for the Sacred Body of Jesus Christ. This it is which makes them hold aloof themselves, and condemn those who approach the altar more frequently.
12.    The mistaken humility of St. Peter, which led him to refuse that our Lord should wash his feet, was so strongly condemned, that it would have been his perdition, had he persisted in it. If I wash thee not, thou shalt not have part with Me (Jn 13:8). How many persons, from pretended reverence and false humility, depart from the path of life, and lose themselves hopelessly, by absenting themselves from Holy Communion.
13.    When Pagans of Eastern lands heard of this Mystery, they exclaimed, in wonder, “Oh, how good a God is this God of the Christians! How beneficent! How gracious!” But what would they have thought had they been told that Christians have so little love for this so gracious God? That, not only have they no inclination for this Heavenly Banquet, but they have an aversion to It, and that there are those who avail themselves of the lowly and hidden state to which His exceeding love impelled Him, to commit the greatest sacrileges and the most hateful profanations?
14.    What must be the feelings of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Source of purity, when buried, as it were, in a heart full of uncleanness – in a heart breathing vengeance, in a heart that is an imprecation against the Saviour Whom it receives? But what must be ours? We know with what malice this innocent Lamb is treated, while He keeps silence under insult and contempt, and suffers Himself to be offered a Victim on the altar for our salvation.
15.    Will not such exceeding goodness and so great gentleness speak to our heart? They softened the heart of His judge, they changed the rage and insolence of His executioners into respect and love, they have softened the hearts of the most barbarous peoples. Are our hearts alone to remain untouched?
16.    We shudder with horror at the story of the betrayal by Judas, and of the fury of the Jews. We are, it may be, witnesses, and even accomplices, of insults against Jesus in this adorable Mystery, and it does not affect us.
17.    In Thy sight are all they that afflict me (Ps 68:21). Thou hast before thine eyes those who treat Me such contumely in this Sacrament of love, He says to us by His Prophet, Thou art a witness of their acts of irreverence. My Heart, exposed to so much indignity, patiently suffers their outrages. And I had thought to find at least one who would grieve with Me. But there was no man. And one who, but his love, adoration, and homage, would try to make amends for the insults against My Heart, and the contempt shown for My love. And I found him not.

No, no, my Lord and Saviour! It shall not be said that Thou art forsaken this! I, for one, will hasten to render void these just complaints. Is it thus, O my loving Redeemer, that men repay Thy love? Why hast Thou so loved us? But why do we love Thee so little, and even not at all? What then? Not content to be callous to Thy tenderness and love, indifferent to the outrages against Thee, I myself have chosen to be one of those who committed them! My loving Saviour, Whose Heart is ever burning with love for me, ever open to receive me, ever ready to show me mercy, pardon my forgetfulness of Thee until this moment; pardon my lukewarmness, my feeble faith, my acts of irreverence, and accept the reparation which here I make Thee for them, humbly prostrate before Thy face. In this august Sacrament Thou dost ever remember me, dost ever love me; and then, that I should forget Thee, that I should treat Thee with indifference, that I should be cold and loveless towards Thee there! An, my God! Let me rather cease to live than go on loving Thee so little! Rather reduce my heart to nothingness than let it continue in its deadness to the greatest of all benefactors, even to Thee, O Lord, Who in giving us Thyself has given us all things.

Hear, Israel, what the Lord requires of thee (Deut 10:12). Listen, O Christian soul, to that which the Lord asks of thee: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart (Deut 6:5). He asks that thou shouldst love Him. He only asks thy heart. What? And hast Thou need, then, my Lord God, to ask for my heart, when Thou hast so long ago given me Thine own? Yes, it has come to this, that, not only I make Thee wait to ask for it, but I even refuse it to Thee, whilst I daily lavish and waste it upon creatures! Ah, my most loving Jesus, if now I offer it to Thee, wilt Thou indeed deign to accept it? A contrite and humble heart Thou wilt not despise (Ps 50:19). Lord, it is contrite, it is humbled. I may trust therefore that it cannot fail of being pleasing unto Thee. Receive it then; this heart which, with all the movements of which it is capable, I offer Thee, to honour Thee and love Thee for the remainder of my days. Most of the years of my life are passed away and wasted, because I have not loved Thee; but my happiest years are still to come, for I will love Thee from henceforth. I will love Thee, O adorable Heart of my most loving Jesus: I will love Thee, O Sacred Heart, pierced upon the Cross by my sins, wounded with love of me in the Holy Eucharist, diligam te. For the rest of my life I will honour Thee, and to Thee do I consecrate the residue of my days, Thee will I take as my rest, my dwelling-place, and my refuge (Ps131:14)). Let none seek me elsewhere, for, from this time forth I will only be found in the Heart of my loving Lord and Saviour Jesus. His Heart is my chosen abode; it is the Food of my soul; it is my rest in all my weariness; and, burning with one flame with His, the fire which He has kindled, it will be with Him and in Him that I will love Him, my Redeemer and my God.

Concluding Prayers

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Heart of Christ, inflame me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the Side of Christ, cleanse me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesu, hear me.
Within Thy Wounds, hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me.
And bid me come unto Thee;
That with Thy saints, I may praise Thee, for all eternity.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by an ineffable miracle of Thy love, hast been pleased to give Thy most Sacred Body as the Food of our souls, to compel men to love Thee, hear our humble prayers, and pardon our transgressions. Graciously look upon us with the eyes of Thy mercy; guard us with Thy love, so that we may detest with all our souls the opprobrium, contempt, and sacrilege committed against Thee in all the world, in order that we may render Thee, in this holy Mystery, the worship due to Thee, may be inflamed with Thy love, and may, with heartfelt and acceptable thanksgivings, acknowledge the unspeakable loving-kindness of Thy Divine Heart towards us; Thou Who lives and reignest with God the Father and the Holy Spirit for evermore. Amen.

25 January 2013

Why I LOVE Les Misérables - a story of Love, Truth, Forgiveness and Redemption.

If there was ever any musical that could show the world an example of Christian Love, Truth, Forgiveness, and Redemption, it is Les Misérables

I have seen this theatre show many times (as I live in London), and it never fails to touch my heart and bring tears to my eyes. Above, you will find a snippet of the Cameron Mackintosh show 'in concert' - which means you don't see the acting (I highly encourage you go and see the theatre show for that!!!). The lyrics for the profound scene above:

[Valjean is released on parole, and tastes freedom for the first time in 19 years]

The Bishop:
[To Jean Valjean] "Come in, Sir, for you are weary; and the night is cold out there. Though our lives are very humble, what we have, we have to share. There is wine here to revive you. There is bread to make you strong. There’s a bed to rest till morning: Rest from pain, and rest from wrong."

"He let me eat my fill: I had the lion’s share! The silver in my hand; cost twice what I had earned in all those nineteen years. That lifetime of despair and yet he trusted me. The old fool trusted me! He’d done his bit of good. I played the grateful serf, and thanked him like I should. But when the house was still, I got up in the night. Took the silver: took my flight!"

[Valjean steals and runs away, but is brought back by officers for the Bishop to press charges]

Exchange between the two officers:
[ 1 ] "Tell his reverence your story" [ 2 ] "... let us see if he’s impressed".
[ 1 ] "You were lodging here last night:" [ 2 ] "you were the honest Bishop’s guest.
[ 1 ] "And then, out of Christian goodness" [ 2 ] "when he learned about your plight
[ 1 ] "You maintain he made a present of this silver..."

The Bishop:
"That is right.
But my friend you left so early. Surely something slipped your mind?
[The bishop gives Valjean two silver candlesticks]
You forgot I gave these also… would you leave the best behind?!"
[To the officers]
"So Messieurs you may release him: for this man has spoken true! I commend you for your duty; May God's blessing go with you."
[Back to Valjean]
"But remember this my brother: See in this some higher plan. You must use this precious silver to become an honest man. By the witness of the martyrs; by the Passion and the Blood; God has raised you out of darkness, I have bought your soul for God."

Jean Valjean:
"… But why did I allow that man to touch my soul and teach me love? He treated me like any other; he gave me his trust he called me "Brother". My life he claims for God above… can such things be? For I had come to hate the world; this world that always hated me…"

------------------[end script]----------------------

I do not know about you... but I know that when God broke into my heart, I became alive with this brand new second chance. In one mystically transcendent moment, I experienced the overwhelming Truth of God. A God of Love. And Forgiveness. All that I said and done in my life until that point, all I was as a person, a human being, faced the greatest Love of all. I was redeemed - and now I have been given this second chance in my life. And a new outlook!

I get to watch this amazing theatre production hit the big screen tomorrow evening, even though it was released 2 weeks ago. And I can't really express how excited I am! However, I can express some of my highlights of the story.

Based on a book by French author Victor Hugo called Les Misérables, it was brought to the stage as a musical by producers Boublil and Schönberg - who I first discovered when I became besotted with the musical Miss Saigon. Although I now wouldn't agree with the ending of Miss Saigon which tells the story of a a Vietnamese girl falling in love with an American GI during the time of the Vietnam war, only to be abandoned despite giving birth to his son, then committing suicide as the "ultimate sacrifice" so that her son can have a better life in the US with his father, now married to an American woman.

Les Mis is a story of a man named Valjean who, after stealing bread to feed the children of his sister, is put in prison for an excessive time - 19 years. He is offered parole, but breaks it. Taking refuge in the Catholic Church, Valjean steals second-rated silverware to be able to survive. As you can tell from the video above, Valjean is caught by officers, and taken back to the Bishop who can identify the thief. However, beyond most expectations, the Mercy of God shines through the Bishop, who, in a sense, wipes Valjean's interior slate clean. He offers him the first-class silverware and gives Valjean the second chance at a dignified life that he never thought would be possible. Valjean now experiences repentance, and understands the gift of forgiveness that has been given to him, and makes choices to live as a decent and honourable man. In all this time, and to the end of Valjean' story, he is hunted relentlessly by his parole officer, Javert.

To Javert's surprise, he discovers, many years after parole has been broken, that Valjean, who was prisoner 24601, has become a popular and well-loved mayor, who loves all he encounters greatly, offering help when he can give it. Without knowledge of what really happened, a single-mother named Fantine, who works in his factory is thrown out with nowhere to live, but with a child to support, sells her beautiful hair, and becomes a prostitute. Fantine and Valjean meet by chance as she is dying, and hears the story of his involvement in her fate. Feeling remorse for this sorry situation, Valjean takes the care of her daughter Cosette, to heart. He goes to find her, and encounters the comedians of the musical, a bar-owning couple who use this opportunity to exploit Valjean. However, Valjean is not phased by this injustice, as he was prepared to pay any price for Cosette to be under his care. Valjean and Cosette escape Javert's chase, and find refuge at a convent, where Cosette is able to grow up into a young woman, who falls in love with Marius, a revolution activist.

You'll have to see the musical yourself to find out the rest of the story! Or if the theatre isn't possible for you, watch the movie! This is a story with 3 major themes, as mentioned in 'Matt Lucas dreams the dream' - that is FORGIVENESS, TRUTH AND REDEMPTION. It is amazing to think that only the Bishop could have communicated to Valjean the forgiveness he really needed - very symbolic of the Church and her Sacrament of Reconciliation. When do you really know that you have been given that second chance because you're forgiven? When someone communicates that with you! One of the greatest gifts of the Church is this very concept.

The concept of Redemption here is very simple. As Jesus paid the price of our original sin, so did the Bishop pay the price of Valjean's spiritual freedom. He was no longer chained with guilt and hatred. He was now free to love. And love, he did. There are many love stories here... from the bar owners Thenardier and his wife, to Marius and Cosette. But one love story strikes me very personally. That of Éponine, the natural daughter of Thenardier, who is in love with Marius. Throughout my past, I have experienced the same "second-best" feeling. My (so-called) love was never enough to be first choice with guys I had previously been really interested in.  This story of unrequitted love is one that rings very resonantly for me. On a personal level, Les Miserables helped me to understand better the sacrifices I made without knowing it, as a girl who didn't matter as much as another. But that is the nature of human love. God's love is unconditional and infinite, great and wondrous. And He gives His Love to all humankind equally. If you could ever conceive an even greater mystery than this, then I have yet to learn of it.

One of my favourite quotes from the script is "To love a person is to see the face of God". That's why this wonderful musical is such a brilliant way for anyone and everyone to be touched by the Truth about God. His Love, His Forgiveness, and the price Jesus paid on the cross, to show me how much He loves me.

20 January 2013

CONCLUSION to MARY in the work of Evangelisation & Family Renewal

Below is a conclusion to the published and copyrighted "Mary in the work of Evangelisation & Family Renewal" by Frank Padilla of RESTORATION MOVEMENT FOR FAMILY AND LIFE MINISTRIES, INC. based in Mandaluyong City, Philippines.
I spotted this little booklet at a religious articles store in Tayuman, Manila. I couldn't help but share this wonderful knowledge of Mary's indispensable role in the New Evangelisation, and her relationship with the building of our families. I hope you have enjoyed reading the previous posts on this important and necessary topic of the Catholic Faith.


Evangelisation, family, Mary - all are intertwined. All go together, according to the very plan of God.
If all Christians were to really live out their vocation as disciples of Jesus Christ, their basic work would be described in one word - evangelisation. Now according to the plan of God, this work of evangelisation should be done within the context of family renewal. Thus evangelisation and family renewal make up the one work and mission. These are the most crucial aspects of work in the kingdom, especially for this third millennium.
In this work, which is God's work given to human beings, we look to the one person who was given by God such an important roll in salvation history. She is the Blessed Virgin Mary. We look to her for help, for wisdom and guidance, and for inspiration. We submit ourselves to her maternal care and protection. We rely on her powerful intercession.

May the work of all Christians not only proclaim Christ and his salvation to the ends of the earth. May their work not only strengthen and help renew Christian families. May their work also make known the indispensable role and the critical importance of our Blessed Mother in God's plan for the life of the world.
May all the peoples of the earth honour and venerate her. May the words of her prophetic canticle truly come to pass:

"Behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed." (Lk 1:48)

19 January 2013

Responding to MARY in the work of Evangelisation & Family Renewal - part C

Below is an excerpt published and copyrighted by Frank Padilla of RESTORATION MOVEMENT FOR FAMILY AND LIFE MINISTRIES, INC. based in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. It is so well written, that it's well worth sharing! 
This is the penultimate post about Mary in the work of Evangelisation & Family Renewal.


"Extol her, and she will exalt you; she will bring you honours if you embrace her" (Proverbs 4:8)

In the work of salvation (through the process of evangelisation), and in the life of the family, we see the one person, aside from our Lord Jesus Christ, who is so important according to the plan of God. That person is Mary.

If we are to evangelise effectively, if we are to build strong Christian families, we need Mary. She is the mother of the Saviour, the handmaid of the Lord, the spouse of the Holy Spirit. She is the Queen of heaven and earth. She is the Star of [the New] Evangelisation. She is our intercessor and our mediatrix. She is the mother of the Church. She is co-Redemptrix with Jesus. She is our Mama Mary.

... And so our final response is devotion to Mary.

We should be devoted to Mary because of who she is and her importance in God's plan of salvation. She is our beloved mother who wants to bring all her children home with her in heaven. She is the disciple par excellence, and so is a shining model for us to emulate in our own call to discipleship. She can truly inspire us. She is full of wisdom. She always points us to Jesus. She can intercede in a powerful way for us.

How do we manifest our devotion to her? We do so by imitating her godly virtues.

First, like Mary, we must always trust in God and not be afraid.
Mary was greatly troubled when the angel Gabriel spoke to her. But Gabriel told her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God." (Lk 1:30). Mary wondered how she could conceive when she had had no relations with a man. Racing through her mind would also have been the thought that according to the law of Moses, the penalty for those guilty of adultery (Mary and Joseph were betrothed, but she had not yet gone to live with him in his home. For the Israelites, marriage consisted of this two-step process) was death by stoning. Then, when Jesus was presented at the temple, Simeon told her that a sword would pierce her heart (Lk2:35). Mary had every reason to be afraid, but she was not. She simply trusted in God's word.

We too must trust and not be afraid. Though there are many people and circumstances we could be afraid of in the world, we put our hope in the Lord, because he is our Saviour. "God indeed is my saviour; I am confident and unafraid." (Is 12:2). The antidote to fear is not courage but rather trust. "Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; though war be waged against me, even then do I trust." (Ps 27:3). We always have God to turn to. "Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:6-7).

The fear that is in the hearts of many in the world in fact points to the necessity of evangelisation. People need to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. They need to know that they have a Saviour, in whom they  can trust. They need to realise that God loves them so much as to offer His very own Son for their sins. "What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?" (Rom 8:31-32).

Who then can separate us from the love of God? Nothing at all (Rom 8:35, 38-39). We simply trust in God.

Second, like Mary, we must be obedient to God.
With full faith and trust in God, Mary responded to the angel, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." (Lk 1:38). Mary presented herself as a servant. She recognised her lowliness (Lk 1:48). She recognised that God would do great things for her, but that to Him alone was the glory. (Lk 1:49).

We too are servants of Christ. Nay, we are slaves of Christ, for he has purchased us at the price of his precious blood (1 Cor 6:20). We belong to him. What servant does not obey the master?
But it is not just a question of a master-servant relationship. Rather it is about a relationship of love. Jesus says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (Jn 14:15). In fact, in his last supper discourse, Jesus connects obedience to love a number of times (Jn 14:21, 23, 24; 15:10, 14, 17). If we love God, we must obey Him.

One of the greatest areas of obedience is responding to the Great Commission. Jesus has given us a charge. We are to proclaim the gospel to the whole world. We are to work in season or out of season. We are not to count the cost. We are to hold nothing back. We are to give our all, even life itself. By this, "you are glorifying God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ" (2 Cor 9:13).

At the wedding in Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle, Mary told the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." (Jn 2:5). Mary tells us the same thing. We simply need to obey.

Third, like Mary, we must be willing to suffer.
Mary suffered much. While pregnant, she traveled some distance to Bethlehem to be enrolled in the census. She gave birth in a filthy manger. She had to flee to Egypt with her newborn infant. She lost Jesus in Jerusalem. She saw her Son considered crazy by their own relatives, betrayed by Judas, abandoned by his disciples, denied by Peter, rejected by the people, tortured by the Romans, and finally crucified as a criminal. She had been forewarned by Simeon when she and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple. He said, "you yourself a sword will pierce" (Lk 2:35).

We too will suffer pain and affliction in the world. This is a consequence of our own sin, or the effect on us of the sin of others, or simply due to the assaults of the evil one. Suffering is very much part and parcel of living in the world, which is a valley of tears. Especially when we oppose the works of the enemy, he will attack us. He is able to cause physical and emotional pain. But suffering is intended by God to be redemptive. It disciplines us, it purifies us, it shows us our own human weakness and helplessness, it leads us to total dependence on God, it humbles us.

Thus, while not having to look for suffering in life, when it comes, and it certainly will come one way or another, we embrace it. We look to the good it will cause, to happen in our life. We know that God can make straight crooked lines. In the same way, he can bring good out of bad. He can make suffering an instrument of our redemption.

And of course, to suffer, especially for the sake of righteousness, is to participate in the cross of Christ. It is the means of moving forward as a disciple, as we take up our cross. It is the greatest of privileges, as God allows us to be afflicted just as He allowed His Son to be afflicted.

Fourth, like Mary, we must maintain our joy.
Mary exulted, "my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour." (Lk 1:47). Despite all her suffering, she chose to look at all the blessings she received from God. She was privileged to bring the Saviour of the world, into the world. She was the mother of God. She was treated in a very unique way by God, chosen from among all the women of the world. Indeed, again she exulted, "The Almighty One has done great things for me" (Lk 1:49). Mary rejoiced at Jesus' birth, at his presentation in the temple, at the generous words of Simeon and Anna, at the thirty years of family life they had in Nazareth, at his first miracle in Cana, at his healing and blessing many people, at his resurrection, and the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost, at the birth of the Church. Hers was not an easy life, but it was a life filled with joy.

We too, like Elizabeth and John in her womb when Mary visited, rejoice in the coming of Jesus into our lives and into our homes. We rejoice in the time of his visitation. We rejoice in the salvation brought by the  Saviour. We rejoice in the many miracles, big and small, that we experience in our day-to-day lives. We rejoice in the privilege of proclaiming Christ to the world.
When we have our focus right, when we put on the mind of Christ, we will be able to see all the things in life that we can and should rejoice in. These include even affliction and suffering, for its redemptive purpose. Whatever happens, whatever our situation, we can live out Paul's directive:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!" (Phil 4:4).

Responding to MARY in the work of Evangelisation and Family Renewal - part B

Below is an excerpt published and copyrighted by Frank Padilla of RESTORATION MOVEMENT FOR FAMILY AND LIFE MINISTRIES, INC. based in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. It is so well written, that it's well worth sharing! This is part of a series that I'm sharing... please see previous posts of this month if you're interested!


"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Ephesians 3:14-15)

The second part of our response is to work for the renewal of the family and the defines of life. Family and life go together. It is through the family that life comes into the world, and that life is nurtured in the family. It is the family members who go into the world to evangelise and do mission.

The enemy Satan knows the importance of the family. Strong Christian families are threats to his dominion over the world. Strong evangelising Christian families are even more so. Thus the enemy is committed to destroy the family. We see especially in this third millennium diabolical attacks as we had not seen before - such as the strong move by anti-life forces to make abortion a universal human right, the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, the assault on the Catholic Church from without and from within (The Catholic Church is the only effective institution that stands in the way of secular humanist, radical feminist and homosexualist forces in forcing their anti-family and anti-life agenda upon the world).
We need to resist the forces of evil. But we should not only be defensive, we must be proactive and go on the offensive. We do this by building strong Christian families.

It starts with individual renewal. Every person must have a personal relationship with Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Everyone must live in the power of the Holy Spirit. All should grow in holiness unto the Father.
Then husband and wife together need to be renewed in their spousal relationship. In the mystery of Christian marriage, they have become one (Gen 2:24). They live to love and serve the other, and both of them love and serve God. They grow in understanding and living out self-sacrificial love, in the very manner of Christ, with their relationship patterned after the very relationship of Jesus with his Church (Eph 5:22-33).
Then the circle of renewal radiates outward, to encompass their children. The parents "bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord." (Eph 6:4). The children grow to become obedient to and to honour and respect their parents (Eph 6:1-2). The very home becomes a school of formation in holiness and Christian virtues.

The renewed and evangelised family then evangelises other families. Family members go into the world to bring the gospel to every creature in every situation. They do this in the normal day-to-day environments of their lives - with their neighbours, relatives, co-workers, schoolmates, friends, even strangers. If they go forth with a desire to proclaim Christ, God will give them the opportunity.
The evangelised families form associations for mutual support and strength. Such lay associations, with more members and more resources, can then do an even greater work of evangelisation.
Ultimately, evangelisation spreads from the home to the neighbourhood, then to the town, then to the counties, then to the whole country, and thence to the whole world. Empowerment for mission truly brings the good news not just to Jerusalem, not just to Judea and Samaria, but to the ends of the earth.
Thus will the covenant of God with Abraham be fulfilled. "In your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Acts 3:25).

17 January 2013

Responding to MARY in the work of EVANGELISATION and FAMILY RENEWAL - part A

Below is an excerpt published and copyrighted by Frank Padilla of RESTORATION MOVEMENT FOR FAMILY AND LIFE MINISTRIES, INC. based in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. It is so well written, that it's well worth sharing! I have recently posted 4 blogposts leading up to this... please check them out so that you fully understand what this, and the next few posts are talking about :)


We have seen that evangelisation, family and Mary are all intimately linked together. Evangelisation is our basic mission in life as disciples of Jesus. Family is the basic unit of society and is key to the work of evangelisation. Mary is co-Mediatrix and co-Redemptrix with Jesus, is the Star of [the New] Evangelisation, and is our powerful intercessor for our challenging work on earth.

How do we respond to this?


"See, upon the mountains there advances the bearer of good news, announcing peace!" (Na 2:1)

We see that evangelisation proceeds from the salvation already won be Jesus on the cross. Salvation is God's work, It is divine work. It is achieved simply by God's grace and not by our human efforts.
But at the same time, in God's mysterious way, God uses human instruments to accomplish His divine purposes. Jesus accomplished everything on the cross, but then left the very precious gift of salvation in our hands. God has left it up to us to proclaim Christ and the salvation won on the cross. Thus Jesus issued his Great Commission to the disciples, and consequently to all of us.

This is a great mystery, that sinful human beings can do the divine work of a holy God. But this is precisely what God ordained. Paul said, "in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of the body, which is the church" (Col 1:24). Was JEsus' sacrifice laching? By no means! What God is doing is giving us the privilege of participating in the redemptive work of Christ.
We have already seen that one's experience of salvation depends on the process of evangelisation. People are sent, they preach the good news, others hear what is preached, by God's grace they believe in the gospel message, they then call upon the name of the Lord, and they appropriate for themselves the salvation won by Jesus for them on the cross (Rom 10:13-15).

Evangelisation is crucial work, entrusted by God to us.

The work of evangelisers is so crucial and so important that it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Rom 10:15). The full quote from the prophet Isaiah is as follows: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the fee of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, 'Your God is King!'" (Is 52:7). The gospel is glad tidings; it is good news. It brings salvation; it brings peace. It proclaims and establishes the lordship and kingship of Jesus over us.

Evangelisation is what connects people to salvation; it is what connects humanity to God. "This faith comes from what is heart, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ." (Rom 10:17).
We have seen that evangelisation brings us automatically unto spiritual warfare. This is because evangelisation is the very work of God and so is rabidly opposed by Satan. Satan will attack us with everything he has got. Thus we are instructed by Paul to put on the armour of God (Eph 6:11). Part of the armour is to have our "feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace." (Eph 6:15). Proclamation of the gospel throws us into spiritual warfare, but it is the proclamation of the gospel that protects us with the armour of God.

Our response to God's call is to proclaim the gospel. We must realise how important this work is. It is literally about life or death for people, about darkness or light for their lives, about hell or heaven for all eternity. It is about the great privilege given us by God to take hold of and be entrusted with the gift of salvation, to become His instruments for passing this salvation on to the world.

Paul realised this. "If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!" (1 Cor 9:16). We have an obligation to fulfill. We have been "entrusted with a stewardship" (1 Cor 9:17). God has made Himself dependent upon us. If after all these we still do not take the work of evangelisation seriously, then indeed woe ought to be upon us.

Evangelisation is God's work. Therefore we can expect that God will do everything to ensure that it proceeds according to His plan. However, since God has depended on us, and we very often are not that perfectly attuned to God's will, we can be the obstacles to the work. So we have to really strive to do our part.

First, our empowerment comes from the Holy Spirit. Thus we need to be baptised in the Holy Spirit. When the disciples received the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost, Peter preached a sermon and three thousand persons were converted (Acts 2:31). Then the Church grew rapidly, as "day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number." (Acts 16:5).
The promise of the Father is that "you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8). Baptism in the Spirit is empowerment for worldwide mission, which is the commission given by Jesus to his disciples.

Part of the baptism in the Spirit is growing as witnesses. What we proclaim is supported by what people see in us. We witness to the reality of Jesus present in our lives. And since the empowerment comes from the Holy Spirit, we become true witnesses as we ourselves grow in holiness. Peter said, "as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, 'Be holy because I am holy.'" (1 Pet 1:15-16).
We were created in the image and likeness of God. We are to once again reflect that image. As witnesses, people need to see Christ in us.

God went to great lengths to bring salvation to the world. The Father gave His very own Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Thus has God made a way to restore us to Himself. Unfortunately, many still have not heard the gospel. For those who have, many still do not accept his good news. As Paul said, "But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?" (Rom 10:16).

It is our task, bu the grace of God, to work and live such that we become credible witnesses, so that people will believe what they hear from us. We must not become the very obstacles to the effective proclamation of the gospel. God's word has power, God's grace is sufficient, and God has already prepared the harvest. If only we would become a holy people bursting with zeal for the gospel, then we will experience God's hand upon us, and see the evangelisation of the world.

16 January 2013

MARY in the work of EVANGELISATION and FAMILY RENEWAL - part 4

Below is an excerpt published and copyrighted by Frank Padilla of RESTORATION MOVEMENT FOR FAMILY AND LIFE MINISTRIES, INC. based in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. It is so well written, that it's well worth sharing! This is the final part of the second section of the little booklet.


"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers" (Genesis 3:15)

There is one person whom we can never ignore in our work of evangelisation ad family renewal. That is Satan. Satan opposes anything and everything that is of God. Satan wants to destroy God's work, foremost of which is the family. Satan attacks and oppresses those who do the work of evangelisation.

When we evangelise, we automatically get involved in spiritual warfare. When we evangelise, we are working to bring Satan's captives away from his dominion and back into the kingdom of God. He will not idly sit by as that happens. He will attack with all his might.
When we work to renew and strengthen the family, Satan also will not sit idly by. He is committed to destroy the family. He does not want to see family relationships that reflect the relationship within the Godhead. He opposes the formation of homes that are pieces of Kingdom ground. He will strongly move to destroy the training facilities for evangelisers and missionaries.

Now when we talk about Satan and spiritual warfare, we see that in the midst of it all is Mary and her Son Jesus. This makes the conflict a family affair. Look at the Bible, which relates to us the history of salvation, from Genesis to Revelation. In the book of Genesis, Satan is able to thwart God's plan causing Adam and Eve to disobey God and this sun, resulting in their punishment and eventual expulsion from paradise. But God does not give up His plan of having His creatures together with Him in perfect and eternal bliss. So if not there in paradise, then it would be later in heaven. God then puts His plan of salvation into action, beginning with a prophecy about the Saviour. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will string at your head, while you strike at his heel." (Gen 3:15). Amidst the gloom and doom, there is this ray of light and hope.

The woman and her offspring mentioned are two persons who are not even supposed to be in the scene in paradise. The only protagonists there, aside from God, are the serpent, Adam and Eve. But according to the prophetic word, the offspring of the woman is Jesus. And the woman of course is his mother, Mary.
The spiritual warfare was occasioned by God's plan of salvation. According to that plan, mother and Son are at the forefront of the spiritual warfare that has started in paradise.

Now fast forward to the book of Revelation. Actually, as we shall see, it is more of fast backward to a time even before the creation of the world and the conflict in Eden.
Here we see in Jon's vision the appearance of "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under feet, and on her head a crown of twelve start." (Rev 12:1). She was pregnant with child and about to give birth. Then there was a huge red dragon waiting to devour her child when she gave birth. The woman did give birth to a son, and the dragon failed to devour him. She herself fled to a place prepared by God.
"Then war broke out in heaven" (Rev 12:17). The archangel Michael with his angels fought against the dragon with its angels. "The hugh dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it." (Rev 12:9). Satan was defeated by Michael. This happened before the events in paradise. In Eden it was already Satan who tempted Eve and caused her and Adam's downfall.

The spiritual warfare did not end with the epic battle in heaven. The dragon pursued the woman. Then, angry with the woman and frustrated with its inability to destroy her child, it "went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring" (Rev 12:17). Those are us! As we do the work of evangelisation, we engage in spiritual warfare. This war is intense, as "the Devil has come down to you in great fury, for he knows he has but a short time." (Rev 12:12).

Once again, as in the book of Genesis, the spiritual warfare is between the serpent and the woman and her son. And again, the son is Jesus and the woman is Mary. As we look at the history of the work of salvation, punctuated by constant spiritual warfare, we see that it is Jesus, and Mary, who are right in the midst of it all.


"Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." (John 19:27)

There were many happy times in the life of mother and Son. One was the delightful incident at the wedding in Cana. The wine had run short and Mary brought it to the attention of Jesus. Jesus rebuffed her, saying his time had not yet come. Mary just confidently "said to the servers, 'Do whatever he tells you.'" (Jn 2:5). Jesus then performed his first miracle.
Even here, mother and Son teamed up to redeem the disastrous situation of wine running out in the midst of the wedding celebration.

But the most important work of redemption happened on the cross at Calvary. Jesus gave his life for the salvation of the world. True to her prominent role in the history of salvation, it was fitting that right there at the foot of the cross was Mary. She was right there at the beginning when Jesus came to live in and from her womb' she was right there at the end when Jesus gave his life and died on the cross. She was there in the beginning when enmity between her and the serpent was pronounced by God, with the prophecy that her Son would crush the serpent's head; she was there in the end at the foot of the cross when Jesus, together with his subsequent resurrection, did in fact crush the serpent's head.

Now something else very significant happened. "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." (Jn 19:26-27). Jesus, after his death and resurrection, would ascent into heave. But the tandem of mother and son would continue in the work of salvation. Jesus gave Mary and John to each other.

John represents all of us. We are the disciples whom Jesus loves and whom he looks to to proclaim the salvation he won on the cross to the whole world. In order for us to effectively do that, we need our mother Mary. She is the one ho gave birth to the Saviour, and she is the one who has been prominent in the spiritual war that has descended upon the world.

Just like John, we are to take Mama Mary into our homes. With her wisdom, guidance and intercession, we will be able to effectively face and defeat the enemy. With her maternal love present in our homes, we will be families that God can use to accomplish His work of salvation.