A Favorite Quote from C.S. Lewis

Quote

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Looking forward to reading this book because of this quote!

Alleluia! Love, Intimacy, and Easter – Part 5

For a recap of the entire series: See Part 1 here. See Part 2 here. See Part 3 here. See Part 4 here.

5. “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” – Fr. Pedro Arrupe S.J., former Superior General

I think what often gets left out of the search to love and be love is God who is Love itself, who is perfect unconditional love! In the first letter of St. John, he tells us that God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. The fact that we are able to love and be loved in the first place is derived from our Creator.

As a kid in Catholic school, I could never understand the story of Jesus being asked what the greatest commandment in all of the law is: He answers that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.  The thing that always got me was that he was asked for one (implied in the singular use of “commandment”) but answered with two. Like, Jesus, I know you’re awesome and all, and I’mma let you finish…but do you wanna double-check that math? What I came to understand later, though, was that it really is one commandment! Love of God and love of neighbor cannot be separated: there’s two sides to this coin called love.

Loving God and hating your neighbor (especially the prickly ones!) is a contradiction. St. John tells us: “If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20-21) Pretty straight-forward right?

However, I think what’s less clear is that loving others well is very difficult without a love for God as well. In modern times, discussions of idolatry tend to circle around the “big three”: money, power, and sex, but I think we also put people ahead of God as idols as well, which is easily seen in the nature of celebrity in mainstream culture today. However, we can also make idols of the people that are closest to us, the people we love the most and whom we desire to be loved by the most! Think about it: when a family member, friend, or significant other does something to disappoint, hurt, or frustrate us, even unintentionally, we tend to feel more strongly about it than we would if say, an acquaintance or co-worker did the same thing. We feel this way because our loved ones are closer to us and more important to us, and that makes us more vulnerable. Even though we may know in our heads that they are imperfect, flawed, and yes, sinful just like everyone else (and us!), somehow we can still manage to be shocked when this comes out (and it will happen, trust). We expect perfect love from imperfect people!

Growing in a loving relationship with God gives us perspective in our relationships with our neighbors by re-aligning our expectations of love. God is perfect, unchanging, unconditional love, and if we allow God to love us perfectly, then we can have more patience to love and be loved by others in our human, imperfect ways. It’s easier to deal with people popping quills when you A) know that they have them, and B) expect they will sometimes use them. As the saying goes, if we let God be God, we can let people be human, meaning: we can stop expecting people to be perfect.

But why do we struggle to love God? One answer is that like in our human relationships, we’re afraid. We don’t trust that God loves us in that unconditional manner that we all want and need: we’re like our forebears, Adam and Eve, who ate that apple from the Tree of Knowledge, even though God told them they would die, because they were afraid that God was holding out on them. Or maybe we worry that we’ve done so much bad stuff in our lives, turned away from God so much, that we convince ourselves (or maybe, the devil convinces us?) that God couldn’t possibly love us anymore in the way he claims to love us. So despite the fact that God knows us perfectly, and wants the best for us, in our lack of faith and trust we try to separate ourselves from Him.

However, God is always with us, constantly revealing Himself to us, waiting for us to respond and accept his love and help, at any time, in any place, whether we go to Mass every week or haven’t stepped foot in church in years, whether or not we pray every day, whether we think we deserve it or not! As Fr. Jim Martin, S.J. writes in his book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, God meets us where we’re at – so where we’re at is a place where we can meet God. I don’t need to learn how to pray better or more often before God will love me; I don’t need to do more community service or learn to not get angry on the freeway before God will love me (though in Southern CA, I think accomplishing the later may qualify you for sainthood!). Love, that is, God, is here, now, and reaching out to you: all you have to do is accept 🙂

And if you do, I can promise you out of personal experience, that finding God, falling in love in that absolute, final way, is to live life the way we were meant to live it 😀

Alleluia! Love, Intimacy, and Easter – Part 4

See Part 1 here. See Part 2 here. See Part 3 here.

4. “I want to live my whole life like that. I want to love with much more abandon and stop waiting for others to love me first.” – John Eldredge, Wild at Heart

I’ve made my choice. I’m tired of only seeing the two options of fight or flight. Tired of diving for cover, tired of lashing out, all for the sake of “protecting” myself.

I also don’t want to settle for being the “nice guy”: someone polite and politically correct, someone who won’t assert or initiate, someone non-confrontational. Because this too, can be a mask: by being unwilling to initiate or confront, by trying to get along to go along, I think we can end up closing ourselves off from the intimacy and the love we’re seeking. Being “nice” is not enough.

I want to live a life of truly loving and being loved, of revealing my real self to others and encouraging others to reveal themselves to me, of living to become what God made me to be and helping others become who God made them to be. To do this, I know that I have to learn to love recklessly with abandon: to live the heroic, courageous, radical kind of love that initiates relationship without regard to the possibility that love may not be returned right away, or maybe even ever! This is absolutely terrifying, because I will get hurt by some people: human nature, compounded by sin, practically guarantees this!

I’m far from perfect, far from the saint I aim to be, far from the best version of myself that God wants me to be. I’m sinful, I’m selfish, I lose patience sometimes, I get angry sometimes, I do dumb things sometimes! I’ll hurt others, sometimes without realizing it, and sometimes on purpose. Sometimes the fears can become so overwhelming that I’ll lose heart and resort to popping my quills or running away. I will screw up, I will fail: I get it when St. Paul says to the Romans when he says that he does not do the good he wants, but the evil he does not want. I get it because I do this too! And even beyond all that, I’m naturally introverted and painfully shy…that’s a lot of hurdles to leap over!

But maybe…courage is contagious. Maybe by living courageously, with God’s help we can pull others from their tombs of loneliness and isolation. Maybe taking that risk can encourage others to do the same: by putting away those quills and asking to dance, others just might put theirs away and accept that dance. 🙂

So I think I’ll take Bl. Pope JP2’s advice, straight out of Scripture, one of the most common exhortations God has for his people: “Be not afraid!” Leave the life of the chicken, and soar as the eagle!

See Part 5 here.

Alleluia! Love, Intimacy, and Easter – Part 3

See Part 1 here. See Part 2 here.

3. “We all want to get close without getting hurt. We meet neighbors, talk with coworkers, go on dates, and join church groups. We try to stay away from particularly prickly people. But the problem is not just them. It’s us. I’m someone’s porcupine. And so are you.” – Brandon Vogt, Dance of the Porcupines

So yes, despite the fact that we were made to love and be loved, we’re really afraid of intimacy, of revealing ourselves to others, because we’re afraid that if people really knew us, they wouldn’t love us anymore. As Brandon Vogt reminds us in his article (linked above), this is also true for everyone we meet, which makes this “love and be loved” business even more challenging!

The tricky thing about fear is that it generally evokes one of two responses: fight, or flight. We either hide as has been discussed, or like porcupines we pop out our quills and try to sting someone away: we might do this with sarcasm, or arrogance, or contempt, or self-righteousness, or jealousy, or selfishness, or pointed, piercing words. Sometimes we label and dismiss the people we encounter in order to convince ourselves that knowing and being known by the individual, in other words, loving him/her, is not really worth our time. However, this aggressiveness, though its forms may be deeply ingrained in us and we can easily unsheathe them for battle, is really just another form of hiding. These forms are not a fundamental part of who we are but rather are an arsenal we build up in our weakness, our sinfulness, and fears.

But despite our deepest fear, that if we reveal ourselves we will no longer be loved, we desperately long for love: we still want to get close, but without getting hurt. We want this because this is who God made us to be, to love and be loved! So how do we deal with this conflict: the fear of rejection versus our created purpose of loving and being loved?

There are two choices: you can continue to hide, cut yourself off from others, and lose yourself in loneliness. Or you can chose to rise from the tomb, and as Mr. Vogt suggests, learn to pull your quills in, take off your mask, and ask if you may have this dance. Because it’s not just other people’s quills that are the problem: our quills are also the problem.

Yes, to pull our quills in is to possibly risk getting stung. But could you also just imagine how beautifully we could dance to God’s music? I think that this image is part of what the Resurrection promises us: living as an Easter people and learning to dance with each other in this life is a foretaste of the big dance of Heaven 🙂

See Part 4 here. See Part 5 here.

Alleluia! Love, Intimacy, and Easter – Part 2

See Part 1 of the series here.

2. “Life is about love…Intimacy is self-revelation: intimacy is me revealing myself to you, and you revealing yourself to me. Intimacy is to know and be known. But very often we don’t reveal ourselves…we hide ourselves…Why?…We’re afraid that if people really knew us, they wouldn’t love us anymore. That’s our core fear…when they do come and say ‘I love you,’ in the back of our minds we’re thinking ‘no, you love the person you think I am…but if you really knew me, you wouldn’t love me anymore.’ And so even when people do love us, we’re not able to receive their love, because we haven’t revealed ourselves. What’s the opposite of intimacy? Loneliness…you can be in a crowd and be lonely, you can be in a relationship and be desperately lonely. You can be in a relationship that other people think is a great relationship, and still be desperately lonely, because you’re not known, because you either don’t have the ability or don’t have the opportunity to reveal yourself.” – Matthew Kelly, The Seven Levels of Intimacy (on CD)

So yes, we were created to love and be loved, and we know this deep in the core of our beings…but why is it so freaking hard? Why do we allow all the “urgent stuff” in our lives come before the fundamental purpose of our lives? Well, in our weaknesses, frailties, faults, flaws, scars, brokenness, and yes, sinfulness, we hide because we’re afraid to love and be loved, and Matthew Kelly nails it. We hide behind carefully constructed masks because of this fear, and in doing so we render ourselves incapable of accomplishing that fundamental purpose of love, of knowing and being known!

And not only do we do this with people in our lives, we comically and tragically try to do this with God too! It’s comical because even though God knows everything about us and is with us all the time, thought about us before beginning the work of creation, and knew us before he knit us in our mothers’ wombs, we still try to tell him that he’s unwelcome in certain aspects of our lives: when we go to Church, it’s all good with God, but when we’re at work, go out on dates, hang out with friends, watch movies/TV, go on the Internet, etc. we tell God to butt out. Or, because of bad decisions we’ve made in the past in certain aspects of our lives, we feel ashamed and we hide from Him. What’s tragic about this is he loves us perfectly; really, He does, and He wants us to experience joy and happiness in our lives, and in the new life to come!

And so, because we hide and cut ourselves off from receiving the love of God and of others, we become lonely. Mother Teresa once said that though she served among the poorest of the poor and bore witness to their poverty, those in developed nations suffer another type of poverty: a poverty of love. In my life I’ve witnessed this in people around me…and I myself have felt the desperate pain of loneliness. I know what it is to feel unworthy of love, to be hurt, to hide myself, and sink into loneliness. This experience of loneliness can drive us into despair, cause us to disbelieve in the power of Good over Evil, Love over Hate, even question the existence of real love…and that despair can have tragic consequences. We can get trapped in our loneliness and have no way out, and this experience of loneliness is the same experience Jesus went through, when he was betrayed by one of his top 12 friends, when the same people who celebrated his entrance on Jerusalem on Sunday turned around and cried out for him to be crucified, when he cried out to the Father on the Cross, “Why have you forsaken me?” Yes, this feeling of loneliness can be a brush with death, our own personal crucifixions.

So like cat in the picture, we’re afraid, so we hide…and then we can’t be seen. But if we’re invisible, we can’t love or be loved, and we begin to die inside. And not only do we start to die inside: our relationships, they too start to die.

See Part 3 here. See Part 4 here. See Part 5 here.

Alleluia! Love, Intimacy, and Easter – Part 1

I can finally say the “A-word” now: ALLELUIA! Jesus Christ is risen!

In honor of Easter, I’d like to share five quotes/paraphrases I’ve been thinking and meditating about a lot lately; these words summarize my Lenten journey this year, but I think, also my life journey. I’ll throw in my own thoughts about each one, in this and the next few posts.

1. “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself; his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This is why Christ the Redeemer fully reveals man to himself.” – Blessed Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II

As some folks in my life know, I’ve spent a lot of time lately pondering some big-picture questions: who am I? What was I made for? Where am I going in life? What is God calling me to do, to be? What is my vocation? Am I called to find, marry, and become husband to the love of my life and become a father to a few beautiful children? Am I called to the priesthood or religious life, to become a husband “in persona Christi” to the Church and become a spiritual father to many beautiful children? How is He answering me in the world around me, in my thoughts, in my feelings (crap, not the f-word…:-P)? Am I living my life in a manner that brings me closer to God, that make me more holy each day?

Sometimes searching for answers to these questions can get overwhelming, and even frustrating, but then these words of Bl. Pope JP2 settle me down: these questions, though important, are intended to help guide me to better live that purpose that we were all created for – we were created by Love itself in order to love and be loved! The love JP2 speaks of here isn’t just the emotion or the warm-and-fuzzies, but rather that deeper, fuller meaning of love known as agape: an act of the will that consists of the lover preferring the good of the beloved, even before the good of him/herself.

Christ told us that the greatest commandment was to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strengths, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Then by his life, death, and resurrection, He told us “I’ll show you how to do it”: being perfectly loved by and perfectly loving the Father, and being imperfectly loved by humanity yet still choosing to perfectly love humanity – dying on the cross to wash away our sins, and rising from the dead to give us hope in new life with Him!

So I think what God’s telling me here is, yes, the questions are important, but they’re details; Love and let yourself be loved, right here, right now, and we’ll hash out the details in time. 🙂

See Part 2 here. See Part 3 here. See Part 4 here. See Part 5 here.

A Theology of Dance – Part 1 (really, how a clumsy introvert finds God on stage)

In addition to being a Catholic youth minister, another major aspect of my life right now is Kayamanan ng Lahi, “Treasures of our People,” an LA-based community folk arts organization committed to presenting, promoting and preserving the richness and diversity of Philippine culture through dance and music, to educate, entertain and enlighten:

(Video credit to UCLA PAA)

Now that we’ve just finished putting on a great show, Agos, for the Sounds of LA series at the Getty Center, I finally have the opportunity to sit back and reflect on where the past 10 years of Filipino folk dance, beginning at UCLA and continuing today through KnL, has lead me.

When one thinks about a “dancer,” one generally thinks of someone who is highly talented, self-confident, out-going and extroverted, loves the spotlight, creative, has a great sense of rhythm and music, graceful, poised, expressive, and is super-comfortable with his/her body and expressing various emotions and characters through movement.

Now if you take all those qualities, stuff them in a bag…then exchange that bag for a bag that holds the exact opposite of the first one, that’s a pretty good partial description of me: an introvert that would probably be much more comfortable in a monastery or chapel than on center stage, not very confident in myself, not particularly coordinated or graceful, and generally finds the experience of being on stage trying to share something of myself and my culture with an audience to be very paradoxically draining and energizing experience.

From a talent-centered view, the best I can say about myself is that I like to work hard at what I do despite having little natural talent at it. Also, I have been fortunate enough to have been well-trained over the years by immensely talented, wonderful, patient teachers, mentors, and partners who somehow (by the grace of God, seriously) manage to make me not look like the scrub that I am, and I submit this as empirical evidence of the existence of God 😛 But overall, to call me a “dancer” in the usual sense of the word (I think) is to use the term in a very loose and generous manner.

So the questions here are, how does someone who seems (or at least feels) so ill-suited to the nature of the performing arts end up on the stage, not just once, but for 10 years? What motivates me to do the exact opposite of what my personality and natural inclinations would generally lead me to do? Why do I do this?

The answer is that for me, Kayamanan ng Lahi (and more generally FIlipino folk arts) is an encounter with the living God, which is pretty much the best reason, and in the final analysis, the only enduring reason, to do anything, no? The Jesuits have a simple motto that reflects their spirituality: finding God in all things; and I find God very clearly and easily in KnL and in Filipino folk dance. My experiences in Kayamanan have, as the old Baltimore catechism said, helped me to know, love, and serve God in this life so that I may (hopefully) be with Him forever in the next.

So how do I find God in KnL? Well, stay tuned for the next episode of “A Theology of Dance (really, how a clumsy introvert finds God on stage)” 🙂

LA Religious Education Congress in Quotes and Paraphrases

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship.”

– Sr. Edith Prendergast

Food is Love!

We need more PB&J (Patience, Balance, Joy).

Jesus may be 1/4 Filipino =D

– Cooking Priest, Fr. Leo Patalinghug

“We ain’t Chickens! We Eagles!”

– Fr. Tony Ricard

“There’s nothing wrong with Catholicism that can’t be fixed with what’s right about Catholicism.”

“Meet people where they are, and lead them where God is calling them to be.”

– Matthew Kelly

“When you can look into the eyes of another and see them as a brother or a sister, it is dawn. Until then it is still night.”

– Fr. Anthony Gittins

“Like ill-taught piano players, we don’t hear the music, we only play the right notes.”

“Whether you like it or not, or believe it or not, you have the light of Christ within you, and you look just like your Father.”

– Terry Hershey

“I cannot believe that they would elect a cowboy Pope. But can you imagine how much fun it would be?!?” (a paraphrase from a colleague journalist RE: Cardinal Dolan’s chances of becoming pope one day)

– John Allen Jr.

“If you’re deadly serious, you’re seriously dead!”

“Imagine looking at God looking at you and smiling!”

“Don’t should all over yourself!”

– Fr. James Martin S.J.

And one more just for fun: “It’s like the Twinkie fairy came to our doorstep!”

Alright, back to Lenten posts – Personal Resolution #1: the 40 Day Rosary Challenge

Ok, so finally, finally getting back to the topic of Lent: several days ago I said I would share some of the personal practices I’ve chosen to incorporate into my life during Lent. It’s been a while since my last post because I’ve been busy with rehearsals for KnL’s Getty show (more on that at the end) and other stuff.

Anyways, what I wanted to write about today is the 40 Day Rosary Challenge!

I’ve noticed Rosaries occasionally worn as jewelry by folks who may or may not be aware of what the Rosary actually is (a tool to aid in a specific form of prayer), so I’d like to start off with this video:

If you’re like the woman in the video, and your mind just got blown by the idea that the Rosary is about prayer and not about the beads themselves, or maybe you’re not familiar with the Rosary and want to know how it works, check out this link to download basic instructions on how to pray the Rosary.

http://rosaryarmy.newevangelizers.com/prayers/

Many books, articles, videos, homilies, lectures, reflections, etc. on how to pray the rosary and why to pray the Rosary have been written/made/given by people who are way more qualified than me, including, priests, bishops, Popes, deacons, monks, friars, sisters, nuns, and Saints, so I’ll leave it to them to share the wisdom of the Church on the devotion of the Rosary (if you’re interested, Google can help:-) ). Instead, I’d like to share why I am specifically making a Rosary-a-day one of my Lenten practices this year, even though it’s a prayer form that is typically associated with the nice old grandmas that hang out at Church a lot:

1. The Rosary (re)acquaints us with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – while the rosary at first glance seems like a boring repetitive exercise of prayers that cradle Catholics learned very young, the Rosary is actually centered around reflection on different parts of Jesus’s life, as outlined in the Mysteries that accompany each decade of the Rosary. The Knights of Columbus (3rd degree member here!) refer to the rosary as praying the Gospel. While Christians of different denominations sometimes disagree on different practices and teachings, one of the things we generally agree on is that knowledge of the Gospel is a foundational aspect of being Christian. The Rosary can be a great tool to help us recall what we’ve read in Scripture.

2. The Rosary can be an exercise in praying using the imagination – praying with one’s imagination is one of the Jesuits’ favorite forms of prayer: as I understand it, in the Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, he instructs us to use our imaginations to meet Jesus in several different scenes of the Gospel. Similarly, the rosary is an excellent way to engage this part of ourselves. Since each decade of the Rosary is associated with a part of Jesus’s life, we can engage our imaginations to insert ourselves into the scene: what does the landscape look like, smell like, feel like? What kind of clothes are people wearing? What do Jesus, his Mother, his Apostles and followers, and others look like? What are they talking about? The imagination can be a powerful place in which Jesus comes alive, meets us wherever we are, and even speaks to us directly.

3. The Rosary is a great meditation – This generally flows from #1 and 2 as far as providing us what to meditate on, and how we can meditate mentally. But while the individual prayers of the Rosary themselves can also be the focus of meditation, for the purposes of meditating on the various Gospel scenes presented in each set of Mysteries, the repeated prayers help establish a “rhythm” to the meditation that aid us in entering a meditative state. Also, vocally reciting the prayers allows us to engage our bodies in prayer as we engage our minds, hearts, and souls – in other words, the Rosary can engage the wholeness of the human person.

4. The Rosary is a great way to pray for others – praying a Rosary involves at least (I think) 67 prayers recited, which if offered individually for different intentions, is a lot! If you instead offer the entire Rosary for one specific intention, that’s a lot of prayer behind it! Any way that you decide to offer the Rosary for others is a good thing. As Jesus tells us, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be open to you!”

5. The Rosary can give us a break from our daily lives – yes, one can pray the Rosary even while going about one’s business: it’s one of my favored activities when trapped in the “purgatory” known as California freeway traffic. But to engage in the meditative aspect of it, it helps to set aside a specific time to engage in prayer. While daily life can get overwhelming with tasks, I try to keep in mind the words of one saint who said “everyone needs to pray for a half hour a day, unless they’re busy. Then they need to pray for an hour a day.” Personally, I find that making the time to pray, especially when I’m busy, can actually bring more order to my day: I get a clearer picture of what’s really important that needs to be done, my stress level goes down, I am more relaxed and smile more, and overall, my day just gets better!

6. His mom’s always willing to help us out – Jesus, of course, did a great job on earth of following the 10 Commandments, one of which is honoring one’s mother and father. His mother, Mary, plays a very special and unique role in what is referred to as “salvation history.” Just as Jesus listened to his mother while he was on earth, he still listens to her up in heaven, so while we can always pray directly to Jesus, asking his mom to pray for us (just like we would ask others on earth to pray for us) is probably a smart move!

Even though I know it’s good for me for all these reasons and more, I’m really bad at it! The fact is, I am quite well acquainted with the fact that I’m a sinner, that I have tendencies and inclinations that aren’t the best, that I don’t always find the motivation to do the right thing. Especially when it comes to the Rosary, I tend to find that I lose myself in the ins and outs of daily life and won’t always make the time to pray and talk with God. And those times that I do, I always find it a challenge to stay focused and engaged: when praying, my mind can flash through a seemingly countless number of things that don’t have anything to do with prayer (mostly this is an unconscious wandering, but occasionally it can be intentional)! Sometimes I even nod off or fall asleep!

But, one of the reasons that I call myself a practicing Catholic is because I stink at being one, and as they say, practice makes perfect, no? 😛 I am also fully aware that my desire for sainthood is not something I could hope to attain through my own effort and actions, that only the gift of God’s grace could even make this a possibility. Fortunately, God’s the generous type, so much that he sent his only Son who not only suffered and died for our sins and rose from the dead, he founded the Church on earth to help guide us back to Him and sent his Holy Spirit to guide this Church, as well as each one of us individually and personally! So, I took up the Rosary Challenge as a way to get better at it, and I’m hoping that it bears much spiritual fruit. 🙂

So, here’s where audience participation comes in! If you have any special intentions that you would like me to pray for, or even if you’d just like to have someone praying for you in general, feel free to hit me up: drop a comment here, or get in touch with me via Facebook or Twitter, and I’d be glad to pray for you! This helps out both of us: you get someone praying for you and you’re helping me keep one of my Lenten practices going, and I get help keeping up with a Lenten practice and get to engage in a spiritual work of mercy. Now that’s what I call “winning”!

If you would like more information on the Rosary, including the history behind it, what each of the prayers mean, why Catholics pray (or should pray) it, and how we should pray it, check out Catholic Answers page below:

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-rosary

In my next post, I’ll discuss why I am part of Kayamanan ng Lahi, a Philippine folk arts organization based in LA. Why would I write about folk dance on a spiritual blog? Well, you’ll just have to come back to find out, won’t you? It probably won’t come up until after we perform in this though:

http://www.getty.edu/museum/programs/performances/sounds_la.html

A reflection on seeking one’s vocation

Ok…still lagging on the Lenten practice post, but I have been drafting it, I promise!

Anyways, people in my life are aware to a varying extent (read: not at all to fairly knowledgeable) of my search for my vocation. The idea of a vocation is not very well understood, so here’s a definition from Dictionary.com:

vo·ca·tion [voh-key-shuhn] – noun

1. a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling.

2. a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.

3. a divine call to God’s service or to the Christian life.

4. a function or station in life to which one is called by God: the religious vocation; the vocation of marriage.

The story of my on-going vocation search is a winding one, best left for another post (or two, or three…or more?), but for the purpose of this post, it is sufficient to say that my search has been one of joy and excitement and growth in my desire to know, love, and serve God in this life and be with Him forever in the next. At other times (for example, lately), I feel a sense of tension, disappointment, confusion, even spiritual desolation.

At times like these, I revisit this reflection from Blessed John Cardinal Newman that I ran into a while ago and copied down into my travel notebook. If you’ve ever felt a sense of tension over what you’re doing with your life, where you’re going…or to what God is calling you, I hope you find this as helpful as I do:

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in the chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His Commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him; whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”