Emptying my cup

One day, tired and exhausted, I asked the Lord, how much further should I stoop, in obedience? I heard Him whisper, in my thoughts… As God made himself man, as God was nailed to the cross… I froze, and felt a sore sting in my heart. It hurt to realize the height of my pride. It wouldn’t hurt that much had I not built this vice over the years. I’ve often pondered on the dangers of self-sufficiency and independence. It’s hard to re-order my values and beliefs and rebuild a new foundation, a rightful foundation – the Lord. I was raised this way, I would stubbornly say this to the Lord. Will He forgive me for attempting to excuse myself? Will He understand my upbringing? My past?

However, with much introspection these past few months, I cannot further make lame excuses. Excuses only aid the strengthening of my pride, and has become a euphemism for denying the truth – that I am wrong – hence, there is a clear need to re-order my perspective – so that the grace of the Lord can flow, and that virtues may permeate in this frail mind and body, which have grown attached to worldly comforts and pleasures.  In short, I have to empty my cup with self-centered woes, and to become Christ-centered and more empathetic.

St. Josemaria Escriva told me one day, through his writings the danger of pride… Pride brings with it a whole string of vices: greed, self-indulgence, envy, injustice. The proud man is always vainly striving to dethrone God, who is merciful to all his creatures, so as to make room for himself and his ever cruel ways.(Friends of God)

And so the antidote is to forgive. The most loving thing to do is to be merciful, as the Lord is. To remember that the Lord has forgiven me first, for my repeated and ugly weaknesses. I have to accept that each of us are weak, and I cannot say that others’ weaknesses are uglier than mine. Because the truth is, the duty of judging others does not fall on my lot. It is the Lord’s. He is the rightful judge.  My duty, I firmly believe, is to love, as He had shown how.  On the Holy Cross.

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My deep sigh

Oh that ache
That longing
That You are causing…
You,
to whom
I give my heart.

You left
a permanent void
in my being
that this world
just cannot fill.

How should I respond?
Will you teach me?
Guide me, please,
my Beloved?

How should one respond to
a love as great
and as unconditional
as the one you have given me?

A love that overwhelms,
That consumes,
But at the same time,
frees?

An endless ache.
A deep longing.
I love you,
In the profoundest sense
That my humanity can make.

Raising my palms

On Palm Sunday, I was given the task to raise the palms and have them blessed for our family. So I stood at the entrance of my hometown cathedral, waiting for the Holy Mass to start. As I stood there and waited, my mind took me to that ancient time in Jerusalem… I was there at the stone gates – perspiring and waiting, waiting excitedly for Him! – the one they call the Messiah! He will free us! He will free me! I have heard of His coming! So I flocked as the others flocked, with green palms in my hands, to welcome Him, my King!

We raised our palms to welcome our King, yet we chastised him few days later… We raised our voices shouting Hosana, yet we condemned Him to die a criminal’s death when we cannot accept the truth of His kingship… 

His kingship is paradoxical: his throne is the cross; his crown is made of thorns; he has no sceptre, but a reed is put into his hand; he does not have luxurious clothing, but is stripped of his tunic; he wears no shiny rings on his fingers, but his hands are pierced with nails; he has no treasure, but is sold for thirty pieces of silver. [Pope Francis’ homily, Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, 20 November 2016]

I am back in the present, in my hometown cathedral, wearing modern-day clothes. O how fickle-minded am I, my Lord!… A lump was slowly forming in my throat. I tried to suppress my tears and my eyes started to moist. Sprinkles of holy water touched my arms and my face… Other mass-goers raised their palms and began shaking them, as if they were the people of Jerusalem. As I raised my palms, I offered up my sins, my weaknesses, my shortcomings. O my King accept them! Do not shun them away!

The cathedral bell rang, and the priest started to read the opening rites. 

Dry Well

Woo me, Beloved.
My heart has hardened,
and my eyes remain dry
even at the sight
of misery, suffering and death.
I have consumed,
yet I am empty.
I know that
this is the kind of heart
You would spurn.
Because it is
a clean one You want –
broken and humbled.
I am wrestling,
grappling with Your angel…
“Give me my blessing!”
This is my silent utterance.
Words are just 
too shallow to describe
my estrangement…
An unspeakable kind
of aridity is forming
at the depths of my soul.
“Why will You not respond?!”
This is my truthful cry…

Then comes the calm…
A downpour has begun.

My wounds for yours

Beloved, I ask you to see,
not only with your eyes,
but also with your heart…
these wounds that I bore.

Come closer,
and put your hands at my back.
Feel the scars on which I carried the wooden cross.
Here, on my knees,
are the marks of the times I fell,
on my way to my Crucifixion.
Here, around my head
a crown of thorns had been forcefully pushed, and been beaten…

Look at my hands and my feet –
You see the holes in which nails were hammered through?
At my side, a lance was pierced,
where blood and water gushed.

Most painful of all, dearly beloved,
Are the wounds in my heart,
And in my mind –
The memories –
of being betrayed by a friend with a kiss,
for thirty pieces of silver;
of seeing others run away
when I was being unjustly arrested and falsely accused…
of being denied by one of my most trusted ones,
before the cock crowed to signal the dawn of a new day;
of women wailing and crying,
of the people I love shouting,
“Crucify!”
…And seeing a most beloved mother
bear my Passion
in the most profound silence and humility.

Take a look at my wounds, my beloved,
I invite you to hide yours in mine.

Ireland

Kind wind, take me to the place where greens abound,
And the sun warmly shines over a cool mist;
Where strings and pipes create mystical rhythms,
pacifying my soul;
And where hearts and hands are kind,
and everybody smiles like the sunshine.

Oh, Land of the Celts,
Speak to me of your mystery…
A curious foreigner am I,
in blood, lineage, and ancestry.
But in the ancient Faith, I am one of your daughters.
All of us are but the gentiles of Israel,
gathered by the blood of Christ.

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Noontime Rendezvous

“I’ll meet you at noon,” I said.
I thought I could spare some time.
“I’ll wait for you,” You said.
I pretended not to hear.

At noon, I talked.
You listened.
I smiled quietly.
I may not have heard You speak of it
but Your eyes tell me, “I’m here.”

“Let’s do this again,” I suggested,
With a blush, with a bite of my lip.
“Sure!” was Your immediate response.
“Let’s meet at noon,” I concluded.
“Let’s!” You said with a smile,
and with Your beautiful voice trailing off…

At noon, I chattered a bit.
You listened.
Quietness filled the void.
And I was content.
You started to speak,
and I immersed myself
in Your beautiful voice,
in Your comforting words.

“Tomorrow? Again? Noontime?”
You concluded.
This rendezvous ending so soon?
I yearn for more time with You.
Thus I replied to Your question with a nod,
reassuring You with my silence.
“I am excited for tomorrow,”
I whispered.

And so, every noon time,
I meet You.
I recline to hear You,
To receive You,
To let You touch my heart.