Monthly Archives: April 2014

Holy Week

Palm Sunday marked the beginning of Holy week. It’s the last week of the Lenten season, when we commemorate the death of Christ on Good Friday and subsequently His resurrection on Easter Sunday. It’s a significant period in a Christian’s life because it reminds us of Christ’s triumph over death; thus encouraging us to persevere because if we do, we too–like Him-shall be conquerors. The last three days before Easter Sunday; i.e. Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are the most important of this season.

On Holy Thursday, we celebrated the last supper, when Jesus washed His Disciples’ feet, and shared His body and blood with them in the form of bread and wine before being betrayed by Judas Iscariot, which was the beginning of His passion and eventually His death on the cross.

Ever since I can remember, my favourite part of the Holy Thursday mass has always been the part where the priest washes some faithful’s feet, imitating how Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. Even as a child, I remember being fascinated by the thought. It’s hard to fathom a priest washing people’s feet because in all honesty, I consider that part of the body to be one of the dirtiest- relatively speaking. For one to be able to do it, they must have tonnes of humility, because simply put, it’s a gesture of self-effacement.

Pope Francis washing faithful's feet

It even becomes harder to fathom Jesus, the son of the Almighty God, doing the same thing. He, the king of kings, chose to wash His disciples’ feet to show them how to treat people. After He had finished washing their feet He asked them, “Do you understand what I have just done to you? You call me teacher and Lord, and it is right that you do so, because that is what I am. I, your Lord and teacher, have just washed your feet. You then, should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you…” (John 13: 12-16).

I look at the leaders we have today and each time I find myself wondering, how many would lower themselves the way Jesus did? Washing their servants’ feet? Majority of the leaders we have today expect to be served than to serve. Most of them wouldn’t be caught dead partaking in things which would seem to compromise their dominance; their superiority over the rest of the populace.

Jesus taught His disciples to attend to their own subjects; to desire to serve than to be served. As we come to the end of Lent that’s an important lesson to remember; to learn to be humble, regardless of our social status.

Today, Good Friday is essentially a day when we commemorate Christ’s death. It’s the saddest day in church, devoid of all the celebrations that are characteristic of an ordinary mass. Due to this, the faithful are supposed to observe silence; basically to reflect on the idea of Jesus sacrificing Himself for the salvation of mankind. It’s a day of penance when fasting and abstinence should be observed.

Jesus nailed on the cross

On Holy Saturday, there’s the vigil mass. This mass is celebrated at night as a way of keeping watch, awaiting Christ’s resurrection during the night. In this mass, new members are baptized to initiate them into the church; the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation are also given. Other members of the church renew their baptismal vows.

The three days (Easter Triduum) are crowned with the celebration of Easter Sunday; the morning after Christ’s resurrection.

We’re nearing the end of the lent season. A period of reflecting deeply on our lives as Christians and the relationship we have with God. It’s also a period when people are asked to repent; to atone for their transgressions. As I mentioned in the beginning of lent, I know not everyone is a Christian; but the fact that we’re all human makes us prone to sin and it’s therefore imperative that we take some time to see what wrongs we’ve committed and to be sorry for them.

Of mortality and forgiveness

Death serves as a constant reminder that this life we have is just a passing breeze. It’s only a temporary stopover to the main place; eternity. Not many believe in that but the faith I profess teaches about life after death. What we believe however, doesn’t change the fact that death is real. Whether we believe there is eternal life or not doesn’t stop people from dying. And each time someone we know or love crosses over to the other side we are reminded that we’re here only for a while.

Last Friday but one my big sister left for school. Minutes later, the doorbell rang. I was about to start saying my morning prayers when my small sister opened the door. It was our big sister. I didn’t know why she had suddenly come back. Curious, I went to see what the matter was. She had a horrified look on her face. At first I’d thought she had forgotten something or couldn’t get a bus to school so wanted me to drive her, but the patent fear on her face told me it was something more serious.

“You’ll want to sit down for this one,” she said.

My curiosity graduated to dread in an instant. Taking her advice, I sat down. I didn’t want to freak out but her body language bespoke fear that was almost tangible. “D is dead!” She blurted out, a palm pressed against her chest.

My small sister and I gasped in horror. “What?” We asked simultaneously.

“Are you sure it’s him?” We asked.

“It’s written on the noticeboard at the gate,” she replied, grief stricken.

When the shock wore off, my small sister stated crying. “I don’t believe it,” she said.

“But I saw him in church on Sunday and he looked happy and healthy,” I added. My sisters both agreed they saw him too and he didn’t appear ill. Minutes later, my big sister left for school. For close to an hour my small sister and I tried to guess what could have led to his sudden demise. He was a young man in his twenties, and though he and my small sister were once tight, they had long fallen out; at the time of his death we were not in good terms.

He and my sister started off as friends and after a while he told her he wanted her to be his girlfriend but my sister turned him down. She wasn’t ready to get in a relationship. The disappointment of my sister rejecting him sought of embittered him because anytime he saw any of my sisters, mom or me, he would start making snide comments about us with other guys, high-fiving and all. He was actually the one who inspired my post, ‘men in skirts’.

He ran a movie shop near the place we bought groceries. Everytime I went by to buy some vegetables, he would find something irritating to say about my hair extensions, or my weight; anything he knew would piss me. He always succeeded because I would always leave feeling so offended, breathing fast, fists clenched.

At one point I told my sisters I would give him a piece of my mind the next time he dared say anything about me. They warned me; that would be imprudent. Reluctantly, I gave heed to their words. I didn’t have the stomach for all the nastiness, so I chose to stop going there. Every one of my family stopped going there. The place we’d previously frequented became alien.

We were not sure avoiding him and his friends was the best choice but it felt better. We didn’t have much to complain about. Since we stopped going there, we didn’t know what he said about us, but everytime he saw us passing by, he would laugh so loud. I imagined he was doing that so we would think he was laughing at us. Maybe I was wrong. It was irritating, but we didn’t let it get to us.

Christianity teaches about forgiveness; but constantly, we wondered how we could forgive him given that he didn’t seem remorseful. Forgiveness and repentance go hand in hand. For one to be forgiven, they need to be ready to make amends for their shortcomings. He didn’t seem ready; we therefore opted to stay away from him.

Until the time of his death, we were not talking. I was never really friends with him, but my sister was. It tore me to bits to see her grieve over a man who spent his better days making her life and ours miserable.

“If we heard it was an April fool’s prank they forgot to take down and we found out he was alive, what would you do?” I asked her as she wept.

She took a while to reply, pondering over the question. “Nothing.”

“See. It wasn’t because we didn’t want to make peace with him. He just wasn’t ready for it.”

For forgiveness to work, the involved parties need to meet halfway. If one is forgiving someone that’s far, it is easier to forgive them in order to get some closure to some painful experience. But if the person one needs to make peace with is present, it’s difficult to mend fences if they are unwilling.

When we learned of his death, we wished everything had been okay between us; nonetheless, it’s easier said than done. Truth is even he were alive, there wasn’t much we could do, unless he also realized the need for us to reconcile.

Even so, I realized it’s good to be at peace with everyone. There’s no telling what tomorrow brings.

VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD

Very inspiring blogger Award

Blog awards to me feel utterly precious. I think of them as a way through which other bloggers use to tell fellow bloggers they like/appreciate their work. I’ve been nominated for a few awards previously and one would be tempted to think that once you get them you get used to it. I don’t know how others feel but personally, each nomination gives me that incredible feeling. Sometimes I just lack the words to describe it but in all it’s a very, very beautiful feeling.

I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Kimberly Jo Cooley some days ago but couldn’t post about it yet as I was working on the Way of the Cross series. Her nomination touched a deep part in my soul. When I started this blog, my aim was-still is-to inspire anyone who stops by. Like I wrote on ‘why memoirs of aly’, I share my experiences because that way I’ll be able to connect with people who have gone through similar experiences and to enlighten others who haven’t because when all is said and done, life is too short to experience everything; but if one wills it, they can choose to learn from other people’s experiences.

Sometimes I post religious stuff even though I know not all my readers profess the Christian faith. One thing I’d like to put across though is that the main reason I do it is because I struggle with anxiety and faith gets me past those dark days. With the Way of the Cross for instance; the first time I said those prayers and actually reflected on them was last year. They opened my eyes to faith and I feel I couldn’t have found them at a better time because last year so much happened in my life and the strength I had derived from the prayers got me through it all.

Ergo, this year I decided to share the prayers, so people would reflect on them during this Lenten season, in the hope that they will offer great inspiration to all who read it like they did to me. My intention with this blog, as I’ve stated before, is to inspire, to motivate, and I share what I deem inspirational or something readers can reflect on.

Through Kimberly’s nomination, I feel I’m achieving my aim; and for that I’m immensely grateful. Thank you Kimberly! I also want to thank all my readers; all who spare some time to read my ramblings. Thank you all.

This award doesn’t come with rules but as it is, I’ve read many blogs which I feel are really inspiring. Basically, inspiration-according to the Oxford dictionary-is all about things/people who make one desire to be better/successful; things/people who give us ideas for something, especially something artistic or imaginative. And the thing about inspiration is that one can draw it from anything; it’s all about having an open mind. That said, below is my own list of inspiring nominees:

AB atperspectives on life, universe and anything

Karina Sussanto at Karina’s thought, encouraging and inspiring through God’s word

Findingmyinnercourage

PattyB at thoughtsfromanamericanwoman

VicBriggs at shards of silence

Kim Saeed at letmereach

 

There are no rules – for accepting this award. Just copy it and place it on your blog in a post or wherever you like… link back if you have time to do so.

 

 

Fifteenth station: Jesus is risen from the dead

Fifteenth station-Jesus is risen from the dead

My Jesus, I repent of the sin of hopelessness. I beg Your pardon for many of the times I fell into depression for small setbacks and tragedies in my life. My Jesus, let me never feel rejected or defeated as You are risen and alive. I put my complete trust in You O Most Holy Risen Lord Jesus. I worship You and I bow down before You. All glory be to You O Risen Lord Jesus Christ, forever and ever.

Closing Prayer

My Jesus, I have travelled Your Way of the Cross. It seems so real and I feel so ashamed. I complain of my sufferings and find obedience to The Father’s Will difficult. My mind bogged down by the poverty, sickness, starvation, greed and hatred in the world.

There are many people who suffer so unjustly. There are those born with physical and mental defects. Do we understand that You continue to carry Your Cross in the minds and bodies of each human being?

Help me to see The Father’s Will in every incident of my daily life. This is what You did-You saw The Father’s Will in Your persecutors, Your enemies and Your pain. You saw a beauty in the Cross and embraced it as desired treasure. My worldly mind is dulled by injustice and suffering and I lose sight of the glory that is to come.

Help me to trust The Father and to realize that there is something great behind the most insignificant suffering. There is Someone lifting my cross to fit my shoulders; there is Divine wisdom in all the petty annoyances that irk my soul everyday.

Teach me the lessons contained in my cross, the wisdom of its necessity, the beauty of its variety and the fortitude that accompanies even the smallest cross. Mary my Mother, obtain for me the grace to be Jesus to my neighbour and to see my neighbour in Jesus.

Amen.

 

These Way of the Cross prayers are courtesy of the Vincentian Congregation, whose aims are to preach to the non-Christians so that they may be brought to the Christian faith and to preach to the Christians, to help them grow in faith.