Tag Archives: Christmas

That time of the year again

It’s the holidays again. Would you believe? Cuz I don’t… honestly! Where did the year go? I woke up on 1st January 2016, did a few things here and there, slept, woke up again… and bam! The year’s gone… just like that. Up until yesterday I had my head buried deep in books. Didn’t even get time to nurture the Christmas spirit. You know, that inexplicable super awesome feeling that adds some merry-touch to everything?

Now tomorrow’s Christmas and I couldn’t feel emptier. In my house we were all so tied up that we didn’t get time to put up Christmas decorations. Mom’s feeling the most deprived. She’s been coming home from work, and every time she’s disappointed to find the corner reserved for the Christmas tree still empty.

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I feel her; even felt guilty to some extent. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything about it. I had exams to revise for; had my last paper yesterday. So now the exams are behind me but the Christmas cheer couldn’t feel further… and that right there, is my dilemma. It almost feels like my family and I are skipping Christmas, God forbid.

We’re going to salvage whatever’s left of Christmas because for us it’s not just a day, but a season. Hopefully, the ensuing days will make up for the lost time. However, looking back at how this year has been like, I know I have so much to thank God for.

Our ship, if I may call it, so has been rocked by so much turbulence. We’ve cried, got so close to despairing; but by God’s grace we’ve made it this far. For me, that counts for so much. If you feel like me, don’t let yourself get discouraged. Count your blessings. However insignificant it may seem; be grateful for whatever has made you smile, even if it’s only once this year. And just the simple fact that God has granted us this wonderful gift of life and guided us through this year is reason enough to thank Him and praise His Holy name.

merry-christmas

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ tomorrow, I wish you the merriest of Christmases. May God fill your hearts with immeasurable joy and peace… And may He, in His abundant mercy, grant you a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2017.

Happy holidays!

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‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Santa Claus

It’s Christmas again!

Would you believe that? Where did all the time go? It feels like it’s only yesterday we were celebrating Christmas. Last year’s Christmas is still so fresh in my mind. I’ve been so busy all year round that now I feel like I haven’t prepared enough for tomorrow.

One thing I learned is that Christmas is not just a day. It’s a season. So it’s never about 25th December only. It’s composed of the days preceding the material day and even the days after. Up until last week Wednesday I was busy revising for exams and honestly I feel like I need more time to get myself in the Christmassy mood.

Looking around me I see Christmas decorations, on the streets, and even in my house. But truth is, I really don’t feel this Christmas. However, deep down I know it’s not just reading for exams that has deprived me off of the Christmas cheer, it’s been some of the things going on in my family; the depressing stuff. So now it’s Christmas and I feel unprepared.

From my own experiences, I’ll keep reiterating, Christmas is not just about giving gifts and travelling to all the fancy places in the world; it’s about spending time with our loved ones, making them feel cherished; just spreading some cheer. It’s true what they say; ‘the best things in life are free’.

Putting a smile on another person’s face need not cost a single dime. Sometimes it’s about dedicating a few minutes of our time to those who need us; using our God-given talents to cheer others up. So now that it will be Christmas day in just a few hours, we still have time to put smiles on people’s faces. We have time to let go off the grudges we’ve been holding, and to forgive those who may have wronged us in whatever way.

If there’s something you can do to make another person happy, do it. You’d be surprised what doing good does to our souls. It livens us up in ways so unimaginable. And what better time to do it than now? It’s Christmas y’all.

Listen to all Christmas carols as is humanly possible because we only get to listen to them once every year; and that time is now. And while you’re at it, have the merriest of Christmases. 🙂

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAVE A HAPPY & PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR 2016!

christmas tree

What will people think about me?

Saint Joseph

Whom to please, God or man?

How many times have you found yourself conflicted about whom to please? To please God, or to do all you can to please fellow men. Many times most of us find ourselves at odds, especially when it’s something we feel we need to do so we can look cool; so we don’t lose credibility in our friends’ eyes, yet doing that precise thing would make us fall from God’s grace.

During this period, as we count down minutes to the birth of Christ, we get to learn from the story of a man, who is not celebrated a lot- he fades into the background once the star of the season (Jesus) comes to the scene; and not to mention His Blessed mother- a virgin, who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We’re going to focus on the story of Joseph, Jesus’ father, because from him there’s so much to learn. As most of us are aware of, Joseph and Mary were Jews, and at the time Mary conceived, she and Joseph were not married. They were only engaged and had therefore not consummated their relationship.

Actually, at the time, so much would have gone wrong if God-forbid they had engaged in coitus before being married. For starters, Mary would probably have been stoned to death for engaging in sexual immorality. Now that brings me to Joseph. When Mary had that Immaculate Conception, he obviously knew the baby wasn’t his and he could have done what the men of this generation do without a tinge of remorse.

“He’s not mine!” Joseph would have denied vehemently, and unlike the guilty men who just bail on women they had been involved intimately with when they say they are pregnant, his denial would have been warranted. We, who have been enlightened about the story of Jesus of Nazareth, know Mary was a virgin when she conceived.

Joseph, however, did anything but. I’m thinking, if he was from this era we live in, he would have called Mary all those unholy names after making it clear that the baby she was expecting was not his. And maybe, just maybe, he would have called the authorities on her, given that they lived in a time when all these sexual shenanigans people from this era partake of so indiscreetly, would have cost them their lives.

But contrary to what would have been expected of a guy in his position, he accepted Mary. He didn’t care that maybe all those who knew the baby wasn’t his would have had him ostracized. The thing about most of us, is that we’re inherently afraid of being shunned by society, so whenever we feel like our actions might get us rejected by the larger society, we cower and do what will keep our relationships intact, caring less about what God will think of us.

Basically, if Joseph did what most us would have expected him to do, he wouldn’t have accepted Jesus because deep down he knew that was not his son. He would even have accused Mary of lying. I mean, just think, how often do women get pregnant by Immaculate Conception? It was just that one time; and Joseph believed it. He didn’t go all berserk, accusing her of whoring. God forbid!

Obviously, as the story goes, God intervened: Joseph contemplated breaking up with Mary but as he didn’t want to humiliate her in public, he planned on doing it in private; however, when he was asleep an angel of god appeared to him, asking him not to break the engagement as she had conceived by the Holy Spirit and the child would save mankind from sin. (Matthew 1:18-24)

But then again, how many times does the Holy Spirit speak to us and we blatantly ignore? I would say, severally. Joseph, however, listened to the voice of God, and accepted that Mary had been chosen to be the mother of Christ, and he unquestioningly, agreed to become the father of Jesus.

Joseph didn’t do what he thought would save him from people’s derision; he chose to follow the will of God. Now, years later, we talk about him, awed by his submission to the will of God. Chances are if he had acted in fear-fear of being rejected by society-he would have disobeyed God and by so doing, he would have earned God’s wrath, instead of blessings.

Prayer to St. Joseph

We have so much to learn from that. Whenever we find ourselves at a crossroads, where we’re not sure whether to follow God’s will and be shunned by society or do good in people’s eyes but displease God in the process, we should take comfort in Joseph’s story. Following the will of God will always earn us blessings.

Knowing how much pressure people find themselves subjected to whenever they have to make some very conflicting choices, it’s not hard to understand why, or even how people end up making choices that make them fall from God’s grace. We shouldn’t get discouraged though. These problems we face are not unique to us. They happened before and as it is, Joseph’s story should encourage us all.

The question to ask is not, “What will people think about me?” but rather, “What will God think about me?”

It’s better to be at war with all of society and be at peace with God, than be loved by all of humanity but lose favour in the eyes of God.

And because tomorrow is Christmas, I wish you all the merriest of Christmases. May the new Christ child be born in our hearts.

Christmas

 

Lord, help me know your ways

Because the Lord is righteous and good, He teaches sinners the path they should follow.

He leads the humble in the right way and teaches them His will.

With faithfulness and love He leads all who keep His covenant and obey His commandments. (Psalms 25: 8-10)

Today is the first Sunday of Advent (the period preceding Christmas). I just can’t believe how the time has flown. This would be that part where I just stare into space and ask, “Where did all the time go?”

Christmas is practically right around the corner. That still sounds hard to believe. People have actually started putting up Christmas decorations because in less than a month we’ll be celebrating the birth of Christ. Would you believe that?

Many people around the world –Christians and non-Christians alike- are waiting excitedly for that festive season. To the former it is because the birth of Christ signifies so much; new beginnings and all, whereas to the latter it’s about the festivities; fun trips, parties, gifts…merrymaking and all.

In my opinion, Christmas also shows that the year is coming to end. We’re counting days now, before we cross over to Year 2016. That means this is that time of the year when we start evaluating whether we achieved the resolutions we set when the New Year was starting.

The verse above (in italics) was our responsorial psalm in church today, and it had me thinking about a few things.

Primarily, it’s a prayer, asking for God’s guidance. That reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago. We were talking about relationships and he asked me how one knows when they’ve found ‘the one’.

As I’m not a love guru, I answered him based on my Christian belief and a few experiences. For starters, I am of the opinion that relationships don’t last nowadays. And if I was to put in my two cents worth on the matter, I would say it’s because majority of us lost track of what people should be looking for in relationships. If for instance, two people get together for financial reasons, it goes without saying that if God-forbid the money runs out, even the relationship goes, ‘bye-bye’.

There’s this one time my sisters and I paid our paternal grams a visit and she was saying, “Nowadays young people are spending too much money on weddings, even taking loans to fund those extravagant events, yet very few of them are lasting for more than five years”.

So what’s the problem really?

I feel many people have turned away from God. Sex is not sacred anymore, in any case it’s been reduced into a currency that the better of us give in exchange for goods and services; people worship money, such that the penurious are treated like pariahs, who don’t have a place in society; and because of this importance we’ve attached to money, people are doing just about anything to get it. We’re practically ignoring all that’s right because as most ask, “How far will being good get you?”

In my humble opinion, we should go back to God. Seek His guidance in all that we do, and He will never fail us. Regarding the question my friend asked me about knowing when you’ve found the right partner, I told him to pray. That sounds cliché I know, but it’s something I learned from experience.

See there’s this guy I was so into; I even told my mom about him because I was almost sure he was the one I would be spending forever with. He proposed informally and that put me in that place where I knew the decision I would make would be one of the most important ones I’d be making in my life. So I embarked on praying, asking God to help me make the right choice.

It’s been a few years since then and given that I’m still single, it obviously means I said no. In the course of the brief relationship we had, I found out a few things, which if I had found out later, we would have divorced. Point is, praying feels a bit overrated, especially for those who haven’t established that personal connection with God, but it actually works.

However, there’s one thing I believe; for as long as the sun shines and the earth rotates in its axis, we’ll always need God; whether we realize it or not. And like my friend asked me, “How do you know you’re making the right choice?”

My answer was, “God will grant you that discernment, to know what is right or wrong. The conviction will be so strong and everything around you will point towards the right thing/person. You will know it.”

Therefore, as we prepare our hearts to welcome the new-born Christ in our hearts, and as we assess the decisions we’ve been making since the year began, it’s imperative that we seek God’s guidance in all we do, and trust me; God never fails those who rely on Him.

“Teach me your ways, O Lord;

Make them known to me.

Teach me to live according to your truth,

for you are my God, who saves me.

I always trust in you. (Psalms 25: 4-5).

The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

wise men

This past Sunday was the last day of Christmas; that of course is according to the church calendar, when we celebrated the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany is a word connected with light. And as seen in Isaiah 60: 1-6, Jesus is the light of the world:

Arise, Jerusalem, and shine like the sun;

The glory of the Lord is shining on you!

Other nations will be covered by darkness,

But on you the light of the Lord will shine;

The brightness of His presence will be with you.

Nations will be drawn to your light, and kings to the dawning of your new day.

The word Epiphany refers to a revelation, or a manifestation of something. In this case, Jesus was revealed to the world as the light of the world. It’s based on the events narrated in Matthew 2:1-12. This feast was traditionally celebrated on 6th January, but on occasions where the day falls on a working day, the church has moved the celebration to the Sunday before or after 6th.

Some men who studied the stars, commonly referred to as Wise men, had travelled far from Persia, Asia and Africa to see the new born king. The bible doesn’t really specify they were three. King Herod, who had heard of their arrival called them to a secret meeting and instructed them, “Go and make a careful search for the child and when you find him, let me know so that I too may go and worship him.”

They left and followed the star, which went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. They went into the house and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped him. They presented him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, which have been interpreted by Christians to symbolize the state of Jesus as a King, Priest and Human (that He would die but not waste away, hence becoming the risen Christ). It’s from their gesture that the Christmas tradition of giving gifts originated.

After seeing the child, they left via a different route as God had warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. The bible shouldn’t be read as a history book; it’s full of signs: the wise men were led to Jesus by a star that shone from the East, but in real sense He was the actual star and the wise men, we’re told, didn’t go back the same way they had come. This could be interpreted as: when one meets Jesus they never go back the same way they had come; He gives a new beginning.

In my house we haven’t taken down the Christmas decorations yet, but it’s safe to say Christmas is officially over. I feel I have an inexplicable love for Christmas. Sometimes I feel if Christmas were a person I would marry him, just so I could wake up to him everyday; so it would be Christmas everyday. The good thing though, is that we recently celebrated the nativity of our Lord, and it doesn’t have to end there just because party’s over and life’s back to normal. We can choose to live the lives we had before Christ’s birth or, like the wise men, we can take a different route and become changed people.

I wish you all a HAPPY and PROSPEROUS 2014.

The last Friday before Christmas

merry christmas

Today’s the last Friday before Christmas. That means Christmas is just a few days away. Yay. Since I was a kid I’ve always loved Christmas. It’s the one season of the year when I feel like everything around me comes to life. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is the fact that Christmas isn’t just a day’s celebration; it shouldn’t just be celebrated on 25th. Christmas is a season. I’m not sure when it starts exactly but I know in my house it starts on my birthday. It’s always been a tradition that we start putting up the decorations a few days before my birthday or latest, a day after.

Since we put up the Christmas decorations I feel like I was bitten by the Christmas bug. Everything just feels Christmassy. Maybe it’s just the good cheer, but my food tastes sweeter, and the cold weather makes the days feel even more beautiful. There’s something about Christmas; I noticed that two years ago. I spent all my days working. Not even music from live bands could do anything to cheer me up. It was horrible. I only got my Christmas break on Christmas Eve and even then it was too little too late. That was the one time in my life I felt like I never celebrated Christmas.

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I learnt then, that Christmas is about spending time with others, spreading love and good cheer. Without that the beautiful carols will just sound like any ordinary song and all the traditions associated with Christmas will feel meaningless.

This Christmas, reach out to someone in need; spread a little love and the Christmas cheer. Forgive more, laugh more, and just celebrate the birth of our new born King.

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

How to be happy

Smiley face

Yesterday being the third Sunday of Advent was Gaudete Sunday. It’s the Latin word for rejoice.  Christian’s all over the world are rejoicing because Christmas is drawing near. The Lord is near; Christ’s about to be born. From a deeper perspective though, Christ’s second coming is nearer than when we first believed.

The world is filled with many problems. It’s almost impossible for a day to pass by without one feeling like something is wrong; like one needs to achieve something so they can be happy. Well, sad thing is, it’s impossible to have everything perfect in life. That’s just the way things are. Good news is, we can be happy everytime, if we will it. During mass, in the spirit of rejoicing, the priest shared a few tips on how to be happy that I felt I should share.

To be happy (in no particular order), one needs to:

Think happy; our thoughts determine how we perceive things. Adopt a positive mentality when handling situations.

Rejoice in those small things; as petty as they seem/feel.

Let go off grudges; grudges dampen our mood; they hinder us from seeing the good in others and they make us bitter.

Let go off the past; how does one move on if they can’t forget what happened in their past? Holding on to the past only prevents us from seeing the beauty of the present.

See the goodness in people; sometimes we feel inclined to focus on other people’s negative sides, and as a result that makes us negative. It’s easier to see the bad in people, but if we tried just a little harder, we would see the good in them. I believe even the worst person has something good in them; if you ask me, no one’s 100% bad.

Keep yourself busy; when one is busy they won’t have enough time to mope about the things happening in their life. Trying to be productive keeps one focused.

Don’t create problems; there are already too many problems in the world. Trying to imagine what could possibly go wrong when things are okay is just one of the biggest reasons people can’t fully be happy. If things are okay at the moment, be happy. Don’t be anxious about the future. You’ll cross that bridge when you get there.

Help others- those in need. You’d be surprised how good it feels to know you helped someone else get over some difficulty-big/small.

Don’t take life too seriously; remember to smile. When you smile the whole world smiles with you. It’s referred to as the ‘law of attraction’.

Don’t try to be like your neighbour. God blesses each one of us differently, in His own special way and at His own appointed time. Sometimes we fail to realize it, but when we try so hard to compete with others, we only end up feeling dissatisfied with what we have.

Be happy, won’t you?