Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The hour is coming

Stay with us,

Remain here with us,

Watch and pray...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Majodi Retreat

Dear all,

I may not have met some of you in a while. Some of you may be in different denominations, or even another religion. I write to you still, as the joy of the Lord ought to be shared. The following is my testimony, on God's ever living presence, his forgiveness, his faithfulness and most importantly his Love. Hey... I mean... God IS Love. The following is not a short testimony but even then... it doesn't measure to our Father's Love.

I'm on my RCIA journey as I write this, and it happened at the programme's retreat...

Our Father in Heaven

It began while I was sitting there, my eyes fixed upon the Blessed Sacrament. As much as I found the stillness and serenity of the adoration room very soothing, I was still very confused in my own reflection. I was about to give up really, when something deep within prompted me to just... pray. I'll be frank here, I've always had trouble finding the right words to pray and there simply are certain things i don't feel comfortable talking to God about. Thus i took the easy way out, the good ole combination of 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory be. You've just gotta love it how prayer can be made so simple and feel accomplished that at least "i've done my part". But this time it was different. Each phrase spoke to me and led me to reflect with blatant honesty.

The Meaning of Love

It's been said that as Christians we are called to love. Earlier during my retreat, our spritual director posed a very challenging question, "What is the defintion of Love to you?". Naturally I thought of all the things that has been taught in scripture but it didn't satisfy. Because I knew I was being dishonest with myself if i were to admit I truely practised those virtues. I just knew that deep within I did not buy those teachings somehow, but it was my "distracted self", a facade at trying fit into the faith that did make make me attept to follow the teachings. If i knew what is the truth and what is the Christian way of love, then what kept me from embracing the teachings? What was confusing me?

It was then, that I unveiled myself to the Lord and asked for his healing. In my examination of my own conscious, I had spotted grave errors within the perception of my inner self truely believed Love was. I do not share an intimate bond with my parents, nor my friends. Sure I spend alot of time with them but there always had been this barrier that allowed me to simply snap away from the relationship and still be able to dance in joy. I did not VALUE any relationship as much as it deserved. Then i thought hey... it's good right? I'll never get hurt that way... But in all honesty, I've always felt like the loneliest soul on earth. I could not accept people's love for be, I could offer love to others with all my heart. Simply because I had a perverted idea of what Love meant in my life. It was truely hurting me in ways I didn't even recognize.

I say perverted because there seems to be no other word that fits the bill. If Love were to make you happy, what made me happy? If the loss of Love leads you to mourn, then what made me sad? Through these contemplations I found myself scrutinizing my most recent relationship I had with my last girlfriend. I had psyched myself to thinking that I loved her and was always in severe depression for having lost her. I could feel the joy when i do acts of love for her even after the break up yet... another part of me just couldn't accept the fact that I didn't have her. I mean, it's a beautiful relationship we had, much more beautiful after having left each other in friendship, the what was it i wanted that prevented me from truely being in love with her? That's where my weakness lies... LUST. I had been in denial of it all along and can never bring it up in prayer simply because i was so ashamed of it.

The Ultimate Expression of Love

I was afraid. I dare not admit at this revelation. It was hurting me but I still dare not admit it. I dare not admit my addiction to pornography and masturbation. I was too ashamed to admit that whenever I have the desire to find a girlfriend, what i truely was thinking to myself was "i need sex". Nor could I live with the fact my idea of a BGR revolved solely around the physical contact.

In my shamefulness, it was the Lord that encouraged me. A week prior to that instance. One of the lessons was on Lectio Divina, the method in which you use scripture to meditate on God's words and relate it to your own life. We were each given a random Bible passage to reflect upon that day and what I picked was Jeremiah 31:31. Without going into details, what struck me is the promise in that verse. The promise that all shall know Him, through a new covenant. That despite men having broken the relationship with God, there is a promise of a new covenant. It spoke to me. It told me to take the first step. I had shared before my sentiments with a friend of mine, and he asked me to take it to prayer two things;that God will forgive me for what I have done and that He reveals to me the true meaning of a matrionial relationship. I looked up at the Body of Christ, and I prayed just that... God responded sooner than expected...

The next day at the retreat we were asked to pen one thing to lift up to the Lord. An hour of reflection was given to decide on it, but to me I already knew what i wanted to lift up. I had spent that hour solely in prayers; with repentence and desire to change... yet the lustful man in me was not fully convinced. After the hour, we had convened for a paralithurgy. As the play commenced I had figured out it was on the Passion of the Lord. Slowly but gradually... we had reached the climax of the story, the crucifixion.

I had broken down. Tears filled my eyes, my body trembled. Amidst this point of great sorrow, a voice called out from deep within...

"You asked me what love is... This how I have already taught you what it is.
You once said Love is the will to serve... Is there any greater will to serve than this?"

Indeed, I was reminded of the joy I had in service, but still I was in shame. Then the same voice came once again.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Can you mourn for yourself Neil as you mourn for your friend on the cross?
It was not done to put tears in your eyes, but to show you what Love is.
Rejoice, I do not condamn you, go in peace and sin no more."

I was then smiling. Joyful for the forgiveness and strenghtened to take the first step in responding to God's promise of my new covanent with Him. I was later invited to nail to the cross, that sheet of paper on which my commitment had been written. I did... and thank God for giving me the courage to do so.

Blessed be the name of the Lord

The retreat was for many of us climaxed at the healing service that very night. I guess to me, my burdens had been lifted to the Lord during those silent hours at the adoration room, peaking that moment during the paralithurgy. When it came to my turn to be healed over, I was slained for the first time in my life, almost instantaneously. I resisted at first but gradually I surrendered, with a smile on my face no less. Trust me it feels damn good to be forgiven and i knew that the moment I had gotten up, it was the beginning of my new relationship with God. Almost sounds like what's been taught on baptism but I guess... in many ways it seemed similar to me.

I'm not saying this experience was magic and I've totally transformed into a chaste righteous person. The temptation is always there and it's a struggle everyday for me. What I thank God for is for having opened my eyes, encouraging me, forgiving me and blessing me with such intimate closeness imprinted in my heart. The world is full of distractions and there will be times when I probably will forget this encounter. I pray that in my temptations God will once again remind me of that weekend and speak to me in his own ways, and I ask you my brothers and sisters to pray for everyone going through such challenges.

I was once lost but now am found. Keep me that way Lord I pray. Some of you know me personally and quite honestly, I write this with the fear of being judged. Why do I still write it across? Because I want take the first step to love you. It is only right for God has loved me. It is a very poor imitation of Love but this is my body being broken for you. This is my testimony of God's forgiveness, presence, joy and LOVE.

I hope it may serve you in times of your troubles.

I hope it may serve the youth who reads this that are struggling with their sexuality

I hope it may serve anyone taking the RCIA journey

I hope it may serve the Lord. Blessed be the name of Jesus.

Glory be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end...