Repent and Believe in the Gospel


By Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan


As we enter the season of Lent there is a sense of urgency for repentance. Why? Because the world seem to be cluttered with so much horrific killings and violence. Just today in Parkland, Florida, a former student of Marjory Douglas High School shot and killed 17 people. Clearly then, without repentance the spiral of violence will remain unabated.


That’s why when we receive ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, we hear the words; Repent and believe in the Gospel. But in order to repent we need focus, solitude, and some kind of slowing down.


So a greater part of Lent is slowing down. Perhaps like a Toyota that accelerates to 80 MPH, we need to shift the gears to neutral, so although the engine is running, the gears are not engaged, and the car slows down by itself. Yes, we need to disengage from the busyness of this world and take time to examine ourselves and have a sense of what’s really going on in our lives. After all we might be heading the wrong direction and not even know it.


Like what happened to Joe Stack, a software engineer from Austin, Texas who was so miserable and angry at the IRS thinking he was treated unfairly. He was so angry and miserable that he burned his house down, then boarded his single engine airplane, and crashed it into the building where the IRS employees worked. This incident reminded people of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Obviously, Joe failed to slow down and examine his life and spiritual condition. He was always on the fast track. No wonder Plato said, “The unexamined life if not worth living.” Also, Joe was not aware of what most psychiatrist say; all mental illness proceeds from some form of chosen loneliness. Amazing, loneliness is a big factor of mental illness.


So Lent is a time for self-examination and self-knowledge. After all St. Teresa of Avila said, “Without self-knowledge spiritual growth is not possible.” We need to know our shades of loneliness, our miseries, our sins, and bring them all to our merciful God for healing. Hopefully, this will lead us to repentance. That is why Jesus said, “If you do not repent, you will perish.” Consequently then, repentance means healing, and healing means peace and inner joy.


Repent then, and believe in the Gospel. Approach our good Lord in confession, and obtain His mercy, forgiveness, and strength. Then you will find consolation, companionship, and happiness. 


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The Conversation


By Deacon Nemsy Gubatan


One time I was in the mood for solitude and reflection. So I decided to simply spend some time in the quiet of the early morning dawn alone in my room. First thing I did was to invoke the presence of God and simply speak to him. Of course this was not unusual for I have done this before. Getting to know God and to converse with him would always fill me with joy and inner peace. However, this particular morning I was a little bit more daring in my conversation and so I asked the good Lord in a childlike way for a personal favor and also inquire about his very nature and character.


The exchange was in the medium of mental prayer, reflection, and some intermittent vocal utterance on my part. There were no audible responses from God. It was all in the realm of a loving heart to heart exchange. In this mode, there was a sense of trust, transparency, and total acceptance of one another. When God spoke it was simply a flash of deep insight spoken in my heart. Without trying to be precise, but simply capturing the essence of the conversation that day, this is what came up in my conversation with Abba, God the Father.


Nemsy: “Abba, Dad, Jesus your only Son told me to call you Abba or Dad. I love it. And Jesus told me to get to know you better in a personal way to deepen my spirituality. So here I am, hoping to get to know more.”


Abba: Silence.


Nemsy: “You know that my earthly father died many years ago, so I would appreciate it if you can fill his place. I never really felt the love of my earthly father, although I have longed for it so much. So when Jesus told me that I can come to you as my father, I got excited. So here I am Dad, asking you to be my father. Will you be my father?”


Abba: “Yes, I would delight in it.”


Nemsy: “Wow! Thank you dad. I am so happy. I am happy that you sent your only Son to redeem me and then to point to you as my Father. No wonder he taught us the “Our Father” to introduce you to us as our father. Jesus also told us that you Father, and Jesus are one; that if I loved your only begotten Son, it would please you. Also, if I loved you Dad, Jesus would be delighted. Wow! I am surrounded by love. I am so happy.”


Abba: Silence


Nemsy: “I know Dad that you are love. And that you have no beginning and no end. Therefore love has no beginning and no end. But the concept of “no beginning and no end” is hard for me to understand. Can you help me?”


Abba: “You will not understand it because you are finite. When you pass from this world to the next then you will understand. But love is infinite, therefore focus on love and you will understand better the answer to your question. Love will also reveal the very nature and character of the Godhead.”


Nemsy: “Thank you Dad, I will try to focus on love.”


Abba: “Yes, focus on love and you will be happy.”


At the Last Supper Jesus said: “I am in the Father and you are in me, and I am in you.” Obviously, this statement invites us to a spiritual union with Jesus and the Father. Most of us are cognizant of Jesus, but not as much with the Father. So start bonding with the Father, and when asking for grace or favor remember what Jesus said: “Ask the Father in my name.” Along this line, perhaps start the prayer with: “Abba, Dad, in the name of your beloved Son, Jesus, please help me to come to know you in a personal way and to come closer to you each day.” Doing this simple prayer will bring you much joy and happiness. Not only that, new revelations of the Father will follow. I personally found this very exciting.

 

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Purity

By Deacon Nemsy


Still a brand New Year. Still a good time to hone our spiritual awareness, and a deeper concept of pure love. Yes, a love that is pure.


At the Last Supper, Jesus opened the eyes of the apostles to a deeper concept of love. He said to them: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Here, Jesus points to the unified, pure, and mystical love between him and the Father. This love between the Father and Jesus makes them one. It is not about knowledge, intelligence, or power that makes them one – it is their pure, intense, and infinite love for one another that unites them. And so it is with us, we too are invited to enter into this divine, pure love.


Note the word pure. In heaven only pure love resides therein. So if we are impure, we cannot enter heaven. If we die with an impure mind, heart or soul, then we will have a stopover – Purgatory. And we know that in purgatory there will be cleansing and purgation. This purgation is not a picnic. It is miserable, painful, and difficult. That’s why we need to pray for purity and strive for purity. We must carefully choose what we see, what we hear, and what we do. Likewise we must be careful of what we say, and what we think. At all times we must aspire for a pure mind, a pure heart, and a pure soul.


Television can be a challenge, so is lewd entertainment and the sullied secular media. Even shady books and magazines can disturb a person’s spiritual equilibrium. Office chatter can likewise be a trap for impure conversations. Immodest dress or attire, especially among women, and some men, can ignite impurity in the minds of others. Impurity is around us initiated and scattered by the Evil One. Satan is invisible, so we do not see his invisible hand manipulating the minds of people. We need to be spiritually awake. So listen to the words of some wise and saintly men who extol purity.


“Purity is a precious jewel, and the owner of a precious stone would never dream of making a display of his riches in the presence of thieves.” - St. John Bosco


“It might be said that society speaks through the clothing it wears. Through its clothing it reveals its secret aspirations and uses it, at least in part, to build or destroy its future. We have to prefer the spiritual welfare of any neighbor to our bodily comforts. If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up.” - Pope Pius XII


“We must practice modesty not only in our looks, but also in our whole deportment, and particularly in our dress, our walk, our conversation, and all similar actions.” - St. Alphonsus Liguori


If we live a simple, modest, and chaste life, we can live happier lives.

 




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The Unexamined Life

 ​​​By Deacon Nemsy

Happy New Year!!! This time of the year usually connotes new opportunities for new beginnings and new spiritual blossoming. It is also a good time to let go of the stigma of the past year and start with a fresh examination of the direction of our life. Why? Because Plato said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” But for us Christians this examine is centered in our true and deep relationship with God. Everything that happens in our life flows from this relationship


Relationship with God is either shallow or deep, mediocre or outstanding, ho-hum or profound, personal or superficial. And you have heard me quote before from the book of Revelation God’s warning to the church of Laodicea:


“I know your deeds; I know you are neither hot nor cold. How I wish you were one or the other – hot or cold. But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. You keep saying, “I am so rich and secure that I want for nothing.” Little do you realize how wretched you are, how pitiable and poor, how blind and naked!” (Rev. 3:16)


So the culprit, the demise, the downfall ... is lukewarmness. God hates lukewarmness. That’s why He says: “I will spit you out of my mouth.” Just like if you ask someone you love so profoundly and so dearly, “Do you love me?” And he/she says, “I don’t know. I am so busy, I really don’t care.”


Wow!!! What a slap in the face. What a spit on the face.


Case in point. Someone came to me asking for prayer for a successful neck surgery. She said the surgery was somewhat complicated. So we talked a little bit more. Without my asking her, she confided to me that one of my sermons on love changed her outlook in life. She said:


“I used to be very casual and lukewarm about Jesus. The mass, the Eucharist did not mean much to me. I had a humdrum and shallow relationship with God. Interiorly, I was not happy and secure. I had that sickening fear of the future, and I was restless. Now I am no longer lukewarm with God, thanks to your admonition. Now I am seriously attached in a loving way to Jesus. I affectionately think of Him most of the time. So this coming surgery, I have lovingly surrendered to Him. I am at peace, but I still need prayers.” Before we parted, I prayed over her and gave her a blessing.


So this coming year let us examine our connection and bonding with the Lord. Let us focus on deepening our unique loving partnership with the God of the universe. No more lukewarm love of the Lord. After all, He made us for Himself, He made us for intimacy, He made us for heaven. Pursuing this goal will bring us much joy and happiness.


 

 Love is just such a game changer for sure and it will pervade the universe in due time. It is such a positive force beyond the boundaries of the whole universe. So how do you then try to utilize this powerful force of the universe to change the conditions of our world?

Simply by the grace of God try to know the nature of this force,later to discover that the nature of this for is ... BEYOND MEASURE.  

Heavenly Admonitions

by Agnes Kioskli

"Behave like Jesus. Always answer with love and the power of truth."   Pope Francis


Powerful admonition by a humble and spiritual Pope. Truly  a man of God, a man in love with God.

To be like Jesus, and to live love and truth is an honorable calling. A vocation. Knowing this truth should make us happy.



 


 Next Issue:  March 1 or  every 1st and 15th of each month.



"Love is unselfishly choosing for another's highest good."   C.S. Lewis


Looking after our brothers and sisters in need  and  their spiritual well being  are fundamental to our inner  joy  and   happiness.


Nonetheless, we must always begin with  our family and love ones. From there we can reach out to others. This attitude of charity can bring us peace and happiness.


My Lenten Journey

By Agnes M. Kioskli


It seems to me that we just celebrated Christmas yesterday!

And now  I am  walking with Jesus in the desert.


I was taught that during Lenten Season,  we offer sacrifices, prayers , alms giving etc. to God to accompany His Son Jesus during these forty days.


I started my Lenten Journey, by going to confession.  I go to the doctor when I am sick! Likewise, I also need my spiritual healing so I can restore my relationship with God, by going to confession. After my spiritual cleansing, then I am ready to  walk with Jesus and perform special acts of offering , starting with little things.


Yes, and I would do these things with joyful heart filled with joy and love.

My favorite St. Therese of the Little Flower started with little offerings with so much love for God; and because of her little ways, God has showered her with abundant blessings and love. Therefore:

By attending daily mass, and the reception of the sacred Body and Blood of Christ,  is the highest form of prayer I can offer to God, because it is during this time when I can really feel the presence of God in my life.


Loving my neighbors as I love myself,  though it is hard to do, is something that I can practice each day and offer it to God. Or even just offering a prayer to those I do not like much!


You and I can also follow Christ in our own ways by offering even the littlest things that we do each day for God. A smile, a comforting word,  can make a difference in someone's life most especially to God whose love for us is beyond measure. Whatever we do to the least of our brethren, we do it unto Him!


May we all have a blessed Lenten Journey and grace-filled heart full of of joy and love.



Note: Be sure to open "Seal it With a Smile" as shown above and Prayer of Petition