Custom Search

Friday, June 10, 2011 Antique Crucifix...

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24, NAB)

Earlier today, as I curiously opened a box of stuff belonging to my late father, I discovered a very old, antique, blackened (due to ageing) crucifix, metal based, with good quality wooden façade, front and back, on which the three dimensional corpus of Jesus Christ was nailed.

I am not certain of the manufacture origin of the crucifix.  This antique crucifix would have accompanied my father on his journey for 73 years; which ended peacefully nearly 8 years ago.

At the top of the Crucifix was the usual scroll with the acronym letters “I.N.R.I” - the initials for the Latin phrase, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” - Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum

At first glance, it looks like any normal crucifix which I have seen in my lifetime, but on closer examination, I noticed that there is a skull and bones at the foot of the crucifix, just beneath pierced feet of Jesus.

I have never seen a crucifix like this one before, although this one belongs to my father.  And yes, there are still too many things which I do not know about him in his lifetime, but what I know is that he has given me, the gift of the Catholic sustain me on my journey.

Today, some have even termed such a crucifix as the “Adam’s Cross”.

The skulls and bones symbolizes Jesus Christ’s triumphant victory over death and sin.  There were some old Jewish and Christian legend that the skull of Adam (who brought sin and death into the world through his disobedience to God), was buried at Golgotha; the place where Jesus was brutally crucified.

“For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life…The first man, Adam, became a living being," the last Adam a life-giving spirit. …  “Death is swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”” (1 Corinthians 15: 22, 45, 54, 55, NAB)

Similarly, on the back of this crucifix, exactly at the point of the intersection of the two cross beams, was a flaming heart shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, surrounded by a crown of thorns.

The wounds and crown of thorns could denote the manner of Jesus' painful death, while the fire may symbolize the transformative power of His divine love.  Coincidently, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus would be celebrated on the Friday, 19 days after Pentecost Sunday; coming up, just around the corner.

Whatever it is, this treasured crucifix belonging to my late father also reminded me of the last four things, which must always be pondered by us as we continue our journey – death, judgment, heaven and hell – these are the ultimate truths of our existence.

“In whatever you do, remember your last days, and you will never sin.” (Sirach 7:36, NAB)

With this, I simply said a quiet prayer for the soul of my father and staring at the crucifix...I joined both my hands…and pondered in my heart...

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Thy face I humbly kneel, and with burning soul pray and beseech Thee to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment.

Meanwhile, I contemplate with great love and tender mercy Thy five most precious wounds, pondering over them within me, and calling to mind the words which David in prophecy made Thee say concerning Thyself, my Jesus: “They have pierced My hands and feet; they have numbered all My bones.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Eucharist is Jesus Christ

“The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?  And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?  For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17, Douay Rheims)

“The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?  Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live forever.” (John 6:53-59, Douay Rheims)

Somehow, I have this restlessness within me today to share this reminder yet again, that the Holy Eucharist is indeed the source and summit of the Catholic Christian life.

Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote that, “The mark of a Catholic is the willingness to look for the divine in the flesh of a babe in a crib, and the continuing Christ under the appearance of bread and wine on an altar.”

Saint Pius X said, “Remember, this side of heaven, there is no way to be closer to Jesus than by worthily receiving him in Holy Communion.”

Therefore pilgrims, simply and quietly reflect...Jesus Christ is really present in the Holy Eucharist of the Catholic Church; nothing less...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Evangelization in The Digital Age

Just sharing my reflection of a small portion of Pope Benedict’s Message for the 45th World Communications Day

“The task of witnessing to the Gospel in the digital era calls for everyone to be particularly attentive to the aspects of that message which can challenge some of the ways of thinking typical of the web.

First of all, we must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its “popularity” or from the amount of attention it receives.

We must make it known in its integrity, instead of seeking to make it acceptable or diluting it.

It must become daily nourishment and not a fleeting attraction. The truth of the Gospel is not something to be consumed or used superficially; rather it is a gift that calls for a free response.

Even when it is proclaimed in the virtual space of the web, the Gospel demands to be incarnated in the real world and linked to the real faces of our brothers and sisters, those with whom we share our daily lives.”

What struck me most as a Catholic Christian blogger is the immense responsibility to truly be a genuine witness for Jesus Christ – always practicing a cyber form of radical discipleship on the web.

This call from the Pope is for everyone, be it an amateur blogger like me or some other much more sophisticated blog guru.

What ought to be important is not how many people “like” your blog or how many “followers” your blog attracts but it is a constant quest, on our part, to share the true un-watered-down good news of Jesus Christ.

As humble instruments of Christ, we must be sustained by the Word of God and continue to gently “break open” the Word for the world at large – so that the Word becomes relevant and alive, reaching the minds and penetrating the hearts of humanity…simply and quietly.

Together as one Catholic Christians cyber-community, let us make good use of our presence to share the gift of Jesus Christ in the digital world, as we continue to be sustained by the prayers and Apostolic Blessings from Pope Benedict XVI.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Is it Really The Spirit Speaking?...

The celebration of Pentecost Sunday is only just a few days away…to be precise, 50 days after Easter Sunday, hence its name; from the Greek, pentekostos meaning fiftieth.

Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (and the Blessed Virgin Mary) in the Upper Room – the birthday of the Catholic Christian Church.

St Peter, the first Pope, was already the leader and spoke for the Apostles on this first Pentecost; he preached with such joy that 3,000 were baptized that very day.  From thereon, the Catholic Church has been empowered by the Holy Spirit for over 2,000 years, to live differently in the midst of a chaotic world, to journey as a community of pilgrims, to lead the world lovingly back to God the Father

“…Rome represents the entire world and therefore embodies Luke's idea of catholicity.  The universal Church is brought into being, the Catholic Church, which is the extension of the Chosen People and makes its history and mission her own.” – Pope Benedict XVI, St Peter’s Basilica, Pentecost 2008

However, back then, Pentecost might not have been much of a celebration because the disciples of Jesus would probably have been more confused, anxious and unsure of what to do next…perhaps worrying about their own safety and grieving over the brutal crucifixion of their Rabbi and Master.

Like them, we can relate to similar emotions but we often remind ourselves that to lead a good Christian life, we must listen to the Holy Spirit; to be obedient to what the Spirit asks.  But then, more often than not, how can we tell if it is really the Spirit who speaks to us?  All of us wonder about this voice within us amidst the many other voices that are outside of ourselves.

In today’s world grown weary of God, there are many people who do not trust much in the workings of the Holy Spirit..Not only that, they do not even trust much in their own ability to respond to the Spirit.

These people often have a passion for control, as if they could harness and manage the power of the Spirit to their own judgment; deep down, these people are actually more afraid about the freedom that is a prerequisite for life in the Spirit.

Being obedient to the workings of the Holy Spirit (does not mean speaking in a tongue that one has never learnt) means being able to love in a way that can be learnt only through commitment to the Spirit – a power that can change the face of the earth because it has the ability to transform the hearts of humanity.

So, back to the same question, how can we tell if it is really the Holy Spirit speaking to us in the course of our daily lives?  I would like to think that we should be able to measure what we ‘hear’ against the Gospels.

“There is wholeness in the life of a person who lives by the Spirit, an integrity that is not destroyed by the stresses of life…  A man (or woman) of faith fits together and his (or her) actions flow from a consistent pattern of Gospel convictions…giving a testimony of faith.” – Fr Eugene C Kennedy, The Pain of Being Human, 1974

The Gospel is the best test and the service of others (servanthood) is still the best sign of those who are truly living in relationship with the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit always leads us to spiritual growth and sharing within a community, instead of pride, selfishness and the manipulation of other people.

People living in the Spirit comes to life in relationship with others…willing to die to what keeps him or her from loving others better…gives new life to others…in the process, discovering a richer life.

As pilgrims on a journey, we know that, although life can be challenging and serious, we are not grim…life can be a constant struggle, but we do not mistake it for a battle…faced with death or the culture of death, but we are filled with life.

We always carry a deep and serene sense of peace, if we live by the Holy Spirit; a peace that the world cannot give, a peace that the world may not understand…a peace that fills, renews and transforms the world around us.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jesus Christ...Raised High and Exalted...

“See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.”
(Isaiah 52:13, NAB)

Just sharing my simple reflection for Sunday (or Thursday, for some), as we recall the words of Prophet Isaiah, exactly 40 days after Easter Sunday, commemorating the Ascension of our Lord, Jesus Christ into heaven.

The Feast of the Ascension completes and adds meaning to the Resurrection, ending the 40 days of Lent; the number 40, perhaps being symbolic of a time for ‘preparation’ or ‘purification’ – to make a spiritual difference in our our journey.  On Ascension, Jesus returned to the right hand of God the Father.

“He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3, NAB)

“So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19, NAB)

“As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.  They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.” (Luke 24:51-53, NAB)

““…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.” (Acts 1:8-9, NAB)

As I quietly reflect on the significance of this event, in relation to my own journey through life, I cannot help but harbour a sense of hope that one day too, we ourselves will also arrive at this same destination; our home…being in the company of the Blessed Trinity and all the holy angels and saints.

This is the hope that will sustain us in our moments of sadness, emptiness, loneliness...even it in times of sickness, terminal illness, unemployment, financial difficulties, troubles in marriage, romance, love, spiritual indecisiveness or simply a life where God remains, seemingly, absent.

We know that our journey is, more often than not, filled with obstacles, seductions and temptations, coupled with our own human condition.  Only with Jesus, as our faithful and trusted companion, can we overcome and be sustained with enough courage and spiritual nourishment to continue our journey home (easier said than done, sometimes).

Like the disciples, I too, have much that I still do not understand as my faith is sometimes weak.  Like the disciples, I await the promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit…to descent upon my life and make me whole, to awaken me, to enlighten me, to give me courage to be a brave witness of the Risen Lord…to enter into a closer relationshipwith God the Father.

St Augustine reminds us that, “Whoever does not have the (Catholic) church as Mother, will not have God as Father.”

“Through the (Catholic) church, we have the Scriptures and their authentic explanation; the sacraments, all seven of God’s channels of grace, willed by Jesus to help us on our way to heaven; and the examples of lived holiness — such as John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Padre Pio, Thérèse of Lisieux, and many, many others.” – Father John A Leies, SM, STD

In solidarity with the whole universal church, we wait eagerly and prayerfully to celebrate the 2,000+ years Birthday of the Church…this coming weekend…Pentecost Sunday…the Feast of the Holy Spirit…also a springtime for a new evangelization in our own spirits!

The Holy Spirit has, for more than 2,000 years, defended and protected the Catholic Church, from fierce enemies of the Church, both within and without, that have always tried to destroy it, time and again…but always failed.

As the Jesuits would term the greater glory of God...Ad majorem Dei gloriam!