Posts tagged ‘articles’

Don’t Hide Your Gifts!

Are the gifts that God has given you meant to be kept for yourself (i.e., hidden)? The lamp in Gospel reading (Mark 4:21-25) is the light of Christ within you. Every good gift that you’ve received — your talents, your hard-earned money, your wisdom, your home, etc. — is a beam of the light of Christ trying to shine outward from you.

Why do we sometimes hide our gifts? It’s because we think they’re not enough — not good enough, not ready enough, or not humble enough to show them to others and let them shine.

We are treasure chests full of gifts! To share these treasures requires exposing ourselves, opening up the lid and letting others look inside to pick up and use the gifts that could benefit them. Does the thought of that make you feel too vulnerable?

We cannot do much for the kingdom of God without exposing what we naturally want to protect. Jesus exposed his back to the scourging whips, his head to thorns, and his body to the pain of the cross, because he loves you! Are you willing to expose his presence within you by sharing your gifts so that others may discover that Jesus loves them, too? Read more…

#LittlePilgrimage 31. Ōura Church, Nagasaki, Japan

26 June 2017. It was drizzling when I went to Nagasaki during my Japan trip with my friend.

The alley to Oura church was a unique place where you could only find western buildings. You would feel like you’re somewhere in Europe, not Japan. Entrance fee for this church was ¥600. Paid at the ticketing counter just at the bottom of the stairs to the church, we also took the English version of the information book about the church.

#LittlePilgrimage 31. Ōura Church, Nagasaki, Japan, 〒850-0931 Nagasaki Prefecture, Nagasaki, Minamiyamatemachi, 5-3

The Basilica of the Twenty-Six Holy Martyrs of Japan (日本二十六聖殉教者堂) also Ōura Church (大浦天主堂 Ōura Tenshudō) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and Co-cathedral in Nagasaki, Japan, built soon after the end of the Japanese government’s Seclusion Policy in 1853.

In 1863, two French priests from the Sociéte des Missions Étrangères, Fathers Louis Furet and Bernard Petitjean, landed in Nagasaki with the intention of building a church honoring the Twenty-Six Martyrs of Japan, nine European priests and seventeen Japanese Christians who were crucified in 1597 by order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The church was finished in 1864. It was originally a small wooden chapel with three aisles and three octagonal towers. The present structure is a much larger Gothic basilica that dates from around 1879. This version was built of white stuccoed brick with five aisles, vaulted ceilings, and one octagonal tower. The design most likely came from a Belgian plan used by Catholic missionaries in an earlier church built in Osaka. The stained glass windows were imported from France. Read more…

Why God Let Atomic Bomb Happened in Nagasaki (a true story from a Christian point of view)

by Br. Anthony JoseMaria

This is a true story by Takashi Nagai, a survivor of the Nagasaki bomb;

When the Nagasaki blast occurred, Dr. Nagai was working in the x-ray department that he had helped found at the Nagasaki Medical University, a half-mile from the epicenter. Though the blast did not completely level the reinforced concrete hospital, 80 percent of the occupants were killed. Nagai’s wing was in the southeast corner, furthest from the blast. Nevertheless, he was blown completely across his office and quickly suffered severe loss of blood from cuts made by flying window glass. He also began suffering greatly from high exposure to radiation and was later told by doctors that he had only a short time to live. Curiously, Kolbe enters our story again as Nagai hears a voice in his mind, perhaps from his guardian angel, telling him to pray to Fr. Maximilian Kolbe. He understood this strange guidance to mean that he should pray to the holy Franciscan priest who, in the 1930s, had been so well loved by the Nagasaki Catholics. Kolbe had left Japan nine years previously in 1936, and Nagai had, because of the news blackout in Japan, no knowledge of Kolbe’s death at Auschwitz in 1941. But, curiously, he had known Fr. Kolbe well in the early 1930s and had actually x-rayed him to determine the extent of his chronic tuberculosis. Nagai prayed to Maximilian Kolbe and was cured. As physicians, he and the others knew it was an obvious miracle from God. He attributed it to the friar’s intercession.

A truly Biblical Holocaust Read more…

Shame Or Guilt Or Mercy

Have you ever been accused unmercifully, like Susanna in (Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62)? Whether the accusation is true or false, we feel terribly invalidated, especially if it comes without forgiveness. Even when we’ve done nothing wrong, we need an attitude of mercy from our accuser or else the wound goes very deep.

Feeling remorseful for a genuine sin doesn’t make it easier to endure the harsh reactions of others. Since we naturally prefer to look good in the eyes of others, especially when they treat us unmercifully, we defend ourselves and try to rationalize away our sins.

This happens because we’re trying to protect ourselves from shame. Guilt is the honest awareness that we have sinned, which leads to remorse, which leads to healing. Shame is different. Shame belittles us and causes deeper wounds.

Only mercy can protect us from shame. Mercy validates our worth. Without it, we try to undo the shame by manipulating people into liking us and approving of us and affirming us. The more we sin, the more desperate we become for other people’s approval. And the more desperate we become, the less remorse we feel for what we’ve done wrong, because remorse includes the feeling that we deserve disapproval. Read more…

Unmasking the Betrayer

One of the Twelve a Traitor?

We often think that Judas must have been different, obviously worse than the other disciples. If that were true, everyone would have suspected him when Jesus said, “One of you will betray me.” They would have thought: “It must be Judas. He’s always been bad. He’s capable of betraying Jesus. I don’t know why Jesus picked him.” Instead, Judas did not stand out as any worse than they were. If he did, they would have immediately suspected him. Each one of us, as well, could become a Judas little by little, first by giving up our principles on smaller matters and then later on more important matters. In the Christian life there always needs to be a healthy tension of straining forward and of watchfulness. The one who is trustworthy in small matters is trustworthy in greater matters.

Is It I?

The apostles are all asking, “Is it I?” Why? Was there some widespread desire to betray him of which they were barely keeping control? No, but they were in a very dangerous situation. The Pharisees had decided to kill Jesus. The apostles know it. That’s why the whole group had gone to stay in Jericho for a while. Jerusalem was too dangerous. They can imagine themselves following Jesus to the Temple the next day, being singled out in the crush of the crowd and then having their life threatened to provide information about where Jesus can be found at night. They wonder what they would say. With my life on the line would I betray Jesus? This is why they ask, “Is it I?” When push comes to shove, what comes first in my life? Would I ever consider selling out on Jesus for something or someone else?

Vigilance of the Heart Read more…

Unlikely Evangelists

Jonah was an unlikely evangelist. In Jonah 1:1 — 2:1-2,11, God asked him to go into enemy territory, but Jonah did not like that idea at all. God wanted him to evangelize the Ninevites! Aside from worrying about his personal safety, Jonah preferred to see them get their just punishment, rather than escape it merely by repenting at the last minute.

What about the death-bed conversions of the irritating, stubbornly sin-filled jerks we know today? How would we feel if upon our arrival in heaven we were greeted by the ex-spouse who hurt us so much, or the priest who drove people away in an abuse of his vocation, or terrorists who killed innocent people in the name of Allah? What if they had refused to repent until their final moments when Jesus showed up to judge them? Wouldn’t we prefer that Jesus, instead of embracing them, would have slapped them all the way to hell?

God had to take Jonah’s “no, I won’t do that” and change his direction with a ride in the belly of a big fish. Have you said no to God’s plans because it requires helping someone you don’t like? If so, how is he redirecting your life? What’s your big fish?

Jesus shows us another unlikely evangelist. Have you ever thought of the Good Samaritan as an evangelist? The Samaritans and the Jews had been enemies for centuries. The Jews condemned the Samaritans because they compromised the Jewish faith with pagan beliefs. It should have been the Jews who evangelized the Samaritans, but here Jesus gives us a Samaritan evangelizing a Jew.

How? By the Samaritan’s great act of love, his sacrificial act of love. What he did was inconvenient. He allowed himself to be sidetracked from his own plans, he ministered to the man’s wounds, he carried his weight, and he delivered the man to someone who could help him more, covering the expenses with his own travelling money. This is evangelization. His message was: “You are loved. You matter.” It describes the nature of God. It describes why Jesus went to the cross.

In today’s world, this scene is replayed every time someone takes care of their aging parent who, in the decline of their health, becomes very difficult to get along with. And every time a handicapped baby is allowed to live in a caring home instead of being aborted. And every time a divorced wife takes care of her ex-husband while he’s dying of cancer.

People don’t hear God’s message of love when we condemn them or neglect them or mistreat them. If we choose to do only what’s convenient or we turn away because we don’t want to say “you matter” to people who are unpleasant, our souls rot inside the belly of a smelly big fish.

Love that’s given when it’s inconvenient or unpleasant is true love — it’s Christ’s love. If you are a repentant Jonah or a caring Samaritan, be assured that Jesus appreciates you very much.

© 2015 by Terry A. Modica

Holding the Darkness

When we try to live in solidarity with the pain of the world—and do not spend our lives running from necessary suffering—we will surely encounter various forms of “crucifixion.” Many say pain is merely physical discomfort, but suffering comes from our resistance to, denial of, and our sense of injustice or wrongness about that pain. This is the core meaning of suffering on one level or another, and we all learn it the hard way.

As others have said, pain is the rent we pay for being human, but suffering is to some degree optional. The cross was Jesus’s voluntary acceptance of undeserved suffering as an act of total solidarity with all the pain of the world. Deep reflection on this mystery can change your whole life. It seems there is an inherent negative energy or resistance from all of us, whenever we are invited to a more generous response. Yet this is the necessary dying that the soul must walk through to go higher, further, deeper, or longer. The saints called these dyings “nights,” darkness, unknowing, doubt. This is when you grow—but “in secret.”

Our secular world has almost no spiritual skills to deal with this now, so we resort to addictions, and other distractions to get us through our pain and sufferings. This does not bode well for the future of humanity. Only truly inspired souls choose to fully jump on board this ship of life and death. The rest of us waste our time blaming or playing the victim to our own advantage.

Without the inner discipline of faith (“positive holding instead of projecting”) most lives end in negativity, blaming others, or deep cynicism—without even knowing it. Jesus hung in the crucified middle and paid the price for all such reconciliation (Ephesians 2:13–18); he then invited us to do the same, and showed us the outcome—which is resurrection!

Adapted from Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi, pp. 21-22