Monday, 29 August 2022

MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY: "DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU TO DO" (MOTHER MARY)

 


This post is in a way overdue. Many friends are still unaware of my whereabouts. The pandemic led me to a different path in my life's journey.

Moving back to Malaysia in November 2020, after living overseas for 23 years, has been a challenging transition. It was difficult after being in full-time ministry for 16 ½ years too. While I listened to the clear voice within me saying with great clarity, “Go back to Malaysia” and acted upon it, it was an enormous act of faith for me. I bought the one-way ticket on a mercy mission flight to Kuala Lumpur within 3 hours and left most of my personal stuff in India when I left 2 weeks later, at the height of the (pre-vaccine) COVID-19 pandemic. It was a complete surprise to me. I had no plans to live in Malaysia again as I am one of those Malaysians who love Malaysia when I am far away! Plus, I had no place to stay in Malaysia and my siblings lived in different countries. Our Lord sent me a wonderful friend who was an angel in my time of great need, Jeniffer Fernandez, who had been offering me a place to stay since the pandemic began. I will always be grateful for her love and care during my 1st 3 months in Malaysia. I will never forget my friends and siblings who rallied to help me live in Malaysia again. It was like living in a new country. :) 

Being in India at the start of the pandemic was difficult. In Kerala, India, we were in lockdown from mid-February 2020 until I left on 07 November 2020. To put it mildly, it is one thing being in isolation at home, but when a busy retreat centre is closed, It is difficult to explain how strange one feels. No one could leave the campus; People all over the world were getting used to the working from home (WFH) setup. It was not at all an issue with me.  Most of my ministry was online from my 1st day (18 June 2004) of full-time service in Divine-Potta ministry. 

There were only six passengers (including me) on the mercy mission flight. The emotions I experienced as I was on the flight were indescribable. I had no clue what my future was. In fact, I had no inkling of what path my life was taking. I was numb from exhaustion from all the clearing and packing I had tried to do in India - not knowing when I could return to India.  It was very unsettling. Why was I back in Malaysia? There is limited scope for Catholic mission work. It was when I started my 2 weeks hotel quarantine that I realized—it is a whole NEW beginning in my faith journey and life. What did I do? Well, I slept for nearly 3 whole days! 

While it happened swiftly, this phase of my life's journey began 2 years earlier. I experienced an “epiphany moment” during the 1st night of the Kerala Floods on 16 August 2018–an unexpected experience out of the blue. I "saw" a clear vision (I was wide awake) and heard a pure, clear voice of great clarity in my heart. The 1st question was, “Susan, are you answering God’s Call in your life?” My spontaneous heart’s response was “No!” It shook me. There was no electricity and about 12 feet of swift floodwaters. 

                1st Day of Kerala Floods - 16 August 2018  afternoon              

On 11 July last year, during the online Monthly Friday Healing Adoration in Holy Family Church, Doveton, Australia, Fr. Michael Payyapilly V. C. called out my name with this message, “Open your heart to Jesus and he will lead your vocation to journeys that you would never have thought about – journeys that will bring fruits for His Glory.” This message came when I had questions about how I could continue to answer God’s Call.

Yet I was very unsettled in Malaysia until January this year, not knowing why God brought me back. An inner peace came into my heart of trusting Jesus with my life. The message regarding my vocation last year was like a little sapling sprouting from a grain of wheat. In April 2022, I returned to India to make the final closure of my life in India–it was 16 ½ years! It was a journey of great inner peace and joy. There was no sadness.

On 19 August 2022,  the 1st night of the 9-day online Novena & Consecration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Fr, Michael Payyapilly V.C. (now the Superior in Divine Retreat Centre Colombo, Sri Lanka), my name was the first name called out and the Holy Spirit-inspired message was, The Lord touches your heart. The Lord strengthens your heart.” At the start of this 9-day Consecration, I had made a brief prayer, “O God, if it is Your Will, Please give me a message to inspire me to live for You.” Praise God for His Loving answer! For the 1st time since 2018, I could pray freely in tongues spontaneously. The painful frozen right shoulder I had since June 2021 has vanished by over 90%! I can lift both my hands upright with no pain since Day 1. I feel so much joy and inspiration in my heart and mind ever since the Consecration began.

Immediately after Day 2, I felt a great holy zeal to begin the 4 initiatives placed in my heart since 2018. I had done a lot of praying and thinking—the time has come to take action! Fr. Michael shared this point about discipleship in one of his talks during this Consecration. I have begun the 4 evangelization initiatives and started my research/outlines of the projects. What seemed burdensome is now exciting and seems effortless. There is no more doubt within me or fear of the future. It is only this year I have felt the genuine joy of praying the Holy Rosary and a personal closeness to Mother Mary. It was a struggle before.

                Blessed Family Memories             

During this time, my mother returned to our Lord on 12 July 2022. It was a time of grief and a time of joy. My Mum's pilgrimage on earth is over. She earned her crown after her last race on earth. She had a holy death receiving the Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion the day before. It was a deeply touching funeral mass by His Excellency Bishop Sebastian Francis. It brought great comfort to our hearts. Today is my late parents' wedding anniversary.

Do I know clearly what is my life going to be like in Malaysia or on my vocation journey? No, I do not know. What I know is the Call of God in my heart and the path being lit by Christ’s Light for me to act in faith. I praise and thank Jesus for helping me to discern and to take action in living for Him. Consecrating my family and my life to the Immaculate Heart of Mary has been a most beautiful and grace-filled experience.

Like St. Philip. I want to be "always available for God".

The YouTube hymn at the top of this post, "Stand Still and Let God Move" by The Isaacs", resonated in my heart when I heard it 3 days ago. 

O Mother Mary, lead me to Jesus! Amen.


Monday, 27 September 2021

St. Vincent de Paul - My Life's Inspiration


Today, 27 September 2021 is the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul.

St. Vincent has inspired Catholics all over the world to serve the poor and the marginalized by his life and to live the Word of God, "Go, and do likewise." (Luke 10:37)

Let us be the change that our world need especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

We can still reach out to others no matter what our circumstances in life. If our heart is open to God as St. Vincent de Paul was, there is always an abundance of graces to love and act to help the poor and marginalized.

Whenever I feel down during the big upheaval in my life in this pandemic, I reflect on the inspiring quotes of Catholic Saints. St. Vincent’s words and his life often gives me a correct perspective on what should matter in my life–even when I do not know what lies ahead.

What I know is I will not give up or settle for second-best as my heart burns with great fire to live for Jesus. Hence, whatever will be God’s Plan for me, it will be to aspire to live what St. Vincent has exemplified in his life.

It is not sufficient for me to love God if I do not love my neighbour. I belong to God and to the poor."

–St. Vincent de Paul

It is difficult when life is in a flux, and I do not know what lies ahead. This pandemic and long period of isolation have showed that without Jesus, my life would be one of hopelessness and despair. When I ponder each day on the blessings in my life, I am so grateful for how Jesus is with me even when I go through bouts of uncertainty regarding God’s Plan for my life.

What I know is that I needed this time to recalibrate my life to live with joy and zeal for Jesus once again. To let go of all that had cluttered my life. It is only in August this year that I finally felt liberated to live as how I feel called by God. Not to what is being expected of me. What does God want of me? How do I do so with the Joy of our Lord? There are no immediate answers.

Life in Kuala Lumpur has blessed me. I have a great circle of loving Catholic friends whose faith are like bright burning lights of Christ in my life. So even if my light gets dimmed, their light will ensure mine brightens up again. This is the embodiment of our Catholic faith. We are a community of Christ and we are never alone. Ours is a living faith because Jesus is alive every single moment - in our past, our present and in our future!

The Word of God (Matthew 6:25-27) has always been one passage in the Bible that gives me great strength and hope:

25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 

27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

(Matthew 6:25-27)

Some little every day joys are that I have cooked more this year than I have my entire life! Cooking was never a priority for me. Yet now, I truly enjoy cooking. I am learning to cook dishes that reminds me of my childhood and all the special occasions – my Mum’s cooking. I have even learnt to cook Kerala dishes now that I am out of India. I have tried my hand in baking recently too. And yes, my siblings and close friends have to view the pictures of my culinary adventures.

It has been very uplifting to read and reflect–both on spiritual and inspirational readings. I love reading and to rediscover it again is a special joy.

There is such a wealth of online talks and prayers by so many priests worldwide. I do not view many daily, but I do so as I am inspired each day - usually not over two spiritual talks.

My greatest treasure is the Holy Bible during my personal prayer time. It is my time with Jesus. The peace I feel in my heart is hard to explain. Every day, Jesus shows His Spirit can convey His message to me through the Bible, Holy Mass homily, daily rosary with a prayer group, YouTube videos, WhatsApp messages, social media and calls from friends.

St. Vincent de Paul was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity. These qualities come when we open our hearts for Jesus in total surrender. It is not when we have wealth. Even when we have little material wealth, if we have “agape love” as our life’s principle, there is always an act of love or mercy that you and I can do.

An enduring memory I will always carry in my heart is the pure joy and love I have experienced among the poor in India. Often it made me reflect on the fact that when we have comfortable lives, we take it for granted and we want more. God must hear endless petitions of our “wants”. But have we really petitioned to Jesus for our actual needs? To have the gift of faith, compassion, holiness, Christian service, humility, true repentance, to be faithful to God–the list is endless. Our goal is to be in Heaven. It is not our job titles, life-savings or material wealth that will get us there. It is about how we live our lives with whatever we have for Love and Glory of our Lord, Jesus.

So let us not despair when the going is tough. Jesus is always with us. He has promised us. “Do not be afraid. I am with you.” (Isaiah 43:5)

I will forever be grateful to God for the Vincentian spirituality transforming my life from 14 February 1998 through the Vincentian Fathers of the Divine-Potta ministry in India. I guess I am a Vincentian in spirit.

The video at the top of this post, St. Vincent de Paul’s Inspiring Quotes 2021, is the first music reflection video I have done this year. I wish each of you and your loved ones a Blessed Feast Day!


Tuesday, 1 June 2021

BRENDAN PEREIRA: REMEMBERING GOD'S GRACE DURING COVID-19 RECOVERY


The Covid-9 pandemic has taken a toll on our world, our families and loved ones. In Malaysia it is rampaging out of control. Today, we went into a Mandatory Control Order nationwide until 14 June 2021. It has brought fear and anxiety for most of us. It has also become more personal than when it began last year. This year, a few weeks ago, the Divine-Potta ministry lost a much-loved priest to this virus which seems to have imprisoned people across the world. I will share on this in a later post.

Today, with great joy, I would like to share the personal written experience of a very close friend, Brendan and his wife, Kherk Ying when they were both hospitalized after testing positive despite following all the guidelines that we all have to live with now.

To have fear is not a sin. We are all humans. To overcome our fear and to let Jesus be in control is what we have to keep in our hearts.

Below is the heart-provoking testimony by Brendan Pereira of the tough 10 days he learnt to surrender it all to God. Brendan and Kherk Ying were discharged on his birthday. A blessed gift from God!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I pray. I have faith. I think of God often. In recent years, I have become in every sense, a practising Catholic, someone proud that I belong to this wonderful umbrella of believers who follow the epitome of LOVE.

 

Catholics make up the bulk of my friends, and I am blessed to have the examples of holiness in my parents, my sisters, uncles, aunts and priests. 

Correction: I am beyond blessed.

And yet. And yet.

Yet when the Covid-19 curve ball struck my wife and I recently, I became unhinged. I went on a roller coaster of emotions.  It made me too anxious to be a disciple of Christ.

My encounter with the dastardly virus was mild in comparison to my wife who came down with pneumonia and had breathing difficulties. We admitted ourselves into hospital and her situation was tricky for a few days.

I have had time to reflect on our illness and the role faith and the prayers of others played in our episode. I think it can be broken up into 2 parts.

BEFORE ALLOWING THE HOLY SPIRIT...

I called priests here and overseas, asking for prayers the minute we were admitted to hospital and it became obvious that this was not a Panadol illness. Just walking past the ICU and seeing patients in ventilators set off my worry meter.

Several priests prayed and gave such sound advice, selecting comforting passages from the Bible and reminding how Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law. My sisters were pillars of faith, as always. So were my relatives.

But I couldn't shake off the desolation. The sounds of the hospital-the wailing from a nearby room and the Code Blue in the ICU and the different rhythm of Kherk Ying's breathing - disturbed my peace.

In short, the noises of the world shut out the Voice of the Lord.

Peace was elusive because I allowed fear, anxiety and every worst-case scenario to take control. I PRAYED BUT DIDN'T TRUST IN GOD. DIDN'T TRUST THAT HE IS IN CONTROL ALL THE TIME - and in every situation.

Must have been frustrating for God. Here I was pleading for His help but unwilling to receive His help.

But Our God is patient. He waits, and He will wait.

AFTER ALLOWING CHRIST TO TAKE CONTROL...

Peace only returned to my heart after four or five days in hospital, after I prayed for God to breathe His Spirit into me and into Kherk Ying's lungs as He did to the Apostles on the Pentecost.

I started thinking less of ifs and what ifs. I committed Kherk Ying to the Lord and asked God to guide the doctor who was treating us. My sister Yvette urged me to just focus on praising God. Sensible advice really because when we focus on the fount of goodness, faithfulness and might, there is less chance of being caught up with the slavery of the self.  Me, myself, my family and I

Looking back, I am embarrassed at how easily I lost trust in God when things went awry, how easily I allowed fear to envelope me,  how swiftly doubt took control. But that is the pride in me speaking.

Nothing worse than believing that you truly are a follower of Christ just because you pray, go to mass daily and do all the externals.

We live and learn to be better disciples every day, all the while appreciating that all things are only possible with His grace.

My wife and I are back home, grateful and so thankful to the army of believers who prayed for us with such faith and fervour. 

I am grateful to God for healing us and for teaching me about humility and what it means to surrender to His will.

When I look back at this episode, I see the Hand of God everywhere, from sending us to the right hospital at a time when beds are so scarce for Covid patients to the wonderful family, friends and strangers who became His agents of love and mercy.

May you all be blessed.

St Augustine was spot on.

"Lord, You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."

So true. 

May we always remember God's goodness and faithfulness. May we always cling to and invite the Holy Trinity to take charge and never forget that we have recourse to our family in Nazareth.

We are beyond  blessed!

Brendan Pereira (Malaysia)


Thursday, 4 February 2021

STORMING HEAVEN - COVID-19 TESTIMONY OF THE POWER OF HOLY NAME OF JESUS ( by Annie Heng, Malaysia)

The testimony below is of the amazing Power of the Holy Name of Jesus and the faith of loving family and friends. Annie Heng is a friend of mine, but I did not know of the great trial and miracles in her family's life until Annie shared her testimony with me this morning.

In Annie's own words, we rejoice and give thanks and praise to Jesus' miracles in her family.


Jeremy Yang and Annie Heng (2020)


My husband, Jeremy Yang was down with fever and throbbing headaches on 14 January 2021.  He went to see a doctor on 17 January, did the RTK-antigen Covid-19 test and the result was negative.  However, the symptoms persisted and another Covid-19 test using the RT-PCR method was done.  It confirmed our worst fears when the clinic called on 20 Jan to inform that he was Covid-19 positive.  

As advised by The Ministry of Health (MOH), my husband quarantined at home and managed the fever and headaches with paracetamol.   On 22 January evening, Jeremy had breathing difficulty.  We contacted MOH and asked to ring 999 for emergency help.  They connected us to the hospital and were told to send Jeremy to the hospital directly.

 On the evening of 25 January, Jeremy’s condition deteriorated.  The doctor called my son, Alvin, to inform that Jeremy was critical and there was no ventilator for him.  My heart sank when I received the news. I was lost and helpless.  I contacted my family and friends to pray.  That very night, the hospital called again to inform us that Jeremy was to be intubated and put on a ventilator! That was God’s intervention!  Praise God, Praise His Holy Name!

The next day, Jeremy’s condition was categorized as Stage 5, meaning most critical because of his age and underlying conditions, and there was a risk of mortality.  His lungs were very weak. My heart was very heavy as I prepared for the worst. Friends encouraged me not to lose hope but to continue praying.  

By now, many in our family, friends, priests and various prayer groups have been storming heaven for my husband.   We also sent petitions for prayers to the Vincentian Retreat Centres in Melbourne and Sydney. During this time I attended a 3-day online retreat, IN THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS, organized by the Vincentian Retreat Centre in Melbourne. On 26 January 2021, Day 1 of the retreat, I cried out to Jesus with all my heart and soul to give Jeremy a second chance in life.  Many members of my family observed a day of fast for this intention.  On 27 January, Day 2 of the retreat, the heaviness in my heart disappeared and I experienced calmness and peace. 


At about 7.40 p.m. the same night, Alvin received a call from the hospital to inform us that Jeremy's ventilator was removed and he was breathing on his own! I could not believe the news and kept asking Alvin if he heard it correctly, as Jeremy was in critical condition just 3 days ago. I cried and kept thanking God with all my heart. That night we had a video call with Jeremy with the help of a nurse.  Seeing him alive was unbelievable, and I cannot stop praising and thanking Jesus for what He had done.   The following day, they moved Jeremy out of the ICU ward. He progressed well and they discharged Jeremy from the hospital on 1 February 2021.  

While Jeremy was recuperating, I asked him if he would like to follow my faith, and be a Catholic.  His response was an immediate "YES".  My joy is indescribable. May God’s Name be glorified!

This entire episode is indeed a miracle! United as an army of Christ, we stormed heaven together to save a soul. To all who have been part of this miracle, I pray you are blessed abundantly with Jesus' love, peace and joy. 

 

If you asked anything of me in my name, I will do it.

(John 4:14)

 

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

(John 11:40)

 

By Annie Heng 

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

(03 February 2021)


Friday, 25 December 2020

CHRISTMAS 2020 - GOD IS WITH US!



Warmest Greetings from Malaysia!

2020 has been a year the world and each of us will never forget.

We have experienced the Presence of Jesus in our lives in a special way.

I wish each of you a Most Blessed & Joyous Christmas with your loved ones - both near and far.

We pray for Christ's Peace and Goodwill to reign in the hearts of all of us on earth.

May Jesus' gift each of us with His Love, Hope. Peace & Joy to live grace-filled lives!




Monday, 28 September 2020

YOUR PERSONAL CONVERSION STORY MATTERS TO JESUS!

 


September 27 is the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul who is known as the Patron Saint of all Catholic Charities. St. Vincent is also the Patron Saint of the Vincentian Congregation of India, the priests who run  Divine Retreat Centre, Kerala, India where I have been serving for over 16 years.


St. Vincent like many saints we read about had a huge personal conversion of his heart for Jesus.  That moment of personal conversion was his inspiration to not only preach the Word of God through popular missions in parishes but also to serve the poor. Like the Samaritan Man, helping the poor was not an option. It was Jesus command to all of us, "Go and do likewise."(Luke 10:37)

The Covid-19 pandemic is a wake-up call to all of us on earth to be kinder and gentler towards one another, and be responsible and caring stewards to all living creatures, to Nature, the environment, waterways, seas, oceans and the ozone layer in the skies.  We, humans, through indifference and greed have plundered our earth with little thought to the long-term damage we contribute to. Every life that God created is precious to Him. The Encyclical, LAUDATO SI by Pope Francis has become  so meaningful to me. It's subtitle is "Common Care For Our Home".  It should be read by every human being and not just Catholics. 

With churches around the world closed during the Season of Lent and the greatest Catholic liturgical week, Holy Week, Catholics around the world were stunned and felt lost. A great blessing is that many Catholics have found the beautiful grace to turn to God, and to be rooted in Christ. The churches may be closed but in this difficult times, many Catholics have access to online Catholic resources. It has opened hearts for many of us to understand the Word of God, the Holy Bible with a deeper love for Jesus. Many Catholics all over the world have reached out to help those who are suffering in their communities regardless of race, religion or creed.

Despite great difficulties here in Kerala due to the pandemic, I have found the special grace of God's Mercy upon all of us in Divine Retreat Centre. It is priceless to be able to  celebrate daily Holy Mass  and to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. There is an indescribable peace just sitting at the Feet of Jesus. For this alone, I am so thankful to God that I am here.

Fr. Michael Payyapilly V.C.'s homily-"WHAT IS MY ONGOING CONVERSION STORY?", in the YouTube video at the top of this post, penetrated my heart. In fact, I could identify fully with St. Vincent de Paul before his conversion story. Like him, I was only focused on my career, job position and the financial benefits I could attain.  Like St. Vincent, I was obsessed with the comforts in life. It was all about being a success materially on earth.

On Palm Sunday 2020, I found a deep inner peace fill my heart, mind and soul. I had opened up to the Director that I was sitting in front of him not as a volunteer but as a broken person. I was feeling very fragile and fearful for all my family members. I could not help anyone! My ministry which is mainly  overseas-based literally came to a standstill. When I was prayed over, I had the sensation of a huge boulder of heavy weight being lifted up from my shoulders. In that blessed moment, my heart was completely free from personal pains and inner wounds. Yes, even in ministry, we do go through all these - where we are exhausted, burdened  and joy seems to be elusive. 

As I look back now, it was solely due to the prayers of some very dear family and friends, I am now able to have quality reflective time to do intercessory prayers for all who ask me, and in spiritual readings and videos. The Word of God lift us up when we learn to totally surrender our lives unto Jesus' Hands. My favourite novena is the Novena of Surrender. It had no effect on me when I started praying this novena in late January for  four consecutive cycles. Then I noticed  a change in my heart and mind. The few strained  relationships I had here were healed and we are all on good terms as friends. We even have our meals together and pray for each other. There is laughter and joy where before we tried to keep our distance if we could.


How did it happen? It is about remembering my personal conversion story and the love that seemed to burst from my heart for Jesus. All I needed and wanted was to live for Jesus! Nothing else mattered.  Yet as the years went by, my personal conversion experience seemed to take a backseat in the midst of ministry. It is like a spiritual burnout. This pandemic has given me  the much-needed opportunity to deeply root myself in Christ as I write and recall my ongoing faith journey over the years since my 1st Divine retreat experience. I can clearly identify God's Hand upon my life. 

Fr. Michael in his homily challenges each of us to reflect on this heart-piercing question, "In my growth stage, have I forgotten my ongoing conversion story?"  Father further reminded us we should not have growth for the sake of growth. Our faith journey is always an ongoing conversion story.

Only then can my conversion story be my GREATEST love story. Jesus, I love You with All of me. Only in You, I find  Joy and Strength to be detached from this world  and to be deeply rooted in You - my source of Life, my Hope, my Love.

The YouTube music video below, LOVELY LORD by PETRA is the prayer I have in my heart every day now. The year 2020 is indeed life-changing - I have rediscovered the love and passion to live for Jesus with all my being. My family and I have grown closer to each other as we have all turned to God praying for each other and with each other through Zoom. We have never been closer as a family despite the oceans that separate us.  In the meantime, there is much love and joy living here in Divine Retreat Centre. It is the family Jesus has gifted me for the past 16 years in India.

"Lovely Lord, I am longing to see You one day face to face."


                

Sunday, 12 April 2020

EASTER 2020 - HOPE IN JESUS LIVES!


"HOLY MOTHER" by Eric Clapton and Luciano Pavarotti


Today is Easter Sunday 2020. An Easter that will never be forgotten for a long time to come. All the churches across the world are silent and empty. However,  our hearts which is a "temple of God" is not empty. In a mysterious way, this Holy Week and Easter has drawn us very much closer to Jesus, our Redeemer. 
All Glory and Praise to God! Easter is all about Hope!


In this pandemic, along with the fear and despair, many of us have realized how important our Christian faith is in our lives.

Despite it all, we have experienced interior joy and a deep soul-searching of what should be most important in our journey here on earth, Yes, it is not  the material things in life. Where are we in our spiritual life? Are we ready for our eternal life in heaven? Have we been good stewards of the earth as per one of the readings during the Easter Vigil mass where God made man the master of all the living animals and plants on land and sea. Each one of us as human beings, have failed in this aspect - towards our fellow human beings and to all of Creation. 


Video Credit: Guardian UK

Through social media, we have seen air and sea pollution clear up so much, that Mount Everest can be seen clearly miles away in North India. We see dolphins swimming and frolicking in waters from Venice in Italy to Cochin, India; a herd of Great Orme mountain goats coming down from the mountains in North Wales; a critically endangered wild civet cat calmly walking the streets of a town in Kerala, India. In fact, today I saw video of a monkey taking a dive from the outside of a condo  a few floors up into  the swimming pool and then swimming leisurely  across the pool. It was amazing!  But it brought a serious question and resolve within my heart - to be a much better human being. I know I can live with a lot less materially and to focus on what should be important - life on earth is temporary. We are pilgrims and our home is Heaven. I need to be more socially and ethically responsible to be a a better steward while on earth.


This Holy Easter, let us rejoice in Jesus who has won Eternal Life for all of humankind. Let us proclaim and live the Victory of the Cross - Jesus our Redeemer.

I received the beautiful YouTube video at the top of the post from my sister in USA a short while ago - "Holy Mother" by Eric Clapton and Luciano Pavarotti. It is the first time I have seen this music video. When Eric Clapton started singing, I felt teary and the moment Luciano Pavarotti started singing until the end, I had painful goosebumps and a great joy well up within my heart.  It made me realize tangibly how the entire Holy Week was about Jesus' greatest gift to us - His Life AND it was also about Mother Mary, our Holy Mother. Her courage, her faith and her total acceptance of God's Will is the shining example to each of us. She was a human being just like you and me. We need to strive to be a "missionary" like Mother Mary - not by being famous and rich and having human power. It is in quiet humility, striving to be totally faithful and courageous to do God's Will at all times. Mother Mary lead us to live  for Jesus with joy and hope! This music video is the inspiration of my Easter 2020 post.


Here is a short prayer to St. Philip Neri, known as the Patron Saint of Joy and 
Apostle of Rome, who was a priest, missionary and founder of the Congregation 
of the Oratory that can help a soul weighed down by the anxieties of the world 
see the joy of the Gospel in a new way.

*********************************************************************************
O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy,
you who trusted Scripture’s promise
that the Lord is always at hand and that
we need not have anxiety about anything,

in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows
and lift the burdens from our hearts.
We come to you as one whose heart swells with
abundant love for God and all creation.

Hear us, we pray, especially in this need
(make your request here).
Keep us safe through your loving intercession,
and may the joy of the Holy Spirit
which filled your heart, St. Philip,
transform our lives and bring us peace.
Amen

  *********************************************************************************
 “The Christian ‘identity card,'” Pope Francis underscored, “is joy, the Gospel’s joy, the joy of having been chosen by Jesus, saved by Jesus, regenerated by Jesus; the joy of that hope that Jesus is waiting for us, the joy that – even with the crosses and sufferings we bear in this life – is expressed in another way, which is peace in the certainty that Jesus accompanies us, is with us.”
Pope Francis
Mass Homily at Casa Santa Maria (23 May 2016)