falling in love

October 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

I used to bemoan my difficulty in falling in love. I bemoaned that fact because I’m quite sure it would be very nice to be in love. I imagined, it would be like walking on cloud 9. Somewhere along the way, I reasoned that God was trying to protect me from emotional hurt. After all, when I think I am losing a friendship, I get quite upset over it. What more, if I should fall in love and then fall out of love?

These words by Fulton Sheen rings too many bells in me to not put it down:

The man that a girl loves at fifteen is not the one she will love at nineteen, that is to say, love enough to marry. Sometimes the one she loves at twenty is not the one she would marry at twenty-three.

The reason is that a woman’s nature cannot dissociate sex and love as readily as a man. Her nature is much more integrated, and her elements cohere more gradually. That is why a woman is slow to fall in love. She will not give herself until she completely possesses the personality or is ready to be possessed by the personality. This is the safeguard God has put into her to prevent her from making a fool of herself, like the little girl who recently bemoaned, “He broke off our engagement. He returned my frog.”

 

 

falling in love with reading

October 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

It is not often, when I read that I feel an attraction to the material, as if, if I may compare, I am falling in love. The last book which had that effect for me was ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’ by Henri Nouwen.

My sociology readings don’t give me that. The newspapers don’t give me that. Ha, even the things that I myself write in my blog, not all of them give me that, despite it being about me.

Yet when I read Fulton Sheen’s reflections, and in my mind hear him speak in his characteristic dramatic voice, something inside blossoms. How simply he puts across the profound!

Here’s a taste, from Mornings with Fulton Sheen (120 Holy Hour Readings) :

The search for peace within the self is always doomed to fail; the two loneliest places in the world are a strange city and one’s own ego. When man is alone with his thoughts, in false independence of the Love Who made him, he keeps bad company. No amount of psycholanalysis can heal the uneasiness that results, for its basis is metaphysical, its source the tension between the finite and the infinite

(Lift Up Your Heart)

What makes a pencil bad? Well, here is a pencil. This is a good pencil because it does what it was made to do. It writes. Is it a good can opener? It certainly is not!

Suppose I use the pencil as a can opener? What happens? First of all, I do not open the can. Second, I destroy the pencil.

Now if I decide to do certain things with my body which I ought not to do, I do not attain the purpose for which I was created. For example, becoming an alcoholic does not make me happy. I destroy myself just as I destroyed the pencil in using it to open a can.

When I disobey God, I do not make myself very happy on the inside, and I certainly destroy the peace of soul that I ought to have.

(Through the Year with Fulton Sheen)

overcoming procrastination

July 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

According to a Litemind article on procrastination, saying this phrase helps one to overcome procrastination:

“I choose to start this task with a small, imperfect step. I’ll feel terrific and have plenty of time for play!”

Check it out here

cont’ The Return of the Prodigal Son

June 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have just finished reading this book by Nouwen, and I think this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Nouwen’s special touch is that he isn’t moralistic. Instead, he honestly admits his shortcomings and his struggles, many of which I heartily identify with.

Now I’m not sure for others, but this approach really works for me. Before I listen to the advice of others, I want to be convinced that they have gone through what I’m going through and understand where I’m coming from. He seems to understand. He then goes on to suggest a path out, but doesn’t imply that it is going to be easy. Rather, it is going to be a discipline. But still I find myself holding on to the book, ready to listen. As a writer, that guy just has a way with me, something not easy because I’m someone who has been labelled most stubborn and wilful.

To cut to the chase, there is a raving elder son in me. It is no fun being the elder son. He is one who has been hurt and allowed resentment to build up. Perhaps I’m not explicitly jealous of any ‘younger brother’, but the calculating attitude and the resentment in the elder son I definitely see in me. In some of my relationships, if I feel I’m giving more than receiving, I become resentful and no longer find joy in sustaining the friendship. I haven’t actually let go of any of these friendships. As such, I am the elder son, who seems to be at home, but interiorly, has wandered quite some way off. I can’t bear to leave home, yet also, in some ways I have already left because of my resentment.

Nouwen suggests a discipline of trust and gratitude. He says I need to trust that God wants to find me and bring me out of this resentments which are causing me much pain:

“Without trust, I cannot let myself be found. Trust is that deep inner conviction that the Father wants me home. As long as I doubt that I am worth finding and put myself down as less loved than my younger brothers and sisters, I cannot be found. I have to keep saying to myself, “God is looking for you. He will go anywhere to find you. He loves you, he wants you home, he cannot rest unless he has you with him” ‘ 

Part of me, the darker side of me, says that Jesus has only come for the tax collectors and prostitutes, not for me, who sometimes in my judgemental attitudes seem closer to the Pharisees than the tax collectors. Nouwen also understands this, and as such what he has advocated is not simply trust, but a discipline of trust.

Next, he suggests a discipline of gratitude. Again, it is a discipline because it is difficult to overcome resentment with gratitude. But while reading the book, I tried thinking of things to be grateful for, and it really did work. It made me much happier too. It’s a bit difficult at first, but you just have to keep finding even the tiny-est little thing that you can be grateful for. There is a silver lining in every cloud. The task is to keep looking at the silver lining until the cloud doesn’t really matter anymore. That is how the light of gratitude overcomes and engulfs the darkness of resentment.

Although Nouwen sees himself in the younger and elder sons, it is the father he is called to be. What is this father like? I find myself amused. I think of a bread which has one raisin. If God is eating that raisin bread, he would rejoice over that one raisin. It doesn’t really matter that there should be more raisins because when you bought it, you bought it expecting it to be filled with raisins. He is a God who rejoices over the littlest things:

“But God rejoices when one repentant sinner returns. Statistically, that is not very interesting. But for God, numbers never seem to matter…From God’s perspective, one hidden act of repentance, one little gesture of selfless love, one moment of true forgiveness is all that is needed to bring God from his throne to run to his returning son and to fill the heavens with sounds of divine joy.”

Sure, Nouwen says, there is alot of pain and suffering going on. Being joyful is not overlooking these:

“People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness.”

Nouwen urges us to, between the choices between cynicism and joy we face every day, to choose the latter.

Reading the book, and reflecting on my attitudes recently, I realise I have forgotten to choose joy over cynicism. Now that I realise this, I feel myself moving one step away from fear and towards love.

GKC and fairytales

June 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

I once blogged a few years back while I was still in JC about my love for the little mermaid and how no one seemed to understand or share my sentiments. I remember lamenting that my parents didn’t understand and complained that I won’t grow up by watching my disney movies over and over again. They were afraid that these movies would impair my intellect. But I defended my Disney movies, saying that I appreciated them in different ways with (almost) every viewing.

I was thus pleasantly surprised that G.K.C expresses eloquently my exact sentiments–

My first and last philosophy, that which I believe in with unbroken certainty, I learnt in the nursery. I generally learnt it from a nurse; that is, from the solemn and star-appointed priestess at once of democracy and tradition. The things I believed most then, the things I believe most now, are the things called fairy tales. They seem to me to be the entirely reasonable things. They are not fantasies: compared with them other things are fantastic. Compared with them religion and rationalism are both abnormal, though religion is abnormally right and rationalism abnormally wrong. Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense. It is not earth that judges heaven, but heaven that judges earth; so for me at least it was not earth that criticised elfland, but elfland that criticised the earth. I knew the magic beanstalk before I had tasted beans; I was sure of the Man in the Moon before I was certain of the moon. This was at one with all popular tradition. Modern minor poets are naturalists, and talk about the bush or the brook; but the singers of the old epics and fables were supernaturalists, and talked about the gods of brook and bush. That is what the moderns mean when they say that the ancients did not “appreciate Nature,” because they said that Nature was divine. Old nurses do not tell children about the grass, but about the fairies that dance on the grass; and the old Greeks could not see the trees for the dryads.
But I deal here with what ethic and philosophy come from being fed on fairy tales. If I were describing them in detail I could note many noble and healthy principles that arise from them. There is the chivalrous lesson of “Jack the Giant Killer”; that giants should be killed because they are
gigantic. It is a manly mutiny against pride as such. For the rebel is older than all the kingdoms, and the Jacobin has more tradition than the Jacobite. There is the lesson of “Cinderella,” which is the same as that of the Magnificat—EXALTAVIT HUMILES. There is the great lesson of “Beauty
and the Beast”; that a thing must be loved BEFORE it is loveable. There is the terrible allegory of the “Sleeping Beauty,” which tells how the human creature was blessed with all birthday gifts, yet cursed with death; and how death also may perhaps be softened to a sleep. But I am not concerned
with any of the separate statutes of elfand, but with the whole spirit of its law, which I learnt before I could speak, and shall retain when I cannot write. I am concerned with a certain way of looking at life, which was created in me by the fairy tales, but has since been meekly ratified by the mere facts.

newly-formed friendships

June 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

These few months, I’ve been discovering there is such a rich treasure in the Catholic Church– the saints! Not only do they pray for us, they have left behind spiritual works, still of relevance in today’s world. 

There is St Catherine, the woman whom even the pope listened to, whom accomplished great deeds despite being illiterate…Her Dialogue I’ve heard is a classic 🙂 Though at this point I still do not know enough about her, reading her biography online makes me think how all things are possible with God, such that being illiterate is no handicap. Something interesting– it seems that Catherine was the subject of interest of several men at that time. Ha! But she didn’t want to get married. She was just so in love with God 😀

There is St Therese, whom I remember for her simplicity. She doesn’t see anything wrong with sleeping during her prayers since parents (God) have a special tenderness for children when they sleep. She also sees dryness as Jesus being asleep in the little boat that is her heart, and compared nature to a book. Just as we learn things from book, we can learn many things from nature 🙂 Of her, I first encountered in ‘I believe in Love’. I’ve just discovered today that her Autobiography, The Story of a Soul, is available online 😀 

Now…there is St. Ignatius! He is the kind of saint whom I know is famous, having heard the name many times. Yet of what he is and what he did, I know little of. Recently, at Jess’s place, 2 books on Ignatian spirituality congregated quite spontaneously (one book that Jess borrowed, and another bought by Fifi). I therefore had the privilege of flipping through both books. I loved what I saw! 

The first book is on Discernment. Now, doesn’t EVERYONE need that? In the short time I read it, I learnt that one must listen to both one’s head and one’s heart while making decisions. Of course, merely knowing that is insufficient, and I feel prompted to find out more.  

The other book was on Ignatian Spiritual exercises. I learnt about the Daily Examen, a 

 “technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us.  The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.” 

Basically, there are 5 steps to this, which are: 

1. Become aware of God’s presence. 

2. Review the day with gratitude.  

3. Pay attention to your emotions. 

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. 

5. Look toward tomorrow.  

You can look for the detailed write-up on this here.  

from this fabulous website: 

IgnatianSpirituality.com 

Now I don’t know where to start. Apart from the saints, I’ve been meaning to finish Orthodoxy by G.K.Chesterton (the link is in my blogroll). Someone mentioned that his style is quite C.S.Lewis– maybe that’s why I like him. But if you ask me why I like him, my answer would be that he’s really witty. Not only am I amazed by some of the things he writes, I also find myself being highly amused while reading it. If your life is currently lacking in the funny department, look to G.K.C 😀 I like the idea that he thought that one of St. John’s critics was wilder than monsters in his visions: 

Everywhere we see that men
do not go mad by dreaming. Critics are much madder than poets. Homer is complete and calm
enough; it is his critics who tear him into extravagant tatters. Shakespeare is quite himself; it is
only some of his critics who have discovered that he was somebody else. And though St. John the
Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own
commentators. The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea;
reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like
the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything
a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet
only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his
head. And it is his head that splits.
 

Here is another:

The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering
alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful. For example, Mr. Blatchford attacks Christianity because he is mad on one Christian virtue: the merely mystical and almost irrational virtue of charity. He has a strange idea that he will make it easier to forgive sins by saying that there are no sins to forgive. Mr. Blatchford is not only an early Christian, he is the only early Christian who ought really to have been eaten by lions.

Here’s another excerpt from the book, although one which is more serious. It reminds me that if we truly embraced democracy, we would give voices to those who are dead, and also, those not yet born. Democrats who advocate abortion, then, are like squares claiming to be circles. 

 

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit
to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.

I think that’s all for now. Now do you get why 2 months of holidays are not enough? 😀 

Words of Wisdom from Fulton Sheen

April 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I love all of them I had to put it here to share 🙂 Those in blue I like best!

There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church.

A heckler asked Bishop Sheen a question about someone who had died. The Bishop replied, “I will ask him when I get to heaven.” The heckler replied, “What if he isn’t in Heaven?” The Bishop replied, “Well then you ask him.”

A man told Bishop Sheen he did not believe in hell. The Bishop replied, “You will when you get there.”

If we are to find the source of the life, truth, and love that is in the world, we have to go to a life that is not mingled with its shadow, death; to a truth that is not mingled with its shadow, error; to a love that is not mingled with its shadow, hate.

There were three sweet monotonies in His (Christs) life – thirty years obeying, three years teaching, three hours redeeming.

Every mother, when she picks up the young life that has been born to her, looks up to the heavens to thank GOD for the gift which made the world young again. But here was a Mother, a Madonna, who did not look up. She looked down to Heaven, for this was Heaven in her arms. Hence He was given the name of Jesus, which means Savior. It was an irreplaceable name, before which the heavens and the earth trembled and before which our knees bow.

If any one of us could have made our own mother, we would have made her the most beautiful woman in the world.

Our brains today are big enough. Could it be that our hearts are too small?

Dirt is nothing more than matter which is in the wrong place.

Every theologian ought to be a mystic; every D.D., or Doctor of Divinity, ought to be a saint. He knows enough to be one, but he does not will it. I am a D.D., but I am not a saint. May GOD have mercy on my soul.

 As Our Lord said, “Where your treasure is, there is your heart also.” Hence the least love of GOD is worth more than the knowledge of all created things.

Did you know that, in Heaven, an angel is a no-body?

Everything we do, whether good or evil, goes down into our unconscious mind… So at the end of every human life there will be pulled out of our subconscious or unconscious mind the record of every thought, word and deed. This will be the basis of our judgment.

The best definition of an adult that was ever given is one who has stopped growing at both ends and has begun to grow in the middle.

Not many men want to die to their lower selves; it costs so much. Some prefer to have a cosmic religion, which neither puts restraint on their pride nor curbs their passions.

We cannot like everyone, but we can love everyone.

 When we say we fear GOD, we mean we shrink from hurting One Whom we love.

We do not need a voice that is right when everyone else is right. We need a voice that is right when everyone else is wrong.

——————————————————————————– Compiled by Bob Stanley, May 27, 1999 Updated May 7, 2006

source: http://www.thecatholictreasurechest.com/sheen.htm

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