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ARTICLE 53- OUR LIFE IN LIGHT OF THE ROSARY MYSTERIES- PART IV

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THE FIVE LUMINOUS MYSTERIES

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The First Luminous Mystery: – The Baptism of Our Lord

Every time I meditate on this, my thoughts are drawn to God’s word when the heavens opened. “Behold, my beloved Child, whom I am well pleased”. Was God pleased with His Baptism, or His life before the Baptism? I will assume both.

Prior to the Baptism, little is said of Christ except that once the parents found him after he got lost in the temple, he went home with them and lived in obedience. We see the role of Mary and Joseph in bringing up a child whose life was pleasing to God, pleasing enough for Him to open up the heavens and declare that Jesus Life was pleasing to Him. Parenthood requires us to not only to procreate, that is get children, but also educate them. Educate them such that they live lives pleasing to God. Many times, when Incense is burned in church, I ask myself, if my life is this smoke blowing up to the nostrils of God, would he be pleased with the aroma? As a parent, am I living a life that is a good example to my children? When I teach them that being God’s child means sharing what we have, for instance in their little lives, toys and their plate of fruits or playing games together, am I a living example to this sharing? When I tell them that God loves children who treat their fellow children well, and are not rude and do not yell or beat up others or cause injury or harm, or throw stones at the others, am I practicing the same things? Sometimes I look at them and tell God, how do I teach them you? How do I teach them to obey you? How do I teach them to live in Obedience to you? It is said that children learn more by example, more than by instruction. I am challenged every day to live a pleasing life because I no longer do it just for myself, I do it for my children too, of whose great responsibility of guiding them to heaven gates lies on my shoulders. How I wish that if heaven’s were to open, God would say, These are my beloved children of whom I am pleased.

How can we live a life that pleases God? In obedience to His commands. And what are his commands? Love. Love for God, Love for mankind. How do we exercise love for God and man in our daily lives? Whatsoever we do to the least of His Brothers, we do to God. This is the gospel we must practice and hope to God our children emulate.

God was pleased with the Baptism too, I assume. Prior to the event, John was hesitant to perform the ceremony. This is after all is Christ whose sandals he is not fit to carry. And this great man whom everyone has been waiting for, who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire wants poor, lowly John to baptize him. But Jesus tells Him “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented (Mathew 3:15). Baptism identifies us with the family of Christians. Jesus, though without sin, wanted everyone He was ministering the Gospel to, to identify Him with the family of believers. Christ did not need to be baptized, not for himself. But so that we stiff-necked people would identify with and accept his message, it was right to fulfill all righteousness. It was God’s will. It is God’s will that we all be baptized. It is God’s desire that we all be a community of believers. Our ancestry tied to Adam compromises our right to be children of God and Our baptism removes the impediment brought about by this ancestry.

There are symbols used during baptism that make me understand the significance of this moment. The white fabric placed on our foreheads that signifies we are new beings in Christ, that our lives are cleansed and we are white as snow, and our responsibility to bring this fabric to the heavenly gates unstained. How do we weak mortal people live untainted? By grace. Grace that reminds us to confess whenever we go wrong, grace that condemns our pride when humility is needed, grace that tells us we have offended the other and we need to apologize, grace that enables us to forgive. The responsibility gets heavier when we are God parents. We must assist these new Christians to bring this fabric to heaven unstained. Do we ever think of this when we are appointed as Gd parents? God parenting does not end with the camera moment. It is a lifetime responsibility of prayer and presence to those who we accept to Godparent. Do we think about this when we are appointing our children’s godparents? Probably not. We should start taking it seriously, because it is not about us. It is about the new souls, new children of faith. It is about the journeying with them until they get to heaven. It is a promise to always pray for them, and if possible always be with them physically whenever possible. It is also a greater responsibility for parents because, by the virtue of our parenthood, we are mandated to make sure our children’s fabric gets to heaven unstained. We are born stained. We have to get to heaven unstained, because nothing stained can enter heaven. Our first responsibility as parents then is to ‘unstain’ our children from the sins of our ancestry, the original sin. While we may plan many things for our unborn children, where they need to be born, where they will live, the kind of schools that they will attend, what they will wear, their beds, rooms and colours, we need to plan for their baptism as soon as they enter this world.  A friend of mine had his child baptized on the third day after delivery and I was impressed. Very impressed. We also need to teach them to hold this fabric in reverence, where fabric implies their lives, their character, their values, their activities which should not in any way stain their white fabric.

At our baptism, we also light a candle that symbolizes our new roles as Christians. That we are the light of the world. It is the responsibility of the Christian, the parents of the Christian and the Godparents to ensure the light keeps burning. Is my candle still burning brightly? Are my words and deeds a reflection that I am a child of the light? Are my words and deeds responsible for putting off other people’s candles, or are they making them shine brighter? Is my candle on the table or hidden under the table where the significance of its light is not recognized? Am I honest to my calling to be a child of God and a parent to a child of God? Am I using this candle to illuminate the lives of others or to set fire on their lives? Our candles is evidenced by the good deeds we keep performing. At the end of the day, when I look back on all my daily activities, can I identify any good deed?

The Second Luminous Mystery: – The Wedding at Canaan

Christ and His mother are guests at a wedding in Canaan.  Mary notices that the wine is running out and informs Christ. Christ is adamant because “His hour had not come” but because he is still living in obedience, he recognizes the need to respond to his mother’s request. Mary, believing in her son’s capacity tells those who were serving to do what Jesus tells them. And they did as instructed by Christ. The eventual outcome is JOY in the hosts who commended the good wine that was served at the end. Mary recognized the need of the ceremony. Mary recognized her sons’ capacity in fulfilling the need. The hosts were desperate for a solution and in following instructions from Christ, their needs were fulfilled beyond their expectations and there was Joy for everyone.

We are called to be intercessors. We are called to recognize the needs in others and express those needs to Christ. We are called to recognize the need for others and fulfill them whenever we can. This recognition is summed up by Christ on the preaching about Judgement day. “…I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…”. My colleague was telling me of a story of some students who visited her in an office. One went to see her and she did not have food to eat. Another came in shortly after her, she had cooking flour, but she did not have vegetables and she had not paid fees. My colleague told this second student of the needs of the first student. This student requested to share her flour with this first student which in her opinion could make porridge, meaning she could not let the other go hungry and she had something to share. My colleague promised to provide for the vegetables as she waited and prayed for her that another Samaritan would come in to solve the fee problem. Both students got food to eat eventually. And the second by the grace of God also got fees. In another case, my former football captain shared her story in social media. She says that she employed a house help who was very kind to her child. This lady had a son in prison who was serving a life sentence. Through the good relationship with the prisoner’s mother, they started visiting the young man in prison. The relationship grew, though at the time, members were not allowed to see their kin. They spoke to them through a hole. The lady passed away after sometime and my former captain informally adopted this son as her own. She kept visiting him. Eventually with the improvement in prison services, they got to meet and it was an occasion of many tears. She recently attended an open day where they could share a meal and she saw the appreciation and the joy in the young man’s face knowing someone cared enough to visit him. This is what this mystery is teaching us. To recognize the needs of others and strive to fulfill them. We may not be in apposition to offer everything, or anything at all, but we can pray. We can always express those needs to Christ. Christ will find a way of fulfilling them. Who needs food to eat today? Who needs a listening ear? Who needs a nudge of encouragement? Who needs to be visited because they are broken? Who needs a hug? Who needs that boost in paying fees for their child and we have the resource? Who needs a ride to work because they have to get there but they just got employed and they are broke? Who is mourning and needs us to mourn with them? Who needs someone to share that moment of glory with us? Who needs a hand to hold on to just because they need some company in the journey of life and they are very scared of the dark? Who needs that listening ear? How can we respond to these needs? Can we be the servants executing the needs? Or can we be Mother Mary and present the needs to Christ?

There is also a very important aspect we need to remember. Mary’s instruction to listen to what Christ is telling us. Is Christ speaking to me today? What is He telling me? Is he telling me to be a little kinder to my child? Is He telling me to forgive? Is he telling me to respond to any of the needs of those I have encountered? How is He expressing this need? Is it that nudge in the heart? That constant thought of someone at night? That silent scream in your heart to reach out to a long lost friend? Is it the sudden need to talk to someone? Is it that friend of yours telling you about someone else’s story and they are wondering what to do? Is it that scripture that keeps reminding us of a certain experience we just had? That nudge to return kindness for kindness, not necessarily to the same person? Our subconscious usually tells us many things. Our interactions also tells us many things. Sometimes we need to be quiet and listen. Maybe, just maybe, Christ is telling us something.

The third Luminous Mystery: – The proclamation of God’s Kingdom

Christ proclaimed the kingdom of God in the three years of His ministry on earth in many ways. But what we need to note is he did it by word and deed. He preached the gospel to multitudes. He taught his disciples intimately in private. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He visited his friend’s sisters, Martha and Mary when Lazarus passed away. He vehemently condemned what was wrong. He practised what he preached. He preached of a kingdom of Love and lived it. He preached a kingdom of needs recognition. He recognised the need in others and went ahead to fulfil. He preached obedience. He obeyed his father. He preached forgiveness. He forgave those who killed him. He preached mercy. He was Merciful. Our Christian calling is to be Christ like. Are we Christ like? Are we proclaiming the gospel in word and deed? Is our private life different from our public one? If Christ was to come to us in our bedchambers, would we continue doing that which he found us doing? Or would we be as ashamed as Adam and Eve after eating the forbidden fruit? Do we feed the hungry? Do we visit the sick and those who are mourning? Are we alleviating peoples suffering or are we exacerbating it? Do we do what we are called to do whole heartedly as if we were doing it for God? Our jobs, our families, are the roles we play executed to the best of our ability? What are we holding back from God? In our baptism, we are crowned Kings, priests and prophets. Do we exercise these roles, or were they forgotten at the altar of our baptism? Are we living in obedience to the nature of our calling? Are we living in honesty to our priesthood? Are we living in honesty to our marriage vows? Are we living in honesty to our mission requirements of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience? Are we true to our call to parenthood? Are we true to our lay missionary work? A self-evaluation of our life with regard to our call to be Christ like will allow us to know whether we are proclaiming the Kingdom of God.

At our baptism, we lit a candle that needs to keep burning in our lives. The number of people reached by this light signifies the extent of our ministry. We preach Christ’s ministry first by living it as Christ did. How many grudges do we harbor in our hearts for past hurts? How many times do we narrate this hurts to others? In narrating them, are we preaching Christ? No, we need to forgive, and only refer to the hurt if it is the gospel of forgiveness we are preaching. How many times have we loved and lost? Lost our fiancés, our husbands, and our boyfriends? What do we remember when we think about them? Do we remember them in love for the moments shared or out of hate for the hurt they caused when they left? Are we preaching love for our enemies when we remember them? How many times have we fallen out with our brothers, sisters, parents and spouses? When we preach reconciliation, do we remember we need to reconcile with them or do we say, never ever shall I speak to them? How many times have we done stupid things? Do we remember to ask for forgiveness from God? Do we acknowledge a loving father who forgives even when our sins are as red as crimson? Do we remember that we need to do likewise?  How many times do our children go astray? Do we remember that Christ vehemently condemned wrong deeds? Do we condemn wrong acts? Or we look the other way because it is our children or loved ones doing it? Do we remember that we are to condemn the act not the person? Christ instructed a lot. Do we do the same to those who are young in faith? Do we reach out to them when they fall? Are we among those who are jeering at them and laughing because they have fallen? They will know we are Christians by our love. Do we live as children of Love? Children of love recognize needs of others and strive to alleviate them. In doing so, the candle of our lives keep burning.

The Fourth Luminous Mystery: – The transfiguration

Before Christ begins His mission, God declares that Jesus was His Beloved Child of whom He was greatly pleased. After proclaiming the Kingdom of God and is ready to end His ministry here on earth, God again declares His love and pleasure in Jesus. The question I keep asking myself is, when God looks at my life, and if heaven was to open, would He say the same things about me? Have I lived a life pleasing to God. When I was baptized, I a white fabric was symbolically placed on my forehead to show I had been clothed in white. Is my dress still white? If I died today, would I go to heaven?

The fifth Luminous Mystery: – The institution of the Holy Eucharist

Christ knows, with a lot of sadness that his hour has come. He shall be crucified. He will go back to His father. The disciples will be left like sheep without a shepherd. But he wants to share a last meal with his disciples. He wants to make it special. He organizes, through a strange request to a stranger for a room to be set for them. A meal is served. But Christ wanted to leave them with something more than a meal to remember Him by. Something that will not make them feel so lost. Yes, he had promised He will always be with them, yet He still thought he needed a symbol. He knows he is going to be away, but he desires that they will be spiritually strong. Food will give them physical strength, but he desires that they have spiritual food too to guide them through the moments of His physical absence. So while at supper, he takes bread, blesses and breaks it, and tells them, take this all of you and eat it. It is my body. Then he takes a cup and blesses it, tells them, here, drink from this, it is my blood, which will be shed for you and for all. Do this in memory of me.

Every time we receive Holy Communion, we commemorate the death and resurrection of our lord and the significance of all this in our lives. It is a reminder of who Christ was when he was alive, what he did and what he taught us. It is reminder of the sacrifice of love at the cross, and what this means to us in our daily lives. It is a constant reminder that we are children of eternity because by His rising, he went to prepare a place for us in heaven so that “Where I will be, you also will be”. It is a meditation of the whole of the journey of Christ as demonstrated by the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. It is a reminder that I am not alone. In celebrating his memorial, I am reminded of His promises; I am with you till the end of time; I will send you a helper; I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. It is a reality that, just like we get hungry and thirsty in our physical selves, we do get hungry spiritually and need spiritual nourishment. Spiritual nourishment gives us strength to fight our daily battles of faith, that urge to hang on longer to a grudge, that hardened heart that does not see the need to assist where there is need, because we once did and were robbed, that weakness of heart that draws us to valleys of self-pity and depression, that constant conflict we have with those close to us, that unexplained change of behaviour in those we love, that constant weakness that we cannot shake off, with this constant nourishment we can keep walking, trudging, running the race of faith. It is a reminder that I need to keep my garment clean. The temptations of this world, coupled with our vulnerability due to the original sin make us fall often. Since we cannot receive Holy Communion in an unworthy state, it reminds me that I need moments to examine my conscience regularly, I need to make peace with Christ in the sacrament of reconciliation, and make amends so that I can, in my weakness, live a worthy life. A life worthy of heaven. I need to make peace with those I have offended, I need to be at peace with myself, so that I can be at peace with God.

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ARTICLE 52- OUR LIFE IN LIGHT OF THE ROSARY MYSTERIES- PART III

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THE FIVE JOYFUL MYSTERIES

The First Joyful Mystery: – The Annunciation

“You will conceive in your womb and bear a son…”

“How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God…”

A virgin girl is pregnant. Has that even been heard of? She is betrothed to a guy called Joseph. She needs to go and tell him. Imagine the look on Joseph’s face when he hears such news. It is ridiculous. He eventually hears the rumors anyway. He plans to abandon her in secret. What will her future be? She wonders. How will she bring up this mysterious child who no one will believe she conceived through means unheard of? The moral dilemma of pregnancy. And truth be told, every time a mother learns of a pregnancy, she has very difficult conversations with herself. It is crazier if the baby daddy has hit the roof jumping responsibility. What will my parents do? How do I move on? Am I even ready for this child? But my life was really planned out. What happens to my dreams now that there is a baby involved? Can I afford? I have enough children already. My husband doesn’t want any more children. Should I procure an abortion? I am having twins, how will I manage?

It is okay to question our capacity. It is good to have a conversation with ourselves. It is okay to be worried. It is okay to hit the roof. It is okay to be excited and anxious at the same time. It is okay to be troubled. It is okay to cry because we do not know what the future holds. It is okay to even ask ourselves if we have a future. It is also okay to remember what Mary said at the end of her conversation with the Angel. “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, Be done to me according to your word”.

Life will challenge us. It will humiliate us. It will embarrass us. It will uplift us. It will humble us. It will reward our effort. It will frustrate our values. It will put our morals to test. May we remember to surrender to the will of the Father? May we always know that He will not challenge us beyond our capacity? He will not take us to places His graces cannot sustain us. We need to remember His promises. I will be with you until the end of time. If only we believe. If only we accept. If only we surrender.

The Second Joyful Mystery: – The Visitation

Mary in her conversation with the angel Gabriel is informed that her cousin Elizabeth is six months pregnant. She who was said to be barren is expectant, six months! She with haste rushes off to see her relative.

  • To congratulate her? Maybe. Annunciation of a pregnancy comes with lots of mixed feelings, but most of it is pure joy. Conception from a person who has been trying for a very long time is an event for celebration. Mary wants to share in this joy.
  • To have an intimate conversation with? Maybe. She wants to tell her controversial news. She seeks to be understood. How does one understand her controversy? Would I understand? No! How now, I know how people get pregnant. But from the Holy Spirit? She also probably wants to seek counsel. She has news that has scared her fiancé and he wants to leave her. What to do? Elizabeth was much older, she had more experiences to share with her. She was a Godly person. She could confide in her and expect her fears, worries and insecurities to be allayed. She could trust her not to open reveal her secrets to any willing ear. She could lean on her. She could believe in her direction. She could bask in her words knowing that they were not going to be malicious or judging. She could bare her soul and still not feel naked.
  • To assist her during her belly mama days? Maybe. Pregnancies come with many challenges. To some ill health, to some fatigue, to some mood swings. As pregnancies advance, normal activities like picking up a fallen item becomes an uphill task. Belly mamas need assistance almost always because their bodies are not theirs for a very long while. They need help in activities that require elevation, they need help in carrying bulky things, they need help in mobility, and they need help in seating and standing and even turning in bed. Belly mamas need a lot of help. I have called people to go shopping with me when I was too dizzy to walk on my own in the streets of Nairobi. I have requested for assisted help when I was put on bed rest. I have phoned, a friend to drive me to hospital because I could not take one more step. They understood I needed help. They offered to help. We know that Mary stayed with her for a while. She understood the help she needed. She offered it.

We all find ourselves in situations where we need an Elizabeth.  We need to confide in someone who will not judge us, who will not use our deep, down, dirty shame against us, who will not open their lips to reveal our secrets to anyone who is willing to listen. We need someone who we can trust to give us sound advice when we are in crazy situations. Who will not question how we got there in the first place, who will be an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on. We need someone who will be harsh and loving with their advice, who will be solid when we are mellow with emotion and swaying in the storm. We need someone who will encourage us to become the very best of ourselves, not curve us to suit their perception of who we ought to be. We need wind beneath our wings so we can soar higher. We need someone to be our sanity when we are foolish. We all need an Elizabeth.

Many times, there is always someone who needs our help. Can we see their plea before they ask for it? Can we walk with them without them needing to ask us?

The Third Joyful Mystery: – The Nativity

Every year, we commemorate the Birth of Christ. We celebrate his birthday. We decorate our houses. We buy new clothes, gifts and cards. We share moments with our families. We sing carols. We attend mass. We trans-night. And New Year comes, then another Christmas. What does Christmas even mean to us?

Mary and her spouse needed to go to Bethlehem for a census. The town is flooded with people from all over who had come for the census. All the inns are full. Mary’s baby says, hey mama, time is now. A place needs to be found where she can deliver. The only available place is a stable. And she gave birth to a Son in this stable, and he was laid in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes.

When we look at things from the human perspective, especially in terms of preparing for new born, Mary’s life is very grim and her baby’s arrival is quite unplanned and Joseph probably was a very troubled man. Every man wishes to give the very best to their spouses; here he was and all he could accord his wife’s delivery was a stable and baby a manger. But heaven is at a standstill, stars are shining down on this baby. There are people from far away visiting to bring gifts to the new born. I picture Mary shedding a tear or two as she holds her miracle baby. It is a joyful moment, in spite of the environmental challenges. We should also strive to appreciate and be happy for and during our Christmas moments, regardless of what the environment is dictating. We get a new job, let’s rejoice we got the job and let’s not sulk because of the uncertainty of relocation; we get a promotion, we rejoice for the new job challenge not complain of the bad immediate boss; we got a scholarship we rejoice, our friends got a baby, we share in their joy. Life is generally wrapped up in sad, challenging and happy moments. We should aim not to miss the Christmas moments in our daily endeavors. That smile, that compliment, that thank you, that wake up moment, the blessings of our day, that call checking on us, that random gift, that date night with the girls, that shared coffee, that act of kindness from your spouse. We should not take them for granted. Because, in as much as our life is a hustle and bustle of activities, our Christmas moments light up the day and make us sleep with a smile when darkness kicks out the last rays of day.

The Five Joyful Mysteries: – The presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple.

Jewish custom dictates that Mary needed to go to the Temple for purification rites. Jesus also needed to be presented before the Lord as was customary for all first borns (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opened the womb shall be called holy to the Lord – Luke 2:23). When Simeon received Jesus into the temple, he sighed with relief, At last, God’s servant could rest in peace according to God’s promise that he could not see death before he beheld Christ in his arms. He was ready to die because he had encountered Christ. An encounter with Christ is a promise for eternity. With a promise and a hope for eternity, we can brave the challenges of today knowing that everything is temporary. Everything is temporary, everything passes, including our life. Are we ready for eternity? Can we sit and say, At last, Oh God I am ready to go home? Are we ready to embrace the joy we are promised in eternity? What is holding us back here? Have we done all we need to do? Do we want extra time to finish up our assignment? Can we live our life in such a way that we are always ready, not indebted in anyway, whether to ourselves or our loved ones?

After his reminiscent monologue, Simeon made a prophecy to Mary, “A sword shall pierce your heart”.  And her heart was indeed pierced as evidenced in the seven sorrows of Mother Mary. The first sorrow being the prophecy itself. It disturbed her that this man would prophesy sorrow over her life. She did not understand. Was it out of hate? As far as she knew, He was a servant of God who worked in the temple. They had never met personally, but he just told her she would be pierced with a sword through her heart. She did not know if it was to be taken literally. Though with all her doubts and worries she kept it all in her heart. Then she lost her son? The pain of a lost child we can identify with. We have seen a rising number of posts of missing children. The sorrows and worries of these losses and the joy of reunion. Herod wanted the child dead and they had to flee. They had to live in exile so their child could be safe. Then came the passion death and burial of Jesus. He is not a child anymore. But a mother will always see the child in her children. In the most vulnerable states, a mother will always recognize the infant in her child, no matter how old. They wish they could take them away from the pain, just like the hugs and cuddles did when they were young. This caused pain, a lot of pain to Mary. She bore it all with grace.

Many times we assume that since we present ourselves to Christ, since we profess our faith and we agree to follow Him, our life will be painless. We assume that we will not suffer. The controversy most Jews had in that time; they knew Jesus was the King of the Jews, but they did not understand why they had to suffer in the presence of the King. But the King Himself instructed us to take up our crosses and follow him.  Crosses are heavy. Crosses have thorns. Crosses have rough edges. Crosses wear us out. But trudging we must to follow Christ. We shall experience sorrows in our journey of following Christ, just like Mary experienced. We shall get broke and disoriented, we shall be fought because we do not share views with others, and we shall lose our loved ones. We shall suffer diseases unknown to this world of medicine, or incurable. We shall be victims of war and natural calamities. We shall be victims of slander. We shall be accused of things we have not even dared of thinking to do, let alone doing them. We shall be misunderstood. Our efforts will be shunned. We are however called to bear this sorrows with Grace, just like Mother Mary does. Knowing that in Christ, we will have the strength to sing and dance in the rain. We should remember that it is all a journey to eternity. And once all is done here on earth, we shall tell God we are ready to go in peace. He promised us eternity, but we have to live on earth as children of eternity.

The fifth Joyful Mystery: – The finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, after the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. They realized this after one day of the return journey. They went back to look for him and found him after three days. His brilliant answer to his parents who had frantically searched for him for three days was, He had to be in His father’s house. What indifference!

Our life will be presented with similar situations of loss. Mary thought they had lost Jesus. They were devastated. They found him in God’s temple. Their peace was restored. In the presence of the Lord, we will find peace. We will find restoration. We will find calm. It doesn’t mean that our hearts will not be tormented. But in that torment we will be at peace. Mary didn’t understand what Christ meant when He told them he needed to be in His father’s house. They did not understand why he said they should not have looked for Him. Which parent wouldn’t look for their 12 year old lost child? It was normal for them to be worried. It was okay for them to be frantic. But Christ is telling them, there is no need to be frantic on the things that are of this world. We need to find peace and calm in the presence of the Lord. We need to bring all our worries, doubts, anxieties, and restlessness to God. In His presence we shall find peace.

There is another fact that I need to mention here. Finding Christ was such a joyous moment, but Christ made it such an anti-climax. Finding a lost child and re-uniting the child with the family is a very happy occasion worth celebrating. As it turned out, Christ thwarted their efforts. “Why were you looking for me, don’t you know I needed to be in my Father’s house?” There are those anti-climax moments in our lives, when we put so much effort expecting a compliment that never comes, a recognition for our efforts, a wage raise that keeps being postponed, a holiday that the boss keeps denying us, a love that is not forthcoming, a recognition or award that goes to that redundant employee who is the supervisors friend, a government that delivers on its promises, yet all we hear for the effort we have put is, “why were you doing it in the first place”. It brings us back to a crucial realization on our intentions when we do what we do. Do we work hard at work so that the boss can notice? Do we love others so that we can be loved back? Do we put effort in relationships so that we can receive a form of reward? Do we visit our parents so that the neighbors know we are around? Do we buy them gifts so people know how kind we are? Are we kind so that we can splash our kindness on social media? Are our intentions pure? Are we sharing for sharing’s’ sake? Do we love for love’s sake? Are we present for the sake of our presence? Are we searching for the lost Jesus so we can tell him how much we really searched and He can appreciate our effort of searching for Him, or so that we can really find Him and enjoy the intimacy of His presence in our lives?

ARTICLE 51- OUR LIFE IN LIGHT OF THE ROSARY MYSTERIES- PART II

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THE FIVE GLORIOUS MYSTERIES

The First Glorious Mystery: – The Resurrection

Matthew-28-The-Resurrection-of-Jesus

The tomb is empty

It has been two days since Christ died and was buried. Its tradition to go and anoint his body with fragrant oils. But when the women get to the tomb, Jesus’ body is missing. Two people appear and ask them why they are looking for the living among the dead. “He is not here: He is risen”. They went to the disciples and told them He is Risen, but they did not believe because “their words seemed like nonsense” (Luke 24:11).

The Message of Hope is hard to comprehend, especially when we are at our lowest. We have lost our jobs, we have left our spouses, we have been diagnosed with cancer, we have lost that chance at a scholarship, we have lost all that matters to us, that dearly beloved parent has gone to be with the lord. How do we move on when it is all weighing on us? Yes, we have surrendered it all to Christ, but it still weighs us down, so we go back to the tomb of our sadness, we keep going back to take a peek. There was so much hope in the Living Christ, but we just buried him, we just buried our dreams, we just buried the hope in getting better, we just buried our beloved, we just buried that good salary. Our lives are stuck, we keep going back to look at the memories, the feel good moment, the hopes we had, the moments shared. We shed a tear. We crush all over again. But we are asked again, why are we looking for the Living among the dead? When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window (Sounds of Music). But we are stuck at looking at this door. We miss the open windows of opportunity, because we do not want to let go. There is hope in the resurrection, but even as our dear ones tell us of this hope, we do not believe because ‘their words seem like nonsense’.

There is dawn after darkness, no matter how long the nights are. Even Light does come to Alaska after the 3 days of no sun. There is an oasis in the desert, even if we walk miles and miles to get to it. There is a chance open for us to explore, even if the chance comes once in a million chances. Our challenge is in recognizing the chance and taking it. Can we believe in a staircase even if the only step I can see is the first? Can we believe in the resurrection, no matter how farfetched the idea is? How does one just rise from the dead? But just like the resurrection was real, the dawn of new hope is real. If only we can believe. That little faith. That mustard seed.

The Second Glorious Mystery: – The Ascension

Obereschach_Pfarrkirche_Fresko_Fugel_Christi_Himmelfahrt_cropJesus came, suffered, died and was crucified. He rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven. The ascension of Christ is another blow to the disciples. The Resurrection brought hope back to them, because He whom they followed and fed them and healed the sick and had power over everything was back from the dead. They saw Him. They felt Him. Their joy was restored. No sooner had all this joy and peace and hope been restored than he ascended. He left them, this time round forever. The disorientation is back. The fear of tomorrow clouds them once more.

When I think of the ascension, I do not look at the disorientation, though it is ever present in our lives. The promise of good things that whose joy is short-lived; the hope a job interview brings which disappears with the award of the post to a different person; the disorientation of trusting again to be hurt all over. The hope of Chemotherapy treatment that ends when the symptoms of the disease recur a few months post chemo.  What I meditate on was His acts before He ascended and his promises after His ascension. When he was preparing for His departure, He promised His disciples a Helper. He also prayed for them.

In His promise, in the Book of John 14, He tells His disciples;

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

As I meditate on this, in my weakness of going back to the grave, going back to the moments of weakness, where I have to rise again and remind myself of His greatness, I remember that Christ promised to always be there for us. He swill never leave us as orphans. He will send us an advocate who, with His help, we will do great things. The Holy spirit does come to us in that tiny voice that tells us, Keep walking, just let go, just believe; He is that friend who whispers words of comfort, exactly as we want to hear them; He is in that parent who admonishes us when we do wrong; He is in that mentor who tells us we are stronger than we know; He is in that self confidence that allows us to face daily challenges with a broad smile; He is in that calmness when everything is falling apart; He is in the words of wisdom and Knowledge when we speak to someone to give them hope. The Holy Spirit, who Christ promise is with us. Christ is with us in the Spirit within us and those we interact. Do we notice the spirit, or are we still looking in the sky for the Gone Christ.

Christ also prayed for us.

That we may be one, Just like Father, just as you are in me and I am in you… I want those you have given me to be with me where I am.

This reminds me of a favorite song with one of the verses going thus:-

Make the world a unity,

Make all men one family,

Till we meet The Trinity

And we’ll live forever

Christ desires that we live in unity. Christ reminds us that this unity, which is born of love for God, will get us to heaven, where he desires that eventually we be with Him. Unity is a fruit of Love. When we love we remain united, not only with ourselves but with Christ who is Love itself. Love does not offend the beloved. If we love someone, we seek not to offend them. If we love one another, we will live in Harmony brought by the desire to remain united with the ones we love. We know that offending the love causes disunity. So we work hard not to offend this love.

The ascension thus is a reminder that we are pilgrims in this world. We are pilgrims who are not alone. Who with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will be guided to live in unity with one another, and in living in unity with one another, we are united in Christ. When we are united in Christ here on earth, we are assured that when we reach the end of our pilgrimage, we will be eventually united with Him, so that where He will be, we will be too.

The third Glorious Mystery: – The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.

The disciples are disoriented because Christ is gone, they gather alone in fear of the Jews. The Jews Killed Christ. What will they do with them now that their leader is gone? What if they decide to crucify them too? Who wants to die such a painful, shameful death anyway? So they hide. The live in constant fear. The do not know how to live the next day without Christ. He defined their life. He showed them direction. HE taught them. He encouraged them. Like He had foretold, they were sheep without a Shepherd. They were a people with no direction. They were lost.

imagesMany times we get to this point of disorientation. Especially in transition. Transition from one academic level to another, transition from one job to another, transition from one place to another, transition from one social status to another. We also get disoriented when things do not go the way we wanted them to. We want to start college or join high school, but just a few months before, we realize we are expectant, we get an interview to this job we desperately want, but someone else is appointed, through corrupt means, that grade we want to get so bad, that achievement at work, that award, that recognition, but it keeps elusive, that mega downfall that makes us feel we have failed, a broken family when we leave our spouses yet we know deep in our hearts we desperately wanted it to work, that boss that pushes you to the edge until you quit your job, not because you do not need it, but because you know fighting on will be  in vain, that business that does not pick and three years later you know you have to close shop, many related moments. What to do? We go back to basics, but where is the energy to start all over? In which direction? In what manner? With What resources? We retreat to those cocoons that close us away from the world around us. Directionless.

Then Christ appears in their midst. “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And they are strengthened and they start speaking in many languages and every person who heard them could understand the mighty works of God.  In 1 Corinthians 12 we are reminded that there is one Spirit who enables us differently, just like there is one body but with different parts that all function well together to make the whole. It is in our lowest that we need to discover who we really are and what our capacities can achieve. It is in our lowest that we can appreciate that we are not on our own, we need God’s graces to lift us up, to enable us take that one more step, to lift our face so we can look up again. It is in our disorientation that we can trust the voice of God to show us direction. We can be still and listen to the voice of God. It is in our nothingness that God moulds us into something of wonder. It is when we can’t speak that we can let the spirit speak for us, when we know our words are no longer of value, then we can surrender. St. Francis of Assisi once said in extreme poverty he found wealth and true happiness. What can we learn from our rock bottom moments? Can we recognize the spirit of God? Can we allow Him to do marvelous things in us?

The Fourth and Fifth Glorious Mysteries: – The Assumption of Our Lady; the Coronation of Our Lady.

The Assumption of Mary is the teaching that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory [Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus 44].

indexWhen I meditate on these two mysteries, I think of the roles she played in the life of Jesus as a mother, and the role she played to the community as an advocate. As a mother, she walked by the side of Jesus to the last minute on the cross when he commended his life to God and breathed His last. As an advocate of the community, there are several cited occasions when she pleads for the cause of the community to Christ. “They have no wine”. In her heart she knew he could do something. “Do what He tells you”. She requires of us to follow the instructions of Christ. We know she is in heaven, with her beloved son. Can we trust her to continue being an advocate for us to her son? The life she lived on earth, can we follow her example especially as mothers? If our children one day stand accessed, will we stand with them guilty or otherwise? Would we walk the way of the cross with them? Will we look for them when lost? Will we pray for them, cry for them, and wipe the dust off their clothes when they fall? Can we drink the cup of suffering with them?

These are the questions I ask myself when I look at my children. I also pray through her intercession that I be granted the graces I need to walk with them in their journey of life, wherever that journey leads them with total acceptance of who they are in my heart.

ARTICLE 50- OUR LIFE IN LIGHT OF THE ROSARY MYSTERIES- PART I

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THE FIVE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES

Driving in Kenya is quite an adventure, of which I have had many. I should probably write about “Masaibu ya Kadudu; (Kadudu Advetures)”. We spend many hours on the road. It ought to be boring, just sitting behind the wheel waiting for the car in front of you to move a metre, so you can move too. Then the “exciting” part of overlapping drivers, crazy overtakers, outright rude honkers, the one who never gives way ever, and the kind ones who request to be given way or always give way. In the recent past, I have discovered a favourite pass time. Prayer and Meditation. Did you know that even after five decades of a rosary there is a high likelihood you will still be on the road waiting for the guy in front to move? I have meditated a lot, on the mysteries of the rosary of late. I have learnt that the rosary decades are our day to day lives. Whent they say He walked where we walk, He stood where we stand and He understands, it is because indeed He did, but in a more profound and magnified way.

I begin with the Sorrowful Mysteries. This are mysteries usually prayed on Tuesday and Friday.

The First Sorrowful Mystery: – Agony of Christ Jesus in the Garden.

SorrowfulMysteryAgony

Every time I say a mystery, I like thinking of the context. Here Christ is alone in the garden of Gethsemane. The friends he requested to stay with him for an hour already fell asleep. He is in deep sorrow, he knows the crucifixion is coming, he knows he will be betrayed by those he loves, he will be denied three times by Peter, the disciple he loved the most will run away leaving his tunic behind in a bid to escape recognition, he will be flogged, he will be made to carry a heavy cross, he will be crucified on it. We all go through agonizing moments, when life has beat us properly and we no longer have the energy to take that next step, when our friends have all abandoned us in our lowest, when those so close to us denounce us and jeer from the side line enjoying our down fall, when we turn to God and cry to him, wishing Him to take away the cup of agony. When we know that the tunnel we must pass is dark, but we must walk it. Take for example being diagnosed with Cancer, or any terminal illness. Sometimes it seems like the end. We know Chemotherapy, Radio Therapy, surgery etc will eat us up, financially, emotionally, spiritually. We agonize wishing it away. Think of broken relationships, think of shattered dreams, when we know we must let go. We so identify with Christ. But as we pray for removal of the cup, how I wish that we do not forget that it is God’s will that must be done. Not ours. He may not remove the cup, but He will give us the strength to drink it.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery: – Scourging at the Pillar

imagesChrist has been brought to Pilate. Pilate finds no fault, but he orders that he be flogged. How many times do we get flogged; emotionally by being accused falsely, characterwise when people we love speak evil of us behind our backs, when we are told we are not good enough, we are not beautiful enough, we do not know, we are foolish, we are ugly… physically when we stay in abusive relationships? How many times do we feel beaten by those who we cherish? How many times do we hear things about us and marvel at how creative people can be? Why do we relish thoughts of flogging others? Why do we derive joy in beating others? Shaming them? Belittling, assassinating their character? Denying them what they truly deserve? Looking down upon others? What value do we add to who we are when we lessen the value of others?

Jesus was flogged, even though he was without fault. Many times we will be flogged, even though we will be without fault. The grace we wished for during our agony will see us through the flogging. We will persevere, we will win eventually, but not before crucifixion.

The third sorrowful Mystery: – The Crowning with thorns

hqdefaultAt our lowest, we discover we have very many enemies. Christ’s passion was His lowest moment. It came immediately after his triumphant entry. He was a King, now he was a nobody, being jeered and mocked and crowned with thorns in mockery. Everyone wants Him crucified. Where are those who dined with Him? Those who walked many miles to eat from his wisdom? Those who sung Hossana and paved His way with leaves as He entered Jerusalem? None of them spoke up for Him. We can identify with this very well. Look at this one, the way he could not talk to anyone when he had a job, he can’t even afford a decent pair of shoe, he has become so poor, he lives in the street, he used to drive a Mercedes S Class, now he walks to work, oh, she buys clothes at Muthurwa, and she used to wear designers, single mothers, childless women, single middle-aged women, pregnant young girls, broken families, broken dreams of people, broken people,  … We have all been jeered at our lowest. We all have been abandoned. We all have been looked at with hate. People have celebrated at our downfall. We can really identify with Christ, or is it He can identify with us?

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: – The Carrying of the Cross

indexChrist had to carry His cross from the City of Jerusalem to the Mountain of Golgotha where He would be crucified on it. On the way, there were sympathetic women, there was Symon the Cyrene, there was Veronica, there were three falls, there was His mother, there were was one disciple, the one Christ loved the most. If we are to be identified with Christ, then we must walk his walk. He said we must carry our crosses and follow Him. Even when we know we will be crucified on it. We must persevere to build endurance, so the endurance builds character. On our way, we will fall, just as Christ fell, but we must rise and keep walking; we will meet our Symon of Cyrene, who will assist us in whichever way they are capable to carry our crosses, they will assist us financially, they will encourage us, they will hug us, they will try to make it bearable; we will find the sympathetic women who will cry with us, who will journey with us, if only for a short while, they will empathize, and wish us well on our way; we will find Veronica, who will wipe the tears off our faces, dust our clothes from our falls, help us make a few lasting memories which will take us through the agonizing time; we will have family and faithful friends who will literally walk every mile of our journey with us. Eventually we must come to Golgotha and here we must be crucified.

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: – Crucifixion, Death and Burial of Jesus

the-hour-of-mercy-1pngTired, weary, hungry, thirsty, a trudging Christ gets to Golgotha. He is tripped off his only remaining dignity and he bleeds some more as the clothes come off with the dried blood from his wounds. He is laid on his tree, nails driven into his palms and feet, the tree is raised, he hangs in there for three more hours, finally in pain, desperation and all the energy he still has, He questions God; why oh why have you forsaken me? I was a good son, I have done your will, and I even requested you take this all away, why have you forsaken me? I did all you asked me to, I kept the Church pure by chasing those who profaned it, I brought you disciples, why have you forsaken me? I did good things, healed the sick, fed the hungry, and gave water to the thirsty, why have you forsaken me? How many times have we been here, when we question God for what we are going through? When Murphy’s Law has played a trick on us and we feel despaired and despondent? When we feel we do not have the energy to move on, when we have lost everything? Why has he forsaken us? “Unto your hands, I commend my Spirit… IT IS FINISHED”. They say it is at our lowest that we truly recognize the presence of Christ, because it is indeed here that we know we have done everything we could possibly do, but in the long run, it is here we learn the true meaning of Surrendering to the divine will of God. “Unto His hands, we commend ourselves”. We must surrender everything at the cross, we must unite our pains with those of Christ on the cross, we must crucify those weaknesses that keep us away from Him, and we must surrender everything here, at the cross, because it is at that cross that all is finished. Everything is purged. Once we surrender, then we can await the Resurrection, because it is coming. That is Hope. Surrendering to the will of God brings us hope. In this hope we can face tomorrow. Because tomorrow brings resurrection.

At the Hour of our DEATH…

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Two years ago, my father, in the presence of his devoted wife and his eldest son, kissed the world goodbye. I am trying to cultivate a habit of attending mass on his memorial. Today on my way to mass I pondered many things. Yes I miss my father but after the end of my ponders, all I could say was Laudate Yesus Kristus- Praise be to Jesus.

All parents have dreams for their children. They pray for success for them, that they may live a good life, that they may not fall, that the world would be kind to them, that their dreams may come true. All noble and valid dreams. They can only hope we live the dreams. Sometimes, many times, we disappoints, but the candle of their hope always burns. The irony is the values and character instilled in us by those long gone manifest brighter because we try to live true to those things they inspired us to become… Laudate Yesus Kristus

I had dreams with/for my father. I prayed that I would finish high school well, and that he would be there when I graduated. God granted me that. I prayed that he would see me graduate from college. God kept him healthy not only for my undergraduate, but for my graduate degree too. I prayed that he would walk me down the isle. God made it happen. I prayed that he would see his grandchildren by me, and yes, God made that happen too. My regret is he did not get to meet his granddaughter, but then maybe I am dreaming too much. I thank God because I lived my dream moments with him. Not all, but then again, God is faithful… Laudate Yesus Kristus.

Grief is hard. There is no formula for going through grief. A part of us dies when those we love die. We handle grief differently. Some of us shut ourselves in. Others will want to be constantly in the presence of others. Others choose silence. Others chooses bitterness and self pity. Others just survive, one day at a time. Others do all these all at a go or in phases. In my grief, I found someone to be strong for. My daughter. Maybe my formula can work for someone else. Who can we be strong for in our grief? Our parents? Our spouses? Our siblings? Best friend? Who can act as that pillar so that every time we look or feel them we are encouraged to soldier on? When grief strikes, it is easy to let it swallow us but when all is gone, we must go on. They have lived their life. They have fought their wars. They have run their race. We still have a race to run. We must soldier on. This can be something to help us grieve in strength… Laudate Yesus Kristus

Every hour that passes brings us closer to the hour of our death. Today reminded me that each passing moment I get closer to the hour of my death. How am I preparing for this hour, for myself and for those I love. I know that my dad did many things for us before he left. The toughest most families face is administration of their estates. He did it all. Am I prepared for departure? May we live in a way that when that hour comes we will not start a bargain with Christ, if we will have a chance, but we will say, here I am Lord, I am ready to come home… Laudate Yesus Kristus

Friendships count. I cry many times when I think of my father. I would cry because he was gone. I still cry, but not because I will not see him again. I cry  because of the kindness of the friends in my life. Their sacrifices were beyond what any human person could imagine. I can never repay that, but my dear friends, just know in my heart I give thanks to God for you and I pray that whenever you will need a shoulder to cry on, some pillar to lean on, someone to smile with and laugh and be silly and pray with and for you, that God will provide one for you, maybe not me, but for sure God will remember your kindness and for the same measure you gave, it will be measured to you, plus a little more to overflow… Laudate Yesu Kristus

 

In Death we are alive in Christ; Deathly Meditation

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Ever since my dad passed on, I have been meditating a lot about death. I don’t know if meditation is the right word. I have been thinking about death a lot anyway. It strikes me that although we all appreciate its eventuality, and its certainty, and we all know it does come, we are never really prepared for it. It still strikes us with  a blow that leaves us breathless, leaves us wanting just one more second, one more hour, one more day with those whom we loved and are gone.

I wonder, given a chance, those who have gone, would they also wish for the same? One more day on earth; One more second with their beloved; One more time to make things right. Why would that be so? Is it because of the uncertainty of the end of one phase and the beginning of the perceived next?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Death is the end of earthly Life. Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change, we grow old, we die. Death is a norm to life. The aspect of death however leads to a realization that we are here for a limited time.   Death is a fact, but its the condition of death that is in doubt. For those who die in Christ’s Grace, it is a participation in the death of the Lord so that they can share in his resurrection. To rise in Christ, we must die in Christ. We must, in that time of departure, be away from the body and be at home with the Lord. To a christian then, death is a gain not a loss.

We know then that to get to heaven, we must die in a state of grace, a state of no sin, a state of purity for nothing untainted can enter heaven. Each of us sins within the minute in thoughts, words and deed. Is it even possible to die in a state of grace? How do we work on ourselves so that if we do meet our maker we will be granted the gift of heaven? What are our constant thoughts? Planning evil against someone? How we will tell that juicy story about someones mistakes to that seat mate in class who doesn’t care? How we will yell at our bosses for offending us? What clouds our thoughts most days? What clouds our actions? Are we lying? Seducing the secretary who we well know is married? Promoting pornography by sharing that explicit image or video? What are we constantly saying? A kind and encouraging word or that abuse that makes people block their children’s ears? Are we backbiting? Spreading rumors? Building the courage of someone? If I am to die this moment what will be my state? How then do we attain heaven in our continuous sinful state?

This brings me to my next fascination. Religious Martyrs. Their passion in preaching Christ and their zeal in dying for that which they believed in. There are those who died very gross deaths, “Hang, Drawn and Quartered (Many English Martyrs)”, beheading (St. Cecilia), stoning (St. Stephen), goring by and angry bull (Perpetua and Felicity), starvation, burning (Joan of Arc), being shot, yet the potential of that end did not deter them from doing good, renouncing evil even in presence of authority that would endanger that messenger.  Death was a welcome joy. It was a desired end to attain a greater life to come. While we dread this end, many of these saints looked forward, yearned, hungered for it. What is the difference? What differentiates them from us? I will pretend I understand when St. Paul said “My desire is to depart and be with Christ”; or when he says “My earthly desire has been crucified;. . . there is living water in me, water that murmurs and says within me; Come to the Father. I want to see God and in order to see Him I must die. I am not dying, I am entering life“; or  St. Francis of Assisi in his song “All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death, From whose embrace no mortal can escape.Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your will!The second death can do them no harm.Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks. And serve him with great humility“; St. Augustine of Hippo when he said, “Christ’s martyrs feared neither death nor pain. He triumphed in them who lived in them; and they, who lived not for themselves but for Him, found in death itself the way to life”; St. Clare, on her deathbed speaking to herself Said, “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear; for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be Thou, O God, for having created me,”; or the Holy Hermit in the words, “I have always kept death before my eyes and therefore, now that it has arrived, I see nothing new in it.”  

The Church encourages us to prepare for the hour of our death. It even invokes intercession of our mother Mary to pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Why is his important, because we know not the day or the hour. I have visited patients in ICU, and I know how helpless it is to watch one we love at that state, between life and death. I do not know what capacity they have, but I assume they are in no position whatsoever to pray for themselves. I assume, maybe they can pray for themselves. I do not know what transpires between one and his or her creator before they breath their last. I know that we all need to live in constant penance and confession and avoidance of mortal sin. Penance for ourselves, penance for those who needs our prayers for the hour of their death, and penance for those gone before us. Why do they need penance? Why do we need penance? Penance is form of “punishment” for wrongdoing. It follows the logic that when we wrong the people we wrong, even when we do confess, we need a form of compensation for the sin, some kind of reparation for the consequence of our wrong doing. For instance, if I steal a cow from my neighbor, I confess my wrong doing, I am expected to return this cow, or equivalent for reparation of the consequences of the wrong inflicted. I cannot do away with all the consequences of that. Some sins however do not have direct consequence, so as a reparation for them, we perform acts of charity or prayers or any other acceptable noble activity to repair this wounded relationship, between ourselves and God, within ourselves and between ourselves and fellow men. The bigger question will be, if I stole a cow, I confess my sins, and I die, before I return the cow or its equivalent, will I go to heaven? am I in a sate of grace?

The church teaches us that every of our actions, every thought, should be of those who expect to die before the day ends. Death should no longer be a terror for us if we have a quiet conscience. We need to keep it clear of sin instead of running away from death. If we are not ready for death today, it is highly unlikely we will be tomorrow. May our long gone before saints inspire us with their words to live this life with eternity in our minds, because, death is just a gateway to eternity. St Bonaventure says that, “…to lead a good life a man should always imagine himself at the hour of death…”, St. Alphonsus augments this argument in his sayings “…if you believe that you must die, that there is an eternity, that you can die only once, and that if you then err your error will be forever, irreparable, why do you not resolve to begin at this moment, to do all in your power to secure a good death?…; …Oh! hasten to apply a remedy in time, resolve to give yourself sincerely to God, and begin from this moment a life which, at the hour of death, will be to you a source, not of affliction, but of consolation. Give yourself up to prayer, frequent the sacraments, avoid all dangerous occasions, and, if necessary, leave the world, secure yourself eternal salvation, and be persuaded that to secure eternal life no precaution can be too great, and , “…if you wish to live well, spend the remaining days of life with death before your eyes.”

Lord, for your faithful people, life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death, we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.  It therefore implies that facing the hour of death unprepared could easily be the greatest mistake of our lives. We do not know the day nor the hour, but we do know with iron-clad certitude that death comes for us all. The only logical conclusion to be reached is that we must begin training for this final confrontation today. We must strengthen ourselves against our vices and our attachment to sins, through prayer and penance. We must become dedicated to never losing the state of grace, and to rooting out even the smaller sins to which we have become habituated. If we cannot win a simple battle with our unseen tempters while we are yet strong and in good health, how can we hope to overcome their final, tangible assault as we lay weak and dying? Does this mean we stop living and start dieing? No, it means we live with the end in mind. We start living our heaven here. We make every moment count so that the answer to the question, “If Christ was to come now would you continue doing what He currently finds you doing?”, Would be a resounding YES. May we be prepared, may we live in readiness, may we always be ready for the transformation to the life of the world to come.

 

Article 47- Motivate you; You are a global person.

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When every New Year begins, many people make resolutions, many set goals, and many set minimums for self accountability. I set Targets. Sometimes the goals are motivated by professional requirements, sometimes by personal growth and sometimes the thrill of accomplishing something or learning something new. The year 2017 had only professional targets. This was motivated by Academic Professional growth. The life of an academic is basically studying, research and sharing this knowledge either in class, through writing or conference presentations. While I set to achieve my targets among the many other things we deem normal like eat, drink, raise children, have fun and socialize, I learnt many things. These lessons are the essence of this write up, not whether my targets were met or not. They will feature somewhere.

  1. Always do your best: – The six years of my Architecture degree were grueling. Not just for me but for many architecture students. They take a cycle of project introduction (easy), project development (moderate) and project presentation preparation (grueling) and post project break (zombie bliss). Grueling face usually had several sleepless coffee filled nights. In this cycle I learnt to always do my best. I was reminded of this important lesson when a research write up I did in my masters 5 years ago got a publishers attention, got publication and also a conference presentation at the Society for Human Ecology conference held in Los Banos Philippines. If I was to go back in time with the knowledge that the information would be presented to a global audience, would I do anything differently? No. I did my best, with the capacity and resources I had then. I thank God for the opportunities this best brought. May we learn to always do our best in everything we do. We never know who could be “trolling” us.
  2. I am a global Person: – Last year, Kenyans got to go through a phase of individualization. We forgot that we are even Kenyans and retreated back to our tribal and clan cocoons. We forgot that life is beyond where we come from and beyond the village or town we were born (which was not our doing in any way). We live in a global set up. Our tribes, clans and affiliations are just accidents. Our substance lies in what we can do and achieve with who we are. We cannot limit our potential as individuals because of the blood, language and skin colour affiliations. We have to dare the world to recognize the potential within us. I told my students that we have to put ourselves out there so that the world can recognize that “in my small self lies a big giant”. I was encouraging them to participate in global architectural students awards. I gave them an example of myself. An invitation for conference abstracts is made; I forward my abstract and forget about it. I receive an acceptance letter. Wow, you expect positive replies but you still get that jolt. A small someone in Kenya has been invited to present a paper in a global function (Yay). A friend of mine loves taking photos; a world wildlife photography institution recognized his work (Thumbs up). We have to forget the limitations our accidents provide and put our best out there for the world to see that we too have something to give to the world.
  3. Mind what you put up online: I once went for a per-interview meeting (if anything like this exists). It was a forum where all interviewees were invited for a meet and greet. The interviewers were telling us on their expectations of us. One thing struck my mid though. They said they would do a background check on each one of the candidates. That included talking to former employers, academic supervisors, and high school contacts. They also said “we will Google you”. Have we ever tried Googling ourselves and seen what comes out? Some of the opportunities realized was because someone read my profile my employers website and my linked in. Its not that good, which tells me I need to upgrade. I never know who is snooping. With the rise in use of social media, we have become free to be ourselves. How much of ourselves are we destroying or building online? If an opportunity knocked, would our online information build or destroy us
  4. Sometimes, many times, things will not work as we planned: – Recently, a post I put up in 2012 came up on my facebook memory. It went like this:- Three lessons for today: – 1) Man proposes, God disposes sometimes not how or when we want it but in His own perfect timing. 2) To wait on God, no breath is lost but much is learnt. 3) Sometimes, pan Bs and Cs and the rest do not exist. There is only one, which may or may not happen. If it does, well and good, if it does not, we can dream again, it is not the end of life, it is the beginning of another phase. I can remember the context of these words said by my spouse. Back then he was my Fiancé. I wanted to pursue my masters abroad and I had applied for admissions and several scholarships. The admissions were positive but all the scholarships were regrets. I was quite a blow. Five years later, another academic qualification application, and the script is the same. But as the quote ends, it is the beginning of another phase of life. Someone once wrote that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I have been doing this the last two and a half years. It is definitely not working. I won’t say I am insane. I will hang on to the dream. It is a new beginning. It is time to dream again and begin another phase.
  5. On a light note, always have a back up shoe. I travelled to present my paper. I read about the weather, culture, currency etc of this place I was going. I packed my clothes well for the function and the weather. I packed a wrong shoe though. The weather in Kenya is mostly friendly for my Kenyan made shoe. But it was terrible for the very hot wet weather of Los Banos. The sole and the shoe kissed each other good bye in the middle of the street and I ended up presenting with a beautiful African dress and a canvas (rubber) shoe written Love in bold white at the back.

As 2018 begins, I set other targets, I hope to achieve them. Last year was really great. I got to heights I never imagined I could when I set out my targets in the beginning. But then there is God who glorifies Himself in many ways through us. We plant a seed in our hearts and He nurtures it and it blooms to more beauty than we never imagined existed. We have to always surrender to Him. Because it is in Him live and move and have our being (somewhere in the bible). I surrender to Him.

To 2018 of more lessons.

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