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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.

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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.

Life Lessons – On Marriage

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Two months ago, on 2nd September, 2017,   I attended a friends’ wedding at the Holy Family Basilica. There are many things that make weddings exciting, from the flowers, the happy faces, the smiling people, the wonderfully adorned bride and the her carefully selected bridal party, the charming girls and boys, the music… the list is endless. While weddings still make me cry, I want to share the teachings from this one from the celebrating priest…

  1. The people who cause us so much heartache and pain are the people we love the most. Those who are supposed to bring joy into our life. The pain can be caused by anything, from continued neglection, criticism, lack of responsibility, distancing self from your spouse, cheating, not defending your spouse from externalities from other people among others. Our spouses will hurt us, more than once. We are human and it is that weakness that make us wrong those we come in contact with many times. Our humanity though is perfected in Christ. In Christ we can look at the other person, acknowledge our weakness and tell them, I am sorry. In apologizing we acknowledge that we are ready to start all over. In a clean slate. In seeking forgiveness, we acknowledge we have caused hurt, and that we are ready to mend the wound that we have inflicted. We acknowledge responsibility of inflicting that wound and seek never to wound again.
  2. God institutes Marriage. God sustains marriage. He cannot sustain it if we do not commit it to Him. The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator. God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator (Catechism of the Catholic Church-1603). There are joys in Marriage. In the contemporary society, wine is usually shared in joyous moments. In the Bible, during the wedding at Canaan, the wedding ceremony was running out and the hosts were expressing anxiety. Christ, who was invited as a guest, restored that joy by bringing in new wine, in His own way. We must invite Christ to our marriages, so that when our wines run out, He will always be there to restore that which we have lost, squandered, rejected, or left behind. With Christ,there is abundance Joy. In Him, our marriages will last. He will rejuvenate when we run dry. May we always remember to invite Christ. May we always consult Him who instituted it when challenges come.
  3. We should not found our marriages on “Accidents”. I have talked severally of accidents and substance in my previous write ups (Article 46: Accidents VS Substance-A new Hope for Kenya; Accidents vs Substance…). We may want to found our marriage on physical appearance, financial stability, tribal lines, political views etc. All these are transitory. We cannot found lasting marriages on something transitory. We have to found our marriages in Christ. Christ enables our human selves to always appreciate our substance, the substance in our spouses. The closer we are to Christ, the closer in communion we remain in Christ, as a couple, the closer we remain in communion with each other.
  4. Let our love be perfect. We are human beings. The many divine things we are endowed are limited by our humanness. Love is a gift of the Holy spirit. While we may receive it with abundance, exercising  it is limited by the fact that we are human. We, more often than not, notice the imperfections in the other and that which made us look at each other in awe, disappears and in its place we look at each other in disgust. Christs instructs us to love each other as He has loved us. We are very imperfect people in the eyes of God, but He loves us still. We are also called to love our imperfect spouses the way Christ loves us. Love their imperfections as much as we love their perfections. Imperfections can be overcome, but only if we are willing to surrender to the inspiration that Jesus brings to the union. Personal imperfections can also be overcome, when we work hard to grow in faith, and in love that Christ instills in us. We commit ourselves to being better than yesterday.
  5. Forgiveness. Forgiveness is the salve that heals wounds we inflict on each other often. In forgiveness we sacrifice, even our rights, for the well being of the institution, for the well being of our spouse. Many are the times we will wound the gift of love, out of our weakness, out of pride, out of our belief in entitlement, out of arrogance, out of our fears and complexities. However being offended should not be the last word, just like sin is not the last word with our relationship with Christ.

Let the Lord build our house and watch over our city. If God does not do it, we labor in vain. May we always invite God to journey with us in our marriages. In Him, we will always have the joys of marriage, just like they were when we first got married. Not because there wont be problems, not because there wont be storms but because, with Christ, we will have the grace to sing and dance in the rain.

Article 47:- The Many faces of Friends

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…A faithful friend is a strong defence,

A faithful friend is the medicine of life…

bdr

The beginning of the climb

23rd September 2017. I joined my friend Eric on his 4th Journey up Mt. Longonot. I had promised myself severally how I needed to do this, my own Bucket List activity off the chart. But then there is this friend who has traveled with me in many journeys of life. He has known my downs and my ups, my frustrations and my achievements, my laughter, my celebrations, the toast moments and the lets keep it under the table moments. Eric. He lost his sight sometime back. Every year, through the Kenya Society of the Blind annual Longonot climb, ever since he lost his sight, he goes up the Longonot. This year, I decided to do this with him, as a thank you for the journeys he has traveled with me. The climb attracted quite a gathering. It was flagged off at the entrance to the park and up we went, a step at a time, one meter after another. As much as it was a check off my bucket list, it was a great learning experience especially on friendships. I learnt, on that climb that friendships presents itself in many faces. I will just highlight a few…

The fall back:-

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TEAM ERIC!

The climbers were from several representations. We called ourselves TEAM ERIC. It was a group of Eric, his parents, his neighbour, a gentleman nicknamed Governor, Muthenya and myself. When we started the climb, everyone was all energetic. We had a pacesetter, and the rest of us trooped behind him or her. But as we went up, the energy levels went low. By the time we got to rest post 1, Eric was a bit dizzy. We all took a break. Muthenya snacked all of us. We took out water. And we waited for Eric to get better. How many times do we feel drained in this life we keep walking? How many of us can always look out for that one person who will be there for us at such low moments, when we know that no  matter our lows, someone will stand and wait for us to rethink, refocus, gain back the energy. Someone will give us that boost of energy. That word that will let us know, it is okay to feel weak, it is okay when we don’t have the energy to move on, it is okay to take a break, it is okay to be weak, it is okay to need a shoulder to lean on. All this is a phase of life. And it will pass. We will not be weak forever, we will rise and conquer the rest of the mountain.

The bounce back/motivator:-

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Crater Point

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After the rest, we continued our climb. We got to the first summit-Crater point. Here one can appreciate the distance traveled. You can see base down below. You can see the crater. Very beautiful. There is a group of people taking rest after the torturous climb. Some who arrived way earlier have already started their descent, others have started going round the crater. We take a breather, a few photos. Then we have to decide whether we are going round or not. Eric’s parents decide not to. Muthenya and Governor are already decided, they are going round. The set off. Eric is undecided. It’s a whole 7.2Km walk. I challenge him. He hesitates. Eventually he falls for the temptation. We set off too. We call the other two to wait up. Another climb to summit 2 begins, Team Eric now a smaller group. Off we go, one step at a time. It is more challenging than the firs climb, but eventually, after a little crawling and falling, a little slipping and trudging, silence and small talks, we get to KILELE NGAMIA. Wohoo! We all need that friend to challenge us to the next level. That friend who realizes our potential even when we don’t know we have it. That person who reminds us that our limit is only our own selves. We can finish the climb together. We shall travel it together. When you lack the energy, you can lean on me, but climbing we must. I remembered the many climbers we passed on. Literally holding on to others to take the next height, the “keep on going” voices behind them, those who gave up but with their team members were kept on their feet. Who with all this motivation got to the top, whichever summit.

bdr

The energy sucker:-

While the motivator challenges us to achieve new heights, this one is the exact opposite. This friends will drain all the energy left in you. Whatever little. They will tell you how much you cannot make in life. How much you don’t have the energy to finish. How untalented you are, how unfit, how feeble, how much a loser you are. I do not know if they are friends or “friends”. Whichever the case, they have a way of making life all doom and gloom. I may not have a perfect example from the climb, but it occurred to me that there are those who probably did not make it to the top because of that voice. Sometimes this voice is our own selves. We tell our selves how much we have not exercised, so we cannot finish the climb. How much unprepared we are for the interview, how many people have failed in life and it won’t be no different, how hard the task is and it should be performed by someone better than ourselves. We kill our own innovation, we drain our own strength. We kill our own self-belief.

The advocate:-

I have learnt that when something happens to us, there are those friends who will be called to answer on our behalf. It is good to have them because they know the real us. They can always speak on our behalf. They can say when we are afraid, they can say when we are being foolish, they can tell when we are falling off the road and going in a tangent of our desired positions. They are the other us. They are our voice when we have none. They can loudly tell one who is trying to make us look bad, “Whatever you say, I dont believe you, because I know her…”. They know that when we fall, we can count on them to lift us up and not laugh and jeer when everyone else is. They know that when my feet refuse o move that one step, its probably because I have a boil in the thigh or a blister on my toe. They don’t judge, they want to know the reason why. They can even explain that why we we do not have the reason.

The twin:-

One thing that has stayed in my mind is this group of two boys, both visually impaired, they passed us in the ascend to the first summit, stumbling, trudging but holding each other up. I think one was partially blind or both were, I do not know, but the determination in their faces and the arms they kept around each other spoke volumes. They passed us the second time just before we got to the second summit. When they did, we cheered them on. They really inspired me. There are those friends who literally walk with us in this wake of life. They stumble when we stumble, they rise when we rise, they laugh with us, they cry with us, they celebrate with us, and they struggle with us in our daily endeavors. They do not necessarily do what we do, they are not necessarily present, but they share in our every moments.

While we all know that faithful friends are hard to come by, while we also appreciate that some friends are multi faced in our lives, we live to thank God because, we have a defense to always lean on, depend on, look up to, and are always nourished in by their presence. A faithful friend is the medicine for life.

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