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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 49- The Sanctity and the dignity of the Human Person- Part II Dignity

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Merriam Webster Dictionary defines dignity as the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect. Human dignity is a central consideration of Christian philosophy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church insists the dignity of the human person is rooted in his or her creation in the image and likeness of God. This augments the argument on the sanctity of the person. Because man is created holy due to the fact that he is in the image and likeness of God who is Holy, then, each human person is worthy of honor and respect. Human dignity is something that can’t be taken away. Catholic Social Teaching states that each and every person has value, are worthy of great respect and must be free from slavery, manipulation and exploitation. “Catholic social teaching believes that human beings, created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), have by their very existence an inherent value, worth, and distinction” (Daniel Groody “Globalization, Spirituality and Justice”).

The Bible teaches us that we are all one in Christ and should therefore be treated equally without discrimination – Galatians 3:28 ; There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Treating others with dignity follows the golden rule, that is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. If you would wish to be given a drink when thirsty, then give a drink to the thirsty, if you would not wish anyone to steal your property, then do not steal, if you desire to be respected, please respect, if you want to be treated kindly and with mercy, the be kind and merciful. There are many ways of treating each other with dignity and honor and respect for instance respect, food provision, security, clothing and use of proper language.

SexualityI am however going to focus my article on sexuality. A contemporary definition of Human sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves sexually.  This includes physical, emotional, social and biological ways among others. The biological and physical aspects of sexuality largely concern the human reproductive functions including the human sexual response cycle for both male and female. Physical and emotional aspects of sexuality involve the bonds that are expressed through physical manifestations like touching, kissing, caressing and the conjugal act, or emotional manifestations like trust, love and care.  Social aspects express the effects of human society on one’s sexuality.

Sexuality 2The Catholic Church teaches that human life and human sexuality are inseparable. From deductive reasoning, since God created human beings in His own image and likeness, hence our holiness, and he found His creation to be very good, human body and sex then must also be very good. The Church considers the expression of love between husband and wife in the conjugal act to be an elevated form of human activity, joining husband and wife in complete, mutual self-giving, and opening their relationship to new life. Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. And this marks the church’s teaching of application of the conjugal act.  In the Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI explained that the sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is noble and worthy and very good. The church teaches that sex is unitive and procreative, purposes which are not mutually exclusive. You cannot achieve one purpose and exclude the other. And since it is designated for couples, it exclusive to that particular couple. The conjugal love aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul since marriage is a sign of the Love between God and Humanity.

The Catechism further teaches about chastity as a way of respect of ones sexuality. It explains that chastity is the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. Meaning that how we express ourselves sexually should be a way in honor of that special bond between a man and woman. Anything that contradicts this love and honor becomes wrong and offends not only the intention but also the people violating the intentions. Chastity is thus a way of dignifying our sexuality. Chastity is a journey of self-mastery where either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. Human Dignity requires each one of us to act towards self-mastery, by freely choosing to do what is right by his diligence and skill, ensuring that he/she does not offend the virtue of chastity, whether his/her own or of those he/she interacts with.  We should cultivate chastity in the way that is suited to our state of life. Married people are called to live conjugal chastity or conjugal fidelity.

Societal trends view the body as an object of pleasure or as a machine for manipulation. In these cases, sexual expression is sought outside sacramental marriage for the sole purpose of selfish pleasure or lustful reasons and the procreative function of sexual expression within marriage is deliberately frustrated. In sexuality this is manifested by individual pursuit of satisfaction of lust. Lust is a disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes. For instance in;

Masturbation where there is deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure;

Fornication which is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman – contrary to the intention of sex naturally ordered for the good of the spouses and transmission of life;

Adultery which refers to marital infidelity, that is, two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations – even transient ones; Incest which is intimate relations between relatives within which marriage is prohibited against them;

Pornography which consists of removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties thus offending chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, that is,  the intimate giving of spouses to each other, it does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, and the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others and it immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world;

Prostitution which does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure while the one who pays sins gravely against himself by violating his own gift of chastity and offending the one he pays by objectifying the person; and

Rape which is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person – deeply wounding the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life.

 In the Theology of the Body, St. John Paul II encourages a true reverence for the gift of our sexuality and challenges us to live it in a way worthy of our great dignity as human persons. We are therefore called to live worthy and honorable lives with regard to our sexuality. We should live chaste lives with regard to our state of life, whether unmarried, celibate or married. We should pray for graces to avoid anything that offends our own chastity and the chastity of those we interact with because in doing so we are treating them with the sexual dignity that we all deserve.

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…

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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.

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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.

Teaching by Witnessing

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aOn 13th May 2017 we had a recollection organized by the Jomo Kenyatta University – Catholic Community Alumni Association (JKUAT CATCOM ALUMNI). It is one of the events that the group organizes and members participate in. Other activities being: a charity event; an annual planning meeting and an annual Mass at JKUAT main campus.

This year’s recollection was special, not only because it has been a while since we were together as a group, but also because it was facilitated by an alumnus of JKUAT CATCOM. Many of us remember him singing tenor in the CATCOM Choir, getting stressed with assignments and exams like the rest of us, as an organizing secretary of CATCOM, or even as the fastest man during social day. It was fascinating to watch him on the other end facilitating a recollection, celebrating mass. It was seeing him in a new dimension.

Whatever he taught was also a new dimension to what we are used to, where as a disciple, we are supposed to preach through more than our words. Many are the times we fail to do that because we preach one thing and do something else. He encouraged us to teach by witnessing. An action based kind of preaching Christ. The online dictionary gives the definition of witnessing as: to give or serve as evidence of or testify to. We are called to live life as an evidence of Christ in us, to be a living testimony of Christ in our lives.

How do we do that?

In Mathew 28:16-20, Christ gives us a command, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.  He authorizes all whom he have called for himself to go and make disciples. In Acts 1:8, we are told, we will be witnesses of God. In the famous walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:16-35), after resurrection, Christ exemplifies what teaching by witnessing is all about in the following ways:-

Jesus went with them: – We must walk with those we are witnessing to. We must go where the flock is. “If we are to be good shepherds, we must smell like sheep.” – Pope Francis. We must live in such a way that those we are witnessing to recognizes us as followers of Christ. The famous statement preaching water and drinking wine does apply. We must live according to Christ’s teaching and in this way, we will be preaching Christ with our actions. We however may not be recognized by our own, just like the disciples failed to recognize Christ on the walk to Emmaus. This could be due to sadness in their hearts due to whatever experiences they are going through just like Christ’s disciples were sad because He was dead. There could be detachment between “Us and Them”, meaning just because we know Christ, we start living in utopia and detach ourselves form the realities of their daily emotions that affect who they are and what they believe in, we become strangers to them. There could be because of hopelessness and doubt, just like the disciples doubted the resurrection even after the women shared the good news of the resurrection and were hopeless because He whom they believed will “save” them from the Roman oppression was no more.

Jesus was patient with them: – Jesus walked with them the whole journey. He not only walked and listened to their version of what had happened in Jerusalem, but also explained to them the scripture. Not just a single verse expounded, he explained from the old and new testament, the first to the last prophets and how Christ fit in in the whole picture.  He listened to their foolishness, and filled it with knowledge. How patient are we when our Christianity is challenged by doubt. How knowledgeable are we on the gospel of Christ. How willing are we to sit and explain it to those we encounter, like explaining the concept of lightning and thunder to a three year old.

Jesus Nurtured a strong Bond: – Christ’s journey with the two disciples was a great encounter. He understood their weaknesses. He taught them patiently, in a language they could understand what salvation was. He made himself part of them, of their weak selves. However much he did not participate in their foolishness, they felt understood. They felt they belonged. They felt identified and appreciated. They felt wanted. They felt a part of this stranger who did not rebuke them for being foolish but accepted that they needed a little more knowledge so they could understand. They felt appreciated even in their weakness. How many times do we seek to be appreciated for who we are? How often do we identify ourselves with those who we deem unknowledgeable? How many times do we flee from those who are really in need just because we do not want to be associated with them? How many times do we alienate those we deem different from us? We are called to nurture strong bonds with those we encounter, those who need to encounter Christ through us. We are called to “Make Disciples, before we can teach or baptize them”. They can only become disciples if they feel appreciated, not condemned for who they are.

In Acts 2:22 & 32; we are called to witness the risen Christ. We are called to be the living faith amongst the lay Christians. We are called to be the light of the world, not the light in the world. We are called to live such that in our absence, the light we lit will still shine in those we encountered while we lived. We are called to give who we are not to give what we have. We need to give ourselves to those we are witnessing to because giving ourselves is an act of love. We are called to, like St Francis of Assisi “preach the word always, but only use words when necessary”. The modern man listens more to witness more than to teachers…

An example is given of St. John Marie Vianney who despite his deficiencies in formal studies, he witnessed Christ as a great confessor who touched many souls beyond his parish and indeed his country.

Lay Christians who witness Christ with their lives do as much evangelization as ordained ministers. When we understand that we were created for a purpose then we live a fulfilling life and influence all those around us positively. Let us also remember to pray for others.

Above all “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect …” (1st Peter 3:15).

 

 

5 things to remember when your child gets a seizure/ Convulses

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Child

Mom monitoring a seizure in a child

The first time I heard of Epilepsy, was in a first aid class I helped organize for a group of pro-life students in 2003 when I was in college. And of course it rarely concerns you until it hits home… You will read a lot of the seizures, the types, and one thing you will realize is, most common child seizures are caused by fever. Of course there are those that just happen, and doctors brand them atypical, but in simple terms, that is just epilepsy. Your child has a seizure whose cause cannot be explained, then they have epilepsy. It is a big and scary word. And traumatizing. But it is actually scarier to watch your child convulse. Having witnessed 2 in a span of 6 months, I am no expert, but I have a tip or two to share if you ever find yourself in my shoes. This may not be limited to children, but if you ever be in a place where one is having a seizure, the procedure of what you need to do more or less remains the same.

A typical -grand mal- seizure more or less takes place in the same way or follows the same pattern. The casualty stretches out, goes rigid and falls, then jerking movements, then often but not always grinding of teeth, then sleep. Each phase takes different lenth of time. One seizure may not necessarily take as long s the one before, or one stage may take longer or shorter time than the previous one. Here is waht you do:-

  1. Thou shall not panic:- As a parent watching your child going through all that , the first instinct is, scream, pick up the child and run to hospital. I did that and when I got to hospital, I was asked questions I could not answer. So as a parent or observer, it is your time to be most sane. Everything that you are going to observe in the next few seconds to a few minutes counts in terms of what diagnosis and tests will be given to your child. Don’t panic, no matter how hard it sounds.
  2. Get a soft landing:- By this I mean, remove the danger from the casualty or remove the casualty from danger, whichever is easier. If it is a child, place them on a soft bed or couch or put something soft under them. This will ensure that when they jerk they do not injure themselves further. If the casualty is an adult, break the fall. Hold them as they fall, ensure the ground around them is free of stones, sharp object etc. Do not try to wedge the child’s mouth open or place an object between the teeth, and do not attempt to restrain movements (seizurekids.com). This should also apply to adults as well.
  3. Take note of what happens while the person is in the fit:- One thing you will sure be asked when you get to hospital is “Describe the seizure”. How will you describe if you did not observe? Take note of the times of each phase. How long did the casualty stretch or was stiff, how long did the jerking movements take, how were the jerks, just the hands or both hands and feet, how long did they sleep immediately after the seizure? Most importantly, check for fever.
  4. When they fall asleep,now do what you were to do in the panic state:- After seizure, the casualty sleeps. Now you can panic. Run to your room, get your wallet and baby bag, call a cab, run out of the door and call the neighbor. Get to hospital. Whatever you do, make sure you get you child to hospital especially if it is the first seizure. As soon as possible. After all the 3 above are done. If it is a subsequent one, you probably already have a neurologist, call them, inform them, schedule a check up with them.
  5. Be ready for the checks:- While you are riding to hospital, prepare yourself psychologically for the check ups. Once you get to the hospital, you will answer on what you noted on the above. Was the child on medication, remember the names of the medication he was on. Is there a history of epilepsy in your family? If it is the first convulsion, and there was no fever, and the above checks out as okay according to the doctor seeing you, they will do a lot of blood checks. They check for infections, blood sugar among many other things. If that comes out negative, they will do a head scan to check for trauma (read injuries to the head). They will actually tell you to hold the child as he goes into that machine. Its a tough journey. If that comes out normal, they will admit the child and monitor. when they rule out the possibility of a second seizure, you will be advised to go home and of course return if a second seizure does occur for a brain activity test called EEG. After this they will put the child on medication until their 6th birthday.

I am not writing this as a medic.Just as a parent trying to help a another parent who is going to go through the same or going through the same. It may sound tough that you have to act and seem like you have no feelings for your child, but the information you relay to the doctor is so crucial to your child’s well being and diagnosis. Trust God to see you through the desperate times, be strong for your child and be there for them when they do not seem to be fathoming what is happening in their tender lives. Perhaps my next big challenge next will be when he goes to school. I am not afraid, it is well in Christ. It always is…

Finally, you will realize I have used the word casualty when describing what you need to do. It is not because they cease to be your child when it happens, but because you must disassociate yourself with the mushy feelings of motherhood, you must choose to act as opposed to weep or scream, you must choose to be sane as opposed to emotional. Mushiness may cloud your judgment. Panic will prevent you from noting what needs to be noted. Detaching yourself may work, if only for that short while when your sanity is so called for.

Article 44:- The gift of Sex…

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I have always wanted to write about this. I do believe that sex is indeed beautiful, in the context of marriage, otherwise it is profaned. I also believe that there are two functions of sex that are not mutually exclusive, that is the unitive, and the pro-creative. I also know that in our selfish motives, humanity has magnified the unitive aspects and struggled a lot to frustrate the pro creative aspects. However, I recently read this post from Pastor Antonio Vance and I don’t think I could have brought it out better than he expressed.

So I will share the read here.

Most times when sex is mentioned among believers, what you normally hear is what singles should not do until marriage or what husbands and wives should not do outside of marriage. You rarely ever hear that sex is a beautiful gift that God created to be fully enjoyed. Now it’s true this is only to be done within the confinements of marriage between husband and wife, but the point is too many talk about the perversion of sex while very little address the beautiful gift of sex.

Sex is a gift from God and according to the word, any gift from God is good. So sex is good. Can you even fix your mouth to say that? “Sex is good”! And not only is sex good but sex is a blessing! Yes we know fornication is bad because fornication is sin. And we also know that adultery is bad because adultery is sin. But sex, (making love, being intimate with each other, whichever you like to call it), is good because it is holy, intimate, an act of worship and a gift from God.

God is the one who made us and He made us to be attracted to the opposite sex. He didn’t make several different types of sex’s as the word says, “He made them (us) “male and female” (Gen 2:6) and He made male to be attracted to female and female to be attracted to male. What kind of attraction? SEXUAL attraction.

Contrary to popular beliefs and teachings in the Christian community, it is not a sin for a man to be sexually attracted to a woman nor is it a sin for a woman to be sexually attracted to a man. God Himself gave us these desires and He gave us these desires so that we could enjoy His gift of sex to us. The only requirement to operate in this beautiful gift is that a man takes a woman to be his wife, FOR LIFE! That’s it! This gift is so intimate that it’s actually a part of what joins man and wife as one. So it’s time for believers to stop downplaying sex and see it for the beautiful gift that it really is.

And that means you cannot separate marriage from sex nor sex from marriage. You can’t talk honorably about marriage yet talk down about sex. Why? Because God made sex and gifted it to every man and woman who marries. So if sex is only for a man and woman who’s married, and marriage is honorable, and sex comes only with what’s honorable (marriage), then it is safe to say that marriage which includes sex is honorable.

Now it’s true that you can be married and not have sex for whatever reason and your marriage would still be honorable, but the gift of sex is still available to you whether you use it or not. I remember once a single Christian man asked us, “What’s sex other than sweating, grunting and climaxing”? It was actually somewhat sad that a single believing man had such a distorted view of a gift created by our Heavenly Father. Who knows how many other singles view sex in this same way? If more believers had balance in this area where they would learn not only about the sin of sex but the blessing of sex as well, then maybe there would be less fornication among single believers, less sexual problems in marriage among newlyweds, less adultery among confessing believers and more sex between husbands and wives.

But instead, the sin is talked about more than the blessing, so what most believers know is what not to do instead of what they can do. And then couples are too embarrassed to ask anything about the gift of sex because it’s been made to be shameful not realizing that sex is also apart of love…in marriage.

Too many married couples struggle with sex because all they ever heard when it came to sex while they were single was how sex before marriage was a sin. But what about what’s not sin? Is sin all there is? Scripture says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom/liberty” (2 Cor 3:17 ), so in this case and for this situation that means that believing married couples should be able to freely learn about this this gift from other believing married couples without restraint, embarrassment or condemnation. When the brethren truly come together to learn in the freedom of Christ about whatever the topic is, you won’t have so many of God’s people in bondage in their marriages. There are actually many believing newlyweds who know so much about marriage but don’t know much about sex. So they struggle because all they know is what not to do and since talking about sex is so taboo, they are afraid to ask older couples in the Lord for fear of embarrassment. So now wives aren’t being pleased and are hurting, husbands don’t know their wives aren’t being pleased or hurting and in the end couples do this for years and miss the fullness of this beautiful gift. Yet the scriptures say that the younger should teach the older and Titus 2 even goes so far as to say the older wives should teach the younger wives “…how to love their husbands…” Well, did you know in marriage loving your spouse includes sex?

The gift of sex in marriage is to please each other sexually while worshiping God spiritually. Yes sex is an act of worship and God is pleased when husband and wife come together sexually. He doesn’t leave the room when married couples make love to each other. He doesn’t turn His back when husbands and wives are sexually intimate. In fact God approves of couples engaging in the very gift that He created just for them! When a Father gives a gift to his children, he wants his children to enjoy that gift and take pleasure in it. And one of the amazing things about this gift of sex is, it has wonderful benefits for both husband and wife. What benefits? Glad you asked!

Some of the benefits of sex in marriage are, it relieves stress which has been medically proven, it brings forth children which are blessings and a heritage of the Lord. It brings couples closer together and causes them to become one. It’s one way husband and wife can express their true love for each other. Yes sex shows TRUE LOVE which is rarely ever talked about. How so? Because this deeply intimate gift is to be shared with husband and wife only and when couples partake in this blessing with each other only, it displays that, “No one else can partake in this gift with me but YOU”. Don’t you see? It’s just that private and just that personal that no one can share in this gift with a husband but his wife and no one can share in this gift with a wife but her husband.

It is very rare if ever that you find a believing married couple who understand the gift of sex, involved in any sexual activities outside of their marriage or even divorcing. When believing couples understand this gift, they won’t have to be told that adultery is sin because they will understand just how sacred this gift from God is.

So let’s stop talking bad about something that is good and is from God. Marriage is honorable and marriage includes sex. Let us who are married partake in this beautiful gift as often as we agree to and let those of us who are single look forward to this gift in the sanctity of marriage. Let us no longer be afraid to talk about this blessing as long as it is for edification and and education among the brethren and let us also understand that sex is a beautiful gift from God to husbands and wives.

1 Cor 7:3 (GWT), “Husbands and wives should satisfy each other’s [sexual] needs”.

The scripture shows that both husband and wife have sexual needs that must be fulfilled by each other. Sex in marriage is a need and that is the way God made it.

1 Cor 7:4 (NIV), “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife”.

Another way to say yield is ‘to give’. So in other words, the wife gives her body to her husband for his sexual pleasure and to be pleased in return just as the husband gives his body to his wife for her sexual pleasure and to be pleased in return. No one else can have each other’s bodies but one another.

1 Cor 7:5 (NLT), “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control”.

Because sex is a need of both husband and wife, God has made it clear in His word that both have to agree to refrain from sexual intimacy to pray (or fast) and that it be only for a limited time. Then after that time, God instructs husband and wife to come together again so that Satan won’t tempt either of them. Satan does not always tempt husband or wife with another man or woman, but often times he tempts them with obscene pictures and videos, masturbation which is self-pleasure/self-gratification without your spouse and/or lusting after the same sex. In other words, God gave instructions along with the gift of sex to both husband and wife and when those instructions (His word) are applied correctly, there is pleasure for both husband and wife, less temptation, closeness experienced, an act of worship before the Lord, conception of children, healing from past sexual hurts and more!

Prov 5:15-19, “Drink water from your own well—share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in public, having sex with just anyone? You should reserve it for yourselves. Don’t share it with strangers. Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving doe, a graceful deer. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love”.

Food for ingestion and digestion…

Article 43:- Is there a formula for coping with labor pains?…

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On the 2nd of September 2015, was my fourth time in the labor ward. No, I don’t have four children of my own, not yet, maybe someday, by the Grace of God. Twice, I have been there on other people’s account. One thing that has always brought joy and a tear to my face on all the four occasions is the first cry of a new born child. Doctors will tell you that a baby must cry when they land in this world. I guess it is a magical cry born of this fact, but it is a moment out of this world. That is not the intent of this article.

Being in that labor ward reminded me of my own moments.  After a preterm labor at 35 weeks scare and a highly monitored delicate 4-week bed rest, I was finally induced at week 39. I remember my doctor’s talk before the induction process. He told me that there was 50% chance I would end up in a theatre. He told me to expect pain, and being induced the scale of pain goes up, say in a scale of one to ten, from 4 to 8. He told me to cooperate with the hospital staff. And the scary part, he told me in active labor, the cervix opens at the rate of 1cm every 1.5 hours, you can extrapolate how long that is going to be. I can recall the first quarter of Misoprostol tablet being inserted at 11am, then the next being put under my tongue at 5Pm. Then the cramps beginning, the water breaking, being rushed from the ward to the labor ward, the puking all through my labor (I must confess it helped with coping with the pain though), the periodic excruciating moments and the in-betweens where I could doze off (unimaginable-right), the helpful nurses who kept rubbing my back. Then walking into the delivery room, and the nurses urging me to push, and then he was out. Then they held him and asked me, “boy or girl?” and in my daze I answer, boy. He did not cry, so he was slapped a bit. Then he did. A small voice, but a cry alright. And everything was alright, we had pulled through. God had made the moment count. They cleaned him up, and brought him to me and the first words I ever said to him, God bless you my boy, and I put a sign of the cross on his forehead with my thumb. I remember every moment. Most people don’t . But I remember because one other thing my doctor told me was, regardless of the pain, stay sane. And sane I tried to stay. 9 hours later, I got the privilege of listening to my boy’s first cry. It is the best sound any mother will ever hear. Through the whole process I learnt to appreciate that birth is a Godly process. I have always known that, I have told my friends that, but mostly, I have believed it. Labor is different for every woman, and birth process as different as the number of children in this world. Tutorials have been developed on how to manage labor, classes of the same are taught, but when all is done, when you enter into that labor ward, it is you, your child and God. The rest of the people, even the doctors are spectators. I include the child because; even that child is in labor with you, literally. The child must bear the stress of the contractions for as long as the labor lasts. Some don’t and get distressed and they must be removed from the womb in the fastest way possible. Some mothers don’t either, they get fatigued and the mother and child must be separated and each attended to differently to ensure their safety. Others, in the process, either or both mother and child go to be with the lord.

I know many myths that have been said about labor, for instance, if your shoe size is less than five, your child is too big, you are short, and then you will end up in CS. I remember the labor stories that have lasted 30 minutes, others 36 hours.  I remember my niece being told she has a condition called Cephalo-pelvic Disproportion (CPD) and CS was inevitable. I remember reading somewhere that a woman who has brought forth a child into this world has been close to death. I remember the helplessness of the moment when you can call all the ancestors, angel’s saints, bash the walls, push beds scream abuses and anything crazier than crazy that you will never know you did, because in that moment, you are in your own world. I remember all this and my conclusion is one, it is a Godly process, just like conception is. He decides which sperm and which ovum becomes that baby, He defines when that baby graces this world, and no matter how much we want to convince ourselves of how much control we have over our life, He determines how they come.  He decides whether both mother and child lives. Not because He is a mean God, but because all of us are in this world for a purpose, and if our purpose is accomplished when we bring forth that child into this world, then we go back and be with Him who loves us most.

Many first time mothers, well even fifth time ones will have anxiety especially as the d-day approaches. This is because all of us have an intrinsic fear of imminent pain. Some women, out of the fear of the same opt for elective CS, or epidurals. Other developments have also come up in a bid to make the process as painless as possible. Many women will ask how to cope with the pain and there are enough videos online on how to make things easier. I do not have a formula for coping, or even a guide on how someone should cope with pain. I do not have a how to for my next birth. All I know is, birth process is a miracle. Whichever way the child lands into this world, it is a miracle. Holding that little person in your arms for the first time is magical. And a privilege we should forever thank God for. I can equate it to walking into a path you know not how long it is, or where it leads, but knowing that it is a path you must walk. You must walk it because you must. You can only imagine, pray and hop for an outcome that seems obvious. Whatever happens in between, only God knows. Does it mean that you should not prepare for labor, no. Go for Lamaze if you believe it will help, practice breathing, get a birth partner, do everything that you believe will help it be smoother for you. Walk, exercise your pelvic floor muscles, watch the videos, talk to your doctor, involve your spouse, do everything humanly possible, but most of all pray, surrender it all to God, because it is God who orders life. And He decided that children should land into this world as they do, well maybe humanity played a role, but it was His verdict. Pray for the safety of both of you.

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