Paid in Full

I love shopping and I love to joke whenever we gather in a small group by introducing myself in this manner; “Hi, my name is Irene and I am a shopaholic.” People used to crack up with that but for me that has been a redeemed part of my life. When I was earning a lucrative income, shopping was my regular hobby and a lot of us (myself included) call that retail therapy.

There seems to be a sense of satisfaction when the things we desired becomes official ours once we paid it in full. I used to crave for that feeling and that was the reason I had a house full load of stuffs to give away when I decided to leave my comfort to be where I am now. During the initial part of my missionary journey, giving up impulsive shopping was one of the hardest thing. Thanks to my conscience that kept reminding me that I am now fully dependent on divine providence, hence it is only right to be responsible with the money that I have.

The journey of being fully aware that all I am and have is a direct result of divine providence has been one that I would term as organic growth. It was not the easiest thing considering the high I always felt when I own something I paid in full. Looking back at my journey of financial accountability, I am really grateful at how far I have come. I know very well that I am far from being meticulously careful with the money entrusted to me but I am happy to say that I have grown to be very free with money.

If you seen me with my cardboard testimony, you would have seen my dark history being; “MONEY: MY SECURITY” and my conversion side being “GOD: MY PROVIDER”. That pretty much sums up the highlight of my School of Mission. I have been through real breaking of pride and roller coaster of doubts that finally brought me to an experience of tangible providence from God. Through this journey of building my trust (which is happening at an organic growth rate – if you are or ever been in sales, you will get what I mean), I learnt what it really meant when God said He paid for my life in full.

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I am purchased with a price and paid in full, that price cost my Saviour His life. As I slowly surrender my life to His Lordship and allow Him access to my soul, I start to comprehend the amazing gift of salvation that I have received. Jesus owns me when He paid for me in full amount. I can imagine His excitement when the transaction happened – the very moment I call Him my Lord and my God. He must be so excited to show me His plan for my life as I would be so excited to wear a new dress I bought. I want people to see me in my new dress and celebrate with me. I would imagine Jesus also wanted the whole world to know that I am paid in full, I belong to Him and that He just wanted the world world to celebrate with Him.

Looking on the hindsight, I recognised my brokenness in my pursuit of the feeling of owning. There were tonnes of insecurity in that attitude of mine. The constant need to possess indicated my possessiveness and my control-freak-ness. I am really grateful for the circumstances where God broke me down just to build me up again. In my season of breaking, it was really uncomfortable. I came face to face with my poverty. The situation where I have absolutely nothing and no one to hold on to but God alone. The journey from slavery to being in control of my life to freedom in trusting the plan of God has been one exciting journey.

In this particular area that I have allowed Jesus to be Lord, I experienced the liberation that I would not want to trade for anything else. It is so beautiful to realize that this is possible simple because God first choose as me He said in the scripture;

“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” – John 15: 16

It is so assuring to know that God is the Initiator. In everything, we can be sure to give Him all the credit and glory. But we can only glorify Him when we respond to Him. He invites and initiates; after which is our turn to respond.

What would I choose in times of God’s invitation? Am I generous in my response?

Oftentimes for me, I found myself struggling to respond generously as the element of fear is always present. Through those times of responding to God, I learnt that courage is not the absent of fear. Fear can either be a catalyst or a crippler. Only the perfect love of Christ can cast out fear (1 John 4: 18). That can only be attained by grace and that grace has enabled me to respond positively to Jesus; which eventually opened His floodgate of blessings in my life. In other word, my choice to respond to His invitation to follow Him has helped me to lived out my life that has been paid in full by Jesus.

Dear friends, whatever you are going through now calls for a response from you. God has chosen you in a special way and His continous invitation is His initiative to keep saving you. He loves you infinitely and desires nothing short of the best for you. I pray that you are blessed with grace to respond to Him generously.

May you be blessed!!

With lots of love,
Irene

Sweetness of Obedience

Obedience is a beautiful command but what does it really mean to be obedient? We were taught to obey our parents and the authorities placed above us but it was really hard for me to live it out as I grew up quite rebellious. Coupled with the blessing of a strong will, my childhood and adolescent years obedience was never out of my free will. So I was determined to rule my own life once I am out of my parents roof. And that was pretty much the story of my life.

When my relationship with Christ grew, I was challenged to live out a life of obedience. Naturally, I was uncomfortable and I get agitated hearing preachers talking about obedience and surrendering to the will of God. How can I obey if I do not know who am I obeying? I do not believe in blind obedience. There has to be a reason for obedience and God in His mercy showed me the reason. The reason is LOVE. He invites me to obey because He loves me and wants the best for me. My journey of falling in love with LOVE has opened up His grace to flow in me that I want to obey Him (though not always easy).

The true test came when God placed a call in my heart – to leave my comfort zone and go where He sent me. When I decided to follow Him and quit my lucrative job, most people thought that I was out of my mind. After spending 5 months going deeper in my faith in 2013, I again made a decision to go where He sent me. It was not a decision welcomed by my near and dear. I hear endless comments like; “Your home church needs you”, “There is plenty of work for God here, why do you need to go that far?”, “Your family needs you”, “You are still young and at your prime, why waste your time?”, “You are such a capable person, why waste your life?”, “How much did you give up for this?” and the litany goes on.

All these comments were valid to a certain extend but I knew deep in my heart the voice of my Shepherd and I knew that what God wants of me is to answer to His call and NOT fulfilling a need. Anyone can fulfill needs but I believe the will of God is unique for each person. Even though I made a decision to go where He sent me, it was not exactly easy to leave the people I love and the country that is very dear to me. Everything was going on really well at home and I really understood the meaning of my call when I chose to leave my glorious past. For others, it is also not easy to comprehend what I am doing now. It can only be experienced and for that reason, I invite people to come and spend some time with my community here. Looking at my journey thus far, I see His promises fulfilled one after another. The biggest one being;

“Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” – Acts 16: 31

This is the first fruit of my obedience to God. I sincerely wanted to do His will and as I gave my unreserved (though flawed) YES to Him, He started to unfold His miracles on my family. Blessings upon blessings were poured upon my life. I took a step towards Him and He ran a mile to meet me – that is our Abba Father who wait on us, eager to see us opening ourselves more for His infinite and unconditional love to fill our soul.

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Having tasted the goodness of the Lord, I know how sweet are fruits of obedience. However, being an imperfect person who is perfectly loved by God; I still struggle to obey. And it is amazing that our gracious God is both loving and patient. He invites me to be in His will and He respects my decision. Retrospectively looking, I can see the initial struggle to obey and act on God’s invitation. I am blessed that at those time, God sent me angels like this wise man who once shared a prayer with me when it comes to responding to God’s invitation, it goes;

“Lord, I sensed that You are inviting me to go in this direction. I ask for Your grace and blessing as I run in this direction. If I am going on the wrong direction, break my leg and bring me back”

Dear friends, that prayer has blessed me tremendously and I hope it bless you as well. If you are at a time in your life that you are called to take a radical step towards God, I would like to encourage you to run with it. It may be scary but what I can assure you is that it is going to be worth it. Do remember that God call us to His specific will in order to save us. It is always for our good that He place a call in our heart. You can only know if you are going on the right direction if you take the step to walk into it. As a closing note, I would like to share this beautiful prayer written by Thomas Merton;

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” ― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

May you be blessed!

With lots of love,

Irene

Hi ME, it’s me.

Sometime ago, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook with the question;

“Would you like you, if you meet you?”

That question strikes a deep chord in me. And I saw that at a down moment in my life. A time that I doubted my own goodness. I have been blessed with strength in character and a series of capabilities that make up the Irene that you know. It took me a long while to acknowledge and embrace the person I am. Through a constant journey of healing and transformation, I started to appreciate all that is given me and all that I am about to discover as well.

My strengths, however, are perfect tools to survive in the world. But I believe I am made to LIVE (John 10: 10) not merely surviving. Hence, there were always this tension in within me when I was working in the corporate world. The tension between living a life of integrity and conforming to the industry norms which are on contrary to my principles. But the money was really good. Hence, letting go of my lucrative former job for a life dedicated to God’s mission was not entirely easy for me. Afterall, my best talent is making money. At the same time I was also very good in spending it away.

As I left that behind, part of me was ashamed of my past. Without realising it, I was also ashamed of my natural strength. I felt that it was a hindrance to be a missionary. I recognised that I am of an unusual mould for mission. I do not seems to have the qualities of the first disciples. Scriptures spoke a lot of weakness in the eyes of the world. And me being unaware of the greatness of my God; interpreted it in a way that said – I would not be chosen because of my natural strength.

Spending time wrestling with God and thanks to my stubbornness that would not settle for less, I am blessed beyond words. Deep in me I knew that still small voice who called me by name. But I could not deny my discomfort living in an environment that does not seems to appreciate my strength. Through these struggles I came to recognise my poverty. Strange enough it is a poverty in strength.

I felt so helpless feeling so weak because of my strengths. But that was where God met me. In my poverty, He showed me my beauty. He affirmed me once again that my strengths are His gift for me. It does not belong to me as I do not merit it but He has chosen me to carry these gifts of strength to bless His kingdom. No matter how I think of myself, I am loved beyond measure. His love is the constant in my life.

So, when I met me, I have the grace to like me. I started with an affirmation of my journey. Thanking myself for being courageous to step into uncharted grounds. I appreciate my desire to go deeper with Christ and I am seeing the beautiful fruits as a direct result of that. I like how I am willing to allow God to bring to death my natural strengths and waited on Him to resurrect it into His redeemed strength. There were lots more that I like about me and meeting me has lifted my spirit. Not only was I lifted, I was also strengthen to continue on my journey. I desire to know me more and to know God more. I desire to allow God to redeem the unredeemed areas of my life. And I am excited for more of Christ in my life.

Dear friends, we all need sustanence in our journey. As much as the journey is beautiful, we still get hungry, thirsty and tired as we move. Hence, it is important to get the right nourishment and rest. Wherever you are in your journey, know that it is always beautiful to look up and I pray that you will nourish yourself well with the Word of God, the sacraments and your rest in God. I pray that you will like you when you meet you.

May you be blessed!

With lots of love,
Irene

The Man After God’s Own Heart

A little more than a month ago I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to start a new journey. A journey with a special person; who was highly esteemed – THE man after God’s own heart. Most of us would have associated that title to King David as the bible has shown us the evidence of this (Acts 13: 22). I do believe that this inspirational man has inspired countless men to be like him; a man after God’s own heart. And I believe one of them was his very own descendent; Joseph, the foster Father of Jesus.

God has indeed been very kind to me by inviting me to a 30 Days novena journey with St. Joseph; starting on his feast day, 19 March (one of the 2 days that the Church will break her silence during Lent and sing the Gloria) all through to completion on 16 April. It has been nothing short of an adventure learning from this great man of God; whom I now fondly call as my good father. In the beginning of the journey, what stood out for me were 2 words; OBEDIENCE and HUMILITY.

He was that wise man in tune with God that he could hear God’s command clearly. He was not just a hearer of the Word but a doer as well. Evidenced in his prompt action to take Mary as his wife, quickly move both the Child and Mother to safety in Egypt and brought them back to Israel at the appointed time. As I journey along, I pondered upon the ability of St. Joseph to be a doer of the Word. How did he hear so clearly? Where did he get all those courage to respond? I came to realise the answer lies in his relationship with God. His prayer life must have built that intimate relationship with God that eventually made him a man after God’s own heart. The way he pursued God’s will is really something I want to emulate.

Reflecting upon my own life from the point of view of St. Joseph’s sanctity, I see the beauty of my imperfections. We do not have much biblical source about his life but somehow I am pretty sure he was as human as you and I are. I am pretty sure he has some plans and hopes for the future, he has his struggles and joy; he has his temperance and reservations, strengths and weaknesses. After all, he was a through and through ordinary human being called to carry an extraordinary mission – being the protector and provider for the Son of God and His mother. God, the Father must have trusted this man tremendously. Looking at the mission He has placed in my life, I realised that God trusted me tremendously as well. It is I who could not trust myself as much as God trust me. It is I who sees me as small and insignificant but God sees me differently. More often than not, it is pretty hard for me to accept these facts. How could the God of the Universe love me this much? What does He really see in me? I may not be able to find the answer to my questions because the mysterious element in our relationship with God is what made the journey of life really exciting. In this excitement, I believe that God is always more, there is always more to His mercy and His love. I also believe that God desires to see me grow; therefore there is always more to what He can offer. With that sentiment, I came to accept that the best way to move in His word and Spirit as St. Joseph did is to rest in His love.

St. Joseph has the privilege of beholding the face of God when he accepted his mission on earth to be the earthly father figure of Jesus. I would imagine the smile on his face when Jesus first started to respond to His surroundings. Joseph must have been overwhelmed with joy at the first word Jesus uttered as a baby. What excitement must it been for him to see Jesus taking His very first step! The joy of parenthood was given him by the gift of Jesus. I wondered how did he disciplined Jesus, how did he pass on the tradition of faith to Jesus and how did he teach Him the trade of carpentry. Was he upset when Jesus was lost for 3 days in the temple? Was he distressed when the angel asked him to bring His family to Egypt? Was he worried when he was required to bring his heavily pregnant wife on the journey to Bethlehem? Was he panicked when there was no place to the Child to be born? Was he concerned about providence for his journey and livelihood of his family?

The privilege he enjoyed comes with the beauty of ordinary lives – the package of joys and struggles. I personally grumble a lot when I struggle. I wanted things my way – the easy way; which is more often than not, opposed to the way of God. God has wanted me to walk through the narrow path of purification just so I can behold His face. The process has always been unpleasant but the destination is always beautiful. All through the struggles that I have been through, I learnt to sail through my storms of life with gratitude. I admit that it is not always easy to be grateful especially when God seems to permit my least favourite struggles. These are the times I can depend on His grace. Through my journey with St. Joseph, I can also see that his was a life depended on grace. His obedience to the Word of God made him a humble man. It is the same for me as well, when God disciplined me; I find myself struggling to obey Him but once I did, I see the fruit of humility in my life. God is changing me and increasing in me His virtue, slowly but surely. Looking at the hindsight, I can be grateful for everything that the Lord has allowed to happen because He has purposed everything for my growth – to be imperfectly beautiful and perfectly loved.

Dear friends, I pray that you are encouraged to embrace your beauty through your imperfections. St. Joseph being a great saint has also lived an ordinary life-like each of us. He has left us with a legacy that we can exemplify. I am grateful for this silent but profoundly influential man. God in His genius plan for family has provided for His Son a place of nurture with the basic of a male and a female figure. Seeing the drama of St. Joseph’s life, I cannot help but praise the Director of this drama, God the Father. The plot was amazing; the suspense was great with the adventures (I am imagining some background music here 😉 ) and the message – Redemptive. May you be encouraged by this great man after God’s own heart to build a deeper relationship with God.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

With lots of love,

Irene

 

You Are Worth It All

Holy Week 2016 was such a great blessing for me. I was privileged to serve at the altar of the Lord for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Altar serving was not an entirely familiar part of my life as a missionary but I was very excited to be learning new things.

The feeling of privilege reached its height when the Blessed Sacrament was processed out to the Chapel of Repose. I was right in front of Jesus. At that moment I was touched by grace and it continued through the time of keeping watch at the “Garden of Gethsemane”. I realised it was Jesus’ darkest hour on earth and I asked Him; why Lord? You are the God of the universe and yet You are willing to endure that darkness. Why? And at that moment, I could almost hear an audible voice answered me; “Because you are worth it all, my dear”.

I was so touched by those words of love that I could not help but cry. His love is not something I can understand, I was meant to accept it and allow Him to love me. Being human as I am fully equipped with my pride and independence; it was never easy to allow God to love me. My brokenness has rendered me “unloveable” by the world’s standard but there He was at the Garden of Gethsemane pouring out those words of love on me. It has taken God a lot of patience to bring me to this stage of accepting His love.

In my acceptance of this awesome love that fateful evening, I once again surrendered my life to Jesus. In all humility I asked Him to bring with Him all my desires (especially the good ones); to Calvary. Let it all die with Christ that I may look forward to a victorious resurrection.

It’s funny how God confirmed my prayer when He allowed something amazing to happen on Good Friday which is too awesome that would probably take another post to fully savour the beauty of the Healer God. It was an experience of healing and restoration.

Coming back to the answer I heard from Jesus; “Because you are worth it all, my dear”, it was kind of apt that my life theme for this year is “I am worth it because Jesus is worth it all”. Jesus chose to affirm me again in the holiest week of the liturgical year. It is the proof of His love that I do not merit and yet in His mercy, He desires that I receive His love.

As I slowly allow God to love me, I start to see grace at work in my life. I become more cooperative with God’s grace and that has been a great blessing. My view shifted God-ward and I grew more sincere in my prayer life. I am more honest with God and more trusting as well.

Dear friends, if today you are finding it hard to receive love; fret not because LOVE is on His way to help you. It is precisely in our brokenness that we find God and He allowed it for His glory. If you are like me who felt “unloveable”, praise God because MERCY is waiting for you. If you just want it, the floodgate of love is going to be opened to you.

You may wonder, what was the shape of glory for my Easter. Well, it has been blessing upon blessing for me. I see God’s beautiful will unfolding before me. It is truly a victorious time and it is all because my Saviour believed that I am worth it. And that I believe is precisely how He thinks of you. May this Easter season be a time of experiencing God’s love in a whole new level. May you open your heart to Him, allow Him to love you and rest in His love.

May you be blessed!!!

With lots of love,
Irene

Power of the Embrace

I was on duty to carry the cross in procession during a Stations of the Cross session and I was worried if my hands are going to sore as the old wound on my right wrist was showing up again. Experienced cross bearers gave me suggestions on how the cross is best carried, afterall it was a long journey.

Right before the procession I decided to adapt to a method suggested to me: to carry it in an embracing way. And as I move along, to shuffle my hands so as to give my hands some relief. I did just that and at the end of the session, a friend, who is an experienced cross bearer asked me; was it easier carrying the cross that way? I answered; yes, it is much more bearable when I embrace the cross.

At that moment of grace I realised the significance of my statement. Many are times I found myself grumbling and rejecting my cross. The “why me?” litany and pity party were part of the drama. My attitude has rendered the cross heavier and very unbearable.

As I grew in my relationship with Christ, I slowly came to a state of surrender and rest in the Lord. In surrendering to the One who wants nothing short of the best for me, I became more accepting of my unpleasant circumstances a.k.a. my crosses.

In our walks of life, crosses are part of the journey. Our crosses often represents an uncomfortable situation. When we are uncomfortable, there bound to be the tendency to complain and may even compel the person to run away from his/her situation. Afterall, some say; ignorance is bliss. It may be a short lived bliss but mind you, problems unfaced will come back to haunt you as a matter of time. That has been my experience when I allowed myself to be deceived by my deliberate ignorance.

In this light, it makes perfect sense to face our crosses. The way I find efficacious is by embracing my cross. I must admit my crosses are hard and very unlike a soft toy that is nice to be hugged. My crosses are rough, hard and heavy. Knowing clearly well that the way to my freedom is by carrying my cross, I choose to embrace it because embracing my cross made it more bearable. The weight remained the same but the way I carry it brings a significant difference to my journey.

Crosses are meant to be carried anyway, why not choose a way that makes my journey more beautiful and meaningful? Personally for me, my way of embracing my cross starts with an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude opens the floodgate of grace and grace is the sustenance of the journey. Having the attitude of gratitude does not mean I would not fall; I could not even begin to count how unfaithful I had been in carrying my cross. I still complain, I still grumble and I still struggle. Through the times I fell, I came to understand the value of being dependent on God and being totally honest with Him. In my honesty, oftentimes I wrestle with God and as Jacob did, I will not let go unless He blesses me.

My stubbornness in my wrestle is the blessing that oftentimes brought me to a place of rest and trust. As I rest in God, I gained my energy to continue in my journey once again; to pick up my cross, embrace it and to carry it along my journey again. The destination makes it worthwhile to travel my journey carrying my cross and the power of the embrace gave me the eyes to appreciate the spectacular view of the journey.

Dear friends, wherever you are in your journey of life, know that victory is eminent and I pray that you are encouraged to embrace your cross and march the victorious journey of life.

May you be blessed 😘

With lots of love,

Irene

SMILE

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2: 10 (NLT)

How many of us pay attention to the signature gesture that is really us? People may make fun of it and have a good laugh out of it. Sometimes we become too self conscious about it. Along this line of thought, I recall leading a fellowship session last year where I came out with an idea of honouring each other. However, before we do that, the person who honours will have to imitate the one he/she honours. The rest in the group will guess who this person before the honouring start is. We had a good laugh that night and I was so amazed how attentive we were to each other. Personally for me, I was amazed how people could guess immediately when I was imitated and the word spoken to honour me was simply beautiful.

Reflecting upon that evening, one thing that stood out for me was the uniqueness of each person. We truly are a MASTERPIECE, fearfully and wonderfully made by the DIVINE ARTIST. How delicately He formed us to be who we are today. All of us here on this earthly pilgrimage are a work in progress towards becoming more and more like the image and likeness of our Creator. And we cannot deny what masterpiece we are when we know the One who made us!

Moving along my journey of life that got turned downside up when I fell in love with LOVE, I come to appreciate myself even more as I come to know the One who made me. The grace that God has provided for me to be able to leave my security for His plan to unfold in my life is simply awesome. This has been a journey of discovering my Masterpiece-ness through knowing and loving my Creator. The One who made me has the operating manual with Him and He also knew what my past looked like. It was not a nice place to be in; the darkness and pain were real and I would rather not go there but He showed me what redemption really looked like. His mercy is proven to be beyond my sins. I experienced unconditional love and that had led me to path of healing.

Through healing, I come to embrace the fact that my brokenness has made my being so much richer and so much more beautiful. That beauty of my being is being affirmed by my habitual gesture – my smile. Countless people affirmed me of my smile that brings about comfort, consolation, confidence and affirmation for them. I have not paid much attention to it as it was very natural for me. Wherever I go, people who were initially not smiling will smile when they saw me. I used find it funny and I thought I had a funny face, which was why people smile because it was impolite to laugh. As time goes, I received more and more affirmation about my smile; I started to take it more seriously. Maybe I do have a healing smile. It is a simple and yet such an important gesture.

During one of the low moment of my life, I recall the struggles I went through internally and yet that was the time I was called to reach out to people. I have nothing to give but my smile and the little that I gave leaves an imprint on people’s heart. Although I do acknowledge that God has given me a wide range of gifts and talents, there were times that those talents have not had a platform to flourish. During those times, my smile became my only gift, my small way of reaching out. I believe it pleases my Heavenly Father. I am indeed very grateful for the gift of my smile because it gave out a sense of welcome to strangers. My smile is the sign of my simplicity. The simplicity that speaks about my loving Father. I just need to be me and that radiates Him who made me. That is what makes me a masterpiece; a masterpiece that comes with her package of beauty out of ashes. Embracing my whole self in the package of my beauty, my redeemed and yet to be redeemed brokenness gave me the peace to offer to others – my SMILE.

Dear friends, what gesture represents you? Be it a smile, a handshake, a hug, or a simple wave; may that be a testimony of your being. May that gesture open doors of opportunity to reach out and bless God. May you in turn be blessed of your signature gesture that speaks about your state of MASTERPIECE.

And remember, you are indeed a MASTERPIECE!

With lots of love,

Irene

Via Dolorosa

This age old devotion is commonly prayed during the season of Lent.This year it is a little more special for me as a group of us undergoing our formation were given the privilege to write our reflections for the Way of the Cross. I was privileged to lead the Stations of the Cross last Friday, 26th February 2016. The responses I received were really encouraging and that has given me the idea of sharing my reflection here.

I would like to invite you to take this as a personal journey to the Cross. Your imagination would be of good use here. Do take the journey reflectively and respond with a generous heart to Jesus. If you would like to have images to help you with your reflection (highly recommended), you may try the images from http://www.strichardschichester.co.uk/strichards/oconnollart.shtml. I personally quite like the images from St. Richard’s Church. I wish you every blessing as you journey with the Lord to Calvary.

Stations of the Cross 

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your invitation to accompany You in Your way to the Cross. We thank You for preparing the way for us and we ask that You grant us the grace to be aware of Your love. Give us eyes to see You; sense to feel what You are feeling; courage to respond to You and strength to persevere in this journey with You. As we journey, show us our hearts and grant us the grace to turn back to You. Amen.

The First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

What were You thinking about my Lord when the death sentence was pronounced on You? Are you agitated? Are you fearful? I would imagine a lot is going on in your mind. But I see compassion in your eyes. You are not angry but full of love. You willingly accepted this death sentence although you are through and through innocent.

Your meekness teaches me Lord. Jesus, in times of false accusation, how do you want me to respond? 

My Lord Jesus, teach me to be compassionate in times of trial. Grant me the grace to see situations through your eyes when I am falsely accused.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

How do you feel when the cross is placed on your shoulders? The instrument of death was placed on the Lord of Life Himself. I do not understand it but all I see in you is that determination. Your sharpened focus is simply awesome and I can see how it gave you the strength and even the enthusiasm to carry the Cross.

At times when I felt burdened, Lord Jesus, what would you say to my soul? <pause>

My Lord Jesus, remind me of my ultimate destination which is Heaven whenever I refuse to pick up my cross. Help me to be grateful for my cross by which you chisel away the impurities from my life and lead me closer to you.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

How heavy is that cross, O Lord? I can see how solid it is. When the weight of the cross falls on you, what was going on in your mind? Lord, my small mind cannot comprehend it! In spite of the weight, Lord, you never lost sight of your destiny. The cross is heavy and yet you willingly rise up again in spite of the fall.

When I lose sight of my destiny due to circumstances, Lord, awaken my zeal.

My Lord Jesus, fan into flame the passion for your name. Awaken me whenever I fall under the weight of the cross of my sin. Let your consuming fire consume my lethargy that I may rise up to your call

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

Lord, it must have been really comforting to see your mother and to be touched by her. I can see tears trickling down your face and hers. I hear you say to her “Mother, I am making all things new”. How it pierced her heart hearing those words from you, her Beloved Baby Boy. Seeing you bruised and wounded must have wounded her heart more than I can imagine.

Your example of honouring your mother and your Heavenly Father is simply awesome. Lord Jesus, show me the area of my life that needs your grace to help me to honour the authority placed above me.

My Lord Jesus, teach me to honour the authority placed above me. By that, teach me the meaning of honouring You and honouring the power of the cross that redeemed me.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Carries the Cross

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

Lord, you must be really exhausted by the weight of the cross. I see the soldier forcing Simon of Cyrene to help you with the cross. I can see that he was reluctant but Lord, your kind gaze, the one that communicates to the heart, changed him. I am in awe Lord, in your seeming weakness; you are willing to accept help from Simon.

Your strength and beauty exudes in weakness. In situations when I feel weak, Lord, how do you want me to respond?

My Lord Jesus, in times of weakness, I know I can count on you. Help me to reach out even when I am weak and grant me the humility to rely on a “Simon of Cyrene” that you sent to me in times of need

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

In the midst of a busy crowd, a young woman had the courage to come to you and offer her kindness. Lord Jesus, you are the God of the universe and yet you accepted the kindness and help of a woman. How humble are you, Lord and how generous are you when you rewarded Veronica for her act of kindness.

Your humility arises in me a question; have I allowed “Veronica” to wipe my tears when I cry?

My Lord Jesus, in times of grief, teach me to be generous and open myself to allow others to show me your kindness. Grant me the grace to allow you to love me through the acts of kindness from others and teach me in turn be a “Veronica” for people in need of your kindness.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

The exhaustion on your face, O Lord speaks volume about the weight of the cross. But Lord, nothing seems to deter you. Not the exhaustion, not the pain. How focused are you, Lord! You rise up yet again after falling for the second time.

Your determination brings me to the question; How easily do I give up in the face of repeated adversaries?

My Lord Jesus, I sincerely do want to live my life glorifying you but you know me well enough that I come in a package of strengths and weaknesses. In times of difficulties, my weaknesses creep in to discourage me. Lord, in those times, grant me the grace to be focused on you and even if I fall, grant me the strength to rise up again.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Daughters of Jerusalem

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

A group of women took pity on you and wept bitterly. You, O Lord accepted their concern with an encouragement for them to weep instead for their children. How secure are you in your identity! You know who you are and you know exactly what you are doing. You are so loving in your response and you did not reject anyone who came to you.

Your response makes me question; how do I respond when people show me their care?

My Lord Jesus, you know well that I am on a journey to be more and more like you but sometimes in my self-rejection, I reject the concern from others. Forgive me, O Lord and heal me. Teach me to respond with love, teach me to be grateful for the care others show to me and teach me in turn to care for others in a generous way.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

 The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

O Lord, again you are weighed down by the cross and your exhaustion is showing clearly on your face. Through all the turmoil of the fall, I still see a face of love. I am amazed Lord at your zeal. I am touched by the love you emulate through your act of rising up again to complete the work you are called to.

Your perseverance is beyond description; speak Lord, to my heart, speak that word of love…

My Lord Jesus, I have been fearful of failure. When faced with failure, remind me Lord of who I am and who you are to me. Grant me the grace to persevere as you did when you fell for the third time carrying your cross.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

 The Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped off His Garment

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

Lord, your dignity is stripped off. The heat of the day is shining directly at your wounds. I see so much of the scars from the scourges. Some are still bleeding. Oh my Lord, how painful must it has been! As I look into your eyes, all I see is your determination to make all things new, just as you had said to your mother.

Lord, you were firm even when your dignity is stripped; speak to me Lord who do you say I am…

My Lord Jesus, when I feel that I need to hold on to my inordinate attachment, move me Lord to surrender my all to you. When I feel that I am losing my dignity, remind me that you have won it all. You were stripped off your dignity to restore mine. Let me not be afraid to walk in your path.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

I can literally feel the pain of the nails piercing through your flesh. It is just beyond description. I do not want to imagine it, Lord, as it is simply too much for me to bear. And yet, I dare to look into your eyes. I see mercy, compassion and love. You did it for me, Lord.

Speak Lord, to my heart…

My Lord Jesus, I am afraid to die to myself. But Lord, I desire to do your will. Help me to give myself completely to you. It is you who have conquered death. Grant me the grace to be courageous in giving myself fully to you.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

It is accomplished! I heard you say as you hung on the cross. I can only see your mother, a few women and one of your disciples at the foot of the cross when you are facing your death. I know for a fact that death is not the end; rather it is the beginning for greater things to come. But it is all bleak now, Lord. My eyes do not perceive. All I see is your dead body. Total silence, dark clouds and chaos.

Death is the only sure thing in life; have I allowed death to teach me about life?

My Lord Jesus, the fear of death is real. I always want to cling on to my dear life my way. Dear Lord, teach me about death. Death in this life is the beginning of eternal life with you. Teach me to die well by living my life fully in accordance to your will.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus’ Body is Removed from the Cross

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

Your lifeless body is all that is before me. No more pain, my Lord and truly it is accomplished. Your bruised lifeless body is taken down from that cross that nailed you. A cross on which you died gave me life. How mysterious are your ways, Lord. It is hard to comprehend and it is even harder to see your mother holding your lifeless body. She is grief stricken but I see the same love in her as I see in you. Her calm presence speaks deeply to my heart.

When I could not understand the way things are going in my life; what is my attitude towards God and people?

My Lord Jesus, I questioned a lot when things do not seem logical to me. In moments like that, Lord, remind me that your ways are not my ways and that you work in mysterious ways. Help me to cooperate with your saving grace as I commit to do your holy will.

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

V: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You

R: Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Reflection;

The stone is rolled and I cannot see you physically anymore. It must be really dark inside the tomb. Behind that huge stone laid my Lord and I know something amazing is going to happen. I am waiting Lord, for your promise to be fulfilled.

Our waiting time can feel like a dark tomb. But God works miracle behind those stone in the dark. What is my attitude when I am in a situation of waiting in the dark?

My Lord Jesus, the time you spent inside that dark tomb becomes a time of miracle. You are the biggest miracle in my life and you allowed the dark waiting time in my life to work an awesome miracle for me. Grant me the grace to trust in your plan

R: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.

Closing Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for going through the way of Calvary to redeem me. Thank you for giving me the grace to see, touch and experience what you have gone through in the journey of suffering to redeem me. Thank you for the hope of the resurrection that will come with death. I pray for grace of gratitude and repentance as I ponder upon my experience of walking this way with you.

Let us pray for the intentions of Pope Francis; Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory be…

Two Years Later

I do not feel the pain of the wounds any more. But the scar of my father’s sudden departure is still visible. Two years ago today was an emotional day of saying my earthly goodbye to my earthly father. Two years flew by just like that but not without watering and nourishing my soul.

Reflecting upon the time of my mourning and finally coming to a total letting go has been a great blessing to me. I recall my time of mourning the loss of my father and I realised I went through that time in gratitude. I am grateful and very privilege to be born in this family that my father and my mother built. I am grateful that I had him for 32 years before seeing him off to our Heavenly Father. I am grateful for the ups and downs we had when I was growing up. I am grateful that my father chose to fight for our family and stayed as the head of the family. I am grateful that I am just like my father (indeed proud of it). I am grateful for the times we fought because through those times we grew to understand and love each other. I am grateful to be able to see how my father tried his best to be supportive; to be a father to the best of his ability.

Mom, Dad and I My parents and I (2013)

Most importantly, I am grateful that he is given the gift of salvation in the eleventh hour of his life. Two years later things are still looking kind of rocky but I have peace of knowing that my father is in the good place. Since dad’s death, I have been reflecting a lot about death and how it teaches me about life. Death brings people together; the masks went down and true emotions arise. But how long would this sincerity lasts? More often than not, people forget easily the lesson of death, most especially when the dispute of money is involved. Family broke apart and ended up not seeing each other eye to eye. My family has not been spared from disputes as well and that has placed a deep sorrow in me.  Some part of me felt that I should be conforming to the demands of the family and stay back at home but deep within I knew I could not deny this call to mission God has placed in my heart.

Being far from home put me in a position of helplessness. This helplessness is also an opportunity to trust. The experience of exercising my trust have given the peace that surpasses all understanding. The more I cannot do anything physically, the more powerfully God can work. It is not a logic that is easily understood, rather it is an experience that teaches me about who God is and who am I in Him.

There are heaps of time that I wished things are a little smoother and easier but I learnt that anything worthwhile has to go through purification. Any precious gems or pure gold can only come to the true state of pricelessness through rigorous purification which I believe are not pleasant. These two years has been a time of rigorous purification for me. I learnt about the value of letting go and letting God, the beautiful freedom of trusting God fully and the amazing life of allowing myself to be loved by God. Coming to term with God’s will has taken me a journey of discovery. In the journey, the road can be really rough and tough but as I look up, I can see that the scenery is beautiful and the destination; makes the journey worthwhile.

SiblingsWith my siblings – re-enactment of of childhood photo (two days before our father died)

So, looking back from two years ago when salvation came to my household (Luke 19: 9); I am filled with a sense of gratitude. My father’s death has definitely impacted my life deeply and it has also encouraged me to live my life to the fullest. I realised the importance to die well by living my life well. I want to leave a legacy on this earth and I began to realise how important it is after saying to goodbye to the man who gave me my life. I also began to realise how true the word of God is when He said;

“Heaven and earth will pass away but my word will not pass away” – Matthew 24: 35

Things on this earth are temporal even the best of our relationships. In our best relationship we know that one day it will be a goodbye. Therefore it is so important to build our lives upon the rock of Christ. In view of the temporal nature of our lives, I choose to appreciate my relationships. I choose to love the people God has placed in my journey of life. I choose to cherish moments of my life that would enrich my journey. I choose the purifying part of loving others, loving myself and allowing others to love me. So, thank you for making a positive impact in my life.

For my father, I would say;

“Pah, even in death you are loving me. Thank you for shaping my thought and praying for me. I love you and will always cherish the gift of life you have given me. I pray that you are dwelling in your eternal rest with Jesus”

With lots of love,

Irene