Sunday, July 3, 2011

The bells are ringing! The bells are ringing!

A couple days ago, I was praying in the chapel, before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. As I was praying, the Lord lifted the veil from my eyes for just about a half a second, and showed me His glory.

When you have few experiences of certain things, you tend to remember each event quite clearly. When you have more experiences, then you remember each of them less and less. When I was discerning the Lord’s call for me to His holy Catholic Church, I remember the first several Masses quite clearly; now I can only picture a handful in my mind.

Let me tell you about the first time I went to St. Mary Cathedral in Austin.

This Mass was important to me in several ways.

This was the first Mass I went to in Austin.

This Mass was the first Mass I went to, with full knowledge that I wanted to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

This was the first Mass where I heard sacred Church music in the context of the Church.

This Mass, was just on an ordinary Sunday. No feast day, no solemnity. Yet, it was most profound to me. During the Consecration of the species to become the Body and Blood of Christ, there were these bells that were ringing. And I don’t mean just the bells the altar servers shake in the sanctuary. I mean the belfry, the bell tower roared to life! Ding-dong! Ding-dong! Over and over again, across downtown you can hear it! And I was there, as if I was taken up to the third heaven, in the presence of God and His holy Angels.

The bells, the smells, the sights and sounds. The prayers, the songs lifted up my human soul to the depths of God. Although, at the time I could not describe it, now I can adequately describe what happened that day.

Can you imagine it? The bells were there to announce the Kingdom of Heaven! They tell us, “Alleluia! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth! The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever!”

I wonder people outside must think we’re crazy. Why are they ringing the bells at 12:51pm? They must have their clocks off!

Such an image reminds me of a scene in the Lord of the Rings. When Aragorn King rode with his knights and men into Mordor, the trumpets sounded and the Lords announced, “The Lords of Gondor is come! Let all leave this land or yield them up!”

Yes, the Lord is come. Let sin leave this land. Let death and darkness leave this land. Let the Lord reign.

Sing, o city of Austin. Sing, all ye people living in the slavery of sin. The Lord is come, at last! The King comes to you! Lowly and humble, hidden in majesty!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit. Amen.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Meeting the Mother of God V: How Mary showed me the Son

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and the hour of our death. Amen.

About a year ago, I was in Austin, TX for college graduations. It was a long day, but the night was longer still. I couldn’t fall asleep on the hard floor. To fall asleep, I starting praying the Rosary, hoping the rhythm would soothe and calm my soul. How mistaken I was to think that praying the Rosary would make me sleepy!

It only woke me up further. As it was a Friday for that morning, I meditated on the Sorrowful Mysteries. In the deep mystery of prayer, I came to understand the Lord’s Passion so intimately. As I contemplated Christ taking up His cross, I saw myself taking up a cross. I saw my back bent down, my eyes focused on my path. Then, like a spark of light, I remember the Lord saying, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

But to me, it wasn’t so much that I was carrying the cross. It was Christ himself, carrying the cross for me. I was only Simon of Cyrene. Christ was doing the heavy lifting. Tears fell from my face. Christ, who in His Holy Passion, suffered for me, is still lifting my cross and calling me closer to Him and his Sacred Heart.

I didn’t sleep that night. Such a revelation was too much for me to fall asleep after that. I looked at my cell phone. It read 5:03. I got up, got dressed, and left the apartment, and went downtown, where the Cathedral held daily Mass that morning.

This is why I love Mary, the Mother of God. Through her, I have come to know Christ in such a deeper and intimate level. Through her, I have come to know the Church, which is Christ’s body. Through her, I have come to know the Holy Trinity and the family of God.

Many Christians often ask why should they pray to Mary to intercede for them when they can go straight to Christ. For many well-intentioned Christians, to pray to Mary would mean to detract from the glory of Christ. For a time, I thought like that too. But now I have come to know, we come to know Christ better through the people He loves and the people who loves Him. And this is why I pray to Mary: because she leads me closer to Christ. “Do whatever He tells you.” The Blessed Virgin always point us to her Son.

Catholics pray that Mary would show them her Son. One of my friends, Peter, suggested that I pray that Christ would show me His Mother. I did that. And I have no regrets.

Take my hand, Mary, holy Mother. Take me, and draw me close to your Son. I want to be with you and your Son. Holy Mother of God, pray for me, a sinner, now and in the hour of my death. Amen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Came to My Rescue

Today, as I was driving home from a long day of work, I decided to stop by Prince of Peace Catholic Community to spend some time with the Lord. I wanted to thank Him of the many graces I have received.

I walked in, genuflected on both knees, and knelt down on the third pew from the front, of the right side of the nave. After spending about two minutes in prayer, I sat down and closed my eyes. Scarcely five seconds had pass, and behold, a great brightness came upon me. Bewildered, I open my eyes, half expecting the Angel of the Lord. But lo, it was only the sunlight from the window.

Amazed, I knelt again and asked God what did He want from me?

A sense of calm was poured into my heart. A sense of peace was waving into my soul. I felt as if Jesus, our Christ, told me, "I'm proud of you, Daniel."

God is continually captivating my heart, my soul, and my mind. Here I am, Lord. Send me. Can there be any love so amazing as this?
Falling on my knees in worship,
Giving all I am to seek Your Face,
Lord all I am is yours.

My whole life
I place in your hands.
God of Mercy,
Humbled, I bow down
In Your presence at Your Throne.

I called. You answered.
And You came to my rescue and I,
I want to be where You are.