In My Father's House

Poems, Prayers, Inspirations, Photos and Musings about life, love and what it means to be a child of the Father

Saturday, March 25, 2006

When A Brother Leaves...

Last Thursday we serenaded a Jesuit brother who decided to leave the congregation. At four am, we sang him songs that we usually sing for those who have just arrived in the novitiate and for those who are departing (this life). There where about twelve of us, sleepy-eyed, unwashed Jesuits, trying to fight sleep and tears from overcoming us.

Then it just dawned on me, that this brother of mine, will cease to be a brother to us. Yes, he will teach in the same university that I, we shall teach, but the brotherhood is broken. I'm not saying that we are not friends anymore, we are. I will not be able to relate to him as I used to as a Jesuit. He will just be a colleague. And being colleague is just as good as being a brother, but it's different.

Looking back, I am again reminded that for us, That's what life is inside. We arrive. We stay for awhile. We leave at once. We leave for longer time. We depart, to never return. New ones arrive. And the cycle repeats itself over and over again. Meanwhile fierce friendships are forged. Life-long partnerships in mission are born. Leaving comes. Death comes. Life begins.

To Art and your out-of-this-world laughter and shrill voice: you will surely be missed.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

God Questions (What's Yours?)

I tried Yahoo! Answers Beta. I typed this question: "If God is answering some of the questions we post here, what would your question be?" And I got some pretty, thought-provoking, heart-warming response. Here are some of them:
  1. When can I come home. (I'm not talking about my house.)
  2. What is President Bush's purpose?
  3. What are God's plans for me in the future?
  4. When is the BIG day? P.S. And can I watch?
  5. Why are the democrats morally wrong? aka ted kennedy, bill clinton, jfk...etc ?!?!
  6. and why did you divide us?and when is your next son coming?
  7. wat is my purpose in life? haf i achieved it? or izzit yet to come?
  8. how is my grandad?
  9. did my hamster haf to die?
  10. wat or where exactly is da balance between life n death? seeing things happen ard us somehow doesn't seem much of a balance...
  11. What can I do to better serve you ?
  12. Why do allow your children to be slaughtered by Bush/Blair/Howard/Hitler and all of the crazy warmongers of all time.
  13. Why do "acts of God" kill so many others?
  14. Why are there so many starving people in the world when people in other countries waste so much?
  15. Why is there disease and hate and rascism?
  16. Why are you letting us destroy the earth you created?
  17. What are next weeks Mega Millions numbers?
  18. Could you please talk some sense into your followers? they're missing your point and whipping themselves into a frenzy.
  19. Why must we fight to solve our problems.
  20. Why dont they believe ur Word and your Son Jesus? my heart hurts for these people?
Pretty interesting, right? So, what's your God question?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Jesus Take the Wheel

I love watching the Americal Idol. Now on its fifth year, AI has captured the hearts and ears of millions of fans all across the globe. The competition gives dreamy-eyed crooners their chance of a lifetime to make it to Tinseltown Hollywood. Last year's winner was Cleveland-born country singer Carrie Underwood. She beat crowd-favorite Bo Bice in the final-two showdown. Now an established singer herself, Carrie has just released her first album entitled Some Hearts. In that album is the chart-topper for more than six weeks, Jesus Take the Wheel, which took America by surprise. Not everyone loves the song, as expected, but hey you can't deny that it's making waves across the mighty U.S. of A and abroad!

The song is truly a captivating song, heartfully rendered by the beautiful and gifted Carrie Underwood. Here is the lyrics to the song as well as the link to Carrie's personal website where selections from her album could be listened to:

Jesus Take The Wheel

She was driving last Friday on her way to Cincinnati
On a snow white Christmas Eve
Going home to see her Mama and her Daddy with the baby in the backseat
Fifty miles to go and she was running low on faith and gasoline
It would been a long hard year
She had a lot on her mind and she didn't pay attention
She was going way to fast
Before she knew it she was spinning on a thin black sheet of glass
She saw both their lives flash before her eyes
She didn't even have time to cry
She was sooo scared
She threw her hands up in the air

Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can't do this all on my own
I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
To save me from this road I'm on
Jesus take the wheel

It was still getting colder when she made it to the shoulder
And the car came to a stop
She cried when she saw that baby in the backseat sleeping like a rock
And for the first time in a long time
She bowed her head to pray
She said I'm sorry for the way
I've been living my life
I know I've got to change
So from now on tonight

Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can't do this all my own
I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
To save me from this road I'm on

Oh, Jesus take the wheel
Oh, I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
Save me from this road I'm on
From this road I'm on
Jesus take the wheel
Oh, take it, take it from me
Oh, why, oh

Carrie Underwood Official Website

When your world is spinning too fast and you are too furious like you wanna jump off from it, asking Jesus to take control of your life is the most practical thing to do.

Monday, March 06, 2006

He is heavy, He's my Brother!

You may be familiar with this song:

He ain't heavy, He's my Brother

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I'm strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy, he's my brother

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We'll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain't heavy, he's my brother

If I'm laden at all
I'm laden with sadness
That everyone's heart
Isn't filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

It's a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we're on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy, he's my brother

He's my brother
He ain't heavy, he's my brother...


This song was sung by many artists (Neil Diamond, The Holies, Olivia Newton John, among others)and is very popular among Christian circles. People often say that it is easier to carry someone when he is your own brother. I'd like to offer a different take on this theme. For me, the closer you are to someone (relative, friend, community member), the heavier he is to carry. When you know someone intimately, the more it is difficult be patient, to be forgiving. When someone close to you hurts you, the hurt is twice as painful as the one inflicted by a stranger or someone you don't care about. A brother is more difficult to correct, more difficult to please.

The emotional baggage or investment is bigger or greater with a brother. The memories you shared, experiences you had together, common things done with one another--these are what makes carrying him more difficult. When he wrongs you, the weight of these things further weigh you down. You find it harder to forgive. You find it more difficult to move on. You find it more unbearable to think that he has done the unthinkable to you (of all people, you are the least I expected to do this to me).

But here is the catch. When we truly love a brother, no matter how heavy he is as a burden on our shoulders, he becomes very light when we carry him with Jesus. I am reminded of that beautiful scene in the Passion of the Christ when Joseph of Arimatea helped Jesus carry his cross. In that scene, Joseph did not carry the cross by himself. He carried it with Jesus, their shoulders touching, their eyes meeting together. That is what makes things easy to carry, when we carry it with Christ.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Giving What You Don't Have and Leading to a Place You've Never Been

A Jesuit brother eloquently preached this morning about the impossiblity of "giving what we do not have and of leading people to a place where we've never been." I realize this more and more the longer I stay in religious life. People come to us for advice on many things: relationships, career path, their struggle with sin and prayer. Often, I find myself unable to respond to their needs as much as I want. I realize that if I don't pray often enough, I cannot tell them how gracious and wonderful our God is. I cannot tell them to forgive their wrongdoers when I haven't made an effort to forgive people closest to me. I cannot lead them to salvation because very often I am the one who needs direction. How can I tell others that this is the way to Heaven, when I have no idea where the hell Heaven is?

I cannot give what I don't have. I cannot lead people to where I've never been.

Yet, there are also events in my life that say that these two statements are not necessarily always true. There had been times when I felt that I had nothing more to give, nothing more to offer yet grace abounded and filled me with blessings untold. Even in my darkest despair, when I considered that I had given all and nothing was left to spare much had been pour out. Georges Bernanos' Diary of a Country Priest describes this mystery as the Grace of the Empty Hands. He says that precisely those people who had none to give, none to offer, they are the ones who give the most because it is God, acting through them, who does the real giving.

There had been occasions when I felt completely lost yet souls found direction through my own emptiness. I remember the time when I suffered a major lost several years ago. Students and teachers thanked me for "guiding them back to God." I could not claim for myself that I did these people good. I can only say that God was using me for His Divine Purpose. The Lost Son, has become a pilgrim guide to equally lost souls. A vessel, to quote Hally Berry's acceptance speech, He used so His blessings may flow.

Empty Hands. Lost Soul. These two realities are what's giving me hope that I need not worry whether I would have something to give or have answers to peoples' questions when I lead them to Christ. It is through the mystery of the Empty Hands and the Lost Pilgrim Guide, that God shows His power to perfection. My only prayer is that God would continue to take away from me anything that would make me feel secure and self-reliant so I can continue to trust that He who "taketh away, giveth anew." He that wounds, binds. He that "leads" astray, guides back home. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Thanks to Erik John for leading me to this reflection.