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REFLECTION: The trial… (please don’t shoot the messenger)

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

There is not one who lives his or her life without tests and trials.  In fact, our journey here on earth is speckled with them.   There is not one religious faith that will keep these tests and trials at bay, however, I believe that the Christian faith gives the individual an advantage over others.

In His public life, Jesus was tested and tried in every direction.  One would imagine that God, being the creator…all powerful and knowing, would not have a single problem or He would be able to dodge all the difficulties in the world  However, the Gospel clearly shows that, although He was both truly God and truly man, Jesus faced each test and trial that came His way.  Triumphantly!

If I were Jesus, I would have opted to be exempted from the testings and trials, but I am not Jesus.  Jesus chose to lower himself to become one of the created so He would be able to “enter into the very experience and reality of who we are”.  In essence, Jesus became man so He could relate to us and so we, in turn, would realize and grasp the fact that He truly understands what we are going through.

Jesus is not a God who sits on His throne, reigning from a pedestal far above those He created.  In fact, although mankind has repeatedly turned its back on God throughout history, God hasn’t given up and He continues to pursue each of us individually.  Jesus is a God who dwells among His people.   Although we don’t see Him or sense His presence, His spirit is beside each of us at every moment.  How He does it is a mystery, but it is His truth and our truth, if we choose to embrace it.

Last week and the early part of this week has been one enormous trial.  Red flags were already visible in the middle of the week and I am so thankful God had drawn me into continuous prayer.  We talked, or should I say, I mostly begged Him to show me the way.  For a while there, I thought I was discerning incorrectly, and so I asked Him to examine my blind spots to see if they have been causing me to stumble.  Interestingly enough, God spoke, but thankfully, not audibly.  I don’t think I would be able to handle that!  Instead, He spoke through His Word (the Bible) and through the words of others…even if they were recorded as notes in a notebook.

Although I continued to pray fervently, I entered the event with caution.  The presentation went well and I raised my hand when the audience was asked who was happy they had come.  Lunch was great, even when we were originally told that nothing would be provided.  And then the clip was shown.

I freaked, not expecting anything of such content to be shown… and boy did I pray.  I saw a few stragglers come in in the midst of the viewing and I ran to coax them to leave and to return at a later time.   As I try to recall what had happened, I repeatedly envision myself in a room that had burst into flames and I was running around, attempting to coax a few to stay away.  I knew I couldn’t encourage others to leave because I expected them to use their own discretion.  I now wonder why I didn’t leave.

In response to what was shown, I had immediately written, attempting to correct the error that was made.  I had thought I was bringing consolation to those who had freaked similarly to the way I did, but instead, I was immediately “shot down” by an acquaintance.  I was surprised because we had briefly discussed the event prior to my departure and we had both agreed that the children should not have been there.  To my surprise, this one had written…” we should get off our high-horses, have a look at our own selves instead, and provide support and encouragement rather of continually fault-finding.”

I was horrified and terribly hurt.  I asked God why, when what I was doing was attempting to correct the wrong.  I had spent hours on end researching to verify my stand and I found endless articles supporting it.  In spite of the verification, my spirit was shattered and I continued to question my purpose.

And then God showed up.  Thankfully not in person, but through other individuals.  Just when I lost all hope, a call came my way and the caller had agreed that caution had to be taken.  A few hours later, after sharing snippits of my grief, another consoled me by saying that “people will always attack when you are doing God’s work”.  Perhaps it was by God’s grace, but at that very moment, those words brought life back into my being.

Today, while I was writing two of what I sensed God telling us to do, I was reminded of an article I had sent previously.  I looked for the article because I wanted to find the scripture verse, only to realize after the fact that what I had personally written and what I was doing was echoed by another who had penned an article 3 years earlier.

Is God real?  Does He truly help us in times of difficulty?  May this reflection be a living testimony of His very presence and guidance in my life.

May You, ALONE, receive all the glory Lord!

God bless,

Melissa – November 11, 2015

p.s. –

For You Alone (Don Harris)

You are the peace that guards my heart
My help in time of need
You are the hope that leads me on
And brings me to my knees
For there I find You waiting
And there I find relief
So with all my heart I’ll worship
And unto You I’ll sing

For You alone deserve all glory
For You alone deserve all praise
Father we worship and adore You
Father we long to see Your face
For You alone deserve all glory
For You alone deserve all praise
Father we love You
And we worship You this day


Father we love You
And we worship You this day
Father we love You
And we worship You this day

Oh yes, Lord, we love You
You are so Holy, You are my King
I love You Lord
Oh yes, God, You are my refuge
Oh I love You Father, You are my strength
And I long to seek Your face
Oh thank You Father

Lord we worship You this day
Oh thank You, Jesus
Thank You Father







REFLECTION:  My story in His story (The story behind “the invitation sent with hesitation”…)

Saturday, November 7th, 2015


I sat in front of the Blessed Sacrament at noon today.  I sat with my eyes closed, asking God what I should do.  The quandary wasn’t a big one and yet I knew there was a decision I had to make.  I could easily not do anything and yet I wondered if my lack of action would prevent others from receiving the healing they yearned for.  As I continued to sit and wait, I sensed there was a message for me in the Bible study we had yesterday.  I had brought my study binder and Bible along, sensing they would come in handy.

Are you familiar with the story of Saul and Ananias in Acts 9?  Saul (who was later called Paul) was a Pharisee who ruthlessly killed the disciples of Jesus.  On his way to Damascus, he had a miraculous encounter with Jesus.  A light flashed suddenly from heaven above him and as he fell to the ground, he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  The men who travelled with him heard the voice but saw no one.  When Saul rose, he realized he could not see.  His companions led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.

I opened my Bible to that chapter and continued reading.  “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias.  The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias”, and he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  And the Lord said to him “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Ananias  come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain sight.”  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much even he has done to your saints at Jerusalem, and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon your name.”  But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and the kings and sons of Israel.”  Acts 9:1-15

Did you notice that Ananias didn’t want to meet Saul, but God told him Saul was a chosen instrument of his to carry His name?

I asked God if I was Ananias in this circumstance.  He reminded me of the e-mail a friend had written the day before, “Do not be judgemental…You know how I need you to invite the people.   Please send the invitation of the little poster… Please send it.  I will be grateful to you all my life.”  I smiled as I recalled the endearing and heartfelt plea of my friend.

As I browsed through my Bible study notes, I could hear Jeff Cavins ask, “Do we allow others to speak to our spiritual blindness?  What hurdles do we need to work through to allow God to use us?  How does this apply to my life?  God is speaking to Saul’s blindness.  Conversion takes place in areas where we don’t see.  Has God spoken to you in your blindness?  We don’t see our blind spot.  Each of us has a task.  I have called you to be a light to the nations…”

Big sigh.  Was the e-mail from my friend speaking to my spiritual blindness?  I had sensed pride as the speaker spoke and unfortunately, that is my biggest pet peeve. I asked our Father if that particular sensitivity was holding me back.  I reminded Him of the action which didn’t sit well with me.  I told Him that my hesitance was in attempt to protect the others.  Somehow I sensed God say that He would take care of it and He reminded me that I was praying, wasn’t I?

He also reminded me about the notes I took at Symbolon on Tuesday evening…”Our lives…there is drama right now.  We need to make decisions to impact the bigger story.  We have a role in the overall story.  Even if our role is small, it is irreplaceable.  We all have a role to play in the bigger story of God.”

By now, many of you know I circulated the invitation with hesitation.  Surprisingly, I already received two e-mail in response to it.  I know I do not have to be concerned as God reminds me…”Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6  It’s in Your hands Lord!

God bless,

Melissa – November 6, 2015

REFLECTION:  It is you who tempts yourself…

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015


It is you who tempts yourself…”  For a moment there, I thought Fr. Jim Nisbet had gone bonkers.   However as I looked up James 1:14-15, I realized his words were true.  But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.”
I always thought it was the devil who tempted us, but Fr. Jim explains that it is both the devil and we, ourselves, who temp us.  We are lured by our own desires (be it for food, glamour, apathy, sexual desires…) and we succumb as a result of our weaknesses.

Our Father expanded on this Scripture in an interesting way.  On one of my rare visits to Richmond, I had purchased a hand-held dessert at a mall and as I strolled around, I took bites off it.  The bites continued while my imagination of how delicious it would taste was active, but in a short while, reality sank in as I noticed an after-taste that I didn’t fancy.  Unconsciously, greed kept my hand reaching for more, but when the morsel was brought to my mouth, it refused to open.    I laughed at my habitual desire to munch on something, but this time, the “cost” of the after-taste kept my unrelenting appetite at bay!  I have no doubt God’s prompting had something to do with it too.

The footnote of the Ignatian Study Bible expands…God tests us by putting us in situations that invite us to trust him (Gen 22:1)  However, he never tempts us to turn away from him as Satan does (Mt 4:1)  James is adamant that God is neither the author nor the promoter of evil, nor can he himself be tempted or overpowered by it.  Sin is our own doing; it is conceived when we desire evil and is born when we act upon those desires (James 1:14-15)  CCC2846-7” 

“What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”  Mark 7:20-23

I used to have trouble with this scripture verse.  I had a mindset that the verse indicated that God didn’t create us perfect.  In fact, I used to try to prevent pre-Christians from coming across it less they think our all-knowing God didn’t create mankind perfectly.   Last night, during our Symbolon study discussion, it finally dawned on me that God created man perfectly.  He created man in His own image and in His own likeness, in pure union with Him.  Man knew Him so intimately that he readily desired to follow Him.  But then, Lucifer (better known as Satan) and his angels, who were thrown down from Heaven because of their desire to be gods, tempted Adam and Eve with the same desire.  Adam and Eve succumbed.  Their perfect union with God was broken, and concupiscence, the inclination to sin, entered mankind and has been passed on from one generation to the next.

God didn’t create us with this glitch.  He created us perfect, but this glitch, concupiscence, which acts like a computer virus, infected the “programming” of all.

Did you notice that God didn’t put His hands up in disgust and abandon us.  Even from the beginning, in the book of Genesis, immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve, He mentions that the seed of woman would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).  He sent His son, Jesus, to redeem us and to restore our relationship with God.

God is aware of our glitch.  He sees us wounded and He watches us struggle.  He has provided the way back to our original relationship with Him (sanctification), but we need to respond and accept that path.  Daily, moment by moment, we choose whether we would like to take the path He has provided or the path the world offers.

Satan, the devil, doesn’t want us to believe that we have a glitch.  He doesn’t want us to realize that we have to fight to know God.  There is a battle.  We are all in that battle, daily choosing between God or the devil.

St. Ignatius of Loyola writes, “Jesus contrasted his way to the way of the world quite emphatically: “He who is not with me is against me” (Luke 11:23). St. Ignatius helps us apply this to ourselves in a key meditation in the Spiritual Exercises called “A Meditation on the Two Standards”—a “standard” meaning a flag. (  In essence, who’s flag are you battling for?  God’s or the devil’s?

God bless,

Melissa – November 4, 2015

p.s. – From the Catechism

2846 … for our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to “lead” us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both “do not allow us to enter into temptation” and “do not let us yield to temptation.” “God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one”; on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle “between flesh and spirit”; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength.

2847 The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death.

God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. . . . There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.”


REFLECTION:  Does He raise you up?

Saturday, October 10th, 2015


This morning, I clicked on a link with two children singing.  As I shut my eyes and allowed the crisp voices of the two to penetrate my being, the lyrics began to speak to my soul.  The song of choice was “You Raise Me Up”.

The boy began with passion…

  When I am down and, oh, my soul, so weary;  when troubles come and my heart burdened be…

Through our lifetime, each of us has encountered heavy burdens.  Even young ones, as young as these two singers, have already encountered heart wrenching situations.  It appears as if no one is spared.  The entire world is struggling and yet, what has the world chosen to do?

The girl continues, singing a solution…

Then I am still and wait here in silence, until you come and sit awhile with me.

In our duress and frustration, many of us claw out and retaliate on those who have offended.  If we can’t find a direct cause, we find scapegoats to take the blame in hopes that the deferred responsibility would assist us in being able to wrap our minds around the chaos that has intruded our lives.  Many struggle in coping and unwittingly turn to alcohol and/ or drugs, some even cutting themselves, to give them the temporary escape and relief from the pain that grows from within.

But wait! What about inviting God into our troubles and sitting and waiting for Him to spend a while with us?  Many overlook this solution.  Why?  Because it’s not the solution the world would take?  Because we lack experience or because no one has shown us how?

God whispers, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10  He whispers… because He doesn’t want to overpower you.  He whispers… because He wants you to realize that it is you who needs to invite Him to sit a while.    He doesn’t intrude; He merely waits to be invited.

As you sit with Him, realize that it is your Creator who is sitting with you.  He had lost you once through the fall of Adam and Eve, but He sent His Son, Jesus, who willingly took on the sins of the world (past, present and future), to provide the bridge back to His heart.   He invites you to realize that you have done a lot of wrong and to take onus for them.  He then invites you to believe, with all your heart, that Jesus died in your place on the Cross as an atonement for your sins and that God raised Him from the dead.  (Romans 10:9)

Do you remember the story of Jesus walking on water?  I’ll let Scripture paint the scenario for you…

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  Matthew 14:22-33

Each of us has gotten into our own boat and we have gone ahead without Jesus.  The raging waves and the heavy winds have come and our boats are waterlogged.  We become frantic.  We call on the name of Jesus and He comes, walking on water.  But some are afraid.  They don’t know Him well enough and they think He is a ghost.  Jesus reassures all, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”  With that, we calm down.  Just calling on His name has brought peace.  We realize there is power in the name of Jesus.  Some remain skeptical and so they challenge Him.   They stand and they ask Jesus to command them to come to Him.  Jesus beckons and they step out of their boats.  To their amazement  they, too, are walking on water!  They continue to walk as long as they gaze at His face, but the blustering wind distracts them and their eyes are drawn down to the choppy waves beneath their feet.  No longer focusing on Jesus, they begin to sink and they frantically cry out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately, Jesus’ hand reaches theirs and as their hand is securely locked in His, He gently lifts them back up.   In time, they realize that when Jesus gets into the boat with them, the stormy winds become a gentle breeze.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be.

God bless,

Melissa – October 9, 2015

p.s. – do click the link to listen to the children’s beautiful rendition…

So He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  Luke 15:3-5

REFLECTION: The question…

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Without a  doubt, Pope Francis’ fist visit to the States was magnificent and moving.  It was not that he carried an air of royalty that drew the crowds, but it was his humility and humbleness that beckoned them.   Just like Jesus, whenever he saw the crowds, the Pope looked for the weak, the sick and the young.  The Pope definitely had a good eye for them because the newscasters revealed many glimpses of him stopping his chauffeur driven little Fiat so he could mingle with these special ones.  Like Jesus, this anointed one was given the grace to embrace the sick and to put his face against theirs.  May all  Christians pray that we will have the same anointing to do the same.

Because of his visit, many, both Catholic and of different denominations, have begun to read the contents of his talks.  One, in particular had drawn the interest of someone who wrote to question the intent of the Pope.  The article of question can be viewed on

With no intent to embarrass or offend the one who questioned, I share my response…

This is my take on things.  Jesus took on a human form so that He could dwell with us and so that He could also die for us.  I believe God’s decision, from the very beginning, to have Jesus take on human form is what caused the Angel Lucifer to revolt.

When Jesus walked on earth, he was completely human and completely God. How He managed to keep the two separate is a complete mystery.  Nevertheless, it was only through His human form that Jesus could die; we know this as truth because God cannot die.

So…let’s examine the article again and the context in which Pope Francis had spoken the portion in question…  (NOTE:  I have “highlighted” the words that will be pertinent in the discussion.)

“Yet, if we are honest, we know how easily this spirit of generous self-sacrifice can be dampened. There are a couple of ways that this can happen; both are examples of that “spiritual worldliness” which weakens our commitment to serve and diminishes the wonder of our first encounter with Christ.

We can get caught up measuring the value of our apostolic works by the standards of efficiency, good management and outward success which govern the business world. Not that these things are unimportant! We have been entrusted with a great responsibility, and God’s people rightly expect accountability from us. But the true worth of our apostolate is measured by the value it has in God’s eyes. To see and evaluate things from God’s perspective calls for constant conversion in the first days and years of our vocation and, need I say, great humility. The cross shows us a different way of measuring success. Ours is to plant the seeds: God sees to the fruits of our labors. And if at times our efforts and works seem to fail and produce no fruit, we need to remember that we are followers of Jesus… and his life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, the failure of the cross.”

To me, Pope Francis was encouraging the people not to give up hope in the work God has called them to do.  In the Catholic faith, the works of the people are a reflection of the faith they have in God.  A person cannot truly say he/she is a Christian if he/she rejects to serve the poor or intentionally rejects to love another.  The Catholic faith embraces the fact that faith without action is dead.  Every encounter with Jesus leads to transformation and as we are transformed, our thoughts and actions begin to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

In his address, the Pope mentions that there is tendency to measure one’s apostolic works based on the standards of the world.  He then moves the reader to understand that the best standard of measure is based on its value in God’s eyes.  I will use the Believe Street Meal as an example.  In the earlier years, we have had people drop by to say that our  actions were merely there to encourage others to be dependent on others.  However, if we look at the situation through God’s eyes, we recognize the hunger pangs and the distress of the people we serve and we pray that our service will help them see that God still cares for them in their times of trials and He has called us to share with them the gifts of faith and hope.

Going back to his address, I believe the Pope is showing that in human termsJesus didn’t seem to accomplish anything because he ended up dead.  In human terms, that would have meant the end of everything.  Although He took on all the sins of the world, He was dead just like the other sacrificial lambs.  HOWEVER, Jesus was and is still God and so He was able to rise up from the dead, breaking the curse of death and breaking all the bondages of sin.  It was through His resurrection that Jesus reveals to the world that death (as a consequence of original sin) has no hold on Him.

“if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation”.…Romans 10:9-10

I believe it is Jesus’ resurrection that distinguishes the difference between the Jews and the Christians.  The Jews are still waiting for the Messiah, whereas we Christians recognize that Jesus IS the Messiah and His death was not futile because the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead.  Jesus’ resurrection gives us victory over sin and death.

You write…”When I die, I go directly into His presence. That is my belief. And when I come to His presence, I will not be judged because God no longer sees ANY of my sins.  I basically have inherited complete righteousness due to Christ’s sacrifice for me. If I have to go through repeated self-condemnation and keep asking for forgiveness, that means Christ did not do a good job. It is, pretty much, nailing Him back on the cross again and again.”

Yes, all those who profess with conviction that Jesus is Lord and Saviour will return to our Father.  However, in Revelations, there is mention of the 2nd death

Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.  Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.  Revelations 2:11

Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books.  And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done.  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.  Revelations 20:11-15

In the Catholic faith, although we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we realize that we are still subjected to concupisence (the effects of original sin).


What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.  For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?   By no means!  Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?   But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.   You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.   When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin
and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in
 Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 6

In this case, I have quoted the entire 6th chapter of the Book of Romans as it clearly explains that as long as we remain here on earth, we are continuously subjected to temptations to sin.  Whether we like it or not, we will continue to sin and hence the verse…

even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;… Romans 3:22-24

This is the reason why it is important to continue to acknowledge and confess our sins because we continue to fall short of the glory of God.  Unless we can honestly say that we are no longer sinning, we do need to confess to God that we have fallen and we ask for His mercy and grace to forgive us and to help us walk faithfully to finish the race in victory. 

Yes, Jesus has redeemed us and He has died for our sins.  Through our faith in Him (which is a gift He has extended to us and which we have willingly accepted) and through the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, we daily choose to resist temptation, but unfortunately, until the day we die, we will still continue to fall.

May we all continue to ask our Father for the grace and strength to stand strong in Him and may the Holy Spirit brings us back Home safely and victoriously into the loving arms of our Father.

God bless,
Melissa – October 4, 2015

REFLECTION: A tribute to a blessed man…

Friday, August 21st, 2015

“Harvey was a blessed man.”  repeated Fr. Landry.  I wondered how that was possible when Harvey’s life was shorted by ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.   Harvey was my first encounter with ALS and I was amazed of his strength and courage throughout the years when he still made public appearances.

I didn’t know much about the disease, but I could visibly see how it took away Harvey’s ability to walk.  Harvey was a Sherriff at North Vancouver’s Court House.  The rapid, progressive disease attacked his nerve cells responsible for controlling his legs, arms and face and it stripped away Harvey’s ability to serve his community.  What ALS was not able to do was to strip Harvey of his God given faith and because of that, Fr. Landry was readily able to proclaim that Harvey was a blessed man.

If my memory serves me, I believe Fr. Landry quoted from Hebrews 10:38“The just man lives by faith.”  He continued, “Harvey gave to life what was due to life… to his neighbours, to his family and to God.  He gave a positive respect to all.  Although his job was difficult, Harvey treated each person justly, perhaps extending to them what they didn’t experience in life, even if they treated others unjustly.”

In the earlier years when Fr. Landry visited him at home, Fr. Landry would unknowingly refer to Harvey as “Charlie” (Harvey’s father’s name) and Harvey would laugh.  He thought it was funny.  From time to time, Fr. Landry would purposely call Harvey “Charlie” just to see him laugh.

“Harvey had a sense of truly belonging even if he chose to live life independently, living on his own conscience.  Harvey was a blessed man in the community of faith.”  Harvey and Marisha’s wedding was the first one Fr. Landry performed at St. Stephen’s parish.  “A few years after, Harvey discovered he had ALS.  He came to Mass as his mobility diminished and over time, he felt at home and blessed here.  The Knights of Columbus built him a ramp so he could continue to come to Mass.  His wife, Marisha, challenged him and he was happier for it.  He saw the hand of God in the situation.  He was deeply loved and cared for by his wife.  He was not alone in the illness.  The only time he felt alone was when he periodically felt God’s goodness was not with him, but I (Fr. Landry) encouraged him to look at all his other blessings.”

“Harvey never lost faith and he never looked for any alternative.  He had faith and it allowed him to experience the goodness of God.  Through it, he was able to offer his life daily to God.  It gave him a hope beyond understanding.  He knew God wouldn’t leave him like that.  He was greatly blessed in his faith.  Harvey and Marisha prayed daily and persistently.”  Fr. Landry anointed Harvey several times with the Holy Unction, allowing Harvey to join his suffering with Christ’s.  Harvey made his suffering an offering to God.

“Harvey brought us an awareness of ALS as he endured it, as there is no respite or freedom from that condition.  Harvey’s endurance helped us pay attention to what the disease is.”

” Let us recognize the hope that Harvey lived by.  He was a just man, giving to God what was owing to God.  He was a blessed man.  Harvey had the humility to recognize that he did not have the answer to the needs of his life and He needed God’s help.  Harvey was called to be a just man and He was able to give back to God.  Harvey was a blessed man.”

Rest in God’s loving arms Harvey.  I thank God for giving you the grace and mercy to endure your hardship to the very end.  You are truly an example of living faith.   May God’s grace and mercy continue to shower over you, Marisha.

God bless,

Melissa – August 21, 2015

p.s. – The following is an article that was published about Harvey and ALS in the B.C. Catholic…Taxi023 (2)

Taxi022 (2)

REFLECTION: Love God? What about with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

To my surprise and delight, we had a special visit from the mountain tops one Saturday morning.  Fr. Peter Nygren of Westminster Abbey in Mission, B.C. and his young seminarians came our way to enjoy the trails of West Vancouver.  I had never had a prior conversation with him, but I referred to him as the tall guy who always had a punch in his homily.  Unfortunately, one has to travel all the way to Mission to have a chance opportunity to listen to one of them.  Nevertheless, two weeks ago, our Father blessed me with his homily, a chat, a little counsel and a warm handshake!

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  Deuteronomy 6:5 cited Fr. Peter.  “This is part of today’s first reading.  But we don’t love God with all our heart, with all our soul nor with all our might.  Many have become lunatics because they don’t love.”

“What is wrong with us?  Love is being poured into us, but we don’t love.  Many are indifferent about offending God because they don’t love Him.”

Did that strike you?  It did with me!  Disrespect for many things, let alone God, is rampant these days.  Human life is no longer sacred.  Look around… infanticide, in the form of abortion, euthanasia, bullying, shootings in schools…killing innocent young ones are taking place in greater masses.  What is going on?  Is it because love no longer exists in the hearts of man?

“In today’s society, pleasure and pain are what govern our thoughts and choices.  We are afraid of pain; we are afraid of pain which love ensures.  We protect ourselves from loving because we fear pain.” 

Is this what’s happened to us? Have we regressed to function as animals, relying on pleasure and pain to govern our direction in life?  Have we lost our ability to think and to rationalize and to look forward to the future, to see that some temporary sacrifices have to be made to gain a little more?  Are we so afraid of pain that we no longer dare to love?  Have we not learned that endurance and strength are gained by experiencing pain?

 “If we are not reflecting on the pleasures and pain of Jesus and Mary, we focus on our own.” 

Sadly, not many reflect on God, let alone Jesus or Mary.  In truth, hardly anyone is reflecting at all these days.  We go on doing things without reviewing what we have done or the consequences of our actions or lack of them.  And if we dwell on ourselves, we normally enter through the doors of self-pity and we dwell there until we don’t have the strength to crawl back out.  Do we fail to see how destructive self-pity is and how it shackles us and how it removes the vision of hope from our horizon?

“When we experience sorrow, we also experience guilt.”  This was one I failed to grasp and hence our brief chat.  Fr. Peter expanded, “When we experience sorrow, many times, we begin to wonder… Had I done things this way or differently, would this have happened?  Could I have done more to prevent this from happening?” 

I failed to comprehend. I had always thought that our sentiments of anger and resentment would normally accompany sorrow.  I had assumed that guilt only came when one was at fault.  By definition, guilt means “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined;  a feeling of shame or regret as a result of bad conduct.:  Perhaps I misunderstood the definition of sorrow.  It reads “a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.”

On the surface, what connects “sorrow” and “guilt” is that they are both feelings.  They are emotional states.  And so is “love”.  As I ponder deeper, I ask our Father, “Where is the connection?”  Perhaps our Father was already teaching me something through a disappointment and hurt that occurred last week and He brought Fr. Peter down to help me make sense of it?  As I think about it, I realize this would have taken a lot of foresight and fore planning to get this all to work out, but that’s exactly what God does for each of us…because He loves.

God’s love for each of us, regardless of whether we love Him in return, is so immense. He does everything for us including allow us to exercise our own free will.  It may be difficult to fathom, but it is because of true love that He waits for us to exercise our free will.  Love is a feeling, but love is also a choice.  Unless we freely choose to love Him, it would not be true love.

I am of the opinion that it is when love comes to play that one experiences guilt in times of sorrow.  My oldest daughter had just dropped off a dead bird in a box.  It had flown right into a window where my youngest is staying.  My “not so little one” tried everything she could to resuscitate the bird but she couldn’t.  She was so distraught that she had difficulty breathing.  She felt so guilty that she couldn’t do anything to save its life.  Her older sister came by to console her and she picked up the bird so mom could bury it.

Although she had no previous encounter with this one, my daughter’s loving encounters with our other pet birds brought love into her heart.  If love did not prevail, she would not have taken actions to assist the bird and had love not prevailed, she would not have agonized over her inability to save the bird.

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Jesus, God’s precious Son, took on the punishment and He died for the world’s sin once and for all.  His resurrection brings eternal life to those who believe in Him.

God so loved the world;  God so loves you.  Do you love Him?

God bless,

Melissa – August 17, 2015

REFLECTION: The challenge…

Monday, August 17th, 2015

As I put in one CD disc in after another, I prayed “Lord, please make this one work.”  Finally with great relief, another CD began to play after I previously got one too many “no disc” display on my antiquated CD player.  It was another of Fr. Jim’s Nisbet’s CD teaching, but this time it was on the book of Romans.

REFLECTION:  Break my heart with what breaks Yours…

Friday, August 7th, 2015

“Break my heart with what breaks Yours.”  Have you heard that phrase sung before?  Why would anyone want their heart broken, let alone with one that breaks God’s heart? And yet that is part of the lyrics of Hillsong United’s popular song, “Hosanna“.  Christians sing along, but I wonder how many actually understand what they are singing?  Have they grasped the truth of the lyrics?

Tonight I had sensed God say the phrase was intended for someone in the Prayer Group.  No one claimed the word and so I continued pondering over it as I drove home.  I asked the Lord what He wanted to convey.  It didn’t take long before I began to realize that the hearts of many had been hardened; thousands are dying around the world from hunger, disease and from persecution and war and yet many of us don’t even flinch.  We watch the news with glazed eyes, hardly responding or reacting to the tragedy others have encountered.  Have our hearts turned into stone?

Another portion of the song caught my attention tonight… “I see a new generation, rising up to take their place; with selfless faith, with selfless faith.”  Have you wondered what “selfless faith” means?  I googled it and found this response…”To me, it means that the purpose of your belief in God and Christ is not based upon your desire to go to heaven, but that you believe because you know it is the truth. Also, it means that you don’t act just to serve your own purpose, but for the well being of others.”

I am of the opinion that without realizing it, many Christians have become self-serving.  The world has become too demanding and too engaging and many a times, we have progressively began to focus on ourselves, forgetting about the others.  When was the last time we looked intently into the eyes of the other, recognizing the pain that is hidden beneath the smiling facade they had on?  When was the last time we built up another, recognizing their talents, gifts and achievements rather than pulling them down with one criticism after another?  When was the last time we prayed for the intentions of another not because we felt it was our duty, but because we felt and shared the pain they were experiencing?

We sing “Heal my heart and make it clean; Open up my eyes to the things unseen; Show me how to love like you have loved me.”  I believe that if we sing this stanza with sincerity and true conviction, then what breaks our Father’s heart will also break ours.  It is only then when we can truly sing “I see a new generation (people with changed hearts) rising up to take their place, with selfless faith, with selfless faith.”

God bless,


p.s. – <- Hosanna by Hillsong United

REFLECTION: Eyes to see, ears to hear…

Friday, July 31st, 2015

I have been going to bed each night listening to Fr. Jim Nisbet’s teachings on the Book of Revelations.   On the last CD I was listening to, Fr. Jim had been expanding on the devastating results of the seven plagues.    Learning through listening is good, but key verses are missed, especially when one is drifting in and out of sleep.  Hence, while I was reading the 9th chapter of the Book of Revelations, I was both appalled and horrified when I read, The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelations 9:20-21.  An earlier verse just mentioned that a third of mankind had been wiped out by the last plague and yet the survivors won’t repent from their old ways?!?  My heart and mind could not embrace what was written and so I frantically asked our Father, “What is wrong with mankind?  Why don’t they see?!?”  

Our Father has since reminded me that what St. John had written in Revelations was based on a vision he had seen.  And yet, I wonder if what he wrote holds true today.  The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami took 230,000 lives from 14 countries.  The world has since experienced one devastating catastrophe after another, causing some to shake and tremble and yet, I wonder if that was enough to cause people to repent and turn to God.  I would imagine that those who had lost family and friends were impacted, but what about the rest of the world?  Have we shrugged and readily dismissed the events because we were not affected?  Lord, have mercy on us.

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.  For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.  Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’  Matthew 13:10-17

Since coming across this verse many years ago, our Father and I have been wrestling about it.  I have been begging and begging Him to open the spiritual eyes, ears and hearts of those who do not know Him so that they would realize how much they need Him in their lives.  I have pleaded with Him to let them “taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”  Psalm 34:8

A brief chat with newly ordained Fr. Paul Goo helped me begin to understand what was going on.  When I asked “Why?”, he halted only for a moment and then he replied, “Each individual still has their free will.”  FREE WILL!  Yes, God has given each of us free will, but isn’t that what caused Adam and Eve to fall to begin with?  Fr. Paul reminded me that God didn’t want us to be robots; He doesn’t want to force Himself on us, but He desires us to freely choose to love Him.

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the phrase “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”  This reminds me of the parable of the master and the talents.  The first two servants multiplied what was given to them but the third one buried the single talent he was given.  (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28)  As I ponder, I begin to understand. Perhaps many are like the third servant.  Perhaps they do not realize and recognize the treasure that is given to them and so they bury it (keep it out of their conscious thoughts) until they are ready to deal with it.  I would suppose that periodically, they would dig up what was given, but because their eyes are still not open, they continue to fail to see  and so they bury it again.  (It should be interesting to note that although the treasure is buried, it never disappears or deteriorates.  That in itself speaks volumes that God’s truth never fades away.) 

Perhaps the first two servants had a personal encounter with the Master (Jesus) and their time together with Him had revealed the truths of the talents that were to be given to them.  So as they received these gifts (Gifts of the Holy Spirit) they shared it with others, bearing fruits (bringing more into God’s kingdom) and giving glory to God.

In one of his other teachings, Fr. Jim had mentioned that wisdom is not a gift God gives.  Instead, we gain wisdom as we draw close to Him.  The closer we get, the more wisdom we have, but when our relationship wanes, so does wisdom.  To me, wisdom is similar to seeing with our spiritual eyes.  As we draw closer to our Lord, the more we begin to see with His eyes.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23, St. Paul writes, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” and “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”  For those who have not experienced and accepted the redemptive love of Jesus, the message of the cross is foolish and insignificant, while it is a  stumbling block to others.  Those who do not know God see with the world’s wisdom. 

 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:19-21

I then asked our Father, what about “Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.”?  Doesn’t Your word say, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:8-9  To that I sensed our Father reply, “Yes my child, you know My heart.  I want all to come to repentance and that is the reason why I have shut their eyes and ears.  At the moment, all they want from me is for their own gain.  They want their troubles to be over and they want their aches and pain to dissipate.  That is all they want from me.  Their hearts are not ready; they still lack humility and they are not humble enough to acknowledge that they have sinned.  When the time is right, I will open their eyes and ears.  I am God, remember?

Father God, forgive us.  We admit that we are all sinners and we need the continuous redemptive love of Jesus.  Thank You, that when we stumble, we can run to You and ask for forgiveness and through Your loving mercy, you cleanse us once again, as white as snow.

Lord, there are so many out there who don’t know You.  They do not understand what it means when one catastrophe after another happens.  They do not understand because they don’t know You nor Your word.  But Lord, how will they know unless we become the light of Your world?  How will they know if we, Your children, do not tell them?  Father, when we were baptized, our Baptismal candle was lit from the Easter Candle.  Jesus is the light You sent down to Earth to bring forth light into this dark world.  The lighting of our Baptismal candle symbolizes that we have caught the spark of Jesus.  When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai after he encountered You, His face glowed.  Father, when we encounter You each day, let our faces light up too.  Lord, give us the grace, vigilance, endurance and strength to share what You have done in our lives so that one day, when the time is right, those who still don’t know You will truly see and hear You.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God bless,


p.s. – May the lyrics of this song encourage all to pass along the love of God to others…”Pass it on” –