“A Warrior of the Light knows that he has much to be grateful for. Angels help him in his struggle; celestial forces place each thing in its place, thus allowing him to give it his best. His companions say: “He’s so lucky!” And the warrior does sometimes achieve things far beyond his capabilities. That is why, at sunset, he kneels and gives thanks for the Protective Cloak surrounding him. His gratitude, however, is not limited to the spiritual world; he never forgets his friends, for their blood, mingled with his own on the battlefield. A Warrior does not need to be reminded of the help given to him by others. He is the first to remember and he makes sure to share with them any rewards he receives.” – Paulo Coelho, 2004.
TRY this exercise from the church pew during your worship, whether a Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopalian or Baptist, to think of all the folks who contributed to your formation into becoming the kind of person you are now. From the pew, name the graces you have received, starting from the person officiating mass.
On occasions, I go to Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills where Rev. Colm O’Ryan still helps with Sunday mass and with noon weekday masses, even at 90 years old. He relies on the lay leaders to administer communion as he struggles to keep his balance, using a cane. But, his sharp mind makes for inspiring homilies.
For example, his homily one Sunday exhorted you to be fully human and in being humane, one can also fully grasp what it is to be divine. He has taken human experiences, even the divisions within the church, as opportunities to look at humanity as stories of the human heart. How much have we offered our lives to right doings, as opposed to wrongdoings?
To me, it simply asks us: Are you a living sacrament of God? Do you have eyes that see beyond the weaknesses of a person, their gifts, their talents and what they offer to you by their presence?
By your life, are you able to see that God still moves stones, the way Max Lucado describes? “The God who forgave King David still offers you forgiveness. The God who helped men and women in ages past still comes into your world, and he comes to do what you can’t, to move the stone away so you can see his answer,” Lucado wrote.
January 1, 2019 – I had the biggest scare of my life when my daughter had major surgery. It shook me to my core that I must have gone to different churches praying for a miracle. It was so nerve-wracking as she is a young mother of an active, precocious 4-year-old girl. Yet, to her tenacity and physical strength, she managed to get up, walk 20 hours after her surgery, and even make different animal figures using balloons for her daughter’s birthday, 19 days later. She is that strong, physically and mentally to will her recovery. Of course, her husband deserves a lot of kudos for his leadership and his mobilizing of friends and family.
I stood in awe of their strengths, but also grateful to Our Lady of Guadalupe and Santo Niño, both of whom I prayed to, for a miracle to manifest. I felt ready for God to pour His blessings on her and her family. Praying the rosary and going to Mass became uplifting moments for me as my burdens became lighter, knowing God and Mama Mary were there to surround her. For this, I am most grateful.
In one school activity, my granddaughter made a crown for Santo Niño from colored twist ties. It fit exactly the small statue’s head that I marveled at how she visualized it. She was quite excited for the crown to be put on Baby Jesus and told me how she loves him. Did I ask why? Her answer was – “Baby Jesus helps me in my nightmares and when He is there, I am not afraid.” Oh my, I could not believe my ears. I had made it a habit when she was an infant to pray daily in front of Baby Jesus, and holding her hands and telling her to gently touch the statue and do it with much love. I had no idea that she was having nightmares and in her bad dreams, Baby Jesus was helping her out. Is this not a miracle you want in your life?
This year, I am even more grateful to have joined three pilgrimages. In February, a trip to the Holy Land that brought me to places where I felt divine energies inside the Holy Sepulcher, inside the birthplace of Jesus and an opportunity to visit Israel and Gaza without encountering any form of violence. I am even more grateful to have joined a 14-day pilgrimage, led by a holy spiritual director, Fr. Joel O. Bugas, that covered Portugal, Spain, and France during which the group got to visit 14 saints and see much of the French countryside during our road trip. It is also where we evaded a lockdown for hours due to a murder that happened in a police station near the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Paris.
This month, I had an opportunity to visit Portugal, monasteries and eat the best food. “There was not a bad moment,” as my co-pilgrim said.
In all these three trips, we had the finest travel guides, who were not only knowledgeable about their locales and the cultural highlights, but also efficient. In the last tour, our travel guide’s pacing of travel for each day was just right and not rushed. It made for a very luxurious feel, one of retreat and renewal.
Back in America, I am not sure what right doings are anymore. Given these days, wrongdoings of a key tenant in the White House dominate the news. Still, we are grateful that federal staffers are standing up to uphold what is right and what is legal by the U.S. Constitution. All throughout 2019, 11 months now, our guardians of U.S. democracy have been Congress, federal judges, key federal employees and key institutions who have sounded the alarm, like the whistleblower complaint which led to the impeachment investigation of Pres. Donald Trump by Rep. Adam Schiff.
We are grateful for all these freedom fighters and warriors of light for without them, our Thanksgiving dinners this 2019 will be in darkness. Thank God for light overcoming the darkness in America and we pray 2020 will be brighter and where we can all know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives are our realities!
Lastly, “Good deeds from a filthy heart is wretched rags to God,” and all we need to do is acknowledge that “God loves us as He offers a wonderful plan for our lives,” as Max Lucado continues, but also, “Don’t overstep the forbidden mark.”
I do have a friend, who since he composed his CD, the music has been used by video game developers. Then, he got another job at a major university to take care of information technology. A few months later, he launched his first book on artificial intelligence and now, his publisher is asking for a second book and he just got another job promotion. God’s blessings on him have been one after another and keep achieving using his talent and even beyond his capabilities.
Ask yourselves this Thanksgiving: Are you in a position where God can pour blessings and continuous grace on you?
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Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. writes a weekly column for Asian Journal, called “Rhizomes.” She has been writing for AJ Press for 12 years. She also contributes to Balikbayan Magazine. Her training and experiences are in science, food technology, law and community volunteerism for 4 decades. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law in California and a certificate on 21st Century Leadership from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been a participant in NVM Writing Workshops taught by Prof. Peter Bacho for 4 years and Prof. Russell Leong. She has travelled to France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico and over 22 national parks in the US, in her pursuit of love for nature and the arts.