Two Towns Away
If I was born two towns away,
Maybe I wouldn't know you the same way.
Maybe I would be wearing a scarf around my head.
Maybe I would have a Quraan by my bed.
If I was born two towns away,
Maybe I wouldn't grab my rosary to pray.
Maybe I would be fasting till "Iftar".
Even when the sunset seems so far.
If I was born two towns away
"Allah Akbar" I would say.
For the matter of fact I do so today,
Except my statement ends in a different way.
I am Christian without a doubt of who Jesus is;
I am Christian knowing that loving your enemy is a teaching of His.
Yet I do want to say,
If I was born two towns away
Maybe I wouldn't know you the same way
What if I was them and they were me?
Would they still call me the enemy?
Would we still they deserve to die?
Would we be deaf to the heart-wrenching cry?
I wasn't born two towns away,
but I want to love them anyway.
Turn Left on Trust Avenue
I got my driver license when I was 18. Since then, I have become accustomed to the roads near by. After a few trips to school, I learned multiple routes of how to get there. Even though I am no longer a student, I still feel confident and comfortable driving there without any direction.
From my limited driving experience I can tell you that when I know where I am going, I don't look at the freeway signs. I am not anxious to know if I am on the right freeway or I took a wrong turn. I am confident in the direction I am taking, because I know the way.
As for my passengers, neither do they ask me about the direction in which I am heading. They simply trust that I know where to go and how to get there. They don't point to signs and dwell on them. They aren't anxious when a freeway exit appears. They trust that I know what I am doing.
We are the passengers in God's vehicle. God is the experienced driver. He knows where He is taking us and how He is getting us there. Yet for some reason we don't have enough confidence to trust Him. Instead, we constantly ask for signs.
I am the first to admit to doing this on numerous occasions. For years I said, show me a sign and He would. Until I stared seeing every sign on the freeway and assuming that it is mine. That this is the direction in which I am heading. I got tired and confused. Why? Because I was trying to figure out these signs which were not meant to for me. I was so determined on receiving signs from God, that I saw everything as one, which is spiritually exhausting.
Yet in all reality, Jesus tells me not to worry about them. When I am not driving and I need to trust that the driver knows what He is doing, especially if that driver is Jesus.
Ladies and gentlemen, let us learn to trust God, a lesson that we all need to work on, especially I. Yet through praying for each other, through fasting we get to know Him better. The more we know Him, the easier trusting Him becomes.
It has been said that a long journey begins with a small step. I am not perfect, I have many, many, many errors, yet I am confident that with Christ there is a renovation in me, the casting of the old and the replacement with the new. New day, new love to experience, sit back, let the driver drive and you enjoy the ride and worry about the music.
Dependence on God.
22 l He said to [his] disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. 24 Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! 25 Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? 26 If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them. 28 If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 29 As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. 30 All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them.31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides.32 Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.33 Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.34 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
Why Isn't God Answering?
Have you ever found yourself asking for something, but God didn't seem to be answering? I have. Often, I wondered why?
I had learned over the years to trust Him, knowing that even at times where I don't understand He is still the merciful, loving God taking care of me. In other words, I have faith in His goodness. I have faith in His love for me even when my situation is blinding me to that love. Much like clouds preventing the sunlight from reaching the earth, so it is with our situations and God. Yet God still exists and His love doesn't change.
Yesterday, I learned something more profound. I learned "why". As I read Romans 8:26-27
"In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will." I saw the answer to my question written in scripture. There it said it all. I do not know how to pray, or what to pray for. All I know is that sometimes, words escape my lips creating a seemingly comprehensible sentence, but in reality it is not what my heart is seeking to say.
My Godson is a toddler. He is slowly beginning to speak. He understand what I say and tries to communicate back with me. Yet his sentences, aren't always sentences and aren't always comprehensible. Somehow, I understand what he is asking for. He sometimes grabs an orange and says "apple". What he wants isn't the apple, he wants the orange. The word the he uttered is clear to the ear, but doesn't not mirror the intentions of the heart.
So it is with us and Christ, as my lips align words in an adequate grammatical structure, the Spirit takes these words and transforms them into the true desires of my heart which is God's will above and before everything else. The Spirit takes my prayers and my tears and offers them to God.
Sometimes, I pray for a situation to change but it doesn't. Instead, slowly I am given strength to overcome. This doesn't mean God didn't answer, it means He answered in the most appropriate manner, keeping in mind that our objective isn't solely our earthly lives, but more important our journey towards eternity. Therefore, the Spirit takes my prayers to God and God, the All-Knowing, dispenses His graces as He sees fitting.
So why doesn't God always answer? Well, He does always answer, but the prayers that are spoken by us are transformed to fit our needs as God sees fitting.
A Wonderful Host
I wish I can describe the feeling I get when I am sitting before the Eucharist at adoration. How can a human tongue describe heaven?
Experiencing Jesus in the Eucharist, is like someone peeking though the peephole of a door to see the most majestic view outside. They can feel their heart beating rapidly with excitement knowing that they will one day see the full glory. They can smell the beautiful fragrance seeping through the cracks between the door and the wall. They can hear the music, so they begin to dance even before the door is open.
I have found heaven at the altar. He has revealed Himself to me. My thought todayis, If looking through the peephole I am so thrilled what would it be like when the door is open and there is nothing between my love and I?
The joy He brings into our hearts is more than we can ever imagine. I love Him and I invite you to love Him as well. At least give Him a fair chance to court you, to prove His love.
Today I invite you to visit Jesus at adoration. There He is physically present. How many of us wish we were born when Jesus was here? Well He still is, through the Eucharist. Jesus never left us. God had said, "I will never leave you or forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). He never did not even on a physical level.
At adoration, Heaven meets earth creating a majestic thrown in the most humble place, a host. Jesus didn't only show humility in Bethlehem, He also exemplifies it in His Holy presence in the consecrated host.
How humble and loving is our God, that He leaves His thrown to wait for us at adoration. He waits patiently as we come in and out as a mother does for her children hoping to catch a glimpse of them. Maybe just maybe we will be willing to hangout with Him for an hour of our time. He who gave us life waits patiently for us, physically present in the Eucharist.
Jesus "I love you" is not enough. "I love you" falls short what I actually feel. The only word that may satisfy my heart is "my Lord, my God". I want to lay before your glorious presence and repeat these worlds until words sees to exist.
I love you, My Lord and My God!
My brothers and sisters I ask for our prayers that as this project grows, That I may grow with it in humility and love. Thank you for your prayers
Most of us have heard the phrase "a man of his word" describing the chivalrous characteristics of strong-willed man. It means he stays true to the promises that he makes. Nothing can be more true when we are talking about Christ. Christ is The Man/God of His word.
He does not say anything He could not or will not do. He even tells us "My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?" John 14:2.
Someone told me once "good luck finding someone like what you are describing". I was describing the characteristic of a good Christian man, one that puts God at every aspect of his life, including replacing lust with love.
To many this strong-willed, respectful man seems like a myth. But my reality says, do not rely on the man, but rely on God. Or in men's case do not rely on the woman, but rather on God.
Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24. The key word in this verse is "believe". Mountains can move if we believe, you think I am exaggerating, ask the Egyptians. Their mountain literally moved when they prayed and because they believe. So if I am genuinely asking with faith for a man of God, why would He not deliver?
When did God stop fulfilling His promises?
My topic today may have the theme of "men", but in reality His commitment extends to every part of our lives.
Please don't take my words for it. Go talk to God, experience Him for yourself. Fall in love with Him and I pray and hope that He will show you way more than He has shown me.
Your humble sister in Christ,
Mary, My Path to Jesus!
I am not a theologian, nor have I had a sophisticated Catholic education. I am just a simple girl who fell in love with God. I have nothing but an small story to share in hopes that maybe somewhere out there someone will seek out the same treasure that I have found. With that said, today I want to tell you the story of Mary in my life.
When I was born, my dad wanted a boy. I am the third girl, so you can imagine he was a little disappoint. Until he looked outside the window and there before him stood Our Lady Lebanon. He thought to himself "well she was a girl" and so within a second joy filled his heart.
There the story of a little girl began with her heavenly mother.
The first time I personally encountered the presence of Mary was at the shrine of Maghdoche in Southern Lebanon. This is where Mary waited for Jesus as He preached in Saïda and Tyre. There I felt her gentle touch and she became my mother.
Mary taught me about Jesus. She never pointed to herself, always and constantly pointing to her son. Through the rosary my life changed, the more I prayed it the more I fell in love with God. As a child I would pray one decade a day before I went to sleep and believe me when I say I felt a great power whenever I held my rosary.
As an awkward little teenage, I was so embarrassed to talk to Jesus about the boys that I liked, because he was a boy. So instead of telling Jesus, I would tell Mary, a girl like me!
I entrusted my secrets to my mother and she pointed me all the more the Bible. She took my prayers straight to God.
Mary, my mother, my confidant.
I grew-up and realized that I can tell Jesus everything, including my embarrassing love stories. This I learned from her.
The first time I went to mass in English I was 17. I went because of Mary. Up until that point the only place I had felt her gentle touch was in Lebanon, but then I felt her in a church near by. Often I would walk there to talk to her. One day I was there and mass begun and so I attended my first English mass. I was also given the Eucharist to take up to the altar which taught me a different lesson all on its own.
Not long after I came to her in tears and she guided me once more to God and His words. I open the Bible and it said "you are a fresh water flowing from Lebanon". Because of her I know that I have a purpose, this small-town Lebanese girl got the answer she needed and way more. Why? Because Mary pointed me to Jesus.
The first time, I expressed my desire to attend daily mass was with Mary. She asked her Son to open the doors for me. Because of Mary My relationship with God grew. My devotion to her led me to Jesus.
Today, even more than before, you find me carrying/praying my rosary. Today, more than eve,r I feel the strength that the little girl felt holding her rosary under her blanket praying a decade.
When Jesus was on the cross He said to ST. John "son behold thy mother" and to Mary He said "woman behold thy son". So, there at that moment she became my mother as well and has not stopped since.
I don't worship Mary, much like I don't worship my earthly mother. I love her with the same love I have for my earthly mother. That love is different from the way I love God, "the Alpha and the Omega".
I pray you found what you are looking for.
Rita A. Saikali
Dear Future Husband
My Dear Future Husband,
As I was looking for you In every man that I saw, I found someone better. I found the man that knew my past, my present and my future. With you I was looking for the love of my life; with Him I found the love of my eternity.
He looked into my eyes and said "I died for you to be mine." With a hopeful tone He asked "will you, be mine?". And babe, I said "yes"! How could I have not? If only I can show you His eyes, you wouldn't blame me. I said "yes" and my heart hasn't stopped beating since then. I said "yes" and peace become my ultimate companion.
I would look for you in every face that I saw, but you never came. I waited and waited and waited, got hurt and waited some more and still you were not here. Finally He said "come to me and I will give you rest". So, I walked with Him and surely He gave me rest. We spoke of everything under the sun, and over the sun for that matter. We also spoke of you quite often actually. He never told me your name, but He said, that somehow, if I spoke to Him, He will give you my messages. He said you were looking for me in every face, but couldn't find me. He said you waited and waited and got hurt and waited some more but I was still not there. Finally, He called you to follow Him and you said "yes".
My future love, I love you today more than you can imagine. I love you not because I know you, but because I know Him. I know the one who told me about you. He said you were His son and if you're anything like the Father, than I will undoubtedly be the presence of greatness. I love you, because He has shown me how to love you.
My dear future husband, I hope it won't be long till He leads us to each other. I want you to know, I am not waiting for you, I am walking towards you. I promise not to look for you in the faces of those around, but to continue my journey with Him, until He leads us both to each other at the same time and the same place. Then it would not be "good person, bad timing" or "good timing bad person". Then it would be perfect. I was told, that when I meet you I would know, but I never understood that. I wondered how, but when I met Him, I knew that He would whisper in my ear, "there He is" and to you He will say "there she is". From here He will walk us to His eternity.
I hope to see you soon, until then, I will look into His eyes and see you there. You too will find me hidden in His eyes. Only then will I get to meet you.
I love you,
Your Future Wife!
Have you ever been told something that deeply hurt you? If you have you probably expressed your feelings using words like "cut","wounded", "broken" all of which are used to express physically tangible elements. So why do we use them to express emotions? Well, because words are extremely powerful, but we often use them with such carelessness, I being the most culpable of all. This carelessness creates all kinds of wounds.
Some wounds are that of the heart, where someone says something that breaks out hearts. Other wounds are wounds of the thoughts where someone says something and their words alter the way we think about others. This is true of when we do it to others as well. Sometimes we do it subconsciously, for example, a person once told me something about another person that stayed with me for a very long time. Did the person talking to me mean to do that? Did I mean to have these reoccurring thoughts every time I saw the other person? No, but words have a strong influence on us. I am sure I have done this to others as well plenty of times. So we must be aware of what we say.
The Bible tells us in James 3:10 "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be." The importance of our speech is made clear in this verse. Our Good Lord also makes a reference to speech saying: "What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them." Matthew 15:11
For years the Jew were worried about what went into their bodies so that they may not be defiled, but Jesus explains to us that it is what comes out of our mouths that could be defiling. When my words hurt my bothers and sisters then they have not served a good purpose.
Matthew 15:19 "For out of the heart come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander."
If we were to argue that our words are a reflection of our thoughts, then we could can detect the evil laying beneath our speeches. Yet again, speech can not only be a poison, but a medicine when used correctly. Words can heal, and comfort those in need, words can make a gloomy soul laugh hysterically. Words can make a lonely person feel loved. Often times, these words are as simple as a sincere "how are you?" an attentive ear and a smile.
Does that mean we can't joke around? No, not at all, in fact Jesus wants to see us happy, He wants to see us have fun. If that wasn't the case He wouldn't have turned water into wine. I am sure He smiled and laughed before, but He did so with peace in His heart.
We can and should do all the things that our humanity calls us to do, yet not with evil thoughts in our hearts, but rather love. When love is placed at the center, when mean words are replaced, our lives will be filled with peace.
I don't stop being me, I don't stop loving the things that I have always loved. All my life I have loved dancing, having Jesus in my life, never stopped me from wanting to dance. Certain aspects of us don't chance, what does change is our thoughts and therefore, our words. The evil that came out of our hearts before dwindles down and is replaced with peace and reflected through our word choices.
Vice versa as well, if we want to eliminate the evil thoughts in our hearts, if that is something we struggle with, then we must begin by changing our vernacular. Changing the direction the mirror is facing will change the image that the mirror is reflecting. So step one begin with word and let them change the thoughts. Or begin with the thoughts and let them change the words. Both are done through prayers. For the first if I may humbly suggest, every time I encounter a bad situation I can actively replace my language so that they do not reflect bad thoughts. For the second, every time I catch myself thinking bad thoughts about a person or a situation, I may pray a "Hail Mary" or an "Our Father" for that person or that thing.
Changing words can change the world!
My Failing Humanity
If you are reading this, I want to introduce you to the real me. I want you to meet Rita, not the "blogger", not the "filmmaker" or "journalist", just Rita, simply me. At times I am weak, but I derive my strength from God. I have been heartbroken; it took a very long time for my heart to be healed, but by the grace of God it was.
Sometimes I feel like my dreams are worthless. I can never achieve them. Other times I feel like I can grasp them with my own hands. Still sometimes, these dreams remind me of my failures and when they do, I want to cry. My urge is to run to my room and hide.
The world is so big and I am so small, so insignificant. Sometimes, I feel misunderstood despite my adequate ability to communicate effectively. Somehow I still find myself struggling to express and suppress my feelings. Express to communicate and suppress to hide my weakness.
At times I am scared, others I am worried. There are times where I feel that I will be judged by the people closest to me.
However and despite all, I feel loved especially by God. I feel happy even when I am sad. I feel whole even when I am broken and I feel safe even when I am in danger.
I am sharing my insecurities because we all have them. "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Within these insecurities I have found Christ all the more. He sustains me through all of them, giving me constant hope and strength.
I am also sharing them, because I want to share my humanity with you. My humanity, is filled with imperfections. It's filled with doubts and fears and everything in between. It's filled with sins, of every kind. No one is perfect but God alone. I sin, but I am forgiven sinner. I fail, but my God is victorious and by loving Him I will become victorious.
Jesus has taught me that after death comes the resurrection. I cannot stop and lament over my failures and neither should you! Rather, we must be strength by God. The Bible tells us "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken." Psalms 55:22
So even with my failing humanity, I must continue. The Lord will use my weakness. The Lord will guard my steps. The Lord will love me and through His love transform me. My life is a journey. My failures are pit-stops for further reinforcements. Peter'a denial of Jesus lead to his repentance. His repentance lead to a flood of graces that we receive today every time we testify that we are Christians. Peter's denial showed him the pain we feel when we deny Jesus and, thereafter did die on a cross much like our savior. Yet, he refused to die in the same manner because he was not worthy. He died on an inverted cross. He failed, but continued. He failed even thought he had been in the company of Jesus for years. So we too fail at times, but we must continue loving Him, following Him, confessing, repenting and living.
It should be noted that we no longer refer to Peter as the Simon the fisherman, but rather Simon Peter the Fisher of Men.
I love you, I am praying for you, please pray for me!
Rolled-Up My Sleeves
One Sunday morning, mass had commenced as usual, the celebration of the Eucharist began and all was well until the priest's homily was interrupted. A woman stood up and waved at the priest saying, the man next to her had became unconscious. So, the priest called upon the attendees to help, searching for those in the medical profession to aid the gentlemen. They did so accordingly.
As these professionals approached, the priest asked that we continue the mass and keep the man in prayers.
This scene unfolding before my eyes, lead me to reflect upon my role in the situation. So, being a part of this setting, I rolled up my sleeves and began to do my work. No, I am not a medical doctor or a nurse. I am not even close to any hospital setting, yet I still rolled up my sleeves and knelt down to begin my work.
You guessed it, I prayed! To be exact, I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, A prayer given to ST. Faustina by Jesus Himself, and one of my personal favorite. "For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world".
The God of mercy did indeed have mercy and the man was later said to be in good condition.
My point is not that I prayed, because there is nothing majestic about that, but rather that we can partake in the suffering of others by prayers. We can help, I couldn't not contribute physically, but I did what I could given the resources that I had. My only resource at that time was a prayer and a stream of tears. I gave my Jesus all that I had. I invite you today to do the same.
Maybe, you and I don't have the education to save a life, but we have the God that can save a soul.
So the day went on beautifully, and the dawn came rolling back once more bringing with it a new day. A new way to serve. That day I was informed by one of my students that he was molested a while back and wasn't until today that he told someone for the first time about the incident. Shortly after, my other student told me about the problems she was having with her in-laws. To top it all, my coworker's son may have cancer.
Within an hour, I found myself with a wealth of information and nothing I can physically do to change the situations at hand.
So I rolled up my sleeves and headed to the only place where I can find Jesus physically waiting for me, adoration.
As I drove to church the image of the medical professionals rushing to help the man from different parts of the church replayed in my mind over and over again, until I realized we are the medical professionals in the field of Love.
Today I was called to the emergency rooms, a nurse seeing the patients and bringing their cases to the One Healer. I rolled up my sleeve, tied my hair back and became ready to watch over their cases as a nurse does with her patients day and night, restless waiting for the doctor to prescribe the needed medication.
Today, I am a warrior for Christ, I am ready to defend those I am called to bring to Him. Today, I will pray and on my knees I will stay. Today I fill fast and I will say let the sounds of triumph play. Christ is among us, let us dance and sway.
Hey! I am Rita A. Saikali. This is my humble experience with my wonderful Jesus. Thank you for reading.