The Things That Matter
Torn between the struggle of being single at 25 and trying to find a job, my soul needed a change. I was like a person opening the fridge hoping they find something that satisfies their craving. The problem is that that person wasn’t sure what he desire. All I knew is that I wanted something to be different, but as I sat there in prayers I knew that none of these things will feed the hunger that is in my soul. The struggle I am facing at the moment is temporary, neither a man nor a job will solve it indefinitely. Yes, I presume they would help; God will give them to me when He is ready, but they aren’t the food that would feed my soul eternally. ST. Augustine says “our hearts are restless until they rest in you oh Lord.” This restless heart of mine cannot be satisfied with the anyone else, but Him. Apart from Christ, everything is secondary. Do that mean the struggle went away? Most certainly not, but what it means is that I would rather wait with Christ for His plans for me than go out into the world trying to do things on my own. Without Him everything is useless. What will I profit if I rebel against God with my stubbornness? Who will lose? Just as Peter did, I too have found the Messiah where am I to go? I don’t know about you, but I would rather persist in my struggles than walk away from Him.
want to be genuinely loved! Genuine love is demanding; how could that be possible? Isn’t “love” supposed to be about letting yourself go into the arms of another? Isn’t love about following your heart quickly and without thought? How then can it be demanding?
Well, If we suppose that genuine love means to love my significant other as I love myself, it must be then that I must treat the other with the same respect I do for myself. If I were to demand this type of love, I must be willing to offer it as well. I must make sacrifices for my future husband that I would want made for myself; even if I have not met him yet.
We are in the age of fitness, my self love demand that I go to the gym so that I am healthier. It also demands that I make better choices in terms of food. Spiritually, my love life demands of me that I make better choices as well. It is a struggle at times to go the gym, but it must be done for my personal sake. It is a struggle at times to preserver in chastity, but I am happy to make this sacrifice (with God’s Grace), to deal with the struggles, because the beauty of genuine love is knowing that I am doing this for the sake of my marriage (which, yes I know does not exist yet, but sacrifices for it start before the vows).
Now many tell me, “well, Rita you know in today’s age, the guy is probably not waiting until marriage”. Yes I am fully aware of this, it does not bother me at all. Let me tell you why! First, I am accountable for my own actions and not his. If I were to demand genuine love I must first be willing to offer it. For example going to the gym personally benefits me, no other body is effected by my exercise, just my body!
Second, maybe my future husband knows nothing about genuine love. Maybe no one has ever demonstrated it to him. For example, if the guy goes to the gym regularly, little by little, his significant other may start joining him. She may start to see the positive side of exercising; he would have positively influenced her. Maybe when I meet him it will be my job to demand genuine love, but demonstrating what it looks like, and with years of training that should not be a problem.
Sometimes you feel like you’re on top of God’s plan for your life. YOU GOT THIS! Other times, you feel like things are falling apart. Mind you these “sometimes” and “other times” could be the same day. So what then? Are you on top of God’s plan for your life or are you not? Well, the answer does not lie in the feelings, but in the journey itself. The three Wise Men were certain that they were following the start that would lead to the new born king. They asked around, and evidently people pointed them to Herod the king, but he was not the one they were looking for.
I have a feeling that throughout their road trip, their emotions were all over the place. At first they were probably indecisive, “should we embark on this journey? What if we are wrong? Should we trust all the information that we have?” My speculations is that as they got closer to the star their confidence grew. They were probably pretty sure that they were doing the will of God. Then they got to the city. They asked around, and behold they found the king! But unfortunately it was the wrong king.I am sure they walked away confused, bewildered, and probably thinking: “Okay, so we followed the star, it/ people lead us here, but He was not here.” I don’t know about the Wise Men, but if that were to happen to me, I would be pretty disappointed, confused, and let face, I’d probably be pretty upset at God.
From that perspective I dare to say that they were not amused with the results!
But really, let’s think about it, what happened with these Wise Men? They followed the star; they reached a king that gave them some information, and set them back out on the road once more. Finally, they found this said new-born King.
So what does that all mean?
Sometimes we follow what we think God’s plan is, and it leads us to a place we did not hope or expect to reach. That place will provide us with the needed information to reach the place in which God is truly point us towards. We may try to go back to the place where we received that information, but God then interrupts us leading us elsewhere.
So, were the Wisemen on top of God’s plan for their lives when they followed the star? Yes! Was it difficult for them to leave their homes and embark on the journey where they had to followed a star? Undoubtedly! Were they disappointed when they reached Herod, and it was not the king they sought? Most likely! Were they still following God’s plan even though they felt disappointed at the primary result? Absolutely! Did they reach their destination? Yes, they did! How? Through God’s divine providence and their dependence on the world that He gave them.
At times you are certain that this is God’s plan, other times you are not. Take that information you have and continue! God will not leave you! Continue praying, continue hoping, and continue with God. He will lead you to your destinations even if He has you stop and take some unexpected detours just like He did with the Wisemen! Disappointed? I know, so were they? But they continued, and so should you!
As always continue loving God for better for worst, in sickness and health, because He loves you and He is with you!
It's Not Easy!
Roller coaster, life with God is a roller coaster. It’s not as easy as the movies make it out to be. Consider this, whenever we think of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we imagine a pregnant girl, a donkey, and a man walking besides them. It’s a beautiful image, and at some points during the journey it depicted the reality of the situation, but that was not always the case. It wasn’t always this blissful. What we fail to realize is that there was a huge struggle. Let’s recount the events:
Struggling is a part of life, but when we live that life with God it becomes peaceful, joyful, and not to sound like a cliche, but also triumphant. Life takes effort; it takes facing hardship; however, we are sustained by His love and His presence in our lives.
Keep going! God is with you! Yes, your life may be a roller coaster, but do not be afraid! He is with you! It wasn’t easy for Mary and Joseph either, but look at where they are now! Look at where we are now because of their struggles! This does not mean you should go seek out struggles, but should something arise, you can do it, just like Mary and Joseph did and it will sanctify you too. Jesus is with you as He was with them.
I wanted to write a hopeless message about reality as it slaps us in the face, a reality that we have to deal with, but I committed this year to writing daily during this advent seasons. Yet, my advent reflection did not match my words, so I stopped. I had written about the irrelevant maybe that causes us to overthink without a clear reality check. What I had written was stylistically great, but it was not reality as I see through the lens of faith. Here is the reality check I think we need this season. The Jews waited more than 400 years for the prophecy of the savior to be fulfilled. They knew when he would be born. They waited, they waited, and they waited some more! For many of those years, God seemed absent. As if He was not doing a single thing, but lo and behold! He was, he prepared and Ann and Joachim to have Mary. He prepared Mary at the temple. He prepared Joesph. He prepared Elizabeth and Zachariah to have John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus. Now here is the thing, to Elizabeth and Zachariah things seemed impossible! They were shamed by the fact that they did not have a child. God knew that. He made them wait!
They continued praying. They continued loving God, and they continued telling him about how they felt and the reality in which they were facing. Meanwhile, to many God seemed as though He was not answering them, but He was. Things needed to be in order. Mary was 14 when she had Jesus. Had Elizabeth been pregnant with John before, she wouldn’t have felt the greeting of the Mother of God moving the child within her. Why because maybe Mary herself would not have been born.
Hopeless they seemed, but they continued praying. Hopeless all of Israel seemed, but they continued praying, and God continued working behind the scenes until it was time for them to see the glory of God as Simeon proclaimed it.
So now you maybe facing a certain situation, one where you feel completely hopeless. You may even thing that God is not answering you at all, but be certain that He is doing something. Complain to Him, tell Him your problems, and give thanks to Him. He will deliver you! Now note that He may deliver you in ways that you did not expect. Consider Elizabeth, wouldn’t it have been nice if she had become pregnant at a younger age and avoided all the shame that that society had for barren women? Absolutely, but that would not have led to glorifying God as did the birth of John the Baptist!
No one thought it was possible, but it happened. Same thing with Sarah and Abraham! Same goes for a Virgin with Child! Keep praying! Keep loving God! Keep on asking! Have faith! Have hope! Have fun with God! He is great. He will deliver you. He will change you and the situation you are in! For better and for worse, for sickness and in health, love God and praise Him!
God is good! All the time!
All the time! God is good!
The Perfect Writer
What makes a writer great? Well it’s not just the plot, but how the plot is carried out. There are so many romantic movies about a boy that falls for a girl, but what makes them different? Well, the way the events are arranged and carried out. The way the writer arranged the events makes the entire story difference. So, God is the perfect writer and this is a sample as to why!
Not too long ago, I sat at the emergency room waiting for the hospital staff to find a room for my father, who was there for his kidney stones. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but marvel in amazement at how the hand of God had worked in my life over the past few months to get me to this point.
It was Monday morning when this happened. A few months before, the doctors had scheduled an appointment for my dad to have a heart procedure. Unaware of the events that would follow, the appointment that was scheduled months in advanced happened to fall on the Tuesday following the Monday that he has been admitted for his kidney stones. How could that be! One was scheduled months in advanced and the other was a middle of the night rush to the emergency room! Well, the perfect writer writes the perfect stories.
God knew that my dad has these hidden kidney stones. He knew that if he was to do his heart procedure then be in pain for kidney stones, the doctors wouldn’t be able to do anything. So, the Heavenly Father arranged things in away that before my father undergoes the heart procedure he would have to take care of his kidney stones.
This was only one of the things that amazed me. There is more. For some reason I had my nephews car seats in my car. The night before the hospital I was telling my mom that the seats are crowding my car, we decided to put them back in her car, but we didn’t. And so the next morning we went to the hospital, and as my mom stayed with my dad, my sister and her husband went to work, I had to pick up the kids from school. It just so happened that the car seats were conveniently placed in my car.
But wait there is more.... A few months back I was interested in going to a conference in Boston. My plan was to leave on Wednesday to spend a few extra days there. However, that plan was put on hold because of a job offer I received from Lebanon for a summer project. Now, the summer project didn’t work out, and I didn’t book for the conference. Which brings us to the week before the procedure; I was asked to interview for a position I had applied for a few months back. I had intended to schedule the interview for Monday morning (AKA same Monday as the kidney stone incident), but do to scheduling conflicts on their ends it was postponed until Wednesday, yes it’s the same Wednesday I had intended on being in Boston. So basically God permites the Lebanon discussion so that I do not book for the conference. He didn’t allow me to book for the conference because He in His divine providence knew that I would have a job interview that same day. He also knew that my father needed the procedure on Monday and shouldn’t do the one on Tuesday before, and that I couldn’t not attended the interview had it been that same day.
So, God the perfect writer arranged the events so perfectly that everything is resolved at the end though His presence.
Before the volatile currents of doubt I collapsed. I didn’t doubt my faith; I didn’t doubt the love of my eternity. What I did doubt was Pure Love’s intention for my life. Before Him I stood with my nothingness screaming at Him, screams that were not audible to anyone else, but Him, I, and the evil one who stood at a distance laughing at what he thought would be the end of me.
I screamed at Him, doubting all my life choices. I reminded Him that there wasn’t a single choice that took in my life that I didn’t spend hours upon hours praying before taking it. He led me; He opened the doors, but at that instant I doubted if it was Him or I. Was I led by my desires? Or was the one whom I sought the one leading?
I scolded Him for not taking better care of me. I doubted Pure Love’s intention. This lasted but a few minutes, but in those minutes I have crucified Him. How awful are the wounds caused by a loved one! I wounded by savior’s heart. I, whom had proclaimed His mercy at every chance, wounded His heart by claiming He wasn’t merciful enough.
I cringe as I write these words, remembering how merciless I was to one that gave me my life in exchange for His. I have not gone to confession yet, but I will at the earliest possibility. However, I know that I have already been forgiven.
The prior week, there was one verse that constantly resounded in my ears, and it was more profound as I screamed. “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Matthew 19:27. In my heart I knew exactly what the answer was. “Everything”. He offered me everything.
like a little child after a tantrum, I fell asleep as my Father rocked my crib. Despite all that I had said to Him, He held me closer to His heart. I woke up with a little more peace in my heart. The next day at mass this was a part of the reading “This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” All my life I had considered myself like one of the ones that understood without parables. In fact by His grace I too spoke in figurative language to get my point across. But that day was different. That day I knew that His words were addressing me. I was looking at the fountain of His mercy, by my eyes refused to see. I experienced the sound of that fountain, but my ears refused to hear. Why? Because I was like a lottery winner looking at the dollar I lost instead of looking at the Jackpot that I had won. I was more upset over paying a dollar for a ticket than keeping that dollar for myself.
I was looking at what could have been. Then, like a role of film shuffling before my eyes, I saw people who have been positively effected by the choices that I have made. Without my Jesus opening the doors for my degree in Theatre, I would have never started making videos about Him. Maybe I wouldn’t be writing today, maybe I wouldn’t have had the time to spend hours at adoration. It’s true, over the years, my degree bought me what collectively would amount to no more than $600 in revenue, but it has reminded souls of the mercy of our Good Lord. I have been blessed with two other Graduate degrees, but my impatience had taken over me.
But, a moment of doubted was not the end of me. The evil one laughed but for a moment, but Lord would not let me go. I did not collapse before doubt, I knelt with my forehead to the ground asking God for help. The words I chose were not the kindest, but as the Bible says “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” Romans 8:26. How is that possible? Well, when a weeping child cries for ice cream around his nap time, the mother knows that he doesn’t need ice cream, he needs to sleep. So she takes what he is demanding and offers him what he needs.
Don’t be afraid to come to God with your doubts. His love is so endless and His mercy is so boundless. Tell Him. Tell Him everything in your soul even if the words sound like nonsense. Sometimes It is better to collapse in tears before Him, than to try to face the doubts on your own. It’s like swimming in the ocean. Sometimes you see a wave that you know you can’t ride, so you go underwater for few seconds until it passes. Otherwise it will toss you to where you don’t want to go.
Christ is risen! He is truly Risen! المسيح قام حقاً قام
“He called me and I couldn’t say no!” - Never in my life did I actually think that I would say that to anyone, but I did. See the problem was that I had always heard nuns say it and since this is not my calling, I never thought I’d would be able to say it. I said it, smoothly and without even thinking about. I said it in the smallest situation. “He called me and I couldn’t say no!”
I always struggled with the idea that asks, is my “yes” enough for God? Or did He ask for more and I said “no”? It turns out my “yes” was and is enough. Even though I didn’t chose monastic life, my “yes” to the Lord was and is enough. This may be an easy concept for some to grasp, but if your like me then it’s been a life long struggle.
The truth is God calls us to different tasks, the important thing is to be ready to say “He called me, and I couldn’t say No!” These could be a call to anything, it maybe to pray the rosary, read the Bible, or go to daily mass. It may not be something considered religious, it maybe making sandwiches for the hungry or knitting blankets for those stuck in the cold. What is He calling you to do today?
How is He calling you to live this mess we call life?
Good Friday just passed, in a three hour service I prayed an accumulated amount of 5 minutes. My nephews and nieces were there. So, basically anyone sitting within our radius also prayed an accumulated amount of 5 minute. As I stood there, pondering how my prayer life has changed from the pre-kids years, I realized that God is calling me to this mess. These 5 minutes were all that I needed. There is nothing about that service that I would have changed. Yes there was talking/crying/misbehaving, but they were amazingly beautiful. At that moment, in the middle of the service He called me to be with the little ones and I couldn’t say no.
God is alway calling us to be with Him, sometimes this mean praying for 5 minute out of the 3 hours and taking care of the kids for the rest. Sometimes life gets messy, but it doesn’t mean I am no longer answering God’s call! He doesn’t require more than the five minutes when there are other tasks at hand because He is working though them, so long as we keep Him at the center of the mess. I prayed as I carried my crying nephew.
He called me to everything in life and I couldn't say no!
The Silent Genocide
During Armenian genocide, many Armenians we’re killed, while others fled the county. The countries that heard their cries welcomed them, Lebanon was one of them. Lebanon is a small country, never had many resources, but when Armenia cried, Lebanon did what it can to wipe away the tears. Growing up in Lebanon, one of the vivid images I often saw at the commemoration of ithe Armenian Genocide is an image of Armenian women hanging naked on the cross. Years later, the sound weeping has not been forgotten. It has not been forgotten because it was heard and people responded to that pain with a shelter.
“I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’” Matthew 25:35-36
No, this article isn’t particularly about the Armenian Genocide. It’s rather about The Silent Genocide we face today.
You see, there is a Lebanese proverb that says
“What the eye doesn’t witness will not make the heart ache.” Today, our society faces a major genocide that many of us do not account for, ABORTION. Abortion is the genocide we face today. Unlike the case of the Armenians the cry of the unborn cannot be heard. The weeping cannot be seen. There are no images of crucified/aborted individuals sacrificed on the alter of martyrdom.
Unlike the case above, destruction isn’t coming from a stranger, but rather a mother. She who across the world is regarded as the highest form of love possible, is the cause of displacement. Those children that are being murdered have no other choice. There is no where to flee, nor is there a place of refuge where they can settle. Why should their genocide be any different from the mass genocides of the past? Why do should it continue to be overlook? Well, it’s easy to ignore what we don’t see or hear. How can we hear the cries of those killed in a dark alley?
Yes, I know your probably thinking, “Rita what do you know about the difficulties that these women face? How dare you sit here judging them?” You’re right, I don’t know their difficulties, but I do know is that killing is not the way to solve problems. We have seen it in history over and over again, people assassinate others to get rid of the problem. They want that problem to go away rather than find other solutions. In today’s world, the child is the problem.
As for judging, I pray that this is never the case. God’s mercy and forgiveness changed my life. He did not judge me, I pray that I do not judge either. However, an action that it’s erroneous does not change its status. It remains wrong. Sacrificing others has and always been wrong through different cultures.
However, let’s say these women do not have an abortion, the problem has not be solved. These women are still living in poverty. They are still struggling to get by. If not abortion then what is the solution? Many people say why don’t people adopt these children. That is a good solution, but with the amount of abortions done today it seem very unrealistic. But what if there is another solution? What if instead of funding the abortion industry that money is used to fix our welfare system? What if instead of having three months of maternity leave, the women can have a year like other countries do? Then maybe these women would not feel like they don’t have a choice. If we as a society acted to fix our social system then maybe we there would be no need for abortions. I don’t believe that these women are heartless, I believe that they are oppressed. I don’t believe that there is anyone out there that would want to kill their child for the sake of the self. I think these women feel that they do not have a choice. So Pro Choice is actually pro-lack-of—choice.
If you had an abortion, I want you to know that you are loved the way you are. You have been forgiven and your sins washed away with the blood of the Lamb. God loves you and so do I! I hope that you do not find my statements to be a judgement, but rather a sisterly advice. I am praying for you and I ask you to please pray for me.
Silence between strangers meeting for the first time is awkward. Silence between those in love is profound. It’s the moment when love is not shared through words or demonstrated by actions, but rather transmitted straight through the heart. It’s like a Bluetooth, when I turn my car on, my phone and my car automatically connect to each other. They know each other by name. We call that pairing.
So the Bluetooth in my car and that of my phone connect to each other, but there is one key factor, the device has to be available for the pairing to occur. It cannot be paired to another device.
In silence God can speak to our hearts, because silence between us and God is not awkward, but profound. Just like the Bluetooth device He picks up our hearts in silence and we pick up His grace through the Holy Spirit. Just like the Bluetooth device, our hearts have to be available to connect with God or else His message may not enter our hearts.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24
The silence I am speaking of doesn’t have to mean the absence of noise, but rather the absence of everything that distract me from God’s voice. There were time where in the middle of a party, He spoke to my heart. There are times when I pray and listen to secular music and still I feel Him guiding me. I am not a noteworthy example, but rather a humble one.
With a quite heart, pair with Christ, let His love be transmitted to the world through you!
Hey! I am Rita A. Saikali. This is my humble experience with my wonderful Jesus. Thank you for reading.