The Sweetest Thing

As couples our age are wont to do (I think), we got to talk about like, death, and eternity. 

Not surprisingly, my practical side emerged, and said, "I don't want you to die before me. I wouldn't know what to do."

Then he replied, "I try to live a righteous life here so if I have to go before you,  I can intercede for you and the kids in Heaven."

Isn't that the sweetest thing a man can say to his wife?


Consistency in 2017

Thank God for cycles and calendars and clean slates. Can you imagine what it would be like to open a brand new planner, sniff its pages, and glide your hand across the smooth pages, but feel weary and lethargic on the first day of the year? What a disconnect!

But because we have days, weeks, months, seasons, and years that roll along, one after the other, we can mark beginnings and endings, work and rest, resolutions and examinations. Not that the error and sins of the past should be forgotten; heavens, no! We are able to deal with those errings, though, because of the hope, second chances, and optimism afforded by each beginning.

Saint Joseph, you who consistently obeyed
what God asked you to do, pray for us.
The case at hand being the start of 2017. I have set up a total of four calendars in my work space and our bedroom alone (talk about overkill). While I have not written down my resolutions, I made a general promise to myself that I will just do things in a better way and be less, well, lazy. 

I should, of course, be more specific. Vague plans lead to zero results. So I take up the priest's advice during my Advent confession: pray everyday, prioritize your home duties, and reassess how you use the Internet (I hang my head in shame.). Nice resolutions on the surface, but without heroic amounts of good faith, fortitude, perseverance, and "related virtues" (my catch-all term), they can remain resolutions throughout the year. Who will I be fooling?

So I consider consistency. Conscious, deliberate, and regular practice of virtues until they become second nature. Until they surface amidst ebb and flow.

Practicing virtue on the first few days of the year is almost no virtue because everything is fresh and the adrenaline from the holidays has not leveled off. But when the glitters and baubles have been packed and the tedium creeps in so slowly that I don't even notice it until the hampers are overflowing and I am missing my work deadlines... there, right there, I can use some virtues. But they won't be around to get me through if I haven't been practicing them consistently in the first place. 

I suppose consistency is the force that will sustain good actions, the beating in the heart that will keep me humming along while traveling on good roads and bad roads. Must be a good thing to have then. 

Consistency, I guess I'll take you on this year. 


Ten Blessings that I Routinely Overlook

Image courtesy of nalinratphi
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In no particular order:

1. A glass of clean drinking water

2. Waking up in the morning

3. Breathing with no difficulty

4. A sturdy umbrella for the monsoon rains

5. A bowl of sweet-smelling rice

6. The hubby and the kids all in for dinner

7. My parents, both still alive and reasonably healthy

8. A little money for the book sale

9. Durable rubber sandals

10. Piping hot coffee, of course


"Give Me Back the Zeal of My First Conversion"

Many years ago -- as a college student, I suppose -- I heard somebody share a prayer that stayed with me since me since then. And the prayer is this: Lord, give me back the zeal of my first conversion. 

We can experience conversion daily, like when we say our night prayers and resolve to do better the following day. We can experience conversion more than once each day, like when we mumble hurried but sincere words of contrition after a deliberately mean act. To be authentic, conversion doesn't have to come with the drama of Paul's conversion (blindness would definitely scare me), but if it does, let's thank the Lord for the unequivocal affirmation!

Still, I am sure that for each one of us, after our Baptism and as grown-ups, there still was that first conversion. I venture that that first conversion came when as independently thinking and free individuals, we felt God's promptings and decided to follow Him deliberately and wholly with our hearts. Maybe we felt it during a moment of gratitude for blessings undeserved, during a moment of awe while we were studying science, philosophy, or the humanities and reason led us to regard the omnipotence of God, or during a moment of helplessness when as young parents, we realized that bringing up our children can be an overwhelming responsibility.

And with that first conversion came zeal in our hearts. I heard a priest say that the heart is made up of our mind and our emotions, and I believe him. Thank God that the mind is relatively stable compared to our emotions because after the emotions that came with that first conversion have leveled off, the mind -- guided by faith, prodded on by hope, and acting on love -- is still there to carry the work of conversion.

The mind -- reliable, resilient, and constant. It plods on insisting that zeal doesn't have to come with drum rolls and fireworks. The love, vigor, and determination in our hearts can be just as real in the silence of drudgery. And that silence is profound and comforting because God speaks in silence.

Not that emotions are a useless nebula. Cannot joy, excitement, and laughter make elbow grease seem like caramel or chocolate syrup? That is why when the work of conversion gets too tough, demanding, and protracted, we miss the happy heartbeats and the easy laughter. Because while the mind can and does plod on, the heart misses the cheer and kick of emotions.

Might that be the dryness or the dark night that Saint Mother Teresa spoke of? Or maybe just a faint hue of that darkness? I don't know. I feel preposterous asking that question! How dare me compare my circumstances with that of a saint!

But yes, these days, I pray that prayer I heard long ago and have kept in my heart since. Lord, give me back the zeal of my first conversion. 

Saint Mother Teresa, please intercede for me.


Try Another Clue

My lola (grandmother), mom, and brother are mean crossword puzzlers, if that is what you call people who do crossword puzzles. That makes for three generations of mean crossword puzzlers. I wish I can say that I am in the rank of the third generation meanies, but I can't. At my request, my mom used to leave the one-star puzzles for me to answer. While I made honest efforts to fill in the tiny intersecting boxes, I never progressed to her level. 

Still, when I chanced on a crossword puzzle book that I had bought maybe three years ago, but never had the time for, I was actually thrilled. I have been wondering about active means of leisure other than reading (active, i.e., versus the passive means of leisure, such as watching TV and YouTube-ing), and there it was. 

So these days whenever I can grab a few minutes, I happily plod on, threshing out the clues, trying this answer and then that, furiously erasing answers more often than I care to, and now and then joyously regarding a block of letters that I neatly meshed myself. 

Try another clue. Try another clue. Try another clue. I may never get to those three-star puzzles, but the motto works well for me. 

This is a link to the puzzle book pictured above, although I purchased my copy from a local bookstore.