Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Removing The Stain Of Sin

I'd admit: I am not the most delicate of eaters. I tend to rush my meals because of an irrational fear that someone in a bear suit will appear out of nowhere, grab my lunch and run away leaving me hungry. Thus my on-going therapy, and the necessary gobbling of meals, all of which results in me habitually leaving unsightly food stains on my shirt. (Yew!)

The Office of Readings recently has St. Francis admonishing us to "give alms because they purify our souls from the stain of sin." I found the expression 'stain of sin' to be provoking. Obviously St. Francis did not mean that forgiveness of sin is earn by doing good works such as almsgiving. Forgiveness comes through grace by the cross made accessible by the sacrament. The 'Stain' that is left by the sin however, is another matter.

What are stains you ask? Well, besides a factor contributing to me not aceing that job interview, a stain is basically a discoloration that can be seen in contrast to the surface it is on, e.g. my white job interview shirt. It is caused by a physical or chemical interaction between two dissimilar materials, or in my case, dropping the overly-oily pork belly on my shirt, my clean sparkling white Interview shirt. Despite removing the pork belly, a stain ensues, a mark is left - damming evidence of my stupidity, general motor-skills and paranoia towards pouncing sports mascots.

I find that to be true in my spiritual life. Sins committed leave stains. A lingering after-effect. Sins are not confined to a singular event of sin, they leave impressions on our souls in ways that become part of our souls and leaves us susceptible. There is a Spiritual-chemical interaction that leaves a discoloration on our Moral Fabric. (see what I did there?) Most of the time, even having removed the pork belly of sin through the sacrament of reconciliation, I find myself returning back to my old patterns. (I am sure I am the only person who experiences this except maybe the two of you still reading this far.) Even though the sin and the guilt of sin is removed, there is still a discoloration remaining on my Will.

Enter the Francis Stain-Removal System® - Alms-giving. St. Francis advises rubbing a little Almsgiving on the stain of sin and letting it sit overnight before washing. Why? What is it about Almsgiving that removes the stain of sin? There are at least 5 reasons:

1. Almsgiving attacks the root of most sins - self-centeredness.

2. Almsgiving helps us turn our eyes to what is important to God's heart - the needy.

3. Almsgiving helps us to be more acutely and reflexively aware of our own spiritual neediness.

4. Almsgiving helps us to experience the fulfilling joy that comes from generosity, to the expanse of fleeting happiness from sin & selfishness that leaves us empty.

5. Almsgiving helps us to appreciate what we have received from God and so shared in gratitude.

Essentially what Almsgiving does, if done sincerely, is to incline our Wills to love - loving God, loving others and loving ourselves. It changes the patterns of our will and helps to restore the true hues of our soul - the colour of God's love. (Pantone 3:16) Generosity, Spiritual poverty, fulfilling joy and gratefulness are all very effective solvents on our moral fabric and strengthens our conscience against sin by inclining it towards good. The outward act of Almsgiving strengths our inner will to choose good over evil, generosity over selfishness, others over ourselves, joy over emptiness. This removes the stain of sin, turn our heart to God and helps us ace that eschatological job interview. (Or Last Judgement)

So let's take the advice of the guy wearing the hooded brown Lab Coat and rub some Almsgiving on the stain of sin today. And please, do yourself a favour and keep your pork on your fork.

"But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you." Luke 11:41

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Master's Vessel


The Master was searching for a vessel to use.

On the shelf there were many, which one would he choose?

Take me cried the gold one, I’m shiny and bright.

I’m of great value and I do things just right.

My beauty and luster will outshine the rest,

And for you, Master, gold would be the best.

The Master passed on with no word at all.

He looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall.

I’ll serve you dear Master, I’ll pour out your wine,

And I’ll be at your table whenever you dine,

My lines are so graceful, my carvings so true,

And my silver will always compliment you.

Unheeding, the Master passed on to the brass,

It was wide mouthed and shallow, and polished like glass.

Here, Here cried the vessel, I know I will do.

Place me on your table for all men to view.

“Look at me” cried the goblet of crystal so clear.

“My transparency shows my contents so clear.

Though fragile I am, I will serve you with pride.

And I’m sure I’ll be happy in your home to abide.”

The Master came next to a vessel of wood.

Polished and carved, It solidly stood.

“You may use me dear Master,” the wooden bowl said,

But I’d rather you used me for fruit, not for bread!”

Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay.

Empty and broken, it helplessly lay,

No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose,

To cleanse and make whole, to fill and to use.

Ah! This is the vessel I’ve been hoping to find,

I will mend and use it and make it all mine.

I need not the vessel with pride of itself.

Nor the one that is narrow to sit on the shelf.

Nor the one that is big mouthed, and shallow and loud.

Nor one who displays his contents so proud.

Nor the one who thinks he can do all things just right.

But this plain earthy vessel filled with my power and might,

Then He lifted the vessel of clay . . . .

Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day.

Spoke to it kindly, “There’s work you must do . . . .

Just pour out to others as I pour into you.

- Author Unknown

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Prayer In This Season


O Lord, in this season, may You help me to:

- focus on my Inner-Life

- value authenticity

- value growth and learning

- put my character first

- do good flowing out of being good

- build depth that I may have an inward security

- esteem substance

- genuinely celebrate others

- be secure and self-effacing

- have a quiet confidence

- be steady and calm

- disciplined in my daily quiet time

- respond rather than react to criticism

- empower and add value to others

- have a restedness of spirit

And be your good disciple.



Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I Am Here


Present at this moment. Present to this moment.
To remove all falsehoods and pretense
All empty hopes and temporal ambitions
All expectations heaped upon myself
And marred the image that You have made of me

Present at this moment. Present to this moment.
Slow my soul down and incline my heart to Your voice
How my soul aches and longs even for the slightest whisper
For even the softest of whisper carry the intents of Your will

Present at this moment. Present to this moment.
Shut my eyes to the worthless things and let me gaze forlorn
At things eternal, at things that matter
Awaken this sleeping sleeplessness within me

Present at this moment. Present to this moment.
Standing with You on the waters’ edge
Bid me to come to you, wind and waves submitted.
Only to You, present in this moment, at this moment, present.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

There's a Fly in my Perfume!

"As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor." Ecc 10:1

Came across this verse in my morning reflection. Small things can have big impact in one's life.

Perfume require a lot of hard work to make. It not enough to pour whole bunch of liquids together into a blender and wahlah - perfume. (thats juice) Perfume requires a lot of delicate preparation, study and understanding what works and what doesn't. Utimately, perfume are about making someone or a place more pleasant.

Dead flies mixed with perfume give off a foul smell. What is mean for good can quickly turn quite the opposite. A little yeast can raise the dough. A little fly can ruin everything. Makes smells smelly.

Foolishness can do that. It occurs to me that people are more forgiving towards a fool who behaves foolishly than someone who is perceived as wise and does 1 foolish act. It is because as the verse implies, we honor wise people. We hold them in esteem. Whereas when it comes to a person who consistently makes stupid mistakes, we go, 'thats just him. Expected one."

But when someone we perceives as wise does something foolish, we go, 'he should know better.'

As a leader, this is a sobering verse. It reminds me that trust and credibility built over many years can be lost in an instant of foolishness. Think Bill Clinton. Small stains can make big scandals. What was once life-giving can become a foul stumbling block

It reminds me to always keep a fly swatter over my heart and keep my conscience pure even against the smallest of sin.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Give me oil in my lamp

This morning, the Lord reminded me of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. They were bridesmaids waiting for the bridegroom to come. A group of them brought along extra oil for the wait. A group of them didn't . When the time came for the Bridegroom arrived, they foolish one realized that their oil had run out. The wise one, because they brought extra could keep their lamp burning at the decisive moment.

I am reminded that I need to continually ask God to fill my lamp with oil. To not grow complacent and lazy in asking the holy spirit to fill me with the anointing. With the Awaken camp a week away, I need to continue to stay awake and filled with the brim with God's power.

Fill me today, Holy Spirit, give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning. Keep me burning till the break of day.

I love you Jesus.

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