Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Mark 1:14-20 Following The Lord

As Jesus passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen.  Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Then they left their nets and followed him. 
When I read today’s Gospel passage, I am reminded of my own vocation. 
I never thought I would be a priest.  Never!  Never.  I grew up in a Catholic family but religion was not something that was forced down our throats.  Rather, getting a good education was.  Growing up in upstate New York, my dad always reminded me of the importance of getting a good education.  He appreciated what a good education had done for him.  It made life easier.  He was the only child in his family that went to college and earned a Ph.D.  He earned his doctorate in Jurisprudence. 
Now I have to admit, I wasn’t really interested in getting an education.  I was more interested in making money.  So, when it came to choosing a major, I chose the most marketable one around:  Imaging Science.  It paid off, and before I even graduated from R.I.T. with a B.S. degree in Imaging Science, I landed a job with the Eastman Kodak Company.  I was considered a “lucky” guy by many.  After all, “if you got a job with Kodak, then you had a job for life”.  How funny!  
But when I found out that I could make even more money with a Master of Science degree, I went to work on it and earned my M.S. in the same field of study.  It seemed to take forever to complete my thesis:  “A Computer Simulation of an Electrophotographic Halftone Device.”  [Remember FORTRAN and SLAM?], but I did. And after spending nearly every night for a year on it, I finally defended it in front of professors in my own department and in other scientific disciplines. 
Now that my life was set I was ready to have some fun.  I earned it.  But it was at this moment that my life turned right-side up. 
I began to date a young lady who was not a Catholic but a very committed Christian.  She loved Jesus Christ and she wanted to share her faith in Him with me.  I wanted nothing to do with it.  I thought it was great that she was a Christian (she had great morals), but I didn’t share in her zeal or passion for God or Church.  After all, I was pretty sure that all religions were the same and that they were all superstition. 
So while she was busy trying to convert me, I got to work trying to convert her; that is, make her see religion the way I saw it:  as nonsense. 
What better way to accomplish my mission than to use my own Church’s beliefs and tear them apart.  But I was shocked at what I found.  I was shocked because I discovered how wrong I was.  I thought I would find a bunch of superstitious nonsense; instead, I found out that I was the “superstitious” one, for what I thought the Church believed in was not at all what the Church believed in.  Finally, I came to realize the questions I had were not original at all.  In fact, they had been asked many years ago.  And I was surprised to learn that many of my questions had been asked before and answered long ago.       
Not too long after discovering my faith, I began to change my life.  I am so glad that I did.  My job would no longer be my life.  My beliefs would no longer be in manmade documents.  My security would no longer be in my job.  Rather, my life would be in God’s hands.  His commandments would be my code of conduct and my security would be in following Him. 
I hate repeating myself, but in the past I have said that most people are followers, very few are leaders.  Most people are “regurgitaters”, very few are thinkers.  So, the questions I asked myself were simple and straightforward:  Who do you wish to follow?  Who do you wish to model your life after?  Who do you wish to quote?  Who do you wish to be like?  Men or God?  How about both?  How about the God-Man:  Jesus Christ.
I did.  And I have never looked back for I have never found someone superior in character, in words, in deeds, in values, in moral, in principles, in conduct, in strength, in courage, in determination, in perseverance, in fortitude, in compassion, in mercy, in truth, in justice, and in love than the Lord.
It was at that moment that I saw the world (including myself) as it truly is:  upside down (or fallen).  When I changed my life, all I really did was to stop standing on my head. 
When we stand on our head we chase after the wrong things in life.  But every time we chase after the important things in life we begin to stand on our feet.  Yes, it’s the same world, but from a different perspective.  The former causes a lot of headaches.  The latter does not. 
Let’s follow the Lord.  Let’s leave our things and follow Him. 

10 comments:

  1. Wow!Reading this made me say that somehow it's same pattern that had happened to me.I just like to share Fr. Alfonso.Unlike you my mom and dad didn't have good education.My mom only reached sixth grade level while my dad 2nd grade level only.We're actually materially poor.But that's what I think one of the reason I'm walking with God now.Growing up particularly when I was in High School I considered it as the dark age of my life. I've struggled a lot trying to find out my identity.I suffer from envy,hatred,and the like.Sometimes I'm thinking why at a young age I always have to think of Him and obey Him while seeing other youth around me they are seem comfortable and happy with their life.They can get what they want so easily while I always have to struggle and never get it.Along the way I also meet "christians".Just last year I joined a bible study from where I was working-my first job after graduating.That bible study are held by "born again christians" (that's how they're called here in Philippines) but those people from other religion can join if they want to.Though that time I still seldom see myself read the bible.It was just like attend the study get overwhelmed then go home and still life's the same thing-God's not the focus.But it all change after I resigned 8 months after.But it made me confused of being a Catholic now.I didn't grow up in a religious family.I got to church alone every Sunday and just like other Catholics I was one of those who get sleepy during the mass.Then I start comparing it to "born again christian".I could say their members are more enthusiastic and active specially the youth.Maybe because of the music,that's what attracted me too.But I remember saying to myself before that "I was born Catholic,I'll die as Catholic."I remember few weeks before I resigned the leader of that bible study asked me what Church I'm attending now.By the word church I know she's trying to mean "born again" church.I said I'm still attending a Catholic church.At the back of my mind I said this is the time I don't wanna come.... 1/1

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  2. 2/2 ...The first time I joined what I only wanted is to know God more and better and I was thinking they're going to respect my religion and wouldn't asked me to be converted.They've tried to invite me in their church but I can't say NO directly that I had to make alibi.I'm really such a coward shy girl.I don't wanna disappoint them.Then on my new jo right now I met another "Christian" friend again and for the very first time I attended their church.The songs are amazing.It was awkward to raise my hands,then talk out loud to God,but I also cried.I wasn't used to that.There was even a part where we closed our eyes and then a man spoke very loud.I could tell it was coming from the back part of the room.I thought it was just like a role play-someone will act like Jesus and say what He wanna tell us like how much He loves us.Then after that my friend asked me I hear that.I said "of course" the she asked me if I believed that's Jesus.I stopped for few seconds thinking "Oh,I thought that was your pastor.I didn't thought that was Jesus Himself." Then I uttered the word "Yes".I don;t know ,Father,if I say NO she might get disappointed to me.If that's really Jesus talking I know I'll feel it.Maybe I would be at the state of mind and soul no one else can describe.I know we shouldn't depend on our feelings/emotions but I know that's not Him.Then that was the first and last time I attended.Then my aunt decided to have cable channel installed on TV and as I browse through the channel I saw EWTN then I happened to watch Journey Home and learned about the website ComeHomeCatholic.I can feel the desire in my heart to start being active in the church but my fear and doubts are holding me.

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  3. 3/3 I even plan to go to the near parish church and asked the different activities they have.These are the questions always popping in my mind "What if the priests or people involve there are not really dedicated,what if they're just one of those hypocrites Catholic-like they act like Saints inside but once they get outside the church they start saying "litany" of curses;or what if all members there are rich folks?I know they wanna serve but they'll have their own biases because they're living a comfortable life.It's easier to work with people who are also poor and victim of so pains or violence because they've been there.When they help they're really sincere about it.I know what I'm thinking are all wrong.I'm praying to God to enlighten my heart and my mind.I'm telling to myself to stop doubting and just move.I'm starting to earn money now so I could buy a catechism book or other Catholic books.Maybe I'm confused now but God always has answer.I'm tired being a hypocrite follower of Him-say sorry for my sins but still do them at the end.How many times I let Satan laughed at me and laughed at Him.This is too long Fr.Alfonso,if you've read this well THANK YOU so much!!!! <3 By the way,I'd just like to share my simple "blog" godlittleladydiary.blogspot.com/ ;D

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    Replies
    1. Hello Anonymous 4/4,
      I assure you that I have been where you are. You are in the dark, but just accept this Will of God for you. It is not easy, I know. But continue to listen to God's words: my grace is sufficient for you in every new present moment you live. God is only in the present moment. He is not in the past; He is not in the future. There is an actual grace for you in THIS moment. Just Be with Christ on His Cross right now. It is not a great feeling.... but I promise you, you will not believe what is to come. It is an amazing new life. Hang on. We, everyone in the Church, are with you.... if you know it or not...if we know it or not. We are one body! There is no other way that we could make it! It's a beautiful mystery! Thank you for sharing. It helps me to live my present moments even better!

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    2. Thank You for that.This makes me :D <3

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  4. Interesting and appreciated...Pat

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  5. Father, how did your father and girlfriend react when you told them that you were joining the seminary? What brought on the idea of becoming a priest if you never thought about it before? Just curious.

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  6. Yes Father Alfonse! :)
    I too.............. Would love to know your Father reaction?
    and what happen to that girlfriend, what was her reaction as well?? LOL


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  7. Father Alfonse,

    I wonder what happened to that girlfriend. I've heard you talk about her several times. What was her reaction when you told her of God's calling for you to be a priest? What was the reaction of your family? Do you ever hear anything about her now? Is there anyone else in your family that has been called to the religious life? Do you hear from people that you worked with at Kodak?

    You mentioned that you never thought you would be a priest. I'm so glad that I specifically asked for you on March 19, 2011 to give me support at a most difficult time in my life. You made a difference in my life on that day and many days since. I will always remember you having us take the picture of our rings together. Thought that was awesome and beautiful. I still have days when it's hard but you helped me realize the importance of God in my life and the importance of my Catholic Faith.

    I hope that you will be at St. Monica for a while because a lot of people have truly been blessed with you being a part of our community.

    God Bless You,
    Patty

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  8. The moral of the story: “I have chosen you, you have not chosen me.”
    My take on this scripture (your story) is that God puts in our DNA a yearning for Him (as you say to Love and be Loved). All He asks is that we search for the Truth in all honesty – which is really scary b/c we have to face the fact that we are not right. But when we stumble (only b/c of God’s grace) on the Truth we can no longer hide from ourselves. He puts in our DNA the path to our greatest fulfillment: giving of ourselves; being selfless; becoming another Christ - divine! So He has chosen us first! He made us that way! Each one of us is given a ‘road’ (vocation) to our greatest fulfillment, but in the end it’s the same fulfillment. We don’t have a choice in how we can truly be fulfilled….we just think we do. Our choices in finding what we think will fulfill us are vast and temporary until we find His path, which has always been the deepest part of our very being.

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