Monday, July 18, 2016

Journey to Kraków

It's been a long couple months prepping for World Youth Day. Looking back at the past year so far, 2016 has probably been the year I made the biggest advancements and growth in my personal life and my faith, and for that I could not be more grateful to God and the wonderful people that surround me, challenge me, and encourage me to grow and push myself towards greatness.

In just a few hours we begin our journey towards Poland and St. John Paul II's stomping grounds. Even the thought of walking the same ground as St. JPII walked in that holy and beautiful country fills me with much excitement and anticipation.

Perhaps most people are surprised of the fact that I am not expecting too much. It is because of the understanding that everything I will be given during this pilgrimage is a gift from God and everything I experience will be a blessing that is willingly given. So I willingly take - without hesitation, without expectation, without standards of how this will go. Especially considering that this is my first World Youth Day, I really do not know what to expect. But I want to get the most out of this experience and receive everything the Lord wants to give me during these next two weeks.

So off we go. I consider myself very fortunate and very blessed to be able to make a pilgrimage like this; a pilgrimage that many only dream of and desire in their lives. And I know that one thing is for certain: there are many, many graces available and I cannot wait to receive whatever the Lord wishes to give me.

Verso l'alto.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Halfway through Lent

So we're twenty days out of forty into Lent. (Technically twenty three out of forty-six if you're counting Sundays). So what's the verdict?

The past three weeks have definitely been an incredible experience and journey for me and I spent a lot of that time basking in the Lord's presence and generally enjoying a beautiful and fruitful time. They say that getting to the halfway point is the hardest part of the journey, and that once you're halfway you're basically home free.

Unfortunately, that doesn't really seem to be the case with Lent. At least, it doesn't seem the case for me, for Lent. This is a difficult season... it's a season of repentance, of growth, of discipline, of weeding out old habits and beginning the process of separating yourself from things that are holding you down from your relationship with God. Although that sounds pleasant and wonderful, when you actually get to the humanity level of it, and you see someone like me, you realize it's a lot more painful and a lot more difficult than what may be depicted.

This is a time when we realize that that thirst, that yearning, that we feel in our daily lives can only be satisfied by God. It's a time of saying goodbye to ourselves and realizing that we can't actually do all that much on our own, and that ultimately our ego has to go if we truly want to live. Because only Christ can give life, and only Christ can satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts at those times when we are even too scared to look at ourselves, in our heart of hearts, and see what might be there.

Although I am thankful and relish this incredible time of consolation and comfort from God, I know it cannot last - and the painful process of ridding yourself of poison (with His help) and cleaning those battle wounds? - that has just begun. And it's a journey I am glad to have started, but it's a journey and a process I know will not stop when Lent ends later this month. It's a process that must be committed to, that must be chosen, that must be endured.

Honestly, I have broken all of my Lenten promises at least once since Ash Wednesday, and we just reached the halfway point. As amazing as it would have been to go all forty days keeping those promises and those commitments, and how great bragging rights I can get or whatever if I kept those; I sit here, writing this blog post, and have realized in this process how thankful I am to have actually broken all these 'Lenten promises'. I'm not saying that the commitments and promises meant nothing to me, and I did indeed try my very hardest with them, but what would surviving forty days without internet on my phone have gotten me? What would serving forty days without complaining gotten me? I would have grown in a lot of virtue and probably have been a lot more productive with my time away from home. But looking back now, perhaps breaking these promises taught an even more important lesson to me this Lent, one that perhaps God wanted to teach me more sitting in my current spot in life: that WE'RE NOT PERFECT.

But God is. We can try all we want, but the very fact of the matter is that we can't be perfect. We aim to be perfect, but we're not at the present state. We're not perfect because we don't love God as perfectly as we should. God makes us perfect. God completes us. And only with God and His assistance can we become perfect.

We all try too hard to figure it all out on our own. We want to solve our own problems, we want to think that we don't need to rely on other people. While that's very admirable, there are and will be times in our lives when that simply won't be feasible - there will come a time when we realize that we really can't do it all on our own, no matter how much we don't like to say or hear that fact. I truly believe that God is allowing this period of desolation for me because I need to learn precisely that: I have become too comfortable in doing things by myself and have become too reliant on myself to the point where that can become prideful. And pride is the man's ultimate undoing. It is the root of sin and it is the root of everything that is wrong in this world. Love has no room for pride. I am standing here, in this place in my life - physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, relationally - because of the grace of God and through hundreds of thousands of others souls' influences, whether they be positive, negative, or anything in between.

So although I have been experiencing a lot of pain and suffering the past couple days, I am ready for all that this Holy Lent has to offer me and I am ready for all else that God is trying to speak to me this Lent, and through the rest of my life. We grow in desolation, and although this time, this healing and growing time, is difficult, it is the only way to grow stronger and blossom into all that God is calling us to be.

So fight on, brothers and sisters. Pray for me.

Pax semper vobiscum.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


During a truly striking talk I heard during CCO Rise Up this Christmas, André Regnier, the co-founder of CCO, mentioned that "we all have a love language. The Father's love language is MERCY." This is how God communicates His love for us - through this personal, freely offered mercy. And how life-changing that mercy is.

That's incredible on so many levels to hear, especially in this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Father offers this mercy to us, and it is absolutely nothing that we deserve or merit for ourselves - but something generously given as a demonstration of the Father's heart.

That mercy changes us.

We all need to experience this mercy, to experience this forgiveness. Even thinking back to my own 'conversion', or reawakening, or reinvigoration back into the faith (or what have you), the biggest part of that was an experience of the Father's love, the Father's heart - through the mercy that He offers us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It's incredible the effect of simple words "You are forgiven" can have on us and our lives. It's a burden lifted, it's a burden carried by Jesus on His cross that we no longer have to carry - and as a result, we are changed.

This freedom and joy is offered to all of us and it's incredible how much that we all grasp at just about everything else to find that freedom and acceptance and peace and joy - but fall just short of finding God. The Evil One wants us to believe that we are not worthy of God, that we are not worthy of His forgiveness and His mercy that He offers us. That we have fallen into a hole that is so deep, that now because we are no longer worthy of achieving God, we must look towards the world and 'settle' for something that's smaller than the great mercy of God.

But God doesn't want us to settle. He wants us - He's pursuing us.

And that is something that is so beautiful that I cannot begin to fathom. Is our God really that good? Is He that relentless? Somedays I find it hard to believe myself. Well, most of the time. It's hard to imagine a God that is so good, so loving, so perfect - because all we have to work with here on earth is a broken world, and we are a broken people. But I can have trust that it is my brokenness that God desires to heal, and that is what He came down to heal. And that is what He is offering every day in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It's perhaps a mystery that I will never understand until I meet Him, but it is a mystery that I choose to delight in.

Rise Up in Montréal was a stunning experience for me and really helped me in my prayer life and relationship with God. I was given an opportunity to just let Him delight in me. Everything was so beautiful, and the experiences I had were so blessed - I could hardly imagine the beauty of God after experiencing the beautiful Notre Dame, the expansive Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, and the humble but stunning St. Joseph's Oratory. Each of these three churches took my breath away - and how much more infinitely beautiful and stunning is God, compared to these man-made buildings, man-made interpretations of God?

We are no longer slaves to fear, to our sin, to our doubts, to our brokenness. We are children of God. And it is time for us to let Him delight in us as we run towards His awaiting arms of mercy.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Good, Good Father

Just a quick update, because I truly realize that I haven't posted in a really long time.

It's been a very busy past few months, being neck-deep into my third year of university education and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. I'm not going to lie and say it was easy; it was certainly a very difficult four months for me in all aspects: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I would not have traded any of it for anything, but it was a hectic and busy time filled with and not exclusive to school, work, youth ministry, CCO, Spirit Day, and World Youth Day 2016 prep. Throughout this time I barely had time to breathe, to think, and to pray. However, this is the kind of environment that the Thomasian brain thrives in - this is the environment he loves. Although sometimes I wish I could just learn to take a break!

Although riddled with dryness and lukewarmness all-around, there have been many incredible blessings throughout the past semester: perhaps one of the biggest ones being the priestly ordination Mass for two priests in our Archdiocese - it was a truly blessed and wonderful evening. I've realized that God loves to spoil us and impress us, and the beautiful sensory experience that was the ordination Mass is something that can hardly be put into words. Great spiritual conversations with some of the seminarians that I call as close as brothers ended off the night.

Little things. It's easy for God to do the big things, to put on a spectacle, isn't it. After all, He's God! But I've come to the realization that He also loves to work through the tiny moments: an interaction with a customer, a smile with a stranger on the street, getting the perfect nap on the morning commute, coffee with a friend. That's God for you - He is so infinite that He can never be fully comprehended by our feeble, human brains. Yet, there's the beauty in the mystery - we don't have to fully comprehend Him for us to realize that our hearts are moulded for Him, our souls yearn and thirst for Him; that He and only He, who is the Beginning and the End; who is, who was, and who is to come; can satisfy us and bestow on us the greatest of joys, peace, and love.

One of such little things that God worked in my life this past week was at work - probably one of the most secular places in my life. Unmistakably, "Good, Good Father" - a beautiful song by Chris Tomlin, played over the speakers at my work. It was a strange moment, a colliding of two worlds, a beautiful and salient reminder that God is here - no matter how hidden He may seem or how absent He may seem. And right then and there, I went on with my daily activities with that silent prayer: thank You Lord. Thank You. It was with that incredible peace that I can just hear Him say, "it's going to be alright. Trust."

Maybe I'm just incredibly giddy at having my own, personal praise+worship session right at work; or maybe there's an incredible prayer hearing Chris Tomlin sing,

"I've seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we're all searching 
for answers only You provide."

In this season of Advent, my prayer for you and my prayer for myself is that we may all continue to grow in our faith and trust in our Lord. He is God; He is timeless. He knows what He's doing. The God of the Universe, the creator of the mighty mountains and the delicate roses, the crashing storms and the gentle breeze wants to know us and care for us. I think it's about time we let Him be our good, good Father.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Every year, the Archdiocese's Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office puts on a faith rally, pre-Confirmation event for the grade sevens in our Archdiocese - and every year, the Everything Skit is performed for the audience. It's an incredibly touching skit that depicts a girl through her struggle with sin and her acceptance of Jesus - her choice of Him, and in turn the awesome sacrifice that Jesus went through, freely, for all of us on the Cross in hopes that one day, with it now being possible, we will choose to reunite with Him.

The skit has always resonated with me very deeply in connection with my own sinfulness. I reject God, and have rejected Him, too many times in my life to count. The skit makes very real the struggle that I face and have faced, and for that I often find myself in tears because it is so exhausting and most of the time there is no hope in sight.

But the skit always helps me realize something else as well: it's the extreme lengths that God will go to bring me back. One of my favourite parts of the skit is when the vices struggle to grab the girl as Jesus protects her - with His cross - from all the sin that we struggle from. That chains us, that keeps us under. And that strikes me with an incredible amount of love and hope. Because God does that for me. He does it for you. It brings me to tears realizing that the fight is not a fight I have to do alone, but a fight that the God of the universe is fighting with me.

Recently, I have gotten the chance to be in the skit as a vice. And as much as I had learned from the skit as a spectator, I am beginning to see all the ways that I can learn from just being in the skit myself. It is a lot harder, and a lot more exhausting, and a lot more physically draining, than it appears on stage or on video. That reminds me of my own personal fight with sin. It is not going to be an easy fight, and often I will indeed be left bruised, and hurt, and fallen, and there are times when we must take the initiative and say, "Lord, I love You more than I love my sin, and today I am going to choose to run to you." The fight is long and drawn out, and often it feels like it will never end and we will always be caught in this constant state of motion: fighting, falling, getting back up.

But suffering passes, and if I am sure of anything, I am sure of that fact. Because God fights for me. And He does so every day of my life. And I can have full confidence that no matter how much I run from him, He will never give up on me, and He will always be waiting for me to return home.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Even if everyone says 'no'

Day 63 of IMPACT | July 5, 2015

Living in community with six other brothers in Christ is an incredible experience: among all of these amazing reasons, one is getting so much inspiration and motivation from watching and experiencing their lives and hearing their stories. Seeing all my brothers living such authentic and joyful Catholic lives is so beautiful to me and so inspiring to me. It gives me role models to follow, brothers to walk with on the journey, and fuels in me a great hope for the future of the Church.

It is from one of these brothers I live with that the following reflection comes from: in the face of desolation and spiritual attack, it is wonderful to have companions that can speak God's word to me and life me up in desolation.

Last Friday, we participated our second Nightfever adoration event - a time when the doors of the Church are opened and we invite and encourage people passing by to come in and offer a candle and prayer for someone they love or someone that is in their heart. It is a very beautiful, non-intimidating way to expose people to the beauty of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and allow Jesus to continue to work in their lives through the Source and Summit of our faith - the Eucharist.

Being on street team is an incredibly humbling experience for me - especially since many people who we talk to on the street don't agree to come in and most walk by without even making eye contact. It's a sad exposure to where we are in our current society, where human interaction is often replaced by a preference to online and virtual interactions - even when there are real people around us.

However, my brothers have helped me to see how incredible an experience this is. A lot of the times, we honestly don't see the fruits of our labour - it is not something God allows all the time (and thank God for that - it keeps me humble). It is so easy during those times, to lose track of what we're doing and be entirely focused on seeing results, on seeing people walk into the Church, to see our words affect others.

Ultimately, it's the Holy Spirit that moves in us. And even if that person says no, we need to still believe that the Holy Spirit is still planting seeds and moving within them. I think especially me, I am so focused on that desire that I could 'convert' someone or help someone come back to the Church, and see them experience the same joy I've experienced. But honestly, that is not a gift for me to have, at least most of the time. It's an incredible blessing from God if we do see that - but most of the time, it's not for us to experience.

But just because we don't see results doesn't mean we stop fighting, that we stop sharing, that we stop having that heart for the lost. Sometimes we (I) need to be reminded that results don't matter. Because the results are up to God. I will fight the good fight. And let the Spirit do the rest.

"All that matters is that Jesus be proclaimed, that is what brings me joy." - Philippians 1:18

Veni Sancte Spiritus.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

God is indeed working

Day 48 of IMPACT | June 20, 2015

At the beginning of every formation session on Saturday mornings with IMPACT, the floor is open and we are invited to share 'glory stories' with the rest of the team. This is a way of acknowledging everything that God is doing in our lives, but also as a way to celebrate the wonderful things that are happening on mission and the blessings that we, as a team, are experiencing on a day to day basis. It is truly a beautiful and humbling experience to be able to hear the experiences of the other missionaries and at times, to share my own in celebration of what God has done for me.

It has been continually spiritually dry for me over the past few days (maybe even week), but it was truly so uplifting to see all the ways that God was working in the lives of the missionaries around me. Many of the stories left me in a state of awe and wonder at what the Lord can do and just how good He is to us.

Listening to glory stories are so wonderful for me and my own life. Sometimes, when I feel like God isn't working in my life, He truly is - just that He didn't choose to be as visible as He was in some other situations. These stories, however, are so inspiring to me and helps affirm for me the fact that God is indeed working, even though very often we don't notice it or see it.

These moments of consolation are so valuable and treasured, and I am so thankful that I am able to get them from such a good Lord. My hope as I continue to learn and grow is that I will be able to use these moments of consolation as boosts and as motivation during times when I feel desolate, alone, distant or unmotivated.

God is working during IMPACT, and He is doing incredible things (as He is God!) I am so proud to be able to simply be a part of this and let God do incredible things through me.