VICTOR S E MOUBARAK

Monday, 29 June 2009

The "dead".

Today, I wish to talk about something that is perhaps a little controversial: praying for the dead.

As Christians, we believe that our souls live on after our death. And that we shall be with God in Heaven, unless …. OK – no need to go there for now.

So if our deceased relatives and friends are in Heaven with Jesus; should we pray for them as some people do?

They are already in a happier place than down here on earth. Are we praying for God to look after them? – He is already doing that. Are we praying to them and asking them to intercede with God on our behalf? Well, here’s a subject for a debate if there ever was one.

There are people who believe we should not pray to anyone but God alone. So praying to dead relatives (or Saints) to intercede for us is perhaps a step too far.

Or is it?

As Christians, we believe that people like Mary, the mother of Jesus, Joseph, his earthly father, Peter and the other disciples are all in Heaven with God.

Is it wrong therefore to speak to them and say something like: Peter, in your moments of torment and confusion, you denied Christ three times; I’m sure you understand how I feel right now that my Faith is weak. Please help me in increasing and maintaining my Faith. (Or words to that effect).

Is it wrong to relate to a particular person (Saint) who once lived on earth and to communicate with them as we would with God?

In doing so we are not by-passing God, going behind His back, to obtain favours that He would not approve of. We are perhaps, in our human way, relating to someone human like us, who has lived on this earth like us, who has found favour in the eyes of God.

Having spoken or prayed to these individuals, the next question is: Do they respond?

How do you explain the many instances of miracles that happened, and still do, in the name of Saints?

I am thinking about Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje as well as other miracles performed as a result of prayers said to people like Padre Pio, Pere Charbel Makhlouf and others.

Did these people have anything to do with the miracles performed? Did God grant the miracles of healings asked for in their name? Or did these people (Saints) themselves perform the miracles (i.e. their living souls)?

Remember, the disciples performed miracles when here on earth – so why not perform them in Heaven?

Certainly questions for interminable debates. Yet, at the end of the day it all boils down to one’s beliefs and one’s Faith.

If we really believe that our departed relatives live on – then why not speak to them in prayer? Why not tell them what kind of day we’ve had? Why not ask them to speak to God on our behalf?

Is it truly that far-fetched a proposition?

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Doubts.

Doubts are necessary to strengthen our Faith.

When God asked us to love Him, He didn’t want to force us in anyway. He wanted us to choose freely whether to love Him or not.

That’s why He allows doubts to creep in our minds from time to time. They help us to get to know Him better. We ask questions, we learn from the answers we find, we get closer to Him. Just like any other relationship; the more you know about the other person the closer you get to him or her.

Of course, too much doubt can make us lose our Faith altogether. The devil would be glad of that. That’s why he plays with our doubts and adds more to them; in order to confuse us and lead us astray.

We must learn to control our doubts, and use them to our benefit not the devil’s. When we have doubts about our Faith, we should not fear them but we should pray for guidance from our Lord.

"I believe, Lord; help my unbelief." Mark 9:24.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Human Quarrels.

True story.

A father and son had a terrible quarrel. They have not seen or spoken to each other for years.

The father is now dying of cancer. His son has not visited him, nor has he phoned him. The father does not wish to see his son, nor does he want to have contact with him.

What chance does God have to spread love on this planet when human stubbornness surpasses all understanding?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A happy Blog.

Today was a beautiful sunny day. Not too hot with a slight fresh breeze every now and then.

Once again I was away from home with time on my hands. I decided to sit at an open air bar and read a newspaper. Having looked at the various headlines on offer I felt it was too nice a day to be spoilt with negative storylines and bad news.

So I sat at a table nursing a long cool drink and looked inside my attaché-case for something to read. There I found an old copy of “Prison to Praise” by Merlin R Carothers. I must have read it several times. So I took it out for a quick read.

It’s one of a series of Praise books by the same author, in which he teaches we should praise God at all times, even when times are bad and things go wrong. Worth a read!

I was still reading when the waitress came to take my lunch order.

So I sat there with nothing much to do – and I was good at doing it too.

The restaurant was busy and the service very slow – but no matter, I had time on my hands and it helped me contemplate about the past, the present, and what may happen to me in the future too. Hopefully with God at my side.

Eventually, the waitress asked me: Have you had your dessert sir?

Actually, no.

What was it you ordered?

Well … it was so long ago I really can’t remember.

She smiled and said she’ll check and bring it to me straightaway.

Moments later she brought me something which I’m certain I didn’t order.

I looked at the menu and it was described as: A freshly baked waffle covered in maple syrup and fruits of the wood and garnished with a raspberry coulis.

I’m sure I never ordered that! I’m far too unsophisticated to know what a coulis is.

I checked my pocket dictionary and it said: A thick sauce made of puréed fruit or vegetables.

Oh well, I thought. This isn’t the safe vanilla ice-cream I normally settle for. Let’s try it anyway. After all, the waitress has hurried away to serve someone else.

It was delicious I tell you. Exceeded expectations.

Which brings me to another thought.

Sometimes, like this waitress, God answers our prayers by serving us something we never expected and far better than what we asked for.

So there you have it. A longer than usual Blog with a book recommendation; and a reminder that sometimes God’s answers to prayers exceed expectations.

P.S.

You will note I am far too polite to suggest you read my own book "VISIONS". If you want to know more about it check it out on the right of this Blog.

I’ve read it several times. I’m sure you’ll like it!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Dentists.

I took someone for a dental check-up. She was a little nervous. The receptionist explained that many people are nervous of the dentist.

No wonder … the shrill sound of that drill spinning near your mouth is enough to scare the toughest of characters.

You hear so many alarming stories about things going wrong, especially when patients are subjected to local or total anesthetic, it is no wonder dentists are feared by many.

You know … I was nearly killed by a dentist once.

I was driving up a narrow country lane and he raced towards me at speed on the wrong side of the road.

Now I avoid dentists whenever I can.

Monday, 22 June 2009

A good read.

Once again I had reason to stay in a hotel.

What a spacious room with all the facilities you need. En suite bathroom, hairdryer, trouser press, ironing board and iron, colour TV with multi channels, internet access, playstation, two telephones (one for each ear I suspect), hot and cold drinks facilities, an extensive menu of a variety of foods delivered to your room 24 hours a day ...

I wonder … I asked myself.

And yes; the very first drawer I opened contained the Bible.

It’s a jolly good read you know, when you have a few spare minutes in a hotel room.

I always make a point upon departing from a hotel to leave the Bible open at John 3:16.

You never know, maybe the housekeeping staff may just stop and read it some day.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Why go to church?

The sermon in church today was all about attending church. We were asked why do we go to church.

Is it out of habit?

We were asked why we chose that particular church.

Was it because we like the singing? Was it because the time is convenient with our busy lifestyles? Or was it because we like to meet the other people afterwards and have a chat and a cup of coffee?

I could see some of the congregation getting uncomfortable and wondering where all this was leading to.

The priest then made his point by saying that when we come to church primarily to pray and thank God, we should also have another aim in mind.

We should come to change … to make ourselves better people!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

If only ...

A discussion the other day: What if you could eliminate one characteristic out of human nature, which one would it be?

Someone suggested anger. Someone else said envy … jealousy, hatred, prejudice, fear … and so on.

What if this were possible; what would you get as a result?

A robot. Someone pre-programmed by you with whatever emotions you feel should stay in and which ones taken out.

But God decided differently.

He gave us all these emotions, both positive and negative ones, and with them He gave us a responsibility.

The responsibility to keep them under control and to use them properly.

Even some negative emotions have a purpose if controlled properly and used in the right circumstances. If we didn’t have anger we would not be so disposed to stand up against evil. Fear keeps us from being foolhardy and reckless at times.

So there you have it: negative and positive emotions and a responsibility to control them.

Phew … I’m suddenly tired with all these responsibilities!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Ten Commandments.

When God gave us the Ten Commandments He meant just that: ten rules or instructions for us to follow in our lives.

He did not mean ten suggestions for us to debate and alter to suit our modern lifestyles.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

I am with you.

We know and believe that God speaks to us today as He did in old times to Abraham, Moses, Paul and the disciples.

He speaks to some of us through prayers so that He may comfort us when we are downhearted, encourage us to go on despite difficulties in our lives, or to guide us through problems we may encounter.

I wish to point you towards a book entitled “I am with you” by Father John Woolley.

It contains words of divine encouragement and guidance as given to Father John from our Lord in prayer.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Is God calling?

Hello !!!

Is God calling? No … I don’t mean on the phone. Although it would give me a great fright if He called me on the phone.

We read in the Bible that God called Moses for a special task. In the case of Paul God used more drastic measures to attract his attention.

Jesus called Peter to follow Him. And Matthew, and the other disciples.

Over the years God has called many people to do His work. Mother Theresa comes to mind. I’m sure you can think of many more … your pastor for instance.

Is God calling you right now?

Does He have a task for you?

Are you listening?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Are you listening?

There is a great difference of course between hearing and listening.

We hear the noise of the traffic outside, an airplane flying overhead or the TV in the background and we pay no attention.

But when we listen we have to concentrate, to pay attention, to understand and remember what is being said. It is difficult and tiring.

Our level of concentration depends on who is doing the talking. From a baby saying his first words, to a child seeking our attention or our spouse or boss speaking – our level of concentration and listening differs greatly.

It therefore follows that the more important to us the speaker is, and the more vital the message, the more we have to listen carefully.

And who is more important than God?

Is He speaking to you right now?

Are you listening?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Singing in church.

Sing to the Lord a new song. Isaiah 42:10.

We sing a lot of hymns in our church. Sometimes they are lively and joyful and sometimes … well, they could be better.

We don’t have a choir as such, just a few people up front and the congregation singing and shouting over each other. (Lord, forgive my uncharitable comments).

Unfortunately, I am not gifted with a good voice, so I just mime and pretend I’m singing. I suppose I’m singing in my heart and not with my mouth. Anyway, I don’t see why I should contribute to God’s headache!

Does your church make God smile or give Him a headache?

Friday, 12 June 2009

God speaking.

God indeed does speak to us these days. Maybe not as He spoke to Abraham or Moses but He does speak to us all the same. Here’s an example:

A priest I knew many years ago was preparing to go to a meeting. Yet, somehow, he felt he had to wait for a while longer. He waited for five, then ten minutes; he looked at the clock, he was concerned he’d be late – but somehow, he felt he had to wait a bit longer. Eventually he felt it was time to go.

As he drove down the road, about half a mile away, he encountered a road traffic accident. He stopped to help. There on the ground was a young girl from his parish being attended to by the ambulance people. She had just been knocked down and she was crying for him by name to come and help her.

Had the priest left for the meeting on time he would have missed the accident.

Some may call the whole event a coincidence – I prefer to think it was a God-incidence.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Near death experience.

A very rich woman in hospital in intensive care dies for a few seconds. She sees herself leave her body in a near death experience and meets God in Heaven.

“Is that it?” she asks Him, “Am I dead?”

“No,” says God, “you will live for many more years yet!”

She recovers in hospital and is well again. She is so cheerful that she decides to improve herself. She loses weight. She gets plastic surgery done on her face and body to hide away the wrinkles, gets her hair re-styled and dyed a different colour, gets a new set of stylish clothes and looks terrific once again.

A few days later she is hit by a bus and killed instantly.

When she meets God she complains, “I thought you said I’ll live for many years yet!”

He replies, “Sorry, I didn’t recognize you after the make-over!”

I had a similar experience a few days ago.

I dreamt that I was leading an important meeting at work.

Then I woke up … and I was!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

God on the phone.

A man rings a local church for information. The telephone answering system replies:

Press 1 if you wish to speak to the pastor.
Press 2 for baptisms, weddings and funerals.
Press 3 to check the times of our services.
Press 4 if …..

He put the phone down and thought: Just pray if you wish to contact God direct.

Ironically, in a modern society we sometimes make access to God really difficult.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Wheelchairs.

When Jesus walked this earth wheelchairs had not been invented. The lame either stayed in their beds or laid on the floor in poverty.

You’ll remember the story of the lame man whose friends brought him down, bed and all, through the roof of a house to meet Jesus.

When Jesus met the lame, He did not shout at them as if they were deaf, or ignored them and spoke to those accompanying them instead.

Why is it then when we meet people in wheelchairs, some of us speak very loudly at them, or ignore them completely as if they’ve lost the ability to think and talk for themselves, and we speak to the person behind the wheelchair rather than the one in it.

A little dignity to wheelchair users, and other sick people, would not go amiss.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

God in control.

When things go wrong, no matter how wrong, it is important to remember that God is still in control.

For reasons best known to Himself, He has allowed something wrong in our lives.

Instead of rebelling and blaming Him for what’s gone wrong; let us instead thank Him that He is in control of the situation.

Let us trust Him that He will help us through it.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Cheery Visitors.

Whilst in hospital last evening suddenly four people turned up in the ward, a man with a guitar and three women, and started singing Amazing Grace, followed by When all the Saints Come Marching in.

The lady I was with asked that I help her out of bed so she could see what was going on.

The group sang for a few minutes and it was obvious they cheered up both patients and visitors.

So, what point am I trying to make here?

Two points really:

First, one day this group of singers will hear the words: “Come you that are blessed by my Father! … I was sick and you took care of me.” Matthew 25:34-36.

The second point is that no one, patients, visitors or medical staff complained that this group of singers was spreading Christianity in a public place and no one was offended by their presence or what they did.

Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Feeding the fish.

I went to the garden to feed the fish. Nothing unusual about this, I do it every day. I throw a few flakes of fish food on the surface of the water and within seconds they’re all there in an eating frenzy.

Not one of them ever says thank you – I thought. They probably don’t even realize I exist, living there in their liquid world

The ancient Greeks used to believe that the gods would watch us living in a bowl and could control events. I remember as a child seeing a movie where the gods splashed their hands in a bowl full of water and a storm happened at sea threatening many ships.

A bit like me and the fish. They don’t have the slightest idea who is providing them with their food.

Then I thought that in reality our God is watching over us. He does control events and sometimes He does make things happen to help us in our lives. We probably don’t give it much thought and get on with our lives unaware of His bounties and His blessings.

So I looked up at a clear blue sky and whispered silently “Thank you”.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Idle Time Joined up Thoughts and a Delightful Surprise Discovery.

Today I had nothing to do.

I had to drive someone to a far off city and then when we got there I had to wait all day to take the person back home in the evening.

So I wandered around the new city for a while then sat down on a bench watching the world go by.

It was a warm sunny day with a slight fresh breeze every now and then.

Workers hurried to their offices and their places of work. Shoppers busied themselves in and out of shops searching for bargains. Not much buying going on judging from the absence of branded bags being carried around advertising the many outlets. A constant flow of traffic passing to and fro added to the daily routine – with several cars blaring their radios at full blast for the world to enjoy their taste in noise.

I just sat there on that bench watching them all getting on with their lives. I decided not to buy a newspaper and get down-hearted at the latest bad news.

Instead, I did nothing – or more accurately I did something. My thoughts wandered towards all these people.

No doubt each having plans for their lives, their families and loved ones. Each having hopes, doubts and fears about the twists and turns that life sometimes throws at you. And in my meandering thoughts I found myself praying for them, and hoping all goes well in their lives.

And now for the delightful surprise discovery in the title of today’s Blog.

As I walked down the street I noted there on the wall of a building a framed picture of Jesus of the Divine Mercy. You know the one I mean. The image painted under the direction of Blessed Faustina with the inscription “Jesus, I trust in You!”

The framed picture was in a box with a glass front on the wall of a non-descript building. It was not a church or other religious building, not an office or even a house. Just an ordinary building.

What surprised me though is that it is very unusual in the UK to have religious images, crucifixes or pictures on buildings. The fact that it had not been defaced, scribbled on with graffiti or even broken was even more surprising.

Praise the Lord.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Faith.

In Hebrews Chapter 11 we read: To have Faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

Or as someone put it: To have Faith is to believe when your common sense tells you not to.

There are a lot of people who believe in God. They have Faith in Him and they have proved, to themselves at least, that He exists.

These people’s beliefs grow stronger all the time, even when they face great difficulties and tribulations in life. I’ve know people who are very ill, or have endured enormous problems, yet their Faith in God remains forever strong.

How do they do it? What makes their Faith so unyielding even through the most difficult of times? Is it a special gift from God? Or is it of their own doing?

Other people, however, although they have Faith in God, yet, when faced with a problem or a difficulty they doubt whether He will hear their cries for help. They pray that God may help them out of their particular difficulty; or that He might heal them, but still, somehow, they feel frightened. Scared that He may not answer. That somehow their illness will not be healed or their problem will not be resolved. Their doubts get the better of them.

Do these people feature less positively in God’s sight? Is He disappointed that their Faith is weak? Does He forgive their wavering and doubting?

People aren’t all the same. Some are stronger than others. Some have more Faith than weaker ones who waver.

These people have not denied God. They believe in Him, yet they are not so sure whether He will help them right now or not. They are, after all, human. With human frailties, fears and doubts.

God understands that. Whether He answers their prayers or not, He understands why they waver and He does forgive them.

In Mark 9:24 The father of the sick boy was honest enough to say to Jesus: I do have Faith, but not enough. Help me to have more.

Jesus took pity on him and healed his son.

So too will He have pity on those amongst us whose Faith wavers from time to time.