All posts filed under: Faith

Story of a Bleeding Heart

Kosidinma, my friend’s son passed away last week. His mother, Ehimemen wrote this for him. Words cannot express the pain I feel at your demise. You entered my life and made me feel like finally I had a purpose. A purpose that was mine only. Suddenly I knew I owed someone, I knew I owed you a responsibility to raise you as God wants. You gave me sleepless nights but it was all worth it because the look and satisfaction you gave after each feeding was priceless.  We had a connection which no one understood. Whenever I heard you cry, even when I knew you were having your bath, I jumped out of bed to watch just to make sure your crying was not for something that could have been avoided.  When people came to congratulate me, I was proud of the child I had begotten and created; bright, tall, independent and a whole lot more. I looked forward to your growing up because I felt you were going to be the next Albert Einstein… …

Blessed Are The Merciful: Shelter the Homeless

 When I count my blessings, having a roof over my head comes in the top 5. I never take it for granted because at a point in my childhood, we were almost homeless. Our landlord decided he wanted to demolish our home and build a block of flats instead. We got a quit notice. We started building a house someplace else but were unable to finish it before our eviction deadline. We moved into the new house literally in the middle of construction. That was an interesting experience. 🙂 We had a happy ending. Not everyone is this lucky. I’m thinking of the Internally Displaced Persons who have fled their homes and livelihoods in the North because of Boko Haram. I’m thinking of unemployed young people in Lagos who sleep under bridges, in buses, in doorways. I’m thinking of the beggars on our streets. I’m thinking of the ones we call “mad” who really are just homeless people rendered anti-social by the way we treat them. “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” We …

Blessed Are The Merciful: Clothing the Naked

“…I was naked and you clothed me.” Matthew 25: 35-36 I wonder what I should write about this. It seems easy enough, doesn’t it? “Clothe the naked”.  We should spring-clean our closets and give to the poor all the clothes we no longer want. The problem is that I hardly ever do this with a proper Christian attitude, with what some of my friends would call “rectitude of intention”. The clothes I give out are usually over-size or too tight or faded/worn or out of fashion. Cleaning out my closet is then less of a sacrifice, and more of a necessity. Yay. Free space in closet. Done good deed for the month. Gotten moral justification. Must shop. I don’t know. I think I could do better. I think God would want me to do better. Clothing serves two purposes. Protection from the elements and preservation of dignity. The last point is key because it also highlights something we often overlook: the origin of some of the clothes we wear. Behind many major clothing labels are sweatshops, in …

Blessed Are The Merciful: Difficult Conversations

Thank you, guys, for sticking around despite my inconsistent blogging. 🙂 How’ve you been? I’ve missed this. Anyways, I’m so behind on my posting schedule for the Works of Mercy series. I was wondering how I’d even catch up but then I realized that a number of them have the same themes. 😀 (No, it’s not cheating.) St. Paul is one of my favorite saints. His conversion story reminds me of God’s infinite mercy. How else could one man go from being a terrorist (think Isis-type of religious persecution of Christians) to being one of Christianity’s biggest proponents? Seriously. But in all the drama of Paul’s life there’s a character who’s sometimes forgotten. Ananias of Damascus. The believer through whom Paul’s sight was restored. The one who gave him his first instruction and then baptized him. This month, I’m focusing on the first 3 Spiritual Works of Mercy. To counsel the doubtful Teach the ignorant Admonish sinners All of us know dozens of “ignorant” people we would just love to “instruct” i.e. Tell how to …

Things To Give Up This Lent: A List of Ideas

We interrupt our regular “Blessed Are The Merciful” series to bring you this Lenten edition. 😀 So Lent begins officially on Wednesday. That’s tomorrow. Traditionally, these 40 days before Easter are dedicated to fasting, alms giving and prayer. The model is Christ’s example; he spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying. Most people remember the fasting; not everyone remembers giving alms and using the season to deepen our prayer life. And when we say fasting, people automatically think of food. Then there are all the various modes of fasting as practiced by the various denominations. 6am to 6pm fasting, one-large-meal per day fasting, dry fasting (no liquids, no food), one normal-sized meal per day and liquids (Milo, Lucozade etc.) to supplement… I could go on.    For clarity, these are the rules for fasting in the Catholic Church: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are prescribed days of fasting and abstinence (from the flesh of all animals except fish) for Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59. The ill, pregnant and nursing mothers …

Forgiving All Wrongs

Hola, everyone! Thanks for being patient; this post was supposed to go up last week Sunday but I’ve been super busy with a lot of things. Thank you for all the likes, shares, kind words and comments on my last post :D. Like wow! I was a bit apprehensive about blogging about being pregnant but your responses made it worthwhile. I tried to respond to everyone but couldn’t and I figured I’d just go ahead and give you guys more posts. Know that I read and treasured each comment, and your prayers are a huge help. First of all, how did December go? In the midst of all the feasting and turning up, how did you help to feed the hungry? I hope the ideas I posted were helpful. Pope Francis officially kicked off the Jubilee Year of Mercy, ushering in a year of dutiful and deliberate kindness. The custom of a Jubilee Year is derived from the Old Testament: Leviticus 25: 8-13. In summary, the Jubilee Year was celebrated as a year when slaves and prisoners …

"Blessed Are The Merciful": Christmas is for Giving

Hello! As promised, I’m continuing the Works of Mercy series. But first, how did last month go? We dedicated November to burying the dead and praying for the Living and the Dead. Were you able to use some of the suggestions here? Did you come up with yours? This December, the focus is on “Feeding the Hungry.” What are your most vivid childhood Christmas memories? I remember the food. Mounds of bright orange jollof rice, peppered chicken, elbow-licking egusi and pounded yam, fried rice, moi-moi, plantain, chin-chin, puff-puff… I remember drinking so much Fanta, my stomach would be distended from all the gas. Christmas was for food. As I grow older, the tradition of endless feasting hasn’t waned. Even if I’m not cooking, I know that merely dropping in to visit someone on Christmas Day guarantees me a full belly. Not having food to eat on Christmas Day is almost an oxymoron. Not possible. And yet it’s a very real reality for some families. There are families that have no food to eat, not just …

"Blessed Are The Merciful": Practically Living the Works of Mercy

Pope Francis is pretty much everyone’s favorite Pope at the moment. It’s not difficult to see why. No disrespect to Pope Benedict (Emeritus), but Pope Francis inspires us every day with his simplicity, his dislike for ceremony and his willingness to demonstrate God’s mercy and compassion to the poor and sinners. He takes it all back to the basics. Love. Mercy. Compassion. Forgiveness. Understanding. Like Jesus told us to do. Last week, I read his message for Next Year’s World Youth Day in Poland. It’s not very long, and it’s absolutely worth the read. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7) That’s the verse on which the WYD theme is based. There’s a fair bit of history and theology at the beginning of the message and then he gets to the really practical bit: how can we as young Christians live the virtue of mercy? James 2: 14 – 26 talks about the relationship between faith and works. Sometimes, I forget what works exactly I’m supposed to be doing. Every day, I …

An Easter Story

 picture from www.cardiphonia.org He was dead. After three years of the most unbelievable miracles, of awakening hope in the hearts of the people, of bringing light to hearts darkened by sin and dispelling fear and despair. After everything…. He was dead. A most unbelievable fact. Rage, disappointment, grief and shame warred for prominence in Cephas’ heart. The Christ, the Messiah, dragged through Jerusalem like an animal, nailed to a tree like a common criminal. He who had woken from sleep to still a storm, he before whom demons cowered had stood in silence as his trial turned into the most abominable travesty. The very people who had rejoiced with palm branches and shouted hosanna as he rode into Jerusalem had cried out as one that he be crucified. Now he was dead, dead as the wood to which he had been nailed. Cephas looked round the room, filled to capacity with men who had given everything to be with the Man from Galilee. A gentle man whose hands had tickled children… and held a whip …

A Lenten Reflection on Faith

This is who I am. This woman in her mid-twenties, with a day job and a writing itch. A daughter. A sister. The “best girlfriend in the world”. A cousin. A niece. A best friend. A friend. A colleague. A side-kick. A buddy. A Catholic. A practicing Catholic. And what does that even mean? I left the Catholic Church as a teenager. I was disillusioned by many of the adult Catholics around me including, it must be said, a couple of priests. I didn’t understand the “idol worship”, or how the Catholic Church could help me develop the faith I needed to move the mountains in my life. And there were many mountains that needed moving. So I left in search of the Light. And I found it…in the Catholic Church. Let me explain. I searched in other churches, and I found sparks, glimmers that whetted my appetite. In one of the pentecostal fellowships I joined in university, I learnt to study sacred Scripture. In another, I learned to give to the church, to only …

These Are A Few of My Beautiful Things.

I’m a sucker for beautiful things. And I don’t mean physical beauty, though I appreciate symmetry and intricacy and elegance and all those things that define physical appeal. And I hardly consider humans physically beautiful; pretty, good-looking, fine? Yes. But that’s a discussion for another day. Beauty. I watched a TedTalk* once that tried to define beauty. According to the speaker, real beauty isn’t so much seen as it is felt. Beauty is something you feel in your gut. I have a list of beautiful moments. If I had any sort of talent with a camera or a painter’s brush, I would capture them, commit them to eternity on paper. But all I have are my words. So here goes. My cousin bravely swallowing tears back the evening of her wedding. She’d come home to change out of her dress, her husband was outside waiting and she was inside, fighting sobs while her mother smiled and soothed her. The 10-year-old in church with a fierce look on his face and his arms wrapped protectively around …

Religion vs. Spirituality: It's in the Latin.

It drives me nuts when people say they’re spiritual and not religious Christians or anyone who claims to be any kind of theist, says they’re spiritual and not religious. The implication being that “religion is bad” and “spirituality is good”. Eh? The word “Religion” comes from the Latin word “religio” which means “respect for what is sacred, reverence to a God (god)”. Religio is also said to come from the word “relegare” which means to “bind fast” or “place an obligation on” or “bond between man and a God (god)”. Cicero held that religion also comes from “relegere” which means to “treat carefully”.  Catholic history actually defines religion as the “voluntary submission of oneself to God”. Do you believe in the existence of a higher power? Do you submit to Him? Do you consider yourself bound to Him in any sort of relationship: father-child, master-servant, creator-creature? Do you resolve to live according to His rules, as spelt out in some book or by divine inspiration? Do you work daily at improving your understanding of and relationship with Him? You are …

Sometimes…

Sometimes, she lost herself. In the world, and it’s noise. In opinions and perceptions. In work. In the internet and its distractions. In Nigeria and its problems. In gossip. In gist. In caring about things that you’re supposed to care about, or at least act like you do. Because everyone else does. Because some people do. Because it’s the right thing to do: to care about those things. Like I care. Sometimes, she found herself. In books. In art. In laughter, real laughter with friends not mere LOLs. In quiet. In silence. In a dark movie theatre with her head on his shoulder. In prayer. In falling asleep cheek-to-cheek with her sister. In arguing dress patterns with her aunts. In research. In writing. In rain. In fear, fear like she’d never felt before, fear that reminded her she was alive. And then she lost herself. In pain, love and loss. Behind smiles that threatened to split her face. In zeroes. In the knowledge that this, all of this, is vanity and still…we press on, afraid …

God Has A Sense of Humour

When I do my daily prayers, I try to make resolutions based on the promptings I receive. Nothing major. It could be to call someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, or to write someone a letter. It could be to give up social media for a day, or to eat no sugar. Just normal stuff. Well, yesterday I resolved that I would be cheerful all of today, no matter what. I promised God I would smile through out today. Guess what? I woke up late. I flew into and out of the bathroom in record time, dressed hurriedly and then began to throw all my stuff into my sling backpack. Books. gadgets. Wristwatch. External Hard Drive. Everything went into the bag. Then I rushed to breakfast. Half an hour later, I realize that the cord for my hard drive has broken at the connection point to the drive. No wahala. I remove it. Try a new cord with the hard disk. It doesn’t work. I realize that one of the pins is bent. …

There Be Dragons

Even saints have a past. And in Roland Joffe’s new movie, There Be Dragons, he attempts to outline the past of one of the most controversial saints of the twentieth century, Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei. Yes, the one parodied in The Da-Vinci Code. It’s an epic film, set in Spain and revolving around the Spanish Civil War (time to get our history groove on!). A modern-day journalist, Robert, is trying to make up with his dying father, Manolo who fought in the war. Then he discovers that his father was a childhood friend of Josemaria who is, at the time, being considered for sainthood. Drum roll, please! I’ve only seen previews and heard about the movie on the grapevine. It hasn’t begun showing in the cinemas here yet (I hear they’ve begun previewing though) even though it was released May 6th. But I can gather from the trailer that There is a beautiful girl involved (as always). Manolo did something quite evil. Josemaria was quite brave, reaffirming his identity as a priest in times …

A Note on Christmas…

I’m unbelievably self-absorbed. Not content to simply ‘feel’ emotions, I poke and analyse my feelings in a quest for further meaning, implications, deductions and failing all that, at least a rational explanation. It is not enough for me, to say, “I loathe XYZ.” I have to ask myself, “Why? What exactly do I loathe in XYZ? What could change in XYZ that would make me loathe him/her/it less? More? What does it say about me that I loathe XYZ? Why do I care sef?” etc. etc. That said, you can understand why it is not enough for me to merely ‘feel’ exasperation at Christmas. Not at the event itself, o. Good Lord, no! I love the Christmas Story, adore the carols. What I can’t stand is the urge/need/push to bend over backwards and do financial gymnastics just to celebrate Christmas. Caveat, I make no attempt to dictate how people should/should not spend their money. But, I need to reply a few people who have tried to impose on me certain ‘obligations.’ For instance, why does …