(P.S. For those wondering, this is NOT the reason I wasn't able to attend the first F2F of #StrangeLit >.< Sorry, that was a personal decision. I'm just very shy. :( Sorry!)
Anyway, for maybe a second – seriously, it was just one moment – I considered excusing myself from the seminar because I was really still sleepy, tired, and I had work to do. But with the grace of God, I found the strength to shove thought away. First of all, I made a promise to my dad, and secondly, this was a seminar about God. How can I not go?
So I did, and you know, that was one of the first points the seminar drove home.
NEVER SHALL A DAY DEDICATED TO THE LORD EVER BE A WASTE.
The seminar we attended was called Life in the Spirit. I honestly thought this was something started by a small group of Filipino Catholics – like a local, special version of a Bible group – but nope. As you can see here, this seminar is also being conducted outside the Philippines.
LSS was so much more than what I expected that I really feel excited to share what I’ve learned from it. To be honest, I should be sleeping by now. As much as possible, I try to avoid “overworking” my eyes…
(Quick story: My stepbrother’s mother-in-law is now half-blind because she’s unable to completely open her eyes, which is – basically – a result of washing her face every night even when her eyes are tired; anyway, she warned us to avoid eye fatigue, and seeing how much she’s suffering, it’s definitely a lesson I do my best to keep in mind)
But in this instance I’ll make an exception. I’m afraid I’d forget everything I learned (although I did take notes) if I sleep on it.
The LSS (Life in the Spirit Seminar) my dad organized is a full-day event, but upon researching online I’ve discovered that other seminars take place in the course of several weeks. In any case, it’s definitely something you can also organize for your family, friends, or co-workers. While its main objective is renewing one’s Catholic faith, I sincerely believe anyone with open-minded views about religion and spirituality will benefit from it.
Now, it may not seem like it at times, but everything I write here is meant to either directly or indirectly help you with your writing career. For me, the stronger and deeper my faith is, the better writer I become. I hope it’s the same for you, too. As such, here are the major points I’ve learned from the seminar.
There were once two neighboring shops that sold the exact same type of jewelry. The first shop, worried at how the newer shop was steadily gaining a bigger slice of the pie, decided to hire a burglar to turn things around.
The burglar, however, wasn’t there to steal the other shop’s merchandise. Instead, the burglar was tasked to switch the price tags of the other shop’s items so that come next day, people who paid the high price tag were actually those who ended up with expensive jewelry…and vice versa.
The moral lesson: The Devil pretty much works the same in its attempt to deceive us with what’s important or not.
Imagine an open garbage bin in front of you. Flies would converge on it if you don’t constantly wave your hands about and try swatting them away. The moment you stop, they go back.
The moral lesson: It’s not enough to attend seminars like LSS or even going to mass regularly to keep evil spirits away. You need to constantly work on your faith and consistently do good deeds. And no, this analogy isn’t meant to say we’re trash, but there is trash inside us, and this consists of our evil thoughts and intentions and the sins we’ve committed, continue to commit, and plan to commit. Evil is attracted to that, and the only way to keep the Devil away from us is to strive to be good.
Can a tiny coin conceal something as enormous as the sun? Yes, it can. All you have to do is to lift it up and place it in your line of sight, which then blocks your vision of the sun. Or you can just place the coin over your eyes, forcing them to closed. That’s it.
The moral lesson: Allowing the coin to block out the sun is akin to focusing on petty problems to the point that you fail to appreciate just how blessed you are. How many times have you remembered to thank God just for the mere fact that you continue to have eyes that can see? That you have a body that’s able to function on its own? The eyes are designed for us to discover and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation, but do we really use our eyes for this purpose? Should we not be thankful that even though we fail to use our eyes the way they were meant to, God remains generous and understanding enough not to take His precious, invaluable gifts from us?
A Japanese doctor named Masaru Emoto conducted a water experiment in which two jars of water were subjected to the exact same conditions. The two jars had only a single difference: one jar was labeled “I love you”. The other jar was “I hate you”. Check out the link above to find out what happened.
The moral lesson: Never underestimate the power of labeling. Never let anyone refer to you in any derogatory term.
My personal take: This lesson struck a chord in me because there are so many times when I can’t help thinking how shamefully lazy I am. I always feel I can do or should have done more, and every time I think that I feel guilty about my slothful ways. This lesson made me realize, however, that it’s my negativity to blame. Instead of thinking or even claiming to myself “I’m so lazy”, I should have thought the opposite. Thanks to God, I’m hardworking. Thanks to God, I’m effective at managing my time. Thanks to God, life is stress-free.
Now, I thankfully know better, so I’m determined to practice this from here on.
One of the speakers at the seminar shared with us his visit in the Vatican, where he learned of numerous stories of miracles that took place in the Holy City. Curious, he asked the priest there why was it the Catholic Church wasn’t actively trying to publicize such miracles?
The priest’s answer: Our church doesn’t want its people to serve because of the miracles they’ve learned or witnessed. Our church wants the people to serve because they love God.
The same speaker shared with us how, one day, he was made short-tempered and depressed because of his problems in life. This was further aggravated when, while he was riding a jeep, a man seemingly started mocking him by singing. Or at least he thought it was to rile him up until he listened to the words the stranger was singing. Those lyrics seemed like a message for him, and he realized all of a sudden that it was God talking to him through the song.
Moral lesson: Not one day passes by that God doesn’t make an effort to tell us we love Him. We just need to listen.
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Interpretation: It’s your personal relationship with God and not your choice of religion that saves you.
In the Bible story of Daniel and the lion, despite knowing he faced imminent death while in the lion’s lair, Daniel still found the courage to sleep and fight off depression.
Moral lesson: The lion represents the greatest causes of depression and frustrations in our life, but no matter how big these problems are, they can be easily be vanquished by our faith.
Whatever you have right now, there’s surely one other person at least who is smarter or better than you are and, as such, are more deserving than you.
Moral lesson: Again, be thankful for what you have. If there’s something you need, you don’t even have to ask. Just claim it because God knows from the start what you need. Also, read the Bible as this is the true source of prosperity and success.
Source: Joshua 1:8
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Lesson #10 (my favorite of all)
A young boy – a beggar – asked an old man for alms, and the man, upon opening his wallet, saw that he only had P24. He gave the beggar P23 and left P1 for himself. The beggar thought to himself, ‘The old man must be crazy’. After all, he could have given the boy P1 and kept the rest of his money to himself.
While enjoying the food he had bought with the stranger’s money, he saw the old man enter a beautiful house across the street. He began to feel discontented, thinking of the P1 left in the man’s wallet.
In the end, he decided to break into the old man’s house to steal the P1. Inside the man’s bedroom, he quickly made a grab for the man’s wallet, which caused the P1 coin to fall. The sound woke the man up, and of course the boy was caught stealing.
Now, what do you think of this boy?
At the seminar, we were quick to answer the following: greedy, without conscience, evil, etc.
The moral lesson: The old man is God, who holds our lives in His hands. The P24 in His wallet is the number of hours we have in a day, 23 of which God is happy for us to use as we see fit, and He only asks that we give one hour each day to Him.
The question is: do we dedicate this last hour of the day (figuratively speaking) to God? Or are we as conscienceless and greedy as the boy?