FR ANGELO ISON, OFM – A NOTE OF GRATITUDE

IMG_9944We had come to follow in His steps, each answering a call from within. We walked boldly to behold the sites, yet at times gingerly, because from within, the call for transformation confronted us. We came ready to take in the sights, but were not quite prepared for how each historical site was to overwhelm us, encouraging us to let go and be transformed.

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“Sent by the Spirit”

IMG_9839We thank the Holy Spirit for sending you to us, Fr Angelo to decipher the wealth of historical facts found in the Holy Land and translate them into rich spiritual messages. For the 9 days you were with us, you not only guided us through ancient stones but made the ancient stones come alive to speak to us.

“Library of Knowledge”

You are a library of knowledge, an earthen vessel containing answers, your input digging deep into history, hundreds of years represented by layers of ancient stones. Each layer, each stone had a story which you expertly told.

21455451052_94f687107f_o (2)“A teacher who left no stone unturned”

At each site you passionately, generously and painstakingly shared all the little details so that the knowledge we acquire will open the door to our hearts. You are a teacher that left no stone unturned; excellent in detail, in hope that we go on to live excellent lives.

“You unblock the driveway; you were the ‘yellow box’”

We have come home and thank you for facilitating a very rich spiritual experience. We still hear the echo of your voice “Do not block the driveway!” Our experience of the Holy Land with you has certainly unblock our spiritual highway leading to a life closer to the one whose footsteps we follow; you were the ‘yellow box’ organising the clutter in our life for a smoother passage.

IMG_0770“You hold the keys to the ‘kingdom’”

We thank you for the generosity of sharing your privilege as a Franciscan Friar by bringing us into sites that are normally difficult to enter. The masses we celebrated inside the Tomb of Jesus and at the Manger Altar will always be a pivotal point on our spiritual journey. A lasting impression of you was when you dug into your pocket to produce the key to unlock the Chapel of the Franks atop the steps at Tenth Station; truly you hold the keys to the ‘kingdom’ for us!

“An angel of reconciliation” 

Holy Land is the land on which the cock famously crowed. We have come, some with a troubled past, cobbled with stones of unforgiveness and bitterness. Thank you for encouraging us to accept the Father’s offer for reconciliation; the stone of bitterness left behind, a past no longer haunting us. Thank you for being the agent, and angel of reconciliation.

21440534226_41e8efa159_o (2)“You celebrate life”

Thank you for celebrating mass for us every day in chapels and places you have carefully chosen. We have come home not only with a deeper appreciation but have re-discovered the meaning and yearning for the mass. During our 9 days you also shared who you are with us. We are humbled by your honest expression of the person you are. You showed us how we should be proud to be Catholic and are impressed by your passion to be one. We admire the old, broken phone you carry, symbolic of the spirit of poverty with which you chose to live life. You not only celebrate life through the sacraments but also showed how to celebrate a sacramental life through our daily life.

“You were magnanimous”

We are sorry for the many times we tested your patience while you were trying to give us more. We wandered away looking for more, but in our celebrations of the eighth and ninth sacraments. We thank you for being so magnanimous when we erred.

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“Through you, the beautiful mosaic of a pilgrimage to Holy Land is created”

Our spiritual journey, our personal journey in life is a yet to be completed picture. When it is complete we hope that it would be as beautiful as the many mosaic, littered with Christian symbols, that you showed us. But one thing is for sure, the mosaic depicting our life so far has been beautified by this pilgrimage to Holy Land. And this beauty is due in no small part to you, Fr. Angelo who guided us through this experience; indeed you are a rare find for a pilgrim, like an ancient 4th century stone. In you, history is stored and through you the beautiful mosaic of a pilgrimage to Holy Land is created.

IMG_9969               Thank you for being our guide, and much more.

Sr. Mel Benedictos, RC, Lena Leo, Jennifer Leo, Geralding Wong, Catherine See, Grace See, Yvonne Chen, Matilda Woo, Adam Harris and Tony See.

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“THE PIERCING SHARP PAIN WAS GONE!”

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Angela Kuang participated in the recent Landings run that ended on 28 September 2015, at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Singapore. Petitions from the Landings community were lifted up during mass at the Chapel of Elijah, Church of the Transfiguration, Mt Tabor on 23rd August 2015 and subsequently at every mass celebrated. Written petitions were left with the Carmelite nuns at the monastery in Haifa.

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“I have been having this persistent sharp pain in my left hip bone right down to my calf. This had been bothering me for more than 1 ½ years. It was so bad that every morning, I had to sit up and stretch for quite a while before I could properly walk. Sometimes the pain was so bad that I cannot even lift my legs to climb stairs. I had tried acupuncture, taken lots of painkillers but nothing helped. Recently, the doctor advised that I seek help from a bone specialist. The worst case scenario would be that I needed surgery as the cause could possibly be nerves being pinched in between the hip bones.

When I knew that a team of pilgrims from Landings was headed to the Holy Land, I wrote a petition to seek help to relieve the pain so as to avoid surgery. On Sunday 6 September 2015, I woke up to a surprisingly painless morning. At that time, the thought of my petition being answered did not cross my mind as I had actually forgotten about the petition. A few days passed without pain and I began to ponder but still with doubts! However 2 weeks passed and I doubted no more. The piercing sharp pain in the left hip bone is gone! My petition had been answered!

Thanks to the Landings pilgrims for their assistance in delivering my petition to the Holy Land. Praise the Lord!”

GRACES PRESERVED IN ANCIENT STONES

13th September 2015, at Sr. Mel’s

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His were the footsteps we followed. Here we are again, gathered one last time as a pilgrim group, to retrace the footsteps we took. As we looked back, there is a persuasive longing in our hearts to return. We had been wonderfully blessed; our hearts filled with graces to help us walk our journeys ahead.

IMG_0583There is something somewhat different about our faith since we returned. The Word is alive in a very different dimension. As we listened to the Word proclaimed, our spirit wandered into the sites cited. We had been there and this new sense has allowed the Word to penetrate deeper into our senses. Our imagination stirred, and we resolve to dwell deeper into scripture, to study and reflect, and walk the history to its origin, to the time of Adam and Eve. The footsteps we followed had linked for us the Old and the New.

“I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living” – (Psalm 27:13)

IMG_0547And so we did, abundantly so. Unfolding before us, in the land where he walked, we embraced the unconditional love of the Father, coming home in resolve to love as He did; to pass on this love we have encountered in our privileged life, to allow love to flow through us, so that others will be privileged too.

IMG_0844It is time for us to make a difference, to call for a transformation within ourselves. Graces received will be graces preserved and nurtured. A changed life will be a fitting tribute to the land of the living. A land where we found forgiveness, the time when we wandered away will no longer come back to haunt us.

IMG_0933It is a time for us to make a difference to the people we will meet on life’s journey, to accept each for who they are. For here on this land are a people in conflict simply because we cannot accept each for who we are.

IMG_0995And so we will now walk on, journeying beyond our Emmaus; the Breaking of Bread now personally significant, the Mass now alive in us. Even though we have not found all the answers to our life’s puzzles, we are graced with patience to take each step in hope and anticipation.

One day our steps will return to tap again on graces preserved in ancient stones.

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AT EMMAUS, MY ENCOUNTER WITH MY RISEN LORD.

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“Emmaus was the first site we prayed at on my first pilgrimage and it is the last site of my second pilgrimage. In between was a journey; a changed life and hopefully, and in faith now, a life changed.”

The gospel passage of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had always meant a lot for me. The stories in my life, the events happened, the initially unseen guidance, the unidentified inner voice, and the road my faith have walked on, is kind of parallel to this passage; I can identify with this walk on the road to Emmaus.

This is my second pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and to this site. A lot had happened in my life since. During my first pilgrimage in May 2013, I had just lost my job; hope for the future was mixed with bitterness about the past. My road in life led me to a job in Bangkok. Displacement had not been easy; I always looked back and wished things never changed, and found myself clinging on to the past. In many sacraments of reconciliation, I heard that I need to “Let go, and God is with you” and that “God is giving you a new life out of your troubles, embrace it”. I had come on this second pilgrimage hoping that this will book-end this transforming period of my life; that I will be free to walk on without the heavy baggage of past needs.

The night before, the last night for our pilgrimage, we were told that the Emmaus site will not be opened as the priest has to tend to an event in Jerusalem. I was disappointed. On the way there, Fr. Angelo said “it would be a miracle if it is open”. An inner voice said that a miracle it will then be; I walked through the open gate with joy and gratitude.

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I ventured on to the path with two other pilgrims just trying to re-enact the walk of the two disciples, not expecting anything ahead; it was just a common, nondescript path. The path rounded a bend where a sign pointed to a Chapel of Adoration up the small hill. We decide to walk on. I was never here on my first pilgrimage. At the top of the hill was a small chapel. Inside, we can spend time with the Blessed Sacrament. We decided to enter to give thanks for a wonderful and blessed pilgrimage.

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Soon after I knelt on the carpet in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I was suddenly overwhelmed. It came without expectation. I cried what must have been a bucketful of tears, I could not control myself; such was the power of whatever that was happening within me.

I was touched, I was healed, I was affirmed, I was assured, and I was comforted. I did not need to find the energy and resolve to surrender all that had been troubling me, in between the tears, they were just taken away from me. Lifted, and I, liberated. In between tears, I felt my grip loosened of things I had been clinging on to. Tears after tears washed away all that hurt, all that uncertainty, and all the fear. When the crying stopped, I felt washed, cleansed, renewed and thankful for my new life. I have finally embraced it; what God want to give me. I can now walk on beyond my Emmaus.

So this is true, the story of Emmaus. We will encounter him at the “breaking of bread”. I encountered my Risen Lord at the Blessed Sacrament high on a hill at the end of a path I was unexpectedly led on. This is my greatest experience of God; my biggest God-moment in my privileged life. This has been a pilgrimage book-ending a chapter of my life. Hopefully it will launch a sequel, with many chapters, for my life to be lived in testimony of the Risen Christ; he who walks step by step with us, never missing one.

His steps led me down that path and up that hill. I have encountered. I want to walk on. I will follow in his steps.

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HOLY LAND 2015 – “I WILL FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS”

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We have come to follow the footsteps of Jesus with the hope that the physical steps we take will lead us to experience in a special way the meaning of His life. We hope to follow his spiritual imprint that will transform us and give us the courage to change our lifestyle, gradually but convincingly to live a truly meaningful and holy life. 

This pilgrimage was meant for 2014 but troubles in this land meant we could not come. We dedicate our footsteps to all who were in the original group but are not with us on this journey. We know you walk with us.

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