– Maria Kwak
Recently I was offered a precious opportunity to contribute to O Clarim. It is a great honor to spread the words of Gospel to many. I started collecting information to be able to present the articles with sound theological explanation. Consequently, I put a great effort and time. As I wrote this article, I was becoming extremely anxious about every single sentence.
From my past experiences, I learned that the feeling of anxiety is caused when I am going against God’s intentions instead of following them, regardless of the nature of matters, whether they be work related or personal engagements. To make the situation worse, the data on the USB was damaged and could not be recovered. God only creates such incidents, small or large, to enlighten us, not to make our lives miserable. It seemed logical to pull my hair and get upset. Should I be upset?
The Lord never wants us to feel this way. He is there to give peace to those who seek it. We must trust that God never takes away what we need in life if we decide to walk with him. Saint Pope John Paul II said, “Walk with Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
From this incident, I have concluded that what he wants me to write is something genuine and simple rather than theologically elaborate. A sense of salvation came in this brief moment. Through mistakes and incidents small or large, we realise what God’s true intentions are and how we respond to everyday situations is a reflection of our faith. Our duty is to interpret them in a way that conforms to Church teachings.
Just as I started writing, I asked one of the priests for guidance on a matter related to the studies at my current university. He asked me if my motivation to come to Macau was to study. The purpose of the journey was not to study but it was for the matter of the heart.
Upon my arrival in Macau, I headed to the St. Paul’s Church. It was my second time to visit Macau since two decades ago. Among the many places I travelled with my family, Macau had a significance in my life. It was the last place that we travelled together as a family. I had lost all the photographs. There was no other way to cherish good old times. The only thing that would remind me of such moment was St Paul’s Church. Therefore, I decided to travel to Macau. Until then, I couldn’t figure out why the Lord put me in such situation. The only building that I could recognise was the old Hotel Lisboa. I felt vulnerable. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted, I couldn’t even bother to look at the map. Family trials in the last few years led me to lose everything from family, career and to house. God came like a tornado who took away almost everything he had given to me or which I had earned through the effort. The only valuable things left with me was what was inside; my heart and memory.
I walked towards the Senado Square. As I saw the Church of St Dominic, the memory of some twenty years ago came back. It felt like as if I was travelling back in time. At that moment, I felt the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit. My heart was instantly healed from the pain over the years.
While I longed for the Holy Family within my own family, the Lord was aware that I would not be able to lead my life as a Christian with them. Over the years, some denounced the Catholic faith. However, I tried to maintain a harmonious relationship with those who had misgivings about God. In Christianity, “harmony” is akin to “peace.” For those who live by Confucian ideas, however, it is a virtue not to provoke an argument over a conflicting idea among the family members.
Through this experience, I could feel that the Lord was walking with me. I was able to forgive those who hurt me but the Lord also has given me the wisdom to discern those who deny the existence of God. With an uncertain future, the only way to overcome the fear was to trust the Lord’s guidance.
A few months have passed. I decided to embark on studying which I had put behind for many years. While I have been studying the history of the Jesuits in China, I came in contact with a book on the life of Wu Yushan (1632-1718) published by the Macau Ricci Institute. He was a Ming-dynasty painter and poet who had travelled to Macau to become a priest and was ordained at the age of 56 in Nanjing. By the time he travelled to Macau, he had already lost his family, and life must have been meaningless from the Confucianism in which he was brought up. He was searching for enlightenment which Confucianism failed to give him but he found a meaning in life by expressing Christian doctrine through art.
Through the account of his life, I realised what I have been missing in my life. I never attempted to make use of my skill or passion to carry out God’s will. The Lord does not expect all of us to become religious or consecrated persons. There are always other ways to contribute to building his kingdom on earth. And writing articles was the first initiative within my capacity. Like Wu Yushan, I struggled to find a balance between being a member of a society influenced by Confucian values and being a Christian at the same time. A Jesuit father who offered Mass last week said, “Work and faith should not be separate. They come together. When you forget, you commit a sin… And you must make a confession.”
Like myself, those of you who have come from afar are also here for various motivations. Before you embarked on this difficult journey, you must have given it a lot of thought. Every day we face a challenge in a way or another and sometimes it is hard to find joy in life especially when you are far away from family and friends. And many of us pray for things that have not manifested yet in our lives and believe that happiness is only there in the distant future. However, I realized that God also provides us joy in our lives.
The other day, I had an opportunity to cook for a dinner at my community. That brought me great joy as it was something that I loved to do for my family. I didn’t have to look far away to find joy in life. It was right here and now at this moment. Like I wrote earlier, it is our job to interpret the incidents that take place in our daily lives.
The following poem was written by Wu Yushan upon his arrival in Macau. “Residents! Don’t be alarmed! I’m not here by mistake. From afar I’ve come to study the Way at São Paulo Church!”
As he proclaimed the reasons for his coming to Macau, I became aware of the Lord’s intentions to bring me to Macau, the City of the Name of God. The Lord has provided me here a cradle to grow up as a true Christian. I hope that all of us find the spiritual lesson that the Lord wants us to discover.