Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Missing E-mail

“The Missing E-mail”

By Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Just now, I was browsing the Inbox on my Yahoo account. I was looking for an important E-mail that I had to reply. Using my iPad, I typed the keyword and touch on the “search” tab. No result! Angered, I began to curse the iPad makers. Then I decided to scroll down and cleaned up the junks, hoping that eventually I would find the missing E-mail. A flash suddenly came. Hellooo…stupid…! You should have checked your Inbox in your cell phone. Sure enough, in a second, I found what I was looking for. It turned out that it was a text message, not an E-mail!

 I was dumbfounded. How silly! It then occurred to me, that it was just a small icon, a gentle reminder about how I have been living. God knows, how many times I have tried to find answers to my longings in wrong places. The answer is actually there. It has been given, but I was looking for it in the wrong “Inbox.” Still worse, when I can’t find it there, I begin to blame the One who should have made “the search system” better.

 Today the Catholics remember Mary as Our Lady of Sorrow. I have a strong sense, that often times I have made Mary sad, because I still want to keep myself busy looking for the sophisticated answers from God in the wrong “Inbox.” “Dear Jesus, help me to find the right Inbox where I can find You…”

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Saints and Sinners

"Saints and Sinners"

Divine Mercy Sunday, April 15, 2012

by Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

There is a saying from St. Augustine, "There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future." How true it is. A person has become saint because he or she has let God to touch their past. With God's grace, everything in the past makes more sense. Even every single sin we committed in the past can bring wonderful meanings. Our shadows are no longer pitch dark, but a comfortable shade under which we can have happy nap.

Divine Mercy Sunday reminds us that true mercy is always divine. When someone forgives me, I know deep in my heart that this person brings me back to my divine identity, because this person has also been rendered divine by God. If this has happened in Peter, Paul, Mary Magdalene, St. Augustine, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and a great number of saints, this can and will happen to each of us.

The question is: Are we ready to take off that "sinner" tag on ourselves, and put on that "saint" tag? For some reasons, we wish to linger longer with the worse tag...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Inside a Jaguar

"Inside a Jaguar"

By Deshi Ramadhani, SJ
Thursday, February 16, 2012

I was recently invited by a family for a lunch. They had promised to send a car to pick me up. I was so surprised when I saw a brand new Jaguar entering our parking lot. Apparently, they wanted to treat me well. So I got in, and as you can guess, I was stunned by everything inside. I was almost literally frozen, because I was afraid that I would do something that would make a scratch or a scar. Yes, I admit, it did feel so so so good. I felt like being in a completely different world.

Later that day, I had to say Mass in memory of one of our beloved sisters. It was a remembrance Mass, one year after her death. She had been diagnosed with a very rare, aggressive, and deadly cancer. Her death after only several months since the first diagnosis was so painful, although we knew that it was a liberation for her. I know that now she is in another world, completely different from the one I live in. And I know, it must feel so so so good up there.

Both experiences became an invitation for me to see death from a different perspective. If I could enjoy and feel so good only in tasting that "beautiful world" inside that Jaguar, how much more God has in store for us. The bliss of eternity is way more than the short glimpse inside that Jaguar. Although death of a loved one is always painful, I want to believe that in the end, it must feel so so so good for the one moving from among us to be with God.

P.S. Well, it's embarrassing to admit that I wouldn't mind another trip with that Jaguar, a longer one if possible. Oh no, this should not be read as part of the spiritual reflection.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Your Love

"Your Love"

By Deshi Ramadhani, SJ
Thursday, February 9, 2012

A German thinker, Jorg Splett, once wrote: "Every person needs more love than he or she deserves." I found this quotation in Father Peter van Bremen, SJ's book "The God Who Won't Let Go." The key to understand this truth lies in the word "MORE." Yes, we all need love, whether we are willing to admit it or not. But in reality many times we don't really deserve that much love. If an accountability report should be made, we would have never been loved at all.

Diana Ross sings "Your Love" that catches another side of this experience. Thinking about everything done in the past, she asks, what is that ONE THING that she truly believes to be priceless. And the answer is, "Your Love." She admits, "Without your love where would I be." The song's chorus reads: "Your love has kept me going through good and bad times. It's kept me growing like a steady flame. Your love has kept on burning through sweet and sad times. I'll keep returning to the magic of your love." In a sentence, she breaths life from the love of her beloved.

How true it is with God. I can sing the song to God. As St. Ignatius of Loyola suggests in the Spiritual Exercises, in times of desolation, just remember the previous consolation given by God. Yes, we need to train ourselves about MEMORY. We need to be built on a strong foundation by always remembering God's love that sustains us. Your love, God, keeps me growing like a steady flame. I'll keep returning to the magic of Your Love...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012



By Deshi Ramadhani, SJ
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

One of my favorite songs as a teenager was Lionel Richie's "Still." May be because it was one among the first songs in English that I could understand well. [Oops.. again, it's a sad song about separation. I don't know what has been taking me these days]. As a teenage boy the title itself said it all, "Still." Especially the way the song ends. It's with a thoughtful pause, after saying "But the most of all, I do love you..." Then the songs concludes emphatically, "...Still...."

Now as I look at this song again (with the help of Google, of course), there are these lines that attract me: "So many dreams that flew away. So many words we didn't say." The combination of those two lines suggest a powerful message. In my own words, I would say, "Failure to say the necessary words makes your dreams remain dreams." Yes, saying it is as important as remaining in silence to listen.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, says in his Spiritual Exercises, about the importance of, in Latin, "id quod volo." It's so important to put into words "something that I want." Putting it into words will help the one doing the Spiritual Exercises to have a clearer understanding about his or her deepest desire. Eventually, this will help a lot to clarify his or her life dreams, and to let God keep them always in check. In this way, our dreams are indeed God's dreams. So again, I believe that in spiritual life the same thing applies: "So many dreams that flew away. So many words we didn't say." The good news, God will always say, "...Still..."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Every Time You Go Away

"Every Time You Go Away"

By Deshi Ramadhani, SJ
January 30, 2012

There's a line in Paul Young's 1984 hit that goes "Every time you go away, you take a piece of me." Well, it's a sad love song with desperate tone. Honestly, I don't really like the whole song either. But that line rings so true. It echoes an old saying, "Good-bye is like a little death." I believe, at several points in my life, I did sing that song in my heart. On the other side, I also believe, that others sang that song in their hearts to me as I was moving along my life's path from one place to another.

As a young priest I once worked as a summer chaplain in a Nuns' Convent in Munich, Germany. During my stay there, my sister's father-in-law passed away of heart attack. The whole family was so devastated. Out of compassion, the Mother Superior handed me a little book in German, "Du bist nicht mere da!" In English, it is "You are no longer there!" How true. Either death or just any good-bye, the core of the pain is just that. Deep in our heart there is that cry. All the high-tech communication gadgets that we have today can't help us to ease the pain. We simply say, "You are no longer there... for me... physically."

It wouldn't be so surprising, that in a way, Jesus has sung that line so so so many times to me, and may be to many of us. But why? Okay, from my side, it's part of just being a fragile and sinful human being. Yet, may be another line in the song can explain better. Is it possible that Jesus also sings to us "May be you're too close to see"? Could it be possible, that since we're too close to Him, we take many things for granted, to a point that we can't no longer see who He really is? I believe it could. Returning to Him at the end means bringing back to Him that "piece."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Two Mothers

"Two Mothers"

By Deshi Ramadhani, SJ
Sunday, January 29, 2012

I believe, this is one of those privileges in a priest's life. Within a week I was present in two families who were mourning their mothers. Both deaths are painful, since they came without notice. The first one was a mother in her early forties, who had been diagnosed with leukemia two weeks earlier. In an attempt to have a conversation with the younger son, ten years old, I told him that I had just lost my father some six months ago. He replied, quite innocently, yet powerfully honest, "Yeah, but it is easier to loose a father, than to loose a mother." I was speechless.

The second one was an elderly widow in her late seventies, who in the process of recovery from her illness, had caught a serious medical allergy, that really caused her unimaginable pains in the whole body. One of her children, the only boy in the family, a married man with three growing up children, said rather bluntly in his speech, "When our dad passed away, we were sad; but now, when our mother is gone, we are very very sad."

We know that sooner or latter each one of us will die. Yet, it is completely another story when death comes just right there, as if from the middle of nowhere. And on top of that, it is the mothers who have been taken away. God seems to be without guilt in doing this to us. I tried hard to find some reasonable explanations, only to realize that I would never find any. All we can do is just hanging in there, embracing the pain, sharing the memories, while hoping that sooner or later we can stand strong again. Pain and sadness, seen from different angle, is a clear proof that there is that four-lettered gift from God: L-O-V-E.

May you rest in peace as you are now present to us in a new way...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"It's Their Faults"

"It's Their Faults"

By Deshi Ramadhani, SJ
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

I had to say Mass at a nuns' convent nearby. So I had to get up early, after only less than four hours of sleep. Last night other cars in our garage had been parked in such a way that it gave me a hard time to get into my parking space. So after Mass this morning, I had to do some tricky manoeuvres again. I was quite confident when I heard a bump noise. Ooops, my car just scratched our garage wall. You can imagine how mad I was. And guess what, I began to blame those other cars parked around mine.

As a matter of fact, those cars did have their share in the problem. But, I realized that it was hard to accept that I was the one who had made the final mistake. I should have been more careful, and more patient, so that I should have made more manoeuvres. Yes, I didn't want to admit that I made that silly mistake. So I asked our driver to polish my car, and voila, the signs of my fault was gone. It looks shiny as before, spotless, and I was relieved, and got my pride back.

Oh well, it's just a car, and it's just a normal possibility of daily life. Yet, it did not end there. If this is how I react, isn't it also true in my spiritual journey? Yes, it's easy, and sometimes even falsely comforting to tell myself that it's not completely my fault; it's theirs. The lesson from my car is this: "Learn to admit graciously: 'Yes, it's my fault. Period!'"

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's Only Words

"It's Only Words"

By Deshi Ramadhani, SJ
Friday, January 27, 2012

Another song. This time, it's Bee Gees' "Words." I had heard this song so many times in the past, when suddenly some weeks ago it began to say so much. Relationship is at the heart of the song, and the inner turmoil leads the singer to try to convince the other by saying, "It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away." The line before that goes like this: "You think that I don't even mean a single word I say."

I have to admit that sometimes I really get sentimentally romantic. Those lines speak a lot about how important words are in any relationship. A single word, said in a wrong time with a wrong intonation can destroy the relationship. The same is true with a single word that should have been said, but for some reasons not. At the end of the day, the relationship counts merely on renewed trust.

As I think again of this, how true it is with God and me. Many times I don't want to believe that God does mean every single word God says to me. How painful it must be for God to face this reality. However, I believe, God can't stop singing to me, "It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away..."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hope Whispers

"Hope Whispers"

January 25, 2012
By Deshi Ramadhani, SJ

It's been a while. My last post was April 2010. That means, almost two years have passed. And here I am, still struggling with many things that have hindered me from pursuing my dream of becoming a faithful blogger.

A very dear someone has just convinced me to listen to Sarah Brightman's "Winter Light." Well, to be honest, to my Indonesian ears, it's hard to get the lyrics right. So, thank God, Google helped me. There I am, struck by this particular part of the song: "Hope whispers and I will follow 'till you love me too!" It catches one of the main ingredients in my spiritual journey. In my eyes and ears, it is God who sings the song for me. I've been too scared to love God and to let God love me to the full.

It brings me back to my early experience of love with God. Started from Jesus' "Do you love Me?" to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." Oh God, those words... They remind me of the value of hope. But most of all, it is You, God, who still have hope in me, waiting until I love You too.

Yes, hope whispers, and my heart longs to have the courage to follow... By the way, how many of us really have the courage to be loved totally by God...?