It’s that time of the year again when we collectively take the opportunity to reinvigorate our inner man and tap into the gifts of the Spirit poured out generously upon us. Ever since the Pope recommended that all parishes participate in Life in the Spirit Seminar (LISS), our parish has not been left out and we thank God for all those who have participated.
I was thinking about the peculiarity of this year – it being a leap year and the year of mercy during such physical and spiritual turbulent times. I am convinced that this year’s LISS will break records. I am convinced that the outpouring on our parish this year will bring about such a spiritual revival that will equip us all to truly bring about God’s kingdom on earth.
That being said, here are a few highlights of the messages that were received at last year’s parish LISS starting with the introductory seminar which set the mood and sought to open the minds of the intending participants.
The message started with reference to John 3:1-7 where Nicodemus encountered Jesus. The speaker likened this encounter to the one that each of the participants would experience during the course of the seminar and drew our attention to the fact that Nicodemus encountered Jesus at night. The question was then asked – why are you attending the LISS? Is it out of curiousity? Is it out of habit? I have often been asked why I keep on attending LISS when I have already done it 3 times. I simply smile and reply that every experience is a unique encounter in which God reveals himself to me, deepens the gifts already deposited within me and pours out fresh gifts which I seek. I honestly do not understand why some people would simply attend it once. The reference made to Ephesians 1:17-19 captures this for me in Paul’s wish where he states:
“May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of Glory reveal himself to you and give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that you may know Him. May He enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God…”
The speaker pointed out Nicodemus’ lack of understanding on what it entailed to be “born again” and likened it to Catholics who question the relevance of LISS after going to daily mass for years and taking all the sacraments. I recall that I attended LISS initially out of curiousity – a sense of “why not” and my life has never been the same. Praise God! The speaker urged all who were present to seek that personal encounter which Nicodemus lacked. A personal testimony is needed as was the case with the Samaritan woman who Jesus met at the well and who was led to proclaim Jesus and evangelise in John 4:28-29. The time to worship Jesus “in spirit and truth” which Jesus prophesied in John 4:23 was stressed and the speaker stated that there is an appointed time for the encounter with Jesus that will change your life. Indeed, it did not matter why or how you found yourself at LISS since God was behind you being present, and that by the end of the nine weeks, God’s calling on you would be manifest as you would also have this personal encounter.
We were urged to be open-minded and allow God to speak to us, as He is always seeking to reconnect to us since we are His children. He calls us to a spiritual rebirth if we can only draw close to him over the course of the seminar. This is seen in 1Timothy 2:4 where it states that God “wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” Since we know that Jesus is the light and the truth, we are again reminded that we are drawn to know God and to connect to our inner man. Reference was made to Revelations 21:5 where “The One seated on the throne said ‘Behold, I make all things new’.” and asked us whether we want to tap into this grace of rebirth; of newness? If we do, we need to launch ourselves into this LISS – launch, not simply go through the motions! The speaker then pointed out the significance of the lyrics in the song “Draw me nearer” by asking us why it mentioned the “bleeding side” of Christ. We were told that we should draw nearer to the bleeding side because not only are we sealed by His blood by being reborn through Christ’s resurrection, but also because the bleeding side is the precious side of Jesus where we experience his immense sacrifice and glory. We are sealed to the precious side of His heart which underwent agony for us but which was also the source of immeasurable love. I was to later find out during the following 9 weeks of my initial LISS that the walk to encounter Jesus necessitated an intense resolution to overcome the hurdles and I would need to truly cling to Christ’s bleeding side.
FOCUS OF SEMINAR
The speaker pointed out that the focus of LISS was to walk with God like Enoch did in Genesis 5:24. As God’s children, our mission is to make heaven so we needed LISS to make the journey to God’s kingdom and to achieve righteousness. I have often been confronted by parishioners who argue that there are alternative means to walk with God and enter heaven. Again I smile and reply – why would you want to ride on a camel when you can take a jet to get to your destination? Besides, LISS is not meant to be a means to an end or the exclusive way and I pray that God will open their hearts and minds to see the benefits of LISS. The speaker stated that our catechism reflects the fundamental of our Faith in answering the search to know why God made us – to know him, love him and serve him and LISS enables participants to fully understand the fundamentals of our Faith by giving you a new understanding since words are spirit and life.
We were urged to set a time to feed on God’s word since Deuteronomy 8:3 stated that “man does not live on bread alone but that all that proceeds from the mouth of God is life for man” which was again stressed by Jesus in Matthew 4:4. We were told to read the bible passages diligently and warned that the devil will try and keep us occupied since he knows your destination and the appointed time in which God has called you, In order to counter the devil’s hurdles which would be strategically placed, the speaker suggested that participants take LISS as a serious project by getting a bible and jotter to seek this transformation which will catapult you to your destiny.
The benefits of LISS was said to be that of empowerment and setting ablaze of the Spirit in you, as the speaker stressed that it was not enough to simply engage in spiritual or corporal works of mercy. LISS would help participants see God is themselves and those around which is the whole essence of God creating us in His image and we being parts of the same Body of Christ. I often wonder how much better societies would be if more people could see God in themselves and in others and continuously strive to uphold this state of mind.
The speaker then asked us what special thing we intended to do for God. I can remember thinking – “Anything He asks” and then narrowing it down to “Let’s just start with attending LISS first.” So, I ask you brethren, “Are you born again?” and what special thing do you intend to do for God this LISS? This is an extraordinary year in more ways than one. The registration for LISS this year has been impressive but what must we do to raise our standards? What must we do to draw nearer to the bleeding precious side of Christ? As we launch into this LISS, may we echo Paul’s prayer in 1Thessalonians 5:23:
“May the God of Peace make you whole and bring you to perfection. May you be completely blameless, in spirit, soul and body, till the coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord, he who called you is faithful and will do it.” In Jesus name we pray. Amen.