I’m a Catholic. I go to church every Sunday and for the necessary Penitential Services or mass for other days of obligations. I am not typing this to show how good of a Catholic I am. In fact, I am not as good of a Catholic as I was. Sometimes I go for mass only because it’s an obligation and a part of me cannot break traditions or routines – I am anal like that. Do I feel bad that I do it only because it’s an obligation? Of course. Do I love God? I do, but God can be so intangible that it’s often hard for me to keep a relationship with Him. When I pray, I talk a lot but I don’t listen because I can’t hear Him and maybe I am impatient too. Over the years, I feel like I have often drifted from God and returned to Him and the cycle never ends. I have found that when I am further away from God, I tend to be at my unhappiest and these days, I have been pretty unhappy.
Sometimes, I go for mass and the sermon isn’t relatable and I feel no difference after mass. The hymns tend to be good on some days and it makes me want to sing along because that’s one of the best ways to pray, but when they hymns are not my favourite and the sermon is not relatable, I tend to feel like I’ve wasted my time at mass. Today, Fr James Yeo celebrated mass at Our Lady Star of The Sea Parish and I have found that I seem to really love his sermons. His sermon today was about trials and tribulations and the meaning behind the Eagle imagery. Here’s what I got from the sermon today –
God is never far, He is always near and He will never abandon us. Sometimes God allows bad situations in our life to bring us closer to Him or to help us realise our pride to ignore the things we refuse to see or to open our eyes to the things we are blinded by. The symbol of God’s love for us is like the phrase in Deuteronomy 32:11, “Like an eagle that stirs up its next and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.” The meaning behind that quote can be seen by how the mother Eagle looks after its Eaglets. This part is with further reading from this website.
coupled with what Fr James had already mentioned in his sermon – “For the first twelve weeks of life, the eaglet relaxes, trusting her parents to provide everything she needs. When it’s time for the eaglet to learn to fly, the mother and father use their sharp talons to pull apart the soft materials that lined the nest. Then the mother eagle rises up and hovers over the nest, flapping her huge wings, stirring the nest. As she does this, all the comfortable stuff that kept the nest cozy flies out. This sends a clear message to the eaglet – it’s time to leave your life of comfort! If needed, the mother will literally knock her baby out out of the nest.” The eaglets will flap their wings desperate to fly because they are thrown off from such a height. Some eaglets manage to survive fly but there will be a few that struggle. However, the mother eagle is following it as it falls. She will swoop it onto her wings at the last moment. The mother eagle knows that the young one can only survive by learning to fly.
Strangely, this is the first time I am hearing of the different meaning of the eagle imagery. The ones that are often mentioned are about how big and strong eagles are or how eagles soar as threatening clouds hover etc. It never occurred to me how eagles raise their eaglets. Upon hearing this, it touched so much because I truly felt God’s love for me. I am going through all these tribulations now because He knows that that’s the only way I can soar. He doesn’t give me situations I want, He gives me situations I need in order to become or to get the things I want/need. And if I fail to fly, He is still watching close by and always catching me before I hit the ground. I don’t know how many times I may need to get thrown off the nest, I have been told before that I am a late bloomer – maybe I need to get thrown off many times in order for me to learn.
It’s funny that the eagle was mentioned again in my life. In the past, I have always identified myself with the eagle but never as a young eagle, always a full grown one. There was once I went for Adoration and I just sat infant of the tabernacle and asked God to show me just how much I mean to him and if He loved me. I dozed off for awhile and I had a dream about the eagle. I saw how magnificent it’s beak was, how wide and glorious the wings spread, and how lovely it soared. I woke up immediately and I was so stirred because to me, that was God’s reply – that I am mighty and glorious. That was a time in my life when I was still very much active in church and served in the youth group. In another occasion where I hit rock bottom in my life, I asked for someone to pray with me and I rested in the Spirit. In that time of resting in the Spirit, I saw the Eagle yet again. I stopped identifying myself with the eagle after awhile because I am not as active in church as I used to be and I have been lazy with my prayer life. When Fr James mentioned this, it moved me so much because it was so relatable and so apt for the current state of my life.
It’s true – I am so blinded the issues in my life to see the good. I have been so unhappy because I am focusing on everything that is negative. I want to soar so badly and I want to love myself again. I know there are a few who may think that faith is a delusional thing but for me, it provides me with the comfort I need in troubling times. I guess that’s why I still go to church aside from the traditions and obligations. I need to really flap my wings harder and take flight. Today, I am really thankful for the meaningful sermon and for God’s reminder of his love for me. I feel that He tries to talk to me sometimes but I don’t listen enough and sometimes, He makes his presence more obvious for me to really get it. I have strayed a little too far, it’s time to come back.