To keep the law is a great oblation, and he who observes the commandments sacrifices a peace offering. In works of charity one offers fine flour, and when he gives alms he presents his sacrifice of…
Source: First Step to Lent
To keep the law is a great oblation,
and he who observes the commandments sacrifices a peace offering.
In works of charity one offers fine flour,
and when he gives alms he presents his sacrifice of praise.
To refrain from evil pleases the LORD,
and to avoid injustice is an atonement.
Appear not before the LORD empty-handed,
for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts.
The just one’s offering enriches the altar
and rises as a sweet odor before the Most High.
The just one’s sacrifice is most pleasing,
nor will it ever be forgotten.
In a generous spirit pay homage to the LORD,
be not sparing of freewill gifts.
With each contribution show a cheerful countenance,
and pay your tithes in a spirit of joy.
Give to the Most High as he has given to you,
generously, according to your means.
For the LORD is one who always repays,
and he will give back to you sevenfold.
But offer no bribes, these he does not accept!
Trust not in sacrifice of the fruits of extortion.
For he is a God of justice,
who knows no favorites. (Sirach 35:1-12)
As we enter the season of Lent, may we be reminded that during this 40 days beginning tomorrow are moments for us to REconsider, REevaluate and Revisit our altar and find on it unholy acts fit for offering to the Holy One
A Holy Season of Lent to all!
Enjoy your Lent as I will with mine.
A Filipino bishop who is known for his service and generosity to the poor is on the road to possible canonization.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome has opened the process for the possible beatification of the late Archbishop Teofilo Camomot of Cebu, according to MetroCebu News.
Father Mhar Vincent Balili, vice postulator for Archbishop Camomot’s cause, said the congregation said it will give attention to the cause.
If Rome approves the diocesan process, the diocese will submit a “positio,” which is basically a biography of the archbishop, establishing that he lived a life of heroic virtue.
Father Balili said they have “many testimonies” from people on the favors they received after praying to Archbishop Camomot, the news outlet said. But they have yet to find evidence that someone recovered from a major illness because of the late archbishop’s intercession. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma has ordered all parishes to say a prayer for the late archbishop’s beatification on a regular basis.
The website of the Daughters of St. Theresa, which Archbishop Camomot founded, notes:
Archbishop Palma also recommended that the faithful go on pilgrimage to the late archbishop’s tomb in the motherhouse of the Daughters of St. Theresa in Barangay Valladolid, Carcar City. According to a video on the website of the Daughters of St. Theresa, the archbishop’s body was found incorrupt when it was transferred from a Catholic cemetery to the motherhouse in 2009.
Archbishop Camomot was born in Barangay Cogon, Carcar on March 3, 1914. He was the third of eight children born to Luis and Angela Bastida Camomot. He died in a car accident in San Fernando town on Sept. 27, 1988.
“There were many stories about the Archbishop’s Francisan-like poverty,” says a biography on the sisters’ website. Cebu archbishop emeritus Cardinal Ricardo Jamin Vidal once said that “on one occasion he noticed that Archbishop Camomot was not wearing his pectoral cross…. Curious, he asked Monsignor Camomot about it. He made some excuse. Later a priest told the cardinal that the archbishop had pawned his cross to give some money to the poor. The cardinal later gave him a new cross and told him not to give it away.”
image: google search images
MANILA, Feb. 21, 2017— Anti-death penalty advocates aren’t giving up easily if the controversial measure gets passed into law.
Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, on Monday said the Supreme Court will surely be their next battle ground.
“We will go to the Supreme Court. We will exhaust all these legal means available because we believe that it is unconstitutional. It is cruel. It is inhumane,” said Diamante during the Tapatan media forum at Aristocrat Restaurant in Manila.
Along with other prison rights groups, he said, studies are now being conducted in order to build a strong case against the capital punishment.
He said they are considering at least two options on how to challenge the death penalty before SC— either through a death-row convict or through lawmakers who ratified the country’s international treaty obligation against it.
According to him, filing through lawmakers may be more practical since they can easily invoke the violation of the country’s commitment to the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
“The argument could be since the country has already signed the treaty, a senator can easily claim that he/she is affected since he/she was among those that ratified it. Therefore, they can file a case before the SC,” explained Diamante.
On the other hand, anti-death penalty advocates can also wait for the “test case” involving a death row convict.
“So that the case won’t be dismissed, there has to be a victim. In that sense, we can do it when a person convicted and penalized with death penalty files a case to the SC and say that it is unconstitutional,” Diamante said.
Aside from the High Court, he revealed that another plan is bringing the issue to the international community since the Philippines signed the ICCPR.
“We are seeking the opinion of the international community. The Philippines cannot simply withdraw unilaterally. It has repercussions. And the international community is very active in making pronouncements,” he added. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)
image : google search images
The best thing about being a Miss Universe candidate, is that you have all the power to be who you are. You hold in your hands the beauty of creation- friendship with other beauties, camaraderie, being able to share the crowns of your country, and above all, you very self -confidently beautiful with a heart and mind.
All are winners in such competition, however, the crown is not what is more important. It is more the CHANCE to bring in the CHANGE you would want to share with the whole UNIVERSE.
In Timor-Leste,I saw the building of a school dormitory with flooring and walls almost done but the posts still missing. Fr. Raniel Nachima, SVD said that herre, without typhoons, floods and earthquake, building a house is easier, cheaper,and without worries about its foundation and security.
Our gospel today tells us that entering God’s eternal dwelling (built on love, justice, mercy, peace) isn’t at all easy, cheap and reassuring. “For the gate is naroow and the road is hard that leads to life and there are few who find it.” (Mt. 7:14) It sets a condition which can make exclusion inevitable. “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you’ve faith but don’t have works? Can faith save you? (James 2:14). Indeed, saying “Lord, lord” is not enough. Professing our faith, teaching and preaching the word of God are empty without the outward manifestations of doing the Father’s will. Jesus tells his disciples that the Father’s will is abou taking care of the little ones- chidlren, the lost, outcasts, the sick, naked, hungry, thirsty, prisoners, strangers (Mt.18:25:35ff); about changing one’s mind, beliecing and working in the vienyard
St. Paul urges us to be rich in good works, generous and ready to share (1Tim 6:18) Just “saying ” is nt enough; it is too hypocritical. Just “doing” is neither enough; it is too secular. saying and doing, listening and acting, praying ans performing, faith and good works must always go together. As we begin this new liturgical season, let’s build our lvies and homes on the spirit of Christ’s Adventus. Amidst life’s storms, we will never be ruined if our foundation and security are solidly built on the Eternal Rock, Jesus Christ.
Reflection by: Fr. Jay Baliao, SVD | TImor Leste Region
©2015 Society of Divine Word, Published by Logos Publication, Inc.
M Y S A Y:
Our preparation for this advent of Christ, will always be meaningful if we “build” our celebration of Christmas in the Person of Jesus and not on our commercialize idea of Christmas as Happy Holiday, or of Santa Claus and reindeer, or parties here and there . Or the many “creative” ideas suggested to us by the market, which for one, IS not bad, but we fail to SEE the real meaning of the celebration. That is why, at the end of the season, we find ourselves, empty-handed. And the we look forward to the next year’s christmas again.
But, really, let us practice, or atleast try to have a Christmas Season Examen. It will surely, make this year a lot different.
Collect of Nov. 24 Mass
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’
He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’
Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” Luke 16:1-8.
All of us are entrusted – as parent, as children to our parents and sibling, as teachers, as caregivers, as street sweeper, as street-pick up garbage taker, as vendor – no matter how little or great is the task, it is a responsibility given to us. It is entrusted to us.
The challenge is how well have we been in our tasks. How honest are we in our task. As parents, do we give the spiritual needs of our children not only the corporal needs? As street sweeper, do we clean it out of duty or out of social concern? As vendors, are we honest in our food preparations (if its food)?
Most of the time, We (I am included) we allude mission to great and big things ( you can name as many as you can) but most often, we forget that it is really, REALLY the small, unnoticed acts. Unnoticed act such as the refugee (i forgot the name, she participated in the Rio Olympic as swimmer, Yusra Mardini, i remembered!) who courageously volunteered to alight the boat, swam for 3 hours in sea pushing the sinking boat carrying 20 persons to reach the safe place.
Or, those simple people who continues to care for the lepers in Yangco, Culion Palawan.
There are so many!
Can we not include the sacrifices we make each day?
We have been dishonest, we have failed the master, but we never really miss out the chance to start again, we just have to be prudent in out choices and decisions.
If You sees me fit to be your vessel of grace, and so be it. . .
Yesterday, while on my way home from Jardin Cemetery, a woman approached me, expressed her concern – a prayer for her mother who is serious ill- In her own words, “mahina na po at malapit na po.” (weak and dying) Without second thoughts, I granted her desire.
I left, joyful, grace-filled knowing i was able to do some corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It was a day filled with gratitude.
This morning, on my way to office, a woman riding a tricycle stopped in front of me , unaware of who she was, i nodded to acknowledge her presence. “Wala na po siya sister,” (She passed away, sister) she said. It was the woman who approached me yesterday. “Kailan?”(when) i asked, “early this morning,” she replied.
These words lingered on me throughout the day, the words i used during the prayer “Panginoon, patawarin mo siya sa kanyang mga kasalanan. Palayain mo siya sa mga kasalanan niya” (Lord, forgive her of her sins. Give her freedom from sins.)
It just dawned on me, how God uses people to prepare us.
This is Church!
Who among us would rejoice when hurt? Or hopeful in the midst of death?
I can’t help but think of the many martyrs in the Catholic Church. I recalled how the first Christians sung, in the movie Quo Vadis, awaiting their turn to be eaten alive by the lions. Or the many unnamed martyrs who fell victims of hatred- religious or ethnic, culture or race- yet stood courageously and defended their faith [the bombings and tortures experienced by our brothers in all parts of the world, whose concerns should be ours, mine.]
Ironically, Catholics don’t rejoice over suffering yet when given the chance to witness rejoices willingly as their eyes are fixed not on this world but of the glory awaiting them. They, who will inherit the kingdom of God because of being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, the glory we rarely [seriously, never] think of.
We fashion on mundane glory. And, none of us, can deny this inevitable and indispensable truth. No one walks on this earth unperturbed of hunger for glory [glories, i may add]. However, I can’t deny the salient reality that there are men and women who rises above human glory.
These are men and women who never exhibited extraordinary holiness or heroism, nevertheless, are soaked in the reality of life and brought it to perfection through their ordinary love and faithfulness inspite their weakness and sinfulness.
No one so sinful that he/she can’t be holy [and may be raised to sainthood].
Saints are people like you and me, sinful, weak yet fixed in their goal.
Sept. 28 – Feast: St. Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, martyr
(images: google images web search)
The face of witness is courage.
The Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres (SPC) at the service of the lepers: “Culion is a leper colony in the Philippines they have dedicated themselves to the care and nursing of the lepers. I could not name for you any single work of the missions which is more repulsive , more repugnant…yet more glorious…the Sisters alone through their charity in practice in its purest form- you will find it in Culion – Fr. William J. Wood, SJ wrote in the Catholic News of New York
lifted phrase from the article: SPC Sisters’ Mission in Culion Celebrates 110th Anniversary/ written by: marionette martinez – st. paul university manila
Mother’s tears have a place in heaven..
St. Monica prayed for the conversion of her wayward son Augustine (now St. Augustine, doctor of the Church). Her generosity and trust in the Lord’s compassion made her son’s conversion possible. This eventually paved the way for Augustine’s sainthood.
She represents the struggles of all parents whose children are walking towards the wrong path. As parent, it was her responsibillity to guide and supervise her child. Her intense prayer and love for her son, by the grace of God, helped her to fulfill her mission towards his son.
August 27, Memorial of St. Monica, patron saint of mothers
©K+WORD Bible Diary for the Youth
The Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus last Aug 6 taught me something that only the eyes of someone willing to learn can see.
I would often think of how privileged the friends of the Lord to have been with Him the whole time especially in moments of confirmation of his identity and mission by the Father. But, how is this relevant to us, to us who have not seen and heard the Lord as did the disciples? The element of prayer comes into my mind. It is in prayer that we experience this feast. During prayer, we are being transfigured and gradually configured to the person of Jesus. As we fix our gaze on Jesus, and contemplate his being indeed, we behold the face of the Son. This beholding is not confined to the chapel or church. Our meditation or contemplation is not us ascending to God but He descending amongst us. The challenge for us is to recognize his presence amongst us – the crowd in our midst.
I was in the airport waiting for my boarding time, I happened to catch a conversation between two female foreigners and a maintenance attendant on the ground. Listening to them, the attendant was asked how to find a way to check some schedules of flights, in which she confidently responded “bring with you your boarding pass and present it to the guard. And they’ll let you go out.” To the foreigners’ surprise, the two left filled with gratitude to her. As I was staring at her, I gave her a thumb’s up sign. I just want to affirm her of a great job done! She returned a beautiful smile to me.
What shines out in that event? For an ordinary sets of eyes, it’s just one of the many episodes of airport inquiries. However, for me, it was more of a complex sight of beholding. A sight beholding the virtue of politeness and kindness. A sight beholding gratefulness. A sight beholding a person affirmed.
Education not coupled with virtues is nothing but a clanging cymbals. Learning is more than just knowledge, rather it is a life of witnessing, of enfleshing the things you learned.
Learning is beyond books we read, beyond words we hear.
Let us learn from simple events that comes to us.!
Vacariate of Taytay, La Inmaculada Concepcion Parish, Culion, Palawan, Philippines
On September 25, 2016, Pope Francis will celebrate with catechists around the world the Jubilee for Catechists, an event held by the Pontifical Council for the promotion of the New Evangelization.
3 – DAY CELEBRATION FOR THE JUBILEE FOR CATECHISTS
Friday, September 23, 2016
7:30 am – Opening Liturgy
Introduction to the Jubilee
8:30 – 11:30 – Jubilee for Catechists: Announcing the Mercy of God
1:30 – 5:00 pm – Faith Development of Children and Youth
5:15 – Celebration of the Holy Mass
6:30 – Taizĕ
Saturday, September 24, 2016
7:30 am – Celebration of the Holy Mass
8:30 – 9:30 – Eucharistic Adoration
The Sacrament of Reconciliation
10:00 – 12:00 – Spiritual Pilgrimage through the Holy Door
Corporal Works of Mercy
2:00 – 5:00 pm – The possibility to follow “In the footsteps of the Saints and Blessed of Catechesis”.
5:30 – Rosary with the Sick (Yangco)
Sunday, September 25, 2016
7:30 am – Celebration of the Holy Mass
Liturgy of Recommitment and Blessing of the Catechists
***Month-long praying after post-communion: Prayer for Catechists
lifted from CCCB Jubilee for Catechists Resources; Concan Inc., 2005
In the eyes of a youth…
I recently accepted the invitation to be one of the Parish Youth Ministry heads along with other colleagues in the Parish. Aimed at reviving the spark among the Youth, three of them traveled from one school to another, from one destino to another via land or sea, with all the necessities carried in their backpacks. While i remain in the poblacion for my catechetical work.
Every saturday, we individually gather the youth ages 13-18 for orientation, getting to know the program of the parish, encouraging them to participate in the different organization in the PYM and some volunteer work.
Only a day earlier, I commented to my colleague on the weather, how i am much in doubt of their attendance for the evening activity. To my surprise they came, one by one, some in threes, others in group, despite the heavy down pour of rain and strong wind. I had to admit i underestimated them.
There is a kind of deep awe of knowing that they can be fully driven once informed.
A realization occurred to me: understanding what they can give will open up to what they are capable to receive which means opening the doors for them and giving them the place in which you want them to stay – a freeing idea, indeed!
Everywhere is home.
The Queenship of Mary is celebrated because of her divine maternity. She had found favor with God and has received in her womb the Son of the most high. what makes Mary’s queenship different from other queens is her great “yes” to the message of the angel Gabriel which had made the salvific mission of Christ possible.
She is queen because, after she is assumed into heaven, she shares the kingship of Jesus. But even if she has been assumed into heaven-body and soul- she still looks down upon humanity. She continues to be the intercessor of those who still journey in the valley of tears.
©K+WORD (Bible Diary for the Youth)
There have been many interpretations on the scriptural reading from Mt.22:34-40 . Scholars defined, more or less the how and what of the passage. However, there is always a fresh view everytime the Word of God is proclaimed. There is always something to munch. And as always? Full. Lacking in nothing.
Love of God.
Mt. 22:37, tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, will and strength. Easier said, often forgotten. Oh no! Not that we forget God. It’s not about loving or not loving God. It’s more of the in-between. We so love God, that we really don’t mind at all. We always fall into the trap of “I love God.” and we continue to exist in the greater scheme of things. Basking in our own world of loving God.
How do we really know we love God?
I came across a picture from one of Google’s web search images, it says “My ♥ belongs to Jesus.” I downloaded it. Over the days past, thoughts on the passage would once in a while rushed through me. Immediately, the idea that one’s heart belongs to Jesus is analogous to religious men and women. Everytime this thought knocks my door, I just picked up from where I left.
Last friday my view changed. It came like a sharp edged sword, penetrating the whole of my being. “My ♥ belongs to Jesus” as i once thought of is not analogous to religious men and women. While I was still integrating what the experience means to me, a simple thought stand out. Whether one is a priest, nun, married person, single, widow, complicated in status our heart belongs to Jesus. There is a kind of deep felt understand of knowing that one’s heart belongs to Jesus. It can be likened to the universal call to holiness, so hearing these words, i began to wonder how there might be a still more perfect way to love God in ordinary way.
There are more other ways of interpreting the passage, mine is as simple as this. What’s yours? We need to remember that the call to love God is as old as creation. Our ordinary experiences of God’s presence in our life have their own value whether we appreciate or recognize it or not. Yet, it belongs to you.
You don’t have to be someone you are not just to be able to say “My ♥ belongs to Jesus.” St. Augustine puts it rightly, “my heart is restless until it rests in you.” Only then can we truly love. It is only when our heart has found its true home can we welcome strangers and selflessly serve them, seeing in them the face of Christ.
” My ♥ belongs to Jesus” is the basic tenet of our life.
image: google image search
Whenever I come home for a short homevisit, my father gathers the family to pray the holy rosary at 9pm.
My parents are not that so-called very strict religious, my grandparents most probably do, but not them. They live out their faith simply but i believe profound and sincere.
We hear mass on Sundays as a family. We pray the rosary at past six in the evening. And begs, as we kneel before them ( parents and elderly at home), the night blessings as a custom in my paternal grandparents.
Growing up back in my early teens at ’90s,it did not dawn on me, how great this family tradition was. I was growing up and “doing” this kind of things except for the night’s blessing, was a bit tiring, at some other nights less fervent and sincere at prayer. But i have always appreciated the support and.encouragement my parents would give when i am being asked to join the church’s activities specially the “barangay” a Marian activity during the Month of May where the Blessed Virgin is being transferred from one house to another everynight. I love doing this!
Reflecting on my childhood years, I guess this is how my parents introduced me to love Mary. Not on a adult-imposing ways but child-like-ways: enjoy, learn, love.
My parents will not insist us to pray when “we dont want to.” They leave space for us children to be children once in a while. Prayer was not impose but gently taught.
As we prayed the rosary today, i got so struck. I felt so blessed. I felt awed when my 7 years old niece led the 5th mystery of the rosary and how she sincerely and seriously responded “Lord, have mercy and Pray for us” during the Litany of the Virgin Mary.
Filled with gratitude to God, that i could only gaze at my parents and offer them back to Him. It was this moment that i deeply appreciate my parents way of rearing us up in faith. SIMPLE. PROFOUND. ENJOY. LOVE.
well, I guess, im chronologically advancing in age as i can fully and.truly appreciate an old and well-known saying that expresses a general truth, “old wine tastes great.”
Our life has been shaped by the hustles and busyness of our many concerns with our life, ministries/apostolate. Many at times, we have forgotten what really matters in life. Most often, we drag ourselves to death to be able to accomplish or achieve a dream or ambition we so longed for, or a plan/project we hoped for but, in the end, only to realize in the greater scheme of our life it is useless, worthless, or to say the least, did not even help us to become a better person God has intended us to be.
This is one of the many reasons why at a certain crossings in our lives we feel empty. After all the stupendous labours and works we end up experiencing that dead-end feelings. Life becomes “is this all that I can do or is this all that matters” We become lost in our own world. It seems our life-compass has gone, I could imagine, from left to right swinging speedily. We begin to raise questions such as: where am I going? What choices should I take? Life from where I am now is meaningless, where is my joy? Where is my place on earth? etc..
It may take a while to have a felt-knowledge (with the grace of God) experience to be able to surrender to the great mystery of God’s love. It takes a lot of humility and poverty to come before the Lord Jesus and just bask in His love for us- for you. It demands nothing but our openness to accept the truth that the Lord Jesus came to be one with us, came for you and not for the things that you can do for him.
It is in this light that I would like to share with you one of the notes I have in my retreat. Whether you are a religious, a priest or married or single, the 10 Principles For Life Pattern outlined below will surely speak to you personally as it did to me.
PRINCIPLES FOR LIFE PATTERN (OF A RELIGIOUS)
( Adapted from W. Breuning and K. Hemmerle’s “Ten Principles for a Priest’s Life Pattern”)
Principles for Life Pattern of a Religious – notes from Fr. Rod Salazar, SVD
*not included in the original notes
I dedicate this space for Fr. Rod Salazar, SVD who had been my spiritual guide during my 8 days retreat. And for bringing to front the ancient call to holiness. Thanks too, for this heart-warming poem.
Somewhere are places where we have really been: dear spaces of our deeds and faces- scenes we remember as unchanging because there we changed. (W.H Auden, In Transit)
There is Only Time for Loving
Wednesday, Second Week of Easter
Holy Mass Collect
As we recall year by year the mysteries by which, through the restoration of its original dignity, human nature has received the hope of rising again, we earnestly beseech your mercy, Lord, that what we celebrate in faith we may possess in unending love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
I have always been enthused in celebrating Easter. This year, the enthusiasm seems to have lost its place in my anticipating attitude of celebration. The problem lies with me, it has been so yearly, so common, so ordinary that I lost the taste of Easter. The Glorious Morning in our Easter serenade becomes so distant and unappealing.
The Resurrection of Jesus tells us about INTIMACY. The Resurrection narratives show us how many of his disciples recognized Him because of heir personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. It is this INTIMACY with the Lord Jesus that (they) St. John the beloved was able to say “It is the Lord,” which led Mary of Magdalen say “Rabbouni” or the Two disciples on the road to Emmaus confirmed each other’s feelings “Were not our hearts burning when He spoke to us ” Jesus, too, knew that his intimacy with the Father enabled him to recognize the Will of the Father, gave him the grace to become aware that “the Father has put everything into his hand” thus, was able to surrender and submit to the folly of man.
It is only when we are intimate in our relationship with Jesus that we can fully be One with Him. Our intimacy with Him will leads us to familiarity with His ways, thoughts and actions, thus, enabling us to recognize the Lord Jesus in our life – His APPEARANCES to each one of us.
We can only celebrate Easter with joy and enthusiasm if we are ONE with Him. The Resurrection event becomes not just the event of the past but a Memorial of the Person of Jesus.
(image- google images – crossexamined.org)
(PV 2011 / inspired from Luke 1:46-55) Music by: Sr. Teresita Estrellita Orlino, SPC
I am your handmaid, Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word. Who am i? What have I to merit my God’s love?
As we commemorate the feast of Annunciation, may i share with you our song during our Perpetual Vows in 2011 inspired from the gospel of St. Luke “The Magnificat”
The gift of vocation to the religious life or priesthood is God’s gift. It is a sheer gift, a grace. But, this gift entails responsibility and mission. It is never for oneself but for others, it is service rather than self-preservation.
Religious Life is not a life apart from the wider Catholic community but a participation in its common life. Yet, they belong to the Lord to whom they have voluntarily consecrated themselves in love and freedom.
The experience of God’s love is the ultimate norm and basis of Religious Life. It is He who loved first.
May you find in Mary, the Mother of God the perfect example of poverty of spirit.
A Blessed Feast of the Annunciation
A mother (widow) raises 10 children, all become priests or nuns except one, who became a Bishop! This is a picture of all the siblings with Pope John XXIII Beautiful! The Scheerer family – 1 Bishop, 6 Priests, 3 Dominican Nuns.
In a milieu where vocations are stifled by worldly cares. Photo such as this, reminds us that vocations start in the family.
The family is the seedbed of vocations, who germinates love for God and a life of service for and with God through one’s neighbor.
5 Cs in voting
Over the past decade, the Catholic bishops have made three calls to voters: to form circles of discernment, to engage in principled partisan politics, and to exercise their right and duty to vote for candidates who work for the common good.
Forming circles of discernment, in basic ecclesial communities or any other grouping, is one way to ensure that the individual can listen to other perspectives and arrive at a more balanced and collective decision regarding pressing issues and choice of candidates.
Engaging in principled partisan politics means that Christian voters should first clarify their own principles in the light of Gospel values. Then they can enter the process of discernment and form their choices of individuals as well as of political parties.
What then is the common good? The social teaching of the Church describes it as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (Vatican II, GS 26). Indeed, this constitutes the first of five principles enunciated by the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (No. 351) for the participation of Catholics in political life:
“a) that the basic standard for participation be the pursuit of the common good;
“b) that participation be characterized by a defense and promotion of justice;
“c) that participation be inspired and guided by the spirit of service;
“d) that it be imbued with a love of preference for the poor; and
“e) that empowering people be arrived at both as a process and as a goal of political activity.”
Candidates for public office need to be evaluated according to some objective criteria since their decisions and actions, if elected, can have far-reaching effects for or against the common good of the community. Indeed, Pope Francis himself has pointed out that “politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good.” (italics added)
How then can we discern if a national or local candidate can and will work for the common good? Within their circle of discernment, voters can adopt an evaluation process based on five Cs that can give us a more balanced understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.
The first C is conscience. Is the candidate a person of moral integrity? Is he or she God-fearing and maka-Dios? Does he have a moral compass? Does she follow the dictates of her conscience that tell her what is morally right and morally wrong? Does he respect human rights and the dignity of every person, including crime suspects, indigenous people, and rebel groups? Is she transparent and accountable in public transactions? Are there charges of corruption against the candidate? Of vote-buying and other election crimes?
Integrity comes from the root word meaning “whole,” whereas corruption denotes cor-rumpere or a fragmented heart. Pope Francis has observed that “corruption is a sinful hardening of the heart that replaces God with the illusions that money is a form of power.”
The second C is competence. What is the candidate’s educational background? How is his health situation (physical, mental, etc.)? What is her record of service—both in the government or in private life? Does the candidate have enough years of experience for the office being sought?
In the same way that we ride a plane with the assurance that the pilot is adequately trained and experienced, so also we have to scrutinize the competence of those who offer to pilot the ship of state or our local community.
Competence or capability should not be based on popularity alone, or on name recall. We do not go to medical doctors simply because of their names or titles. We make sure that they have the needed credentials for their profession. How much more do we need to scrutinize candidates who purport to heal not only individuals but also the social ills of society?
The third C is compassion. Does the candidate show an option for the poor and marginalized? Is he makatao? Is she willing to work for social justice to address the social problems of mass poverty and inequality—e.g., by pushing for asset reforms? Does he protect the rights of minority communities—particularly indigenous people, Muslims, and other marginalized sectors? Does she work for the empowerment of the poor, instead of just giving doles? Finally, is the candidate seen as elitist or prorich and propowerful?
The fourth C is companionship. Who are the candidate’s supporters and advisers? Are they persons of integrity with a sound reputation? Does the candidate belong to a political party? What is its platform for governance? Are these simply promises or a concrete program of government?
Does the candidate belong to a political dynasty, or is he or she beholden to traditional politicians (trapo)? Research findings have pointed out a disturbing correlation between the presence of political dynasties and poverty incidence, violence and corruption. The Philippine Constitution has also indicated the need to control political dynasties.
The fifth C in evaluating candidates is commitment. Does the candidate manifest sincerity, decisiveness, and political will in his or her leadership style? Questions of loyalty to country in terms of citizenship and residency requirements have to be addressed. Where was the candidate during the martial law years and what was his or her stand then and now? Is she makabayan? What is his stand on key issues today, such as protection of the environment, peace-building, and antipoverty programs?
These are the five Cs—conscience, competence, compassion, companionship, and commitment—that can give us a more realistic profile of each candidate. The candidate can be rated for each C along a scale from “very poor” to “very good.” On their part, each candidate will likely highlight only his or her strong points in some of the five Cs. Yet, for voters, it is imperative to weigh all the five Cs in a candidate’s profile to arrive at a more balanced view of who to elect into office.
For the PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting), this is the meaning of One Good Vote—by the individual and for ever-widening circles of discernment.
Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, is the archbishop of Cagayan de Oro.
What is Easter?
It is when…
a hurting person forgives, a betrayed friend gives a second chance to the betrayer, a spouse remains faithful and trusts his/her erring partner, a parent gets up for work even if he/she is not feeling well, a student saves his/her allowance to secretly help his/her parents a person stands fro what is right amidst criticisms, a person makes unpopular decisions despite opposition, a person remains honest, fair and just even if others are not, a priest loves everybody even if others are not true and trustworthy, a person remains hopeful even if the present is too dark and uncertain.
for me, this is what I call EASTER!
It is when a person sees beauty in any “ugly” circumstance. It is when a person feels what is not articulated. It is when a person loves the unlovable. It is when a person prays even if GOD is seemingly absent
This is Easter!
by: Fr. Jack Tangan, OCD
(image: googleimages – theconfessingbaptist.com)
HOLY THURSDAY, CHRISM, LAST SUPPER
“….Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. .. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power…”
It is said that, “blind obedience” is far better than “informed obedience.” Blind obedience takes on the leap of faith as there are no ways by which one can determine the possibilities of what lies ahead. However, informed obedience lead one to walk in faith as the possibilities of the future are laid in front of the person.
Jesus, fully aware that his hour is coming, embraced with willingness and love the Father’s will and its consequences. He love the Father dearly and He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
As we follow Christ in his last twenty-six hours, may we spend time with him, accompanying him in his moments of distress, grief, sorrow, struggle, surrender and death.
Listen as Jesus confides to you “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”
Can you spend an hour with him?
(image-google search- pope francis ; agony in the garden by grace carol bomer)
Wednesday of the Holy Week
Ant. 2 of Evening Prayer (Vespers)
“He took all our sins upon himself and asked forgiveness for our offenses”
Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ. Try, then, to imitate God, as children of his that he loves, and follow Christ by loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.
Oh Lord our God, grant us the grace to open our hearts to the mystery of your sacred passion, death and resurrection as we enter into the heart of the Easter Triduum. Change our stony hearts into a heart of flesh. Transform us into the very person of Christ your Son.
Father, may we receive your forgiveness and mercy as we celebrate the passion and death of the Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I keep on mulling the event that happened over dinner the other night. I cannot find the words that would capture the depth and breadth of my “heaven on earth” moment.
My present community is composed of elderly Sisters, age ranges from 70 to 99 years old. I am just in my early adult life and still far from the way they have lived and served God.
At dinnertime, still undecided which food to take, a ninety six year old Sister joined me at the service table, aware of her health diet, I mumbled over what she took, “are vegetables good for her?” trusting she does, I left her. As she picks the fish, I doubted her judgment over the viand so I called the attention of the caregivers, after being informed that her viand is on her table I literally shouted; she is hard of hearing though, “Sister, your viand is on top of the dinner table.” Sheepishly, she replied “Oh!” with a grin on her face. Some of the Sisters noticed too and one even bellowed, “She cannot eat chicken, please!” and everyone had all their attention on her. Thanks to the meat (pork) she eats three times a day, she is perfectly well.
I went back to my seat feeling awed and in deep joy, each one taking care and being concerned with one another. It is as if the entirety of Community Life was flashed in front of me, summed up in one word CARE. But I can only care if I go out of myself and see my neighbor in need, not because they need it but, I want to care. I want to love.
I am a Religious. We live in community. We value commonality or common life, a distinctive character of Religious Life, of which it makes our life colorful indeed! We live in common; common prayers, common mealtimes, common recreation, common rising time and lights off. Everything is in common even the habit (dress) that we wear. All the things that we received are put in common so as no one in the community is in want.
After fifteen years, I am beginning to get the nerve of the life I embraced (experience will tell you so!) Community Life is the most challenging part in the life of a Religious and it goes with the Vows as well (poverty, chastity and obedience.) I am living with 55 Elderly Sisters. We are all gifted with different, unique characters and behavioral patterns, endowed with formed habits and values, virtues and historical backgrounds coupled with joys and pains, and of course some with unresolved issues. Yet, we exist, we live and we flourish because we CARE. Our Community Life is lived in CARE following the example of Jesus as the Good Samaritan to his neighbor whom he CARED.
Maybe, just maybe, if we take time to CARE for one another seriously-in our local community, family members specially the estranged, hurting, who feels unwelcomed, the pessimists, the indifferent and aloof, if only we take time to enter into their world we would realize how wounded WE ARE and how WE CONTINUE to wound the other. We project what we have and we loathe what we see. If only we have fully grasped the totality of our life, we would come to terms with the reality that we all live in one BIG COMMUNITY, living a common life.
It is a journey onwards with a neighbor towards the eternal community with the Father in heaven.
Browsing my social network newsfeed, a sister of mine in the congregation posted this photo in her account. I got so struck! Wow, three days from now, we will enter into the threshold of the mystery of our Catholic Faith! Time flies so fast.
I have so much in my mind with this photo but, unable to write! Nevertheless, let me share a thought that prods as I mused on this photo:
You might have something in your mind, after all readers are great sources of reflections and insights.
A blessed Holy Week ahead!
Twelve years since its foundation in Taytay, Rizal on 2004, the SPC Vigil House has gone beyond its conception. From a simple house for the aged and retired SPC Religious Sisters to becoming one of the most “sought” after model structures in reference to “house for aged religious”. Different religious communities and lay organizations have visited and surveyed its building structure, maintenance and operation. Undeniably, the SPC Vigil House has become a beacon of care and love for aging religious who have served their respective congregations with much dedication and fidelity.
Considered as a haven for the Sisters in their old age, the Vigil House, as fondly called, has become a sanctuary for lay people who would come to join the Sisters in their prayers, Holy Mass, Eucharistic Exposition, liturgical rituals, devotions and novenas or those who frequent the place for solitude and prayer. True to its charism of Charity, their very presence impels people to seek God deeply. Suffice it to say, the SPC Vigil House is the bush burning but not consumed in the heart of a city which awakens the inner longing of each soul drawn to deepen their faith and relationship with God.
Weakness and aging have not hindered the Sisters from ministering to the needs of their brethren. Aware of their limitations, they become more genuine and practical in their ministerial approach. Where active members of the Congregation are concerned with “working in the world but not becoming of the world”, non-working members are preoccupied with spiritual affairs. They have recognized that authentic presence and witness is the greatest and most challenging ministry, but, the most trustworthy and fulfilling means of conveying the message. True enough, it is only in weakness and suffering that one can truly be a beacon of hope, love and faith in a society where vulnerability is nothing but futility. It is one’s experience of senescence that enables the ability to practise the true meaning of poverty, chastity and obedience, faith and hope, precisely the very things that they share to the people who come to the SPC Vigil House to be invigorated in their faith life.
“La vie est belle.” Life is beautiful knowing that these Sisters who are in their prime have mirrored how life should be lived and what life is all about. It is not about the degree attained or the school attended. It is more than the position one’s held or the ministry you worked in. It is not even intelligence or practicality that gauges the success or the building that you built or the number of communities which you were assigned. Rather, life is beautiful for these Sisters because of the relationship that deepens through the years of falling and rising. The flickering sparks of courage and trust amidst life’s challenges made them realize that being put together brings out hope and surrender. “La vie est belle!” When deformities become reality and sickness becomes inevitable comrades, God becomes an intimate companion.
If the book of life of the SPC Congregation be destroyed, lost or burned, all they need is to look to these Sisters whose life is a “living book of life.” The life of these Sisters embodies the spirit of the Congregation.
The LORD said to Moses,
“I see how stiff-necked this people is.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation.”
But Moses IMPLORED the LORD, his God, saying,
“Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
‘With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth’?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’”
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.
The first reading today got a better hold of me. It did not only make me realize how powerful intercessions are but how weak God is when a sincere and humble man prays on behalf of his brethren.
Today’s reading is all about INTERCEDING FOR OTHERS. We are called to live as one community. The illness of one is an ache to all, the pain of another person in my community is my pain as well. The hopes and aspirations of my neighbor is my hopes and aspirations for him/her as well. My dreams are the dreams of my community for me too.
We all are one. We are all bonded by one prayer. The intercessory prayers make us aware of the neighbor within us and around us. The neighbor becomes not only the person we know (in the circles of our family, friends, workplace, etc) but those specially we haven’t met and known like the continuing war in Arab countries – our neighbors are the victims of war and violence, and even the perpetrators- those who are sick, depressed, lonely, lost and the needy and many more ( you can add your lists!) Basically, it’s all about IMPLORING (interceding) for others for their benefits.
Which brings me to my own personal experience of a dear Ading (friend) who never fails to keep me always in prayers, always interceding. The Moses in my midst. We have such a beautiful relationship. Each interceding for one another not only in moments of joy but moreso during pains, confusions and even “sacred spaces”- the kind when you don’t want to share and just keep quite ’til hurt can’t hurt you anymore.
Can you name the Moses(es) in your midst?
BATHING BENEFITS AT LENT
“… in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.” Ps. 51
As I read the Responsorial Psalm for Saturday (March 5) I was struck by this passage. Immediately the image of running water flashed into my mind. I was transported to a state where I was bathing. I could feel the warmth of the water rushing all over me, leaving me refreshed and cleansed. I am new again.
Looking back on my Lenten journey as I prepare myself for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery which will commence two weeks from now, I appreciate how this holy season of Lent brings us new life in Christ. Outwardly, Lent has been compared to a journey in the deserts, whose aridity is seen as a time for repentance and an opportunity for purification and conversion. Looking deeper, we will discover that this holy season carries a well that never runs dry, an oasis of water to cleanse us and make us new person in and for Christ.
Running water such a beautiful image of God washing me as I continue my forty days sojourn in the desert of Lent. My struggle to be faithful to observe my Lenten practices and sacrifices (which includes my constant failure), allows me to enter the process of cleansing. It is not our faithfulness in fulfilling our Lenten practices and sacrifices that cleanse us but what happens inside us that makes us clean. This process which is primarily a tug-of-war inside us a return to rejection with indifference or kindness, to serve or just to stay in my comfort zone, to keep loving instead or becoming bitter, to choose joy instead of hate, is the running water that wipes out our offenses, that thoroughly washes us from guilt and cleanses us from our sins. God sees the heart, the deeper longing of the human heart. God delights in the small steps that we take.
As we immerse ourselves deeply in the heart of this holy season, we cannot but thank God for His generous mercy pouring forth into us particularly during this Lent, which coincide with the celebration of the Year of Mercy.
Lent is the running water that cleanses each one of us from the layers of guilt and sin we all have and mercy is God’s blanket that wraps us, wiping, and removing every guilt and sins we have. This season is holy indeed!
Enjoy the rest of the weeks in our Lenten bath before Easter!
(image- googleimages search)
Lately, the newspapers had been plagued by commentaries from students to showbiz personalities and even political aspirants about the statement uttered by boxing icon and political candidate Manny Pacquiao on homosexuals as worse than animals. His courageous statement drew ire from the LGBT community. The Ladlad partylist aired their sentiments by calling the public to withdraw their support for him.
I noticed that people were reacting differently, from name calling to despisement to judgment. We love to judge. It is our second nature. But the problem is not that we judge out rightly, rather we judge vaguely.
The story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 comes to my mind. In this compelling gospel story, the Pharisees full of self-righteousness brought the woman caught in adultery into the public square of the temple where Jesus was teaching and was made to stand in full view of everybody (I could just imagine how she was dragged and pulled in shame.)She was accused of being caught in adultery! She is to be stoned to death as the law of Moses prescribed. Jesus, unfussed, bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. The Pharisees kept on prodding Jesus. So Jesus replied “if there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one the Pharisees left.
The heart of the story was at the end when Jesus said “woman, has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you, go, and don’t sin any more.” If we look intently into our heart, we will see ourselves fitting in the shoes of the Pharisees. The irony is that we also see all those fingers pointing at us, ready to stone us to death. In other words, as many as we see fingers pointing at us, as many times we point to others as well, ready to stone them to death. We all have sinned. We accused others. We have been accused. We have been wronged. We have wronged others. And the vicious cycle goes on and on. It creates nothing but only wounded persons. But, if we humbly surrender our heart to the Lord we would hear Jesus telling us “has no one condemned you? Neither will I condemn you, go and don’t sin any more.”
Proving who is right and who is not, who is sinful and righteous, does nothing to help the person to walk in the light of Christ. We have to understand that there is no line that separates the righteous from the wicked. Each one of us is equally sinful and equally good for we all are made according to the image and likeness of God. The sun shines on both the good and the wicked. Our struggle to respond to the call to holiness and wholeness is a communal effort. Our collective effort to uproot a secularized mentality must stem from within. Our battle is not amongst us but the evil that prowls around.
Instead of subjecting one another to a demeaning behavior, let us rise above these arguments and address our supplications to God who sees, hears and knows the misery of his children. The presence of evil cannot be fought by human effort alone, it must be accompanied by authentic prayer, fasting and penance. This is what the season of lent is teaching us to look within ourselves: to repent and be converted; to die from the old self and put on the new self with Christ; to leave the darkness of our sins and walk in the light of Christ; to be freed from the slavery of the flesh to be a free child of God. May we come to realize that we are the body of Christ. We are many and different yet each one belongs to the body of Christ, we are as St Paul says “a single unit.” If one part of the body is erring, the whole body is affected. If a part of the body is in pain, all parts are hurt with it.
Image: captain’s blog – ww.chadestes.com — googleimages)
In life, we all go through experiences that marked deeply in our hearts as if it was just a day or a week ago. There are events, too, that we deemed it didn’t happen to us or that we hope to erase it as soon as it comes to the fore. In all these, we have to accept that it is either a consequence of an action done by us or apparently inflicted by others. In each of these episodes, we underwent into a process of “passage.” This passage is the bridge that opens in us grace and revelation. A passage that brought the peace we longed for or a discovery that leads to healing. It may also be a passage of conversion, of forgiveness or acceptance of the painful realities that have happened in life’s past triggered by a present situation which needs sincere openness and humility. Or a passage that simply invites us to let go.
The passage that Jesus will have to go through is similar to what we experienced in life, though, not parallel in gravity and willingness. No one in the world lived life unmoved, untouched by life’s complexities. Even Jesus has to enter into the complexities of human nature, the irreconcilable fickleness of the human heart yet grounds himself in the heart of his mission – “to do the Father’s Will” and his identity – “the Beloved Son of the Father.” Jesus’ passage as spoken to him by Elijah and Moses will be an occasion of grace and revelation. It is in this “passage” of which was spoken that salvation and forgiveness of sins will be brought forth. This is the passage that bridges man back to God, the passage that made love tangible and visible; a passage which makes God-with-us to God-within-us. The process will be tough and rough; it may demand too much from him but in the end, it’s a freedom he would do it over and over again because he knew it will be GRACE and he will never be broken in the process.
Easier said than done, though. But it is in this light that the gospel speaks to us. Every passage that we go through is always GRACE. And always, never failing, a REVELATION we have not known, or have feared to enter into. It is only by submitting ourselves to the painful yet liberating process of life’s passages that we can deepen our faith and trust in God. It is only in the reality of who we are- perfectly imperfect – that God can come and overshadow us with his GRACE and reveal to us WHO HE IS- a father who delights in his beloved children.
Our life is filled with challenges. Some of these are tough and they break us. Yet, there are those that bring bliss and have become sources of strength and inspiration to move on. Our daily ordinary life’s experiences are not separate entities that have happened to us; rather these are pieces from God’s beautiful design for each one of us. Embracing each moment of our life is living according to God’s will. Our passage experiences become meaningful when we put them in the hands of God and allow them to be transfigured by his grace. Jesus’ transfiguration is an affirmation to us that God is always with us if only we have the eyes to see His presence in our life. He journeyed with us and walks ahead of us. Thus, let us be keen to recognize God’ comings, or the passages that we are in, for these are just disguises of grace- God’s indwelling presence.
Second Sunday of Lent Reflection (Luke 9:28-36)
For Freedom or Fear?
Election campaign has started weeks ago. Posters, leaflets, brochures, banners, tarpaulins, tv commercial and radio ad, newsprint ads and all kinds of campaign materials and strategies are up. Of course, the event organizers from different parties have lined-up their political assemblies in the different localities to present and explain their platforms and promises. Undeniably, the following months prior to the election day are the most rigorous moments for them as this will (help) determine their chances of winning for the most coveted seat(s) in the country.
Statistically, the surveys have shown the fluctuating rates of each candidate especially in the presidential bid. Though, one must note, that, if the election was done on the date the survey was conducted, we have a new president. On the other hand, what is alarming is the “fluctuating rate” which signifies the erratic decision of the voters, which make us think: what are the underlying motivations of the voters? What made the voter change his/her mind from one candidate to another in a 1 or 2 weeks’ time? What drives the voter to vote? Is the choosing of candidates based from freedom or fear? How many of us are truly free or are living in the shadow of fear during this period?
Our country’s political lifestyle has its own culture. The upper class may not agree but it’s definitely real down there in the grassroots. Vote-buying have many faces, it’s not only limited to monetary issues. Vote-buying can also be vote-bullying where people are being threatened. It can also be “utang na loob” as the value has been given or rendered. Vote-buying can also be likened to the “padreno” system or a biased electorate from the family’s political dynasty image. Or worst of all, vote-buying can be a one-law-rule in the family, or when people tend to forget the past and just live in the present, sadly, it can be vote-buying too. The inability to stand for what change demands is another form. There can be more to this as this is not a taboo.
Faced with such challenges, how do we keep the worth of May 9? How do we hand the value of suffrage to the generation that will come after us? 80 days from now we will be either in one of the public schools or malls proudly claiming our right for suffrage. Nevertheless, these days may also be our chance to look within us and assert our right to freedom. A freedom stained not by any corrupt culture we are in, rather, a freedom that mirrors to our leaders on how they should govern a country, whose electorate has voted them in utmost freedom, not tainted with fear.
Even as the world, or the Philippines has entered into the 21st century, our suffrage remains inviolate and indispensable, a mark of a genuine election day. There can be no real transformation in our government unless we begin from within. Unless our suffrage is freed from the culture we are in, we live in shadows. Keep in mind others have risked their lives to keep your vote safe.
(www.aktualno24 — googleimages)
We just had an ostentatious celebration of valentines, flowers, chocolates and gifts crowd our table. Restaurants, refreshment areas and malls were flooded with couples, lovers, friends and family enjoying each other’s company. What a beauty to behold!
I celebrated mine with the ladies searching for life’s direction. We had sharing of vocation stories, human and faith experiences, simple yet profound joy as we get to know more about the other and had great selfie & groupfie.
It was Kairos! God’s perfect time, we went beyond the customary fête of valentines. Instead of greeting each other we affirmed one another’s faith; rather than the celebratory norm we went into group-solitude for individual assessment of where our life had been and will be as we begin anew after this valentine’s day. We end up relishing at table served for us by the community of St. Paul Pasig Sisters- their presence showed what real valentines was: community endeavor. The sumptuous home-cooked meal and hand-made (Sr. Marie, from Vietnam) chocolate balls made me think of how this occasion should be celebrated: AT HOME, where everyone shares oneself.
Though miles away from my father, I still had a great talk with him over the phone. He shared how he spent with my nieces at the beach in my grandfather’s home town, playing and scouring the low-tide sea for shrimps which we did back in my childhood years. What a valentine! it is valuing time and making profound memories with the persons that matter most in our lives over the fancy glitz in the malls.
As I looked back into my valentine’s day, it was just the ordinary day made it extraordinary through the eyes of love, nothing fancy and no loud-wild-upbeat music to dance to, not a single high-priced food bill either!
After all, everyday is valentine’s day if only we have the eyes to see and the faith to believe that we have been loved all this time by a Great Lover. If only we have realized this profound truth in our life we would not seek love other than His, whose love was perfected on the cross.
Valentine’s Day shouldn’t end in human love alone.
(image-google search images)
(First Sunday Reflection: Lk. 4:1-13; Cycle C, Year 2)
In one of my Ignatian retreats, the facilitator handed me a guide on which the theme was devoted solely on to The Two Banners: The Banner of Christ and the Banner of Satan. This exercise led me into self-introspection as I go through the process of recollecting the year that had passed. What were my choices, my decisions was I standing under the banner of Christ or of the other.
Today’s gospel reading brings us back to the reality of the presence of Satan, in our world, in our life and even in the life of Jesus Christ. The modern man seems to be skeptic on the reality of evil in our life; it seems though, that Satan has become an icon, you can see all over from t-shirts to caps, tattoos to signboards, images to arts, word-expressions to music, and one can name more. The loathing of merely his “icons” becomes fondness, the young perceives it as cool or groovy, and thus its harmful presence turns out to be harmless. The gospel may give the impression as well, because Satan was even offering Jesus, the goods that our human nature would eagerly say “Yes!” at any cost. Hunger must be addressed with abundance. Vulnerability can be turned into power and doubt which is just a couple away from discovery.
In any case, still, the devil ¹“is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” and it causes not only harm to our self but damage to our true identity as a child of God and in our relationship with God, and it is for this reason that we must ¹“resist him, solid in your faith.” Ultimately, our concern is not how to defeat Satan and all his enticements rather the aim is to make choices and decisions which affirm our truest identity and where it leads us to God.
Our temptations and sins are basically pointers to us, it tells us who are we and what we are not. It is in these occasions where our fundamental option in life is challenged, strengthened and deepened as it matures with the choices and decisions we make in life.
There is only one option – God, but there are two banners erected.
What banner in life do you stand by?
1 – 1 Peter 5:8 – New American Bible
(Yes is Also No: The Power of Choice-Tamara McCleary – google images)
Day 8 Resurrecting with and Placing our Hopes in the Resurrected Christ
Theme: The Resurrection
Grace:My Lord Jesus, I beg for the grace of overwhelming joy and rejoicing, knowing well that through your resurrection you have conquered sin, evil and death itself and that in God’s own time—all shall be well.
Points for Prayer and Reflection:
(with Fr. florge, sj –facilitator)
Day 7 SUFFERING AND DYING WITH CHRIST
THEME: Person of Christ, Loving and Obedient unto Death
Grace:My Lord Jesus, I beg for the grace of intense sorrow, with you in sorrow, anguish, with you in anguish, and even tears and deep grief, knowing well the deep affliction you endure for me.
Points for Prayer and Reflection:
GOD ENTERS OUR CHAOS BECAUSE OF LOVE
(with Fr. florge, sj–facilitator)
(suffering with Christ–evangelicaloutpost.com — googleimage)
Source: ASH WEDNESDAY ESSENTIALS
The term Ashen Triduum was coined by the founder of the Anawim community, Fr. Francis, he wrote Ashen Triduum is “a time after gathering of Ash Wednesday to come aside and withdraw for three days, to interpret how we are going to proceed for the journey ahead. The focus of these three days is essentially that of a retreat, a time to be alone with oneself before God, to be silent from within, and to take time for prayer and serious reflection.” It is in this view that I would like us to draw attention to the Thursday, Friday and Saturday after Ash Wednesday. The glamorous celebration of Ash Wednesday has an impact in us, it enkindles in us the desire to be reconciled with God, to enflesh sincerely the piety coupled with it and the charity demanded from us. It is but fitting then, to withdraw awhile and intently look at ourselves from the perspective of our relationship with God so that we will be equipped in our long journey of 40 days in the desert of lent. This journey will not be easy, it is gruesome, for we, too, will die eventually, as with our Jesus, to our very self.
We will find in our very selves deliberate, strong resistances to live out the spirit we have in the onset of lent, as a matter of fact, gradually we deviate and make excuses from it. As we “withdraw awhile” let us reflect a verse from the gospel for the First Sunday of Lent, from St. Luke 4:1-13, to help us be on-guard, like a soldier always ready for battle for our enemy is ready “…to await another opportunity.” (Lk. 4:13) The Lord Jesus having spent 40 days in the desert was tempted by the devil, failing, will come back at an opportune time to entice the Lord.
Reflecting on this verse, it led me to the temptations of Jesus, which will really happen to each one of us in this journey of 40 days, it dawned on me these events in the life of Jesus where the devil was most present- “the another opportunity”. How are we helped to face our spiritual and physical battle as we tread the path to holiness and wholeness?
The gift of wisdom will guide us to see what is of God and what will separate us from Him.
“*It is not without purpose that God strengthens (if we just beg him) our human weakness (during persecutions) with his gift of fortitude.”
It is to this that we beg for the gift of counsel, which *sharpens our judgement. By its aid we perceive and choose the course of action that will be most conducive to God’s honor and our own spiritual good.
The gift of understanding will help us perceive the process into which we are into, thus, we beg the Lord to graciously grant us the gift.
Another gift is the fear of Lord which will be of use during this warfare against the devil’s malicious temptation in our faith. It is this gift that we hone our trust , love and reverence to God.
Seek knowledge not from oneself but the knowledge that comes from God.
7. “My God, my God why have you abandoned me?”- Faith, hope and love remain, but the greatest of these, is love. Love is not faithfulness but steadfastness in the midst of darkness, trusting that even “darkness is light itself.”
The practice of the virtue of piety will anchor us in our relationship with God, even in the pit darkness.
*The Faith Explained [Third Edition] by Leo J. Trese
Day 6 JOURNEYING WITH CHRIST
THEME: Person of Christ: God’s Love and Suffering
Grace: My Lord Jesus, I beg for a deep, interior knowledge of your person, your Gospel values and especially your way of loving, so that I can all the more fall in love with you, follow you and learn to love as you love.
Points for Prayer and Reflection:
(with Fr.Florge, sj)
Ash Wednesday ushers us to the season of Lent which concludes at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. Today, we received the ashes in the form of the cross (+) on our forehead which reminds us that we are dust and to dust we shall return. However, there is more to the ashes which is only a sign of something deeper, mysterious yet fathomable reality of our Catholic faith.
The marking of ashes in our forehead is a centuries-old tradition which the Church uphold until now because of its indispensable truths. We believe that as our fathers of faith has done so to earn the just mercy of God by putting on sackcloth and ashes on their head, we, too, will earn the mercy of God by submitting ourselves to the process of purification. The Ash Wednesday is marked by a day of prayer, fasting, abstinence, and alms-giving. Usually on this occasion, we abstain from eating meat and fast from one full meal with two lesser meals during the day, Fr.Joseph Classen puts it clearly that fasting is “simply not eating nearly much as you normally would during the course of the day and not consuming anything (except water) in-between those meals. You should leave the table still a bit hungry.”
Over and above, fasting and abstinence should be coupled with the awareness of the reality of what to fast and what to abstain in our life not just during Ash Wednesday, Fridays of lent and Good Friday.
I have listed out some of the sacred scripture that can, in any way, help us comprehend the deeper meaning of a centuries-old tradition of fasting and abstinence as we live out our duty and obligation as followers of Christ Jesus:
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans 13:11-14, which says “… it is now the hour for you to awake from sleep… the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light . . . let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,…” Prod us to see life beyond the peripheries of our self-centered views. St. Paul urges us to ruminate every moment of life as the “hour to wake from sleep” and “throw off the works of darkness” within us and “put on the armor of light”. An examined life will always shed light which inevitably leads to gradual conversion and renewal of one’s fundamental life option. Paul in the same letter continues to identify the manners in which we have to fast and abstain from in order to be able to live honorably as in the “daylight”, “not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus and make no provision for the desire of the flesh.”
A good scripture to take note as well is that of the letter of St. James 1:19-25, which underlines the necessity for the virtue of self-control and self-discipline as we go through life with its flaws, limitations, curves and edges. It says “know this, my dear brother: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…therefore, put away all filth and evil excess.” St. James reminds us that, in our dealing with others we must fast from our quick-tempered manners and habits and fast from self-introspection; abstain from our pride, self-righteousness and self-entitlement attitude so as to see things clearly as Jesus sees it, knows it and understands it.
Ephesians 4:29-31 brings us closer to the heart of fasting and abstinence. St. Paul boldly warned the faithful in Ephesians that to have a new life in Christ we must “guard against foul talk, all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.” Our act of fasting and abstinence must be imbued with the sincere desire for repentance, otherwise it will just be tainted with hypocrisy.
True fasting and abstinence will lead us to grow in our spiritual life. This sincere self-denial and self-sacrifice will create a space within us; thus, will inevitably lead one to desire for God. It is this very moment that true encounter between God and the *pray-er will happen, that God can enter into the life of the person. “It is through the (empty) heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eyes.” As we discover the essentials in our relationship with God, we come to a deeper appreciation to our moral obligation to our brothers and sisters, consequently, alms-giving becomes an act done out of love in, through and for God to neighbors.
Dear Lord, grant us the grace to be deeply sincere in our desire to amend our life as we enter into the season of lent. Amen
*pray-er – the late fr. Thomas green, sj would call the person who is praying as pray-er (anglicanpastor.com – priest reflection-google images)
Day 5 Contemplating Christ looking at us
Theme: Person of Christ: Ministry of Healing and Reconciling
My Lord Jesus, I beg for a deep, interior knowledge of your person, your Gospel values and especially your way of loving, so that I can all the more fall in love with you, follow you and learn to love as you love.
Mk 10: 46-52 (Bartimaeus) – the virtue of perseverance
Jn 4: 4-42 (Samaritan Woman) – God meets us where we are and uses our situation into grace
Jn 8: 1-11 (Adulterous Woman) – the mercy of God
Mt 8: 5-13 (Centurion) – the faith of the centurion which brings life our sense of nothingness
Lk 19- 1-10 (Zacchaeus) – the true wealth
Mt 26:14-25 (Betrayal of Judas)
Points for Prayer and Reflection:
insight from the listener:
(with fr.florge, sj)
(image from luis de morales – google images)
DAY FOUR Call and Discipleship
THEME: My Call, Sinner yet Called
GRACE: Lord Jesus I beg for the grace of steadfastness and devotion to my God knowing well that in my life, in the end, what He truly desires are not my achievements, not my successes but my fidelity
POINTS FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION:
Insight from the listener:
(fr. Florge, sj facilitator)
6 ways to celebrate Lent
Days from now we shall enter into the threshold of a great mystery in the Catholic faith. The season of lent will invite us once again to make an offering of ourselves in many ways. All these sacrifices and offerings that we make year after year are done out of love for God. However, if it had been done so routinely it becomes so boring and outdated. If you want to experience different this year, try considering the following:
It is seldom we do not hear persons who never say negative criticisms or comments on another person. Each one of us has a fair share of guilt. However, during this season of lent, we do not give up such habit so engrained in us rather we use our weakness as strength. Therefore, criticize but “say only words that men need to hear, words that will really help them”
We all have this level of attachments to our gadgets and surfing the net. We spend almost always our time catching up with the upbeat around us. We keep on checking our phones for messages and or the net. Here’s my piece of advice: NO GADGETS/INTERNET-WEB BROWSING SACRIFICE. You read it right! Take this time to use these things wisely. Instead of a non-stop selfie and groupie with friends, why not upload something that is relevant to the season? Or maybe, reflections, insights that you have that may inspire others- who knows? Use your Iphones, Ipad, cellphones etc. as a means to evangelize your contact lists. Be an online evangelizer.
The greatest mistake that one can ever do is to give up traveling and touring during lent. Why? Should we be forlorn during these days of lent? Take those bags and comfy walking shoes and be up for a pilgrimage. Visits the site where the Holy Father has declared as holy door and or visit any holy places within your local vicinities or abroad. Pilgrimage is far more delightful and high-spirited than the usual travel because it’s a journey inward than outward.
Lent is no homebuddy thing. Go out into the streets and don’t be afraid to make a mess. Party in the streets- feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. Give clothes to the naked, shelter the homeless ( be a generous host and adopt during this season not only during Christmas) or visit the imprisoned and be their companion or be a source of strength as you visit the sick and help ease the burden of others as you stand by them as they bury their dead.
Christ Jesus himself partied because He knew well that it is in mealtime that He is able to reach out to people, he is able to listen and see their needs. EAT. Eat with people you hate and you will discover their own beauties; eat with those whom you dislike you might be surprised they too, have a share of distasteful experiences. Eat with those whom you erred they long to reach out to you. EAT and BE RECONCILED.
When was the last time you were loud? This season, be bold and be courageous, be loud-to speak and share your God and your faith experiences not only to those whom you knew but above all to those whom you consider the least among your circles. But as Jesus rightly puts it “no prophet is honored in his native place.” Be Missionaries. Be one of the appointed seventy-two!
(image from bustedhalo.com-googleimages)
DAY THREE REALITY OF SIN
THEME: My Favorite Sin
GRACE: Lord Jesus I beg for the grace to understand truly the nature of sin, its woeful effects on me and on others around me, to abhor it and to seriously amend my life.
POINTS FOR PRAYER AND REFELCTION
Insight from the listener:
Wash me from my guilt and cleanse from my sins. Lord, I am worthy to receive you, but by your words I shall be healed.