Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Greetings

This blogger wishes everyone a happy Christmas. May the mad rush to this day - dawn masses, traffic jams, endless parties, shopping sprees, wrapping marathons, and office deadlines - make way to a more meaningful season, characterized by a quiet hope and centering on Jesus, spent with lovedones, and savored in prayer. I know of nothing more beautiful than love shared between God and His people, and among brothers and sisters. The best gift we have received and will ever receive is Jesus. The wait is over.

From my heart to yours, Merry Christmas, everyone.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hope for the Filipinos

Yesterday I watched a play, I AM NINOY. It is about the lives of two of our modern-day heroes, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. and Corazon Aquino. I was moved to tears on several scenes.

I cried when a father had to leave his wife and child just to earn a living abroad.
I cried when somebody died and they played the last notes of our national anthem.
I cried the longest when I saw Tita Cory's pictures flashed on screen.

The play encourages everyone to be a hero. It was done even before Tita Cory died, so it was not staged as part of Noynoy's presidential campaign, and, fittingly, it has won several awards. The performances were convincing and powerful. The message was timely and beautiful.

I found some parts to be dragging, however, as too much attention to details was given, but overall, I took away a feeling of nationalism and heroism. The Filipino in the writers could not help including all themes from drama to comedy in one play, true to the chop suey mentality of our culture.

When I think of the victims of natural and man-made disasters in the Philippines, I am moved to tears. But the Advent readings are filled with hope! I imagine we are the people being described here, and that God will restore and heal us, and will triumph over our enemies. I put my trust in God for the Filipino people. I will read this for mass today with so much hope.

December 6, 2009

Second Sunday of Advent Lectionary: 6

Reading 1
Bar 5:1-9

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever:
wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,
bear on your head the mitre
that displays the glory of the eternal name.
For God will show all the earth your splendor:
you will be named by God forever
the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.

Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights;
look to the east and see your children
gathered from the east and the west
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that they are remembered by God.
Led away on foot by their enemies they left you:
but God will bring them back to you
borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.
For God has commanded
that every lofty mountain be made low,
and that the age-old depths and gorges
be filled to level ground,
that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.
The forests and every fragrant kind of tree
have overshadowed Israel at God’s command;
for God is leading Israel in joy
by the light of his glory,
with his mercy and justice for company.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Reading II
Phil 1:4-6, 8-11

Brothers and sisters:
I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,
because of your partnership for the gospel
from the first day until now.
I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it
until the day of Christ Jesus.
God is my witness,
how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more
in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value,
so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ
for the glory and praise of God.

Lk 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bo Sanchez on KCon

An update from my previous post. In the Soulfood Newsletter which I received in my email Inbox, Bo Sanchez apologized for the lunch issue. I'm pasting his apology below:

Now For My Apologies

I deeply apologize for what happened during lunchtime.

Araneta Coliseum has this bizarre rule that says participants can’t go out of the Coliseum without buying a new ticket in the afternoon.

Days before the event, we tried hard to convince the Araneta management to change this bizarre rule. But they didn’t budge. A rule is a rule, they said.

Again, I’m deeply sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you. There are just some things we have no control over—and this was one of them.

I’ve already spoken my personal opinion to my team: That if Araneta doesn’t change their unreasonable rules (there are others I’d rather not talk about here), we’ll hold the KCon in another place next year.

The KCon is for you—and I’ll do everything to make it great for you!

Ok, brother Bo. I have seen my share of venue and food arrangements issues with regard to huge conferences, and I do understand that there are constraints that organizers have to live with. I think that the people were blessed during the conference and that the hunger was worth it; even a choice for some.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Tale of Hunger

I do not have all the answers to the questions raised by this story, but I will share it anyway. For it is a true story.

If there is one world problem I would like to solve, it is hunger. I know it is linked to poverty, but for me, specifically, it is hunger. Maybe this is my road to creating my own Soup Kitchen. So whenever I hear of people unable to eat, whether women, children, businessmen, or laymen, I cringe and I want to give them a sandwich. Immediately.

I guess I take this from my father, who is celebrating his 74th birthday today. He taught us the value of a full stomach, and this in turn made me want to share it to the whole wide world. I know. It sounds like my head is up in the clouds.

There are times when I am faced with reality and I feel a sinking feeling in my stomach. Last night, I had such an experience.

My young friends from the parish were given tickets to the Kerygma Conference being held this weekend at the Araneta Coliseum by our parish priest, Fr Steve Tynan, mgl. I sent one of them a sandwich, although I later found out that six young people attended. My regret is that I did not plan ahead about the meal aspect of their day.

I watched the conference online via video streaming while puttering around the house. I overheard an announcement that meal stubs were being sold so people could get affordable food. I said to myself, "There you go. Food will be available for the 10,000 people in attendance." And I went about cleaning the house, updating my Christmas list, and planning my holiday menu.

One of the youth leaders who is now a single professional is staying with me while my parents are away. When she got home, I asked her how the day went. She excitedly told me about the inspiring speakers, the beautiful songs, and the nice giveaways. True to form, I asked her what they had for lunch. Being one of the first to start working, Jobelle always ends up spending for her younger friends, a practice that Fr. Steve and I warned her, and Julie, another working member of the youth group, against. They should know how and when to say No, and to start saving for themselves.

Before answering me, Jobelle's face fell and she said, "Ate, we didn't have proper lunch."

My heart sank. I asked why. She said, "We thought we could go out to buy lunch. But the guards would not let us out. It was allegedly 'Araneta policy' that people had to buy lunch from the vendors. But we could not afford the food. Not for six people. So we pooled our money together and bought hotdogs and fries, the only food we could afford. We just ignored our hunger and concentrated on dreaming BIG, as the conference emphasized."

A thousand thoughts raced through my mind. How could this have happened? I had been to the Araneta before with a water bottle and I remembered being required to leave it at the baggage counter. It was Araneta policy that spectators could only buy water, necessary for man's survival, from their authorized vendors.

It was frustrating to hear that. Since the young people could not bring food in, they would be forced to spend P495 on a pan of pizza that would not appease their hunger, as for them lunch would not be complete without rice. Jobelle said they were prepared not to eat again today, and it was not a problem.

I had a problem with that, however. How many among the 10,000 people in attendance knew beforehand that they could not: 1) bring their own food and drinks; 2) choose where to buy their food and drinks? It would have been more acceptable had the vendors carried lunch items on the P50 below range, which was all Jobelle and her group expected.

I hurriedly packed whatever food I could into a bag and firmly told Jobelle to bring it. They were to eat it before entering the Araneta Coliseum. I woke up this morning and found that Jobelle had left to attend the morning mass at their chapel before going to the conference.

I know it is the Kerygma brothers and sisters' dream to gather tens of thousands of people to worship and praise God, and to be inspired to surrender their dreams to God. But. I would rather that they had arranged for decent, affordable food for everyone with the owners of the venue first; and if that venue is strict, they should have chosen another venue.

I have nothing against the Aranetas, the Araneta Coliseum, or the Araneta Center. I grew up with fond memories of Fiesta Carnival, Ali Mall, SM the one and only ShoeMart, National Book Store, and Rustans. As an adult, I frequent Gateway Mall and am a fan of Cafe Bola. I bring my nephews to Disney on Ice and watch concerts with my friends at the Coliseum. Once, I joined my Lingkod brothers and sisters for a dance performance on stage, loved it, and vowed that "I will be back, Araneta."

I think, however, that somebody ought to give them feedback of the impact of their "no food and drinks allowed" policy. People should be allowed to go out for lunch. Otherwise it is almost criminal, detaining people against their will, and curtailing their freedom to choose. And their right to eat.

Hunger of these particular people may be a personal concern for me, and I will take steps to correct it. I told Jobelle to bring the young people here after the conference and I will feed them again. I have seen them grow into mature, responsible, and generous people, and it makes me happy to be part of that growth. I am not giving them fish, but I am also teaching them how to fish. I am part of a group of "older" people who support the youth ministry of our parish and the MGL in Manila. This is the new ministry that God led me to, after the single young professionals, and I have grown to love it.

I cannot help God solve world hunger instantly and permanently. But I can do whatever I can, whenever I can, wherever I can, to keep some people from being hungry. One meal at a time. For we are called to be God's hands.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ella Learns from Eleazar

Today we reflect on what Eleazar said and did for the love of God. He is a shining example for us since he did not waver in his faith and even died for it. Would that every Christian reasoned like he did. I am inspired by him. Emphasis below all mine. Those are the lines that struck me.

From today's first reading:

Reading 1
2 Mc 6:18-31

Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes,
a man of advanced age and noble appearance,
was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork.
But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement,
he spat out the meat,
and went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture,
as people ought to do who have the courage to reject the food
which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life.
Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately,
because of their long acquaintance with him,
and urged him to bring meat of his own providing,
such as he could legitimately eat,
and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice
prescribed by the king;
in this way he would escape the death penalty,
and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him.
But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner,
worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age,
the merited distinction of his gray hair,
and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood;
and so he declared that above all
he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God.

He told them to send him at once
to the abode of the dead, explaining:
“At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense;
many young people would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar
had gone over to an alien religion.
Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life,
they would be led astray by me,
while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age.
Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men,
I shall never, whether alive or dead,
escape the hands of the Almighty.
Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now,
I will prove myself worthy of my old age,
and I will leave to the young a noble example
of how to die willingly and generously
for the revered and holy laws.”

Eleazar spoke thus,
and went immediately to the instrument of torture.
Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed,
now became hostile toward him because what he had said
seemed to them utter madness.
When he was about to die under the blows,
he groaned and said:
“The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that,
although I could have escaped death,
I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging,
but also suffering it with joy in my soul
because of my devotion to him.”
This is how he died,
leaving in his death a model of courage
and an unforgettable example of virtue
not only for the young but for the whole nation.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Greatness and the Beauty of Created Things

I love this. I think I have posted this before, but this is the first reading today. I love how the author cannot comprehend how people could appreciate the creatures but not the Creator. My experience is that when I see something profoundly beautiful, I am immediately connected to God - be it crashing waves on a rock, or classical music played live. God is the source of everything. I'll let the author of Wisdom do the talking.

Reading 1
Wis 13:1-9

All men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God,
and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is,
and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;
But either fire, or wind, or the swift air,
or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water,
or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods.
Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods,
let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these;
for the original source of beauty fashioned them.
Or if they were struck by their might and energy,
let them from these things realize how much more powerful is he who made them.
For from the greatness and the beauty of created things
their original author, by analogy, is seen.
But yet, for these the blame is less;
For they indeed have gone astray perhaps,
though they seek God and wish to find him.
For they search busily among his works,
but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.
But again, not even these are pardonable.
For if they so far succeeded in knowledge
that they could speculate about the world,
how did they not more quickly find its Lord?

AMEN to that!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Simplifying My Prayer

It is comforting to know that God still answers prayers, even to those who think they least deserve it.

I had a sad Monday. A bad Monday. A burst-into-tears-in-the-middle-of-the-workday Monday. There are a thousand theories and explanations for that, but bottom line, I needed a better Tuesday. So I prayed. And I simplified my prayer. Whenever I recognize my own helplessness, I tend to simplify my prayer, and it works every time.

I said, "Lord, I really cannot handle anymore stress today. Please give me a spectacular day. Not ordinary, because that won't do to make up for the terrible time I had yesterday. I need a spectacular day."

He answered it. He totally gave me a spectacular Tuesday.

I had a great Wednesday.

A smashing Thursday.

A fabulous Friday.

And today, well this was a smokin' Saturday.

I kind of get it that God works better when we let Him do His job without too much whining and nagging. But sometimes I still forget and insist on my own way.

I was asked to be a reader for anticipated mass at the last minute, so I was not really prepared mentally and emotionally for it. (Yes, control freak that I am, I like to prepare for my lector duty). I thought it was just going to be another mass when God would not speak, and I would just serve and then go home.

Lo and behold, the priest whom I did not know used as an example during homily that story about the man who would not let go of the branch he was holding on to in the middle of the night, and stayed there even if he heard the voice of God telling him to let go. The next day, after his ordeal, the man saw that he was only a few inches from the ground. The priest likened this to the widow of Zarephath, from the First Reading, who thought that Elijah was demanding her to bake her last bread for him, when the prophet was giving her a message from God, that oil and flour would not run out in her pantry.

I closed my eyes and felt this message being pressed into my ears, into my head, and into my heart. It is always darkest before dawn. When you hit rock bottom, there is no way to go but up. Let go and let God.

I was recharged with a dash of faith and hope again. Enough for another week. And I recognized my blessings again. My cup overflows with what God wants to fill it with. Everything is grace.

I will try to simplify my prayer and my life more. Less stressed, more blessed that way.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

From Charismatic to Mystical Prayer

I am on Book Three of David Torkington's Trilogy.

Book One introduced me to prayer. I learned that even priests needed to exercise their prayer muscles. The author shared a simple but powerful prayer based on the Our Father, which I should have written somewhere in one of my journals.

Book Two started out slowly but turned out to be exciting. To use that word, "exciting", in a book on prayer is probably strange for some, but that was exactly how I felt. The author captured my very doubts and needs about prayer, and answered, albeit not directly, why my prayer life had taken all those twists and turns. It reminded me that I had to be patient in waiting for what was in store in this spiraling journey to deeper prayer.

Last Friday, I got hold of Book Three. The title itself is very interesting. "The Mystic: From Charismatic to Mystical Prayer".

It took me two years to finish the first two books so I do not expect to finish the third one any faster. These books are meant to be meditated on and savored. I am looking forward to the discoveries waiting to be unraveled in this book.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Decoding My Prayer Life

From "The Prophet: The Inner Meaning of Prayer" by David Torkington. Not an easy read, but definitely worth it for those who are searching for something more in their prayer life.

When a beginner is passing through his first fervor, everything seems easy. Prayer is full of sweetness and light, and so it is often helpful to impose some physical mortification with moderation, such as fasting, so that their empty stomachs can remind their arrogant minds of their human weakness, that their early success in prayer can easily make them forget. When a person is languishing in a spiritual desert, as you will soon find out for yourself, there's more than enough dying to be done without insisting on further self-imposed mortifications that can easily break the camel's back long before the next oasis comes into view.

When the spiritual traveler finally comes to settle in the promised land, he has such an abundance of everything that he desires, that he must needs express his gratitude in the language of true love which is sacrifice. Beginners always make the mistake of trying to copy the great ascetical practices of the saints: their heroic virtue, their self-denial, their almost super-human love towards others, without realizing that all this is but the outward expression of a love that fires them from within.

x x x

Here is the principle. Don't give up anything you like or enjoy, save sin - except in so far as it prevents you from having consistent quality time each day for prayer, for it is there that you will learn how to open your heart to the love that will eventually enable you to do all, and everything, that is quite impossible without it. Don't let your youthful enthusiasm kid you into believing that it is all too easy. When love begins to purify the dross that is within you, you'll suddenly find that it is all too difficult. (From pp. 93-94.)

Readers of this blog since 2003 might see shades of the spiritual journey described briefly above in my posts. As a young, radically renewed Catholic, I jumped into things with so much passion and fervor. I reached a point, however, of recognizing that I was trying too hard, that perhaps God was not asking all that I had given up from me. I am slowly moving in my spiritual travel towards a quieter, less activity-centered expression of faith, and I am grateful for the resultant intimacy in my relationship with God.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

You Are Anxious and Worried About Many Things

This is the Gospel reading for today. It spoke to me. Sharing it with all of you.

Lk 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

Friday, October 02, 2009

Jesus Calms the Storm

We Filipinos need no other reminder than this. When the Lord commanded the wind to cease, it obeyed Him.

He can and will calm Pepeng and other storms for us. We just need to put our faith in Him!

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”

36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.

37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.

38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sign of the Covenant

12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."

17 So God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth." (Gen 9:12-17, NIV)

Repost: Impt Contacts to Help Typhoon Ondoy Victims



UPDATED LISTING OF HOTLINES (Feel Free to use the comments to add more) : Typhoon Ondoy Emergency Hotlines and Relief Operations

Rescue Operations

1. National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) (+632-9125668, +632-9111406, +632-9115061, +632-9122665) Help hotlines: (+65 734-2118, 734-2120)
2. Red Cross (143, +632-5270000)
3. MMDA (136)
4. Coast Guard (+632-5276136)
5. AIR FORCE (+63908-1126976, +632-8535023)
6. Senator Dick Gordon (+639178997898, +63938-444BOYS, +632-9342118, +632-4338528)
7. Senator Manny Villar (+639174226800. +639172414864, +639276751981)
8. Bureau of Fire Protection Region III (Central Luzon) Hotline: (+63245-9634376)
9. Go to GMA Facebook page & post complete addresses and names of people in need of immediate help.

Rubber Boat Requests, 4×4 Trucks

1. NCRPO (+632-8383203, +632-8383354)
2. Private citizens who would like to lend their motor boats for rescue
please call emergency nos: +632-9125668, +632-9111406, +632-9122665, +632-9115061)
3. You can also text (+632917-4226800 or +632927-6751981) for rescue dump trucks.
4. For those who are able to lend 4×4 trucks for rescue: Please send truck to Greenhills Shoppng Center Unimart Grocery to await deployment, Tel No. (+632920-9072902) .

Power Supply

Meralco (+63917-5592824) If you want service cut off to your area to prevent fires and electrocution.

Relief Aid and Donations

1. Victory Fort is opening its doors to those affected by the typhoon. Call 813-FORT.
2. Clare Amador (+639285205508) or Jana Vicente at +639285205499) . Drop off for relief donations is at Balay Expo Center across Farmers Market Cubao.
3. Miriam Quiambao drop off points: One Orchard Road Building in Eastwood, or messagehttp://www.twitter. com/miriamq for more details.
4. Donations for Ondoy Victims to be distributed at the Philippine Army Gym inside Fort Bonifacio or GHQ Gym in Camp Aguinaldo starting now.
5. Team Manila stores in Trinoma, Mall of Asia, Jupiter Bel-Air and Rockwell shall be accepting relief goods (Canned Goods, Ready-to-drink Milk,Bottled Water and Clothes) for distribution by Veritas.
6. Relief Goods: Caritas Manila Office at Jesus St., Pandacan Manila near Nagtahan Bridge (+632-5639298, +632-5639308) or Radio Veritas at Veritas Tower West Ave. Cor EDSA (+632-9257931- 40)
7. Donations of any kind for Payatas communities affected by Ondoy accepted at ARANAZ stores in Rockwell & Greenbelt.
8. Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan Task Force Noah, a disaster response arm of the Jesuits, is accepting donations. Please drop it off sa Ateneo Cervini Dorm.
9. Red Cross Load Donations: Right now the easiest way to make donations from the seat of your chair is via mobile phone load. The Red Cross Rescue and Relief Operations. Text: REDAMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4483 (Smart)
10. Ateneo is now accepting donations for the victims of Ondoy. Donations can be dropped at MVP Lobby. For those stranded/those who need help: To all students who need help or know of people who need help. Please text the name, location, and contact number to (+6329088877166).
11. Papemelroti stores at 91 Roces Ave. / Ali Mall Cubao / SM City North EDSA / SM Fairview / SM Megamall / Glorietta 3 in Makati / SM Centerpoint / SM Southmall are accepting relief goods (canned goods / milk / bottled water / clothes – NO CASH pls.)
12. TXTPower now accepts donations via SmartMoney 5577514418667103, GCash 09179751092 and Paypal 3GvuN

Media Outfits

* ABS-CBN Typhoon Ondoy Hotline: (+632-4163641)
* Jam 88.3: (+632- 6318803) or SMS at JAM (space) 883 (space) ur msg to 2968

People Tracker (using your phones, get your friends and family to turn on their finderservice for you)

* FINDERSERVICE. For Smart, text “wis ” to 386.
* FINDERSERVICE. For Globe, text “find to 7000.

Monday, September 07, 2009

For the Confusions Around Are Mere Reflections of...

I do not know if it is because of my profession that I attract conflict, but I have noticed recently that everywhere I go, there is conflict, and more often than not, the issues are complicated and even heavy. I almost envy the people whose standard reply to the question of "How are you?" is "I'm bored, thank you."

Boredom is an unfamiliar feeling to me, as my days are more characterized by stress, sometimes panic, and at worst, fear. This, coming from a Christian. Which brings me to the question that got me started writing this particular blog entry. I wanted to ask God something, "Why, Lord, can't I experience peace for a prolonged period of time? Like maybe a week?"

Is it a matter of perspective, as in I choose to look at the problems of life rather than focus on the calm surface? Is it a matter of personality; do I aggravate the situations around me so much so that I bring out conflict wherever I go? Is it a matter of profession, in that because I'm a lawyer, people tend to spill their innermost problems to me even though we hardly know each other? Is it a matter of perception; do I just have the knack for looking at things beyond what is visible?

I would like to know, because I need a break. I want to work and not be judged for every little thing I do that do not always have anything to do with my job description. I want to serve and not be the subject of negative talk. I want to be free from these distractions.

The world may be full of conflict, really, but just once I want to be shielded from the chaos. I have just found some inner peace and quiet. Then bang. I received disturbing news, and I cannot sleep again, and I cannot focus again. I am trying, by blogging, to rid myself of these thoughts. I tell myself that it's not a big deal, what I learned today; that it's not really my problem; and that it will solve by itself without me having to lose sleep and change my routine over it.

I treasure my friends a lot, and I put my trust in people 100%. I work hard, and I am aware of my flaws. Still, at the end of the day, it is not reputation that matters, but my conscience. If my conscience is clear, and people still choose to talk, I can only close my eyes, and go to that quiet place where only God can hear me, and ask Him to protect me from reacting negatively, or worse, from giving in, and becoming the person some people paint me to be.

For obvious reasons I cannot write in detail what I'm going through here. There are multiple things, actually, and I have tried to make sense of them all, quite unsuccessfully so far. It is all an invitation to prayer, as my Cenacle spiritual directress would say.

This too shall pass.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Great Books and Teachers

I try to attend the Catholic Formation series in our parish as much as I can. It is adult catechism at its finest, and in-depth bible study given by our parish priest that always leaves me wanting to learn more about our faith. My classmates are mostly nuns from the four congregations who reside in our neighborhood, and a growing number of lay people. Make that lay women. But still.

I received the handouts and saw the series topic: The Moral Life. Pretty. Heavy. Stuff. Tonight's topic was a concise version of St. Thomas Aquinas' writings on the Seven Basic Human Goods. My background in civil law helped, but only slightly. For I have a confession to make: I have, to this day, refused to read the great philosophers' and thinkers' original works. I have mostly survived on hearsay, actually, for I have been more comfortable reading other writers' interpretations of what the great ones have written. For a lawyer who "always reads the cases in the original", I should be ashamed of myself.

My father has tried to influence me, for he is a product of UST education. He has all the books. I have just picked out the lighter ones from his vast library, and those were mostly fiction. Even my choices in fiction have been influenced by one major standard: entertainment value.

And so I have only read the "Primer for the Catechism of the Catholic Church", but not the real thing. I have read several books about saints, but not their actual writings, except for St. Therese of Liseux. I have read that Social Science II reference book, the title of which escapes me now, the one that comes in two volumes, but not the individual books that comprise it. I am lazy, I know.

Age has caught up on me, and I no longer can afford to wing it. My Bucket List of Books has to be dusted and reviewed.

In many things, I have felt what growing older means. I'm not necessarily wiser, but I now try harder. Reminds me of this passage that was taken from the only "serious" book that I read everyday, the holy bible:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13: 11-13, NIV)

I do hope to put childish ways behind me, to reason like a woman, to someday "see face to face", to know fully, and to be fully known.

I also need to be more consistent in applying what I read and study to reality. Starting with the lesson for this month, "The Moral Life". I'm glad that my classmates, who are religious, agree with me that it's a tough subject. I thought I was the only one who felt like her nose was bleeding while trying to grasp the subject matter. The nuns smiled at me, and their smile told me that they were one with me in my desire to learn more and my struggle to do so.

How do I make a moral decision? I asked a priest when I was faced with the greatest moral dilemma of my life. He simply said, "Take away your emotions, and then make a moral decision. You can't let your desires rule your life."

I asked the same priest tonight if he was referring to Aquinas' teachings when he gave me that piece of advice. He nodded. I said I still found it difficult. He said, "I never said it was easy."

I cannot take shortcuts anymore. In reading. In life. In decision-making. Time to face the big ones. The great big ones.

Faith, hope and love.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Silence and Solitude

There is nothing like trials to make us go down on our knees in prayer.

I have been unable to update this blog regularly because I am going through a phase of privacy, of wanting to process things and mull over them, and choosing not to reveal everything that's going on inside me. This is a departure from my usual self who started writing in this space with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Perhaps I have more questions than lessons right now. I was told to stop wishing and to be firmer in my decisions. I'm doing that. But so far I have been unsuccessful.

Perhaps God, as I have come to know him in my 20s, has revealed more of Himself to me now, and I am seeking a deeper relationship with Him. In my search, I have become silent, as I wait for the new knowledge to set in.

I am beginning many things and I do not have a regular weekday mass schedule yet. Once I settle in to my new workplace, perhaps I'll write again. But then it will be time to start becoming a teacher. And the adjustment will begin again.

I am in need of a short respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. I wish I could go on retreat again - silent, individual retreat. I want to be in a serene place by myself with just my Bible, journal, books, and pens.

There is so much going on, but I do not have words to describe them. Not now. Perhaps not ever.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Unopened Gift

After years of begging him to paint something just so his God-given talent would not be put to waste, my friend surprised me with a gift the week before he left the country for good. I looked at it and thought I heard him say that it was a photo taken of an actual painting, the only painting he made for six years.

I was honored to receive that gift and put it on a special place inside my room, to remind me of the gift of friendship, art, and life. When I asked him what his work was called, he said he had not really thought about it. He paused for a while and then decided to call it "A New Life".

I saw what he meant by the title. The painting was made up of several shapes and sizes, in different textures and colors that seemed to convey different aspects of life, or different periods in one's lifetime. I prayed with that painting for several days, reflecting on the new life that God alone could give, and all the wonderful surprises hidden inside each piece of the painting led me to hope for more blessings in my own life.

Less than a year after receiving that gift, a couple of our common friends asked to see that "photo-of-a-painting", after hearing about it so much from me. They asked if they could open the back of the frame to inspect it, as they were quite sure that it was not just a photo, while I insisted that it was. Lo and behold, the girls discovered something I had taken for granted for several months - it was a real painting, and not just a photograph of one. Where I got the idea that it was not real, I will never know.

I was stunned to learn what a treasure I had in my hands, an artist's original especially made for me. True, I appreciated it, but I was not aware of its real worth and value, and missed out on that extra joy for quite some time.

I am quite often like that with God's gifts as well. Consumed by my own ideas of how He blesses me, I fail to recognize the true worth of His gifts, and become content only in mere shadows and scraps of the genuine article. More precious than diamonds, more costly than gold, is the Lord to me, and yet sometimes my idea of Him gets dulled, and I miss out on His presence in my life.

I do not think I am alone in this, for a lot of people are like me, rushing through life without pausing to ponder on God, His ways, His works, and His wonders. I hope that after this lesson, I will experience life in a new way - to recognize love and its gifts, God and His blessings - the minute I receive them, and to be grateful, and to respond accordingly.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alive at 35!

My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. (Ps 84:3)

I pray this prayer today, to have that longing and yearning come alive in me again.

I have been running and hiding from the Lord recently. Some of you may know that this normally happens to me and that I eventually find my way back, sometimes even on my knees. This has been a little extended chapter of hiding but I'm hopeful that I will recover. Ironic that this has happened at a time when He is showering me with blessings: my career is taking surprising turns, I have a proven set of lifelong friends, and my relationship with my family is as strong as ever.

With God, I am again a petulant child sulking because my plans did not push through and I did not get what I wanted, when I wanted it. I focus on that, rather than the roomful of toys (blessings) that He has given me. I'm getting tired of this sulking, at last.

Some people are born privileged and grow up getting their way in everything, and later on in life realize that they have to give more of themselves, back to God, through His people. My journey is a little more complicated, for I had a conversion experience in my teens, and in my twenties, attempted to be the paragon of service and selflessness. Until I found myself in pieces, tired, and badly in need of rest. So I did rest.

Then it became more difficult to pray, to listen, to wait. The shadow of my former self threatened to negate all my years of renewal. It happens to everyone. It happened to me. So I hope that in time, I will find that balance between faith and good works. And that I will talk and listen to God again, like I used to, for He has not changed, but I have. May I learn to accept that He loves me despite who I have become.

This lesson of accepting God's love reaches new levels every time I encounter it. Love is indeed the greatest of these, and the most powerful. I pray that love enters not just my mind, but my heart as well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Productive Rest

Coming from a lifetime of being too hard on myself, one of my latest struggles is about being productive.

Like every obsessive-compulsive control freak, I have come to measure my days by accomplishments. I am seldom at peace unless my task list gets updated with a few checks everyday. I am distressed, guilty, and unhappy in between days of accomplishment, whether at work, and apparently, even at rest.

I am on a couple of week's break before I re-assume the detail-oriented position of being court attorney. Therefore, I should be, literally, taking a break.

So I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Singapore, my first international trip in almost two years, and immersed myself in window-shopping, mall-hopping, and cuisine-tasting.

But then I got back home and faced my cluttered room. Waiting for me were my suits for dry cleaning, books for reading, stuff for writing (two for Lingkod), lessons for finalizing, and other piles waiting to be discovered.

My state of mind is reflected in this mess. I have this habit of stashing things- and thoughts - until I'm ready to sort them out and file them properly, either in the keep, recycle, repair, or giveaway bins.

Rest has scriptural basis, my friends remind me. I should not be guilty for not being productive - whatever that means. If my body needs to rest, my mind needs to process, and my heart needs to ponder, then I should listen and respond, rather than resist, and push myself to do things that I do not exactly want, or need, to do. Like going out.

I have responsibilities and my prayer is that I can fulfill them in the order of urgency. Otherwise, I will try not to be guilty for slowing down, taking time for myself, and not publishing a paper, writing a book, or composing a song (as if I were in the habit of doing those things, but just to illustrate).

Sometime soon too, I hope to reconnect to my God. To ask Him my questions. To sit with Him, even if I don't understand His answers. To surrender to Him my worries. To express my gratitude. To listen. I have not done that, or enough of that, in a long time. I know I should do that first. I may have forgotten how, in my busyness with all things of far less importance.

I wish that God would come to me, and speak to me, and embrace me now. Perhaps that is the motivation that I need to make sense of the chaos that I have surrounded myself with. Yes, His Word, His assurance, His presence, that is all the rest that I'll ever need.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It's Pouring Out Here

Many of us complain that "when it rains, it really pours".  We say this idiom complete with a sigh and a shrug.  

Lately, however, I have seen the blessing of having too many things to think of (read: worry about).  It has taught me to let go and let God.

I was out last night with some friends after our prayer meeting was canceled due to heavy rains.  I felt bad when I arrived after two hours of traffic to find an empty, dark church.  Where was everybody?  Not only were cars and people delayed for the prayer meeting, text messages also arrived late.  

It was my last day at work and one thing that had kept me going was the thought that I was attending a prayer meeting afterwards.  My officemates had invited me to a drinking session but I declined.  I wanted to be spiritually nourished.  I felt exhausted, as if I had swam a great ocean and I was on the last few laps.  

I was supposed to pray, sing, listen, and share, and let my hair down in the process.  But there was no opportunity for that.  A friend of mine also texted that she was stranded outside our village due to the pouring rain.  I went to get her, and then we finally caught up to where the others were.  They had already finished dinner.

I told them, "Next time that I am in transition, please don't cancel a prayer meeting."  I could see their logic. They apologized.  I had forgiven them, but still  I was not my usual self.  I was spaced out.

Fr. B asked how he could help me and what he should pray for.  I shared with him that I was going through several major things all at the same time, and thus I  had not focused on any one concern.  Perhaps one pain was shielding me from the full impact of another.  Perhaps they were sent at the same time to cushion the blow.  I was forced to take it one day at a time and to deal with my challenges in the order of urgency.  As a result, I did not dwell too much on the goodbyes and the pains and the hurts.

"Wake me up when September ends", the song goes.  This had become literal for me again.  I imagine a September when I would have less worries.  And a December 2010 when I would be reunited with my whole family again and we would celebrate many occasions.

For now I get by through knowing that nothing is within my control, and I just have to go through this.  It was my last day at work yesterday.  For the next few days maybe I can deal with everything else aside from work.  And that means I have a whole truckload of things to think about.  And pray about.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

From Failure to Blessing

I have realized today how God really moves in mysterious ways, yet He uses everything for good.  There was one aspect of my life that I considered a failure, but in hindsight, it paved the way for one of His greatest blessings.

I failed the presidential elections three times in my life.  Three times in my life I ran; three times I lost.  

In grade school, high school, and law school, I was encouraged to run and I said yes.  In the School of Economics, I had the good sense to run for vice-president, and won.  I cried when I lost in grade school, laughed when I lost in high school (such a relief!), and just smiled when I lost in law school.  

But running while I was a law student was very difficult.  My heart wasn't in it, because I was getting tired of politics.  My mentors, the kingmaker who was behind our party's straight win when I was a sophomore (I won as Treasurer), and the President who I absolutely adored, gave me a big pep talk and asked me what was wrong.  I was the standard bearer and yet I could not keep the party together.

The truth was that I only ran out of obedience.  While I was discerning whether or not to say yes, I went to the UP Chapel and attended mass.  I heard a song that had always moved me to say yes to the Lord - "Here I Am, Lord".  So running for president did not become a thing I had to do for my party or my convictions, but for the Lord.  I remember crying so hard because I was tired of putting myself out there to serve and being the object of mudslinging as a reward.  I was too idealistic for politics.  My Ninang already forewarned me about that when I first e-mailed her that I was being asked to run again.

As I said, I lost in that election.  I gave a speech from the heart during the final face-off, more for my friends and partymates than anyone else.  When we found out the results, the party members had lunch at Chocolate Kiss cafe.  There was companionship, friendship, and camaraderie.  I felt grateful for the chance to be part of that idealistic, passionate, and brilliant party.  The party's name was Gabay.  I have remained friends with those people, all lawyers now, through the years after Malcolm Hall.

Two years later, when I was already a lawyer, I resigned from the law firm I was working for without a job in sight.  I just followed my heart.   As usual.  Then I got a call from Cherry, who ran for P.R.O. with me in Gabay, two batches below me so I would not have become close to her had I not run for President, and with whom I clicked as we had the same outlook in work and life.  She said that she had heard that I was looking for a job, and asked if I could work for her mother, who was then an Associate Justice at the Sandiganbayan, a mere seven minutes away from my house.

And the rest is history.  I happily worked for three years in that Court, until I heeded the call to be a volunteer mission worker.  In August, I'm going to work for the same Justice again after four years, and this time with Cherry, who has joined her mother as one of her legal staff in the Supreme Court.  

I remembered this story because this morning, my favorite uncle (from the US) called, and my father bragged to him about me working for the Court.  He excitedly asked to talk to me and then I said, "It's no big deal, Uncle."  He said, "It is a big deal.  Your father and all of us here are very proud of you."

I went back to my room and thanked God for the job opportunity, which I got again so easily, and which as a result, I had taken for granted.  I had tons of friends who worked for the SC so I had forgotten that not everyone could get this chance.  This led me to thinking as to how I got the chance:  by obeying God even if it was difficult, by going through failure, by being tested in fire, by being led to the right people, and by giving my best.

Yea, my life is hidden in Christ.  I thank Him for directing me and taking me to new places.  

He does this for all of us.  So let us not look at failures as final, but just as means to make way for even greater blessings.  I know.  I have failed a lot and He has worked miracles through each failure.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Grateful for God's Megaphone

In his book "Where is God When It Hurts", which I had read years ago and must have blogged about here already, Philip Yancey tries his hand on a topic previously touched upon marvelously by C.S. Lewis in "The Problem of Pain".

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."  --C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Expounding on this, Philip used the medical findings of Dr. Paul Brand who studied lepers for years to appreciate the value of the body's pain mechanism in pointing out to humans the areas where they are ailing, and thus, prevent further damage.

Philip's proposition is that pain is God's gift, for without pain to warn us of harmful and dangerous situations, we would all injure ourselves to death.

I woke up appreciating the pain that I felt strongly a few days ago, for it pointed out to me an ailing area of my life that, if left unattended, could have burned and used me up.  At first I was surprised at my response - for pain could have physical manifestations:  a real heaviness in the chest, difficulty breathing, recurring headaches - as well as mental dimensions: I have been distracted in my driving and almost collided with other vehicles for two days now.

I felt, surprisingly, that while I was being delivered the bad news, God was with me.  So it was with courage that I faced the verbal abuse.  I knew that my conscience was clear and the accusations were baseless, and in fact I could have argued my way to death, but I found myself exhausted emotionally.  I had no strength left to think, for the one who was hurling accusations was someone I knew and trusted.  

It happens to everyone, I told myself.  No one can ever know us fully.  We shouldn't put our trust in man, but in God.  So I let go.  Later on, the surface of the area where I was blackened and bruised hardened, and I felt a shield of anger envelop me and provide clarity.  Righteous anger is a gift, much like pain, for it showed me my convictions, as well as the other person's, and how starkly different they were in the first place.  Definitely time to move on, I thought.

When the anger melts, I know I will have to peer at the wound itself and open it up for further healing.  I am confident that God is sending me people who will be messengers of His love.  But it's my instincts that showed me lies from truth.  I am stronger than I initially thought.  Perhaps pain is not new to me.  Perhaps I have seen God's handiwork in challenging times like these over and over again.

I am in pain now but I am not alone.  I am grateful that God used His megaphone to wake me up from my blindness and deafness.  Such is the tender care and concern of The One in whom I trust.  It may take time, but as cliche as it sounds,  I know that God is with me, every single step of the way.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My True Worth

I'm currently reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns".  It struck me how the girl Mariam did not know that she was living on scraps thrown her way by her father until she saw his house and how his other children lived.

Like Mariam, I was happy about a certain area of my life, until I was brought to an astonishing shock that I was living on scraps, leftovers, and throwaways.  Then I had a choice - settle for that, or move towards a different kind of life, one where I would receive as much as I gave.

Sometimes, in life, we are taken advantage of.  And we don't mind.  We are even happy to oblige, thinking that there is no harm done in the long run.  Until we wake up one day to find that we have given away our inheritance to become a scavenger.  Friends tell us that we deserve better, but we insist that we are where we're supposed to be.  We believe tenaciously in our dreams, not seeing reality for what it really is.  

I was struck by a line from this morning's Psalm reading:

"The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing."  (Ps 34:11, NAB)

I stayed with it until I heard an invitation to seek the LORD and to lay before Him my pain.  Surely, a sister told me yesterday, this cannot be God's last word on the matter.  So deep and massive was my hunger that I had forgotten how I got there in the first place.  In this verse I saw an assurance of my true inheritance as a daughter of God.  It was something I had never thought possible.  I was willing to stay on the sidelines, to feign happiness, to shun success.

Unlike Mariam's father, my Heavenly Father does not treat me like an outcast in His own household.  I am the one who thought I was an outcast, unworthy of a seat in His table, tarnished and blemished and forgotten.  During times of prayer, however, I hear His voice calling me as His own, and reminding me that He has a plan for me.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)

The blurry image of my identity as His daughter is slowly gaining clarity again.  I pray that I may have the strength to continue to seek the LORD, to put my trust in Him, and to believe in His promise of a future and a hope.

I will not settle for scraps again.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

With Friends Like These...

My parish friends had fun teasing me this morning.  We just had a tour of our new building and were cooling ourselves under a tree when our parish priest told us that there would be a mass wedding at our church in July, during the fiesta.  

Since this meant the wedding fees would be much lower (to share the altar with four score and seven other couples), I asked if I could have my wedding then.  I was told, "If you could book a groom by then, go ahead."  I laughed.  Then I looked at our clubhouse.  Then I looked at my friend's white car.  I asked him, "Can I borrow this as wedding car?"  He said, "Be my guest.  But the groom has to be captured first."

This started off all sorts of ideas on how Ate Ella could find a suitable groom.  I already had the church, the choir, the clubhouse, and the car.  One young friend of mine suggested that there should be an advertisement, "Huge Savings If You Marry Ate Ella."  They assigned someone to look for potential husbands for me.  I laughed with them.  There were suggestions to just marry anyone, to meet the deadline of submission of required documents.  I laughed some more. This was not the first time we were having this kind of conversation. 

Then I got home, had lunch with my parents, cooked dinner, folded the laundry, and got to thinking that I was not in a rush.  I don't need the "discount".  I am happy where I am.  Marriage is not necessarily a happier place.  In fact, if I ask a lot of friends, it isn't happy at all.

I have been thinking that being by myself, serving God, having wonderful friends and family, traveling at least once a year, indulging in my passions, expressing my talents, and learning new skills, I am so happy already.  I could live with this for the rest of my life.

I'm just not sure if I'm meant to.  But that's a question to be answered another day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Year of Priests June 19, 2009 - June 19, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI has set aside a special Year of Priests, starting on the Feast Day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 19, 2009. Let us pray for our priests, and for vocations.

From the Catholic News Agency:

Vatican City, Mar 16, 2009 / 01:16 pm (CNA).- Meeting with members of the Congregation for Clergy this morning, the Holy Father announced that the Church will celebrate a special year for priests beginning on June 19, 2009. The year will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Vianney, Cure of Ars.

Pope Benedict received representatives from the congregation’s full assembly, which is currently focused on how the three offices (tre munera) of the priest make him a missionary within the Church.

In his address, the Pontiff emphasized the constant struggle for moral perfection that dwells “in every truly priestly heart.” In support of this tendency toward spiritual perfection, the Holy Father announced that he has “decided to call a special ‘Year for Priests’ which will run from June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010.”

He noted that the year also marks the “150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock."

The Pope will inaugurate the Year on June 19 by presiding at Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica, where the relics of the 'Cure of Ars' will be brought for the occasion by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France.

During the course of the Year, Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Jean Marie Vianney as the patron saint of all the priests of the world. A "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" will also be published, as will a collection of texts by the Holy Father on essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in our time.

The year will close June 19, 2010, with Pope Benedict presiding at a "World Meeting of Priests" in St. Peter's Square.

Speaking to the Congregation for Clergy, the Holy Father also mentioned the ecclesial communal, hierarchical and doctrinal dimensions that are “absolutely indispensable for any authentic [priestly] mission,” and which guarantee “spiritual effectiveness.”

He explained that the mission is ecclesial “because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.”

"The mission is 'communal',” he continued, “because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility.”

He added that the “'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasize the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation."

The Pope also stressed the importance of priestly formation which must maintain “communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context,” he continued, “it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance."

In conclusion, the Holy Father warned of the “dilution” of priestly ministry. He explained that the without priests, “there would be no Eucharist, no mission” or the Church. “It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organizations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry."

Monday, June 08, 2009

Almost There

Someday I will understand why it is so much easier to write when I am depressed than when I am ecstatic.  It probably has something to do with the reason why it is more natural for me to hold on to negative thoughts than positive thoughts.  I'm afraid the reason for the happiness won't last.  I'm afraid to hope so much and then fall flat on my face afterwards.

I don't want to operate on fear, insecurity, and anxiety anymore.  In fact, I have no reason to.  As usual, my fiscal year has signaled the end of my waiting period and the start of my blessing period again.  When the rains come and when the schools open, that's when I notice God's blessings.  

This month, I have found new opportunities previously unimaginable and unreachable for me.  I have enjoyed healed relationships that are even stronger than they were before.  I have felt the end of my time of pruning and testing, and the beginning of another season in my life.

That cliche about the caterpillar being in a cocoon to make way for a beautiful butterfly?  It's true.  The analogy of the ugliness of the caterpillar trapped in a dark cocoon for an unbearable period that results in a colorful, ethereal creature finds consistency in the life of a Christian.

Yes, God speaks.  He directs.  He moves.  He listens.  I have uttered prayers to Him in desperation, about things beyond my control but which were oppressing me, and He came through for me.  He answered my prayers the way I asked Him to.  He opened new doors.  I only had to wait for Him.  It's frustrating to listen to this when you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel, but take it from me.  I have seen Him work in my life too many times.

From darkness and uncertainty, I am on my way to a future filled with hope and light.  I cannot write the details now, but I will soon enough.

For now, I want to share my joy, and to proclaim that God is good.  He has saved me from my personal distress and I have Him to thank for all these.  There are still many details to iron out, and many challenges to face, but I am assured that I am almost there.  To the next step.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

One New Thing

I'm going to be a teacher. Did I ever write about that before? I must have forgotten. With the advent of Twitter and Facebook, I've turned to microblogging and have utterly neglected this online journal.

I never planned on being a teacher. When we were kids, it was my sister who liked to write on the blackboard and pretend the rest of us were her students. I was going to be many things (search "Alternative Careers" on this blog), but not a teacher. I called my teachers by their last names. Only. I took part in "Malcolm Madness", where they were parodied, sometimes mercilessly, by the law students. And I have this insatiable need to be liked by everyone. Who knows what students these days want?

I come from a family of teachers, from both sides, actually. My parents, aunts, cousins, siblings and even siblings-in-law have tried their hand at teaching. As for me, I just kind of bumped into it.

I was asked to give talks and 'teachings' in Lingkod, the Catholic movement for singles I was heavily involved in for several years. And then, I took part in training lawyers to update their written English and improve their electronic legal research skills. And then, before I knew it, I was saying yes to teach freshmen the subject "Legal Research and Bibliography". Now is the time to study. Gadget Girl who loves to write and is a lawyer on the side needs to get her act together two hours a week, for the sake of her students.

I could give Madonna a run for her money in terms of reinventing myself. I have gone from Business Economics into Law, from law firm into government service, from the Court to a foundation, from Lingkod to my parish, from singles to youth leader, from travel writing to marketing.

So now, teaching it is. Even if it's just two units, I'm going into unchartered territory. This is an answered prayer, however, and I fully entrust it to God.

And oh, obedient daughter that I am, I have joined the faculty of my father's law school alma mater. With his remarkable grades, he should be the one teaching. Needless to say, I am a little bit anxious and a little bit excited at this new chapter in my life.

I will keep you posted on the other things. I'm waiting for the right time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trusting, Turning, and Returning

The problem with viewing God from a context is that one could become so absorbed in that context, thus when removed from it one gets disoriented and loses focus. God becomes a memory associated with old friends and distant places. He ceases to appear to be present in one's life.

There was a time when I purged my room from all things that would distract me from my goal of serving God. Any book, song, poem, dream, goal, or even person that was not directly "of God", I stayed away from. An acquaintance from law school saw me at Powerbooks with an armload of Philip Yancey books. She looked at the titles and asked me, "Ella, are you going through a phase?" I replied, "No, this is not a phase. This is forever."

I have read all those books and yet I hunger for other books now. I hunger. I thirst.

I have since then expanded my library and welcomed back the fantasy and fiction books that I had loved as a child. I guess you could say the extreme seclusion from all things of this world was a phase. I did not enter a monastery. I left my life as a missionary.

I have returned to my ordinary life and realized for myself that God is everywhere, and that He is bigger than how I pictured Him to be. He is present in pop culture. He is visible in secular movies and songs. He is in the difficult person at work. He is in the person who rejected me. I don't have to look for him with my overzealous concentration.

Right now I'm reading a book about a Jewish girl who had Communist parents. Davita's Harp by Chaim Potok is an eye-opener for me. I have nothing in common with this girl, yet, I see myself in her. The search that leads to God is universal. I am not yet done with the book.

Philip Yancey remains to be one of my favorite authors, but I have a very long list of favorites. It doesn't matter. My brain can sift through their themes. And my heart can extract their messages.

I am learning to trust in God and in myself more.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Talk About Patience

We have weekly bible study here in the office. This year, we're discussing the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, and have assigned people who will lead the discussions and give the talks for specific topics.

I was given the topic Kindness (not Goodness, as earlier posted) for the month of June. So I started to gather materials on the topic, and prayed for it.

Until last week, when the one assigned to talk about Patience announced that due to movements in her schedule, she had to assign the task to the next speaker. I felt a dryness in my throat.

Could it be? Is it she?

I could not believe it. Patience is not one of my virtues, as the title of my six-year-old blog connotes (Lessons in Waiting). God has a way of letting those who know the least about something study the subject matter so that they could share their struggles with others.

I will be a living example of impatience to my office mates when I start the series on Thursday. Oh, help me Lord! Only by Your will could I go through with this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shameless Plugs: Public Service Announcements

I have been following the daily mass readings for more than a decade now. These Easter readings are filling me with hope and nourishing my soul. Jesus said in John 6:35, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."

This gives us Christians an unshakable foundation in the midst of the controversial news these days involving a pandemic threat from swine flu, a convicted rapist being set free, and many other issues that could lead to hopelessness and even despair.

It is in this spirit that I write these posts. I believe that there are people who have been given material blessings and who have big hearts and are willing to help those in need. I present to you some of the ways wherein you could give back to the Lord:

1. A volunteer catechist, with whom I have served for almost four years now, wants to pursue a college degree, A.B. Theology. She has very little means to do this and is counting on the Lord's provision. She wasn't able to finish college because she helped send her younger siblings to school. If you want to help her raise the funds she needs, kindly get in touch with me through

2. Youth Alive, the youth ministry of the Missionaries of God's Love and the Parish of Saint Benedict, is on its third year. More than a hundred teenagers flock to the parish three times a week to receive teaching, sing in praise and worship of the Lord, and join sharing groups. There are games and picnics too that make the Youth Alive Summer Program a must for everyone from 14 to 21 who live near our parish. We are accepting donations in cash or kind for their daily snacks. For donations, kindly email me or post a comment below.

3. There is a multipurpose hall being built at the back of our parish church. The building shall include meeting rooms for the different parish ministries, a baptistry, an adoration chapel, and accommodations for the priests. Donations in cash or in kind (building materials) are accepted. Kindly get in touch with me for more details.

I hope some of you are moved to give. It does not have to be big, if it comes from the heart. We will pray for you and will become your prayer partners for life. Thanks.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Stone Has Been Moved

They were saying to one another,
"Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?"
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large. (Mk 16: 3-4)

Talk about an answered prayer! Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome were worried about who would roll back the very large stone for them so they could anoint the body of Jesus very early on that morning of the first day of the week. To their amazement, not only had the stone been rolled back for them by someone, the tomb also turned out to be empty!

The first Easter must have been majestic, glorious, fantastic, amazing, and I could go on and on with my superlatives, but I believe that Easter for us at this time is equally special because we have the benefit of two thousand years of appreciation of what actually happened.

I would love to see the Risen Lord and to kneel before him and to kiss his hand, so joyful am I to see him! I attended the Easter Vigil with my parents. There was darkness at first, and then light. Then there were all the readings, the history of our salvation, sung by the priest, the choir, and the congregation. The repetitious motions of standing up, sitting down, listening, and singing, were getting to the people and some were starting to doze off, while some were restless.

When the bells started ringing, however, and the choir started singing Hallelujah, everything happened all at once. Altar ladies stood up to put the altar cloth on the table. The Knights of the Altar removed the purple cloths covering the crucifix and the images of Our Lady, St. Benedict, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Risen Christ stood under an arch of beautiful white flowers. People brought in baskets of flowers, and my heart rejoiced. I could not explain why but I felt a whisper inside my heart that Easter had finally come again. Tears threatened to fall, but I stopped them. I failed to stop my eyes from glistening, though, and unfortunately, the kid in front of me noticed. (It's typical, every time I cry at church, a child sitting on the pew in front of me would stare at me.)

I was just so happy during that glorious moment. It was like a glimpse of heaven, a wonderful reminder that God has promised us salvation, and that Jesus will come again, and we will behold His face, and there will be angels singing, bells ringing, and souls rejoicing eternally.

The moment passed, I went home and carried with me that light from the Paschal candle, and the baptismal vows that I renewed tonight. Something has changed. Light has come back into the world.

The stone has been moved. The tomb is empty. Christ is risen! Hallelujah!

Happy Easter, everyone.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Day That Changed the World

My title was inspired by the EWTN Holy Week theme, "The Week That Changed the World".

I belong to that group of people who still choose to remember what was so Good about that Friday. I believe I need to hear what happened when "that Man" died on the cross, again and again. When my father handed me the novel "The Little Prince" when I was a freshman in high school, he told me that it was a book I would love to read repeatedly, for each time I would open it, I would gain a fresh new insight and thus would appreciate it more. What was true for the novel was even more significant for the Gospel.

Each year, the Church goes through Lent, and does not jump to Easter, and a lot of people wonder what is the point of reliving something that had happened in the past. So what if somebody died by crucifixion? Tons of men went through that during Roman times. So what if Jesus rose from the dead, and His teachings, which He spread in a matter of three years only, have stood the test of time? What does that mean for me?

A friend of mine commented on why I was fasting from certain things for 40 days, and said that I was being so "old school" (if you're reading this, I'm sorry for using this as an example, but your comment stayed with me for several days, and this blog is kind of my response to you). To have less of the world, and have more of the Lord? That should never be old school; at least not for a Christian. Hearing about the passion and death of Christ is not just meant to instill guilt on my already worrisome nature, but I do it in order to remember what He has done for me. He is the one who changed my life in a moment (pardon the reference to that popular song-turned-movie). By dying on the cross, He gave me an opportunity to conquer the sin in my life, and to be with Him, and the Father, in paradise.

It may sound so grand and fantastic, but in real terms, pondering about Christ's sufferings shows me that there is nothing impossible for God, and one who loves that much cannot withhold anything good from me. Staring at Christ's image on the cross instills in my heart that there is more I can do for the world, more love I can give, more time I can spare, more resources I can share, than what I already am doing. Good Friday reminds me that the world does not revolve around me, and my destination is not just this world, but heaven, where I can be with Jesus, The One who shed blood, endured mocking, and embraced suffering for my sake.

Unless I have a personal encounter with Jesus this week, I will always be a spectator of this magnificent story. I will remain distant and choose to be unaffected by the lashings and the beatings that He went through. Now, after attending the Lenten Recollection, Time of Confession, Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Seven Last Words, the Veneration of the Cross, and the Good Friday procession, my soul's thirst is quenched, enough to last me through another year. Knowing that my Lord and Savior came down for me, as promised, and broke the bondage of sin and death by rising on the third day, works to strengthen me for my own crosses and challenges.

I thirst and I cry, like our Lord on his last hour. How he must thirst for our presence, when we enter the church this week, cross ourselves, and leap outside almost instantaneously. How he must love God the Father, that even amidst His suffering He cries out to Him, knowing that He is near, and is able to hear His cry.

I ask also that in my life, suffering be eliminated. I am always said to be living in my dream world, wishing for perfection before allowing myself to be happy. But since Jesus drank the cup, I shall accept and embrace what is being offered to me now, because I have seen Jesus triumphant, fulfilling everything that was promised from the beginning. What then, could cause me to doubt and fear?

It is easy now, when all is silent, and temptation is far away, but I also know that once back in the normal routine of life, I would be beset by struggles, and I would doubt. Therefore I need faith. Therefore I need to remember. Therefore I need to believe.

When I went to confession last Wednesday, my confessor asked me whether I would choose to live a life worthy of my calling, or whether I would choose a life of sin. I looked beyond him, to the cross in front of us, and made my yes to Jesus. "Yes, Lord, I will choose you." I had said that before, as my confessor knows, and yet I did sin again. But after this week of remembrance, I remembered that through the Holy Spirit, I would not have to give up, and I could hope to be free from suffering and sin.

Easter Sunday, a day of chocolates and eggs for some, becomes the fresh morning that erases all my dark nights, because I walked with Christ through Lent, especially this Holy Week. His coming bursts forth within my heart. His sacrifice, and His triumph, is more real, more tangible, and more accessible for me.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. I choose to go with the seasons, for the fruits, when properly ripened, are simply much sweeter.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Distance Between Us

Sometimes I consider myself a shadow of my former self, at least spiritually. Whereas before my days and nights were spent on prayer, service, sacraments, scripture, and fellowship, now what occupies my time is work, work, and more work. Instead of dwelling on it too much, however, I just try to do my best every single day and long for a time when I can pay more attention to my spiritual life.

I took a leave off work today to rest, and thus was able to spend a longer time praying, go to mass, and attend bible study. I knelt at church and talked to Jesus, and felt just how much I had missed Him, like I missed other people. I realized that He was always there for me, even during my busyness, and I was the one causing the gap between us.

I was the one rushing through morning prayers. I was the one saying no to service. I had let go of most of my service opportunities because of something that was bothering me to the limits of my faith. Somebody asked me to pray over her yesterday and I replied that I did not feel worthy. I ended up praying for her, despite my own struggles, and being blessed by the words that came to me through the Holy Spirit. The other day, Fr. Brian asked me to give a talk for the youth leaders' training, and I wanted to say no, because I did not feel worthy. But when was I ever worthy? a voice inside me asked. Wasn't everything I did for the Lord brought about by His grace and power, and not by anything that I had done? Besides, what I was being invited to talk about was very practical, and I knew I wanted to do it. So I said yes.

Without my knowing it, I had slowly been hardening my heart towards Jesus. I had let doubt and fear rule me, instead of faith and trust. I had forgotten how He wanted to be a major part of my life, and had shut Him out, like a file I could go back to when I was good and ready. As I was staring at the cross earlier and telling Him that I did not understand where my life was going, Fr. Steve, who was leading the bible study, said, This is what you do when you don't understand: you move on.

He was referring to something else related to the Gospel according to Mark, but I was struck by what he said. Instead of over-analyzing, again, a situation that had been baffling and, admittedly, paralyzing me the past few months, I should just move on.

I do not know how to move away from this burden. But I do know that I want to move towards Jesus again. I am thankful that it's almost Holy Week. I need this time to rest. For no matter how far we distance ourselves from God, it only takes one step to go back to His embrace.