Pope Benedict the XVI on “All Saints Day”

10/30/2009

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

‘With great joy, we celebrate today the feast of All Saints. Each is different from the others, with the uniqueness of their own personality and their own spiritual charism’

 

On this day let us revive in ourselves an attraction toward Heaven that calls us to carry on in our earthly pilgrimage. Let us lift in our hearts the desire to always unite ourselves to the family of the saints, of which we already have the grace to be a part.
On this day let us revive in ourselves an attraction toward Heaven that calls us to carry on in our earthly pilgrimage. Let us lift in our hearts the desire to always unite ourselves to the family of the saints, of which we already have the grace to be a part.
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ROME (Catholic Online) – The feasts of “All Saints” and “All Souls” are celebrated as Holy days and the “offices” which report the news from the Holy see are closed. We present the 2008 Homily of our beloved Holy father, Pope Benedict XVI and will present his homily for this year after the Holy Days:

Pope Benedict XVI ON “All Saints Day”

Dear brothers and sisters!

With great joy, we celebrate today the feast of All Saints. Visiting a nursery garden, one remains taken aback at the variety of plants and flowers, and spontaneously begins to think of the Creator’s fantasy that made the earth a marvelous garden. These same sentiments come to us when we consider the spectacle of holiness: the world appears to us as a “garden,” where the Spirit of God has sustained with remarkable wonder a multitude of saints, male and female, from every age and social condition, of every tongue, people and culture.

Each is different from the others, with the uniqueness of their own personality and their own spiritual charism. All, however, were marked by the “seal” of Jesus, the imprint of his love, witnessed upon the Cross. All now are at joy, in a feast without end as, like Jesus, they reached this goal across toil and trial, each one encountering their share of sacrifice to participate in the glory of the resurrection.

The solemnity of All Saints became recognized in the course of the first Christian millenium as a collective celebration of the martyrs. Already, in 609, Pope Boniface IV had consecrated the Pantheon in honor of the Virgin Mary and All the Martyrs. But this martyrdom could be interpreted in a wider sense, that of loving Christ without reserve, a love expressed in the total gift of oneself to God and one’s brothers and sisters.

This spiritual measure, to which all the baptized are called, is accomplished in following the way of the evangelical beatitudes, that the liturgy offers to us on today’s solemnity. It’s the same path traced by Jesus and that the saints pushed themselves to follow, always aware of their human limits. In their earthly existence, in fact, they were poor in spirit, pained by their sins, myths, starved of and thirsting for justice, merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, persecuted for righteousness’ sake. And God himself gave them a share in his own happiness: previewed in this world and, in the hereafter, enjoyed in its fullness. They are now consoled, have inherited the earth, are sated, pardoned, see the God whose children they are. In a word: “theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3,10).

On this day let us revive in ourselves an attraction toward Heaven that calls us to carry on in our earthly pilgrimage. Let us lift in our hearts the desire to always unite ourselves to the family of the saints, of which we already have the grace to be a part. As a celebrated “spiritual” song says: “When the saints go marching in, oh how I’d want, Lord, to be in their number!”

May this beautiful aspiration burn in all Christians and help them to surpass every difficulty, every fear, every tribulation! Let us place, dear friends, our hand in the maternal one of Mary, Queen of All Saints, and let ourselves be led by her toward our heavenly homeland, in the company of the blessed spirits “of every nation, people and language.” And let us unite ourselves in prayer already recalling our dear departed ones who we’ll commemorate tomorrow.

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after the storm

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’  And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.”  Mark 10:52

barely a  month has passed, but three typhoons; Ondoy, Pepeng and Ramil,  had already wreaked havoc and devastation in most parts of Luzon.  many lost their homes, personal belongings, livelihoods and some, even their loved ones.  while it was heart-wrenching to watch on television the suffering and anguish of  typhoon victims even after the onslaught, it was on the other hand, heart-warming to realize that most responded to the call over and beyond what was necessary.  for those of us who were not directly affected, but knew one or two whose lives would never be the same again, we can only emphatize, for sometime in our lives, an Ondoy or a Pepeng, or Ramil had ravaged us and reduced us to near hopelessness.

in the gospel of Mark, there was a story of a blind beggar, Bartimae’us, the son of   Timae’us.  He sat by the roadside and when Jesus came, he cried out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  many rebuked him, but he cried out all the more.  when Jesus heard him, he called Bartimae’us and asked him what he wanted Jesus to do to him.  Bartimae’us said “Master, let me receive my sight!”  and Jesus said to him “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” and immediately Bartimae’us received his sight and followed Jesus on the way.

when the typhoons hit the nation one after the other, we had seen miracles unfold before our very eyes.  amidst the destruction and fear, ordinary people transformed into extraordinary heroes; saved lives and property, notwithstanding the risks against their own personal safety.  for this reason, most victims are still alive and are now ready to start again.

after each trial that come, when there seem to be no hope in sight, we often see the God’s hand working mysteriously in our lives.  he is the strength that keep us going, and the spirit that motivates us to go on further.  but are we like Bartimae’us who went to the right direction after he regained his eyesight? did the typhoons in our lives led us to move on to the path to which they were intended for us take? or did we just basked in the Lord’s grace for that one  saving moment, only to step back when the moment faded because our old, crooked self snatches our lifted spirits back to the pit where we came from?

did we clog our rivers with garbage? did we throw trash to our seas? did cut down trees until our once majestic mountains are reduced to now pathetic moulds of loose soil? did we use plastic unsparingly because we don’t have a better choice? did we construct structures in our waterways so that rainfall would have no other way to go but our own homes? did we ever think about what’s best for our environment, or our natural resources perhaps over our own comfort zone and convenience?  if we answered yes to any of these questions, then maybe why we experienced what we just gone through are truly of our own doing. 

 the Lord allows some bad things to happen in our lives if only to wake us up and open our eyes to what should be.  are we still the same after the storm? did we remain blind to the rape of our natural resources?  or are we the Bartimae’us of today, who after we regained our sights, decide to follow the right path.

after the storm, let us open our eyes and see the message that was addressed to us.   the floods just showed us where we are headed.  do we go to that direction? or do we open our eyes and follow Jesus on the way?

my guardian angel in disguise

 
“behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared.  Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him.”  Exodus 23: 20-21
  
my daughter megan, went through a most terrifying experience last friday as typhoon pepeng entered the Philippine area of responsibility.  this happened just barely a week after typhoon ondoy wrought havoc and devastation mostly in the nation’s capital and nearby provinces where laguna is strategically located.  what you’re about to read is just one among too many actual stories of suspense and horror, of  inspiration and hope,  from the kindness that is innate in every human being.  the kindness that shines brightest during the darkest of times.
the wrath of ondoy
the wrath of ondoy
 
in her facebook account, megan writes:
 
My guardian angel in disguise
Yesterday at 7:51pm
 
If you happened to see my Friday update, you would know about the traumatic experience I had that day.
I find it ironic in a way. I was excited to get home and log in to my ever-dearest social network, which is of course, Facebook, to blog about my exciting and crazy week.

Bottom line: The last part was tragic and definitely it’s not the perfect ending for a fun-filled week.

Good news is, nobody got hurt, I’m still alive and I can still do this right now.

I decided to go home early because of  Pepeng. On my way home, my parents called me because Mommy (my granny) already told them it was raining really hard in Balian. They asked me if I’m still in LB because if I am, I’d better not go home. But then I was on my home already at that moment, so they just told me to take care. The rain wasn’t pouring that hard until I reached Sta. Cruz. As I get closer to home, the rain poured harder and the floods were getting worse. I started to get nervous when we were in Lumban. I never experienced an actual flood, or even seen it. The wind was blowing so hard and it was starting to get dark. The floods had risen up to knee level in Kalayaan and the worst part was when we reached Longos.

flood caused by ondoy
flood caused by ondoy

Vehicles found it hard to move on with winds blowing and rains pouring harder and harder. Finally, the vehicles stopped when people shouted “Atras na! Atras na!” Of course! I started to panic, quietly. I was petrified! I couldn’t move! And then I had another phone call. It was my parents, they asked me where I was and then at that moment I started to cry. I tried to answer them, trying to hide that I was actually crying. On that very instance, it happened. A landslide, right before our very eyes. It was the first time I saw something like that. I know what I’ve seen on TV were worse but I couldn’t think straight! I couldn’t focus! Nanay kept on telling me on the phone: “Calm down. Don’t panic.” But then my phone battery would be depleted any sooner so I told them.

 
I know that the young man in front of me kept on watching me as I tried to hide I was crying. But I also kept on ignoring him. Maximum tolerance, I suppose. People inside the jeep started to make phone calls. “May landslide!”… “Stranded kami dito sa Longos.” The two of us seemed to be the only people who were quiet at that time. But I can’t help it. I just kept on crying. The sight of those dreadful incidents: Landslides, one at the time… People trying to get out of their vehicles, people trying to get out-of-the-way, people trying to warn the others. I was so afraid.

 

But this young man in front of me, kept on watching me. As we waited inside, several thoughts kept running through my mind. Worst-case scenario: I wrote down contact numbers, Mommy’s and Tita Avit’s, my parents’ so if we’d spend the night, I could borrow a phone to tell them I’m alright. And then I was able to appreciate my carefree weekend nights, how I would go downstairs just to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was lucky enough to experience all that. But how about the people who suffered because of typhoon Ondoy? How about even those people who experience this every single day?

When there seemed to be no landslide to occur anymore, people tried to decide whether they should walk their way through it, because vehicles couldn’t move on anymore. Without further discussions, they started to empty the jeepney. The only ones who were left was me and this strange young man. I still was crying! “What am I an idiot? I’m not getting out!,” I said to myself. I’m scared of falling debris. I’m scared there might be another one. I couldn’t get out. But then, his presence made me feel that I should get out. He asked me “Hindi ka ba lulusong?” I stared at him. My face was blank. I was crying really hard. But then he said, “Wala kasi akong dalang payong eh.” I was holding mine at that time. Without thinking, I answered “Sige po.”

chest-deep flood
chest-deep flood
We immediately got out of the jeepney and with the sight of the tragedy, I grabbed his arm. I was scared as hell. What a catastrophe. We walked through everything along with the others who were stranded. He tried to make me calm by starting a very casual conversation. “Kanina ka pa umiiyak ah. Okay lang yan.” That’s the only time I was able to smile again. During our talks, I started to learn he’s not a Laguna-native. He’s heading off to Paete General Hospital to visit someone. It was his 2nd time to visit the place but the first time he did, he took the Rizal route. So now I understand. He was new to everything here. He seemed to be a good person so I told him I’d take him to the hospital. Besides, he was taking care of me the time. It was surreal. Fear started to get out of the system as we continued to talk. And in no time, the rain poured lighter and lighter as we reached our destination. Trucks and rescuers came to the scene so we were somehow relieved.

The sight of the hospital was the most rewarding gift after all that. You know how people would seem on TV when they walked miles and miles in a desert and suddenly saw an oasis nearby? We looked like that, we came very close to that. It’s like we were brought back to life. It was a heavenly feeling for me, I don’t know if it was the same for him but pretty much it was too. All I saw was that big smile on his face. Just like that, I thank God we were able to put our smile on our faces again.

Yes. His name was Roy (How ironic. Friends, please don’t try to react, he’s not the same guy).
“Megan,” I replied when he asked me my name.

Before I left, I thanked him with all my heart.
How could you thank someone who just saved you from your worst nightmare?
To think that if he did not convinced me to get out of the jeepney, I’d stay there ’til morning!

I was fragile at that moment but then I’m glad someone came to me.

I felt secured, thanking God that there I was, riding on a jeepney once again on my way home, surely, no heavy rains, no brutal winds, no dreadful landslides. Everyone in the jeepney was smiling back then, telling their own stories about how they got through those incidents. As for me, I was thanking God endlessly, as I began to realize that Kuya Roy was just not a stranger who happened to take the same jeepney as mine, with no umbrella at all when the country’s expecting a typhoon coming. And then I smiled once again with the thought of how clever God has been by sending me a guardian angel.

THANK GOD! This is it. HOME. ❤
Is it just the weather or am I just glad I’m home? I opened the gate with the sight of Mommy waiting on the front porch. And yes, I told them the entire story. They (Yes, daddy too) were all ears. 🙂

The phone rang and it was my parents. With their happiness, I could nearly imagine their faces smiling. They’re glad I made it home. I also told them my story but what I didn’t expect was the story they told me. That day, October 2, was the Memorial of Guardian Angels and they asked me if I met one.

Well, I just smiled as I said, “Yes.”

guardian angel