Let It Go

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9

My office mate have been singing “let it go, let it go” since I came to work this morning until now that work is over.  I love the song but to hear only those three words over and over (she hums the rest of the song), annoyed me. Until I realized it may be an angel’s way to get a message across.

My patience is on a limited supply usually on the first week of each month, with all the deadlines and the cramming.  God knows i try so hard to be nice.  But there’s a lot going on in my life too.  The personal stuff, if you know what i mean.  And it’s causing my patience meter to do a roller coaster on me.  So it’s hard to flash that smile.  The way to go for my face now is blank.  Like no expression at all.  Like i’m on an out-of-body trip to the nearest exit. Like i’m frozen or something.

Finally before the day is over, I get it.  Tell that to me again… LEt it go.  Let it go. Let it go.  And I say, alright! alright! alright!

This is synonymous with sacrifice because I have to part with what I have.  Apparently, no one ever lets go of what he doesn’t have. So let me see, what do I have now?  I have negative vibes. Worries. Stress. Pain. Insecurity. Sadness. Darn! I didn’t realize how much I have until now. These I don’t really need in my life. So yes, let them go.

It is probably the best way to partake in the suffering of Christ.  To let go of our own.  and focus on His Cross.

the scourging at the pillar

“From the sole of the foot to the head there is no sound spot; wounds, bruises, open sores not dressed, not bandaged, nor soothed with oil.”  Isaiah 1:6

there was not much details in the four gospels about the scourging of Jesus. the most vivid depiction that i ever witnessed was from the motion picture “passion of the Christ”. i almost cannot stand to watch that scene at all.  but i still did. and  it was like i also felt Jesus’ suffering when i did.

back in our hometown, bhoy participated in flagellation rites on Good Friday when we were younger.  together with our childhood friends, they made whips out of  short bamboo sticks or metal chains tied to nylon cords.  they designed banana leaves to serve as long skirts for their costumes. then they wore masks made from old shirts to cover their heads.  at dawn, they went to church to repent and pray.  then they proceeded to a riverbank where they hit their backs until tender.  that was the time they would lightly slash about one centimeter line patterns on their backs with a razor blade.  there would be a hundred wounds, more or less, which they will scourge over and over, as they walk around town under the scorching heat of the sun barefoot.

when i asked him why he had to do it, he said it was his panata.  a panata is a tagalog word which means repayment for a prayer or wish that was granted.  he never told me what his prayer or wish was.  but what i was certain of, those wounds surely hurt.

compare those wounds to what our Lord had to bear.  they are not even close.  yet both of them have a prayer.   this Holy Tuesday, whatever we are suffering from, let us all remember that our Lord suffered way much more than he ever deserved.  we can scourge ourselves all we want, but we can never repay the life that was sacrificed for our redemption. 

let our panata be that we no longer add more to what the Lord had already suffered.  instead, let us not waste our pain.  but from it, let the healing follow.

even “Tigers” make mistakes

“And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:31-32

this season of Lent, we are reminded of Christ’s passion and death on the Cross for the salvation of the world. though He is God, He assumed human form for this purpose.  He had felt every emotion such as joy and sadness, anger and mercy.  He felt hunger, pain, cold and heat.  Jesus even felt extreme agony to sweat blood in the garden of Gethsemane.  He was also subject to temptation just like us.  but Jesus found favor with our Father because He followed His will to fulfill the Word.  thus He overcame all weaknesses attached to our human nature.

fame, fortune and power allow us humans to see ourselves as gods.  at the top, everything  to satisfy physical desires and cravings are just at our fingertips.  our nature looks beyond limited possibilities to what we  thought we are capable to do.  we are blinded by a false sense of security and a twisted view of happiness.  only when we fall, do we open our eyes and find the true form of our humanity.  and most of the times, we need to fall really, really hard to realize that we are not gods.  we are human beings. 

it is during these moments that we suddenly discover the folly of our ways.  we realize that if we only focused at the top as the only end to our journey,  we would see that the top is really a sad place to be.  it is where everyone else looks up to with intense want to be in that place.  but it is a place for just a few where discipline, perseverance, endurance and restraint are necessary to stay.  otherwise, one false move and way down deep is the only direction to go.  and as it is always said, the higher we have reached, the harder our fall .

Tiger Woods is no different.  he is one of the richest, most famous and greatest athletes of our time.  his accomplishments as a golfer raised him to even more spectacular heights.  last year however, on Thanksgiving night, the spectacle ended because “of irresponsible and selfish behavior”.  Tiger, afterall, is only human. 

if Tiger, whose life seemed too perfect, can make mistakes,  so can we.  but the good news is, God is always ready to forgive.  although sometimes we don’t understand why we do the things we would rather not, God knows why.  He can read our minds and see what is in our hearts.  and though He never condones bad behavior, He makes a way to turn our life around even if that means letting us fall.  because when we are down on our knees, that is when we get closest to Him.

For God the Father so loved us, He sacrificed His only begotten Son.  He has the compassion and mercy enough to forgive our sins when we are deeply sorry.  let us not then be judges to others.  for the measure in which we judge others, will be the same measure that will be used to judge us.

remember you are dust

“Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (cf. Gn 3:19).
“Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

Yes. Today we need to hear the “you are dust and to dust you will return” of Ash Wednesday, so that the definitive truth of the Gospel, the truth about the Resurrection, will unfold before us: believe in the Gospel.

ROME (Catholic Online) – This homily was preached by the late Servant of God John Paul II during the Ash Wednesday Liturgy in Rome on February 21,1996. May his prayers help us all to deepen our own conversion during these 40 days. 

Ash Wednesday Homily

by: Pope John Paul II (reposted from 2/21/2009)
1. “Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (cf. Gn 3:19). “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

The Church speaks these words in today’s liturgy, while ashes are placed on the foreheads of the faithful. These words come from the Book of Genesis: our first parents heard them after they had sinned. Original sin and original sentence. By the act of the first Adam, death entered the world and every descendant of Adam bears the sign of death within him. All generations of humanity share in this inheritance.

I once witnessed the opening of a royal sarcophagus in the cathedral of Krakow. It was the tomb of a great monarch who had ruled when my country was at the height of its splendor and power. I saw clearly with my own eyes how his body had turned to dust. In his case, death had fulfilled its relentless law. This will happen to each one of us: “To dust you will return.”

2. After the Council, the Church also likes to repeat another liturgical formula during the distribution of ashes: “Convertimini!” “Repent, and believe in the Gospel!” (Mk 1:15).

At the beginning of Lent, these words on Ash Wednesday are a plan of life for us. They are the words with which Christ began his preaching.

Repent: Metanoeite! The readings of today’s liturgy speak especially of this.

“Return to me”, the Prophet Joel proclaims (2:12).

And the psalmist cries: “Miserere mei, Deus, secundum misericordiam tuam”. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love, … of my sin cleanse men … I acknowledge my offense…. Against you only have I sinned…. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me…. Cast me not out from your presence, and take not your holy spirit from me” (cf. Ps 51[50]:3-13).

In the Gospel according to Matthew, it is Christ himself who explains the meaning of almsgiving, prayer and fasting, that is, of the actions by which we put sin behind us and return to God.

“Return to the Lord, your God” (Jn 2:13), exhorts the Lenten acclamation.

“Repent!”

“Repent and believe in the Gospel”.

3. What does “believe in the Gospel” mean? It means accepting the whole truth about Christ. The Apostle writes: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).

Christ, our justification.

It is in him and through him that the tragic knot indissolubly binding death and sin is loosed.

“The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:6) … and he, Christ, takes that terrible burden on himself, so that in him we may become the righteousness of God.

Henceforth then, it is no longer the pair, sin and death, that prevails, but the other pair, death, his death on the Cross, and justification.

This fulfils what the Psalm proclaims: “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (51[50]:12). Create! Redemption is the new creation: in the justice and the holiness of the truth.

4. Why does the Church place ashes on our foreheads today? Why does she remind us of death? Death which is the effect of sin! Why?

To prepare us for Christ’s Passover. For the paschal mystery of the Redeemer of the world.

Paschal mystery means what we profess in the Creed: “On the third day he rose again”!

Yes. Today we need to hear the “you are dust and to dust you will return” of Ash Wednesday, so that the definitive truth of the Gospel, the truth about the Resurrection, will unfold before us: believe in the Gospel.

On the threshold of Lent, it is necessary that this perspective be opened before us, so that we may believe deeply in the Gospel with all the truth of our mortal existence.

We are called to take part in the Resurrection of Christ. For this appeal to resound within us with all its force at the beginning of the Lenten season, let us realize what death means… “You are dust” … “Repent! … Believe in the Gospel”!
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the suit

“Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love.” Ephesians 1:4

in two weeks, my son Miguel will attend his JS prom.  though he won’t admit it, we can see how excited he is.  that is the first major formal gathering where he will wear a suit. 

last night, we finally found one shop with a Saudi tailor.  he can speak a bit of tagalog, which made us feel comfortable with the thought that he might have many Filipino clients to be able to learn it.  first thing we asked was if they accept made to order so that the suit would fit better.  he said no and suggested that maybe one from his collection would fit Miguel like so.

after trying on two black suits and the pants that go with them, one fitted him handsomely except for the sleeve which was an inch too long and the pants likewise need a bit of cutting.  after necessary measurements for alterations, we went home with the hope the when we pick up the suit tonight, it would fit Miguel perfectly, as if made only for him in mind.

human beings are custom-made for God’s purpose.    He created us in a mold which is unique and different from each other.  He created for a specific reason. 

it does not matter how insignificant we may seem in the eyes of men or how unpopular we have become.    we may have sinned in the past, and therefore think that even God had turned His back. but sincerely pray for his forgiveness, beg if we must and surely we would taste the fruits of the sacrifice of  Christ on the Cross.  then, we will be even more beautiful in His eyes again.

we fit in God’s grand plan, a living testimony to God’s endless love and mercy.

invisible wall

“And He called the people to Him again and said to them ,”Hear me, all of you and understand:  there is nothing outside a man which by going into Him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him…  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”  Mark 4:14-15, 21-23

stone-walls-avila

there was this one gathering that we were invited to.  the notice was kind of impromptu so to speak.  it was already past my bedtime, but still we have to go,  if only because we have to drop our son off so he could spend time with his friends.  despite the other parents’ persistence over my mobile phone and bhoy’s subtle hints for me to get down from the car for a moment and say hi at least, i declined because i felt sick.  though as i look back, i am not sure now if it was for real or just imagined.  that was not the first time.  i have already excused myself on similar occasions many times before.  though at first, i thought i was able to get away with it.  but as i start to run out of excuses, i also began to question my motives.  maybe i’ve already pushed myself way deep into the abyss of extreme fear.  but what am i really scared of?

there were chapters in my life  when interactions with other people caused me so much pain.  intimate or otherwise, intentional or not, the memory would come and go, and would still hurt me as much.  subconsciously, as an instinct to defend myself from the probability of its recurrence, i built an invisible wall around me.  this wall provides a sense of security to know that nobody can no longer come in and hurt me again, unless i allow it.  so that if it happens again, it will be my entire fault because I let my guard down and let them sneak into my protected sanctuary and inflict pain on me… again. OUCH!

 sometimes it feels unfair to decline any invitation of friendship from new acquaintances, because that was when the hurting usually starts.  it is like cancer that slowly and silently ravages one single organ, and if it is no longer satisfied, moves to another, then another, until it spreads out to the whole system.  at that stage, no medications are effective enough to cure it.  and sadly, painkillers are just a moment’s comfort because they can no longer stop the pain entirely.  and that is worse than the disease itself.

 the wall that I built around me is selective.  my naive and vulnerable nature turns it into a sponge that absorbs any makahiyadisplay of kindness and gentleness.  and in an instant, it can turn into a “makahiya” which folds inward when touched or shaken.  it is an acquired instinct to over-protect myself now.  not only from predators lurking in the darker avenues, but warily from unfamiliar creatures which  disguise otherwise.

 call it instinct.  but sometimes it already seems like i’m just being paranoid.  and i really feel guilty after those excuses, because i know deep inside it is not fair.  especially to all who genuinely cares about me.  therefore i commit a grave injustice far greater than those who have hurt me.  not only am i depriving myself the warmth of human bonding, i also prevent others to get to know and understand me better.  instead, like a turtle who hides its head in its shell, i retreat into the innermost recesses of my solitude, because it is there that i feel safest.  or so i thought.

but truly, only God breaks down walls and opens new doors for natural order of things to find its course.  praise God for the power of His word.  for by His grace He made me realize that the madness that comes from without can do me no worse, than what i can do to myself.  and since i have no control of what’s to come,  i’ll be forever comforted by the reality that He will always protect me.

gods_embrace

harsh realities of life.  even our Lord Jesus Christ, in all His power and glory, was not spared because He loves us so much.  pain and suffering are part of what makes us better persons.  and they don’t even come close to what our Lord was made to endure.  He offered his life totally and unconditionally, and we partake in His suffering by enduring our own.  and maybe too, if i offered my own, by sharing my self to others regardless of any suffering that it might bring,  His suffering would not have been in vain. 

i just pray that one day soon, in the name of Christ Jesus, i would be able to put into action what the Lord had just made me realize.  and my invisible wall would finally disappear, together with the foundation of pain from which it was built upon.

CORAZON AQUINO and the yellow ribbons

“The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.”  Psalms 64:10

tita cory President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino passed away this morning after her hard-fought battle with colon cancer.  much have already been said about her.  being the icon of  Philippine democracy  & People Power, as Ninoy’s wife, as Kris’ mom.  i could go on forever. 

the nation mourns not only the loss of an ex-president; but also its mother.

Tita Cory left a lasting legacy in Philippine history.  from  my perspective though, i see her as Ninoy’s strength and her Corychildren’s light during their darkest hours.   and when called for, she went beyond the needs of her family to fulfill a duty to a whole nation which, since then have become part of her extended family.  and up to her last breath, her faith in God was so strong that it radiated to the entire nation, regardless of political affiliation or religion.

thus was Tita Cory’s legacy in me.  she taught by her example that nothing is unbearable when we carry it with the cross of Christ in heart and mind.  although she was born rich and priveleged, she suffered more than her fair share.  but she accepted her fate with grace.  she embraced God’s will with loving trust.  she endured her sufferings with silence. 

Cory_Aquino

her faith in God lives on, long after she has gone.  it’s the one great lesson for each of us, that in whatever state we are, happy or sad, healthy or sick, persecuted or praised, rich or poor;  WE MUST PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.  for wherever our destiny takes us, only one thing is certain; the Lord is with us during the entire journey.  the same way He is now with Tita Cory on her way home… 

where angels welcome her with yellow ribbons praising her for a job well done and a life well-lived.

lopez-black-cherubs