He stirs my venti!

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”  Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.”  Joel 2:12-13

after my surgery,  from the recovery room onto my hospital bed where my kind kabayan nurses gently laid me, my anaesthesia started to wear out.  the images were still a blur.  i could hear them vaguely, but the tone of their voices were clear.  they were amazed at how i could still smile despite the pain.

it was not an inherent trait of mine.  i was a cry-baby.  as a girl, i was impossibly stubborn that my pout has been my trademark long before angelina jolie became mrs. smith.  then as a teener, my temper kinda mellowed when i began to read about personality development books.  that was when i learned that a smile matters.  that it could actually set the mood for the day.  and that the smile that you give away is contagious.  and it is free.

practice makes perfect.  now, even when i cry i still have that tendency to smile when someone else sees me.  smiles lighten burdens, hide the pain, ease suffering.  now even when trouble is way over my head, or when longing for my children almost kills me, no one would ever know.  because if there is anything else that i don’t ever run out of – guess what else? smile, smile and some more…

among many things that could bring a smile to my face, a cup of coffee is definitely on the list.  or should i say, cups of coffee.  i love coffee so much, that it is what i gave up this season of lent.  since ash wednesday, i tried my darn best to refrain from having my usual early morning cup, as well as the other cups throughout the day, and that final cup just right before i sleep at nights.

the best part of the coffee ritual for me is after i stir it. that is when the aroma and the flavor is at its peak, it almost takes over my senses. 

so do i miss my coffee cups?  yes i do! yet i still manage to smile.  because the Lord never runs out of ‘sugar’ and ‘cream’ to pour on my cup of life.  He also continuously stirs my heart, to prevent complacency from setting in. 

my coffee sacrifice is nothing compared to the Lord’s sacrifice when He gave us his life for the forgiveness of our sins.  as i feel the pain from the consequences of my own sins, i surrender my cup of life to Him with complete trust and utter submission. 

for as long as i live, i know He will go on stirring my cup.  but i won’t mind.  the Lord blessed me with a venti 🙂

 

   

The Beatitudes – Our Program for Holiness

repost from Catholic Online 

The Beatitudes of the Gospel turn worldly values upside down. The world pursues happiness in wealth, power, fame and disordered sexual pursuits; whereas the Gospel demands of us values that are essentially different. The Beatitudes challenge us to choose: to live Christianity or to live by the standards of this world. The choice to live the Gospel changes our entire life and confronts every aspect of our human existence.

 The Sermon on the Mount presents the way to holiness and happiness
The Sermon on the Mount presents the way to holiness and happiness

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) – At an important point in the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi, a missionary gave him a book that contained the four Gospels.  This of course, was the Indian leader’s first exposure to Christianity.  He read the Gospels with great interest, and was convinced that the principles taught by Jesus could resolve all of the political, social and economic problems of his country.

Gandhi had to travel throughout Western Europe in order to muster support for an independent India.  Traveling through Christian countries, he was dismayed only to conclude that the Gospels are wonderful indeed, but he did not see anyone living their teaching.  For this reason, Gandhi never converted to Christianity.

We are all called to be saints.  Today’s Gospel passage reminds us of the program and lays out the path.

The Beatitudes contain the essence of the Christian way of life.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices.  It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else.  It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement – however beneficial it may be – such as science, technology, and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love” (CCC # 1723).

The Beatitudes of the Gospel turn all worldly values upside down.  The world pursues happiness in wealth, power, fame and disordered sexual pursuits; whereas the Gospel calls us to embrace and live values that are essentially different, in order to transform this world, and reveal the kingdom.

The Beatitudes challenge us to choose: to live Christianity or to live by the standards of the world.  Do you want to give in to the demands of a worldly way of life, or have you decided to live true and authentic Christianity?  The choice to live the Gospel changes our entire life.  It tells us how we are to act, how we are to dress, how we are to speak and how we are to interact with people.  The choice to live the Gospel confronts every aspect of our entire existence.

A number of years ago I was invited to give a retreat to a group of lay people in New York City.  A seminarian graciously accompanied me in order to help with the practical details.  Prior to the evening retreat, we had a number of appointments, and so that meant that we would have lunch in New York.  The seminarian really enjoyed Asian cuisine, so I accommodated his palate by inviting him to lunch at a Korean restaurant.

As we went to our table, we were met by a Korean woman who graciously attended us with delicate courtesy. Having had many years of experience at my father’s restaurant, I was able to notice that her kindness, manners and spirit of service were far from ordinary. 

Towards the end of the meal, another Korean woman finished waiting on our table.  When we were ready, I asked her for the check.  She then proceeded to tell me that there would be no charge for the lunch because the first waitress took care of the bill.  I was very surprised and I asked her why she had decided to pay for our meal.  “She is Christian,” was the unanticipated answer from the waitress.

“She is Christian,” meant that all the other waitresses were not Christian, and that all though encountering a free meal in the middle of downtown New York City surprised me, they were not surprised at all.  They knew that this woman was different.  Because of her Christianity, she was different.

The four beatitudes in Luke’s Gospel sum up the eight beatitudes in Matthew’s Gospel.  The shorter version in Luke’s Gospel is followed by four curses that underscore what happens to those who choose to live by the values of the world. 

Let us for brevity sake, consider the four beatitudes in Luke’s Gospel.

“Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”  No matter how much or how little we possess, we are all called to recognize that everything we have comes from God.  God is our Father and he will provide all of our needs.  Creatures are simply stepping stones on the journey towards eternal life.  This beatitude calls us to be totally detached from the things of this world and to seek our true happiness in God alone.  However, at the same time, this beatitude also calls us to use our gifts, talents, resources and the things of this world to help all those who are in need and to create a better life for everyone.

“Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.”  Most of us have never suffered from severe hunger or thirst.  Most of us, despite the challenges of life, have never gone without a meal or never went without water.  The hunger that Jesus refers to concerns the hunger for the transcendent.  Secularism and materialism have deadened this natural desire for God.  The desire for God is insatiable in this life and can only be satisfied completely in eternity.

“Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.”  The Christian experience begins with the acknowledgment of our sinful condition.  “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5: 8).  Repentance allows us to experience true joy.  The humble person acknowledges sin, converts and becomes the loving recipient of God’s mercy.  No one can truly repent without true sorrow for sin.

“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”  Jesus knew that the life of the true Christian on earth would not be an easy one.  The authentic Christian lives a life totally in contrast to those who live by the standards of the world.  For the Christian, conflict will always be a normal way of life.  It is amazing what millions of our brothers and sisters have suffered throughout the history of Christianity for their Lord and God. 

In conclusion, the Beatitudes do not contain all of the teachings of the Gospel.  However, they do contain the most essential aspects of Christian behavior that we need to live in order to reach Christian perfection.  The Beatitudes of Jesus present to us an entirely new way of living our lives.  Granted, this new way of life is challenging and difficult, nevertheless, he alone offers to us all of the spiritual means that we need in order to live them with conviction in our daily lives.

We are all called to be saints.  We are all called to be heroes.  Now, more than ever, the Church needs new saints and new heroes.

by Father James Farfaglia, the Happy Priest, the pastor of Saint Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas and a member of the Board of Directors of Human Life International. 

You can visit him on the web at www.donotbediscouraged.comThere you can find his books, homilies, articles and blog posts.

happy feet

“And how can men preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'”  Romans 10:15

my birth month is almost over.  as i contemplate on all the blessings the Lord showers me with day by day, the Bible passage above, prompted me to stare at my own two feet.  they are relatively small and dainty, which definitely don’t match my short and fat limbs, nor my chubby yet huggable torso.  but they apparently do the work.  and as i ponder on the value of these feet which i always look down to, i’m amazed how far they already have taken me; from baby steps to short walks to school and church, to long walks to the park, malls, work, airports even.

these same feet which i took for granted, enables me to attend birthday parties, weddings, funeral processions; join campings, hikings, engage in sports or simply climb flights of stairs.  who knows what else my feet can do for me? run for my life maybe.

i remember during high school, there were these branded clogs which were in fashion called happy feet.  they were so cool, probably because they were the classy version of the local bakya.  back then, it was some sort of status symbol.  but since my parents could only afford bantex and spartan, i didn’t get the privilege to wear one. twenty-five years later, as we stroll around the mall and bhoy saw the child-like delight on my face when i saw racks and racks of happy feet, he couldn’t help but finally buy me the bakya of my youthful dreams. but then again, other than slip my feet on them, or to some other pair of sleek, thin-strapped sandals to showcase how pretty they are, i haven’t given much thought how hard my poor, little feet have served me thus far.

until now.

days before my birthday, i had to stop working and undergo total abdominal hysterectomy.  the procedure rendered me totally incapable to do just about anything.  and when finally, i’m able to walk again, that’s more or less what my ob gyn, nurses and internet researches advised me to do. just walk. from baby steps – again, i struggled to move forward without the bend and crouch and the twitch on my face .  you can just imagine how happy i was when last week, i was finally able to walk 1km along the corniche; breath in the fresh scent of the sea and bask in the early morning winter sunshine.

as my birth month ends, life goes on.  and as i walk on through the rest of my journey, i want to share the lessons of joy and hope from my humble, little feet.  at times when we may be looked down or stepped upon; at times when we slip or stumble; at times when the burden of the world weighs us down – stare at the same feet.  they never give up no matter how heavy we are literally.  they won’t really care how sad and frustrated we can become, they are always on standyby, ready to take us wherever we want to be, regardless of the danger and how rough the road ahead maybe.

they serve… and they endure.  because that’s what the happy feet are here for.  and so are we.

the naked truth

“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  Job 1:21

funny how the word “naked” always evokes that extra interest.  basic instinct maybe?  but come to think of it.  our nakedness is basic in our humanity.  we were born naked.  and would pass on the same way too.  no matter how we would eventually be clothed in the end.

i remember when my cousin khan passed away.  she was in her early 20s.  initially, she wore our aunt’s conservative barong terno especially made for a wedding ceremony.  everyone noticed how khan’s face looked so unhappy.  you see, khan was a fashionista.  it was really awkward to see her that young and dead.  but wear that terno and that short hair? eeewww!  like she was forced by death to look 30 years older.  and we could almost hear her scream, “get me out of here!!!”  in reference to her outfit. not her coffin.

so my sister and younger cousins decided to buy her a more suitable lavender spaghetti strapped dress with a matching see-through  shawl to cover her shoulder.  the ensemble showed how pretty and young she was, yet still retained that statuesque dignity only khan could get away with.  we can always argue about this.  but believe it or not, from then on, her face glowed in serene approval and it was like she smiled all the way to her grave.

the truth is, we didn’t really care how we were dressed up when we were born.  likewise, it wouldn’t matter too when we pass on.  our life is a personal relationship with our Creator.  it will always be between ourselves and Him.  nothing more. nothing less.  whatever we had after we were born – family, clothing, shelter, riches – these are just add ons to our journey that we are trusted to enrich our lives with.  we don’t take them beyond our destination.  because in the end, our accountability is what have we done with our life.  with or without the add-ons. 

remember the story of Job.  he was an upright man who feared God and shunned evil.  he was prosperous and God blessed him with seven sons and three daughters.  but Satan was allowed to test his faith. everything he had was taken away.  even his family.  his whole body was smitten by Satan with dreadful boils.  still he persevered in his faith.  when his wife prompted him to curse God and die, Job replied “You speak as the one of the foolish speaks.  Moreover, shall we receive good from God and not receive evil?”

in the end, Job got well again, regain his possessions and had ten more children living to see the fourth generation and died in peace at the old age of 140. 

when we lose someone or something we hold dear – loved ones, job, home, money, health etc. –  let us remember that all are God’s blessings to us.  He has the power to give, yet take away in His time.  we must be resigned to all sufferings, as much as we delight in all the blessings.  not because He is God and we are just His creations.  but because we trust that God knows what is best for us.  though His mysterious ways leave us often confused and puzzled; so that we tend to ask why, and expect the answer right away.

“there is nothing permanent in this world.  not even our troubles.”  Charlie Chaplin once said.  today may be your bad day.  but from my experience,  from these bad days, the best of mine always follow. 

we may be stripped of anything and everything, but in all our humble nakedness, our Creator clothes us with the assurance that he would take care of everything.  and if we sincerely believe, we could actually feel that warmth of his love.

that’s the naked truth.

The Helper

“I will ask the Father , and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”  John 14:16-17, 26

once a year, OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) usually take a month off from work.  most choose to go back home to relax, and rekindle relationships with family and friends.  

during this period, it is a treat to have some household help around to do chores for us.  because while we spend eight hours a day saturdays to thursdays at work in the foreign land, we also spend after-office overtime in the kitchen to cook and do the dishes, do the laundry, clean the bathroom, vacuum the carpet, pick up groceries.  the list is almost equal to the number of hours in a day.

but back in our homeland, a helper is willing and happy to do all that and more, at a comparatively lower monthly fee than what the dry cleaners and the friendly neighborhood carwash boys charge on a per job basis. 

Fely is small and petite, but there is no question that she’s a lot stronger than anybody may perceive her to be.  she’s almost like a superwoman.  besides, she maintains that cheerful disposition no matter what she does and when ever her call time is.  you see, she is not a maid who stays in the house 24-7.

Fely is our on-call helper.  and she’s always available when ever we need her.  for that, we are especially grateful to her.  not only because she does things for us.  she enables us to spend precious thirty days with our family without the hassles of usual household chores.  she makes our holidays more worthwhile, stress-free and special.  so that when we go back to our workplace, we are recharged, rejuvenated and renewed.

our souls also get tired and weary.  especially when we live against the Lord’s teachings.  when temptations come our way and we give in, our spirits experience the artificial “high” which eventually does not last long.  when troubles come our way, our souls get quite a beating that leave them bruised and battered.  and so like our physical limitations, we realize sooner that our souls need help too.  

before Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised to give us a Helper to quench the thirst of our weary souls.  a Helper to guide us through the highways and byways of life to never lose sight of God’s mansion where rooms are reserved especially for us, His children.  a Helper to teach us all things, when our foolishness gets the better of us. that Helper is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. 

today is Pentecost Sunday, fifty days after the Passover, and seventh Sunday after Easter. this was the time when the Holy Spirit came down to the men in the upper room after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.  as had been promised, a strong wind filled the house and tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and they all were filled with the Holy Spirit.

since then the Holy Spirit dwells in our midst, always within reach, within us. with utmost humility, let us all acknowledge His presence and seek His guidance in every aspect of our life.  especially in times of distress and tribulations.  we can always depend on the Holy Spirit, our Helper,  to strengthen our faint and sagging spirits with His seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel (right judgement), fortitude (courage), knowledge, piety (reverence) and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe).

——————————————————————————————

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Pray: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Your love.

V. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created,

R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of Your faithful, grant that by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

things are not always what they seem

“When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat.  They were frightened but he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’

Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.”  John 6:19-21

things are not always what they seem. 

when a husband prefers fishing on weekends, he hates to be with his family.  truth is, he just needs quiet time and a stress-reducing activity after a week of rush assignments and impossible deadlines.

when the house is in turmoil, used dishes are in the sink and the baskets are overflowing with laundry, the wife is just plain lazy.   truth is, she is too ill to get out of bed.

when a daughter forgets to text or call back, she doesn’t love her dad and mom anymore.  truth is, she is practically in a rush to get the subjects she needs to enrol for summer classes.

when a son spends more time with the computer than with people, he is anti-social.  truth is, he is just plain bored or just wanted to reach out to family and friends and stay in touch.

when we get old, it is the end.  truth is, it is the time when wisdom comes of age and the fullness of life blossoms.

when your dream house is almost within your reach and still lose it, you are such a LOSER.  truth is, you don’t really need it.

when there’s no cash in the bank, then all else is lost.  truth is, God provides us with what we need. 

when all plans don’t push through, you’re such a failure.  truth is, God has better ideas.

when you are all alone, no one really cares. truth is, God is always with us.

truth is, things are not always what they seem.

i don’t know if it was a serious case of pre-menopausal syndrome, but i’d been through a hell of a week.  i thought this, i thought that.  i feared this, i feared that. i worried about this, i worried about that.  what a waste of precious time!

the past week really started great.  we were able to watch the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration live on tv.  the message was TRUST and PEACE. and bhoy and i felt so blessed to be able to take part in spirit with this special mass commemorating the golden jubilee of the National Shrine for the Divine Mercy* and the life of  St. Maria Faustina of Kowalska. 

but as the week progressed, and the real world sucked me right back in,  i ran round and round again to look  for my happy old self from other people, places and things.  i looked for me in me.  but neither did i find me there.  i kept telling bhoy that i feel sad, and i didn’t even know why or where it all came from.  by midweek, i gave up and just let everything be. 

there was one constant though, that i failed to see because i was extremely obsessed with my self-inflicted ordeal.  and that constant is GOD.  and i failed to absorb the message of the Divine Mercy.  TO TRUST IN JESUS, THE KING OF MERCY.

like the apostles, i was frightened too.  but when i see Jesus and let him into my boat, i am sure i will find what i was looking for.  and realize that what i was looking for was always there afterall. 

to borrow the words of St. Teresa of Avila “Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes. God never changes. Patience obtains all. Whoever has God, wants for nothing. God alone is enough.”

as another week begins, my simple life goes on as it did before.  there’s really nothing to look for afterall.  everything that i need, God provides.  people to love, things to do and blessings to share.  even trials to make me strong.  what more can i ask for?   GOD ALONE IS ENOUGH.

* for more details about the devotion to the Divine Mercy, please go to http://thedivinemercy.org

Easter Sunday: The Risen Jesus is Our Hope

  • By Fr. James Farfaglia
  • 4/3/2010
  • reposted from Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

  • Because Jesus is physically alive, his Church is visible.  Because Jesus is corporeal, the sacraments are visible aqueducts of his divine life.  Because Jesus physically transcends time and space, he remains with us in the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1405). The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths illustrate that redemption is not only for the soul, but for the body as well.  

    He is truly risen! The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths illustrate that redemption is not only for the soul, but for the body as well.

    He is truly risen! The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths illustrate that redemption is not only for the soul, but for the body as well. CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (CATHOLIC ONLINE) – The resurrection of Jesus is a reality beyond doubt.  The liturgical season of Easter fills us with immense joy and profound hope.  However, each time we contemplate the gospel passages detailing the resurrection of Jesus we are faced with a sense of strangeness.  The barriers of time and space no longer apply to him.  The Lord appears and disappears with shocking suddenness.  He continually demonstrates his physical reality.  The Apostles and the disciples see him, hear him, and eat with him.  Thomas is told to touch his wounds.  The stone rolled away from the entrance, and the carefully folded burial cloths direct our gaze to the physical.  He has truly risen. 

     The disbelief and uncertainty evidenced by those who saw him testify to an apparent strangeness in the appearance of the newly risen Christ.  Slowly they came to recognize him, but they still struggled with doubt.  Their response shows us that although the risen Jesus is the same Jesus that died on Calvary; his physical reality is now different than before.  The body of the risen Lord is indeed his physical body, but he now moves about with a glorified body.

     Repeatedly the gospels stress that something extraordinary has occurred.  The Lord is tangible, but he has been transformed.  His life is different from what it once was.  His glorified body transcends the limitations of time and space.  For this reason, he can pass through the closed door of the Upper Room, and appear and disappear as he desires.  At times his disciples cannot recognize him precisely because their physical reality moves within time and space, and the Lord’s physical reality is no longer subject to time and space, although he exists within time and space.

     The clarity of the physical reality of the risen Jesus provides us with the certainty of the existence of the Lord and the veracity of everything that he has taught us.  The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths illustrate that redemption is not only for the soul, but for the body as well. 

    Applied to our practical daily living, the reality of the Risen Jesus fills us with profound peace.  There is no need to worry or to fear.  He is truly with us.  With Jesus, we know that we are journeying, not to the sunset, but to the sunrise.  We enter into a new relationship with God when we really believe that God is as Jesus told us that he is.  We become absolutely sure of his love.  We become absolutely convinced that he is above all else a redeeming God.  The fear of suffering and death vanishes, for suffering and death means going to the one God who is the awesome God of love.  In reality, our life long journey is a journey to the eternal Easter in Heaven.

    When we truly believe, we enter into a new relationship with life itself.  When we make Jesus our way of life, life becomes new.  Life is clad with a new loveliness, a new light and a new strength. When we embrace Jesus as our Lord and Savior, when we develop a personal relationship with him, we realize that life does not end, it changes and it goes from incompletion to completion, from imperfection to perfection, from time to eternity.

     When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of a godless life; we are freed from the unhappiness of a life filled with sin; we are freed from the loneliness of a life without meaning.  When we walk with Jesus and follow his way, life becomes so powerful that it cannot die but must find in death the transition to a higher life.

     The bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead makes our entire journey to eternal life tangible, real, certain, and credible.  Because Jesus is physically alive, his Church is visible.  Because Jesus is corporeal, the sacraments are visible aqueducts of his divine life.  Because Jesus physically transcends time and space, he remains with us in the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1405). Because Jesus has truly risen from the dead and ascended to the Father, we await with joyful hope his return in glory.

     Nevertheless, despite the victory of Jesus over death, the attack of evil continues. 

     The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is unique.  His death on Calvary completes and surpasses all the other sacrifices of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, Christ´s reign is to be fulfilled with his Second Coming in glory.  Until that day occurs, Satan continues his attack even though he has been already conquered definitively by Christ´s sacrifice on Calvary (cf. CCC 671).

    In our own times, it is not hard to notice an ever-increasing presence of evil powers in the world.  The battle continues and it seems as if humanity is out of control. 

    The perversions of a world that has rejected the Savior of the world continues to carry much of humanity down the blind road of self-destruction.  The crisis of our age is rooted in the presumption that we can decide for ourselves what is good and evil without reference to God.

    The reality of the risen Jesus fills us with peace and consolation because he is truly with us.  His resurrection assures us of his final victory over evil.  The genuineness of Easter keeps us from worry, fear, and discouragement.  It sustains us in times of trial and it opens the heart to the expectation of eternal life.  However, this Easter should inspire us to be apostles of life because Jesus is the resurrection and the life. 

    “We are the people of life because God, in his unconditional love, has given us the Gospel of life and by this same Gospel we have been transformed and saved.  We have been ransomed by the ´Author of life´ at the price of his precious blood.  Through the waters of Baptism we have been made a part of him, as branches which draw nourishment and fruitfulness from the one tree.  Interiorly renewed by grace of the Spirit, who is the Lord and giver of life, we have become a people for life and we are called to act accordingly” (Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II, #79.1)

    The culture of death makes itself manifest in numerous ways throughout our modern world.  Abortion, euthanasia, excessive use of capital punishment and continuous wars are a concern to us all.  However, of all of these terrible manifestations of the culture of death, abortion is the worse of them all.

    If we can destroy innocent human life inside of the womb of a mother, and this no longer shocks us or concerns us, then nothing else will ever shock us or gain our concern. 

    If a society can justify the killing of an innocent unborn child, then there is no limit as to what else a society can justify regarding any other person.

    This is why if we really desire to have respect for the sick, the elderly and the dying; if we really want to curb the incorrect use of capital punishment; and if we truly desire lasting peace throughout the world, the first thing that we must assure is the right to life of the unborn child.

    As long as abortion remains an unchecked course of action, violence and injustice will continue to submerge the world in a continual spiral of chaos. 

    The Church must not, and cannot remain silent. 

    The issue of abortion becomes obscured when it is lumped together on an equal basis with every other social issue that concerns us.  Wisdom allows us to make objective distinctions and carefully understand the causes and effects of sinful human behavior on society.

    Ideologies only polarize the Church and obscure the efficacy of its mission here on earth. 

    As we joyfully celebrate the bodily resurrection of the Risen Lord, let us renew our commitment to the cause of life and the building up of a new culture of life. 

    However, given the present intensity of the battle for life, many have become discouraged.  Many maybe tired of the battle. 

    My dear friends remember the words of St. Teresa of Avila: “Let nothing trouble you.  Let nothing frighten you.  Everything passes.  God never changes.  Patience obtains all.  Whoever has God, wants for nothing.  God alone is enough” (Poesías 30).

    Abandon yourself into the loving hands of an awesome God that loves us unconditionally.  Allow yourself to be purified. Do not let yourself be consumed by anger, anxiety, frustration, discouragement or resentment.  Enter into the dark night of the spirit.  Do not be afraid.  Allow yourself to be a transparent witness of the God of life. 

    —–

    Father James Farfaglia is the pastor of Saint Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas.  Father has a hard hitting blog calledIllegitimi non carborundum.  He has also published a book calledMan to Man: A Real Priest Speaks to Real Men about Marriage, Sexuality and Family Life. He is a contributing writer to Catholic Online. 

     – –

    Deacon Keith Fournier asks that you join with us and help in this vital mission by sending this article to your family, friends, and neighbors and adding our link (www.catholic.org) to your own website, blog or social network. Let us broadcast, we are PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC!

    the carrying of the Cross

    “Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.  So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).”  John 19:16-17

    most people have moles.  some have only a few, others have too many.  a mole is a pigment or spot  which occurs when cells grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin.  sometimes it is  considered a birthmark.

    in Filipino culture, the position of some moles in one’s body has corresponding meanings.  a mole on the nape means one has an extraordinary appeal to the opposite sex.  so that if you are a female, expect that you’ll have lots and lots of male admirers.  a mole at the back means one is lazy; and if on the foot means one is likely to wander.

    one famous saying is that if  someone has a mole on his shoulder, he is “pasang-krus  (translated in english as “cross-bearer”).  this means one will live a life of everlasting suffering and hardship.  imagine the horror of a mother when she sees for the first time, that the infant she bore has that mole exactly where it was not supposed to be.

    but come to think of it, all of us has a Cross to carry, with or without that dreaded mole.  the Lord never promised that our journey on earth will be a party.  there will always be obstacles along the way.  yet if we walk together with Christ and focus on our destiny, no burden is too heavy that we cannot bear it.

    the crowning with thorns

    “The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head.  They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they struck him in the face.”  John 19:2-3

    a crown is always associated with power and authority.  a symbol of one’s superiority over his subjects.  it stands for royalty, pride, grandeur, wealth and pomp. 

    but not the crown of Jesus.  it was made of thorns that pierced his head and caused blood to gush on his face.  his crown was a symbol of humility,  sacrifice and love. 

    as human beings, it is in our nature to be drawn to that shining, sparkling crown which looks  magnificent on top of our heads.  we think that just because we wear one,  everybody would look up to us. then it will lead us to think that we are far better than everybody else who does not wear one. 

    (please take note: we may also refer to physical beauty, wealth, power, fame as our crown.) 

    but what if that crown gets lost? maybe stolen or perhaps taken away? and what if that crown is the only  source of our pride and joy? of our confidence and security?  what then  becomes of us minus the crown?  we feel worthless.  we  feel empty.

    the crown of Jesus is way too painful to wear.  it requires the greatest and absolute self-sacrifice.  a self-denial that does not diminish, but rather increases self-worth. 

    in the natural order of life, we are all part of God’s grand design.  though we are easily attracted to what is superficial, our instincts also move us to reach out and look after one another.  it is when we go against this basic human compassion, that we begin to be less than what the Lord has planned us to be. 

    it is when we focus on the well-being of others that we experience true and genuine happiness.  because with the realization that we were able to serve, we validate our status as part of one community; that is God’s family.  and the more sacrifice that our service necessitates, the more meaningful our existence becomes.

    we are also heirs to a kingdom.  the kingdom of God that lasts forever.  if we accept this truth, then we should likewise be ready, willing and honored to wear the crown of thorns.

    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.