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.

Why is this Week Called Holy?

 
Why is this Week Called Holy?
Take This Cup
By Deacon Keith Fournier
3/26/2010

repost from Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We all experience “Gethsemanes” in our own lives; times of difficulty, deep sorrow, loss, distress, fear and anguish.

It is often those times and circumstances that become the very path to holiness if we learn to love as He loves. Our Christian vocation is to live as He lives, to love as He loves and to thereby become “holy” as He is holy. We are invited to embrace the way of surrendered love.

It is often those times and circumstances that become the very path to holiness if we learn to love as He loves. Our Christian vocation is to live as He lives, to love as He loves and to thereby become

CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) – “Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”

(And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.) When he rose from prayer -and returned to his disciples- he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.” (Luke 22: 39-42)

This Sunday we enter into Holy Week. Christians will gather in sanctuaries throughout the world and wave Palm branches in imitation of those who lined the streets at Jesus´ triumphal entry. We will follow the path of His struggle, the way of His rejection and we will be invited to climb the mountain of His great saving act of unmerited selfless Divine love.

During this week we are invited to enter into His pattern of surrendered love; to walk this way with Jesus, who, in His Sacred humanity, teaches us the path to our own transformation. The agony in that garden called Gethsemane shows us a very human Jesus.

Yes, He was Divine and, because of that, He alone could do for us what we could not do for ourselves, restoring through His passion and death the broken relationship between God and the people whom He fashioned for love and communion. With His outstretched arms, He bridged the gap between heaven and earth. In His triumph over death he defeated the last enemy and began the new creation.

In His Sacred humanity this man Jesus shows each of us how to live differently. We are invited to greet and embrace even that which we do not want as the very means of transformation. We have been given the grace to accept difficulties, which, when embraced in love, can actually become a path to our redemption.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 14:15)

The Christian tradition insists that even undeserved and unmerited suffering, when joined in love to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, can produce extraordinary fruit within us and around us. This is the mystery of suffering in the Christian life.
 
Saint Jose Maria Escriva once wrote “The great Christian revolution has been to convert pain into fruitful suffering and to turn a bad thing into something good. We have deprived the devil of this weapon; and with it we can conquer eternity.”

How do we treat those circumstances that cause us to struggle? How do we deal with what we find unpleasant? Do we practice an “adult” form of avoidance and run, acting as if it will all just go away like when children cover their eyes? Or do we believe that even unpleasant things and “difficult” people can actually be gifts from the hands of a loving God who invites us to walk in the way of His Son?

How do we deal with unresolved conflicts or troubling relationships? Do we work toward resolution, making “love our aim” (1 Cor. 14:7), or do we avoid them, thinking they will just go away if we “pretend” they don´t exist?

Now is the time, during this week we call “Holy”, to join the revolution of which this great saint writes. After all, why do we call this week “Holy”? I suggest two among many reasons.

First, the story of this week is the story of an all Holy God who showed the depth of His love through the complete emptying of Himself, in and through the Passion of His Son. Second, it is holy because we are invited into that life and way of holiness that Jesus demonstrated during all of the events that we will soon commemorate.

In the Old Testament the word often translated as “holy” literally meant- to be set aside, consecrated, for God. In Jesus Christ it now means even more. We who are baptized into Him are invited to live our lives now, in Him. To love as He loves; to pray as He prays, to walk as He walks, to suffer as He suffers; to confront evil the way He does.

All of us inevitably experience “Gethsemanes” in our own lives, times of difficulty, deep sorrow, loss, distress, fear and anguish. Friends may have betrayed us, or those whom we love may have rejected us. Maybe things about our lives are being exposed, brought into the light, and it is “uncomfortable”.

It is often those times and circumstances that become the very path to holiness if we learn to love as He loves. Our Christian vocation is to live as He lives, to love as He loves and to thereby become “holy” as He is holy. We are invited to embrace the way of surrendered love.

“Take this cup”. It is a very human request. What is the cup we are being asked to drink? Let us decide today to make the choice and drink, saying as we do “not my will but yours be done” When we live and love this way, the very people and circumstances that once seemed to be so difficult can become the path to freedom and we learn to walk the way of forgiving love with Him as His redemptive mission continues through time. 
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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

no looking back

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind…No more shall there be an infant that lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a  hundred years old shall be accursed.  They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”  Isaiah 65: 17, 20-21

how ironic it was, that during Lent, “surviving Christmas” was on tv last night.  there was not much of a choice, because for weeks now, the different networks had presented almost the same set of movies, just on different time slots.

going back to the movie…it starred Ben Affleck and Christina Applegate.  it was a comedy about a man who was willing to pay a huge amount of money to a family just to spend Christmas with him.  it was an odd story, and it got me bored after a while.  (i prefer Ben in action or drama like ‘reindeer games’ and ‘changing lanes’.)

but somehow, the scene in which he stared sadly outside his window on Christmas morning caught my attention.    drew (ben) watched other people in their respective windows just across his  apartment.  one thing is common except for one. they celebrated Christmas together as family.  and that scene moved me to tears because it reminded me of daddy and how our following Christmases will never be the same again without him.

as i remembered how sad it was, my mind travelled back to the time when he was still with us.  how i have been as a daughter to him.  and i wondered if i felt short of his expectations of me.  or if he was proud of what i had become.  how daddy really felt about his eldest daughter, i will never ever know.

i realized that when my mind wanders back to the past, it evokes a certain kind of pain.  the pain which emanates from the mistakes that i made.  or maybe call them bad choices.  because only later did i realize, that in everything that i did, there were times that things didn’t really work out as planned.  even with good intentions.  and in every moment that they didn’t, it was not only me who gets disappointed and hurt.  but all those who truly love and care for me.  such as my daddy and mommy.

funny to mention it here.  but they say it’s hard to look back when you have stiff neck.  i’d say it’s best not to look back at all.  because when i do, i see every detail of not only what was beautiful and happy, but the ugly and sad truth as well.

i’d say it’s best to carry on.  because the past had already served its purpose.  it already strengthened a person’s character.  it already developed one’s personality.  and it already enhanced the beauty of a human being, so much so that its soul transcends to a higher level.  and a deeper meaning of one’s existence is realized.  a better self evolves.  what was once a dark past, becomes a radiant present.

i’d say i move on. as if i have stiff neck.  by God’s grace and mercy, i move on as a better person… that is, an authentic blend of past experiences, lessons learned and memories that really matter.  be they happy or sad, painful or sweet. 

there’s no need to look back.  my significant past becomes the essence of me…

“Becoming Prayer” by Deacon K. Fournier

Reflection: Becoming Prayer

By Deacon Keith Fournier
8/22/2009

Catholic Online

Through prayer, daily life takes on new meaning. It becomes a classroom of communion.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) – “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thess. 5:16-19)

St. Paul wrote these words to the early Christians in Greece. They did not live lives of ease, in any sense of the word. They had families, occupations, and real struggles, beyond what many of us could imagine. They also suffered greatly for their faith in a hostile culture.

He instructed them to “Pray without ceasing”. Did he really mean it? I believe that he did. The older I get, the simpler life gets. That does not mean it is “easy”. I speak of spiritual simplicity, the kind of attitude which gets right to the root of what really matters. I believe that Paul meant what he said to the Christians at Thessalonica and that his words are important to those who bear the name Christian today.We need to pray.

Prayer is an ongoing dialogue of intimate communion with God. God fashioned men and women as the crown of His creation, creating us in “His Image”, for this loving, relational conversation of life with Him. At the heart of understanding what it means to be “in His Image” is to understand the immense gift of human freedom and what has happened to our capacity to choose. Love is never coerced.

Our relationship with God was broken, separated and wounded through the first sin, the sin of origins or “original sin”. That sin, like all sin since, is at root a misuse of freedom infected by pride and self sufficiency. Our ability to exercise our freedom rightly, to live His Image by directing our capacity for free choice always toward the good, was impeded through the fall. Freedom was fractured.

The “Good News” is that through Jesus Christ, the way has been opened for an even fuller communion with God, one that is restored through His Incarnation, Saving life, Death and Resurrection. In Jesus Christ we are being re-created, re-fashioned and redeemed. He comes to live in all who make a place for Him within the center of their lives. This “making a place” is the essence of Christian prayer. It is not about doing, but about being.

The Lord wants us to freely choose to respond to His continual invitations to love. We will only find our fulfillment as human persons by entering into that kind of relationship. This is the meaning and purpose of life itself. As we grow in faith through our participation in the life of grace, lived out in the Church, our capacity to respond to His loving invitation grows as well, through prayer.

Prayer is about falling in love with God. Isaac of Ninevah was an early eighth century monk, Bishop and theologian. For centuries he was mostly revered in the Eastern Christian Church for his writings on prayer. In the last century the beauty of his insights on prayer are being embraced once again by both lungs, East and West, of the Church. He wrote these words in one of his many treatises on Prayer:

“When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he is eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else he is doing, even in deepest sleep, the fragrance of prayer rises without effort in hid heart. Prayer never again deserts him. At every moment of his life, even when it appears to stop, it is secretly at work in him continuously, one of the Fathers, the bearers of Christ, says that prayer is the silence of the pure. For their thoughts are divine motions. The movements of the heart and the intellect that have been purified are the voices full of sweetness with which such people never cease to sing in secret to the hidden God.”

The Christian revelation answers the existential questions that plague every human heart and trouble every generation. Through His Incarnation, Saving Life, Death, and Resurrection, Jesus opens full communion with God for all men and women. He leads us out of the emptiness and despair that is the rotted fruit of narcissism, nihilism and materialism. When we enter into the dialogue of prayer, we can experience a progressive, dynamic and intimate relationship with God and He transforms us from within. We, as Isaac said, can “become prayer” as we empty ourselves in order to be filled with Him.

Through prayer, daily life takes on new meaning. It becomes a classroom of communion. In that classroom we learn the truth about who we are – and who we are becoming – in Jesus. Through prayer we receive new glasses through which we see the true landscape of life. Through prayer darkness is dispelled and the path of progress is illuminated. Through prayer we begin to understand why this communion seems so elusive at times; as we struggle with our own disordered appetites, and live in a manner at odds with the beauty and order of the creation within which we dwell only to find a new beginning whenever we confess our sin and return to our first love. Prayer opens us up to Revelation, expands our capacity to comprehend truth and equips us to change.

Through prayer we are drawn by Love into a deepening relationship with Jesus whose loving embrace on the hill of Golgotha bridged heaven with earth; His relationship with His Father is opened now to us; the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead begins to give us new life as we are converted, transfigured and made new. Through prayer, heavenly wisdom is planted in the field of our hearts and we experience a deepening communion with the Trinitarian God. We become, in the words of the Apostle Peter “partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4) That participation will only be fully complete when we are with Him in the fullness of His embrace, in Resurrected Bodies in a New Heaven and a New earth, but it begins now, in the grace of this present moment.

The beloved disciple John became prayer. He writes in the letter he penned in his later years: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness” (1John 3:1-4)

As we “become prayer” our daily life becomes the field of choice and we are capacitated to choose the “more excellent way” of love of which the great Apostle Paul wrote. (1 Cor. 13) Pondering the implications of the exercise of our human freedom becomes a regular part of our life, as we learn to “examine our conscience”, repent of our sin and become joyful penitents. Prayer provides the environment for such recollection as it exposes the darkness and helps us surrender it to the light of Love, the Living God dwelling within us.

“Becoming prayer” is possible for all Christians, no matter their state in life or vocation, because God holds nothing back from those whom He loves. This relationship of communion is initiated by Him. Our part is to respond. That response should flow from a heart that beats in surrendered love, in the process of being freed from the entanglements that weigh us down. The God who is Love hungers for the communion of sons and daughters – and we hunger for communion with Him – because He made us this way. Nothing else will satisfy. The early Church Father Origen once wrote: “Every spiritual being is, by nature, a temple of God, created to receive into itself the glory of God.”

We were made in the “image” of God and are now being recreated into His likeness in Jesus Christ. As we “become prayer’, that likeness begins to emerge. We give ourselves fully to the One who gave Himself to us and cry out with Jesus Christ “Abba Father.” No longer alienated, we participate in the inner life of God who now dwells within us. We also dwell in Him through His Spirit. This dwelling is prayer. It is not about doing or getting but about being, becoming, receiving, giving, and loving.

We will live the way we love and we will love the way we pray.
A wonderful spiritual writer of our own time, Henri Nouwen, understood the intimacy of prayer and the call to live in God. He wrote these words in his work entitled Lifesigns:

“Jesus, in whom the fullness of God dwells, has become our home by making his home in us he allows us to make our home in him. By entering into the intimacy of our innermost self he offers us the opportunity to enter into his own intimacy with God. By choosing us as his preferred dwelling place, he invites us to choose him as our preferred dwelling place. This is the mystery of the incarnation. Here we come to see what discipline in the spiritual life means. It means a gradual process of coming home to where we belong and listening there to the voice which desires our attention. Home is the place where that first love dwells and speaks gently to us. Prayer is the most concrete way to make our home in God.”

Let us learn to “become prayer”.

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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!

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?

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.

the crosses and roses of Cory

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”  2 Timothy 4:6-8

the funeral mass for Corazon C. Aquino is now over.  the homily of  Rev. Catalino Arevalo S. J., Cory’s spiritual adviser, was simple yet profound.  part of it enumerated three distinct Cory attributes that are rarely inherent in one ordinary human being all together. 

1. her selflessness –  Cory always sought what was beneficial for others, always before her own self, her family even.  in her times of suffering, she would always think about them and what she could still do for them.

let us ask ourselves: how may times did we have the chance and the capability to help lola carry her heavy bags while she crosses the street, but did not?  because we are too focused on our timetable, that lifting a finger to help someone in need would be a waste of time.  how many times do we change our mobile phones in a year to be “in”, yet oblivious to the immediate needs of a relative who desperately needs financial support for immediate medical attention, because he can’t pay us back ?  or simply, how many times did we stop and look through a person’s eyes when we answer his questions?  are we always too self-indulged, that what we want to see are only ourselves? or we are just too selfish, we won’t respond at all.  are we too eager to go first in line, that we viciously sneak our way to the front, regardless whether those who came ahead of us honestly wait for their turn no matter how long it takes?   simple things that we could simply do, but we won’t.  even if we can.  because i, me, mine always comes first.  such selfishness.

2.  faith in God– Cory’s faith in God is so strong and powerful.  through all the episodes of her life, God was ever present.  God was truly a part of her everyday life, she attributed every moment of it as His will for her. she accepted each difficulty with resignation and each blessing with gratitude.  she was a Marian devotee, remembering always to pray the rosary.  she went to mass regularly, and she prayed without ceasing, always seeking the Lord in whatever circumstance.  as such, her faith is so overwhelming, it cannot be contained within her.  it burst into flickers of light to everyone who came close to her, until that flicker glowed into their own.  later will they realize that Cory had planted a mustard seed of faith in them, that grew as days go by that she lived by her example.  needless to say, everyone who came close to her or those who only see her on tv, now pray the rosary, and hear mass as often too. all because of Tita Cory.  imagine how many souls she had saved just by living a life of faith in God.

let’s ask ourselves:  how involved is God in our life? how many hours, minutes or perhaps seconds do we spend each day just thinking about him?  do we remember to thank him for little blessings like a beautiful sunny day or perhaps the smell of  roses? do we talk to God when we’re alone in the car and got caught in the traffic asking him to give us more patience?  do we tell him our innermost secrets? or ask his advise when we had to make an important decision in life? or do we remember Him only during calamities, misfortunes or sickness?  such a shame.

3.  her courage– Cory was only a woman, the weaker sex, or so they say.  but she has proven that gender has nothing to do with courage at all.  when Ninoy was arrested and eventually assassinated, she was left to raise five children.  that alone required much.  but lead a nation to stand up against a regime that has been in power for so long;  to survive seven coup attempts during her term; and to fight that last battle with colon cancer with such faith? indeed Cory was incredible and inspiring.  that was an understatement of course.   how great is Tita Cory, only a woman; but how remarkable and noteworthy that brave and grown men weep at her passing.   her courage was a gift that God gives only to those who deserve it.  and believe me, if heroism is defined by one’s courage and bravery, then indeed Cory Aquino is a hero.

let’s think about this:  we already knew that Tita Cory was deeply respected and admired as our icon of democracy.  but only in her death did we realize how much she is loved and will be missed by the Filipino nation.  all of us wish to be at least loved and missed at our own funerals.  maybe admired and looked up to, for those who seek power and recognition.  but are they as brave enough to fill in her shoes? to fight for the rights of the weak? to speak for those who can’t?  do they have enough courage to put God, country and family above themselves?  are they valiant enough to stand up for what is good, right and moral when all around them dictates otherwise? 

if each Filipino could only pick up bits and pieces of  lessons from her life and make them part of their own, what a beautiful nation this would be.  with little Tita Corys in each of us, how could we ever go wrong? for with that faith in God that she lived by, who can ever be against us?

thus was Corazon C. Aquino: a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend, a public servant, a President, a hero, an icon, an inspiration, a pillar of strength, a gift from God, a Marian devotee, God’s loving daughter.  and her life – a picture of crosses and roses.  all together is a sweet blend that is Cory.  truly one of a kind.

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her funeral procession is now over. she is gone forever.  but her legacy lives on.  and her selflessness, her courage and her faith in God… i pray would remain engraved in our hearts forever. 

 for the first time, i can now truly say i am proud to be Filipino.  because Cory taught me what it means to be one. 

Maraming Salamat, TITA CORY!

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. 

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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.

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the greatest entertainer who ever lived

“it is only bodies that are separated, but minds and hearts remain united, especially in Him, for whom the sacrifice is made of leaving all that is dearest.” – anonymous

 what an overwhelming memorial that was.  last night would forever be etched in the hearts of those whose lives Michael Jackson touched, as well as the generations to come.

mj casket

at the Staples Center, those who knew Michael Jackson as family and as friend paid tribute to this great man who will forever be remembered as the king of pop.  but then, it is an underrated title for an artist who will forever be larger than life.  definitely, he is the greatest entertainer who ever lived.  and yes, last night, i get to know the kind of man that Michael Jackson was, from those who were fortunate enough to have known him personally and lucky enough to be a part of his life.  to quote his daughter Paris “Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine.  And I just want to say that I love him so much.”  and this much i can say, he must have been such a great human being as well, to be loved and missed that much.

i knew him only from a distance; only by his songs and performances.  i didn’t have any photos, or memorabilia of him.  i didn’t have any songbook, nor any of his records.  i don’t keep news clippings or magazine write-ups, nor any scrapbook detailing his achievements as an artist. i don’t know the lyrics of some of his songs, except of course my favorites, and i don’t know much about the details of his career or personal life.  but when he passed away, i felt like someone very close like family to me had died.

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Michael was like part of our family.  he was there in our house even before I went to school.  he was there when I started venturing into a bigger world outside our home.  he was there when I first fell in love.  he was there when I went to college and found a job.  he was here now that i have a family of my own.  he was in my life all this time.  And only in his death did i realize that.

his music is his presence.  and now that he’s gone, i tried so hard to hold on to whatever i could.  because like those who have gone before him, i thought he’d be here forever.  now i have his greatest hits in my mobile phone, to stand as a symbol of how he’d been such a part of my life.  to immerse myself into the genius of his creativity which i should have done long before.  oh if i could only…

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as i watch the memorial last night, i realized it was not only me who had this unexplainable connection with Michael.  his person, his passion, his music.  he has such a powerful hold on all of us.  and like what Smokey Robinson had said, i am also glad to have lived in his era.  needless to say, i praise God for lending us Michael who have torn down barriers so that color, race, religion and nationalities no longer matter.  in his music, the world became one.  praise God for this wonderful soul, and this extraordinary human being. 

“if he is not with us, then who is against us.”  to all who have judged Michael harshly in the past, may you realize that one who has evoked such goodness in our hearts did not deserve to have been treated that way.  Michael Jackson deserved only the best.

so the Lord blessed him.  you are now free Michael.  where you have gone, no cameras can follow. they won’t bother you now.  from now on, there will only be peace and love in our Father’s embrace.  oh how i just wished you had seen how much you are loved.  and how much you will be missed.

michael's kidswhich reminds us to never! never! never! take anybody for granted.  let us all do as much good as we can, when we still have chance.  be it for a friend or foe, family or stranger.  even so, let us surpass the goodness.  let us give more. or better yet,  let us be the best for everyone.  we may not be the greatest entertainer who ever lived, but we can be the best human being that we can ever be.  AND THAT WOULD MAKE MICHAEL —S M I L E.

mj memorial

a heart-warming summer

“I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” John 16:28

almost a week ago,  we saw megan off  to Bahrain where they would board a plane back to Manila.  we had just spent 36 days all together as a family. how time really flies when you’re having a great time. it seemed only yesterday when we picked her up at the airport in Dammam.  and now that she’s gone back home to Laguna,  we are just so grateful to God for those precious bonding moments that we had shared.

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there were very few tourist spots here in Khobar where we can take her.  but the corniche provided that perfect place where all four of us became one with nature. we had picnics in the parks along the corniche of Khobar, Dammam, Jubail and even the roadside going to Asisiyah basking in the great view of a small lake lined with dates. 

 stolen (joke!)

the beachfront near half moon was not as pristine as that of boracay’s.  but the fact that we were together made it just the perfect site for a fresh level of togetherness.  we grilled fish and chicken, went fishing and ate to our hearts’ delight.  it didn’t matter that we were cramped together in our small tent watching james bond’s ‘the quantum of solace’ on the laptop, nor that we were not able to sleep soundly after.  as we look back to that night that we’re all up together, trying to amuse ourselves with silly stories and corny jokes, made me realize how great a time we had.

starbucks moment

we remember those nights when we went mall hopping just strolling around.  we don’t have much to splurge on shopping, but we did have some for venti and cappuccino after those tiring walks.  and those small talks that we have over coffee; believe me they are worth far more than anything that money can buy.

sharkee

there were other things too that keep reminding us of megan’s stay.  like that pink shark balloon she begged us to buy for her.  it still in miguel’s room until now.  how she loved broasted chicken so much and the garlic mayo too.  the movies that we started to watch together, but most of the times ended up with poor me already sound asleep. how she loved to sleep in her abaya.  how tatay always dives on all three of us in bed with that sweet embrace shouting ‘group hug!!!!!!!!‘ the joy rides that we loved complete with video reporting like they were made for cnn.  and surely megan will never forget how we were swarmed by four young girls at a ladies’ rest room in Dammam corniche.  for some reason, those girls started embracing and kissing us the moment they saw us went in.  we had a very hard time trying to escape from their ‘clutches’ especially megan who they even followed to the car.

tgi fridays

this year is also the best mother’s day that i had so far.  the three of them conspired to give me a surprise.  well, they gave me roses and a certificate for being a good mother (i just wish that i really am) and treated me to a sumptous dinner.  but there was something in the manner that they executed their ‘performance’ that words can never describe.  it was just so sweet.

dammam corniche 8may09

 i believe that our bond together as a family only grew stronger.  we rediscovered each other as persons, and tried to showed each other our affection like we were trying to beat a deadline.  and as we saw the bus where megan was riding, out of carlton and on to the highway going to Bahrain, we realized that time is up.  but then again, amidst all the tears of goodbyes, the joy that we had together is now replaced with hope as we look forward to Christmas when we would all be together again.

imagesthere is one day far greater though, that we should all look forward to.  the ascencion of Jesus Christ gave us the hope that someday, He shall be coming back.  and as we wait for that day, let us  focus all our energies and our gifts for  the glory of GOD, especially by spreading HIS LOVE; that is His Good News to everyone.   so that when that time comes, we shall be worthy to welcome Him again, and take us together with Him in His kingdom for all eternity.