The faith chronicles

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Top 10 Signs of Deep Insecurity

We are all insecure in some way. That's part of our fallen nature. But some individuals may have been hurt deeply in their psyche at a young age they grow up to be very insecure. The worst part? They are largely unaware of it, thinking everything to be normal. Result? They project their insecurity on everyone and everything in the world, to much damaging effects for all, themselves included.

The following list of telling signs is based loosely on John Monbourquette's How to Forgive: A Step-by-Step (12 Steps) Guide plus insights I gained from here and there. The key to 'diagnosis' is this: Each sign and/or symptom often comes with everything else on the list, in varying magnitudes.

1. Shattered Self-Esteem due to trauma during fetal and/or developmental stages, resulting in deep insecurity or feelings of being unwanted, rejected, etc., or Toxic Shame

2. Self-Blaming - unwarranted, that is (or unnecessary), and unconscious

3. Over-Compensation - the excessive desire to repair hole in the soul/heart* due to basic unmet needs; more on this subtopic later -- meanwhile, here are just a few of the warning signs

3.1. Perfectionism - out of the intense desire to please, score brownie points, or prove oneself to be worthy and lovable

3.2 Overreligiosity/Hyperspirituality - religion may be used to make oneself feel superior to others; it could also be viewed as a pharisaical bribing of God to earn his love (in the Christian viewpoint, God's love is supposedly a gift, freely given, not earned, like a parent's love for a child who hasn't proven anything yet but already loved just because it's lovable).

3.3 Obsessive/Manipulative Caretaking - projection to others of what one needs very badly

3.4 Other Compulsions, Obsessions, Etc. - For other manipulative compensatory or defense mechanisms, you may check the whole slew of Ego Defenses outlined in this blog earlier: 123.

3.5 Constant Catching of Attention - a form of begging or solicitation for the attention one didn't get growing up

4. Defensiveness - excessive guardedness to defend wounded pride

5. Anger (or Surliness) at the slightest deviation or distraction or disturbance in one's carefully made-up (and thus illusory) world

6. Self-Hate as a result of unconscious (or subliminal?) blaming of oneself; most telling symptom is the inability to look at oneself in the mirror (or hating one's own photographic image); alternately, Narcissism, to make up for the attention perceived to have been lost

7. Envy - unconscious longing for what others have that one doesn't have; or alternately, Show-Offiness, to boast so others may feel insecure

8. Medication or Numbing of Pain via sexual, drug, etc. addiction, emotional dependency, etc.

9. Anxiety - the neurotic kind; out of fear of being rejected or losing sense of self; may include phobias and myriad psychosomatic ailments

10. Depression - intense grief at what is perceived as loss

*repairing a loss to restore balance is a human instinct (Jung)


Notes on forgiveness

Monbourquette's Test for Unforgiveness

We all know that forgiveness is one of the hardest things in life. That's no surprise considering, as Algeria-based Italian monk Carlo Carretto (Journey without End, 1989) once put it, "forgiveness is the apex of the journey." Love (or love as we know it) is easier, for it takes no effort to love anything or anyone who's lovable. Besides, 'love' is pleasurable even though it can be hard. But real love, i.e., loving the unlovable? That's synonymous to forgiving one's enemy, in which not only much effort is necessary, it is also too impossible to realize on our own. But forgiveness is necessary, an essential part of life, if only for our own sake. Life is hard enough without the baggage of bitterness and heartache that unforgiveness brings. Forgiveness is the key to the unconditional love of God.

Part of the difficulty with forgiveness is that it's an amazingly complicated animal, as the book by John Monbourquette (How to Forgive, 2000) or any essay or book on the subject will attest. It is riddled with many qualifiers, from "You can't forgive what you don't recognize as an offense" to "Forgiveness doesn't automatically mean reconciliation or that the offender must change." But complexity should be no reason not to try to forgive, for unforgiveness has its own complex team of monstrous consequences.

Like disease, unforgiveness comes with several complications, as Monbourquette says. With this list of complications, I shudder at the mere thought of not having forgiven yet my many offenders, both consciously and, most importantly, from the heart.

I always knew I should forgive, and as early as I can, if possible. I am selfish enough not to know any better.

In case you too want to take your chances or help diagnose yourself, try this exercise: The Test for Unforgiveness. The only requirement is total honesty, being in touch with your true (i.e., hidden) thoughts and feelings (including dreams and daydreams, or most especially so), the great 'outers' of our true emotional, psychological, moral, spiritual state.

Imagine a person you hate so much. Now tick off the points below that you are guilty of feeling or thinking.

1. "He's such a bad person, s/he should be punished, and s/he doesn't deserve my mercy and forgiveness."

2. "Why am I so sensitive and why do I feel so insecure when it comes to his comments? Why am I so hurt by what s/he said or did? S/He must be the one who's so malicious."

3. "I resent her success. I deserve it more than she does."

4. "I hate all the things he's fond of. If he's fond of God, I will automatically hate God too."

5. "I will never ever see him or talk to him again. If he needs help, I will not give it."

6. "Oh, how happy I am to see her run into misfortune. How sweet it is to take revenge."

7. "You know what this evil person did to me? Come, let me share all the gory details with you."

8. "I am surely better than he is."

9. "For all my troubles, I should be blest more than she is."

10. "The point is, I am hurt, and I don't care if I have hurt others too in the process."

11. "I hate him so much! I swear to God!"

12. "Wait, this new person is just like him, and so I automatically hate him too!"

13. "Oh no, I've become just like him -- I see myself in him!"

One important element here is missing, however: the hardest form of forgiveness, which is forgiving oneself. Without this, one remains stuck even one has forgiven everyone else. Thus, this additional item:

14. "I hate myself, I'm ashamed of myself, I can't forgive myself." (N.B. This is also known as Judas's sin, the loss of confidence or trust in God's mercy.)

How did you fare? A score of 1 or more will most probably entitle you to a chance to forgive that filthy rotten animal you've always cursed to hell.

Although "time heals all wounds," we easily learn from the foregoing that forgiveness is never passive, but always an heroic act, even when done for one's own sake, in the desire to move on. In this sense, it is forgiveness that makes the world really go round.

(Acknowledgment: RV)


(Forwarded email)

Author Unknown

-The most creative power given to the human spirit is the power to heal the wounds of a past it cannot change.
-We do our forgiving alone inside our hearts and minds; what happens to the people we forgive depends on them.
-The first person to benefit from forgiving is the one who forgives.
-Forgiving happens in three stages: we rediscover the humanity of the person who wronged us; we surrender our right to get even; and we wish that person well.
-Forgiving is a journey; the deeper the wound, the longer the journey.
-Forgiving does not require us to reunite with the person who broke our trust.
-We do not forgive because we are supposed to; we forgive when we are ready to be healed.
-Waiting for someone to repent before we forgive is to surrender our future to the person who wronged us.
-Forgiving is not a way to avoid pain but to heal the pain.
-Forgiving someone who breaks a trust does not mean that we give him his job back.
-Forgiving is the only way to be fair to ourselves.
-Forgivers are not doormats; to forgive a person is not a signal that we are willing to put up with what he or she does.
-Forgiving is essential; talking about it is optional.
-When we forgive, we set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner we set free is ourselves.
-When we forgive we walk in stride with our forgiving God.


Five Languages of Forgiveness (the offender's side)

(From the sermon of Fr. Dave Concepcion at the LNP Formation Center in Taguig on June 17, 2007)

1. "I'm sorry." - the offender feels bad, but doesn't necessarily acknowledge the wrong done
2. "I was wrong." - acknowledgment that one has done wrong
3. "I won't do it again." - promise not to do the same mistake
4. "What can I do (to make it up to you)?" - making amends
5. "Will you/please forgive me?" - actual begging for mercy


Forgiveness (diary entry)

I know I should forgive an offender seventy times seventy times. How come I just couldn’t?

I am profoundly hurt when A. accuses me of false things – to my face and within the earshot of others in the office. I am insulted when my co-worker B. bosses around more than the boss herself should. I am offended when C. whom I am having a harmless joke with, suddenly walks out on me when she herself would make really insulting jokes which I should have had walked out on. I am supremely slighted when D. goes around offering everyone but me something nice to eat. I am deeply outraged when E. who owes me a considerable sum, conveniently forgets it when he had even short of made a promissory note. I treat as an affront F.’s entering the apartment I am renting without even bothering to utter a vague trace of hello. I recoil in pain when G. slights me with chronic comments like I am a dinosaur and things like that. I still cannot accept it that H. has run away with my brand-new bag I have yet to use; this, after treating him like a friend. I am incensed when I. answers arrogantly after I ask him a very harmless and even well-meaning question.

On the bigger picture, I am consumed by a flaming anger whenever I read the classified ads and find them all requiring job experience. I gnash my teeth because I don’t have any money left. (That’s it. That’s it.)

I know that life is too short for hurts and pains to get the better of me. Still, I find it extremely hard to forgive, even if I know I have been and still am guilty of the same mistakes in the past and in the present. I know how it is to be forgiven but why am I so reserved when it is my turn to forgive?

Even something like forgiveness must be grace.


1. Forgiveness is realizing that the victimizer has been a victim himself/herself.
2. Forgiveness starts with me. "The buck stops here."
3. Forgiveness is breaking the vicious cycle of hate in the world.
4. Forgiveness involves: naming, separating, incorporating.
5. Forgiveness requires: competence, compassion, suffering.
6. Forgiveness is blaming oneself if really at fault. There's an adult takeover, a letting-go process, a choice.
7. Forgiveness is not: forgetting, indifference, naivete (looking for something/-one else to blame)
8. The call to life is not to deny our pain but to suffer with somebody, to become Christ-like.
9. Pain is bearable if we suffer with a meaning, a purpose.
10. We need pain so that we can fathom the meaning of love, to understand how much we are loved.
11. We need pain so that we can understand the pain of others. Only people who are at home with themselves can be at home with others.
12. People who suffered the most and have forgiven are the most compassionate, creative, contemplative. They become our mentors in this journey. (Ex. Einstein, Beethoven, Helen Keller, Francis of Assisi)
13. Be martyrs for the Lord! Take up the cross of Christ!
14. Count your blessings. Don't worry, God's grace is enough.

3.14.2000 (Based on Fr. Armand Robleza's (SVD) Lenten recollection, ~1997)


Forgiveness versus Reconciliation

Is forgiveness different from reconciliation?

Yes, says my guru. Reconciliation always involves two parties -- the one forgiving and the one asking forgiveness. Forgiveness, on the other hand, may not necessarily be a two-way street. You may forgive someone but no reconciliation ever happened -- whereas it's impossible to have reconciliation without forgiveness.

For a famous, or notorious, example, we Filipinos may forgive the Marcoses for the things they did through sheer forgetfulness, or Kris Aquino may kiss Bongbong Marcos on primetime TV for all she cared. While the former undoubtedly forgave the latter, the action does not mean that a much prayed-for reconciliation happened. It takes the Marcoses an admission of guilt and wrongdoing, plus the acceptance of legal retribution, before any reconciliation can ever happen.

In much the same way, we may forgive the Japanese for all the atrocities they've committed during the war, but it should take them at least an admission of their crime before reconciliation can ever start.

Sadly, as of this writing, both the Marcoses and the Japanese government intransigently deny their respective crimes, making reconciliation absolutely impossible.

This teaching solves a long-standing problem of mine. Why should you forgive someone who doesn't recognize the fact that he has sinned against you? How can you forgive a murderer who claims he did not commit the murder when in fact he did? Don't they say that God forgives all sins except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which essentially means denying that one has sinned? How can you forgive someone who thinks he's done nothing wrong?

The answer to this, according to my guru is, we simply need to forgive, period. It is because we need forgiveness ourselves -- whereas God does not because he does not sin. We all need to reconcile with God and with one another -- whereas God does not need being forgiven at all. If there's one thing that we can fault God with, it is that he loves us so much as to initiate the act of forgiving.

Will God perish if He didn't send his begotten Son to ransom us from sin? No. But God, through Jesus Christ, chose to die on the cross for our sins. You still there?

Good, because much as we need to forgive, says my guru, it is equally important that we need not forget. "History is bound to repeat itself," somebody named George Santayana is quoted as saying, so it is prudent that we remember. Remembering does not mean constantly reminding the sinner of his or her past sins. What we remember are the valuable lessons learned.



Friday, August 29, 2003
Some Unsettling Things About Forgiveness and Repentance

Forgiveness requires metanoia, Greek for change of mind. (Mt. 4:17). Metanoeite is to change one's mind, i.e., in the mind of Christ. See Phil. 2:5: "Make the mind of Christ your own."

Refer also to Rom. 12:2: "…transformed by the renewal of mind."

To repent is to change one's mind.

Our natural temperament is but natural; it's our personality type. But it can be molded into character. That's what education is for. Someone who is mapusok (daring), for example, can be molded into a good leader because it means he can decide on short notice without relying on others.

Repentance is a continuous process. Don't be too hard on yourself.

What is the mind of Christ or the nature of Christ anyway? Refer to Mt. 11:28-29: "Come to me all who labor and I will give you rest,… for I am meek and humble of heart.." Meek means gentle. Meekness requires strength.

"If your brother has anything against you,…be reconciled with your brother." - This means you have done something wrong against your brother. "The road going to God passes by your neighbor's house" so you better be in good terms with your neighbor. Forgiveness requires meekness and humility.

Forgiveness is not ritualism or formalism, puro porma lang. If you have wronged someone, settle with your opponent. If you are the one wronged, make an effort to forgive. Huwag itanim ang galit at siguradong tutubo ito.

In cases involving deep wounds, though, don't be too harsh on yourself. Give yourself time to heal. God sees through your heart's intention. You may choose not to talk anymore to the one you have forgiven, but at least, try not to remember!

Q: Is that possible?
A: You bet. It takes a lot to remember.

In confession, ask the priest not just to give absolution but also to pray for healing (of bad memories and deep wounds)

Q: After the prodigal son decides to come back to his father and recites all his evil deeds, what did he say next? What did his father say next?

A: None. The father didn't even let his son finish. The next scene is, he now talks to the servants to prepare a feast for his son's return.

If you have asked forgiveness but was denied of it, it's no longer your problem.

You can forgive and refuse to treat the person like before. It's your choice. What's important is you have forgiven from your heart.

If you need to burn the reminders of your past hurts, then do so. The devil uses these reminders to hone our resentments into a burning flame.


Monday, September 12, 2005
Forgiveness and the judicial system

Just when I was preparing to sue our former manager of "unfair labor treatment," after I ran into this former officemate who's now a lawyer and who's with the Civil Service Commission, here comes a Sunday sermon that admonishes me to forgive "seventy times seventy-seven times," which is a Biblical idiomatic expression for "infinitely." I feel remorseful, of course, never mind that I was the one who was victimized and offended. But I'm glad all the same that I was also doing myself a favor: forgiveness = peace of mind = stress-/disease-free = salvation.

But tell me, doesn't that Biblical passage make the entire judicial system basically an un-Christian entity? Geez, we're actually far more secular than we thought!


Thursday, May 22, 2003

Mercy is Thy Name

Fr. Socrates Villegas is easily one of my favorite priests. Like his namesake, he's a great thinker. He writes well and consistently jumps for the jugular when it comes to his sermons.

I was at the Edsa Shrine when he talked about the parable of the prodigal son. "We have heard about the parable over and over again," he opened his sermon. "That's why we have a computer program running in our brains even before we hear the parable being read."

"By this, I mean that we always view the parable as a contrast - the prodigal son versus his jealous brother. One abused his gifts, squandered his inheritance. The other used them well and now feels deserving of his father's reward. One is disobedient; the other dutiful.

"We fail to see that there actually is something common between them. And that is, both of them are legalistic. The first thinks he has made a grievous mistake and therefore deserves punishment. The second thinks he has led a virtuous life and thus anticipates his just reward. Both failed to see the point.

"The point is we merit neither the Father's mercy nor His reward. The point is we don't deserve anything in this world. In the face of His love, it's inappropriate to say I have sinned, I don't deserve Your forgiveness. Or I did well, now give me what I deserve.

"If God actually gave what we really deserve, chances are we would think twice. God's mercy doesn't depend on us. We miss the point if we think otherwise."

Fr. Soc then relates a story: "During the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, there was a soldier who was accused to have deserted the army during the height of battle. The truth, though, was that he only failed to catch up with his comrades for some reason as they were trying to advance or escape. Napoleon learned about the 'deserter' and had him immediately court-martialed. The soldier was sentenced to death.

During the trial, his mother came over to plead with Napoleon. "Have mercy on my son!" she cried.

Napoleon answered, "You son does not deserve mercy."

The mother replied, "It wouldn't be mercy if he deserved it."

('So much mercy has been given us, why can't we be as merciful to others?')

Written before Fr. Soc became an Auxiliary Bishop of Manila


Thursday, September 25, 2008
On forgiving oneself

A lot of people make one crucial mistake when it comes to forgiveness: they seem to have forgiven everyone, but they can't forgive themselves. How does one forgive oneself?

Harry advises that one step back, retrace where one came from. "One solution is by feeling the pain, i.e., being aware of one's feelings, acknowledging that one feels this or that way. Expressing the feeling is healthy, provided the emotion is managed (not controlled, he cautions) at a legitimate (i.e., decent) level. Not acknowledging that one has been hurt will stress one out, possibly causing diseases." (But we're not about to jump to conclusion here: we're not saying all diseases are caused by suppressed or repressed feelings.)

What's worse is denial. "Denying one is hurt will lead to suppressed feelings, and suppressed feelings lead to repressed feelings, to burying of feelings in the subconscious, and ultimately to depression." This situation is oftentimes very hard to 'cure,' I imagine, because the 'sufferer' is no longer consciously aware of where the feelings are really coming from.

"Our emotions are the most neglected part of our self," Harry laments, quoting someone else from somewhere.

After being aware that one feels this way or that, the next step, Harry says, is to make a conscious decision to forgive one's offender -- and most especially, oneself. Someone butts in and correctly adds: "Nobody's perfect," and he is right. Acceptance of oneself, warts and all, is key. Like victims of child abuse are told to remind themselves, "I made a mistake, but I am not the mistake."

However, self-acceptance would be impossible without one crucial stumbling block: pride. It takes humility not to be too harsh or too hard on oneself.

Another key ingredient, says John Powell (in Fully Human, Fully Alive), is courage. Without courage, we won't have the strength to face whatever negative emotion is associated with confronting and forgiving ourselves. We need to first face the facts about ourselves, our feelings, before we are able to forgive. There has to be clarity so we'll know what we are forgiving and why.

Not going through this process will be doing a short-cut, which leads to a cul-de-sac, to nowhere. One cannot forgive something one is not consciously aware of.

"How does one know one has forgiven oneself?," I ask, a bit nervous that I'd be rebuffed.

"Has he or she already made a decision to forgive?," Harry asks back by way of an answer. "If yes, one can take a look at a possible indication: one is now able to look back on what happened and talk about it with others without bitterness."

"Confession leads to healing," another discussion participant adds, quoting James 5:16.

Then I remember what a priest once said: "Another strong sign that one has forgiven oneself is when one looks back and finds everything funny."

Of course, forgiving oneself presupposes that one desires change or have made the decision to change, to really move on.

Friday, July 22, 2016


Passage I need badly + Newfound prayers

“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).


Padre Pio’s Sacred Heart Novena Prayer

O my Jesus, You have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of (here name your request). Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be … Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You.

O my Jesus, You have said: “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in My name, He will give it to you.” Behold, in Your name, I ask the Father for the grace of (here name your request). Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be … Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You.

O my Jesus, You have said: “Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away.” Encouraged by Your infallible words I now ask for the grace of (here name your request). Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be … Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of You, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Your tender Mother and ours.

Say the Hail, Holy Queen and add: “St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.”



St. Patrick's Breastplate is a popular prayer attributed to one of Ireland’s most beloved patron saints. According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote it in 433 A.D. for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish King Leoghaire and his subjects from paganism to Christianity. (The term breastplate refers to a piece of armor worn in battle.)

More recent scholarship suggests its author was anonymous. In any case, this prayer certainly reflects the spirit with which St. Patrick brought our faith to Ireland! St. Patrick's Breastplate, also known as The Lorica of Saint Patrick was popular enough to inspire a hymn based on this text as well. (This prayer has also been called The Cry of the Deer.) 

I arise today 
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

[Note that people sometimes pray a shorter version of this prayer just with these 15 lines about Christ above. The conclusion follows below.]

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

When St. Paul referred to putting on the “Armor of God” in his letter to the Ephesians (6:11) to fight sin and evil inclinations, he could have been thinking of prayers just like this one! We may not wear combat gear in our daily lives, but St. Patrick's Breastplate can function as divine armor for protection against spiritual adversity.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


"Be Satisfied With Me"

Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.
But God, to a Christian, says,
“No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled and content
With being loved by Me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me,
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship
With Me alone.
Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship
That I have planned for you.
You will never be united with another until you are united
With Me alone,
Exclusive of anyone or anything else,
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.

I want you to stop planning,
Stop wishing,
And allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing,
One that you cannot imagine.
Please allow Me to bring it to you.
You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things.
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I Am.
Keep listening and learning the things I tell you.
You just wait.
That’s all.
Don’t be anxious.
Don’t worry.
Don’t look at the things you think you want;
You just keep looking off and away up to Me,
Or you’ll miss what I want to show you.
And then when you are ready,
I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than any
You could dream of.
You see, until you are ready and until
The one I have for you is ready
(I am working even at this moment to have you both ready at the same time),
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me
And the life I prepared for you,
You won’t be able to experience the love that
Exemplified your relationship with Me.
And this is the perfect love.

And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love,
I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your
Relationship with Me,
And to enjoy materially and concretely
The everlasting union of beauty, perfection and love
That I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love utterly.
I Am God.
Believe it and be satisfied.

~ attributed to St. Anthony of Padua


Sunday, April 26, 2015


Top of the World lyrics

Maybe I'm recovering because I woke up to this song today:

Top Of The World
by Carpenters

Such a feelin's comin' over me
There is wonder in 'most ev'ry thing I see
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
And I won't be surprised if it's a dream

Everything I want the world to be
Is now comin' true especially for me
And the reason is clear, it's because you are here
You're the nearest thing to heaven that I've seen

I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around
Your love's put me at the top of the world

Somethin' in the wind has learned my name
And it's tellin' me that things are not the same
In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze
There's a pleasin' sense of happiness for me

There is only one wish on my mind
When this day is through I hope that I will find
That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me
All I need will be mine if you are here

I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around
Your love's put me at the top of the world

I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around
Your love's put me at the top of the world

Top Of The World lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Monday, April 13, 2015



"Ibang magmahal ang Diyos kaysa tao. Sa atin, pag nagmahal ka dahil may pansariling pangangailangan ka lang, ang tawag dun korapsyon. Pag nagmahal ka dahil maganda at seksi siya, ang tawag dun pornograpiya. Pag nagmahal ka dahil mayaman siya, ang tawag dun suhol. Ang Diyos minahal ka niya dahil pangit ka. Yun ang tunay na pagmamahal."

- A priest's Lenten reflection

I am reminded of two songs: Michael Laygo's "Minahal Kita" and Sharon Cuneta's "Maging Sino Ka Man."

"Minahal Kita"

Minahal kita, hindi lang dahil maganda ka
Minahal kita , hindi rin dahil mahinhin ka
Minahal kita lalong hindi dahil mayaman ka
Minahal kita sa taglay mong pambihira


"Maging Sino Ka Man"

Mahal kita/basta't mahal kita/iniisip nila ay hindi mahalaga./Mahal kita maging/ sino ka man.

Thursday, March 05, 2015



"We must go through the storm to appreciate the sunshine."

Monday, March 02, 2015



I really appreciate this prayer texted to me today by Ate Mitz:

"Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom, pardon and joy. Transform my heart with your love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy or make me bitter towards anyone."

Wow! I want that kind of heart, a really transformed heart.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


God's messages in song

1.16.2015: There is no problem to big God cannot solve it...

3.8.2015: Kahit kailan, di kita iiwan. Kahit kailan, di kita pababayaan.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Liturgical Year

The Catholic Church has its own calendar, and it is called the Liturgical Calendar. The Church's liturgical year is a series of spiritual seasons, namely:

Advent - from the Latin ad ventum, meaning start, this season "launches the  new spiritual year by preparing us the faithful for a rebirth of Christ in our lives"

Christmas - "starting on Christmas Eve and ending on Epiphany, this season reminds us that Jesus became one of us to show us the way to heaven"

Ordinary Time - "it is ordained to be a season of learning, with Jesus as our teacher;" at this time, the priest wears green vestment, to symbolize life and hope; Ordinary Time is long because it takes a long time to grow in faith and character

Lent - "interrupts Ordinary Time for a season for examining how well we're living what Jesus teaches;" at this time, the priest wears purple to signify a time of preparation

Holy Week - "the time when we give to Jesus all the ways that we have rejected his teachings"

Easter Sunday - "we enter into this season of celebrating our victory over sin as we continue our journey of holiness"

Pentecost - ending Easter, "it is a time when we recommit ourselves to the in-dwelling of Christ's Holy Spirit, who empowers us to learn more and live better the ways of holiness"

Ordinary Time - "resumes until the end of the Liturgical Year"

Note: In the old calendar, there's no Ordinary Time. Rather it's called the season of Pentecost celebrating the Holy Spirit among us. That's why we have AD, Anno Domini, the year of the Lord.


Those in quotes are from Terry Mojica's Bible reflection.
The rejoinder is care of JJ.
The rest is from Fr. Celestino Jun Lingad, SDB, mass sermon/lecture. 

Friday, October 31, 2014



Lines from love songs that suddenly hit my mind, which I take to be from God:

"You break down my wall, with the strength of your love.." -- This is more of me telling this to God.

"Mahal kita/ kapantay ay langit sinta/ Ang tangi kong dasal/ sa Maykapal/ ay lumigaya ka..."

"Nais kong malaman mo/naging bahagi ka ng buhay ko..."


Is this pantheism?

I am basically a Jew, except that I believe in the New Testament.

I’m actually a Muslim in that I won’t say a bad word about praying to God several times in a day, although I don’t see myself as a slave of God but a servant or, better yet, His son/child.

I can be a good Pentecostal. I just love those gospel songs by black musicians – the same people who gave us the blues, jazz, rap, soul, hiphop, ska and reggae beats we love.

I love reggae and Bob Marley and I have a friend who had dreadful dreadlocks. Maybe I'm Rastafari, too?

Am I a born-again Christian? Amen, amen, I say unto thee, if it means it's no longer I but Christ who dwells in me, I am indeed born-again. (“Born from above” is reportedly the more accurate translation.)

I turn into a Protestant whenever I see the excesses - or inadequacies, of Catholics.

Sometimes I use the word karma; does that make me a Hindu?

I have much admiration for St. John of the Cross and his spirituality. That’s a lot of Buddhism, although I’m not sure which strain. Zen maybe?

I am essentially a Jesuit; I love to intellectualize until I miss the point, I mean, I will read the excellent magazine, America, from page to page if I could. Even if sometimes it means I’m just pretending I got everything down pat.

I guess I’m a Carmelite nun because I like to begin the day offering everything up to God, in the hope that He’d find it pleasing. I like bribing God that way.

I believe in talismans if they are pre-approved by St. Benedict. I know for a fact that this monk has his own brand of spirituality. I like doing his Lectio Divina sometimes, you know, reflecting on Biblical scenes by imaging myself entering into that scene.

It’s obvious I find it attractive working for the alleviation of the life of the poor, so this makes me a Franciscan, although I certainly hate being poor myself and I hate bad working conditions, hehe.

I am a Salesian. I’m fond of being around young people, exchanging jokes, swapping infos on what’s the hottest in fashion and music and whatnot, and teaching them what is good from bad if the opportunity knocks. Or isn’t this a Dominican state of mind, too?

I've learned that, apart from praying prayers in songs, it is a very Augustinian thing to see God working in everything, to see godly metaphors in nature and everything man has created.

I sometimes join the queue in Baclaran church in the dead of the night (or the dawn) to pray in front of the Perpetual Help. I guess I’m, uhm, a Recollect that way. By the way, I know for a fact that the image of the Perpetual Help icon is Byzantine in style, which we got from the Russian Orthodox Church. I guess this makes me a little bit Orthodox, right?

Sometimes I lapse into saying "Good luck," so this makes me Shinto or Taoist or Confucianist.

I love Ifugao sculpture and I wouldn't mind having a dark bul-lol sitting in my room as an objet d'art, that is, if it were not so scary to look at at night. I'm animist that way, huh?

Sometimes I pretend God can’t see through my actions, or inactions. Surely I am an atheist, too? LOL!

Monday, July 28, 2014


What "Lord hear our prayer" really means

Quote from Terry Modica in today's Gospel reflection of hers:

During the intercessory prayers of Mass when we say, "Lord hear our prayer" or "Hear us, O Lord," I feel like I'm telling God to listen, as if he wasn't already. In truth, he's trying to get me to listen. He never stops listening and caring. He knows our needs long before we begin to ask. We need to remember that "Lord hear our prayer" really means "Lord, receive this gift of prayer. Thank you for hearing us. Help us to hear your reply."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Mother Teresa's definition of prayer

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

-- Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Wednesday, July 09, 2014


Spiritual laughs

From dear old reliables: Mr. Anonymous and forwarded email.

"You know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans for the future!"


 "Look at the world around you, and you'll see God's creativity. Look at the dinner table, and you'll see God's providence. Look at the mirror, and you'll see God's sense of humor."


 1) God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.

 2) Dear God, I have a problem -- it's me.

 3) Growing old is inevitable;  growing UP is optional.

 4) There is no key to happiness. The door is always open.

 5) Silence is often misinterpreted, but never misquoted.

 6) Do the math ~ count your blessings.

 7) Faith is the ability to not panic.

8) Laugh every day; it's like inner jogging.

 9) If you worry, you didn't pray. If you pray, don't worry.

 10) For a child of God, prayer is kind of like calling home everyday.

 11) Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

12) The most important things in your home are the people.

 13) When we get tangled up in our problems, be still. God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.

 14) A grudge is a heavy thing to carry.

 15) He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

 16) We do not remember days, but moments.

 17) Life is moving fast ~ enjoy your precious moments.

 18) It's all right to sit on your pity pot every now and  again.
 Just be sure to flush when you are done.

19)  Living your life successfully requires courage.
Learn from the turtle; it only makes progress when it sticks out its neck.

20) Life is uncertain; eat dessert first.

Monday, June 30, 2014


Why blame God?

Why blame God for the sins of men, why, o yea creatures of free will?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


In dire straits He rescues us

When I am in dire straits, God rescues me. He has rescued me so many times before. Today, I will mention only those I can recall easily.

When a cousin asked me to live at his place, a place I have left several times but for some reason kept on returning to.

When I found work in these two companies, where I experienced the same: I constantly found ways to ship out yet I found myself going back again and again.
Up to this time, I can’t believe how I got out of this sticky situation of bankruptcy, thanks to maxing out on my credit card – twice! (I have learned my lesson since.)

How I entered college, and how I was able to finish it despite my parents being jobless through that  whole duration of time.

How I obtained my scholarship.

How I ended up in my high school. (I personally preferred this school, but I took up the exam at the rival school anyway, only to be interrogated about my real plan and with my test result stricken off from the list of passers.)

When my young family was able to move out of Manila and planted ourselves in the province, where life was simpler but better.

The so many instances I couldn’t make both ends meet and I was living on loans on top of loans.

The several sicknesses I survived: allergic attack, amoebiasis, ear infection that threatened my hearing, flu (severe cough and cold with fever).

How I was led a charismatic spirituality and became an active Catholic again after a period of apostasy. How this brought me to have a prayer life.

How I eventually discovered the wonders of spiritual healing through integration work and silent prayer, how God led me to an awareness and eventual resolution of perhaps hundreds of personal issues I didn't know I had due to denial. This means a lot of things: lots of forgiveness, less neuroses, less insecurities, and less toxicity in general, meaning much growth and transformation.

All the ‘impossible’ requests I had for other people, starting with family members: my siblings’ college education (my parents were jobless, and I certainly couldn’t afford to send everyone in school); a brother’s employment in a stable multinational firm after losing his job for a very long time, and his marriage in church; a sister’s job in the difficult public school system; a sister’s troublesome marriage; our parents’ own livelihood so they could have their dignity back especially in their twilight years.


As to other people, the same prodigious story is happening on a smaller scale. at least in the restricted confines of my neighborhood back home, amazing is the operative word. No, stupefying, as I was left speechless, even humbled and mortified.

Thanks to OFW money, many people’s houses are almost like those of exclusive subdivisions in Manila: gated, with a tall fence, car... Make that cars. There is at least a couple of houses with high-end roofing material. When I was little, most people's houses were just huts made of palm leaf (nipa) or cheap cement and galvanized iron.

Gone are the days when certain people I know from childhood were just the helpless, sniveling kids that they were. Most of them are gone now, in that they have long left town, but look at their own families and houses today.

J’s house now looks like a grand mansion compared to its old self.

R’s house looked already grand then – marble tiles and all. It is even better furnished now, with an air-con in each room.

How on earth did J. possess a car? Or even his younger brother N? Isn’t life unfair in some funny way? J. couldn’t even pass his subjects in school!

One house even have, not one, not two, but three cars! (There was a time all of us only had tricycles or motorbikes, or not even, just bikes.)

As for B’s family – everything has now leveled up, starting from the ornamental plants.

L’s house is one of those high-end houses I was talking about. How did he obtain all that when he was just a high school dropout or something? I heard he hit the jackpot with his wife after they got a big break as local fish dealers at the public market.

As to my first cousins on the father’s side, if I recounted their good fortune one by one, I would not have enough space.

Most of my childhood classmates are gone as well. The nurses abroad have specially struck it rich, hit a gold mine, made it big. They can afford to travel around the world monthly and build palaces that would make the mansions at Ayala Alabang look like tenement or bunkhouses.

The shocker is when I went to B’s house. Also fueled by a nursing job abroad, the house improvement left me totally incredulous. The change was an unbelievable leap from a flimsy nipa hut to a richly upholstered and tiled affair! Oh my God! Was I overcome with a kind of envy I didn’t know I had.


I was reminded that nothing is indeed impossible these days. 

Justin Bieber became an international star because of one YouTube video of his that went viral. How many such talents abroad have been featured by Ellen DeGeneres on her TV talk show? It's quite hard to keep count.

The same story is repeated locally in the case of, say, Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda. To be sure, these three people have something remarkable in them with or without the validation of gazillion YouTube hits. Their excellent talent has always been there. It just so happened that new technology turned things around to their favor.


These developments can only remind me of the many things we, people from the world over, never expected would happen in our own lifetime:

- The fall of communism, including the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the rest of the invisible Iron Curtain --> I honestly thought the so-called domino effect would run its course after a few more decades at least

- The end of apartheid in South Africa --> Just when I’ve accepted that man is evil and life is unfair comes this mind-blowing change, which I honestly expected would come only after perhaps a century of mass murder by both sides

- The return of Hong Kong and Macau to China --> If such hot ‘properties’ could be returned, then all natural and cultural treasures looted in the colonized nations can be demanded back?

- “People power” revolution in the Philippines and around the world, with many ongoing, with various results --> I was a 'Marcos baby' and a Marcos loyalist at 15, but I was praying that not a lot of people would get hurt when Cardinal Sin called for a rally. I never expected that almost no one would get hurt and that the demonstration would in no time become a gargantuan street party! And it would be replicated in a lot of countries in the world! We Filipinos wish we could claim the entire credit, but the French and Mahatma Gandhi’s India had something like it before, although most likely, we never consciously thought of them when we staged our own. Meanwhile, it would take years before I admitted to myself that I was deeply scarred about being wrong about Marcos.

- The ongoing fall of the American Empire --> Who would have thought the domination of a highly secularized culture could possibly have an end as well?

- Loose coalitions of Catholics, Evangelicals and Protestants (and even people of non-Christian religions) ministering to one another in love --> Never thought the day would come! The total lack of desire to convert each other into one's religion is simply jaw-dropping!

- A growing global ethic, a world crying out for a third way or a middle way --> The signs are everywhere, and I'm neither talking about communism nor New Age.

- The puzzling popularity of what I thought to be extinct spirituality in the form of meditation, contemplation, silence and the continued popularity of its opposite: rambunctious charismatism --> Funny how I used to despise both, lividly.

- The astounding exchange of free information in the Internet (lots of thanks to Google) --> Wow. This info and opinion junkie is on a roll.

- Business process outsourcing --> I never planned and never thought I'd work on other people's work from other nations -- and at home too.


Each event at which God's hand intervened to change the course of history is seemingly random and minor here on earth, but each deserves a special feast in heaven. Eternity will not be enough for you and me to express all our gratitude to God for how things had turned out.

With this parade of miracles in retrospect, we know He’ll come rescuing us again this time around, in this present hardship, and for always.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Messages of love in song

It's always a great thing to wake up to lyrics from even some love songs I don't care for in waking life.

"Love will save the day."

"Baby you don't know what it's like (2x) to love somebody the way I love you."

"Kahit sabihin na mali ako. Alipin mo o bihag mo ako'y iyong iyo. Kung pag-ibig lang ang pag-uusapan, di ko na ililihim pa. Ang damdamin ko sayo, sa akin ay gusto kita."

Say that you love me
And show me that you care
Say when I need you
You will always be there
But if you go and leave me
This I swear is true
My love will always be with you

Friday, May 23, 2014


"Disturb us, Lord"

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.
- Sir Francis Drake

Sunday, May 18, 2014


"Seek love"

do not look for happiness
happiness is elusive
do not flee from pain
pain is inevitable
rather seek love, for in love
happiness is assured
and pain is bearable

- eastwind

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Song in head

Today I woke up to this song in my head:

"You're my everything. ... You never have to worry, never fear, for I am here."

In my waking life, I have never attempted to sing this song. Maybe because I feel it's too mushy.

Monday, May 12, 2014


The only journey that matters

"You have a problem? Just go through it. Don't dwell on it. If you become closer to God because of it, that's the point, that's what matters. The journey that matters is not the journey to wealth, fame, prestige, etc., but the journey to God's heart."

- quote from Fr. Orbos

Friday, May 09, 2014


We were not made for death

My family had been expecting the inevitable. At 90+ years old and with failing body, we knew our grandmother would go anytime soon. And yet when she did, it was still traumatic, like we were caught unprepared. This tells me something: We were not made for death.

What a serendipitous moment to stumble into an unlikely confirmation of this thought today: A journal article I was reading have these words as introduction:

"The book of Genesis tells us that we were created for a perfect world. The truth is that none of us has ever recovered from the trauma of the fall and the subsequent expulsion from Eden. Evil is not our 'normal way of life nor are broken relationships, disappointments, violence, rape, loss and death. We never really adjust to any of this, and these situations leave their marks on all of us." Esly Regina Carvalho, trauma expert


Not giving up

I have a lot of reasons to give up my faith or leave my church or community.

The long-standing scandal of exclusive Catholic schools and hospitals catering only to the rich, being an instrument of worldly prestige, status symbol, social standing.

News of clergy figuring in sex abuse and other serious misdemeanors

A vast majority of Catholics not living out their baptismal commitments or worse (what commitment?)

Trials I can hardly bear, as though my existing problems are not enough, as though I am being punished for the past

(I don't wish to mention the other reasons.)

Despite all these, I choose to remain, because these contradictions are nothing compared to the kind of suffering Christians in Egypt, Syria, the rest of the Muslim world, North Korea, and China are going through right now.

What's more, these contradictions are nothing compared to the marvelous works of God despite the great setbacks, and they are many, both little and big. I am referring, of course, to spiritual consolations, the insights, the valuable lessons learned (though learned the hard way).

I am also referring to the little things: new flavors to try, new clients, old clients knocking again, new friends online... These are many too, coming unbidden and almost unnoticed.

Herein lies the convincing power of the Holy Spirit, which no human hand can ever replicate. Of course, only believers can understand this part. Maybe it is meant to be that way.

Monday, April 28, 2014


"Amazing Grace"

Sunday, April 27, 2014


True definition of hope

This joy-from-knowing is the true definition of "hope". Hope isn't wishful thinking. Hope means celebrating what is certainly going to happen before it happens.

- Terry Mojica

Friday, April 25, 2014


"When It Seems Like God Did You Wrong"


"God’s purposes in the lives of his children are always gracious. Always. If they don’t look like it, don’t trust your perceptions. Trust God’s promises. He’s always fulfilling his promises."


Nouwen on questioning

The Answer to Our Questions

We spend a lot of time and energy raising questions.  Is it worth it?  It is always good to ask ourselves why we raise a question.  Do we want to get useful information?  Do we want to show that someone else is wrong?  Do we want to conquer knowledge?  Do we want to grow in wisdom?  Do we want to find a way to sanctity?

When we ponder these questions before asking our questions, we may discover that we need less time and energy for our questions.  Perhaps we already have the information.   Perhaps we don't need to show that someone is wrong.  For many questions we may learn that we already have the answers, at least if we listen carefully to our own hearts.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Tagle on Easter

Tagle said: “The resurrection is pure divine grace and it reverses the evil done by human beings. That’s why the resurrection is also a warning to the unjust, to those who trample on the rights of the innocent, those who lie, those who sell and betray friends. You think you’ve succeeded but God will reverse what you have done.”

To the faithful, he said: “The Lord has risen. Have no fear. You might be weeping now. You might be suffering now. But God will raise you up. God will vindicate you. God will reverse your suffering into joy.”

“Dead to sin. Alive to God,” Tagle said. “In baptism, we have died with Christ. In Christ, we have died to sin. The resurrection is life in God. We now live to God and for God.”

“We were all dead because of our own doing. But how come we can think good thoughts. We can cry with the suffering. We can rejoice with those we do not know. We can dream not only for ourselves but also for others. God is alive and if he raised Jesus from the dead, He continues to raise us. This is pure grace,” Tagle said.

“Encountering the Risen Lord makes us bearers of good news. Nobody keeps good news to himself. If you have seen the Lord, tell the world he has risen,” he said.
“Let us start again. There is hope,” Tagle said.

Read more:

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Nouwen on contradictions

Healing Contradictions

The many contradictions in our lives - such as being home while feeling homeless, being busy while feeling bored, being popular while feeling lonely, being believers while feeling many doubts -  can frustrate, irritate, and even discourage us.  They make us feel that we are never fully present.  Every door that opens for us makes us see how many more doors are closed.

But there is another response.  These same contradictions can bring us into touch with a deeper longing, for the fulfillment of a desire that lives beneath all desires and that only God can satisfy.  Contradictions, thus understood, create the friction that can help us move toward God.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Awaiting the "bath of rebirth"

At a time when nothing and no one can console me, all I am left with is...choice.

I choose to believe. I choose to trust. I will abide.

God will provide. “God will make a way where there seems to be no other way. He works in ways we cannot see. He will make a way for me. He will be my guide, hold me closely to his side. With love and strength for each new day, he will make way…”

"Be strong and take courage. Do not fear or be dismayed. For the Lord will go before you. And light will show the way."

Come, new dawn. Come, sunshine; come, morning; and come, new moon.
Shine, stars. Away with darkness, pain and grief -- I’m done with you.
Quench thirst, water. Fall, you refreshing shower. Form a bright arc again, rainbow.
Vanish, destruction, and let the rebuilding begins.
Turn back, turn away, you destructive waves, and bring calm instead. Cease, war. Be over, grief. 
Settle, dust. Begone, cobwebs. Ebb, flood, subside.
Bloom, flowers. Sprout, all you seeds. Unfurl new leaf; grow bigger, you shoots; grow a branch anew, all trees of the forest.
Grow, each creature. Emerge, all you that hibernate. Awake!
Sing, canary. Strut, deer. Low, calves. Moo, cow. Buzz, bees. Squawk, parrots. Roar, lions; growl, tigers. Fly, eagle.
Be filled with good things, ye barn, ye fields. Overflow, milk and honey.
Be freed, prisoner. Heal, wound. Be banished, pain. Break into a smile, you face. Dry up, you tears, but tear up in joy, you eyes. Clap, hands. Dance, feet. Sing songs of praise and worship, you choir.
Turn, new page; begin, new chapter of my life.

I used double quotes in the title because the lovely phrase came from an article in Word Among Us magazine.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Black Saturday thoughts

(This is a continuation from yesterday's post.)

In my particular situation at this point in my life, I found that there are only a few things that can console me.

- Healing masses by Fr. Fernando Suarez and other ‘healing priests’
- Friends, namely the very few friends who really dare ask how I am, and particularly the ones who offer intercessory prayer (I believe in intercession, so this is much appreciated) and even ask how they can help; the three friends who actually show up at my door, sometimes bearing gifts, and a few others who signified willingness to do so but I won’t allow them due to extreme embarrassment; male friends who exhort me to take courage – it’s different when it’s the men who do it, and when it’s someone who I know have been through or is going through a terrible trial just like me, who have surrendered themselves to God and are actively serving God and yet... (Praise and worship in the middle of comfort and consolation is simply is not convincing for me, for I’ve been there and I saw how easy it is.)
- Concrete help (mostly from my pastoral leader and from my younger brother)
- The little miracles: seeing Pope John Paul II on TV, which leaves me crying for no reason; old clients suddenly asking my help for a fee, ambulant merchants carrying the goods my way (I’m still afraid to walk far from home); friends and strangers telling their own tales that resemble mine; TEDx Talks about hardship that inspire; waking up to love songs I never cared about in waking life; encountering Biblical passages or any text that jump out of the print and make me feel strengthened, stimulated to live again

All of these I regard as little gestures of God that tell me God is walking through my darkest moments. 


Good Friday thoughts

I don’t know what to feel about all these Lenten shows on TV aimed at conversion and evangelization. Through no fault of their own, they all sound to me like preaching to the choir, which leaves me feeling left out. That’s because I already surrendered myself to the Lord, have long been in the service striving to do good works, doing my share of the burden of evangelization – and yet this still happened to me.

I still lost my bread-and-butter job, I still developed hypertension, I was not spared from anxiety and panic attacks, on top of being besieged by other problems in the family that make me question what I believe in, enough to empathize with atheists.  

If I was able to relate at all at one drama show, the only part of the script I can relate to is this most bitter of paradoxes: "Lord, bat mo ko pinabayaan? Tapos parurusahan mo ko." (Lord, why did you abandon me? And only to punish me.) It rivals the worst lines in Biblical jeremiads, the most anguished verses in Lamentations and Psalms. I felt betrayed by God, no less.

One could argue, as one old friend did, that I am being called to further conversion, to a new level of relationship with God. Wow, I don't know if I like that, but thanks anyway.

The scarier thought, however, remains, nagging at my conscience: maybe I displeased God in some way and I am reaping the whirlwinds of past misdeeds?
Whatever it is, my dominant prayer is more of deliverance – “Deliver me from evil” – than “Give me strength, for I don’t think I can bear any more." I acknowledge my pain threshold is quite short.

It’s Good Friday. I anticipate that it will soon break into the Dawn of Black Saturday, because this pain can be too painful even for a masochist.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


"Meeting Jesus in dirty feet"

Reflection #37

We meet Jesus in the dirty feet that we lower ourselves to clean.

To wash the feet of others is to love them even when they don't deserve your love.

To wash the feet of others is to do good to them even if they don't return the favor.

To wash the feet of others is to consider their needs as important as your own.

To wash the feet of others is to forgive them even if they don't say, "I'm sorry."

To wash the feet of others is to serve them even when the task is unpleasant.

To wash the feet of others is to let them know you care when they feel downtrodden or burdened.

To wash the feet of others is to be generous with what you have.

To wash the feet of others is to turn the cheek instead of retaliating when you're treated unfairly.

To wash the feet of others is to make adjustments in your plans so you can serve their needs.

To wash the feet of others is to serve them with humility and not with any hope of reward.

- Terry Mojica

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Religious neuroses

The Filipinos’ devotion to the Black Nazarene in Quiapo Church, Manila, is quite a phenomenon even for a practicing Catholic in the Philippines (which is to say invariably zealous and devout). In fact, not a few Catholic Filipinos view it as extreme, to the point of idolatrous, superstitious, and even scandalous (due to the ensuing violence sometimes). It especially embarrasses those with a charismatic bent, whose newfound spirituality emphasizes the resurrected Christ and has quite absorbed a little of that Protestant (Pentecostal strain) abhorrence for religious iconography, i.e., mistaking veneration (latria, dulia, and hyperdulia) for devilish worship (or worship of Baal). Is the devotion to the Black Nazarene indeed a zealous devotion to Jesus Christ in his hour of passion, or just a religious neurosis in another guise?

Religion, to frame the tired Marxist accusation in more psychological terms, can easily be used by people afflicted with a form of neurosis to prop up a needy ego, one wrongly perceived by the egotistical as damaged or entirely missing or nonexistent. Psychologists call this mild sickness of the mind “religious neurosis.”

It’s quite easy to spot religious neurosis for the trained eye, but not for the layman. The secret clues (psychologists would kill me for this) are almost always a degree of irrationality, strange excessiveness, or sometimes an inappropriate lack or deficiency, coupled with angry defensiveness when confronted as well as a noticeable amount of impulsiveness or compulsion. To the observant, these are quite a common combination of traits manifesting in various ways and degrees in people from all walks of life, as neuroses do not discriminate, unlike humans.

Good boy/good girl complex/Spiritual pride

Sometimes, a person may exhibit an attachment to religion as a coping mechanism, as a projection of a false identity of perfection and holiness (the good boy syndrome), which inevitably is accompanied by the reverse (acts of debauchery) outside the rituals of devotion. This results in a deep and disturbing conflict inside the person, who is naturally bothered by shame, guilt and anger at the ensuing disconnect -- in other words, 'hypocrisy.' This 'complex' is often accompanied by a facade of perfectionism in adulthood as well as spiritual pride, i.e., looking down on the less devout as spiritually inferior.

Self-flagellation and masochism

Another person may abuse the Catholic rituals of penance to atone for one’s horrific sins, as though one were himself the Christ walking with brown feet, as in the case of Holy Week penitents: flagellants and crucifixion volunteers during Lent in Pampanga, Bataan and elsewhere. These people are often suspected (wrongly or rightly) as being murderers or thieves the rest of the year. Self-flagellation, of course, is roundly and routinely condemned by the institutional Church because of bad theology: it reduces Christianity as police bribery, contradicting the unconditionality of divine love. The penitents allegedly misunderstand the purpose of penance: to show one’s resolve to change, one’s readiness for metanoia, not to be the new messiah or the new sacrifice lamb, returning what is owed to God measure for measure. The latter is thought to insult Jesus’ one-time act (and continuing?) of sacrifice to save mankind, an action deemed more than enough for the whole world, the whole point of the popular “3 O’Clock Habit” that originated from the diary of the Polish nun and mystic Sr. Faustina Kowalska. (I personally have a reservation here, however, because true conversion and pure intentions are possible in this case.)

Projection and sublimation

Because anything can be abused to hysterical lengths, someone pointed out how certain ‘cofradias’ of fashion designers can use Catholic icons as dolls as a projection (or sublimation?) of the wish to dress up as such but can't, a possibly unconscious gesture mixed up with the purer intents of the devotion. Imagine the image of the Sto. Niño or Virgin Mary dressed up like dolls in modeling ramp fashion or -- heaven forbid -- a cosplay character and other questionable characters (Sto. Niño as a gambler?)!

Speaking of projection, Feuerbach's old accusation against Christians comes to mind, which is not invalid in cases of religious neuroses like the ones discussed above. Worshipful paroxysms of "power! honor! praise! glory!" may, in fact, signify an un-Christian desire for all these, again, an unconscious gesture revelatory of self-centeredness. The more profane prefer to call this 'dickiness.'

Fervid, angry defense of one's faith also often means the reverse: a projection of secret doubt, instead of real zeal. It may also mean an unconscious act of compensating for a failure to defend one's faith in the past, etc.

Hyperspirituality/Spiritual addiction

Charismatics who pursue spiritual high due to depression, or who get addicted to the spiritual high only to be frustrated or get angry with God when ‘let down’ in prayer or when the going gets tough, are also potential candidates for possible irrational compensatory behavior.

I remember how Filipino theologian Jake Yap, a product of Catholic charismatic spirituality, reportedly balked at worship songs dominated by "I" and "I want," as in "I want to worship you..." The dominant or domineering "I," he allegedly lectured, was very telling, drawing the focus away from the bigger "I" or "Thou" (God). The zeal is enviable, but misplaced.

I still cringe whenever I recall this woman guest (incidentally a born-again Christian) at the local TV talk show Mel & Jay who stunned me, an unsuspecting audience, with a statement like this: "I told God, 'Take him (her erring husband) away, Lord!'," as though the Deity was her paid maidservant.

Religious fanaticism

Marian devotions that result in deifing Mary, for example, by devotees religiously attending Baclaran Church Wednesday masses but neglecting Sunday obligations, are a similarly questionable matter and require some psychological probing.

Excessive zeal or devotion to repair a past hurt, as in the case of having a rebellious, atheist, or apostate father figure and resolving to being his total opposite, is also worth examining in this sense.

In its extreme form, religious fanaticism leads to the wanton, if ridiculous, violation of the basic precepts of the faith in the name of the same faith. To the religious fanatic, fighting for his faith to death is a matter of fighting for the missing self, not God.

Hypertraditionalism/Spiritual rigidity/Overscrupulousness/Pharisaicism

Other people inhabit the other extreme, characterized by a wall of non-spontaneity or adamantine reservation and extreme rigidity, as though to say, “Stay where you are, as I stay inside the dividing line I have drawn between us on the ground – not just because I am holier than thou but because I don’t want to get hurt again.” Excessive attachment to tradition, for example, one that says "The slightest deviation from the norms and rubrics is from Belzeebul," may be a candidate for religious neurotic behavior. This complex also results in spiritual haughtiness.


Using the priesthood, monastery, convent, etc. as a place to hide or isolate oneself from a 'hurtful' world may be worth probing deeper. The negative family dynamics the person witnessed growing up may have given rise to the need for an imagined sanctuary, an imagined ivory tower. Unfortunately, or fortunately, religious houses are also places where one's character is constantly probed and purified, as though in a crucible. This hopefully weeds out the ones with questionable motivations.

Messianic Complex and Atlas Complex

Bearing the weight of the sins or burdens of the world on one's shoulders is an unhealthy assumption of one's identity. Presumption of superhuman strength and power is implied in this kind of neurosis. Playing God or Jesus is not among God's commandments. (I personally wonder whether the Lenten flagellants and crucifixion volunteers belong to this category as well.)

The all-consuming desire to save the world may also imply hidden terror at facing one's own inner turmoil. This results in the need to project one's need to solve problems and 'caretake' on a grand scale. The compensation/tradeoff derived from it is in the form of less hurt due to the indirectness or the lack of faceoff/confrontation with one's own demon. The fact, however, is that the tradeoff is even more harmful, because escapist, in the long run. The repressed material is bound to build up in time until it manifests in physically, as in disorders.


The variety of religious neuroses is endless, as various as man is capable of the most bizarre coping behavior or defense mechanism. Learning their lesson, seminaries and other religious houses have become stricter nowadays, so as to screen out potential neuroticism among candidates, and this inevitably has hurt those who perceive themselves to have been rejected, people who are ironically most prone to such a predisposition. Instead of seeing the good motive behind (protection of an institution and the faithful), a focus is made on the bad (the mistaken belief of rejection of one’s person). (I have a little bit of objection here, however, knowing how certain saints struggled with their various neuroses while wearing the cassock or the habit; I believe God's call, not man’s (sometimes faulty) psychological assessment, is paramount in this case. God has this well-known habit of calling those who are unqualified in the eyes of the world; and people who appear perfect can sometimes be the ones in greater trouble.)

Folk historian's take

Going back: Is the devotion to Señor Nazareno a religious neurosis? Off the batt, I’d say it depends on the devotee. Jose Alain Austria, a La Salle Filipino folk history professor and artist (a trained iconographer), says the devotion evolved from a woman's undertaking to a mainly male devotion down to being a male initiation rite, much like the reverse of the Legionnaires of Mary, which devolved into purely a manangs' (old wives') club from its militaristic background (care of Ignatius and Xavier, if I'm not mistaken). The devotion to the mysterious ebony-black Señor, it turns out, is not just a spiritual one but also a matter of gender affirmation, the affirmation of the warrior side of men or the need for male aggression, an apparent requirement in this frightful barefooted, maroon-clad procession snaking down the streets of Manila. See this account, for example: by Austria.

If the devotion is a panata or vow, it is a good sign -- it means a promise of life-long devotion out of gratitude to God for an answered prayer or a miracle; and how can anyone argue with gratitude and miracle? The devotion could also mean a preventative, to avert future disasters. I won't find a cause for quarrel there, as I won't object to a devotion that requests for divine favor, even if it is seen by some religious as childish (I believe in God as a Father who loves to bestow unmerited favors to His children).

I’d wager that the devotee knows the answer (to the question) in his heart, even if he might not be aware of the complexity of the mechanics of neurosis, particularly the need to compensate for something (rightly or wrongly interpreted as) missing in one’s ego or something traumatically hurtful in the past, resulting in the seemingly mysterious and pressing ‘need’ to make up for the lack.

Since only God has an X-ray or 20/20 vision when it comes to reading the hearts of men, it is best to withhold judgment when confronted with gray areas. In the case of this devotion, it is not appropriate for me to judge when I’ve never been in the devotee’s shoes. Regrettably, I’ve twice rebuffed invites to write on this subject by joining it, for cowardly fear of fainting in the heat and the possibility of being squished in a stampede. Surely, I’ve visited the Quiapo Church to have a glimpse of the Mexico-sourced statuary and its devotees a  dozen of times, but only in the safety and normalcy of the day-to-day, never in the heat of the moment: the frightful Fridays of devotion which I studiously avoid due to the ensuing human-vehicular traffic.

It is much easier to view the devotion as a function of poverty, for poor people need God more, obviously. But the most integrated view, in my opinion, is the perspective from a much broader form of poverty, spiritual poverty and human suffering in general, in union with Christ's own passion or paschal mystery, as reflected upon in Austria's article. From this perspective, the devotion takes on a more mystical turn, as the devotee sees his earthly suffering as being one with the suffering divinity, an aspect of the Christian belief that is very difficult to explain to the nonbeliever.

Tell-tale signs

But one can have a clue to the answer to the title question because one can, with effort, distinguish between the autosuggestive and the Spirit-led. The first is selfish, egotistical; the second is other-directed. The other dichotomous clues are:

- rash, rushed, compulsive, impulsive vs patient, high-EQ (emotional quotient)
- excessive, irrational, emotional vs calm and collected
- driven from within vs driven by outside forces
- manipulative, controlling, guarded vs non-manipulative, free, transparent
- defensive, angry, hypersensitive to criticism/onion-skinned vs laughingly dismissive of (often insufferably stupid) criticism
- abrasive in character, if not overly nice vs balanced

The first set of attributes, needless to say, is a vice, a folly; the second, a virtue, a calling. In the first, the religious high may be manufactured; in the second, the religious high is spontaneous, sudden/unplanned, as though conferred from on high.

Furthermore, there’s this other thing to consider: Sometimes, there’s a thin line between zealotry and zeal, between fanaticism and Christian fervor/passion, as in the case of the recovering/struggling/reforming neurotic, who understandably needs to fortify the 'broken self' in his quest for wholeness. This is a long-winding process that is replete with confusion and incompletion in terms of self-awareness.

Ascertaining whether a Nazareno devotee is a fanatic or not is, therefore, not an easy task, if the observer is not equipped with the right knowledge of human behavior. Making fun of what one does not understand is a lot easier.


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