Catholic convert David B. Currie, on the purpose of procreation: "We have the privilege of agreeing to God to all another soul to praise Him and live with Him in forever in heaven. Angels have no bodies, so they don't have that privilege."
I thought or long held or accepted that the ultimate purpose of procreation is for the family, to add another unit of love, so to speak. Procreation never occurred to me that way (Currie's, quoting Cathechism).
"I want to see all the members of my family in heaven, including my in-laws."
This quote from G. humbled/embarrassed the heck out of me. What a 'lucky' family this is, to have someone who loves all of them this much! This thought never occurred to me. Why don't I love my family like she does? Maybe I do, but not that way. This woman is really something.
"Don't worry about tomorrow" doesn't mean we should stop working on constantly improving ourselves, but that our trust should be placed in Him, not on our own efforts. By extension, everything good that happens to us is not entirely of our own effort. There's always an element of "luck," which in Christian hindsight, is rightfully called "blessing."
Have you heard the story of a nun who possessed a pair of eyes so beautiful they drove a male admirer nuts? The nun allegedly decided to gouge out her eyes and presented them to her admirer so he wouldn’t bother her any longer. What about the story of another nun who prayed so hard to God that she’d grow a beard so she wouldn’t be similarly bothered for her beauty? What happened was she indeed grew a beard! And the one about yet another nun, I suppose, who sliced off her two breasts to get rid as well of a male admirer pestering her for the shapely part of her anatomy? She placed her sliced breasts on a plate and after several years, she came to be known as that patron saint who holds a platter of two bells, the breasts totally obscured as some other instruments. (I gathered these freakish stories from Ambeth Ocampo’s column in the Inquirer.)
While these women literally took great pains to fight off vanity, perhaps in accordance with Qoheleth's (Ecclesiastes') admonition ("vanity of vanities; all is vanity"), today’s women, and especially so, men, do the opposite of taking great pains to augment their vanity.
I am vain myself and I’m the last person who would condemn efforts at making oneself pleasing to the eyes. I remember beauty queen Gemma Cruz Araneta who, in a magazine article, referred to the Bible itself as an excuse to keep oneself arrayed in jewels and steeped in perfume even if one will just be washing the toilet bowl. (Of course, I’m exaggerating.) Boy, she made me feel good about the fact that I used astringent for my whiteheads back then. Indeed, while a Biblical passage extols beauty that comes from within ("wear the cloak of compassion, deck yourselves with love and kindness," etc.) there are also passages that gush at the loveliness and regal bearing of certain women, indicating levels of feminine refinement impossible to achieve without the right blush-on, mascara (henna?), face powder, conditioner (aloe?), and hair gel.
I wonder why such courageous nuns never made it to feminists’ list of superheroes considering their targets were inordinately lascivious men, the arch-enemy of militant sisterhood the world over. The greater motive of those sainted women, as I see it, must be to keep their focus on loving God, not to explicitly condemn vanity. Anyone or anything distracting them from their Lover must be dealt with immediately at all cost. It just so happened that essential parts of their femininity got tragically involved.
Ah, but I’m probably deluding myself. What’s the definition of vanity in the first place? If it is about being overly conscious about how we look, then it must be vanity, right? Especially to the point when it hinders us from doing what we ought. Whereas if it’s just a matter of wanting to feel good about oneself or wanting to be charitable to thy neighbors, then it ceases to be vanity, right?
But where do we draw the line? When is overly vain overly vain? What if it’s a matter of wanting to actually please and attract others, particularly the opposite sex, and not just to avoid offending them? What if it's our job to look our best? When does self-love start to become selfish? Is it wrong to love ourselves at all? Is it wrong to want to be attractive? Isn’t it but right that before we can love others, we should feel good about ourselves?
Apparently yes. These questions, however, can be put to the test if we are suddenly met with physically disfiguring events in life. Like, if you grew a zit the size of a lemon that left an ugly scar, would it affect your self-esteem? If you met someone with no legs nor arms, would he be a lesser person than Cindy Crawford or Brad Pitt? Would Mother Teresa be credible if she were clad in a revealing Prada and stilettoes, sported a Piaget watch with obscene studs of diamonds, and bathed in Estee Lauder?
Hahaha. Did I make you feel unnecessarily guilty? It made me so, too.
Perhaps the wisdom in vanity lies in staying minimalistic, in the usage of the barest essentials. Besides, who needs cosmetological finery, correctives and augmentation when an aura of beauty-from-within is more than enough to make one radiate, dazzle and scintillate?
(Draft; old personal essay on stuff)
I was an avid collector of inconsequential things in my young life. If that’s any indication of one’s zest for life, then you could say I loved life with a passion; I was in lust with life, enough to collect life in neat, little packages. I was a complete collector.
I’ve been what they call a philatelist. From the various stamps I loved to collect and keep, I learned that Magyar refers to Hungarians, Helvetia means Switzerland, there’s a country in the world called Mauritius, and the people of Poland paid in zlotys.
Naturally, this led me into becoming a numismatist, a collector of coins and paper money. My first foreign acquisition was a Malaysian ringgit, brought by my father who was an OCW. I was fond of Japanese coins which had holes in the middle like metal doughnuts, not to mention quirky characters I couldn’t possibly decipher, which added to their charm.
Before long, I would also be a phillumenist. That’s what they call fools who collect postcards. I could still recall how I ended up acquiring postcards from Brazil, Japan, and other places. Each find had a unique story behind it.
I never got to join any collectors’ clubs, though. There never was a need. Most friends and acquaintances had relatives from from-off places in the planet so collecting was pretty easy. My only investment were the sweet, gentle words of persuasion and a singular covetousness for my neighbor’s goods.
Before long, I was also into collecting souvenirs and assorted “ephemera” - product labels, bus tickets (only the nice ones made of sturdy material, though), pencils and pens, rocks and stones, plant leaves (collected for their interesting design) that I pressed between book pages, seashells, and writing paper. I haven’t even included the toys I had on this list. When I went as far as collecting live spiders, well, my mother called it foul and I had an immediate cease and desist order before I turned the house into a giant cobweb or spider zoo.
I think she thought me odd, and why I was crazy enough to collect trash was something beyond her grasp. I couldn’t understand myself either. Whatever impelled me to collect stuff was something I never questioned. I just collected and collected, stashed and stashed away some nice stuff. All I knew was that I was only following a natural impulse.
But eventually I became suspicious of myself. Where did it come from? Why do I have this deep desire to acquire? Did it come from something more than was apparent?
It took me years before I had to cross out materialism from my list of suspicions. While there’s some degree of unhealthy emotional attachment to the things I collected, it was certainly not the reason. The reason I collected was simply to have fun, to celebrate life in its diverse splendor, to place myself in a position where I get to open myself to a lot of surprise.
I noticed that one of the fruits of my having sort of matured in life is this sudden waning of my passions for the things I used to collect with such enthusiasm. I guess it's age that's the culprit, finally unleashing me from what I now regarded to be a juvenile habit, so that I would wake up one day wondering whether to burn or give everything away.
I, in fact, sold my invaluable stamp collection, for one – a whole album of it, for a song, just to see if I’d cry over it. I didn’t. Ironically, during those times, I found myself face to face again with a lot of trivialities that virtually presented a new chance for me to stash things away, in a new album of sorts, things that had to do with my life as an employee in the everyday world of work, which was a whole new world to me. I had to snub them all now, all the things I used to collect in my youth. The passion seemed gone. Besides, the fun part of collecting was lost – that of combing the remotest corners for that treasure trove of the rarest finds.
"...when we think we are serving the poor, we are actually saving our own lives—and becoming richer in the process. When we care for those around us who have material poverty, we become spiritually enriched. When we feed the hungry, we come away satisfied. When we clothe the naked, bind up the wounded, or listen to the lonely, we touch Jesus himself. Ultimately, we find everything we have been looking for."
(from today's WAU)
I want to thank You for what you have already done. I am not going to wait until I see results or receive rewards; I am thanking you right now. I am not going to wait until I feel better or things look better; I am thanking You right now. I am not going to wait until people say they are sorry or until they stop talking about me; I am thanking You right now. I am not going to wait until the pain in my body disappears; I am thanking You right now. I am not going to wait until my financial situation improves; I am thanking You right now. I am not going to wait until the children are asleep and the house is quiet; I am thanking You right now. I am not going to wait until I get promoted at work or until I get the job; I am going to thank You right now. I am not going to wait until I understand every experience in my life that has caused me pain or grief; I am thanking You right now. I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier or the challenges are removed; I am thanking You right now. I am thanking you because I am alive. I am thanking you because I made it through the day's difficulties. I am thanking you because I have walked around the obstacles. I am thanking you because I have the ability and the opportunity to do more and do better. I am thanking you because, Father, you haven't given up on me.
I learned this the hard way: It's especially hard to do intercession prayer for non-believers and half-believers. Whenever I pray for anyone's serious concern, I've learned to accept that a little sacrifice in return would be a given. This must be what that phrase about Christ's suffering being not enough means. The intercessor somewhat suffers for the prayer-requester. The prayer-requester often gets his wish - at a high price. I don't get surprised, though, if the person is a non-believer and he doesn't get his wish at all. A little investigation often reveals that the person does not subscribe to the Christian teaching at all or at least part of the time. I get dismayed when I learn that, because healing presupposes belief. Without belief and all the necessary things it asks (repentance, practice of faith, etc.), the intercession prayer and the sacrifice it entails are pretty much useless, from the point of view of the requester and filled with trials and tribulation on the intercessor's part (though eternal merits are not bad a reward).
This year seems special. I've compiled the following prophecies and claim what they promise in unison.
"I want to do something great for the Lord this year."
"This year is our banner year."
"The Lord declared in Jeremian 29:11 that He has plans to prosper you, give you hope, and a future. Be encouraged because he will surely make His plans come to pass. Look forward to the exciting things God has in store for you this coming year. He can bring about the changes in your life that you never dreamed were possible."
"Only the rare grain of sand is destined to be a pearl. To God, you are that special grain of sand destined for a special purpose."
"May 2007 be a year of all the best possibilities for you."
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