PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Monday, August 27, 2012

 

Goodbye to all that, for the second time

I can't believe I lost my latest job just like that. It's true I was getting tired of rewriting the news for nurses for an Australian website, but I was wishing for at least a transfer to another project, of which Innodata has a number. I know of at least, within the company, two ongoing writing projects that are technical in nature, but management said there's no vacancy at the moment. Ouch.

The only alternative is to transfer to a medical indexing project, which I am quite familiar with, but whose schedule requires me to report for a 2PM-11PM schedule, which is too impossible for hypertensive me still reeling from numerous side effects of my medications.

I trust, in faith, that God was telling me staying at Innodata wasn't the next step for me. And yet, I was still shocked when the client I was working for, Nursepoint.com, suddenly decided to revamp their site and do away with the news page. Without so much as a by your leave, I was told one fine day that my job had to go, with my immediate superior saying, "So sorry I can't do anything about it."

Unknown to me, my immediate boss has already formally resigned ahead of me, perhaps because of having no project left for her to handle, or as she has said, because she couldn't take the new schedule either for the new project.

Meanwhile, I'm biding my time as I allow my perceived losses to sink in one by one.

Maybe I was hoping and praying I'd become a regular employee someday soon. After all, the company recently made an offer of regularization, to everyone's surprise, an opportunity which I gladly grabbed. After all, I've been working with the company for a few years now, transferring from one challenging project to the next, even working beyond my required skills set.

Sadly, after about six months, this sudden termination of work project came along. I should take it like a man, I guess. This is not the first time that I faced such a crisis anyway, although each goodbye always constituted a kind of death for me. The first time was traumatic. This time around, the second time, it's more of something I anticipated in fear. But in both times, I was aggrieved.

It could be that I couldn't stand the thought of losing many things all at the same time, on top of the already existing feeling of insecurity curdling beneath the surface, especially the thought that I was advancing in age and my skill and productivity might no longer be what they used to be. Maybe it scared me to lose the opportunity of working at a prime CBD location, the cutting-edge office space and equipment and software, the oftentimes frustrating but amazingly complicated (because multi-layered and global) organizational structure, the mere sight of my fellow employees (most of whom highly skilled, highly educated, smartly dressed, and seemingly decent folks), and the fringe benefits such as clothing and food allowance. Or maybe I am just scared of sudden death.

The loss of the work-at-home arrangement, a blessed convenience to me, was a loss that hurt especially bad. But what hurts the most is the thought that I've invested a number of prime working years in the company, and for what? The same hand-to-mouth sustenance. Despite my years of experience and a considerable number of years of service, the company can let me go so easily, with no retirement or insurance benefit of any kind, except for the measly backpay.

I guess what I am really feeling is anger -- anger at the thought of being at the losing end all over again. I feel like I've been had, despite giving my all. In the companies I had worked before, I would have been not only regularized, I would also have risen up from among the ranks. At this age, what are my chances of landing a job that will pay me well? I am angry that I will be left so helpless like this.

Then again, the problem could be me: I expected too much, despite knowing the nature of the beast. I expected the machine of globalized economy to treat me humanely.

Worse, this new chapter in my life exposes once again how much insecure I feel. My lack of faith in God, despite my apparent piousness, remains especially problematic, challenging me to grow in ways I have never anticipated.

 

Beautiful Marian songs





This particular song is a song from my youth:

TO MARY

O how I long to sing you a song of love
To describe the warmth of your smile
The pureness of your heart.

O Mary our Queen of love, our way to the loving Son
Our beautiful way to the loving Son.

When I’m happy you are there to share it with me
When I’m grieving I can call and you’d console me

O how I long to sing you a song of love
To express the happiness that’s deep within my heart.
O Mary our Queen of love, our way to the loving Son
Oh teach us to follow you.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

 

Fwd: The Tremendous Value of the Holy Mass


---------------------
At the hour of death the holy Masses you have heard devoutly will, be your greatest consolation.

Every Mass will be with you to Judgment and will plead for pardon for you.
By every Mass you can diminish the temporal punishment due to your sins, more or less, according to your fervour.

By devoutly assisting at Holy Mass you render the greatest homage possible to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord.

Though the Holy Sacrifice, Our Lord Jesus Christ supplies for many of your negligences and omissions.

He forgives you all the venial sins which you are determined to avoid. He forgives you all your unknown sins which you never confessed. The power of Satan over you is diminished.

By piously hearing Holy Mass you afford the Souls in Purgatory the greatest possible relief.

One Holy Mass heard during your life will be of more benefit to you than many heard for you after your death.

Through Holy Mass you are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes which would otherwise have befallen you. You shorten your Purgatory by every Mass.

During Holy Mass you kneel amid a multitude of holy Angels, who are present at the Adorable Sacrifice with reverential awe.

Through Holy Mass you are blessed in your temporal goods and affairs.

When you hear Holy Mass devoutly, offering it to Almighty God in honour of any particular Saint or Angel; thanking God for the favours bestowed on him, etc., you afford that Saint or Angel a new degree of honour, joy and happiness, and draw his special love and protection on yourself.

"The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer!"
~Pope Paul VI~

For each Mass we hear with devotion, Our Lord sends a saint to comfort us at death.
~revelation of Christ to St. Gertrude the Great~

Once, St. Teresa was overwhelmed with God's Goodness and asked Our Lord "How can I thank you?" Our Lord replied, "ATTEND ONE MASS."

The Blessed Virgin Mary once told Her faithful servant Alain: "My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, if it were necessary He would die for them as many times as they've heard Masses."

"The Holy Mass would be of greater profit if people had it offered in their lifetime, rather than having it celebrated for the relief of their souls after death." ~Pope Benedict XV~

A great doctor of the Church, St. Anselm, declares that a single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death. St. Leonard of Port Maurice supports this statement by saying that one Mass before death may be more profitable than many after it.

"When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary - a joy, a fragrance, a well being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt."
~ Saint Jean Vianney~

"The celebration of Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross."
~Saint Thomas Aquinas~

"If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy."
~ Saint Jean Vianney~

"There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us."
~ Saint Jean Vianney~

"It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass. "
~St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), stigmatic priest~

"When we have been to Holy Communion, the balm of love envelops the soul as the flower envelops the bee."
~ Saint Jean Vianney~

"The heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. "
~Saint Gregory~

"The angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass."
~ St. Augustine ~

"When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar."
~ St. John Chrysostom~

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

 

Txt msgs

Kung alin sa palagay mo ang di mo kakayanin, mas lalo mong pagsikapang gawin, sapagkat kung magawa mo ito, lalo mong mapapatunayan na ang Diyos ang gumagawa sa iyo.

In life, what matter is
not what you bought, but what you built
not what you got, but what you shared
not your success, but your significance
not what you learned, but what you taught

Live a life
that matters,
that shares,
that cares,
that loves.

We won't know God as our Healer until we experience and recognize His healing in our lives spiritually, emotionally, mentally, or physically. We can't know Him as Provider if we are not in need. We won't know Him as our Banner unless we need Him for victory.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”


 

Niloob ng Diyos (Theodicy 101)

Niloob ng Diyos na maranasan natin ang maraming pagsubok sa ating buhay -- ang

- mawalan
- masaktan
- mabigo
- mapahiya
- magalit
- magkasala
- magkamali

-- hindi upang wasakin ang buhay na patuloy na pinagkakaloob sa atin, kundi ang matutunan natin ang

- magpakakumbaba
- magpatawad
- umunawa
- magbigay
- magmalasakit at
- magmahal ng lubos.

At sa bawat pagsubokl na ationg napagtagumpayan,. ay kaloob nito ang ibayong sigka at pag-asa upang harapin ang hamon ng bukas, kasama ng ating Dakilang Diyos.

 

How much more rain?

I can’t forget these past few days. I’ve never been so attacked in life as these days of heavy raining.

As if feeling alone (I am not closing my door on the probability of romance and settling down) and unaccomplished at my age isn’t enough of a cross, I’m now in danger of being jobless, after the Australian project I’ve been working on abruptly ended due to changes in the client’s plan. God knows I’ve been wishing it to end because I had found the work more and more enervating in its repetitiveness, but I didn’t expect it to end in such a rude manner, which left me feeling helpless and humiliated.

As though this was not enough, I’ve been battling with health issues for more than a year now – hypertension and signs of ageing, withdrawal symptoms, side effects from the medicine I’ve been taking, including a possible interaction with the herbal supplement. This has brought me dizziness, weakness, tiredness, anxiety, palpitations, and sometimes depression. This particular hardship makes me feel like I could go anytime, so I live life from day to day. But this scares me, for I don’t think I am ready to pack my bags. The sad irony is that I just came from a deep psychological recovery, which has made me feel that my life has just begun. I have been anticipating a restart at 40, so I have welcomed this new decade as a new chapter with much excitement. Instead, I feel like I am punched in the face, to quote someone. It’s an awful reality that is sometimes best left denied than accepted. ...Until real life reminds it in my face, that is, in moments when I desire to dash to the mall for some items and I couldn’t anymore.

It doesn’t help that friends laugh at me, for being like a hypochondriac elderly, while here I am feeling like it’s the end of my days. It’s quite insulting, if I did not stretch my understanding.

My arrears in my rent are piling up too, while the apartment is crumbling before my eyes with the passing of the extreme seasons (literally blowing hot and cold). I feel quite guilty and humiliated whenever I am reminded of my cousin (who owns the place) from whom I owe so much money. The least I could do is spend for the repair of the house, but I couldn’t do even that due to lack of funds. I am not sure how I can stretch what I have, given that I have stretched it to the limit. How much more should I give up?

I have a sister who’s going through so much in her marital life. She says there’s a third party, so of course it bothers me how she’s coping and how the three kids, whom I love dearly, would think and feel.

I am also deeply affected each time a little niece or nephew gets sick. Two of them did, one after the other; the first a case of fever, flu, and diarrhea, and the second a case of mysterious rashes. I didn’t foresee that blessings like children could also be sources of great worry, when I’m not even their father. I guess the bigger problem is me, or my excessive engagement with my family, as the savior.

Just last month, a younger brother’s wife, whose sudden pregnancy and civil wedding brought me resentful feelings, suddenly gave birth prematurely. The stress from the thought of where to find some cash to help them out, plus the anxiety over the fragility of the newborn, added up to my worries.

In a way, I had anticipated all these attacks. After all, I’ve been very active lately in service in the fields of the Lord, as though to make up for lost time, the years I spent soul-searching outside the confines of my community. I’ve been active in the prolife advocacy, including anti-LGBT matters, evangelization of some young professionals in Ayala plus a youth group in Bulacan, plus my usual tasks/duties in community: choir member, fixing assembly materials after the gathering, the self-imposed note-taking I do, and attendance in assemblies and activities. I am very certain the enemy is not very happy with me.

But then, I noticed that some of my friends also go through the wringer like I do, even though they are not really active in service. One is even an avowed atheist, and yet he is not spared of suffering. He has reported being rushed to the ER because of phlegm, which left him unable to breath, delayed salary in the school he’s teaching at, and father issues. Another friend reported about his place being flooded, damaging his car, and meanwhile his mother is confined at the Heart Center for a serious ailment. I wouldn’t know what to do if I were in their place.

“Life is like that,” the latter friend told me. The reaction is consoling, I have to admit. I feel relieved to know that I’m probably not being punished for my past sins all the while I was giving my all, my 101%, to God. I know I should be consoled by the fact that no one is spared of suffering while going through this life.

What was I expecting anyway? I must have thought that, since I was serving full-blast, I’d be favored by God with peace, happiness, and loads of material goods. Maybe I have been unconsciously bribing God, paying him with good works and sacrifices, to manipulate him into loving me, or at least preventing him from letting me be tormented with simultaneous moments of suffering. Maybe I’m afraid of God, and now that he allowed what scared me the most (facing squarely the possibility of sudden, even painful, death), I can’t help but feel angry.

These days of trial, however, have brought me to the end of my spiritual rope, enough to learn to pray: Lord, help me love you right because I just can’t, on my own. You know that I can’t. Help me learn to follow you not because of fear but out of love. Help me to love you and believe you even through so much hardship, or as that song about (ironically illicit) love says, "through the limit, through the wall." Don’t give up on me even when I feel like giving up on you.

This is really not the first time I’ve been in this place – I’ve been here several times enough to be able to complain as cheekily as Teresa of Avila did (“That’s why you have very few friends.”) -- but this seems the worst thus far. In moments like this, I keep near me the scrapbooks of blessings (of the obvious and happy sort) that I’ve compiled through the years to remind me how much I’ve been favored in various unexpected ways. In a way, this act is sad because I know that each time I hit my archive of marvelous memories, I know I’m in the bottom of the barrel again.

What I really earnestly wish for is not for the sweet memories of the past long gone to suddenly resurrect, but for this heavy rain to just stop. If God wills it, I want my life back. While I’m grateful for the breakthroughs (my niece and nephew getting well, for one), I will be even more grateful if God intervened so as not to prolong the agony. How much more hurdles can I jump over? How much more heavy downpour to survive the ensuing flood? I’m afraid not much.

So dear God: You know I am not a saint, so please bear with me.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

 

Retreat notes: "Commitment lived"

TRLV’s former spiritual director Fr. Jun Lingad, SVD, explains the Biblical basis of the name of the Risen Lord’s Vineyard community -- after 25 long years.

In the retreat he gave on July 22, 2012 at the Layforce Auditorium, San Carlos Seminary (Guadalupe, Makati City), Fr. Jun asked us participants to situate ourselves at the Last Supper, where many things happened.

He told us to dwell on this particular passage, John 15: 5-17, which is an account of the Last Supper. Specifically, he focused on the following line as the Biblical basis of the theme of the retreat:

“Bearing much fruit which will remain” (Jn. 15:5-16).

Here’s a partial transcript of his Biblical reflections.

------------------------------------

When you study Scripture you should bring everything you have, your intelligence, memory, imagination, senses, experience, etc. (Fr. Jun invites us to take this stance as we reflect together on the passages pertaining to the Last Supper.)

As we know, during the Last Supper, many things happened, including the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. In the Last Supper, Jesus showed his love for his own. He held the first Eucharist, the most important monument of his love. In the Last Supper, He also first instituted priesthood.

***

Of course, prior to the Last Supper, Jesus had to give example by washing the disciples’ feet, as though to say, “Christians should be foot-washers.” By washing the feet of His disciples, He gave them His new commandment (“Love one another as I have loved you”).

The Biblical account of the Last Supper is in the last chapters of Jn. 15, particularly chapters 13 to 17. This means that the middle of the chapter is chapter 15. This is significant, as we will see later.

We should be careful when it is Jesus who talks in a given passage. If a good teacher teaches, you notice not just what he teaches, but also how he teaches it.

Christ is the wisdom of God. What He teaches must contain wisdom. Also, how he teaches shows his wisdom. Therefore, pay attention to not just what Christ says but also how he says it.

(If we follow the Way (Christ), we get to the Truth, the Way, the Life Eternal. There’s a saying in Latin: “Doing follows being,” What you are comes out of your action.)

***

Reflecting on the Biblical passage using your imagination requires a bit of work. For example, when you look at the cross, it’s so unreal, washed up, and made beautiful. The real cross is different ““ there is sweating of blood, excruciating pain, agony after the scourging “Excruciating” (from “crucis,” meaning “cross”) means “pain beyond description.” Have you ever taken a long hard look at the cross? It’s the same with Christmas. Look at the tidied-up crib versus the real stable or manger. Imagine the stench and there being no place in the inn for the Holy Family, etc.

When you see the cross, you don’t just see a cross (with a bloodied man on it). It is also a symbol. The cross really means passion. What is weakness to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks is something powerful to Christians. To us Christians, death is not the last word. Christ has died, Christ is risen, and so shall we!

***

When Jesus said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me,” notice the priority order. It is meant to be that way: You must first empty yourself of your own thoughts and desires before you are able to accept and embrace your cross and be a disciple of God.

Denying yourself means repentance or, in Latin, “metanoia,” literally “changing (one’s) mind.”

However, changing yourself is not a one-time act. When Jesus said, “Repent and be baptized,” he meant a continuous act of repentance.
Unfortunately, the English translation was unable to capture the
nuances of the Greek verb tenses. The original Greek used “metanoeite” (meaning “continue changing your mind”) and not “matanoeisate” (meaning “change your mind once and for all.”) What it means to be a Christian, therefore, is to continue changing your mind, continue denying yourself.

Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus. Otherwise you’re not Christians.

Hindi ba’t pag binyag, sa ulo binabasa, hindi sa kamay o paa? Kasi doon magpapalit ng isipan!

But Jesus Christ knew it’s so hard to change our minds. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll find that repentance or changing your mind is not the easiest thing to do.

***

Again, unfortunately, the English translation put it this way: ”But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.” (NAB)

The more accurate translation, however, is this: ”Instead continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.” (NJB)

Be committed to this! This is what commitment is about.

***

In the English Bible translation, it says, “Ask and you shall receive.” This is another erroneous translation, leading us to think that the moment we ask, we should receive the answer at once. Instead, it should be, “Continue to ask...”

Again, being committed to this is not the easiest thing to do. This is where being in community is a big help.

The word “church” is from the Greek ekklesia, from the root words kaleo, calling, or kle, called, and ekkle, meaning called out (to salvation).

***

When you’re a teacher, you teach the most important things first. You don’t bother with unimportant matters.

When a teachers teaches in parables, notice the words used and whether these word are used several times. This means the words are being stressed or emphasized and are thus important.

In Jn. 15: 1-16, God the Father’s role is emphasized, as the Vine-grower, a way of saying, “We grow in vain without God’s blessings.”
Notice the following keywords used and how many times they are mentioned:

I am 2x
True vine 4x
My father 4x
Vine grower
Branch 4x
Bear fruit 6x
Prunes
Bears
You 30x
The world 2x
Remain 11x
Father loves 9x
Commandments 5x
Joy 2x

***

One of the most often-repeated terms is “remain.”

Remaining in the vine means going through a pruning process. In order to bear fruit, we must be pruned. As we know, the pruning process is painful.

The vine-grower knows exactly where to prune. He knows the fruit grows near the main branch. In pruning the vine, only three branches remain: those that are sure to bear fruit.

During the pruning process, we ask (in pain), “Why, Lord, why?” But the Lord answers, “And why not? I’d like you to bear fruit. Don’t you like that?”

You will be pruned by the Word of God. The pruning process is through the Word, because “the Word cuts like a two-edged sword” (Heb. 4: 12).

Kung magaling kang umibig, di ka tatamaan.

But God heals while He strikes. He gives only medicinal punishments.
In verse 4, it says that if you don’t remain, you become weak. You will not be able to fulfil your commitment.

***

Note, too, that you are to “bear much fruit,” not just “fruit.”

Note further that it says, “Because without me, you can do nothing” ““ He said “nothing” not “very little.” The meaning of “Christian” is, therefore, remove “Christ” and “I Am Nothing.”

These are Jesus’ own words. You don’t edit the word of Jesus.

***

Why is “Father loves” mentioned nine times?

Because basically our commitment is to love. And love is shown in practice: obeying His commandments.

(There is another mistranslation in the New Jerusalem Bible: “If you obey my teachings, you will be indeed my disciples” (Jn. 8:30). The original Greek has: “you are,” not “you will be.” If you obey, you are a disciple, not “will be,” as though subject to a few more conditions.)

***

“You” is also mentioned a lot.

“You” in ch. 13-16 refers to the disciples, and in ch. 17 to the Father.

But “you” also refers to you. God is speaking to you. You are important to God.

And God says: “You ask whatever you want and will be done for you.” If you obey God, He promises answered prayers!

If we are blessed, the love of God flows to others.

***

But being a disciple does not mean the absence of suffering. God didn’t spare Jesus of suffering after He prayed in agony at Gethsemane. Jesus went through the crucifixion nonetheless, saying, “Your will be done.”

But in our suffering, He will see us through (as the Father saw Jesus through resurrection).

***

In the Bible, God’s love is always concrete. It always comes with action. He gave His only begotten Son.

Love is always giving and forgiving, always an action, not abstraction. The Bible does not say, “God so loved the world and He smiled.”

***

Notice that the word “joy” is used, not “happiness.”

The word “happy” is from the root word “hap,” which means “chance,” thus the words “perhaps,” which is the synonym of “perchance,” meaning “half his chance,” and “mishap,” which means “bad chance.” This means happiness depends on chances, on circumstances. Happiness is unsure; it requires conditions.

Unlike happiness, joy is absolute, a gift of God. JOY means “Jesus,” “others,” and “you” -- in that order.

***

As Christians, we wear the Christian uniform called love, by being kind, having a forgiving nature, and the rest of the attributes enumerated in the Beatitudes (which is really a description of the character of Jesus).

In chapter 13, notice that Jesus has no more to give. He has given everything he has, even his mother. Earlier, He has promised the Holy Spirit. At the very end, He gave everything: he gave His life.

He didn’t have to do that!

***

“If you love me you will obey, you will keep my commandments.”

This lies at the very center of chapter 15, the middle chapter of the Last Supper (chapter 13-17). This is the dead center of the whole construction.

***

“This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” This is the summary of the whole passage.

***

“You are my friends.” The significance of these words gathers even more weight if you consider that they were uttered by Jesus before dying.

What is a friend? In Tagalog, we say “kaibigan,” and its word is “pag-ibig,” meaning “love.” To be a friend is to be someone who is loved.

It’s always like that in other language. The Spanish “amigo,” the Italian “amicu,” and the French “amie” all came from the root word, “amor,” “amores,” the Latin for “love.” The German “freund”/”freunden” seems a different matter at first glance, but upon closer look, it’s the same. When Germans say “I love you,” they say “Ich liebe dich” -- “liebe” means love, “lieben” to love. But “lieben” came from the Old English past participle verb “freon,” meaning “to love.” The English “love” is no different from the word “friend.” The Greek for “friend” is “philos,” from the verb “philei,” to love.” Similarly, the Hebrew for friend is “ohev,” “to love” is “ahav.”

Near the moment of His death, You and I are at the very center of Jesus’s heart. “You are my friend.”

Don’t you ever forget that, come what may.

You don’t open your heart to just anyone. You only open your heart to family, to friends. And you don’t call everyone your friend.

Three times before He died, He said this. This is His last will and testament, His huling habilin!

***

(Notice, however, that compared to Jesus’s declaration of His love for us, sometimes we eat our words. Tulak ng bibig kabig ng dibdib.)

***

Who is Jesus to you? He is your Lord and Savior, yes, but more than that, what?
He is first and foremost your friend!

***

Jesus is so true to this through the very end. Remember what Jesus said to Judas when He was caught by the Roman soldiers: “Friend, will you betray me with a kiss?”

***

Finally, remember that it isn’t you who chose. From verse 16, we know it is Jesus who chose us first, and His choice is irrevocable!

Friday, August 03, 2012

 

Retreat notes: Commitment Translated into Action


Having a Higher Level of Commitment Translated into Action

By Rev. Fr. Rany P. Geraldino

What is commitment? Etymologically, it comes from the Latin con + mitto + mentum, literally together + sent + mind, meaning commitment is “having been sent together in one mind.”

Commitment is tested through time and life experiences.

In the beginning, the followers of Jesus were called disciples. The term Christian followed much later, then the term Catholic.  St. Pacianus (an early Christian writer) once said, “My name is Christian, my surname Catholic; one puts me in a class, the other gives me a character; the first gives me a label, the second a testimonial." Christianity is a general term, a label, while Catholic is deeper. The latter asks us to give a testimony.

Thus the word commitment can also be identified in the word Catholic.

Commitment among Christians/Catholics includes both being disciples (discipulus) and apostles (apostolein), being both learners and missionaries (being sent).

We should undergo first discipleship (formation in Christ’s teachings) before being a committed Christian and apostle.

The following are the stages of discipleship we have to undergo:

1.       The Call (Mk. 10: 21: “Come, follow Me.”)

The call may come through the witness of people around us.

We each have our own Galilee, where God first called His disciples. Because of God’s call, a lot of change happens inside us. Because of the call, there is greater intimacy, lasting friendship, lifelong partnership.

The first stage is always admiration, being drawn to the charism/charisma of the leader.

However, we must be wary of the danger of fanaticism. There should be depth in our admiration. We obey with reasoning and understanding.

2.       Conversion (Mt. 4: 19: “I will make you fishers of men.”)

Conversion is our response to God’s call.
-         
       - It entails the cleansing of our mentality/perspective, works, and words.
-         
             - It involves healing. (“I came not for the righteous but for sinners.”)
-         
      - It requires acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, (not power, comfort, and other idols).
-         
      - Conversion means networking, acknowledging that we need one another (because we were made as social beings). Through others, we can mirror ourselves as social beings. Networking is mirroring of affirmation and recommendation.
-         
       - It involves growth, change, progress not regression. There must be progress in our change.
-         
            - It also involves empowerment. People think change happen through their own power. We must acknowledge that we need to be first be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
-        - Conversion means service. It should be altruistic, not self-serving (i.e., full of pride, arrogance, credit-grabbing).

3.       Crosses (Mt: 16:24: “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.”)

This is a crucial stage for a disciple. We often complain, “Kung kelan ako sumunod, bakit nagkaganito?”

But life is like that for Catholics/Christians. Without the cross, there is no salvation. If you love God and are committed to God, we ought to each have a cross.

4.       Consolations (Mt 19:29: “Everyone who has given up houses, family, will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life.” Jn 12:36: “The father will honor whoever serves me.”)

For every Good Friday, there will always be an Easter Sunday. There is always consolation for every cross.

Besides, not all crosses are really crosses. Sometimes, they turn out to be blessings.

5.       Communion (Jn 14:6: “I am the way the truth and the life.”)

Unlike the previous four, which are very personal, communion involves others.

Communion is the sharing of:

a.) faith – creed (content of our faith/belief, ethical and moral character), code (liturgy and worship/prayer), and cult

b.) fellowship – life and love; communion with God through communion with fellow men; before we can love God (vertical spirituality), we should be able to love our neighbor (horizontal spirituality); the strength of a community

c.) function – mission and ministry; (ad intra vs ad extra?); serving even those outside the faith and those we think to be undeserving of our help

6.       Commitment (Phil 21: “For me, to live in Christ…”)

This stage is reached after completing the above stages.

As our great model of Christian commitment without asking for any cost, Mother Teresa said, our goal is “to be with Jesus, to be like Jesus, and to be Jesus Christ to others.”

a.) Commitment means to be with Jesus Christ.

- Are we in the state of grace?

- Are we praying?

- In a given situation, do we ask, “What would Jesus do?” Do we pause to ask, “Is it just legal, or moral? And is it just right, or kind or loving?

b.) To be committed is to be like Jesus, modeling ourselves after Christ. See 1 Cor 11:1: “[T]o be imitators of me as I am of Christ.”

During the lighting of candles during baptism, the priest says: “Receive the light of Christ. This light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. These children of yours have been enlightened by Christ. They are to walk always as children of the light. May they keep the flame of faith alive in their hearts, so that when the Lord comes, may they go out to live it with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.”

c.) Commitment has a missionary aspect. To be committed is also to be Jesus to others. This is the most difficult standard of commitment.

We must remember that God is Emmanuel (God with us, the image of the invisible God). See Mt. 1:23 and Col. 1:15a.

How did Jesus become Jesus to others? by reaching out to sinners, healing the sick, proclaiming the Good News to pagans, giving favors even to unbelievers, becoming loving, forgiving, understanding, etc.

***

These stages don’t happen once and for all, but it is a spiral movement. It is a never-ending, continuous process. (My calling evolved was from being sacristan, then seminarian, then deacon, then priest.)

Three things are needed, if that is the case:

a.)       True  - is our commitment authentic? totoong-totoo? sincere?

b.)       Total – todong-todo? (it is not enough to do one thing, but also to do it well)

c.)       Together – sama-sama? (are we with others, in a community? one can’t be a saint and be alone)

***

Translation into Action

The social teachings of the Church are not a by-the-way or an add-on, but a constitutive part of the message of Jesus Christ.

Everything boils down to Jesus Christ’s message of love of God and of neighbor. These two are related, one can’t stand without the other. “How can you love God whom you can’t see, if you don’t love your neighbor whom you can see?

Evolution of the definition of neighbor:
     
      - In  the Old Testament times, neighbor means fellow Jew.
-         
      - In the Christian era, a neighbor is everyone in need (refer to the Good Samaritan story).

-          - In modern times, neighbor is expanded to mean the whole of society and the environment that influences the person.

Persons have a social responsibility. All actions have social consequences. There is an interdependent web of life. Ang sakit ng kalingkingan ay sakit ng buong katawan. Everyone is considered our neighbor, a part of our family, a brother and a sister.

On 1891, Pope Leo XIII released the document Rerum novarum to address a pressing social situation at the time of industrialization and rising socialism. See: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum_en.html

The Compendium of the Social Teachings of the Church was crafted so that the kingdom of God may be felt even here. “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Life on earth should be the beginning or foretaste of heaven.

There are four sources of Catholic social teachings:

a.       Scripture – however, it is not a book of morality; not everything is in the Bible; social teaching is always contextualized; not all issues emerged during Biblical times

b.      Magisterium (or teaching authority) of the Church – papal encyclicals and pronouncements; we believe in the papal infallibility ex-cathedra, i.e., in terms of faith and morals; despite the dark ages the Church went through (14th-16th centuries), the Church’s faith and morals were preserved, the Church being both human (wicked, frail, weak) and divine; includes the teachings of authorized Church bodies in the Second Vatican Council

c.       Experiences of the Church – includes the lives and teachings of the saints, and the engagements of the Church in present issues

d.      Dialogues with other branches of knowledge (psychology, philosophy, medicine, bioethics, sociology, etc.)

Catholic social teachings are jokingly called the “hidden treasures of the Church,” because most people are not aware of them or ignore them. Understandably, there is the danger of Catholic social teachings becoming liberation theology, as in the case of priests like Oscar Romero who were reduced to being (leftist) activists.
Catholic social teachings are not liberation theology!

Catholic social teachings are more of principles than concrete lines of actions.

The main principles of Catholic social teachings (actually there are seven)

I. Primacy and Dignity of Human Person

This means the person is the ultimate end, not the means to an end. Society is ordered to the person. He or she is created in the image of God.
Christ died for each one of us. Christ redeemed us. Therefore, we have to respect one another.

For example, in the Wowowee mentality, people are exploited for their poverty for entertainment purposes and for money.

Human rights are inviolable. This is the basis of Christian social teaching.

If God respected us, so should respect one another. As Fr. Rolf Ronheiser put it, “If God went down to our level, why can’t we go down to the level of our fellow human beings?”

Each human is destined for participation in the divine life.

***

Philippine dark spots on the dignity of human person:

- Upholding the right to life - who decides who are worthy of life?

- Extrajudicial killings

- Abortion - contraception mentality leads to the slippery slope of condoning abortion

- Euthanasia – this also happens through “waivers” in hospitals

- Care for the handicapped, mentally ill, aged - are we friendly to the other-abled?

- Decent living conditions for the poor, worthy of their being children of God

- Right for each one to work

- Right to truth – are we against envelopmental journalism, support for the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill?

- Right to vote – do we practice vote-buying?

II. Common Good

This means the sum of social conditions that enable persons to achieve their full human potential.

Stewardship is a spirituality, meaning we are not the real owners of our properties. We seek the will of the real owner who is God.

To whom much is given, much is expected.

In terms of politics, we must have participation.

In economics, we observe the principle of the universal distribution of goods.

***

Philippine dark spots on common good:

- Widening gap between rich and poor

- Forests and corals exploited for profit

- Mining

- Laws for foreign interests and those of the elite

- Globalization

- Graft and corruption

- Slums – a symptom of uneven development

III. The Principle of Solidarity

Solidarity is based on the idea that we are interconnected and interdependent to each other.

Solidarity equals love.

In the Church, solidarity is expressed by being a church of the poor.

The principle of solidarity is evident in the case of creation and ecology itself.

***

Application of solidarity:

- Do we have a mind-your-own-business mindset?

- Are we too family- or group-centered? We also have obligation to others.

- Are we narrow-minded, do we have narrow concerns, are we too locally focused (regionalism)? Think globally, act locally. No to parochialism.

- Do we exhibit only momentary acts of solidarity (example: People Power/EDSA Revolution, flooding of donations after ecological disasters), instead of sustained efforts?

IV. Subsidiarity

The big does not take over the small, the big enables the small, and allows the small to do what it can on its own, allows growth from within, respects and allows associations, unions, civil societies, to act on their own.

The big fish doesn’t swallow up the small fry. Ex.: the case of SM.

The principle of subsidiarity protects the people from abuses by higher-level social authorities imposed by these authorities to help individuals and intermediate groups to fulfill their duty.

This principle is imperative because every person and even intermediate group has something original to offer the community.

The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to certain forms of centralization and welfare assistance and to the unjustified and excessive presence of the state in public mechanism.

Example: Vietnamese and Chinese governments' control of the practice of religion. People can't have public declaration of their religious belief.

Applications in parochial and corporate settings: Problems should be solved with respect to the lower levels.

***

Dark spots of subsidiarity in the Philippines:

- Feudalism, padrino system - what matters is what you know, not whom you know.

- Paternalism - patronizing approach in helping; doleout mentality (giving without care as to the outcome after); providing technology/products on donor's terms (example: donation of contraceptives)

- Lack of entrepreneurship  - overdependence on authority; people are not allowed to control their own destiny; even in families, parents who are too dictatorial violate the principle; children should be allowed to grow on their own (pace of) maturing

Conclusion
As community members, our commitment should not be limited to the community only, but also to the bigger community.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

 

Txt msgs

Lasting happiness doesn’t come from sunny days but from the Son of God.

The Math of life: Add Jesus to your life (Romans 10:9-10); multiply your good works (2 Corinthians 9:8); divide your blessings with others (2 Corinthians 9:11); and subtract all your fears/sins (James 4:8, 1 Peter 5:7) equals to a wonderful life (Psalm 16:11).

Niloob ng Diyos na maranasan natin ang maraming pagsubok sa buhay. Ang mawalan, masaktan, mabigo, mapahiya, mainis, magkamali, magkasala. Di upang wasakin ang buhay na kaloob sa atin kundi ang matutunan natin ang magpakumbaba, magpatawad, umunawa, magbigay, magmalasakit, at magmahal ng lubos. At sa bawatpagsubok na ating napagtagumpayan, kaloob nito ang ibayong sigla at tapang upang harapin ang hamon ng bukas na puno ng pag-asa.

Five pieces of wisdom from the sands of the desert:

Farthest from us is not the moon nor stars, but time that had passed.
Biggest is not the mountain nor the sun, but our dream and desire.
Heaviest weight is not the elephant nor iron, but responsibility.
Sharpest is neither knife or sword but our tongue.
Lightest is neither wind nor feathers but prayers.

A consistent faithful life is evidently shown when we live our Biblical ideals not for the applause of men, but for the audience of one.

------------------Abundance is not what we gather but what we scatter, not what we keep but what we give away, not what we hold but what we share.

------------------It’s when our cup is empty that God fills them up.

God’s unseen presence comforts me. I know He’s always near. And when life’s storms besiege my soul, he says My child don’t fear. I am here.

Calmness of mind is one of the crown jewels of wisdom. The more tranquil you are, the greater is your power for good. Self control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power. May you be blessed with inner peace.

We are God’s people. Living Christian morality is a joyful struggle knowing we are all together joined with Christ. Loving God and loving one another make us Christ’s body. – Mel A.

-----------------------Sin brings fear, confession freedom. ODB

God gives hope to those who dream but miracles to those who believe. He never lets down those who trust him and never leaves those who walk with him.

Christ will always accept the faith that puts its trust in him. Andrew Murray

-----------------------Small things done with great love can change the world. Mother Teresa

The shortest powerful name I know is God, the greatest abundant word I know is bless, and the person I wish all the best today and for my prayers is you.

Prayer is, to the skeptic, a delusion, a waste of time. To the believer, it represents perhaps the most important use of time. Philip Yancey

Because we are the most forgiven people in the world, we should be the most forgiving people in the world. CJ Mahaney

What is charity? It is silence when your words would hurt, patience when you’re being hurt, deafness when scandal flows, thoughtfulness for another’s woes, sharing whatever little we have, and being kind rather than being right most of the time. (I’d add that it is also correcting wrongdoing and mocking evil when it is shameless and abusive.-RO)

Prayer for my friends

Dear Father, bless my friends reading this, I pray. Minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence in your ability to work through them. Where there is weariness, give them understanding, patience and strength as they learn to submit to your leading. Where there is spiritual stagnation, reveal t them your nearness, draw them into greater intimacy with you. Where there is fear, expose your love and release to them your courage. Where there is sin blocking them from You, reveal it and break its hold over their life. Bless their finances, give hem greater vision, and raise up family and friends to support and encourage them. Give each of them discernment to recognize the evil forces around them, and reveal to them the power they have in you to defeat them. In Jesus, name, Amen.

 

Txt msgs


Life is like a yoyo in the hand of God. No matter how frequent the ups and downs, you’ll always end up in the palm of his hand.


If we commit ourselves to Christ and follow in His way, He will give us life that satisfies with purpose for each day.


Be thankful for difficult times – it’s during times of trouble that you grow. Be thankful for limitations. They are opportunities to improve. Be thankful for trials. They teach us the lessons that turn into blessings.


Rx: A teaspoon of faith, a drop of hope, mix with a cup of God’s love, take 3x a day to remove your doubts and fears. If symptoms persist, consult Jesus.


When we put God on top of everything and let Him take charge of all our plans we will see the reason why. Even in pain, we could still smile. Even in sorrow we could still have joy. Even in doubts, we could still believe. Even in betrayal we could still trust. Even in fear, we could still continue to fight.


The nevers of life: never ever grow tired of doing good to others. Never ever quit on moving forward. Never ever stop sharing your blessings, for you never know how many persons are looking up to you and see you as their inspiration.


Faith activates God. Fear activates the enemy. Joel Osteen.


Our attitude today is a choice. We can’t decide what difficulties and challenges we would face, but we can choose our attitude o how we react to them.


An umbrella cannot stop the rain but it allows us to stand in the rain. Just like faith in God, it may not remove our trials but it gives us God’s strength to overcome them.


If things are happening according to your prayers, then you are blessed. But if they are not, then you are very blessed because they will happen according to God’s plan.


God’s strength is enough to fight and win our battles. God’s riches are enough to supply all our needs. God’s wisdom is enough to teach and direct us. But most of all, his love is more than enough for all of us.


No matter how valued you are, life without God leads to emptiness.


Your spiritual gifts were not given for your own benefit but for the benefit of others, just as other people were given gifts for your benefit. Rick Warren


We always ask if there’s still hope left or if there’s still time. What we don’t realize is Hope only leaves when we doubt it and time only runs out the moment we give up.


The more we are humble the less we tumble. The less our ego needs praise the more our spirit receives grace.


Life is a constant battle for survival. As we grow older, the rules change on a daily basis. Our mission is not to escape, but to survive, not to deal with triumph but to deal with failure, not to run away from fear but to master it. It takes courage to keep on fighting.


If you feel the rules have shifted one step higher, deal with it with greater faith and never ever surrender. God is our strength.


Just as we must learn to obey God one choice at a time, we must also learn to trust God one circumstance at a time. Jerry Bridges


A tree with a deep root can survive a violent storm.


Those who joyfully leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything.


Worries end when faith begins.


Contentment comes when we want God’s will more than our own way.


Walking with God is the best adventure. Finding God is the best achievement. Having 
God as companion is the best source of happiness.


What is needed for happy effectual service is simply put your work into the Lord’s hand and leave it there. Hannah Whitall Smith


One who sees God as his overall supervisor and the object of his work will have the most stable form of motivation trail.


A prayer to start your day: Come Holy Spirit, fill my heart with thy holy gifts. Assist me in all the trials of life, enlighten me in my ignorance, advise me in my doubts, strengthen me in my weakness, help me in all my needs. Pour they light into my heart, my soul and my mind. Amen.”


Giving thanks is the sacrifice that honors me, and I will surely save all who obey me. Ps 50:23


Trust the one who can see three things about you: sorrow behind your smile, love behind your anger, meaning behind your silence.


Life and time are two great teachers. Life teaches us the use of time and time teaches us the value of life.


God never made a promise that is too good to be true. D. L. Moody



 

Talk: Repentance and Faith


Introduction: From the last three talks, we discussed that God loves us unconditionally. After the Fall, God devised a plan of saving us through His son, Jesus Christ. To be saved, we must respond to God’s offer of salvation, and this is realized through the gifts of repentance and faith.

This talk is about going back to God through repentance and faith (pagsisisi at pananampalataya). Yes, the two come together because we can’t repent if we don’t believe we are forgiven.

What is repentance? Pagsisisi, from the Greek word metanoia (changing one’s mind).

Why repent? Because our first parents sinned and we inherited their sinfulness. Our Lord Jesus Christ made up for their mistake (by becoming the new Adam), but we must do the same by doing our part. We need to choose to repent and believe in him to be saved.

Why? Is Jesus’ sacrifice not complete yet? No. It’s because God respects our free will. He granted us the power to say yes or no.

What is not repentance?

We are afraid of repentance, so let’s first clarify what it is not.

1. It is not feeling rotten about ourselves. (We can be remorseful of the consequences of our sin yet are not sorry for the sin.)

2. It is not just getting rid of the desire to sin. (We can’t completely get rid of our fallen nature.

Repentance doesn’t mean we will never sin again, but it should mean we sin less and less.) 3. Repentance is not just about feelings. It is feelings plus decision. It means change of heart and mind that leads to action. It is change from within. (Eph 4:22-24)

List of sins we must avoid, in repentance. See. Gal. 5: 19-21.

1. Sexual sins – premarital sex, extramarital sex, necking, petting, masturbation, homosexual acts, pornography. Sex is for married people only, for unitive and procreative purposes. Hindi hobby ang sex. The Bible is very strict with sex because sex is sacred. Eph 5: 3.

2. Horoscope, superstition, spiritista, kulam, fung shui, non-Christian religions. Gal 5:20. God is a jealous God. If you’re in love with someone, you’re jealous. Pinoys are segurista – may Sto. Nino ma, may Buddha at feng shui pa.

3. Drug abuse – drunkenness, etc.

4. Stealing – corruption, cheating, bribery, which are cause of poverty

5. Cursing, slander, gossip, lying – The easiest way to sin is through the tongue. The tongue is small but terrible. It says praise God, alleluia, then tells green jokes, curses, gossip, etc.

Tip: Go to a Catholic bookstore for a more complete list of sins.

(Insert here a personal sharing or testimony of the past sins you have repented for.)

Why must we obey God? It’s not just because He said so. It’s because He wants to protect us. Rules are there to protect, not to restrict. Ex.: If we don’t obey God, we get sex diseases, accidents, court cases, loss of friends, etc. God wants us to have a good life! He is hurt if we are hurt.
Sin is separation from God. God suffers.

The four steps to repentance

1. Be honest – Don’t call cheating sharing, gossip sharing, getting drunk relaxation, porn art. Don’t be afraid. God loves us for who we are, even with our darkest sin. Alam naman nya lahat! Kita ka naman ng lahat ng santo as anghel sa langit.

2. Be humble – We can’t change on our own. We need God’s grace.

3. Renounce sin – Exert an effort to leave behind a life of sin. Burn bad reading materials, lucky charms, feng shui. Stop green jokes. Etc. Because we each have our own special weaknesses, change doesn’t happen overnight.

4. Confess - Why go to confession when you know you’ll sin again? Going to confession doesn’t mean you won’t sin again or be tempted again, but it should mean you have lesser and lesser sins and God sees your effort. The benefits of confession are: grace, accountability, peace of mind.

(Insert here a sharing of your experience of confession.)

What is faith? Faith is form the Greek word pistis, meaning to entrust, meaning no anxiety, only sincere and genuine surrender.

1. Repentance is not complete without faith. Why? Because it requires faith to believe that God has forgiven us and that He’ll give us the grace to carry on.

2. Faith is the belief that Jesus never lies! In Mt 14, Jesus walked on water, and the apostles’ faith in Jesus made them step out on water.

3. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see. (Heb 11:1)

4. But faith is about a catalog of Jesus’ promises, not our own wish list. We often confuse these two: what God wants versus what we want.

What are God’s promises if we repent and believe? There are three: Eternal life (Jn 3:16), salvation (Acts 16:31), and forgiveness (Eph 1:7-8).

Important : Forgive yourself! Believe that God has forgiven you in confession.

Closing prayer: What are you going through right now? Sickness? No money? Problems in school/at work? Family problems? Misunderstanding? Unforgiveness? Disappointed with friends? Believe that Jesus will deliver you from it, but in His own time.

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