At Break Of Dawn

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I am an early riser and I love the break of every new day.
I have made it a habit to spend my first waking moments being alone.
I may be physically alone; but I can always choose not to be lonely.
Being alone is a good occasion to realize
that it is often in silence and solitude
that we truly encounter God.
This is what praying is for me.

There are times that I am in the depths or in the dumps feeling low
and I just get down on my knees and cry out for help and consolation.
There are moments that I feel empty and worthless
and I realize I am being prepared to receive more blessings.
There are some silent moments when I am overwhelmed
with gratitude for all the graces that have come my way,
many of which are undeserved and unexpected.
Being alone with God, I often realize more deeply
what a wonderful world indeed that we live in
and my prayer becomes an experience of what is awesome and wonderful.
Even as I pray, I feel no loneliness,
for I then realize that  in being alone with God I find my communion
with the people in my life
– my loved ones, whom I commend to God’s care,
– my friends, on whom I ask God to pour his blessings,
– people I encounter during the day, for whom I ask God I may be kind and gentle,
– even strangers and people different from, that God may give me the grace to open and welcoming.

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Praying the Lord’s Prayers in Times of Desolation

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It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place,
after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”

“This is how you are to pray:

“Our Father who art in heaven,

Oh you seem so far away, safe ensconced in your heavens,
away from the dirt and misery of your people,
let us see your face.

“hallowed be thy name,

many people have your name on their lips,
but their hearts are far away from you,
change our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.

“thy Kingdom come,

you promised your Kingdom will be a new creation
where there will no more mourning, no more tears,
seeing all the pain and sorrow around me,
could You have misspoken?

“thy will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.
there is so much division among us
and people are lonely,
this is not your will for us, is it?
or, is your will done only in heaven?

“Give us this day our daily bread;

you have given us a bountiful earth,
yet millions go hungry everyday
because of men’s greed and selfishness.

“and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;

we find it hard to forgive
yet we expect infinite mercy from you for ourselves
why have you created a people so obstinate and hard-hearted?

“and lead us not into temptation,

often, we need not temptation for us to do evil,
and worse even lead others astray.

“but deliver us from evil.

when you feel so distant, how can you deliver us?
when you are so silent, how can we hear your voice?
when we feel so lost and alone,
how can we fell you in our lives?
yes, Lord, please deliver us from evil?

Amen!”

sometimes I wished you would be the almighty and angry God
who flooded the earth and burned Sodom to the ground,
or the awesome and fearful Presence you revealed to Moses,
rather than the loving, all-forgiving and merciful Lord,
I have been talking to all these years.

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To Everything There Is a Season

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Invariably, at the end of a successful mission, Col. Hannibal Smith would say to his A-Team “I love it when a plan comes together.” In today’s Gospel, one gets the feeling of a plan coming together, of things converging towards fulfillment.

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert where he remained in the desert for forty days and where he was tempted by Satan. Meanwhile John had been arrested after having prepared the way for the Messiah. After fasting and prayers in the desert, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:

“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

It was the fullness of time. It is the season for the unfolding of God’s plan. God’s time may sometimes be slow and sometimes quick. But the unfolding moves forward inexorably. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

“A time to be born, a time to die.” We live in times where many babies are unborn and many more who die young. The time will coming when every birth will be welcomed as another gift from God and dying is to be born to eternal life.

“A time to plant, a time to reap.” We live in times where many are sowing the seeds of discord and hatred. And they shall reap their just rewards. The time is coming when good seeds will be sown to yield harvests a hundredfold, even a thousandfold.

“A time to kill, a time to heal.” We live in times where men have been desensitized by many senseless killings, born out of hatred, anger and the desire for revenge. Let the time come where good people will harken to God’s voice and heal and bind all wounds.

“A time to laugh, a time to weep.” We live in times where many people are weeping in pain and sorrow. Let the time come when people with hearts of flesh will wipe away those tears and bring back the smiles.
“A time to build up, a time to break down.” We live in times where there is a lot of destruction Some from natural causes. Most through the work of men. The time is coming when people of good will and good hearts will rebuild a new and better city of men.
“A time to dance, a time to mourn.” We live in times of mourning and sadness. Let the times come when we shall be dancing in songs and rejoicing.

A time of war, a time of peace. We live in times steeped in wars. Let the time come when peace shall reign in the hearts and homes of people.

A time of love, a time of hate. We live in times where hatred has possessed the hearts of men. Let the time come when the brightness of love rises among us.

There will be bad times and difficult times. But “who will separate us from the love of Christ?” Not the deaths nor the killings. Not the sorrow and the weeping. Not wars nor the destruction. Not the anger nor the hatred.

“For if God is with us, who can be against us?” And in the fullness of time, at the proper season, He makes all things beautiful. Just as he created us, he will also bring us to perfection.

Posted in Change, Faith, Life, The Good News | 2 Comments

Another (Lunar) New Year

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Today, February 16, much of Asia will be celebrating the Lunar (Chinese) New Year.
In a span of less than two months, we have celebrated three New Years:
the Church’s Liturgical Calendar last December 3,
the Julian Calendar, followed in most of the West, last January 1,
the Lunar Calendar, followed by many Asian countries, today.

New Years speak to us about beginnings, fresh starts, hope, renewal and time.
Beginnings are always time of fresh hope and new initiatives.
They allow us second chances.
I have always been sympathetic and kind to new beginnings,
specially the bold and daring ones.

New beginnings also remind us of time.
There are those who reckon the year by the time it takes earth
to complete one revolution around the sun.
Others reckon the year through the number of days
it takes for the moon to revolve around the earth.
Still others reckon the year through the changing of the seasons.

We can also choose how to reckon our days and year.
There are those who reckon and count time in minutes and seconds.
They tend to live their lives in panic, frantic and always short of time.
24/7 are almost always not quite enough.

There are those who live their lives in moments,
relishing, appreciating, and enjoying the times of their lives and
then storing them in their memories.

My time is something I create.
I can live by the minutes,
or by the moments.
My choice?
The latter.

Happy New Year.

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Love In The Time Of Ashes

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In a rare serendipitous confluence of events,
today we celebrate both Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent,
and Valentine’s Day, the celebration of Hearts and Love.

Lent is the spiritual preparation for the celebration of the greatest love story of all time.
The love story that fashioned out life from stardust
and then breathing a soul into it to make us happen.
The love story how we seek to destroy the beauty of that life
through our intransigence and hardheadedness.
The love story that seeks to right that fault
and finally bring us to perfection.

And in the contrarian ways of our Creator,
the spiritual exercises He challenges us to do
are in fact very physical.
Through these spiritual exercises,
we show our loves for our loved ones.

So, we show our love by giving:
we exercise our hand muscles when we open our hands to give,
we give of what we have,
we give away out treasure, which we earned through the work of our hands,
we give assistance when help in needed.
we give our presence, specially in times of pain and sufferings.

Then, we show our love by sacrificing:
we exercise our heart muscles when we deny ourselves
what our hearts desire,
we soften the hard muscles of the heart that have made it like a stone,
to make it a heart of flesh that beats for love alone.

Finally, we show our love by praying:
we exercise our head muscles when we lift up our minds in prayer,
we use our imagination and will
to align our desires and intentions
with those of what God wants for us.

We are but dust and our live is but a shadow.
But if we let God, He will turn our dust into gold
and our shadow into shimmering light.

Yes, it does make sense that Lent
begins with the celebration of Love.

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A Daily Miracle

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One of the deepest truth in my life is that fact that I am not a random event.
I did not come into existence as a fortuitous confluence of atoms and molecules.
I have been willed into existence deliberately and lovingly.
And everyday, I am consciously re-gifted with this life in love.
When I begin to realize and appreciate this daily miracle,
everything around me takes on the aura of the sacred and the divine.

If life is a daily miracle,
why am I so insistent in looking for a sign of God’s presence in my life?
A baby needs no words nor any other sign
than the warm embrace of his mother to know
that she is present to ease his pains or allay his anxieties.
My ears have been deafened by all the noise around me.
My eyes have been blinded by the glitter of false gold and fake treasures.
My heart has been hardened by the many little cares I have burdened myself with.
I have been jaundiced by my pride, selfishness and greed.
I only need to see the grandeur there is in nature or
the goodness there is in people I have been blessed with
to realize that there is a loving Presence
that guides and leads my daily life
into untold and often unseen miracles.

Tomorrow, Lent begins.
A period of fasting and abstinence.
A period for reliving and remembering the greatest love story ever.
I need to abstain from all the noise and distraction
to open my eyes and ears to the presence of God in my life.
I need to fast from pleasures to break my heart of stone
to again feel the presence of God in the people He sends into my life.

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Generosity

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I believe I have been a generous person; although I am sure that there would be some who would think otherwise. I have given out of my blessings and fullness. I have also believed that one cannot give what one does not have. The times I have found myself not giving nor generous enough were the times I was afraid I would run out of things for myself. And yet the real challenge to giving and being generous is to be able to give even when there is nothing or no more to give. Christ praised the widow’s mite over the Pharisee’s largesse. Christ showed us what real and ultimate giving is: stripped of everything he had (his fame, his name, his human dignity and even his last shreds of clothing), he was still able to give fully even in his utter emptiness and nothingness. Can I be generous even when I am nothing and empty?

I have also realized that the most precious thing I can give away are not presents but my presence. Even when I am most empty and am nothing at all, I can still be there for others. Yet, I can also be selfish with my presence. In my spiteful and selfish moments, the first thing I deny others in my presence. God, when asked who He is, said He is Presence.

When I give away what I have, my treasure, I may feel diminished because I lose what I give away. When I share and ‘give away’ my talents or what I can do, I do not lose them but instead multiply them. These talents are even enhanced. And when I have nothing or am empty-handed I can still share and ‘give away’ myself, like finding the time to do good or finding the time to be with a friend or finding the time to serve others. Indeed, there are many instances when it is easier to give away talents and treasure than to find the time to give of myself. In the end, it is only what I have in my heart that I can truly and generously give away.

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