Origins

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Yesterday, I had to be on the road very early.
It was still night time, just before the break of dawn.
It was a cloudy night and the full moon was still at its fulsome luminescence
although it was starting to wane.
The other side of the sky was clear and cloudless,
with Jupiter and Venus sparkling bright like eagerly awaiting the dawn.
I felt one with the Universe as I gazed at that heavenly sight.
With gladsome gratitude, I whispered a prayer of thanksgiving:
“I am part of all this grandeur and beauty.”

I am reminded of the same conversation
I have been having in my head all my life.
What is really out there?
Why do I feel so much a part of all that is?
Is there more than What I can perceive with my senses?
Can the things I just imagine be in fact a reality?

I must have been wondering these same questions
and having this same conversation even when I was in the womb.
If it were up to me and I had consciousness then,
I would probably not have wanted to leave the comfort
and security of my mothers’ wombs.
Little did we know what a wonderful life awaited us after delivery.
I did not see her but I felt her loving presence embracing me.
Yet, my senses affirmed to me only the existence of the womb I was in.
How could I have possible imagined what life beyond the womb would be?

My being here is proof of a loving creative Presence that made me possible.
Often, one other question I feel the need to answer is from this Loving Presence:
 “But who do you say that I am?”

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A Moonlight Prayer

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Last night’s full moon will be the biggest for this year.
I have always been a moon and a moony person.
A hopeless romantic is often seen as a lunatic.
I love mooning in the moonlight – in reverie, in a trance, alone.

When I am alone, we may succumb to feelings of loneliness.
But being alone is also a good occasion to realize
we are alone with God.
This is for me is the essence of prayer.
There are times that I am in the depths or in the dumps
and I just get down on my knees and cry out for help and consolation.
There are moments that I may feel bare and worthless
and I realize I am just being emptied 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 wonderment.
Yet praying is not really being lonely for in being alone with God,
I am also drawn closer to others
– my loved ones, my friends, people I encounter during the day –
thanking God for their presence in my life and
praying for them and their needs.

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Traditions

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In the ever changing landscapes of life and human relationships,
traditions are anchors that help us keep our stability
and, oftentimes, our sanity as well.

Holidays and feast days are celebrated
to remind us of the values these days represent,
such as new beginnings on New Year,
hope and rebirth on Easter,
gratitude on Thanksgiving,
love on Christmas Day.

Friendship is likewise maintained and nourished through traditions.
Bonds of love and friendship are further strengthened
when lovers, friends and families create and maintain their unique traditions.
This is the reason we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.
We got married on a Wednesday
and since the beginning of our marriage;
we have always had a Wednesdate as a couple.

 

 

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Faith in Times of Adversity

Recently, Anabelle and I went with some friends to Iloilo for fun and leisure. It turned out to be a pilgrimage of sorts. We went to more religious sites than natural wonders or tourist resorts. We went to the Holy Family Park and the Garin Farm Pilgrimage Resort. We visited the heritage church in Miagao and the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras. We attended Sunday mass as the Santa Maria Church, where Our Lady of China is enshrined. Even the power windmills in Guimaras reminded me of the Holy Trinity with their three-bladed rotors.

Ever since we came back to the country, I have noticed an increased religious fervor among many people. Aside from the usual Marian shrines (Manaoag, Antipolo, Peñafrancia, Lipa, Baclaran) where people have always come; there have been more recent popular pilgrimage sites where people go like Kamay ni Jesus in Lucban, Montemaria in Batangas, Regina Rica in Tanay, Monasterio de Tarlac.

Could this increased fervor be due to the difficult times that the country is currently going through? Things have gone from difficult to understand to downright absurd and ridiculous. Evil deeds have been explained away as needed and necessary. Goodness is dismissed as unrealistic and ineffective. Lies are proclaimed as the truth and truth has gone into hiding. Everyday, people are fed with alternate facts and an alternate reality which is totally different from the reality they are living in and going through.

Is it any wonder that people would turn to their faith and religion? For people feeling helpless and hopeless in the face of the seeming triumph of evil over goodness, or of lies over the truth, these words from today’s Gospel are indeed music to the ears of the people:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.

And to the oppressed and dispossessed, to the abused and downtrodden, these words sound the words of justice and redemption:

But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false
prophets in this way.”

The believer, through Faith, is able to transform
the ordinary into something extraordinary,
the mundane into something magical
and the petty into something pretty.
With Faith, every new day becomes a wonderful present
and every adversity becomes an opportunity to become better and stronger.
In Faith, Christ took on the cross,
the worst penalty for criminals then in the Roman Empire,
and transformed it into an enduring and eternal symbol
of unconditional love and great sacrifice.
Faith transforms something shallow and superficial
into something deep and eternal.

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Life And Sufferings

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The road to hell is paved with good intentions
while the path to heaven is carved out with great sufferings.
Life’s fabric is woven not only out of joys and happiness
but also with tears and sorrow.
Suffering is part of our human lot, an essential ingredient of our existence
– sometimes because of our own doing ,
– other times because of our imperfection,
– and still at other times because of people we love.
But it is suffering that makes me more human,
makes my joys sweeter and my happiness deeper.
It makes me a stronger, a better and a humbler person.

Thus, suffering has been the human lot since the beginning.
“Cursed be the ground because of you!
In toil shall you eat its yield
all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you,
as you eat of the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
shall you get bread to eat,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dirt,
and to dirt you shall return.”

I can choose to deal with suffering
by being selfish or angry,
looking only after myself.
Or, I can choose to be kind and compassionate,
aware of the human lot that we all share.

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Life’s Daily Miracle

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I just love this photo. When I see cows, they’d usually be grazing. Their heads bowed, they’d be feeding on the grass slowly and leisurely masticating their food. This cow seems to be looking out into the horizon, ruminating on life rather than on its food. Often, I am like a cow. I have my head close to the ground, engrossed on my daily food and surviving the day. But I know I am most human when I look out into the horizon and pondering the deeper meaning of life and taking in all the beauty and goodness before me. Then, I am immersed in the grandeur of the universe and love and kindness and the fullness of existence enfolds me.

One of the thoughts that would often engulf me during such moments is the realization that life is full of miracle. In fact, life is a miracle. Often, miracles are associated with a dramatic turnaround of events, like an instant healing of a serious illness. Life’s daily miracles are nothing of that sort though. They are small, slow and often painful turns for the better. Just as the sun creeps slowly over the hills at dawn or sinks ever so unhurriedly over the horizon, so does the realization of God’s grace and presence in these small miracles transform us bit by bit. Patience. Presence. Prayer. I believe that God giving us our daily bread, or grass, is a far greater miracle than winning in the lotto.

If life is a daily miracle, why am I so often insistent in looking for a sign of God’s miraculous presence in my life? A baby needs no words nor any other sign than the warm embrace of the 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 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. I need to be like that cow, raise up my head and look out into the deeper and wider horizon of life.

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Love is Life and Life is Love

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It is a story as old as time itself.
The story of Creation is the original love story.
We are because of love. I love; therefore, I am.

At the end of His “week” of Creation, God said almost like an afterthought:

“It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a suitable partner for him.”

Man was never meant to be alone.
He needed a suitable partner
to make him complete
to allow him to be steward of Creation
to continue God’s work of Creation
to be an image of his Creator.

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man,
and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs
and closed up its place with flesh.
The LORD God then built up into a woman
the rib that he had taken from the man.

A quote from Matthew Henry that I totally resonate with:
“Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him,
not from his head to top him,
nor from his feet to be trampled by him,
but from under his arm to be protected by him,
near to his heart to be loved by him.”

When He brought her to the man, the man said:
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called ‘woman,’
for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”

Sure, it is a story, a myth.
But there is the depth of truth in it
why we are men and women in this world.
And the difference have brought about
all the excitement and joy we derive from being alive.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother
and clings to his wife,
and the two of them become one flesh.

Yes, it is a story as old as time itself.
And it is re-told and re-lived in every person’s life.

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