The Attitude of Gratitude – Day 1

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In the great Christian tradition of novenas,
I am starting today a nine-day preparation for Thanksgiving Day.
All major and important holy days in Christianity are celebrated
with a nine-day preparation, culminating with the feast itself.

Gratitude is a deeply spiritual virtue.
In a culture of competitive individualism,
I can easily lose sight of the others in my life.
Gratitude is the awareness and appreciation of the fact that I am not alone.
I can do things for myself but I definitely need others to complete and fulfill me.
Often, what others do for me is unbidden and undeserved
– reminding me that all is gift.
In a world where every man to himself is an acceptable norm of behavior,
gratitude makes me aware of our need for one another.
In being grateful, I am reminded and inspired to do good for and by others.
Gratitude, like love, starts with a deep realization,
made in silence and reflection,
of the goodness and love that others bring into my life.
But gratitude is not complete until it is expressed
and made tangible by a word, a gesture, or a smile.
Very much like love.

Today, I am grateful for the four days Anabelle and I
Have just for ourselves in the paradise island of Boracay.
The past months have been difficult as we made yet another
major move, another uprooting, another new adventure,
as we try to seek together the Lord’s will for us.
We do not have the patience and the energy of our younger days anymore.
But the willingness and the daring to boldly go where we haven’t gone before
are still there, strong and burning.
I am deeply grateful that Anabelle still is willing and eager
to embark on such quixotic but enriching journeys.
I thank God for giving me a partner in her.

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In the Image of the Divine

 

 

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Ang nilikha mong kariktan
Sulyap ng ‘yong kagandahan

 

 

 

It thrills me to know that I am made in the image and likeness of God.
It thrills me even more to realize that I was made uniquely
and that there will never be another one quite like me.
If man is made in God’s image and likeness,
imagine how many billions of us mortals would be needed
to fully express the greatness and goodness of God, who is infinite.
Every human person is a spark of that divine infinite.
That is why each life is a God-moment and each life is filled with God-stories.
There are times and places where I am more acutely aware of the divine
than at any other time or place.
I need to pause, experience silence and solitude
to resonate with this divine who not only created
but is drawing me ever closer to him everyday.
He who made me out of stardust is bringing me
back to the stars where I came from.
He who created me in his image and likeness
is drawing me towards unity with his Trinity of love.

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True Faith Is Always Extraordinary

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And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Luke 17:5-6

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 marks the signposts that guide us
in this journey we call life.

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Our Greatest Fear

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Our greatest fear is death, that someday we will be gone and be gone for good. That everything we have lived, worked for, will be gone forever. That all the good we have done, all the pains we have gone through, all the efforts we have exerted will all be for naught. And that all the evil we have suffered, all the abuse we endured will go unpunished and will never be righted. What if we were to lose everything indeed when we die?

This deep seated fear in us finds the ultimate refuge in a God who will set everything right in his time:

The maker of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them,
Who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed,
who gives bread to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free;
the LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD protects the resident alien,
comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow,
but thwarts the way of the wicked.
~ Psalm 146

But men often find themselves living out that fear. We cling to everything we have for fear of losing it all. We hang on to dear life, even to the extent to taking or harming it in others for fear of losing our own. We fight one another to be able to keep our place in the sun or our slice of the pie. The bigger, the better.

And the Lord who would set us free and give us sight and raise us up has been teaching us the exact opposite: to receive or to keep something, we have to give it away; to save our lives, we must be willing to give it up; to be raised up, we must keep ourselves lowly. For it is from his fullness that we are filled and it is in his boundless love that we find our true happiness and fulfillment.

“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury. 
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”
~ Mark 12: 43-44

 

 

 

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The Rainbow Connection

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Nothing stirs the hopes, dreams and excitement in the human heart than the sight of a rainbow.

Rainbows come after the rains.
And rain comes with clouds,

 

We all dream of a world where there would be “no more tears”,
a world where people would live in peace and harmony.
It is the rainbow connection.

I see glimpses of such heaven as when I watch Jonathan
growing in age and wisdom right before my eyes
or Jane snuggling up to my lap to watch her favorite TV show,
or just singing and dancing my funny songs to put Maia to sleep.
Literally, heaven on earth. Fills me with hope, dreams and excitement.
Yet, there is still a lot of pain and sufferings in the world.
I see a lot of greed, selfishness and pride in myself,
in the world.
Could pain and sufferings but be signposts on our way to a new earth?
The rainbow connection?

Today, I pray:
‘Jesus, you often speak about having to suffer.
May I have the courage to bear patiently the crosses that life sends me.
May I believe that unavoidable suffering, patiently endured,
brings good to the world, as your death did.’

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Fears


IMG_1197.JPGWhat am I most afraid of?
When I was young I was afraid of the dark.
I was afraid of whatever ghoulish creatures might be lurking there.
I was afraid of getting lost,
of not being able to go back home.

These days, I am afraid of getting hurt,
not being appreciated,
not being of value or help to others specially to those I love,
being alone and isolated,
not accomplishing anything of significance.
And these are ghosts scarier than the ghoulish creatures from my childhood,
more frightening than getting lost and not being able to come home.

Why am I afraid?
Because I might not be able to handle the pain and suffering
and I might be broken beyond healing.
But isn’t fear merely a phantom?
Like a child afraid of the dark,
aren’t my fears mere shadows
born out of my loneliness or even selfishness?

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Life Is a Gift But Happiness Is a Choice

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I am such a glutton for admiration and affirmation, wanting to be constantly praised. And recently, I had to go through a series of bouts of doubts and depression because of this insatiable thirst for ego-stroking.

I withdrew from the world and even from people I loved, hoping they will come forth and lead me back to normalcy. I was hoping they’s notice “something was wrong: with me and “nurse” me back to “health” with their care and attention, their hugs and kisses. Instead, they gave me room to allow me to sort things out for myself.

I withdrew from social media, even proudly announcing that social media has been a bad addiction for me and that I was quitting it cold turkey. I was hoping that there would be an outcry for me to come back and continue sharing my “thoughts, inspirations, and wisdom” online. People hardly noticed and they went on with their lives, totally oblivious to how I wanted to be noticed by my absence.

I don’t deserve praise doing what I am supposed to do. Non laudem merui si vitavi culpam, wrote Horace many centuries ago. Whatever praise and affirmation I get is already more than I deserve. What and who I am, I have received gratuitously. I have done nothing to deserve life. I can either squander that life or make of it something worthwhile and meaningful. And what I become, I do not keep for myself but share it gladly and in happiness with the people with and around me. My life is indeed a gift but my happiness is my own to create and to share with others.

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
For God is the one who, for his good purpose,
works in you both to desire and to work.
Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,

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