Because I Am, I Can Choose

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Some world-views would have me believe that I am the product of some random events. I believe that I am the fruit of God’s indiscriminate love,
a love that is unconditional, inclusive and knows no bounds,
a love that simply keeps on giving like an inexhaustible spring.

It is easy to love those who love us or whom we like.
It is a challenge for me to love those I dislike,
who have hurt me or have been unkind.
It is easy to love during good times.
It is a challenge to love during times of difficulties, trials and hardships.
It is east to love a person who is good to me or who do me some favors.
But it is the test of true love to be good to those who cannot or will not return the favor, to love without expecting anything in return.

I have always been a sucker for mushy romantic stories, imagining these to be real love. But true love is much tougher.
That is why it does not break so easily.
I still have a lot to learn.

One big reason I believe I am not a random event is my gift of freedom.
While I was born without my being asked,
everything else in my life, I can decide on.
This freedom to choose is what defines man and sets him apart from the rest of creation. Man can choose what he wants and can do.
The rest of creation has simply to go by instincts and the laws of nature.
Man’s greatest achievements as well as his worst follies
come from his attempts to defy the laws of nature.

Life is difficult but even in the face of all disappointments and anxieties,
I can choose to be happy.
Life is full of pain and suffering;
but even in the face of all the bitterness and anger, I can choose to love and care.
Life may sometime seem meaningless;
but even in the seeming worthlessness of life and the inevitability of death,
I can choose to be an agent of life and blessings to others.
And in a world so full of fear, anger and hate,
I can choose to do good.

Yes, I chose life, love, goodness and happiness for myself and for all the people in my life.

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Thank You For Life!

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September 11, 2001 was a day of death and destruction, filled with hatred and anger.
The day after turned out to be a celebration of life.
Yes, it was a day of grief and sorrow but also an unadulterated awareness
of how precious and precarious life is,
of how life is given freely and, because of that, so many things become possible,
Of how we all share a common responsibility to preserve and protect life.

I remember the generous outpouring of love for all those who perished.
I remember the heroism of all those who responded,
some even to the point of losing their own lives.
I remember the touching and moving stories of people
responding to the tragedy.
I remember how the world stood as one in mourning what was lost that day.

The deepest longing of man is for life, light and love.
The works of the devil are darkness, death and doom.
This may be a stark simplification of life given that
life is very complex and often comes in shades of grey.
But living a life while sharing blessings transforms
the greys into a motley of vibrant colors.
I bless people when I wish them good in their lives,
work to bring them good things,
and share whatever good and goods I have.
I curse people when I treat them with hatred, anger and exclude them.
I pray that I be a force for goodness and blessings
and not an agent of darkness, death and doom.

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Sometimes, Bad Things Make Us More Human

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Evil is real and is alive in the world. The malice, hatred and anger behind 9/11 is so choking and overwhelming, one begins to wonder if there is a God who cares and who is supposed to have cloaked his creation with goodness. But where the evil of the perpetrators of 9/11 is so numbing, the response of many was so awesomely inspiring. Stories of courage and heroism abounded. And in the aftermath, there was a tremendous outpouring of goodness and caring for the victims and their families. Indeed, 9/11 is a watershed event that has changed the world forever as we knew it.

I hope and fervently pray that it has been for the better; that people now realize that love is better and stronger that hatred; that generosity and sharing is more liberating than greed and selfishness; that it is better to live in community rather than lead individual lives; that partnership make more sense than partisanship.

Posted in Discipleship, Evil, Life, Mystery, The USA | Tagged | Leave a comment

Silence And Prayer

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Praying puts us in touch with that which cannot be perceived by the senses.
Whether done with others or alone, praying expresses our desire to embrace the ineffable.

Whether in prayer or just to be with myself, I often spend moments in silence.
That is a choice. I find peace, meaning, and yes, connection just being silent.
I sometimes imagine the world of silence of the deaf and mute.
It might actually be a blessing.

On the other hand, without silence, we may never truly appreciate what sound is.
Sound is as natural to men as breathing.
Life is richer because of music, laughter and conversations.
Sounds add a deep nuance of beauty into life:
the chirping of the birds,
the murmuring of the brook,
the lapping of the waves,
and the whistling of the wind.
If we quieted all human sounds, nature would still be singing.
Teilhard called it the hymn of the universe:
from the explosions of galaxies to the constant and rhythmic beating of quarks.

And men always make a sound to express what they deeply feel inside.
For out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks:
a sigh when we feel bad,
a cry when we are sad,
a song when we are happy,
a scream when we are afraid,
three words when we are in love.

Even in the silence of my prayers,
I would sometimes find myself uttering a word,
breathing out a sigh,
or even letting out a quite laugh.
The sounds of silence.

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On Health, Healing And Being Holy

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Access to affordable and quality healthcare is now generally acknowledged as a right. And governments are working to make that a reality. In the Philippines, the Universal Healthcare Act guarantees the provision to every Filipino of the highest possible quality of health care that is accessible, efficient, equitably distributed, adequately funded, fairly financed.

To my mind, health is being hale, whole, holy. It might not be evident to many but wholeness is holiness and hale-ness is being hearty. Sickness comes from imperfections and lack of balance. Health means restoring wholeness and balance to the body and driving out the ‘evil spirits’ that cause the imbalance in me.

To keep healthy, therefore, I need both physical and spiritual exercises to maintain my balance. When I get sick, I need both physical and spiritual healing.

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Regaining a Paradise Lost

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When God created Adam and Eve, he gave them the earth as home.
Untouched yet by human hands, I could imagine Earth then for the Paradise that it was:
fresh, clean, virginal, pristine in her beauty.

Ever since, we have been searching for that Paradise Lost.
We long for the ease and comfort of what used to be our home.
But We have chosen what we have chosen and that choice has meant that
“by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food
until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken;
for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

In our search for that Paradise Lost we often create false ones, like our comfort zones.
It is so easy for one to become smug and withdraw into one’s comfort zone.
One creates his comfort zone by going after
what one believes to be ‘success’ or ‘happiness’.
In today’s materialistic world, success is often defined
by what we make, by what we earn.

Real success and happiness should be defined in terms of what we do for others,
by how we make them happy,
how we make a difference in their lives,
how we come to their aid when they need it.
Staying in my comfort zone is remaining in the shallows.
Helping and being a man for others is putting out into the deep waters
and taking the risk of stormy weather, of getting hurt, of getting lost even.
But it is out there that the big catch is waiting.

Too many are enticed these days by the Gospel of Prosperity.
But today, we are reminded by discipleship means the cross.
The Paradise we lost can be regained only through the cross.

Posted in Character, Discipleship, Sin, Spirituality | Tagged | Leave a comment

Pain And Sufferings

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Life is not easy. It is, in fact, difficult.
Yet, people would want nothing more
than to have a life of ease, comfort and pleasure.
We work and struggle to eliminate all pain and suffering.
That is a worthwhile and humane undertaking.
But if we look deeper and think about it,
It is pain and suffering that brings out what is most noble in us.
We are at our strongest and achieve our best
when we go through pain and suffering.
Christ’s challenges us to take our cross daily;
and thus, ennoble our pains and sufferings.
Just as steel is tempered by fire and gold is thus refined,
thus, we bring out the best that is in us.

There are enough heartaches, sorrows and pain around me
for me to add any more to the sadness and suffering.
While pain and suffering may be an essential ingredient to life,
I can do small things to help alleviate the burden they bring to people’s lives.
If I can but make someone smile, I will.
If I can just make someone sing in happiness, I will.
If I can just help in carrying someone’s burden, even for just a while, I will.
If I can fill the gaps in someone’s life, I will.
If I can bring something to someone for that person
to have a firmer resolve or a brighter disposition, I will.
For this to happen, I need to open my eyes, my ears, my heart and my hands
in love and service to others.

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