Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE HOBBIT for The Habit of Giving

From the writer of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy comes an unexpected journey...


And with this journey, everyone is invited to share something this Christmas.

The Dominican Studentate invites you to a special screening of The Hobbit on December 13, 2012, 7:00PM at SM City North Edsa Cinema 10.  

Tickets are available at Php500.00, inclusive of a free T-Shirt (which actually looks cool) and free picture taking at the photobooth. You can also write your prayer intentions at the back of each ticket for the brothers to pray for.

The proceeds of the special screening of The Hobbit will be used for the programs of the Dominican Student-Brothers.  

For more details, contact the Dominican Studentate at the information below: 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bring the Holy in the King to all!

After seven years of celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King in my parish in Navotas, this year Divine Providence led me somewhere far for me to experience first-hand the wonder of his Kingship which is beyond time and space. 

After the early Mukha AD session at Santo Domingo, I traveled a few kilometers south to the City of Pasay, to the Parish of Santa Clara de Montefalco, to celebrate yesterday's Solemnity. I was accompanied by Carlo (who was also inviting me to various events in and out of the metro since way back) since this was his home parish. I felt such excitement that I hesitated to come at first, fearing that everything would turn otherwise. 

But I was absolutely wrong. As the events unfolded, God manifested ever again his greatness over the people he loves.

Upon arriving at the Parish, I was mesmerized by its little yet classic look. This parish community was erected in 1863, in honor of Saint Clare of Montefalco, OSA, who was known for the images of Christ's passion embedded in her heart. Like Saint Clare, this little parish community strives to have Christ embedded deeply in their hearts through active participation in the Liturgy and other parochial activities.

This I saw first-hand during the procession in honor of Christ the King, in which the Blessed Sacrament was solemnly taken in procession. One can see the fervent devotion of the parishioners in the recitation of the prayers and singing of chants. Everyone, from the oldest Apostolada to the youngest of the acolytes walked in reverence for the Eucharistic King.  

However, this was not the case for the on-lookers. Wearing basketball jerseys with caps on, others without any shirt at all, they just looked at the procession as if there was a parade of a basketball league. They would see familiar faces walking in the procession, and yet that's all they were looking on for.  Sad as it may seem, this royal and sacred procession means nothing to most of them. 


Do you notice something wrong in this picture?
This view is not new to me, being an acolyte for a good few years. People wearing mini-skirts and sandos for Mass, doing simbang-tabi instead of participating in the Liturgy, looking at the priest as he delivers his same old homily. This is the dark reality of our society nowadays: most of us are already losing the sense of sacredness in the Blessed Eucharist.

This even extends to the existence of the Church itself, and God himself. We are still blessed to have and possess this deep reverence for God in everything we do. A lot of us still pray and do penance for our sins, but gradually this turns into a show-off rather than a real appreciation of God's presence in our lives. In Filipino, we usually say, Sa loob ng simbahan, kilos-anghel; sa labas, astang-demonyo. We forget the call to be Christ's disciples once we step out of the House of God. So sad isn't it?

Of this, Pope Pius XII of blessed memory have once said, “The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin”. We usually think that it's OK with God even if we sin a number of times without confessing them to Him through the priest. On the other hand, we think it's alright if we just keep on doing the same old sins because there's always chance for confession.

In short, the world does not know Christ anymore. He reigns as King of the Universe, yet his people doesn't know him anymore - or a significant number perhaps. We think that everything we do is alright with Him, including our numerous sins and negligence. Without knowing how grave the consequences would be, we just continue to live a disgraceful life.

This led me to a deep realization: WE MUST BRING BACK THE HOLINESS TO OUR PEOPLE! As subjects of Christ the King, it is our prime duty and responsibility (A royal term) to lead other people to him. It is our prior job to bring the good news to all, especially for us who are illumined by God's grace in the faith. We know what we are doing, and so we must be the first to bring Christ to others and bring others to Christ!

But before we could do all these, we should first examine ourselves if we could be agents of change for these people who need to know Christ badly. We cannot change the world unless we start with ourselves. More than anyone else, we are the epitome of Christ's love for all. If we do not love ourselves nor change our lives for Christ, then we cannot do anything to bring our neighbor to Jesus.


Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
[Isaiah 41,10]

As our King, Jesus always stays there, guiding us along the way of life. This became true when we adored the Blessed Sacrament after the procession. After reciting Vespers, I just looked at the Lord and presented my weak and frail self to him. In front of his sacred majesty, I am nothing but his subject. In everything I'm experiencing right now, it's so consoling to see that his grace is ever-flowing from the Sacrament of the Eucharist which he himself instituted. He lights up my life, and provides the guidance I need to fulfill the challenges of life.

Despite all that I have and everything I had undergone, I always shout to the top of my lungs... JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER!
On that point, I saw the need to bring Christ all the more to myself, in prayer and humility. By this, I could bring Christ to others. He himself gives me the chance to know him more. As King, he shows himself in all grace and providence. He remains in me in the Eucharist, and strengthens me continuously through encounters with his Word. He guides me on the way to go so that I could change myself into his image - into his face.

With all these, and with faith and confidence to His Divine Will, I know that I could bring the Holy in the King to all.

The Monstrance in the Adoration Chapel of the Parish is illumined at the back by a spotlight. This mysterious picture of the illumined Sacred Body of the Lord was taken personally by yours truly. No editing was applied to this.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Balancing the Wheel...

As you may know, the Institute of Preaching Lay Missionaries is a group of laity who strive to imbibe the Dominican Way of Life through giving retreats, recollections, and other Evangelization programs, such as U-Speak. As our motto says of it, we commit ourselves to a preaching life. And commitment is really a hard task unless done with a willing heart and a keen intellect, like Our Holy Father Dominic.

In our IPLM Formation yesterday, Bro. Jayson Gonzales, OP, a Dominican Friar and good friend of mine,  introduced to us the Four Pillars of the Dominican Life. As we do our best to be preachers in our own way, we are taught that this is not only the important thing in a preacher's life. More than anything else, he highlighted the prime importance of balancing these four key factors of living the life of a preacher: (I would explain it the way I understood the speaker)

> Prayer. In the Order, there are two essential branches related to this, Prayer Alone which is necessary for the spiritual growth of a Dominican, and also as a preparation for the Common Liturgical Prayer or the scheduled prayer life of the whole community.

> Study. We cannot preach what we don't know. Overwhelmingly, the brothers immerse themselves to study so that they could be capable enough of preaching God's Word and the Magisterium to all. Some see them as bookish or suplado because of their busy study habits, but this has a good effect on them because study helps them become equipped for their future life as preachers.

> Community. With the Rule of Saint Augustine as their binding force, the Dominicans are called to be of one mind and one heart in God, which is the end for which you are gathered here. The brothers come from different parts of the Archipelago, including the mission areas, meaning they have different backgrounds and attitudes. Despite that, they are called to be one, not only in intellect, but also in will; they are molded to understand each other and be a brother to one another. Anyway, this is their first apostolate, their breeding ground for them to be able to go out and reach everyone in need of the Gospel. Community in this sense also means taking nothing for oneself, but sharing everything with everybody.

> Apostolate. This now enters the field of which they are sent to proclaim the Good News to all. The brothers have their own specific tasks, each having their own specialty, one for the Youth (Mukha AD), for Justice and Peace and Care for Creation (Kadaupan), Mission (PST)  and Theological Reflection applied to the religious and cultural, social, economic, labor and political, technological and scientific situations of the Philippines and Asia (what org is that?) 

Actually, looking at this, I realized that a Preacher's Life is somebody which is really amazing! How can they really balance their time doing all these things? Everyone who goes to Santo Domingo for Sunday Mass just looks at the Priest delivering the Homily or the Friar giving Holy Communion as somebody wearing a white habit so that they could be able to do their own tasks. But realizing this, and knowing some of them personally, they are really no small-time people. All for God, they dedicate their lives, leaving the world behind and proclaiming to everyone the Good News of Salvation - something which is not a joke.

Now, as members of the IPLM, we are asked to examine ourselves if we are balanced with these four pillars. Using a Balance Wheel, we are tasked to gauge the level of attainment of each of the four pillars. I was not actually able to do such because that was merely for the aspirants, but I also reflected on this. I want to share with you my findings:

> 80% Prayer. For me, prayer encompasses everything. For me to know more, I should ask God for more discernment, knowledge and strength. I usually pray alone especially when I'm on the go, but I grab the chance of being with the Brothers every Saturday night for Vespers, and with my fellow Mukha ADers for Sunday Mass. 

> 55% Study. Tamad akong mag-aral; my professors in College would attest to this. It was only during the latter years of my college life, especially after I got the super low grades that I realized how much time I wasted. This could also be the reason why I'm not yet prepared for the Licensure exams. Yet I open myself to new learning opportunities so that I could give what I have.

> 70% Community. I remember one lesson in our book which I teach at NeungYule: Communities help and care for one another. I know I'm still struggling to be in good terms with some of my co-workers and friends because of conflict of interest, same thing with some of my brother and sisters, but looking at the bright side, there are still a good few who are there to listen to me. We can never please everybody, yet being with one another is so much fun.

> 75% Apostolate. Being a member of IPLM and Mukha AD, managing a reflection blog and a Marian fanpage, these are the avenues which God gave for me to be able to be of service to his people. I brag and become authoritative at times, and I know there is still a lot to learn when it comes to being a servant of all.

Reflecting on this, I see that I still have a lot to do. To be good in anything, I should manage my time and balance things up. This is my problem ever since, because I am not good in giving priorities or managing time. I'm still asking God's grace to be good at this, yet all it takes is much discipline. Besides, something is not done in just one sitting; it is perfected through time. 

It all takes discipline and determination; add their faith in God, perhaps that is the secret of a Dominican towards balancing these four pillars. An imbalance brings destruction to a structure, likewise, lack of discipline brings crises to a preacher. This is considered the backbone of the Dominican Way of Life, and this is the way they are calling us to live on. 

Can we do it? This is the challenge. We know Our Holy Father Dominic will always be there to help us strive in doing what is good and necessary. We commit ourselves, and so we can expect so much help from him who started it all. And above it all, Emmanuel - God is with us!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tiwala Lang... MAY AWA ANG VIRGEN!

Nuestra Señora de Soledad de Porta Vaga
Celestial Guardiana de la Provincia de Cavite y su Puerto, Luz de Filipinas
And yes, that was our battlecry when we visited Cavite City last November 11, 2012. We lacked finances (it was a miracle actually that we were able to make it to Cavite despite the super low budget), yet we still pushed through with our surprise plan, to visit for the first time this particular image of Our Lady which bears the title Nuestra Señora de la Soledad de Porta Vaga.

This image of the Holy Virgin is considered as the  Celestial Guardiana de la Provincia de Cavite y su Puerto. She is, actually, the patroness of the Province and City of Cavite, and the love that the Caviteños have for her is far beyond what I expected. In fact, visiting her Shrine in Cavite made us feel like we're at the Intramuros of the Spanish days.

According to legendary accounts, Our Lady once appeared to a Spanish sentinel on-guard at a certain garita at the end of the sentry point of the Isthmus of Rosario in Cavite. It was a dark, stormy night when all of a sudden, a dazzling light appeared on the sea. The sentinel, fearing that the pirates are coming called on the mysterious thing to stop. It did not follow and continued coming nearer. The following dialogue became the start of a burning devotion for the Mother of God at this side of Luzon...

"¿Quién vive?" (Sino iyan?)

"Soldadito, ¿por qué el alto me das en noche tan fría? Dame paso. ¿No conoces a Maria?" (Batang Sundalo, Bakit mo ako hinahamon sa gabing kay lamig? Paraanin mo ako. Hindi mo ba nakikilala si Maria?)

"Perdóname, Virgen Maria, Reina de mi devoción; pues solo soy un soldado que cumplo mi obligación!"
(Patawarin mo ako, oh aking Virgen, Reyna ng aking puso; ako lamang po ay isang sundalong tumatalima sa kanyang tungkulin.)

There were lots of accounts of miracles, graces and other good favors which came through this holy image of the Mother of God who was contemplating on the passion and death of her dear Son (represented by the crown of thorns and the nails). As she calls her children to reflect on the redemptive work of Jesus, she also intercedes for us in all our needs. This shows the reality that Mary prays to her Son for our petitions in life, and we ask her to do the same for us.

This is true for the Caviteños who were ever-faithful to their devotion to Mary. Their procession which we attended that evening is not actually a parade of glam and social uprising; rather it is their testimony of how great this dear Mother and Queen became true to her word of protecting the province of Cavite - and the Phillipines at large - and leading all Filipinos to her Son who suffered, died yet risen for all of us.

This proves that Mary is always there for us throughout the struggles of life. From La Naval to Porta Vaga, she always shows us her motherly care and protection. I would always say that through La Naval de Manila, Mary reminds us to call upon her and invoke her intercession through the Rosary. Now, through Soledad de Porta Vaga, she is calling us to join her sorrow in the silence of our hearts, as we draw closer to the glory of Christ's resurrection.

We are truly blessed to be called Pueblo Amante de Maria - Bayang Nagmamahal kay Maria. We are the epitome of a nation kissed by Mary's loving lips. She inspires us to be more like her, caring for one another and leading them towards God. Let us never fail our Mother; nor leave her alone.

Ang Original na Ymajen ng
Reina at Patrona ng Provincia at Ciudad ng Cavite
Luz ng Filipinas


You may also want to read my recent La Naval experience:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

There goes my LOLA...

This is the rest she wanted all along:  being with her Creator whom she believed and trusted to all her life.

Last November 9, our dear Lola Pilang left this land of exile to join her whole family towards life eternal. Sad as it may seem, I know deep inside my heart that she had 88 years of a well-spent life, full of blessings and graces.

She, for us, is an example of a simple and humble servant who, instead of thinking of her worth, decided to take care of her own kin. She died a virgin, and I know she's proud of it. We were all her kids, for she showered upon us her motherly love and care. Adding that to her unwavering faith in God, that makes her life so inspiring for each of us.

For that, she will be SURELY missed. I'm proud to have a lola like her.
1924 - 2012

Thursday, November 01, 2012

FORETHOUGHT #1: Holiness, not Self-righteousness!

FORETHOUGHT: What can Apologetics do if you are not really disposed?

You see me lately as a critic of something which, I think, is more of self-righteousness rather than fraternal correction. It's very nice to see a few good people defend what they believe in, especially now that the world needs them to defend God's majesty over the reigns of secularization.

But hey! You may have the knowledge, you may know every single word or punctuation mark of every verse in the Bible or Sacred Tradition which sheds the truth behind what we do, BUT DO WE REALLY UNDERSTAND IT BY LIVING A HOLY AND FAITHFUL LIFE? 

Let's face it. We can say that we are eloquent in giving out rants or criticisms, we can even be proud that we defended the faith which led to a conversion of a blinded sheep. But are we able to see ourselves fully in what we do - not just by words but more importantly by action?

The Saints are truly a manifestation of this. While they defended the faith against the many heresies of their time, they were still humble and kept a low stature, knowing that they are nothing but God's instruments of love and truth. They do not take pride, nor do they show lots and lots of achievements just to say they are "HOLY."

Rather, they stayed as they are, simple and true to their commitment of bringing Jesus to those who do not know him. Their example is easy to read, but hard to do. 

While everyone just keeps on zealously crashing the dignity of others because of their errors, we pray that we would still stand as one Church undivided, pure yet poor in spirit, that the Kingdom of God may be ours, like the Saints.