The Word Exposed Advent Recollection


 

Friends, we have it here again: Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will preach another Advent Recollection at the Loyola Schools Covered Courts at the Ateneo de Manila University on Sunday, December 2.

 

The half-day recollection, where registration is free, will start from 8:30 a.m. up to noon. A Mass shall follow.

Here is the invitation from Cardinal Tagle’s Facebook page maintained by Jesuit Communications:

 

 

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Mamalandong Kita! Reflection for Friday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time


Brother Alan Luigi Flores

“You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

This week, our series of Gospel readings focus on the calling, the commissioning and the warning to the apostles.

True enough, the Church has had its share of persecutions, and continues to suffer them to this very day.

Evidently, the ways of the world are always in conflict with the ways of Jesus who always taught us to be very radical – that is, to shun the ways of the world and stand for what we believe in.

This is the very message of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The Church has its share of haters and will continue to have its share of haters. That is what we are though, a community of sinners and saints, strong and faint.

If we want to find meaning to our suffering in this vocation to holiness, we better unite our suffering to that of the Lord crucified for our sake on the cross. There we will find how beautiful holiness is.

If we trace our steps back to the days of the early Christians, their prayers were not always about the “bless me, Lord”, or “Lord, give me this.” Rather, their utmost prayer was “Make me holy, Lord…”

Today we pray for perseverance in our vocation to holiness in the midst of suffering. We pray that the Lord may continue to give us strength to overcome all these so that we may be fruitful in our mission on earth.

God bless us all. Amen.

The persecution of Christians in the Praetorium.

Pagtatalaga ng buhay sa Panginoon


I was given the opportunity to share my thoughts on the theme we now use as a title here. This has been posted on the Ave Maria Pilipinas Facebook page.

My thanks go to Brother Weldann Panganiban for this wonderful chance.

As we usher in the Ordinary Time starting tomorrow, the Lord gives us another challenge, and we are faced with this question posed by the rich young man: “How must I inherit eternal life? (Mk. 10: 17)” And the Lord tells the rich man to sell everything he has and distribute the proceeds among the poor. And yes, the rich man went away sad.

In these times today, how do we give ourselves to the Lord?  How much of ourselves are we to give up in order to attain heaven?

The call to give up one’s self is very radical. As Christians we are never called to be comfortable. Remember the Lord even said that if we want to follow him, we have to take up our crosses. The road is hard, but yes, the rewards are great.

And since we are in the month of the Blessed Mother, the discomforts of giving ourselves up for the Lord are often soothed by that motherly care and affection by the Blessed Mother. This is because we trust all our cares to her. The song goes: “I do not sigh for the wealth of earth, for the joys that fade and flee”. In casting our cares to the Blessed Mother we only wish to see that “bliss untold which Thy arms enfold: the treasure upon Thy knee.”

No one ever said the road to heaven, the road to eternal bliss with Jesus is easy. Following Christ has never been a way of comfort. It never was and will never be. However, with the Blessed Mother, we will all enjoy her unfailing help. We are assured that everything will have its fruition, its reward. We will gain our prize. Heaven is our destiny.

Mary, the Mother of Perpetual Help, and the Help of Christians, we cast all our cares to you as we follow your Son Jesus Christ. We know our reward is great in heaven when we dedicate ourselves to your motherly love. Be with us as we follow that rough road.

Ur Dose


For those who want more doses of spiritual nourishment (take note there’s no overdose of spiritual nourishment), I’d like to recommend a blog for us to follow every Sunday.

http://urdose.blogspot.com/

This is a blog by Brother Weldann Panganiban who has also followed our podcasts for the past two Sundays.

Please pray for his ministry to flourish too. Online preachers like us will need a lot of prayers and strength.. and yes, perseverance.

Happy Birthday, Your Holiness!


Exactly 85 years ago in 1927, Joseph Alois Ratzinger was born in Bavaria.

Ordained priest on the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29) in 1951, he was appointed Archbishop of Munich-Fresing on March 24, 1977. Ratzinger was ordained later as bishop on May 28, 1977. He became a cardinal a month later in Rome.

Ratzinger was a professor of theology at Regensburg and other universities and is highly regarded for his writings.

In 1981 he became Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and Dean of the College of Cardinals in 2002. During these years

During the death of Blessed John Paul II Ratzinger played an important role in the day-to-day operations of the Holy See, including the celebration of the funeral mass of the late pope with whom he also had a special friendship.

In a seemingly expected turn of events, Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, became the 265th pope in the unbroken list of Pontiffs on April 19, 2005, three days after his 78th birthday. He received the pallium on April 24 and took possession of his cathedra at the Lateran on May 7, 2005.

On Thursday he will celebrate his seventh year as Pope. Let us pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Long live the Pope!

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI

The Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, waving to the waiting crowd at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican after his election as Pope on April 19, 2005, three days after his 78th birthday.

Jose Tomas Cardinal Sanchez, 1920-2012


While I was at ABS-CBN Cebu today, one of our brothers Lance Nicole Catacutan called me up and informed me of this sad news. Jose Tomas Cardinal Sanchez died in Manila today at 5:00 a.m. He was a week short of his 92nd birthday.

Here’s the item from GMA News:

A retired Filipino cardinal who served in a key post of the Holy See died in Manila before dawn Friday, one week before he was to turn 92.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio III said Jose Cardinal Sanchez died at 5 a.m. in Metro Manila.
Pumanaw ang butihing cardinal mga 5 a.m., ngayong umaga siya pumanaw,” Quitorio said in an interview on dzBB radio.
Quitorio said Sanchez retired as bishop 10 years ago at the age of 80 but spent time in Rome before returning to the Philippines.
He said Sanchez had been appointed to head a department of the Vatican but had since retired.
Siya ay nakadestino bilang head ng department sa Vatican. Nang nag-retire siya, nag-stay siya sa Roma at bumalik sa Pilipinas,” Quitorio said.
For now, Quitorio said plans are still being finalized for Sanchez’s burial.
The Catholic-Hierarchy.org website said Sanchez was born on March 17, 1920 and became a priest of Sorsogon on May 12, 1946.
He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Caceres (Nueva Caceres), and appointed bishop of Lesvi. He was ordainted titular bishop of Lesvi on May 12, 1968, the same website said.
Sanchez became co-adjutory bishop of Lucena on Dec. 13, 1971 and became Lucena bishop Sept. 25, 1976. He became archbishop of Nueva Segovia on Jan. 12, 1982.
On Oct. 30, 1985, he was appointed Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in the Vatican, resigning as Nueva Segovia Archbishop on March 22, 1986.
He was elevated to cardinal on June 28, 1991 and was appointed Cardinal-Deacon on S. Pio V a Villa Carpegna on the same day.
He was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and appointed president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See on July 1, 1991.
Sanchez retired as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy on June 15, 1996. He was appointed Cardinal-Priest of S. Pio V a Villa Carpegna on Feb. 26, 2002.

***

With the death of Cardinal Sanchez, does this mean that we will have new Filipino cardinals? If we look at the circumstances now, Archbishops Luis Antonio Tagle and Jose Palma of Manila and Cebu, respectively, are ordinaries of cardinalatial sees. Remember, their predecessors are cardinals, and most likely Pope  Benedict XVI may create them cardinals.

However, their predecessors are still alive, which makes the possibility for them to be cardinals actually remote at this time.

Should Tagle be appointed cardinal however, he may actually even be appointed to the Roman Curia, considering his credentials as former member of the International Theological Commission during the presidency of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. This development may bring back Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Socrates Villegas to Manila as its new leader.

Palma, on the other hand, may still remain a strong voice in the Philippine Church especially in his stint as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He may be appointed Cardinal in due time.

As to when they may be created cardinals, one thing is for sure: it is the Pope who calls the shots.

 

Comments? Mail me at alanluigiflores@gmail.com

Why Forty?


The significance of the number 40 in Biblical literature is actually obvious in the Old and the New Testament.

For 40 years, Moses and the Israelites journeyed to the Promised Land.

The Babylonian exile lasted for about 40 years.

Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the desert.

But this actually makes me wonder, is this literally 40? 40 years ba gyod ni siya?

We should note that the Bible should be read contextually, not at all time literally. Maglibog ra mo.

Now the purpose of making that point is that we never actually know how many days the Lord was actually led by the Spirit to the desert to be tempted by the devil. The number 40 is a symbolic number; meaning, it connotes a long time. Taas-taas gyod ni nga panahon.

Since today is the First Sunday of Lent, and since we read today in our Gospel about the temptation of Jesus, we will try to connect this one to our celebration of Lent.

How are the forty days of Lent counted?

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, the date of which is also dependent on the date of Easter Sunday.

The forty days of Lent are actually the weekdays from Ash Wednesday up until Holy Saturday. The Sundays of Lent are not counted as Sundays are always considered mini-Easters. A weekday in the Church also counts Saturdays.

Now try counting the number of days from February 22 up to April 7, the last day of Lent. Exclude the Sundays in the counting.

This Lent, like Jesus Christ, we are faced with a lot of things. Attachments, temptations, everything this world offers.

My confessor told me today that while this may sound contradictory, we may have to be proud–proud of God, and at the same time, be cowards–cowards toward the things of the world which are often presented as lovely and blissful.

True bliss, happiness and joy will only be felt if we actually defeat the temptations with the help of God. One just has to note though that being tempted is not the sin; rather, what is not good is when we succumb to it. However weak we may be, we are always strengthened in the hope that we will be able to fight temptation. Jesus today gives us an example of how it is to defeat those things: by reforming our lives and believing in the Gospel (Mk. 1:15).
Mail me: alanluigiflores@gmail.com

 

Be Gentle


This song by Jose Mari Chan actually describes what we need now for us to be able to live life to the full: peace.

Be gentle, be gentle
And all the world is yours
A river flowing home to sea, you shall be.

Be strong and know your heart
Protect the small, the weak
And love like morning rain shall fall on a song.

There is no peace in an angry heart
The wise know the truth
There is no power stronger than gentleness of heart.

Beneath the waters and the rock will turn to sand
It took a wounded man to show the world
That if we want to live, we must forgive.

O Lord, the night is long
The dawn cannot be far
When gentle winds of peace fill every heart.

A river flowing home to sea
I shall be.

Spectacles of History


Tuod man, the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona has come underway for two days already. For those actually interested to see some kind of a spectacle in Philippine history, the coverage of several news stations and sometimes mainstream stations starts at 1:00 p.m, an hour before the actual schedule of the trial at the Senate.

This is history as Corona is actually the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who faces trial in the Senate for culpable violation of the Constitution, and betrayal of public trust. Eight articles of impeachment have been transmitted to the Senate and these will form the bases of the trial.

This is worth watching because the results may spell a lot of difference in what President Aquino calls the daang matuwid, a big step in Aquino’s game plan of going after former president Gloria Arroyo who appointed Corona as chief justice just right after the 2010 elections.

This will definitely go the stretch as Corona wants to cling on to his post to death, something he affirmed today at a gathering in the Supreme Court yesterday with banners screaming “Uphold the Rule of Law, not the Rule of Yellow,” in an apparent attack against President Aquino. That should cost the Senate millions of pesos which could have been spent for other important legislation.

As they say, let’s see the scattered. 

***

I have already bought a new Ordo for the liturgical year 2012. Though it is considered late already since the liturgical year of the catholic Church has stared last November 27 or the First Sunday of Advent, I still consider it a lovely gift for me as I bought it with my own money. The last time I bought one was in 2009 when I still had to rely on my mother’s salary to be able to buy it for more than a hundred pesos.

This should be a great help to me in my activities concerning spiritual life. This can also be a guide when I give out my small talks to the lectors of Don Bosco Lawaan whenever I get the chance to see them before work, or after work (depending on my schedule; remember a call center agent like me can never tell what his schedule will be within two weeks primarily because he/she has shifting schedules, and it is a part of his/her job to just endure that one, even if it means waking up at night and sleeping at midday until mid-afternoon).

***

As you read this, please pray for me as we end transition on Saturday midnight, and this will greatly affect my employment status in one of those contact centers in Cebu.

***

Finally, before deciding to write this post, I had a chance to speak with Rachell Lisondra, a friend from the same university where I obtained my degree in Mass Communication. I hope she is doing well now as she promised to drop by and read this post.

Until next time.

Learning from the Scars of Ignorance


It’s Sunday, and it’s 2:00 p.m.

Ate Lovely (not her real name), the psalmist, gets ready for Mass by practicing her part. While getting ready, she could be seen obviously enjoying the company of her friends and some of the seminarians inside the sacristy of a seminary chapel in Talisay City.

She and her friends from the lectors’ guild just exchange the funniest (and sometimes, corniest) of jokes while waiting for the mass to begin.

After the mass, she then continues to share stories with her co-lectors. When there might be obviously no more jokes to crack, she then joins other youth for Frisbee-throwing. As she catches the blue disc, one could sense the energy she exerts and the warm smile that comes from her face.

However, no one would notice that with her warm disposition and outgoing personality, Ate Lovely would bear the scars of a dark past. It would seem that her tall build is not enough to protect her from sustaining those wounds that have become scars.

 

Born to a family of eight in Daanbantayan,Cebu, she grew up with the feeling that her father loved her so much.

However, when she was eight, the feeling of love began to subside when she began to feel something strange with the way her father treated her.

“Nalain ko kang Tatang gud na nako ikaw kuno ba, kon ikaw naa sa akong lugar, unsay bation nimo,” she would then throw the question back.

She then recalls her father mussing her hair, and as she started puberty, she would then notice him advancing in his degree of sexual abuse, particularly toward her private parts.

Her youth however did not prevent her from telling her mother, but the latter would not just budge, saying that she must be crazy.

The cycle continued as she advanced through high school. During this time, she tried to escape from her father’s abuses by staying inside the parish convent, where she also serves as the youth choir director. However, she just could not be successful because her parents know where she is, and her parents always force her back home.

For a time, she decided instead to live in her classmate’s house to confuse her parents. However, she did not stay there for long because her parents found her there and forced her back home once more.

At one point, Ate Lovely decided to keep with her a cutter for self-defense should the abuses happen. It just did not abate. There was even one night where she found out her father was already on top of her.

Seeing that she was already in despair, she even attempted suicide thrice.

When she finished high school, she decided to move to the city to avoid her father’s sexual advances. She had no one to turn to, but herself. Though she was staying with her aunts, she had to think of ways to fend for her own needs.

Being young and appealing, she had already a lot of suitors. However, they all got rejected. She muses,“Da, di pud ko padala ato nila uy. Ako ra man gani tong ingnon nga ‘maayo ra mo sa hambog, atik ra nang inyoha.’” Most suitors would find her a wasted opportunity, but not for this man named Max.

“Nagpangita baya ko og love sa papa. Mao tong gipakaslan nako siya,” she tells, in a sober tone.

Max was persistent in his courtship, and in less than a month’s time, Ate Lovely already said yes to the marriage proposal. She says that at only 17, she got married in Muslim rites inMindanaowithout her knowing it.

Ate Lovely recalls with a laugh: “Ignorante pa kaayo ko ato. Kani bitawng wa koy buot.”

Her new family had to move to Lanao del Norte, the birthplace of Max, after finishing college in BogoCity. In a matter of four years, she managed to keep secret her pregnancies to her three children. Her youngest son, JR, who is turning eight this year, butts in from the background, saying “babaye ug lalaki,” referring to his elder brother and elder sister, who are 11 and nine, respectively.

Life though was not kind to Ate Lovely in her stay there. She would recall how she perceived her husband to be committing acts of infidelity, only to realize that Muslims may have as many as four wives, provided they could give them support.

Again, she says, “Ignorante pa kaayo ko ato. Kani bitawng wa koy buot.”

She thought trauma brought about by the abuses done by Tatang would end with her marriage to Max. But then the husband’s family had a dispute over parcels of land, and their dispute ended up with her husband’s cousin beaten up half-dead.

Owing to the pride of the family and the absence of Ate Lovely’s relatives, the family decided to make her pay for the crime she never even thought of committing.  She was assured that she will get away with it once they settle the issue amicably. However, she refused.

“Madaot pa lang gani akong record. Unsaon na lang nako inig pangita nako og trabaho unya puhon?”

With no money in her pockets, she tried to escape, but her husband confiscated her mobile phone. Luckily, she was able to get it back and, using it, contacted her parents to send her money in Lanao.

When she got the money, she then made her escape with the help of a few friends who were also habal-habal drivers in the area.

She remembers luckily meeting another lady-friend along the way who said that there are policemen actually waiting for her because the family already knew of the escape with the children.

“Nakuyawan na ko kay akong nabalitaan gani nga giatngan na ko sa Tubod (Lanao del Norte). Mao to nangalyas na lang ko.”

“Maayo gani nakaabot pa ko og Ozamiz ato,” she later recounts.

She reveals she has used up all her strength and she fainted inside the ship. No matter how her co-passengers tried to make her eat, she would not take any bite of it because her body has been worn down by stress and fatigue.

Ate Lovely admits that she has had her shortcomings before God especially since leaving the choir in her parish in Daanbantayan. She felt the strong urge to return to God especially in her moment of distress. She then made a pact with God while still in the ship back home forCebu.

 

“Mi-promise gyod ko kang God nga mobalik na ko og serbisyo niya, nga inig balik nako sa Cebu, magbag-o na ko, ug unya di na ko mobalik didto sa Mindanao.”

Ate Lovely mustered her courage to return home and to face the possibility of being abused by Tatang once more.

Alas, nothing still changed.

“Gibalik na pud niya og buhat.” With all her might, she forced herself out of the room. She just could not sleep. That was for her the most unimaginable thing that would happen to her in her entire life.

Her determination to seek retribution for the wrong done by her father moved her to confront him regarding the issue. But Tatang would deny it, saying “Maayo gani wa ta mo ka****.”

This triggered her sisters to narrate the same ordeal they had gone through at the hands of their father, to the dismay and anger of Ate Lovely.

Without any hesitation, without looking back, she left, determined to change her life.

Since she could never detach from her church work, she decided to stay there and ask for the help of the new parish priest in the area. Luckily for her, there was Papa, the dad of the parish priest, who also became her stronghold.

Papa became her everything her tatang was not for her. Ate Lovely found a new lease on life, peace of mind and body, comfort, warmth, shelter.

After Papa knew that her parents were trying to persuade her to come home, she asked that they leave her place in Daanbantayan.

They had to make do with a rented house in Tabunok,TalisayCityuntil Papa’s son-priest knew about the arrangements. The priest even thought they were living together.

Papa’s son-priest then decided to let Ate Lovely and her family stay in the house that his family commissioned. Ate Lovely and her children now stay there in the house originally meant to be rented out.

She quickly recalls one remark done by the rector of the seminary where she is serving as psalmist: “Alam mo, Ate Lovely, kung di yan nangyari sa’yo, di ka mapupunta dito.”

It has been two years now since she found comfort in her friends in the seminary, and the guidance of priests who give her time for counseling and confession.

However, not all is done yet, as she faces the possibility that Papa will leave this world soon. Ate Lovely shares her plans, her expectations for the future.

As for her father, she remarks “Ako na siyang gipasaylo. Apan ang Ginoo na lang ang bahala kaniya.”

“Lahi ra gyod kon ang ginikanan mao gyoy moatiman sa anak. Mao nang gi-try gyod nako akong best nga mahatag nako sa akong mga anak ang tanan.”

Despite those scars, she has found her peace.

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