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Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category


Coming to this

I learned  that

Life ought to be lived

The best you know how.

Just sometimes –

You swim not knowing

when to reach the shore

But flowing with the tide

Has its rewards,

A rich blessing of

Coming to terms with yourself

Once more.

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I have followed Pope Francis’ trip to the United States via  Vatican Radio and CNA (Catholic News Agency). I am grateful for his inspiring words. Yes, I am grateful too for the many blessings. Here’s a partial text  of Pope Francis’s address during Vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, a beautiful message that truly inspires and touches the heart:

Joy springs from a grateful heart. Truly, we have received much, so many graces, so many blessings, and we rejoice in this. It will do us good to think back on our lives with the grace of remembrance.

Remembrance of when we were first called, remembrance of the road travelled, remembrance of graces received… and, above all, remembrance of our encounter with Jesus Christ so often along the way.

Remembrance of the amazement which our encounter with Jesus Christ awakens in our hearts. To seek the grace of remembrance so as to grow in the spirit of gratitude. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves: are we good at counting our blessings?

 

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It was another experience that I will never forget. Jut like the first time that I viewed an exhibit on John Paul II celebrating his feast day almost three years ago, I was given another opportunity to see one, Totus Tuus Tour on the same venue last April 24, 2014.It was held at the activity area of Gateway Mall in Cubao, Quezon City. Totus Tuus  was the apostolic motto of Pope John Paul II.  It is a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours” and expressed his personal consecration to Mary. I am always awed and inspired  every time I have the opportunity to do this. This time, when I saw some of the first class relics displayed there, I cried. The way he touched people, the way he inspired the youth when he was alive  and now, he is a saint. What a lovely journey!

Just like his beatification three years ago, he will be canonized on a Divine Mercy Sunday together with another beloved pope, Pope John XXIII. Unlike the later who is not known much to our generation, Pope John Paul II is so much-loved by the youth of today.  I treasure the only memento I had of his beatification, a rosary given to me by Fr. Louie, a student priest friend in Rome when JP II was beatified. I took some pictures of the exhibit but I am limiting a few here because I have a separate album posted at my FB timeline.

Some of the relics displayed at the exhibit. ©Dreams and Escapes

Some of the relics displayed at the exhibit.
©Dreams and Escapes

©Dreams and Escapes

©Dreams and Escapes

The reliquary where Saint Paul II first class relics are displayed. ©Dreams and Escapes

The reliquary where Saint Paul II first class relics are displayed.
©Dreams and Escapes

©Dreams and Escapes

©Dreams and Escapes

I love this Zucchetto. I could just imagine JP II wearing this on his head. ©Dreams and Escapes

I love this Zucchetto. I could just imagine JP II wearing this on his head.
©Dreams and Escapes

A first class relic - a piece of cloth imbued with JP II's blood. ©Dreams and Escapes

A first class relic – a piece of cloth imbued with JP II’s blood.
©Dreams and Escapes

Another first class relic - strands of hair of JP II. ©Dreams and Escapes

Another first class relic – strands of hair of JP II.
©Dreams and Escapes

The rosary in the picture reminds me of the gift my priest son gave me several years ago which came from the Vatican. The beads are the same and the crucifix is quite similar too. ©Dreams and Escapes

The rosary in the picture reminds me of the gift my priest son gave me several years ago which came from the Vatican. The beads are the same and the crucifix is quite similar too.
©Dreams and Escapes

The Papal chair was the same thing JP II used during his visit to the Philippines in 1981. ©Dreams and Escapes

The Papal chair was the same thing JP II used during his visit to the Philippines in 1981.
©Dreams and Escapes

Totus Tuus Tour

The office of the Vice Postulation for the cause for canonization of Bl. Ivan Merz is blessed to have in their custody various relics of St. John Paul II. From first to second class relics, major to minor kinds, these are offered for the veneration of the faithful. All are authenticated and recognized by the Church Pastors,most especially by the Archbishop of Krakow – the former secretary of Pope John Paul II.

On the occasion of Pope John Paul II’s canonization (April 27, 2014, in the Vatican), the Office of the Vice Postulator of Blessed Ivan Merz has organized the Public Exposition and Veneration of his Relics. From his blood stain and hair strands to his papal zucchetto and part of his cassock (soutane), and other important relics and memorabilia, the faithful will have access in praying before these sacred remains to deepen their love and devotion to our newest Saint.

It was a lovely journey, seeing all these and praying for family and friends.

 

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tbr list for 2013

2012  – a lazy year of reading for me, I guess I could count on my fingers the books I have read this year but then I call it the busiest year that I accumulated more books on my shelf than I care to admit. There are still unopened books that I bought more than a year ago with the thought of replacing the ones we have lost a few years back.  A good friend who came home last October gifted me with thirteen books, some of which she brought home with her and the rest via UPS. She says that she  bought more books for me, newly published ones  that are on my wish list.

I love going to bookstores,  I love the scent of the pages of a new book.  National Bookstore, Bestsellers or the ever reliable Booksale, they are my favorite jaunts every time I have enough time to browse. Hopefully by 2013, I could read all of  these, my reading list is getting longer and here are some titles that I would make a priority of.

  • Breakfast At Tiffany’s  -Truman Capote …  Just read it a month back and found some videos on YouTube about this much talked about book for decades. Would love to re-read it  sometime  next year and re-acquaint myself with the quirky Holiday Golightly.
  • The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde… a thick volume of Wilde’s writings.
  • Alone  – Rod McKuen…  I love Rod McKuen, I love his thoughts and Alone is the kind of book that you want to absorb and  gives you that feeling that you can be a poet too, in simple words, that is.
  • The Poems and Prayers of Helen Steiner Rice …Who would not be mesmerized  by the words of this poet? Anyway, the poems and prayers of Helen Steiner Rice were a bright beacon to my college years. And I remember some of her beautiful quotes written in scented pens on my notebook. She was considered as  the “unofficial poet laureate of hope and optimism.” I finally have my copy, a new edition.
  • Everyday Grace –  Marianne Williamson … This is my first book of Williamson and I am really looking forward to read it this coming year.
  • Thoughts in Solitude – Thomas Merton … I’ve long been wanting to have a copy of any Thomas Merton’s books, this is it.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neal Hurston …  Another gift from the same friend who gave me thirteen books this year. It’s included in the 1000 list of books you have to read before you die. Zadie Smith who introduced the book has this to say, “Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of the very greatest American novels of the twentieth century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought; but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece of prose, as emotionally satisfying as it is impressive. There is no novel I love more. Well, what more can I say but just enjoy it.
  • A Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami …Who would not love Murakami?
  • Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, Lord John – three  hard-bound books by Diana Gabaldon. I’ve always loved how Diana writes historical novels.
  • Irish Linen Andrew Greeley…  Greeley is a Catholic priest writer. I love his other books, I wonder if this one is worth-reading too.
  • Coming Home – Rosamunde Pilcher … She’s one of my favorite authors so I always look for her books every time I visit Booksale.  A year ago, I wrote about her, you can find it here.
  • World Without End  – Ken Follett … a sequel to one of my favorite books, The Pillars of the Earth. It’s a birthday gift from my daughter.
  • A Change of Altitude, All He Ever Wanted …two books by Anita Shreve, another author that I love.
  • More Glimpses of Heaven – Trudy Harris
  • Human Traces – Sebastian Faulks …It’ actually my first book of Faulks so I am excited to read it.
  • Critical – Robin Cook … I collect Cook’s books, they are all wonderful read about the medical field. Cook is a doctor.
  • Exile – Richard North Patterson… had this for years but it is so thick so I keep postponing to get it off the shelf.
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving… Really looking forward to reading this one. It has excellent reviews.
  • Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems…   Ah, my prized possession this year and it is the first time I ever had a copy of  a Mary Oliver book.

As if these are not enough, Odette (the same friend who gifted me with the thirteen books, three of which are all Richard Paul Evan’s latest) sent me this new year greeting with pictures of another two books that she bought for me, A Thousand Mornings which was just released last October and which inspired  me to make this blog of the same title and the new book of Richard Paul Evans entitled A Winter Dream. Aren’t I lucky?

happy new year by odette

I promised myself I would read more in 2013.

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He is the new Archbishop of Manila. And here is his status update on Facebook:

“His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI appointed me, a humble servant , to succeed His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales to the Metropolitan See of Manila. I face this heavy responsibility with much trepidation. Leaving the Diocese of Imus, my beloved home, at the threshold of its Golden Jubilee is not easy. But faith in the gracious Lord and love of the Church give me strength. I know that I would find much good will and zeal for mission in the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Manila. In our openness to the Holy Spirit, we could render a joyful and robust witness to Jesus Christ, all for the glory of the Father and the good of the Church and of society, especially of the poor. I entrust the Archdiocese of  Manila and my ministry to the loving care of our Lady, Mary Immaculate.”

+Luis Antonio G. Tagle
13 October 2011

Congratulations Archbishop Tagle. We are one with you in prayers.  I haven’t had any personal encounter with him but I admire him a lot. I always look forward to Kape’t Pandasal and The Word Exposed.  He is helping a lot of people through his TV programs. 

Thank you Archbishop!

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1

Close your eyes for a while

Savor the silence

Listen to God’s voice

He gently calls,

Whispering His everlasting love.

Silence is a prayer in itself.

2

Always believe in prayers

No matter how mundane your wants and needs are,

God answers our prayers.

It may not be immediate

But rest assured it is the best.

Let us learn to listen to God’s whispers

Let us learn to appreciate silence in our hearts.

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Today, two years ago, I embarked on a long journey not knowing where the road will end but hoping just the same that I won’t get lost along the way. I remember it was a Sunday, hubby and I were off to the Chinese General Hospital with three bags of belongings and a big pillow for comfort. I was admitted at around 3pm and scheduled for sigmoid surgery two days after. Knowing fully well that I was sick and being aware that surgery is the only way the doctors would know how far the cancer cells have invaded my body was just a drop in the bucket compared to the agony I had to go through for more than five months after my surgery.

An online friend Mary An together with her family took time to go to the hospital on the day I was admitted to deliver a lovely flower arrangement  prior to the time of our arrival.  It was a typical gesture from Mary An, she knew that I love flowers and love doing macro shots of them. Thea, my nun friend sent me text messages during the night informing me that they formed a prayer brigade in the convent.  Lovell, a seminarian friend whom I consider  a son and his group offered masses for my healing.  “How lovely”, I said to the hubby, “to have lots of friends praying for you.”  They were there not just to show support but to boost my morale. It was  the second major surgery I went through,  unlike the first one, this could  spell a big difference in my life, in our lives as a family.  I prayed for strength and courage to go on but God gave me more, He showed me  that I could bear the pain because He was there.

Last night, I had a long chat with Lovell over the phone and he asked  how I am. I told him I had bouts of urinary tract infection lately. I was struck by what he said that God must love me so much to entrust me with all these  pain and sufferings because He knows I can carry them and I have enough faith to go through life without being bitter about it. My answer was simply this, ” I lift everything to God and I am offering it all to Him.

There are times when tears flow when I think of  the days I went through the past two years. I am lucky and  I am blessed that God gave me a second chance at life.  Everything is grace.

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What a lovely way to start another year in blogging by celebrating the feast of Mama Mary. Today, 94 years ago, Our Lady appeared before three shepherd children at Fatima in Portugal. Here’s a picture I took of the image of Our Lady of Fatima three years ago in Binakayan, Kawit. Cavite.

Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima 

Dearest Mother, Queen of the Holy Rosary, who came to Fatima to reveal to all mankind the Divine plan for true Christian peace, of prayer, penance, and consecration, grant an abundance of grace, strength, and guidance to the members of Thy Fatima Crusade, here present and throughout the world. Inspire us to great zeal, oh great Mediatrix of All Graces, that we may be effective instruments in spreading devotion to Thy Rosary; that we may be faithful in wearing Thy scapular; that we may inspire our brothers in Christ to a life of sacrifice, penance, and modesty, and finally, that we may help to bring about that wonderful day when all men, through consecration to Thy Immaculate Heart, shall be one in Christ. Amen.

Hymn to Our Lady of Fatima

Dear Lady of Fatima,
We come on bended knee,
To beg Your intercession,
For peace and unity.

Dear Mary, won’t You show us,
The right and shining way,
We pledge our love and offer You,
A Rosary each day.

You promised at Fatima,
Each time that You appeared,
To help us if we pray to You,
To banish war and fear.

Dear Lady, on First Saturdays,
We ask Your guiding hand,
For grace and guidance here on earth,
And protection for our land.

Mama Mary, please pray for us, protect us with your mantle , just as you protected your son Jesus Christ. Amen!

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I’ve been waiting for this, the celebration of Easter Sunday. I look back at the days beginning Lent and the silent but meaningful celebration of Holy Week and Easter Triduum , and I’m  once gain grateful for lessons learned, sacrifices achieved, prayers answered and lots of blessings to speak of.  When I think of Easter, it always reminds me of a new beginning, a new hope, a new life.  We should not only look at Easter as Christ being risen but as a symbol of His infinite love for us. Hope is something we all need in our lives and Easter brings that hope in all of us. Every year we are given the chance to renew our baptismal promises  during Easter Sunday. And isn’t it a great celebration knowing that what your godparents did  for you when you were just an infant are the same promises you undertake to do for the rest of your life?  Isn’t it amazing that grace flows when we affirm it? For us Catholics, Baptism is not just a mere formality but it brings us to a new life in Christ, the very mark of being a Christian. I took  a few shots of the Easter Sunday celebration in our Parish and would like to share them with you. My daughter and I did some cooking too to celebrate Easter lunch and dinner. I prepared  Pork Adobo and Ginatang langka while she cooked Shrimp Pasta for dinner.  Hubby was not around so it was only the three of us who shared lunch and dinner. There is more than enough to last us until tomorrow.  We’ve  abstained from eating meat since the start of Lent  so it is a little exciting to eat pork again.

 The Paschal Candle

 Image of the Risen Christ

 The image of Mama Mary during the Salubong

I love this tradition of Salubong which dramatizes the eventual meeting of  the Risen Christ and that of His Mother, Mama Mary. It is  a pre-dawn procession wherein the men and women start from different areas and meet in front of the church.  The men walk behind  the image of the Resurrected Christ while the Blessed Mother, still covered in a black veil, comes in the front line of the women. A kid do the task of lifting the veil of Mama Mary. Beautiful. The Salubong signals a new beginning for all of us. And what does the Salubong and Easter tell us?  God is truly present in our lives and He is present in every heart that truly shares love with one another. Would love to end this reflection with these lovely lines:

Now let the heavens be joyful,

Let earth her song begin:

the round world keep triumph,

And all that is therein; Invisible and visible,

Their notes let all things blend,

For Christ the Lord is risen

Our joy that hath no end. -Saint John of Damascus-

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We’re almost in the middle of celebrating Semana Santa. Today is Holy Tuesday and some parishes have started the Pabasa. Pabasa is a unique Filipino tradition of singing and chanting the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It differs in many provinces throughout the archipelago because they use the native dialects to read it. It is meant for people to meditate and reflect on the word of God.

Alongside reading the Holy Scriptures, I started  with the book The Dance of Life (A Spiritual Journey with Henri Nouwen). Nouwen was a Dutch-born Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books about spirituality. Although I have encountered some of his books when I was in college, this is actually the first time I was able to buy two of them. The other one is The Only Necessary Thing (Living A Prayerful Life). Michael Ford edited the book , he  even went to Nouwen’s birthplace in Nijkerk, Netherlands. I am simply amazed by the spiritual nuggets of wisdom culled from Nouwen’s different books. It’s like reading an open diary of someone whose thoughts are simply inspiring. How do they call it in Tagalog, it’s ” tagos sa buto.” Here are some excerpts from the book which I want to share with you.

Each day holds a surprise. But only  if we expect it can we see, hear or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or joy. It will open a new place on our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.  (Bread for the Journey)

And here’s what he has to say on moving into the unknown,  veering away from a safe and familiar place and reaching out, taking us someplace where we would rather not go.

It takes courage  to move away from the safe place into the unknown, even when we know that the safe place offers false safety and the unknown promise us a saving intimacy with God. We realize quite well that giving up the familiar and reaching out with open arms towards him who transcends all our mental grasping and clinging makes us very vulnerable. 

His book is not meant to be read in just one go,  you need to savor it and make it a daily reflection. I was particularly  touched by this prayer which is so apt for reflection this  Holy Tuesday.  It’s from his book, A Cry for Mercy.

THE DIVINE TOUCH

O Lord Jesus, you who came to us to show the compassionate love of your Father, make your people know this love with their hearts, minds and souls.

So often we feel lonely, unloved and lost in this valley of tears. We desire to feel affection , tenderness, care and compassion, but suffer from inner darkness, emptiness and numbness.

I pray tonight: come, Lord Jesus, come. Do not just come to our understanding, but enter our hearts – our passions, emotions, and feelings – and reveal your presence to us in our inmost being.

As long as you remain absent from that intimate core of our experience, we will keep clinging to people, things, or events to find some warmth, some sense of belonging.

Only when you really come, really touch us, set us ablaze with your love, only then will we become free and let go of all false forms of belonging.

Without that inner warmth, all our ascetical attempts remain trivial, and we might even get entangled in the complex network of our own good intentions.

O Lord, I pray that your children may come to feel your presence and be immersed in your deep, warm, affective love. and to me, O Lord, your stumbling friend, show your mercy, Amen!

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