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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’


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Thank you Lord

for these silent moments.

I am grateful

for the times I felt so down

and You made me feel Your

presence.

 

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“When the heart is able to ask itself and weep, then we can understand something. Dear young boys and girls, today’s world doesn’t know how to cry. The emarginated people, those left to one side, are crying. Those who are discarded are crying. But we don’t understand much about these people in need. Certain realities of life we only see through eyes cleansed by our tears. I invite each one here to ask yourself: have I learned how to weep? Have I learned how to weep for the emarginated or for a street child who has a drug problem or for an abused child? 

If you don’t learn how to cry, you cannot be a good Christian. This is a challenge. When they posed this question to us, why children suffer, why this or that tragedy occurs in life – our response must be either silence or a word that is born of our tears. Be courageous, don’t be afraid to cry.”

Through the entire week that I was indisposed nursing a cold and occasional cough before we said goodbye to Pope Francis, I read all his speeches from the time he visited Malacanang up to his interviews with the Papal delegation (mostly accredited media people) on his way back to the Vatican. Although I saw him deliver his speeches in English, in his native language which is Spanish and some in Latin and clearly translated by his official translator, Msgr. Mark Gerard Miles, I can’t help but go back and reread them again. There is something so heartwarming listening to him.  His speech during the Encounter with the Youth  at the University of Santo Tomas opened my eyes to a lot of things.

Sometimes what you can’t say in words is more understood through tears.  Crying is not a show of weakness, it is rather more on how we are attuned with our feelings and our emotions. Crying sometimes gives us that perspective we don’t open see  when  our hearts are hardened by circumstances and events  that we’d rather not face. Pope Francis was right in saying that “certain realities of life we only see through eyes cleansed by our tears.” When you are touched by these simple words, crying becomes a necessity and a natural outcome, it becomes your catharsis. You cry when you’re happy, you cry when you’re sad. I haven’t cried as much as when I saw Pope Francis on one of the windows of the Sri Lanka plane and the following days watching him touch the poor, kiss the little children,  sway with the youth while they were singing the 1995 theme song during the World Youth day, wave to thousands of people lining up the streets,  and smile at the millions of pilgrims who were in Luneta during his last mass.

Just to let you know, I am quite teary-eyed while writing this post because I remember those times that I cried buckets. I remember those times I felt so alone. I remember the times that I can’t seem to understand everything that was happening in my life.  Sometimes, the cross is so hard to bear but you have to carry it with grace and a strong  hope and faith that you  can. One thing I am proud though, I never gave up.

Yes, it’s okay to cry!

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Maraming, maraming salamat LORD

sa lahat ng umaapaw na biyayang ibinigay Mo sa amin

na kasama si Pope Francis.

For all the inspiring and uplifting words,

for the messages of hope and love,

for making us feel so blessed,

Thank You.

We will continue praying for our beloved Pope Francis.

Please heal our hearts, heal our people, heal our land.

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There is no public event that the Pope has to go to  late this afternoon so I guess it is  time to update this blog  :)  I was glued to the TV since day one and that was when Pope Francis arrived here. It is now day three and I’ve played  couch potato to the hilt, drinking endless cups of tea and coffee in between, finding something to munch on and… reflect.

Kidding aside, I’ve never been busy updating my timeline on FB than the last three days.  I let my tears just flow and experience that wonderful feeling of being inspired, blessed and uplifted. Lots of thoughts are playing in my head but for now, they just remain beautiful moments that would make some beautiful memories to recall  when the Pope has gone back to Rome.  They are mixed emotions actually. It’s not everyday that the Pontiff visits a third world country like ours because he empathize  with the Filipino people and sympathizes with the survivors of typhoon Yolanda.  The latter is actually the main reason why he decided to visit the country – the highlight of his five-day visit.

Yesterday was the official start of the events that millions of Filipinos watched and enjoyed. Pope Francis made a courtesy call to Malacanang early in the morning and then later presided over a mass for the religious, priests and seminarians at the Manila Cathedral.  Everywhere the Pope goes, there are thousands and thousands of people lining up the roads, hoping to take a glimpse of him in an open pope mobile. It was a very solemn mass except that the priests can’t stop themselves to take pictures of the Pope via their tablets, cameras and cellphones. It was so touching to see the sea of humanity outside the Cathedral.

Here's what Pope Francis wrote on the Palace's guest book: "On the President and people of this beloved land of the Philippines, I ask Almighty God's abundant blessings of wisdom, discernment, prosperity and peace. 16.1.2015. Francis."

Here’s what Pope Francis wrote on the Palace’s guest book: “On the President and people of this beloved land of the Philippines, I ask Almighty God’s abundant blessings of wisdom, discernment, prosperity and peace. 16.1.2015. Francis.”

Filipino culture has, in fact, been shaped by the imagination of faith.  Filipinos everywhere are known for their love of God, their fervent piety and their warm devotion to Our Lady and her rosary.  This great heritage contains a powerful missionary potential.  It is the way in which your people has inculturated the Gospel and continues to embrace its message (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 122).  In your efforts to prepare for the fifth centenary, build on this solid foundation.

Christ died for all so that, having died in him, we might live no longer for ourselves but for him (cf. 2 Cor 5:15).  Dear brother bishops, priests and religious: I ask Mary, Mother of the Church, to obtain for all of you an outpouring of zeal, so that you may spend yourselves in selfless service to our brothers and sisters.  In this way, may the reconciling love of Christ penetrate ever more fully into the fabric of Filipino society and, through you, to the farthest reaches of the world.

This was part of his homily during the mass at the Cathedral. The beauty of our faith is shining through. He said, “do you love me?” as an intro to his homily quoting the gospel and everybody shouted, “we love you” then he answered “thank you very much”. I had a good laugh at that, he has a sense of humor.  Actually there are those moments that made me laugh and I clapped my hands seeing his lighter side. At the MOA arena, as he was  blessing the deaf-mute family who were privileged to share their journey, Pope Francis kept gesturing with his hands how to say I love you in sign language. Yesterday, while spending just a few minutes with the religious  at the Palo Cathedral, he asked them  to: first pray for him and second, to keep quiet as he smiled at them. That elicited a roar from the crowd. He blessed each religious and priests who came in wheelchairs. Unknown to the social media, he made an unscheduled visit to Manila  street children. During his trip to another event at the Mall of Asia arena, he stopped the pope mobile and kissed a child. He blessed each one of those in wheelchairs at the arena including a teenager with a cerebral palsy who gifted him  with a cross-stitch artwork with the image of Mama Mary.

It was signal number 2 in Tacloban when the plane bearing Pope Francis and his entourage touched down this morning and they had to cut his trip  short to Palo, Leyte and go back to Manila at 1pm due to the inclement weather.

A virtual sea of yellow, everyone wearing raincoats because of the typhoon.

A virtual sea of yellow, everyone wearing raincoats because of the typhoon.

This is my second chance to attend mass  (on tv) presided by Pope Francis. It was the best homily ever. Maybe it is even first in history for a Pope to celebrate   mass wearing a yellow raincoat and braving the winds and rains to give hope to the people of Tacloban and all the people of the Visayas region who are survivors of typhoon Yolanda. (I learned later that yes, it was his first experience to celebrate mass in a typhoon-stricken place).

It seemed like he also experience what the survivors did during typhoon Yolanda.

It seemed like he also experienced what the survivors did during typhoon Yolanda.

This is my simple realization while my tears gently flows as I watch the mass in Tacloban: I felt the presence of Jesus Christ in the person of Pope Francis. Even my  son unabashedly wiped his eyes when the mass ended saying “what a lovely homily”. 

“I have come to tell you that Jesus is Lord. And he never lets us down. Father – you might say to me – I was let down because I have lost so many things, my house, my livelihood. It’s true if you say that and I respect those sentiments. But Jesus is there, nailed to the cross, and from there he does not let us down. He was consecrated as Lord on that throne and there he experienced all the calamities that we experience. Jesus is Lord. And the Lord from the cross is there for you. In everything the same as us. That is why we have a Lord who cries with us and walks with us in the most difficult moments of life.” – Pope Francis (part of his homily in Tacloban)

He stopped briefly  on his way to Palo Cathedral to talk to a family along the road, blessed them and gave them encouragement. What is more touching as told by Cardinal Tagle was when he met 30 survivors for lunch, some lost as much as seven members of their family, some lost their limbs, some lost everything. Pope Francis was speechless and told Cardinal Tagle later that he is learning a lot. The resilience of Filipinos are truly admirable.

When you walk through life with pain and suffering, God is there walking with you, holding your hand lest you stumble and fall.

When you reach your destination, He is there rejoicing with you.  The beauty of it all – the beauty of faith working in your life, the priceless moments alone with God in prayer. They make life meaningful.

 

(photo credits: rappler.com, Official Gazette of the Republic of the Phils.)

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It was the warmest reception ever. The moment the Sri-Lanka plane touched down at Villamor Air Base, I got goosebumps – the shouts of joy, the  simultaneous pealing of the bells in all Catholic churches throughout the land, the anticipation of seeing the Pope finally landing on our shores. What a blessing! And when he showed his face at the window of the plane, everything seemed so surreal.

Pope at the plane

And he seemed excited too to disembark from the plane and greet the people waiting there. That warm smile, the genuine look of joy on his face, so priceless.

Pope6 - skullcap

He tried to hold on to his skullcap as he disembark but the wind was just too strong, it was blown away from his head. His cape blew over his head as soon as he stepped down from the plane.

Such overwhelming, overflowing and indescribable joy seeing him finally even just in front of the TV. He waved his hand to bless the crowd and everyone cheered. I just kept shouting, “Thank You Lord, you brought Pope Francis to us”. The motorcade from Villamor Air Base to the Apostolic Nunciature took about 37 minutes, it was so touching to see large crowds lining up the roads. God’s presence is  fully alive in our hearts as we see His shepherd in our midst. I pray that somehow his visit would inspire us more, enliven our faith,  see God in the faces of those who are in need and who have less in life. I hope his visit would teach us  the full meaning of mercy and compassion.  Mainly, he is here to give hope to those survivors of Yolanda who lost their loved ones, lost their properties and need encouraging words that life has to go on.  Hope is not lost to those who believe.  Hope is not lost to those whose faith remains unshakeable despite all the vicissitudes in life. Hope is not lost to those who believe that God is present in their lives.

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Pope5

He boarded  an open-air pope mobile with two religious leaders. That’s Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on the lower right.  Can’t wait to see him make a courtesy call to Malacanang Palace this morning, have a mass with bishops and cardinals at the Manila Cathedral at noon and meet with religious families at the Mall of Asia arena later in the evening.

Viva Il Papa!

(Photo credits: various sites culled from the net – EPA, AFP,Reuters etc).

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The Pope’s Arrival

This is it! Today is the day  we have been waiting for, the arrival of Pope Francis to the Philippines. The past days, I’ve been glued to the TV screen on  news on what the government and social media has done in preparation for the Pope’s 5-day visit which starts today at 6pm. Just like the rest of the Filipino Catholic community I am excited to see him. I could imagine the warm welcome from a predominantly Catholic nation.

The route for the arrival motorcade

Thursday, Friday and Monday are special non-working holidays here in Metro Manila since most roads are closed to give way to the motorcade and masses that would be held at the Manila Cathedral and in Luneta. The most important event would be his visit to Tacloban  and Palo, Leyte and meet the survivors of typhoon Yolanda, saying mass there and  having lunch with choiced families from different barangays in the province.

UST Papal Visit

The Pope would visit University of Santo Tomas to meet the youth on Sunday at 10am  and the campus is open to the public. There will be a motorcade inside the campus. They have allotted separate gates for the Thomasian community at the Espana side, the football field where the grandstand is would be exclusively for the youth participants though. The youth delegates will come  from the Archdiocesan Commissions on the Youth, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on the Youth, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), member-schools of the Association of Catholic Universities of the Philippines, and the 2nd Philippine Conference on New Evangelization. The public are allowed to enter the back gates of the campus.  Gosh, even old/expired Thomasian alumni IDs will be allowed. I have mine but it expired three years ago and haven’t renewed it yet. Spiritual renewal is the core of Pope’s Francis visit to UST this coming Sunday, January 18.

A lot of people are asking “why UST, why always UST?” “How lucky can UST get?” When Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines, he went to UST. When Pope John Paul II came, he also visited  UST.  Pope Francis  will also visit  UST. Here’s the answer  provided by the Central Media Committee for the Papal Visit.

The University of Santo Tomas is a pontifical university, directly under the authority of the Roman Pontiff—the successor of Peter, the first pope. Aside from its function as a regular university, a pontifical university has a special mission of spreading the Gospel and promoting the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Rector of a pontifical university is appointed by the Vatican, and whenever the pope travels to a country where there is a pontifical university, it is his duty and pleasure to visit this university not only to see how it’s doing but also to inspire and encourage its students, faculty, and staff in their evangelization efforts.

Photo credit: Paul Quiambao  (UST)

Photo credit: Paul Quiambao (UST)

UST Papal Visit 1970. I was here and I remember those moments, we wereeven made to wear our gala uniforms. I was in high school then.

UST Papal Visit 1970. I was here and I remember those moments, we were even made to wear our gala uniforms. I was in high school then. (Photo credit: UST FB page)

UST Papal Visit 1981. It was the first time Pope John Paul II visited UST. (Photo credit: UST FB page)

UST Papal Visit 1981. It was the first time Pope John Paul II visited UST. (Photo credit: UST FB page)

UST Papal Visit 1995 during the  the celebration of World Youth Day held in the Philippines.

UST Papal Visit 1995 during the celebration of World Youth Day held in the Philippines.

Mercy and Compassion

Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old.- Psalm 25:6

Mercy and compassionI love this logo. According to the official website of the Papal Visit to the Philippines,  this symbolizes the following:

COLORS.

The colors of the logo (blue, red, and yellow) are the colors of the Philippine flag. The colors therefore represent the country and its people. It is in solidarity with the victims of recent calamities that the Pope is coming to the Philippines.

CIRCLES.

The innermost circle resembles a pearl, and again it symbolizes the Philippines, which is known as the pearl of the orient seas. The white Cross symbolizes the Christian faith, and our fervent prayer that the center of our country be our Lord Jesus Christ. It serves as a reminder as well that more than a State Visit, the primary objective of the Papal visit is a religious one. He comes to show and share the Lord’s mercy and compassion with the Filipino people.

The red circle symbolizes Mercy, one of the themes of the Papal visit. Red is the color of blood and recalls the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross for our salvation, a holy sacrifice that manifests and exemplifies Divine Mercy for sinful humanity.

The blue circle means Compassion, the other theme of the Papal visit. Blue is the color of divine presence – it is the color of the sky and the sea that surround our life, much like God’s presence, that is, God’s compassionate love that permeates and sustains human existence.

The sequence of the colors follows the order of the colors of the Philippine flag: Yellow at the center, blue on top, and red at the bottom.

The red and blue circles appear like arms embracing the yellow circle. These are the merciful and compassionate arms of the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, embracing the Philippines, the pearl of the orient seas. The current Pope is well known for expressing his love and care for people by spontaneously hugging and kissing them. The red and blue circles or arms therefore symbolize the Pope’s Merciful and Compassionate Embrace, and by extension, Christ’s loving embrace. The Pope now comes to the Philippines to embrace us with his arms of love.

Finally the blue and red circles appear like ripples, or waves emanating from the inner circle, from the Cross. We pray that the Papal visit will indeed create ripples of compassion and mercy throughout the Filipino nation and beyond January 2015.

THANK YOU POPE FRANCIS. Praying for your safety and looking forward to your visit here in our country. We are indeed blessed.

Welcome to the Philippines!

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Come, Lord Jesus.  Come and visit your people.
We await Your coming.  Come, O Lord.

It’s the fourth week of Advent, the final week that we have been waiting for.  It’s Christmas Eve in three days and then Christmas, the mixed feelings of sadness, of joy, remembering Christmas past with awe and wonder. A friend asked me once why Christmas sometimes makes her feel sad despite that the season is supposedly for rejoicing and feeling happy. I sometimes feel that too, feeling alone despite the people around you. There is nothing like the Christmas celebration of old, the times when you were younger and the wonder of Christmas filled your spirits with joy. Oh yes, I remember.

I remember the days back in our hometown when my cousins and I would attend Misa de Gallo or the dawn mass which we now call Simbang Gabi. Electricity was only in the town proper so  we would bring torches made of empty bottles with kerosene.  We had to walk more than a kilometer to reach the Church but what joy  were those days. We would sing Christmas carols along the way, shout to high heavens that it was too cold but the highlight of our mornings after  the mass would always be buying native sweets like suman and drink salabat (ginger brew) or rice coffee from grandma’s kitchen. It’s a far cry from how we celebrate Christmas nowadays, with all the commercial exploitation attached to it.

For some, Christmas is just another ordinary day. For kids, it’s another opportunity to have new gadgets to play with, more toys to collect and maybe  some money to put in their piggy banks. For most of us, there are financial burdens that we have to face, conflict with families or friends, endless problems  that make us wonder, where is the joy in celebrating Christmas?  It does not really matter how simple the celebration is, as long as we remember and be ready to receive the Christ Child in our lives – the message He brings, that of hope and love.

Josef and I attended the morning mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish and we were surprised to find the image of the miraculous Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary from Manaoag. It’s been ages since I visited the shrine, now a Basilica in Manaoag, Pangasinan.The church is one of the Philippines’ most widely visited Roman Catholic Pilgrimage sites. Pangasinan is my home province. There were vendors selling religious items outside St. Jude Parish. Josef bought  a St. Benedict cross  and I bought a ring rosary. We have them blessed right after the mass. The cross (a necklace actually) is for me while I gave the ring rosary to him and told him to put it in his bag all the time. I make rosaries too out of hematite beads and Swarovski crystals  and I was fascinated with how these vendors make the rosaries from plastic beads and twines. I love to learn that and it was nice talking to them in our native dialect. I got some discounts because of it.

It was a busy weekend and I look forward to seeing Nate again on Christmas Eve. A  blessed and joyful Christmas to all of you.

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