Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More amused than pained

I, OF COURSE, was pained when I learned about the US
Supreme Court decision on the so-called “same-sex marriage” (SSM). But
as I started going through the pertinent articles, including parts of
the decision, sorry, but I started also getting more amused than

            I am now more convinced that this so-called landmark event
would not take off and fly. It may appear as a big, whopping success
to those who favor it, but that victory can only be at best Pyrrhic
and very subjective, vibrant only in the mind and heart of its
supporters. It’s a victory in fantasy land.

            Why so? Simply because it is mainly based on the very
flimsy argument of “equality,” “equal protection,” “equal right.” It
is like saying that any opinion, position, preference, view,
lifestyle, sexual orientation, etc., do have the same moment and

            Equality here is taken to mean uniformity, and the
tolerance that it is expected to foster is completely detached from
any objective standard outside of a purely subjective one. In this
regard, no one talks anymore about what is right and wrong, what is
natural and unnatural. It simply depends on a subjective ground that
can gain some weight if a consensus of some sort is achieved.

            If a couple of the same sex want to live together, they
are always free to do so. I am not aware of any law prohibiting them
to do so, nor throwing them into prison, except perhaps in some
ultra-conservative countries.

            But it’s another story when with its legalization, its
proponents start to redefine marriage, altering the nature of
marriage, and nullifying what US Chief Justice John Roberts as the
“millennia” behind the institution of marriage understood as between
one man and one woman.

            These are his words: “The court invalidates the marriage
laws of more than half the states and orders the transformation of a
social institution that has formed the basis of human society for
millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the
Carthaginians and the Aztecs...Just who do we think we are?”

            I completely agree with him when he said:  “If you are
among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor
expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision.
Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity
for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the
availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution.
It had nothing to do with it.”

            And if I may add, much less has it anything to do with the
nature of marriage. Marriage is not a political animal that can be
defined simply by a certain consensus of the people. It’s about a
lifelong commitment of love, of total self-giving that involves the
use of the body, i.e., sex. It has its own nature and law, quite
independent of how we understand it.

            As such it has to be stable and indissoluble until death,
exclusive, between one man and one woman, and always open to life. A
love that involves sex has these properties. And since we are humans
who are free, it is a love that requires them.

            Conjugal love is not just for pleasure. It is procreative
or open to life, because that is the very nature of sex, irrespective
of whether the recourse to the conjugal act results in procreation or

            The love that underlies those in the side of #LoveWins,
which in turn underlies that Supreme Court decision, is a love
detached from natural law. It’s a love that can go in any which way, a
love that can include the expression of human sexuality that has gone
berserk, that is perverted.

            It’s with that frame of mind that another group, for
example, is claiming that pedophilia is natural to men since they are
always attracted to young people. And so we will hear more of all
sorts of so-called natural and human rights that for millennia have
been considered unnatural and inhuman. I wonder what would be next.

            Of course, divorce and abortion have already long been
legalized. All kinds of rationalizations were made, and the vicious
drift continues. It’s the slippery slope in action.

            In all this, we should try to be discriminating but not
discriminatory. Discriminating in the sense of being keen to
distinguish between right and wrong, and choosing the best and
practicable option for the good of all. Not discriminatory in the
sense of not being intolerant even of those who are clearly in error,
always practicing patience, understanding, and mercy.

            We should aim at unity and communion based on truth and charity.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Master of living and working piety

LAST June 26 was the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus
Dei. It also was the 40th anniversary of his death in Rome, his
transit to heaven in 1975. His cause for canonization was opened soon
after his death, and he was finally beatified in 1992 and canonized in

No, I did not meet him personally, even if I was already in touch with
Opus Dei before he died. But I became intimately familiar with his
writings and ideas, all of which “hit” me in an irresistible way.

That he was a very holy man is quite an understatement. He just oozed
with goodness and charity in spite of the difficulties and
misunderstanding he encountered in his most faithful pursuit of his

During his time, his vocation, which was to found Opus Dei and to
preach about the universal calling to sanctity in the middle of the
world, was quite such a novelty that it sparked a good amount of

But he persevered in his effort without letting go of charity. In the
end, what he taught became one of the core elements of the spirit of
Vatican II that highlighted the role of the laity in the life of the
Church and of the world, and the immense sanctifying and redeeming
potentials of our temporal affairs and worldly concerns.

I thought of giving some kind of tribute to this man who left a great
impact on my life. I attribute to him my own “conversion” and the
discovery of my vocation. And I would say, also the man behind a
living and working piety that I now kind of enjoy.

As a kid and, I suppose, like any other kid, I have always wanted to
be good, to behave well, to know as much as I can, but all these often
were frustrated for a number of reasons.

One reason could be that my idea of what is good and ideal for me was
not in touch with the reality of things. I also did not know myself
very well as I mainly considered what I wanted, but not my
capabilities and my weaknesses. And my knowledge of things was often
generic and simplistic, unable to tackle the complexity of life.

When I “met” St. Josemaria through his writings and the Opus Dei
members who were my college classmates then, I soon realized what was
lacking and deficient in me. And more than that, I felt reassured that
I can do something about it, with God’s grace and, of course, my own

St. Josemaria was good in drawing practical and immediately relevant
and applicable considerations from the doctrine of the faith that I,
more or less, know but in an abstract way.

He taught about the sanctifying value of work and the ordinary
circumstances of life. He taught that we can and should find Christ in
everything and in everyone, that God actually intervenes in our life
always and that we need to learn how to be docile to his promptings.

He practically touched on every aspect of life, including fraternity
and charity, spirit of sacrifice, education and continuing formation,
matters of liturgy, civic duties, etc. But more than this, he spelled
out a certain spirituality that would enable an ordinary person in the
middle of the world to truly sanctify himself and participate in the
common task of sanctifying the world itself and everyone else.

It’s a spirituality that makes piety not only a matter of good desires
and intentions, of nice and pietistically pompous words, but of
concrete deeds done without fanfare and with continuity and

It’s a spirituality that takes everyone as he is, with all this assets
and liabilities, but also encourages him and offers him the
appropriate means to be what he ought to be, i.e., as a child of God.

This is what “hooked” me and led me to say “yes” to a lifetime and
all-embracing vocation of total dedication to God’s continuing
redemptive work on earth. I am not afraid anymore of my defects,
weaknesses and possible mistakes and sins I can commit. I feel assured
there’s a way to even make use of them to foster the search for

This is what I learned from St. Josemaria Escriva, and this is what I
would like to share with everyone else. Holiness and piety need not be
strange characters in our life. They are the main ones and are highly
practicable and reachable.

It would be good if we get to know St. Josemaria better.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Misery, mystery and the cross

IF we only have a linear way of thinking, these conditions
of misery and mystery can be the two opposite extremes of the range of
possibilities we can have in our life here on earth. Misery can be the
lowest status we can have, and mystery, while unsettling, can be the
acme of human experience.

            Of course, we try to live a more normal life, endeavoring
to stay away from these two extremes. We can think the ideal is that.

            But we know that our life is not simply linear and flat,
or just two or three-dimensional. It is complex and multi-dimensional,
giving these two conditions the chance of coinciding, instead of
conflicting. This happens especially when we bring in matters of
faith, of the spiritual and supernatural into the equation.

            In the Christian faith, these two extremes can converge in
the phenomenon of the Holy Cross that signifies both the worst of
human misery and the best of mystical life. It is both defeat and
victory, darkness and light, death and life everlasting.

            We need to highlight this truth of faith these days, since
it is often forgotten and ignored, if not ridiculed and rejected. And
if it happens that some acceptance is made, it usually comes with a
lot of distortion and misunderstanding.

            The modern mind, often priding itself as well-informed,
interdisciplinary, sophisticated, etc., actually fails many times to
appreciate this truth. And that´s because in spite of the information
overdrive and data glut, faith is not well understood, much less,

            We need to bring this good news to the mainstream of
society, because the truth of the Holy Cross is not meant only for a
few, for those who happen to be religious in temperament. This truth
is for all. It´s supposed to have a universal audience.

            Obviously, it is a truth that needs not only to be taught
and preached. It has to be prayed for, with sacrifices put in, since
it can only enter people´s minds and hearts when grace touches them
and leads them to be humble enough to believe.

            Pride kills faith and blinds us to the richness of deep
supernatural truths and mysteries. It tends to intoxicate us with
reason alone, if not with feelings only, often keeping us only the
realm of what is pragmatic, popular, convenient.

            We need to actively look for the Cross, find it everyday,
love and embrace it, because first of all that is what Christ told us:
¨If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up
his cross, and follow me.¨ (Mt 16,24)

            Besides, the cross is something we cannot avoid. It is the
consequence of our sins and mistakes. But Christ converted it into an
instrument of our salvation. With him on the cross, the sting of sin
and death is removed.

            A beautiful prayer expresses this truth well: ¨You decreed
that man should be saved through the wood of the cross. The tree of
man´s defeat became his tree of victory; where life was lost, there
life has been restored through Christ our Lord...¨ (Preface, Triumph
of the Cross)

            We have to understand that we can only progress in our
spiritual life, individually and collectively, through the Cross. We
can only do effective battle to the enemies of our soul—our laziness,
pride, vanity, greed, lust, etc.--through the cross.

            It´s this Cross of Christ that has brought about the
Church, the doctrine of our faith, the sacraments, the holy lives of
saints whose testimonies can move and melt the hardest of hearts.

            This Cross transcends the best of human reasoning and
experiences. This was the testimony, for example, of that great
intellectual saint, Edith Stein, who facing a great trial once said:

            ¨This was my first encounter with the Cross, and with the
divine virtue which it infuses in those who carry it. Thus I saw for
the first time and palpably before me, in its victory over the sting
of death, the Church born out of the passion of the Redeemer. It was
the moment when my disbelief collapsed and Christ radiated, Christ in
the mystery of the Cross.¨

            May we learn to look for the Cross always, embracing it
tightly, convinced that´s where our true joy and liberation are found.
May we learn to find the Cross in our daily affairs, big and small.
May we deeply realize that our life is always a blend of joy and
sacrifice, smile and suffering, optimism and difficulty, filial
abandon in the hands of God and determined struggle.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Call to temperance, restraint, moderation

“”ENTER through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and
the road broad that leads to destruction. And those who enter through
it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads
to life. And those who find it are few.” (Mt 7,14)

            With these words, Christ is issuing a call to temperance,
restraint and moderation in the use of material and mundane things,
and even in the use of the spiritual things that we can also abuse.

            To be sure, Christ is no wet blanket who wants to plunge
us into a joyless kind of life. He is a God of joy and peace, the kind
of joy and peace that are real and genuine and that bring us to
eternal life. Even more, he is all eager to share that joy and peace
with all of us.

            We just have to realize that with our wounded condition,
we tend to find joy and peace in things that actually do not give
them. These things can give us some semblance of joy and peace, but
they are at best illusory, deceptive, false and dangerous.

            So, when Christ in another instance told us to deny
ourselves and carry the cross if we want to follow him, it’s not
because he just wants us to suffer, but rather because he wants us to
attain the joy that is proper to us.

            We should not be afraid to practice temperance, restraint
and moderation in our earthly activities, always aware of our tendency
to get lost and swallowed up by them. The practice of these virtues
should not leave us feeling plainly empty. Rather they should lead us
to feel a surge of joy—in fact, an ineffable joy that the world cannot

            If our pursuit for temperance, restraint and moderation
does not have this effect, then we are doing it badly. And it’s right
that we would just feel bad about the whole exercise, drop it and
change course.

            We should see to it that our practice of temperance,
restraint and moderation would give us greater intimacy with God and
with everybody else, marked by praise and thanksgiving, and a great,
driving desire to serve and to share, in spite of the limitations,
weaknesses and mistakes that our wounded human condition would also

            This can happen if our motivation for this exercise if
precisely the love of God and souls, and our idea of joy and peace is
one that transcends the merely physical, sensual, emotional and
material, and one that enters into the realm of the spiritual and

            We have to broaden our idea of joy and peace, and be ready
to cope with the unavoidable tension when we have to blend the
material and spiritual, the temporal and the eternal, etc. With God’s
grace and our trust in God’s ways, we can do it, even if things look
impossible. In fact, in this life, we have to expect that we meant to
deal not only with the possible, but also with the impossible.

            Temperance, restraint and moderation would give us a
lightness of heart and spirit that would enable us to get in sync with
God’s will and ways, and to adapt ourselves to any human situation,
good or bad,

            They would give us a sense of dominion, of self-mastery
over our senses, emotions and even our intellectual activities that
can go in any which way. Especially these days when we are bombarded
with just too many things that can hijack our attention, we need to
sharpen these virtues so as to keep our feet on the ground and avoid
being up in the clouds.

            We need to spread the concern as widely as possible,
beginning with the family. We have to inculcate the proper attitude
and teach the proper skills especially to the young who are now very
vulnerable to fall into excesses and addiction, including sexual

            Everyone should be made to understand that physical and
sensual pleasure not only in food, drinks, comfort, sport but also and
especially in sex (since this is the one that gives the most pleasure)
should always be tempered.

            Parents should be the primary teacher and model for this.
They should realize that children learn things first in the family
before they do in school and in other places. With gift of tongues,
sense of humor and practical things, plus the grace of state that they
have as parents, they fulfill this responsibility well.

            Especially in the area of sexuality, parents are
indispensable because they can get very intimate with their children
in talking about it with hardly any danger.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Faith transmission

FAITH is, of course, a supernatural gift to us, given by
God in ways that defy understanding. But since it concerns us, we have
to realize there are things we need to do to make that faith take root
in our lives, grow to maturity, and spread out to other people.

            We have to realize then that we have a duty to transmit
faith to the others, and to help them keep that faith vibrant and
fruitful. Faith can never just be an individual, isolated affair. It
too has a social aspect. In fact, it needs to be shared and to animate
our culture, since it is supposed to cover all aspects of our life.

            Obviously, to be effective in this business, we should not
only talk about faith. We have to walk the talk. We really have to
live it and incarnate it consistently. One way or another, it has to
show externally, and the others should be able to see it, and admire
and love it eventually, making it their own as well.

            Only then can faith be understood, loved and lived by the
others. Faith is not just a collection of doctrine nor a smart
intellectual exercise. Much less is it only about classes, lectures
and modules. It’s about life of love with God and with everybody else.

            For this to happen, we can cite at least three things that
are needed. One is to develop a true life of piety. Faith cannot
prosper unless its seed falls on the fertile ground of piety.

           Piety is the attitude that corresponds to the deepest
longing we have in our heart. We realize that we need to be attached
to someone higher than us. Thus, we can have first of all a filial
piety toward our parents, then to other people whom we truly love.
Ultimately, we should realize we need to have a piety toward God.

            This piety is expressed in deeds—praying, doing acts of
worship, and other related acts or gestures like making sacrifices,
pilgrimages, fasting and abstinence, going to the sacraments—all of
which happening in the heart and tilting us toward God. These should
be like our breathing, or the beating of the heart, a second nature to

           A second point would be the need for doctrine. Piety
without doctrine is a dangerous situation, prone to superstitions and
other abuses. We have to understand that doctrine is for us the path
to know and love God more and more.

            Doctrine is not just a body of ideas and theories. The
doctrine of our faith is life itself in the context of love. It is God
himself, who is at once the source, the substance and standard of life
and love. We should never reduce doctrine to mere ideas, words and

            We should spread this doctrine as widely as possible,
seeing to it that the study of doctrine should be within the context
of love of God and others. It should never be converted into a mere
intellectual affair that would surely empty it of its living
substance, leaving only a shell.

            We need to be active in studying and teaching catechism,
and in following closely the Church magisterium as expressed in the
words of the Holy Father and the bishops in union with the Pope. When
we study doctrine, we should get to know Christ better. When we teach
or preach it, we should be able to show Christ to others.

            A third point would be the lifelong development of
virtues. When piety and doctrine do not produce virtues, there would
be something terribly wrong in our understanding and life of faith.

            Faith by definition is always transformative. It will
always have an effect in a manner much more effective than what a most
potent medicine can do to heal us of a certain sickness.

            So, a man of faith will always be a man of virtues,
especially charity that includes everything else that is good and
perfecting in us. Faith can be shown when we have patience,
temperance, fortitude, prudence, justice, humility, etc.

            In the work of apostolate and evangelization that we
should be doing and where faith is transmitted, it’s important that we
manage to really befriend everyone, listening to them, adapting
ourselves to them, and gently leading them with gift of tongues to

            We have to remember that this business of transmitting
faith is a most intimate affair, where freedom has to be respected all
the time, and a lot of patience and sacrifice are required.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

As one is and ought to be

IN our relation with others, it’s important that we know
how to treat each one personally as he is and also as he ought to be.
This is a basic demand of charity.

            This will involve some tension, of course, since we have
to accept everyone as he is yet also knowing what needs in him to be
improved, purified, corrected, etc. But we would know how to deal with
that tension if we simply follow God’s commandments.

            And what are these commandments? Mainly two: loving God
with all our might and strength, and loving others as ourselves. The
former would give us the objective criteria of loving, and the latter
applies the first to all of us.

            Both commandments will obviously entail a lifetime
process, with stages of development, with ups and downs, wins and
losses that we need to handle properly. The important thing to
remember is that whatever the situation, we should just move on,
always relying on God’s grace, his wisdom and power, as well as our
unremitting efforts.

            But loving God should be the first thing to be done, since
he is the source of everything, of whatever is true, good, fair,
beautiful and proper to us. When we love God first, we would get a
good idea also of how much God loves us. And this is the love that we
have to show and give to the others.

            When we get a good idea of how and how much God love us,
then we would have a good picture also of how to love ourselves as we
are and as we ought to be. Let’s remember that our duty to love others
should reflect the way we love ourselves, which in turn should be
based on God’s love for us.

            It would be a love that is full of patience, hope, mercy
and compassion. It would be a love dripping with affection and
understanding, and ever willing to make sacrifices for the others,
even to the point of martyrdom. It would be a love that would know how
to deal with everyone as he or she is, warts and all, and yet always
concerned with leading him or her to what, how and where he ought to

            In the end, it would be a love that aspires to bring
everyone, first ourselves and then everybody else, to attain the
fullness of his or her dignity, making everyone a true image and
likeness of God, a true child of God, with his or her personhood fully
developed and lived.

            It would be a love that would move one toward a full
communion of himself with God and with everybody else, a communion
based on God’s love. It is a very dynamic kind of love that would
never say enough in its efforts to pursue its ultimate goal.

            This kind of love is fully shown to us by Christ who loved
us all the way to the cross. The ultimate expression of love has been
done by Christ who himself said: “Greater love than this no man has,
that a man lays down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15,13)

            This kind of love can only be achieved if one is also
vitally identified with Christ. It simply cannot be done using one’s
own powers alone. Our faculties and powers need the ultimate and
indispensable fuel of God. They just cannot be run by our own will
power, much less, by the dynamics of our natural and worldly forces.

            For this kind of love to develop in us, we need to pray,
meditate on the life of Christ who is the pattern of divine love, and
have constant recourse to the Holy Spirit who is the very power that
makes this love alive and burning in us.

            Obviously, we need to familiarize ourselves with the
details of that love as articulated by the doctrine of our faith that
in turn is taught authoritatively by the Church. And so, we need to
have a kind of on-going formation, since the content of our faith is
inexhaustible as it is a living faith, ever renewed and updated and
yet remaining faithful to an absolute, unchanging core.

            We have to be wary of simply relying on a love based on
sentimentalism alone, and worse, on some ideologies that do not
capture, nay, that distort the true nature and essence of man, of
love, and human sexuality.

            At the moment, we are confronted with what the Pope refers
to as “ideological colonization,” for example, the gender ideology
that is behind the same-sex unions. We have to be prepared to clarify
this twisted issue.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Prayer always has priority

 IF there’s any activity that should precede all the
others, it is prayer. In fact, prayer should not only precede, but
also abide and accompany all our other activities of our day, 24/7,
including our sleep.

            That’s because prayer is like the breathing and the
heartbeat of our spiritual organism, of our soul. Just as we continue
to breathe and just as our heart continues to beat even while we are
unconscious in our sleep, so should our prayer be.

            To be sure, this is possible and doable, because praying
does not even need a bodily organ for it to be done. It is a spiritual
operation that can transcend the use of our bodily faculties. It’s a
matter of attitude, of belief, which we can always have even if it is
not expressly articulated.

            As such, it can be done in any situation—while we are
working, playing, resting, etc. But it would be good that we spend
some time doing nothing other than praying, directly engaging God in a
loving conversation, because that would help us to be prayerful in all
our other activities and situations in life.

            Thus, we have to be ready to do some vocal prayers and
mental prayer. These are exercises that can build and fuel our life of
prayer. With them, we engage God in a more direct way, and in a more
loving way, giving him due worship and adoration.

            Besides, those moments of vocal prayer and mental prayer
would be good moments to thank God for everything we have received,
and also to ask for pardon for the mistakes and sins we have
committed, as well as to ask for favors that we need.

            With prayer, we can get to be receptive to God’s will and
ways. We become familiar with his words and his teachings that are a
sure guide in our life. With it, we are not simply living our life on
our own. We are living it with God, which is how our life should be,
since we are his creatures, and creatures made in his image and
likeness, meant to enter and take part in the very life of God

            With prayer, we get to share in a most intimate way what
God has—his wisdom, his power, his goodness, mercy and compassion, his
knowledge of things, etc. And especially when the sting of our
weakness and the strong temptations come, prayer is what enables to
deal with them properly.

            Since our vocal and mental prayers would help us greatly
in building up our whole life of prayer, we should see to it that that
we find the proper time and place for it, and develop, of course, the
proper attitude, dispositions and skills of doing them.

            I believe it is a most worthwhile effort, just as we need
to keep eating, resting, exercising, working, studying etc. to lead a
healthy, normal life. Our spiritual life would soar to high heavens,
discovering many nuances of the spiritual and supernatural life, when
vocal and mental prayer becomes an integral part of our daily life.

            We would know how to see God in others and in everything
else. We would be drawn to love and to serve others, with no fear of
the effort and sacrifice involved. We get to see things properly, more
completely, objectively and fairly. Our faith will be strengthened,
our hope deepened and our charity emboldened.

            We would know how to deal with difficulties and
challenges, with our weaknesses, temptations as well as our sins when
we fall. Prayer opens us to the working of grace that knows how to
bring us back to God no matter how far we may have strayed.

            In fact, it’s what makes us always close to him. Christ,
in his moment of ultimate suffering on cross, still managed to address
his Father, “Why have you forsaken me?” It’s a very filial prayer,
full of confidence in his Father in the moment of his utmost

            Our conviction of the necessity for prayer should be such
that in our darkest moments, we would turn to it readily, complaining
a little perhaps, but showing great trust in the most mysterious ways
of his wisdom and mercy.

            Yes, it is worthwhile to fight to be able to do our vocal
and mental prayers. They are special moments when we become very close
to our Father God, and develop that fundamental intimacy that all of
us need.

            Again, if we succeed in this, it is most likely that
everything else in our life, be it good or bad, can be an occasion and
form of prayer.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Learning the art of interior struggle

YES, as long as we struggle interiorly, there is spiritual life, the
very wellspring that produces the living water for our river of life.
As long as we struggle interiorly, we can be assured of our fidelity
to whatever commitment we have entered into. Interior struggle is
essential and indispensable in our life.

Our life is very dynamic, with all sorts of challenges to face,
problems to solve, issues to be clarified. We need to see to it that
our interior life, our spiritual life, our thoughts, desires and
intentions are firmly rooted on God, their proper foundation.

We need not only to purify our thoughts and intentions from any stain
of pride, vanity, lust, envy, sloth, gluttony, anger, etc. We need to
also fill them and rev them up with true love and wisdom. These are
the reasons why we have to engage in a lifelong interior or spiritual

The ideal situation should be that we are always in awe at the
presence of God in our life, making him the principle and objective of
all our thoughts, words and deeds. We have to be spiritually fit
before we can be fit anywhere else—family-wise, professionally,
socially, politically, etc.

Let’s never be deceived that our life is mainly physical, and its
development is just a matter of struggling externally—that we manage
to eat, to work, to earn, to stay away from physical danger, etc. The
real battle is in our internal selves—in our thoughts and desires, our
will and plans.

The struggle in life cannot just be a matter of economics or politics.
The battle always starts and ends in our mind and heart, in the
spiritual aspect of our life. This is where things start to happen,
and where things also get resolved.

Even if there are still things to be fixed externally, we can still
manage to fix them internally, because that’s where we get in touch
directly with God, and with him, nothing is impossible. Let’s disabuse
ourselves from the thought that we get our ultimate peace and joy
somewhere else.

That’s why we have to see to it that our thoughts and desires are
properly engaged with God who is their true foundation and end, for
outside of him, we will just expose ourselves to all sorts of random
and usually dangerous possibilities.

And God is not a figment of our imagination, a product of our desire
to believe, a mere psychological crutch. He is the most real being—in
fact, the fullness of subsistent being whose essence we can somehow
know but can never fathom. He is the very author of reality itself.

This task of conforming our thoughts and desires to him is getting to
be very exciting, because these days many are the earthly
things—attitudes, philosophies, ideologies, cultures, together with
their lifestyles—that dare to be alternatives to God.

Today’s world is so immersed in worldly values that any reference to
God is at best a mere formalism, a decorative item, a lip service to
tradition that is already emptied of its true substance.

And this is because in the first place many people are not praying
anymore, are not exercising and living by faith. They prefer to follow
by the rule of “following what comes naturally.” And that’s usually
just obeying one’s feelings and passions, or the many flipping fads

Thus you have ad slogans like, “Obey your thirst,” “I don’t wanna grow
up….. I’m a Toys R Us kid,” “It’s fun to tickle your tongue with…” If
you’re constantly bombarded with messages like this, chances are you
will believe them, and start abdicating the use of your spiritual

We have to wage an abiding interior struggle if only to keep our
sanity, our humanity. We need to do it to avoid becoming mainly
conditioned by earthly values that are blind to the spiritual and
supernatural realities of our life.

            We need to see to it that our mind and heart are truly
engaged with God, with the living God, and not just an idea or theory
of God. This is not only possible, but also highly practicable,
because in the first place, God himself wants it that way.

            The reason many people find it hard to get in contact with
God is because they have lost the art of prayer and contemplation, and
have assumed a dominantly worldly outlook that makes them
self-centered, complacent, agnostic, if not atheistic.

            This is where interior struggle is most needed.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

We are meant for a fascinating life

A CERTAIN sense of fascination should characterize our life. As a
jazzy song would put it, fascination should take control. Let’s hope
that as another old song would put it, fascination turns to love, just
as love often relishes in fascination.

    Saints are invariably known for their life of fascination in spite of
the trials, difficulties and even martyrdom that they had to suffer.
Some of them have reached the level of mysticism and ecstasy, which we
can consider as the extraordinary forms of fascination.

    All this is understandable, since as humans with body and not only
with a soul, an ideal situation for us would be to be awe-struck or be
excited even in the humdrum of our daily routine. Ideally, the body
should share in the true delights of the soul.

    We just have to make sure then that our sense of fascination is not
exclusively developed and lived in the realm of the flesh, of the
material, and of the earthly and temporal. That would detach the body
from our soul, our material condition from our spiritual character and
supernatural goal.

    We have to make sure that our fascination is inspired by faith and
sparked to action by our will. We can describe it as a theological
fascination that has to be deliberately developed.

    It should not just be a spontaneous movement of the flesh, stuck at
the level of spur-of-the-moment reactions entirely dependent on
feelings and ruled by an obsession for novelties and curiosities. That
would make fascination less human.

    To be sure, fascination is not just a physical act. It is a human act
that should correspond to all the requirements of our human nature and

    Our fascination should not just delight the flesh. It should delight
us in our totality as a human person and as a child of God.  In short,
it should delight our mind and will properly, stimulating them
properly to get interested in their proper objects.

    And these objects could only be love for God and others. Short of
these, our fascination would be incomplete and imperfect. It certainly
would be vulnerable to abuses and excesses.

    Thus, we see many people getting addicted to sex, drugs, gambling,
worldly power, etc., since their sense of fascination has not entered
the realm of the spiritual and the supernatural.

    This is a challenge we should acknowledge and face. We have to save
our sense of fascination from the grip of the material and emotional
to make it spiritual and theological.

    Obviously, in developing this sense of fascination, we need to go
through stages. While the initial stage is understandably the physical
and emotional, we have to understand that it should go all the way to
the spiritual. For this, a certain training is required. The proper
understanding, attitudes and habits have to be developed.

    In this regard, it might be interesting to pay attention to a passage
in the gospel which can refer to this need of ours to develop a life
of fascination. It’s in the gospel of St. John where we hear our Lord
say: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw al things to
myself.” (12,32)

    The passage that follows it immediately gives a parenthetical
explanation of these words. “Now this he said, signifying what death
he should die.”

    I think that in these passages we are made to know how our Lord
attracts us to himself and therefore what should fascinate us. It’s
when our Lord is lifted on the cross that we would be drawn to him.
It’s when we train our attention to Christ on the cross that we would
be fascinated by him.

    And that is because it is on the cross that our Lord shows the
supreme and most pure love that can ever be shown to us, and that
therefore should attract us. Our problem is that we tend to confine
love to what is physically and sensibly pleasant only, to what makes
us feel good.

    It is a shallow kind of love that cannot understand the value of
suffering in this life, the cross, as a necessary ingredient in our
human condition that is now marked by sin and all sorts of weakness.

    We need to train ourselves to focus and meditate on the passion and
death of Christ and to develop this theological fascination of the
crucified Christ. Only then can we perfect our sense of fascination
that should mark our life here on earth. Only then can we protect
ourselves from unwanted, immoral fascinations.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Let’s fill ourselves with God’s love

IF we really want to be in love, let’s fill ourselves
first of all with the source of love who is none other than God. “Deus
caritas est,” God is love, as St. John says, indicating the ultimate
essence of God. And since we are his image and likeness, we cannot be
other than men and women full of love, of God’s love.

            We have to be wary of distorting this fundamental truth
about ourselves by simply generating our own kind of love that will
always be limited, highly conditioned, effective only under what we
consider to be favorable conditions.

            We have to make the effort to feel the love of God for us
which he pours on us abundantly. That’s simply because unless we feel
that love and get moved by it, we cannot manage to love as we ought to
love. Let’s always remember that Christ himself commanded us to love
one another as he himself has loved us. Christ makes himself the
standard and source of our love.

            Otherwise, what may happen is that we may just rely on our
own self-generated kind of love that can only do so much. For example,
our self-generated love would not know how to be patient for long with
trials and sufferings, how to love and be merciful with those who give
us trouble.

            It would be a love ruled by the law of Talion, eye for an
eye, tooth for a tooth. It would be a love marked by self-interest. In
other words, it would not be pure and completely gratuitous. There
would be strings attached to it. Also, it cannot last long. It would
be too dependent on our moods, and other shifting conditionings.

            We cannot give to others what we do not have. We cannot
reap what we have not sown, and what we sow is first of all sown in us
by God himself, who is our Creator, Father and everything to us. He is
the one who gives us the full scope of the love proper to us. Not only
that, he gives us the power to live it abidingly.

            We readily see this law of love working even in our normal
family life. A baby, for example, knows nothing about loving when he
is born. But he is immediately showered with love and affection, and
learns to reciprocate in his own ways, which we often describe as

            What is given to the baby is given back to us, and what he
observes and receives as he grows is also what he shows and shares
with others. That’s why it is very important that the young ones are
always given good example of loving, caring, serving others, etc.
Otherwise, they can become self-centered and selfish.

            Everyday, we should work out this need of filling
ourselves with God’s love, since this does not come to us
automatically. In the first place, we have to contend with our human
and natural limitations that simply cannot cope with the fullness of
God’s love.

            This is not to mention that we are also burdened by the
effects of our sins and weaknesses, the environment of temptations and
other conditionings that would make us not only insensitive and
resistant but also hostile to God’s love.

            That’s why it’s good to cultivate a life of recollection
and contemplation even while in the middle of the world, ever
meditating and relishing on God’s goodness, wisdom, love and mercy.

            That he created us when there was no need for him to do
so, that he endowed us with the best of things such that we become his
image and likeness, that he always forgives us when we fall and is
patient with us in our erratic ways, that he provides us with all our
needs—all these and more should always be in our mind and heart.

            Even if he allows trials, suffering and calamities to come
our way, we should not forget that his love knows what to do with
them. As St. Paul would put it, “Love bears all things, hopes all
things, endures all things…” (1 Cor 13,7)

            How important therefore that our thinking and even our
sensibility is infused with piety, a piety that is supported by a
theological mind, so that we would always be aware of God
never-failing love for us. And not only that, but also that we would
be moved to love God and others in return.

            We should do everything to fill ourselves with God’s love.
On God’s part, he is never sparing in giving us that love to us. It’s
up to us to have it as much as we can!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The sense of the eternal

WE need to develop this sense of the eternal because that
is proper to us. It’s not a luxury, and much less is it an exercise in
fantastic, delusional futility. It is a necessity. Without it, we
would be lost in this great and largely uncharted ocean that our world

            As human persons with a spiritual soul, we are not meant
to live only in time. We just don’t have a temporal, mundane life,
governed only by temporal and worldly values. We are meant for the
eternal life with eternal laws governing it.

            It would be good that we cultivate an abiding sense of the
eternal, for that would give us the whole picture of our life and
would provide us with the ultimate standards of our life by which all
our mundane affairs and concerns ought to be related and assessed.

            We should not be contented with merely human and natural
criteria as we live our life here on earth. No matter how
indispensable they also are, they only have a relative value,
effective only when organically related to the eternal virtues of
faith, hope and charity.

            The standards of efficiency, effectivity, profitability,
etc., are indeed very helpful, but they can only serve us so much.
They still are in need of a more radical motivation and an ultimate
end. It’s the sense of the eternal that would make us most
broad-minded and that goes all the way in satisfying all the
requirements of our dignity.

            These eternal, theological virtues of faith, hope and
charity are what would lead us to our eternal life. They actually are
the initiatives of God, our Creator and Father, whose image and
likeness we all are, and from whom we come and to whom we belong. They
are not our inventions.

            Precisely, as his image and likeness, we are meant to
belong to him in a most intimate way by sharing in his life and
nature. This is made possible through his grace that brings with it
faith, hope and charity and the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

            Oh, how important and crucial it is then to know at least
the basic truth about our relation with God so that we would know how
to keep and enliven that relation, ever mindful of our duties and
responsibilities arising from it.

            Unfortunately, this relation, if ever we are still aware
of it, is often taken for granted, or is mainly influenced by elements
of sentimentalism, social and cultural conditionings, and the like. It
is hardly developed according to the terms of the God-given gifts of
faith, hope and charity.

            To be sure, these gifts of faith, hope and charity are
given to us abundantly. In this, God is never sparing. But it is up to
us to get as much of them as we can, and to keep and develop them
properly, without wasting them.

            We can claim this because of the fact that God has sent
his Son to us to save us, to heal and re-create us. And after the Son
has accomplished his mission, God now has sent us the Holy Spirit to
keep alive the redemptive work of the Son-made-man, Jesus Christ.

            With the Holy Spirit, we are given some special gifts and
fruits that would further facilitate the workings of faith, hope and
charity in us. It’s very important that we be keenly aware of this
truth of our faith, so we can do our part of conforming ourselves to
that reality.

            To be sure, we are equipped with enough God-given powers
to properly handle these supernatural gifts God is giving us. Our
intelligence and will, or what are called our spiritual faculties, can
manage with God’s grace to process the content and standards of the
divine, supernatural gifts.

            It is crucial that we learn how to keep our spiritual
faculties properly grounded and oriented. They just should not be
contented with processing purely worldly things, no matter how
reasonable or scientific or artistic they are. They need to enter into
the world of the supernatural faith, hope and charity.

            Thus, we need to learn how to be recollected, how to keep
our senses, our feelings, emotions and passions, our thinking and
activities, always beginning and ending with God, as what we usually
say in our prayers.

            Immersing ourselves in God does not compromise our
immersion in our worldly affairs. What it does is to help us immerse
ourselves in them properly, supernaturalizing them and relating them
to our eternal life with God, our ultimate end!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Burned out?

WE all know that life has more to offer than what we can
manage. There are surprises both of the pleasant and welcome ones as
well as the terribly unwelcome ones. There are heavy pressures and
insoluble predicaments. We have to be ready for these eventualities,
though we also know we cannot be truly ready enough.

            We have to learn to live with this fact of life and
strengthen our conviction, based on our Christian faith, that there’s
such thing as divine providence. God always governs all of his
creation, and in his own mysterious ways directs all things to
himself. If this is part of our bedrock belief, then we would be open,
ready and game with anything in life.

            A great part of his providence is beyond our
understanding. What we know is that it is at once all-wise,
all-powerful, all-just and all-merciful. If we would just be open to
this truth about his providence, I suppose we would be ok even if
along the way we commit all sorts of mistakes and even sins.

            God knows what to do with our blunders. And if they
happen, it’s because at least God knows how to draw good from them.
Everything somehow happens for a purpose in the ever dynamic
providence of God.

            As St. Paul would put, “To them that love God, all things
work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are
called to be saints.” (Rom 8,28) These words of St. Paul should be the
very kernel of the attitude we ought to have toward anything that can
happen in life.

            Of course, such divine providence does not take away our
freedom which we can use unfortunately to go against his will and
ways. In spite of the infinite wisdom and mercy of God in his
providence, we can still manage to go against it.

            Thus, Christ talked about a sin that cannot be
forgiven—the sin against the Holy Spirit, when we “we speak against
the Holy Spirit.” (cfr Mt 12,32). The Holy Spirit is the God who is
sent to us to sanctify us. He is actually always around prompting us
what to think, choose, say and do.

            We have to remember that God completely gives himself to
us. He is not sparing in this. He is now with us in the Holy Spirit.
In a sense, he is all there for the taking. It’s really just up to now
how to take advantage of this reality.

            Thus, we are told that the proper attitude we ought to
have toward the Holy Spirit is that of docility. But for this to take
place, we also have to do our part. We need to learn to pray, to live
always in the presence of God, to develop the virtues, to learn the
doctrine of our faith so that we would know how to deal with the Holy
Spirit, to avail of the sacraments, etc.

            It also helps that humanly speaking, we develop a good
sense of humor, and a practical sense of how to defuse the pressures,
like indulging in some healthy hobbies and sports, or doing some
physical exercises that can lighten the mind and spirit.

            In the end, when things are just beyond us to cope, we
have to learn how to live abandonment in the hands of God who knows
what to do with all of our predicaments. In this, it might be good to
meditate on that scene of the agony of Christ in the garden of

            There he prays most earnestly to his Father, and begs him
to let “this cup pass by me.” He already has done a lot to accomplish
his mission of saving us. Still there is one more thing yet to be

            Later on, he kind of rectified himself: “But not my will
but yours be done.” And with that, he proceeded to face his arrest,
passion, crucifixion and death. He gave himself completely to the
cruelty of men and offered his life, only to resurrect on the third

            We have to see in this scene the template of how we are to
behave when faced with insoluble predicaments. We should not be afraid
of the cross in whatever form it takes. When we have done everything
that we could and still the predicaments remain, we just have to face
and embrace it the way Christ did.

            It’s in that spirit that we can expect to rise also
together with Christ. We can actually have as many resurrections as
death-causing problems in our life!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

It’s school time again!

 THAT’S right, and I am now again back to school. It’s just
one among many other pastoral assignments given to me this year. But I
welcome this opportunity to be involved in a school, since the
suspenseful work of forming people is made easier by the more or less
controlled and structured conditions schools have.

            Still I know I have to keep myself strong inside and out
to cope with all the burden that undeniably is also great. Just the
same, I also know that it also has its sweet and gratifying moments.
It’s not all sweat and blood.

            As chaplain, I say Mass everyday for everyone
there—students, teachers, staff, some parents and guests. I hear
confessions, conduct recollections, retreats and doctrine classes, and
sit for hours in the confessional for personal spiritual direction.
I’m happy to learn that this year the population has grown

            These are very delicate tasks but also a very privileged
honor. Not everyone gets the chance to be of help and to make some
crucial impact on the most intimate aspects of the lives of young

            Much of this work is done hidden and in silence, without
fanfare and worldly rewards. But what consoles is the thought that
that’s how things and persons grow. And if I do things well, I know
that together with God’s grace, I would be making a big difference in
the lives of people.

            It’s in these personal chats that I can clarify matters
and issues, give pieces of advice and words of encouragement, sow
reasons for hope, open horizons and broaden minds and hearts by
pointing to our ultimate common goal while learning how to avoid
getting entangled along the way. My desire is to be able to motivate

            In a sense, I would be journeying with them. And given
current world conditions, the effort is not without difficulties.
Complicated minds and attitudes have taken root in many people. One
really has to be very patient and creative with them, knowing how to
make timely detours, when to stop, when to go, etc.

            The effect of all this is many times very heartwarming, as
people make welcome changes in their lives. Some people think miracles
do not happen anymore these days. My experience is different. I see
miracles taking place every day, though most of them do not have
external manifestations.

            Among the things I do in school is to give a class on
Christian morality to high school seniors. While I have been giving
classes and talks on this topic, there’s always the challenge of how
to present the same ideas and doctrine especially to young people,
given the obvious generation gap.

            There’s always the need to adapt oneself to his audience,
to talk their language, to be at their level. He needs to be most
perceptive of the subtle shifts of mentality that takes place among
people through the years and to attune himself to those conditions.

            It cannot be denied that giving classes also involves some
skills in performance and theatrics to be able to catch and keep the
attention of the students. Especially when the students are young, the
teacher has to contend with the notorious fickle-mindedness of these
students. But he should not lose sight of the essential things to be

            Due preparation is a must in giving classes. A teacher has
to bear in mind that his presence alone should project a certain
wholesomeness that would attract the young students, including the
laziest and the most distracted and inattentive ones.

            He should try his best that he is consistent himself with
what he is teaching. What frustrates students most is when they see
their teachers not living what they are  teaching.

            In this class on Christian morality, I immediately felt
the need to clarify what morality is not. That’s because nowadays,
many people, especially the young, come with very distorted ideas and
biases against the mere mention of morality.

            I had to say that morality is not just about human
sexuality, though a good part is dedicated to it since it is where
many of us have our weakness, if not, our Waterloo. Neither is
morality simply about rules, though rules there also are.

            The challenge is how to make a keen sense of morality an
integral, natural part of one’s thinking, speaking and acting. Sad to
say, with the thick cloud of confusion nowadays, many people have
practically lost this sense, and if they still have it, it is quite
damaged, needing repair.

            Please pray and wish us luck!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Human and Christian consistency in politics

POLITICS, of course, is an unavoidable concern for us. As
social beings, we cannot help but get into politics. That’s simply
because we have to organize ourselves as a people. And it’s a need
that will always be an on-going affair.

            We need laws to govern the way we live, we need peace and
order, we need a working economy. We need leaders on whom we invest
some authority. These and a lot more is what politics is all about.

            In all of these, we have to find ways of how to meet them.
That’s why we have elections, among many other others. Of course, the
conduct of our elections is also subject to some agreed rules.

            Now, with the elections coming up, the political fever is
upon us, and the big challenge now is how to maintain our human and
Christian consistency—some say, sanity—in politics.

            What we are seeing now, even while quite early yet in the
game, is a gathering storm of political attacks. There’s a lot of
mudslinging, faultfinding and muckraking, reckless branding and

            If not these, then they go to the other extreme of
unmitigated praises and alleluias of personalities whom they
practically portray as completely sinless, the savior of the world,
while the opponents are pictured as the devil incarnate, the ultimate
villain deserving instant death and hell.

            Some say this is normal. I say it’s not. It’s inhuman, let
alone, unchristian.            There seems to be an unspoken
understanding that when it comes to politics, we can behave like
animals, fighting each other over ideas and opinions.

            Some say we need not distinguish between the persons of
the candidates, officials and supporters, and the different positions
they hold. Everyone and everything is fair game. Killing can even be

            We have to say that this cannot be. We are supposed to be
ruled always by something indispensable even in our most contentious

            Everyone seems to forget that charity is what keeps us
human and Christian in politics as it is in every aspect of our life.
But especially in politics where, by its nature, things can be messy
and tricky. Precisely the complexity of politics makes charity most

            Charity is what enables us to respect and love one another
in spite of our sharp differences and conflicts, thereby following
Christ’s new commandment of loving one another “as I have loved you.”
He even went to say that we have to love our enemies. For this love,
Christ ultimately had to die on the cross.

            All these for the simple reason that first and last, we
are brothers and sisters, creatures of the same God even if we call
him by different names and describe him in a variety of ways.

            Truth is we are all members of the same family. Whether we
like it or not, we are obliged to love one another no matter what.
This is a basic truth that we should never forget, especially when we
do politics.

            Some say that charity dilutes if not dissolves many
important values like truth, justice, fairness, etc. That’s why many
politicians do not give much attention to charity. At best, they
render only some lip service to it.

            But hardly anything can be farther than the truth, since
charity, in fact, holds the highest standards insofar as these values
are concerned. What is often conveniently forgotten is what while
charity requires the most stringent criteria of truth, justice,
fairness, etc., it goes much further to include mercy and compassion.

            It’s charity that would enable us to have a certain
openness to all views and positions, including those we do not agree
or even consider as objectively wrong. It’s not so much because of the
views that we are open as to the persons who hold them.

            If, in the worst scenario, we believe that they are in
error, we can try to correct them with utmost delicacy, strictly
following due process that governs the proper resolution of issues.

            We should avoid ad hominem attacks, rash judgments that
often are a product of an orchestrated mob rule, assertions and
accusations that hardly have any strong basis or are simply based on

            We should try to tame our passions that often blind us and
push us to do uncharitable things. While we inevitably have our biases
and preferences, let’s also be open and fair to those who differ from

            In the end, we should be guided by a well-formed
conscience, always attentive to God’s will and ways in doing politics,
and especially when choosing our public officials.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Corpus Christi

WE have just celebrated that tremendous Solemnity of the
Body and Blood of Christ. Tremendous, because we can never have enough
of the overwhelming truth and mystery that in spite of our natural
limitations, not to mention, our infranatural defects due to our sins,
Christ continues to be with us and to love us, offering himself as
food to nourish us, heal us, save us.

            We need to take time to savor and fathom a little this
truth of our faith that should fill us with joy and hope regardless of
circumstances. This is not an exercise at escapism and fantasizing,
but rather a realistic gesture—indeed, a necessity—given our true
dignity as persons and children of God.

            May we never get accustomed to this great sacrament of the
Holy Eucharist that contains the very body and blood of Christ! With
it, we actually have God himself with us, offering everything that we
need to be what we ought to be. With it, time and eternity  are
united, the natural and supernatural, the material and spiritual, our
sinfulness and our salvation become one.

            Yes, there are certain things, very fundamental and
indispensable to know about ourselves, that we need to be more aware
of and to be more consistent in. We are children of God, created in
his image and likeness, whose lives just cannot be by ourselves but,
by definition, lives lived in God and with God.

            In other words, we are not meant to merely have natural
human lives. Ours are also meant to be supernatural, a completely
gratuitous privilege to which, with God’s grace, we are expected to
correspond. Our life with God is something that we have to work out.

            It is worthwhile to pause and meditate on this mystery. We
should try to distance ourselves from our usual concerns, at least for
a while, if only to enter into another level of reality—the spiritual
and the supernatural—that we often take for granted.

            Such effort, for sure, will do us a lot of good. It would
help us to see things holistically and to put us on a track that is
most proper to us. Truth is we very often miss what is truly essential
in our life.

            We just get entangled with the peripherals in life which,
while unavoidable and in a sense also necessary, are not the most
important. We get confused as to which is our true end and which
merely are means toward that end.

            The liturgical celebration of Corpus Christi that in some
places is extended with an octave or weeklong solemn exposition of the
Blessed Sacrament should lead us to ask questions like how am I
nurturing my Eucharistic devotion, am I developing the urge to attend
and actively participate at Mass, especially Sunday Mass, do I know
what the Holy Mass really is, etc.?

            Do I feel something special whenever I am in front of the
Blessed Sacrament or even when I just happen to pass by a church where
I know the Blessed Sacrament is reserved? Do I get to engage Christ in
some intimate conversation when I receive him in communion or simply
when I am in front of the Blessed Sacrament?

            Do I make a pious genuflection whenever I am before the
Blessed Sacrament? Do I feel good when I am there? There are many
heart-warming anecdotes about how one’s piety before the Blessed
Sacrament converted the most cynical and sceptical persons.

            The Blessed Sacrament should be a magnet in our life. It
will help us to have a supernatural tone in our outlook. It will
remind us of the real purpose of our life. It will serve to
organically shape our day.

            It’s been said that the Holy Eucharist is the source and
summit of Christian life, the center and root of our spiritual life.
We cannot overemphasize these overwhelming truths. That’s why, we need
to take time to meditate on them and draw concrete resolutions.

            In fact, the resolutions we can get from our devotion to
the Holy Eucharist can be endless. Especially at these times when we
tend to be most harassed by temporal concerns, leading us to forget
about the eternal goals of our life, we need to make this devotion
truly vibrant.

            Let’s take advantage of our preparation for the
International Eucharistic Congress to spread this devotion, teaching
everyone, especially the young ones, how to live it. Again, the family
plays a fundamental role, with the parishes and schools giving
valuable support.

            Let’s never forget that with the celebration of Corpus
Christi, we are presented with the truth that Christ continues to
really with us! He has not left us.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Smile, laugh, have fun

AS long as all these are properly grounded and oriented,
there’s nothing at all to worry. Smiling, laughing and having fun
would do us no harm, and in fact would be and would do good to all.
The world would be a much better place to live, work and face our
usual as well as our unusual concerns.

            If we manage to smile, to laugh and maintain a good sense
of humor, in spite of whatever and all because of love of God and of
others, then it can only mean we are healthy not only bodily but also

            We need to cultivate this art of smiling and laughing
especially these days when we see a lot of harassed faces. It’s indeed
ironic that even as we seem to progress because we now enjoy a lot of
technological facilities and many advancements and developments in
other areas, the number of distorted and contorted face has also

            The Holy Father has talked about this phenomenon sometime
ago. He made reference to people with funeral faces. This should not
be the case, since if we truly go by our faith, there’s indeed no
reason to feel sad, let alone, show it physically.

            Everything has already been taken care of by Christ.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace,”
he reassured us. “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage;
I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33)

            It’s important that we know the ultimate source of our
peace and serenity, our sense of confidence and hope that would enable
us to be cheerful at all times no matter what. It’s in Christ.

            In other words, the art of smiling and laughing would
depend on how truly and vitally united we are with Christ. It’s not
merely a matter of luck, of some advantages we happen to have in life
in terms of health, wealth, social position, talents and other

            It’s when we truly encounter Christ who actually comes to
us and who never abandons us, and overcome our initial fear in meeting
him, and follow him as closely as possible, when we would be filled
with indescribable joy that would simply overflow.

            Let’s remember that the apostles themselves were driven to
great fear when they met Christ in some unusual occasions, as when
Christ walked on the water. But when they were reassured it was
Christ, they immediately became very happy.

            Obviously, this joy will come when we know how to live in
the presence of God, how to pray and refer things always to him, never
feeling alone to face the vagaries of life. It comes and develops when
we have an intimate relation with him, with his teachings, with his
will at every moment.

            It comes and develops when we, like Christ, would overcome
the fear of the cross, of any problem we can have in life, when we
know how to react to anything in a supernatural way, with faith, hope
and charity, much like how Christ behaved when his time to suffer and
die came.

            It should be a constant intention in our prayer that we
grow in identification with Christ, and then start to make adjustments
in our attitudes and ways of seeing and doing things, to let the
forces of faith, hope and charity to irrigate our thoughts, desires,
plans, words, and general behaviour.

            Yes, we can avail of some finishing-school type of
developing cheerfulness and sense of humor, like learning how to crack
jokes, to make fun of oneself, to act like a comedian or jester for
the others, but only as a consequence of an authentic relationship
with Christ or at the instance of faith, hope and charity.

            I believe that this concern for learning how to smile,
laugh and have fun is a real and urgent one that needs general
attention. It might be a good idea if we can devise a way of
monitoring the level of authentic joy and cheerfulness in the
different levels of society.

            Things should start with oneself, then with the family and
the neighbourhood. Schools and other forms of community life should be
marked by a healthy brand of cheerfulness.

            Yes, we have to practice to smile and laugh and have clean
fun. Parents should plan things so that everyone at home smiles and
has a good time, in spite of whatever problems there may be. Let’s
remember education starts at home, before it is sustained in the
schools.  Might be good to collect jokes and nice, edifying anecdotes
for this purpose.