Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Developing a healthy self-esteem

ONE sad thing that can be observed around is to see
people, even young people, who have a very low self-esteem. They are
usually shy and withdrawn, and if you get to know them better, you
will most likely discover that they suffer a range of anomalies and
irregularities like self-pity, doubts and fears, depression, etc.

            There are, of course, others who may appear assertive and
aggressive, but again if you get to know them better, you will also
discover that all that assertiveness is actually a form of defense
mechanism to cover their low self-esteem.

            It’s a challenge indeed to let these people realize that
they have no reason at all to have a low regard of their own selves.
But this will require some tedious explanation that has to be given in
a period of time and in some appropriate if not catchy ways.

            The usual factors that go into this phenomenon are the
usual human problems that people can have and which they do not know
how to cope. These can be some low economic or social status, personal
problems involving the temperament and the emotions, family and
professional problems, mistakes and failures committed, expectations
not met, lingering sense of frustrations and disappointments, etc.

            It’s a pity because some people allow themselves to be
trapped in a self-inflicted restricted view of life when in fact all
of us have every reason to be confident and happy, irrespective of
whether things in their life are going well or not.

            And that’s simply because regardless of our status,
situations and conditions in life, we are all children of God who
loves us no matter what and who is bent to bring us back to him from
whom we come, if only we allow him.

            That is why it’s important that we always bring in the
fundamental inputs of our faith to tackle this problem, and to let
them shape our outlook and attitudes. If these truths of our faith do
not or hardly play a prominent role in developing our life, then we
have reason to think that we are prone to fall into low-esteem.

            Imagine the following truths of faith: We have been
created in the image and likeness of God. We have become the
masterpiece of all his creation. We are the only ones, together with
the angels, who can know and love God and thus enter into his life.

            We are children of God because even if we have committed
sin and strayed from him, he continues to love us and would do the
most complicated process of saving us by becoming man himself,
enlightening us about who we really are, and assuming all our sins by
dying on the cross.

            One psalm expresses the extreme amazement at this divine
love for man: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human
beings that you care for them?” (8,4)

            If we can only believe that God truly loves us no matter
what, we have no reason to have low esteem. On the contrary, we can
show confidence and joy, even a healthy kind of superiority complex,
despite our worst conditions in our earthly life.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Anniversaries, gratitude, fidelity

ANNIVERSARIES of whatever kind, be it happy or sad, should
elicit in us the impulse of gratitude and the resolve to be faithful.
They are part of our past that involves a turning point or a landmark.
As such they define our life to a certain extent. They give direction
and meaning to our life.

            They remind us that life is a continuum of the past, the
present and the future. If we are perceptive enough of their
significance, they can suggest that we are meant to break out of time
to enter into eternity. They should be seen as part of a global whole
that can only come from our faith in God, our creator and father. They
can very well be milestones in the abiding providence of God.

            They are good occasions to take account of what had
happened since that landmark event, to count our blessings and give
thanks to God and all. That’s because despite whatever mistakes,
problems, failures, setbacks we may have experienced, the truth is we
have survived them, we have learned precious lessons, we still feel
loved and are still capable of loving and of moving on, since there
are still many things to do.

            It’s important that we be quick to acknowledge these
graces and blessings, and give due thanks for them, especially through
fervent prayers, generous sacrifices and, of course, the celebration
of the Holy Mass which is the best way to give thanks, since our
gratitude would be coursed through Christ’s supreme act of offering of
his life to his Father for our sake.

            Anniversaries should bring these truths to the fore, and
should elicit in us the proper response. Aside from thanksgiving, we
should be filled with desires for renewal, for another conversion, for
sustained continuity and fidelity.

            They should remind us of the bigger, more comprehensive
picture of our life, removing us from our tendency to be restrictive
in our view, understanding and attitude to things.

            In fact, we need to learn how to relate the here and now
to our beginnings as well as our ultimate end. More than that, we need
to learn to relate the temporal to the eternal, the material to the
spiritual, the natural to the supernatural. Anniversaries should
somehow trigger these considerations in our mind and heart.

            We should help one another to understand and conform our
mind and heart to the true nature, character and purpose of
anniversary celebrations. Especially these days when we are bombarded
with things that tend to chain us to the here and now and to the
externals, to the ephemeral, we need to be more active in highlighting
the true meaning of anniversaries.

            The most important consideration should be that of
fidelity—first to God and to whatever commitments we may have entered
into. We have to understand that fidelity to God is not a dead and
rigid one. It is rather alive and active, always able to react and say
something meaningful, relevant, useful and redemptive to any situation
and predicament we may be in.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Developing a sense of commitment

WE need to develop the sense of commitment in everyone,
and especially among the young ones. It’s what is proper to us, for it
shows we are true to our words, following what Christ once said: “Let
your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ (Mt 5,37)

            For sure, we are capable of entering into a commitment,
because we have both the intelligence and will that will enable us to
know what we are committing ourselves into and to want it for good or
for a time, irrespective of the changing circumstances and
developments that may be propitious or not to us.

            Entering into commitment can only show determination on
the part of the one assuming it, a determination that can only spring
from love, from one’s self-giving to another.

            It is a promise that is taken very seriously, just like
what a marrying couple would promise to each other on their wedding
day—“to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for
worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death
do us part.”

            As such, a commitment can truly be considered as proper
when it is inspired by God’s love, since it is God’s love that is its
source and pattern. God is always faithful to us, as can be gleaned
from the Book of Lamentations:

            “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies
never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your
faithfulness.” (3,22-23)

            And even if we are unfaithful to God, God will still be
faithful to us, as St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans:
“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the
faithfulness of God?” (3,3)

            We need to inculcate this sense of commitment among the
youth since they are the ones most affected by the current prevailing
environment of disloyalty, infidelity and promiscuity. Some have gone
to the extent of equating being non-committed with being free, when in
fact being non-committed can only make them held captive and enslaved
by self-seeking forces.

            We have to convince them that this is the way to their
true happiness and their human maturity and Christian perfection. It
is a way for them to develop authentic virtues. A person who is afraid
or who refuses to enter into commitment ends up being wishy-washy. He
is an unreliable person.

            We have to reassure them that entering into commitment
will not make them rigid persons. Neither will it curtail their
freedom. In fact, the contrary is true. Entering into commitment
enhances and facilitates their freedom, since it will help them to
attain the goal of their commitment despite changing circumstances.

            If entered into out of love of God, there will never be
regrets. Even if the outcome may appear to be disadvantageous, such
disadvantage will only be apparent and would only be so if seen in
purely human and worldly terms. In the eyes of God, such commitment
can only be good to us irrespective of worldly and temporal

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Let go, let God

THANKFULLY, this is an expression that is gaining ground
on many people. I hear this more often these days among those who come
to me for some advice. When faced with certain problems and
difficulties that seem to be unsolvable despite their best efforts,
this is what they say.

            Let’s hope that this expression, which should be used with
the proper spirit, continues to be in the lips of more and more
people. We cannot deny that in life there are many things that are
beyond our understanding and human capabilities. We just have to
abandon ourselves in the hands of God who knows what to do with any
situation we can be in.

            This is the proper attitude to have. We need to have a
sense of acceptance and abandonment in the hands of God who in his
providence is actually directing everything to himself. And everything
means precisely that—everything, that includes our sins, our mistakes
and failures, our problems and difficulties, etc.

            Christ reassures us of God’s loving and merciful
providence when he said: “Do not worry about your life, what you will
eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more
than food and the body more than clothing?

            “Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap,
they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?” (Mt 6,25-26)

            Of course, we are not mere birds that worry only about
food and shelter. We have far more complicated needs, especially in
our spiritual and moral lives which the birds and the animals do not

            But precisely Christ is telling us that if our heavenly
Father would take care of birds that have simple needs that can easily
be done away with, would he not much more take care of us who have
more serious needs?

            In short, if God takes care of mere birds, would he not
take much more care of us who are more precious to him than birds are.
And this attitude of God to us can easily be seen in the fact that he
made us in his image and likeness, adopted us as his children, and
even if we committed sin, he continues to love and save us, even to
the point of becoming man, and assuming all our sins by offering his
life on the cross.

            We should never waver in our hope and full trust in God
and in his all-wise and merciful providence. Even if our unsolvable
predicaments are self-inflicted, we should just try our best to go
back to him as soon as we can, without any delay, because God
understands everything and is all too willing to forgive us.

            We may have to go through some suffering. But if we also
know how to suffer by uniting our suffering with that of Christ, then
everything would just be all right. We can manage to have some peace
and even joy in the midst of our unavoidable suffering.

            So, we just have to learn how to let go and to let God do
what we cannot do anymore. There’s always hope even in our worst
condition. If Christ can resurrect the dead, the worst condition that
we can find ourselves in, what else can he not do to save us?

            Even if we are rotten to the core in terms of our speech
and behavior, there is always hope. We just have to really learn how
to let go and to let God. We have to learn a certain spirit of
detachment of worldly things and concerns to allow God’s mercy to take

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Suffering is loving

WE need to discover and appreciate the link between
suffering and loving. The two need not go against each other. In fact,
they have to go together if we want our suffering to be meaningful and
fruitful. And we have a way to do that.

            By uniting our suffering with the passion and death of
Christ on the cross, the vital link between suffering and loving is
established. The sting of suffering and death is removed, and the
guarantee of our resurrection and our victory over death, sin and all
forms of evil that cause us suffering is made.

            We just have to learn to be sport about our unavoidable
condition of suffering in this life and adapt the proper attitude and
reactions that should be inspired by our Christian faith. We have to
educate our senses, feelings and emotions according to the indications
of our faith and the recourse to the sacraments. By developing a life
of authentic piety, we can hack it.

            In this, we should follow the example of Christ described
in St. Peter’s first letter. That is why it is always worthwhile to
develop the habit of meditating on the passion and death of Christ so
we can have some clear ideas about the meaning, reason and purpose of

            In that way, we would be properly motivated in our
suffering and would in fact look forward to it rather than run away
from it, just as Christ looked forward to his passion and death and
did not run away from it.

            “Christ also suffered for you,” St. Peter said, “leaving
you an example that you should follow in his steps. He committed no
sin. No guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not
revile in return. When he suffered, he did not threaten, but he
trusted to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body
on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By
his wounds you have been healed.” (2,21-24)

            If we would have the mind of Christ in our suffering, for
sure we can manage to have peace of mind and even joy, knowing that
our suffering will always produce some good fruits not only for us but
also for the others. We can manage to stay away from self-pity and
anxiety that can do a lot of harm on our mental health, not to mention
our spiritual health.

            It is important that we see in suffering the very act of
loving, because we convert suffering into an expression of our
obedience to the will of God who allows us to suffer. Let’s remember
that nothing happens in our life, including our suffering, that is not
at least allowed by God in his providence. And if he allowed it to
happen, it’s because there’s a greater good that can be derived from

            Let us break loose from the fear of suffering. Rather, we
should feel privileged when some suffering comes for it is a clear
occasion for us to show our love for God and for others.