Your daily shot of hope & fun!

Dive

‘Dive into deeper connections’. This was the resounding call of the session last Sunday at The Feast. Bro. Bo Sanchez said despite the thousands of “likes” and “followers” and smiling emojis we’re getting in our Facebook’s News Feed, he can sense a growing loneliness among people.

He also said, we’re in the middle of a Digital Tsunami. According to Global Digital Report, the average Filipino spends 3 hours and 57 minutes a day on social media alone.

More presence online and less connections offline.

We need to connect more with each other.

Dive

We often hide our inner thoughts and feelings because we’re concerned if they’ll be accepted by other people. But we also shut out other people from knowing and accepting us by not being open. By not being open with others, we’re really saying we don’t fully accept ourselves. We’re denying ourselves that chance to speak out, to declare our inner thoughts and feelings.

At the Awesome Kids’ service we highlighted to the children the importance of being a good friend to each other.

Cartoons with their BFFs and besties were the focus during the activity.

During our Light Group (LG), we discussed the importance of a gadget-free encounters with people that matters to you.

To put away mobiles phones during bonding moments with friends and cherish more the presence of each other.

If you notice that a friend is carrying a burden, there’s only one thing to do. Say these 4 magical words: “I’m here for you.”

Listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t give advice. Don’t preach. Don’t pontificate. Shut your mouth and listen.

Being open is a kind of invitation to others. What you share about yourself should encourage others to come in, so to speak, and make contact with you. To involve themselves with you.

Being open is difficult. It makes us feel vulnerable, psychologically naked and usually anxious. But it also is important in terms of really letting others get to understand how we think, how we feel and what we believe.

Here are 5 ways for you to be more open.

1. Make your outside behavior the same or congruent with your inside feelings and thoughts.

2. Focus on feelings. It’s usually easier to share opinions or thoughts about something. Everybody has an opinion. It’s harder to share feelings. Be in touch with how you feel. Share openly the feelings as much as you can. Some feelings cover or come from other feelings. Anger may come from hurt. We might find it easier to show the anger. However, if we work really hard and try to understand the hurt, if we share the hurt and are open about the hurt, we are actually being more open at a deeper level.

3. Try to change your questions into statements. Sometimes, we have an attitude or feeling about something and we’re afraid to share it, we’re afraid to be open. Instead, we ask a question. For instance, we might say “do you love me?”, when instead we want to say I love you. Change your questions into statements you can make about yourself.

4. Communicate in the first person. Begin sentences with “I” instead of “you”. You might say, ” I feel happy that you’re here,” instead of asking, “Are you glad that you’re here?”

5. Try not to say, “I don’t know.” This generally means I don’t want to think about it anymore. You’re probably getting to a level of being open that makes you anxious. Decide what it is and whether you can really trust it with the other person or persons.

Learner

We had our in-service training today for newly hired educators. Dr. Roman Salazar, president of Cavite School Teachers & Employees Association, Inc. (CAVSTEA) gave an empowering talk about the importance of being an effective teacher.

He admonished all of us to heed to the call of excellence, dedication and commitment.

He just came from a surgery but because of his love for the profession, he gallantly shared his wealth of experience to all the newbies.

The learner is the heart of our profession.

Being effective is a daily mission to make a difference.

In-service training

Being a teacher is so much more involved than just the physical act of teaching. Being a teacher means being involved as a learner. Being a teacher means being a life-long learner and a curious soul.

What does it mean to be a great teacher? Of course credentials, knowledge, critical thinking, and all other faculties of intelligence are important. However, a great teacher should be much more than credentials, experience and intelligence.

What lies in the heart of a great teacher?

You are Kind

A great teacher shows kindness to students, colleagues, parents and those around her/him. My favourite saying is “kindness makes the world go around”. It truly changes the environment in the classroom and school. Being a kind teacher helps students feel welcomed, cared for and loved.
You are Compassionate

Teaching is a very humanistic profession, and compassion is the utmost feeling of understanding, and showing others you are concerned about them. A compassionate teacher models that characteristic to the students with her/his actions, and as a result students will be more open to understanding the world around them.

You are Empathetic

Empathy is such an important trait to have and to try to develop in ourselves and our students. Being able to put yourself in someone’s shoes and see things from their perspective can have such a powerful impact on our decisions and actions.

You are Positive

Being a positive person, is not an easy task. Being a positive teacher is even harder when we’re always met with problems with very limited solutions. However, staying positive when it’s tough can have such a tremendous positive impact on the students and everyone around us. Looking on the bright side always seems to help make things better.

You are a Builder

A great teacher bridges gaps and builds relationships, friendships, and a community. Teachers always look to make things better and improve things in and outside of the classroom. Building a community is something a great teacher seeks to do in the classroom and extends that to the entire school and its community.

You Inspire

Everyone looks at a great teacher and they want to be a better teacher, they want to be a better student, even better, they want to be a better person. A great teacher uncovers hidden treasures, possibilities and magic right before everyone’s eyes.

Onward

Time flies fast.

It’s now getting clearer.

This was never about me in the first place.

My biggest ‘why’ was slowly unfolding.

I know where I want to go.

I met a lot of passionate, dedicated and committed educators.

They are my source of inspiration and hope.

It was challenging but God sent me angels to guide me and to be with me on this journey.

He was there for me from the start, who am I to doubt His plans?

Onward, move forward!

He knows better than I.

Onward

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” ~Kahlil Gibran

TeacherPh shared these amazing tips to all newbie in the public education sector.

1. SMILE
When you start your day wearing this, you’re probably not going to lose. This attracts a lot of positivity and is known to calm those types of co-teachers who do not seem to see anything positive in anyone! Smile and the world will smile back!

2. GREET EVERYONE
Congratulations! You’re hired! You are now a professional teacher, a shaper of the majority of the Philippine population. Thousands of ideas and plans might be playing inside your mind now and you might be expecting the perfect first day of your public service. But uh oh! Before you expect anything, why don’t you stop and consider our top 10 advices for the first timers in the public school. We want to give you the most realistic tips and ideas about the world that you have just entered!

3. DON’T BE OVERWHELMED BY WORK
Yes, you want everything to go on very well and you do not like the good impression of your co-teachers to change that is why you keep yourself busy working even when you are at home already. You almost think about work for 24 hours and that can be draining. Remember that you will be able to do a lot of paper work while giving your best on teaching in the first few months, but then you will find yourself feeling tired and drained already. So be gentle to yourself and make sure you maintain a good balance between working, socializing, relaxing, and resting. The more balance you feel about these 4 activities, the more you feel positive at work.

4. EXPECT TO HEAR SOME GOSSIP BUT DON’T INVOLVE YOURSELF
Ooops! This is very common! Do not trust anyone yet. It might seem nice that some of your co-teachers let you hear the gossip they are talking about and they might want you to be a part of their group but think twice! Often, gossip becomes the reason why some teachers transfer from one school to another. Never ever involve yourself in such thing because you are PROFESSIONAL. Besides, a good person or a good friend is not someone who speak foul of others.

5. PREPARE YOUR SPEECH
Just in case your head teacher or superior introduces you to everyone! A well-thought self-introduction can give a good impression to your colleagues but “WAG MASYADONG GALINGAN” because teachers might think otherwise. Just be natural.

6. PREPARE YOUR LESSON PLAN
Do we need to memorize this? We have been trained from college to our first work experience that we have to prepare this very precious paper. You will be surprised when your superior asks you to submit your lesson plan to her on the first day of school!

7. ASK THE DATES AND CREATE A TIME TABLE
So this is it! Plan, plan, plan! Organize and list down the important things you need to accomplish as you will be overwhelmed by work once the first periodical test approaches. Being a public school teacher means having loads of paperwork so if you do not want to be stressed, make sure you follow a well-planned time table. You have to begin asking your superior to provide you a school calendar so you can mark dates and plan ahead your future activities.

8. FIND OUT A WAY TO HAVE A BUDGET FOR 3-6 MONTHS
You’ve already heard it from your friends who got hired ahead of you. You will not receive your salary a month right after getting hired. Expect a 3-6 months delay on your wage. Ayos! Bayad utang lang!

9. WEAR A COMFORTABLE SHOES
You won’t be able to sit down most of the time as you need to attend to a big number of students in each of your class. Sitting down in the class for a first time teacher is a no no!

10. PRAY
Of course, it’s always him who has a complete control of everything. You will need him not just throughout your teaching journey but throughout your life’s journey. You have the biggest responsibility in our nation now so you need the greatest ally. You are a teacher. YOU WILL SHAPE THE FUTURE and to do it successfully, you’ll need his help — THE ONE WHO SHAPED THE WHOLE WORLD PERFECTLY.

God is Love

This is so powerful that I need to share this to all young Filipinos especially to my students. We choose to love but be firm in the faith.

God is love

Photo credits to the owner.

Fatherly Message to the Youth and Children of the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan

My dear children of God in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan:

Through social media, you have been sadly exposed to the cursing, threats and shaming by the President of our country. Choose to love him nevertheless, but stay in the truth of our faith. Be firm in faith.

He must have received so much rejection and hurts in the past that he blurts out so much hatred and angst now. If he had been loved much, he would be giving so much of that love too. He could be a victim of his scarred past and his wounded background. Pray for him with compassion. We pray for his healing and for God’s forgiveness on him but we must rebuke his errors about our Christian faith. He is a person in authority and some of you might get confused when you hear him. To pray for him is not enough. We must serve you the truth as we pray for him.

I am writing this to defend you from the gross errors that you have been hearing. If I keep quiet you might be misled. God gave you to us, your priests in Lingayen Dagupan, as our children. It is our duty to teach you. Some of you might ignore me or even rebuke me; but that will not stop me from teaching those among you who sincerely ask for guidance. I cannot stop serving you the truth.

You have heard the President attack our Christian beliefs. The story of creation is being taunted repeatedly. You have been hearing him curse God. God has been called insulting names–words we always told you not to say or even write. You are even being challenged to leave this Church of your birth, the Church of your grandparents.

Here are some questions and the right answers from the YouCat (Young Catechism of the Catholic Church) and I encourage you to read it.

Why did God create us?

God created us out of love. God is love. God is mercy. Never forget or doubt that.

What is religion?

Religion is man’s natural longing for God. God has placed in our hearts a certain kind of restlessness that can only be cured if we rest in God.

What do we mean when we say “God created the world”?

It does not mean that God himself by His direct action created the world all at once, completed in six days, as if the Book of Genesis were an eye witness account. This error is called “creationism”. (YouCat 41)

Creationism naively interprets biblical data literally. This a wrong interpretation of the teaching “God created the world”.

The creation account is not a scientific model to explain how the world began. When we say God created the world, we mean God willed the world. It means the world is not a product of chance.

Each of us is a result of a thought of God, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. (Pope Benedict XVI).

Does God want us to suffer and die?

God does not want us to suffer and die. Listen to what the saints say.

We have lost paradise but have received heaven; the gain is greater than the loss (Saint John Chrysostom).

Human weakness cannot upset the plans of God. A divine master builder can work even with falling stones (Cardinal Michael Von Faulhaber).

O God, to turn away from you is to fall. To turn to you is to stand up. To remain in you is to have sure support (Saint Augustine)

Is that not beautiful and wise of God to do? Only a beautiful and wise God can turn sin into a great blessing. The devil is opposed to this kind of love. The devil cannot understand or refuses to accept what is so clear. The devil is blinded by pride so he cannot love like God.

What is original sin?

Although sin implies guilt for which one is responsible, original sin is not like that.

Pope Benedict XVI explained it this way. Human beings were born with a drop of poisonous thinking of “not trusting God”. Human beings look at God as a “rival” who curtails our freedom. Human beings harbor a “suspicion against God”. Human beings think that we can be fully human if God is cast aside. Human beings trust deceit rather than truth. Because of this tendency, human beings sink to emptiness and death. That is what original sin is. Jesus came to lift us out of that emptiness and death.

What does “Church” mean?

The Church is all of us called forth by God. The Church is not just bishops and priests, deacons and nuns. The Church is people, the people called by God together. God wants to redeem us, not individually, but together. The Church continues what Jesus started.

Is the Church a sinful institution?

Viewed from outside, the Church is only a historical institution perhaps with historical achievements but also faults. In its history, the Church had made mistakes and even crimes—a Church of sinners indeed.

But that view is quite shallow and incomplete.

Christ is so involved with us sinners that he never abandons his Church even if the Church betrays him every day.

The Church is an embroidery of sin and grace. In the Church, sinful humanity and holy godliness are one. The holiness of God never leaves the Church.

Is it time to stop believing in God?

Said Pope Benedict XVI, “When God disappears, men and women do not become greater. They lose their dignity and splendor and eventually end up abused and used”.

This is what our present national situation is showing us. When we cast God aside and curse his name, killing becomes easier. Stealing is normalized. Vulgarity becomes funny. Adultery is applauded. All because we want God to disappear in our lives.

What is the second Commandment?

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

What does the second Commandment require?

It is a terrible offense to blaspheme God, to curse using God’s name. Places, things, names and people who have been touched by God are “holy”. Sensitivity to what is holy is called “reverence”.

“Reverence is the pole on which the world turns,” said Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe. We lose reverence for the sacred and we ruin the world.

What duties do citizens have toward the State?

A Christian must love his homeland. We must defend our nation in time of need, serve the institutions, pay taxes, vote and even run for office if needed. Every Christian has a right to offer constructive criticism of the State and its organs. The State is there for the people, not the individual for the State (YouCat 376)

When must we refuse to obey the State?

If a State should establish laws and procedures that are racist, sexist or destructive of human life, a Christian is obliged in conscience to refuse to obey, to refrain from participation and offer resistance. (YouCat 377).

Admonition

My dear children in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan, please pray the rosary, go to confession and receive Holy Communion frequently. We are in a spiritual warfare against error and sin. Shield yourselves from error and guide your fellow youth in godliness. Read more about the faith. Study the true teaching of the Church.

Harbor no grudge but be critical and discerning. Be respectful of your parents and those in authority and choose good manners all the time even if you hear and see the opposite. Do not bash back at those who bash you in social media. Fill social media with kindness and truth. Take courage but be loving all the time. Be firm in the faith. Bawal ang duwag pero huwag makipag-away. Conquer evil with good (Romans 12:21)

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, June 25, 2018 Memorial of Santo Domingo Henares, a missionary who served in Pangasinan and died a martyr in Vietnam.

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

John

The Catholic Church celebrates today the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. His life was fueled by one burning passion – to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of God’s kingdom.

During the Awesome Kids’ Ministry service at The Feast, the little children was reminded to always put God first in their lives.

Like St. John the Baptist, every kid was destined by God for an important mission.

Putting God first is realizing it’s all about Him. Everything in your life is to be directed to Him. Your every breath is to go back to Him. Your every thought is to be for Him. Everything is about Him.

Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15, 41) by Christ himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, John leapt in the womb of Elizabeth as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). The fire of the Spirit dwelt in John and made him the forerunner of the coming Messiah. John was led by the Spirit into the wilderness prior to his ministry where he was tested and grew in the word of God.

John broke the prophetic silence of the previous centuries when he began to speak the word of God to the people of Israel. His message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who chided the people of God for their unfaithfulness and who tried to awaken true repentance in them. Among a people unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive Christ when he came.

God’s gracious gift to us
What is the significance of John the Baptist and his message for our lives? When God acts to save us he graciously fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes our faith come “alive” to his promises. Each and every day the Lord is ready to renew us in faith, hope, and love. Like John the Baptist, the Lord invites each of us to make our life a free-will offering to God. God wants to fill us with his glory all the days of our lives, from birth through death. Renew the offering of your life to God and give him thanks for his mercy and favor towards you.

“Lord Jesus, you bring hope and salvation to a world lost in sin, despair, and suffering. Let your grace refresh and restore your people today in the hope and joy of your great victory over sin and death.”

Old

When was the last time you had a chance to talk to your elderly parents? When was the last time you said “I love you” to them?

When I saw this pic, it triggered me to remember the kindness of my grandparents?

Old

Photo credits to the owner.

I never had a chance to know them more, to share my achievements and to let them feel that I love them so much.

Hopefully you are one of the many who experienced a great relationship with your grandparents and probably have hundreds of stories about them.

Perhaps you have wonderful memories of sleepovers at their house—maybe they even watched cartoons with you the next morning.

Maybe they taught you something like how to tie your shoes, make a breakfast treat or catch a fish. Or maybe you remember the time they slipped you Php100 just because you were their grandchild.

In most cases, grandparents love you unconditionally. They’ve been proud of you since the day you were born. You’re truly blessed to have them in your life.

So, with Grandparents Day approaching on Sunday, what can you do to honor them?

  • Visit them on your days off: Stop by and say hello as often as possible. If you have children, let them spend time around Grandma and Grandpa, just to hear their stories.
  • Take them groceries when you can: If you’re shopping, buy them two or three items you know they’ll use. You may never know if they always have money for special things they enjoy, but by taking them a surprise occasionally, you’ll know they’ll have an additional treat during your visit.
  • Call them often: A simple hello is a blessing and shows you care.
  • Ask if they need a ride anywhere: Grandparents usually have many places they’d like to go; and enjoy the pleasure of your company.
  • Hug and kiss them every chance you get: This is the most important thing you can do to show them your affection. Never pass a chance to say: “I love you.”

Grandparents are a gift to be cherished. Learn from them and let them know you love them every chance you get.

Read

One of the main thrusts for this academic year is to intensify the reading habits of our students.

I know it will never be easy but it takes a lot of encouragement and more push.

I was inspired by this article of Joby Provido on how spiritual reading leads to a balanced life.

Reading

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” – John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Every day we are bombarded with news that can be violent or depressing. Sometimes immersing ourselves in those kinds of stories can drive us to despair when thinking of hope for humanity. Those studying internet behavior say we tend to compare our life with others on Social Media. This can be very stressful if we consider we have to keep up with other people’s happiness. It can make our lives seem empty at some point.

The spate of celebrity suicides does not help either. While taking one’s life (or any life for that matter) is contrary to Christian culture, we cannot judge those who have fallen victim to mental illness for we don’t know what they were going through. Since Christ is all-knowing and all-loving, we leave it up to him because he is the best and only authorized judge by the Father. One thing we can say that may make sense is that there must have been a feeling of helplessness that drove them to do it.

While we cannot remove these stressful matters from our secular life, we can balance it. How many times do we watch heart-warming videos of animals being saved, or fathers who are supposed to be away and make a surprise appearance, or mothers who prepare something her birthday girl enjoys? Don’t we press on the heart button and share them? Some even write a post: “faith in humanity restored.” In those moments, aren’t our spirits lifted?

Life is a constant battle and we need weapons to help us endure. Spiritual reading is one of these. It is the habit of reading something spiritual with the purpose of growing in holiness. By reading spiritual material, our soul gets buoyed so we can keep our head above the flood of depressing media, take a breath, and continue the struggle. It is like watching those heart-warming videos that bring back faith in humanity.

Spiritual reading is different from meditation. Meditation is a quest to find out what God wants us to do, feel, and be. Spiritual reading, on the other hand, is to reinforce our lives with enriching things.

One can start with ten minutes a day, then move on to fifteen minutes or longer. It would be nice to set a time to do this so it can be done regularly. It would also be best to do this in a place that has little or no distractions. Maybe a quiet room in the house will do.

What can a beginner read? The gospels are a good start. A slow prayerful reading always helps. The lives of the saints are extraordinarily good material. Get books on or by Teresa of Avila (The Interior Castle), St. Francis of Assisi, Therese of Lisieux (The Story of a Soul), Thomas Merton (The Seven Story Mountain), John Paul II. While Fulton Sheen is not yet a saint, his life is a wonderful thing to read. Books on Our Lady are particularly enriching too. Find books on the apparitions in Fatima, Lourdes, and Mexico (Our Lady of Guadalupe.) Other good titles are: “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin” by Louis de Montfort, “Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis, “The Everlasting Man” by G.K. Chesterton, “Mary of Nazareth” by Federico Suarez.

One does not have to “read” to do spiritual reading. Watching an enriching video or listening to a podcast is spiritual “reading” too. Find something that lifts your soul or educates you about the faith.

Make it part of a daily habit. Think of spiritual reading as the spiritual vitamins that keep us healthy.