ID

After many years, I finally took my ID photo again.

This is for a new journey in the horizon.

Id

An ID is any document used to verify a person’s identity. Without a photo it is nothing.

Why do we need to have an ID?

ID cards have become a crucial part of the business world, making it possible to simultaneously simplify employee and visitor identification and enhance a company’s integrity and security.

ID cards typically include an employee’s name, photo, job title and department, making quick personal identification a snap.

Using photo ID cards makes it easy for security personnel to quickly identify each employee or visitor, minimizing the risk of impersonation and theft.

By restricting access to a building to allow only those with ID cards to enter, each company will be able to lower the possibility of unauthorized visitors entering the building.

But as a Christian, what is our ID?

According to Pope Francis in a homily back in 2016, the identity card of the Christian is the joy of the Gospel.

“A Christian is a man, or a woman, of joy: a man and a woman with joy in their heart. There is no Christian without joy! You may be told that there are many such Christians,” the pope warned, but “they are not Christians! They say they are, but they are not! They are missing something.”

“The Christian identity card is joy, the Gospel’s joy, the joy of having been chosen by Jesus, saved by Jesus, regenerated by Jesus; the joy of that hope that Jesus is waiting for us, the joy that – even with the crosses and sufferings we bear in this life – is expressed in another way, which is peace in the certainty that Jesus accompanies us, is with us.”

“The Christian,” he added, “grows in joy through trusting in God. God always remembers his covenant.” And in turn, “the Christian knows that God remembers him, that God loves him, that God accompanies him, that God is waiting for him. And this is joy.”

Turning to the Gospel’s story regarding Jesus’ encounter with the wealthy man, the pope observed the young man “was not able to open his heart to joy [and] chose sadness,” “for he had many possessions.”

“He was shackled to his belongings! Jesus told us that one cannot serve two masters: either one must serve God or serve riches. Riches are not bad in themselves, but slavery to wealth – this, is wickedness. The poor young man went away sad … ‘He frowned and he went away sorrowful’.

When in our parishes, in our communities, in our institutions we find people who say they are Christians and want to be Christian but are sad, something is wrong there. And we must help them to find Jesus, to take away that sadness, so that they may rejoice in the gospel, can have this joy which is truly of the Gospel.”

“Joy and amazement:” that’s what the Christian feels when faced with God’s revelation and love, and “the emotions stirred by the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis added.

The pope recalled Jesus’s disappointment when he told the Apostles that the young man could not follow him, because he was too attached to his riches. And when the Apostles asked the Lord, ‘who then, can be saved?’ The Lord answered, “Impossible for men, but not for God.”

Christian joy, then, and the ability to “be saved from worldly attachments” can “only come through the power of God, with the strength of the Holy Spirit.”

Pope Francis prayed that the Lord “graces us with amazement in his presence, in the presence of the many spiritual treasures he has given us; and with this amazement, may he give us joy, the joy of our lives – and of having our hearts at peace even when faced with many difficulties. And may he protect us from seeking happiness in so many things that ultimately sadden us: they promise much, but they will not give us anything! Remember well: a Christian is a man, and a woman, of joy, joy in the Lord; a man and a woman of wonder .”

From my ID photo to a Christian life filled with joy.

God loves you so much!

Birds

I went to National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help also known as Redemptorist Church and colloquially the Baclaran Church today and I saw a lot of pigeons on the way to the main church.

When I saw the bird, I was slapped on my face and I was reminded of this bible verse from Matthew:

“That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!

Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are?”

The Lord provides, so why worry?

Worry

You must learn to live life one day at a time. God only gives you help you need for today. He doesn’t give you tomorrow’s help today. So don’t worry about what you are going to do tomorrow, because when you get to tomorrow, God’s grace will be there to meet you and give you what you need. 

One morning Death was walking into a city when a man stopped him and asked what he was doing. Death answered, “I’m going into the city to kill 10,000 people.” The man replied, “That’s terrible that you would kill 10,000 people.” Death responded, “Taking people when their time has come is my job. Today I have to get my 10,000.”

Later, as Death was coming out of the city, the man met him. Again, he was furious. He said, “You told me this morning that you were going to take 10,000 people, but 70,000 died today.”

Death answered, “Don’t get mad at me. I only took 10,000. Worry killed all the rest.”

Worry has an uncanny knack for killing people.

The poet Robert Frost (1874–1963) wrote, “The reason why worry kills more people than work is because more people worry than work.”

For many people, worry has become so ingrained in their personalities that once the old worries are gone they search for new ones. They’ve become dependent on worry as a lens through which to view life, and they’ve forgotten any other way to live.

Is there reason to be worried today?

Most people would say there is. High energy costs, a worsening economy, rogue nuclear nations, threats of terrorism, widespread job layoffs, and tension in the Middle East—all these make for uncertain times.

Fortunately, in the midst of a world of “worry-warts,” Jesus isn’t worried.

If you’re a chronic worrier, here’s a suggestion you might find helpful.

First, find a shoebox. Tape the lid on, and then cut a little hole in it. Call it your “worry box.”

Whenever you feel tempted to worry, write your worry on a piece of paper and drop it in the box.

You can say, “Lord, this is my concern, and it has the potential to become a worry. You have told me not to worry, so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to put it in my worry box and let You take responsibility for it. Anything that I put in this box will be there because I can’t handle it. Once it’s in the box, I’m going to trust You to handle it for me, Lord.”

God asks you to take a leap of faith and trust in His ability. He is trustworthy and He alone can meet your needs. So trust Him today.

Devotion

Yesterday, January 28 after the Awesome Kids Ministry service, I was in front of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) when a colorful carroza passed by on the way to the PhilTrade Center for the Sto Niño Grand Procession 2018 organized by Congregacion del Santisimo Nombre del Niño Jesus.

The annual parade of Sto. Niño images traversed the stretch of Roxas Boulevard up to Quirino Grandstand.

Devotion

The Sto. Niño is both child and king and it reminds us that we need to be like a child to attain our ultimate kingly goal of human maturity and Christian perfection. As we grow older, more exposed to the world, we need to be more like a child, deepening and enriching our spiritual childhood in Christ.

How did the devotion start?

According to EWTN, the devotion to the Holy Child Jesus has long been a tradition of the Catholic Church for a very long time. This devotion is a veneration of our Lord’s sacred Infancy. Many saints had a very strong devotion to the Divine Child, notably St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, and St. Teresa of Avila.

Prague is the capitol city of the Czech Republic, which is at the very central of Europe with Germany, Poland, Russia and Austria as its neighbours. The history of the Infant Jesus of Prague started in the 17th century when a statue of the Infant Jesus was brought into Bohemia (now Czech Republic) and eventually was given to the Discalced Carmelites in Prague. Since then, the statue has remained in Prague and has drawn many devotees worldwide to go and honor the Holy Child. Many graces, blessings, favors and miraculous healings have been received by many who petitioned before the Infant Jesus.

History

The exact origin of the Infant Jesus statue was not truly known, but historical sources point to a small 28cm high sculpture of the Holy Child with a bird in his right hand carved in around the year 1340. Many other Infant Jesus sculptures were also carved by famous masters throughout Europe in the Middle Ages.

The popularity of the Child Jesus grew in the Baroque period in Spain which may have been caused by the visions of St. Teresa of Avila. A number of sculptures made in Spain eventually found their way to Prague. These sculptures were made of wax, ivory, and bronze and were dressed in garments reflecting the aristocratic fashion of that period.

It is unknown to this date which of those early sculptures that got to Prague was the exact origin of the Infant Jesus of Prague. It was speculated that it came from a monastery in Bohemia and from there it was obtained by Dona Isabella Manrique who gave it as a wedding gift to her daughter Marie Manrique who married a noble of the Czech kingdom. Later, the Holy Infant statue was again given to Marie’s daughter
Polyxena as a wedding gift in 1587. In 1628, Lady Polyxena presented the statue to the Carmelites at the Church of the Virgin Mary the Victorious in Mala Strana saying, “I am giving you what I most esteem of my possessions. Keep the sculpture in reference and you will be well off”.

This statue then became known as the Infant Jesus of Prague. It stands 47 cm high (includes a 2cm base) and has a long gown around the wax body.

Shortly after 1628, the Saxons and the Swedes took turns to invade Prague and the Carmelites had to flee and the veneration of the Holy Infant ceased. It was not until 1638 that a young priest named Fr. P. Cyril, a Matre Dei, returned to Prague and found the Holy Infant statue buried in the ruins of the Lady of Victory church. Fr. Cyril cleaned the statue and placed it in the oratory for worship. While he was praying before the Infant Jesus, he heard the Infant Jesus say, “Have pity on Me and I will have pity on you. Give Me My hands and I will give you peace. The more you honor Me, the more I will bless you”.

The repairing of the statue’s hand was a miracle since Fr. Cyril and his peers did not have the financial resources nor the know-how to repair it. Through prayer, Fr. Cyril asked the Blessed Virgin Mary in several occassions to to provide the necessary funds for fixing the Infant statue. The Divine Infant spoke to him again, “Place Me near the entrance of the sacristy and you will receive aid”.

Fr. Cyril then did what he was told and in a few days time, the statue was fixed by a man who came to the sacristy to offer help.

Since the statue was fixed, a number of miracles had occurred and the word began to spread, resulting in a large increase of veneration to the Holy Child. This includes the Czech nobles as well. These early miracles were recorded in a book by P. Emerich a St Stephano, published in German in 1736 and in Czech in 1749.

In 1641, an altar was built for the Infant Jesus in the church, and in 1644 a chapel was built, but was not completed until 1654. Many nobles of the time had greatly supported the Infant Jesus, among them were Lady Polyxena, King Ferdinard (Czech), King Charles Gustav(Sweden), and Bernard Ignatius of the Lords of Martinic. It is interesting to note that the crown over the Divine Infant’s head came from Bernard Ignatius, who presented the Infant statue with a little gold crown set with precious stones and jewels on January 14, 1651 during a procession that carried the Infant Jesus statue from the Lady of Victory church to other Prague churches. The Infant Jesus was solemnly coronated on April 4, 1655 by the Archbishop Josef Corta acting for Cardinal Harrach III who was sick.

After that period, Prague went through more wars and unrest but the church and the Infant Jesus chapel was miraculously protected. In 1776 the altar was rebuilt using marble and two huge sculptures of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph were placed to the left and right sides of the altar. The Holy Infant was kept in a glass case standing on a pedestal engraved with crystals, and surrounding the Infant were twenty angels in gold.

Since then copies of the Infant Jesus were made and distributed throughout European churches. The Spanish colonial efforts later brought the Infant Jesus to the Philippines and to central America. And since then, the devotion has kept spreading to all parts of the world.

Conclusion

The Lady of Victory church was officially returned back to the Discalced Carmalites in 1993 since the takeover by the Maltese Knights in 1784. Today, thousands of pilgrims pay homage to the Infant of Prague each year. The tradition of the Infant Jesus procession and the coronation continues to this day.

On May 27, 1995, a solemn procession of the Infant Jesus took place in the streets of Prague with Cardinal Sin of Manila (Philippines) and Cardinal Vlk of Prague leading the procession. This ceremony was the closing highlight of the annual Feast of the Infant Jesus in Prague.

As the devotion to the Infant Jesus spreads throughout the world, manyparishes now offer Holy Mass and novenas to honor the Holy Child of God and many prayer groups have been formed. Jesus has kept His promise that the more that He is honored, the more that He will bless them. This is truly evidenced by the many favors He has granted to those who ask Him.

✝️ PERPETUAL PRAYER TO THE DIVINE INFANT JESUS

O Santo Niño, who has said: “Ask, and you shall receive; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.“ Give, we beseech you, to us who ask, the gift of your Divine Love, that we may love you with our whole heart, in word and work, and never cease from showing forth your praise.

Make us, O Lord, to have a Perpetual fear and love of your Holy Name, for you never fail to govern them whom you do solidly establish in your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

🌹O miraculous Santo Niño, we come before Your sacred image, moved by love and by hope, we beseech You to look mercifully into my troubled heart. Let Your tender love, so alleviate our sufferings. Take from us, if it be Your will, all afflictions and never let us surrender to despair. Grant us, Señor Santo Niño the special grace we ask from You today, in all humility and with a loving trust, and for the sake of Your sacred infancy, hear always our prayers, be generous with Your aid and consolation, that we may praise You and the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O SEÑOR STO. NIÑO, DIVINE INFANT JESUS, HAVE MERCY ON US!

Divide

Today’s Sunday activity with Awesome Kids Ministry is a meaningful reminder that God is present everywhere, 24-7.

But, we compartmentalize our lives too much.

We tend to separate our spiritual/sacred life from the secular world.

Many people see their lives as divided wedges, like pieces of pie, with little real connection to each other.

Our response as Christians to our Heavenly Father should be unlimited, all encompassing, and comprehensive. It should not be limited to church on Sundays and some personal devotions during the week. It should appear in every dimension of our lives.

God created us to love Him with all our being.

Living out one’s faith should be a natural overflow of the soul-stream within.

To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred. He puts on his workday garment and it is a vestment to him. He sits down to his meal and it is a sacrament. He goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood. His breath is incense and his life a sacrifice. He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence. To draw a hard and fast line and say, “This is sacred and this is secular,” is, to my mind, diametrically opposed to the teaching of Christ and the spirit of the gospel.

Divide

Awesome Kids Ministry servants at work. God is here, 24-7!

On a practical level, how do we overcome the spiritual/secular divide in our everyday lives?

We must understand this problem intellectually, then move this truth from our heads to our hearts. That is the hard part.

Here are three suggestions:

Understand that the real distinction in our lives is between righteousness and unrighteousness. Between living in union with Christ, conforming to God’s character and commands (righteousness) and not rebelling against God and his commands. This is not a struggle we will win on the strength of our own labor. We will only win it if we yield to the Holy Spirit working in each one of us. This requires much prayer.

Be reminded of what is required of those called to serve in God’s kingdom. The only way to do this is by being in God’s Word. Paul tells Timothy that the Word of God “is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16)

Remind yourself throughout your day that what you are doing at that moment is spiritual. As we start 2018, let everything you see and hear remind you that what you are doing is spiritual, and, in ways you might not completely understand, serves our great God.

Faith in Jesus Christ is not mere mental assent but a life-changing, life-pervading relationship with the living Lord.

When all the parts of our lives are surrendered fully to the Lord and bringing honor to Him, then and only then are we truly living.

Vision

For 2018, I will start to dream again.

It has been a rough ride for the past years.

The challenges made me a stronger person and it will never stop me to face life with more optimism.

I will be making my dream or vision board soon.

Vision

One of the most powerful decisions I ever made was to take responsibility for my life, instead of just letting life happen to me.

Dream (or vision) board is more powerful than you think because it actually works!

Most successful people have one; Bo Sanchez, Sha Nacino, and Jack Canfield to name a few.

A Dream Board is something that will help you focus on your goal to make your mind focus on achieving it, it is a mind exercise that’s easy to do and so achievable. But what do you really need to put on your Dream Board? Simple. The things you want to feel. Well, it’s okay to put the things that you want, material things will inevitably always be there. Feelings on the other hand needs a lot of effort to get. You can’t really buy happiness, so the more your board focuses on how you want to feel like being inspired or confident, the more it will come into reality.

1. Daydream the things you’d like to achieve this year (or next year)

You have to first visualize what you really want in life, your goals and aspirations; the things that will truly make you happy. Imagine yourself living your life with the things you want this year; the more you want it, the more you’ll be motivated to do it.

2. Collect any form of motivational pictures and words

From old magazines, or anywhere you can find motivation. Sort those out first, before you put it all together.

3. Arrange them on whatever suits you

This is where you can start making your dream board! Make a collage out of it, make it visually appealing. Just put the things that are really important to you, it’s okay to get rid some of the things you’ve cut.

4. Paste them down

Glue, tape, or anything; you have to commit with your arrangement. And also, with the things you’ve put; if you’ve included that you’ll study hard to be a Dean’s Lister, then you have to really work hard to achieve it.

5. Make it more appealing

By writing words with your own penmanship, or pictures of people that inspire you like your family and friends. Also put some crafty stuff that will make it attractive yet inspiring, so you’ll be more motivated to look at it.

6. Take time to look at it everyday

To make it easier, put it exactly where you’ll see it everyday; even if you don’t look for it. If possible, review it before you leave the house or go to sleep. If you see it, you believe it, then you achieve it. Make a stand that everything that is written on your dream board will be a reality. You don’t have to do it all at once, take things slowly. One step at a time.

Always remember, the power is not in the dream or vision board but in what we do to make our vision a reality.

Because here is the Truth:

“Vision is merely a dream without action.” ~ Joel Barker

Humility

We celebrate today the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul.

Why is it significant in our relationship with God?

Humility

Seating beside God’s messenger of faith, hope and love. Taken inside the PLM Chapel last year.

Father Bill Carmody shared that before Saint Paul’s conversion he thought he was a very good man. He thought he did everything very, very well. He was full of zeal, convinced of the direction he was taking in life, and was very successful within the scope of the people who mattered to him.

He had no idea that he was very misguided. Then the Lord entered his life, shook him up, blinded him, threw him to the ground and left him confused and unnerved for three days.

Having encountered the Risen Lord he was transformed. He re-evaluated everything in his life and became the most impacting force in the Church other than Jesus Himself. Paul translated the experience of Jesus not only from Aramaic into Greek, but from an Asian mentality to a European mentality. He became the greatest missionary the Church as seen, establishing churches that survive even to this day, and he wrote two thirds of the New Testament.

Paul’s conversion not only changed him; it changed the world.

This brings us to this feast’s application to us. God is calling some people here present to undergo a major change in the way they are living their lives.

All of us, in fact, are being invited by the Lord to undergo some kind of transformation, some form of conversion, some new way of believing and thinking. Wouldn’t you agree that all of us have some kind of obstacle to our following Christ more closely? And wouldn’t we all agree that the mother of all vices is pride? So as we celebrate Paul’s conversion let us take as look at the virtue that conquers pride: humility.

There are 3 different degrees of humility.

The 1st degree of humility is necessary for salvation. It’s having enough humility to stop justifying mortal sin in our lives. It’s the humility needed to recognize that I have this major obstacle in my life, some major sin, that keeps me at a distance from God. And it’s having enough humility to recognize that so far I have been unwilling to do what I need to do to remove this obstacle from my life. Without this 1st degree of humility I make the decision to live with my sin, even to justify it. The 1st degree of humility leads us to say to the Lord, “Not for all the riches in the world would I ever commit a mortal sin.”

The second degree of humility is a move towards holiness. In this state of relationship with the Lord, He, the Lord, has become so important to me that I don’t want to do the least little thing against the Lord. This is not scrupulosity but rather a desire to be one with Christ, to see Him in all things, to encounter him in all the people and events in our lives, a desire to rise above my mediocrity, and not settle for a half-hearted response to the call of Christ. And now we don’t want even venial sins to stand in our way, preventing a clear sight of the Lord who loves us so. This is the state of no longer wanting to disagree with, for instance, the teaching of the Church on the sanctity of life and settle for some compromise between good and evil. This second degree of humility leads us to say, “Not for all the money in the world would I ever want to commit even a venial sin.”

The third degree of humility is a move into true sanctity. In this degree of humility I see myself as part and parcel of all of sinful humanity and I see my call to be among those who are despised, rejected, ostracized, spat upon, and facing extreme oppression, because thus was treated my Lord and Savior. This is the degree of humility that hears the teaching of our Church as the voice of Jesus and embraces it, especially on such tough subjects as there being a need for a redistribution of wealth so there is a greater bond between the rich and the poor. A person who abides in this 3rd degree of humility not only understands, but lives, the Church teaching that says, “No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life.” (Populorum Progressio, 23)

Oh, how far away from this degree of humility we all are! But now we can see what is the trajectory of holiness the Lord is calling us to. Let us on this feast of Paul’s conversion let us ask the Lord to help us grow in holiness.

Bajo

I was a naughty boy in kindergarten.

So, in my primary school, I studied hard and I made it to top 5 of the 1992 graduating class of Sta. Ana Elementary School (SAES) in Manila.

SAES days were the best part of my life.

I discovered my passion in public speaking and love for music.

Bajo

Young musicians at work! Ang Tinig ng Sta. Ana is the official school paper of our school. I was the only boy at the top of the regular class and a bajo de arco player in our Rondalla group. This photo was taken during one of our performances at Sta. Ana Elementary School (SAES).

I was part of the Rondalla group in elementary. I was a bass player (bajo de arco) because of my big built.

We played during fiesta, special programs (recognition, etc.) at school and joined division-wide music workshop.

Mrs. Josefina Nolasco was our Rondalla adviser. She was a committed teacher who paved the way for younger children to appreciate music.

How do you engage children to love music?

1. Remember that every child has musical aptitude from birth. I don’t know what my mother did when I was young. Children are inherently musical. Very young children can internalize and respond to musical stimuli before they can speak or read. They can also produce sounds and music through a very important natural instrument—their voice. The voice is the ideal basis for early musical expression, so go ahead and invite children to sing out strong!

2. Introduce children to music as soon as possible, preferably before birth. The period between the ages of zero and three is critical for brain development and growth. Research tells us that musical experiences occurring in this window of time can cultivate general brain development, increase musical aptitude, and facilitate bonding. Everyone has the capacity to learn music from birth if their potential is properly nurtured, so engaging with music at a young age is essential to establishing the proper foundation for later development.

3. Engage in musical play activities. Early musical experiences should be informal in nature and occur within a supportive context. Musical play and conversation are critical to increasing musical aptitude, and young children can learn many skills and build relationships through play.
Present ideas and concepts in activities that come naturally to children. Singing, dancing, and vocalizing are enjoyable, natural interactive activities, and they strengthen relationships and encourage children to musically converse with each other and their parents.

4. Don’t set stringent expectations for performance. Establish an environment where children feel free to be themselves and take risks. You’ll be amazed at the development that occurs when children learn through play and are not pushed to be perfect. Don’t set stringent expectations for your own performance, either, which brings us to the next tip.

5. Sing with your child. You may have been told that your natural singing voice is not good enough, but don’t let that stop you from singing, as children treasure their parents’ voices above all others. When you sing with your child, you create positive, engaging musical experiences that build confidence and self-expression, in addition to encouraging your child to experiment with his or her voice. When children reach the age of 2, many parents switch from singing to reading, but it is best to do both and continue fostering a shared love of music, as well as a willingness to be creative and take risks.

6. Create musically enriched environments. Offering children early exposure to high-quality musical stimuli will encourage and enhance their development. One way to use environmental music is to set up musical cues to provide reminders and structure. For instance, slow, soft, and simple classical music could signal a transition from an energetic activity to a quiet activity requiring focus, while upbeat music could facilitate the opposite transition. In general, we recommend that you engage your children with live music, but you can also use recorded music to effectively guide transitions.

7. Use community resources to provide the best possible musical models like the Rondalla. This lays the foundation required to make children more open to different musical experiences as they grow up.