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.
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.
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.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
We always start our class with a prayer.
Today was special.
My student reminded me about the importance of praying the “Our Father”, which was the main highlight of the Gospel today.
It is called “The Lord’s Prayer” in that Jesus Himself gave it to us as a way of teaching us to pray. In this prayer, we find seven petitions to God. Within those seven petitions we will find every human longing and every expression of faith found within the Scriptures. Everything we need to know about life and prayer is contained in the wonderful prayer.
Jesus Himself gave us this prayer as the model of all prayer. It is good that we repeat the words of the Lord’s Prayer regularly in vocal prayer. This is also done in the various sacraments and liturgical worship. However, saying this prayer is not enough. The goal is to internalize each and every aspect of this prayer so that it becomes a model of our personal petition to God and an entrustment of our entire life to Him.
The Foundation of Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer begins not with a petition; rather, it begins with us acknowledging our identity as children of the Father. This is a key foundation for the Lord’s Prayer to be prayed properly. It also reveals the foundational approach we must take in all prayer and in the entire Christian life. The opening statement preceding the seven petitions is as follows: “Our Father who art in Heaven.” Let’s take a look at what is contained in this opening statement of the Lord’s Prayer.
Filial Boldness: At Mass, the priest invites the people to pray the Lord’s Prayer by saying, “At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching we dare to say…” This “daring” on our part comes from the foundational understanding that God is our Father. Each Christian is to see the Father as my Father. We must see ourselves as God’s children and approach Him with the confidence of a child. A child with a loving parent is not afraid of that parent. Rather, children have the greatest trust that their parents love them no matter what. Even when they sin, children know they are still loved. This must be our fundamental starting point for all prayer. We must start with an understanding that God loves us no matter what. With this understanding of God we will have all the confidence we need to call on Him.
Abba: Calling God “Father” or, more specifically, “Abba” means we cry out to God in the most personal and intimate of ways. “Abba” is a term of endearment for the Father. This shows that God is not just the Almighty or the All-Powerful. God is so much more. God is my loving Father and I am the Father’s beloved son or daughter.
“Our” Father: To call God “our” Father expresses an entirely new relationship as a result of the New Covenant that was established in the blood of Christ Jesus. This new relationship is one in which we are now God’s people and He is our God. It’s an exchange of persons and, therefore, deeply personal. This new relationship is nothing other than a gift from God to which we have no right. We have no right to be able to call God our Father. It’s a grace and a gift.
This grace also reveals our profound unity to Jesus as the Son of God. We can only call God “Father” in so far as we are one with Jesus. His humanity unites us to Him and we now share in a deep bond with Him.
Calling God “our” Father also reveals the union we share with one another. All who call God their Father in this intimate way are brothers and sisters in Christ. We, therefore, are not only deeply connected together; we also are enabled to worship God together. In this case, individualism is left behind in exchange for fraternal unity. We are members of this one divine family as a glorious gift of God.
A new journey began. It will be a different world. More challenging but rewarding. As I look into the new horizon, hope breams eternal.
I know this is Your will Lord, not mine. But, I surrender to Your Holy plan.
In one of the Jesuit’s reflection that inspires me, they shared that discerning God’s will for me does not depend on the skills I have learnt, much less on the level of my knowledge, but above all on the quality of my heart’s listening.
A listening heart knows how to be sensitive to God’s presence. It is built on a basic trust in God’s faithfulness and to his willingness to communicate himself: it is indeed possible to seek and find what is God’s project for me.
As I listen to God, I discover that I need to listen more to myself, even though I might have started with the idea that I need to listen less to myself. It is God who created me and sowed the seeds of desire in my heart, so I do have to learn how to listen to and understand my deepest desires, my dreams, my strong points, as well as my mistakes and disappointments.
Just as I cannot love others unless I love myself, so also I cannot really trust God without trusting myself and what God is doing in me: God’s will is myself!
I do this not in narcissistic self-admiration, where everything is centred on my needs, but in a spirit of deep freedom, the freedom to serve and to love others even when it means carrying the cross and turning the other cheek.
Like all successful communication, this requires time and patient effort, perhaps with the guidance of someone more experienced with whom I share my quest. This can only happen in the context of a stable prayer life, that includes the daily examen of conscience.
As life becomes more complex, and as we become more allergic to rules, discernment will assume a much bigger role in our lives and in that of our communities, including that of the big community, the Church. We are blessed that many who preceded us, including Ignatius of Loyola, have left us many helpful indications on how to discern our decisions.
As I continue my journey, I will continuously yield to His plans for me.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Mt 7: 7-12
There was no way but up.
It was a tough ride for the past years.
Time to bounce back, to regain strength, to love and to serve more.
I know it was diffucult to start again from the bottom of the pit but I was humbled by the experience.
I learned a lot and I met new people.
I’ve just started.
A bigger purpose was slowly unravelling right before my eyes.
Thank you God for surprising me everyday.
I cling on Your unfailing love.
Let Your will be done.
I can’t do this alone. You are my rock and my shield.
Protect me everyday and use me according to Your holy plan.
I surrender everything to You.
Be my guide.
Let Your heart be seen in me.
May I bring more people closer to You.
In Jesus name, amen.