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.

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.”

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.

New

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.

New

“The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want…” – Ps 23

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

Work

A dear fellow servant and an educator reminded me today to offer our work as our worship to God.

It was raining cats and dogs when the classes were suspended today in upland Cavite. My new textmate was NDRRMC.

With the gloomy bed weather, this thought came to mind: our work is a way to worship God. It has intrinsic value and can demonstrate God’s character when we do good work. Faith and work are to be seamless. Work is an expression of our life in Christ. Separating the two is like separating “being” from “doing.” How do you know who you are being without considering what you are doing?”

Work

Worship and work should never become two different things. We worship when we work and we work when we worship, especially when our work is derived from God.

Moreover, this very insightful sharing from Work Life online inspiration prodded me to ponder deeper.

In his book Holy Sweat 2, Tim Hansel tells the story of some body builders on a television talk show. They were showing off their muscles when the host asked, “What do you use these muscles for?” One man answered by flexing his muscles in one of those body-building poses.

“No, you don’t understand me,” said the host. “What do you use these muscles for?”

The body builder answered, “I’ll show you,” and flexed again, posing another way.

“No, no, you still don’t understand what I’m asking. What do you use them for?” and the guy posed again.

Many of us are like that. We attend church, go to seminars, conferences and Bible studies and keep building our spiritual muscles, but we do not use them for the reason for which they were created. We end up like the body builders, with well-defined muscles for show, just to look good, but they are good for nothing.

Jesus said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32). When we participate and experience this truth, we make it our life story.

As Hansel puts it, “Your theology should become your biography.”

We learn to mesh our beliefs into everyday reality. Although it sounds simple, it actually is one of life’s greatest challenges.

We seldom understand that God is not just asking us to be spiritually committed to him. He wants our total commitment; every fiber of our being.

We use every dimension of our being when we work, so we worship him as we work.

As Christians we find our basic identity in Christ but seldom consider what this means.

We are more inclined to dwell on what we do and who we are – the urgent and the superficial.

Our identity in Christ is once and for all established when we put our faith in him, yet many of us don’t consciously dwell on this profound reality.

We simply go about living our lives, rather than thinking about our significance in Christ, thus blinding us from knowing who we truly are.

We develop this sense of identity and security in Christ as we spend time with him in prayer, offer our conscious praise to him and give him credit for all we are and have.

The more of his Word, the Bible, we put into our lives, the more aware we become that he is our prime motivator.

When we simply take God at his word, we find he is utterly trustworthy and creates opportunities for his Spirit to be manifested in our lives and work.

Freedom

Are we truly free as a nation?

My first Philippine Independence Day celebration today in the beautiful town of Amadeo made me reflect on this question.

What is freedom for today’s generation?

Prof. Jordan Ramos, the special guest from the Amadeo Historical Society shared that during a dissertation presentation – Grade 3 students were asked if they are willing to give up their Filipino citizenship to become an American – majority of the students said yes, almost all.

Freedom

The Municipality of Amadeo public servants during the 120th Philippine Independence Day celebration.

Colonial mentality and the culture of consumerism influenced these children ‘big’ time.

Luz Reyes shared ten (10) modern ways on how to influence the younger generation to love the country more:

1. Respect the Philippine flag and value the Filipino identity
Being Filipinos, we should respect our Philippine flag and its purpose. The history and value of this flag are connected to the freedom we have today. Encourage our fellowmen to participate and respect our flag and its anthem and even our different symbols.

2. Be a productive citizen
Be industrious and make ourselves productive, not only for ourselves but for our country as well. Serve the people, serve our nation.

3. Be aware of the issues in our country
We must be aware and updated on the significant issues happening in the country. Extend help to the needy fellowmen, especially the victims of disasters like typhoons, floods, and the like.

4. Stand proud for every Filipino’s achievement
Filipinos is globally competitive in many aspects. They are proud to be a Filipino and for the honors they bring to our country. They unite every Filipino for their achievements. We can be proud of Filipinos like Manny Pacquiao, the Azkals Football Team, the Gilas Pilipinas Basketball Team, and many more.

5. Patronize and support our own products
The Philippines has rich resources to create quality goods and products. The manpower services we provide are also globally competitive. Our economy will improve more if we ourselves patronize our own products which characterizes our creativity, resourcefulness and heritage.

6. Preserve the Filipino culture
Philippines is rich in various colorful cultural elements. They are our identity. Be proud and preserve the culture we have for they are our treasure. We have to keep them for the future generation.

7. Respect everyone and value our traditions
Filipinos are very courteous and respectful. Even in modern times, many Filipinos show and value their noble norms and traditions. So we Filipinos must continue to exercise these good traditions like respecting our elders and others, by using “po at opo”, being hospitable, and being religious.

8. Speak out our own language
Using our own language is manifesting and preserving our national identity. It is our unique means of communicating and interacting with our fellowmen. Our language is an important tool to achieve further unity and national development.

9. Remember and commemorate our heroes’ sacrifices for our country
There were many Filipinos who died for our democracy, freedom, and independence. Some fought using their pens and tongues, while some used the power of their arms and weapons. Each had their own way of showing their love and respect to our country. In today’s generation, let us value and treasured our heroes sacrifices and devotion for our country.

10. Love our family, our neighbors, and our compatriots
Love and help one another. That way, we are showing the world that we are proud to be Filipinos. Stand united! Do something to help each other and for the greater good for our mother country. Love everyone and love our country as we love ourselves.