SCA

People come and go, but the mission continues.

This is God’s work. His victory not ours.

We would like to thank our student servant leaders who came and took part in bringing more youth closer to God through Student Catholic Action (SCA) movement in Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).

We have new set of servants in the vineyard who undergone the pastoral formation program last weekend.

They said ‘yes’ to God’s call by serving others and we pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to empower them in this mission.

SCA

“God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind. As far as Jesus is concerned – as the Gospel shows – no one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.” –

Special thanks to our alumni for their unwavering support in sharing their talents, treasures and time for making the program possible.

SCA is the first student Catholic movement in the Philippines that started in 1936.

SCA came to PLM in 1981 and now on its 37th year, the movement stood tall amidst challenges in the past years.

How did SCA come to the campuses? Who started the spark that ignited the passion of serving others?

Here’s an article published last year about the selfless love of the Columban clergy that inspired SCA.

The Columbans and the Student Leaders they Molded
(by Milwida M. Guevara, SCA Alumni, originally published in Manila Bulletin, December 12, 2017)

I tried to focus on the celebration of the mass yesterday but my memory kept drifting to the past. My friend, Fr. Michael Mohally, a Columban priest, celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest. His years were indeed golden, having served as a missionary, and dedicated to the formation of leaders through Student Catholic Action (SCA).

The Columban Missionaries are also celebrating their centenary in the country this year. They ran parishes, established schools, served as university chaplains, and worked with the poor.

Many Columbans died as martyrs in the Philippines. Fr. Thomas Flynn died in the hands of the Huks in 1950. Fr. Rufus Hally was shot dead in 2001. President FVR was personally involved in the rescue of Fr. Des Hartford who was abducted by militants in Marawi in 1997.

But we remember the Columbans most fondly for their work with students. They had a special knack for identifying those with great potential for leadership and held their hands and hearts in their formative years. The Columbans modeled the virtues of servant-leadership, sharpened their minds through “teach-ins” and conferences, and developed their love for others through immersion in marginalized communities.

I am privileged to walk in the company of colleagues whose values and work were shaped by the Columban Fathers: Ernie Garilao, former Secretary of DAR; Carn Abella, former President of DAP; Dr. Antonio Torralba, former Dean of Liberal Arts, UAAP; Atty. Hector Villacorta, Secretary of the Commission on Appointments; Tess Villacorta, former Executive Director of Children’s Hour; Tina Monzon Palma, ANC Anchor, Edna Zapanta Manlapaz, Professor, Ateneo de Manila University, and of course, the great Raul Roco. We were products of “indoctrination” of the Columbans on how to live a meaningful life through service to others.

SCA was introduced in campuses at a time when students were drawn to the ideals of Communism. The Columbans adopted the cell technique in formation. It is interesting to note that the ideals of Communism were propagated through the cell method. We met regularly with a group of students where we discussed how it is to be a leader, the meaning of love, and how virtues such as humility and courage, are acquired. But our discussions were rooted not on the teachings of Lenin and Trotsky, but on the examples of a much bigger leader, Jesus. We reflected on His Gospel and His life of love. It was in these cell meetings where I first listened to Raul Roco, dapper, dashing, and eloquent in flawless English and Tagalog. Every December, the Columbans gathered student leaders in every school, college and university, and “indoctrinated” them in Baguio – La Patria Hotel for the men and St. Joseph College, for the women. Coming straight from the province, you could imagine how I listened with starry eyes to Sonia Malasarte, Nonong Contreras, Tati Licuanan, Pablo Trillana, Fr. Sonny Ramirez, Imelda Nicolas,and Abelardo Cortez.

The Columbans also saw to it that student-leadership should be well-rounded. We had festivals throughout the year where we developed our talents in drama, debates, singing, dancing, arts, and sports. Those were the years when SCA sponsored college fairs where we had great fun in marriage booths, roulettes, merry-go-round, and ferris wheels. In the evenings, we swayed and boogied with the music of RJ Jacinto and the Electromaniacs.

The Columbans helped us to have a deep understanding of life. They led us in our work with communities in the peripheries. I credit my work with the public high schools and the slums in Tondo as the backbone of my obsession for justice and education. It is not strange that many of my SCA colleagues have a penchant for public service and have continued to work with the poor.

I met Fr. Michael 47 years ago. He had an innocent look on his face and was looking forward to his work in the Philippines. Little did he know that he would serve as the Director of SCA in public high schools for many years, sans any priest as assistant. He was forever running around all day in his small car saying masses all over Metro Manila, counseling hundreds of students, and guiding their activities. His heart broke (and so did ours) when SCA was outlawed by the martial law government.

But the Columbans probably will never realize how much their work with SCA has impacted on Filipinos. Their influence has multiplied a million fold through the work of former student leaders whom they have formed. Like ripples in a pond, the ideals of the Columbans have multiplied and changed the course of rivers and oceans. They have set the course for thousands of SCAns to do what is right, give without counting the cost, and work without seeking reward.

Thank you Fr. Michael and the Columban missionaries who have given their best to the country. Indeed, you made us hear the angels sing.

Alleluia

Are you living as an Easter people of God or still in Golgotha?

As married couples, there are a lot of practical lessons that we can learn about relationship from the death and resurrection of Christ as shared by Fr. Mark Demanuele, MSSP during the Easter Recollection organized by the The Feast Bay Area Couple’s Ministry.

As a missionary, Fr. Mark shared his journey of challenges as an Easter person.

Easter people of God

The beauty of the cross is in the promise of Easter, where God shows His natures as a redeemer and restorer. If your marriage is in a time of stress and pain, put your hope in the one who sees past the immediate circumstances of your life and into a hopeful and wonderful future. It is very possible that God could use the current difficulty in your marriage to create something even more beautiful and enduring than you could ever imagine. As you celebrate Easter with your family this year, take some time to reflect on the meaning for your marriage. Allow the wonderful and powerful spiritual truths of Easter breathe new life into your relationship, and your bond will be stronger for it.

He pointed everyone to the powerful exhortation of St. John Paul II back in 1986:

“We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery – the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!”. We are not looking for a shallow joy but rather a joy that comes from faith, that grows through unselfish love, that respects the “fundamental duty of love of neighbour, without which it would be unbecoming to speak of Joy”. We realize that joy is demanding; it demands unselfishness; it demands a readiness to say with Mary: “Be it done unto me according to thy word”.

In particular if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up.

If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume and in due course bearing fruit.

Jesus resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.

Characteristics of Easter people as shared by Fr. Mark:

  • Easter people rejoice in Jesus’ death AND resurrection. (Romans 5:10)
  • Easter people preach the resurrection more than one day a year. (Acts 4:2)
  • Easter people long for their resurrection brought by Jesus as much as or if not more so than a temporary bodiless existence in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3:7-11; Revelation 21)
  • Easter people long to see Jesus restore creation from the curse of decay. (Romans 8 )
  • Easter people speak up at great cost against the ‘principalities and powers’ of this world because Jesus is our risen King and he is king over them all. (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 2:7-9)
  • Easter people are willing to deny themselves and lose all things for the sake of Christ now because Christ, by the power of his resurrection, has promised to restore all things and reward his disciples in the ‘life after the next life’. (Matthew 19:27-28; Mark 10:28-31; Revelation 21:5)

As an “Easter People,” our response to the gift of forgiveness and eternal life compels us to try to live lives that reflect our new status. We are a people forgiven, healed and renewed by Jesus’ Body and Blood, and we are called to share that Good News with the whole world.

Our response can and should be rooted in love. As Jesus himself has told us, love for God and love for our neighbor is the foundation of Christian living. Because God first loved us, loved us so much that we were given God’s only son for our salvation, our response to this love is not only to love God as deeply and fully as we are able, but also to love everyone else as deeply and fully as we love ourselves.

As couples, our relationship with God matters most.

We need to nurture the loving relationship of husbands and wives like how Christ offered His life in the cross.

In this time of violence, strife, argument and disagreement, God continues to call us to love not to hate. God continues to call us to look beyond the immediate to the eternal.

What in a moment of anger or outrage might satisfy our pride is most probably not consistent with the loving future God wants for us.

It is not God who has created the turmoil that surrounds us; it is turmoil of our own making born from our love of self above our love of others.

This Easter, amidst the joy and celebration of our new lives in Christ, let us also celebrate the joy of new life with others.

Let us begin to set aside our pride and petty difference that not only separate us from each other, but also separate us from God.

Let us strive to become an “Easter People” who know and reflect God’s love through our love for one another as equals—equally beloved children of God.

Real

Fr. Bob McConaghy, Spiritual Director of The Feast Bay Area puts it succintly that we are servants not volunteers in doing God’s work.

A volunteer can leave anytime but a servant has a giving heart.

They focus on others, not themselves. This is true humility: not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.

When we stop focusing on our needs, we become aware of the needs around us.

Real Servants

With my fellow servants in The Feast Bay Area together with Fr. Bob.

God is always more interested in why we do something than in what we do. Attitudes count more than achievements.

Jesus “emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant.” When was the last time you emptied yourself for someone elses benefit? You cant be a servant if you’re full of yourself. Its only when we forget ourselves that we do the things that deserve to be remembered.

We serve to get others to like us, to be admired, or to achieve our own goals. That is manipulation, not ministry.

Pastor Rick Warren shared these thoughts about being a real servant for God.

Real servants don’t try to use God for their purposes. They let God use them for His purposes.

We can measure our servants heart by how we respond when others treat us like servants. How do you react when youre taken for granted, bossed around, or treated as an inferior?

Real Servants Think Like Stewards, Not Owners

They remember God owns it all.

Servanthood and stewardship go together since God expects us to be trustworthy in both. The Bible says, The one thing required of such servants is that they be faithful to their master. How are you handling the resources God has entrusted to you?

To become a real servant, you’re going to have to settle the issue of money in your life.

Money has the greatest potential to replace God in your life. More people are sidetracked from serving by materialism than anything else. They say, “After I achieve my financial goals, Im going to serve God.” That is a foolish decision they will regret for eternity. When Jesus is your Master, money serves you, but if money is your master, you become its slave. Wealth is certainly not a sin, but failing to use it for Gods glory is. Real servants are more concerned about ministry than money.

The Bible is very clear: God uses money to test your faithfulness as a servant. Thats why Jesus talked more about money than he did about either heaven or hell. He said, If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? How you manage your money affects how much God can bless your life.

Real Servants Think About Their Own Responsibilities, Not What Other Servants are Doing

They dont compare, criticize, or compete with other servants or ministries. Theyre too busy doing the work God has given them.

Competition between Gods servants is illogical for many reasons: were all on the same team, our goal is to make God look good, not ourselves, weve been given different assignments, and were all uniquely shaped. Paul said, We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

Theres no place for petty jealousy between servants. When youre busy serving, you dont have time to be critical. Any time spent criticizing others is time that could have been spent ministering. When Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping with the work, she lost her servants heart. Real servants dont complain of unfairness, dont have pity-parties, and dont resent those not serving. They just trust God and keep serving.

If you serve like Jesus, you can expect to be criticized. The world, and even much of the church, does not understand what God values. The disciples criticized one of the most beautiful acts of love shown to Jesus. Mary took the most valuable thing she owned, expensive perfume, and poured it over Jesus. Her lavish service was called “a waste” by the disciples, but Jesus called it “significant,” and thats all that mattered. You service for Christ is never wasted, regardless of what others say.

Real Servants Base Their Identity in Christ

They remember they are unconditionally loved and accepted by grace, so they dont have to prove their worth when they are threatened by lowly jobs. Most of us are too insecure to be servants. Were afraid our weaknesses and insecurities will be uncovered so we hide them with layers of protective pride and pretensions.

One of the most profound examples of serving from a secure self-image is Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Washing feet was the equivalent of being a shoeshine boy, a job devoid of status. But Jesus knew who he was, so it didnt threaten or bother him to do it.

If youre going to be a servant you must settle your identity in Christ. Only secure people can serve, when you base your worth and identity on your relationship to Christ, you are freed from the expectation of others. You are freed to serve.

Real Servants Think of Ministry as an Opportunity, Not an Obligation

They enjoy helping people, meeting needs, and doing ministry. They “serve the Lord with gladness.” Why do we serve with gladness? Because we love the Lord, were grateful for his grace, we know serving is the highest use of life, and God has promised a reward. Jesus promised, The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me. And Paul added, He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other Christians.

Imagine what could happen if just 10% of all Christians in the world got serious about their role of being a real servant. Imagine all the good that could be done. Are you willing to be one of those people? Albert Schweitzer said, “The only really happy people are those have learned how to serve.”

Relic

An online post by Manila Cathedral facebook page made me think, did John Paul II foresee his return to the Philippines?

In his last message before departure from the Philippines in 1995 World Youth Day, Pope John Paul II in a personal remark said, “The Pope (…) that he looks another opportunity perhaps to return, I don’t know how. I will see you again, will see you again!”

Fast forward to 2018, he did return through the relic of his blood and as a saint inspiring more people to become more closer to God.

Relic

To venerate the relics of the saints is a profession of belief in several doctrines of the Catholic faith: (1) the belief in everlasting life for those who have obediently witnessed to Christ and His Holy Gospel here on earth; (2) the truth of the resurrection of the body for all persons on the last day; (3) the doctrine of the splendor of the human body and the respect which all should show toward the bodies of both the living and the deceased; (4) the belief in the special intercessory power which the saints enjoy in heaven because of their intimate relationship with Christ the King; and (5) the truth of our closeness to the saints because of our connection in the communion of saints we as members of the Church militant or pilgrim Church, they as members of the Church triumphant. The relics of the saints and their veneration is just another in the long line of treasures which Jesus Christ has given to His chaste bride, the Church. These relics summon us to appreciate more profoundly not only the heroic men and women, boys and girls who have served the Master so selflessly and generously, but especially the love and mercy of the Almighty who called these His followers to the bliss of unending life in His eternal kingdom.

Today, Saturday, April 7, together with thousands of Catholics honored the relic of the blood of Pope Saint John Paul II at the Manila Cathedral with a public veneration.

The public veneration began with the Holy Eucharist led by Manila Cathedral rector Father Reginald Malicdem, including a brief homily delivered by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

Rappler’s Paterno Esmaquel II chronicled Tagle reminded Catholics that the news of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was first spread by witnesses from among the “simple people” – not experts, scientists, or “so-called knowledgeable people.”

“My dear brothers and sisters, the Risen Lord wants to meet us, to open our eyes. He wants to encounter us, and when you have seen him, go, tell the Good News. Tell the Good News to those who are suffering, those who live in darkness, those who have remained in their tombs of despair,” Tagle said.

Tagle then described the late John Paul II as “one of the great witnesses of the Risen Lord.”

Referring to the late pope, Tagle said: “He traveled all over the world telling people, ‘Don’t be afraid of Jesus. Don’t be afraid of the Risen One. Do not be afraid of the life he offers. Welcome him.'”

‘We welcome him again’

“Pope John Paul II came to us. He opened his heart. The Philippines is always welcome in his heart. Now we welcome him again – the relic of blood. Blood. Life. The life connection continues, but it is life in Christ,” Tagle said.

“With Saint Pope John Paul II, let us be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth,” the cardinal said.

John Paul II’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, gave the blood relic to the Manila Cathedral as a gift, as the Manila Cathedral this year marks the 60th anniversary of its rebuilding after World War II.

“Towards the end of Pope John Paul II’s life, with complications from Parkinson’s disease, doctors extracted blood from him in case of an emergency transfusion. There are 4 vials of blood that were never used. Two of the vials were held at Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome, and the other two were given to Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary, then Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz,” said a statement from the Manila Cathedral.

“The blood is in a liquid state because of an anti-coagulant substance present in the test tubes at the moment of extraction,” the Manila Cathedral statement added.

Seven vials of this liquid blood have been enshrined in different churches worldwide, including the Manila Cathedral.

In an interview with the Catholic News Agency, Father Carlos Martins, a priest who handles relics, explained the spiritual significance of religious artifacts like these.

“I think that Saint Jerome put it best when he said: ‘We do not worship relics, we do not adore them, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator. But we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are.’ We venerate relics only for the sake of worshipping God,” Martins said.

Source: Rappler.com

Cross

Today, for Christians, is a special day set aside to commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross. It’s also a day that we can set aside, no matter what religion or spirituality we affiliate ourselves with, and challenge the mystery of the cross. We can be authentic disciples by embracing our hearts and confronting the cross that we personally carry.

On this Good Friday, let us find our cross.

Cross

The Cross becomes a symbol, not of death and degradation, but of self-sacrifice, love, and our ultimate triumph over death. It is the very core of our Christian faith and it is a day we should treasure.

A cross can be embraced, and it can also be forced upon us – against our will. My question to you is: What cross do you carry?

The first cross that some of us bear is the Goat Cross. Some of us are undergoing some painful experiences inflicted upon us by others, as if we were a scapegoat, forced to bear the scars of other people’s sinful actions. As a result of the Goat Cross, we blame our parents, teachers, culture, the church or even our government. If this cross is carried, it frequently ends up in the courtroom.

Another cross is the Crybaby’s Cross. These are those who always say, have pity on me; I need special treatment; make an exception for me for I am a wounded disciple. We find comfort in asking: Do you see the heavy cross I am forced to carry in my life?

We have the Cranky Cross. Because we carry the cross of not finding a job; of being overworked and/or underpaid or the cross of sickness or of family problems, we become angry, bad-tempered, irritable, grumpy and crabby. Those of us who carry Cranky Crosses are crosses to others.

The Cross of Our Humanity is the cross of human nature. We can be stingy, eager to serve and also self-serving, kind and also mean. Such is the nature of the human condition, and often it’s hard to bear!

We further carry the Cross of Others. It’s heavy with sin and mistakes of our family and country. This is a difficult cross to embrace since it is a sharing in government’s guilt and sin. It’s hard enough to embrace our own sins, but to carry the sins of all with whom we are associated including religion, government and society is truly to walk in a saving figure’s footsteps.

There are many other crosses that we bear, but the heart of this reflection is a promise of a new era of justice and peace for all. You and I need to embrace and carry our crosses, to deny our very selves as we surrender to God’s will.

On this Good Friday, embrace your cross with great affection and love. When you do so, you can release from it the power to fertilize and pollinate humanity. Great is the power in each of our crosses to create a new breed of humans, true son and daughters of God.

My prayer for you is the grace to understand and embrace fully your cross on this Good Friday and every other day that you are called to do so.

Source: Good Friday Reflection: Finding and embracing your cross by Elton Letang

Battalion

I would like to share this picture taken 24 years ago during our Citizen Army Training (CAT) days in high school.

IMG_20180320_140154

“Be an Encourager: When you encourage others, you boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Encouragement goes straight to the heart and is always available. Be an encourager. Always.” Photo credits to Batch Lima (1996) Adjutant Joseph Delgado. 

I was the First Battalion Commander back then.

CAT (Citizen Army Training) was part of the fourth year high school curriculum in the 90s.

To be at the top, my fellow CAT officers endured all the physical, mental and emotional trainings.

Just like the military, we have to go through the drill and formation.

Our CAT uniform was the fatigues or battledress, a military suit.

I was part of Batch Lima (1996), our corp commander was a lady who stood tall amidst strings of challenges.

We were the triumphant group who took home the Championship trophy for the Best CAT Platoon of the Division of City Schools Manil held at Araullo High School.

Our training was spearheaded by the Naval Reserve Command (NAVRESCOM) officers.

We have continually exemplified that honor is not a medal pinned to our chests but a way of life embedded in our hearts.

We were always encouraged to have an overflowing love for service and integrity.

We thrived in the spirit of volunteerism and bayanihan.

“Champions are those who never quit,” this quote inspired us to never give up easily.

We were required to memorize this poem by heart.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out.
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are –
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Indeed, quiting was never an option before and until today.

Whatever life throws at you, remain grounded, head held high and never give up.

Unleashed

We are commanded to forgive others, God is really after our own good. So forgive from the heart and set yourself free.

This is what we shared to the kids last Sunday at the Awesome Kids Ministry service.

Unleashed

Remember, forgiveness is for our benefit. The other person’s behavior may never change. It is up to God, not us, to change others. Our responsibility is to be set free from the pressure and weight of an unforgiving attitude.

We took a bottle of water and some effervescent vitamin tablets.

We encouraged the children to think of someone they need to forgive.
• Someone hit you and pushed you down.
• Someone won’t let you play a game.
• Someone broke something of yours.
• Someone called you an unkind name.
• Someone took what you were playing with and won’t share it.

We talked about how they were hurt. They felt mad.

We encouraged them to ask God to let go of these feelings.

We asked the kids to put a piece of the tablet in the water and the children imagined asking God to help them forgive.

As the bubbles start to come off the tablets, they imagined giving the hurt feelings to God.

The tablets took a while to dissolve, which also illustrated that sometimes it might take a long time to forgive.

The water might also have changed color, which illustrates that it’s not as if the thing that hurt you had never happened, it’s just been changed by God.

For the craft activity, they colored an artwork that reminds them to always be kind and good to others.

I felt God’s embrace every Sunday because of these children.

Their presence affirm God’s abounding graces and mercy.

They taught me more to love and to live life.

A simple activity but has a profound meaning.

It was difficult for me to forgive few years back but I learned to let go.

To more years of serving and loving the children of God!