S e n t i r e C u m E c c l e s i a

"To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast to this principle: What seems to me to be white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Spouse, there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the salvation of our souls..." - Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius [365]

Saturday, November 26, 2005

First Sunday of Advent -- A Time to Go Back to God

Advent marks the start of a new liturgical year in the Church. It prepares us for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole season is divided into two parts, the first beginning with the First Sunday of Advent up to December 16, when we Catholics, are being reminded by the Church to reflect upon and pray about the parousia, Christ's second coming at the end of the world. the second part starts on December 17 up to December 24, when we are being prepared by the Church to celebrate worthily the memory of Christ's first coming. It therefore prepares us for the great solemnity of Christmas.

Today's Gospel speaks of Christ admonishing His listeners to prepare always for they know not when His second coming will be. He therefore exhorts us to be vigilant and to be ready to meet him all the time.

This Gospel passage reminds me of a simple story about a watchmaker. There was a certain watchmaker in the town. One day, a young man bought a writstwatch from him. Before the young man could leave, he told him to come to his place every quarter for him to check on the watch and to make sure it is in good condition. The young man said yes, and so he went on his way. But soon after, he forgot about the word of the watchmaker. He was caught up by his hectic life. So years passed by.

One day, his watch broke down. He went to a friend and asked him what to do with it. His friend advised him to just tap it, maybe it just needs to be shaken. So he did. Well enough, the watch worked again. But after a month, the watch broke down again. And so, he went to another friend to ask what to do about it. This friend advised him to toss the watch in the air and allow it to fall down. This he did. And well enough, the watch worked again.

But after a month, the watch broke down again. Having remembered what his friends told him, he tapped, he tossed in the air his watch. But nothing happened. It was then and there that he remembered what the watchmaker told him the day he bought the watch. And so, he went back to the watchmaker.

The watchmaker fixed the watch and told the young man why he failed to come back. It was only him who could fix the watch since he was the one who made it.

Many times in our lives we fail to remember to go back to God. We busy ourselves with the demands of daily living and we forget to commune with Him, telling Him our pains and asking Him to strengthen us. When tribulations came, we just content ourselves with solutions that do not really solve the problem at its core. In the end, the problem is never resolved.

Advent perhaps is the time of the liturgical year when we remind ourselves that coming back to God is important and necessary in our lives as Christians. To be sorry for the wrongs we have committed, for not being vigilant and ready for His coming, a kind of coming that happens every moment of everyday -- through people and events.

So, as we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, we beg the Lord for the grace that we may truly be ready for His "comings" in our lives. AMEN.

Advent -- Prepare Ye the way of the Lord!

We are approaching Christmas. We all know how much this involves by way of preparation. it is a feast that gives rise to humanitarian thoughts, and feelings of joy and peace. The children, the poor, the unfortunate are in the minds of all. this is one of the most heartening and praiseworthy aspects of our society. it educates us in the spirit of brotherhood, and so to an awareness of the needs and sufferings of others.

We must include in our Christmas planning some genuine reflection on Christ in the manger and a resolution for personal and social renewal. He Himself came among us as one who was lowly, humble, poor. At the same time He was the Messiah who redemmed us from every moral misery, as well as the prophet of hope of the Kingdom of Heaven.

- Pope Paul VI (1897-1978)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Memorial of St. John Berchmans, Religious of the Society of Jesus

Every 26th of November, the universal Society of Jesus celebrates the Memory of a young Saint, John Berchmans. St. John Berchmans, S.J. (1599-1621) entered the Society of Jesus at the age of seventeen. During his brief life he quickly gained a reputation for being observant and faithful to his religious duties and his studies. He was well-known for his brilliance in philosophy. Considered by many Jesuits as the perfect personification of fidelity to the Constitutions of the Society. He died on 13 August 1921. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in the year 1888. Below is a prayer composed by St. John Berchmans. The prayer is taken from the booklet "Hearts on Fire."

Mary, My Advocate

Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God,
I choose you this day
to be my queen, my patroness, and my advocate,
and I firmly resolve never to leave you,
and never to say or do anything against you,
nor ever permit others to do anything against your honor.
Receive me, then, I beg of you, for your servant forever.
Help me in my every action,
and abandon me not at the hour of my death. AMEN.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J. Martyr of Mexico

A Prayer Asking to Stand near Mary
By Bl. Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J.

Let me spend life near thee, O Mother,
to keep thee company in thy solitude and deepest grief;
let me feel in my soul the sadness of thine eyes
and the abandonment of thy heart.

On life's highway I do not seek the gladness of Bethlehem;
i do not wish to adore the Infant God in they virginal hands,
nor to enjoy the winsome presence of Jesus
in they humble home of Nazareth,
nor to mingle with the angelic choirs in thy glorious Assumption.

My wish in life is for the jeers and derision of Calvary;
for the slow agony of thy Son,
for the contempt, the disgrace and infamy of the Cross.
My wish, O most sorrowful Virgin, is to stand near thee,
to strengthen my soul through thy tears,
to complete my offering through thy martyrdom,
to temper my heart through thy solitude
and to love my God and thy God through my self-sacrifice. AMEN.

Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J. is a priest from Mexico who was executed for his Catholic Faith on 23 November 1927. He died by a firing squad with his arms extended in the form of a cross. Blessed Pro was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 25 September 1988, and the Society of Jesus celebrates his memory every 23rd of November.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Renovation of Commitment in Religious Life

As a Jesuit Scholastic, I am encouraged according to our ConstitutioNS to makE a devotional renovation of my commitment to God in religious life; I find this tradition very enriching and most strengthening. I am once again reminded of my personal commitment to Christ our Lord and to His Holy Church.

Having spent days of prayer and reflection, pondering over the commitment I have made on the afternoon of 31 May 2005, it donned on me how meaningful my vows are as a Jesuit religious. It denotes “surrender” in the fullest meaning of the word.
I have realized that profession of vows is noting but allowing one’s self to be placed in the divine hands of God. To allow Him to use me, as an instrument in His hands in ways He desires. St. Therese of the Child Jesus puts it so simply:

“To allow myself to be placed in the hands of God, like a little ball in the hands of a toddler. The toddler does all sorts of things to the ball as he desires: he may throw it out, bounce it back and forth, dribble it, or just play with it. I am a little ball in the hands of God. I allow Him to use me in ways He so desires.”

Religious life is none other than putting my “self” entirely in the hands of God. And as a Jesuit I have made this “entrustment” three times already in the course of my formation. The first happened during the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises when I prayed the prayer “Eternal Lord of All Things”, asking Christ our Lord to admit me into a life He so desires for me. The second was during the Fourth Week of the same Exercises when having reflected upon the “Contemplation to Attain the Love of God”, I prayed Ignatius’ Sume et Suscipe: Take and receive oh Lord my liberty… my entirety. The third and the ultimate oblation I made was when I professed my perpetual first vows in the Society of Jesus, the time I declared that I will live a life of perpetual poverty, chastity, and obedience, following the footsteps of Christ my Lord and my King who lived poor, chaste, and docile to the will of the Father.

Having religious vows is not an easy and comfortable life at all. There are challenges to be overcome and invitations to be responded. Yes, it is a difficult and tedious life. But I hope in the God who continues to hope in me, stating with all my heart a portion of our vows formula: “…just as You gave me the grace to desire and offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.”

In the final analysis, it is not so much I who profess to live a life of total consecration to God, but God who manifests His selfless love and compassion for me, in and through the vows. It is a sign of God’s fidelity and patience in me, a poor and hardened sinner.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Solemnity of Christ the King

Today, 20 November 2005, the Universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ, the King of the Universe.

The celebration of this Solemnity begun in the year 1925 by Pope Pius XI through the encyclical Quas Primas (11 December 1925). The Pope asked the Church to celebrate this Solemnity anually to protect the Church form too much secularism, a culture so rampant during those days when man and woman began to live their lives and structure their days as if God did not exist.

It is fitting and appropriate for us Roman Catholic Christians to reflect and meditate upon the relevance of this feast in our lives as followers of the Lord Jesus, as well as the strong message that this feast would impart to us, men and women of this present generation.

Our society today is very much beset by materialistic and secularistic cultures. A culture that gives much importance to accumulating wealth, power and honor. A culture that focuses much on earthly and temporal matters, leaving behind the care and concern for the soul.

This feast then encourages us to examine our very selves, our very lifestyles, our very views on life. Do we really give much attention to God's place in our lives? Do we recognize the fitting position that God must occupy in our hearts, in our families, in our world? Or do we just relegate God to the peripheries of our consciousness, being able to recognize His presence only during moments of grief and tribulations?

I believe it is very apt for us to pray over the importance of this feast in our lives as Christians. For us to go back to the basics of why we celebrate this feast. Perhaps it would be helpful if we recall the words of Pope Pius XI in his encyclical:

"The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.[35] If all these truths are presented to the faithful for their consideration, they will prove a powerful incentive to perfection. It is Our fervent desire, Venerable Brethren, that those who are without the fold may seek after and accept the sweet yoke of Christ, and that we, who by the mercy of God are of the household of the faith, may bear that yoke, not as a burden but with joy, with love, with devotion; that having lived our lives in accordance with the laws of God's kingdom, we may receive full measure of good fruit, and counted by Christ good and faithful servants, we may be rendered partakers of eternal bliss and glory with him in his heavenly kingdom." (Quas Primas, 33)

To end, we must have the heart and soul to live out the ideals presented in the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King. We must allow Him to touch every aspect of our life -- personal, familial, and communal, for us to be truly worthy subjects of His Heavenly empire. That in the final analysis, we who celebrate this feast might be transformed to the Person that this feast celebrates: we may think as Christ our King thinks, and that we might love the way Christ our King loves.

This is the relevance and the richness of why we Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. May we become worthy subjects of Christ the King.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Jesuits 2005

These young men (some are not so young anymore...) are the newly professed Jesuits of the Philippine Province. They are the team to beat... always giving themselves to prayer and service, all for the greater glory of God!

San Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, S.J.

On 23 October 2005, Pope Benedict XVI canonized a Chilean Jesuit, Father Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga. This is considered a development, most especially in the light of the Society of Jesus’ social apostolate, in her desire to promote “faith that does justice”.

Fr. Hurtado was very much part of our century. He was never foreign to the social conditions that beset our present society today. He was born on 22 January 1901 at Viña del Mar, Chile. He entered the Society on 15 August 1923, only twenty-two years of age. He was ordained a priest on 24 August 1933. After having lived and labored for the glory of God, he died on 18 August 1952.

The life of Fr. Hurtado has much to say to us, men of this present generation. In his lifetime, he saw, and even experienced the horrible pains of poverty – not having a home of his own and depending only on the compassion of others. But God, in His graciousness and wisdom, transformed these not-so-good experiences into something life-giving. Being totally aware of the horrors of poverty and social inequality, he led the establishment of the Hogar de Cristo, the “Hearth of Christ”, which provides not only a home for the homeless but also a warm family environment of love and acceptance.

Fr. Hurtado was indeed a true disciple of Ignatius and an authentic son of the Society of Jesus: ever conscious in establishing the Kingdom of peace, equality, and love for all persons across social standing, but more so to the poor and the marginalized.

May the Lord continue to bless His Church and the world with persons who possess the charism and gift of St. Alberto Hurtado. And may we ourselves mirror the love and compassion of Christ to all men and women, as mirrored by St. ALberto Hurtado during his lifetime.

What is it to be a Jesuit?

"It is to know that one is a sinner... yet called to be a companion of Jesus, as Ignatius was..."

Decree No. 2
32nd General Congregation
Society of Jesus