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]

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Prayers for the Leyte Landslide Victims

The death toll in the Leyte Landslide catastrophe has risen to 1,800. Prayers are requested for all the victims -- those who perished and for their bereaved families, as well as the survivors. They need our prayers the most during these hard times of their lives. Below is the message the Holy Father Benedict XVI sent to Bishop Precioso Cantillas, SDB, DD, the Bishop of Maasin (from www.vatican.va). So let us join the Holy Father and the whole Philippine Church in praying for the victims, the survivors, and their families.

Holy Father sends condolences for
landslide victims in The Philippines

When the Holy Father learned that a massive mudslide, on Friday, 17 February, probably caused by persistent heavy rains, had buried the village of Guinsaugon in Southern Leyte, The Philippines, he expressed his sorrow at this tragedy in a Telegram to Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas of Maasin. Virtually the entire village was buried under mud and boulders and the majority of its population is still missing. The following is the text of the Holy Father's Telegram which was released on Friday, 17 February, and signed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State.

Dear Bishop Cantillas,
Deeply saddened by news of the tragic landslide which has destroyed the village of Guinsaugon, the Holy Father offers fervent prayers for those who have died and he invokes divine consolation upon those who mourn. He prays that the relief effort will be swift and generous in its response to the disaster and asks the Lord to grant courage and strength to all involved in the task of caring for those who have lost their homes. Entrusting you and your people to the protection of Mary, Comfort of the Afflicted, he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Secretary of State

Monday, February 20, 2006

God Uses People...

I remember a story shared by a participant in one of the Christian Life Programs I have attended. She said that her "conversion story" began through a prodding of a friend. That she was just invited to attend the program and once she did, her whole life changed. She became more aware of the God who loves her and who continues to do so despite her many failures... through her friend.

Her story is more often than not a reflection of our own stories of conversion and change. We were made to see the greater reality of God's love in the midst of our sinfulness through persons... sometimes close to us, yet sometimes total strangers.

This is the story of Peter the Apostle, the First Pope of the Church. Peter was an ordinary man of his time -- a laborer (a fisherman by trade), uneducated, and perhaps powerless. In short, a "nobody" in his community. Yet, he was chosen by Christ to head and lead His Church here on earth. Through the leadership of Peter and of his succesors, the Catholic Faith reached all the four corners of the world. God used Peter to bring to mankind the saving love of Christ and of His Church.

So, let us therefore pray for all those persons -- dear to us and total strangers -- who in one way or the other became God's instruments for our conversion and change. Let us thank the Lord for them, that through them, we have seen the light of God. Let us also pray for Peter's succesor, the Pope, that he may continue to be God's instrument of love, reconciliation, and peace to the whole of humanity.

The Catholic Church celebrates on this date (22 February) the Chair of St. Peter, the first pope. This feast brings to mind the mission of teacher and pastor conferred by Christ on Peter, and continued in an unbroken line down to the present Pope, Benedict XVI. We celebrate the unity of the Church, founded upon the Apostle, and renew our assent to the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, extended both to truths which are solemnly defined ex cathedra, and to all the acts of the ordinary magisterium (Daily Roman Missal).

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Maging Akin Muli

I don't know but I just feel lonely and empty these past few days. It was as if religious life and the thrills and frills of it has died down. What fills my mind are the tasks and requirements to accomplish and submit, not to mention my personal concerns and worries. I feel at this point spiritually "dry" and devoid of consolation.

Well, I must admit that pehaps my lonely days are here again. Days when community and apostolic life seem colorless, less exciting. It's as if I find difficulty in finding meaning from the things that I do, from the circumstances that I am in.

It was this point that made me think and pray more deeply the question that every vowed person has ever asked: "Is religious life really for me?" The question that is playing in my mind right now. I thought that after my profession of perpetual first vows, I will be happy ever after as a Jesuit. Yet, trying times come, I am burdened. And as I dragged my feet to the chapel to pray, asking God and storming heaven with my countless questions and search for truth, a song gently played in my mind... in my heart. Maging akin muli. It seemed that in the midst of all the uncertainties that I am feeling right now, with all the dryness and the seeming absence of consolation that drew my heart to doubt, God has only three words to say... Maging akin muli.

And as I muse about the lyrics of the song, tranquility slowly creeped in. God's assuring and abiding presence filled my being. Yes, maging kanya muli. And as I allowed the song to speak to the very core of my being, I am once again awed by the kind of God that I have...

Maging Akin Muli
Arnel dC Aquino, S.J.

Manlamig man sa akin, puso mong maramdamin,
Lisanin man ng tuwa puso mong namamanglaw,
Manginig man sa takot masindakin mong puso,
Mag-ulap man sa lungkot diwa mong mapag-imbot.

Kapiling mo Akong laging naghihintay sa tanging taag mo.
Pag-ibig kong ito isang pananabk sa puso Ko.
Sa 'yong pagbabalik sa piling kong puspos ng pagsuyo.
Manahimik at makinig ka't maging Akin muli.

Di mo rin akalain tinig mo'y hanap Ko rin.
Ang 'yong tuwa at sakit, Aking galak at pait.
Kung lingid pa sa iyo, Aking pakikiloob,
Tuklasin mong totoo: tunay mong pagkatao.

Kapiling mo Akong laging naghihintay sa tanging taag mo.
Pag-ibig kong ito isang pananabk sa puso Ko.
Sa 'yong pagbabalik sa piling kong puspos ng pagsuyo.
Manahimik at makinig ka't maging Akin muli.

However, in the middle of prayer, I begin to remember not so good days in the Society -- the tensions of community life, disagreements with peers, discomfort with having to live with someone you would rather not be associated with, the pressures of academic and apostolic endeavors, etc... -- yet serenity still enchants my being. I begin to see the magnanimity of my God's compassion... of my God's love.

I believe that I am invited by my God to simply trust... to cast my cares and my processes to His feet. He will take care of them. An invitation that encourages me to allow Him to be God, to allow Him to once again captivate my heart with His wondrous love. Maging akin muli... yes, Lord... grant me the grace to be truly Yours...forever.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Vigan -- A Growth Experience

Last weekend, a brother Jesuit and I went to Vigan for Vocations Promotions work in the region. It was my second time to visit the old city, perhaps the only city in the country which preserved its Spanish era structures. We really had a great time there, from visiting religious houses to a stroll at the heritage walk area.

But what struck me the most was the vigor and enthusiasm that my brother Jesuit, Sch. Ambrosio Flores, S.J. demonstrated right before my very eyes. He was energetic enough to distribute flyers and vocation promotions materials to basically all young men in the vicinity who were totally strangers to us! I did not have the nerve to do what he did, so I ask that I just wait for him in the Cathedral and at the same time to pray for more vocations to the Church and to the Society.

While I was in the Cathedral, Bros' dynamic attitude towards vocations promotions really moved me. I was so lucky to be with a brother who possesses the dynamism and energy that a Jesuit should have... all for the greater glory of God... at all circumstances... at all costs! At that instance I shrunk in my incapacity to do what Bros just did.

The Vigan experience was not just an apostolic endeavor for me. It was personally a growth experience, thanks to Bros. It was an opportunity to once again check myself, my very desire to follow Jesus as a Jesuit religious. To ask myself whether I am really ready to do ALL things for God's greater glory, whether easier ones or the difficult. And in the generosity of God, he gives me living examples to emulate. Thank you Bros for showing me the true spirit of a Vocation Promoter, for showing me how to be a true son of Ignatius... a Jesuit in spirit and in deed.

With Bros' dynamism, we were able to "entice" ten young men to think about the possibility of a religious calling in the Society of Jesus. Let us pray for them.