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, February 23, 2008

Sunday Reflections: Life's Thirsts

The Gospel passage for this Third Sunday of Lent presents to us the conversation that Jesus had with a Samaritan woman. And as we hear in the account, the woman begged Jesus for something at one point in their conversation: "Sir, give me this 'water' so that I may not thirst again..." (Jn 4:15)

Many times in our lives we reach a point of looking for something, of "thirsting" for something. And most of the times we find ourselves 'quenching' our thirsts with all sorts of things -- money, power, fame, pleasure, etc... And most of the times we end up still 'thirsty,' we end up unfulfilled. In today's Gospel, Jesus clarifies to us what it is that we should strive for, what it is that would quench our thirst: "... whoever drinks of the water I shall give will never thirst again; the water that I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (Jn 5: 14)

As we continue with our Lenten discipline, we pray that we truly seek for the 'water' that only Jesus can give. That we content our hearts with drinking the 'water' that will enable us to attain eternal life. Amen.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lenten Renewal

In this Second Sunday of Lent, we read in the Liturgy the gospel account of Jesus' Transfiguration (Mt. 17: 1-9). We hear of how the disciples saw the Lord Jesus in His glory -- His face shown like the sun and his clothes became white as light. A wonderful sight indeed. And the disciples further heard the Father's voice in the magnificent vision: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to Him."

As I reflect on this gospel account, I am really rattled why the Church chose for us this gospel account in this season of Lent. But as I reflect further, it dawned on me that perhaps this particular Transfiguration account speaks something to us. As we immerse ourselves in the holy season of Lent, we are invited to be truly sorry for the sins we have committed and for the good we have failed to do. Yes, the crucifix might be the "symbol" for the season but... Jesus' story did not end in Calvary. Jesus' story triumphed on to Easter Sunday. And perhaps the Transfiguration account, as it foreshadowed the glory of the Resurrection, reminds us that we too, sinners though we are, will shine with Jesus in the Resurrection.

Let us pray then that our vision would be widened: That we not only see the cross in Calvary, but more importantly, the Lord's Empty Tomb. Amen.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Reflections on being a Missionary

I delivered this sharing to my brothers in the Jesuit Community during our Mass on 26 January 2008. It is focused on the missions since all of my batch mates were awaiting for our regency assignments during that time. Hope you get something from it. I'm sorry that it is in Tagalog though.

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Ginugunita natin ngayon ang ala-ala nina San Timoteo at San Tito, mga sinaunang Obispo ng Simbahan. Si San Timoteo ay isang convert to the Faith ni San Pablo Apostol na naging kaibigan at kasama niya sa kanyang mga apostolic works. Tinuturing siyang “illegitimate” ng mga Hudyo dahil bagaman Hudyo ang kanyang ina, Hentil ang kanyang ama. Hindi siya “pure” Jew; bagkus, hindi siya ganun ka-acceptable sa komunidad. Si San Tito naman ay isang disipolo at matalik na kaibigan ni San Pablo Apostol. Kagaya ng kanyang “FRIEND,” isang misyonero din siya. Bagaman isang Griego na taga-Antiokya, kung ganun isang Hentil, hindi siya pinilit ni San Pablo na magpatuli. Ika siguro ni San Pablo, “kahit hindi ka tuli, mahal ka pa rin ng Dios! Maaari ka pa ring maging isang misyonero.” It is rather apt that we celebrate their memory today, the day after the Feast of St. Paul’s Conversion.

Mga kapatid, habang ginugunita at pinararangalan natin ang mga sinaunang obispong ito, we can summarize perhaps into one theme the message and in a manner the very lives of these Saints: MISSION. And if we stretch the theme a bit further, being a Missionary. Ano ba ang ibig sabihin nang pagiging tunay at tapat na Misyonero? Alam po ninyo, bagaman attracted ako sa contemplative way of life, sa isang buhay na nakalaan sa taimtim na panalangin at pagsasagawa ng banal na Liturhiya, what really attracted me most to join the Jesuits is the Jesuits’ sense of Mission and Missionary Work. Sa isang punto ng aking buhay habang kinikilatis ko ang aking sarili to choose which state of life to pursue, matingkad ang pagiging Misyonero sa akin. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Sa aking kuro-kuro, ito siguro ang unang punto nang pagiging isang tunay at tapat na misyonero. To recognize that the need for workers in the harvest of the Lord is vast, and to pray that He sends laborers to the harvest. Pangalawa po lamang ang tugon sa pagiging isang manggagawa sa Anihan ng Poon. “Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”

Kung ilalagay ko ang aking konteksto sa pagninilay na ito, ang sanhi at ugat ng aking kagustuhan na pumunta sa Mission sa East Timor ay ito. To directly involve myself in missionary work, to teach children and adults the Faith, to form men and women of deep character and spirituality; precisely to inflame the world (East Timor in this context) with the Love of God! Ito ang aking banal na pagnanasa (my Holy Desire). Ngunit ang pagiging isang tunay at tapat na misyonero ay hindi lamang naka-ugat sa aking mga pagnanasa. Precisely it is rooted in the missionary’s docility and generosity to respond to the need, as deemed fit in the vineyard of the Lord. Ito ang aking pangatlong punto. Oo, gusto kong maging isang misyonero sa East Timor. Ngunit ito ba kaya ang kagustuhan ng Panginoon ng mga Ani? Ang aking pagiging Heswita at misyonero ay tunay at tapat lamang kung handa ko ring tanggapin ang “mission” sa Ateneo de Manila University High School, o di kaya sa Xavier University Cagayan, mga lugar na di ko masyadong “feel” puntahan. My third point is that mission entails sacrifice – to sacrifice one’s desires in favor of the Lord’s desires, to be truly open and docile to become a mere instrument in the hands of the Lord. An instrument that He will use in whatever way, in wherever He deems fit. This reminds me of St. Therese of Lisieux (whose pilgrim relics, by the way, are here in the Philippines), who being filled with zeal for the Lord and for His Mission once said, “Gusto kong pumunta sa misyon para ikalat kung gaano kabuti at kasarap ang pag-ibig ng Dios...” Her desires are true and sincere ngunit di ito possible dahil isa siyang contemplative Sister. She continues, “Ngunit alam kong di ko magagawa iyan… pero magiging misyonera ako sa pamamagitan ng pag-ibig!” Even if we are assigned to places we would rather not go, and given assignments we would rather not do, ang tunay na misyonero ay siya na may kakayahan na tanggapin ang lahat ng ito, dahil ang trabaho ay hindi atin… we are only participators/collaborators in this Work, we are only mere instruments in the hands of God. Alam ko na dapat ko tong sabihin sa sarili ko, but nevertheless allow me to share these thoughts with you.

Mga kapatid, to summarize what I have said in this short reflection, allow me to end by saying that a true missionary is:

First, one who recognizes the great need in the Harvest of the Lord;

Second, one who desires to labor in the harvest of the Lord; bagaman itong dalawang punto ay ang biyaya at mensahe nina San Timoteo at San Tito sa atin;

Third, one who accepts that one is only a mere instrument in the hands of God; na ang Dios ang magdedesisyon kung paano at kung saan ka niya gagamitin as the Lord deems it fit. Ito marahil ang biyaya na ibinigay kay St. Therese of Lisieux, the Patroness of Missions.

Sa ating pagpapatuloy sa banal na Liturhiya, nawa’y mapasaatin ang mga biyayang ito sa mga panalangin nina San Timoteo, San Tito, at Sta. Teresita. AMEN.

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The one in the picture above is St. JOSEPH MARY RUBIO, S.J., a Jesuit canonized by Pope John Paul II in May 04, 2003. He is the Apostle of Madrid, known for his simple yet powerful homilies.

Friday, February 08, 2008

First Sunday of Advent: Temptations as Moments of Grace!

Tomorrow is the First Sunday of Lent. And in our Liturgy, we will hear the Gospel Account about Jesus' forlorn in the desert and how the devil tempted Him. Most of us think that temptations are sins. No, temptations are only occasions to commit sin, and if we nuance that a little, temptations are actually moments of grace!

In the Gospel Jesus was lured by Satan by making Him give in to His bodily desires: physiological gratification (bread), and psycho-emotional gratification (power, riches, prestige, etc...). But Jesus never gave in. Dear friends, many temptations will come into our lives. But once we are tempted, the "things" that tempt us are not really the things we truly desire -- wealth, power, fame, luxurious lifestyle, etc... Even if we succumb to the temptations we still find ourselves incomplete, unsatisfied, lonely. Temptations check our firmness of spirit whether we would truly go for the thing that will give us genuine joy -- GOD.

So as we continue with our Lenten discipline, let us remind ourselves that when times of temptations come, they are actually opportunities for us to fortify our spirits. And like Jesus, may we truly choose that which will make us truly joyful. Amen.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ashes of Repentance and Faith

Tomorrow, we Catholics worldwide will celebrate Ash Wednesday, the start of our Lenten Season. How can we best describe the richness of this celebration?

I remember a phrase often quoted: "The externals reflect the interior." And I believe that this speaks well of our Ash Wednesday observance. Tomorrow, we will go to our parishes, participate in the Liturgy, and will mark ourselves with the Ashes which we will bless in the said liturgy. But the ashes on our foreheads speak so vividly of our desire, perhaps the grace that we are begging for this Lenten Season: To turn away from sin and to have faith in the Gospel. We Catholics through the ages love and treasure rituals and symbols, and for tomorrow, the ashes on our foreheads will symbolize our desire to renew and be renewed. Tomorrow's liturgy will somehow "ritualize", as it were, our longing to truly leave the life of sin behind and to embrace the newness of life that Jesus offers all of us. We long for new life deep in our hearts; the ashes act as "marks" of this desire.

We pray then that as we mark ourselves with the ashes tomorrow, we may put to heart the prayer that the Minister will utter as he imposes the ashes on us: That we may truly turn away from sin, and be renewed in our faith in the Gospel. Amen.