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]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Easter Reflections: "Second Chances"

Today, the Second Sunday of Easter, is also Divine Mercy Sunday. The theme of this Sunday perhaps is "Second Chances."

In the Gospel, Jesus appeared to His disciples in the upper room. The first time, Thomas was absent. And when they told Him that the Lord is risen, he didn't believe. He brushed the news aside saying that unless he probes the pierced hands, feet, and side of Jesus, he would not believe. The second time Jesus appeared, He was already there. But instead of condemning Thomas, Jesus, with much compassion, forgave Thomas for doubting.

Dear friends, many times in our lives we act like Thomas: "To see is to believe." We doubt Jesus' presence and love when things don't go our way, when life becomes troublesome. But even though we "doubt," Jesus always compassionately forgives us and shows us his love.

In this Easter season, may we truly rejoice in the many "second chances" the Lord has given us. Amen.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

He is Risen! All is Well!

The long wait is over. Our faith has borne fruits for us. Our hope is fulfilled: JESUS IS RISEN!!! As we rejoice on this most solemn day, we remind ourselves that our every endeavor, our very life, precisely everything do not end on the Cross: beyond the cross is the empty tomb; after the fateful afternoon in Calvary follows the bright dawn of a new day!

So let us rejoice and let us be true to our very nature, as St. Augustine aptly puts it: "We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song!" As we celebrate the Lord's triumph over sin and death, let us constantly remind ourselves of the great promise of the Easter: All shall be well! Let us remember that even if the most difficult of times and situations envelope us, we always have an "Easter" to hope for: All shall be well.

Rejoice! He is Risen! Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Holy Saturday Reflections: In Hope We Are Saved

Today, Holy Saturday, we commemorate the moment when Our Lady and the Lord's disciples laid Jesus in the tomb. Everything was over: Jesus is dead; God made man lies lifeless in the bowels of the earth. Perhaps what was running in the minds of the disciples was the question "What is there to hope for? The Lord has expired!

Dear friends, I think what we celebrate on Holy Saturday is precisely this: Holy Hope. In the words of our Holy Father Benedict XVI in his latest encyclical Spe Salvi, he says that:

We must return once more to the New Testament. In the eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews (v. 1) we find a kind of definition of faith which closely links this virtue with hope... “Faith is the hypostasis of things hoped for; the proof of things not seen”. For the Fathers and for the theologians of the Middle Ages, it was clear that the Greek word hypostasis was to be rendered in Latin with the term substantia... faith is the “substance” of things hoped for; the proof of things not seen. Saint Thomas Aquinas, using the terminology of the philosophical tradition to which he belonged, explains it as follows: faith is a habitus, that is, a stable disposition of the spirit, through which eternal life takes root in us and reason is led to consent to what it does not see...Faith is not merely a personal reaching out towards things to come that are still totally absent: it gives us something. It gives us even now something of the reality we are waiting for, and this present reality constitutes for us a “proof” of the things that are still unseen. Faith draws the future into the present, so that it is no longer simply a “not yet”. [Spe Salvi, 7]...
Faith gives life a new basis, a new foundation on which we can stand... [Spe Salvi, 8].

Dear friends, our hope is based on Faith. To hope in faith is to leap, a leap that goes beyond the boundaries of reason, a leap that is directed towards the Transcendent. As we "stay in vigil and prayer before the Lord's tomb," let us be reminded of what the Lord Jesus promised... "The Son of Man will rise on the third day." Our hope, our faith is rooted in His Word. Amen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday Reflections: The Triumph of Love

Today is Good Friday. What good is there on this day? Allow me to share three points.

First, it is Good Friday since on this day, Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, willingly subjected Himself to be handed over and to be crucified. A paradox: He who is the Author and Source of Life was condemned to die by persons whom He shared life with. A paradox that is only possible in God. Second, it is Good because Jesus, the only Son of God bore the cross and endured to the very end. Even if life becomes troublesome and will seemingly bog us down, we can still rise and continue for Jesus gave us the example of patient and loving endurance. Third and more importantly, it is Good since Jesus, Word made flesh, triumphed over sin and death. By His very death, evil - sin - death lost its sting. Jesus triumphed!

So as we participate in the Liturgy this afternoon, as we come before the crucified image of Jesus and venerate the wood of the cross, may we remind ourselves that the ultimate symbolism of the cross and the crucified Lord is that of LOVE. And may we follow Him, to love till the very end. Amen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Holy Thursday Reflections: The Depth of His Love

We begin today the solemn triduum in preparation for the great "remembering" of the Lord's Resurrection -- His total destruction of sin and death. In today's Liturgy, we commemorate the Lord Jesus' Supper with His disciples in the upper room. In today's Liturgy, we do an "anamnesis" of how much the Lord loves all of us and how He manifested His great love for all of us by instituting two Sacraments (channels of grace): The Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and of Holy Orders.

The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love. As Saint Ignatius aptly describes it, "It is the manifestation of God's deepest love for all of humanity (S.E. 289)." A Sacrament instituted by Christ to make His presence really and most tangibly felt by all who believe in Him.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the Sacrament of Service. As the Lord Jesus instituted the Priesthood, He instructed His disciple to do what He had just done: Serve with Love.

As we participate in the Liturgy today, let us do a "grateful anamnesis" of these two Sacraments as instituted by the Lord Himself. That we truly appreciate His real and abiding presence in the Holy Eucharist and that we strive to conform our lives to that of Christ Jesus our High Priest: a life of loving and serving. Amen.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Palm Sunday Reflections: "Hosanna!"

We begin Holy Week today, by celebrating what we call Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion. We gather in our parishes and during the Liturgy, we have our palms and branches blessed, reminiscing the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem on the way to His passion, death, and resurrection. And in the Mass, we listen to the quite long narrative of how he was condemned by the Sanhedrin, made to suffer so much pain by carrying the heavy cross, crucified and finally died a gruesome death.

Palm Sunday brings to our memories the fleetingness of human decision. The Gospel accounts which we will hear during the Mass (the first is during the blessing of the Palms and the Second during the Proclamation of the Gospel) suggest to us how indecisive man can be. In the Rite of Blessing, we hear of the people acclaiming Jesus as the Holy One of God, shouting their praises to Him: "Hosanna in the Highest!" Yet, in the Gospel (Liturgy of the Word), we hear the same people crying out, no longer in praise but in jeers: "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"

As we enter into to the mysteries of Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection, it might be helpful to reflect on our own inconsistencies and indecisiveness. How we have praised the Lord in certain moments and how we jeer and disown him in other moments. And we pray that we may truly be faithful to Him till the very end. Amen.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Lenten Reflection: "I Am the Resurrection and the Life"

This Sunday would be the last Sunday of Lent since it will be Passion Sunday next week. I think as we try to wrap up our Lenten discipline of prayer, fasting, and doing good, the readings of this Fifth Sunday of Lent give us hope and put us to a proper perspective. In the readings, the prophet Ezekiel comforts the exiled people by telling them that the Lord will put His Spirit in them and that they will live. St. Paul likewise exhorts the Romans that the Spirit of Jesus Christ will live forever in their hearts. Jesus in the Gospel raises back Lazarus to life. He comforts Martha and Mary by telling them that their brother will come back to life since HE is the Resurrection and the Life.

Many times in our lives we are beset by trials and temptations that seemingly bog us down. But we have in the readings of today our hope in the Promise of Yaweh: "I will open up your graves and give you My Spirit." No matter how deep and dark and cold our "graves" may be, God in His compassion and love will save us and set us free. We only have to cling to Jesus for He truly is our Resurrection and Life.

The invitation perhaps for us is to open our eyes more widely and to broaden our horizons: life does not end in the Cross of Calvary. Beyond the cross is the Empty Tomb and the promise of a New Dawn! Amen.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sunday Reflections: "I can see!"

This Fourth Sunday of Lent, also known as Laetare Sunday, presents to us the story of the blind man that Jesus healed. The man, blind from birth, was made to see.

Jesus in the Gospel juxtapose the blind man's incapacity to see with the pharisees' perfect sight. It seemed that the blind man was the one who can see -- he recognized Jesus, yet the pharisees, though perfect in vision, was recalcitrant in recognizing Jesus.

Perhaps Lent is the best opportunity for us to examine our very selves. How many times have we been blinded from the "essential" of our Life? How many times have we failed to recognize Jesus in our midst?

May Jesus heal our blindness and our insensitivity to His presence. May we truly see, and live in the Light. Amen.