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Showing posts from July, 2012

the danger when things or persons become common: 15th week tuesday 2012 II

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Let us talk about the subject I teach in the seminary for more than ten years now, the philosophy of beauty, or philosophical aesthetics.  What makes a thing beautiful, is it in the thing itself or is it in the way I see things?  Each philosopher has his or her own view why things are pleasing to a person while others are not.  In studying beauty St. Thomas Aquinas, the great catholic philosopher is a consolation for many of us.  He is a consolation because he said that all beings, all creatures, all men and women are beautiful in themselves.  Each of us is beautiful, he said, for each of us is created according to our nature and form.
However, St. Thomas said, the problem comes in when a thing or person is seen in relation to another.  In itself you are beautiful but in relation to me, a thing or person can be ugly.  Kon ikaw lang, you are beautiful - kon ikaw lang.  Pero kon may iban nga nagalantaw, ti magadepende na ina sa ila.  You are beautiful in yourself because you fulfil your …

he did not because he could not 2: 14th sunday B 2012

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In reading the gospel today, an important question comes to mind.  It may sound funny, a mere cerebral exercise, but nevertheless it is an important question which may help us understand our gospel today.  The question is, what are the things God cannot do?  Have you ever wondered about that?  We have called God all-powerful, we have characterized God as omnipotent, in fact we pray, we come to Carmel to pray because we believe that he can do things, he can do all things for us.  But have we ever asked ourselves the question what are the things God cannot do?
Philosophers have struggled with the question for centuries starting way back during the time of St. Augustine and even beyond.  They have asked questions like:  can God create a rock so huge he could not carry it?  Kon makaobra sia sang daku daku nga bato nga madala niya, puwes indi sia makagagahom kay ang maobra lang niya nga bato amo lang ang iya madala.  Kon maka-obra sia sang bato nga indi niya madala, puwes indi sia makagagah…

he did not because he could not: 14th sunday B 2012

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In reading the gospel today, an important question comes to mind.  It may sound funny, a mere cerebral exercise, but nevertheless it is an important question which may help us understand our gospel today.  The question is, what are the things God cannot do?  Have you ever wondered about that?  We have called God all-powerful, we have characterized God as omnipotent, in fact we pray, we come to Carmel to pray because we believe that he can do things, he can do all things for us.  But have we ever asked ourselves the question what are the things God cannot do?
Philosophers have struggled with the question for centuries starting way back during the time of St. Augustine and even beyond.  They have asked questions like:  can God create a rock so huge he could not carry it?  Kon makaobra sia sang daku daku nga bato nga madala niya, puwes indi sia makagagahom kay ang maobra lang niya nga bato amo lang ang iya madala.  Kon maka-obra sia sang bato nga indi niya madala, puwes indi sia makagagah…

the need to be blessed because we can never be good enough on our own: blessing mcdonald's valeria

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In our reading today Paul prays that we his
readers will be given strength, wishing us to rely not on our own strength but in the strength that comes from God.  Paul has reminded time and again elsewhere in his many letters that man is in no way good enough, that we are not good enough but that we need the strength, the grace that comes from God.  If you notice Paul does not say here be strong, or be stronger.  No, for we can never be good enough.  Instead Paul calls to God to give us strength.
In this same prayer Paul also prays that we may understand, the breadth, the length, the height, and the depth of his love for us.  Paul includes all three dimensions that can be known by our senses immediately - how wide, how long, how high, except how deep.  We need to bore a hole to know that.  In saying so Paul then prays that God will give us understanding beyond what we have, not dependent on our mental capacities but understanding beyond what we have. This is the essence of prayer, of all p…

the skull in my room: 13th sunday B 2012

I have a skull in my room.  I do not know how it ended in my room but it has been there for so many years now, and it always sits on the table in front of me when I give counselling, when I talk to seminarians, of when I give spiritual direction.  The skull would be sitting there, silent, with eyes gouged, baring its teeth uncovered by lips and skin, a bare head.  It has been a silent witness to what people said to me in counselling and spiritual direction.  No the skull is not real.  It is made of plastic but it looks very real. Why do I put a skull there on my table?  - The skull reminds me of my vulnerabilities, it reminds the seminarian too about his own vulnerabilities and why we should be honest about them.

going through life humbly: 12th week tuesday 2012

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In our first reading today we hear that Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, sent a letter to Hezekiah the king of Judah warning him that he is about to attack and defeat Judah.  When, Hezekiah heard this he run to the temple, entered the holy of holies, then he opened the letter and showed this to God.  There he prayed to God that the nation will be saved.  God heard the cry of Hezekiah and he promised through Isaiah that God will save Judah from its enemies.  And so it happened that a plague hit the camp of Sennacherib and many of his troops fell ill and died.  Because of this the rest of the troops of Sennacherib went back to their own country and thus God saved his people from a powerful enemy because of the prayers of Hezekiah.

my goal is heaven, my reward is my god: 12th sunday B st. john the baptist 2012

There are two important births which mark the longest day of the year and the shortest day of the year.  The longest day of the year or what we call the beginning of Summer, the summer solstice is marked by the birth of John the Baptist.  Though this marks the beginning of summer, this is also the time of the year when the light begins to decrease.  Summer solstice happened last June 21.  In the past Summer solstice fell on June 24 or 25.  We celebrate here the birth of John the Baptist.

perpetual help: our need for help perpetually: iloilo court personnel

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Providence has willed, or was it just simply bad luck, or some bad construction, that we become neighbors.  (I'm referring to the Hall of Justice of Iloilo City which was declared a hazard after the earthquake.  The Judges are temporarily holding court at de Paul College, at the back of SVFS.)  I live just at the other side.  And like all neighbors we share a lot of things.  We share a common boundary, we share the drainage and several years ago we have to close our piggery in acknowledgement that we share the same air we breathe.  There are so many things we share and one of these, I am told are ghosts.  We share the same ghosts.  I believe these all started when the three of us were in the auditorium of SVFS discussing something.  All of a sudden, to our surprise, and I would add, shock, the curtain which is operated electronically, opened.  It just opened.  Nobody but us, but the curtains just opened.  In fact it didn’t stop after the full length opened.  The motor of the curta…

remembering my ordination: feast of the sacred heart

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This day means that most of the mahogany trees that you will find in the field is nineteen years old.  And so also are the langka trees that you see around.   Why do I know and why is that so?  It is because when I was ordained nineteen years ago, instead of the usual stampita, I gave those who attended my ordination, seedlings to plant.  The seminarians were there - your Sir Joseph was still a first year high school then and they brought with them to the seminary seedlings which they planted all around here.  I still have with me the small piece of paper I attached to the more or less one thousand seedlings.  It says, gintanum sa kadayawan sang Dios, ang ginagikanan sang tanan nga mga kaayuhan, Hunyo 15, 1993.

devotion to the sacred heart

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Each of us has our own personal devotion.  I have my own devotion - Carmel is one of these, so also the praying for the souls of the faithful departed.  These are the devotions I chose when I was in high school.  I have always worn the brown scapular of Carmel since I was first year high school and I have always prayed for the souls of the faithful departed beginning at that time when I had difficulty waking up in the morning, again also in high school.  Each of us must have our own personal devotion that will follow us through life.  It is a personal lifeline, something we hold on to even when everything else lose their meaning.

the best help comes from the unexpected: 10th week tuesday II independence day 2012

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Elijah was on the run trying to escape the anger of the king and our first reading today tells us that God told him to move to Zarephath because there is a widow there who will help him.  And so Elijah went probably hoping to find a widow rich enough to help him in his needs.  And what did he find?  A poor widow who could not even provide for herself and her son for their daily needs.  Ang ginpadala sang Dios nga mabulig kay Elias halos indi gani makapakaon sang iya anak sa sulod sang isa ka adlaw.  It must have been difficult for Elijah to understand this - this manner, this kind of divine providence.  In answer to your prayers, God sends you help through somebody who could hardly help herself. Elijah must have laughed a silent laugh, letting out a chuckle in amusement to this divine arrangement.  But that is how it is when you deal with God.  Many times the best help comes from the most unexpected.   Most probably Elijah realized that if we want God to help us, then we have to permi…

corpus christi

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What makes a sacrifice a sacrifice?  St. Thomas Aquinas said that a sacrifice requires two things.  First there is the oblation, and second there is the immolation.  These are the two points which I would like to reflect with you today on this feast of the Corpus Christi – the feast of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross which we make present daily on our altars in the sacrifice of the mass.  The two requirements for a sacrifice – there must be oblation and in that oblation there must be immolation.
First – oblation.  What is oblation?  Oblation is a gift and a gift is something that is freely given.  It is not something coerced, there is no intimidation involved, no bullying.  It may be asked but it is not and could not be demanded or required.  It is something freely given, it is volunteered, it may be given quite reluctantly at first but in the end it is surrendered. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross on Calvary was a sacrifice because Jesus made a gift of himself.  Jesus was not si…

suffering is an essential part: 8th week tuesday 2012 II

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Jesus said that those who have given uphouse or brothers or sistersor mother or children or landsfor his sake and for the sake of the Gospel,will receive a hundred times more now in this present age with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. So in a sense Jesus is telling us that our service to him and to the church, especially those which entail giving up father, mother, properties, children will be rewarded in this life, not later but even in this life.  And in the life to come he or she will be awarded eternal life.  I believe that’s clear.  But there is something curious in this passage.  Jesus also mentioned persecution, with persecution.  Jesus seems to be saying in the gospel that persecution is to be expected in the present life with the rewards promised. It is true that the context of this gospel is the first systematic persecution of Christians by the Emperor Nero.  When the gospel was written by Mark, the first victims may have been already dead and that would in…

ambition: 8th week wednesday 2012

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James and John with their mother have been called ambitious, with the negative connotation we mean when we call people ambisyoso.  But are they really?  Is it wrong to aspire for greatness?  Is it wrong to become ambitious? There are two things which Jesus did correct in James and John with their mother.  The first is the method of attaining greatness, the method we take in wanting to fulfill ambition.
 To call ambition sin or to call ambition wrong is a mistake.  I think it is more wrong to have no ambition at all.  What Jesus pointed out to James and John and their mother is the fact that in their ambition they committed a serious oversight.  And what is this oversight –that they can attain their ambition by doing a short-cut.  That is why Jesus posed the question, can you drink of the cup?  Are you willing to sacrifice, to suffer in order to attain that ambition?   There is nothing wrong with dreaming big and wanting money, but there is something wrong when in our wanting it we do inj…

saying goodbye properly: what it means: 7th week easter tuesday 2012

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Last Tuesday, I shared with you a thought about saying goodbye properly as did our Lord in our gospel that day, that saying goodbye too is necessary for growth, that saying goodbye properly to the things we love and value, the spirit of detachment, is our way of practicing dying, and that saying goodbye properly, that is to cut and cut clean, is part of conversion, of leaving behind that things that prevent us from truly serving the Lord so necessary, however, painful they maybe. 
Now St. Paul is saying goodbye to the Christians of Ephesus telling them that probably, as he sensed his end, this was the last time they were going to see each other.  In doing so Paul narrated a typical pamilinbilin.  He told the people how he had served the Lord with humility, how he had been faithful even amidst tears and persecution, how he never shrunk from telling them the truth despite the dire consequences he has to face for telling the painful truth.  He told them how ready he was to face any event…

thank you pat gumban

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Pat Gumban came to our office after several Sundays of announcements in the cathedral asking for volunteer writers for the weekly paper Candlelight.  I was the editor then, and out of the many writers and staff only three remained - Tay Pons, Nang Eve and Tata Joy.  And so we invited people who may want to contribute to Candlelight.  Many of those who responded were from outside the parish of Jaro.  One was Irene Abaygar from Alta Tierra and a teacher at the West Visayas State University, and the other was Pat Gumban from Pavia and a public school principal.  And since they were working with Nang Eve, naturally and eventually, they also became members of the Jaro Evangelization Team or the JET, which for sometime was very active in the Parish especially in the evangelization program and most conspicuously in the Oras sang Parokya every Wednesday then.  It was from there that Nang Pat came to enter the Ministry of Readers until she went almost blind, and surviving that, until she died.

saying our goodbyes properly: 6th week easter tuesday 2012

Togetherness and the desire for each other’s presence is as human as death.  Even in the penal code, death is the greatest form of punishment for it is as it is called a departure, albeit a forced departure from everything we hold dear including being in the presence of and being with the people we love.  The next greater form of punishment is solitary confinement – again a deprivation of human company, frustrating one’s basic desire for togetherness.  This desire is the reason why homecomings and Christmases become sentimental events in life, why kundimans and love songs are composed, why airports are emotionally charged places, and why marriage and graduation ceremonies are ceremonies of mixed emotions.

the virtuous man

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A samurai became so drunk, so intoxicated with drink that on his way home he met an old monk walking on a different direction.  He accosted the monk and very rudely asked, what is heaven, what is hell?  The monk knowing that the samurai is so drunk ignored him and went off his way, but the samurai insisted in questioning, what is heaven, what is hell?  The monk then quietly and calmly told the samurai that it is better for him to take a rest first before venturing into such questions.  The monk even went so far as to help him walk and offer him his cottage.  But the samurai had none of these.  He felt even more insulted he got so mad, shouted on the monk, and threatened to cut his head off with his sword. But the monk looked at him calmly and said, “now, that is hell.”  Shocked by the clam reaction of the monk, the samurai finally came to his senses and felt deep remorse and guilt because of what he did to this poor monk.  So he went up to the monk, knelt down before him and said, “br…

knowing my reason for being

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In our gospel today the smallest word spells a difference.  The word is mine - I know mine and mine know me.  Jesus is referring not just to any other sheep but to his sheep, my sheep.  This possessive personal pronoun spells the difference between the good shepherd and the hired man.  The good shepherd will lay down his life for the sheep because it is his sheep.  But the hired man will run away at the first sign of danger because he only works for pay.  It is not his sheep anyway. Lain gid man iya kon tag-iya mismo ang nagapadalagan sang tanan, hands-on tawag naton, sang sa ibilin mo lang sa iban.  Lain gid iya ang nanay mismo sang sa yaya lang, indi bala?  Lain gid ya ang tag-iya sang sa manager lang.  Lain gid iya ang pagtratar mo sang isa ka butang nga ginapanag-iyahan mo sang sa imo lang ginarentahan.  The difference is in these small words: "mine" and "my,"- this is my child, this is my house, this is my store, this is my land, and with Jesus today saying my …