St. Paul of the Cross Rising

t. Paul of the Cross is some four decades and four years old.

When other churches around the Philippines have been in existence for four centuries, mine started to build when I was a child.

I can still remember the wind-tossed stilts and nipa that was our make-shift chapel come Sundays, in a grassy slope beneath our valley.

Somewhere between then and now, a bigger chapel was constructed. Our community had grown.

Four years ago, a new parish priest by the name of Fr. Eymard Balatbat came to take care of us. Under his watch, a new St. Paul of the Cross comes to rise.

The construction of the new church is going on its second Christmas. A long time constructing, but hey, every one is excited.

What we truly celebrate on the first of January.

For our 2017 New Year’s Mass, we trooped to the Shrine of the Divine Word. As blessed as I felt, thankful enough for being in the company of my daughters this New Year’s Day, I did receive a most wondrous of homilies from a missionary priest.

He said that there was a common factor among the Archbishops of New York, Archbishop of Chicago, and Archbishop of Los Angeles, they all in agreement that the Filipino is the new chosen people set to bring our faith into the corners of the world. Why? Because the Filipino fill the churches come Mass time.

Once, when this same priest was studying French, he was summoned by his teacher who resided on the third floor of a building. He was made to witness an empty promenade, vacant for many decades, until the Filipino set foot in France, and filled the cobblestones with devotees wanting to hear Mass.

Yes, the faith of the Filipino is formidable as a rock. Sent on a diaspora to many corners of the world, the Filipino, specifically the Filipino mothers, or the women who worked, initially as domestic helps and caregivers, nurses or entertainers, artists, etcetera, when faced with hardship and trouble, turn to faith and cling to that hope, that God will ease the difficulties that beset their situations. Thus, the churches filled with black-haired Filipinos.

Further, what is most unusual in the Filipino is their utmost devotion to the Blessed Mother. How the Filipino pay Her with most high regard, calling Her Mama Mary, like She is their very own Mother.

Yes, the Filipino is a chosen race, chosen to bring to the world the love of family, the devotion to mother, and the deep faith that transcends trials.

Then the missionary priest asked us to kneel, to give honor to that Mother called Mary and Her Child Jesus, with Joseph by Their side, because They set the example of FAMILY, that which binds the Filipino, that which the Filipino lives for.

The missionary priest said that after the Mass, he would have to make his own journey home, because his own mother makes a head count, and the priest is always late, for her Mano Po, Inay blessing.

That is what we celebrate today, the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

Of course, this blog is a short summation of that doctrinal homily, I just hope that we know why we celebrate today.

For my own Mommy, I miss you. And Lola Naty and Lola Oda, too.

On a response to the difference between the world’s two most practiced religions.

I responded to a social media question, if we know the difference between the world’s two most practiced religions.

Last time I checked, there are 2.3 billion Muslims, and 1.7 billion Catholics. I do not know the figure for all Christians. As to the Catholic Bible, Jesus is God, in the Muslim Koran, Jesus is a prophet. Nevertheless, in the Koran, Mohammed, I think, was mentioned 3 times, and Jesus, 23 times. Mohammed died, Jesus resurrected. There is one woman mentioned in the Koran, her name is Miriam. That’s as far as I know.

Someone replied:
  It’s Mariam and not Miriam.
I answered:
Thank you. I stand corrected.
And there was a clarification. I did not include the lengthy explanation because the text is not mine.
 Mariam or Maryam – is it an arabic name for Mary the mother of Jesus (i.e. Eesa) (peace be upon them), there is one whole chapter in the Holy Quran name after Virgin Mary (Maryam) chapter 19 with 98 total verses . . Mohammed (pbuh) was mentioned 5 times and Jesus (Eesa) (pbuh) 25 times. . . In Quran, Jesus (pbuh) is a prophet 
 And this was my response.
Thank you very much for this profound information. I sense that you are very keen in your study of the Koran. I was surprised at the one whole chapter, all with 98 verses devoted to Maryam, the Virgin Mother of Eesa, or in our Christian language, Jesus. The Born Again Christians do not regard Her with much honor as we do Catholics. The divisiveness in Christianity happened in the last few centuries, ironically, when in the 13th century, towards the end of the Dark Ages, the Blessed Mother started inspiring people from all walks of life in Europe, thus the magnificence in that continent’s architecture, literature, music, the arts, such as painting, sculpture, and most importantly the mystics, or what we Catholics call saints, such as Francis and Clare of Assisi. Anyway, I’d like to know if there is also a background on Mohammed’s family in the Koran, since Maryam is the lone woman mentioned. And why was Mohammed minimally mentioned, as compared to the prophet Jesus? As to Eesa being a prophet, I googled some of the verses you wrote there, and the word prophet was used to describe the seeming wonder the people felt about a mystifying Man in their midst. The people were in awe of Someone Who narrated beautiful parables about the Kingdom of God, and healed the sick, and rose the dead. It was the people’s perception. They didn’t know yet He was God. But I am also curious as to what instances, in the five times Mohammed was mentioned, was the references to him was about. I will surmise that the 25th time Jesus was mentioned was about the resurrection. For us Catholics, that is the triumph over sin, in the very long history of salvation, spanning 3(?) millenniums of Bible stories. Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior, the Christ. He sacrificed His Life to save man from sin. As to His Divinity, with God, all things are possible, most especially, making Himself Man. Thank you very much for responding to my comment, and may the good God bless you, too.