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.

About that third commandment.

Talk about how time seems to have been so lost in the nature of our busyness, that our undertakings always take precedence over our Sunday appointments with our God, then that is exactly what happened with us on the very first day of the new liturgical year: Advent.
Wait, the greeting must come first, especially to us Catholics: Happy New Liturgical Year!
Oh well, my little family was, as usual, rushing from here to there, picking the most necessary things we need, like food ha ha, and the doggy food, and we all desperately need some sweet slumber moment, that even if we planned an anticipated Mass at our old St. Paul, it was foiled by the horrendous Barangka traffic.
Plan B meant an early hour Mass at Christ the King, because Tish goes on duty at exactly 7 am. We were there, all right, and we certainly enjoyed the feel of Advent air, but Father’s homily, theological and realistic. took more than the usual admonition lashing (joke) that before we knew it, we just have that little time to dash to the hospital. Meaning? We missed the second and most important part of the Mass: Communion.
Sigh. If that is a foreshadowing of the year to come, because we Filipinos have this silly notion of believing that what happens on the first day will happen throughout the year. Good thing that I don’t buy such baloney. I will take the bacon, please.
Confession is now in order. The third commandment was not exactly obeyed.
And why so? Precisely because Advent means a time of purifying our selves, for the coming of our Messiah.
Once again, Happy New Liturgical Year, every one.

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.

Spotlight on.

Tomorrow signals the beginning of Semana Santa, when we wave our palms to welcome the Lord as He enters Jerusalem.

Yet today, I feel it is already a Black Saturday.

My daughter Tish and I meant to be attuned with the Lenten Season, as we try to do so every year. Today, we were early for a recollection at our parish church, St. Paul of the Cross. One morning, we thought, to refresh in our hearts the Passion of our Jesus, a necessary restrengthening after a long year of busyness. I have no problem with the faith, fortitude is a blessing. My upbringing in the Catholic Church was a formidable one. Still, a renewal of sorts comes in useful, to wave off temptations. More importantly, Tish is hungry for a credible theological study, an infallible standpoint or viewpoint why the church we love, the Catholic Church, is the one true church. The public schools which Tish attended fell short of defining in an intellectual or academic presentation, our being and our relationship with God. In other words, even the teachers have not read the entirety of the Bible, otherwise, they could have inculcated in their students the faith in a very satisfactory level. Anyway, that was why we were punctual, because we want to know.

Fr. Alex Balatbat of the Archdiocese of Antipolo shocked the laity, most of whom were white-haired servers from different ministries, when he opened with a statement that we would be talking about the enemy, or the devil. It was a tactical strategy, he said, because in warfare, if you do not know the enemy, you will lose.

He proceeded narrating the battle of a second lieutenant Archangel Michael, the very one who defeated the five star general of a seraphim called Lucifer, the bearer of light, and cast this evil one not into hell, but right here on earth.

That is why, he proposed, to look beside you or right behind you, the devil might be there, in the form of a good person, waiting for an opportunity to tempt you. Beware, he said, because the devil can imitate even the voice of God.

Which brings me to why I am feeling a Black Saturday today. Do not get me wrong, because Fr. Alex wrapped up the Recollection with the hope in the Eucharist and an overwhelming Mercy that was instituted and bequeathed to us in the Last Supper, after one of the apostles betrayed our Lord for thirty pieces of silver that first Maundy Thursday. Fr. Alex said he had succumbed to many temptations, too, as many priests,did. Like all of us. No such thing as a perfect human being.

And I had the sad luck of picking SPOTLIGHT, Oscar’s best picture, a film highly recommended by a friend, Denis Andrenson, that movie that revealed the atrocities of the clergy, towards poor, innocent, impressionable and lonely children. I did remember those who called themselves men of God, and they dressed in robes, and yet somehow, I know, they have abused their priesthood.

No, the molestation did not happen only in Boston, nor was it a single incident. At the tail end, I saw Manila. It was a global psychiatric phenomenon that affected the Vatican. The tally of priest molesters still has to be divulged. The more depressing thing, many of the molested did not survive. Those who did kept away from the faith.

You and I will have a long week, and perhaps you could include in your quiet moments watching Spotlight, and make an effort to pray for our erring priests. Lucifer was a seraph. Our church had been infiltrated. We are called to arms.

For all the imperfect people.

The homily from a young visiting priest we had yesterday was funny. The priest talked about his vocation, as the Gospel was on the calling of the apostles.

The priest said that there was nothing earthshaking about his calling, his was just a simple response to a call he heard. But his family and friends have different opinions about his vocation, and continue to be bewildered by his being a priest. And, as gladly. he allows himself to be the butt of jokes come reunion time, as loved ones swipe their hands on him as if he is a holy icon. Ha ha ha. To them, he is the same guy, nothing super special.

But that is precisely the point. He is not super special. He is not the perfect guy. He has faults. That is why he was called.

God actually called on the imperfect ones to do the job for Him. Abraham is low-key, Noah a little dumb, Moses a coward, Jacob a deceiver, Joseph vengeful, David a wife stealer, Jonas an evader, Samson proud,

The new testament has quite an amazing list, too. Zacharias has a wobbly faith Joseph the carpenter had called feet, John the Baptist a loud hot-head, Magdalene a prostitute. Simon boastful, James has temperament, Zacchaeus a usurer, and Saul a persecutor, or killer of Christians.

These are not exactly the men, or woman, we would want to idolize. And yet, God picked them from many a perfect ones. But when they responded, they delivered.

So, it is not that you and I, imperfect as we are, that God has not chosen us. He has called us already, actually. It is our turn to make the response.

Have you?

If you haven’t, then, what are you waiting for? Time is of the essence, brother,

Virgo Clemens Report

Our Lady of Mercy Junior Curia

13 December 2015

A pleasant afternoon. This is the first report of Junior Praesidium Virgo Clemens.

Establishment:

Junior Praesidium Virgo Clemens was born November 17, 2013. Members were recruited from the 5th graders of the SSS Village Elementary School, and some were the grandchildren of Sister Rita Ochavillo-Cruz of Senior Praesidium Mater Purisimma.

The first meeting commenced at the Sacred Heart Hall, with Sister Eileen Leyva and Sister Lourdes Banaticla as the seniors in charge. Unfortunately, the boys from the Elementary School, despite the prodding, would not want to come attend the weekly meetings. Sister Eileen and Sister Lourdes invited the girls at a nearby orphanage, and they wanted to really join, but the administration of the said orphanage, would not permit the girls to walk to church on their own on Sunday mornings. Thus, the praesidium was left with the grandchildren of Sister Rita, however, and no matter the difficulty presented by the new school curricula K-12, the children would attend the weekly meetings.

After a few months, Sister Lourdes Banaticla begged to take leave from the Legion of Mary. Her 87 years of age was beset by Parkinson’s Disease. Fortunately, Sister Jinky Minay offered her services and saw to it that the members come every week.

Thus, we have now

Sister Eileen Leyva as President

Sister Clarisse Leigh Lanuza as Vice-President

Sister Samara Cruz as Secretary, and

Sister Nicole Habierto as Treasurer.

Our members are: Sister Marryjoy Robas, Brother Jan Andre Lanuza, Brother Christian Matnao, Brother RJ  Robas, and Sister JinkyMinay.

Percentage of weekly attendance is at 75 %.

The meeting is held every Sunday at the St. Therese Hall of St. Paul of the Cross Parish Church at 8:30 in the morning.

Todate, the praesidium is on its 111th meeting, standing firm with 37 auxiliaries, including the orphans who wanted to join the weekly meetings.

Works:

The members report a weekly tally of their personal sanctification. This includes: Mass, Communion, Rosary, Tessera, Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, Morning Offering, Evening Prayer, Graces before and after Meals, 3 o’clock Habit, Angelus, Memorare, Mortification, Ejaculation, Novena, Spirit of Nazareth, Catechetical Instruction, and Block Rosary.

The reports presuppose an in-depth Bible Story Telling, a study of the Sunday Gospel, and a cursory glimpse at the lives of saints. After two years, the praesidium is happy to report that it is now in the book of Exodus.

The praesidium’s major work is a monthly visit to the Meriztxell Orphanage located at Peach Street, SSS Village, Marikina. just a stone throw away from the church. The praesidium bring pancit or spaghetti or sandwiches and play with the orphans. There are 16 girls and 9 toddlers, 1 baby and 1 special child in the orphanage.

Success Postponed:

Virgo Clemens was given permission to put a Book Barrow corner at St. Therese Hall. However,  lack of funds to purchase shelves for the books deter the praesidium from initiating the Book Barrow project.

Functions:

The Praesidium has attended the Acies of 2o14 and 2015.

The Praesidium went on one Summer Function 2015, a picnic at the UP Oval. The summer of 2014, most of the members went on vacations to the province.

The Praesidium attended three General  Reunions, 2013, 2014, and 2015, the last of which, the Praesidium hosted the first ever Legion of Mary Bible Quiz.

The two December Praesidium Functions were spent with the children at the orphanage.

Other Works:

Virgo Clemens joined Senior Praesidium at Home for the Aged in Boys’ Town, Parang.

Virgo Clemens joined the May Flower Offerings at the St. Paul of the Cross Church.

Virgo Clemens also joined the Pabasa and the Stations of the Cross every Holy Week.

Virgo Clemens also participated in the procession of saints in October and procession for the Immaculate Conception.

Conclusion:

It has been a wonderful two years that Our Blessed Mother guided and blessed this small praesidium. New recruits have come and gone, but the ones who stayed are the sterling ones, the devotion for Our Blessed Mother that these members have inculcated in their lives could definitely stand the tests that may come the rest of their lives. True, many are called but few are chosen. The praesidium would like to believe that the little sacrifices they offer to the Blessed Mother, and Her Son, our Lord Jesus, have filled up our Treasure Boxes in heaven.

Although perhaps not in congruity with the Legion system, we did celebrate our two anniversaries at eat-all-you-can buffets, the first one at Marikina Hotel, and the second one at Something Fishy at Eastwood. We, of course, did not overeat, just took a bite of the food we don’t normally find in our homes. After all, celebrations are good ways of thanksgiving, and our good Lord loves those who give thanks.

Here’s wishing one and all the warmth of the Advent Season. May you all feel the care and love of our Blessed Mother as She delivers us Her Son Jesus on Christmas Day.

 

 

 

 

 

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