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.

36 Questions on the New Testament


1. Who was the King at the time of Jesus’ birth?

2. Who is the husband of Elizabeth?

3. What is the name of the angel who told Zachariah that Elizabeth is going to have a son at her old age?

4. What is the name of the son of Elizabeth and Zachariah?

5. What are the names of Mary’s parents?

6. What is the name of the foster father of Jesus?

7. Where was Jesus born?

8. Who are the three magi?

9. What the gifts of these three magi?

10. How old was Jesus when he got lost at the feast of the pass over?

11. Where did John the Baptist baptize Jesus?

12. What is the name of Philip’s wife that became his brother Herod’s mistress?

13. Aside from James, Peter and John, name another of the twelve apostles.

14. What is the first miracle of Jesus that was only made in obedience of his mother, Mary?

15. To whom did Jesus explain the living water?

16. What is the sermon on the mount all about?

17. What did Jesus tell Jairus’ 12 year old daughter to do?

18. What food did Jesus filled the multitude with? 19. What mountain did Jesus transfigure into divinity?

20. Who did James, Peter and John see with Jesus during the transfiguration?

21. Who are the three bosom friends of Jesus?

22. What did Judas exchange Jesus for?

23. In what garden in Mount of Olives pray in agony?

24. What did Judas Iscariot betray Jesus with?

25. Who sentenced Jesus to death?

26. With whom did the Jews exchange Jesus’ freedom for?

27. Who denied Jesus three times?

28. Where did the crucifixion of Jesus take place?

29. What was the inscription on the cross of Jesus? What does it mean?

30. To whom did Jesus handed the care of his mother?

31. Who owned the tomb where Jesus was buried?

32. Who doubted that Jesus was alive?

33. Who took the place of Judas Iscariot as the new apostle?

34. Who wrote the Acts of the Apostles?

35. Who persecuted the Christians and yet was called by Jesus on his way to Damascus?

36. Who was the first Christian martyr?

59 Questions on the Old Testament


1. On the first day of creation, God made the light. On the second day, God made the sky. What did God create on the sixth day?

2. God called the first man Adam. And God put him in paradise to live. What do you call Adam’s home?

3. Adam was blown man from the dust of the earth. From what was Eve made woman?

4. God bade Adam and Eve to partake of all the fruits of the trees in paradise, except for one. What tree is this?

5. What creature tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit?

6. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer and offered God vegetables? What is Abel’s work?

7. After Cain killed his brother Abel, man became very wicked. And God decided to destroy man, except for a good one, Noah. What did God ask Noah to build?

8. Noah has three sons who helped him build the ark. They were Ham, Shem and ____?

9. For forty days and forty nights, it rained so hard, and the flood destroyed all the living creatures. When the earth dried up, Noah and his family built an altar to thank God. God gave a sign , an ark of the covenant. What is this sign?

10. How old was Noah when he died?

11. Many years after Noah, man wanted to reach the heavens and see God. So they created a tower that will lead them to heaven. What is the name of the tower?

12. God called a good man Abraham to be the Father of All Nations, and his sons will be as many as the multitude of stars in the heavens. But his wife was barren. What is the name of his wife?

13. Abraham’s nephew lot dwelt in a sinful city called Sodom. God destroyed this city together with another. What is this other city?

14. In his old age, Abraham sired a son with Sarah. What is the name of this son who God asked Abraham to offer back to Him?

15. What is the name of Isaac’s wife?

16. Isaac and Rebecca bore twins. The elder one was hairy and hardworking, He is called Esau. The younger one was not hairy at all but his mother Rebecca loved him so dearly. What was he called?

17. It happened that one day, Esau came from the field hungry, and Jacob was cooking, so Esau asked for food. Jacob said that he would only give him food if he gives Jacob his birthright, Esau agreed. What did Esau exchange his birthright for?

18. Jacob fled his brother’s wrath. In time, he fell in love with a beauteous Rachel, and served her family for seven years. But when the time came to marry Rachel, his father-in-law put his elder daughter Leah in Rachel’s place. Thus, Jacob was also deceived, just as he did his father Isaac. With many wive, how many sons did Jacob sire?

19. Again, as it happened, Jacob favored his eleventh child, his son with Rachel. He called him his miracle child, for Rachel was supposed to be barren. What is the name of this miracle child?

20. The ten older brothers got jealous, and they threw Joseph into a pit, and later sold him to merchants traveling to Egypt. The brothers told Jacob that Joseph was devoured by wild animals. What proof did the brothers show Jacob that Joseph was dead?

21. In Egypt, Joseph was made a slave in the house of Putiphar, a captain of the Pharaoh’s army. However, Putiphar’s wife desired Joseph, and when he refused, Putiphar’s wife accused Joseph of molesting her. Joseph was thrown into prison where he interpreted the dreams of the Butler and the Baker. The dreams came true. When the Pharaoh was bothered by his pervading dream that nobody could interpret, the Butler spoke of the prisoner who could understand dreams. Joseph was summoned and he interpreted the dreams to mean seven years of plenty for Egypt followed by seven years of famine. Thus the Pharaoh appointed Joseph as ruler of Egypt, and answers only to Pharaoh himself. What was the name given to Joseph?

22. It came to pass that the famine also hit the land of Canaan, Joseph’s home. One fine day, Joseph was utterly surprised to see his brothers among those waiting for grains. Joseph plotted his revenge and accused his brother as spies. But the brothers told him that they were good men, the sons of Jacob of Canaan, and he was waiting for them with their youngest brother? Who was the youngest brother?

23. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. The sons of Jacob became the Twelve Tribes of Isreal. From who among the twelve our Lord Jesus was a descendant of?

24. After the death of Joseph, the Pharoah started building the Pyramids. The Israelites became the slaves constructing the tombs with straw, mud, water, and whips on their shoulder… The slavery burdened the lives of the twelve tribes. They prayed for deliverance. Deliverance though came a long time coming, because it was prophesied that a Messiah will save the. When the Pharoah heard of this, he ordered all babies to be speared and thrown into the river. But a woman in the tribe of Levi hid her child in a crib and let the crib flow into the river. The daughter of the Pharoah found the crib, and because the baby was drawn from the waters, he was named what?

25. Moses believed that he was a prince of Egypt, and his brother was Ramses. In reality, he has a blood brother. What is the name of his brother?

26. Moses also has a sister. What is the name of his sister?

27. When Moses fled Egypt, he found himself in Median and he married the first daughter of the high median priest Jethro. What is the name of his wife?

28. Ramses the Pharoah wouldn’t let the Israelites leave Egypt, so God punished them with 10 plagues. Name one plague.

29. The Israelites wer e in Egypt for 130 years. When the Pharoah allowed them to leave, but later changed his mind. The Egyptian army pursued the Israelites. The Israelites were trapped between a body of water. What is the name of this body of water?

30. Moses and God’s people lived in the dessert. God gave them bread from heaven everyday. What do you call this bread?

31. What mountain did Moses climb to receive the 10 commandments?

32. What is the 4th commandment?

33. What is the 8th commandment?

34. The Israelites were not a patient people. When Moses went up Mount Sinai, they built an idol to worship. What is this idol?

35. God was displeased with his people, and he told them that only those under 20 years of age will be able to enter the promised land. Moses did not enter the promised land, but two of his assistants did. Name one of the two.

36. Under the leadership of Joshua. The Israelites carried a large box made of gold inside out. Inside this large golden box are the tables of the 10 commandments. What do you call this large golden box?

37. From the tribe of Dan came Israel’s strongest liberator. He drew his strength from the long locks of his hair. Who is he?

38. Samson fell in love with whom?

39. What is the name of Ruth’s mother-in-law?

40. What is the name of the son of Ruth and Boaz?

41. There was a woman called Hannah who begged God for a son and promised God that she will make her son serve him the rest of his life. God granted her wish. What is the name of Hannah’s son?

42. Who was the priest to whom Hannah entrusted her son, Samuel?

43. Samuel’s sons were wicked, so God told Samuel to make the strong, good-looking man from the tribe of Benjamin the first king of Israel. Who was this king?

44. Alas, after many victories, Saul, too, became proud and sinned against God. So God told Samuel to anoint a shepherd boy from the sons of Jesse. Jesse was the son of Obed, and Obed was the son of Ruth and Boaz. Who was the shepherd boy who became the mightiest King of Israel?

45. The Israelites’ mortal enemy are the Philistines. The Israelites were so afraid of the Philistines because they had a giant for a warrior. What is the name of this giant?

46. With what weapon did David defeat Goliath?

47. Who is the son of Saul that became David’s best friend?

48. What is the name of David’s very beautiful son, who wanted the throne for himself, and thereby fought his father?

49. David had another son, who requested God to be given wisdom to judge his people. Who is this wise king of Israel?

50. There was a prophet who challenged the 450 prophets of Baal to burn the sacrifice for their God. What is his name?

51. Elijah was the only person in the Old Testament who was carried to heaven by the fiery chariot drawn by splendid horses. Who was with Elijah when this happened?

52. Tobias was a faithful servant of God who became blind, and yet instructed his son to obey all the commandments of God. What was the name of his son?

53. The Assyrian king sent General Holofernes to conquer Canaan. In Bethulia, a widow heard of this command, and she prayed to God to give her the strength to do his will. This woman went to the Assyrian camp, and when Holofernes saw her, he threw a party in her honor. When Holofernes got drunk that night, this woman drew Holofernes’ own sword and cut his head. Who is this very courageous beauty?

54. King Asseuerus of Babylon was married to a Jew, but he did not know that. This Jew is the adapted niece of Mordacai, a good man. The King’s aid Aman was always jealous of Mordacai, and he plotted to kill Mordacai. So he instructed the king to put the Jews to death. Then the queen, a Jew, said that if the King does that, then she will die as well. When the king learned that, he put Aman to death instead. What is the name of the queen?

55. Who said, “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord?”

56. What was the writing on the wall that Daniel interpreted as you have been weighed and found lacking, and your kingdom will have its end?

57. Who was the king who saved Daniel from the burning furnace?

58. Who was the beautiful woman accused by the elders of adultery that Daniel saved from death?

59. Where did God direct Jonas to go?

Silver Wings

Went to hear Mass early, and attended the Holy Hour Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament,  especially for my Uncle Tony, it’s his birthday today.

I was hoping to see a jet cut through the clouds, because Uncle Tony always laughed whenever he saw a jet create that white line in the sky.

Instead, I was surprised and awed by a flock of silver wings, in a long, long Vee formation, the glittering flaps sparkling against the bluish heavens. My daughter Tish also saw the passage of the birds, and was amazed.

Thanks Uncle Ton, for making your presence known. Thank you, dear God, for the marvelous spectacles you always show me. I know glorious things are about to unfold for me.

Visita Iglesia 2013

We went to visit seven churches, Jean, Tish, and I, on Good Friday. As always, we started at the UP Church of the Holy Sacrifice, where we made our Stations of the Cross. In this barriotic national shrine, enclosed by huge acacia trees, people from all walks of life come and pray, particularly interesting are the youth in droves, genuflecting, praying, and we even caught, when we arrived, clean clad young men, on the fourth station, and we overtook them, so we listened to find out why, and they were muttering the universal prayers so slowly, enunciating the words as if they were romancing the passion. I did confirm my previous opinion, while the gaudy juvenile boast the beaches on this Holy Day, the wise ones, and oh, so dashing and beautiful they are, in utmost simplicity, hold Good Friday a special day of sacrifice by keeping our Lord company.

We checked Sto. Domingo next, the television crew were setting up the church for the yearly Siete Palabras, but me. I was there again, as it happens annually, not just to pray, but stare in awe at the majestic stained glasses that depict the mysteries of the Rosary.

Third stop was Christ the King, the pilgrimage Shrine of the Divine Word @ E. Rod, where I now attend my daily Masses, before I bring Tish to St. Luke’s each morning. A television crew from another network was also setting up for the airing of the Seven Last Words. It was hot, but the old people are deep in meditation. The altar was decorated like a stage and at the left side was a staircase filled with lighted candles. It was, for lack of word, warming. 🙂

Then we proceeded to Sacred Heart @ Timog, Jean was fascinated by the belfry with the shape of a heart. This was supposed to be fasting day, but we helped ourselves to a little bibingka, our stomachs were already making strange sounds, grumbling.

We skipped the old churches in Manila (UST, Manila Cathedral, San Agustin), because the roads to Basilica de Quiapo were already closed, for the the devotees of the Black Nazarene.

Instead, we opted to visit some pretty new churches: Christ the King @ Green Meadows, though grand, that was where we ate street food (kikiam, fish balls and squid balls)l sigh, what fasting are we talking about?; passed through Padre Pio because there was no parking space anymore, and lucky for us there was one slot available inside the Monasterio de Sta. Clara, where a huge crowd had filled the grounds and many were offering dozens of eggs for their petitions.

Last stop was at the relatively new Shrine of St. Therese, fronting SM Masinag, but concealed by some business establishments. As if I was the tourist who wanted to take snaps here and there, and there was an image of St. Therese at the church balcony I prodded Jean to take a picture of, she warded me off telling to let her finish her prayers first. Of the three of us, it was Jean who was deep in her prayers.

Sigh, the Visita Iglesia had been our devotion, since Jean and Tish were born. Brought them in fourteen churches then, even when they were in diapers. I used to lead the prayers, but now, I even had time to think, in between stations, that probably soon, I would be towing my own grandchildren, and that would be a delight, telling them the story of the passion of Jesus, the Christ, our Savior, our Lord. if only suitors are knocking at my door, that would be true. In God’s time…. 🙂

Relating to the news today.

Whatsoever you do to the least of My brothers…  email this discussion to a friend?

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The laborers did not return the water container I lent them the previous day, so when they asked for more water, I was peeved, and almost denied them the thirst quencher. I saw how belabored each one of them was, lifting those stones and shoveling the earth, and I reminded myself the Lord’s welcoming words “When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink, now enter into the home of My Father.” The workers consumed all of my purified water, that I have to go out and buy a gallon, but that’s all right, for “whatsoever you do to the least of My brothers, that, you do unto Me.

“Here’s a timely story of one who did not hesitate:…

Thirty Pieces of Silver – the Price of a Slave.  email this discussion to a friend?

myLot reputation of 92/100. eileenleyva (3132)   ranked 1 out of 69 in catholic 24 minutes ago
We all know the selfish Judas Iscariot betrayed our Lord Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, and that is the price of a slave that time, two thousand years ago.

It’s all about money, and this present age, never before had people been so engrossed about money, our lives are ran by money, and everyone in the rat race desire money, and we are all ears when the news about who’s who in the Forbes’ list of richest men. For money, one would sell his soul to Mephistopheles!

Fortunately, for us mortals, there are souls who are not tempted by money, and these souls could very well be the reason why our God has not punished us entirely for our avarice.

If so many are wanting money to pop right at his face, here’s a story of one who literally found CASH in front of her but did not claim it for it was not hers. Finder’s keepers? Nope, not ours to own.…

My Maundy Thursday

It is Maundy Thursday today, we will spend the day in solitude, reading, of course, stories from the Holy Book.

I hope the waterworks will not resume work today, not that the laborers are noisy, for my backdoor neighbors are outrageously horrible, their magic sync is a-blast, in full volume, and not one of the shameless singers can carry a tune. I am mortified, but did let it be, and watched instead the labor-hardened youth workers lift cement stones, one after the other, and toss the heavy load in the trucks. They asked for two liters of water every hour, for it is so hot, and the labor is burdensome, and I thought how ironic, for the waterworks cannot even provide water for their contract workers.

Sigh, I just don’t want any loud activity today.

It would be pacifying really if my neighbors refrain from karaoke singing. I am tempted to toss them a copy of the PABASA actually. That way, I wouldn’t have to read, ha ha. Sigh, like I always say, the second commandment is difficult to obey!

Hot Holy Wednesday

It’s a hot Holy Wednesday. Swept the yard and watered the plants. Triduum of Easter begins tomorrow, so might as well clean my front porch, too. The “kalakal” has accumulated: brown paper bags and boxes, newspaper and plastic water bottles, a few tin cans, sigh, I sometimes wonder why we never got rid of all these, when we had been trying our best to be eco-friendly! When that is done, I’d open the Good Book and read the Gospel according to Luke, then continue with the Acts of the Apostles, written by Luke also. If you want a detailed narrative of our Lord’s life story, I recommend Luke because he wrote the Good News telenovela style. 🙂

Hmmm, but if it is so hot to read, I’d put Ten Commandments and Ben Hur on viewing, ha ha, love Charlton Heston, really.

Wish to see you guys at the Vigil and the Visita iglesia (can’t believe that Good Friday has become a tourist attraction, and not only in places like Pampanga where devotees flagellate and nail themselves on the cross, but look here now, at Padre Pio Shrine and some other pilgrimage churches, they have real wooden crosses for visitors to bear).

Would you believe that the young boys and girls I meet during this Holy Week exercise are the bright and the good ones. Which makes me conclude that the shallow ones are probably on the beach of Boracay, or the like, frolicking. Just saying.

Musings on Palm Sunday

The Longest Gospel on Palm Sunday.  email this discussion to a friend?

myLot reputation of 92/100. eileenleyva (3130)   ranked 1 out of 67 in catholic 2 days ago
Today is Palm Sunday, or Domingo de Ramos, and we troop to Church carrying, waving our fascinating, ribbon-adorned branches.Years ago, a young barrio lass made the most intricate weave of coconut palms for me and my sister. We were proudest waving our most enviable palms, and sigh, really wish I still could have the best branches to wave to our Lord.My daughter bought bamboo art branches for today, and am excited to wave my cutest, littlest branches. I will boast my palms, ha ha.

Not to forget the most important part, today commences the week-long passion we have to observe for the impending suffering of our Lord. The Gospel narrates the sacrifice our Lord gave for us. Let us try to heal ourselves, meditate, join recollection and retreats, confess our sins, and carry our cross. Let’s go and live the Gospel.

Summer Rain on a Palm Sunday  email this discussion to a friend?

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Every time, Palm Sunday is a joyous occasion, not only are the children wide-eyed, delighted over the colorful ribbons and intricate weave of coconut palms, but the adults as well, mindful of what is the best looking palms they could get at a reasonable price.The side pavements, and to some extent, the roads, too, leading to the church grounds, are adorned with happy palms vendors, the kind ones offer smiles, too, that Palm Sunday is always festive, belying the sadness that Catholics would have to go through the week ahead.My daughters and I were grateful for the little summer rain that refreshed the air. After Mass, some old schoolmates called my girls and they had a half an hour chat, updating on what’s up with whom and so on… The girls have come a long way from their formal school years, and they realized that on a Palm Sunday morning, after we were surprised by the summer rain.happy


A Blessed Day for Christendom

Tuned in on television soon as I arrived home at one o’clock in the morning, hoping to see white smoke come out of Sistine Chapel’s chimney. Alas, after exactly an hour, I had to sleep, for I have to rise again in a couple of hours, and little did I know that just a few minutes after my head lulled to deep slumber, the white smoke I had been waiting for would bring good news, a new Pope has been elected.cheering

Pope Francis, a humble Argentinian, advocate of the poor, a Jesuit, breathing at 76 years with only one lung, is now the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, and of course, deep in the hearts of every Catholic, that includes everyone who calls himself a Christian.

The great command is evangelizebring the good news to people who do not know our Saviour,Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Most High.

And with glad tidings, we obey, and are ultra excited, for now we have Pope Francis, the 266th Pope, in the line of Peter, the Rock to whom our Lord Jesus built His Church.

By the way, Pope Francis, am sure, is dedicated to my favorite saint, Saint Francis of Assisi, the rich lad who turned himself away from material wealth and embraced the poor, the sick, the hungry, and loved the animals and nature. Rumor has it he run with the deer and flew with the eagles. Ain’t that saying something? Pope Francis is sending us a message, let us listen and heed.