Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

May the light of Christ bring us peace, joy and love as we try to live a life that will lead to sanctification.  A blessed Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Feast Of The Immaculate Conception

December 8 in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  It is a holy day of obligation and traditionally, the day 8 to 9 year old children studying in Catholic schools have their First Holy Communion. But despite the importance and significance of this feast day, many Catholics remain confused about the meaning of the Immaculate Conception.  A lot of people actually thought that this referred to Mary becoming pregnant while remaining a virgin! I remember in med school while getting the history of pregnant young girls who would insist that they were virgins and pretend to be clueless as to their being pregnant, we would label their pregnancies as that of an immaculate conception...which of course, was a total misconception. Having been educated in Catholic schools all my life and regularly attending mass, it's weird that I never really understood what the Immaculate Conception was. It was only in my late 20's when I began to seek a greater understanding on why I was a Catholic, that I finally realized the meaning behind the Immaculate Conception.

"We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.
—Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854"

Simply put, this means that Mary possessed sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence and was free from the lack of grace caused by the original sin at the beginning of human history.  Mary's salvation was won by her son Jesus Christ through his passion, death, and resurrection and was not due to her own merits.  The dogma of the Immaculate Conception was further validated by the 1858 apparitions in Lourdes, France of the Lady who called herself "I am the Immaculate Conception" to Bernadette Soubirous, a poor and uneducated girl. 

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a poignant reminder for us to be more protective of life, especially in today's society where contraception is  more desirable that conception; and that we should strive to be immaculate by showing absolute respect for human life from the time of conception to natural death.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and since the 900s AD, it has been considered as the beginning of the new liturgical year for most western churches.  The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Advent Season for four Sundays before Christmas Day, starting with the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (30 November) as the first Sunday and ends on Christmas eve (December 24).  

The word Advent comes form the Latin word adventus meaning coming. For us Christians and Catholics, it also means the beginning. Every person I believe likes to have the chance for fresh starts and new beginnings. Every day should be considered a blessing as it allows us to start anew. The Season of Advent is the time for us to once again reflect on our relationship with Jesus.  It is the time to "Be watchful! Be Alert!" as Jesus in today's gospel (Mark 13:33-37) tells his disciples.  How do we do this?  The answer is Love.  Being vigilant and attentive is a natural consequence to those who love.  Don't we as parents to our children know how it is to watch out and patiently wait for them? It is easy to do anything if we do it out of love. It does not have to be big things...St. Therese did only little things but she did it with love.

This Advent Season, let us ask ourselves...What are we watching out for? Are we paying attention to what it is that Jesus wants us for us in our lives? How have we responded to the call of "whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it unto me"?  Do we love as Jesus does?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My True Friend

It is when things go wrong in our life....when so many oppressions and trials happen that we know who our true friends are. It is during these times that you realize that only a few of those people who say they are your friend are there for you. All others are revealed as "good weather friends". Your true friends are those who support and defend you because they know and believe in you even in bad times. Recent experiences have taught me that but in spite of the disappointments, I still feel so blessed. Why? Because I have Jesus, who is our only true friend and He will never abandon me. He is the only one who loves me unconditionally and without measure all the time. He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 24:18).

This prayer by St. Claude La Colombiere, SJ says it all for me. Claude La Colombière, was beatified on the 16th of June 1929 by Pope Pius XI. He was declared a saint by Blessed Pope John Paul II on May 31, 1992. His feast is celebrated every February 15.
Jesus, you are my true friend, my only friend.
You take a part in all my misfortunes;
You take them on yourself;
You know how to change them into blessings.

You listen to me with the greatest kindness
when I relate my troubles to you,
and you always have balm to pour on my wounds.
I find you at all times, I find you everywhere,
You never go away;
if I have to change my dwelling, I find you wherever I go.
You are never weary of listening to me,
You are never tired of doing me good.
I am certain of being beloved by you if I love you;
my goods are nothing to you,
and by bestowing yours on me you never grow poor.
However miserable I may be,
no one nobler or wiser or even holier
can come between you and me,
and deprive me of your friendship;
and death, which tears us away from all other friends,
will unite me forever to you.

All the humiliation attached to old age
or to the loss of honor will never detach you from me.
On the contrary, I shall never enjoy you more fully,
and you will never be closer to me'
than when everything seems to conspire against me,
to overwhelm me, and to cast me down.
You bear with all my faults with extreme patience,
and even my want of fidelity and ingratitude
do not wound you to such a degree
as to make you unwilling to receive me back
when I return to you.

Jesus, grant that I may die praising you,
that I may die loving you,
that I may die for the love of you.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Catholicism, It's Your Story

The Catholicism Series explores the beauty and richness of Catholicism and is currently airing on over 80 public television stations across the U.S. This series is the brainchild of Fr. Robert Barron, head of Word on Fire media hopes that the films will be used "as a tool of evangelization for everybody."

Set in 50 locations in over 16 countries, including the Philippines, the series examines major themes within the Roman Catholic Church such as the person of Christ, the mystery of God, the Virgin Mary, Saints Peter and Paul, the "missionary thrust of the Church," the liturgy and the Eucharist, prayer and spirituality and the saints, Fr. Barron said.

EWTN will exclusively premiere the six episodes of this lavishly-produced series that wasn't shown on national television on Wednesday, Nov. 16 through Saturday, Nov. 19.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Openness To Life

The United Nations declared that the world’s 7 billionth person was born on Monday, October 31, 2011 and the Philippines and India were both claiming the birth of the world's symbolic 7th billion baby. Filipino media reported that "Officials from the Department of Health and the United Nations immediately headed to the Jose Fabella Memorial Medical Center after learning of the birth of Danica May Camacho, second daughter of Camille Camacho and Florante Galura of Antipolo City" even though it is not certain who the actual seven billionth person as news reports say that UN leader Ban Ki-moon will not be putting any baby into the spotlight this time. So why were UN officials present at Danica's birth giving gifts to her and her family to mark the occasion? Isn't the UN together with USAID at the forefront of pushing for the implementation of programs designed to reduce the number of children in the developing world? Was their presence meant to celebrate the occasion or was it more like to bring people's attention of the specter of population growth? It seems to me that the DoH and the UN officials saw this as an opportunity for them to encourage people to support the Reproductive Health Bill. The UN/USAID likes to single out overpopulation as the cause of maternal and child deaths, of world hunger, of poverty in developing countries.  But is it really?  Isn't this overpopulation a symptom of a much bigger problem? Ours is a world of contrasts and contradiction...the UN Secretary General acknowledges this. He said in a Time Magazine interview, “Plenty of food, but still a billion people going to bed hungry every night. Many people enjoy luxurious lifestyles, but still many people are impoverished.” Even the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) executive director Babatunde Osotimehin is also among those calling for less focus on the big numbers. “This is not a matter of space—it’s a matter of equity, opportunity and social justice,” he said.

Pope Benedict points this out in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate on Integral Human Development (paragraph number 28):
Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual. (italics mine)
The encyclical further states in paragraph number 67 that:
In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.
Father Shenan J. Boquet, President of Human Life International writes "there are solutions to the problems of economic development around the world, but purposefully preventing human life is not one of them."  Countries should focus on creating stable, efficient governments that foster economic development and the responsible production of resources, rather than focus on blaming population growth for the problems of the world.

It is ironic that in the Philippines where the family always comes first, children are now seen as stumbling blocks to economic development and thus we create immoral laws that will provide funding for birth control instead of focusing on real solutions like increasing funding for education, housing, food security, job generation, health insurance, peace and security, protection of the environment, and migration control.  These are what the Filipino people need to have a better quality of life...not birth control measures that based on past experiences will be deceiving, oftentimes coercive and will not go through an effective informed consent process.

It will be Advent in a few weeks. As we prepare for the coming of Christ, let us pray this novena for a culture of life.

God of Life,
We rejoice in the promise of your coming.
You have sent your Son, born in Bethlehem.
He is the Prince of Peace, and
The one in whose name all oppression shall cease.
May we welcome his coming each day
And prepare for his coming at the end of time.
May we build a culture that welcomes him
By welcoming every child, born and unborn.
We pray through the same Christ our Lord. Amen

Related post on the RH Bill

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Finding Meaning in Human Suffering (From A Layman's Point Of View)

Photo retrieved from

A dear family friend just died after losing a a 5 month fight with lung cancer. He suffered his illness quietly with no complaint whatsoever. For this, God gave him a peaceful passing to eternal life. 

I too am at a low point in my life, having been recently dismissed from my job for something that is unrelated to my duties and responsibilities.  It is an unfair decision and my lawyer will file a motion for reconsideration.  Meanwhile, life will be a bit hard for me and my family while I am waiting for justice to be served. 

And as if these weren't enough, many harassment came one after another this past week that I find myself meditating about the deeper meaning of suffering...

My thoughts on human suffering...

When I speak of human suffering, I don't refer only to the physical but  emotional and mental suffering as well, all of which I believe people suffer from all the time, but in varying degrees of severity. It may be as trivial as waking up with a headache or something really serious like being ill and dying.  It could be an anxious feeling over life's problems or distress over a life-changing situation. Whatever causes us pain and difficulties, whether physical or emotional, makes us suffer.

Why suffer?

Today's contemporary culture views suffering as meaningless and something to be avoided at all cost.  Proponents of euthanasia, abortion, physician assisted suicide talk about the right to human dignity and compassion to justify their intention to end present—or prevent future —suffering. Each method is perceived to be a "compassionate choice"...ending life means an end to suffering.  

Which brings me to my next question what is it in suffering that people are so afraid of?   

Let us not be fooled...the campaign to eliminate suffering does not necessarily spring from authentic compassion for people who are in pain or suffering. Is it compassion that drives people to seek euthanasia, abortion, or physician-assisted suicide? Or is it that these people who advocate this culture of death are really afraid of the fact that to care for an ill and aged bring up an unwanted spend for treatment for the terminally ill...all these can make life difficult...and as a consequence, they suffer too.  

The Christian approach to suffering

In contrast to its secular counterpart, the classic Christian understanding of compassion is that  “while evil can cause forms of suffering, suffering is not viewed as an evil in and of itself”. That there is meaning in suffering. While acknowledging that suffering is not the equivalent of evil, Christian compassion calls us to “suffer with” those who are suffering, using Christ as our model, ever mindful of the redemptive element in suffering. Authentic compassion does not eliminate the sufferer as the means to alleviating suffering itself. The Christian moral tradition has always called us toward compassion for the sick, the unborn, the aged and the dying. To suffer is to share the cross of Christ. Suffering causes us to turn to God and purifies us from sin. Our suffering furthers our growth in holiness which is the aim of Catholic life. 

A true Christian opens his mind and heart to accept everything that God allows to happen to him because trite as it may is always true that things happen for a reason.  Take me for example, when bad things happen, my Catholic faith never fails is during times of suffering that I feel most close to God.  It is ironic that during good times, my relationship with God takes a downturn. I am quite ashamed that after so many chances I still have not establish a strong relationship with God.  And God has never given up on me.  Once more, He sends me His invitation and I accept. With this latest trial in my life, it is time to sit up, pay attention and listen to God. With the wisdom and strength of the Holy Spirit we can bear all things.

Picture retrieved from

O Holy Spirit, Soul of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me. Tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it. I promise to be submissive in everything that You permit to happen to me, only show me what is Your will.
This prayer is part of A Secret of Sanctity by Cardinal Mercier in which he said plainly:
"I am going to reveal to you a secret of sanctity and happiness. If every day during five minutes, you will keep your imagination quiet, shut your eyes to all things of sense, and close your ears to all the sounds of earth, so as to be able to withdraw into the sanctuary of your baptized soul, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, speaking there to that Holy Spirit saying: "O Holy Spirit, Soul of my soul …" If you do this, your life will pass happily and serenely. Consolation will abound even in the midst of troubles. Grace will be given in proportion to the trial as well as strength to bear it, bringing you to the gates of Paradise full of merit. The submission to the Holy Spirit is the Secret of Sanctity."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who is Saint Jude Thaddeus?

October 28 is the feast day of St. Jude Thaddeus.  St. Jude was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. He was the brother of St. James the Less and a relative of Jesus. Saint Jude's attribute is a club. He is also often shown in icons with a flame around his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles. Another common attribute is Jude holding an image of Jesus Christ in his hand or close to his chest. He is the patron saint of desperate, hopeless and impossible cases.

I first knew of St. Jude when my grandmother gave me a statue of him when I was in medical school.  I guess she felt I needed his help (^-^)  I must confess that I have not been very devoted to St. Jude especially when life seems to be going well.  But in spite of me, St. Jude has always been there for me.  I still have that statue and I realize after all this years, St. Jude, my patron has remained faithful to me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

10,000 “Impossible” Novenas to St. Jude!

Starting Wednesday, I am joining over 5,000 Catholics to pray the St. Jude Novena!

I’m looking forward to the answered prayers from this amazing saint! With so many faithful Catholics around the world praying this novena, I thought you’d like to join too!

Do you have any ‘impossible causes’ to pray for?

You can sign up for handy email reminders to get the the novena prayers here: St. Jude Novena

Now that you’ve signed up, I’d like you ask you a little favor. We are trying to get 10,000 people to pray this novena together. Right now, there are about 5,200 signed up. Will you help me get more?

Here’s what you can do:
+ Go to the Facebook event here and invite all your Catholic friends.
+ If you have a website, post about it there!
+ Email your friends and family and get them praying too!

Let’s get all the Catholics we know to pray this novena together to St. Jude Thaddeus!

A Catholic Blog

The idea of doing a Catholic blog came to me just now. I have been involve in diocesan activities for the past few years and have committed to be active in our parish starting this month.  My prayer life has also gotten better in the sense that I now make time for it every day, unlike before when I would not make it a priority or put it on hold or worst, no prayer time at all. God really works in mysterious ways...there are many oppressions happening in my life right now, yet I have never felt more closer to God than now. As I was praying the Novena to St. Jude, I suddenly felt that God is telling me that if I can write about everyday things, politics, work, culture and history in my other blogs, then shouldn't I share my strong beliefs and understanding about my Catholic faith? Indeed, I say YES to God.

photo retrieved from

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