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

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