You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘religious’ category.

Today is Good Friday.  Today we see the best example of how much it hurts to love.  The love that Christ has for us is not the kind of love that we see on television or read about in cheesy novels.

Christ’s love is sacrificial love, a love that gives without expecting anything in return, a love that accepts the beloved’s faults and yet continues to love just the same.

As Christians, we are commanded to love one another as Christ has loved us.  This is not the kind of love that media popularizes – love that is based on feeling and physical attraction.

It’s not easy to love the way Christ has loved us.  I know.  I’ve loved and I’ve been hurt, especially by the people I love the most.  It hurts to give so much of myself, and yet my love and giving is not appreciated so much.  I sometimes want to cry out and say “Enough!  I don’t want to give of myself anymore!  It hurts to love and not be loved back as much as I do!”

But as I reflect on Jesus’ Passion and Death this Good Friday, I realize that I have not loved Him enough if I complain about giving of myself.  If I truly love as Christ does, then I should be ready to get hurt.  If I truly love others the way Jesus Christ loves me, then I cannot love enough.  If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not real love.

 

 

Advertisements

My brother signed me up for Bo Sanchez’ weekly articles and this week he writes about difficult people in our lives.  He says God allows these people to come into our lives for a reason, that is, to give us very special gifts.  But instead of telling his readers what these gifts are, he asks us to write down what WE think these gifts are.

Well, I think that God allows difficult people in my life because He wants to give me the gift of patience.  This has never been my strong suit.  I hate waiting on people, I hate it when people don’t deliver as expected, and I hate it when people don’t use their common sense.  I easily lose my temper with people who just don’t think.  I know this is really something  I have to work on.

But then again, the more I pray for patience, the more God sends me difficult people to practice being patient on!  I know He didn’t promise that He would just change me at the snap of his fingers.  I guess when I stop seeing people as being difficult, then I will know that God has finally given me His gift of patience.

I was really struck by today’s First Reading from James 3:13-18, which follows:

Beloved:
Who among you is wise and understanding?
Let him show his works by a good life
in the humility that comes from wisdom.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish
ambition in your hearts,
do not boast and be false to the truth.
Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above
but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.

The world’s definition of wisdom is very much different from the Bible’s definition.  We consider someone “wise” if he manages to make a lot of money without having to exert so much effort or doing something illegal without getting caught.

But in today’s reading, we are taught that the wisdom that comes from above is pure, peaceful, gentle, merciful, and full of good fruits.  It is so different from the wisdom of the world which is often abrasive, loud, arrogant, and self-righteous.

This reading is a gentle reminder to me of the wisdom that I should be aiming for… and one that I can only achieve through prayer and submission to the Spirit.

Last week I blogged about not having helpers for my kids and the difficulty I had in finding one.  I was at my wits' end then and was getting stressed out just thinking about what I would do the following week when my hubby would go to Cebu and I had to report to my new job and no one would be left with the kids.  Finally, I just gave it all up to God and told Him, "Lord, I've done my part, I've contacted everyone in my address book who could help me find a helper.  I leave it all up to you."  Dean even sent a message to family and friends last Sunday, asking them to pray na "umulan ng yaya."  Sure enough, the following Monday, a barrage of helpers came.

A friend of ours first texted me in the morning that helpers were ready to be picked up at a barangay in the outskirts of Bacolod. Then my mom's PT texted me that he was bringing a helper to the house that morning.  And then again my tita called me to say that a helper was waiting for me.  Talagang umulan ng yaya! 

Truly, everything comes just in time.  I guess the Lord was just teaching me patience, that when I pray I must truly surrender my concerns to Him because if I hold on to my problems, He couldn't fully take charge of the situation.  It was only when I let go of my worries and told Him, "Lord, let your will be done," did He truly take care of my problem.

This morning, during our orientation (the fourth of seven days) we were taught the song "He Who Began A Good Work In You."  A verse of the song goes this way:

When the struggle you're facing is slowly replacing your hope with despair

And the process is long and you're losing your song in the night

You can be sure that the Lord has His hand on you

Safe and secure He will never abandon you

For you are his treasure and He finds his pleasure in you.

I really felt that the Lord was speaking to me that time.  He was reassuring me that I was in His hands and that He got me covered, regardless of how impossible might situation was.  What a wonderful feeling that was!  Truly God is good! 

When I was still single and very active in the Catholic renewal movement, I read the Bible and reflected on God's word every day.  I would write my reflections in a notebook.  Some of them would be in the form of love letters to God, while others were written as realizations.  In whatever way I wrote, these reflections drew me to a very close relationship with God and strengthened me in my daily life. 

Nowadays, however, I find it difficult to read, much less write my reflections, about God's word.  With 2 kids to take care of and many other responsibilities at home, I just can't find the time to do my reflections.  I know, I know… I'm just making excuses because I can even find time to read a pocketbook or watch CSI marathon episodes, but I can't find time to pray.

Since I can't seem to do my prayer time at home, the first 30 minutes of my day at the office is usually spent reading the Bible.  Sometimes I write my reflections, sometimes I don't.  Today is one of those times that I feel like writing down my thoughts.

The first reading for today is taken from Isaiah 49:8-15, and one verse struck me: 

Sing out, O heavens and rejoice, O earth; Break forth into song, you mountains.  For the Lord comforts His people and shows mercy to His afflicted.                                                 Isaiah 49:13

We all know that we are God's people.  That is easy to believe in when everything is sunny and bright in our daily lives.  But when we are afflicted by sickness or problems, we tend to believe that God has abandoned us.  This is usually the case for me.  When trials come, I feel that God has turned away from me, which is why I experience testing.  But this verse from Isaiah struck me because God tells me that I am HIS, even when I am afflicted. 

It struck me that the verse went this way, "For the Lord … shows mercy to HIS afflicted," when it could have been written this way, "For the Lord … shows mercy to THE afflicted."

This goes to show that even in our afflictions, we are still God's chosen ones, and He will never abandon us because He has carved our names on the palm of His hands. 

My prayer for today:

Lord, I thank you for reminding me that I am your child, regardless of the circumstance I am in.  When I start to feel all alone again, please wrap your arms around me and let me experience your love.  Amen.

I went to a Kerygma Feast last night.  It was my first time to attend and listen to Bo Sanchez and I was really excited about it.  I’ve read most of his works and listened to his tapes, but I haven’t really listened to him in person.  The affair started late, but the audience waited patiently.  It began with a praise and worship and everyone was soon on their feet singing and praising God.  It was led by one of the members of the Light of Jesus community here in Bacolod and although I’ve heard better worship leaders, it wasn’t so bad. 🙂 

When Bo finally came on stage, he asked the audience to pray with him.  I cried so hard during the prayer when he said, “Lord, fill my cup.”  I cried because I realized that my cup is close to empty now.  I’m not just talking about money, but more my cup of blessing.  I feel that I haven’t received enough blessing from the Lord lately, what with Nanay’s situation and the financial problems that accompany it.  Maybe God has been blessing me in ways I have not seen, maybe I’ve just been to blinded by my pain to see it.  As I prayed, I truly felt that God was there, listening to me, and when my friends hugged me afterwards, it was His arms that enveloped me. 

Anyway, Bo talked about the steps to financial freedom.  He said that, like the Israelites, we go through a journey in life.  The first stage is the desert, where we experience pain and suffering.  Just when we feel that everything is hopeless, God sends us manna.  This is the second stage – manna in the desert.  Manna comes freely.  We don’t work for it, but God sends it to us.  I thought about what Bo said and I realized that my desert came when Nanay got sick and we didn’t have enough money to pay the hospital bill.  But we were given a guarantee note by her employer and so we were able to bring her home from the hospital.  We didn’t owe the hospital anything, but we owed her employer naman.  That was my desert.  Honestly, I didn’t know how we would be able to pay off her debt to her employer because our regular expenses for her medicines, therapy and attendants were taking up most of our savings and earnings.  Manna came in the form of a pardoning of this debt.  Every centavo of that debt – and all other debts she still had when the stroke happened – was written off by her employer.  For me, that was manna.  We didn’t work for it.  It was freely given.

But according to Bo, manna in the desert is not the final destination.  The final destination is the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey.  He said that eventually, the manna will stop coming, just as it did for the Israelites.  And he’s right, we can’t keep on waiting for people to give us money for Nanay’s upkeep.  Moving into the Promised Land means we have to till the soil, plant the seed, water it, and when it grows mature, harvest it.  He said we shouldn’t be content with just being in the desert with manna. 

The talked changed my perspective about money.  Bo told us that the main reason why Filipinos remain poor is because we are religious.  For us, being religious means that we consider money as evil so we shouldn’t talk about it, we shouldn’t worry about it, because God will provide anyway.  But, this is daw the wrong perspective of money.  We shouldn’t think of money as evil because the ultimate purpose of wealth is to share it with others.  We shouldn’t be afraid to accept God’s financial blessings – it’s not going to make us evil – because we can use this money to bless others.

He talked about how one time he wanted to help a friend who badly needed P700 for her daughter’s tuition but the only help he could give was to pray over them because he only had P20 in his wallet.  I experienced the same thing when my sister asked me if she could borrow money to pay for her plane ticket which needed to be paid for immediately since it was a promo fare.  I felt really bad that I couldn’t help her because I didn’t have enough money.

This is turning out to be a very long post, but the words are just flowing so, here’s more…  According to Bo, financial freedom means having zero bad debt (debts that don’t put money back into your pocket, like borrowing money to buy a car or that latest Nokia phone) and being able to give freely to those in need.  He said we shouldn’t be satisfied with having enough money, because to have enough means we don’t have extra to give to those who ask for our help.

So, after changing our perspective on money (that’s the first step by the way), we have to aim for zero bad debts.  For me, that means paying off that burgeoning credit card balance.  He said we have to set a target for when to pay off these debts and we should aim to get rid of those debts with the highest interest rates (again credit cards, at 3.5% per month!).

The next step is to learn to live on only 70% of our income.  Whoa!  70%?!  I thought, that is impossible!  Will I ever learn to do that?  So where does the 30% go?  10% should go to tithes and 20% to savings.  And mind you, there is a biblical basis for the savings of 20%.  Remember when Joseph interpreted the Pharoah’s dream and he told him that there was going to be 7 years of plenty and then 7 years of famine?  When the pharoah asked him what they should do, he said that for those seven years, the Egyptians should save a fifth (meaning 20%) of their produce.  And that they did.  And they were the only ones who had enough grain when the famine came.

Bo also said that our savings should not be kept solely in the bank, which has a savings rate of only 1% p.a. (less 20% for withholding tax).  He mentioned mutual funds, which yields higher interest (as high as 12% p.a.) than ordinary savings accounts – and even time deposits.  Half of this 20% savings should be kept for emergencies (sickness in the family, for instance) and the other half should be set aside for our retirement because we cannot rely on the pension we will get from SSS. 

He also said that the earlier we save, the better.  If someone aged 22 saves 20T a year for 6 years, at 12% interest p.a., he would have saved 9M by age 62! (Please check the calculations.) I agree with him on that point and I wish I had started saving when I was younger.  He also said we have to protect ourselves from unexpected events by getting life insurance. 

Since manna no longer comes in the Promised Land, when we reach it, we have to work hard.  This means that we should aim to increase our income by selling something or getting into rackets (those of the legal kind, of course).  This, I believe, is sound advice, because with the way our economy has been going, being a salaried employee is not enough. 

The talk really gave me a new way of thinking about money.  And somehow, I left the venue empowered and believing that I can be financially free.  I know most, if not all, of the people who went there feel the same way I do.

I hope what I shared in this really long post (must be my longest post so far) are inspired, too.

My weekend didn’t end on a bad note, after all.  I was already at my wit’s end Sunday afternoon because I received a text message from Evie’s yaya that her mother didn’t want her to go back to us anymore.  I immediately called her and asked what the matter was.  Turns out her uncle and cousin arrived from Manila and were recruiting her to go there to work in a factory.  I asked her if this is what she wanted and she said she didn’t want to go, but her relatives were insistent.  She did say, though, that she would come back because she already told her mother that she couldn’t leave behind my baby.  Although she promised she would return, I wasn’t so sure about it and was in a bad mood the rest of the afternoon.

I didn’t want to hear Mass yesterday but Dean was quite insistent.  I felt bad and angry that everything had gone wrong the past week and I was on the verge of losing a good yaya.  I didn’t know what I would do.  The yaya had not yet arrived by the time we went to Mass and I had to leave Evie with Tatay and Nanay’s attendant.  I couldn’t concentrate during the Mass.  I was nurturing my anger and asking God all sorts of questions.  If bad things happen to both good and bad people, what’s the point in being good?  The priest was saying, “God doesn’t allow evil to reign,” and I was asking, “If that is so, why did God let Marcos rule for 20 years?  Why did he allow Hitler to kill so many Jews?”  The answers escaped me.  I just felt the need to vent my frustration that things were going so wrong. 

I didn’t want to pray.  But it so difficult to do that when you’re in church and everyone around you is in conversation with a Higher Being.  I told the Lord first that I was angry.  And I was hurting.  And I just wanted peace of mind.  Is that too much to ask for?  And then I felt Him telling me that absence of problems does not equate to peace of mind.  Peace of mind, He said, comes from being in His presence regardless of what situation I was in.  Peace of mind is the sure knowledge that God knows and sees what I am going through and that He is with me all the way. 

Boy! That was hard to accept.  I know I have been too stubborn and proud to listen to Him.  But after I said “Okay, Lord, I hear you,”  I felt peace in my heart.  I didn’t really pray that He would convince my yaya to come back.  I just asked Him to help me to trust that His will for me is better than what I want for myself.  Rather than asking Him to give ME what I wanted, I guess He was pleased that I asked that HIS will be done because when I got home Evie was being given a bath by her yaya.  Thank God! 🙂

I’m just happy the week ended better than I thought it would.  I just hope this week will be better.

Hope everyone who reads this will have a good week ahead.

When I was still single, I was very active with the Singles Ministry of BLD (Bukas Loob sa Diyos) in Bacolod.  I matured in faith because of that community, and even if I am not active anymore, the things I learned can never be taken away from me.  Although the hardships of life make me lose focus sometimes, I know in my heart that God loves me and is there for me always, and everytime I stray too far from Him, He always finds a way to call me back.

Lately, I’ve been feeling down and out, my spirit weighed down by a lot of problems and concerns.  I used to read the Bible everyday, but over the past weeks I couldn’t find the time to do it.  I had a lot of alibis – too busy taking care of the kids, no time to read before going to work, too tired and sleepy to read before bed, etc.  I guess it’s true that God uses people, events, and any circumstance in our lives to speak to us.  I was really surprised when Hubby told me one morning that he wanted to read the Bible (even just a few verses) everyday!  Hubby is not the religious, read-the-Bible-everyday type and this was really out of character for him.  He’s not a nominal Catholic, and he tries to live a good life, but he has always refused my offer to join the renewal.  Anyway, he told me that he was so inspired by the sermon of this priest when he heard Mass at the chapel of Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital.  I took this as a sign that God wants me to take up Bible reading again, this time with my hubby.  And so, everyday, as we go to work, I read the Bible and we reflect on the readings of the day.  I thank God that He has spoken to me through my Hubby.

I also realized that God even uses blogging to reach out to me!  I was blog hopping yesterday and I chanced upon MJSumner’s blog.  I was so surprised to see lyrics to a song, apparently written by the author himself, which really spoke to me.  The song was entitled “I Come Running” and here are the lyrics.

I Come Running

Too many days
I’ve been searching for the answer to satisfy
So many ways
I’ve been lookin’ for somethin’ to numb this pain

But the answer was some how in front of me
With arms out and calling my name
So I come running
Into Your arms
Like a child I’m coming
To the Father of all
It’s a sweet surrender
The sweetest I know
So I come running
And I know you’ll meet me there

Too many days
I’ve been working in this pigpen with no reward
So many ways
I’ve been lookin’ for approval to lift my soul

(bridge)

The song could be downloaded too and I did that.  I really felt blessed after hearing the song.  Again, I knew in my heart that the Lord was talking to me, and telling me to just surrender everything to Him because I am His child and He loves me, He knows what I am going through and He will not abandon me.  I was so touched by the song that I felt I should write about this experience in my blog. 

Now I know that God will use any and every circumstance to reach out to us.  He will call us back if we stray too far from Him, using even the most unlikely ways such as blogging.  I am truly blessed to have been led to that blog.  Again I thank God for speaking to me and for allowing me to lose my way a little, make mistakes, and learn in the process, but not so much that I can’t find my way back to Him.

Today, February 10, is the Feast of St. Scholastica.  She is the twin sister of St. Benedict who is the founder of Western monasticism.  She was so devoted to her brother that when St. Benedict founded a monastery at Monte Cassino, she also founded a convent at Plumbariola, about 5 miles south of Monte Cassino. Almost all that is known about Sts. Scholastica and Benedict came from the writings of St. Gregory.  In his Dialogues, St. Gregory tells of the following miracle which happened on the last meeting of the two saints.

Scholastica and Benedict had spent the day in the “mutual comfort of heavenly talk” and with nightfall approaching, Benedict prepared to leave. Scholastica, having a presentiment that it would be their last opportunity to see each other alive, asked him to spend the evening in conversation. Benedict sternly refused because he did not wish to break his own rule by spending a night away from Monte Cassino. Thereupon, Scholastica cried openly, laid her head upon the table, and prayed that God would intercede for her. As she did so, a sudden storm arose. The violent rain and hail came in such a torrential downpour that Benedict and his companions were unable to depart.“May Almighty God forgive you, sister” said Benedict, “for what you have done.”

“I asked a favor of you,” Scholastica replied simply, “and you refused it. I asked it of God, and He has granted it!”

Just after his return to Monte Cassino, Benedict saw a vision of Scholastica’s soul departing her body, ascending to heaven in the form of a dove. She died three days after their last meeting.

Sad story, no? But I guess Scholastica must have known that it was the last time she was going to see her brother alive, which is why she prayed hard to have him stay for the night.

What can we learn from St. Scholastica?  Her life was so simple and yet she became a saint – which means we don’t have to live great lives just to become a saint!  Anyway, here is something I got from http://saintbenedict.org/stscholastica.htm on what St. Scholastica can teach us.

Some say that we should only petition God for momentously important matters.  God’s love, however, is so great that we wishes to give us every good thing. He is ever ready to hear our prayers: our prayers of praise and thanksgiving, and our prayers of petition, repentance, and intercession. Nothing is too great or too trivial to share with our Father. The dependent soul learns that everything we are and have is from His bountiful goodness; when we finally learn that lesson we turn to Him with all our hopes and  dreams and needs. Saint Scholastica is obviously one of those who learned the lesson of her own helplessness.

Prayer: O God, to show us where innocence leads, you made the soul of your virgin Saint Scholastica soar to heaven like a dove in flight. Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting. This we ask through our Lord. 

St. Scholastica, pray for us!