Month: May 2015

We call this Home

The novitiate house is a home for every novice. And those among us who lived here once continue to call it a suitable dwelling place.

The novitiate house is a home for every novice. And those among us who lived here once continue to call it a suitable dwelling place.

There is always magical in the place we call home.

Each house does not just function as mere enclosure which provides protection from the elements, nor shield from any harm.

It goes beyond the building forming its structure.

The people we share it with contribute to our well-being, even provides great impact as to what we’ll become. Together, we are called family.

The memories it evokes make us recall the sense of belonging we derive from it.

Hence, when difficult time comes, it beckons us back; in order to give relief, to offer us refuge.

Ignited

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It was fifteen years ago when I recall having this conversation with a mentor about his life as a priest.

I was amazed to hear from him that after being a leader of his community, he steps down to be just one of its members, and be ready to obey to another priest who comes around to assume the leadership.

Back then, I regarded that priest as one of the best preachers. His sermons were anchored in real life and a great sense of humor to boot. I also knew him to be a teacher of theology. Such intellectual, I told myself.

But at that moment, my admiration toward that priest grew more at that very moment.

In my young heart, I felt the joy of living a life similar that of my mentor’s, and a flicker of light has been ignited.

Sa Ngalan ng Ama, at ng Anak, at ng Espiritu Santo

Dakilang Kapistahan ng Tatlong Persona sa Isang Diyos—Taon B
31 Mayo 2015

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Ngunit kung pinapakita natin ang epekto ng kapangyarihan ng Banal na Santatlo sa ating buhay, sa pamamagitan ng pag-ibig at paglilingkod sa iba, konkreto nating maisasagawa ang utos na ito ng Panginoon na maipakilala ang Tatlong Persona sa Nag-iisang Diyos sa buong mundo. Likhang Sining ni Br. Paul Dungca, SDB

Ngayong Linggo, ipinagdiriwang natin ang Kapistahan ng Tatlong Persona sa Isang Diyos.

Ang Ama na lumikha ng lahat-lahat sa kalawakan, ang Anak na nagligtas sa atin sa pamamagitan ng Kanyang pag-aalay ng buhay sa krus, at ang Espiritu Santo na nagsisilbing gabay ng ating buhay—Ang Tatlong Personang ito’y nananahan sa Iisang Diyos.

Tunay ngang ito’y isang misteryong nag-aanyaya, o di kaya nama’y humahamon sa ating pagnilayan ang napakayamang kakanyahang taglay ng Diyos sa kabila ng katotohanang kailanma’y hinding hindi ito maaabot ng ating payak na pang-unawa.

Ngunit sa likod ng misteryong ito, alam nating ang Diyos mismo ang gumagawa ng paraan upang makapiling Niya tayo. Sa ating pagninilay sa ating karanasan, masasalamin ang mga pangyayari kung saan masasabi nating “Nandoon ang Diyos!”

Ganito ang personal kong karanasan ilang taon na ang nakakaraan. Habang nakaupo ako sa isang prayer room at nakatunghay sa Banal na Tabernakulo kung saan naroon ang Katawan ng ating Panginoon, naramdaman ko na lang na ako’y naglalakbay pabalik sa nakaraan: Noong ako’y nasa kolehiyo, pabalik sa panahong ako’y isang katekista pa lang sa aming kapilya, mula sa maraming taong inlagi ko sa high school at elementary, hanggang noong ako’y bata pa, at mula pa noong ako’y isang munting nilalang pa lang sa sinapupunan ng aking ina.

Nasumpungan ko ang aking sarili sa iba’t-ibang pagkakataon ng aking buhay, at sa pagbabalik-tanaw na iyon sa aking nakaraan, tunay at personal kong naramdaman na ako’y nasa piling ng Panginoon sa bawat sandali ng aking buhay. Napakalinaw ng Kanyang Kakanyahan sa aking buhay; totoo Siya at ang Kanyang pag-ibig!

Marahil, ganito rin ang karanasan ni Moses at ng mga Isarelita sa unang pagbasa ngayong Linggo (Deut 4:32- 34.39-40). Matapos ang napakahabang paglalakbay, makakatuntong na sa wakas ang mga Israelita sa lupang pangako. Ngunit batid ni Moses na ang mga tao sa lupaing ito’y sumasamba sa iba’t-ibang diyos-diyosan. Upang maiwasang sapitin ito ng mga Israelita’y minarapat ni Moses na paalalahanan sila na nag-iisa lamang ang Diyos—Ang Panginoong nagligtas sa kanila mula sa Egipto.

Sa talumpati ni Moses, inanyayahan niyang magbalik-tanaw ang Israel sa kanyang nakaraan at masumpungan kung paano siya kinandili ng Panginoon, lalong higit sa mga masasakit na karanasan niya sa kamay ng mga manlulupig. Sa huli, isasangguni ni Moses sa Israel na ang tanging paraan ng pagpapasalamat at pagsamba sa Diyos ay ang palagiang pagbabalik-tanaw sa Kanyang kabutihan.

Samantala, sa ikalawang pagbasa (Ro 8:14-17), ang liham na ito ni San Pablo sa mga taga-Roma ay isa sa pinakamahalagang kalatas niyang nagtataglay ng ginintuang pagninilay niya sa kakanyahan ng Diyos. Binibigyang diin niya dito ang mahalagang papel ng Banal na Espiritu sa buhay ng mga Kristiyano. Nang tanggapin natin ang Espiritu Santo nang tayo’y binyagan, hindi lamang tayo nagkaroon ng bagong pangalan, napanibago din natin ang ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa Panginoon.

Sa Mabuting Balita (Mt 28:16-20),  si Hesus mismo ang mag-uutos sa Kanyang mga taga-sunod na magtungo sa iba’t-ibang bansa upang mabinyagan ang lahat “Sa ngalang ng Ama, at ng Anak, at ng Espiritu Santo.”

Katulad nang nabanggit sa simula ng pagninilay na ito, dahil ang ating pananampalataya sa Banal na Santatlo ay isang misteryo, hindi ito madaling maunawaan, at lalong higit, ipaunawa sa iba.

Ngunit kung pinapakita natin ang epekto ng kapangyarihan ng Banal na Santatlo sa ating buhay, sa pamamagitan ng pag-ibig at paglilingkod sa iba, konkreto nating maisasagawa ang utos na ito ng Panginoon na maipakilala ang Tatlong Persona sa Nag-iisang Diyos sa buong mundo.

The genesis experience

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Like life, prayers is a journey. We all begin somewhere. Graphics by Br. Paul Dungca, SDB

My reflection on my prayer life leads me back to the first time I can say that I really encountered God in my prayer. The experience took place in a retreat house in Batulao where we had the high school senior’s retreat some ages ago. Our retreat master told us that God is present in nature. And he asked us to choose a medium in which God can best speak to us.

I chose wind.

The encounter wasn’t extraordinary. But there was something pleasant in the experience words cannot explain. I loved the sweet after-taste of it. It was consoling.

From then on, every time a gush of wind blows gently, and at times even vigorously, on my skin, I know that He is around.

However, things change. In life, I realized that good things don’t last that much.

The question quintessential question “how can I find God?” translates to my personal experience as to “how can I commune with him?” Somewhere along the way, I know that I have found Him. However, a question that lingers in my mind is “do I still have Him?”

Through prayers, I painstakingly search for Him. The efforts I exert don’t always bear success. More than achieving, I am aware that there were more failures.

Sometimes, I ask God; if he really calls me, why make it difficult for me to know His will? Why is it necessary for me to struggle every time I sit down and pray? These questions remain unanswered. But I am not in a hurry. I console myself that perhaps, I may not be ready for the answer.

Realizing that I have not grown much roots and foundation in praying. I still need to do a lot.

The destination is still hiding from the far horizons, but I am aware that I have already begun.

The light, the vision

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Master, I want to see,” the blind man succinctly requests Jesus.
Jesus tells him, “Go your way. Your faith has saved you.”

Immediately, he received his sight and followed Jesus on the way.
He followed Jesus after having given the grace to see.

He only needed his sight back. But to his credit, he knew exactly whom to ask.

And he did get more than what he asked for: Light for his eyes, and a vision for his life.

And more probably, the life beyond it.

Mark 10:46-52

“I know who she is”

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I’ve been reading this book by Fr. Stephen RossettiBorn of the Eucharist: A Spirituality for Priests. Here  below is a beautiful entry by one of its contributors: Most Rev. Victor Galeone.

The following is an entry from journal in 1996 while I was the pastor of St. Agnes Church in Baltimore:

Yesterday, after an emergency call at the nursing home, I was about to exist when I noticed a man in the hallway. He was sitting next to a woman in a wheelchair, tenderly holding her hands. Not a word was spoken. Not a word was spoken. He just sat there, looking intently into her eyes. I walked over and engaged in in conversation:

“Your wife, I take it?”

“That’s right, of forty-seven years.”

“Do you visit her often?”

“Every single day. Haven’t missed a day in four years, except for that blizzard last year.”

(During the exchange, his wife kept staring blankly into space.)

“She’s not saying anything.”

“That’s right. Hasn’t been able to for the last eighteen months—ever since her stroke. She has Alzheimer’s too.”

“Alzheimer’s! Does she know who you are?”

“Not really. But that doesn’t matter. I know who she is.”

What an indictment against me, Lord Jesus! How often during my quiet time in your presence, I’ve kept one eye on the tabernacle and the other on my watch. Don’t I deserve the same reprimand that your chosen three disciples received in the garden, “Could you not watch one hour with me?” Where is the love that should be animating my heart just as it did that of Saint Edith Stein when she remarked so lovingly, “He is truly there—and he is there for me!”

It simply is life

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Water purifies, nourishes, refreshes, restores.
–It simply is life.

Check again the verbs above.
Now drop ‘water’ and replace it with ‘prayer.’

I read the other day the address of then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.
More popularly, he is now known as Benedict XVI or the Pope Emeritus.
In one interview, he simply wanted to be called Father Benedict.

But that’s just an aside.

Exactly 15 years ago, in the year 2000, he addressed the catechists.
I had to read the speech for my thesis;
There were so many ideas in that talk which caught my attention.

But clearly, there was one line which mightily stood out from the page.
It asked me to stop right there at the period which punctuates the sentence.
It’s as if it wanted me to give it some serious thought.

In that line, Cardinal Ratzinger made an attempt to define what prayer is.
His definition was succinct. Just five words all told.

It was profound in its simplicity. He says, “Prayer is faith in action.”

The line spoke to me. It forced me to wrestle with the paradox of how prayer
can be a dynamic manifestation of a force that is hidden before the naked eye.

How many individuals I have met, in various circumstances
who acted out their faith mightily,
in bended knees; before the Lord,
in deep silence?

And then I realized …

I had to bow down before his definition of the word;
and as the idioms goes, ‘He hit the nail on its head,’ it is rightly so,

For insofar as water purifies, nourishes, refreshes, restores.
Our prayer does likewise.

–It simply is life.

  

This Venerable is actually a Saint

Drift Wood. Photo by Br. Donnie Duchin Duya, SDB Graphics by Br. Paul Dungca,SDB

Drift Wood. Photo by Br. Donnie Duchin Duya, SDB Graphics by Br. Paul Dungca,SDB

May 25 is the liturgical feast of Venerable Bede. The proper of the saints part of my Christian Prayer book tells me that he was not just a priest, but he is also proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.

Bede was born in 673. He himself tells us that he became a monk at an early age (some say he was just 7 years old) and lived most of his life at Jarrow located in Northeast England. He was ordained a deacon when he was only 19 years old, and became a priest at the age of 30.

Scholar, teacher and writer, he wrote biblical commentaries and other works. He has been described as the ‘Father of English History’ and is widely regarded as the greatest of all the English scholars. His use of anno domini contributed to its wide use now, though he did not invent that dating method, Dionysus Exiguus is credited for having invented it.

Some 40 books are credited to have come from his pen. He was deeply versed in the sciences of his times: natural philosophy, the philosophical principles of Aristotle, astronomy, arithmetic, grammar, ecclesiastical history and especially the Holy Scriptures.

The honorific title Venerable was conferred to him due to his being a polymath (a person of encyclopedic learning). This title is derived from the Latin inscription on Bede’s tomb:

Hic Sunt In Fossa Bedae Venerabilis Ossa
Here are buried the bones of the Venerable Bede

At a young age, he was entrusted the care of the Monastery of St. Paul in Jarrow. The combination of genius and the instruction of scholarly, saintly monks produced a saint and an extraordinary scholar. His intellectual acumen has led kings to seek his counsel.

Among his works, His Ecclesiastical History of the English People is commonly regarded as the most significant in the history of historiography. This work has become a key source for the understanding of early British history and the arrival of Christianity. This became widely read in Western Europe throughout the Middle Ages.

Bede’s teaching and writing were based on the resources of the library. These included Latin grammars, history, hagiography and patristic commentaries on the Bible.

However, he regarded himself primarily as a Biblical commentator.

He died in his cell in 735 on May 26, Feast of Christ’s Ascension.

#Serviam

Light and shadows. Photo by Br. Donnie Duchin Duya, SDB. Graphics by Br. Paul Dungca, SDB.

Light and shadows. Photo by Br. Donnie Duchin Duya, SDB. Graphics by Br. Paul Dungca, SDB.

I asked Fr. Vester last week what I should do to better prepare myself for the diaconate ordination which is exactly one month from now. He told me in reply, rather casually, “You’ve been doing it already.”

He reminded me that I was already serving as a member of the Knights of the Altar (KOA) in our chapel (the last time I checked, it’s already more than a decade-old parish!) before I entered the seminary.

As a KOA member then, I recall the enormous pride of donning the cassock and being able to assist in the Mass.

Assist

That word reminds me of our KOA motto “Called to Serve,” put in Latin, it’s neatly summarized in just one word “Serviam.”

One month to go from, I’ll be ordained as a deacon. The word has a long standing tradition in the Church which goes as far back as the earliest Christian community. For example, St. Luke’s account in the Acts of the Apostles reveals that they serve at the table (Acts 6:2), they preach (Acts 7:2–53), and they administer baptism (Acts 8:38).

One of my favorite Catholic authors and a theologian, Scott Hahn, has this to say about the “Deacon” in the Catholic Bible Dictionary of which he is the General Editor.

[A Deacon is] An ordained assistant to priests responsible for such ministerial duties as preaching, baptizing, witnessing marriages, distributing Communion, and presiding at funerals (but not saying the funeral Mass). In the modern Church there are two forms of the diaconate: the permanent diaconate (including single and married men) and the transitional diaconate (for those who will eventually be ordained as priests)

The traditional understanding is that the diaconate was established in Jerusalem through the ordination of seven men (Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas) for the task of serving the poor and distributing alms (Acts 6:1–6). Deacons were also known as clerical ministers who assisted the bishops (Phil 1:1). Paul establishes high standards for the dedication and service of deacons (1 Tim 3:8).

One of our teachers is known for preaching that diaconate does not end when one is ordained to the priesthood. For to be ordained a deacon is to live a life of service for a lifetime.

Please pray for me that I may be true and faithful to the challenges this life entails … #forever.

FIN Salesian Family Honors MHC @ 200

23 May 2015, Parañaque City FIN—The members of the Salesian Family of the Philippine Province of St. John Bosco North (FIN) held a Eucharist honoring the Blessed Mother under her title Mary Help of Christians (MHC) after Pius VII instituted the title 200 years ago.

Some forty priests lead the FIN Salesian Family in paying homage to the principal protectress of  the congregation: Mary Help of Christians. Photos by Br. Isidore, SDB

Some forty priests lead the FIN Salesian Family in paying homage to the principal protectress of the congregation: Mary Help of Christians. Photos by Br. Isidore, SDB

With no less than His Excellency, Leo Drona, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of San Pablo, as the main presider, he was joined by some 40 concelebrating priests. The Eucharist was held at the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians,

Bishop Drona holds the distinction of being the first Salesian Filipino priest and bishop. Fr. Remo Bati, SDB, director of the Marian Affairs of the Shrine and a classmate of Bishop Drona revealed that the bishop was also the first rector of the Shrine.

"Bishop Leo Drona is an icon of a Filipino Salesian priest." Fr. Remo Bati, SDB

“Bishop Leo Drona is an icon of a Filipino Salesian priest.” Fr. Remo Bati, SDB

Unable to take part in the gathering of Salesian Bishops in Turin, Bishop Drona gladly accepted the invitation to preside the Mass in honor of MHC.

In his homily, he traced the development of the devotion to MHC in the Philippines which took off when Monsignor William Piani, himself a Salesian, was assigned in the country as Papal Nuncio some decades before the Salesians of Don Bosco finally settled down in 1951.

To date, there are at least 32 parishes and quasi-parishes in the Philippine archipelago.

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Members of the Salesian Cooperators, Alumni, Caritas Sisters of Jesus, Association of Mary Help of Christians, Volunteers of Don Bosco, Damas Salesianas, and Caballeros came in full force.

After the Holy Mass, everybody was treated with a sumptuous lunch provided by the Shrine.

St. John Bosco propagated the Marian devotion under the title of MHC among his children, the Salesians, and to numerous close sympathizers.

Interestingly, this bicentennial celebration of the institution of the title of MHC coincides with the 200th birth of Don Bosco, her ardent son and foremost disciple. The site where the Shrine is located stands along Don Bosco Street, in a village popularly called “Barangay Don Bosco.”