don bosco

A Postscript to #DB200

12795451_934303873325932_2252616104766471671_nThe March-May 2016 issue of The St. John Bosco Today, the Salesian Family Magazine of the two Philippine Provinces, wraps up with the Philippine celebration of Don Bosco’s 200th birth anniversary. The pages of that issue contain a splendid comprehensive coverage of the festivities which had begun on August 16, 2014 held at Don Bosco Caritas up to the conclusion of the celebration at the Ynares Coliseum in Pasig City exactly a year after.

That magazine’s issue coincides with the month I was ordained as a Salesian priest, as if to indicate that a gift of a Salesian priestly vocation tops all the festivities to honor the 200th birth anniversary of St. John Bosco.  After all, for the Salesians, vocation is the crowning glory of the youth ministry.

I write this reflection nearly three months after that special commemorative issue was released, and after the date of my ordination which fell on May 14, Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle.

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Initially, I wanted to be ordained on April 2.  I chose the date since it is the liturgical feast of St. Pedro Calungsod, a young Filipino saint who was canonized some four years ago.  Although liturgical law would prevent me to celebrate his feast on that day since the day fell within the Easter Octave this year, I wanted a date that has an importance for me, not just any random date chosen out of convenience.

But when I proposed this to Fr. Paul Bicomong, SDB, my Provincial Superior, he did not approve of it. He reasoned out that the time to prepare for the ordination would be limited, and he did not want the ordination to be haphazardly organized. I did not merely obey him, I agreed with him for I only had a month left if I would push through with that date.

The next thing I caught myself doing was to scan again the calendar. I realized that I was back to square one. A seminary companion helped me look for the next possible date. It was then that we considered May 14.  But more than just being a feast of St. Matthias, our research led us to appreciate its value inasmuch as the life of the Salesian congregation is concerned.

Apparently, on that day in 1862, Don Bosco received the vows of the first members of the Salesian congregation which was at its budding stage.two_columns_poster

Likewise, we look back into that same day, too, when Don Bosco, through his dream, received a vision, about the two pillars, on which the Salesian congregation anchors its most important devotions on—the Blessed Mother and the Holy Eucharist.

In retrospect, that day when I was ordained a priest, though a celebration of the Church, is at its finest, a deeply Salesian event.

My prayer is that the grace I received through my priesthood may give birth to another Don Bosco.

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“Give me souls, take away the rest”

Ika-4 na Linggo sa Karaniwang Panahon—Taon K
Dakilang Kapistahan ni San Juan Bosco
31 Enero 2016

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Ngayong araw, nagtatapos ang 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) na ginanap sa Cebu nitong mga nakaraang araw. Nag-uumapaw ang isang buong linggong ito ng mga pagninilay, panayam, at mga gawaing patungkol sa pagpapaibayo ng debosyon patungkol sa Eukaristiya.

Bilang isang studyante ng Theology, ikinagalak kong maging bahagi ng IEC dahil ang mga theologians at authors na sa mga libro ko lang nababasa, o kaya naman ay sa mge lectures nila sa Youtube, ay personal kong mapapakinggan–at kung papalarin, makapag-pa-picture na rin kasama nila.

Pero hindi ko inaasahan na mas tatawag ng pansin sa akin ang mga pagbabahagi ng mga ordinaryong tao, kung paanong naging tunay na tinapay para sa kanila ang ating Panginoon sa pamamagitan ng pagdiriwang ng Banal na Eukaristiya.

Halimbawa na lang ay ang kuwento ni Cardinal Tim Dolan kahapon tungkol sa isang obispo sa China na nakakulong ng mahigit 40 taon dahil lamang sa kanyang pagiging isang Kristiyano. Isang madilim, at napakaliit na selda ang pinaglagakan sa kanya. Siya lamang ang nag-iisa doon. Makalipas ang apat na dekada, tila lumambot ang puso ng mga gwardiyang nagbabantay sa kanya. Binigyan siya ng mga ito ng pagkakataong humiling ng kahit na ano: masarap na pagkain, makapag-lakad-lakad, lumipat sa isang silid na mas malaki, o ‘di kaya naman ay makapaligo at makapag-palit ng mas malinis at komportableng damit. Ngunit wala sa mga ito ang pinili niya; at ang kanyang kahilingan–ang makapagdiwang ng Banal na Misa!

Ngayong Linggo, maaari nating bigyang pansin ang kakayahan ng Diyos na baguhin ang buhay natin kung hahayaan lamang natin Siyang maging Diyos ng buhay natin.

Sa unang pagbasa, makikita natin na ganoon na lang ang pagtanggi ni Propeta Jeremias sa paanyaya ng Diyos na maging isang propeta. Alam niyang hindi lang mahirap ang maging isang katulad nila, mapanganib ito. Hindi lang ang kanyang dignidad ang nakataya, maging ang kanyang buhay din.  At sigurado siyang hindi siya handa sa gawaing ito.

Ngunit ang problema, mas sigurado ang Diyos sa paghirang sa kanya. At dahil ito ang kalooban Niya, hindi siya nito hahayaang mapahiya. Ang kabuuan ng ating pagbasa ngayon ay mistulang pagdedetalye ng kanyang buhay at paniniguro nito sa Kanyang hinding hindi Siya nito iiwanan.

Ito ang pangako ng Diyos kay Jeremias, “Ang bawat isa sa lupaing ito – ang mga hari ng Juda, ang mga pinuno, ang mga saserdote, at ang buong bayan – ay sasalungat sa iyo. Ngunit gagawin kitang sintibay ng isang lunsod na naliligid ng mga muog.” At ito rin ang pangako Niya sa bawat isa sa ating nagsusumikap ganapin ang Kanyang Salita sa pamamagitan ng ating buhay.

Sa ikalawang pagbasa, ipinapaalala sa atin ni San Pablo ang kalidad ng tunay na pag-ibig. Marami man sa atin ang nakaranas na ng kabiguang magmahal, ang mensahe ni San Pablo ay patuloy na nagbibigay sa atin ng pag-asang sumubok muling umibig, at isang hamong ganito rin nawa ang uri ng pag-ibig na ipagkakaloob natin sa iba. Huwag magsawang magpatawad. Huwag mapagod magbigay. Huwag maging manhid sa pangangailangan ng iba.

Sa pamamagitan ng pag-ibig na ipinakikita natin sa iba, masasalamin sa buhay natin kung anong klaseng Diyos mayroon tayo: Dyos na hindi napapagal sa pagmamahal. Diyos na hindi  nagsasawang yakagin tayo pabalik sa Kanyang piling. Kahit na hindi naman tayo karapat-dapat sa Kanyang pagmamahal.

Ang dalawang pigurang ginamit ni Hesus ang nakatawag sa pansin ko sa Mabuting Balita: Ang balo ng Sarepat kung kanino humingi ng tulong ang propetang si Elias, at si Naaman, ang pinagaling mula sa sakit na ketong–ang dalawang ito ay itinuturing na taga-labas dahil hind sila mga Israelita. Ngunit sila man din ay nakalasap ng mapagkalingang pag-ibig ng Diyos. Walang itinaangi ang Diyos. Lahat ay kasama sa Kanyang plano.

Ang mga kababayan ni Hesus, hindi sila makapaniwalang mayroon Siyang kakayahang mangaral sa kanila dahil batid nila kung Sino siya. Isa lang Siyang anak ng karpintero. Lalo pa sigurong nagpuyos ang kanilang damdamin ng ipaalala ni Hesus ang kasalanan ng kanilang mga ninuno. Ipinagtabuyan nila Siya. Ngunit gayunpaman, alam nating malalim ang pinag-huhugutan ng Diyos ng pag-ibig. Alam ni Hesus na mahina sila. Higit sa pang-unawang kaya Niyang ibigay sa kanila, minahal Niya sila ng sobra sobra.

At itong klase ng pagmamahal na ito ang uri ng pag-ibig na handog Niya sa atin.

Ngayong Linggo din ipinagdiriwang ng buong Simbahan ang kapistahan ni San Juan Bosco, isang dakilang tagasunod ni Hesus na nag-alay ng kanyang talino, lakas at buhay upang maipadama sa napakadaming mga kabataan ang bottomless na pag-ibig ng Diyos. Ang buong buhay niya ay umikot sa kanyang motto, “Give me souls, take away the rest” (Kunin na ninyo ang lahat, maliban na lang sa mga kaluluwa). Ang kanyang

Nang siya’y pumanaw, inilarawan ng doctor na tumingin sa kanya na tila isa siyang kandilang natunaw na lang dahil wala na siyang ibibigay pa.

Sa pamamagitan ng panalangin ni Don Bosco, nawa’y makatugon din tayo sa panawagan ng Diyos na maibigay din natin ang lahat-lahat ng nasa atin para sa Kanyang ikakaluwalhati, at sa kaligtasan ng mga kaluluwa.

 

[Video] The Eucharist and the Missions

In the midst of the on-going reflection on the Holy Eucharist in these days of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, Br. Ryan Oliver Bautista, SDB reflects on Don Bosco’s love for the Eucharist and consequently, how it affected his mission–all the way from Cebu, seat of the cradle of Christian civilization in Asia.

Sa Dom Bosco! (A Vocation Story)

By  Prenovice John Paolo Romero

“Sa Dom Bosco!” was my answer every time I was asked where I wanted to study for high school.

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I always dreamt of studying in the Don Bosco Academy (DBA) in Mabalacat, Pampanga not because I knew what was there but because almost all of my male cousins were studying there. This dream seemed to be just that, a dream.

But it finally came to a reality when my aunt, a Salesian Cooperator, asked me if I wanted to study in Don Bosco as a scholar or part of the Don Bosco Youth Center (DBYC), all I needed to do was to pass the entrance examination and talk to a Salesian. And with God’s grace, I did it! I got the scholarship, and the other expenses and fees were covered by my aunt and other sponsors. Indeed, when God gives, He gives more than what you asked for.

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With Fr Ding Cortez, SDB, his then spiritual moderator in DBA.

In DBA, I was forced to “do my ordinary duties extraordinarily well.” As a member of DBYC, on top of studying, we had some other responsibilities and tasks. We cleaned the library and the classrooms; we had study periods daily after classes. We had games like basketball, volleyball or badminton. I enjoyed doing all these with the Salesians.

It was also in DBA that I first reached various places in the country like Laguna, Batangas, Tarlac and even Metro  Manila. One time, we were invited to attend the ordination of a Kapampangan Deacon, then Rev. Kim Simbulan. And I would like to believe that it was there where my yearning to enter the seminary was planted. But just like any plant, when it was transferred, it would die first and later on would bloom again.

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Cook out in the seminary.

This ‘wanting-to-enter-the-seminary” thing faded, maybe because of some strong attractions of the world, like money, girls, and whatnot. But anyhow, after a year and a half, that desire grew, and this time, much stronger. God tests those whom He calls, but not up to the point of making them go astray.

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Then aspirants Jonas and Paolo with then Rev Jake Lopez, SDB.

In the summer of 2011, after graduating from high school, I was in a dilemma whether to pursue architecture and be a successful architect in the future, or enter the seminary, and be continually unsure of my future.

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Finishing high school means he is up to a new adventure. His parents join him on stage.

My parents were indirectly opposing my desire to enter the seminary, maybe because I am the only boy and the youngest among their children.

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The Blessed Mother has welcomed these young men in the seminary.

But when I finally decided to be a seminarian, God again intervened, but this time through a not-so-good experience. I met an accident during our outing as cousins, and I had a six-hour short-term memory lost (amnesia). When I got home to rest and sleep, my mother slept beside me and she was praying, “Lord, pagalingan me mu ing anak ku, keka ne” (Lord, just make my son well, and he is Yours).

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Paolo and his mother after his college graduation.

The next day, though I was still feeling a bit dizzy, told my mother, “Ma, okay na ku, pwede na kung lungub seminaryu ne? Sabi mu nabengi?” (Ma, I am well now, so I already have your blessing regarding my decision to enter the seminary? You told God last night?) She did not know that I was awake, listening to her prayer. God is very clever, He will make a way.

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This photo is 5-year old! Paolo and his batch were welcomed to the seminary.

Now that I am a postulant in Don Bosco Prenovitiate Seminary–Canlubang, and about to prepare for another big decision – whether to go for novitiate or not, God is again bothering me with so much troubles and distractions. But I am sure that whether I will apply and be accepted for novitiate or not, God will surely tell me, “Your mother already gave you to me, you are mine.” And whatever my “unsure future” would be, God will surely be at its center.

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Paolo and his batch were accepted to the Prenovitiate stage. In their midst is the rector of Don Bosco Seminary, Fr. Gerry Martin, SDB.

Coetera Tolle: A Gift to Don Bosco

Don Bosco used the theater as a platform to build confidence in the young and also use it as a medium to showcase God’s love for His people. As such, one of the highlights of FIN’s 200th celebration of Don Bosco’s birth is a stage play entitled Coetera Tolle.

Fr. Dennis Paez, SDB, producer and creative director, explains that Coetera Tolle forms the second part of Don Bosco’s motto, “Da mihi animas, coetera tolle” (Give me souls, take away the rest).

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The play also tackled about the reality of the lives touched by the Saint of the young through a Salesian priest. Photo by Don Bosco Seminary.

The “Take away the rest is the price Don Bosco was willing to pay that this glory to God may indeed be served.” The production had nine staging, from 24 to 30 August, all held at the Meralco theater in Pasig City.

The cast is composed of 29 young people, pooled in from FIN’s TVET Center in Don Bosco Makati. They come from as far north as Ifugao and all the way to Lanao del Norte in the south. A strong supporting cast was also provided by Tuloy sa Don Bosco Street Children Village. They were all 21 young actors and actresses. The production staff include Salesians, aspirants and lay volunteers.

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Over 50 young people performed as a tribute to the 200th birth anniversary of St. John Bosco: God’s Gift to the Young. Photo by Don Bosco Seminary.

The story revolves around a Salesian priest whose life has affected the lives of the people living in his midst. It is set in contemporary time, in which the characters are beset with real, day-to-day crisis attacking the current culture.

Interspersed in the plot are three renowned dreams of Don Bosco: (1) Dream at Nine, (2) Dream of the Two Columns, and (3) Dream of the Roses and Thorns. These three dreams are deemed Don Bosco’s legacy to his children.

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The Majestic Dream of Two Columns. Photo by Don Bosco Seminary.

The whole production is sandwiched with the two moments in which Don Bosco wept—First, when he woke up after the dream at nine, disoriented, confused, and afraid as to the significance of that dream and second, when one moment in his waning years, during his celebration of the Eucharist, he could not but weep profusely after recognizing how God’s hands wrought everything into its rightful place. He understood everything now.

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A tete-a-tete between conferes. Photo by Don Bosco Seminary.

Br. Paul Dungca, SDB, the script writer, notes that “As this momentous event of the bicentenary birth of Don Bosco coincides with the Philippine church’s celebration of the year of the poor, it is but fitting that the narration of the story of the saint is woven into the story of poor young people he lived and died for.”

The sweet after taste of Coetera Tolle

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Don Bosco: God’s gift to the young. Photo by Renzo Pangilinan

Fr. Dennis Paez’s introductory remarks pays tribute to the young people who have been part of the production. But his opening spiel was also a form of ‘managing’ the youthful audience who may not be familiar with the theater culture: What they’re about to see is not just something similar with the spectacle they see on their gadget screens. Thus, their response as an audience affects the performance of the performers.

I find Fr. Dennis’ ringing the hand-held bell very Salesian during the intermission to remind the students that they’re supposed to be back already inside the theater for the second act.

This gesture must have brought the Bosconians back to their respective “homes” telling them to fall in line outside their rooms for the break is about to end, and they need to prep up for their next class.

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Scene of Dream of Two Columns. Photo by Renzo Pangilinan

Watching the play is synonymous to, let me use the cliche, a roller coaster ride of emotions.

A cursory survey in the row of seats where I was seated, people laughed and shed tears in moments when these emotions were called for.

I was told that one of the crucial scenes was just finalized on the penultimate day before the first performance took off. I agree with Br. Migs how the genius of the execution of that scene dexterously put a neat solution to the issues of the play.

The #hugot lines in the play were really that, hugot from the real world. One may wonder how in the world could someone who has been shielded by the walls of the seminary could masterfully conjure such powerful lines which young people could relate to. Indeed, the script was simply remarkable. Take a bow, Br Paul Dungca!

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Photo by Renzo Pangilinan

Sure, there were notes which were not reached, lines that were not delivery with gusto. But these are negligible if one looks at it as one seamless art piece staged by the young, for the young, and with the young.

I dropped by a number of times in their rehearsals. I witnessed first hand how they had to be corrected for the nth time in order to execute the act properly. Their performance last Friday made me compare how the rawness of their talents blossomed into a beautiful fabric of artistry which, I am certain, would have moved Don Bosco in tears and gratitude, witnessing how his life could inspire the talents and virtues of these young people to assemble a work of art, and a school of virtues, to honor him on his 200th birth anniversary.

I was glad to realize that the masterful play just unfolded before my eyes was a production which my good friends and confreres were all involved in.

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The staff, some performers and the guests at the set of Coetera Tolle.

But I felt that I was happier because I am a Salesian of Don Bosco. And as such, the stories of the young people and of the Salesians on the stage, are something that is not just a mere work of fiction. The characters and stories do exist. Albeit, in different names and circumstances.

And as a Salesian, I feel blessed recognizing that God has been using my life as a channel of His love and grace.

Here is a synopsis of the play.

Coetera Tolle: A synopsis

I am sharing this space to a confrere, Br. Paul Dungca, SDB, for the synopsis of #CoeteraTolle, the FIN musicale in honor of Don Bosco’s 200th birth anniversary.

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A scene in Coetera Tolle. Photo by Fr. Vester Casaclang, SDB

This play finds its rationale in the celebration of the 200th birth of St. John Bosco whose life has touched the lives of its characters—both fictional and real. As this momentous event coincides with the Philippine Church’s celebration of the Year of the Poor, it is but fitting that the narration of the story of this saint is woven with the stories of poor young people he lived and died for. This play is presented by young people, insofar as it is inspired by them.

The story is bracketed by two tearful events in the life of Don Bosco.

He shed tears was when he was nine years old. As a young kid, he did not understand anything from a dream when the wild wolves turned into meek lambs. He cried for he did not understand, but despite this dream-riddle, he followed, he surrendered. “Take away the rest.”

He wept when he was in the final years of his life as he understood everything from the hindsight. He saw how God had prepared him to realize his mission to carry out God’s own will. God planned everything in his life, from his birth to that moment. Everything fell into it proper place. Everything was carefully designed and did not happen by chance.

No one escapes this seeming reality of life’s ambiguity.

Centered on the life stories of five poor young people who, like their father, are riddled by circumstances of life. Kiko is a confused young man who, unknown to his friends, lives a double life. Issay, a teenager girl, finds the real definition of beauty in place of the actual search for true satisfaction out of abandonment. Jessa, an older sister of a paralyzed lass quests for reasons for the painful question “why.” Benjo, whose anger directed at an imperfect Church, longs for healing and coming home, and JP his friend helps him find his way home.

Their life stories are interspersed with the life of Fr. Carlo, a Salesian priest who is far from perfect and is haunted by the memory of his brother who took his own life.

The stories are linked with one incident that has affected each character. The whole play is peppered with three dreams of Don Bosco–the dream at nine, the dream of the two pillars and the dream of the roses and thorns.

The story rests on the realization of the Salesians, that it is the young who are their “burning bush.” They see God in the young people. The Salesians help the poor young people save their souls, but likewise, the young people, without them knowing it, help the Salesians save their souls as well.

The Salesians have envisioned themselves to be signs and bearers of God’s love for the young. But also, young people are the signs and bearers of God’s love for the Salesians.