Homecoming

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It’s really nice to be home!

I consider my beloved Alma Mater, the Rogationist College, as my home. It’s always been a Galilee-experience for me whenever I stay in my Alma Mater. I got to cherish my nice memories when I was in high school. It is also where I discovered my vocation to priestly and religious life. I really love my Alma Mater a lot. Wherever I go, I am always proud to say that I was once nurtured and educated by the Rogationist Fathers, together with the administrators, teachers and staff of the Rogationist College. My thanks also goes to my parents who discovered the Rogationist College for me and my brother.

Just yesterday, I attended the Grand Alumni Homecoming of the Rogationist College starting from batches 1991 to the present. Having met my classmates and batchmates then gave me joy.  My first reaction when I met them was, “Hey, how are you?” As I pored my eyes to all who attended the event, I noticed a big change with those whom I knew, whom I had little news with them. Yet, it’s fun and nice to be with them. I started sharing my joys with my batchmates, then I extended my greetings to other batches as well.

During the program, I suggested that one of the lines that the Batch 2008 will sing from the “Hymn to the Rogationist College” will be “We were yours, we are yours, we’ll be yours till the end of time!” And so when our batch came to recite our part, I led the batch to sing the lines – with passion and love – before a considerable crowd! What an experience! Inspiring speeches were given by the administrators of the school – and I remembered my memories with them too.

And those who knew me really approached me with great expectations, “So Francis, when will you become a priest? We are waiting for you!” Some about-to-be couples even approached me and told me “If ever you become a priest, you’ll be the one to bring us to the altar together! We’ll pray and wait for you!” How touching and happy I am! For even five years which some of us have not met, they still believed that I can really be a priest, and even more. Yet, in the end, I’d always ask for their prayers and assurance of support in my vocation journey.

And as I was writing this blog, this Grand Alumni Homecoming became a “miracle” of my vocation journey. Why? When people continue to trust me and believe in me that I can really bring them to God and God to them by their assurance of prayers and support in my vocation journey, doesn’t that feel renewed of sense in vocation journey? Their assurances bring positive energies to me, and I am certain that the Lord speaks with them. It’s an affirmation of my response to God’s call. And I am grateful for that. Kinda nice huh?

And it’s true what one of the administrators said: “Homecoming extends beyond the structure itself; it’s also about the persons who became part of the institution bringing with them the heart of the Rogationist College – once a Rogationist, always a Rogationist!”

And, I am still inspired. And I am still in Rogationist College!

For you, what is your ‘homecoming’? What could be the miracle there – for you?

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Steadfast

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How far can we hope for hope?

It’s all about changing paradigms – from pessimism to optimism. Changing paradigms to hope takes a lot of courage from what’s in us: mindset and attitude. These aspects may bring dramatic change to what we are hoping for. And it’s nice that we are still able to hold on to something – something that will keep us whole, something that tells us: ‘life is full of hope’.

Mindset. Yes, what each of us think conditions what lies ahead. Freedom, as one of the most feared yet precious gifts of the Lord, comes with great responsibility. We are free to think because we can imagine a lot of things. And the more we are acquainted to the way we think, the more and more they become real. Yet, it comes with responsibility of taking up the consequences not only personal, but also communitarian. Each mindset we incorporate, we actually say in a cosmic dimension. And it affects every aspect of our lives nowadays.

Attitude. Yes, another aspect which tells about how we feel ourselves and around us. Having a good day starts with a good attitude right after we wake up in the morning. In the same manner, having a better world begins with a good attitude from each of us. Are we discouraged? Disappointed? Distraught? Tired and helpless? Better change for better attitude. Then we get the fruits of personal and communal well-being.

That is why I propose that in this Year of Faith, as one with people celebrating it, that we begin a better world through a correct mindset and healthy optimistic attitudes which can steer every community from disunity to unity for good. The Lord now invites us to become steadfast – our response is to stabilize good mind-setting and healthy optimistic values.

And this actually says that there is a loving Lord watching over us, guiding us.

Me and My Neighbor

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“…Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mt. 22:39)”

My thoughts on life preoccupied me these days, and I found myself challenged. I am challenged by the fact that many news sources are mentioning that there is violence against life. These forms of violence emerge in different ways, and I admit that I found these “wrapped in beautiful boxes”. Violence now turns to deceit – making people believe that such proposals are for the purpose of development. Well, look again!

It takes a third round of eye, a critical and keen eye, to discover the truth behind proposals presented before us. It takes a lot of courage to seek what is true, uncover it, and fight the deceitful. The battle for life is not new, but is evolving in new forms, which, if we are not careful, might do real harm for us.

I have known some of my friends telling me of their regret for doing “harm” to others because they thought that these proposals are worth-believing at an instant. Now, how many more of your friends would tell you of their regret, and us sitting down doing nothing about what happens today? I know this blog post would be so small a voice, that it takes concrete witnessing to fight and defend life, especially the innocent ones.

Now, we cannot let the inordinate and selfish so-called “dreams” of those who think that “life is under man’s manipulation” to make the final say. The younger generations are directly affected by what was quoted because they are the direct recipients of the so-called proposals offered by those who control life. I say that we let the youth dream according to what is authentically life-giving.

True development starts from developing the basic unit of community – and that is the human family. What good are high-rise buildings and esteemed organizations if they do violence against human life? We all have the power deep within to resist the wrong notion of “progress” and “development” that treats human life as mere commodity. My proposal is to start on interdisciplinary researches in different fields: science, technology, philosophy, psychology, medicine, theology – and let these fields dialogue together, plus a firm plan of action. Doing research on human life may become a noble act to stand for life because such stand comes with affirming the truth about human life.

This time, we take our stand: we stand for “authentic human development”.

We stand for life!

My “Social Media” Story

Hands-On! But are we responsible enough?

“Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. (Mk. 16:15)”

It takes a lot of courage to proclaim the faith everywhere. And we are given the opportunities to proclaim the faith – especially by means of media technology. I do remember very well that the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI encourages and invites us to use social networking at the service of God, of all people, and of love. Personally, it is a challenge for me now to use social networking at the service of what I mostly care in my life.

I entered social networking when I was 2nd year high school. I also remember during that time, I was hesitant to use social networking because of the fear that I might be influenced on the wrong side.  I was contented to use cellphone or email messaging whenever I would communicate important notes or reminders with my classmates and friends. Other than that would be a waste in my time and my energy. During those years until I graduated, I was too critical on that use. Yes, at that time, I was still a newbie.

Such a breakthrough came when I entered the seminary. In the seminary, we were taught to value social networking at the service of God. Holding on to that learning, I gradually opened myself to engage with my friends, with the condition that I use it at the service of God. Indeed, it was a challenge for me. This breakthrough goes on until now, that I am a Postulant, and much is required for me to become responsible in using social media.

I agree with the youth whom I came to talk with and communicate that indeed, there are lots of opportunities we can do using social media. With recent developments of media technology, I can’t help but also attempted to explore these developments. With interactivity at hand, communications made more lively, enjoyable and really tempting. Without me knowing it, I did have a time when I lost track of my time management because of it. That time could have been more productive.

The same challenge still goes on. At what point must I say “I need to stop now! I need to rest! I need to do my responsibilities!” I realized that if my intention of using social media at the service of God and my community is neither clear nor convincing on my part, chances would be to get me hooked up so long that I’d waste a lot of time and energy. So, I’d make sure that when I get to use social media, I’d have a clear purpose why I’d use it.

That’s when I become aware that I am in control of social media, and not the other way.

I Believe, We Believe!

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My heart beats for one thing I love:  I believe!

What about yours?

Thoughts and feelings come to me with the opening of the “Year of Faith”. The esteemed celebration stretches from October 2012 to November 2013. I’d say that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, actually “envisioned” the faithful to be in union and communion with Jesus. I’d like to join the Holy Father’s “envisioning” by letting my heart beat on one significant thing – I believe!

Part of the celebration of the Year of Faith is to profess and live the Credo. Honestly, the Credo challenged me for one thing – profess and live by heart. I also couldn’t help but reflect on the length of the Credo which is in the New Roman Missal today. True enough, it’s a challenge for me even to literally memorize it. Honestly, I get tongue-twisted when I say the Credo. I’m happy though that little by little, I’m beginning to be familiar with it.

But because my hearts beat on what I believe, I’d love to profess and live the Credo in my heart. That calls me to recognize who I am and what I can do because of what I believe. I do have lots of lapses and weaknesses as a person. But in my weakness, plus the strength I have today, I can still say that I believe! I’d find my strength in believing because although I might not be certain what will happen tomorrow, I am certain that God is there for all of us.

I realized that it might be the reason why the Credo is recited in length. Each article of faith says something about us – being God’s beloved. I profess the Credo because I am loved by God – and hopefully others do. Like in a relationship, saying “I love you” is not said in murmuring or in pausing. We sincerely say “I love you” with clarity and with boldness. Professing the Credo by heart is like saying “I love you” to the Lord with clarity and boldness.

And then, about living what I profess? It’s indeed a challenge. We profess a faith not by lip-service, but lived and claimed as our own – in words, thoughts, and actions. We might be overcome by our weakness, but do we have the courage enough to stand and rise once more? There seems to be hopelessness in some situations today, but have we all lost the hope and energy to make this world a better world for everyone?

This is my first step: I believe!

And, I Care A Lot!

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Why do we care a lot?

Why do you care a lot?

Why do I care a lot?

Recently, I subscribed (followed) news “tweets” from known sources that are using Twitter. I subscribed to various sources, from the local news sources, to international news sources, way up to religious news sources. At every moment of the day, these sources post tweets which captured significant events. Then these tweets made me search the whole article of news items. After reading those articles, I’d always tell myself, “Now, what do I do?”

Knowing the things happening around me challenged me to get involved. Why do I get involved? Because I care a lot about them. Why do I care a lot? Because I’m part of the whole human community. And if I am dreaming of a better world for everyone, why shouldn’t I get involved of what’s happening today? Deep inside me, I’d always feel connected and related to these events – whether significant or small, near or far – because I’m part of today’s reality. There’s always in me the inner power to reach out and do something.

We are all created to love and to be loved. Perhaps, this is the reason why most people who dream big, love big enough. You can see their passion, and sometimes we’d just be captivated. We’d feel it too, when we are motivated to do something by their example. And these passions, as they are true and real, lead to compassion. We all have the reason to admire such compassionate dreamers because they encourage us “to love and to be loved”.

True enough, I’ve heard a lot of news – some are good, some are discouraging. And when it seemed that there are news stories which are quite bent on discouraging events, it made me see hope. I entered the seminary bearing with me the hope of becoming a difference, with the dream of “a life of the world to come”. I am challenged to make a difference for good – especially when I am formed to value things worth valuing – our life!

And I’d profess it in my faith!

Dream Big!

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What is your dream in life?

That’s awesome to ask! Dreaming big dreams counts a lot on what you value today. Just note what are your childhood dreams – and note which some of them persist today. Just how important these persistent dreams are? These guide our search for true meaning in life. The persistence of big dreams in life must not be resisted. Such big dreams persist because these tell something what our hearts desire – and it does not come out of the blue.

Dreaming big dreams starts on our awareness of being unique. All of us have been entrusted with an immense power to be the best. Now, what do we do with this power? We can be creative with it! Stop being hopeless, and start imagining and envisioning a better world. What do you see? How do you feel about it? How do you wish about it? Now, to the present – what can you do about it? What can you contribute to that better world?

Once you have a clear grasp of that big dream, pursue it. People who knew how to pursue big dreams do have a daring attitude of owning it by means of their values. They avoid living a double-standard life. Once you own your dream – it’s yours, it’s unique, and it’s nice. Keep that in mind, heart and spirit. Feel good about it; never resist it. Tell it as good news to a dear friend. Hope about it. Tweet it. Just make sure you see your dream in what you do today!

Let me give you an example. The Saints and the Sacred Authors of the Bible did dream big! Just read their stories. In their life, they kept a clear grasp and vision on what they desire. They pursued it because it preoccupied them, and it felt good for them. They felt it in their hands. They saw it as if it’s there. They too, hoped for a better world. People who recognized their inner desire even encouraged them – and it never failed them. Now, they serve as our examples.

And, don’t forget:  Jesus also dreamed a better world! (Luke 4:18-21)

“Shine forth, Lord!”


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Today, we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus!

Just what a “star” means to each of us? Stars may mean the celestial bodies of the universe, the celebrities we like and imitate, a symbol of award or trophy, and many meanings. Stars catch the attention of a viewer, and it means something to that viewer. Stars may be used to decorate apparel or home furniture. It is interesting that with these given meanings on what a “star” is, we may have a common attitude about it after all.

First, a star makes us look up and look forward. Literally, it’s true. You know it is a star when you look towards it. When we look towards it, our heads are titled upwards, not downwards. For those who have wild imaginations, they would even use hands to “touch” it, as if it really can be reached. Some would even jump like a kid, wishing that kid had a spaceship so that he or she can get it.

Second, a star evokes feelings of joy, excitement and ecstasy. Seeing a shooting star for the first time creates joy. Being able to handshake or tweet or have a picture with your favorite celebrity creates esteem. Being pinned with a star on a medal, or given a certificate or trophy with star on it feels being awarded and recognized. Scientists, astronomers and geophysicists feel amazed and awed what stars can do to a solar system.

Third, a star makes us do something. A shooting star makes us wish for something we like to have. Your favorite celebrity, especially when he/she is in a film, makes you look, act, speak and think like that celebrity (hard core fan?). Receiving a medal or certificate with a star on it motivates you to do more and better. The brightness, size and heat that the stars create made scientists launch probes and space missions to study them.

Just exactly what were the attitudes that the three Magi or wise men had when they saw the Star? I bet it’s the same with the observations we have above. And that Star did something wonderful: it drew the attention of people who care so much about its message. To some, it was mere coincidence or an astrological event. And that Star did something more: it has evoked faith! The star revealed something great! The intensity of the Star attracting the Magi and the shepherds was great yet sublime, especially for those who hoped for the great Anointed One.

God must have been really awesome to put that Star above in that “silent night”, shine its best, and lead others to see the Child Jesus – and pay homage to Him. Even now with faith, that Star evokes imaginations of a Bethlehem-experience, thereby creating an intense devotion to the First Christmas, and shares it to others through charity.

 

A blessed, Christ-filled Christmas to everyone!

Visions, Anybody?

I heard this conversation once at the start of 2012 (note: their names are aliased)-

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Imagine a year without any goal of yours and, just like Glenn, would have to stare blankly and just sighs. Well, in a way, Mark was correct to ask if Glenn is sick. Because it’s really being sick if one is empty of plans or goals for a year. There’s got to be a plan for a year, if not, a month, and if not, even in days or weeks. I wonder how people see life through their plans and goals. Interesting.

The beauty of having New Year’s resolutions is that “I want to feel better” or “I want my days to be meaningful”. Yes, again it is a search for meaning in life. But it all starts with simple things, such as listing our resolutions. We may start listing realizable resolutions in three items. Then, if we are able to do more, we can list about four to seven to ten things we can do. Making our 2013 right for us starts on what we want to become with ourselves.

Then, of course, plan of action. Well, resolutions such as “I want to save the world” or “I want to help alleviate poverty” really sound too general and might get loose of their plan of action because of their overwhelming premises. One may start with a long-term goal, but it starts with simple things. A resolution like “I want to finish my studies” would require  less unnecessary watching of TV, less games or Facebook or Twitter, read related literature in advance, create study groups, etc. Doing these will get you there without you knowing it.

So what do we value here? Every human person has a vision. I have a vision. You have a vision. We all have a vision. In our vision, we are part of being something better and more than what we were. We can imagine a lot of things, and if we keep on repeating them, they just become real. Well, we hope it’s for everyone’s better.

Picture this great visionary: When he was a child, he got lost from his parents. After some days of searching, he was found in a temple, sitting with other teachers. He was found to be asking them questions and learning from them. Perhaps, in the hidden aspects of his life, he might have thought, “Someday, I got to be like the teachers!” He grew some years then, and when the time came for him to share the good news with his neighbors, he said:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)

And his plan of action? Proclaiming and teaching about God’s Kingdom.

#AndWithYourSpirit

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And now, our response during the Holy Mass is “hashtagged”.

It occurred to me giving a response from what I posted in #PeaceBeWithYou (one blog right below). And it is crucial to reaffirm the nobility of the human person – endowed with life. Yes, the Holy Mass also affirms the giftedness of human life “fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)” by the Lord God. It’s in this moment that I also discovered the liturgical impulse of the affirming human life.

Primarily, I’d like to “hashtag” the response with the intention of constantly bringing into the human community and social media forum the beauty of human life. It’s like “Come on, let’s talk about ‘life'” or “You know, I have a lot of things worth discovering in my life” or “Right now, I see my life as….”. There’s more to be thankful, discover life and its meaning to you!

Searching for meaning in life begins with the “I” affirming his/her vision. This “I” is imbued with the gift of life. And yet, this “I” asks, “What do I really want? What do I want to become?” Hence, one’s search for meaning is having a clear vision of becoming. That is why life is aside from being static or stagnant. Life is dynamic. It is like the Spirit moving and leading us to the “greater scheme of things”.

What do we do next? We keep on dynamically repeating the discussion on “life” and the “I” in our respective circles until it clearly becomes a world agenda. The crucial step is to bring the discussion to where people converge and are preoccupied, like the social media. Then, have the discussion on “life” and the “I” as a proposal for dialogue. It takes time; we need not force it.

To begin, I’d like to tweet: “Life’s worth-living #AndWithYourSpirit

#PeaceBeWithYou

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What was your latest ‘tweet’ about?

Lately, I have been looking on my tweets as well as those whom I follow. They vary in humours and seriousness. They also vary in degrees on being ‘whateverness’ or ‘substantialness’. For every tweet of 140 characters or less, anybody can just shout out loud what they want to say. And say what? Also “hashtagging”. Just how these tweets change the course of one’s views?

Perhaps, one of the breakthroughs that our leaders in the Catholic Church had in the past year was to support and convince the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to publish his first-ever tweet (of course, the Holy Father gets some advises too…). Which for me says a lot about the purpose of bringing the ‘tweeters’ to Jesus and Jesus to the ‘tweeters’. I  tweeted him lately just before the year ended. I don’t expect him to reply me back. What caught my attention were some replies  on the Holy Father’s tweets – some were encouraging and assuring him of their prayers, some were insulting, some were disrespectful.

The point here is that every tweet shows a ‘tweeter’s’ values and views on life. Optimistic tweets mean a value of hope for one. Insulting tweets mean a pessimist one. Disrespectful tweets mean a bullying one. Really, just think about how you post your tweets. Those who follow you see your tweets – and they spell a lot about you. Now, what are they for you?

Just like Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites present a lot about our inner longings to connect with other people. The way we hashtag our chosen topics shows a lot how we can connect our thoughts and ideas with others who might share our sentiments. But since hashtags are random and unmonopolized, these can either unify or divide people and communities. Think again. How do you tweet? Do they unify or divide people (or do you not care after all?)?

I plan to have only one hashtag for the first months of 2013. I call it #PeaceBeWithYou. If I’d ever have a tweet, I include this so as to look for others who might share my sentiments. With the Holy Father’s message on New Year’s Day, it moved me to creatively use social media to encourage peace in the forum of nations and communities. It’s our immediate concern, a social concern.

And if we are aspiring for a more humane, humanly developed communities, why not start tweeting #PeaceBeWithYou?

Jump Start 2013

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How would you like to start your 2013?

There’s much to expect in 2013. And for me, I’d hope for the better. Basically, I’m a visionary – and I always look forward for what is best. I’d desire to seek what is nobler, higher and better. As I was writing this post, I already had in mind lots of endeavors to seek and to find meaning in them. I’m keen to find meaning in these endeavors. I’d find love in them!

In this Year 2013, I am inviting Jesus to journey with me again. At present, I am pursuing priestly and religious vocations in the Congregation of the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus. My heart’s desire is to apply for the Novitiate – and I felt good about it. I find myself in it. I embrace it as my own. I love it. But of course, I need lots of prayers and support.

But every “jump start” starts with simple things we can enjoy in life!

>   How about a “smile” for 20 people you meet everyday?

>   How about saying “I am good!” at the start of your day?

>   How about a hug for someone whom you forgot to hug last year?

>   How about saying “Thank you, Jesus!” for every day you wake up?

>   How about blowing bubbles for 10 minutes and jump like a kid?

Kinda cool, huh! Simple things are meant to be enjoyed!

We’d want to start our year right, but God wants us to enjoy simple things in life. And it’s free.

Mama Mary, Mother of God

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mama Mary!

Yep, this is our greeting for our dear blessed Mother. We greet her deep inside our hearts for she leads us to the love of her beloved Son – Jesus Christ our Lord! For the first day of the Year 2013, I preferred making this simple image from Photoshop – with “Believe” as a powerful teaching from Mama Mary.

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord…” (Luke 1:38)  –  Mama Mary teaches us to “Believe” because God knows who we are and what we are called to. She experienced lots of uncertainties (even suffered from them), but she remained certain that the Lord is there – He is in control of everything. He will always be there for us. As Mother of God, she teaches us to have faith in the Lord.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…” (Luke 1:46)  –  Mama Mary teaches us to “Believe” because deep inside us is the image of the Emmanuel – “God-with-us”. She sang one of the greatest songs in the history of mankind – the Magnificat – from her spontaneous response of joy in the Lord. We are the image of a loving God. As Mother of God, she teaches us to give our best shot.

“Do whatever He tells you…” (John 2:5)  –  And Mama Mary teaches us to “Believe” because we can find our true fulfillment in Jesus. She knew well that Jesus brings true joy and peace to all, and so she leads us to her Son. What we need to do is perhaps to have a listening and a pondering heart like her. As Mother of God, she teaches us to say our ‘yes’ to the Lord’s call.

“Mama Mary, thank you for leading us to Jesus always!”