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!

The First Christmas

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A blessed Christmas to all!

The First Christmas tells a lot about celebrating our faith in the Lord. And the reason why we celebrate this encounter is because of the Lord Jesus. In the First Christmas, we see the Lord Jesus born in the manger, with Mary and Joseph joyfully praising the Lord for experiencing His love for them and for humanity. Celebrating Christmas is celebrating our faith-experience in Bethlehem, where we see His coming among us in an unexpected way.

FAMILY – I was able to celebrate my Christmas together with my family, although my father is still working abroad. For many days now, I was able to stay with Mama and my brother and spent our time together. We went to attend the Novena Mass together, as well as the Christmas Mass in the evening. I prepared our simple Noche Buena by cooking spaghetti and ham. My Mama and my brother prepared barbecue and hotdogs. We had our special prayers together, thanking the Lord for the graces we received and the gift of family stirred by His love. We don’t have much, but for me it was a Bethlehem-experience – simplicity at its best.

FRATERNITY – Christmas would not be without brotherhood and charity. Part of my celebration of Christmas was to share the Spirit of Christmas through our Christmas Carols, Christmas Sharing with the children, Christmas Party with the youth, and Christmas outreach activity with the youth for the victims of the Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao. Celebrating Christmas opened me to be part of charitable works – with the intention of bringing Jesus to all through sharing. It was also my Bethlehem-experience because seeing the manger reminds me well of Jesus’ oneness with our poor and suffering brethren.

FAITH – My early vacation from the seminary last December 10 made me prepare a lot in celebrating the Simbang Gabi. For the Novena Mass (or Dawn Mass), I served in our chaplaincy – and for me it was meaningful because I was able to keep track of my reflections as I listened to the homilies of my chaplain. My Bethlehem-experience was the past Holy Masses I attended – and it was a meaningful encounter of the Child Jesus. Such Holy Masses reminded me of my true identity as God’s beloved redeemed. The Holy Masses brought me back to the experience of the First Christmas. For this, I am happy and joyful to celebrate this Christmas!

And for all of you, I have put here my Christmas card exquisitely-made from Adobe Photoshop.

“How about you, my dear friend: what were your Bethlehem-experiences this Christmas?”

From Silence to Listening: A Retreat With the Youth

ImageTwo months ago, the Rogate Youth had their retreat in the Seminary of which I was one of the facilitators. For this retreat, only few managed to come for this opportunity, while I remembered inviting many of them to come for such an encounter. Now, I am beginning to learn and understand a lot from them!

For about half-a-day encounter of silence and reflection, we facilitators encouraged and invited them to be immersed into silence and reflection. We invited them to recall all their past experiences (in general) and to look these experiences into what brought them now. We gave them two small pieces of paper to write on which they will be offering to the Lord for our Taize Prayers and Meditation.

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But what astounded me most was during the moment of sharing of reflections. It was right that I prepared myself to be attentive to what they will be saying in front of the group. During the sharing, I admired how they were able to process their reflections because they do have realizations which we facilitators did not expect at first. Personally, I felt their sincerity when they shared their experiences from their heart. I really felt that through silence, they were able to search deeper into the meaning of their lives. They were eager to seek the meaning of their lives, and hopefully they will find it.Perhaps, it is the right moment for us to invite the youth to appreciate the beauty of silence that goes with listening.

 

IMG_2181Months from now, the World Youth Day 2013 will be celebrated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Glad that many will come. But for those who cannot, we can still celebrate it when we, persons involved in the Church, invite the youth around us to come and celebrate youthfulness in creative ways – proposing opportunities for silence and moments to listen within oneself – which they will find difference and meaning from what they are ordinarily used to and oriented to.For today, some of the youth are afraid to seek what is inside of them which is why they search the “seemingly happy” outside of them and get contented with the noises around them. What turns out would be more catastrophic because when they forget who they are as individuals, they lose the sense of meaning of life, and when they do so, they get lost and lose their self-identity.

I invite you, my fellow youth, to celebrate WYD 2013 in silence and listening within! Let us all feel the presence of God of Love who waits us in silence, inviting us to listen to Him because we are His children and He is our Father and loves us dearly! When we experience Him, let us proclaim the joy we felt when we are able to listen with Him!