Friday, January 7, 2011


"Put off the old man his deeds and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created Him." Corinthians 13:9-10

If there's one tradition that majority of the whole world does, it's making resolutions.

At the beginning of the year, we all want to change something and be a better person. It is already imbibed in our psyche that we ought to do new year's resolutions and try to fulfill them. Most of the time people would have a number of resolutions and at the end of the year ends up fulfilling any of them. After all we want to change, for one reason or another, that's the whole logic of resolutions. 

There are many ways to be able to make sure we get to do them and here are 5 few tips that you may want to consider.

1) Know what you really want to change, do one or two resolutions. This is for practical purposes. It is easier to be able to accomplish a resolution if you would focus on one or two things to change.

2) Ask God that you want to change with His help and guidance. 

3) Accept God and let God work through you to change in the process.

4) Do not expect to change overnight or you will get frustrated - change isn't immediate it is gradual.

5) If you find yourself not fulfilling what you set yourself out to do, you're permitted to be frustrated but zero tolerance when it comes to letting yourself give up.

If there is one thing I learned best in Prayer and Life Workshop is that people don't really change, they only improve. Changes take years to permanently be iradicated. It is a matter of habit and willpower but most of all it would be in God's infinite gracious hands that you must be lead all the way to the righteous path you chose. He is the wonderful consoler to those who are weary and those who are willing to be renewed in life.

In whatever you do, have God blessed it. We were all made in His image and likeness, our greatest goal in life in try to be like Him in His goodness and loving nature. Changes maybe inevitable but it may cause some effort, discipline and a lot of God in acquiring them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

4 Scenarios Why the Holy Family is Still a Relevant Model Family

"And so it was that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth here firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because they was no room for them in the inn." - Luke 2:6-7

Christmas is not just a time for just children but it is also a time for families.

In these trying times with economic and moral degradation, it is quite sad that more and more families fall into a dysfunctional situation.

Amidst all these, the Holy Family serves a role model eventhough they existed thousand years ago.

The Untouchables
I just noticed that one of the things why people are often wary about applying the lives of Holy people to our daily lives is we often picture them so Holy and Perfect.

Perhaps Mother Mary and Jesus are but that does not mean they are unreachable and irrelevant. 
Take for instance the Holy Family.  It was during this last Sunday's homily that I truly understand why the Holy Family is still relevant to our society as well. They maybe the ideal family but the trials that they have encountered were not full of bliss.

1 - Uncertain Future vs. Great Faith -  Imagine how a teenager like Mother Mary felt that she will have a child from a man she hardly knows, to a man she was forcibly had to Mary.  It was her strong faith and trust in the Lord of the trials to come. 

She was barely a woman then, she had to face a life of motherhood and the hardest part of it is that the child she will be giving birth to was the Child of the most high.

She had her initial doubts which was utterly normal. Then said Mary unto the angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?"  - Luke 1: 34. Still she trusted God with this uncertain future with great faith as she said her first great Amen in salvation history: And Mary said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word." - Luke 1:38.

The future maybe uncertain but it would always be faith that would strengthen each family members having God as the center of this special nucleus.

2 - Against All Odds - Saint Joseph may wanted to have divorced Mother Mary quietly but he first and foremost didn't want to press charges in order for her not to be stoned to death.  He was very understanding of her situation despite perhaps the feeling of betrayal of having seen her with "someone else's" baby before the Angel Gabriel went to see him in a dream.

We too had doubts over some issues with the family but it would be great if we get to the bottom of it before losing our cool. Forgive and understand each other as much as possible.

3 - Domestic Discomfort -  While it was not really much of a monetary case why they end-up in a manger, but even the Holy Family experienced their own set of physical and meager discomfort. What they do is make the most of it, imagine Mother Mary having give birth to the Child Jesus in a very dirty and smelly stable instead of a medical facility during that time.

The Holy Family had their fair share of financial woes as Saint Joseph was a carpenter and nothing much was mentioned about Mother Mary's employment. Eventually, even Jesus; who is the Son of God; had his fair share of labor and became a carpenter Himself to earn a living.

Every family goes through this, but what should one do is make the most of what is given and always think positively that there are other people who have worst situations than we have.

4 - Responsible and Single Parenthood - I really do not know when St. Joseph died but it was certain that he was not there anymore when Jesus Christ started his public life.  
It must have been difficult for Mother Mary living alone without her husband.  It was difficult to raise a child. Imagine the pain she had endured seeing her child grow up, move out and in the end crucified.

But despite being widowed, it was obvious that she raised Christ well.  Even at the Wedding at Cana, Christ showed His obedience to His mother when she told Him there wasn't anymore wine and Christ told her that it was not yet time for Him to do miracles. And yet, Christ still turned the water into wine for His mom requested it.

Even up to the end, at the foot of the cross the strong bond between Mother and Son was very evident as Jesus asked Saint John to take care of His mother, while Mother Mary herself stood silently and gave her greatest Fiat to support her Son despite seeing her Son being humiliated and ostracized.

The Perfect Family with an Imperfect Life

The Holy Family had their own crosses to bear and trudge a road most of us travel daily. They had experiences like most of us encounter. And yet despite everything they remained very, very ideal to the end. 

It is not a matter of whether or not is hard to reach or emulate the Holy Family, it is really up to us if we are resolved to follow such example.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Simbang Gabi/Misa de Gallo: Prepping up for Christmas

Having practically most of my relatives abroad, being an Overseas Filipino Workers' daughter, and my own inquisitive nature, I've practically stumbled with some knowledge regarding the different Christmas traditions around the world.

Having said that, I would like to patronize my own country's famous tradition. Since this blog is about faith, Franciscanism and FYM. I would like to pay tribute to one of the famous and most attended tradition in our country, the Philippines - "The Simbang Gabi" and "Misa de Gallo" (Mass of the Rooster).

Castillian Origin

If there was one thing that the Spanish Friars did that was good (knowing what happened in our Philippine History), it is the 9-day Novena also known as "The Simbang Gabi" and "Misa de Gallo".

Typically, "Simbang Gabi" is referred to those masses to prepare our spirits for the coming masses.  This begins every December 16 around 4:00am or 4:30am, as it is also known as the dawn masses. Everything then culminates to a more apt term Misa de Gallo the Grand Midnight Mass on Christmas eve, a few hours before Christmas Day itself. This tradition started with the intentions of having farmers go to Mass before they go to do their work in the field.

During the earlier days, at around 3:00 am, the church bells begin to ring to wake people up to prepare them for these dawn masses. 

Personal Prerogative

Oftentimes, people would go to these masses but because of the early hours some ended up not completing them.

In the end, it's a personal prerogative. We were all given the freedom to do what we want to do. But, hopefully we one of the things we ought to do is to prepare for the coming of Christ.

I'm not saying that it is compulsory to do those 9-day Novena masses, but hopefully we do prepare ourselves spiritually for the coming of Christ and not just do traditions simply because we grew up with them.

But right now, Simbang Gabi/Misa de Gallo is a great way to prep up for the Big Day as sacrifices of waking up for 9 days could be taxing but the joy of knowing we are waiting for a Blessed Moment, the Birth of Christ, is something worth waiting for.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The First Belen and Its Franciscan Origin

Did you know the origin of the Belen? Do you know what's a Belen?

Here in the Philippines, most Catholic homes would never be complete with this famour rendition of the Nativity Set or the Belen.   This favorite decoration is not just something that we add as part of the Christmas festivities but it symbolizes the Birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  It is a symbol of faith that knowing that Christmas is all about Christ, while the rest takes a major back seat.

A Belen is usually composed of the Holy Family - the adorable Baby Jesus Christ in the manger, Mother Mary and St. Joseph, a shining star that guided them, usually Angels with the "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" sign, the Shepherd and the three Magis - Melchor, Gaspar and Balthasar.

This famous Christmas decoration has its Franciscan origin.

Infused by an Unquenchable Love

After His visit from the Holy Land and seeing Bethlehem with his own eyes, St. Francis was so engrossed in assembling the birth of Christ. With special permission from Pope Honorius, the Seraphic Father asked John (Giovanni) Velita, the Lord of Greccio, to prepare a special place where they can react the Nativity scene. 

St. Francis wanted to see for himself all the discomforts that the young babe in the manger experienced because for him that's how much God loved us, He gave His Son to us. Christ was born helpless like a babe trusting all of us with His vulnerable body.

The Blessed Night

December 1223. It was in the mountainside of Greccio where everything was prepared. There was a manger and a makeshift altar. People from all over places, came as long lines of lit torches could be seen going to the special spot.  St. Francis of Assisi acted as a deacon.

The people who attended sang joyous Christmas song to add to the solemnity.

St. Francis said the Gospel and expressed the joy to see for His eyes the doll-baby like representation of Christ in the makeshift manger, where there were even Ox and the Ass to complete in reminiscing the said event. Everytime St. Francis mentioned the word Babe, or Baby or anything that refer to the Infant Christ he wet his lips to savor the sweet tasting word that refered to the Blessed Child.

The Babe in the Creche

After his very moving homily, the Seraphic Father took the baby-doll that represented Christ and wished that he too wanted to feel the love he felt for Christ for us when he was born.

Immediately, and miraculously the baby-statue/doll came to life. A lot of people witnessed it and how lucky the people present were as they were able to hold helpless Babe in their arms. Even the sickly animals, after being fed by the straw from the manger got well.

Remembering Christ

This Christmas, hopefully we would remember the blessed night when Christ came into this world and not other worldly things that would often hinder us. Just like St. Francis of Assisi, may we also recall that the most important thing to remember this Christmas is first and foremost, the Birthday Celebrant Himself.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


"And the angel came in unto her, and said, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women"...And the angel said unto her, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS." - Luke 1: 28, 30-31

One of the proof that made people believed in St. Bernadette Soubirous vision of our Lady of Lourdes, was when she mentioned that the lady she saw at the grotto mentioned that she was "The Immaculate Conception." During that time, the said dogma was still not publicly announced as a huge debate and discussion was still being done before the Catholic Church would formally share this dogma to the world. And when a simpleton like St. Bernadette uttered those words that our Lady had given her, it was proof that it was the Virgin Mary was the woman she was talking to in the grotto.

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. When one is called the Immaculate Conception, in simpler terms it means a person who was conceived without sin.

This feast is celebrated during Advent season in order to show the significant role that the Blessed Mother Christ had played in Christmas. 

Pope Pius IX gave a solemn declaration known as Ineffabilis Deus  in 1854. It marks the finality of the Catholic Church's belief that Mary was conceived without original sin. Such privilege was bestowed upon her since St. Anna (her mother) conceived her. An ordinary human child, Mary, was destined to be the Mother of the Lord thus God gave the great of being untainted by original sin.

Since the Blessed Virgin Mary was to become the Mother of Christ, she had to be pure, unsullied and must not have original sin. Impossible. If God was the one who wills it anything is possible right?  And God couldn't have a better choice than the Blessed Virgin.

When the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin about her conceiving a son. She was greatly troubled and yet despite the doubts (and eventually all the pains) she lived her life to the fullest following God even at her greatest "fiat" or yes, at the foot of the cross.  She remained pure and loyal to God, and always telling herself, "May it be done to me according to Your word" even if it means seeing her beloved Son suffer.  

She never whined nor complained. Until the end, she remained true to her faith in God. May I learned from her humility, patience and unselfish.

Today, during this Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I revere a woman who truly is worth God's vessel to carry the Beloved Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

FYM'S Greccio Preparation and Advent Formation

"He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not." - John 1:10

The Philippines probably has the longest Christmas season in the world.  As soon September starts until the end of January (where we usually celebrate the Feast of the Sto. Niño), Christmas songs and the Christmas spirit are abroad.

Sadly though despite the length of time for this celebration, it seems quantity bares more weight than quality. While sharing gifts, putting decoration are great activities, preparing ourselves spiritually should be far more important as well. Sadly, people remember and remind children more about Santa Claus as the generous given more than Christ's own unselfish and gracious gift of himself on Christmas day.

 People often forget that the reason we have Christmas is because of Christ. We often busy ourselves with Christmas shopping, Noche Buena and all which is definitely not wrong, however it becomes off if we forget the reason behind the season.
Last Sunday, Advent commenced. Advent is the preparation of oneself for the coming of Christ this Christmas. It is symbolically represented by 3 violet candles, one pink and white candle. Is symbolizes the hope we have in waiting for the real chosen One, which is Christ. It should be the most inspiring, spiritually exciting thing in Christian life - the coming of Christ.

Such enthusiasm of Christ's coming was shown in the example of the Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi.  In 1204, St. Francis asked John or Giovanni Velita to prepare a place in Greccio where he wanted to re-enact the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  He had this yearning to see with his very own eyes Christ unselfish yes to become one of us and all the discomforts that the little Babe in the manger had to endure that day.

Christmas for St. Francis was a special moment to understand the depth and love that Jesus did for us. In modern times, young people,like the Franciscan Youth Movement; shares that longingness to prepare themselves and see beyond the decorative hullabaloo that this season brings.  A special formation program is given by the National fraternity to each local fraternities around the country.

A 4-week long Advent formation program that truly helps prepare one correctly to how to accept, appreciate the season of all seasons.  After all what would you give to One that has everything, but your love, attention, the wisdom and knowledge that He is the greatest gift of them all and the Number one celebrant. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

TESTED LIKE SILVER: An Ode to 25 Years of Existence of the Franciscan Youth Movement NSOLL Fraternity

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2: 7

They said one knows if the silver is ready once the person making and heating it would see his own face in the silver. God made us in His image and likeness, just like silver we are suppose to reflect his image in the way we live.  For 25 years, each member of the Franciscan Youth Movement have tried to follow the precept to be Christ-like through the examples of St. Francis of Assisi. Silvers.

I am pleased to know that the Franciscan Youth Movement is celebrating it's 25th or Silver Anniversary. A milestone indeed.  Many souls have been converted and many hopes were created. Each of us learned to dream in the movement. Dream and journey. To use what we have our very own treasures in the form of time, talent and theology.

Each of us though may have have swerved from the path, as the journey of a Franciscan Youth is not an easy one. We trudge a path full of trials, temptations as we make use of our gifts and share them with others. It is not easy to be a Franciscan Youth because we are mandated to be truly heralds of God's love. But what's so interesting about it, is that we have to do it in the simplest and most humble means.

We are a generation who must continue to let God's word flourish not just through our reading the Bible everyday, but living the Bible itself in our thoughts, words, and actions. 

I owe a lot to this movement. Mga kapatids here gave me a reason to continue and try my best to be Christ like and use my talent for God's glory.  This is a group of individuals who accepted me despite my flaws/imperfection and brought me back home to God. They were beacons of God's love to my then bewildered and very lost spirit. They were more than friends they were my siblings in the Christian, Franciscan Family.

As a Franciscan youth, each of us are tasked to do so. Franciscan Youth, accepted or not, all individuals were created in God's image and likeness the least we can do is give thanks to God by letting Him work through us. To strive to be the best with what God gave us. 

We are all instruments of peace.  It would be great, if you have brothers and sisters like I have in this fraternity whose never ending generosity, gracious and inspiring lives have been my anchor and living Bibles through their examples.

Congratulations again mga Kapatids (Siblings) in this Fraternity - Fraternity in the true sense of the word - brotherhood. Go and make a difference to more youth!