Sunday, July 27, 2008

Who and Whose I Am

It happens to everyone.  One slip and anyone could fall.  We could fall in love and fall out of love.  And we could forget everything we've learned, and everything we were taught.

Until somebody reminds us who we are, and, more importantly, whose we are.

The reason I have stayed afloat is that despite the thorn in my flesh, I have made myself accountable to spiritual directors, confessors, leaders, and friends who have patiently been reminding me through the years to fix my eyes on Jesus and on eternal life.

The spirit is willing but the flesh is easily tired.  Sometimes, we just want to enjoy what is before us.  Temporal needs are so tempting to satisfy, because they are attractive, because they are common, and because they are persistent.  

I am human, yes, but I am also God's daughter.  I am weak but my strength is in the Lord, who sends sunshine amidst the rain, and who brings shelter, comfort, and an umbrella during a storm.  

There is sunshine in my life and I have seen that I always have a choice to do the right thing.  I always have options.  And I choose to be holy.  I would rather die poor and holy than live rich and damned.  

But same time yesterday, I was not so sure where I could go, or how I could stand up against the world.  What a difference a day makes.

One day in the Lord's courts is indeed better than a thousand elsewhere.  And I could appreciate this better after I've tried being in the latter.

Apologies for the seeming vagueness of this post.  Who wants to read about details, when what we are meant to share are the lessons?

Rejoice with me, for I was almost lost, but now I'm found.  I could fall again, I know, but hopefully not enough to turn my back completely on God's invitation to union with Him not just today but for all time.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Madrid 2011

Could this be my chance to visit Europe?  

Pope Benedict announced that the next World Youth Day will be held in Madrid, Spain.  Three years from now.  I cannot see the future but I can dream.

EWTN is on delayed telecast, so I read the news online about it here.  WYD has officially closed in Sydney but  my friends have several more days in Australia.  I can't wait to hear from them all that they had experienced and to remember that I, too, all the way here in Manila, have received the power of the Holy Spirit, just like WYD 08's theme goes.

Life is not neat these days but the only way to move on is to look brightly upon the future and believe that God has prepared the way already, and that He wants to shower His blessings.  I've missed several chances to visit Europe with my family and friends already.  I know, however, that at the right time, the desires that God had placed in my heart will be fulfilled.

I can see the Philippine flag on TV, being waved across Sydney.  Only 9 more days until July 29.

And 10 more days til I turn a year older.  But I claim that by 2011, I would still be young, as in the eyes of God, I would always be a child.  And that's mighty fine by me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Address of BXVI

"Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose (cf. Gen 1:28)! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful.  It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy."

The above is an excerpt from the address of Pope Benedict XVI to the World Youth Day delegates earlier today in Sydney.  I watched from home and felt him speaking to me, waving at me, smiling at me.  He is a picture of peace and tranquility amidst a busy world.  

I watched the live telecast on EWTN, too bad they don't have 24/7 coverage.  It's a blessing in disguise that I stayed home to rest today.  I was restless until I heard Pope Benedict's message.

Sydney is a beautiful city and it provides a perfect backdrop for this gathering of young pilgrims from around the globe.  

Read BXVI's entire address at the Vatican website, linked here

Watch highlights at the official WYD08 media site here.

My friends texted that they saw the Pope, and he waved at them (or at least they claimed he did see them).  

I find it cute that our 81-year old Pontiff sent a text message to the pilgrims and signed it  "-BXVI".  He is a father, grandfather, priest, bishop, and Pope to us all, and he is out there evangelizing the world, one young pilgrim at a time.  My only WYD experience was here in Manila in 1995, when Pope John Paul II (we love you!) received rock star reception.  I was there in Luneta.  I handled discussion groups.  I sang with the music ministry from my youth group for one event in one campus, among hundreds held on the same week.  It was quite an experience and it has helped shape my desire to share the Gospel to many young people.

I will stay tuned until Sunday's closing mass, through cable, Internet, or text.  In this event I found something to be joyful about.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thinking of My Friends Down Under

I could not stop thinking about my friends today -  my friends who are cold, tired, and sleepless.

They probably sleep on the floor or at best, on a thin mattress.  They are probably yearning for a warm bath.  I know they have not eaten rice in days.  They have not seen their friends and families for more than a week now.  

Yet, they are having the time of their life, and I would rather be in their shoes.

For my friends are attending the World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, together with other pilgrims from all over the globe.  They were hit by winter nights last weekend and rice is not the staple food where they are right now, hence the discomfort and the disorientation.

But they will see the Pope on Thursday, and they might be caught on international TV.  They are making loads of new friends and visiting new places.  I'm in touch with some of them through text so I know they're fine and are enjoying every moment of their adventure.

I can't wait to hear their stories when they go back.  I've long settled why I could not join them for WYD, but sometimes I cannot help but wish my situation were different and I could be there with them, to suffer their little sufferings for the sake of the heavenly energy that is surrounding them.

I guess, being a fellow pilgrim, I am one with them in their journey.  

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back to the Top

After a long absence, I've updated my TopBlogs link.  I used to get a good raking in Pinoy Topblogs but ever since they moved sites I lost the HTML code and I've sunk to the bottom of the list.  Well, let's see if we could slowly but surely re-claim our position.

If you like this blog, please vote using the link on the upper left hand corner of this blog.

You may also vote for my other blog here.  Thanks! 

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I'm Only Happy When it Rains

I'm only happy when it rains.  I'm only happy when it's complicated.

The rest of the song by Garbage is actually quite depressing, but I'm using it as my theme for this piece.  I've always liked the first two lines of the song, and the melody is quite catchy, although the message is actually not the theme of my life.

So why do I like it when it rains?  I already wrote about that in previous blog posts linked here.  There was a brother in Lingkod who used to call me Miss July, and ignoring any other meaning the world has put on calendar girls, I'd like to claim that in God's calendar, important lessons take place during this month, for me.  The July rains always bring about change, washing away all the accumulated dirt and grime, and sustaining the life that is sometimes dried up during the dry season.

I just came from a session with my spiritual director, Fr. Geoffrey Coombe, mgl.  I went there not knowing what to say, only prepared to admit what a mess I had been making of my life so far, but I left the chapel feeling light-hearted, hopeful, and, more importantly, aware of God's love for me.  This was a treasured feeling that I thought I had lost, so overwhelmed was I by the mountains before me.

He showed me that I was moving towards my authentic self and was growing bolder in letting go of my projected self.  He helped me identify what were the things that were blurring my vision of God the Father.  He guided me in deciding which battles were for today and which were for another day.  He also shared his lessons from his past retreat with me, and I was surprised to see how his experiences resonated within me, because he also struggled with some of my struggles.  

He said that I should appreciate moments of crisis because those are the times when I can see more clearly what is happening within me and when I could make the most important decisions of my life.  He encouraged me that even if I was in pain there was an end to the pain and all I had to do was to be vulnerable and raw before God, who was going to heal me, and who was speaking to my heart even while I had shut it out so I could function in the way I felt I was expected to the past few months.  

He has been part of my spiritual journey for the past four years and I am very blessed to have a guide and friend who is helping me listen to my heart, and to the Inner Voice of Love.  My image of God and my self-knowledge are growing and improving because of conversations with him and the others God has sent my way.  There are things I discover on my own but it helps to have someone who will listen, mirror, and validate these discoveries.

It's only the third day of the month and already, I am feeling the rush of blessings, in forms I did not expect.  Of course my concerns from last week are still there but once more I can say that my God is bigger than my problems, and I also have reason to celebrate.  I had dinner with officemates the other night, and dinner with parish friends last night.  I have spent more than a month with my mother, and I feel my siblings are very close even though they are scattered in different parts of the globe.  

All of a sudden, my failures don't seem that bad.  Gas prices, typhoon victims, financial worries, and all the usual fears can't pull me down.  I can think about happy thoughts, and it's ok.  I can dream of watching Cinderella starring my idol Lea Salonga.  I can plan to watch "Mamma Mia!" the movie featuring my favorite actress Meryl Streep.  I can dream.  I can hope.  I can pray.  I can believe.  Bring on the rain.

If this time of rain is about blessing, then the pain is not depressing.  I sing to my God, and I listen to His voice, for He meets me where I am.  He always does.

In Tagalog,

Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka
Words and Music by Ryan Cayabyab

Pagmasdan ang ulan,
Unti-unting pumapatak sa mga halama't mga bulaklak
Pagmasdan ang dilim,
Unti-unting bumabalot sa buong paligid t'wing umuulan

Kasabay ng ulan bumubuhos ang 'yong ganda,
Kasabay rin ng hanging kumakanta

Maari bang huwag ka na
Sa piling ko'y lumisan pa hanggang ang hangi't ula'y tumila na

Buhos na ulan, aking mundo'y lunuring tuluyan
Tulad ng pag-agos mo,
'Di mapipigil ang puso kong nagliliyab
Pag-ibig ko'y umaapaw,
Damdamin ko'y humihiyaw sa tuwa
Tuwing umuulan at kapiling ka

Pagmasdan ang ulan,
Unti-unting tumitila
Ikaw ri'y magpapaalam na
Maari bang minsan pa, mahagkan ka't maiduyan pa
Sakbibi ka't ulan lamang ang saksi

Minsan pa ulan bumuhos ka't h'wag nang tumigil pa
Hatid mo ma'y bagyo, dalangin ito ng puso kong sumasamo
Pag-ibig ko'y umaapaw,
Damdamin ko'y humihiyaw sa tuwa
Tuwing umuulan at kapiling ka

Maari bang minsan pa, mahagkan ka't maiduyan pa
Sakbibi ka't ulan lamang ang saksi

Buhos na ulan, aking mundo'y lunuring tuluyan
Tulad ng pag-agos mo,
'Di mapipigil ang puso kong nagliliyab
Pag-ibig ko'y umaapaw,
Damdamin ko'y humihiyaw sa tuwa
Tuwing umuulan at kapiling ka

Minsan pa ulan bumuhos ka't h'wag nang tumigil pa
Hatid mo ma'y bagyo, dalangin ito ng puso kong sumasamo
Pag-ibig ko'y umaapaw,
Damdamin ko'y humihiyaw sa tuwa
Tuwing umuulan at kapiling ka