Sunday, June 28, 2009

With Friends Like These...

My parish friends had fun teasing me this morning.  We just had a tour of our new building and were cooling ourselves under a tree when our parish priest told us that there would be a mass wedding at our church in July, during the fiesta.  

Since this meant the wedding fees would be much lower (to share the altar with four score and seven other couples), I asked if I could have my wedding then.  I was told, "If you could book a groom by then, go ahead."  I laughed.  Then I looked at our clubhouse.  Then I looked at my friend's white car.  I asked him, "Can I borrow this as wedding car?"  He said, "Be my guest.  But the groom has to be captured first."

This started off all sorts of ideas on how Ate Ella could find a suitable groom.  I already had the church, the choir, the clubhouse, and the car.  One young friend of mine suggested that there should be an advertisement, "Huge Savings If You Marry Ate Ella."  They assigned someone to look for potential husbands for me.  I laughed with them.  There were suggestions to just marry anyone, to meet the deadline of submission of required documents.  I laughed some more. This was not the first time we were having this kind of conversation. 

Then I got home, had lunch with my parents, cooked dinner, folded the laundry, and got to thinking that I was not in a rush.  I don't need the "discount".  I am happy where I am.  Marriage is not necessarily a happier place.  In fact, if I ask a lot of friends, it isn't happy at all.

I have been thinking that being by myself, serving God, having wonderful friends and family, traveling at least once a year, indulging in my passions, expressing my talents, and learning new skills, I am so happy already.  I could live with this for the rest of my life.

I'm just not sure if I'm meant to.  But that's a question to be answered another day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Year of Priests June 19, 2009 - June 19, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI has set aside a special Year of Priests, starting on the Feast Day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 19, 2009. Let us pray for our priests, and for vocations.

From the Catholic News Agency:

Vatican City, Mar 16, 2009 / 01:16 pm (CNA).- Meeting with members of the Congregation for Clergy this morning, the Holy Father announced that the Church will celebrate a special year for priests beginning on June 19, 2009. The year will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Vianney, Cure of Ars.

Pope Benedict received representatives from the congregation’s full assembly, which is currently focused on how the three offices (tre munera) of the priest make him a missionary within the Church.

In his address, the Pontiff emphasized the constant struggle for moral perfection that dwells “in every truly priestly heart.” In support of this tendency toward spiritual perfection, the Holy Father announced that he has “decided to call a special ‘Year for Priests’ which will run from June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010.”

He noted that the year also marks the “150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock."

The Pope will inaugurate the Year on June 19 by presiding at Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica, where the relics of the 'Cure of Ars' will be brought for the occasion by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France.

During the course of the Year, Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Jean Marie Vianney as the patron saint of all the priests of the world. A "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" will also be published, as will a collection of texts by the Holy Father on essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in our time.

The year will close June 19, 2010, with Pope Benedict presiding at a "World Meeting of Priests" in St. Peter's Square.

Speaking to the Congregation for Clergy, the Holy Father also mentioned the ecclesial communal, hierarchical and doctrinal dimensions that are “absolutely indispensable for any authentic [priestly] mission,” and which guarantee “spiritual effectiveness.”

He explained that the mission is ecclesial “because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.”

"The mission is 'communal',” he continued, “because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility.”

He added that the “'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasize the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation."

The Pope also stressed the importance of priestly formation which must maintain “communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context,” he continued, “it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance."

In conclusion, the Holy Father warned of the “dilution” of priestly ministry. He explained that the without priests, “there would be no Eucharist, no mission” or the Church. “It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organizations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry."

Monday, June 08, 2009

Almost There

Someday I will understand why it is so much easier to write when I am depressed than when I am ecstatic.  It probably has something to do with the reason why it is more natural for me to hold on to negative thoughts than positive thoughts.  I'm afraid the reason for the happiness won't last.  I'm afraid to hope so much and then fall flat on my face afterwards.

I don't want to operate on fear, insecurity, and anxiety anymore.  In fact, I have no reason to.  As usual, my fiscal year has signaled the end of my waiting period and the start of my blessing period again.  When the rains come and when the schools open, that's when I notice God's blessings.  

This month, I have found new opportunities previously unimaginable and unreachable for me.  I have enjoyed healed relationships that are even stronger than they were before.  I have felt the end of my time of pruning and testing, and the beginning of another season in my life.

That cliche about the caterpillar being in a cocoon to make way for a beautiful butterfly?  It's true.  The analogy of the ugliness of the caterpillar trapped in a dark cocoon for an unbearable period that results in a colorful, ethereal creature finds consistency in the life of a Christian.

Yes, God speaks.  He directs.  He moves.  He listens.  I have uttered prayers to Him in desperation, about things beyond my control but which were oppressing me, and He came through for me.  He answered my prayers the way I asked Him to.  He opened new doors.  I only had to wait for Him.  It's frustrating to listen to this when you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel, but take it from me.  I have seen Him work in my life too many times.

From darkness and uncertainty, I am on my way to a future filled with hope and light.  I cannot write the details now, but I will soon enough.

For now, I want to share my joy, and to proclaim that God is good.  He has saved me from my personal distress and I have Him to thank for all these.  There are still many details to iron out, and many challenges to face, but I am assured that I am almost there.  To the next step.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

One New Thing

I'm going to be a teacher. Did I ever write about that before? I must have forgotten. With the advent of Twitter and Facebook, I've turned to microblogging and have utterly neglected this online journal.

I never planned on being a teacher. When we were kids, it was my sister who liked to write on the blackboard and pretend the rest of us were her students. I was going to be many things (search "Alternative Careers" on this blog), but not a teacher. I called my teachers by their last names. Only. I took part in "Malcolm Madness", where they were parodied, sometimes mercilessly, by the law students. And I have this insatiable need to be liked by everyone. Who knows what students these days want?

I come from a family of teachers, from both sides, actually. My parents, aunts, cousins, siblings and even siblings-in-law have tried their hand at teaching. As for me, I just kind of bumped into it.

I was asked to give talks and 'teachings' in Lingkod, the Catholic movement for singles I was heavily involved in for several years. And then, I took part in training lawyers to update their written English and improve their electronic legal research skills. And then, before I knew it, I was saying yes to teach freshmen the subject "Legal Research and Bibliography". Now is the time to study. Gadget Girl who loves to write and is a lawyer on the side needs to get her act together two hours a week, for the sake of her students.

I could give Madonna a run for her money in terms of reinventing myself. I have gone from Business Economics into Law, from law firm into government service, from the Court to a foundation, from Lingkod to my parish, from singles to youth leader, from travel writing to marketing.

So now, teaching it is. Even if it's just two units, I'm going into unchartered territory. This is an answered prayer, however, and I fully entrust it to God.

And oh, obedient daughter that I am, I have joined the faculty of my father's law school alma mater. With his remarkable grades, he should be the one teaching. Needless to say, I am a little bit anxious and a little bit excited at this new chapter in my life.

I will keep you posted on the other things. I'm waiting for the right time.