Showing posts from January, 2011

A Thanksgiving Dinner for Mom

Tonight's dinner to celebrate my Mom finishing 6 cycles of chemotherapy was intimately gathered by close friends.  I still do not know what to feel about the past 6 months as it has been a mix of events that were challenging and painful.  But I briefly wrote a thanksgiving prayer that we prayed before meals and sang a worship song to lift up our gratitude.  I suppose for whatever it's worth, at the end of it all, God prevails.

A Thanksgiving Prayer
Lord God, what is gratefulness but the realization that we are where we are supposed to be at this moment. We thank you Lord that for the past 6 months of our lives, you have ensured us that we will never forget your faithfulness. You are a God who is always true to His word and indeed you have blessed us with the grace of bearing a cross that allowed us to share in your suffering but also share in your resurrection.We thank you for my Mom’s health and for all the love that you have showered our family with during this time that o…

On Readership, Relationships and Educational Paradigm shifts

I never thought I'd reach the 1,001 reader mark in just about 3 months.  I was telling myself that I should not even look at this counter because it is not a measure of progress but of course, I can't help it.  Anything that measure any kind of progress should be affirming right?  
I'm not sure about those who flip through my pages but I hope those who drop by here find a little bit of breathing space in one way or another.  
So thank you dear readers, for visiting me and making this journey worthwhile.  I find it encouraging that anybody out there would even want to read these words.  It tells me that all is not lost.  That there is a purpose.  That life moves on.  That heaven watches and grace is enough.
I'm sitting at my desk and just finished a report for a 3 hour meeting tomorrow.  I want to be able to write about some of my discoveries at work as of late.  Perhaps, I'll run by them a little bit right now.  I like repeating these moments to myself because it make…

Makoto Fujimura and Graceful Realizations

Thinking about visio divina and how weak I am with contemplation these days.  I stumble upon this great read from Image Journal's link in their Facebook Page.  It's an essay by Makoto Fujimura entitled Letter to Young Artists.  Akin to Rilke's Letter to Young Poets, Fujimura drives home the point.  
Have you ever felt awkward, and felt the “lumps”? If you are an artist, perhaps you began your journey realizing that you are different from others. We have gotten used to having these “lumps” and accepted the fact that to the world the “lumps” looks strange and unnatural. Your teachers and your friends may not fully understand your intuition to try to fly with your winged “lumps.” What started out, at first, as trying to be yourself, may have become an effort to shield and protect your true identity from the world. Perhaps rebellion became the only path you could journey on. Your “lumps” became a defense mechanism, or even a weapon.What if Lewis is right, and you are destined t…

St. Paul's Conversion

I got an email today reminding me that it's the feast of St. Paul's conversion.  So I looked it up and found this on Wikipedia.  This piece is by Caravaggio.  I don't really know much about him but I liked what his biographer said about what he had painted. Caravaggio biographer Helen Langdon describes style of Conversion as "an odd blend of Raphael and clumsy rustic realism," but notes how the composition, with its jagged shapes and irrational light which licks out details for their dramatic impact, creates "a sense of crisis and dislocation [in which] Christ disrupts the mundane world."Her observations about this painting hits a chord.  When talking about Christ, there always seems to be that painful sting that one experiences before that "overflow of love" can be comprehended.  Paradox. Irony.  Living in the crux and tension of everyday life while trying to behold the unseen and the sacred. I ponder a lot about these things but do not really…

Visio Divina: The Transfiguration by Theophanes

It's something new I discovered today.  This meditative practice called vision divina taken from ancient spiritual reading practice called lectio divina.  Visio divina happens to be the same form of meditation except you meditate on images instead of text.  I'm reading Henri Nouwen tonight and I found it interesting that one of his spiritual exercise tell me Through the gate of the visible we behold the mystery of the invisible.  Prayerful gazing at the image offers us a chance to "see" more clearly into the true nature of things.  As you contemplate the image, try to see its luminous splendor, feel its majesty, enjoy its texture of colors, study its forms and symmetry, ponder the communion of Jesus, Moses and Elijah, and try to empathize with the reactions of the 3 disciples.  Then enter into the mystery of the transformation that takes place in the presence of JEsus on the mountain of prayer.  There, high on the mountain, the familiar face of our teacher is revealed…

The Merciful Gaze

This was what I was gazing at while I was at mass tonight.  The compassionate eyes.  The faint smile.  They felt real tonight.
I felt comforted as I pondered on the words below the painting saying, Jesus I Trust in You.  
Mom came home by lunch time today.  Her 6th and final chemotherapy session was over.  I wanted to exclaim a resounding "Yes!" but it seemed to me that she was somber and reflective about everything.  Almost wary that this last cycle was the actual end.  Almost resigned to the probability of not being healed.  I wonder what makes it difficult for some people to cling on to hope?  
Tonight, I trust in Him who knows the depth and breadth of every moment in my life. You should not worry too much about adversities. The world is not as powerful as it seems to be; its strength is strictly limited. Know, My daughter, that if your soul is filled with the fire of My pure love, then all difficulties dissipate like fog before the sun's rays and dare not touch the soul.…

What I want to really say is that...

Morning conversations with Adi about yesterday's Intercessory gathering allows me to breathe and affirm the spiritual movements happening in my life as of late.  
I'm telling myself to succumb to this.  I have long resisted going in depth into writing about my spiritual experiences because it feels like it does not "cater" to a majority.  I didn't want my writing to just be perceived as a religious effort at conversion.  No.  This is not what it is about.   It is about walking a path that I have stumbled upon in the middle of life's complexities and how this path, the path of faith and the writing craft (art) has been helping me come to terms with everyday challenges and difficulties.  And so I continue and discover that as I capture the words the emerge inside my mind, I am actually unraveling a mystery.
We were late for the gathering but it seemed as if we arrived on time for the actual intercession and prayer. They asked me if I can play some songs while we …

On The Tensions of the Sacred and Secular

I stumbled upon Heather King's blog late last year.  I'm halfway through her 2nd memoir REDEEMED.  I was so happy to have found her presence online because I hungered for words that were incarnations of thoughts traveling the lines between the secular and the sacred.  This has always been a real struggle for me.  I never really quite know the right calibration.  I end up quite a mess when I'm swamped with work.  I also end up so lonely when I'm not doing anything.  

Heather King writes about her journey towards authentic faith with so much realism and mysticism at the same time.  I think she's found the right balance and the right approach to the Catholic faith journey.  I hope I can be like her someday.
This is a quote from her latest post.  It's an excerpt from an interview she had with a Christian magazine.  I like this quote because it expresses so much of what we go through.  
I’m still struggling myself, for one thing, and always will be. And I can’t imagine…

Words From A Hymn that Whispered

I found myself getting struck by these words this morning.

HYMN from Office of Readings

Lord Jesus Christ, be present now,
And let your Holy Spirit bow
All hearts in love and truth today
To hear your word and keep your way.

Give us the grace to grasp your word,
That we may do what we have heard.
Instruct us through the Scriptures, Lord,
As we draw near, O God adored.

May your glad tidings always bring
Good news to men that they may sing
Of how you came to save all men.
Instruct us till you come again.

To God the Father and the Son
And Holy Spirit, three in one;
To you, O blessed Trinity
Be praise throughout eternity.

These were from today's Office of Readings and it has held out throughout the entire day.

Clipped from the Commonplace Book: Church and Mystery

Reading Mystery and Manners this morning led me to Fr. Stephen's Blog.  I do not know much about orthodoxy but for most of the blogs I have read by orthodox Catholics, I have sensed a calm rhythm in their thoughts.   I feel a little bit envious for people who can sustain a calm disposition all throughout the day.  I don't think I can do that.  But I am learning to accept my frailties in that department and just focus on the things I know I can do.  Anyway, I've picked some good stuff on Fr. Stephen's blog which are all mostly related to ministry work.  I find them very insightful as I was engaged in a lot of discussions on youth ministry this past week.  I am not sure how to introduce these kinds of insights to young people.  But I pray they find them so they can walk further in the miracles of this faith life we believe in.
Screenshots from my online commonplace book (I just want to admire my new theme.)

Daily Habits Formed

I'm looking through some old mail and find this one.  It's been a favorite of mine and even tried to apply it in my daily life.  I think that I should try to keep up with the practice of trying to apply this every day.
The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII
Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to …

Facebook Messages and The Road Back to Youth Ministry

I know it's quite lame but I started deciding to come out of hiding and get back into kingdom building because of a Facebook post from the Message from God app.  On my late grandfather's birthday I found this one on my wall.

It's true.  I have been hiding for quite some time.  Pained by conflicts in ministry life, I did not expect that serving God would entail a lot of confusion, frustration, loneliness, condemnation.  I was disillusioned by the joy that is experienced in a worship gathering and the struggle that is experienced behind the scenes.  I keep saying this because I don't think I've said it enough, "Ministering is easier said than done. Whoever claims to have gotten it figured out is missing the point."  
So for the past 3 years, I quit something that I really loved doing.  Being a Youth Minister gave me so much meaning and purpose.  It showed me creative paths I never thought I could walk on.  It opened up for me a world that helped me believe in…

Getting Back into Kingdom Building

Life stories have been coming very slow as of late.  This week was filled with many unexpected things.  It all started when I said yes to playing as a keyboardist for our church's Youth Ministry again.  The rhythm started to change I was flooded with work as well as church work.  This is a very significant thing in my life as I continue to strike balance between the secular and the sacred.  I realized that being absent from kingdom work has imbalanced me greatly but at the same time has been mortification for the self-focused motivations of a weak youth minister such as myself.  
Saying yes to that prodding this year has probably been the most terrifying things I've ever done but at the same time it has been one of the liberating ones.  It's renewed my definition of who I really am which I am slowly and painfully accepting.  But as I cut away the excess fat of my personality I am beginning to seek a clearer understanding of who I am in God's life.
I'm not coherent ri…

Random Thought Captures

Oh I would say I had a pretty good start to the New Year.  Yes, I think I did.  And there was only one thing that I kept repeating to myself inside my head, my heart and my prayers.  
Slow down.
I'd wake up before the sun rises and the first thought that straddles inside my mind before consciousness fully hits me.  Slow down.  
It was a fervent prayer said in the middle of musings at midnight.  It was a painful longing whispered amidst the sweeping circumstances that cluttered my time.  I asked God to help me slow down.  And I think He is.  I think He is.  
Email inboxes have been cleaned and categorized.  A renewed focus at work.  Perhaps even a heightened sense of patience for the imperfections.  It is still an ever continuing struggle.  But that phrase, "slow down" keeps reverberating relentlessly.  
I barely had time to do "my thing" this week.  And I let myself just be swept away with work because it is quite an ordeal to always resist it.  Found myself a rhyth…

Bethlehem's Star

May I grow to be more aware of the truth that is in my midst.  Even in the clutter that surrounds my life.  Like the three Kings and the simplicity of the shepherds who found themselves at awe with the birth of Christ.  An epiphany that the source of hope, love, peace and joy is right there in their midst.
May the Star of Bethlehem shine constantly inside my heart and illuminate the profound truth that Jesus, Emmanuel is God truly with us.

I am pleasantly visited by a rush of inspiration this morning as the rain quietly poured over the steeple of Pink Sisters Church.

He came to make himself known to the Gentiles.

I wonder what it must have been like to realize that the Redeemer of the world was right infront of you as a beautiful baby.  How did the flock that gathered around the ordinary and hidden stable in Bethlehem open their hearts to the truth of Jesus?  What kind of overflowing of heart did they experience?  What kind of warmth permeated their entirety?  I can only guess.  But …

The New Year

I am not so sure about what to say at the start of the New Year.  All I know is that I find myself ever so carefully treading into this new day.  Not so hyped up about all the greetings and cheer.  Not so dazzled by the fireworks and the thrill  of frenzied laughter.   Perhaps I can say that I'm going into this year quite reflectively.  Not rushing into anything.  Not hurrying into anything.  Primarily because I'd like to begin it again by acknowledging that there is this so-called thing as unforced rhythms of grace.  Something I have started to live by the start of 2010 but somehow found it buried under a heap of busy obligations and unforseen circumstances.
I spent today by going to 7am mass with my family.  We went to St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish like we always do for the past 33 years of my life.  We never miss 7am mass despite the late New Year's Eve family gathering.  I wasn't quite awake yet when we sat on the pews but I was awake enough to notice that o…