Embracing God’s Plans

God has a plan for everyone. I’d like to believe, I am starting to believe so. Time and again we would become stubborn and insist that we are the master of our own destiny. We will make things happen, we want them done our way. We want to show people that we can, we become too proud of our own capacity. Sometimes, such may be good and rewarding if everything goes well. But what if it doesn’t?

Naturally, frustration sets in when we fail to achieve what we look forward to. When failure happens, we begin to question our existence, our purpose, although each person copes differently. There are people who do well, somehow, despite things not going their way. Others go into depression and sometimes with worse consequences. Some people lose their self-worth and go to the point of no return.

To keep our sanity intact we should recognize that there is someone divine, someone who is more powerful than us and anyone else. Someone who is omnipotent, one who is more powerful than our problems. Yes, there is a supreme being, there is God. God, however, works differently and that his timeline may or may not be aligned with what we expect to happen.

God will test our patience, he will test our faith. I know that he has seen us fail his tests, he has seen us looking up with clenched fist, with teary eyes, with a broken heart. He has seen us lose our faith in him and his plans. But like a good teacher, he knows when to take over and make us realize the lessons we failed to see because we do not want to listen and open our mind and heart to his will, because after all we are weak humans.

We are doubting Thomas. We will continually become impatient with God when we do not feel his presence but he will also continue to prove that we shouldn’t, that he is always around. We just need to keep the faith and believe that God has plans for each of us and we should embrace it for whatever that is, whenever it happens. When we open our mind and communicate with him we will see that he places the puzzle pieces perfectly and realize his plan is indeed the best plan there is. 

Today he helped out preparing the house. We will be here soon.

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Woke up very early and these mellow Sunday songs in the background do help me finish this piece and the steaming hot pan de sal is making me more impatient to place the last period.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Helped kill pig. Yup, we are in Batangas.)

Simple questions that are hard to answer

“Daddy, do you love me?” While at the Shell SLEX station just last Sunday, Marcus, whom I was carrying as usual held my head with both his hands and asked me the question. That was the first time I heard him ask it. I can see his smile just inches away from my face but I sensed he needs an immediate answer. Of course, I said yes, though I hesitated as I was not expecting it while occupied with the thought of where to give him dinner, either in KFC or Chowking. He shot the question to his mother that same night and has been asking us the question every now and then.

He also has other questions that he has kept asking and that we have tried our best explaining. “Why do I have DMD?” “Does God love me?” “Am I going to get well soon?” “When I am 40 would I be still in a wheelchair?” Kids do say the darndest things but they do ask simple questions that are hard to answer.

The challenge in answering questions of the young minds is in making them understand. Just like in one of the classes I attended, the trainer posed the challenge, “Explain the process like you would to a kid.” Question like “Does God love me?” could be easier to answer to an adult as they would (take not of the conditionals) normally reconcile the answers from things they’ve read and past advices they have heard. Normally, one would only need an affirmation. But kids with such fresh minds plus their innocence would have different ideals. The magic and powers they see in their favorite Superheroes make it more difficult to put things in perspective.

This morning, I read on Facebook that there is a book titled Dear Pope Francis where the Pope answers questions of kids he has received. I would love to get a copy of this book and I hope someone has asked similar questions that Marcus has.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Will start cleaning the house.)

Pope Francis: A Saint in the Making

Image from Facebook.

“St Francis of Assisi!” It was the first name I remembered and answered when, almost eight years ago, during our son’s baptism the priest asked us on the spot who would be that one saint whose life we would like our child to follow.

A saint whose name is associated with humility and the poor, St. Francis’ life is one of those inspiring stories I have read and heard both growing up with a pious mother and while taking my elementary and high school education in two Catholic schools. While I cannot recall now most of the details of St. Francis’ history he will remain to be among the ones that will immediately come up if I would be asked to name a great saint.

It was not surprising therefore to see the warm welcome the Filipinos gave when Pope Francis, the current head of the Catholic church, arrived in the Philippines on January 15, 2015. A man who days after he started to take his seat in Rome in 2013 soon became so loved and respected around the world as news spread fast about his charismatic character and exemplary leadership. He is a Pope who does not only declare that he is for the poor but he also lives the life of simplicity as reflected in his actions and policies.

Pope Francis radiates so much good energy that it is easy to get emotional merely knowing he has arrived. Frankly, last Wednesday I had to compose myself behind the wheel on my way to work when I  realized that my eyes are tearing up as I listen to the news on the radio that the Pope has finally stepped out of the Sri Lankan plane. I am quite sure I was among the millions who felt the same thing.

Today is Pope Francis’ last day in the Philippines but definitely many people will remember the time when a 78-year old holy man braved the country’s unpredictable weather just so he can make his presence felt by as much people he can. He spent four hectic days touching the lives and bringing hope to the Filipinos, near or far, often disregarding his convenience, security, itinerary. Such a good man. I bet that the right time will come when sooner or later we will get to know another St. Francis. God bless you Pope Francis. Bon voyage, mabuhay ka!

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Photo credit: PNoy’s Facebook.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Wishing the Pope a safe trip back to Rome.)

Oggy is Now at Home

Not ordinary, the stars have aligned, we finally got Marcus his cat. Yes, what appears to be SSDD–Same Saturday Different Date–ended with us taking home a stray kitten from an unlikely source.

Stopping at a gas station to fill up, I gave in to wifey’s long standing request to avail of the NBA car sun shield promo. She wants one to show support to her favorite team. So I requested to look at the samples and while waiting for the gas attendant to get the items, a kitten under a Rubbermaid mop bucket appeared from my side mirror. It was the size I’ve been looking for Marcus for more than a month already. Eure-Cat!

“Is it okay to take the cat?” Hiding my excitement I asked the gas attendant as he returns with the promo item samples.”Ano ‘yun sir (What do you mean)?” he asked back, confused. “There’s one that just went under our car, we want to take it home,” I replied. Bending over to look under the car the man confirmed, “Ah, opo sir, para maalagaan nang maayos (yes you can, so that it can be taken care of properly).”

And so after paying for the gas and a Miami Heat sun shield, we drove away from the Phoenix gas station with a black-and-orange patched kitten stowed right under the dashboard. Gas filled, wifey happy, Marcus ecstatic. By the way, he named the cat Oggy from his ever favorite cartoon show Oggy and the Cockcroaches.

Oggy. (Cockroaches not in picture.)

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Before it happened we came from the church and dropped by SM Dasmarinas. Everything was almost routine but what happened in each place seem to add up.

At the church, being seated right in the front row, I was approached by the ushers and asked if I can bring the wine to the priest to be used during the offertory portion of the mass. I didn’t decline. Of course, as I expected, Marcus tagged along and was also given the ceremonial blessing by the priest.

Then at SM, he led us to the Pet Express store to tour me around at the recently opened shop. He was there once with wifey and it appears that he already memorized the items on the racks. On our way out was a PAWS ‘Catvocacy’ poster. It promotes saving cats.

And these probably were signs that somewhere on our way home could be an answer to Marcus’ prayers that sooner or later he would own a pet cat.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (So far the cat hasn’t pooped inside the house.)

School Year is Around the Corner for Our Ben 10

Summer is coming to a close for Marcus. Spending almost two months of vacation wherein he has continuously shown proficiency in his computer skills—kudos to the iPad from the Lawsons—and improving in terms of physical activities—courtesy of the time he spent with his cousins, we will be enrolling him today for Kindergarten level education.

Although he answered half-heartedly to our question if he is ready to go to school again, I feel that this year he will be more eager to discover new things. Last school year, the lessons from school along with what he learns at home have helped him to start (and shutdown) the PC; type the boot up password; log in on his own account; search key words (using cheat sheets just so he can spell the words); and recognize the common computer terms such as: download, loading, next, back, close window and maximize window. Remarkably, my credit card remains safe from Apple store charges as he can distinguish free and paid apps.

Not to be forgotten as well is his interest in new cartoon shows on cable TV. From last summer’s Phineas and Ferb, he has moved on to programs such as Ninjago, and the Ben 10 series. He is so into these cartoons that he can memorize a majority of the characters which is something that never fails to surprise me and my wife and it make us wish that the school has enumeration quizzes for the names of the heroes and villains of these TV shows.  We know he’ll ace it even if he pronounces both Lord and Lloyd Garmadon just the same.

This school year, however, he will be into a different time slot. Waking up early is therefore the first challenge I anticipate and I now also wonder if there is an iPad app that can help us with this.

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Yesterday, my favorite healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez mentioned during his TV mass about pre-school education in Japan. According to him, the Japanese curriculum does not include regular exams for the pupils during first three years of their schooling with the rationale that it promotes unhealthy competition if imbibed at an early age.  But whether this information (about Japanese education) is factual or not, I think that every parent should take note of it.  I agree with Fr. Suarez when he said that more and more parents nowadays have been coaxing their children to win in contests that at some point it sends a wrong signal and value to the young minds—one that divides rather than unites especially without the appropriate guidance. So this school, I told my wife that we give Marcus some slack and besides it is what we did during the later part of his nursery education and guess what, he ended up the as the most improved pupil of his class.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Stuffed toy and green ball just came out of the bedroom. He’s awake.)

We Catholics Have Become Stubborn

“The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.” — Revelation 16:19

Recent survey shows that Catholic mass attendance continues to decline. Based on the survey conducted by SWS (as read from ANC), among the things that discourage the respondents from attending the Holy Mass are sloppy homilies, the relentless opposition of the church on the issue of the Reproductive Health Bill, and just because some have already gotten tired of being preached at. While I wasn’t part of the sample who responded to this survey, I seem to agree.

“There was once a man who went to a hotel and upon entering the room where he is booked, he saw a lady lying on the bed. Outraged, he hurriedly made his way back to the hotel’s front desk. “I think we have a problem here. There is a woman in my bed,” he confronted the reservation officer. “Sir, in this hotel we don’t have problems. All we have are opportunities,” the man behind the desk answered calmly.”

Believe it or not, that is a story I did not expect to hear during a mass especially one that is watched by hundreds of thousands on live TV on a Sunday morning. I don’t know what was on the priest’s mind that time but his story left me questioning his integrity—and to think that he isn’t a rookie priest made me a lot more uneasy.

Lousy homilies also don’t necessarily mean boring. Sometimes, information overload kills it. Take for example this other priest who celebrates mass on the same TV channel on some other days. His highly spirited way of delivering his homilies seems not to help relay the real message behind the scriptures. His fondness of integrating stories from the telenovelas, maybe in his effort to enliven the churchgoers, and talking about investing in mutual funds don’t seem to impress me because I do believe that these topics just don’t fit in what is supposed to be a solemn ceremony meant to feed the spirit, at least just a day every week.

So my question now is “where have all the good priests gone?” In this world where we Catholics have become stubborn and most of us starting to think that we are smarter than the doctrines that we once believe to be true—just by sheer faith, we really need those good priests around again to get us back on track or else the next SWS survey will be worse.

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Honestly, I have been tempted several times already to change channel whenever I see this particular priest walk towards the altar to celebrate mass on TV. But just this last Sunday, something from his homily struck me. It is about focus.

“We should not focus on our problems but rather on its solutions because whatever we focus on to is greatly magnified.”

This one perfectly makes sense, right? If he makes more of these and less about Ser Chief and Bo Sanchez, I will be paying more attention.

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Bible passage from Biblegateway.com

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Watching The Three Musketeers on HBO while drinking gin. Alpha and Theta.)

Why The Pope’s Name Rings a Bell

The white smoke from the most-watched chimney in Rome came out a lot sooner than most of us have anticipated and the BBC breaking news confirmed my gut-feel. Someone has been chosen but he is not our own Cardinal Tagle. I watched the TV disappointed like most Filipinos.

“Now what? Next controversial news please,” I was saying deep inside as I return to my station after grabbing a cup of free coffee from our pantry’s vendo. “We can now move on,” I conceded with the thought that this hype about the papal election is now over and to be forgotten.

It wasn’t the case.

More news about the new pope eventually spread and it caught my attention. Along with billions of Catholics and the rest of world, I soon learned that the newly elected pope is the first ever Jesuit and the first one from Latin America who will assume the highest seat in the Catholic Church. He will also be known as Pope Francis I in reference to one of the very few saints I can recall in a jiffy—St. Francis of Assisi.

Though I cannot remember every detail of St. Francis of Assisi’s life as told years ago by my mother, and religion teachers, its essence that despite being privileged he has chosen to be poor, to serve the poor remained in my memory. It made me a silent fan.

In fact, the story of St. Francis of Assisi has stuck in my mind that his name was the only one that immediately came out during our son’s christening ceremony. “Give me a name of the saint whose footsteps you would like your child to follow,” the priest asked. “Saint Francis of Assisi,” I answered without hesitation.

If I remember it right, that was the last time I heard about him and our son is now more likely following the path of cartoon characters—lately he asserts that he is Ben 10 and every now and then my wife and I believe that he is one of the monsters.

But five years later I didn’t expect that I will hear the word Assisi again. And what the Argentinean pope has told during his first press conference have been inspiring so far, just as inspiring when I first heard about St. Francis of Assisi’s meekness and compassion more than 30 years ago. So even if I am probably among the least vocal about religion I just might keep track about what will happen in the next days to come. The best of luck to our new pope.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (This weekend is a whole lot better than it was a year ago. Wifey’s in the hospital during this time last year.)