Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I was fetched for a Sick Call, the administration of the Anointing of the Sick this afternoon. "It is my brother,"the lady told me. "He has been sick for a while. We brought him out of the hospital. Today he is asking for a priest. He wants to have his confession."

I rode in their van. (I believe it was one of those imported right-hand-driven cars which was converted to the Philippine driving standards). She was driving fast! Very fast!

"Father," the lady-driver asked,"do you believe in manananem (witch)?"

"No, I don't." I told her.

"Well, there are things that are difficult to explain." She said.

She continued to narrate to me while driving at a breakneck speed about how she got sick once. The doctors who she consulted and the tests done to her could not provide an explanation about the enlargement of her neck. She claimed that she had difficulty swallowing food.

She went to a herbolario, a quack-doctor, who prescribed to her some herbs to take. He taught her a prayer which he said would counter a witch's curse on her! The herbolario identified the witch that had put something on her. She claimed that after taking the herbal concoction and reciting the dasal (prayers), she got well. But not after challenging the said manananem with a knife and threathening her! After all, she firmly believed, it was she who had caused her all her pain and sickness!

She said probably it was the same manananem who was causing the pain and the sickness of her brother. He brother's feet are now swollen; he has difficulty breathing. He has short-gasping breaths.

She would have sent for a herbolario, but since her brother asked for a priest, she dared not go against the wishes of her brother.

I heard the sick man's confession, and anointed him. He received the Holy Communion.

At the church, a friend of the family of the sick man had a conversation with me. She told me that her friend had cancer. His doctor told them to bring him home as his cancer had destroyed a great part of his body. It was time for him to rest.

It was not the workings of a manananem, after all. It was more of the cancer cells wreaking havoc in the sick man's body.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


The procession in honor of Mary, our Lady of the Miraculous Medal was to be at 5:00 AM. Today was her feast day, 27 November. In the Parish of St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, the parishioners are the Blessed Virgin Mary’s devotees. They had to have a procession in honor of her Miraculous Medal.

Processions do not come always in the Parish. But when we have one, it is always well attended and participated in. They are greatly loved as well as so much appreciated!

The Parish had religious procession on the fiesta of San Fabian, 20 January. On this day, all the images of the Barangay Patron Saints are brought out and carried during the procession together with the image of Senor San Fabian. A procession is again held on Good Friday of the Holy Week. Literally, thousands would flock the procession of the Santo Bangkay. Another procession would be held during the feast of our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary following the month-long celebration of the Family Rosary Month in October. Finally, on the feast of Mary of the Miraculous Medal. This is one of the most attended processions mainly because the parish has about fifty-four coros with about 30 family-members each coro!

The individual images of each of the 54 coros were brought to the procession. Each is accompanied by the members of the coro. They are led by the Hermana, chosen by drawing of lots every year. Since there are 30 family-members, one’s turn to become a hermana would come only every after 30 years!

The images are put in a carriage, adorned with beautiful flowers. Some are put in make-shift carriages. Others in the padyak, a small tricycle, a “foot-powered” means of transportation popular in the country. Still, others are just carried in the arms of the hermana, or a member of the coro. The images are fairly small, generally. The oldest image dates back in the year 1936. That was the year the first coro of the Mary of the Miraculous Medal was established in San Fabian.

Except for the procession of the Santo Bangkay, the parishioners (especially the “akukoks”) would hold the processions early, early morning. Usually before the break of the dawn!

Candles are carried and lighted. These are the standard items to be carried. The band of the Parochial School accompanies the processions.

After the long procession, a mass was celebrated.

Then the sharing of food! Prepared by the hermana. Partaken by all the members. The drawing of lots is done to determine who will be next year’s hermana. It is a great honor and a wonderful privilege to be one. It is a responsibility which carries with it bountiful blessings and graces from God, through Mary of the Miraculous Medal.

It is an enviable lot to be considered as the hermana! A grateful hermana at the end of the year shares her blessings with the members of the coro. Thus, the bountiful and sumptuous meal!

Thursday, November 24, 2005


It was only about half past five in the afternoon but it was already getting dark. It is during these times that the night is longer than the day. I was surprised then to see several of the “old ladies” of the parish still inside the church. The old women usually go home earlier that usual during these times. I went over to them, and realized that they were members of the Mother Butler Guild. They were cleaning the church.

Everyday I see them religiously wiping the dust off the pews, sweeping the church floor, removing the cobwebs, arranging flowers. Everyday, without fail, these “old ladies”, who I endearingly call “akukoks” keep the church spotless, dust free, flower-laden! Without fail, every afternoon, they bring their brooms, wiping rags, dust bins and clean and clean and clean…

Dedication. Commitment. Humble Servie.

These are words that can best describe these “akukoks” of the Parish of St. Fabian.

Salamat ya balbaleg ed sikayo!

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Two aunts passed away within one week.

Tia Pat  collapsed while she was with friends in her favorite spot at the Public Market. She was rushed to the nearby clinic where she breathed her last.

Everybody was saying that her death was unexpected; that it came as a big surprise. The conclusion, however, was the same for all: if it was her time to go, nobody could do anything about it.

What everybody was saying were all true.

Death comes at a moment we will never expect. Death surprises us. Always. And there is nothing we can do about it. We are all going to die. Somehow. Sometime.

Every week, I celebrate Funeral Masses for one or two parishioners. Even in death, I can see the differences between the dead. Whether one is rich or poor, a politician or an ordinary parishioner. But, except for the kind of casket or the funeral service, death does not distinguish the poor from the rich. From the young and the old. Death is a great EQUALIZER.

Naked we came into this world; naked we will leave it.

Our wealth and power. Awards and Recognitions. Anything and everything  that we own and try to keep for ourselves will be left behind for friends and relatives to fight over and keep for themselves. Death is an EQUALIZER.

Death reminds us that we are just passing by in this world. To think that we will stay here forever is foolish. To live as if we will never leave this place is even more imprudent.

Then why are we living as if powerful positions will be with us forever. That we can do whatever we want to gain more money and power, and more wealth and more power. Even at the expense of the people, the community, the country.

The highest official in the land, the lowest laborer in the country. The most powerful jueteng lord and the very poor who place their bets. The thieves in the government and the liars in public office. The saints and the sinners. ALL WILL PASS AWAY. Death makes everybody equal. We will all die, and nobody can stop it from visiting us. Today or tomorrow. Anytime.

We are just passersby in this world. Let us make the most of this temporal stay. For we will pass this way but only once.

Now, what happens after we die? What will be God’s judgment over us? Remember: this God can never be bribed, can never be bought, can never be intimidated. Death will have the last laugh. God will have the last say, after all.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Behold the Kingdom of God is among you!

“Behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”
Lk 17,20-25

There are three things we always consider when we speak of a kingdom.

A kingdom is ruled by a king.

A kingdom is guided by its laws.

A kingdom is populated by its people.

The king rules for the good of his kingdom and its people. The king and the people to have progress and peace must observe its laws. The people of the kingdom must be cared for by the king, guided by the laws; and in return, they serve and dedicate their lives to their king and the kingdom.

What is the kingdom of God? It is ruled by God. Its laws are very few: love of God and love of neighbor. And we are the citizens of this kingdom.

This kingdom is found already among us. How? We ask three questions: Who is our King? What commandments are we following? Are we serving our King and the other members of this kingdom?

Thanking God ...

"Occasionally" is the frequent answer to the question: Do you thank God always? Why are we not thanking God more than we ought to?

Because: we have been so busy doing so much for God. Great things. Magnificent things. Wonderful things.

Result: we think God owes it to us that we have been doing all these things for Him. He owes. God should thank us!

Instead, let us pause from these wonderful things we are doing for God, and pray. And reflect on what God has been doing for us.

Result: a life of constant gratitude to God's loving mercy!


Friday, November 04, 2005

Only God ...

You cannot serve God and mammon.
Lk 16, 9-15

Money in itself is not bad; wealth in itself is not evil. But then, we can desire money so much, it becomes the moving spirit behind our actions, and thoughts and dreams. And even our prayers.

But we have only one God. He is our master. And as our Master, He is the source of our life-direction, how we think and do and live. He is our Master whose life we want to become.

Not money. Not wealth. Not power.

Then why do we cry so much when we lose our wealth and money and security and power? We even say, “What will I be now that I have lost my wealth and power? I am nothing. It’s better that I die!”

We cannot serve God and wealth together.

But we can use wealth to serve God through others. Look at what the Good Samaritan did. How about the Zacchaeus who was more than ready to part with his wealth to the poor he has deceived?

There is only one God. He alone we should serve. All the rest are just means for us to glorify Him and serve others.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Children of the Light

“For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than the children of light.”
Lk 16,1-8

We tend to be very protective of the things we possess; the trophies we have earned; the honors we have reaped; the wealth we have so guarded well. These have given us satisfaction, security and happiness. We prayed for them; cried over them; fought for them.

No matter what we do and how much we wish: these, however, will not last. They fade away; they lose their glitter; they waste away in time.

We so foolishly believed that the things of this world, if we deal with them prudently, will be with us for as long as we want.

If only we can be so possessive over the words of Jesus; the values of love and charity; honesty and truthfulness; service and availability; mercy and forgiveness.

For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than the children of light.

“Make us, Lord, true children of the light. Amen”.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Second Chance

On our way to Barangay Gumot for the celebration of a Sunday Mass, the red Parish Jeep, lost its brakes!

The Barangay Mass in Gumot was canceled last month because the weather was not so good. It was raining so hard. The Barangay Coordinator texted me that it would be very difficult to go to their place. We decided then to cancel the mass, until the next month.

And so we were on our way to Barangay Gumot.

Gumot is one of the barangays in the “palandey”, or mountains of San Fabian. There were two roads leading to the place. One was the more circuitous way, but on a relatively good cemented road, except for one:  we had to pass  through a thickly mudded road, relatively short muddy road, but enough to discourage us in taking it. It would be next to impossible if we would be able to reach Gumot if we would take that road, especially since it rained the night before.

The other one  was the “easier” relatively shorter route. The catch? We had to pass the highest “peak” in San Fabian: the “palandey” of Inmalog Sur.

And that was where we lost our brakes. Mr. Art, who volunteered to drive us to Gumot, and with more experience in these parts of San Fabian, never lost his composure. After we made the first climb, and just before we would be going down the almost unending slop of Inmalog Sur, he calmly told me: “Father, anggapo met la so brake tayo!” (Father, we have lost our brakes!)

I looked at him if he was joking. (He was not !)

I looked down at the brake pedal. (He was furiously stepping on it!)

And that was when I was already looking over the road at the possible places where we could ram the Parish Jeep in order to avoid going down at a breakneck speed! We were accelerating fast, without any means of slowing our speed! If we would not be able to hold down the speed, we would be going over the ravine! Two sharp curves lay before us!

“We are lost!” I thought.

But Mr. Art managed to bring the Jeep up a small trail. Up, up we went that trail on the mountain.

Then we stopped. Halfway on that trail.

Then, I felt the Jeep starting to roll down! Accelerating fast again, but in reverse!

“We are going to turn over!”, I cried to no one in particular. Rev. Red was not saying anything; Bernard, our sacristan, was not probably breathing!

And when I thought, we would be turning over the steep trail, the Jeep stopped!

We got down fast! We were shaken. But safe.

I told Rev. Red: “God truly wanted you to be ordained a priest!”

God gave us a second chance.

Truly, He is a God of Second Chances!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Jeep and God's Presence

We always make the sign of the cross. I see people making the sign of the cross when they board a car, cross a street, climb a tree. We make the sign of the cross before we take an exam, shoot a basketball, and I’ve seen it many times, before boxers punish their opponents in boxing matches!

Almost always, without fail, whenever we pass by the church, we make the sign of the cross.

When I celebrate mass in the Barangay Chapels, I observe how some would make the sign of the cross whenever they would pass by the chapel! (Of course, they would not enter the chapel and celebrate the mass with us, but for them, making the sign of the cross was enough. They have already worshipped God with that simple sign on their forehead, their chest and their shoulders)! It was a short prayer, for them.

People understand and recognize the divine presence in the house of God, even in a small chapel in the barrio. The sign of the cross made affirms this recognition; it moves the people to acknowledge that God is present in the house of prayer! Churches and chapels are associated with God’s presence. To acknowledge this presence, people make the sign of the cross.

I never realized however how this divine presence is seen in almost all things!

Last Sunday on our way to our Barangay Mass, while riding on the now familiar red Parish Jeep, with Rev. Red taking the wheel, we met several young men. It seemed they just finished playing basketball. They were jostling and playing loudly with one another. When we were just about to pass them, they suddenly became very quiet.

A look of recognition!

They saw the Parish Jeep, with the Parish Priest and the Rev. Deacon driving.

One of them made the sign of the cross!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Faith Formation for Adult Catholics

Two weeks ago, the Parish began its Adult Catechism program which we called "Faith Formation for Adult Catholics". Last month, the Youth Ministry and the various Basic Ecclesial Communities held an assembly. They discussed the "lights" and the "shadows" of their Catholic life and ministry. They asked some questions and answered some queries. They proposed some programs and discovered new "problems".

There was a felt need to understand and know the BASIC doctrines of the Catholic faith. There was a clamor for a deeper knowledge of what we believe in. There was a burning thirst for the God's Word. A hunger for the teachings of the Church. Which they could value, keep and observe.

Thus, last 8 July 2005, Friday, the Faith Formation Program was established. It is every 6-7 PM.

The response has been overwhelming.

I can only give so much... but with joy and so much hope, and trust in God's loving providence, what is "so little" for man will be filled to the brim by God's grace!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Patient, persistent love

This young man has been bed-ridden for twenty years. He can move his arms but his feet and legs lack the physical strength to support him. He cannot walk. He can only make gurgling sounds, not clear, distinct words.

The two Apostles of Divine Mercy asked me to drop by his home after administering the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to an 83 year old woman. He was propped up on a chair, supported by big pillows.

We prayed together. The mother and father were there. And so was the brother. We prayed for God's mercy.

I prayed for the family. Lord, create in them a persistent, patient love for one another, and especially for their son.

There never was a tinge of regret; nor an ounce of bitterness in the family.

The mother told me: "I thank God for giving him to us. Caring for him provides us with endless opportunities to love him..."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Please, let the Doctor see you..."

She died three weeks after I heard her confession, and administered to her the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. At that time, she looked fine and strong, if not for her swollen right foot. Her foot also had a big, open wound.

She was sitting on her bed as I heard her confession. After the viaticum, and the prayers, I asked her sister what caused the wound. "I think it was a bite of an ant", she said.

"Hmmm.."I responded. Not really believing what caused the foot to swell. "Then she scratched it so hard, until there was this little wound", she continued.

Infection. I thought.

Before I left, I told her, "Please, go to a doctor, and let the Doctor see you. Your foot is getting infected. Nasamalan kayo la! "

"You might be diabetic", I added.

Three weeks later, I celebrated the Funeral Mass for her.

She did not go to the doctor.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Bro. Eddie!

Going to the different barangays has become a lot easier with less difficulties since the Parish acquired a jeep. A red WWII jeep with a Toyota 4K engine. Powerful. Economical. It could get out of the deep, heavy road-mud anytime!

Since the jeep is all roof, eveybody can see who is in it. Usually I am with one or two "sacristans".

I usually drive the jeep in going to the barrios. Or barangays. When people see the red jeep, they know it is "Father". Old folks would wave at me. The children would do the same, and much more. They would shout, "Father! Father!"

Or after I waved at them with my left hand, while holding the wheel with my right, these children would shout, "Si Father man!" (That's 'Father').

I was made to believe so many knew me. So many recognized the red jeep that 'Father' drove to the barrios. It made me feel good! And very important!

The other day, I was at my usual waving mode! I passed by these children playing by the road. They waved back, and expecting to hear from them the usual, "Si Father man!", I overheard instead a most unusual 'recognition' from a child in that group. I heard instead, "Brother Eddie! Brother Eddie!"

(Brother Eddie was a presidential candidate who lost in the last elections. He is at present a Born Again TV evangelist).

So much for my bloated ego!


Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Gift to the Lord!

He is a special child. He is affected with the Down syndrome.

He was hyperactive today. As soon as I got down from the Jeep, he was all over me. Almost embracing me, holding out his hand, and taking my hand for the customary "pinsiw". I was in his barangay to celebrate the regular barangay mass.

This afternoon, he did not want to leave my side. Even when I was already at the altar, he was still by my side. His mother came over and tried to talk to him to go down and stay with the rest of the congregation. He did not want to.

"Diman kalad leksab ta ongapo tayo lan manmisa", I told him. Only did he leave my side when I told him to go down with the people as we are about to begin the Mass.

He was singing extra loud! And he was making his own tune with his own lyrics! His mother had to tell him to soften a bit, as he was becoming the "choir" with the community his "back-up singers".

As I was giving the homily, he was seated, with a big smile on his face, looking at me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him making gestures with his hands. I turned around and looked at him. As soon as I did that, he "clicked" his "camera"! He was making a "camera" with his hands and taking pictures of me! His face was all joy. His smile was wide! It was as if he was saying, "I got you!"

The Preparation of the Gifts. There was a procession of offerers, each one bringing their respective gifts for the celebration. When they stood up to go to the back of the chapel for the offertory gifts prepared on a small table, he went with them.

The procession started. Each one had their own gifts to bring to the altar: the candles, flowers, the bread and the wine. But, there was no extra gift that he could bring to the altar. Everybody had gotten what was prepared on the table. He had nothing left.

He was left standing at the back of the chapel, while the offerers brought their "gifts of bread and wine".

I received the gifts from them.

Then he came...

He was smiling. His face was glowing with joy. He had something in his hands. He had something left to offer to the Lord, after all.

He carried the whole table, and offered it as his gift to the Lord!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

How can I...?

"How can I, unless someone instructs me?"
Acts 8,26-40

There is this one barangay whose residents don't seem to care so much about how they are and will be as Catholic Christians. In their barangay masses which we regularly celebrate, only the very old and the very young attend. Women and children. And so few. We have to wait for almost half an hour before we can even begin the mass.

But then, as we celebrate the mass, I see a lot of people passing by the chapel. Some make the sign of the cross; some hurriedly walk, almost running. Others just walk as if nothing is happening. And there are the young who keep on playing basketball without so much care, and without even glancing at the chapel.

"How can I, unless someone instructs me?" It is a question which I have not heard in that barangay. This question presupposes a desire to know more about God so as to love Him more. And thus follow Him with more zeal and conscientiousness. The willingness to open oneself to God's grace. The desire to become true followers of Christ.

"How can I, unless someone instructs me?" We have been going there in that barangay without fail. We are more than willing to "instruct" them. But, how can we when nobody seems interested in God's word. There is indifference. Almost a "boring" indifference!

"How can I, unless someone instructs me?" I just pray that a lot of our people would ask this question.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


"Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice,
"Lord, do not hold this sin against them";
and when he said this, he fell asleep."
Acts 7,51-8,1a

John Paull II was almost killed by an assassin on 13 May 1981. In December 1983, the pope offered forgivness to his assasin during an arranged meeting in prison. Is this possible? Are we able to do this? Forgive somebody who wants you dead?

Most responses would be: if this person wants me dead, I better do something so that he will end up dead, not me. Or to that effect. But to forgive somebody who wants you dead?

Stephen forgave his enemies, and those who wanted him dead before he was killed by them! John Paull II forgave his assassin. Jesus forgave all of us who brought Him to His cross!

Forgiveness is the greatest act of mercy anybody can ever do. It is not deserved. It is freely given.

It is possible to forgive. It can be done. It must be done. If we want to be called a true Christian -- Christ's true follower. And it is by the grace of God are we able to do so. Let us pray for this grace, and pray for it constantly and unceasingly.

She knelt down on the confessional box. This young woman who poured out his hatred for her father who had just abandoned them -- her mother and her siblings. I could almost feel the seething anger pouring out of her. Hatred for a father who had hurt them. And she confessed this hatred. Why would she do that?

She was crying for healing. The hatred was too much for her. It could destroy her. It was already destroying her, in fact. She went to confession and asked for God's forgiveness for this seething hatred. She said, "I am sorry God. Please forgive me." God would certainly forgive her. But would she forgive her father? She could.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Stephen's Enemies

"...they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke."
Acts 6, 8-15

Stephen had many enemies. Not that he made them his enemies by a life of murder, and deceit. Quest for power and wealth. On the contrary. Stephen' life was a life dedicated in serving his fellowmen. He was chosen to help distribute to the most needy the gifts of the church. He was for the poor. He was for Christ, his Lord and Master.

Stephen was "filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people." He was an instrument of God in making His presence become real among the peope. For this he had many enemies. Enemies who could not stand the good being manifested in him; who could not even accept God's goodness among them.

Stephen's enemies could not face the truth about themselves. So they had to invent lies to silence him. His enemies could not bring themselves to serve others and be for others. So they had to kill him.

Stephen was a mirror of goodness and holines. When his enemies saw him, they saw the complete opposite of who they were. The mirror had to be broken, or else.

In many ways, and a number of times, Stephen's enemies continue to hate and destroy, tell lies and present false witnesses. To destroy Stephen, God's chosen one. They continue to do so even during these times. Even today. At this hour.

Stephen is found among the many good and dedicated servants of God: His priests and lay workers. Who tirelessly and silently without funfare do the work of God among His people. And endure the ridicule and lies told against them only because they had chosen to be "God's workers" in His vineyard.

The lies told can be very painful. They can almost snuff the zeal and the fire. But the enemies of Stepehen could not kill the spirit. And the grace. And God's blessings.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Pope John Paul II - "The Mercy Pope"

Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

Pope John Paul II was laid to rest this afternoon (Philippine Time). Milions were in Rome to take part in the Funeral Mass; millions and millions more all over the world took part in the celebration in their TVs and radios.

Pope John Paul II was loved by so many, from all walks of life, not only by Catholics and other Christian denominations but from other religions as well. He was called "Pope of the People".

I was at the beginning of my Philosophical studies when Karol Wojtyla was elected as the 264th Pope of the Church on 16 October 1978. I was fresh from High School, and was a First Year Philosophy student, studying for the priesthood. Three years later, he visited the Philippines to beatify Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint. He went to Baguio City where I was studying to celebrate Mass with the faithful of Northern Luzon.

To prepare for the Papal Visit, the seminarians went around the different college campuses of Baguio City and held symposia on the lives of Pope John Paul II and Lorenzo Ruiz. It was during these series of campus symposia that I first learned who this Pope was. We were assigned to speak to the students about his life -- from his childhood to his elevation to the papacy. We researched on his life. And talked about the papacy.

His encyclical "Redemptor Hominis" became a source of classroom discussions during the fourth year of my philosophical studies. A classmate even wrote his thesis on the Pope's philosophy of man based on that encyclical. At that time, the pope was just one of the philosophers whose works had to be studied, and debated upon.

As I went further in my priestly studies, Pope John Paul II began to put his mark and stamp in the life of the Catholic Church and the faithful. His writings and speeches, while I was in my theological studies, were sources of theological reflections. Many a times, he was quoted in so many endless and unending list of term papers!

I am now on my 17th year in the priesthood.

Pope John Paul II had ceased to become for me "just another philospher" and "just another theologian". He was those when I was studying philosophy and theology. The Pope had become during the years of my priestly ministry a source of guidance, a guiding voice through his exhorations and letters and encyclicals. A father exhorting his son in the life and ministry of the priest. And as he began to suffer from physical ailments, a source of inspiration and strength in my own insignificant priestly struggles. "Be not afraid", he said. I heard and listened.

He was the "Mercy Pope". The Pope of the Divine Mercy. Cardinal Ratzinger in his homily during the Pope's Funeral Mass: "He (Pope John Paul II) interpreted for us the paschal mystery as a mystery of divine mercy. In his last book, he wrote: The limit imposed upon evil 'is ultimately Divine Mercy' (Memory and Identity, pp. 60-61)."

In death, Pope John Paul II lives even more in our hearts and in our souls!

John Paul II, pray for us!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

First Communicants in Brgy. Narvarte, Sabangan Elementary School


Everyday for the past two weeks, we have been going around the different barangay elementary schools to celebrate the first confession and communion of children in these schools. They have been taught the basic catechism by our dedicated volunteer catechists for the past ten months. This would be the culminating activity of these ten-month catechism classes. By the first week of March, we would have covered the more than 25 schools in the parish.

Our schedule usually begins at 8:00 AM. The first communicants are gathered in one room where they would pray, led by a catechist. Then one by one, they go to confession.

"In the name of the Father.... (Some out of nervousness would use their left hand, or start at the forehead, then go the right shoulder...) "Bless me Father.... (or Pari).

When I was a young seminarian, I was assigned in a certain town in the eastern part of Pangasinan in San Quintin to do my summer apostolate together with three others. One of our tasks was to prepare children for first communion, which implied that we would prepare them for first confession.

The big day came. There were these children all dressed up. The boys in white shirts and black pants (or short pants). The girls in their white dresses. One by one, they went to the priest to confess their sins. I was to guide them in praying the Act of Contrition and the penance given to them by the priest: usually one "Our Father".

This boy came. I asked him if he knew how to pray the "Our Father".

"Not very well, " he said.

"OK, then, "I told him, "Just repeat after me."

He nodded, relieved and pleased.

"Our Father", I said.

"Our Father" , came the reply. (I realized I had to say the prayer two words at at time for him to follow me).

"Holy be ..", I continued.

"Holy be..", was the reply, again.

"Your name..." , I said.

No reply.

"Your name...", I repeated in a louder voice.

The boy looked at me. Puzzled. "Your name...", I said quite irritated while I looked back at him.

In a soft but audible voice, he said, "JIMMY!".

Amen to that.

Har! Har!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Salt and Light

It takes one good deed for a community to start sharing and caring for one who is so much in need. Kuya Nick has been in the hospital for some weeks now. He has been in and out of the ICU. Medicines are needed and are to be bought. So are others that he needs, for him to recover his strength. But Kuya Nick does not have much.

It takes one person to get the community to pitch in and help. People has stopped and asked themselves, "If she who is not even related to Kuya Nick has been offering her time and money, why can't I? Why can't we?" So, money for Kuya Nick's hospitalization and other needs have been pouring in.

Only because one showed special care and concern for the "least of His brethren". God's mercy manifested in others will multiply a hundredfold. God's grace, received and shared, will bear fruit more than what has been sown!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Fools for the sake of Christ

Mk 3,20-21

"When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, "He is out of his mind."

Jesus was called "mad", "fool","crazy", "out of his mind". I wonder what made these people call Jesus mad. I wonder what pushed them to conclude that Jesus was crazy.

Was it because what Jesus did and said were not the usual words and actions expected from '"sane" people? Was it because Jesus' claim that He was the Son of God? But what about the many miracles he did? Were they seen as actions coming from a mad man?

The SVD fathers administered the Mary Help of Christians Seminary in Binmaley, Pangasinan for more than three decades. When I was a freshman in that seminary, two of their conferes were declared "blessed" by the Church. They were Arnold Janssen and Joseph Freinademitz (I am not sure about the spelling). A book detailing their lives was mandatory reading for us. The title of the book was "Fools for the Sake of Christ".

Fools. Mad. Crazy. Not very good adjectives for anybody. Yet, those two "fools" for Christ's sake are now saints. With God. In heaven.

When the world sees a person acting, speaking, living differently from its ways, he is labeled as "mad", "fool", "crazy". It is crazy to give up wealth for the sake of Christ. It is madness to be powerless for the sake of Christ. It is "out of this world" to forgive. The world says so. And the world ridicules these crazy "fanatics".

Fools for the sake of Christ. Jesus was called mad. I'd rather be called as such by the world than be a "genius" in the ways of the world. And lose my life. Away from Christ.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005



San Fabian, the town has been in a celebration mode for the past several days! It is fiesta time! In honor of the patron saint of the town, St. Fabian, a fiesta is celebrated every year. This year, the celebration has been going on for thet past 10 days: parades sponosred by different groups and associations, as well as nightly dances and programs at the town plaza, also sponsored by different groups and associatons. Every night, "queens" and "princesses" are crowned as "beauties"! There was the "Palengke Queen", together with her "royal consort", "Palengke Princess"... Suddenly, we have royal blood all over the town!

Special guests are coming over. One comedian senator came over to crown the "Palengke Queen". Everybody thought that the Palengeke Senator would be coming. Instead, we settled for the comedian.

There are special numbers every night. A group has been practicing at the Parish Center for almost a month to perfect the "Rigodon". They do this only to bring joy and happiness to their townmates! It is fiesta! We all want everybody to be happy, even for a while!

The plaza is full of games and rides! The cacophony of loud sounds every night has made me lose precious sleeping hours! But, the plaza is always full of people! Bernard and Gary, my two boy-Fridays, went to the Plaza Carnival last night. They tried the Ferris Wheel, and saw the "Snake Woman", a girl holding a huge snake, probably a python. Then, off they went to the "Horror House". They debated whether to see the "Turtle Woman" or buy "balut", instead. "Balut" won over the "Turtle"!

Fiesta time! What a grand time!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Parish Renewal Experience (PREX)

The parish held its 7th Parish Renewal Experience weekend last 14-16 January. The PREX, as it is popularly called, is a formation program that hopes to bring renewal to the parish by bringing about a stronger commitment and promoting an active participation among the parishioners in their own parish. Rev. Fr. Frank Ungria, a native son of San Fabian, but now ministering in the Archdiocese of Manila, introduced the PREX program in the parish last March 2004. Since that time, he has been helping out in facillitating in the PREX weekend seminars held in the parish.

For the priest-speakers, the weekend experience can be very taxing but the fruits reaped from this weekend formation program are immeasurable in terms of renewed faith, rediscovered and reconciled relationships, conversions and deeper love for God and His Church. Truly, God's grace can never be measured nor limited by time nor place and people. God's outpouring of His mercy to us is truly immeasurable as it is unfathomable.

The parish hopes to continue this formation program for the adult members of the parish. Next March 2005, for the PREX Class 8, it will be our one year anniversary. I pray that we may continue holding this seminar for the coming years, bringing inspiring conversions and renewal among our parishioners!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Opposition and Wonder

Mk 2, 1-12

"..some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,
"Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy!"

Jesus did something good. He cured a paralytic. He restored his health. It was a good deed for somebody in need. A lot of people saw it. Some were "amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!" They saw the goodness in what Jesus did. And they glorified God!

There were others who saw otherwise. They looked for something bad from the goodness in the work of Jesus. They looked at what was wrong, what was lacking, what was not according to their line of thought. Anything that went against their thinking was bad, out-of-order, and therefore, a source of conflict and opposition.

Were these scribes so envious of Jesus that they could not appreciate the goodness that He had done? Were they so insecure about the authority of Jesus that they could not bring to acknowledge his power over evil and all diseases?

There are always people like that. They could not bring to see for themselves the good things that other people do. No matter how good a thing is, there is always something wrong with it. They could only see the little black spot over the beautiful colors of a painting. They can never say "Thank You", nor look in wonder and amazement at things they see.

We have a God who does wonderful things for us. Let us pray that we may learn to appreciate them, and look at them with amazement. So that we may glorify our loving, merciful God!

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Mk 1, 40-45

"A leper came to him
and kneeling down begged him"

Several times in the year, some people of the Hansenite Association (or, similar group) would visit the office and ask for some financial help. (Although, it is not clear where the donations would actually go). These people are already cured of leprosy, but the scars are still very visible: the missing fingers, scarred face, scars and more scars. The reactions of people when they would see them are expected: moving away, talking loudly so that these Hansenites would not go near, giving anything so that they can move on fast, and away from the "normal" people.

A leper must be living a lonely life. Shunned by society (and even by family members), they feel that they do not belong. Hence, alone.

My sister who is a Dermatologist once diagnosed a girl of having the early stages of leprosy. The family decided immediately that it was best for everybody that the girl would be sent to another place. Nothing would be mentioned about the disease, ever.

A lonely life for a leper.

I once heard somebody complained, "I felt like a leper. Nobody wants me. Nobody listens to me. I am nobody. Have nobody."

When the leper was touched by Jesus, he must have felt that he belonged once again. Touched by somebody, he knew that he was still wanted, needed, loved. He was not alone anymore.

We can make others feel like lepers by our indifference, prejudices and biases, by our discriminatory words and actions. We can make lepers out of our friends and family members. We can make them very lonely, and so sad. Like lepers.

Let us touch them once again with our presence. With our words of encouragement. With our listening ears. With our helping hands. Visit them. Then they will feel they belong. Once again. Loved and appreciated. Again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Mk 1, 29-39

"...they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons....
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons."

Jesus performed many miracles. He cured many diseases, and drove out demons. To the many who brough out the sick to him, and to the many he cured, Jesus was the miracle-worker, the wonder-worker. And there were so many who came!

Jesus once told a group of his audience that he would cure a blind man so that the glory of God might be manifested and might be known. And then he would say to those he cured, "Go and sin no more!"

Miracles were done by Jesus for one reason: that the glory of God may be manfested and be known. And when this has been recognized, so that all may believe in Him.

The fruitfulness of a miracle does not come from the cure or the healing, but on the renewal and the repentance that come with it. So that the glory of God may be manifested in the life of the one who has received the miracle. In turn, he becomes the miracle himself!

Monday, January 10, 2005

It is who I choose...

Mk 1, 14-20

Jesus said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Then they left their nets and followed him.

A friend asked her son if it is possible for him to consider the priesthood. Considering his good nature, his readiness to understand and to emphatize with people, his mother has always thought he would become a good priest.

His response? "I am the most unworthy for that vocation!"

His mother replied, "We are all sinners. And nobody is worthy of God's love. But the Lord does not consider our sinfulness and weaknesses. But Jesus is telling us, 'IT IS NOT WHO IS WORTHY BUT WHO I CHOOSE."

Lord Jesus, we are most unworthy of your love. But your mercy for us, sinners, is unfathomable. It is your grace that transforms us. It is your grace that makes us less unworhty of your love. Lord , help me that I may love you most dearly, and follow you nearly, now and forever. Amen.

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Youth Pilgrim Cross

The Youth Pilgrim Cross was given as a gift by the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, Msgr. Oscar V. Cruz, DD, to the youth of the Archdiocese last 1999. The Youth Pilgrim Cross is about 8 feet tall made of old wood taken from the old St. John Cathedral church. It takes 4 people to carry it. Seven (7) youth usually carry it in a solemn liturgical procession. That is how heavy and big the Youth Pilgrim wooden Cross is!

The cross stays for one year in the Parish chosen to host the Archdiocesan Youth Day. The AYD, as it is usually called by the youth, is a gathering of the youth of Archdiocese. For four (4) days the youth from the different parishes of the Archdiocese celebrate the call of the Lord and their response; share their youthful idealism and proclaim their love and commitment to Jesus.

The Parish of St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, has been blessed by the Lord for having been chosen as the host for the AYD 2005! The AYD 2005 will be celebrated on 20-23 April 2005. Its theme is "We wish to see Jesus (Jn. 12, 21)". Since April of last year, the Youth Pilgrim Cross has been with the Parish of St. Fabian. Since June 2004, it has been going around the different barangays of the parish. It is now in Barangay Inmalog Norte. This is the 21st barangay that the Youth Pilgrim Cross has visited. This barangay visitation will go on until all the barangays will have been covered.

The youth accompany the cross to the barangays. For a week, the cross is carried to the different homes and houses in the barangays. There have been tremendous outpouring of joyful and grateful responses from the barrios! Almost all the homes and families welcome the cross. For a few minutes of its stay in a particular home, the family prays the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy after which, it is carried again by the youth to the next house until so many houses have been visited by the cross.

A two day "KALAKBAY" seminar is given to the youth of the barangay as one of the activities of the YPC visitation.

Yesterday, we were in Sitio Cosait, Inmalog Sur, to celebrate the Mass as a culminating activity for the visit of the Youth Pilgrim Cross in their barangay. The small chapel was filled with so many people, including the youth and little children. Bro. Tony spoke about the two Archdiocesan celebrations that the Parish will be hosting this year, the Archdiocesan Pentecost Celebration on 14-15 May 2005 and the Archdiocesan Youth Day. In all our masses in the barangays for the visit of the YPC, the mercy of God is always emphasized, manifested in the meaning of the Cross of Christ.

While we were celebrating the Mass, the lights went out in Cosait! It was already around 6:00 PM, and thus it was pitch dark! We had three small candles to light us. But the people stayed on, and prayed and celebrated God's gift of love and mercy!

The light of celebration in each of the peoples' hearts shone brightly in the darkness of the world!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Completed Joy

Jn3, 22-30

So this joy of mine has been made complete.
He must increase; I must decrease.

In his homily on the occasion of his installation as the new parish priest, the new pastor said to his congregation, " I am here to be with you and to be your servant. I am here as an instrument of God. As your servant, I am for you. I am here to be used even by you for God."

The greatest joy a servant can ever have is to see his master happy, satisfied and contented with his work. His is a life for his master. As long as his master remains happy, the servant's joy is immeasurable! And his joy is made complete by his master's sucesses and glory!

This is the same joy a teacher would feel when a student would shine in his career. This is the same joy I would feel when I would concelebrate for the first time in a Eucharistic celebration with a former student, now a priest.

My work is being completed, as my joy; let him who I have served grow and take his place!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Lord, if you wish...

Lk 5, 12-16

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was;
and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said,
"Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean."
Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him,
and said,"I do will it.

Be made clean."

We want to be in control. Always. It gives us a sense of security. And a sense of power! That is why mistakes are hardly tolerated, especially in our world today. Mistakes, especially the ones which can be prevented, do not speak well of our capacity to have control over our life and destinty. That is why sicknesses deflate us. They make us lose control, even of our bodies.

When I sprained my ankle I felt so helpless. It was very frustrating. There were things I wanted to do but could not. I had to rely on a cane. And on somebody to help me walk. Or get some things for me. Or do some things for me. I became more frustrated, and even irritated when I insisted on doing things myself. It was difficult to give up control.

The leper in our Gospel gave up control, and put everything in the hands of Jesus. "Lord, if you wish.." The leper was saying: "I have nothing. I am helpless. But I let you God take control of my life. I am yours!"

And Jesus took hold of him. And cured him.

When will we give God control of our life? How much do we trust God that we are able to let God take control of us? We can have only so much control. But when we put everything in God's hands, we are able to be more free. More happy. The future looks brighter.

"Jesus, I trust in you!" A beautiful prayer!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Visible Love

1 Jn 4,19-5,4

"We, for our part, love God, because he first loved us. If anyone says, "My love is fixed on God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. One who has no love for the brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen."

Love is not just a concept; it is real. Unless it is shared, it does not have any value. Unless, we stretch out our arms and give a helping hand; unless we go out of our way to care for a forgotten, desolate sick friend; unless we visit a grieving mother, and a confused teen ager. Unless we manifest how much we care for others can we be called true LOVERS.

I was called to visit a sick friend at a hospital. He was brought there by another friend who found out that he had been sick for several days without anybody knowing it. An ambulance was called by my friend.

This friend spent time with him; looked for the best doctor to care for him; spent much money for his medicine and other needs. When I arrived at the hospital, Kuya Nick was already resting. The doctor was examining him. There was a look of peace in my sick friend's face and my "good Samaritan" friend's face, too.


God has loved us first. It is because of this love that we are able to love truly and fully. Visible love urges us to listen with our hearts, see with understanding, touch with gentleness, talk with respect to people. It enables us to forgive. And to pray for our persecutors.

In doing so, we are actually loving our God, too!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

It is I, do not be afraid

Mt. 6, 45-52

... they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid."

Fear is part of human experience. We fear because of a perceived harm that may come our way. We fear for the things that we cannot understand. We fear when we feel helpless. We fear for the things that we cannot control. These may harm us and hurt us!

Fear is removed when we are able to find courage. Courage comes when we are able to find support -- from within and outside of us.

As children we were afraid of "ghosts". Spirits which lurk in the dark corners, ready to pounce us! When we became terrified over these things, we ran to our mothers. And the protective embrace and the soothing words of our dear mothers would give us courage. And we fear not anymore.

"It is I, do not be afraid". Words of our Lord Jesus. Words to comfort us. To give us courage.

Truly we fear. But let us have courage in the presence of Jesus in us, and in our midst. Let us trust in Him. Let us take courage in this: that our Lord is greater than all our fears. His mercy will protect us. His will is always for our good.

When we fear, let us take courage in our God. In Him we find our strength. Trust in God's mercy!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Give them some food yourselves

Mk. 6, 34-44

When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat. He said to them in reply,"Give them some food yourselves."
God has given us everything we need: eyes to see the world around us, and the people in need, dying, lonely and the desitute; the ears to listen to cries of pain and loneliness; the heart to understand these pains and the joys of people around us; the arms and the legs to go to them... We have everything.

But it is a lot easier, however, to just dismiss the "crowd" --- people who come to us for help. And a lot easier to just point to others to do the "helping". By recommending somebody, we feel that we have already done our part. These are the most practical things to do for us. But the practical things may not always be the best answers! Let us rather look for the compasionate and merciful responses. They are more Christ-like.

The Lord says, "Give them some food yourselves!" The Lord has given us for others. Let us be one for them!

(Diary, 163: St. Maria Faustina Kowalska)

O Most Holy Trinity! As many times as I breath, as many times as my heart beats, as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your mercy.

I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all Your attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, come to pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbor’s souls and come to their rescue.

Help me, that my ears might be merciful, so that I might give heed to my neighbor’s needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.

Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I may never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.

Help me, O Lord, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful, so that I myself will feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who I know will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful heart of Jesus. I will bear my own sufferings in silence. May Your mercy, Lord, rest upon me. Amen.

Monday, January 03, 2005

I will give you all the nations for an inheritance.

Readings of the Day

Who are the poor? By definition, the poor would be those who have nothing, those who can hardly help themselves ... Materially and financially, it is so easy to show who are the poor. And in the Philippines, they are getting more and more and more.

But for those who "believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ" (from the first reading), a promise from God would serve as a great consolation for a great majority of us. "I will give you all the nations for an inheritance." Because we trust in God's mercy, and believe in His words, because we serve Him and love Him, we have for our reward and inheritance "all the nations". Then we are not poor! For those who trust in the mercy and love of God, who follow his commandment of "loving one another", we can never be poor!

Yesterday, after the afternoon mass, I was called to administer the Anointing of the Sick. She was 76 years old. She had difficulty standing up; she was resting on a lounge chair. She could not open her eyes, or refused to open her eyes.

I sat down to talk to her as I held her hands. She took a strong grip on my hand. I heard her confession. Then, administered to her the sacrament.

Beside her was her husband. A man of 84 years of age, but still quite strong for his age.

I looked at both of them , and saw a couple rich in love. I was called because they believed in the mercy and love of Jesus. And because, there was still that enduring love both shared after all these years.

This is one inheritance the world cannot give!