30th: First Happy Birthday Since…

Reflections as I enter the 30 years of my existence in this world.

Pure Joy

It was Saturday, May 31st, we had plans to go for a pilgrimage in Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, Tablon. And we set out early morning with some friends from the Work and a few of the Cooperators. It was also a blessing that my cousin and his fiancee came along together with my 10 year old niece whom the three I invited. I had to sweetly force my husband to join us because maybe he wasn’t sure what’s going to happen since it’s his first time to go on a pilgrimage. Thankfully he didn’t regret coming.
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It was a bit of a tiring walk because we had to cross nine rivers and the trekking would take approximately an hour or so. Our pacing was fast so yeah it was definitely a challenge for me. However, I offered it all up for Our Lady and arriving at the shrine was a lot more fulfilling than I expected.

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The shrine is simple yet you can notice that a lot of pilgrims would come and pray. A local, which was also our guide, told us that many pilgrims would come back because their prayer petitions would be granted and they’d like to say thank you to Our Lady. Not suprisingly, every Holy Week, the shrine is full packed.

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And so we prayed the Rosary and the Novena then offered our intentions. I just couldn’t explain what I felt but for sure I was so happy and thankful. I was just happy to be with Our Mother and thankful to have been able to “survive” the trek. And being with my loved ones made it more extra special. Praying with them was the best.  Also, I asked my niece if she was enjoying our pilgrimage adventure, gazing at her with a smile and with her big bright eyes, she replied with an absolute yes! She was happy that she went with us.  Knowing that, I was overjoyed!

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We went for a river rafting as we head back. It was a good chance for us to do sightseeing, and simply appreciate mother nature. You will notice the river is chocolate brown in color, since it rained the day before.

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Later that day, we were moving on to prepare for the anticipated mass, to which our family will be singing in the choir, not to mention that I was assigned to sing for the Responsorial Psalm. A bit unlikely that I wasn’t too nervous that I could imagine I would pass out. It was by God’s intervention that I was able to pull it off. I really prayed to our Lady of Guadalupe to help me with my singing (since I didn’t have enough sleep the night before) and offered it all up to Her and to Jesus.

Praise to God, it went really well and I had one mistake.But nonetheless, I also got a compliment, to which was very humbling since it came from our priest. So thank you so much to Mama Mary. She really is our Mother, who will pray with and for us.

In the evening, we celebrated my birthday with the family and had some food and drinks for all of us to consume. Haha!  I love seeing my family enjoy each and others company. Having some good time, singing together and just talking about life.

These are my simple joys in life. And I couldn’t help but feel grateful to God, that even if sometimes I feel like a mediocre and a mess, He still gives me that pure joy in my heart.
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This is actually the very first time I’ve felt really happy celebrating my birthday ever since my parents died. To some certain extent, I’m very attached to them and yet I’d still miss their death anniversary or birthday. Maybe I unconsciously block these memories. I don’t know.  I guess I just have to mark the calendar then.

Love and Hope

If you have love, you absolutely have hope (and faith of course).

Loving Christ as He has loved you is easier said than done. It’s definitely a constant struggle and yet if that desire to love Christ like He did love you is what you hold in your heart, then you are hopeful to move and go on taking every step of the way. Like me, I do hassle with it.

With this great love and desire to follow God, I know I’m not good with it, and I guess I will never be good at it. However, I also believe that I have nothing more important to do in this God-given life, but to strive towards the path were we all find the real Truth and Happiness. It may not be in this lifetime but surely in the next.

For that, I have hope. I have hope that my prayers will be answered. I have hope that even if my petitions will not be granted, we will still be fulfilled, happy and satisfied. I have hope that in time we will clearly know the plan of God for us, as a married couple. I have hope that all things will be put in place.

Complete and Contented

Keeping the faith and letting God take over our life is what makes it all worth while. It what makes me feel whole and satisfied. But allowing God to take over doesn’t mean we should not do anything, instead we should do what we ought to do, and that is living our ordinary life towards holiness.

It is in the midst of the most material things of the earth that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all mankind.(Saint Josemaría)

Conclusion

It is definitely by the grace of God that all these has come to my realization.  And I do not want to get credit for all this. And the last thing I want, is to give an impression of how “religious”, “good” or whatever I am, because I am not. I am a sinner who falls and tries to rise up again.

Yet as always, I am so much thankful to Him for showing me His undying love and mercy. My prayers was always about asking for inspiration, and He never fails to brighten things up specially when the path seems dark and gloomy. God is not far, and He’s just waiting. He gave us free will and so He calls and waits for our answer, our “Yes Lord. I will follow You!”

Love and Prayers,
Jet

Lucky or Blessed?

I once had a very interesting conversation with a friend about a week ago that made me think deep about my life now. She said that, I was so lucky and blessed in life. I knew that she said it all with utmost pure intention and simply just appreciating what she sees in my life and looking at me as to how I am living it.

The conversation was pretty short but it really just hit me because I really never felt lucky… I personally prefer “blessed”. And I always see everyone as blessed, and not only me. So I guess it really is a matter of attitude and how one perceives life.

Now I am led to thinking, how do I really see my life now? And looking back how did I live my life in the past? Because I believe that what we do in the past can definitely affect our present and future. As the Bible says in Galatians 6:7 “Don’t delude yourself: God is not to be fooled; whatever someone sows, that is what he will reap.”

Here’s what I’ve learned: To be forever grateful for everything and anything you have is the best gift you can give to GOD. He will see that you love Him and He will know that you trust Him your life. Pride is absolutely an enemy you have to defeat.

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I remember way back long ago, whenever I would face great trial or obstacle in life, I would just cry and feel helpless. I would feel that I had nowhere else to go but to our Savior and Heavenly Father. Invoking Jesus’ name, and our Lady Mother Mary was an absolute relief. I would just tell them everything and empty myself of all the anxieties. Laying everything at their feet, I humbly ask for their help.

I also try to stay away from distractions and temptations, because it’s a fact that when we are in our most vulnerable state, all the more the devil lingers at our side trying to distract or tempt us. It’s also definitely a spiritual battle that we have to face and be ready always.

And that is why in every battle we have armors and weapons to use in order to win the fight. God has provided all these, we just have to go and use it. The Mass and Holy Eucharist, the Sacraments, especially the sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation (where we receive a powerful healing), the Rosary and Novenas, Scripture Reading, daily prayer time, and so much more, all these are powerful weapons and shield we can use round the clock .

For me, it will take me a lifetime to establish my faith. It’s never close to perfect and I think there’s no such thing as… But I guess, our faith can be a working progress. Our faith may be shakened, because at some point in our lives we just tend to ask and ask and ask, and sometimes we just don’t get any answer. So we don’t give up, instead, all the more we persevere. And this, I believe, will bless our lives, and God, HE will show us the answer in His perfect time. He will also show us His love, mercy and compassion. Who wouldn’t feel blessed with that?

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Love and Prayers,

Jet

What’s Up with Me?!

It’s really been a while. And I’m not so sure why I haven’t been blogging lately. I think it’s because it hasn’t become a priority and I strongly felt that I should do more important things and engage in personal matters, rather than writing stuff which I felt wasn’t coming from my heart.

In my heart, I needed to experience God (more). So I try to do what I know is my pathway to Heaven. But hey, I ‘m not saying that my life has become a perfect journey towards holiness. The more I wanted to stay close to Jesus, the more I felt how weak I am and how a mess I can become.

It’s absolutely a struggle which I’m convinced that I shouldn’t give up. But I must admit, it’s difficult. And it’s only by the grace of God that I can fulfill everything.

For the past couple of months, has been full of discoveries and realization. Let me jot down some of it.

First, Facebook has become my best friend, and yet it also can again become my worst enemy. In the past, I’ve been guilty of allowing Facebook eat up my precious time. I then fail to do the more important things which of course later on I regret not doing.

For that, I am starting to be more conscious of my time. Learning to stick to my priorities is now a big deal for me. I try to remind myself everyday my goal and purpose why I’m doing what I’m doing.

The reason I came back using Facebook is the very high number of Catholic ministries and public figures that are active on this social media. From Catholic Answers, Life Teen International, Generation Life, Catholic Vote, Vatican Radio, Vatican News, National Catholic Register, 100% Katolikong Pinoy , down to inspiring people like Scott Hahn, Matt Fradd, Jason & Crystalina Evert, Leah Darrow, Chris Stefanick, Lila Rose, The Catholic Gentleman and Lady (two different Facebook pages ) and not to mention the inspiring music artists like Matt Maher, Audrey Assad and Bukas Palad Music Ministry, and so much more. These are just a few of the people that interests’ me. And that is why I can’t just ignore Facebook.

And if you want, try to look them up on Facebook. You might “like” them too. 😉

Oh I almost forgot, just a few months ago, I also discovered that there is already an official Facebook page of St. Josemaria Escriva! Horay! Please like it too, you’ll be inspired from their testimonials and updates.

Second, I’m currently writing on my tablet which I feel is a bit more easier. You see, I usually write on the spot. And prior to that, I try to gather first my thoughts and I type it down, then when it’s all good to go, I hit publish.

Not so sure if that’s a good way to blog but I hope that’s okay.

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It’s Good Friday today April 18, 2014 and yesterday was of course Maundy Thursday, and evening Mass of the Lord’s Last Supper was offered. After dinner, together with my mother-in-law and Joserg, we proceeded to do our Visita Iglesia where we visited couple of Catholic Churches and pray in front of the Holy Eucharist. We were able to visit six Churches because we ran out of time since Adoration was only until 12 midnight, and it was suppose to be seven Churches. But I just read now that we can still continue later if we want to since the practice can be done at a span of time during Holy Week before Easter Sunday. Yey!

We also prayed the Way of the Cross and it’s so much helpful to do so if you want to meditate and reflect on our Lord’s Passion.

And that is how we celebrated our seven years of marriage. Yes! Yesterday was our 7th Wedding Anniversary. Nothing fancy really happened. I was just so thankful to our good Lord for keeping our marriage in His loving presence. I know that our Heavenly Father has always guided and protected us all the way. His strength has become our strength, and His love has become our source of all.

My reflection on our 7th wedding anniversary:

Yes, our marriage has been forever blessed. Right from the start, we have embraced and asked God to be in the center of our relationship. And He has always been. But with our fallen nature, we tend to forget, intentionally or unintentionally, I’m not sure.

Faithful prayer is a great help (of course) but I should say it will not be enough if it will not be reinforced with positive action. Saying “sorry” is absolutely a must when one did something wrong. Humility. And embracing ones spouse is definitely a good habit to practice. A kiss on the cheeks is sweet for the wife and a nice pat on the shoulder is comforting for the husband. These simple gestures can give a big difference on the lives of our loved ones, for that we must not neglect it.

I’ve been praying for the virtue of humility, and I’ve felt that our Lord has been given me many instances where I can be humble. Yet, I still fall, and at times I feel that it’s really tough. With what the world has become, I tend to be engrossed with earthly mentality and desires. And that is where FORMATION comes in. I thank the Lord for this, because I am reminded and guided by it. Finding and getting the formation we need is precisely important. From it, we can also get spiritual direction.

In marriage, humility is crucial. Jesus tells me to practice it at all times. My husband even said it to me directly last night. I find it extraordinary that when circumstances arise, God often reminds me on what is the right thing to do when caught up in a bad situation. And I know I should listen to Him more and just give up that pride.

And now, communication- also a very significant element in marriage. To live in harmony, we have to learn to communicate effectively. How do we do this? We talk from the bottom of our hearts, trying not use hurtful words. And we try to let our spouse feel how sincere we are with what we say. We do not argue, but instead we try to discuss what concerns us. And we try to be open. Open to listen, and open to express our true and deepest feeling. Doing it one at a time.

From that on, I try to grasp my husband’s message for me and I pray about it. He has also his own way of reconciling everything we’ve talked about and I only pray to God that he will then be enlightened.

I’m writing this not trying to show how perfect our marriage is. I’m writing this with my mind saying that all I’ve written down is and will always be a constant struggle.

For our marriage, we owe it to God, to our spouse and to our children, to fill our bond with so much love full of faithfulness and hope as we remember our promise to each other.

Third and lastly, my reflection for this Holy Week.

Love sacrifice; it is a fountain of interior life. Love the Cross, which is an altar of sacrifice. Love pain, until you drink, as Christ did; the very dregs of the chalice

(J. Escrivá, The Way of the Cross, Twelfth Station).

It’s never easy! But is it all worth it!? I firmly believe so.

I’m talking about loving our cross. Following Jesus and being obedient to God. Trusting everything to the Lord. And it’s all because HE loves us more than we love ourselves, more than we love Him, and more than we love others.

As a Catholic all my life, I have never realized the essence of being one up until I had the interest of knowing more about our Catholic faith and the desire to deepen my relationship with God. I then realize it’s quite simple, yet difficult. (You’ll know we’re on the same page if you understand that statement. And I’m sorry if you didn’t get it.)

Anyway, that quote above was initially intimidating for me. But I also have to admit that it has always been inspiring. Probably this is the mystery of it all. We see all the saints suffering, but why do we feel the joy in their hearts? We feel and see and they are in pain, yet why do they still have the energy to smile and be cheerful? Why is that? Have you ever wondered why this is possible?

I honestly feel comforted and inspired. Even though I think, I haven’t fully understood this mystery, I still want to experience such “state of being”. I’m picturing a life having that full trust, full hope and utmost faith in the Lord, not doubting, not questioning and allowing Him to move through me, and staying obedient to His will– that I see, is living a sanctifying life. A life which the saints lived. A life Full of Love.

I know that God will always bless and give me inspirations. But the questions is, how do I respond to it? How will I prove to God that I love Him too?

Gathering my answers, I will continue this journey. Again, I will struggle for holiness because one things for sure, I am NOT here for nothing. I am here to Love. To Love the Lord, our God and others. (Yes, easier said than done but I’m still up for it. Aren’t you?)

Prayer: Father, please continue to touch my heart and make it like Your own– a loving heart. Allow me to be more docile and open my mind so I can understand You more. Teach me to be meek and humble, yet not afraid to witness for You. Teach me to embrace my cross and to not be afraid of pain and suffering. I’m sorry for not listening to You at times, but please don’t get tired of reminding me, oh! I think You will never be. I love you and allow me to prove it to You every single day. Amen. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Love and Prayers,
Jet

Personal Reflection on Super Typhoon Yolanda and the Philippines

This is my personal reflection on the tragedy brought by super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda to my beloved country, the Philippines.

I’d like to think that those who have gone first, have not died in vain, because they may have suffered but in my heart they saved themselves for eternal life and they saved many sinners here on earth. Their suffering was not a waste.

Yes, many would question God, why the Philippines? Is our country cursed? Has God abandoned us?

Of course not.

At the very first moment i saw on the news the damage Yolanda caused, these questions came in mind. And as a Filipino Catholic, seeing my fellow countrymen suffer, cry and in sorrow, I tried to answer the questions in light of my faith.

I don’t know if this is still true now, but Philippines has been said to be the only Christian country in the world, and majority of the citizens are Catholics, approximately 80%. I actually googled it and that’s what I found.

This is a good thing and from how i see it, Filipinos have been “chosen” by God to fight this battle. A battle of faith and survival.

God has put His confidence in us! As a Christian country, our resilience, our faith, our “bayanihan” attitude, our perseverance, are to name some characteristics we Filipinos are famous for. These are just a few of the remarkable traits that is actually within us, which we may not have been totally aware of, but subconsciously, it has been instrumental to our survival in the past tribulations.

And that is the purpose. We have to stand up and own (back) these positive qualities! We humble ourselves in God’s eyes and yet take pride that God will always have our back.

Another point is this, our country is greatly influenced by other countries. And somehow, we have lost our true identity and essence as a Filipino. Our love for the country, religiosity, and sincerity for others have been long gone. We have changed, and I honestly cannot say if it has been for the better.

And maybe, it takes a Yolanda to awaken us up from such sleep and see why we have become one of the corrupt countries in the world. It really is such a shame but we have to do something! I know God has been knocking on our doors, and maybe some still choose to ignore Him.

So when will we soften and open our hearts? When will we truly have faith in Him?

I believe this is the time! This is the time for us to strengthen our faith and prove to God that we believe. This is the time for us to not only rely on ourselves but also to allow God to love us. So instead of just blaming God, why don’t we call upon His name and give Him the chance to manifest His goodness and mercy for us all. I’m sure God would be thrilled to do it!

Now as I watch again the news, I’d see a lot of help coming from other countries and from our fellow Pinoys. It is a miracle, that even Taiwan and Hongkong (countries that we have a bit of a conflict with) offered their help. I am deeply and sincerely thankful for this great news and for all of them. It is amazing and such a blessing!

God knows we Filipinos can overcome this. We may not know how and for how long will we endure this sacrifice, but He is sure that we can survive this ordeal. By His grace, we will shine and come out victoriously.

I found a photo that has been circulating on Facebook showing a very uplifting comment given by somebody in one of CNN’s articles. i wish I was able to get this person’s name but here’s the comment:

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It is just said beautifully! I am not sure if a fellow Filipino wrote this or a foreigner, but regardless of it, i share the same sentiments and thank the person for such kind words.

Lastly, we continue to pray for the following:

- that all kinds of donations will honestly be distributed or given to the victims.
– that our President will be guided by the Holy Spirit in his decision-making, and we know that he has a lot of concerns right now, so we pray that God will strengthen and enlighten him always, as well as all the officials he is working with.
– pray for the rescue and relief team, that God will guide and protect them as they do their work.
– pray for the souls of the victims who have died. “Eternal rest grant unto them, Oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
– that all typhoon survivors will be able to find peace and comfort in God’s loving embrace. And that in due time, they can fully recover from the devastation.
– pray for all the donors and let’s be grateful for them.

I may not have jotted down the prayer you have in mind, but please do so include it in your intentions and share it by commenting below. Thank you and God bless!

Sincerely,
Jet

PS
We can also offer a fast or abstinence for Philippines, if you’d like.

Notice: all these, is written solely from my own personal view, except the photo comment above. I do not claim that what i say is the absolute truth and i do not intend to impose any judgement or whatsoever.

Just Discovered Something Cool 1

I just found this video today. Got really excited and subscribed from their channel! I’m loving the fact that it’s Cardinal Tagle who’s sharing the reflection. He’s actually one of the candidates who was elected for Supreme Pontiff when Pope Benedict stepped down from Office.

I still know little of him but one thing I notice since I saw him on TV and hear him speak, he’s full of wisdom and charisma. He speaks in a very simple manner, yet very inspiring. For me, that’s what really counts. I encourage you to subscribe to their channel, especially my fellow Filipino brothers and sisters in Christ, who wants to grow in love and in faith with God.

You will notice that the readings they displayed is for the coming Sunday and the reflection guide questions is very related to the previous Sunday’s Gospel. Both Gospels are very related so it helps us to reflect and meditate on this subject for the whole week. I think, that’s really something cool to do!

I hope you will be inspired and be motivated to persevere in your spiritual journey with God.

Your inspired sister in Christ,
Jet :-)

Happy Fiesta St. Agustine of Hippo

Viva Senior San Agustine!

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is now celebrating our city fiesta by sponsoring hourly mass and two concelebrated Eucharistic Mass: first was this morning at 9:30 AM and the second was at 3 PM. Me and my Palangga had the chance to attend the second concelebrated Mass with Msgr. Perseus, Fr. Michael, Fr. Satur, Fr. Dan and one new deacon. I hope I got their first name right! Sorry I wasn’t able to get the name of the deacon, he looked new to me.

St. Agustine Metropolitan Cathedral (in Cagayan de Oro city) is the Church that I grew up with. Years ago, my grandmother’s house was very near from the church, so we would just walk if we wanted to visit the Church or go to mass. A significant memorable part of my life was when me and my cousins did the choir daily every 12 noon Mass one summer season. We sung at the Cathedral and it was truly an amazing experience and opportunity that I will forever cherish. Our summer was indeed fun!

Anyway, back to the fiesta celebration. Actually, we just decided not to go out and see the activities for the festivity around the city. This is due to security reasons and from the recent bombing incident. So we opted to stay at home, attend the Mass and offer our prayers. Good thing though, the neighborhood in our compound has prepared a very simple gathering party for the youngsters and hubby’s outside spending time with them, I will actually follow him as soon as I will be done here.

Looking back during the mass, Fr. Satur’s homily was pretty interesting. It was simple and practical. I remember he spoke of humility and fervent prayer. St. Monica, the mother of St. Agustine has fervently prayed for his son. Initially, St. Agustine was the exact opposite of who he has become today. He lived a very sinful life. But to cut the story short, he had a change of heart and was converted. St. Monica was instrumental to his conversion. She prayed hard for her son and her prayers were answered!

St. Agustine finally came into his senses and he fell in love with God. He had a humble heart and recognize God as the One True God, His Maker and Redeemer. A summary of his story is found here.

And before I end this post, I’d like to share a few of my favorite quotes from St. Agustine.

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Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you. -St. Augustine

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If you are silent, be silent out of love. If youspeak, speak out of love. -St. Augustine

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My aunt playing the electric piano with her colleague on the organ piano w/ the Mixed Chorus Choir

Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand. -St. Augustine

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my cousin and his girlfriend singing the Responsorial Psalm

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. -St. Augustine

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Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul. -St. Augustine

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It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. -St. Augustine

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After the Eucharistic Mass

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. -St. Augustine

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Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others. -St. Augustine

So there you go, I hope you enjoyed my snap shots. I didn’t really bother getting a good quality picture with a perfect angle, because I wanted to concentrate more as the Mass was going on. Taking some pictures was distracting, however I wanted to document this as my personal remembrance. :-)

With Love and Prayers,

Jet