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Monday, September 6, 2010

Feast of the Nativity of Mary

Nine months ago, Mary was immaculately conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, by her father St. Joachim. The Feast of that Immaculate Conception, 8 December, is a much greater Feast than today's (it's a Holy Day of Obligation, in fact); but we recall Mary's birthday, too -- the birth of the woman destined by God from the beginning of time to be born of the House of David and the Tribe of Judah, the women whose enmity toward Satan was spoken of as far back as Genesis, the woman whom St. John saw crowned with stars and with the moon at her feet, the woman whom God chose to bear His Son and bring life to the world. With today's Feast, the line between the Old and New Testaments has been crossed; the New Covenant is imminent!

The Feast is one of the only three birthdays honored in the liturgical year (the others being that of St. John the Baptist and that of Jesus Christ Himself, all three born without original sin, though only Mary and Jesus were free from sin at the moments of their conceptions). We know little about Mary's birth and youth, most of our information coming from the apocryphal Gospel of the Nativity of Mary (translated from the Hebrew by St. Jerome, A.D. 340-420), the Protevangelium of St. James (dated to ca. A.D. 125), and the visions of various mystics through the years.

In celebrating the nativity of Mary, Christians anticipate the Incarnation and birth of her Divine Son, and give honor to the mother of Our Lord and Savior. The birth of Mary was also miraculous. She was conceived without sin as a special grace because God had selected her to become the mother of His Son (the feast of her Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

MUSIC: A song that cares!

Whether you admit it or not, music imbeds our daily life, weaving its beauty and emotion through our thoughts, activities and memories. So if you're interested in music, RELIGIOUS or CHRISTIAN MUSIC, come and be with us in singing joyfully to GOD, this is for all ages and tastes.

When I first started learning to the history of music, I did not realize what I was getting into. I had thought that music history was somewhat of a trivial pursuit. In fact, I only took my music class because I needed the credits. I did not realize how completely fascinating music history is. You see, in our culture many of us do not really learn to understand music. For much of the world, music is a language, but for us it is something that we consumed passively. When I began to learn about the history of Biblical music, however, it changed all that for me. I have had some experience in singing since I was a kid, joining choral group and eventually in a seminary contextual mode of music, like singing in the mass, vespers, lauds and all prayers in chanting. I played guitar but not that good or I may say I just have to learned from it enable me to pass from that subject, and I have never mastered one enough to really understand what music is all about.

When most of us think about the history of music, we think of the history of rock music. We assume that the history is simple because the music is simple. In fact, neither is the case. The history of music, whether you're talking about classical music, rock music, jazz music, or any other kind, is always complicated. New chord structures are introduced bringing with them new ways of understanding the world. New rhythmic patterns are introduced, bringing with them new ways of understanding time. And music reflects all of it.

Music is a soul of life, without music life is then useless. In heaven ANGELS and SAINTS sings in majesty to honor and praise the God, which in them Music is their life. Human as I am, I could not understand hardly in some aspect of my life where it came to ask the significant of music especially in a spiritual aspect. Once has said, if you sing praises to God, you’re praying it twice and a great possibility that God will grant your prayers.

If you have never been into music or singing songs of praises, you don't know what you are missing out on. Singing religious and Christian music lifts up our souls to Him, who is the History of all, the master of Music. The radio will never sound the same music we sang during masses and other Spiritual program to you. What we hear from the radio are secular music, rock music and other alternative music. Everything will seem much richer, much more luminous, and much more important. A religious song can reflect a new way of being, and a new way of imagining life in the world. This is what learning about the theological way of music means to us the STARJED MUSIC MINISTRY. The songs we sung are actually the MUSIC THAT CARES!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Feast of Mary's Visitation to St. Elizabeth [Gospel of Luke 1:39-56]

Mary has just been visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she will bear a son, Jesus, who will "be great and will be called the Son of the Most High," and heir to the ancient throne of David. She has been told that the Holy Spirit will conceive in her -- a virgin -- this child. And she has assented: "I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be to me as you have said." [Luke 1:26-38]

Mary is confused -- at least you would be if you were Mary. Who can she talk to about this? Her mother? Her rabbi? The only person she knows who will be able to understand her is her relative Elizabeth. The angel has told Mary: "Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." [Luke 1:36-37]

And so Mary hurriedly prepares for a trip to see Elizabeth. The Greek uses the noun spoude, which can mean "haste, speed," but also can carry the idea of "eagerness, diligence, enthusiasm, zeal."[1] Mary is in a hurry to go that is clear, though I don't think she is primarily motivated by fear. But still, she is just a young teenager, and this is pretty overwhelming. She needs steadying, guidance. But she is probably eager, as well. This whole experience can't help but be exciting.

We don't know the name of the town where Elizabeth and Zechariah lived. Guesses at the identity of the town include Jutta, about five miles south of Hebron in Edomite territory, and Ain Karim, five miles from Jerusalem, considered the traditional site since the sixth century.[2] The journey was about 80 to 100 miles and would probably take Mary three to four days.

Mary greets Elizabeth. The Greek word is aspazomai, "greet." For the Jews greeting is an important ceremony.[3] While Jesus censures the Pharisees and teachers of the law for seeking to attract public greetings to honor them, he instructs his disciples to offer a greeting of "Peace to you," in homes that they enter. This word of peace, when received, functions like a powerful blessing upon the householder.

Elizabeth's response is anything but quiet and reserved. Our passage mentions her loudness. The text says that "she cried out with a loud cry.” You know what it is like when someone greets you unexpectedly, a beloved person whom you haven't seen for a long time. I see Elizabeth embracing young Mary, and almost shrieking in joy. But her greeting is more than loud; it is spiritual and Spirit-filled. When Luke uses the phrase, "was filled with the Holy Spirit," it is usually of prophets or others who are about to speak out in prophesy under the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:67; 4:1; Acts 2:4; 4:8; 6:3; 7:55).

The first sentence that Elizabeth utters is familiar to many, since it is also found in the second clause of the Roman Catholic "Hail Mary" or "Ave Maria" prayer: "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus...."

Now, Mary, too, breaks out in Spirit-inspired speech. Her first words are an utterance of praise to God for his awesome blessings to her, and sound very similar to the inspired Psalms of the Old Testament. She, who was a peasant girl in a provincial village -- that's pretty humble -- is now one whom all generations will remember and give thanks for.

Mary's Magnificat is strongly reminiscent of Hannah's song of praise (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Hannah had been barren, but God answered her prayer, and now she brings her young boy, Samuel, to the temple and dedicates him to the Lord, to live in God's house. Compare the first line of Hannah's psalm to Mary's and you can see the similarity, as both women exalt in God at the miraculous birth of a child:

"My heart rejoices in the Lord;

in the Lord my horn is lifted high.

My mouth boasts over my enemies,

for I delight in your deliverance.

[1 Samuel 2:1]

"My soul glorifies the Lord

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has been mindful

of the humble state of his servant."

[Luke 1:46-48a]

Perhaps we are the new Christians, struggling hard to understand and make our own way. I believe God has someone for us who can help and guide us. It's likely that we'll find this mentor at church -- that's where God-loving, mature believers usually congregate -- or perhaps a small group meeting related to the church. I encourage everyone to pray that God would enable us to find an Elizabeth to help us out during this period of our spiritual journey.

We may be a more mature Christian that God is preparing to be an Elizabeth to some Mary out there. We’ve been through our own share of pain and struggle. We can understand. We can sympathize. But now have found how to walk with the Lord, how to call upon him in need, how to pray. There's a Mary out there who needs us. Be on the lookout for her, when God sends her along. We have our struggles, to be sure, but Mary needs to watch us to meet them with the Lord's help.

Let us rejoice for how God has blessed us, and that God could use us for that special, intimate time. And let us pray that the gifts and understanding of God that we’ve passed onto our Mary might bear fruit in her life and in her children's lives forever.

In conclusion, Mary’s life is centered on Jesus. How can our live be centered on Jesus? We could try everyday to get to know Jesus, meeting Him:

- Through the Word, by reading even just a small part of the Gospel every day

- Through the reception of the sacraments, particularly the EUCHARIST and confession

- Through talking to Him in daily prayer

- Through each other as we together follow Jesus in our daily lives



Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lenten Recollection (Inmates of Surigao City Jail) March 19, 2010

I. Lent: A “Turning Point” of Christian Life

Lent is God’s call to us to recognize the truth of our lives, to get in touch with the ways in which we have lost our truth, our ideals and our connection with community. This is a spiritual journey searching the innermost corners of our heart. Lent is not a sad time but a quiet time. It is a time to go deep within the interior desert of our soul. It can put us in touch with our real hunger. It can stir in us the courage to confront what keeps us from following the Christ to Jerusalem.

Lent is a call to holiness (wholeness). Let this Lent be an honest time in which we use the season to ponder and make new decisions that will bring us to wholeness. The capacity to forgive and ask for forgiveness is acknowledgment that we have broken bonds and the break diminishes us as persons. It is an opportunity for putting back together the world that we have damaged by our actions.

Lent is a time of repentance, of rending our hearts, opening them to God’s mercy and forgiveness and opening them to our sisters and brothers. Forgiveness presumes a horizon larger than self. It is a decision for freedom. If the essence of freedom is choice, then the object of freedom is commitment. “Repentance is an absolute, spiritual decision made in truthfulness. Its motivations are remorse for the past and responsibility for the future.” Lent is a time to take back the pieces of our lives that has been given over to what is not of God. Each of us knows what is not right in our life.

II. An invitation to enter into the dynamic of the story of Jesus  the JESUS-EVENT in our life.

1. Formation of being a disciple of Jesus:

1.1. Faith-ing process: Knowing the story of Jesus. What do you believe? (Desire for God – “What do you seek? Where do you live? Come and See… They remain”

1.2. Mission: Telling the story of Jesus. Acting out your belief (Community of disciples – Church)

1.3. Spirituality: Living the story of Jesus. Becoming what you believe (the power behind the person’s motivation – to do something important for God, to move away from self-centeredness to other-centeredness, and to respond to God with generosity of heart.

2. Jesus and the Kingdom of God

2.1. Kingdom requirement: Conversion – to turn towards: ‘repent and believe!’

2.3. Vision-Mission of Jesus: Luke 4: 16-18

2.4. Thru his life, parables, preaching and healing, restoring the dead, breaking barriers, bridging hope

2.5. Hope for the new heaven and new earth: Kingdom where truth, justice, love, peace and harmony shall reign

3. Journeying with Jesus to Jerusalem: Passion Sunday

III. “Go and Tell… “I Have Seen the Lord! …” “Remember…”

Understanding ‘Story’ and Telling Story

Human life is unimaginable without stories.

Telling stories comes so naturally to us that we do not reflect sufficiently on its significance for our lives.

Remembrance is vital if we want to grow in self-knowledge. But we remember by telling stories. Memory is made of stories rather than mere chronology and stories bring experience back to mind.

1. Good stories are based on experience.

2. Stories reveal personal identity and people and events that shaped that identity.

3. Stories are dynamic, open to reinterpretation and re-telling, and transformative.

4. Stories are the ground for understanding spiritual, doctrinal and ethical symbols.

5. Stories form community.

6. Stories when received can transform the listener.

7. Stories can be told in a variety of ways.

8. Stories can be suppressed.

IV Confession

The Purpose of Confession

That reconciling of man to God is the purpose of Confession. When we sin, we deprive ourselves of God’s grace. And by doing so, we make it even easier to sin some more. The only way out of this downward cycle is to acknowledge our sins, to repent of them, and to ask God’s forgiveness. Then, in the Sacrament of Confession, grace can be restored to our souls, and we can once again resist sin.

What Is Required?

Three things are required of a penitent in order to receive the sacrament worthily:

1. Must be contrite - or, in other words, sorry for his sins.

2. Must confess those sins fully, in kind and in number.

3. Must be willing to do penance and make amends for his sins.

Proclaim the experience of the Risen Lord …

ACT JUSTLY, LOVE TENDERLY, and WALK HUMBLY with the God of Creation