Sunday, May 31, 2009

"I accepted it even if it was beyond my strength." - Pope Benedict XVI



It was interesting that when Pope Benedict was asked by a child during an audience whether he imagined of becoming pope. Pope Benedict replied that "I accepted it, even though it seemed to me to be something that went beyond my strength." This is a very significant statement especially when the church is now preparing to observe the year of priests. On this Pentecost Sunday let us be reminded that with the Holy Ghost descending on the Church, the powers of the Kingdom was confirmed. Thus with confidence, the fisherman from Galilee has now become the wise ruler of the Church on earth. Guiding and teaching the nations of the ways of the Gospel.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

HAPPY PENTECOST




“For our gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fulness, as you know what manner of men we have been among you for your sakes” I Thessalonians 1:5

Friday, May 29, 2009

ST. BENEDICT: A MODEL OF PEACE






Pope Benedict XVI, excerpt from an address delivered after vespers at Montecassino.

"Yes, Benedict was a shining example of holiness and pointed the monks to Christ as their only great ideal; he was a master of civility, who proposed a balanced and adequate vision of the demands of God and of the final ends of man; he also always kept well in mind the needs and the reasons of the heart, in order to teach and inspire a genuine and constant brotherhood, so that in the complexity of social relationships the unity of spirit capable of always building and maintaining peace was never lost sight of. It is not by chance that the word Pax [peace] is the word that welcomes pilgrims and visitors at the gates of the abbey, rebuilt after the terrible disaster of the Second World War, which stands as a silent reminder to reject all forms of violence in order to build peace: in families, within communities, between peoples and all of humanity. St. Benedict invites every person that climbs this mount to seek peace and follow it: "inquire pacem et sequere eam" [seek peace and follow it.] (Ps. 33,14-15) (Rule, Prologue, 17)."



Read more from
zenit.org


What a refreshing words from the universal pastor of the Catholic Church whose namesake promoted peace. Christ indeed is our model of peace. One only need to read the gospels and see how St. Benedict of Nursia lived in practicality the principles and words of the gospel of Christ - the Prince of Peace.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Donsol Town Fiesta: May 18 St. Joseph the Workman


I was on a field research project with my students in Donsol Sorsogon. As many of you will know Donsol is famous for its whale sharks known locally as Butandings. The Butanding is the largest fish in the world. Despite of their size they are the most gentle. For those of you who are interested to interact and swim with these giant creatures visit the Donsol Tourism Office. This is not an advertisement but simply a tip for animal lovers. But for one thing we were lucky to come to Donsol at a time that they were celebrating their town fiesta in honor of St. Joseph the Workman. This gave us opportunity to use our free time to interact with the locals and join in the evening procession on the eve of the feast day. The different images of the patron saints of the different villages of Donsol converge on the Church patio to participate in the procession. St. Joseph happens to be one of my favorite saints. I will share with you some of the pictures. We bought candles and we lighted this candle as we went along with the procession. Praying the rosary and from time to time join in singing the anthem to St. Joseph. While going on with the procession, I meditated on the meaning of Christian life. Like a procession, the life of a Christian is a pilgrimage. we have to pass through the narrow alley of sufferings and pains in order to arrive at our destination. As I looked at the image of St. Joseph and the images of the saints, I was reminded of a wonderful truth of our faith, -the communion of the saints. That we wether on earth, purgatory or heaven, we are one community sharing common salvation and common faith. For here we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who once pass through the agony of this earth and now are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Here are some video clips:


video

The Start of the Procession


video

The Image of St. Joseph the Workman

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I will Ascend to the My Father and Your Father


I will ascend to my Father and your Father.....
Today as we celebrate ascension Sunday we are reminded of hope that just as the Savior overcame the world we too will overcome the world.

We have an advocate in heaven, seated on the right hand of God Almighty.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pray for Life


"Arrests of those protesting President Barack Obama’s speech and honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony have continued today. One Southern Baptist pastor reported that he witnessed an elderly priest being dragged on the ground by security." Read More of this from CBCP.net

Indeed this is very sad news. I am sure may stories have been written about these on the net and in news sources. But one thing that really strikes me is how this great evil of abortion has been finding its way in the world. It is indeed a scandal that a Catholic Universtiy President would invite and confer an honorary degree on a person who is opposed to the moral and fundamental teachings of the Church. As Catholics we should make a stand for life and never waver. Jesus said "woe unto him who causes scandal, it would be better for him that a millstone be tied on his neck and be thrown on the sea, than to cause one of this little ones to fall."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI: Walls Don't Last Forever!

"Although walls can easily be built, we all know that they do not last forever. They can be taken down. First, though, it is necessary to remove the walls that we build around our hearts, the barriers that we set up against our neighbors. That is why, in my parting words, I want to make a renewed plea for openness and generosity of spirit, for an end to intolerance and exclusion. No matter how intractable and deeply entrenched a conflict may appear to be, there are always grounds to hope that it can be resolved, that the patient and persevering efforts of those who work for peace and reconciliation will bear fruit in the end. My earnest wish for you, the people of Palestine, is that this will happen soon, and that you will at last be able to enjoy the peace, freedom and stability that have eluded you for so long." Pope's Farewell Address to the Palestian President and People. Read more from zenit.org

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Benedict XVI in Jordania: To Draw All Things to His Divine Life

Let us all unite and pray for the success of the Holy Father's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.


"The Church herself is a pilgrim people and thus, through the centuries, has been marked by determinant historical events and pervading cultural epochs. Sadly, some of these have included times of theological dispute or periods of repression. Others, however, have been moments of reconciliation - marvellously strengthening the communion of the Church - and times of rich cultural revival, to which Eastern Christians have contributed so greatly. Particular Churches within the universal Church attest to the dynamism of her earthly journey and manifest to all members of the faithful a treasure of spiritual, liturgical, and ecclesiastical traditions which point to God's universal goodness and his will, seen throughout history, to draw all into his divine life."

From
Papal Homily at Vespers in Jordan as Reported by Zenit.org


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Caramoan: A Paradise on Earth

The Heavens proclaims the Glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork!!!!!
Let me share with you some of the beautiful photos of scenic places in these Caramoan Islands. Still undeveloped and recently discovered as places for tourism. For so long a time these islands were untouched only known to fishermen who frequented this place. But with recent promotions these places are becoming popular with tourists looking for exotic hideaways. The beauty of this Islands calls us to learn to appreciate nature and to care for it. Nature sustains us so we have to care for it.











Caramoan: The Giant Image of Our Lady of Peace

This blog is a continuation of the earlier posts I had about Caramoan. People usually go on trips or visit places for various reasons. Even on a business trip and even on purely leisure trips, there could be other underlying motivations and purposes that may go along with it. I for one came to this place known as Caramoan just for the purpose of doing social research, but enjoying the scenery and living my Catholic Faith are other moving factors that put meaning on my life. There is a place of pilgrimage in the village of Tabgon in Caramoan that if you decide to visit this place, you will appreciate this. In the Village of Tabgon there is a giant image of Our Lady of Peace perch on top of a hill overlooking the ocean and the valleys. Take note of the Photo below which I took from the pump boat we were on. The white image on top of a hill with the cell tower at the backround is the image of Our Lady of Peace.


We approached the docking area of the village. Luckily it was high tide so it was not so difficult to dock. You must have a good sense of balance in order not to fall over. The one you see on the boat is our boatman and the children at the dock immediately presented themselves to us as "tour guides" for a small fee. The one wearing the orange T-Shirt insisted that he be our tour guide. He took my bag and water jug and helped along with the onward ascent to the mount. At first I didnt feel the need for a tour guide but I was convinced by his explanation that he needed to do this because he is saving some amount of money that he would need for the approaching enrollment. According to the twon mayor most of the people here are hard up financially and sometimes children have to travel on foot on long distances in order to be able to attend school. That part of the explanatiion touched my heart. The boy was so helpful and respectful of us so that did not create a problem for us.



The steps leading to the image of Our Lady of Peace is not for the faint hearted. It consists of 526 steps!!!!!. Five of my students who are in their early 20s easily accomplished the task of scaling the 526 steps. But as for me who is entering the 40s, I had a hard time. I have to stop every 25 steps to regain my strength. After completing the 400 steps I thought I would pass out. The pull of the gravity and the enormous effort you need to climb those steps is not for the faith hearted. But luckily my little tour guide was there all along and he assisted me. "Sir you have to do it slowly, step by step, and if you feel tired dont hesisitate to stop and rest before proceeding again." said my tour guide. Look at the photo below. Look how steep are the steps leading to the grotto. Jose one of my students waves his hands urging us to hurry up.




Once on top of the hill, we felt a sense of relief and delight. The giant image of Our Lady was so inspiring. Indeed this is a place for prayer and devotion. I could feel a sense of positive energy in this place. This is indeed the image of Our Lady of Peace. Beckoning the whole Philippines and all pilgrims to come to her and allow her to show us her Son. Insurgency, conflicts, poverty and many other forms of evil have afflicted this nation. But there is hope as Mary now proclaims. As we unite our sufferings with the passion of Christ we are led to calvary and we are given the gift of faith and hope for the coming ressurection. In the photo below me and my students waves our hands in praise to the goodness of God Almighty. Our tour guide took this picture.




This "little pilgrimage" shows us that life is a journey. It is a journey towards God. It is difficult and one has to exert effort at doing this. There is a goal, there are objectives and there is the way. Jesus said we have to pass through a narrow door. But once we reach the top we could feel the sense of rest and tranquility. Christ is inviting us to enter into His Sabbath. May we all follow Him no matter how difficult the way is. God supplies all the needed grace. Mary our Mother is there to assist us and to intercede for us. Here in the photo below, the blogger knelt down in prayer before the giant image of our Lady.




The mount on which the image of Our Lady was built is a stragic location. It commands a view on the now famous islands off the shores of Caramoan. These islands are now by Law considered tourist zones. Famous for its corals, white beaches, caves and resorts. Beyond those islands is the vast Pacific Ocean. Later in another blog entry I will show you some of these scenic spots.





Caramoan is mountainous. Villages are located far apart. There are places where travel by sea is more preferable than by land because the road network remains underdeveloped. During rainy season land slides could happen and obstruct the passage to these road networks.





Below is the village of Tabgon. Tabgon has a parish church dedicated to St. Dominic of Guzman. There are two resident priests who serve the spiritual needs of the village and its surrounding environs.





Before heqding back for our boat I bought a small replica of the image of Our Lady of Peace. This to remind me that once upon a time I scaled these hights and saw the wonderful image of Our Lady. Shown below is the little statue, a replica of the image on top of the hill.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

CARAMOAN: Me and My Students on Field Research

It's more than a week that I was not able to update my blog. I've been away for the field research practicum of my students. The now "world-famous" Caramoan Islands were the venue for our field research we were studying the stakeholders perception on the benefits and challenges of the emerging nature-tourism in Caramoan. Indeed there were so many bonuses for our field research in terms of experience. The moment we arrived in Caramoan typhoon "Dante" hit the Bicol Region. It was three-days of misery. But after the storm was over we were able to resume our field work. Caramoan is a remote municipality in the Eastern Portion of the province of Camarines Sur. The most convenient way to reach Caramoan is by Boat. It is bounded by high mountains and deep gorges which make the building of roads a tremendous challenge. But what made Caramoan famous is its outlaying Islands, with its famous corals and white beaches. Almost untouched [use to be], but with the growing number of tourists coming in, things may be different.


The photo above shows the outrigger boat we took on our way to Caramoan from the port of Sabang in San Jose, Camarines Sur.


My students taking a ride. This is an improvised vehicle known as "tricycle". A tricycle is a motorbike with a side cart attached to it. For short distances this can serve as effective means of transport in the rural areas of the Philippines. Foreigners would marvel at the capacity of a tricycle to accomodate as much as ten persons, packed together like sardines in a tin can.



Here are my undergraduate students. Posing for a photo. Behind is the image of St. Paul. This picture was taken in front of St. Michael's Church.


My undergradaute students together with me poses for a photo in front of this massive and beautiful red brick church dedicated in honor of St. Michael the Archangel. St. Michale is a well loved saint in this remote town. One would wonder how a red brick church was built in this remote municipality. Often huge churches are usually located on urban centers. But in this remote island the early missionaries who built this church were prophetic enough to think that the future of conversions would be bright and hence anticipating the future built this reb brick chuch. A marvel of architechture and above all a marvel of faith. A faith that looks to the heavens full of anticipation of the heavenly Jerusalem. I will share with you more about the wonderful places in Caramoan, and hope you will consider visiting the place [No I am not advertising, but what I am doing is that I am trying to convince you about the beauty of these islands]. Visit Caramoan and see for yourself. But for now I need to get some sleep to recover lost energies.

HAPPY FEAST DAY! ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL PRAY FOR US! AMEN.