Two Priests . . . Responding to the Call to Holiness

I did not know there is such a priest ordained as a “simplex priest” until I read about Father Solanus Casey, a Capuchin Franciscan who was beatified in Detroit, Michigan last November 18. Because of his academic struggles in theology, his superiors thought he was not qualified to hear confessions and to preach, both priestly faculties, but they had him ordained priest anyway but did not give him these two faculties. His assignment all his life, which he accepted humbly, was to be the gatekeeper of his monastery and it was here that he helped thousands of people with his spiritual counseling and his gift of healing. Blessed Solanus reminds me of another holy priest who also had difficulty in

Viva Cristo Rey!

In my childhood, an image of Cristo Rey, sitting on a throne regal and majestic, occupied central place in our old ancestral house. It is encased in a glass-covered cove to protect it from dust. Flowers surrounded it. When the house was demolished and a new one built, my parents also had the same Cristo Rey enthroned by our parish priest at a prominent spot where it was the first thing visitors saw upon entering. My parents knew the image of Cristo Rey is just an image, a statue crafted from plaster by a sculptor in love with his trade. But to my parents, our Cristo Rey was not just an image. We did not worship it (which of course we should not), but it reminded us of the Person it represe

Two Fridays

It took me quite some time to get parking at the Tanger outlet where shoppers swarmed, eager to get big bargains and "save" money. It's Black Friday. At other outlets, malls and big stores since last night you see a lot of people in their winter coats and jackets carrying bags and bags of goodies: clothes, shoes, toys, electronic gadgets and other nice stuff. They all have a happy look on their faces as they come out of shops, some with their little kids. Black Friday, like Thanksgiving Day, the great American national holiday, is an institution in the U.S.A. And if you reside here, chances are you just imbibe it, and you become part of the great shopping spree. There is another Friday

"Take Up Your Pillow . . . "

(A Reflection for Thanksgiving) There was no altar server at our Mass for Thanksgiving Day at St. Columba this morning, and when I saw Roland Escalante, an active parishioner, holding the processional cross, I said (half jokingly), " Jun, take up your cross and follow Jesus." "Yes, and He did not say, 'Take up your pillow and come follow Me.'" was his quick reply. That was an unexpected Thanksgiving grace for me. I never heard the truth of Our Lord's words expressed that way before. But it is a great way to paraphrase it. And I thanked Roland for saying it. Last Sunday, when I brought Holy Communion to a sick parishioner, I saw a poster on his door showing the classic horn of plenty con

Sun Tzu of China and Paul of Tarsus -- The Art of War

The last time I heard about Sun Tzu and his book “The Art of War” was from a presentation given by my brilliant classmate in Philosophy (Sabino Vengco, now a Monsignor and prominent philosophy and theology teacher in universities and seminaries in the Philippines) in one of our classes more than 55 years ago. Why he chose that topic for a Metaphysics class baffled me even at that time since I thought it was too far removed from the Philosophy of Being as it was about military strategy. That was until recently, when each homeroom class in our high school, and faculty and staff were pitted against one another in a contest of who would bring in the most number of canned goods and money for this

More on My Bean Plants

My bataw plants are finally gone. They were fighting for their lives when the cold weather set in three weeks ago. Yesterday they succumbed to the freezing temperature and wilted. Now I can not look forward anymore to steamed bataw in vinegar and fish sauce for dinner. What is left for me is to pull the dead plants out from the plastic pots I had planted them in and untangle them from the bamboo trellises I made for them and just put them in the compost pit. If and when I decide to plant some bataw again next year (earlier this time), I will add the compost to the soil and hopefully they will fertilize my new plants. I do not think that the short life of my plants was totally useless and un

"My Last Thoughts Were of You"

I had a bad dream last night. It was more than a bad dream, a nightmare. My wife heard me shouting and she woke me up. I told her about the dream, a terrifying one, and she asked me: "Did you pray before you went to bed and fell asleep?" I knew she would ask me that. I was so tired that day and I fell fast asleep without my usual examen and night prayers. It is of course not a valid excuse for omitting something very important. (What a shame!) Father Jerry Orbos, SVD, a well-known priest in the Philippines, has often said: "Every gising (waking up after a night's rest) is a blessing." And so the very first thing we need to do is to get on our knees and thank the Lord for giving us another

"Memento Mori" Revisited

[These are excerpts from my homily last Sunday, Nov 12, 2017, the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time] As mortal beings, there is one thing we can be sure of: We will all face sometime the close of our earthly life. The world as we know it now and everything in it for us individually will come to an end, but it will continue with others after we are gone, until their own time comes. There is a legend that in ancient Rome when a Roman general returned home after winning a great battle, he would get a welcome parade around the whole city to receive adulation and congratulations from the cheering crowds. For a moment the general felt exceedingly proud of his accomplishments, and even show arrogance.

My Bean Plants and St. Augustine

I have been looking at my hyacinth bean ("bataw") vines each morning to look for buds that will turn into flowers and produce fruit. But then the past two weeks the cold temperature was not kind to the plants. The growth was slow and the foliage was not thick despite my fertilizing and watering them. I am not sure if I will ever see pods that I can harvest before the end of fall. I then realized that I did not plant my bataw seeds early enough when there was abundant summer sunshine that they need to flourish and fruit. But I have not given up hope. The weather can probably still improve for it . . . just probably. If only I had not planted them late. This thought made me recall St. Augustin

Pest Control

There is no more insidious enemy that lives inside your house than termites. They enter and live there quietly and unobtrusively until one day you notice tell-tale signs of their presence: little clay tunnels on the baseboard, and to your horror you find swarms of little crawling creatures that have eaten into the wooden parts and damaged your home. And if you do not do anything about it, your home could eventually weaken and collapse. The pest control industry is very much alive and services of pest control technicians are in demand. It is a multi-million industry. But much more than the physical structure of our houses are our own homes: our bodies and souls. They are temples of God, and a

Truth Is Suffering Very Much These Days

In Philosophy the most fundamental law of all thought is the "Law of Non-Contradiction." It states that something cannot both be true and false at the same time in the same sense. The structure of St. Thomas Aquinas' famous work Summa Theologiae acknowledges the diversity of positions on the same specific question, positions which are contradictory to each other, but each with their own supporting arguments. Thomas, the philosopher-theologian and saint, spent a great deal of his life seeking and exposing the truth. The history of the world is replete with philosophers and thinkers who sought the truth: on the nature of things, what the world was created for, how it works, where it is going,

"What Will Matter"

Very early this morning, everyone in North America, Europe and some other countries turned their timepieces one hour backward; Daylight Saving Time this year has ended. People had an extra hour of sleep this morning. Turning back the clock is not, however, the same as going back in time. For time progresses, goes on, and no man can do anything about it. The "time machine" where one can go back in time, exists only in fiction. My father knew only four Latin words: "Tempus fugit", which means "Time flies." The other two are: "Memento mori", or "Remember death." These four Latin words are words of wisdom. They were a most important legacy of his to me, and words which everyone would do well t