Some time ago, I attended a party supposed to be a farewell party for a friend going back to his home country for good. I did not expect that it was also meant to be an occasion to give awards to some people for things they had done for the organizers of the gathering. Giving of awards occurs all the time in our culture. Awards are given for a variety of reasons, some for reasons that are truly significant, some for even trivial ones. There are awards given for someone's contributions to humanity, for saving lives, or for excelling in school, or for acting skills, etc. Sometimes awards are given to some simply for their being in positions of power and to ingratiate the award-giver to the awa

Miss Universe

I was old enough when the first international beauty pageant, Miss Universe, was held in 1952. The first winner, a stunning Finnish beauty, soon married a rich Filipino. Another Miss Universe winner, from Colombia, also married another wealthy Filipino businessman. The fascination for the Miss Universe title and the prizes, fame and glory it entails attracts many beautiful women worldwide to aspire for the much-coveted title. The country itself produced three Miss Universe winners of its own so far, making their countrymen proud. For the name alone, other later beauty pageants like Miss International and Miss World connote less prestige than that of Miss Universe because the universe is obv

Christ Is King! Our Eternal King!

(On the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe) In my childhood,  an image of Cristo Rey (Christ, the King), sitting on a throne regal and majestic, occupied central place in our old ancestral house. It was 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 and most probably in love with our Lord Jesus Himself. But to my parent

"Music hath charms . . . "

The Thanksgiving Mass we had at St. Columba coincided with the feast day of St. Cecilia, a martyr in the early years (3rd century) of the Church. This made me recall that when we went to Rome some years ago, we visited the catacombs of St. Callixtus. There we saw a sculpture of St. Cecilia at the exact spot where she was initially buried. Her body was found uncorrupted centuries later, and it was transferred to the church in Trastevere in Rome. St. Cecilia is revered as the patron saint of music and musicians because on her wedding day, she sang a song to Christ in her heart. The saint is depicted mostly playing the harp or piano, or holding a violin. Music has had a special place in the Chu

My Father's Turkeys

When my father finally retired from his teaching job after more than 50 years, he decided to expand his backyard chicken raising and added a couple of turkeys to breed and multiply. The turkeys indeed bred and multiplied fast. It was amazing to behold the beauty of the fowls when they spread their tails into beautiful fans while strutting around, and making cockling sounds whenever we tried to approach their chicks. For our meals our family often had chicken in abundance, but turkey less often.  For obvious reasons, we did not associate our turkey meals as special occasions for thanksgiving unlike here in America where whole roasted turkey is the centerpiece of the family Thanksgiving dinner

"O Death, Where is Thy Sting?"

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Cor 15:51) (A Hard Look and Reflection on Life and Death - - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time) "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace. "But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever." (Daniel 12:2-3) The Stoics, ancient thinkers who adhered to a philosophy of life that deals with living a life of virtue, are known for their "Memento Mori" which is a reminder of man's mortality. Even as a pagan philosophy, Stoicism contains elements of

The Battle of the News

Time was when a man woke up in a beautiful garden and found himself face to face with the One who brought him from nothingness. It was the first good news he knew. Then the man found himself incomplete in spite of the myriad of animals and plants, and flowers and trees around him in the garden. So the One who brought him up from nothingness put him to sleep and when he woke up, the One presented him with a woman, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. She was to be his companion, his helpmate. That was the second good news for him. Shortly afterward, a serpent slithering on a tree, told them that the One who created them forbade them to eat of the fruit of that tree because that would make th

At the Start of Another Day

When one wakes up in the morning still in familiar surroundings, at the exact same place where he lay down to sleep the previous night, he realizes happily that he is still alive. Somewhere some people were not granted to wake up that morning, which most probably they did not expect nor want. And if one said a prayer or some similar "Good Night" consigning himself to the great love and mercy of God as he sleeps, the first act one is expected to take after realizing he is still alive is to get down on his knees and thank God for the gift of life and to ask Him to stay with him . . .  for yet another day! The end of the previous day is past and a new day has begun! We are given only one day at

My Favorite "Ave Marias"

If there is one artist's depiction that stands out regarding the nature of the relationship between Jesus and His Mother Mary, it is the "Pieta" by Michelangelo, shown here. The original sculpture is enshrined at the Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. Mary holding the dead Body of Jesus after being taken down from the cross is only one of the many sorrows of Mary foretold by the prophet Simeon at the Presentation of Jesus in the temple: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” Lk 22:34-35 The other swords th

At the End of the Day . . .

At the end of the day, Psalm 51 is a prayer that can be sung or just listened to before retiring and closing one's eyes, to ask for mercy and the forgiveness of God for our sins and failures. "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy." "Miserere Mei, Deus," composed by Gregorio Allegri, expresses the intense yearning for God's forgiveness, sincere sorrow for one's transgressions while at the same time the trust in His mercy and the plea to make his heart clean. The poignant and haunting tone of the free Gregorian chant-like composition lends itself to making this psalm one's own prayer especially at the end of the day when one is left to a one-on-one encounter with the Lord Who

Castor Oil

When I was a child, one thing that caused me much terror was "aceite de castor" (castor oil) which my mother forced me and my siblings to take when she felt we needed it. It tasted awful and disgusting. It was called "purga," which she said was to cleanse our intestines for possible worm (bulate) or to treat constipation by helping the hard stool to come out. One other way she did this was to administer an enema, to immediately clean out the intestines. I remember that after an enema I felt comfortable. Today is "All Souls' Day" in the Church calendar. It is the day the Universal Church remembers the souls of our departed, those who are members of the Church Suffering. This group is compos

Fiat: More Than A Small Car

When Pope Francis came to the U.S. in 2015, he chose to ride from the airport and during  much of his visit in a black Fiat, a compact Italian-made car. A small car for a big man! When God the Son visited earth in human flesh about 2000 years ago, He used someone else's Fiat to make it possible. Mary's.  From all eternity He chose a simple but special and beautiful maiden to carry in her womb the Savior of the world! But God needed her Fiat. Fiat is the pope's chosen car. "Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum" (May it be done unto me according to your word) is Mary"s Fiat. The Solemnity of the Anunciation reminds us to be like Mary who gave her Fiat to God. It reminds us that we are called to be s