Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Angels and Demons

I'm planning to watch the movie anytime this week.

There are plenty of resources in the web that address the claims made in the movie. I'll post it here after I see the film.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Prayer and reflection # 15

First Reading: Acts 5: 34-42
Psalm: Psalm 27: 1, 4, 3-14
Gospel: John 6: 1-15

How can we rekindle the world's desire for the Christian Gospel? Make it more attractive? Repackage it without changing in any way its essence? Or simply say it as it is, or share it as it is?

Lord, please help me to study and understand the Bible. As I read it daily, please allow the Holy Spirit to guide me and to enter my mind and heart so that I may truly understand the Bible.

Lord, in the Gospel reading for today, You asked us, Where can we buy enough food to eat? From nowhere else, Lord, or from no one else, but from You. You are the Bread of Life. Nothing in this world is ever enough, nothing satisfies. Oh, this world abounds with beauty and goodness, but they are all conditioned. They are merely the reflections of the eternal Good and Beauty that are Your qualities, Lord. "One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek, to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may gaze at the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Quote: St. Aloysius Gonzaga

"It is better to be the child of God than king of the whole world."

-- St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Prayer and reflection #14

First Reading: Ezekiel 37:21-28
Psalm: Jeremiah 31:10-13
Gospel: John 11:45-56

Lord, I am again wallowing in sin. There is lust in my heart once again, and I deliberately willed myself to sin. Lord, why do I believe this lie over and over again, that when I yield to temptation and commit sins, I shall be happy.

Lord, sin leads to destruction, to death, to spiritual suffering, to emptiness. My deepest longing, Lord, is to live, to truly live, to be happy and joyful, to expand, to grow, to bless others, to share myself to others, to bring them joy and laughter and love. Yet why do I choose sin, choose death?

Lord, please help me to choose life, to choose You, every second, every hour, every day of my life.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Prayer and reflection #13

First Reading: Jeremiah 20:10-13
Psalm: Psalm 18:2-7
Gospel: John 10:31-42

Lord, all Your servants in the Old and New Testaments suffered. All the saints suffered. Mother Theresa suffered, physically and spiritually. It seems that if I serve You Lord, I will also suffer. Maybe suffering, Lord, is just a part of life. Maybe life is even more unbearable and painful without You and if we don't serve You. Perhaps there is such a thing as "Holy suffering" and maybe it is a mark of a servant of God.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Prayer and reflection #12

First Reading: Genesis 17:3-9
Psalm: Psalm 105:4-9
Gospel: John 8:51-59

Lord, it is sometimes difficult to have faith. Some people may say: "Oh, faith is just a feeling." Others may say, "It's all in your head," or, "Faith is blind." How do I know if my faith is justified? How do I know, Lord, that my faith is not just an illusion? Oh Lord, please help me. Please grant me Your grace of faith. Please help me to be steadfast like father Abraham.

Holy Spirit, please burn inside me, because I want to have a faith that's on fire with love. I want to be "in touch" with You, so that I may go deeper into the mind and heart of God. Amen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Quote: St. Thomas Aquinas

"Almsgiving proceeds from a merciful heart and is more useful for the one who practices it than for the one who recieves it, for the man who makes a practice of almsgiving draws out a spiritual profit from his acts, whilst those who recieve his alms recieve only a temporal benefit."

-- St. Thomas Aquinas

Quote: St. Basil

"The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit."

-- St. Basil

A New Apologetics

Please read this nice short article by Fr. Robert Barron on apologetics. He says that a "New Apologetics" is needed for the so-called "New Atheists".

A New Apologetics
By Rev. Robert Barron

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been posting videos, for the past couple of years, on YouTube, the most popular website in the world. These have been brief commentaries on movies, music, books, and culture. They’ve received quite a number of hits (which pleases me) and they’ve given rise to numerous negative comments (which doesn’t please me!). But I really shouldn’t say that, because I’ve learned a great deal from these angry, accusing, sometimes mean-spirited rejoinders to my videos, coming mostly from younger people, twenty and thirty-somethings. If these responses are any indication of the attitudes of the younger generation (and I fully admit that they don’t constitute a scientific sampling), we as a church have a lot of work to do.

What I’ve found is that there is a deep misunderstanding of Catholic theology with regard to a number of basic issues. I’ll give you just two examples. Time and again, on the YouTube forums, I run into the problem of biblical fundamentalism, espoused, not by religious people, but by ideological secularists. The Scriptures are constantly dismissed as “nonsense,” “fairy tales,” “bronze-age mythology” (they get that last one from Christopher Hitchens), and “pre-scientific nonsense.” In evidence, they invariably point to “talking snakes,” “Jonah in the belly of the fish,” and “the five-thousand year old universe.” The problem, of course, is that they do not have what Vatican II’s document Dei Verbum refers to as a sensitivity to the variety of literary genres in the Scriptures. Sometimes the Bible speaks in a relatively straightforward manner, but often it uses metaphorical, symbolic, poetic language to convey the truths of salvation. They are also ignorant of the ancient tradition within Catholicism of discerning within the Scriptural texts a variety of “senses,” including the moral, the allegorical, and the mystical. When I point out that non-literalistic readings of the beginning of Genesis have been on offer since the time of Origen and Augustine, my YouTube critics are incredulous. What strikes me in all of this is that the fundamentalist reading of the Bible is out there in the popular culture and that the complex, textured, subtle interpretive method characteristic of Catholic theology is not.

Another basic problem has to do with the understanding of God. Many of my YouTube interlocutors assume that God is a fussy mythological figure such as Zeus or Posiedon, a character from an old wives’ tale or an outmoded fantasy. They seem to have no inkling that Catholic theology speaks of God in a sophisticated metaphysical manner as the sheer act of to-be itself, the unique reality that exists through the power of its own essence and that gives rise to all finite being. When they assert that “science” explains the whole or reality, I counter that the physical sciences can describe the characteristics and dynamics of finite things but that they cannot begin to address the properly metaphysical question of why there is something rather than nothing, why there should be a universe at all. God, I argue, is the only finally satisfying answer to that inquiry. Again, if these critics are any indication, na├»ve views of God are out there, and ours is not.

These issues, and many others that I could discuss, lead me to the conclusion that we desperately require a new Catholic apologetics, a passionate and intellectually informed defense of the faith. In the years that I was coming of age in the church (late 1960’s and 1970’s), there was a sort of bias against apologetics. It was seen as negative, suspicious, an intellectual strategy of the “Catholic ghetto.” Our intellectual leaders were so intensely interested in reaching out to the secular world that they “apologized” for the faith in the ordinary sense of that term. In fact, within the Catholic academy, a hand-wringing stance of skepticism and self-criticism became the norm. But in the meantime, as my YouTube experience shows, a very aggressive form of ideological secularism has arisen, and a hand-wringing Catholicism is no match for it.

What would this new apologetics look like? It would, first, be smart. One of the great virtues of Catholicism is that it has a rich and deep theological tradition. Taking Mary as its model, Catholicism “ponders” revelation and seeks to understand it, using all of the intellectual tools available. A new apologetics would utilize Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Newman, Chesterton, John of the Cross and many, many others in order to meet the intellectual objections to the faith that continue to arise. Second, it would be deeply cognizant of strains of hostility to the faith within the contemporary culture. It would understand, for instance, the roots of today’s objections to religion in Nietzsche, Feuerbach, Marx, Sartre, Freud and their disciples. It would seek to know the enemies of the faith better than they know themselves. Third, it would be willing to go public. One reason that a fundamentalist understanding of the Bible is so widespread, even among the enemies of religion, is that fundamentalists have effectively used the media. Our experts in scripture, doctrine, church history, moral theology, and ecclesiology need to become far more adept at addressing a wider cultural audience. And finally, it would be joyful. We must be warriors for Catholicism, but only happy warriors are finally successful in this sort of struggle.

Prayer and reflection #11

First Reading: Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
Psalm: Daniel 3:52-56
Gospel: John 8:31-42

Lord, what did you mean when You said, "If you remain in my word..."? In the NRSV-CE version, the verse was translated as, "If you continue in my word..." Does it mean "if we remain faithful to Your word"? What is Your word, Lord? The things You said? The things You taught us?

One thing I do know, Lord, is that nothing in this world truly frees. No amount of pleasure, comfort, and security can make me free. In fact, it is only when I walk the narrow path of self-denial, self-sacrifice and discipline do I find myself free. It is only when I carry my cross each day that I find myself unburdened by the yoke of slavery.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Prayer and reflection #10

First Reading: Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 or Daniel 13:41-62
Psalm: Psalm 23:1-6
Gospel: John 8:1-11

Lord, it is amazing to think what evil lust can bring to many people. First, it subverts the conscience. Then, it causes a lot of pain, injustice, trouble and hypocrisy. Even old men, Lord, elders, who are supposed to be wise and well-respected and righteous, are susceptible of being polluted and subverted by lust. Lord, please help me to overcome lust; to embrace purity, and never allow my heart to have so much as a hint of lust. Amen.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Prayer and reflection #9

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm: Psalm 51:3-4, 12-15
Second Reading: Hebrews 5:7-9
Gospel: John 12:20-33

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Law itself. You are the Logos, the Mind, the great I AM. You are the Living God who is Justice Himself. You promised us, during Jeremiah's time, that You will put Your law within us and write it upon our hearts. And now, You have fulfilled Your promise. You have come down from Heaven and became flesh. You have instituted the Holy Eucharist and through this sacrament, we are able to receive You, in the flesh, the Word itself, the Law itself.

Lord, please help me to see Your face, Your living presence, in the circumstances of my daily life, and inside my heart. Amen.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Prayer and reflection #8

First Reading: Jeremiah 11:18-20
Psalm: Psalm 7:2-3, 9-12
Gospel: John 7:40-53

Lord, please help me to become a true Christian. Please help me to become truly Your follower, Your disciple, in every way.

Lord, I want to see Your face. I feel confused right now. I feel like I'm lost. I feel like I don't know what to think and do. Lord, I pray that no matter how confusing and blurry my life may become; no matter how painful, difficult, challenging, discouraging, lonely and scary it may get, I want to see Your face in my life. No matter how cloudy my mind, and dark my heart, becomes, I want to see Your face, Your living presence there.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Quote: St. John Bosco

"Every virtue in your soul is a precious ornament which makes you dear to God and to man. But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue, is a jewel so precious that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven, even though clothed in mortal flesh."

-- St. John Bosco

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We are all called to be saints!

I've been quite busy these past few days, so much so that I neglected posting here my reflections and prayers for the daily Mass readings. There are about nine entries in all that I haven't been able to transfer here. They're quite lengthy, so I don't think I'll be able to post them all online.

I will just proceed to sharing my "hidden treasure" for the third week of March.

My favorite readings for the third week are:

1. Deuteronomy 4: 1, 9 and
2. Mark 12: 29-31

You can use your bible to read the verses above.

Anyway, I believe these are the most important thoughts God wants to impart to me this week end:

1. "I have given you all these laws so that you may find true life, true peace, true joy, true happiness and meaning."

2. "My laws, finally, are summarized into two: Love Me above all else and with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself and as I love you."

I also encountered an interesting thought while reading Fr. Joel O. Jason's meditation on the Scripture reading for today. He said, "Jesus became man, that man may have the opportunity to become like God."

Isn't that an amazing insight?

I remember what Fr. Robert Barron explained once in one of his sermons in the Word On Fire website. He said something like this: God did not deem equality with Him something to be grasped. That's the reason why Adam and Eve sinned and why they were exiled from the Garden. They wanted to be like God. By eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they appropriated to themselves the power to decide what's right and what's wrong -- a right which only belongs to God for He is Justice Himself. Now, by becoming man, Jesus showed man that divinity is not really something to be grasped. Rather, it involves self-emptying, self-sacrifice, or the giving of one's self to others in love. It's as if Jesus is telling us: "This is what it means to be like God. Follow me, and I will show you the path that leads to true divinity." And that ultimately is what God wants for each and every one of us -- to become like Him, to become more and more divine. To become perfect, as He is perfect.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Prayer and reflection #7

First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9
Psalm: Psalm 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20
Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19

Oh Lord, my God, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We must take care to keep them clean and holy always, so that we may be worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit always. Or is Your Holy Spirit, Lord, present in us always, but because of our sins and vices, we suppress the Holy Spirit, neglect Him, douse Him with cold water? Isn't He ever with us, and mustn't we constantly stir Him into flame, so that we may burn freely for You, my God? My soul magnifies Your name and Your Holy Spirit rejoices with my spirit because of the truth that my Father is God, and that I should do all His commandments because they are all for my own good and He desires nothing but the best for me.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Quote: St. John Vianney

"We do not have to talk very much in order to pray well. We know that God is there in His holy tabernacle; let us open our hearts to Him; let us rejoice in His Presence: This is the best prayer."

-- St. John Vianney

Prayer and reflection #6

First Reading: Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Psalm: Psalm 25:4-9
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

Lord, it is sometimes very hard for me to forgive, especially if the offense done to me is very painful. But how many times have I myself wronged other people? How many times have I offended others? How many times have I betrayed, hurt, and abandoned those close to me? How many times have I been uncaring, unloving, indifferent, offensive, distant? Oh Lord, countless times! Yet You have always forgiven me, Lord, over and over again.

Lord, please help me to have a contrite and tender heart. Help me to have a warm and loving heart, a heart whose every fiber beats for You. Help me to have a heart that loves You truly and without reservations. Remind me, Oh God, of how utterly sinful I am, and Help me always to look up towards You. Help me to forgive others unconditionally.


Prayer and reflection #5

First Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-5
Psalm: Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3-4Luke 4:24-30
Gospel: Luke 4:24-30

Lord, I don't understand very much the meaning and significance of the readings for today. What do you want to tell me, Lord? Is it this -- that a heart that is bent on disbelieving will never find You? Naaman initially had faith that he will be healed, and he almost changed his mind when Elisha the prophet instructed him to wash himself in the river Jordan. His heart was weighed down, I guess, with prejudice and pride. He seems to be saying, "Is the river Jordan better than the rivers in Damascus?" But deep in his heart he was longing for You, Lord, for what else could have changed his mind if it was not for his longing for You? He was afflicted by his disease, and he longed for healing. And he saw that his healing can only come from a supernatural source -- from a "god". He showed humility by his actions and chose to obey Elisha anyway. And behold -- he was healed, and he exclaimed, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel," convinced that he had found the Truth.

Lord, wasn't it different for the people at the synagogue in Nazareth? Their hearts were weighed down by prejudice. They believed that no good can come out of Nazareth. They did not have humility. They closed their hearts, even if You invited them to believe the idea that You are a prophet. Unlike Naaman, they did not see themselves as in need of saving. They did not acknowledge the affliction of their sins. They did not see themselves as in need of healing, so they did not search after You. So they didn't find You. They even drove You out and tried to do harm to You.

Lord, please help me to know in my very bones that I am in need of healing. Remind me always, Lord, that I am sick because of sin. Help me to search after You always in my heart. You are my Healer. You are the Great Physician, the healer of souls.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Punko-Punko" or Buffet Restaurant?

I own a Companion. It is a Catholic Scripture Diary published by Shepherd's Voice. It's a wonderful diary because it gives you the opportunity to write down your reflections on the Bible readings daily. I've been writing down my reflections and prayers in my Companion since January this year, and I love it because it enables me to have a more intimate knowledge of the Scriptures.

At the end of each week, the diary has a section called Hidden Treasure. Under this section, you can write down the most important words and/ or verses that you feel God wants you to remember and apply in your life. So starting this week, I'm going to post here my "hidden treasures".

These are my favorite verses for the week:

"Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you." (Luke 6:38)

"So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20)

In the first verse, I think that Jesus is telling us that there is a principle at work in the universe. It may sound contradictory, but it nevertheless is true: The more we give, the more we will receive. The more we give of our self -- that is to say, the more we give of our time, talents, and treasures -- the more our self will increase and the more we will receive other blessings. Remember this verse? "Amen, I say to you. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Jesus is telling us the same thing. We ought to give more, to share more, of our selves to others. That's what it means to love.

I love the second verse. Jesus gives us a glimpse of how God the Father truly loves us. I love the image of the father in the parable running towards his prodigal sin, embracing and kissing him. Imagine God running towards us sinners and hugging and kissing us! He loves us so much, even after we have sinned against Him and squandered all the treasures He has given us. What's more, He throws a feast to celebrate his son's return! That gives us an image of Heaven rejoicing for every soul that returns to God.

I also think that that image of the son living with swines and trying to eat with them is a poignant one. That is what sin does to us! It throws us in the mud and makes us utterly dirty, and instead of dining with God's banquet in His Kingdom, we force ourselves to eat in the pods with swines! In Filipino culture, that is comparable to choosing to eat in a "punko-punko" instead of in a buffet restaurant!

Prayer and reflection #4

First Reading: Exodus 20:1-17 or 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17
Psalm: Psalm 19:8-11
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Gospel: John 2:13-25

Lord, as the Psalmist said, You have the words of everlasting life. Every word that You say, Oh Lord, is true, and they are spoken for our own good. You want what is best for us, Lord, and because You created us, You know us and You know what is best for us. You know, Oh Lord, that if we worship anything else besides You, we shall lose our lives, we shall go astray, because You created us for Yourself. All good things come from You. All life comes from You, and all is created for You. My purpose in life, Lord, is to be with You, because I came from You, and it is to You alone that I shall return.

Lord, please help me to keep holy the Sabbath day. Please help me also to keep Your temple holy, and everything that You own holy. You created me, Oh God. It is true what St. Paul said, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, therefore I should keep it holy, too. I should always remind myself that I possess dignity as a human being, and I should always respect myself. Lord, You do not want to see our bodies, our souls, our hearts and our minds harmed by sin, because You love us, and You do not want to see Your own children defiled and destroyed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Prayer and reflection #3

First Reading: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Psalm: Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12
Gospel: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Lord, I think about the Gospel reading for today and beautiful and poignant images come to my mind: the tax collectors and sinners drawing near You to listen to You; the son in the parable trying to eat with swines; his father running towards him, looking at him with compassion, and hugging and kissing him, when he decided to go home; his father celebrating his return with a feast. These are all beautiful and poignant images, Lord.

The tax collectors and sinners were drawn to You because You came here for them, for us. They were drawn because they felt in their bones the effects of sin -- emptiness, sadness, depression, etc. When they saw You, it was like they have seen the light, and indeed You are the Light. They have seen and heard your words, and they were balm to their aching souls. I am a great sinner, Lord, just like the tax collectors, and I, too, am drawn to You. I am like the son in Your parable. My sins have left me spiritually bankrupt, and I feel like I am dining in the pods with swines. How beautiful, Oh Lord, is the image of the Father who was filled with compassion for his son. Your response, Lord, to sinners like myself must also be the same -- You are full of compassion, and You run towards me to embrace and kiss me when I turn away from my sins and return to You. Heaven must be celebrating with a feast every time a sinner is reconciled back to You.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Prayer and reflection #2

First Reading: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28
Psalm: Psalm 105:16-21
Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

Lord, thank You for all the gifts You have given me, my wife, my family and my loved ones. Thank You for all the physical, material, financial and spiritual blessings. Thank You for all the things, resources and capabilities we have that enable us to bless and help others. Thank You for my wife, family, friends and all my loved ones.

Lord, please help me to become a good and responsible steward of Your gifts. Everything good comes from You. My own life comes from You, so help me, Lord, to share my life to others; to give of my life to others -- my talents, time and treasures; to empty myself for others, and, above all, to empty myself for You.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Prayer and reflection #1

First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10
Psalm: Psalm 1:1-4, 6
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

Dear Lord, You have said it clearly through the book of Jeremiah: Trust in men or the world and you will live a barren and empty life. Your life will only be wasted. Trust in Me, and you will have strength no matter the season. You will truly be alive and fresh, and you will bear many fruits.

Lord, you know me inside and out. You created me, You created my heart, so You know the secrets of my heart and the depths of my being. You know Lord that my heart can often be dark. Please help me to fight my temptations, and help me never to allow evil and sin to take root in my heart.


First post

Hello, my name is Dante and I'm from the Philippines.

Let's read the Mass Readings daily, reflect on them, and pray to God. :)