Mystical Heart (Edwina Gately)

I am not in the mood to write. I know, it’s the New Year and I should be writing stuff. But unfortunately, my mind’s not working. So, I decided to share with you one passage which I find to be very uplifting, inspiring yet mystical.  I actually came upon this passage when I occupied an office years ago. The previous occupant must have left this.

Mystical Heart (Edwina Gately)

Whatever happens to me in my life,
I must believe that somewhere in the mess or madness of it all, there is a sacred potential –
a possibility for wondrous redemption in the embracing of all that is.

For the unfolding of my journey,
in all its soaring delight and crushing pain,
I may be sure that God is there – always ahead, behind, below and above,

encompassing all that befalls me in a circle of deep compassion.
And there, above the darkness that wraps me round, the bright wings of the dove hover and beat in gentle healing love an invitation to new rising.

One Great “Heartist,” Joselito “Joey” Velasco

Fifth Commencement Exercises, April 18, 2009

Today’s entry is my own way of paying tribute to one great “heartist.”

I did not have the chance to meet Mr. Joselito “Joey” Velasco while preparing for the Fifth Commencement Exercises of Kalayaan College way back in April 2009. Sir Joey was chosen to be the Commencement Speaker for the said graduation ceremony. I recall that I would text him from time to time to confer with him details about himself and his works and also to remind him of his commencement address/speech.

I finally met him on the day of the graduation itself. I was struck by his humility and sincerity. I was touched by the simple delivery yet profound message of his speech. He inspired the graduates and the rest of the audience with “Looking beyond.”

Looking beyond the physical because there is inner beauty; looking beyond the adversities because there are blessings, and looking beyond wealth because there is legacy. He also made us reflect the sources of our light and if we also serve as light to others. His speech was so inspirational because it also focused on the very essence of humanity: HOPE. He saw HOPE at the eager and happy faces of the graduates that day.

Delivering the Commencement Address with his Hapag ng Pag-asa

He brought with him his “obra” (or masterpiece) “Hapag ng Pag-Asa” which depicts a picture of the Last Supper with Jesus and hungry street children as his disciples. He also shared that it was the first time for him to wear a toga because he was unable to join the graduation march because of an injury in college. I remember that he was so happy that day, as if he was part of the graduating batch.

I consider myself lucky to have met this wonderful person. I am grateful that we had the opportunity to listen to his message.

Goodbye, Sir Joey. Thank you for sharing your light and for being a light to us.

Who was Joey Velasco?

Joselito “Joey” Salvador A. Velasco was a Filipino visual artist known for his pieces that focus on religious themes in realistic settings. One of his most notable pieces, “Hapag ng Pag-asa” (Table of Hope), is a painting of the Last Supper depicting Jesus Christ sharing his last meal with hungry street children.

Dubbed as a “socio-spiritual realist,” Joey Velasco drew inspiration from the many  instances  of  social injustice  that he observed and produced pieces that give hope and uplift the spirit. Some of his colleagues have remarked that his works appear so real that if a blade were to cut the canvas, it would bleed.

Mr. Velasco was also an entrepreneur, author and filmmaker. He wrote They Have Jesus, a book containing the stories of the children of Hapag, whom he found living in cemeteries, under the bridges of Metro Manila and in the depressed areas of Payatas. He single-handedly produced three independent films, “Sa Kambas ng Lipunan” (2006), “Ang Lumang Paintbrush” (2007) and “Kakaibang Kulay” (2008). (From Kalayaan, Official Newsletter of Kalayaan College)

He joined our Creator on July 20, 2010.

Ouchie and Smiley Wednesday

I’ll tell you a secret.  For several weeks now, I’ve been going to Mass everyday. Uh, let me correct my statement. I attend Mass almost everyday, well, except Saturdays.

Actually, this is something that I think is not worth mentioning to the whole wide world because I do not want to be labeled as pious, religious or holy. And I don’t want to project that kind of image either. Let me say that attending Mass has been really helpful to me. The past few months have been really stressful and nerve-wracking. Not to mention depressing. I even thought that I was developing symptoms of bipolar disorder. One moment, I was depressed and then another moment, I would be ok. Oh well.. that’s when I decided to attend Mass after work. And personally, I think it did me a lot better.

This Wednesday, the priest’s homily made me smile and wince at the same time. His homily was particularly striking because I could well relate to the points that he raised. It made me pause and think about some of the things I’m going through and some emotions that I’ve been feeling for the longest time. I’m sorry, I cannot get specific and detailed enough.  But one thing is for sure, God is in the midst of everything…

The Serenity Prayer

Chinese Garden, Singapore, 2009

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

This is my current prayer. At a time when I’m feeling so low, troubled and disheartened. I know He will guide and help me.

The Journey to Easter

The journey to Easter starts on Ash Wednesday but takes on a different level during the Paschal Triduum, which happens on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday.

Maundy Thursday– Vigil at the Altar of the Repose (Photos are from my camera phone) This is actually my favorite part of the day. Keeping vigil for one hour at the Reposition of the Most  Blessed Sacrament.

Vigil at the Altar of Repose 1

Vigil at the Altar of Repose 2

Vigil at the Altar of Repose 3

Good Friday – Veneration of the Cross and Procession

Celebration of the Lord's Passion (Veneration of the Cross)

Procession

Black Saturday – Easter Vigil and Salubong. The Message of Easter is HOPE!

Liturgy of Light

Liturgy of the Word

Liturgy of the Word 2

Salubong

Fireworks during the Salubong

HAPPY EASTER!

Holy Week Readings: The Pilgrimage and The Fifth Mountain

In observance of the Holy days, I refrained from posting entries starting Holy Wednesday until Good Friday. Instead, I read two books by Paulo Coelho which were stacked in my bookshelf. Though I’ve only read Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” I’ve always had this growing interest in his works as I believe that his writings tackle the essence of humanity, self-discovery, human potentials and the spiritual. I’ve always been interested in such topics and so I thought “The Pilgrimage” and “The Fifth Mountain” are fitting reading materials during this time of reflection and silence.

image from harpercollins.com

“The Pilgrimage” is Paulo Coelho’s expedition along the Road to Santiago, a well-known road between France and Spain that has been a pilgrimage route for centuries. It is an autobiography, of some sort.

Coelho is sent on a pilgrimage to Santiago after almost being initiated into The Order. His master believes that he has yet to learn more about life and its simplicity. He meets Petrus, his guide, whom he has to listen and obey no matter what. On the road, he encounters a series of events which remind him that things can really be simple and that there’s no need to over analyze and intellectualize all that’s happening around him. Furthermore, he comes face to face with his worst fear, which he has to eventually overcome. As he continues with his inward journey, he is assisted by Petrus by teaching him a series of exercises that would enrich his understanding and appreciation of things.

Coelho’s journey had mysticism and occultism elements in it. If the reader has no interest in such things, I would say that s/he might find the discussion on trances, ecstasy, exorcism and the like, a bit metaphysical and philosophical. As if the reader is being transported to a higher and more complex dimension or consciousness. It’s a relief though, that I have read a bit of interest in the occult and esoteric sciences, that I did not get lost in my reading. However, I think the most important and striking about Coelho’s path is his discovery of life and the simplicity it has to offer – the ordinary people that he met and the mundane things and creatures that he has seen along the way. Furthermore, his journey points out to two important maxims, “paying attention and appreciating all that is happening along the Road and learning lessons from it” instead of focusing on the reward or end result; and “wisdom has to have a practical application in life and can be followed by anyone.” His journey to self-discovery, reflection and triumph is such an insightful one, most especially to those who are searching for life’s meaning.

***

image from harpercollins.com

“The Fifth Mountain” is a historical fiction which tells the story of the Biblical prophet Elijah. (It is important to note that “some” circumstances which Elijah found himself in are fiction so argument or questions as to the authenticity of the proceedings are unnecessary.)

Elijah is a reluctant prophet, who has heard God’s messages since he was young but was taught by his parents to ignore his calling. However, when King Ahab marries and allows the Phoenician princess, Jezebel to require the people of Israel to worship the pagan gods, Elijah was again called by God to admonish the practice. Jezebel retaliated by forcing all prophets to convert and worship the pagan gods or die. Elijah, who underwent extreme suffering and was threatened to die, was commanded by God to flee Israel and go to Akbar. There he meets a young widow who shelters him even though she can barely support herself and her young son. While awaiting God’s instructions, he becomes accustomed to Akbar and its people, even assuming the role of counselor to the governor. He finds true love in the young woman who sheltered him but this love is cut short as destruction, violence and death swept the whole city. Elijah, at first hesitantly, rebuilds the city but then realizes that one must let go of the past and create a new “history for oneself.”

The novel, first and foremost, is about faith. Elijah encountered things that a man can possibly experience in his lifetime – threat of death, death of a loved one, war, and even abandonment of God and losing his faith. Despite the tribulations, he learned more about himself, about his faith and his relationship with God. The first two messages that the book imparts: “Not always does His plan agree with what we are or what we feel, but be assured that He has a reason for all of this” and “that a person must go through various stages before he can fulfill his destiny.”

Secondly, Elijah learns another message, that “God has given His children the greatest of all gifts: the capacity to choose and determine their acts; that man must choose – and not accept – his fate.” Elijah realized that he followed God with full obedience and dedication but a struggle with Him is inevitable. However, this struggle is what makes a person grow and learn.

Thirdly, the weak population of the community – the old people, women and children were once unimportant – became the instruments of the city’s rebuilding. Elijah realized that the city needed to be destroyed so that “all could awaken the forces that lay dormant inside their own being.” The old people, woman and children finally realized their worth.

Lastly, Elijah shares that “it is necessary to go onward, however difficult it may appear.” People will experience everything, good and bad, but it is important to rise up and go forward.

The novel explores issues of faith that are relevant in the 21st century as they were in the 9th century B.C. Reading this novel has taken me into a personal journey that made me reflect on many things. I was moved by this book, mainly because like Elijah, I do have my “faith moments.” By “faith moments,” I mean I also experience trials, tribulations that would often lead to struggles with God. But then, I would often remember that every tragedy is not a punishment but a challenge; that every dark cloud has its silver lining; and that Good Friday is followed by Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter!

Prayer of Sacrifice

This prayer struck me when I attended a Mass this evening at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice, at the University of the Philippines. Maybe because I’m in this roller coaster of a ride in my career. Let me share this prayer written by their parish priest,  Fr. Raymond Arre, for the Solemnity of the Corpus Christi last June 18, 2006.

Such a beautiful prayer!

Prayer of Sacrifice

Lord of the Holy Sacrifice, your saving oblation on the cross has given me new life. May I always recall your holy sacrifice on the cross and do it in remembrance of you. When tempted by selfishness, inspire me to be taken as an unworthy sacrifice. When burdened by envy, let me become an instrument of blessing for others. When afflicted by anger and pride, grant me the humility to be broken and given for others. When unsettled by anguish and troubled by worries, give me encouragement.

May your Spirit move my heart to see in your outstretched arms your loving embrace of everyone that I, too, may welcome others with the same love in an open hand. Teach my mind and direct my will to humbly endure the pain of undeserved suffering even when my intent was good and done what is right. May I understand that it is in the holy sacrifice of your wounds that my brokenness is healed. May I see in your sacrifice on the cross not only death and defeat but victory and life.

Loving Father, may the holy sacrifice of your Son cleanse my soul, strengthen my heart, pardon my past and restore me in your peace. May I always adore you by uniting myself in His holy sacrifice, the sacrament of your divine love. May I learn to sacrifice my own comfort, plans and dreams if it is not for your glory and the good of others.

With Mary, the mother of Jesus, who joined her heart with the sacrifice of her Son, may I become a holy sacrifice of love and service for others. Gathered around the altar of love, may all be united in listening to your word and sharing the one bread and cup and become one people, offering one holy sacrifice. Amen.