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Sunday, April 8, 2012


In the past two entries, we reflected on Jesus’ passion and death. These events are indeed essential in our Christian faith. But St. Paul said: “If Christ be not risen again, then is your preaching in vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) This is why Easter is the feast of all feasts. It is the most important day of the Church year. Today, Jesus rose from the dead, performing His greatest miracle. His resurrection makes His humanity special, proving He is divine as well.

Through Jesus’ resurrection, we are given new life and a renewed hope for salvation! And this virtue of hope is vital in a Christian’s journey towards achieving his last end – salvation! This spiritual journey can be likened to a sport, something very close to my heart.

In basketball, or in any sport for that matter, the most fundamental quality one must have in order to be successful is a DESIRE or HOPE for triumph. Without hope, you are already a loser. There will be many obstacles and challenges that we will have to face before becoming champions. Just like in our spiritual battle, we will have to overcome temptations and our bad habits or vices. How?

Training. In sports, we train regularly not just to be victorious in one game, but to win an entire tournament. Training requires determination, the will to work on every detail of your game, our skills, strength, endurance, agility, etc. We need to live out the spirit of MAGIS, or a lifestyle of excellence. In our spiritual life, we try to get rid of bad habits (vices) and practice good ones (virtue). It does not happen overnight. We need to keep practicing by doing good deeds and making sacrifices. It’s definitely not easy but here’s a tip. Go and receive the Sacraments regularly to receive graces from God. These will strengthen us and help us overcome such temptations or bad habits.

Consistency. In sports, professional athletes do not just train hard when a championship match is coming up or when you are about to be eliminated from a tournament. Rather, they do it consistently over a period of time (Of course, there are various phases in a training program) so that old skills are perfected and new ones may be developed. Same goes with our spiritual life, we don’t just receive the sacraments or go to spiritual direction when we are ‘lost’ already. We don’t go to confession when our souls are dead, we go before it can get worse. In the same way, a sick man does not go to a doctor when he is dead already.

Humility. This is one of the most important qualities I learned from being an athlete for many years now. Having an open mind to correction and improvement from your coaches or peers plays a huge part in the success of an individual, even if you are the star player. At an early age, we were also reminded that we must be gracious in defeat and humble when we win games. We must acknowledge that our success is a result of a team effort, not ones’ own doing. We must realize that our talent to play basketball, golf or tennis did not come from our hard work or parents’ genes. But these are gifts from God that must be shared with others. In our spiritual life, we must always be thankful to Him for all our gifts. Sometimes we take it for granted and we forget that we are truly blessed. We thank Him for our families, friends, education, material possessions, good health, etc. When we stop comparing what others have and what we don’t, and just be grateful to Him, we become happier.

The only difference in our sports battle and our spiritual battle is this. In sports, there’s only one who brings home the trophy or the gold medal. But in our journey to God, we can all win.

Therefore, this Easter, let’s share the joy that Christ is risen and that He loves us.  And we can share in His resurrection when we are converted, when we are given new life. Keep training. Keep converting. Never lose hope.

Happy Easter!


P.S. If you like this, feel free to pass it to our family and friends to spread the joy of Easter

Saturday, April 7, 2012


As you are reading this blog of mine, some of you may find it boring and decide to surf another website for more ‘interesting’ articles, tweets, photos, videos or what not… all, just in a matter of seconds.  Because of the internet and modern day technology, our attention span is getting shorter and shorter since there are so many alternatives before us.  Convenience is a great luxury that our grandparents’ generation didn’t have.  We cannot argue about the added value that these technologies have brought into our lives, but they pose threats that can be very dangerous to our existence.

About a decade ago, we had the iPod that simply played mp3 music files.  That was a great luxury already, coming from mp3 players that could only store 5 to 10 songs.  Then we asked for more.  We had higher versions of the iPod, then the iTouch, then the iPhone, iPad, and now the iPhone 4S.  This iPhone 4S can do pretty much everything from video calls, GPS mapping, live chatting, voice recognition, etc… Wonder what’s the next thing will we ask for? Just when you think it’s got all the features, something newer and ‘cooler’ is developed to satisfy us consumers.

Our lives are so accustomed to convenience.  We want more, more, more and fast, fast, fast.  We take shortcuts and want to make money the ‘easy way’.  For some, it is more and more power or more and more sexual satisfaction! We can just never get enough!  One saint said that this is a major tragedy since we are looking for joy in the wrong places.  These ‘attachments’ are fleeting and will not give us the lasting joy that we long for because they disconnect us from God.

We want quick-fix solutions to address lingering problems.  A little inconvenience and we get easily irritable and annoyed.  This is manifested in many relationships nowadays that don’t seem to endure trials.  They resort to the easy way out.

So what do we do now? What does this have to do with Lent?

Just as Jesus’ self-sacrifice through His passion and death, God has also given His ultimate sacrifice by sending His only Son to become fully human only to die on the cross.  Imagine how painful that is for a father.  And more so for a mother that is why we feel especially close to Our Lady of Sorrows these days.

In this light, we too are called to make sacrifices. They don’t have to be big ones. I have some friends who have given up eating ‘sweets’ during the entire season of Lent.  Some have given up drinking alcohol.  Or it can be as simple as being extra patient in trying to understand a difficult friend.  Or doing small acts of kindness to your parents or siblings. This is also the reason why we fast and abstain from eating meat during Fridays of Lent.

This is mortification.  It is about self-giving.  We do not make sacrifices for the mere purpose of pleasing others or appearing ‘holy’ but we do it because of our deep love for Christ – that is charity.  And in doing so, people see Christ in us.  St. Josemaria said it best when he said that you must experience Christ within yourself—be His friend—then that overflow of your interior life will communicate itself to others’.

Advance Happy Easter!


P.S. Still working on part 3, the theme is HOPE. Will post it tomorrow. 

Friday, April 6, 2012


Hello there! It’s been a while since I last blogged.  Before I begin, let me just announce that my previous blog has been hacked and I don’t have access to it as of the moment. That’s why I created a new site.  It’s really sad because we’ve already established a number of subscribers to that blog for the past 4 years. Hope you can help me spread this to more people this time around.

I am writing this in the midst of a 3-day silent retreat in the city.  Silent retreat means spending time in silence, prayer and recollection: between you and God alone.  Yes, it means not talking to the other participants, but you can always talk to your confessor or spiritual director.  There are around 25 of us—all-male students and young professionals. I can’t find a better time to reflect and share my thoughts to you than in this Easter Triduum, when we remember and contemplate Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.  

Allow me to share my personal reflection on this topic since this is only once a year and I believe you may find it useful as well.

In the contemporary world, our lives can get so much caught up with work, work and work, including schoolwork.  Couple that with the ubiquity of modern-day technology—we find it almost impossible to detach ourselves from communication, information, entertainment, and the like.  I’ll admit that I am one of those guilty of that!

Sad to say, our modern world doesn’t favor reflection.  And it is during this moment of absolute silence when we can best listen to our Lord and speak to Him, in order to understand fully His divine will and plan for us.  After our first day in retreat, I felt so at home and so at peace.  I actually think I can live here—so simple and peaceful.  

Today is Good Friday, the day when Jesus suffered and died on the cross in order to save us.  It is on this same day when the first to be proclaimed a saint was a thief!  On the cross, the thief said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when You come to Your kingdom.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23: 42-43).  This good thief, a.k.a. St. Dismas (or Dimas), was saved because of his faith, repentance and contrite heart!

Our Father God constantly calls us to come back to Him.  Just like in the parable of the Prodigal Son, no matter how sinful or lost we can be, God unconditionally accepts us back as long as we repent.  He even slaughtered the fattest calf and prepared a huge feast for the younger son who has come back home after years of squandering his wealth. 

Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, God always awaits us to go back to him: we repeat in our lives the story of the prodigal son.  Conversion is not impossible with the help of the Sacraments and prayer.  And it is only then that we experience the joy of inner peace and lasting happiness—because we experience God, who only wants what is best for us, such that we can exclaim as Pope Benedict XVI said, “I am personally loved by God.”  That is why Confession is personal, one-on-one, between me and the priest ordained to represent God (because only God can forgive sins), as Our Lord told the first priests, the Apostles, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:23).  Then we are cleansed from anything that may hinder our complete union with God.  My confessor gave a beautiful analogy of a glass window. He said, “If the glass window is stained and dirty, how can the sunlight enter the room? In the same way if our souls are not clean, how can God enter us?”

I entitled this blog, “Joy of Repentance” because being sorry for our sins should be a cause of joy for us—we are going back to our Father God, whom we know is ever-ready to accept us no matter how sinful we have become!  All we have to do is to eat our pride and be humble to say, like the prodigal son in common parlance, “Dad, I’m sorry.” We are just going back home!  Is there anything more fun than that?  Now, I understand more clearly why St Josemaria calls the Confession as a sacrament of Joy!

Who could have been the happiest man on that first Friday which we call Good?  The good thief! Our speaker phrased it very wittingly.  “St. Dismas was indeed a thief until the end, because until his last dying breath, he stole heaven and the heart of our Lord!“


P.S. Watch out for parts 2 & 3