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Friday, January 9, 2015


I guess the consolation of getting eliminated in a PBA conference is that I get to catch up on my other work and I get to post a new blog entry. 

I’ve been wanting to blog about this since I spoke at the Youth Rally for the Pope in Araneta Coliseum last month.

As we all know, Pope Francis will be here in a few days and many of us are really excited. The first Jesuit Pope is enjoying an approval rating that many political leaders would like to have. This is what the church needs most especially in this day and age when she is facing many long-standing challenges including dwindling church attendance and the damaged moral authority of some clergy.

The last time Pope John Paul 2 came to Manila in 1995 for the World Youth Day, I was 10 years old and I was fortunate to have caught a glimpse of him in his Pope Mobile along EDSA-Buendia. I remember my dad carried me on his shoulders so that I could see the Pope pass amidst the sea of people.


Personally, there are many things I like about this Pope. But if I had to choose, I would say it has to be because of his simplicity and compassion, very fitting with the theme of his Papal visit which is “Mercy & Compassion”. Right from the moment of his election, he refused the traditional red cape and opted to hop onto a bus instead of the papal limo. He kissed, served and showed compassion to the most marginalized people in society.

This reminded me of what Cardinal Tagle taught us in his keynote speech in our Charis Leadership Summit last year, “The higher we go up the organizational ladder, the lower we should go and the more we should serve”. This paradox is very true to be an effective leader because conventional thinking would excite us of the power and prestige that comes as we move up to the so-called “leadership positions”.  When in fact, the higher we go, the more we should serve.  This is what we call Servant Leadership and Pope Francis is a living example. St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, reminded us to be humble because Jesus, our role model was humble.

Pope Francis’ passion to serve has challenged the prevalent culture’s approach to leadership, how leaders live and what they value. Our culture is becoming self-absorbed and fascinated with superficial pursuits such as money, power, status and even the number of likes on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. On social media, everyone seems to have a ‘perfect’ and nice life. This is why we should be wary of what we aspire for. Are our goals going to give us lasting happiness? What will? Again, this Pope reminds us to focus not on ourselves, but rather on the poor, the sick and those marginalized. Hopefully in time, it will create a ripple effect from a culture of selfies to a culture of service. 

I think another reason why Pope Francis has become so loved is because he does not condemn those who are ‘lost’ or confused. But rather, he listens and welcomes them back home just as God extends His infinite mercy to us sinners.


Now, how do we prepare ourselves for the coming of the leader of the Catholic Church? Here are three very simple ways that could help us maximize and fully appreciate his visit.

#1) First is to develop a strong spiritual and prayer life. Being a Jesuit, Pope Francis himself engaged in what we call the Spiritual Exercises, this is the core of the Ignatian Spirituality and Jesuit life. It is a series of meditations that allows one to ponder on your own life, Jesus’ life and how one can follow Jesus in their own concrete circumstances.

For me, developing a spiritual plan is like creating a fitness plan. You need to integrate it to your daily life and set aside time everyday for prayer and reflection. Since I am a busy person, my spiritual director came up with a plan for me that is workable despite my chaotic schedule. I’m sure he won’t mind that I share it with you.

1)   5-minute morning prayer the moment I wake up
2)   Visit to the blessed sacrament
3)   Reading of the New Testament for 5 minutes + a short silent reflection
4)   Night time prayer with 3 Hail Marys
5)   Confession (at least once a month)

This is to be done daily. But I have to admit that many times, I’ve been a delinquent student.

Now why should we do this? When we are in silent prayer, we become detached from the daily grind of things. We speak to God and more importantly, we allow Him to speak to us. Many realizations and conversions occur during these moments of silence and solitude with our Lord. Also, I firmly believe that our consequential actions will naturally overflow from the interior peace and joy that we experience with Him. Lastly, we cannot bring others to Christ if he doesn’t reside in our hearts. Simply, we cannot give what we don’t have.

#2) Second basic way to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Pope is to take care of our academic duties or our work, for those who are working. Sounds simple right? It is. Oftentimes we take these for granted. But we forget that our schooling or our jobs are gifts to us from God. We must value them by practicing excellence, honesty and humility not just for our personal growth, but also because it is our way of contributing to nation-building. We may not see the results immediately, but our personal contributions as well as the virtues we develop will create a more visible impact to our society eventually. Our nation needs competent and virtuous leaders, or else we achieve nothing. This is also our best way to show our appreciation to our Lord for the blessing of an education and a job.

#3) Last is to do our apostolic duties. We all have an obligation to evangelize or to do “apostolate work”.  In the recent World Youth Day in Rio de Janiero, the Pope called out to the youth, “I want you to make yourselves heard in your dioceses, I want the noise to go out, I want the Church to go out onto the streets…”

How do we do this? It start at home, with your closest family members and friends. There are times when we want to do outreach activities to the needy or other marginalized sectors of society. This is wonderful! But we might forget that our most immediate apostolic duties start at home, by inviting them to pray or simply by being a good parent, son, daughter, brother, sister, friend, etc. An effective way to be a light of Christ is by serving as a good example. Like they say, actions speak louder than words.

Hope this helps, not only in preparation for the coming of the Pope, but continued even afterwards until it becomes fully integrated in our lives. It might be difficult at the beginning, but the more we do it, the more it becomes 2nd nature. We may fall at times but what’s important is the constant struggle and effort to make Christ happy.

Happy weekend folks!