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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Now I See

I recently started reading The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius at the recommendation of a friend (check out Angelo Saludo's post entitled "Love Beyond" at As humans, we are continually drawn to two diametrically opposite directions: one towards goodness and the other towards sinfulness. The Exercises aim to develop one's "discernment" or the ability to discern between good and evil spirits, which through continuous application and practice, the choices we make will become more aligned with God's will, which in turn lead us to a deeper union with God.

As I read through the Exercises on the Punishment of Sin, I can't help but reflect on the sins I commit on a recurring basis, without giving God's justice much thought! Suddenly I'm made much more aware of my own iniquities and how much I've offended God. I can imagine Him being saddened each time I resist His will and I persist in my stubbornness.

In the First Exercise, St. Ignatius touches upon "Sin punished in the rebel angels", wherein he asks us to consider the state of the rebel angels before they fell into sin: their purity, knowledge and wisdom, their powerful inclination toward good, God's most perfect and beautiful creations. Yet, despite of having possessed God's favor, they revolted against Him. Lucifer, in his desire to surpass God, led the rebellion. God's justice struck them like thunderbolt and were cast into the depths of hell, where they remain.

In the Second Exercise, St. Ignatius touches upon "Sin punished in Adam and his posterity". Again, as with the rebel angels, St. Ignatius asks us to consider Adam's state before he sinned: the excellence of his being, the happiness and glory of his being, the innocence of his heart, the paradise where he lived, his relationship with God and the fact that he was created in the likeness and image of God. Like the fallen angels, Adam also fell into sin when he chose to listen to Eve, who was tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree of knowledge. As punishment, God expelled them from the Garden of Eden, cursed Eve with the pain of childbirth, and made Adam toil the land for food. St. Ignatius characterized the first sin as imprudent, sin of the senses, cowardice, contempt of God and blindness.

Out of all these characteristics, "blindness" resonated with me the most. St. Ignatius defined blindness as having deceived ourselves at the moment of temptation by foolish reasonings on the justice of God and on His mercy; by having persuaded ourselves that sin is not so great an evil and God is too good to punish us. How many times have I begged God to hear my prayers despite knowing how my request must greatly offend Him; disillusioned with the thought that my unreasonable requests are not offensive in His eyes? How many times have I justified my errant ways by dismissing it as the "social norm" even when my conscience dictates it as unethical? Clearly I have much to learn on proper discernment.

These first two exercises show us that even the angels, God's most perfect creation, and Adam having enjoyed full benefits from God, were capable of sinning and despite their status, still God's justice fell upon them. These were meant to steer us into a deep reflection on the state of our own souls and inspire us to always choose the path that will lead us closer to Him.

I am often reminded that God is generous with His mercy and grace abounds to those who seek it; however, this journey with St. Ignatius makes me much more aware of my unworthiness, so the more fervently I must seek to do His will. I pray that these exercises will quench my thirst for a deeper communion with God, to gain a broader knowledge on how to discern God's voice amidst the noise that pollutes our senses today and learn practical ways in applying these exercises to stay on the path which leads us to God.

--with faith and gratitude,

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Heart Aches

My heart aches for your embrace 
Your voice echoes in my mind 
With my eyes closed 
 I see your face and I smile. 
Before I sleep I pray 
For a chance 
To be with you 
Even if only in my dreams.
I wake up in tears 
To a love that can never be.
Still I beg for God to permit 
You and me 
A fleeting moment 
Of affection.
So even when we part
We'll have the sweetest memory
To cherish 
 A love that could have been.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sprinklings of Grace

A friend asked for salt to sprinkle on his mango. When I asked why, he said the salt makes the mango sweeter. Apparently, adding salt to pineapples, tart apples, strawberries or any fruit needing a little sweetening, neutralizes the acidity of the fruits, making the fruits sweeter. Jokingly I quipped, "Maybe I should sprinkle some salt on you." To which he managed a chuckle.

I imagined God sprinkling salt in my life to make it a little sweeter just when I need it. The Lord has His way of letting us know how fond He is of us. Whether you recognize it or not, He gives you special treatment every day. That empty parking space near the building entrance is no coincidence. That accident you narrowly escaped as you were about to change lane was your angel, swooping in to save you at God's command. The phone call, email or text you didn't expect came just at the right time. God's timing is always perfect! People that are in your life are there by design.The last boysenberry pie was reserved especially for you because He knows exactly what you want. Oh and that awesome deal you just closed? Yup! That was God, too. These are what I call sprinklings of grace that sweetens the bitterness that life sometimes serve.

Sprinklings of grace are there to remind us that God is ever so vigilant, looking for opportunities to manifest His goodness, love and mercy. Each and everyone of us holds a special place in His heart, no matter how hardened our hearts have become. His sprinkles of grace do not discriminate. There are times when we are quick to take credit for every good things in our lives. Some would argue that it is with their own abilities they were able to acquire fame or fortune or whatever it is they worked hard for. We forget that we are nothing without God; all good things come from God, therefore, all honor and glory belong to Him. Even when unfavorable circumstances happen in our lives, we should look for the sprinkles of grace,  the little spark of hope that tells us someone higher than us is in control. I know it's hard to believe when things look grim but place your faith in the Lord and you'll see His goodness, love and mercy at work in your life.

As I look back in my own life, not only have I encountered (and continue to encounter) God's sprinklings of grace, but an outpouring of affection, like a big load of salt is continuously being dumped on me! Most of the time it's the little things that make a difference, it's the unexpected but welcomed surprises that make life much sweeter. I believe it's important to recognize and appreciate the subtle ways God communicates with us to let us know He is within our midst.

Today, may we  open our hearts and receive God's sprinklings of grace.

--with faith and gratitude,

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Peace and Acceptance

It's upsetting to discover someone close to you is not being truthful. Today I didn't know whether I was upset that they lied or more upset that they kept something from me. I felt that this sudden mendaciousness violated a bond between friends. All throughout the day I ruminated on the resentment I felt and all I was focused on was the bitterness that kept brewing inside of me. If you've ever seen a commercial or a video of a person trying to decide whether to be good or bad and you see a devil and an angel on each of the person's shoulder and they kept score depending on whether the person decides to do good or bad, that was me today. The left side was saying "How dare they? You have every right to be angry." While the loving voice on my right side was saying "Now, now, let's think things over. You're in a quicksand and the more you struggle, the deeper and faster you'll sink." Should I keep an ear on my left shoulder or should I divert my attention to the voice on the right? I knew I needed to sort this out so I phoned a friend. Our conversation went like this:

Me: What do you do when someone lies to you? How do you get past it?
Friend: You accept it.
Me: Just like that? How do you accept it? (My friend will be disappointed to know that I've lost interest in listening further at this point. I needed this friend to sympathize with me and not point out an obvious truth. I politely let this friend proceed.)
Friend: You just accept it. They already lied. It's done. There is nothing you can do about the fact that they lied.
Me: (sigh) But...but...that's not what I want to hear!
Friend: I have someone here that I need to talk to. I'll call you back when I'm done if that's ok.
Me: Of course. Yes, it's ok. (Not really because I was having a pity party and it wouldn't be a party if nobody was pity-partying with me! It looks like the left side just scored a point.) I had to consciously remind myself that my emergency is mine alone. Read more about Patience here.

What my friend didn't know was I already had a plan. I took my pity-party where I know the "attendee" is going to be all ears. This party guest will give me all His attention and there will be no interruptions.

I headed to St. Joseph (1 point for the right side) and there I unleashed my frustrations (sans food and wine). I prayed to God for clarity and to indulge me with an answer but I was also prepared to wait should He choose a different time. I've learned to be persistent in prayer so I added it would be nice if I can get a reply. How do I get to acceptance as my friend so bluntly put it? There are times when he jolts me from my slumber (mental or otherwise spiritual) that I find myself in shock at the impact of his simple, unpretentious words. I sat down in silence for a while and waited for the voice of reason.

I started to analyze the situation, sorted things out in my mind and this time I was able to see things in a different perspective (another point for the right side). Earlier today I was so focused on resentment that I was being irrational. I went over the facts. Can I change those facts? No. Now that I know I can't change it, what do I do about it? I had the option to continue to be miserable or accept it and move on. By recognizing that it happened and after putting things into perspective, I was  already halfway to full acceptance. I say only halfway because acceptance does not necessarily mean forgetting that it happened. It is appropriate to forgive but it is just as appropriate to stay cautious. For me, full acceptance means forgiving and forgetting an offense. Since I've only chosen to accept that it happened and that there is nothing I can do to reverse it, but at same time  didn't have it in me to forget (not just yet), I'm only halfway there, which I am completely comfortable and at peace with.

Anger and resentment no longer weighed me down. I cannot control others' actions but I can control how I react to it. By letting go of something that is beyond my control, even though it took a lot of willpower, I began to feel at peace (the right scored another point for the win). I imagined flicking little luci on my left side and smiled at the thought that my angel's halo shone a little brighter.

--with faith and gratitude,

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Come Sit With Me

There is a marble memorial bench at the cemetery where my dad is interred and it has a caption that reads "Come Sit With Me". I try not to look at it whenever I visit. It makes me uneasy so I briskly walk past it while rubbing away the goosebumps on my arms. I can walk the other way but it's in very close proximity to my dad's niche so there's no way to completely avoid it. Just the thought of it there, inviting me to come sit, always make me want to cut my visit short. I can sense Kathleen sitting there, looking at me and waiting for me to sit with her. I've ran past it to get to the car faster where I can feel safe with the doors locked (as if a locked car will stop a ghost from entering it).

Come sit with me. These words resonated with me as I found the picture of a bench that my son Angelo snapped today. This bench looks inviting. Positioned under the shade of a big oak tree, I can see friends catching up on each other's busy lives; a young couple sharing dreams of the future; a family enjoying an afternoon picnic.

Come sit with me. I got reminded of the times when I was young, walking past a kid sitting alone at lunch. It makes me think of people who choose an empty spot in the bus instead of sitting next to a sullen-looking stranger. It makes me think of the times I took for granted spending quality time with family members, even to sit at the dining table to talk about our day. I wonder how many lives I could have touched just by getting over my ego and striking up a conversation. I wonder how many more friends I could have made. These days, the internet is filled with news about kids taking their own lives because they were bullied and this is worrisome and heartbreaking for a mother. This serves as a reminder to parents to talk to their children about the impact of bullying and the difference a smile or a conversation starter as simple as a "hi" can make. School officials remind children if they see something, to say something. They might just save a life.

Lastly, the phrase "Come sit with me" also reminded me of a flyer I found at church, inviting parishioners to spend an hour with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. That's Jesus saying, "Come sit with me. Tell me about your day. Tell me about your dreams, your desires, your successes and failures. Tell me about your relationships, your friends and your family. Tell me what makes you smile, what makes you sad. Tell me what worries you." Of course He already knows about all these things, but He wants to hear from us. He invites us to build a close relationship with Him. He wants us to be real. You can sit with Him wherever and whenever. There are times when you don't even need to talk, just surrender and listen with your heart. Will you accept the invitation? Jesus is not very particular about appearances. Come as you are.

Come sit with me. For some, this might as well be an invitation to reach out, to heal, to make friends, to rekindle relationships, to re-awaken dormant faith. If you're not sure what to say, "Hello" is a good way to start a dialogue.

--with faith and gratitude,

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Be True To Yourself

Do you say yes to something that you do not completely agree with? Do you do something that is not aligned with your belief? Maybe you're doing something in order to please someone even though you know you're losing yourself. Trying to fit in with a group whose values are not similar to yours? Trying hard to be accepted? Are you careful with what you say around "friends" for fear of saying the wrong thing and risk being rejected? Stop!

Stick to your principles and your values and remain true to yourself. Don't keep chasing something or someone until you become a stranger to yourself and to the people who genuinely care.

Surround yourself with people who love and accept the real you and see a much happier you.

"Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

--with faith and gratitude,

Saturday, May 6, 2017


In a world of instant gratification, we want everything right now. You find a dress or a pair of shoes and you couldn't wait for them to go on sale so you buy them at that very moment. You're hungry or thirsty and you're only a few minutes away from home but you drive through a fast food joint anyway to satisfy your cravings. You send a text or leave a voicemail and you expect a reply right now.  You call to make an appointment with your hair dresser and she's booked 2 months out! What?! But you need a haircut right now, today, not tomorrow or the following day. So what do you do? You call around to find someone who can work around your schedule, which is right now because you're already in the parking lot just waiting for confirmation that they're free. Sound familiar?

We're all guilty of being impatient. It takes humility to realize that the world does not revolve around us. People will not always be free when we are. We just need to accept the fact that our "emergencies" are ours alone and we need to wait in line just like everybody else.

They say that patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting; it is being able to endure suffering or discomfort without complaining.

Patience is such a simple word but it's not easily practiced most times. I'm one of those people who will get things done myself if I know it'll take others too long or not get it done to my satisfaction. I switch registers if I see the clerk is taking too long.  I roll my eyes and breathe a heavy sigh if I'm kept waiting. Patience...patience, my Friendster would often remind me. He gets a double dose of my eye-rolling, heavy sigh response because his patience is disgustingly extraordinary; for which I'm thankful because he is patient even with me. I am a work in progress and I know God is not done with me yet.

Let's all strive to be patient with one another (or endure the discomfort of waiting to purchase something).  It not only builds character (maybe even save some money) but it also pleases God.

--with faith and gratitude

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Live. Learn. Repeat.

When babies are learning to walk, I doubt they think about failure.  They don't think about whether or not they can get from point A to point B. They don't formulate a plan. They just do it. Oftentimes they fall and without thinking twice, they get back up and try again. They fall and they get back up. They repeat this until they finally master the new skill. Ah! They don't even realize it at that time that walking is a game changer! Not only can they get to other side of the house quicker by walking, but soon they learn that running is more fun! All of a sudden, their world becomes much wider with their newfound freedom and all because they didn't give up. 

As adults, we are much more inclined to analyze our decisions and actions. We become more conscious of the consequences, at the same time consider various factors that directly affect the outcome of our decisions and so we take calculated risks. A reasonable adult goes through a decision-making process. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. We all should be  making reasonable decisions. But have you ever wondered how many opportunities were missed by over analyzing something? By the time you're ready to commit, you've missed the train (or the bus, or the boat or plane). 

Sometimes taking a leap of faith is necessary. There are times when dipping our toes in shallow waters is not enough to satisfy our curiosity and we need to jump into the deep end of the pool and learn to swim. Mistakes are an essential part of our existence. We make mistakes and we learn from them. It's how we grow and mature. By taking risks, we live. By making mistakes, we learn. We live, learn and repeat the process of living and learning. This is how we gain new experiences. Sometimes we make the same mistakes and that's okay but this shouldn't discourage us from breaking an unhealthy cycle. Live. Learn. Repeat. 

The point I'm trying to make is, there are times when we are faced with tough decisions. This however, should not stop us from living our lives. Don't be a victim of paralysis by analysis. Try not to over complicate things. Make a decision and run with it. Later on if you find out it was a misstep, get back up, learn from the experience and move on. Live your life again and take the lessons life throws at you. Live. Learn. Repeat. 

"The biggest mistake you could ever make is being too afraid to make one." -- Anonymous

--with faith and gratitude,

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


If you've ever bought or received a greeting card from Papyrus, chances are, you've seen one of their inserts about hummingbirds, which coincidentally is their signature logo. It reads:

"Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation."

I just love hummingbirds. I love to watch them flit from flower to flower. When I'm out on the trellis at work, I usually hear their cheerful chirps before I see them. I marvel at their tiny delicate bodies which allow them to fly at ultra fast speeds, their agility in hovering over flowers, and their vibrantly colored feathers.

Every time I see them, I am reminded of the beauty around me. God did not spare any details when He created the world. He filled it with great big creatures and wonders and tiny seemingly insignificant creatures yet it's these things that harmonize our surroundings. All things big and small create a synergy that makes our planet the perfect place to live in. How many of us take the time to appreciate these gifts that God has so lavishly blessed us with?

"Like a hummingbird, may we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday." -- Papyrus

--with faith and gratitude,