More Than 160 but Less Than 1,000

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. As I swim down the deepest waters of graduate school, I’m thinking of updating this with just random short posts. As the title says, slightly more than the Twitter limit but not exceeding one grand. Short and sweet. Presto zesto. However you want to say that.

This comes very timely because I just gave up on my journal-writing. Thirty bucks down Staples’ drain. Make no mistake — I still love journal-writing, it’s just that I’ve been too occupied the past days since Holy Week (yup that long). Lots of trials have popped out before my eyes this summer as well. God knows how much I want to blast July and early-August 2013 into smithereens.

So there you go. Hopefully I can do this small commitment to myself; writing out one’s thoughts for the day has been proven to be scientifically beneficial anyway. Sorry, no references here, I’m too lazy to even type this last sentence.

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Four-Peat Simbang Gabi: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Last December 2008, my maternal grandfather was terminally ill with gastric carcinoma. As a science major, I knew that only a miracle of some sort can kill all those cancer cells which are paining him. I wanted to help but I ran out of solutions.

It came to me then to complete the nine-day Misa de Gallo. Much like visiting seven churches during Visita Iglesia, one is granted wishes upon perfect attendance of the Simbang Gabi. Thus on the dawn of 16 December 2008, I started what I never predicted would be a habit. On Christmas Eve 2008, I finally uttered my wish: Dear Baby Jesus, with your healing hands, please touch my Lolo Abner and take away this cup of pain from him. I want to go on more roadtrips with him.

Abelardo “Abner” S. Gatmaitan died on the 4th of January 2009 at 3:00 AM. Right before my eyes.

It was as if Baby Jesus mocked me. It was as if Mama Mary forgot to tell my prayers to her Son. It was as if everything negative in the world conspired against me. I hate living. I hate the world.

However when Lolo Abner was buried three days after, I finally got to better see his face inside his eternal bed. It was a peaceful sight to behold. Mission accomplished for my super hero. He lived a great life and it’s time to go back and report in to the Commander General. It was then that I realized it’s not yet my time. I have to follow his footsteps. Even go beyond farther where he traveled.

By December 2009, I completed a back-to-back Simbang Gabi. I wished for a second college undergraduate degree, a chemist license, and a job and Baby Jesus gave them to me on 2010.

By December 2010, I bagged a grandslam Simbang Gabi belt. I wished for hints regarding my American dreams. I got them during the latter half of 2011. I am still getting more actually.

And just this morning, 24 December 2011, like the Ateneo Blue Eagles, I claimed a historic four-peat Simbang Gabi. There are two things I wished for this year. I hope both of them come true, one by August next year, and the other, hmmmm well when I’m 29 years old or older. Haha. But anyway, these two wishes are both very important to me. 🙂 I’m not telling them exactly for now though. I don’t believe in jinxes and stuff but just to be safe…

The most striking Mass during this Simbang Gabi period to me would be Day 8, which was celebrated by Ateneo President Fr. Jett Villarin, PhD, SJ. His homily was in science so I like it so much haha. Anyway, when we look at someone, we actually see not the person him/herself, but his/her image some microseconds ago. The same goes when we look at the stars, and they are even farther. Those we will be looking at later might be dead for millions of years already.

Fr. Jett says that the key to living a meaningful life in the present is to understand the past and the future well. We learn to accept the lessons of the past and we accept the reality of death in the future. As a Heideggerian, I cannot agree more: how one dies is how one lives. We continue to hope and we continue to count all the blessings we have received. Life, is after all meant to be enjoyed.

My Lolo Abner is not a Catholic but he taught me how to observe this tradition just before his death. I hope that whether I am away from this country or not by next year, I can accomplish a five-peat. 🙂

Lesson from a Filipina at the World Youth Day 2011

Kritzia Santos, a Filipina, represented Asia in a question-and-answer portion with Pope Benedict XVI at the World Youth Day 2011 at Madrid. Here’s what she asked that actually is one of the biggest queries young adults like me have:

It is my desire to reach high goals, but success and big dreams are always linked to amassing wealth and high positions. How can I be faithful to my faith without distancing myself from society?
–Santos, before 1.5 million Catholics

In the Gospel, Jesus gives us an answer…Deep in our hearts, we yearn for what is grand and beautiful in life, but ground them in Jesus.
–Pope Benedict XVI

(Quote sources: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/08/21/11/filipina-represents-asia-qa-pope)

And yes, this struck me bigtime. Sometimes I am forgetting the most important piece of the puzzle — Jesus.

Father, give us Jesus, only Jesus, always Jesus. Blessed Maria Theresa of Calcutta’s simple but strong and all-encompassing prayer. As Josh Groban says, let this be my prayer. 🙂

I wish I can attend a World Youth Day celebration someday. Before I age, that is haha. Ecclesial definition of youth is for people aged 18-39, so I’m still in! 😛

And oh, I may disagree with the current pope on some Catholic issues, but this recent picture of our German Shepherd (pun not intended, but come on it’s cute haha) I like. 🙂

PS: In addendum, here’s a message of Pope Benedict XVI to the teachers of Madrid. I think this is also applicable to everyone.

Dear teacher, don’t limit yourself to pure technical knowledge, but help youth to discover the truth of human person.
–Pope Benedict XVI

Wonderful Words of Life

During World War 2, Gen. Douglas MacArthur kept his promise to the war-torn Filipinos: I shall return.

This perhaps is just a replay of what happened years ago when a 33-year old carpenter once told His apostles that He will soon leave them and His followers by dying. The Twelve were aghast, but He told them that in dying He will actually be conquering death and in three day’s time, resurrect. Such tale was impossible to believe though, after all the horrors of the crucifixion were really serious. But exactly after three days’ time, the Carpenter kept his promise. Not only to His apostles and followers, but to every human being on Earth.

Today we commemorate how Jesus kept His promise of salvation through the remembrance of His Paschal Mystery. In His Resurrection, Christ gave us new life. Areas of grey were given vibrant colors once again.

For reflection, and as last post for the Holy Week, here’s a repost of a simply amazing video from YouTube. It really made me teary.

Jesus entered our lives to transform us. His Words added meaning to the joy of living. While we sometimes fail to see this reality, the very air we breathe is enough to be proof.

This Lent 2011, I heard around three to four Sunday Masses at the Santa Maria della Strada Church near La Vista Village in Pansol, Quezon City. I was expecting to hear Alay Kapwa or Salamat sa Diyos as Gospel Antiphons, yet I heard this amazing song instead. The excellent message of its lyrics sent chills to my spine in a positive way — I felt loved by God. While Lent and Holy Week are already over, I think this song is a perfect hymn nonetheless in the celebration of Easter.

Wonderful Words of Life
by Philip P. Bliss

1. Sing them over again to me,
wonderful words of life;
let me more of their beauty see,
wonderful words of life;
words of life and beauty
teach me faith and duty.

Refrain:
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.

2. Christ, the blessed one, gives to all
wonderful words of life;
sinner, list to the loving call,
wonderful words of life;
all so freely given,
wooing us to heaven.
(Refrain)

3. Sweetly echo the gospel call,
wonderful words of life;
offer pardon and peace to all,
wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior,
sanctify forever.
(Refrain)

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

Video repost from Miggy’s Playground Lesson # 5: From The Power of Words

Wonderful Words of Life lyrics from: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh600.sht