Posts Tagged ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’
My father and I watched the movie Skyline few Sundays ago. We came about 15 minutes late, but we made it to the Day One of the Alien Invasion. The film ran for about an hour and a half. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 14% rating, i.e. bad movie. But I disagree.
First, there are no movie stars like Tom Cruise. I think this is a positive aspect of the movie. The characters are plain and boring–just like you and me. They represent many of people we know who spend the night away in parties and orgies. A casual sex made a girl pregnant and the man is not ready to be a father. The setting is a condominium and there is no family to speak of. An old man lives alone with a dog.
And second, the story was not well told because it has a hanging ending. When the movie ended and the cast of characters went up, the people still remained in their seats, wondering if the movie has really ended. I felt cheated that the movie did not end properly unlike Independence Day–a virus was delivered and the spaceships were destroyed. Or in Transformers: the Autobots defeated the Decepticons. A glorious morning shines after a terrible storm. But this is not how it ended in Skyline: in the face of an alien invasion, the humans–with all their jet fighters and nuclear missiles–are powerless. And the thought of powerlessness lingered long hours or days for me after watching the film.
Let us turn to some theological elements in the film:
1. Captivating Light and Beatific Vision
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, as quoted by Wikipedia, beatific vision is defined as follows:
The immediate knowledge of God which the angelic spirits and the souls of the just enjoy in Heaven. It is called “vision” to distinguish it from the mediate knowledge of God which the human mind may attain in the present life. And since in beholding God face to face the created intelligence finds perfect happiness, the vision is termed “beatific.”
The light seen by the human characters in the movie may also be called beatific in the superficial sense, because they find it wonderful to see. Such a wonderful light pulls them towards the heavens, similar to what St. Paul described during the coming of Christ:
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thes 4:17)
But in the movie there was no heaven to speak of, but a deep pit of dark slime where humans are piled on top of each other. This is Sheol, the abode of the dead.
Such an alien light reminds me of the shining darkness of sin (e.g. pornography): it captivates your vision, drawing you closer to read or see more, until your soul is plunged in the darkness of sin. Not to look is difficult for the will, unless another person immediately pulls you out from the captivating light. This reminds me of the palantir of Orthanc that Pippin looked into and the Dark Lord Sauron caught hold of his mind; Pippin only recovered when he confessed his sin to Gandalf.
2. War for the human brain
The alien creatures may be classified as octopi and behemoths. Octopi creatures capable of flight. No, they do not scan for electromagnetic radiation like that in the Matrix and zoom in for the kill. Instead, they seek human and draws them out either by lure or by force. Behemoths, on the other, have nothing else to do but to crush everything in its path.
These alien creatures remind me of the modern-day headhunters: multinationals, governments, and non-government organizations. They get the best minds to join them and the persons they get became imbued with the organization’s culture and values. I am thinking countries like China, companies like Planned Parenthood, and the many organizations which promote the homosexual lobby. What the movie’s ending may be saying is that it is possible to be part of these organizations while keeping your own mind. Tyranny is terrified by the human free will and tyrants will try to keep human mind in control either by brainwashing the adults in universities or by sucking the brains of infants in partial birth abortion.
The movie ends with utter hopelessness: no US nuke missiles can destroy the alien ships. The US tried all their military hardware and software against Vietnam; US lost the war. The US also tried their military might against Iraq; the US is now recalling back its forces. The US has not learned its lesson well: a war of the mind cannot be fought with guns and nukes. The religion of peace called Islam can only be converted by the peace of Christ, the Lion from the Tribe of Judah. The Great Red Dragon that is communist Russia and China can only be defeated by the Woman Clothed With the Sun, Our Lady of Fatima. And the multi-tentacled behemoth that is Planned Parenthood can only be destroyed by She Who Crushed the Head of the Serpent, Tequaxalupeaux, Our Lady of Guadalupe whose feast we now celebrate. In the end, this is what we can be sure: the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary shall triumph.
In the Letters section of the Philippine Star, a Muslim proposed to add a crescent moon on the Philippine flag (see picture here):
Since the avowed purpose for the modification of the flag is to give recognition to the Muslims of Mindanao, I suggest that we add a green CRESCENT instead to one of the stars (see proposed design above) in which manner the recognition intended them can be said to be clear, distinct, apparent and can be readily pointed to even by any grade school pupil and not to be lost within one of those rays that most people never care to count at all. More importantly, it hails them not just as mere freedom fighters but as Muslims. — DATU RUBEN S. BUAN SR., Datu Lukes of Maguindanao Sultanate, 102 Quezon Avenue, Poblacion 1, Cotabato City
I am sure many Christians like me would object to this. If we add a CRESCENT, we must also add a CROSS, but not to place them side by side, overlapping each other, to form the hammer and sickle of the Communist Russia. And since about 90% of Filipinos are Christians, the cross should be at least nine times bigger than the crescent moon.
But I am sure Muslims would object to the cross. So why not choose a symbol dear to Christians and Muslims alike: Mary. Mary is the Mother of Christ and Mary is also found in the Quran as Miriam. Muslims revere Mary more than Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote in his book, Mary and the Muslims:
Mary is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: “Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary.” In a variant of the text, Fatima is made to say: “I surpass all the women, except Mary.”
This brings us to our second point, namely, why the Blessed Mother, in this twentieth century, should have revealed herself in the insignificant little village of Fatima, so that to all future generations she would be known as “Our Lady of Fatima.” Since nothing ever happens out of heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as “Our Lady of Fatima” as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her Divine Son, too.
Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the Moslems occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Moslem chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind when the Moslems left, but even embraced the faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus, the very place where Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.
The final evidence of the relationship of Fatima to the Moslems is the enthusiastic reception which the Moslems in Africa and India and elsewhere gave to the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima, as mentioned earlier. Moslems attended the Church services in honor of Our Lady; they allowed religious processions and even prayers before their mosques; and in Mozambique the Moslems, who were unconverted, began to be Christian as soon as the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was erected.
Because Muslims honor Our Lady of Fatima so much, it is fitting that our Lady should stand on top of the crescent moon as in the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe or of the Immaculate Concepcion, which the Muslims also believe:
The Koran, which is the Bible of the Moslems, has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First of all, the Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception and, also, in her Virgin Birth. The third chapter of the Koran places the history of Mary’s family in a genealogy which goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Koran’s description of the birth of Mary with the apocryphal Gospel of the birth of Mary, one is tempted to believe that Mohammed very much depended upon the latter. Both books describe the old age and the definite sterility of the mother of Mary. When, however, she conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Koran: “O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me.”
When Mary is born, the mother says: “And I consecrate her with all of her posterity under thy protection, O Lord against Satan!”
The Koran passes over Joseph in the life of Mary, but the Moslem tradition knows his name and has some familiarity with him. In this tradition, Joseph is made to speak to Mary, who is a virgin. As he inquired how she conceived Jesus without a father, Mary answered: “Do you not know that God, when He created the wheat had no need of seed, and that God by His Power made the trees grow without the help of rain? All that God had to do was to say. ‘So be it, and it was done.’”
The Koran has also verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the Blessed Mother and saying: “Oh, Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth.” In the nineteenth chapter of the Koran there are forty-one verses on Jesus and Mary. There is such a strong defense of the virginity of Mary here that the Koran, in the fourth book, attributes the condemnation of the Jews to their monstrous calumny against the Virgin Mary. (Bishop Fulton Sheen, Mary and the Moslems)
Our Protestant brothers may object to Mary. But they can think of her simply as a Woman on top of a Crescent Moon described in the Book of Revelation (for Protestants will never believe unless it is in the Bible):
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Rev 12:1)
How about the members of Iglesia ni Cristo and of the Masons? The Philippine flag already contains the triangle, the stars, and the sun, which are their common symbols (see comparison of INC and Masonic logos).
I think this proposal of adding our Lady of Fatima on top of the crescent would be acceptable to all Faiths: Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, and Masons. If we remove Our Lady, we must also remove the Crescent, and many would be happy with our flag as it is.
Yesterday, after more than a year long of waiting, my friend finally enters the convent and joins the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate as an aspirant. Her home is in Novaliches, Quezon city; the convent is just a few minutes ride from their home. I hope her parents accompanied her. Only her mother does not approve of her joining the sisters; her father does not say anything. But my friend feels she is now ready. She has to enter to see if it is to the convent she is really called. She planned to enter on October 7, the Feast of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. But she entered days before it to make it for the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which is today.
I. Conversion Experience
My friend studied at the La Consolacion College under the Augustinian Sisters and finished as Salutatorian in high school. She collected rosaries when she was still a child; she fiddled with them, but she can’t finish a rosary. As a middle child in her family, she tends to be alone. Her elder sister and her younger brother are playmates; she felt left out. Even in her elementary and high school years, she can’t relate well with her classmates. After a couple of unhappy relationships, she lost her sense of direction. She saw demons haunt her several times; they only vanish when she cry out to Mama Mary and to St. Michael the Archangel.
In her fourth year in college at the Ateneo de Manila University, she studied under Fr. Joseph Roche, S.J. in one of her theology classes; she is a Management Information Systems major, but theology, like Philosophy, is one of the core courses in Ateneo. It was 15 units in my time; I think it was down to 12 units in her time. Oh how she loved Fr. Roche. Fr. Roche would talk about the Catholic Church, the Saints, the Pope, Mary, and Jesus with so much love. But at times he can be temperamental: he would hammer his fist on the table as he repeats again and again and again the dogma of Faith he wants his students to remember. My friend always saw him at 7:30 a.m. in the morning to photocopy some biblical reflections in a newspaper for discussion in class; but many students did not appreciate his efforts. Before the semester ended, she went to confession to Fr. Roche. Her many sins were pardoned, and she resolved to go and sin no more.
After her graduation, she went to an 8-day retreat. The retreat master was Fr. Daniel J. McNamara, S.J., who was my research supervisor for nearly half of my life. A bond was formed between them. A father she became to her. Just like the many men and women whose lives Fr. Dan touched.
II. The Manila Observatory
Two summers ago Fr. Dan found work for her at the Manila Observatory. And two summers ago Fr. Dan sent me to the Observatory’s Ionosphere Building to write my physics dissertation; no one stays at the building anymore because Fr. Victor Badillo is confined at the Jesuit Infirmary. On that summer we met. According to her it was on the Observatory’s lobby. I was talking with Fr. Dan for a few minutes and she was there sitting looking at us, smiling. Fr. Dan told her later that I was staying the Ionosphere building alone. And she wondered who is this man who lives alone.
We only met a few times after that. Sometimes, it was while walking after mass or walking to the LRT station at Katipunan. I find her aloof, always fiddling her ten-bead rosary while walking. Sometimes it was during birthday parties. During the Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia, the birthday of my friend at the Observatory, we were seated at the table with Fr. Dan. We talked about the saints and the mass. And we connected. But we never yet became friends.
Last November, I started writing my Monk’s Hobbit blog. One of my entries was on how Our Lady of Guadalupe converted me from the New Age Movement, how She taught me to read the Bible, and how She became my Mother after my mother died. My friend was able to read it. And she thought:
Here is a man who also loves Our Lady. What if he becomes my friend? I shall enter the convent soon, and I would be very sad if I enter without me knowing him.
She gave me a book on the Marian Shrines of France by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the same religious order who wrote my favorite Handbook on Guadalupe. I blogged about the book she gave me. And in just a Saturday and a Sunday, I received about 3500 visitors; my average number of visitors then was only about ten per day. My post became the top 83 post in WordPress worldwide. That was February 8. Like Peter seeing the miraculous catch of fish, I said to God:
Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. I do not wish to open my heart to another woman again. I already lost my long-time best friend since high school, and I already died when we parted. I do not wish to die again. But not my will, O Lord, but yours be done.
III. My Twin Sister
Last 10 Feb 2009, she emailed me some of her thoughts. I wrote her that she sounded like St. Therese of Lisieux who do not wish to be outdone in loving Jesus and Mary. So she proposed the following pact of holy friendship:
We shall outdo each other in loving Jesus and Mary. The first one to go to heaven wins.
I agreed, save for one small note: the pact officially begins on the next day, 11 February, on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
We went to 5:15 p.m. mass at the college chapel of the Immaculate Concepcion. The one who gave the homily was my college classmate in physics, Oliver “Ody” Dy, who was a deacon then; he is now a Jesuit priest. He told the story of St. Scholastica and her twin brother, St. Benedict:
St. Scholastica visited St. Benedict in his monastery. In a little hut outside the monastery, they talked. They talked about spiritual things for several hours until night came. Then St. Benedict told her sister that he must leave, because the visiting time is over and he is wanted at the monastery. Scholastica pleaded, but Benedict won’t listen to her. Then lightning flashed and thunder rumbled. The rains fell. Benedict can’t leave. “O sister, what have you done?” he asked. And Scholastica said, “You won’t listen to me. So I prayed to God. He listened.”
I don’t know if you find this story cute. But I find it cute.
We smiled. And since that time, my friend refers to me as her dearest twin brother, and I refer to her as my dearest twin sister.
IV. My Companion in Prayer
Last 15 February 2009, we went to Parish Church of Our Lord of Divine Mercy in Sikatuna, Quezon City. It was our first Traditional Latin Mass together. It was the first time I saw her veiled.
We went to mass together everyday, usually at the college chapel. For special events, we went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at Gilmore and renew our friendship before the statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel holding the Infant Jesus. For me it was the most beautiful and lifelike statue of Our Lady that I have ever seen. Beautiful. She is really beautiful.
We also went to other churches. We went to a Benediction a few times at the Monasterio de Sta. Clara in Katipunan, Quezon City. During Saturday mornings at 6:30 a.m., we usually go to the Carmel of St. Therese at Gilmore, except last Thursday, October 1, on the Feast of St. Therese de Lisieux. If we can’t make it to the college chapel, we go either to the della Strada Church in Katipunan or to the Shrine of St. Joseph in Aurora Boulevard.
We usually pray the rosary together, usually in Latin. Whenever one of us feels troubled or tempted, I or she prays the first half of Ave Maria; the other prays the second half. That is our signal. And we talk.
We sometimes talk over the phone, when we can’t see each other, usually during Sunday’s when she is in Novaliches. Our conversations last a quarter to half an hour and we end with an Ave Maria and three Gloria Patri.
Everyday we text each other, usually around 10:30 p.m.to reflect on the day and say sorry for the wrongs we had done. She would begin with “How are you, Pope?” And we end with a “Goodnight.” I recorded some of our text messages in my private blog to note down certain recurring thoughts and actions. In this way I can help her discern her vocation.
(Pope is my nickname at the Ateneo. Paul is my nickname in my neighborhood. Quir is my nickname in elementary and high school. My real name is Quirino, but my baptismal nickname–if there is ever such a thing–is Pope Paul, because I was born in the Holy Year of 1975 in the reign of Pope Paul VI. I have a special devotion to Pope Paul VI and his encyclical, “Humanae Vitae”, is one of the Monk’s Hobbit blog’s battle cry.)
V. First Farewell
Last 24 February 2009, after a 6:00 p.m. mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Gilmore, my friend told me that she is entering the convent soon. The day after, 25 February, was my dissertation defense. On my way to school, I was crying. I emailed Fr. Dan. I was still crying. I felt keenly my loss of my new found friend. And Fr. Dan wrote, “Hang in there, Pope.” I finished my slides ten minutes before my scheduled defense. I passed.
Last March 10-18, she went again to a retreat with the graduating students of Ateneo. Fr. Dan helped her review her life, by noting the highest and lowest points. He also helped her discern her vocation. Fr. Dan wants to know whether her vocation is only the result of her strong will and her romanticism, for “these are a deadly combination,” he said. Fr. Dan is suspicious of stories about demons or St. Francis telling her, “What is it that you want, my daughter?” These can be just the result of watching movies or strong imagination. At the end of the retreat, Fr. Dan said that he must talk with the sisters on April 5.
At the day of the end of her retreat, I went to the Observatory at 4:30 a.m. to meet my friend from Baguio. I waited at the lobby. She waited in front of my building. We never met until 5:30 a.m.
Last April 5, my friend told her story to the sisters while Fr. Dan listened. It was agreed that my friend will not enter the convent without Fr. Dan’s permission. Fr. Dan told her to wait until October. I felt relieved.
VI. Second Farewell
October has arrived. Fr. Dan gave her his recommendation. Last Thursday night, my friends at the Observatory gave her a simple farewell party with two pizzas and watched a movie. She never enjoyed the movie of John Lloyd and Bea Alonzo. She hates anything romantic. Halfway she left and went to the chapel. I went to her after some time and we left.
I accompanied her to Novaliches and arrived at 12:30 a.m. She asked her parents if I can sleep at their home, so that I can join her for the 6:30 a.m. mass with the sisters at the convent; they agreed. She said that Sr. Magdalene wants to show to me the details of their altar and the candlesticks so that I have some idea on how to make the proposal for the renovation of the Manila Observatory’s chapel. (I shall tell about this meeting in another post.)
I slept in her room; she slept in their sala. In her room is a large crucifix, about two feet high. There are also some little statues of our Lady and of St. Michael the Archangel. Her room was cleansed after a few inches of flood crept into their home last Saturday, during Typhoon Ondoy. Some carton boxes are piled up high. The carpet was rolled to the side.
Two Saturdays ago she was not at their home; we were caught by Typhoon Ondoy at EDSA. I was coming from Defensores Fidei talk at Greenhills; she was coming from their other home near University of Sto. Tomas. She tried to make it to the talk, but the flood was already a foot-deep there when she left. We met at Guadalupe train station. We passed by Market Market and she bought a shirt and skirt; she was wet. We braved the storm for a few blocks and found a taxi. Her umbrella broke before she entered. But the taxi can only go as far as the American Cemetery. There is a long traffic of cars towards Gate 3. Nothing moves. Only my umbrella sheltered us from the battering rain. It was a long walk.
My sister-in-law told her that she can sleep at the room of my niece who was stranded at the University of Asia Pacific in Magallanes; the flood already submerged the second floor there, so they stayed at the third. During the night, my friend helped me paint Our Lady of Guadalupe. I have finished the sketch and painted the face. She colored the mantle and the rays. Our styles differ: she uses pastel like crayons–dark and strong; I undid some of her colors using cotton dipped in baby oil, because I prefer colors light and subdued. Our painting is still unfinished. I don’t know how our opposite styles can blend in harmony. I have to study her style and use it where it fits. I have to modify my style and invent new techniques. This can take months of work. Or years. If God permits that we see each other someday, I don’t want to meet her empty handed. I must show her the final piece.
VII. Third Farewell
After our mass with the sisters, we went to their house for lunch and went back to the Manila Observatory. She gave some ten-bead rosaries to our friends. We left again at 5:30 p.m. The rain poured. Typhoon Peping is coming. The waters in Katipunan was rising to a few inches. We got a taxi and rode to Novaliches. It was three hours of grueling ride. I placed my envelope bag on my lap, placed a clean bond paper on top of it, and there she rested her weary head. My mission is to help her find her vocation and I have to make sure she enters the convent safely.
We arrived at their home. Her parents offered me some brownies and Zesto juice. Her mother asked if my phone number is still the same. I said yes. She was the one who gave me the phone when I lost my phone in their car on the way to Novaliches before. My friend ‘s phone is dead; she intentionally left her charger at their other home, so that she won’t be disturbed by text messages. She borrowed my phone and texted Fr. Dan. Fr. Dan gave her his blessings. When I was about to leave, her father told me that it was raining heavily outside. I said I have to go. I promised my brother and sister-in-law that I shall be home. I bade goodbye.
The road home was fast. I arrived at 10:00 p.m. My brother, my sister-in-law, and my niece were there watching TV. I said, “Good evening.” My niece took my right hand and touched it on her forehead. At 10:30 p.m. I called my friend in Novaliches. That was just in time, since she was also thinking of calling me. We talked for an hour.
“Pope, I am dying,” she said. She was crying.
I told her to be strong. I told her that the Aspirancy is for her to know whether the convent is really for her or not. I told her to be obedient to her superiors and open her heart to her new novice mistress; her spiritual director, Sr. Magdalene, is leaving for Italy this October. She cannot expect to make other people change, but she can change her way of seeing other people, just as St. Therese did. I told her to tell the novice mistress whenever she feels pain.
And we talked some more and renewed our pact of friendship. My sister must die to herself and purge her soul of inordinate attachments before she can be a bride of Christ. For two years I won’t hear from her. Yet despite this, I cried not. I promised her before that I won’t cry anymore during our parting. I kept my promise. There are only two things in the world that cannot be bought but only spent, as an Aztec once said, and that is Love and Time. I spent them well and I never regretted. So even if mountains and seas and silence shall separate us in this life, she shall always remain with me in my heart, and we shall never be part.
Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight
Someone is thinking of me and loving me tonight
Somewhere out there someone is saying a prayer
That we’ll find one another
Somewhere out there our dreams come true.
VIII. Notes on Her Sickness
My sister is sick. She has bronchitis. The doctor at Medical City told her to come back after two weeks, to make sure that she is really well before entering the convent. She took the medicines but she never went back to the doctor, for the sisters have their own doctor. She has ulcer and hyperacidity. She cannot fast. If she delays her meal even for thirty minutes, she feels acute pain in her stomach. She also feels pain in her left rib. When she laughs long, she feels pain in her left chest. She also feels pain in her shoulders, maybe from playing the violin for hours. She usually practices in my office at 6:00 p.m. while I do my research. Her knees are weak. A doctor in Cardinal Santos told her that the x-ray of her knees revealed that her knee-caps are not properly placed–an inborn defect. She feels pain whenever she tries to bend her legs upward from sitting position. The doctor advised her not to walk too long or climb stairs. Kneeling is ok, because only the tendons touch. But when she kneels to pray a rosary on a bare floor, her knees hurt. Before it was only her right knee; now it is both.
I pray that she will persevere in the convent. Nothing makes her happy than to see Jesus at the Adoration Chapel and to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Nothing makes her sad that to see Jesus placed inside the Tabernacle after Benediction and to see him received with profane hands. If she can’t persevere, I may have to take care of her.
Monk’s hobbit has been actively blogging this past weeks. I am feeling burnt out. It has been a while since I have really rested. I feel that I am becoming a part-time teacher and a part-time blogger; I have left my beloved equations. I miss the times when I am just deriving equations for several hours. I watched expectantly how my equations seem to take a life of its own, as I counted the hours by the number of my pages of work, until I reach the end of my labors and box the final answer with a red pen.
But it is not really the equations I miss. I miss the silence, even the silence in not hearing other people speak through their blogs. I daily go to mass, but I feel I need to just be alone and reflect on the questions of St. Ignatius: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What more can I do for Christ. I am already halfway to death, considering that the average life span is 65 years. I am in my midlife crisis.
I remembered St. Jean Vianney. He too wanted to just be alone to pray, but his priestly duties forbade him from escaping to the monastery. I don’t know how long I can really be alone until my duties demand my presence. May Our Lady grant me graces this August 15, the Feast of Our lady’s Assumption. O Mama! Help me, Mama!
In silence I shall finish a painting for a parting friend. It is a pastel (and baby oil) portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe. My last painting was seven years ago, also for a parting friend; it was their family portrait. I also painted Our Lady of Guadalupe for my scholarship benefactor in college and for my mother after her death. It seems that I could never paint unless I face death.
- God grant me the serenity
- To accept the things I cannot change;
- Courage to change the things I can;
- And wisdom to know the difference.
- Living one day at a time;
- Enjoying one moment at a time;
- Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
- Taking, as He did, this sinful world
- As it is, not as I would have it;
- Trusting that He will make all things right
- If I surrender to His Will;
- So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
- And supremely happy with Him
- Forever and ever in the next.
My prize in elementary storytelling contest: pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary
When I was a Grade 1 student in St. Rose of Lima School in Bacolod City, I was asked to represent the class in a storytelling contest vs. the representatives of Grades 2 and 3. My story piece is “The Boy who Cried Wolf.” When the results were out, the winner was Grade 3, followed by Grade 2, and I for Grade 1. My prize: two one-inch pictures of the Sacred Heart Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary connected by a hinge. The pictures are framed with ornate plastic painted with gold.
My mother was proud of my prize. She placed it on our altar where we pray the rosary every night. Me and my brothers and sisters were already trying to fend of sleep, but pray we must. My mother and father were kneeling, and so must we till the rosary ended, complete with the Litany (I just noticed the number litany prayers is the same as the number of the rosary beads).
I don’t know what happened to my little prize. I think it was kept in a cabinet together with my journal notebooks–my mother keeps little things about me and my other brothers and sisters. My mother died about ten years ago, but her face lit by candles as she prayed on our altar I still remember clearly. Before she died, she entrusted me to Our Lady of Guadalupe. And Our Lady has become my mother.
On my present workdesk are two 20 inch by 20 inch pictures connected by a hinge: the pictures of the Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is visble: aflame, crowned with thorns, mounted with a cross. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is invisible, yet her hands joined in prayer and the flower on her dress above her hands suggests her Immaculate Heart. I gazed and gazed and smiled. The boy who cried wolf, now cries “Lord, Lord!” and “Mama, Mama!” Thank you for making me win third place, so that I will place first in your hearts.
Previous: I. My New Age Background
But I saw no book by Lobsang Rampa, Sitchin, Licauco, or Casteneda. I saw something else: a picture of a lovely lady on a book’s front cover. I did not hear angels telling me, “Tolle lege,” or “Take and read,” as what happened to St. Augustine; but I took the book anyway. The book is entitled, “A Handbook on Guadalupe” by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (1997).
At first glance, I instinctively know that the picture of the Lady could not be a painting. I am a pastel painter but not a professional. I do not use brush. I use crayon pastels like crayons, but I mix them using baby oil and cotton. I see blue shadows cast by the yellow sun. I see green and yellow in the human skin. I intersect parallel lines at vanishing points. I scale pictures using boxes and triangles. I sense symmetry. I see beauty. Yet a true artist I am not, for I do not know human anatomy. I do not know the names of the muscles and how they are attached to the bones. I do not know the golden ratios that describe the human form. I am only a copyist and in this I am content. But if I see a masterpiece, I know it truly is.
- somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
- your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose
- or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
- nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
- (i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands
Call it love at first sight. I bought the book.
V. Rediscovery of My Catholic Faith
Mama also taught me how to read other Catholic books. I read her messages in the Marian Movement of Priests. I read the books of Scott Hahn and learned of his conversion story. I read Fr. Leo Trese‘s “The Faith Explained.” I read the Catechism. But my favorite book is on Dogmatic Theology lent to me by a friend. How simple to state are the Catholic dogmas–Jesus is the Son of Man, Mary is the Mother of God–yet how many church doctors, how many councils, how many centuries have to pass before these dogmas can be understood and explained. And the mystery of the dogma deepens.
I read books, blogs, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets–anything that I could get my hands on to learn more and more about the Catholic Church. (I also occasionally read articles against the church and the pope, but I have to pray beforehand and read the Catechism afterwards—shots of vaccine against a virus.) Now, I am reading the “Confessions” of St. Augustine and the “Summa Theologiae” of St. Aquinas. But because of my physics background, I only read the physics parts: relativity of time in Augustine and optics in Aquinas. The rest I skipped. But somehow in the process I get a glimpse of their theology.
And Mama led me to her Son. I learned to value the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance. I learned to pray the rosary as a meditation on the life of Christ. I learned to pray the chaplet of the Divine Mercy. I studied a little Latin. And someday when I have enough money, I’ll buy my first 1962 missal and unearth the treasures of the ancient mass.
I do not know why our Protestant brothers hate Mama very much. Is it because she is beautiful? Is it because Christ honored her as his mother by lavishing her with all the graces that the Angel Gabriel addresses her as “Full of Grace”? Or is it because they haven’t yet felt the love of mother? They have God as Father. They have Christ as Brother. But they have no Mother. “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5)– this is the only command from our Mother. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so does Mary shines in splendor with the light of Christ. In the darkest night, Mary guides us with the light of Christ and she prepares us for the dawn of His Coming.
A year after my graduation in college, my mother died. She died due to kidney failure—a complication of diabetes. But before she died, I visited her in Bacolod. She cannot anymore recognize me. My sister took the handbook of Guadalupe and showed it to my mother. My mother said, “Toto, Toto.” That was my name my mother calls me. And she only knew my name because of Guadalupe. Maybe she is saying Christ’s last words on the cross: “Woman, behold your son.” My mother did not leave me orphan. She entrusted me to Our Lady, to Our Mother, to Our Mama.
I love you Nanay. I love you Mama.