Monday, December 29, 2008

Preparing the Heart for the New Year

Our tables may be not THAT filled with goodies and food this coming New Year's Eve, but as long as our hearts are READY and filled with peace, love, joy that only FAITH can bring, 2009 will surely be better than what the "news" tells us it may dismally be.

This short video (Thank you, Martin Nievera) truly captures that sense of hope (instead of despair) in every new beginning. It can be a relaxation aid or prayer for us all as we listen and ponder at the meaning of this video.

Despite the gloomy predictions, there is one currency that never loses its value -- that currency is HOPE.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Day has Gone Away?

Christmas day has passed the calendar declares
Our merry cheer vanishes mysteriously in such frenetic haste
Some have grown tired and now wanting for those normal days again
Others view the coming New Year as the season’s real end.
It didn’t make sense to celebrate if normal is something like –
Back to work, hate the boss, wishing your enemy takes a hike
Or back to the normal days when laughter and joy were dead
And you wished some grumpy human ill after praying in your bed.
Christmas means forever much as love never really dies
Christmas means our hearts can cry when justice loses because of lies
Christmas makes us see beyond borders – geography, religion and race
We feel for those in pain like babies who aren’t born with velvet mittens and lace
We sigh for those in Africa and Asia who are born to die of AIDS and cholera
We care more because of Christmas about a world war-torn- a pathetic era
A pathetic era plus an apathetic cluster of humankind who weep not for their own kind
But silently nods and affirm the destruction of their own specie – abortions, wars, being unkind
If after the New Year everything becomes normal again
Perhaps there never was a real Christmas. Should anyone say Amen?
(I hope not)

(An original poem written at a time of pondering while watching CNN)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Pope's Christmas Message 2008

"We draw near this night to the child of every child we see the child of Bethelehem. On this night then let us think of all those children who have been denied the love of parents.Let us think of every child who is brutally exploited as soldiers who are made instruments of violence instead of being made mesengers of reconciliation."

"Let us think of those children who are made victims of pornography and every other appaling form of abuse and throse who are traumatized to the depths of their soul. The Child of Bethlehem summons us again to do everything in our power to put end to the suffering of those children...only through the conversion of our hearts can the cause of this evil be overcome.."
- Pope Benedict XVI.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Equanimity and Stress During the Holidays

What is equanimity???? It is evenness of mind especially under stress.Having the right disposition or a "sense of balance".

Synonyms of equanimity is composure or sangfroid meaning a balanced mind under stress. Equanimity suggests a habit of mind that is only rarely disturbed under great strain . Composure means controlling of emotional or mental agitation by an effort of will or as a matter of habit . Sangfroid implies great "coolness" and steadiness under strain

In a frenzied season such as the holidays, we seem contolled by the hype of the season. Today, we are probably thinking of what we have in our kitchen and how we will manage to do the cooking well before the sun sets. Sure, the feeling of preparing for Christmas is "pleasant" but we have to sometimes admit that as we go on a hurried and rather exciting pace, we start to stress.

It seems that it is impossible to spend a happy holidays without stress, but it is all a matter of "equanimity". It is thinking in terms of "balance". It is taking an hour or two OFF to have some time FOR YOURSELF.

Time for yourself to perhaps get your mind off the holiday complexities and meditate on something -- like God and his goodness. Time to THANK Him that you survived another year unscathed.. time to be grateful for all the friends and family you HAVE and the obvious fact that you are ALIVE. Time to put your mind in a "faith mode" and stop fretting about that extra tomato sauce you forgot to purchase OR that Quezo de Bola which will be missing on your Noche Buena table. Equanimity is that silent voice that will tell you that ONE missing Qiezo de Bola does not matter. Christmas Eve is just a night like all other nights and to stress about it is rather foolish. Equanimity will remind you that the assortment of food in your table does not matter MORE than the state of your relationships with others, your love for Jesus and your commitment to Him. Equanimity is what one needs when you need to find solice from a frenetic world and you are reminded of the words of the Psalmists that sweetly nudges you to : "Be still and know I am God".

Equanimity is calmness inspite and despite of everything around you.It is when you reach the point of having such a "merry peace" despite the fact that everything does NOT seem "okay" but you still can find pleasure (instead of aggravation) in the voices of little children caroling at your gate or doors. It is a sense of mental and soul balance which when one learns to somehow attain it opens the door to wisdom, right decison-making and freedom from stress.

And of course there are always those petty family problems during the Season. Someone feels you gave the other a "better" gift; or you actually forgot to give someone a gift; or you feel bad because your husband remembered everyone except YOU. Equanimity tells you that it really does not matter... because soon Christmas day will be OVER and you wil survive the angst and learn that everything passes.... even Christmas Eve. :) Peace and love to you ALL !Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Wondrous Conversion

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas... Remember WHO is the Reason

A friend of mine who is NOT religious is not touched by the "usual" Christmas songs. That was until she heard this song (and the lyrics). The first time my friend heard this song she swears that "something" happened to her heart-- she fell in love again with Jesus Christ and never fell out of love for Him until now. (And never will)

While it is easy to repeat the same religious cliches like "Jesus is the meaning of the season" let us not JUST say it-- but FEEL it in the depths of our individual hearts and soul. Yes, He is the meaning of the Season but WE are the reason he came to this earth -- He left his grand home heaven to be scorned, to suffer, to die because he loved us. If there is anything that the Christian season can DO to us, it should be able to touch our hearts again. To make us, on the other hand say with firm commitment : "HE IS THE REASON TO LIVE! " And really, He is.

"As little children we dreamt of Christmas morn, and all the gifts and toys, we knew we'd find but we never realized a baby boy one blessed night... GAVE US the greatest gift of our lives...."

He is the reason for the Season if we are willing to make Him OUR reason to LIVE!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mother Angelica's Live TV Shows

Please take note that these are the complete videos of Mother Angelica's "old" Live Shows. These are the BEST of Mother Angelica.

Place your MOUSE below the video of your choice. Though one of the videos is no longer avaliable, MOST are posted here which is a complete collection which you can always come back to everytime you feel like listening to all or any of this collection :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Pursuit of Happiness

Though it is the season to be merry and the shops and malls are filled with myriads of people, so are our hearts filled with fear. With the New Year just around the block we wonder if the coming year will be "good" to us. We fear for our finances, we fear the so-called "recession", we fear what tomorrow may bring. Some even fear their own "shadows".

Despite the lights on the tree or the little (or huge) Christmas celebrations our hearts are not REALLY at peace. We are unsure of the future. The global financial news terrifies us, terrorism scares us, we worry if and HOW will we ever survive.

What we do NOT notice however is that the "economic situation" has in a sense given us a better perspective of family, friends and community. More than ever, it is on this Christmas that we have learned that with LESS than we used to have, we can still find joy in the celebration of the birth of the Saviour. Nevermind if the "feast" isn't the way it used to be, we now begin to focus on intangibles-- members of our family, friends,health and house mates who have made our routinary lives richer.

Then we start to learn that we aren't happy because we win a hundred million pesos or more in the lottery. Neither are we happy because we have that new LCD television set or Wii Nintendo that we desire to have. Or the latest cellphone. We begin to think a bit more rationally and realize that "stuff" and "things" do not bring us happiness. They may make us merry for a while, but when we ponder at what we do NOT have we learn that it is the "intangible things" which can bring us real joy.

WE all desperately seek to be happy, yet happiness seems to elude us.

Why? Because it is not a situation or a thing that we want which can give us real happiness. It is stressful to keep on "running" to pursue our ideal of what "our happiness" should be. Perhaps we should relax instead and take things as they come and not add to the daily stress in life by "running after" happiness.

Yet,it is in passively taking things as they come and leaning on faith when we find real joy. It may mean that we have to stop wanting too much, quit expecting too much from the world (and mankind), not thinking that "stuff" and "things" is the "key" to our personal happiness.
Why is OUR happiness important anyway? Well, because it really is. No one wants to live unhappy.

Yet the secret of happiness is NOT to pursue it. Someone once said that happiness and joy comes to people who seek the least from life. Maybe like a dove, when one grasps joy too tightly in the hand, it flies away instead?
What do you think? Is happiness supposed to be sought after so desperately or does it gently come into our lives because of waiting in faith instead of wanting in fear?Add to Technorati Favorites

Mary Did You Know??

Many people want the lyrics of this song, especially during this blessed season. This is for all of us -- sing and destressing during the holidays is therapeutic. When stressed because of the endless financial worries, fears of what the New Year May bring, getting annoyed in traffic or simply because of "holiday worries" singing this song willl relax your mind, body, heart and soul.Remember the role of Mary in the Nativity Story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sharing "the 12 Days of Christmas" -What it REALLY Means...

Have you ever wondered if there is anything behind the song "The Twelve Days" of Christmas ? It's more than a popular Yuletide ditty-- far from it. We all know that Christmas means December 25 but very few remember that Christmas is a whole season of rememberance of the birth of Jesus and a series of events which folllowed it which ends on January 6 -- or the day of the Epiphany.

Now follows a "secret" that I shall share with you.

There was a time , during the years 1558-1829 when Roman Catholics in Great Britain were prohibited from practicing their religion. It was during this repressive period in English history when someone decided to pen the "Twelve Days of Christmas" as something like a "secret code" that could be sang in public without having to face religious persecution. Though secular the lyrics of the song seems to be, rich symbolisms of faith are in "code" which then could only be comprehended by Catholics.

Like all codes, the song must appear to be "harmless". The secret : each element in the lyrics of this Christmas Carol is a CODE word that conveys their shared religious commitment.

Thus --- here is the meaning of their "secret code" wrapped within the lyrics of that song:

1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.
2.The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testament.
3. Three French hens meant the three greatest good intagibles : "faith", "hope" and "love".
4. The four calling birds meant the Four Gospels. (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
5. The five golden rings allude to the Torah, which is the Old Testament because it is the Old testament that prophets who first declared that the Messiah will come. And He did!
6.The six geese a-laying represents the 6 days of the Creation before God rested.
7. The seven swans a-swimming meant the "sevefold gifts" of the Holy Spirit.
8. The eight maids-a-milking was a code referring to the eight beatitudes.
9. The nine ladies dancing alluded to the nine Gifts of the Spirit as told to us in Galatians 5:10.
10. The ten lords-a-leaping symbolizes the Ten Commandments.
11. The eleven pipers piping is a code to bring into rememberance the role of the eleven faithful apostles who made sure that the Good News is preached and who likewise produced more disciples.
12. The twelve drummers drumming meant the twelve main points of belief in the Apostle's Creed which is shared by most Christians.

Now that the Christmas season is HERE and you hear that song at the mall, shopping center or the radio, take special notice of the uppity lyrics and make your soul listen to it too. After all, Christmas is the season to listen with the heart and soul. It is sharing and giving more than partying or drinking. It is a season to remember John 3:16 --- that God so LOVED the world that he GAVE His only begotten Son. Loving and Giving -- that is the true spirit of this season.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who Am I? The Bare Facts and My Love for Books

I was the first born of three siblings , but the other two didn’t come until later on. Thus, I could probably say that like you, I was extremely loved my my mother Paz and my father Dominador Gomez. God had always been good to me, He predestined me to belong to good parents. It was not only that they could afford it because my mother was one of those rare women who worked as a stewardess during a time when it was not fashionable for women to work, while my father was a physician who was the chief of doctors of the Negros Occidental Provincial Hospital. Were we rich? Not really. But our lives were comfortable and content. It was not only the status that mattered, though I must admit that it did. What was essential was that both my parents had a deep affection for their faith. They were a God-fearing couple who lived their Catholic faith everyday of their lives to the best that they could even if there were times too when circumstances seemed to conspire against them.

For instance, my earliest memory was when I was barely three years old. I did not know the meaning of fear --- all I knew was that my parents were beside me and things would be fine, despite the bombs. Faith is infectious and there are no atheists in foxholes as they say. But it was the faith of my parents that gave me no fearful memories despite the war. I never even noticed that the war was over or I was too young to know that everything was normal once again. I recall my mother insist that I should grow up to be a find young lady and that meant ballet classes, which I loved. Maybe I was never an introvert really because I genuinely got along with other people even during my childhood years.

My father on the other hand was a voracious reader. He was an exemplary head of the family who encouraged me to learn to read to grow and learn. It was not exactly usual because after all, I lived in a province. It wasn’t the Manila scenario, but aside from ballet, there was the richness of culture that I learned to appreciate at a rather early age. It was not a case of obligated obedience which made me like culture and the arts, but rather because I genuinely loved it:)

Much as that, I also loved books. They kept me company and nourished my mind. The one book I cannot forget was from my Father – it was titled “Light of Many Lamps” by Lillian Watson. I still have a copy of that even now. It was a book which I would say tremendously influenced my life, my being, my spirituality because it is a collection of the most encouraging and soul moving first hand accounts of living individuals who left a good mark in this world. My parents were deeply spiritual and my father taught me nuggets for the soul, one of them being that everything in this world is really ephemeral.He also taught me that the best lives are those lived with a sense of equanimity, and how true I would find that out later in my life.

I have often wondered how a single book can influence a life like mine. Hence my surprise when I found out that the rather ancient book I still have still remains a best-seller several decades after my father have me my first copy. These are what people who own my same little book say about it. Like me, it has helped people in their deepest hours of angst and sorrow.

Everyone has a book or several books which profoundly influenced their lives. How true is it that the those who keep books as their "best friends" NEVER ever have the time to be lonely. Thus, learning how to read is learning how to live.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Peek Into My Life (Click Pic for Full View)

This is my son, Mayor JV at the garden with his action team who TRY their best to come up with the best plans for YOUR city :)

We'd appreciate it though if you can GIVE us more suggestions and TELL US how we can improve it....share your ideas with

Contrary to what others may think, my home is a regular one (except for my great garden). Here are actual photos of my garden to share with you all. This is where I find solace with my plants , beautiful vines and a couple of dogs :) All my dogs are special to us. Sharing oneself also means showing you where I live, how I live and some of the people who stay or visit my home:)

The rest of the pictures are part of the bits and pieces of my more active life,including my moments with the leaders of the National Council of Women's Organization of Malaysia (click on the pics above for your full viewing)

Aren't we All Kids?

Today, I learned that grown ups have a lot to learn from "kids". By "kids", I mean those younger than my age (which is not a secret). I see my young grandson Emilio and I wonder at his exuberance and energy. Kids seem to have something that we adults lose -- could this be a sense of innocence?

When was the last time anyone appreciated God's creation in silence while looking at a flower or the glory of the clouds or even the loving loyalty of a dog? When was the last time we were simply "still" and trusting in God? By this I mean REALLY trusting?

We all have to come to a POINT when we must begin to be kids again. We must learn to TRUST OUR Heavenly Father much as we would trust our real father. I think that we'd all be happier people if we acted like the kids and learn to rediscover that trusting the Lord is the "key" to less stress, less unhappiness and less frustrations.

Last night I played volleyball with my grandson and I was amazed at myself. Not only because I enjoyed it but also because I fell to the ground and was unscathed. Of course, I attempted this because my doctor gave me a clean bill of health but more so because I wanted to taste that feeling of hitting that ball with the same gusto I had when I was fourteen. Guess what? And I did IT.

For some reason after the game, I knew that I was alright and that one doesn't reach 60 (plus) simply to wither and "act" like 60. I am more energetic than I was about 10 or 20 years ago. Of course, it is also because I have made my peace with God and myself. I have learned that life is better lived LIKE a child.

We are all children. We all MUST learn that and lean on OUR REAL FATHER, the Almighty God.

I will confess that it may have taken me years to "be a child again". Today, I have reached my journey and I have found that my destiny can only be what HE (up there and everywhere) wants me to be.

Thus, I invite you all to take this journey with me. Feel Free to share ANYTHING you feel with me in OUR blog :)
Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "The Little Prince", 1943