Your Name is What?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” a quotation from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

I was particularly impressed by the knowledge that I picked my son’s name well. A cousin-in-law of mine, Francis, pointed out to my son that there were only two statues of saints who were carrying the Baby Jesus and continued to ask my son to identify who these were. Of course, there was silence as my son was not particularly into statues; nonetheless he knew who Sts. Joseph and Anthony were. So, behold – the two saints were TADAH – he guessed right, his namesakes.

There was a mass baptism held at the church recently and the priest in his sermon spoke of name choices. It used to be that some parents chose to name their children after their own parents’ – if a boy, then after the two grandfathers; if a girl, then after the two grandmothers. It did not stop there. Added to the name of the grandparents was the chosen name, so already you have three names there. Then, of course because of tradition, if the child was a girl, you would have to add Maria before the given names; and if a boy, you would have to add Jose. The poor kids nowadays have difficulty in getting official documents as sometimes because of the many first names, chances are, these would no longer be fitted into the “boxes” provision for first name. I have that problem. Do you?

Anyway, back to given names. The next generation of parents this time went for the names of current celebrities. You have Madonna, Britney, Michael (it never gets out of style), Justin. Here in the Philippines, somehow compound names like Rogenilda (derived from Roger and Nilda) also became popular. I had a student before whose name was simply “X” – accordingly, they were eight children in the family and her parents from the eldest, thought of names starting with 8 letters for the eldest and then she being the youngest was named with a single letter. To be baptized, however, the priest asked her parents to add Maria to her name as “X” does not mean anything.

It is difficult to have namesakes. Again, here in our country where Reyes, Santos, Cruz or the delos Reyes, delos Santos and dela Cruz, are the most common surnames, there is the issue of Filipinos having the same first names and last names. Usually, it is the middle initial or the second given name which breaks the tie, so to speak. Case in point, I have three other namesakes and we, four all live in Quezon City. So, whenever I have to get government documents, there are some hitches.

Then you have the nicknames. You have “Baby” already in her 60s. You have repeated one-syllable nicknames, i.e. Bongbong. You have initials, EJ for a nickname. Then you have nicknames taken from idols, like the real name is Lourdes but her nickname is Mikey – from her crush, Michael Douglas (that was a lifetime ago when Streets of San Francisco was a hit TV series).

So, what is really in a name. A lot, I should say. It is the unique you. It is what makes you, you. It is what identifies you from the others, even from your namesake. That’s why our elders keep on giving this bit of advice, “Take care of your name. It is the only one you’ve got.”

There have been a lot of discussions on Names, I am sure you may have read, watched or listened to one already. One important note from all these is: You are what your name is.

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Living Water

Living water – the one thing that would heal us and will never make us thirsty ever again.

The gospel last Sunday spoke of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman. It was not a welcome encounter for Jesus though. History tells us that then there was that feud existing between the Samaritans (Samaria) and the Jews (Judea and Cesarea). It was a feud based on differences in Jewish traditional beliefs more than anything else; simply, the Samaritans and the Jews did not see eye to eye.

Going back, Jesus happened to make a stopover at Samaria, specifically resting at Jacob’s well, on his way to Jerusalem. While there he asked for water from a Samaritan woman. She showed no kindness as she recognized the Jew in Jesus.

The one thing that was remarkable about this encounter was how Jesus was able to break the animosity felt by the woman. He talked about the “living water”, the one thing expressed in the gospel readings over and over – the one thing that forever changed the Samaritan woman’s life. Jesus stayed in that town for two days, according to the gospels and preached the good news.

“Unless you are born of the water and the spirit, you cannot enter the Kingdom…” – spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus which referred again to that “living water”.

Faith is what is spoken about here, the “living water”; that which DRIVES us. We thirst for Jesus. We want to know Him and we want to be with Him. Simply, we follow His will and we abide by His words.

BELIEVING that Jesus makes it better for me. It is hard… it is very hard.

It’s difficult to give up my “extras”with the less fortunate. I could instead go online and sell these and have some “extra” income to buy new stuff for myself. It’s difficult to give 10% of my earnings when I could put this aside for my retirement fund. It’s difficult to spend one hour attending mass. I would rather spend my Sunday watching a movie. It is difficult to be on my knees to do some reflection in the Blessed Sacrament. I would rather work extra hours and earn an income to support my hobbies. It is difficult to give a lecture on marriage and the family when you have been abandoned by your husband who took your children away from you. I would rather work eight “silent” hours caring for senior citizens suffering from Alzheimer’s. As a result, it is difficult attending family reunions having to answer questions about your lost family while introducing your new son and husband to your relatives. So, I have spent quality time with my new family out of town cutting myself out from my relatives. Most of all, it is difficult to forgive a person who has spoken hurtful and demeaning words about me, to the point of killing me with all sorts of untruths. Now, with these experiences, what faith is left when there are more cruelties that I have experienced than kindness in my life here?

As I have said, it is difficult. The “living water” should really make things easier to bear. In the gospel of Matthew 11:25-30, my favorite and so far, the one that DRIVES me, speaks of this “living water” in another sense.

TO DIE TO ONESELF… that is the message here. We are just passing through in this world. And, life in this world as Scott Peck in his book, aptly titled says “LIfe is difficult”. Bearing this, the “living water” actually makes all sense. It moves, it DRIVES, so to speak to go out of ourselves and serve others, who like us have also experienced difficulties, not with the same magnitude such as what we have gone through – this a matter of perspective and ability actually – just the same, help bear the cross, so to speak.

“Living water” … as we pray the Apostle’s Creed, we affirm our belief… as we pray the Our Father, we ask for graces to see us through life’s challenges. (http://www.cptryon.org/prayer/season/sunday-lent/3a.html)

Living Water

Living water – the one thing that would heal us and will never make us thirsty ever again.

The gospel last Sunday spoke of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman.  It was not a welcome encounter for Jesus though.  History tells us that then there was that feud existing between the Samaritans (Samaria) and the Jews (Judea and Cesarea).  It was a feud based on differences in Jewish traditional beliefs more than anything else; simply, the Samaritans and the Jews did not see eye to eye.

Going back, Jesus happened to make a stopover at Samaria, specifically resting at Jacob’s well, on his way to Jerusalem.  While there  he asked for water from a Samaritan woman.  She showed no kindness as she recognized the Jew in Jesus.

The one thing that was remarkable about this encounter was how Jesus was able to break the animosity felt by the woman.  He talked about the “living water”, the one thing expressed in the gospel readings over and over – the one thing that forever changed the Samaritan woman’s life.  Jesus stayed in that town for two days, according to the gospels and preached the good news.

“Unless you are born of the water and the spirit, you cannot enter the Kingdom…” – spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus which referred again to that “living water”.

Faith is what is spoken about here, the “living water”; that which DRIVES us.  We thirst for Jesus.  We want to know Him and we want to be with Him.  Simply, we follow His will and we abide by His words.

BELIEVING that Jesus makes it better for me.  It is hard… it is very hard.

It’s difficult to give up my “extras”with the less fortunate. I could instead go online and sell these and have some “extra” income to buy new stuff for myself.  It’s difficult to give 10% of my earnings when I could put this aside  for my retirement fund.  It’s difficult to spend one hour attending mass.  I would rather spend my Sunday watching a movie.  It is difficult to be on my knees to do some reflection in the Blessed Sacrament.  I would rather work extra hours and earn an income to support my hobbies. It is difficult to give a lecture on marriage and the family when you have been abandoned by your husband who took your children away from you.  I would rather work eight “silent” hours caring for senior citizens suffering from Alzheimer’s.  As a result, it is difficult attending family reunions having to answer questions about your lost family while introducing your new son and husband to your relatives.  So, I have spent quality time with my new family out of town cutting myself out from my relatives.  Most of all, it is difficult to forgive a person who has spoken hurtful and demeaning words about me, to the point of killing me with all sorts of untruths.  Now, with these experiences, what faith is left when there are more cruelties that I have experienced than kindness in my life here?

As I have said, it is difficult.  The “living water” should really make things easier to bear.  In the gospel of Matthew 11:25-30, my favorite and so far, the one that DRIVES me, speaks of this “living water” in another sense.

TO DIE TO ONESELF… that is the message here.  We are just passing through in this world.  And, life in this world as Scott Peck in his book, aptly titled says “LIfe is difficult”.  Bearing this, the “living water” actually makes all sense.  It moves, it DRIVES, so to speak to go out of ourselves and serve others, who like us have also experienced difficulties, not with the same magnitude such as what we have gone through – this a matter of perspective and ability actually – just the same, help bear the cross, so to speak.

“Living water” … as we pray the Apostle’s Creed, we affirm our belief… as we pray the Our Father, we ask for graces to see us through life’s challenges.  (http://www.cptryon.org/prayer/season/sunday-lent/3a.html)

Get Inspired!

The Transfiguration of Jesus was the gospel reading last Sunday, the second Sunday of Lent.

This particular gospel has always been a wonder for me.  First, I could not understand why it was that Jesus had shown Himself in all His glory with Elijah and Moses on either side of him to his three apostles, John, James and Peter.   I really did not get it.

However, it is Lent, and t’is the season for reflection – to reflect on God’s love for us.  And, indeed, the Transfiguration was one of those “physical” experiences.

So, what does the Transfiguration signify?  I went over some information from the internet to further shed light, added to the explanation given by the priest in our church.  The presence of Elijah and Moses signifies how these two prophets have foretold the coming of Jesus and how the Son would have to be sacrificed to save us from sin.  The cloud that covered the three of them was the Holy Spirit who continues to give us the gifts/graces for enlightenment.  And of course, God Himself, His voice saying, “This is My Son.”

What of course was the most powerful thing about the Transfiguration was how Jesus was seen in all of His glory together with Elijah and Moses.   Jesus gave a glimpse of what heaven will be like as witnessed by the apostles Peter, James and John.  As Jesus spoke of having to go to Jerusalem, this expresses how we, if we chose to be His followers, would have to go through difficulties in this life just as He went through Himself which culminated in His dying on the cross.   The  idea of “dying from ourselves” to be able to serve Him by serving others is one really bitter medicine to swallow.  However, this is the one thing being asked of us … really simple if I think about it, but would I be able to manage?

Of course God will be there to look after us when we make our choice to follow Him.

To borrow Sting’s song:

Every breath you take, every move you make; every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you.”

Every single day, every word you say; every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you.”

 

The Wonders of Speaking A Second Language

I used to think that ESL was just an extension of teaching English 101 and 102 until I got to teach a group who did not speak a word of English.

The most difficult part was, I did not speak the group’s language. It was a mass of sign language – of the generic kind; pictures, nods, head shaking, pointing to objects and other such actions just to get to understand each other. With time, the group was able to speak passable English; that is to say, “Come eat my house; I cook my wife.” Seems funny but it simply was an invitation to dinner.

I had a grandmother who spoke fluent Spanish. She, my mother and my aunts would be using Spanish if they would not want us to understand what they were talking about. What we did, my siblings and my cousins so as we would get at least a gist of what they were discussing, was we looked forward to learning Spanish in school, then we would be “in the loop.” But my grandmother already passed away when I finally learned to speak/write Spanish; and, there was nobody I could speak it with except my mother and it was just your usual “Como esta”, “muy bien” and “Adios.” There was no longer the story-telling in Spanish or the juicy topics that they used to talk about. It was quite easy really learning the language as our native tongue consisted of roughly 70 to 90% Spanish words.

I got the chance to live in the Land of the Free and Home of the brave. I finally had the opportunity to speak my second language. Lo and behold! I could not be readily understood by the first few Americans I spoke with at the airport. I got the impression then that I had to speak the language with the American twang. My ears felt ticklish then as I kept on hearing the phrase, “Say what?” as this is an expression I only heard in the movies. Next, I had to flip through my file on idioms as the Americans seem to use these more than the basic subject-verb sentences I learned in English 101. At one time I wanted my bottomless soda refilled at a fastfood center and while it was being refilled, the crew there said, “Say when.” My ears got tickled again and I learned that she was asking me at what portion I wanted my glass refilled. How’s that for thinking in your second language on your feet.

I stayed in Los Angeles where a lot of South Americans have made it their home. Next to English, Spanish was a language that seemed to get you around in the area. Anyway, I was walking in downtown L.A. one morning and a Spanish-speaking lady tapped my arm saying, “Pardona me, por favor.” You guessed right, she was asking for some assistance. As I said earlier, I got to learn Spanish in school and with our language having Spanish words in it, it was a question I readily understood. But speaking it, I wasn’t really sure anymore. Instinctively though, I replied, “Lo siento, pero no hablo Espanol” for which I could have kicked myself for doing so. Obviously she was very happy to find somebody who understood her, “Si, si, Espanol.” I learned that the woman just wanted directions to the church’s cloister as she needed to speak to the priest. With sign language and the little Spanish words I could come up with I was able to do that for her. She gave me a lot of “Muchas gracias” to which my answer again instinctively was, “De nada.” So, that was how it was speaking a third language on your feet. I told this story to my sister who was staying in New York and she never stopped laughing. Apparently, she had the same experience over there herself.

“Come eat my house, I cook my wife” somehow does not seem funny anymore. With time, a foreign language becomes part of you as the culture that comes with it does. It takes a lot of studying of both the culture and the language to get you by in the country of origin and of course, a lot of understanding and patience in both learning and teaching the foreign language.

Infinity

Hi there!  Call me PAJ, that’s my penname for this blog.  It’s now the third month of the year 2014; it’s already spring in some parts of the world while here where I am, it’s summer!  Frankly, I have no idea about blogs; this is an attempt at starting one.  So what do you expect to read here?  Well, to satisfy your curiosity, in the next few days, possibly months, you’ll be reading posts from “Authorities” on medicine, law, education and home crafts.  Already common; I am sure information in these areas are readily available.  But, the thing is you’ll be presented with posts presenting “D.I.Y.’s” on specific topics.  I am not much of an expert at anything but there is always room to learn new things on just about anything; and that will be like a breath of fresh air.  Okay.  So, come join me in this “infinitesimal” adventure to the already “known” and together, let’s learn some more of the basics in day-to-day encounters with ordinary, routine and daily chores.  By the way … I am also presenting some articles from “Experts” who I follow in Facebook.  One is an inspirational speaker of note, Mr. Francis Kong.  And, from the business world, Mr. Francisco Colayco who shares information on how to save, how to build your finances and how to invest.  Happy reading!