An Encounter With Pope Francis

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My husband, myself and my son

This was indeed a memorable experience for us three, my husband, my son and myself. We traveled by LRT to Carriedo, in the city of Manila, and then walked from there to the Manila Cathedral. It was the second day of the 5-day visit of Pope Francis 1 and he was to celebrate mass especially for the religious — so except for the laity serving the church invited to that mass, everybody else were stationed outside of this minor basilica. We three were among the “sea” of people watching the events from inside the church on the video screens placed outside the minor basilica.

The mass was to start at 11:00 AM but we were already there by 7:30 AM, a sacrifice indeed – me with my heart condition, and my husband and my son with seasonal allergies. So, it was a long wait and top that with standing while waiting for more than three hours, next, front, back and side to a person for the same duration of the wait. The sun wasn’t that strong, and we were all grateful for that. It was actually a cloudy morning and every now and then a soft breeze somehow made everything else bearable.

When Pope Francis finally arrived, we all weren’t disappointed that he was far off from all of us — the entrance to the minor basilica was way off from the barricades where we all were allowed to wait. But, we were all okay with that. Pope Francis saw the multitude of us from the barricades and waved to us, acknowledging our presence. That was all we needed and we were all filled with joy.

The gospel was about Jesus asking His apostle Simon Peter if he loves Him. Jesus asked Peter this thrice and thrice Peter answered, “Yes, I love You.”

After reading the gospel, Pope Francis started his homily with “Thank You.” which merited laughter from everyone of us. He had a distinct message for the priests specifically the younger priests — that of helping heal the people, heal the Church. For everybody else, his message was for us to be ambassadors of the Good News.

Our dear Archbishop de Tagle before the blessings, thanked Pope Francis for his visit and he also gave a short history of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Manila Cathedral. He also said that just like the minor basilica, the Filipinos have been resilient against all kinds of tragedies and stood strong. He added that the Filipinos have two special gifts — that of love for music and a strong faith — both have “fired” our spirits, helping us to keep on going with our lives steadfastly.

All of these that I have written are my own understanding of the messages of these two holy people of God. And, I would like to impart how joyful we three are, my family, in having experienced the presence of God’s holiness through this encounter.

God is good… All the time!!!!

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Mi Casa es Su Casa

mi casaI have often been told whenever I go visit friends or family “Feel at home!” Lately, however, when I visited family I was told, “You’re in the _____’s home!!!” which brings to mind, am I welcome here? While at that same visit, I was invited to come back a week later for a birthday celebration and to see an aunt whom I have not seen for years. However, another one said, “come back here at least two months later.” Makes you think you were right in your thought that you are not welcome in that house.

My home is your home is the translation of the title. This ordinarily means, you can do whatever you please, consider yourself family. But, of course, you also have to watch out for stuff that can make you “unwelcome” the next time around. Don’t get too familiar. Don’t get too comfortable. But most of all, don’t over-stay otherwise, you’ll be kicked out. The welcome is good for a day, a little wearisome on the second day but on the third day, say your good-byes and don’t show yourself for the next 10 years — a little exaggerated but nonetheless true.

In the Bible, when Jesus was telling His apostles when they stay in a town, and they get welcomed by the townsfolk, they could stay in one of the townsfolks’ home and relay the Good News. However, when they are unwelcome in a town, they should brush the dust off their clothes and stamp the dust off their feet, an indication that the Good News is not meant for that particular town. So, in this case, Jesus and his disciples also had experienced being unwelcome in homes.

Which brings to mind, who should be welcome in one’s home? Will it only be those who can bring something to the table? Those who belong to a certain social status? Those who can offer me something that would elevate my social status as well? This is kind of snobbish, isn’t it.

I don’t have my own house as yet. I’m only renting. I guess if I get to have my own home then I would know what those with their own plush homes actually feel about their visitors. However, I remember my own mom welcoming almost anyone to our home — be they the children of powerful people or be they the homeless, or even the mentally challenged, all have been welcomed, fed and even invited to stay for as long as they wanted. That was my mom. I wish to be like her as it was through her that I got to understand what Mi casa es su casa actually meant.

Family Reunions During the Holidays

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During the holidays, one of the things often expected is to be present at family reunions. For that reason, the list of shopping for presents grows long and calls will have to be made to ask if there are any additions to the family thus making the shopping list even longer. There will also be the thought of what else to bring aside from presents like food, bedding items in case you have to stay for the entire holiday weekend and so on and so forth. As said, the list goes on.

Some of us, myself included, dread the holidays for this reason. Personally, I dread seeing relatives. I dread seeing my presents not being liked but most of all, I dread that I might not have brought anything “appropriate” to the table, literally, to add to the festive holiday menu. Honestly, I see such occasions as something quite expensive — both emotionally and financially – it puts a hole in the pocket and emotionally exhausting, not to mention physically as well because of the travel — now that I’m older. On a wider scale, I also feel that with all the calamities happening in our country lately, being festive while majority of the population are scrounging for whatever is left of what they used to have brings to mind that I have to share in victims’ sorrow. This is simply by sharing my “extras” so that they can at least have some bit of joy during this season amidst the pain left by what they just went through. The idea that they feel somebody cares. The toughest thing these victims have to deal with during the holidays is having lost family members.

However, contrary to this thought, a family reunion is a time to spend with people who I only see during the holidays and then get updated as to how things have been with them. You get to share in their sorrows, in their joys, in their successes and in their failures. Then, you also get to see the progeny — the new generation of family members. But, really at the end of the day, you are able to spend the holidays with people who know all about you and accept you for who you are — what you were then and what has become of you. No judgment — well in our case, that’s the good thing about how we have been raised.

These family reunions is a mix of highs and lows for me really. Despite everything, it is still the family that matters — nuclear or extended.

Happy New Year!!!