Thursday, October 12, 2017

I Am, Therefore I Blog

My blog is about my own personal thoughts and experiences and no one has the right to tell me what to or not to write on it. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally against blogs that deliberately write misconstrued or totally fake news. We are  not journalists, but I believe bloggers have the responsibility to write the truth in the best way they know how. Truth, yes, can be very subjective, but it is my belief that there is one Truth, which will come out no matter how much one tries to hide it.

I posted an article here that was originally meant for a website that I sometimes write for.  Unfortunately, our head did not approve my writing, for the lamest of excuses.  I try to write from the heart and write from my own experiences, no matter who they may be, in the hope to uplift and bring light to what others may not see.  But my piece was considered to be biased, a political issue in the sphere of what was supposed to be religious or spiritual. I took the rejection lightly, but I told the person that requested for the article that I would post it here in my personal blog, where no one has the authority to tell me what and what I cannot post.

For the most part, blogs are meant to entertain, educate and/or inform.  There is a lot of entertaining going on, but we have to be wary of whether the information given is based on truth, half-truths or total lies. To readers of blogs and other internet sites, discern well your authors and their sources. learn to distinguish between fact and opinion, ask the author for their references if you need to. Take a more active role, always with the end goal of finding out the truth. In a world that tries to capture your attention, make sure that you don't get caught in its web of deception.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Back to the Basics - With the Help of St Josemaria Escriva

I’ve been so busy being an Admin of another account that I’ve failed to make updates on my own social media accounts and blogs.  Though many thoughts have wanted to escape and be acknowledged in writing, it is just now that I’ve given it more priority. Again, here I sit, needing to sort out my thoughts, chaotic as they are.

Let me begin with the basics. I just recently began reading again “Friends of God, Homilies by Josemaria Escriva” When I first picked this little book up, he was still holding the title Blessed and it was only in October 6, 2002 that Pope John Paul II canonized him and now joins the communion of Saints in our heavenly kingdom.

I really needed to read and put to heart St Josemaria’s words, so deep and yet so practical that it hit me as if the words were really meant just for me at this particular point in my life.

I’ve blogged in the past that I’ve been part of the lingkods of our parish. I joined for several reasons, mainly I guess because I felt I had a calling to become a useful part of our Church, to use the talents that God has given me.  Another reason was in the hope that through my service, I would become closer to God, to grow in my spiritual life.  My first goal I believe I’ve achieved as I’ve made contributions to the ministry by providing them not only my time, but with my knowledge and skills.  The second though I have failed miserably and instead I have come to the realization that serving as a lingkod has made me more cynical, more judgmental and in the process felt more distant from God. Ironic how it is, that I serve so close next to the Besa Manto, seeing her beauty and hearing more than one mass every Sunday and witnessing the consecration and yet, being so distracted that I do not feel the presence of God or of Mother Mary. Ironic and yet very, very sad.

I’ve thought of leaving many times. Actually, this is one of those times that I’ve considered it seriously.  If it’s not good for my soul, then why should I stay, right?  And yet these words from St Josemaria Escriva hit me:

“Allow me to insist. You think your time is for yourself? Your time is for God! It may well be that, by God’s mercy, such selfish thoughts have never entered your mind.  I’m telling you these things in case you ever find your heart wavering in its faith in Christ.  Should that happen, I ask you – God asks you – to be true to your commitments, to conquer your pride, to control your imagination, not to be superficial and run away, not to desert.” (Friends of God, page 72) 
“There are no bad or inopportune days.  All days are good, for serving God. Days become bad only when men spoil them with their lack of faith, laziness, and their indolence, which turns them away from working with God and for God.” (Ibid, page 76)

This was part of St Josemaria’s homily on “Time is a Treasure” where he meditates on several parables including the foolish virgins and the laborers in the vineyard.

To toil in this vineyard that God sent me to, I was never promised it would be easy.  We work with people from different walks of life, some saints, but mostly sinners. We have all come for different reasons which God only knows and it is not for me to judge.  I do my share of work, actually more than my share, not asking for recompense or even praise.  If I were to abandon it, God will surely find ways to replace my unwilling service with one that is more deserving.  I still struggle on what choice to make, but reading and meditating on this book has helped me at least for now, to continue to toil in God’s vineyard and not to waste of this precious gift of time and talent that He has given me by His grace and mercy. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Confession of an Amateur Photographer

I’ve got a confession to make, but no, it’s not one that I need to approach the confessional box to ask for penance.  I’ve been given a privilege to be a part of the photographer team for the Multi-media ministry in our parish.  Photography has always been one of my passions, even before the time of digital cameras, and I remember going through roll after roll of film and having to wait, back then, for a couple of days, for the pictures to be developed.  There were a few memorable shots, but most ordinary and even some wasted.  I would carry a camera on most occasions and on the ones that I failed to, I would be disappointed seeing a scene or occasion that would have been wonderful to capture and immortalize.

Long before I became part of the Multi-media ministry, I would love taking pictures of events especially religious processions, some of which I’ve posted here in previous blogs.  I love seeing the people, their expressions, the beautiful images of Christ, Mother Mary and the other Saints, and the scenes and circumstances that surrounded these events.  All of this I did to satisfy my passion to capture these images and share them with others.

But being, in a way, an official photographer of our parish, I feel an added weight on my shoulder.  I am still very amateur and far from being an expert in this field.  I purchased my first SLR just less than 3 years ago.  Many times, it’s shoot-and-miss. Some turn out great, others not so.  What my eyes and mind want to capture is not always what comes out upon reviewing my shot.  (Thank God we’re in the digital age and taking practice shots do not cost anything).   I still have the same basic lens that came with the package, which definitely has its limitations.  I’ve learned to deal with these limitations, coming closer to my subjects to make up for the lack of zoom function and learning to weigh aperture, shutter speed and the use of flash in dark settings.  (Recently, I have learned to use what light is available, example, light from the street lamp post, or someone holding a candle, or even another person’s flash.)
A definite missed shot. Had the perfect position, but the lighting. I've had trouble with this before. It's dark but the image of our Lady of Lourdes is filled with light. The result, Mama Mary coming out too bright and missing out the details of her beauty.

But when I do go back and download my shots, many times I am disappointed.  I see many beautiful pictures of the image of Mother Mary.  There are many images of our Mother and all of them beautiful in different ways.  Her beauty mesmerizes me at times, a beauty that truly heaven had a hand with.  I look at her with my eyes,  then look at her through my camera lens, then try to make the needed adjustments to my camera and then click to take the shot.  I look at my captured picture and I sigh.  I try again and again and again.  There are some that I feel satisfied with and I pass on to be posted to our Social media accounts, but too many shots are left on my camera and laptop as a personal reminder that I can do better.

So this is my confession…that I cannot do Our Mother Mary justice with the pictures I take of her.  Your beauty, dear Mother, is beyond me; is beyond the pictures I can capture with my camera.  As we can only experience a minute glimpse of what heaven will be like, just so we can only view a minute part of the beauty the image of our Mother Mary represents.  Your beauty is beyond me, dear Mother.  And I know that no picture will ever be good enough.