Thursday, January 11, 2018

On Pilgrimages; The Magi and Count de Broussard

Feast of the Epiphany

Last Sunday we meditated on the gospel from Matthew on the visit of the Magi to a place in Bethlehem led by a bright star in the Solemnity of the Epiphany.  These foreign pilgrims found their way to the manger of Jesus where “they prostrated themselves and did him homage.” (Matt 2:11)  Today in my search for stories on St Bernadette, I read of another pilgrim, Count de Broussard, who after reading about the clamour in Lourdes where a young girl had said she had seen visions of Our Lady, had come to find the truth.  A self-professed atheist, he came at the doorsteps of St Bernadette’s home just before the last apparition. This is an account of his meeting with St Bernadette:

“‘Saint Bernadette, could you not repeat it for me? I am an unbeliever and I don't believe in your Apparitions.' The child's face clouded over. 'Then, sir, you think I am a liar.'  I felt disarmed. No, Bernadette was no liar, and I was on the point of going down on my knees to beg her pardon. Then she went on: 'As you are a sinner, I shall repeat the Blessed Virgin's smile for you.' The child got up very slowly, joined her hands and gave a heavenly smile such as I have never seen on any mortal lips. Her face lit up with a dazzling brilliance of light. She smiled again with her eyes raised heavenwards. I remained motionless before her, convinced that I had seen the Virgin's smile on the face of the visionary.”

St Bernadette Soubirous

We are all pilgrims, in search for the truth, for answers…

In the most unexpected times, we encounter people whose honesty and pureness breaks even those with the most hardened of hearts and strongest of prides.  I see the parallel of the Magi and Count de Broussard. Both started their pilgrimage, their search for something unknown, something beyond their comprehension, in search for truth. The Magi most likely believers, while the Count an unbeliever who came to prove St Bernadette was a liar. But when they came upon the place they sought and witnessed with their eyes the gifts of God (the Magi in seeing Jesus in the manger, and the Count in seeing the reflection of Our Lady’s smile on St Bernadette), they came away changed.  The Magi chose a different path and did not return to Herod. Count de Broussard, upon witnessing himself that smile on St Bernadette’s face, no longer doubted.  

In his own words, the Count writes:  “Since then I have treasured this heavenly memory in the depths of my soul. I have lost my wife and my two daughters. Yet it seems to me that I am not alone in this world. I live with the Virgin's smile."

Visions and reflections of heaven - the Magi and the Count were fortunate to experience these that changed their lives.  We too are also given these gifts. We only have to continue on searching along this pilgrimage which we call life.

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.  We do our share of work, not asking for recompense or even praise.  If we were to abandon it, God will surely find ways to replace iyr 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.