I busied myself working on this image for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
Initially, I wanted to pepper the image with selected Marian titles from the Litany of Loreto. But then, I decided against it since it would NOT just clutter the immaculate photograph of the Blessed Mother, but it will also make the concept altogether complicated.
Hence, I settled with the one-liner "Nanay" ("Mom" in English) to make the theological concept rather appealing to human (and Filipino!) emotions, for all of us have got a link with a mother.
And as we welcome the brand new year with a bang, let us also pause for a moment and remember the Mother who gave us her Son.
A butterfly delights in the flowers of the Butterfly Conservatory in Bohol.
perfect garden,” my spiritual director once told me, “is not that which is filled
with plants and has the most beautiful flowers.” He told me that a flawless
garden is that which does not provide for any possible spot in which weeds may
The gardens in the seminary may not be able to live up to that standard. For
if you look around, you’ll notice that weeds co-exist with the beautiful plants
you take care of.
Was it just years ago when an
aspirant came to me one afternoon during work time with a plucked out plant in his hand, asking me if
it could be taken care of in the greenhouse. I had examined the plant before it took
me sometime before I figured out that it’s just a weed.
The world is a humongous garden. And it is not a perfect one. We need to distinguish plants which we need to take care of from those
which need to be plucked out.
it is not an easy task.
We need to allow the small plants grow in order to
determine whether they are real plants. If they are weeds, they need to be
pulled out. This is important not just because they are out of place and they
make the garden ugly, but, more importantly, they also steal away the
nourishment which should be enjoyed solely by the plants.
act of discernment can be likened to this. We need to know which are the plants
from the weeds so that we can separate them. So that we can get rid of the weeds so that we could give proper care for the plants.
The movie "The
Messenger: the story of Joan of Arc" vehicles not just the struggle of one
person, but also of the entire nation of France vis-à-vis in finding the will
of God for them. Situated in the time of the Medieval Ages, when the Church and
State were practically one, one definitely is at a loss in recognizing if an
event divinely inspired, or merely conjured by the power-hungry machination of
Joan, a young village
lass, who was tasked by God to bring a message to the soon-to-be king of
France, did not perform merely as a seer by what lies ahead nor a prophet by
mediating her people to God. The French people, too much distressed because of
famine and insecurity brought by the war, must have expected her to perform
miracles that will improve their living condition. And she did, through God's mighty
Throughout the movie, the
concept that she is a 'messenger' figured prominently. And she was able to
prove that she is an authentic one through the signs she did not perform, but
the signs done on her by the Almighty. She reached the palace safely despite
having to go through dangerous places threatened by the presence of the English
forces. She was able to recognize the soon-to-be crowned king of France in the
midst of people who wanted to dupe her.
She won the battle of Orleans single-handedly to the surprise of her
people, majority of whom was expecting her bitter defeat.
A movie, it is said, is a
good one, if it has a good conflict that will make the protagonist live in
order to battle it out, and find a logical solution to put an end to it. It is
in this perspective that I consider this movie a good one as it opened the eyes
of its viewers to the painful realities of the Church that goes out of its
bounds to announce the coming of the Kingdom of God, but while waiting for its
coming, has institutionalized a kingdom that runs contradictory to the values
the Kingdom of God stands for.
Given this situation,
searching for God's will has become a more complicated affair. Especially
because those who had been tasked to discern and obey his will were all
entangled with the affairs of man.
In the midst of this
conflict is Joan, a young village girl who was given signs.
But she, too, had a
conflict to resolve, not just in the beginning of the movie, but throughout it.
As she battled it out with her own conscience (shown in the latter part of the
film). It was resolved when she finally confronted with it, and able to accept
She died violently in the smoldering stake prepared for her by
the enemy, peacefully.
Pedro Calungsod’s sainthood highlighted the fact that
Filipinos are capable of producing a saint in just 150 years as a newly
evangelized Catholic nation. But what is more is that his canonization made us
aware, too, that we are capable in spreading the good news to practically
Truth to tell, days before his canonization, I have never
seen the cyberspace filled with so much information about a particular saint.
People talked about him in their blogs. Facebook users mentioned them in their
status updates. YouTube has been flooded with informational and music videos
about his heroic sanctity. And on the day of his canonization, he was trending trended
Like the Resurrection narratives of Jesus, that good news on
his canonization was not just some petty piece of information we could keep to
ourselves. It felt a deep obligation for many of us to join the bandwagon in spreading
the news of his sanctity to as many people we can reach.
I note that the first Christian community had to contend
with the problem of how to bring the Gospel to people.However, the problem remains. How do we bring Jesus to
We have the advantage over our Christian ancestors in so far
as we know where to reach them: in the digital continent.
I know of Salesians who utilize their social media accounts
to extend their pulpits in the online world. A priest sends a gist of the
Sunday Gospel via SMS to his phonebook contacts; another one writes his
reflection of the Sunday liturgy in his blog.
Some young clerics I know share their reflections online
through their blogs or even in their Facebook walls.
A bishop I met last year revealed to me that he records
lectio divina and sends a copy of it to his contacts via e-mail.
Young people, who have become experts in navigating the cyberspace,
can surely be of help in getting across the Christian message. They can do this
by using particularly the social media, in sharing their faith to others.
The transmission of faith to one’s Facebook contacts does
not have to be conveyed in words. Others do it by sharing the stunning photos
they took in their walls coupled with an inspirational message. Some share
their favorite Christian music videos or some touching lines in an inspiring
movie they last saw.
Some technically gifted individuals who are enriched by
their faith, bring evangelization to another dimension by designing video games
and handheld gadget applications that make the end users not just simply
entertained but spiritually high.
Those who maintain online journals can surely talk about
their faith. I am fascinated reading blog entries of people who reflect on how
God has intervened in their lives. Those who talk about the blessings they received, and even the
difficulties they encounter.
Here lies one advantage in doing evangelization in the
social media not because of the possibility of feedback, but also of the
immediacy of it. Christians who are in doubt may be enlightened. And those who
may have gone advance in their spiritual journey could help guide those who seem
to lag behind.
My experience of maintaining a blog for more than five years
now has led me to converse with people of various cultures and faith, having the
same consciousness about the presence of a Designer in the scheme of things.
Let's face it. The cyberspace may offer us a lot of
advantages, but it has also got tons of trash in it; it offers a wealth of
information that may poison our minds and corrupt our values.
Seeing this reality, the Church, although taking a positive
and sympathetic approach to it, asks us to be critical in evaluating its impact
on the human culture (Aetatis Novae, 12).
Pope Benedict XVI, in his 43rd world communications day
message,challenged everyone to evangelize this
digital continent on which people today spend so much of their lives.
But how do we take
advantage of the social media in aid of our effort to evangelize?
To evangelize is to proclaim Christ not merely by word, but by
the testimony of our lives.
Simply put, if our words and actions lead others to know,
appreciate and fall deeply in love with Jesus, we contribute to this task of
bringing people closer to the Father. Hopefully, being aware of our Christian
identity leads us to a more virtuous use of the social media.
If we lead a life worth emulating in the cyberspace, then,
we can positively influence the lives of others.
If this is so, then, we don’t have to wait for another
canonization of a Filipino saint to fill the cyberspace with materials that
inspire others to become saints, for our life is in itself a beautiful
evangelizing message in the online world.