Sunday, June 24, 2007

Local Practices, We are What We Eat, What is Love, Un-Christian, Jokes, My Confession

[sub-labels: Being Christian, Christian and Catholic Faith, Love]

I haven't missed the last two Sunday masses, but my schedule's been so hectic, I wasn't able to attend mass at the parish (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Shrine) where I usually attend.

Two Sundays ago, I was in Cagayan de Oro, and attended mass at the "Xavier College" chapel, now I think the "Ateneo de Cagayan University" chapel. One new thing I re-discovered - and I make a lot of these "re-discoveries" or things I've learned long ago and starting to remember them or see them in actuality now - is that each locale could have slightly different practices even under the same mother organization, which is in this case the Holy Catholic Church.

In Metro Manila, we are all palms up or holding hands during the Our Father and during the Our Father alone. (We were not holding hands during the SARS or bird flu scare.) In Cagayan de Oro, being the Manila-grown kids we were (me and my friends/travel companions), we pulled our hands back down after the Our Father, and to our shock, everyone's hands were still palms up or still holding each other's through the "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever..."

I remember in the US, specifically in California and Nevada (the only two states I've stayed at least one night in), they kneel there at a slightly different schedule within the mass compared to here in the Philippines, where we kneel during the Consecration, and just before Communion. If I remember correctly - it's been a while (6+ years) since I was last there - once we knelt during the mass, we didn't stand up anymore through Communion. Well, I've forgotten.

In Metro Manila, specifically in our locale in the University of the Philippines - Diliman and Katipunan Avenue / Loyola Heights (Quezon City) area of our lay Christian group for singles, the CFC Singles for Christ, we have slightly different practices than in Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong / Pasig, or in Cebu City (Visayas / Central Philippines) when we conduct our Christian Life Program (CLP).

The Gospel two Sundays ago was about the Multiplication (of the bread and fish). Two weeks is too long for remembering the whole homily of the priest. I do recall I learned at least a thing or two. I remember just one thing the priest said, and I do not remember how he related it to the Gospel: we are what we eat. The priest said, if we eat junk food - we are.. junk? (No, the priest didn't say that.) If we eat healthy food, then we become healthy. Then on the evening after that day (we attended the anticipated mass on Saturday), we ate Roasted Whole Pork (Lechon!). The usual things associated with "Lechon" came to mind: we are Fat, we are Pigs, we are Cholesterol, we are a Filipino delicacy, we are yummy and delicious, and so on. I suggested a more 'subtle' description of who we are based on what we were about to feast on: we are "to die for." Funny! some way, but you could look at it more seriously and we could come up with a whole new blog post / essay about it.

Anyway, the Wednesday after that, was Talk 6 of the CLP we were conducting. The topic was Loving Your Neighbor. During my emceeing, I mentioned then that it was my favorite talk of the CLP. I don't think I mentioned though that it was because I grew up in a broken family, and that I have been searching for the answer to 'what is love?', and I was surprised then when I first listened to this talk that the answer came from the Bible itself: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Or really, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 is the whole text:

From the 1st Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 13:

1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


  1. 1 Corinthians 13:1 - Or languages
  2. 1 Corinthians 13:3 - Some early manuscripts say "body that I may boast"
-- Taken from the New International Version, on

Beautiful. And how true. It's in the Bible. I just wonder how many more I can learn about life from the Bible.

Anyway, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after that CLP Talk 6 on Wednesday, I was out of town again. Coming back to Manila, my flight was delayed and I was not able to attend a "party" I was supposed to attend on Saturday night. Instead, I went straight ahead to an after-party thing at a restaurant. And there I was, I found myself... saying things that, although unintentionally, hurt someone.

Fine, that someone has said one hurtful thing to me before, and I reacted a little bit too harshly, telling that person "I was hurt" in a raised voice. Which in turn, puzzled and perhaps hurt also that person. And on Saturday night, after my very tiring week, here again was that person, in that same 'mode' that that person was during our 'first encounter.' I wasn't trying to hurt that person or anything, but I was trying to suggest alternatives to the 'this is what I want to happen' statements of that person. And then, the person 'erupted' and said, "you always dis me and contradict what I have to say." Anyway, again that was not my intention. I think the person said "Don't talk to me anymore because you always dis me and contradict what I have to say," and I willingly obliged and did not talk to that person anymore. Apparently, I think that that may have confirmed in his mind that I was indeed dissing him and contradicting him. But again, no, that wasn't my intention.

Was I wrong? We could look at it from two different points of view: from the Christian point of view and the non-Christian point of view. To put it simply, I may have had my point from the non-Christian point of view. There was that person again, bringing about the personality that he has, that can be... domineering for some.

But from the Christian point of view, yes you guessed it right. :)

From the verse I quoted above, "Love is patient." In a sense, because I was not patient with that person, knowing very well that that was his personality, I was unloving, and therefore un-Christian. I could have reacted more lovingly. I could have just gone silent, or said "we'll see," instead of reacting with something like "that is not acceptable" that could hurt him (and did hurt him).

Anyway, that was not the whole story, and definitely there was something that I said that hurt him. It was supposedly a joke, but now I laugh at myself as I look back at the times when some group of people I know (say group A) made jokes at another group of people (say, group B), and I demanded that the group A people apologize to the group B people. The group A people said, "that was only a joke, and it's their problem they took it too seriously." I thought then that (and told the group A people) that the point is, you hurt other people (the group B people) with what you said, and joke or not, you have to apologize.

And as I said, I laugh at myself as I was in the same position as the group A people, making a joke that, well, hurt other people. But I did apologize for that joke I made, and I did not intend to hurt anyone with it or any "joke" I make.

Anyway, again the story is longer and much more complicated than that.

I listened to a talk given by Frank Padilla on that same CLP Talk 6 topic, loving your neighbor. He talked about the very situation I was in: what if there was someone you care about (say, a friend, a loved one, a relative, etc) who had an attitude that was not easy to handle? Frank Padilla's talk and another more mature friend told me: we tell them their wrong in the most loving manner (it's not what you say, it's how you say it), we pray for their 'conversion,' we also pray for more patience on our part, we pray that if it is in God's will we can become part of their 'conversion,' and then since we can't change others but only ourselves, we try to be more patient, and we try to forebear, to persevere through the times while our friends and loved ones are "difficult." "Love is patient... Love perserveres..."

Anyway, so there I was, I've spoken of love, I've spoken about God and Christianity and good deeds, I lead groups of people in prayer, but I was nothing but a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I failed to love. I have been un-Christian. I am nothing.

I am my own student. May the Father make me patient, and more loving as Jesus himself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Lakbayan Grade is C!

My Lakbayan grade is C!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out atLakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

problema grande

i am getting this error whenever i edit the template on, and now also on ronj-blog. i suspect it's system wide. maybe i have too many blogs on blogger? i hope this gets resolved soon...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

new blog!

i created a new blog that is all about... me! check out the new, "who is ronjie?" blog.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

On The Blessed Trinity

[sub-labels: Holy Trinity, Jesus as God]

Today is the feast of the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity. Last week, it was Pentecost Sunday, before that it was the feast of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, and of course, there was Easter, and Lent, and Christmas, and Advent before that.

I do not recall if this is like so even back when I was in a Catholic high school - maybe it was and I was just not paying as much attention. But if I didn't go to Catholic school, here was a series of free Catholic Catechism schooling! It just really meant paying attention. But unlike in Catholic school, there are no written exams every two and a half months, four times in a span of a year, and no two-month "summer" break. This is real life, and the "exams" could be given anytime by anyone.

A charming person from another religion may come into your life, influence you much, and ask you to consider changing faiths. Or, one time, you might be forced to face a panel of two or more people, who are very well read with the Bible or a version of it, and question you about what you know. Or, a young man may suddenly come up to you and ask you, "Why believe in the Trinity when it is so much simpler to stick to the conviction of our God?"

One such man asked one such question to Fr. Stephen Placente, SDB, he writes for the Sambuhay publication (of St. Paul's, Philippines). How prepared are we for that "surprise exam" in life?

I must say that I am not 100% prepared... not even 75% prepared... or not even 50% prepared. And that is already considering I was in a Catholic school for 10 years. Because really, there is much to be learned and one life time may not even be enough. That of course, shouldn't also ever discourage us. But if you just try, and keep on trying to learn, that is well and good.

In Sunday's Gospel reading (John 16:12-15), Jesus says "Everything that the Father has is mine..." If God owns our lives, and everything we have, then Jesus says he owns them, too. He also speaks about the coming of the Holy Spirit of truth.

Right now, I am writing this a day after Sunday, and note to self - it is difficult to react and reflect a day after! At this point, I recommend you to read Fr. Stephen's write-up printed on Sunday's Sambuhay publication:

"The question of a wise man has half the answers," Professor Maman of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem often reminds his class. The rabbinic saying came back to me once when a young man threw me a question, "Why believe in the Trinity when it is so much simpler to stick to the conviction of one God?" Read between the lines: he has half the answers.

The teaching on the Trinity is not an invention of the Catholic Church, as some skeptics would like people to believe. Rather, it is a fundamental faith that leads us back to the preaching and witness of Jesus. In other words, we would never know this much about God if Jesus had not told us so. Surprisingly, there are Christians today who cannot bear Jesus' revelation. In one television program, a Christian pastor tried to earnestly prove that the belief in the Trinity is heretical. As one plus one plus one is equal to three, so too, according to his computation, the Trinity would make three gods. But the pastor misses the point. When you reflect on the Trinity, you throw your calculator away, for faith in the Trinity is not mathematical, but relational.

As in any human bonding, relationship with God deepens in the passing of time. When I met my best friend for the first time, the little I knew about him was his name, Ken. But as we matured, we discovered a lot more about each other apart from our names. Getting to know God takes us beyond knowing his name, YHWH. God tells us more about him as far as we are capable to receive his revelation. Students of the Bible are all too familiar with the phrase "progressive revelation." It is like baby Jeremy who starts learning a language, not by poring over Sionil Jose's novels, but by uttering his first loving words, Pa and Ma. We, too, learn about God step by step, from exclaiming his name to accepting him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Understandably, the revelation of God does not stop with the composition of the Bible. It is narrow-mindedness to think that God speaks and reveals himself to us solely through the Bible. If that were so, God's mouth would have shut up sometime between 100-150 AD when the last book of the Bible was written. Yet God is still actively speaking to us today as he did in the past. Jesus affirms so: "But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth" (Jn 16:13).

What is the point of God baring his life to us in a deeper fashion? We find a hint in John's affirmation - "God is love" (1 Jn 4:16). God is Trinitarian because God is love. Love cannot be alone. Our experience tells us that the first impulse of love is to go out of oneself. A person who claims love but only has oneself to love must be egotistic. But God is love since God's love is the Son, and the love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. If you think that God should be "so much simpler" than this, ask married couples who live faithfully through the years whether an inch-deep meaning of love is ever possible.

Thus, behind the doctrine of the Trinity is the flame of God's passion leaping up, warming both heart and mind, of God and man who hold less secrets and share more love. When we believe in the Trinity, we become part of the love story that has neither beginning nor end. The teaching on the Trinity is a doctrine with a soul as it stares us in the face with a glaring truth: "God wants the heart" (Jewish Talmud, Sanhedrin 106b).

-- Fr. Stephen Placente, SDB

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Welcome to the launch of the "who is ronjie" blog!

This blog will contain all things about Ronjie... Who is Ronjie? Read the posts. Note: all who-is-ronjie types of posts originally at RONJ-BLOG have been moved here. Enjoy!