Present (Birthday Blog Part II)

[This is the second part of my Birthday realizations and so it would be great if you could catch the first part here. ☺ If not, it’s fine to read away.]

 

Now that we have introduced to you our house rules, we would like to call here in front those who have already violated them. They may like to explain themselves, Bro. Pong, the giddy host of the retreat said.

He started calling names. My seatmate’s name has been called and I was like, ‘oh my, what did you do?’ Yeah, I said that like I was terrifying a five year old kid that someone’s lurking in the dark.

Then my own name was called. What did I do? I thought, this time seriously. My mind flashed back for some seconds searching for something wrong but I could not find any.

Bro. Pong finished calling names and revealed to everyone that the people in front are the batch’s birthday celebrators! Haha! Wow Mali! 😛

He then handed to us our birthday presents and I started greeting my fellow birthday celebrators. The seatmate I tried to frighten earlier? I hugged her. 😀 (She turned out to be my buddy during the retreat and of course, even after!)

I didn’t open the gift right away. I know it was a booklet but I waited for the right time to read it.

On Sunday morning, I found myself missing the Love Life Retreat. That’s when I started to read the present.

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It is a beautiful read about the visions and messages of Jesus and Mary during a celebration of the Holy Mass to Catalina Rivas.

(The booklet was given authority to be published (Imprimatur) by Bishop Jose Oscar Brahona C. of El Salvador, Central America and was recommended for spiritual inspiration by Bo. Daniel Gagnon, OMI, of the Commission for the Doctrine of Faith of the Archdiocese of Mexico.)

In the booklet, Catalina recalls how Jesus and Mary spoke to her on what really happens during the mass – the offering of guardian angel’s intentions during offertory, the presence of the saints and departed loved ones during consecration and more.

I was struck the most when I arrived at her recollection of the communion.

 Jesus said in a sad tone: “Did you notice? Not once did she (a fellow mass   goer) tell Me that she loved Me. Not once did she give thanks for My gift to   her of bringing My Divinity down to her poor humanity to elevate her toward      Me. Not a single time did she say: ‘Thank You Lord.’ It has been a litany of requests… and almost all of those who come to receive me are like that.

I became conscious of what I usually tell the Lord after taking His flesh and blood. More importantly, I realized a very beautiful truth after reading further.

“I have died for love and I am risen. For love I await each one of you, and for love I remain with you… But you do not realize that I need your love. Remember that I am the Beggar of Love in this sublime hour for the soul.”

Wow. Just wow. The Lord who died for me on the cross because of His love now begs me again, over and over during the Holy Mass for my love.

Suddenly, all the times I have been receiving favors from the Lord without my asking made sense to me. He exactly knows what I need and so He gives them to me even without praying for it – my parent’s devotion to the Holy Mass, new opportunities and unexpected blessings every single day that made me safe and calm.

I realized that we really not need to ask because He already knows. What we need to do is just express our love and be present. 😊

Twenty Seven (Birthday Blog Part I)

Nope, this is not about the movie of a girl who had 27 different dresses for 27 weddings. My story is somehow close to hers though, only mine is maybe short of 20 dresses. This isn’t also a list of 27 things I noticed wrong about the society or the government nor a list of 27 things I love doing or places I plan going to. This is about my 27th birthday.

For my birthday, I decided to pull off something different for myself. Not the usual lunch or dinner dates with my friends and family which I have been doing since my 16th. I chose to spend my birthday with 81 other strangers in a retreat. It was a ridiculous idea, I know. I mean, who else wants to celebrate a birthday with unfamiliar people? But I didn’t care because all I came there for was to be with the Lord. And true enough, He has honored my decision with abundance.😊

At the end of the first day of the retreat, I was already telling and listening to the deepest stories to/of my fellows. We were already hugging and assuring each other that things will be fine or that God will provide. We were already laughing hard together, sharing meals, serving each other with our needs.

In the past, I believed that these kinds of things (being nice and all) happen in a retreat because people are expected and supposed to act nice and kind.

Today, I realized I was wrong. We were able to hug and love each other instantly because we all became open and vulnerable and accepting. Most importantly, it is because humans are made out of love and therefore capable of giving love, no matter what. And I realized this is something people don’t do outside the retreat, in the real world. Why? Because we are always on the look-out if others would just hurt us, cheat us, leave us, use us or ignore us, and so people (including myself) chose to play safe by not loving or loving too much.

The truth is we are all capable of loving people no matter what their looks or attitudes or shortcomings are. We just have to summon more love from the Lord. Kaya nga mayroong, Yes I love you with the love of the Lord. 😊 (Kinanta mo rin ba?)

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Fast forward to the end of the retreat (because I’m such a talker), I noticed that the servants were soaking wet with perspiration because of our worship and just jumping out of joy for us participants. (They have offered sacrifices too from leaving their day jobs to interceding for us the entire two days.) Their job must be hard, I thought. I pondered if I can give that energy in service to others on top of my work and relationships.

Then I understood that life is like that – uncomfortable because of exhaustion and perspiration and heartaches. Loving, growing, giving, dreaming and probably all else in life is uncomfortable, should be uncomfortable. When I am uncomfortable, it means I am leaving my comfort zones and exerting my best efforts, all eyes on the prize in the end.

Finally, I realized that my life’s progress depends on my willingness to cooperate with the molding of the Lord. If I wanted to grow faster than my current sluggish journey, I should be open to his pruning no matter how ugly or painful it is. Because at the end of the process, I am sure that he’s produced a masterpiece. 😊

Happy birthday to me! Cheers! 😊

In Reverence ♫

Today I look back to all the people I lost along the way– unconsciously and consciously, purposely and accidentally. Those friends I grew up with, the ones whom I worked hard to sustain but to no avail, the friends whom I did a lot of firsts with, the ones who made high school worth bearing, and the friends who taught me to love and serve the Lord with all my heart. The past years with them had been like a burning fire that slowly turned into ash. Now, I’ve only got the ambers of memories left-memories that I can always return to but not sure if can be relived again, in a different time or a different space.

I wonder how their lives are without me, I’m pretty sure it’s totally fine just how my life has been fine since they were gone. I wonder if this is all God’s plan that we part ways. I wonder if they miss our times together, if they secretly wish in their hearts to repeat the moments even for one time.

Then that bittersweet truth hits me, we cannot really choose, force or control how people will stay or get out of our lives. Everything on earth is fleeting, passing by. Even the wise says we cannot walk on the same river twice.

Why am I looking back at those days anyway?

I look back because I wanted to thank everyone who passed by my life – the friends who hurt me and made me stronger, the ones who never did anything but to made me laugh, the friends who accepted me for who I am regardless how my temper went for a certain day, the ones who pushed me and encouraged me and the ones who bullied me anyway but loved me.

I look back because I just feel today that every cell in my body is a contribution of the people whom I spent my life with yesterday and today.

Wherever they are right now, we are just under the same sky. I hope they feel my gratitude. I hope they are growing and learning and being tough enough in this difficult world. I hope they can hear me say right now, ‘love and kisses, guys.’

Bus Ride

It was already late at night and so all I wanted to do was to take the bus ride home. I saw that there was already a short queue for the bus going to our town. But instead of falling in line, I took my chance and checked if there was still a vacant seat in the bus that was about to leave. There were I think two more women ahead of me who did the same. When I saw a vacant seat in the middle of a three-seater, I asked the man in the other seat if it was taken. He said no and stood up to give way to me. When I was already seated, the other woman who went ahead of me and was still standing poked me in the shoulder and said, ‘Oi miss, reserved pala yan.’ (Hey, that’s a reserved seat!) Obviously, she was referring to my seat and wanted me to give it up for her.

I stared at her blankly and returned to the ice cream that I was eating (I deserve a treat for a long day, after all). She then murmured something not good about me and uttered the most sarcastic tone of ‘God bless.’

Maybe I was lost for words. Or maybe I just know I could have blurted harsh words to her and I purposely avoided that option. But this I am sure of, I could have given her the seat only if 1. she asked politely and 2. if she didn’t say a lie on the seat being reserved, apparently I was not born yesterday.

Reflecting on what happened during the rest of the ride, I know I was damn right with my reaction. But I also know that my response to her attitude was wrong. I should have given the seat anyway, without buts or ifs. Instead of standing up for my principles, I should have stood up to be the bigger person. Instead of being right, I should have been kind.

The experience made me ponder on the moments in my life when I chose to be right rather than to be kind. Though there are not much of such moments because I hate arguments, I realized that those moments did more harm than good. It robs me of my time spending meaningful moments with families and friends.

I also thought of the moments when I was the one on the losing end. When people and even best friends fought their arguments to me and end up winning the battle but losing bits of my friendship in silence.

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Being right than being kind strain relationships, build thick walls, cause unnecessary cold wars. And so today, I resolve to be just kind, even if it’s hard, even if I have to play dumb at times, even if I know I am right. I will be kind to end up having good friends by my side. 🙂

Which one are you going to be?