July-August 2017

From the Editor

Peace to all!

I began my work as the new editor of MISYONonline.com with gratitude and hope. I thank Fr Seán Coyle, the former editor, whom I have known since 1984, back in the days when the House of Studies of the Columban students was still in Cebu, where we gave the CHOICE weekend to all the students. He was instrumental in my becoming a Columban lay missionary, and now as his successor. It is not easy to follow somebody’s footsteps, especially when the person’s repute is quite high, but salamat sa Diyos (thanks be to God), I take comfort in the thought that I’m in a role which allows a certain degree of freedom in exercising one’s own creativity. And what a relief (with a smile)!


With Fr Seán… with smiles of gratitude

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Human Love of Creation

By Fr John Leydon

Fr John Leydon is Vice-Director of the Missionary Society of St Columban in Philippine Region. He has been part of the team in Our Lady of Remedies Parish, Malate, Manila, for many years, some of them as parish priest. He has been involved with the Center for Ecozoic Living and Learning (CELL) in Silang, Cavite and was one of those who established it in 1998. Fr John is a member of the steering committee of Global Catholic Climate Movement, became one of the co-convenors of GCCM for the Philippines and currently its chairperson. The idea of GCCM came in 2014 and in June 2016, GCCM-Pilipinas was established.

How do we convince people to take climate change and other environmental concerns seriously?

This is the key issue of our times. Up to very recently the situation was very bad. Scientists as early as 1992 said that humanity and nature are on a collision course. If we don't change our ways, we will experience irreversible changes in our world. Scientists spoke clearly about the present ecological crisis but not enough people were listening. The corporations were plainly making money out of the situation. And the politicians who had utang na loob (sense of obligation to return a favor) to the corporations were obliged to give in to their demands. Laudato Si’ changed all that. Laudato Si’ was a hulog ng langit talaga (heaven sent)...

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A Saunter Experience with God

By Elbert Balbastro

The author is from Oton, Iloilo, Panay. He entered the Columban seminary formation in June 2012. Elbert and Jerry Lohera had their first aggregation as temporary members of the Society of St Columban on 27 June. They are on their two-year First Mission Assignment in Pakistan at the time this article is published.


Elbert reading his commitment, First Aggregation to the Society on 27 June

Life is full of surprises because we have one great God – He who treats us unique and special in every way.

When I left the house on 3 March 2013 for a pilgrimage I carried with me a lot of worries about many things. We were to walk about 168.1 kilometers from Malolos, Bulacan to Manaoag, Pangasinan. I started to feel all those fears and apprehensions in my heart. I asked God for the grace to know Him in the image of every person I met and to guide me in acknowledging my limitations and weaknesses… and to work on them. I knew it was going to be a long walk but what I did not realize was that the entire journey would truly become a life-changing experience for me...

Read more

Desert

By Lorna Cañete

The author is from Bacolod, Lanao del Norte. She has been in Chile as a Columban Lay Missionary (CLM) since 2015 with the two other members of PH22, Michael Javier and Gilda Comayas. They are the first group of CLMs from the Philippines assigned in Chile.

If the Philippines has Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the Northern part of Chile has mountains of “chocolates”, no green, just all brown soil.

I never imagined living in a desert in my whole life. Each time I read a passage in the bible which mentioned about wilderness or desert before coming to this place, I could not relate how it would feel like being in the desert, until I found myself in the middle of one...

Read more

A Journey of a Seminarian

By Jerry Lohera

The author is from La Victoria, Kauswagan, Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental. He joined the Columban seminary formation in June 2012 and is leaving for Pakistan on 7 July for a two-year First Mission Assignment (FMA).


Jerry giving an advent recollection to selected inmates at the Medium Security Compound, New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa City, December 2016

Love hurts. I think it is fair to say that. I first left my lonely dad at home when I decided to enter the seminary in 2012. While I was happy realizing that this is what my heart desires, a part of me felt the pain of “separation”, although the relationship I had with my father was like a roller coaster before we became close to each other. From the outset, I knew that formation life will be very tough for me...

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Coffee and the Blind Man

By Ivy Lyn S. Vergara


The author

This article was sent to us a few years back. The author is currently working at a call center in Bacolod City.

By nature I am a silent person. But as time goes by I have become one of those people who are very inquisitive. Lots of questions bother my mind, mostly based on my observations and experiences in life. I would ask people around me, especially those who are close to me, and they sometimes feel irritated because I keep on asking and asking questions about life, like, “Why is it that justice is better served for those who have money?”; “Why are there broken families?”; “Why is there an unequal distribution of wealth?” and so on. These questions have been lingering on my mind. People tried to offer answers to some of it. As I continue to ponder on these questions and my quest for meaning in life, I put my trust in God...

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To Search is to find

IS IT A SIN TO BE GAY? This is a question which was sincerely asked by one male, or should I say a gay, college student in my encounter with them. I am throwing this question in the hope that the answer may bring enlightenment since it is a concern on their part who oftentimes feel that they are but a mistake and struggle to be accepted. Thanks in advance.

The simple answer is: NO! It’s not a sin to be gay. The official teaching of the Catholic Church is that to be gay is not a sin. But to engage in homosexual acts is a sin. Let’s look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about homosexuality...

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Peace by Peace


Dorothy Day, 1934 [Wikipedia]

We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives, so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt, that peace and abundance may manifest for all.

~ Dorothy Day, Journalist, Activist (1897 – 1980)


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A Journey of a Seminarian

By Jerry Lohera

The author is from La Victoria, Kauswagan, Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental. He joined the Columban seminary formation in June 2012 and is leaving for Pakistan on 7 July for a two-year First Mission Assignment (FMA).


Jerry giving an advent recollection to selected inmates at the Medium Security Compound, New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa City, December 2016

Love hurts. I think it is fair to say that. I first left my lonely dad at home when I decided to enter the seminary in 2012. While I was happy realizing that this is what my heart desires, a part of me felt the pain of “separation”, although the relationship I had with my father was like a roller coaster before we became close to each other. From the outset, I knew that formation life will be very tough for me yet there is resolute contentment and consolation even if I don’t know what lies ahead. Fear and reluctance interplaying with courage and conviction are always present, which is helping me a lot in my growth as a person. Prayer, community, academic and pastoral life have to be well balanced in honing a well-integrated person to be whole for the Kingdom. As it turns out, it’s not an easy process, it needs a big heart. But through God’s grace, I am thriving.


Jerry renewing his temporary membership with the Columbans on 27 June 2017 at Columban’s Regional House, Singalong, Manila. Also in the picture are Fr Felisiano Fatu, Rector of the Columban Formation and Deacon Erl Dylan Tabaco.

Looking forward to the FMA program, Pakistan first came to my mind about two years ago and since then I never stopped dreaming about it. My heart is aching as I leave the people and the country I deeply love, yet I am also rejoicing realizing that this part of the seminary formation that I’ve been waiting for has finally come. Honestly, despite the urge to go, a part of me is afraid if I could survive there for two years. Will I make it psychologically, emotionally, and yes, physically? But I know that everything is possible and the good thing is that everything too is under God’s control, so I have nothing to worry. I have gained confidence that everything will be fine.

As I go to Pakistan, I will bring with me my smile, and my listening heart that brings about my gratitude for all the good things God has done for me, with trust in His enduring faithfulness throughout the years. May Christ’s peace reign!

My Prayer to St Columban

Dear St Columban, patron saint of the missionary society where I belong,
You have set an example for us on how to become a missionary by heart.
Your zealousness captured my heart and your fidelity to mission is like a well
That didn’t dry up in spite of your own failings.
As you left your loved ones, you entrusted everything to God,
With some pain in your heart, all for the Kingdom.

As I am following your step, pray for me that I may bear, endure and thrive
On what lies ahead of me in Pakistan. Pray for me that our God may grant me
Every necessary grace in all my thoughts, words and actions
So that I may truly be Christ’s not my own. Amen.


Jerry with Fr Felisiano (at the back) and fellow Columban seminarians


Author: 

A Saunter Experience with God

By Elbert Balbastro

The author is from Oton, Iloilo, Panay. He entered the Columban seminary formation in June 2012. Elbert and Jerry Lohera had their first aggregation as temporary members of the Society of St Columban on 27 June. They are on their two-year First Mission Assignment in Pakistan at the time this article is published.


Elbert reading his commitment, First Aggregation to the Society on 27 June

Life is full of surprises because we have one great God – He who treats us unique and special in every way.

When I left the house on 3 March 2013 for a pilgrimage I carried with me a lot of worries about many things. We were to walk about 168.1 kilometers from Malolos, Bulacan to Manaoag, Pangasinan. I started to feel all those fears and apprehensions in my heart. I asked God for the grace to know Him in the image of every person I met and to guide me in acknowledging my limitations and weaknesses… and to work on them. I knew it was going to be a long walk but what I did not realize was that the entire journey would truly become a life-changing experience for me.

I was not sure how possible the pilgrimage would be considering the following rules: Don’t bring money; don’t introduce yourself as a seminarian unless someone recognizes you; and lastly, beg for you food and a place to stay for the night. It was really a survival experience in five straight days. I felt like the cave of the unknown became so narrow with those rules. I am a man of adventure but I was in doubt with this one. I had never been a beggar all my life and it was going to be a very tough challenge for me.

I and my Chinese partner started to walk at around 6:30am from Malolos Provincial Capitol, enjoying the cool breeze in the air and with excitement in our hearts. We had positive energies. When we reached Apalit, Pampanga at midday we decided to beg for food at a parish office. I was very shy to speak, even to get into their office. When I examined my feelings I realized that I had a lot of pride within me, so much so that if I beg, it would strike my ego. And our first attempt was an outright rejection.

As I continued begging, a lady told me, “Look at you, you got a big body and you’re asking for food? Why don’t you work instead?” We were rejected a number of times as we entered different parishes, bakeries and stores simply because we didn’t look like beggars. While figuring out what we were to do next, another seminarian arrived. All of a sudden, I forgot what I was feeling. I was happy to see our brother! He was tired and hungry so we shared with him a piece of bread that my partner got from begging earlier.

We didn’t notice that two beggars (a man and a woman) came and sat beside us. I asked them where we could find a good place to rest for the night. The woman didn’t seem to know anything because she is staying at her daughter’s house but I was surprised when she said, “If only the house is big enough to accommodate you, I can bring you there”.

She asked if I had eaten lunch and I said no. She opened her bag and revealing 2 packs of biscuits she offered me, “Take this one to supplement your hunger. I will take the other one for my dinner.” I was having a second thought of taking the offer because she’ll need it, if not today maybe the following days. She replied, “It’s okay. Tomorrow is another day and I’m sure God will provide when I beg for food tomorrow.” She expressed her support and offered prayers for us. Her unconditional act of kindness touched the deepest core of my being. In her poverty, begging to survive, she was still willing to share what she had.

The male beggar shared that he has no family to live with so he has lived on the streets for a long time. He invited us to his place near the bakeshop but we lost him when we decided to go to the police station to ask for a place to stay.

Those moments really taught me that beggars are the most accommodating people in my entire journey (at least for now). They are the people who lack many things in life but are willing to offer help to others. Those two beggars served as my inspiration to continue… even until now, to pursue my journey in life. I really found Jesus in their presence. God has never stopped to astound me.

Rejected at the police station, NBI office, churches and a military camp, we ended up spending the night at the plaza. It was almost 8:00pm. One of my companions spent the 80 pesos, which the lady church worker gave us, to buy fishballs for the three of us. The vendor warned us that it was not so safe to stay in the plaza so we planned to take turns in sleeping. As it happened, I could hardly sleep because of the noise coming from all over the place – loud music, vehicles passing by, people and others. Fear and negative thoughts overcame me. That was the worst sleep I ever had in my whole life! I said my night prayer and talked to God, “This is tough Lord, really tough. I can barely contain myself, but I trust in you.” I held on to my rosary for the rest of the night.

In the following days, God's angels were sent to us in the form of a seminarian, an ambulance driver, a sari-sari store owner, a church worker and a nun, a fruit-bearing tree and a 100-peso bill which I just saw flying in the sky! The warmth and kindness of these people were consolation enough for us and slowly healed the pain within.

The encounter we had with a labandera in Gerona, Tarlac was one of these inspiring experiences. While sharing among ourselves our experiences and hardships in the pilgrimage, an old lady sat beside us and listened to our stories. After a while she took out 25 pesos from her pocket, a portion of what she earned in a day’s work as a laundry woman and gave it to me. She believed and trusted us even though we were new to the place. What struck me most was the thought that being the breadwinner and a mother of seven, she did not hesitate to share what she had that day. I was amazed at her generosity and surrendering heart, the kind that trusts in God and is not doubtful. That day, my definition of generosity changed.

Indeed God has his own way of guiding us in our journey. I never imagined how the engraved names on the bridges welcoming us to different towns would mean so much to me! These were signs of our achievement, of how far we have gone in our pilgrimage. These encouraged us all the more to reach our destination. Hunger, tiredness and the distractions around were nothing compared to that sense of happiness and being blessed. We could only thank Him for all of these.

Another challenge came to me when my left foot became swollen and the pain started to lessen my courage to finish the pilgrimage. I had two blisters and each step I took crushed my whole body. With the little positivity left in me, I went on. A question came to my mind, “Why do I need to do this pilgrimage?” I couldn’t find a concrete answer but instead, everything that happened in the journey started to flashback one by one. That lady beggar who told me, “I believe in you, Brother” hit my core. Amidst all the physical and emotional pain, those words of encouragement had pushed me to continue. I realized that the stories in the bible started to unfold right before my eyes. I remembered the poor widow in the Gospel who gave her last penny to the church. It was an indescribable feeling to experience that this present modern world has this woman.

I slept on top of a table feeling the pain in my foot but at the same time happy because I saw the other faces of God in this journey. I encountered Him in the poor. I slept with a peaceful heart and offered to God my deepest appreciation to all the people we met. It was a very intimate personal prayer expressing all the emotions I had.

On the 5th day when we crossed the last bridge and saw the kampanario, I said to myself, “This is it!” I walked faster, ignoring the pain in my foot. We arrived at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan at 9:40 am. FINALLY!


Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag [Wikipedia]

I couldn’t describe how I felt. I was so filled with mixed emotions – happy, tired, excited, hungry, etc. We prayed and asked the guidance of Our Lady as we also prayed for our two other brothers who were also having their pilgrimage at that time.

We ate after attending mass. One of my companions led the prayer and it touched me most when he prayed for those who rejected us. It was a valuable act of forgiveness.

God’s goodness was manifested in many ways. Jesus revealed himself in every person we met, in every situation we encountered, and in every town that we passed by in our pilgrimage. It was truly a life-changing experience for me and I will carry the insights and lessons I’ve learned for as long as I live.

I could still remember the question our formator asked before the pilgrimage: “HOW DO YOU SEE CHRIST?” No answer was given. Now I think I have found the answer. I just need to open my eyes and see God in other people. In every step we take and in every decision we make as we go through life’s journey, it’s important that we remain strong in our determination and faith, an opportunity for us to become a better person.

It is easy to do good things when it is seen, applauded, acknowledged or rewarded. But goodness is about doing things in accordance to God’s will, whether in public or in private, with or without labels.

Just like in the stories and movies, every journey creates a picture of experiences worth remembering. In my case, I’m keeping these images with me forever. God is great!


Elbert with Frs Raymond Husband and Finbar Maxwell, and co-seminarians
Columban House of Studies, 2013


Desert

By Lorna Cañete

The author is from Bacolod, Lanao del Norte. She has been in Chile as a Columban Lay Missionary (CLM) since 2015 with the two other members of PH22, Michael Javier and Gilda Comayas. They are the first group of CLMs from the Philippines assigned in Chile.

If the Philippines has Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the Northern part of Chile has mountains of “chocolates”, no green, just all brown soil.

I never imagined living in a desert in my whole life. Each time I read a passage in the bible which mentioned about wilderness or desert before coming to this place, I could not relate how it would feel like being in the desert, until I found myself in the middle of one.


Columban Lay Missionaries PH22 (L to R) Lorna Cañete, Michael Javier and Gilda Comayas

One of my unforgettable memories is when I travelled from North of Chile to Peru by bus. There I saw different colors of soil along the way, different forms of mountains, different valleys, and different curves and narrow roads.

As I was looking around the deserted place, I was brought back to where I come from – a tropical place, plenty of rains, soft soil, many rivers, vast plains of plants and vegetation, all green.

As we went inward the desert and along the coast of Peru, there I saw the amazing and unforgettable scenery I treasured in my life. I saw a group of farmers planting corns and different vegetables in the middle of the desert! I couldn’t help myself but be awed. It was really an “AHA” moment for me. I asked myself, “Is it real? Are they real?” It really amazed me, and it brought me again to the place where I come from –Mindanao, Philippines.

This experience reminded me of the question commonly raised by the missionaries in my place, “Why can’t people plant? You have good soil, with a regular rainy season.” From what I saw in the desert, I realized that that question was all true. Here, I’ve crossed the desert, witnessed the farmers cultivating it, planting with no hesitant feelings despite of the dry soil.


Lorna visiting Cerros Pintados geoglyphs in Pica, Northern Chile

So came my questions to myself: How about me? How is my missionary life? Am I still in the tropical place where there is no need to exert effort at all and just grow easily? Or am I really on the desert soil where there’s a need for cultivation and watering?

Like the farm in the desert, that’s how I feel about my missionary experience here in Chile. Now the challenge, “How will I do that? How do I become the water in my ministry for it to be fruitful and productive?”

As of this moment, these are my guiding questions helping me to continue being a missionary and I am hoping to have a memorable and significant mission in this place.

Through this experience of mine, I would like to quote the saying, “Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must but take the step.” I do believe that as long as I have the desire and passion to continue despite the difficulties, challenges and worries, there will always be something “big” that may happen, whether it is during my time or after my time, it doesn’t matter.

God... He found me. He cares for me and has encircled me with all the blessings I need... and I feel the need to pay it forward.


Lorna with Columban Lay Missionaries in Chile


From the Editor

Peace to all!

I began my work as the new editor of MISYONonline.com with gratitude and hope. I thank Fr Seán Coyle, the former editor, whom I have known since 1984, back in the days when the House of Studies of the Columban students was still in Cebu, where we gave the CHOICE weekend to all the students. He was instrumental in my becoming a Columban lay missionary, and now as his successor. It is not easy to follow somebody’s footsteps, especially when the person’s repute is quite high, but salamat sa Diyos (thanks be to God), I take comfort in the thought that I’m in a role which allows a certain degree of freedom in exercising one’s own creativity. And what a relief (with a smile)!


With Fr Seán… with smiles of gratitude

Mary Joy Rile, assistant editor, and I are still adjusting to the new structure in the office with the addition of the regional website into our work. We welcome this new development as we carry on with our editorial work in the Columban Mission newsletter and the MISYONonline.com. It is our hope that MISYONonline.com will continue to be an avenue where the Missionary Society of St Columban can further inspire the young and not so young people to be catalysts of God’s love for all of His creation and participate in the mission entrusted by Christ to the Church.

The articles and the regular sections in this issue speak about the challenges of loving and finding meaning in life in the midst of a wounded world, where life in all forms has been violated in many different ways - killing, trafficking, bullying, rejection, disregard for people’s rights and destruction of our environment. It is difficult to love when we are wounded and hurting, but not impossible if we anchor our love in God and allow ourselves to be consumed by it. This will push us to show signs that we care, no matter how small. As Mother Teresa puts it, “Every act of love is a work of peace no matter how small.”


Mother Teresa [News18.com]

As we work together in building small bridges of love, let us continue to pray for each other, for peace in our hearts and in our land.


Human Love of Creation

By Fr John Leydon

Fr John Leydon is Vice-Director of the Missionary Society of St Columban in Philippine Region. He has been part of the team in Our Lady of Remedies Parish, Malate, Manila, for many years, some of them as parish priest. He has been involved with the Center for Ecozoic Living and Learning (CELL) in Silang, Cavite and was one of those who established it in 1998. Fr John is a member of the steering committee of Global Catholic Climate Movement, became one of the co-convenors of GCCM for the Philippines and currently its chairperson. The idea of GCCM came in 2014 and in June 2016, GCCM-Pilipinas was established.

How do we convince people to take climate change and other environmental concerns seriously?

This is the key issue of our times. Up to very recently the situation was very bad. Scientists as early as 1992 said that humanity and nature are on a collision course. If we don't change our ways, we will experience irreversible changes in our world. Scientists spoke clearly about the present ecological crisis but not enough people were listening. The corporations were plainly making money out of the situation. And the politicians who had utang na loob (sense of obligation to return a favor) to the corporations were obliged to give in to their demands. Laudato Si’ changed all that. Laudato Si’ was a hulog ng langit talaga (heaven sent). For example, President Obama came to the Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in 2015 and made a strong talk about Climate Change. He could not have made that speech before Laudato Si’ was published. It would have been political suicide.

What gives you hope?

What gives me hope is that I believe that God is not sleeping. God is the Creator and God loves creation. God has planted within the heart of every human great love for creation. And how are we going to change things? We need to touch that part of humanity's heart which loves creation. Right now we are encantada. We have been enchanted by what Pope Francis would call the technocratic paradigm, which is another name for our modern civilizaton characterized by great technological advancement but at the cost of great and possibly irreversible destruction of Planet Earth.

One of the things that Laudato Si’ clearly teaches, which has not been taught for hundreds of years in the Catholic church, is that God is really present in every creature and that God really speaks through every creature. I often ask people, "Where do you think we hear the voice of God?" Evangelicals will say with certainty, “Scriptures” and usually mean “scriptures only” following Martin Luther’s “scriptura sola”. Catholics usually say, “Scriptures” and maybe some will say, “in the sacraments".

In the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas would have taught , "There are two sources of revelation, one is Sacred Scripture and the other is Nature". Nature was approached with awe and wonder. He was opposed by another school which said that Nature was not a source of revelation of God. They said that Nature had nothing to do with faith. It was only there for our intellect. What this meant was that the primary way of treating Nature was to understand it and get control of it. Laudato Si’ finally settles this debate by taking the side of Saints Francis, Aquinas and Bonaventure. God speaks to us in creation and we should approach creation with a sense of awe and wonder.


Fr John blessing the animals on the feast of St Francis of Assisi, 4 October 2016, Malate Parish, Manila

The modern technocratic paradigm was born under a different attitude to Nature. Meaning that nature is there but it has no value in itself. It can be used in any way we want. And we are now reaping the fruits of this which is the destruction of our planet.

Seeing things in this way is like discovering that we are living in a time of great revelation. We discover ourselves in our modern technological civilization as being deaf to the voice of God speaking to us in creation. We are very smart and clever but basically autistic when it comes to recognizing God’s voice. And because of this we find ourselves destroying creation and in it wiping out the voice of our God. And for the most part we have no idea that this is what we are doing.

In many ways we find ourselves in a situation very similiar to that of the people who had crucified Jesus. They did not know what they were doing. In fact they thought they were doing God’s will: “We have a law and by that law this man should die.” And when he comes back to them alive, then they say, "Oh, what did we do?" Jesus is being crucified today in the lost species, in the destruction of the ecosystems and we are weeping upon realizing that. Yes, it is happening. “What are we to do?” is the question asked when we undergo conversion. Many are going through this process. I don’t know if it is fast enough but I still have hope.

We are called to ecological conversion. When we are ecologically converted, everything is reexamined. We reexamine our lifestyle and mend our wrongful ways. We believe that God is present. God is speaking to us in every little creature. And God is leading us to deep, deep conversion. The great thing about a conversion is that it can be total and immediate.


Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines invites the faithful to Sign The Laudato Si' Pledge

How do we help protect our planet?

We could answer this by asking, “What am I supposed to do?” But a more important question that we can ask is, “Who am I supposed to be?” Who does God want me to be: a consumer, a destroyer, or somebody who hears the voice of God? As Pope Francis would say, in being a Christian today, care for creation is not an optional thing. But to be an authentic Catholic today is to be able to hear the voice of God in the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth.

E.O. Wilson said that we humans are basically biophiliacs. We are lovers of life. When we hear about things breaking down, like species disappearing and all that, then we can feel very sad and a lot of pain. Spiritual writer Joanna Macy says something very interesting about our pain:

“The anguish we feel for what is happening to our world is inevitable and normal and even healthy. Pain is very useful. Just don’t be afraid of it. Because if we are afraid to feel that, we won’t feel where it comes from, and where it comes from is love, our love for this world. That’s what is going to pull us through.”

If we ponder on this long enough, we will discover that in our hearts is love – we are deeply in love with creation. God has planted this love in our hearts. And that is the only thing that can save us. If we can get in touch with that, it's the most hopeful thing in the planet at this point – human love of creation.


(L-R) Bro Angel Cortez OFM, NCR regional coordinator, Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement (EcoJIM); Gerry Arances, national coordinator, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ); Max de Mesa, chair, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocate (PAHRA); Fr Dexter Toledo OFM, national coordinator, EcoJim; Sr Cres Lucero SFIC, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) – JPIC; Fr John Leydon, Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM); and Lidy Nakpil, regional coordinator, Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) at the launching of EcoJIM, 31 Aug 2015, Quezon City.
EcoJIM is a faith-based network on Climate Justice in response to Pope Francis’ call, "On Care For Our Common Home", Laudato Si’. (Photo Credit: EcoJIM)



Our Hideaway

Coffee and the Blind Man

By Ivy Lyn S. Vergara


The author

This article was sent to us a few years back. The author is currently working at a call center in Bacolod City.

By nature I am a silent person. But as time goes by I have become one of those people who are very inquisitive. Lots of questions bother my mind, mostly based on my observations and experiences in life. I would ask people around me, especially those who are close to me, and they sometimes feel irritated because I keep on asking and asking questions about life, like, “Why is it that justice is better served for those who have money?”; “Why are there broken families?”; “Why is there an unequal distribution of wealth?” and so on. These questions have been lingering on my mind. People tried to offer answers to some of it. As I continue to ponder on these questions and my quest for meaning in life, I put my trust in God. As Colossians 1:16 said, “For in Him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Bertrand Russell, Nobel Prize winner in Literature (1950), also said, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” These messages inspire me to keep going amidst all the challenges and difficulties before me. Now I can offer everything I do to God. Everything that happens happens for a reason.

One long day, I was walking around the city without knowing where I was going. I finally decided to visit the Scholarships Office of the University of Negros Occidental –Recoletos to ask about the requirements for scholarship. Unfortunately, the day before I inquired was the last day for submission of requirements. I was frustrated, thinking that I just lost a great opportunity. As I was going into the direction of STI West Negros University, I tried my luck there, just in case I would be blessed. I asked about their scholarship program and the requirements. Praise God for one more chance! I applied as a working student and I got accepted.


Coffee beans

On my way home, I passed by Burgos Market and saw a group of people selling instant herbal coffee. I was surprised to see a blind man among them selling coffee despite the mockery and the difficulties he encountered in doing his job. This inspired me and pushed me to inquire about the products they were selling. They gave me a flyer. At first, I was hesitant to contact them but then it dawned on me that maybe this was now the chance for me to earn a living, know myself better and measure my capabilities. I texted the phone number in the flyer and then they invited me to their office for orientation. I attended the training workshops they provided.

Soon enough I was seen as one of them selling herbal coffee in Burgos Market. I am really inspired by my blind trainer. It is unavoidable that I feel hurt at times by our customers. But he inspires me every day with his words of wisdom, the kind of wisdom which I could not find in any classroom but in a person who continues to find joy in life despite the way he had been maltreated by the people around him. I want to be like him, who remains happy in his life serving coffee, serving God.


Ivy with colleagues


Peace by Peace

July-August 2017


Dorothy Day, 1934 [Wikipedia]

We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives, so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt, that peace and abundance may manifest for all.

~ Dorothy Day, Journalist, Activist (1897 – 1980)




Martin Luther King, 1964 [Wikipedia]

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr, Loving Your Enemies, Strength to Love (1929 – 1968)




St Thomas Aquinas, Fra Angelico [Web Gallery of Art]

If man were by nature a solitary animal, the passions of the soul by which he was conformed to things so as to have knowledge of them would be sufficient for him; but since he is by nature a political and social animal it was necessary that his conceptions be made known to others. This he does through vocal sound. Therefore there had to be significant vocal sounds in order that men might live together. Whence those who speak different languages find it difficult to live together in social unity.

~ St Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church (1225 – 1274)




St Macrina the Younger (fresco in Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev) [Wikipedia]

You who broke the flaming sword, and compassionately gave paradise back to the man crucified with You, remember me also in your kingdom, for I, too, have been crucified with You, having nailed my flesh through fear of You and having feared your judgments.

~ St Macrina the Younger, Virgin (c. 327 - 379)
Coming from a family of saints, St Macrina the Younger was the granddaughter of St Macrina the Elder, the eldest child of Saints Basil the Elder and Emmelia, the sister of Saints Basil, Gregory of Nyssa and of Peter of Sebatea.




Augustus Tolton, Joseph Malham

In this Church we do not have to fight for our rights because we are black. She had colored saints – Augustine, Benedict the Moor, Monica. The Church is broad and liberal. She is the Church for our people.

~ Augustus Tolton, African-American Priest (1854 - 1897)



A Prayer for Healing

Healing God,
come to my hidden corners,
open the doors to my soul rooms
that are tightly locked.

Awaken in me.
Bring to life all my deadness.
Enthuse the depressed emotions.
Reenergize my inner weariness.
Bathe the grime of my ego-centeredness.
Clarify my confusions.
Fire my neglected loves.
Brush off my dusty dreams.
Nurture my spiritual hungers.
Ease my sore relationships.
Deepen my sense of self-esteem.
Stir up my connection with the world.

Tenderly gather in your arms
all that still needs healing,
all that remains wounded and wanting.
May I grow each day into greater wholeness
with a stronger, purer inner freedom.

~ Joyce Rupp, Dear Heart, Come Home



To Search is To Find

To Search is to find
July – August 2017

IS IT A SIN TO BE GAY? This is a question which was sincerely asked by one male, or should I say a gay, college student in my encounter with them. I am throwing this question in the hope that the answer may bring enlightenment since it is a concern on their part who oftentimes feel that they are but a mistake and struggle to be accepted. Thanks in advance.

The simple answer is: NO! It’s not a sin to be gay. The official teaching of the Catholic Church is that to be gay is not a sin. But to engage in homosexual acts is a sin. Let’s look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about homosexuality:

# 2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex.

# 2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

# 2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

What the Catechism of the Catholic Church is saying here is that we have to make a distinction between a feeling and an action.

Sometimes we might get really angry with someone and we might really feel like punching them, or kicking them, or pulling their hair. But then the inner voice of conscience says: “Don’t do that! It will only make things worse. It is a sin to use violence!” So we control ourselves and we do not do the nasty and violent things we felt like doing. And because we controlled ourselves, we did not commit any sin. In this case I felt violent feelings towards the other person but I did not act out the violent feelings. So I did not commit any sin. My feelings were not put into action. If I did put my violent feelings into action then it would be a sin.

The Catholic Church teaches the same thing about homosexuality. We must distinguish between the feeling of sexual attraction and the act of engaging in sexual activity. It is not a sin to feel sexually attracted to another man. But it is a sin to engage in a sexual act with another man. That is why the Catholic Church teaches that gay men (and lesbian women) should remain chaste; that is, they should remain single and not have sex with another man (or woman in the case of a lesbian). If they remain chaste they can reach Christian perfection; meaning, they can become saints by devoting their love to God.

So, it is not a sin to have homosexual feelings, if you do not engage in sexual acts with people of the same gender. So, it is definitely not a sin to be gay, because to feel gay feelings is definitely not a sin.

Furthermore, the Catholic Church teaches that everyone is dearly loved by God, with a love that cannot be measured; because everyone is created by God. That is why it is a sin to show disrespect or discrimination towards people who are gay:

“They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives.”

God loves gay people; because God loves everyone. So, how could we not love gay people? Do we really think we are greater than God? And as Pope Francis said about gay people: “Who am I to judge?”