Quotations:

I am with you always until the end of this world - Jesus (Matthew 28:20).

Preach the Word in season and out of season reproving, rebuking or advising always with patience and providing instructions (2 Timothy 4:2).

Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you (Luke 1:30).

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. - G. K. Chesterton

Monday, November 26, 2007

A certain man and his three friends.

There is an old Jewish story which goes like this. A certain man had three friends.


He liked two of them; but had little use for the third. One day he was ordered to appear in court. Alarmed, he looked around for someone to defend him. He immediately thought of his two favorite friends.


One said, "No way! I'm not going into any court." The second one said, "I'll go as far as the king's gate but no farther."


In despair the man then asked his least-loved friend for help. He said, "Sure, I'll come." And he did come, and he defended the man so well that he won his case.


Jewish rabbis go on to explain the story like this: Every person has three friends when Death calls and he must appear before his Creator. The friend he loves most is money; but it cannot go with him a single step.


The second friend is his circle of relatives and neighbors. They can only accompany him to the grave side. In no way can they defend him before the Judge.


His third friend, whom he neither likes nor esteems, is the only one that accompanies him to the judge and wins his case.


That friend is his list of good deeds done during his lifetime. ... (Jacob Braude)

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Reflection on the 34th Sunday Gospel: Luke 23:35-43 Feast of Christ the King, Nov. 25, 07


My reflection:
This Gospel reading had been intensely put to life in the movie The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson. The whole movie in fact shows the intense passion of Jesus, it started while Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane. “After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. (Luke 22:42-44). The movie ended with his crucifixion and eventual resurrection.

This Sunday we are at the end of the church’s calendar and we are celebrating the feast of Christ the King. The Gospel truly depicts the heavenly kingship of Jesus a kingship that is at odds with our own worldly idea. Jesus’ kingship is a kingship of Obedience, of Humility, of Servanthood and of Suffering and Sacrifice for the salvation of all humanity. He did not mind the anguish and humiliation; He was so focused with his mission.

On the latter part of the Gospel, were the two thieves: one was unrepentant and the other one was full of remorse and humility that he asked Jesus to remember him when He comes to his kingdom. And Jesus did not fail him; He brought along the repentant thief to His paradise.

Brothers and sisters discussing from experience, it’s not really easy to follow the kingship of Jesus it’s full of sacrifice and trials but it’s during this sacrifices and trials that we will feel His abiding presence in our life and beyond.

Jesus is continuously inviting us to follow His kingship. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Are you willing to respond?

Monday, November 12, 2007

My narrative on the last two days of my Aunt: Gilda D. Altamia (Feb 1, 1934-Nov. 9, 2007)


(Mila, Cynthia Villar, Gem & Eden)

Last Friday (Nov. 9) Auntie Gilda succumbed to her lingering ailment, she triumphantly defeated her oppressive sickness. I was there and I saw her slow yet painful last two days here in this material world that we presently belong.

It was last Thursday (November 8) when I first saw her in the Hospital. Her two sisters ( Mila and Eden) were watching over her. I was with my siblings (Grace, Jun-jun, Darwin, and Nino) Upon seeing her I knew that it’s just a matter of time before she departs to the great beyond, she was very thin and her breathing was very deep, her eyes were barely opened. There were three nurses with her they were frantically trying to find a vein where they can insert a needle to facilitate the passage of medicines to her body. They tried it on her hands, they tried it on her feet to no avail. We therefore asked: “What’s the problem?” they told us that they can’t locate a vein. They went out for about thirty minutes then they were at it again trying to locate a vein, they were successful this time.

Afterwards, I said, "Hi auntie" while slowly massaging her forehead, it was a very painful sight to see for a woman who was always full of life. To keep the mood light I said to her, “You’ll get well.” And she slowly nodded as if saying yes I will get well.

Every now and then she would be restless she would move side to side then she would slowly motion that she wants to be seated. So we lift her up after that she would lie-down again. It was her routine for the day. ...
Sensing that she might go anytime we called  a priest again to give her the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. After a few hours a priest who was her personal friend arrived and she was given the Sacrament.

Later in the afternoon her doctor told us that she was slowly being poisoned by her blood and it results in her constant unguarded movements. After the doctor left she motioned again to be seated. This time it was auntie Mila who lovingly helped her to be seated and while seated Mila embraced her while saying: “We love you, do you love us?” And she would groan as if saying: Yes I also love you all. I lost count of that beautiful and touching exchange of loving words and groans. I was looking at them and I saw a very moving sight of Agape Love.

Around 7:00 pm her doctors came again and frankly told us that  she needed to be put on a breathing machine (ventilator) or she would probably die anytime. We huddled for a brief moment and said, do whatever it takes to extend her life. After a while the machine was brought in and we were politely told to go out of the room first so that they can do the procedure.

After about 30 minutes we were told that the ventilator had already been attached and we can go inside now. So we went inside and saw her with all these tubes attached to her, this time she was already unresponsive to our whispers to our urgings: I think she was already in a comatose state at that time. 
(Tata Orcine, Cheng, Elsa, & Eden)
Afterwards auntie Gilda’s grandchildren and daughter in-law came also. Then after a few minutes her daughter (Gemma) arrived from Singapore. Here, I again saw a moving and heart-rending sight. Gemma was deeply crying while lovingly caressing her Mama and saying. “Mama you told me we would still talk. You told me that you would wait for me.” While motionless I suddenly saw tears flowing out of my aunt’s eyes as if telling her that she’s hearing her cries and pleas. Then she started to very slowly move her hands towards her mouth as if trying to remove the ventilator so that she can talk. We moderately blocked her hand and whispered to her not to remove the tube. After a while her son (Boyet) called and the cell phone was put onto her ear and I think she was hearing him because tears started to slowly flow from her eyes again.
Around 12:30 am we went home…

The next day we were there again we arrived around 5:30 pm and it was the last one and a half hours that I would be seeing her breathing. After staying out of the room for about 15 minutes. I went inside and also quickly went outside to call our relatives then we closed the door and I know with the urgings of the Holy Spirit I said, “Let us all stand and Pray.” We made the sign of the cross and we Prayed the Our Father (the Prayer that Jesus told us to Pray, Matthew 6:9-15) with three Hail Mary and One Glory be then I followed it up with a spontaneous prayer lifting, commending and entrusting her to God while my relatives were saying Yes Lord and Amen. After the Prayers were said I tenderly caressed her forehead while softly saying: Go towards the light, follow Jesus, follow the Holy Spirit, and follow God. Let go now, I repeated this words a couple of times.

(Cynthia Villar, Mila & Elsa)

After which I went out of the room while my relatives were praying the Rosary. When they were through I went inside again with a Prayer booklet (that I got from the lobby where the image of Mama Mary was located, I Prayed to Mama Mary to take care of my Aunt’s journey towards heaven) then we made the sign of the Cross and I read the Prayers and the litanies. My Aunt was still breathing it was soft and very slow and the line on the screen that monitors her heartbeat was near flat already.
I went out of the room again and subsequently went inside again and it happened, I saw her last grasp for breath the line on the indicator was already flat. I softly touched her still warm body while saying my silent prayer for her and I closed her eyes, kissed her on the forehead and I slowly walked towards the door: my eyes welling up with tears. …

Death is always a good wake-up call for all of us who are still in this temporary journey. It is a reminder that we will pass this process too. There’s no exception: rich or poor, learned or not.

To me, life is as simple as the rising and setting of the Sun, in the morning we slowly see the Sun beautifully rising and late in the afternoon we see it magnificently setting as well. It's like a song also it has its beginning and eventual ending, it’s like the rain it pours and after a while its pouring ends.

(Nino, Mila, Boyet & Cynthia Villar)
That’s our life too; we have our beginning and eventual ending. What is important while we are still actively here in this journey is we know who Jesus is, we have an intimate relationship with HIM.

We can always get intimate with Jesus through the Holy Mass. In the Mass the words of God are read in the Liturgy of the Word and Jesus is made present in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Upon consecration of the Priest who acts in Persona Christi, (in the Person of Christ) the ordinary bread and wine become the Body and blood of Christ. In the Mass the scene in the Last Supper is repeated again, when on the night before his crucifixion, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and that is the first Mass.

It is also important that we read the Bible specially the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because in those Gospels we will get to have and intimate and personal knowledge of who really is Jesus.

If we know Jesus we need not fear death because death is the final hurdle to be in heaven with the Angels, with the Saints and with Mama Mary.

And finally to be in the permanent company with our Triune God.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.  Amen.

Farewell to you my Dear auntie...