Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Our Father

“Our Father...” Matthew 6:9

Jesus taught the disciples how to pray. The first Christians were taught this “secret prayer” after their baptism. Today, we can pray this anywhere, and we , unfortunately, take the words for granted. 

Our Father, Abba, You are my father, but not only my father, but father of all You have created in love. You want us to trust in You, to ask You for guidance, You are ever ready to succor and protect us. Help us to see our brothers and sisters with Your eyes, with kindness and forbearance. There are so many who are lost, Lord, and I know You want us to do what we can to bring them to know You, to bring them into Your fold. 

Our Father, thank You for excluding no one. We are all Your children, even those who reject You. Even those who sin. You still continue to bless us with Your rain, sunshine, oxygen, healing. Thank You for Your gifts of being able to talk, walk, breathe, and use our minds. May we be perfect as You are perfect, may we “hit the mark”, and become exactly as You want us to be. May we love You and love our neighbors as You have taught. Until the day You bring us home to You, ABBA Father, amen.

Monday, February 27, 2023

When Did We See You?

Lord, when did we see you and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?" Matthew 25:37

"Who gives himself with alms feeds three- himself, his hungry neighbor and Me." (Lowell)

St. Martin of Tours was an 18 year old legionary when he met a beggar clad in rags at the city gate of Amiens. He decided to cut his great woolen cloak into two, and gave the half to the beggar. That night he dreamt that it was Christ wearing half of his cloak. 

St. Francis is famous for exchanging his rich clothes with beggars. And also kissing lepers whom he used to find revolting. Once when he did kiss a leper's hands and face, he looked around after mounting his horse, and could not find the leper anywhere!

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me." Matthew 25:35

Perhaps the best way to do Lent this year is to find Jesus in jail, in the hospital, orphanage, old age homes, or hungry in the hovels in the city. In this parable of the Last Judgement, we see that in the Kingdom where God is Master, we will be judged not according to what we have accumulated, how much power or popularity or influence we have, but how much we loved.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Follow Me

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." Luke 5:27

When Pope Francis was asked in an interview, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?”, he answered, "I am a sinner."

“When I had to come to Rome," he continued, “I always stayed in [the neighborhood of] Via della Scrofa. From there I often visited the Church of St. Louis of France, and I went there to contemplate the painting of ‘The Calling of St. Matthew,’ by Caravaggio. That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew.” 

Here the pope becomes determined, as if he had finally found the image he was looking for: “It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff.” Then the pope whispers in Latin: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.”

During this season of Lent, of renewal, God is also calling us to turn away from some things, and come follow Him. We can say, just like Pope Francis, “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept Your will in a spirit of penance.”

Friday, February 24, 2023

Muddy Places

“My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” Psalm 51:19

During Lent of 2017, Pope Francis released this advice:
1. Fast from Hurting Words and say Kind words.
2. Fast from Sadness and be filled with Gratitude.
3. Fast from Anger and be filled with Patience.
4. Fast from Pessimism and be filled with Hope.
5. Fast from Worries and Trust in God.
6. Fast from Complaints and contemplate Simplicity.
7. Fast from Pressures and be Prayerful.
8. Fast from Bitterness and fill your heart with Joy.
9. Fast from Selfishness and be Compassionate to others.
10. Fast from Grudges and be Reconciled.
11. Fast from Words and be Silent so you can listen.

Sometimes we can be too focused on the externals, that we forget that what God wants is that we be freed from self-centeredness, and selfishness, so we can be more sensitive of others and what they need. In “Pondering the Word- The Anawim Way”, I read that fasting is “putting to death of the false self so that our true self can be raised to fullness of life.” I find it beautiful that the word “Lent” is from the Old English word “lencten” which means spring. Lent is springtime in our Christian pilgrimage. 

During springtime, there is fresh growth, and if we journey with Jesus these forty days, we will see buds and blossoms coming out of the arid dirt of our souls. God can find the muddy places and plant a garden. First we have to find the weeds of anger, worries, selfishness, etc., and give it up for our gardener to replace with seeds of kind words, gratitude, patience, hope….

Oh what a beautiful garden we will have!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

What Profit?

“…whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” Luke 9:24-25

This verse always brings to mind the innumerable saints who were willing to lose their lives for Jesus’ sake. There’s St. Maximillian Kobe who volunteered to take the place of a husband and father about to be executed in Auschwitz, the death camp in German-occupied Poland. Then there’s persistent St. Sebastian who was a Praetorian Guard under Diocletian. When he was found evangelizing his fellow soldiers, he was tied to a tree, and left for dead after being pelted with arrows. He didn’t die however and once he was healthy again, he sought an audience with Diocletian who then had him clubbed to death and dumped in a Roman sewer. 

Less well known is St. Margaret Clitherow who allowed masses to be celebrated in her home secretly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. That was a crime punishable by death and when caught, Margaret was pressed in between a sharp stone and a door topped by an 800 lb. weight. She died after 15 excruciating minutes. St. Bartholomew, one of Jesus’ apostles, became a missionary in what are now Turkey, Iran and other nearby states. When he converted the King of Armenia’s brother to Christianity, his skin was peeled off his body in strips while he was still alive. Only then was he beheaded. 

Today, how can we “lose our life for Jesus’ sake”? We are not persecuted or hunted down when we worship Him, pray or read the Bible. We are not beheaded when we try to evangelize anyone. Being a Christian in these days is not life-threatening, and yet we barely are able to do the minimum. How much time do we spend in prayer, and pondering the words of Jesus? How much do we give of our treasure to those who are hungry, who need our help? St. Maximillian gave his very life for a stranger. Do we give time to pray for those who are sick? Do we intercede for those who need prayer cover when they evangelize in danger zones like North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nicaragua, or China? There are still many countries where being a Christian makes them a target for persecution and harassment. 

Let us lose some of our time, talent and treasure for others, and make sure Jesus will recognize us at the heavenly gates. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Inner Room

“When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” Matthew 6:6

I am reminded of a story of a little boy saying his bedtime prayers beside his mom and grandma. He started by mumbling, “Thank You for my parents, my grandma and my brothers and sisters. Thank You that I passed my math exam...” then he ended by shouting, “and please may I get a bike for Christmas!” His mom asked him why he was shouting. “God’s not deaf!” she said, and he responded, “No, but Grandma is!”

We all have our little quirks when we approach God. Before Him, we are naked. We cannot pretend to be who we are not. He knows exactly who we are, what we are capable of, what we can be. He knows our foibles, our idiosyncrasies, our weaknesses and strengths. Here is a God who knows us inside out and loves us anyway. We are precious in His eyes, whether we are a heroin addict, a foul mouthed President, an inmate in the bloodiest prison in the country, or a harried mother too busy to pray. I can see Him waiting for us to come to Him. 

It is inconceivable, that kind of love! Here Jesus is telling us that the Creator of the Universe has time for us. One-on-one time. He wants to be alone with us. He waits. No cellphone. No one to tell us our time is up. He waits for us to tell Him about our day, our frustrations, our battles, our victories. What a comfort it is to tell Him of our sins, our burdens, and have Him carry it for us to Calvary. 

Our prayer room can be our war room where we battle against cancer, against the crisis in our country, against the enemy who steals, kills and destroys. It can be our sanctuary in the storm, a place of rest where we can claim our Father’s promises of restoration and peace beyond understanding. For me it is a place where God reveals His inexhaustible treasures. 

Thank You Lord for one-on-one time with You! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

All I Want is Everything

“If anyone wishes to rank first, He must remain the last one and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35

Many conveniently forget this in the pursuit of their goals and dreams. There are many rich and powerful men and women today in government who live as if their goal is to become richer and more powerful still, unmindful of the people they swore to serve. 

I prefer to look for my examples in men and women who have become “small” in the eyes of the world, in order to be “first” with God, in the hopes that something of their virtue might rob off on me. 

Marion Mill is little known, although she wrote an autobiography titled, “All I Want is Everything”. She wrote: “Albert Schweitzer says there are two kinds of people. There are the helpers, and the non-helpers. I thank God that He allowed me to become a helper, and in helping, I found everything."

Marion Mill was born in a royal palace, the daughter of a European diplomat, who ate with spoons of gold. She went to the best schools. When she was married to the famed director Otto Preminger, she led a glamorous life and charmed everyone with her wit and beauty. Living the fast life had its perils and she soon began to drink, take drugs and tried to commit suicide three times. 

One day she met Dr. Schweitzer in Vienna. After talking to him about his work in Lambarene in the Congo, she pleaded with him to take her there. She went, and spent many months every year nursing his patients, cleaning bedpans and the putrid sores of leprosy. 

“One outgrows things,” she said. “The world I knew was suddenly meaningless and with out purpose. I am quoting Dr. Schweitzer, who says, ‘Sometimes in our lives our inner light goes out and can be put into flame again only by the encounter of another human being.’ Albert Schweitzer is such a human being. I was so impressed with the idol of my childhood that I became his most faithful follower.”

May we surround ourselves with people who can enliven the flame of our inner light. Perhaps we ourselves can be that person who inspires others to serve God and our fellow man the way Jesus wants us to. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Help My Unbelief!

“Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Mark 9:22

It was difficult for the father to believe when he saw his son foaming at the mouth, grinding his teeth and being seized and thrown down. And sometimes it’s difficult for us to believe as well, and that is when we should pray the same prayer the father uttered in his helplessness, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” 

There was once a young boy nicknamed Sparky. He failed every subject in eighth grade and in high school he  flunked Algebra, English and managed to get the lowest score in Physics in the school’s history. He did not excel in anything and even managed to do badly in sports. His classmates and teachers all thought he was mediocre in everything he did. 

But even if everyone thought he was a loser, Sparky believed in himself. He had faith that he was great at one thing, drawing! He submitted a series of sketches for the high school yearbook but it was rejected. Before he was drafted into the US Army, he took a correspondence course in art, and then he ambitiously wrote a letter to Walt Disney Studios, submitting drawings he had worked for hours on. He received a form letter saying his work was not acceptable.

Eventually he drew his autobiography in cartoon form, of a shy, withdrawn ‘chronic underachiever’, the embodiment of insecurity and self-doubt. Finally, after several tries, his comic strip was accepted by United Feature Syndicate. The comic strip “Peanuts” and Charlie Brown and his gang debuted on October 2, 1950, in seven newspapers. Charles “Sparky” Schultz who once described his life as being “one of rejection”, created one of the most popular and influential comic strips of all time. 

Sometimes it’s difficult to keep going if we just get rebuffed all the time, our ideas get dismissed, or we get passed over. Many of us, like Sparky, struggle to find acceptance and success among our peers. It’s important to be our own cheer leader, to know the truth about ourselves, that we have worth, that we are in fact the apple of God’s eye! “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Be a Lighthouse

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God…”1 Corinthians 3:19

Are we weathervanes or lighthouses? Weathervanes are made to revolve to show the direction of the wind. It is usually mounted to the top of a structure. I remember that my dad wanted to make one, a rooster, to rest on top of our building along Roces Avenue, at the very crest of the corner “tower”. 

Although weathervanes can be beautiful and artistic, people are not meant to be weathervanes. Last night we were talking of a politician who has been around a long time. There are so many memes about him, that he gave Eve the apple, that he helped in the construction of the pyramids in Egypt, etc. My husband said he was “user friendly”, and so he is. He changes with the political wind to survive. He changed his beliefs and his words depending on who is the sitting President. 

We were created by God not to be weathervanes but lighthouses. For several centuries, thousands of people perished in the perilous seas around Scotland. The only light along the coast was a coal fire that was easily extinguished when it rained. So in 1786 the Northern Lighthouse Trust was established with Robert Stevenson, the great great grandfather of the author of the classic book, “Kidnapped”, as the chief engineer. For the next two hundred years, four generations of the Stevenson family designed lighthouses and constructed them along the coasts of Scotland. It was not easy as they had to make the foundations so strong to withstand the enormous waves, and had to design lamps and lenses that could send a gleam of light across the battering seas for miles. Thousands of lives were saved that would otherwise have been lost in the storms.

If we stand with God, read His Word, stay on His path, we will be like lighthouses. Our light will keep shining even if there is a storm raging around us. Others will see our light, and we should also look for the light in others. Sometimes it may grow dim, but if we encourage each other, pray for each other, love and support each other, we can burn brightly so our world can be a better place to live in. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023


“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” 

Hebrews 11:1

I so admire people who are able to do difficult things and make hard decisions. The parents of Hikari Ōe were faced with the choice of following the doctors’ recommendation to let their baby die or pushing through with a risky procedure to correct his condition. He had a medical deformity, a herniated brain which meant he had two brains and looked as if he had two heads. They fought to keep Hikari, whose name means light, alive, even if it meant he would be autistic, visually impaired, epileptic, developmentally delayed, and terribly disfigured. 

Well, fast forward to 2023, and Hikari will be 60 years old in June. When he was young, among other creative interventions, his parents engaged a music teacher and amazingly Hikari began to respond to the stimuli. He learned music notation and eventually composed chamber music. His first CD sold more than one million copies in the first few years of release and he now has a worldwide following! 

Hikari’s story will not be complete without knowing that his parents bloomed like plants that were constantly pruned. Their all consuming love for their son, their imaginative care did not fail to bring gifts into their lives. Hikari’s father, Kenzaburo, was driven to write many essays and novels about their experiences of bringing up their son. Kenzaburo Ōe was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994. 

If Kenzaburo and his wife Yukari did not embrace this gift of a child God gave them, if they resigned themselves to hopelessness, what would have happened? Scientists believe that Hikari would have remained mute and unproductive. But because they did not give up, they kept the faith, they kept talking and talking to Hikari even if at first nothing was happening, Hikari began to respond. And the world is the richer for it. Is there anything in our life that we think is hopeless? Nothing is impossible with God. 

While writing this now, I can hear this beautiful song in my head, “There can be miracles, When you believe, Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill, Who knows what miracles you can achieve? When you believe, somehow you will, You will when you believe!”

To hear a sample of Hikari’s composition- https://youtu.be/sed73hdy_n4

Friday, February 17, 2023

Making Plans

"Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower..." Gen. 11:4

There is nothing wrong with making plans, dreaming dreams, and starting projects. But we should make sure we are God's partner in those dreams and plans. In Joshua 1:8, we read: "This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success."

If we do not read the Bible and study it, we can come up with the most foolish plans. A friend on Facebook got so frustrated. She wrote on her wall that a "friend" posted a curse that those devils against the death penalty in our country should be victims of heinous crimes. The comments on her post were all in agreement in wishing that those who were against the death penalty should be tortured. It's a good thing that these people were not in our Congress and Senate! They want the death penalty for people who commit horrible crimes but they also want to inflict those crimes on those who are against capital punishment! If we do not wash the way we think with the wisdom of God we can get very twisted and confused! 

Lord, help us to think rightly and walk with You! Help us to always lay our plans at Your feet, that You may prosper the work of our hands. 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Who Am I?

“Who do you say that I am?” Mark 8:29

Jesus asked Peter this question and Peter replied that He was the Christ, the Messiah. Would we be able to answer the same? And if Jesus asked, “And who are you?”, what would our answer be? 

If we have a personal, growing relationship with Jesus, we might  answer, “You chose me among all to be Your beloved! To be the apple of Your eye! Thank you for answering my prayers and for keeping Your promises to me!!!"

If we know who Jesus is, we should also know who we are in God’s world. Everything God did, from the beginning of creation, was so that He could have a close relationship with us. I marvel at His patience with man! What a mess we’ve made with our world, and yet He has not given up on us! 

“Who do you say that I am?” You are my rock, redeemer, my friend, hope-giver, promise-keeper, enemy-slayer, way-maker, peace-giver, healer, protector, fountain of truth, Messiah, teacher, and Lord. Help me to  obey Your teachings always! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023


“Do you see anything?” Mark 8:23

We should take heart from this passage in the Bible. When Jesus arrived at Bethsaida, a blind man begged Him to touch him. Jesus put spittle in the blind man’s eyes and asked, “Do you see anything?” The man said he could see people looking like trees walking. Then Jesus laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and the man saw everything clearly. 

I would think that if Jesus touched someone, he would be healed instantly, but here we have a story where He touched a blind man twice. I think this story is here as an example for us to not give up praying, not to be hesitant to pray over someone in need. How many of us are afraid of praying over someone who is sick, or in need of consolation? When was the last time we did it? Or when was the last time we prayed for someone who asked for prayers on Facebook? When I turned on my phone this morning, I was delighted because a friend was thanking everyone who prayed for her mother because her mother who is in the hospital showed great improvement. 

Our world is full of troubles and so many need prayers. Let us care enough to bring our family and friends to Jesus’ attention. Let us not give up if we do not see the answer right away. “He comforts us all in our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we received from Him” (2 Cor 1:4). 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Safe in the Ark

“Noah found favor with the Lord.” Genesis 6:8

It says in Genesis that when God smelled the sweet odor of Noah’s burnt offerings, He promised that He will never again destroy all living things. He made a covenant with Noah and his sons and he set a rainbow in the sky as a sign of that promise. 

When I see the evil around the world, I wonder if all that is keeping God from destroying us is His promise. Surely he hates that hundreds of thousands of His little angels are killed in the womb, and how about the women and children who are victims of human trafficking? I am certain He abhors the thousands of extrajudicial killings and the homicide cases hidden under the rug here in the Philippines and around the world.  What about plunderers and thieves and liars going scot free and running for positions in government and winning? 

But just like in Noah’s time, God has provided a safe haven, a bulwark, an ark, for His people. Noah and His family were saved from destruction in the safety of the ark. The Church, the barque of St. Peter, is also our safety. 

St. Augustine, in the “City of God”, compares the ark of Noah to the body of Christ. He said that just like Noah and his relatives entered through the door at the side, we enter the Church through the side of Christ, which was pierced pouring forth blood and water, symbolizing our baptism and the Eucharist. 

In Genesis 7:16, we learn that it was God who closed the door to the ark to keep the family and animals inside. Is it not God who ensures our complete safety and well-being within the body of Christ? 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Wrapped in Prayer


 I like using recycled materials,
so here's a doll I made out of an
old pair of canvas pants.

 I drew a simple pattern of a doll 
on the cloth with a pencil.

After pinning two pieces of cloth together, I cut it out
leaving a bit of a seam.

Next, I sewed the two pieces of cloth together.

It is important to put notches on the seam so that 
when you invert the doll, 
the cloth won't bunch up.

I am now inverting the doll to the right side.

If it is difficult to invert, you can use a 
long nosed pair of pliers.

Fill the doll with fiberfill or cotton.
When it comes to the arms,
just put fiberfill or cotton inside the hands,
then sew a knot to keep the cotton in there.
Sew a knot in between the arm and body too
to keep the cotton from migrating to the arm.
The arms will not have any cotton or fiberfill
so it is pliable.

When the body is filled with fiberfill or cotton,
place a stone at the bottom
to add weight.

Cut out two ovals from cardboard
to fit inside the base.

Use a glue gun to glue cloth to the base.
Then glue on the 2nd cardboard oval to cover it up.

Paint the doll with gesso or wall putty
to make a base for paint.

Draw a face.
Or you can use movable eyes
and a button nose if you prefer.

 Or feel free to use this template
with carbon paper to trace it
on to your doll.

Paint the face. I used acrylic paints.

 Paint the dress.
I like using two or more shades of the same color
 to add interesting splotches.
Also, this hides any imperfections!

For the hair, I used some scraggly yarn 
I unravelled from an old sweater.

I looped the yarn around my fingers,
cut it, and arranged it on her head.
Then I used a glue gun to hold it in place.
The important thing is not to let any bald spots show!!

Next, I looked for some lace
and fixed it around her shoulders.
I cut up some small bits for her neckline
and her sleeves.

To put words on her dress,
you may write directly on the dress with
a permanent pen.
But I chose to use gel medium.
Make sure your words are inverted and
that you used a copy from a copier
not from a printer.

Put gel medium on the side with the print.
Glue it on the dress.
Wait 30 minutes.

To remove the paper, dip your finger
in water and rub off.
If some parts of the letters got removed,
like here with the letter e,
just write over it with a permanent pen.

For the little book,
I cut out some leather from an old jacket.
I was so happy to find the leather label
of just the right size! 

Make 3 signatures out of any kind of paper.
I used an awl to make the holes,
but you can use an ice pick or even a big needle.
Sew it up with the knot outside the signatures.

Use a glue gun to attach the signatures
to the leather cover.

Write prayers inside the little book.

Put velcro on the doll's hands
so that she can hold the Book of Prayers.

Paint a design on the hem of her skirt.

And here she is!
Holding on tight to my prayers!