NO CRYING AT MY FUNERAL

NO CRYING AT MY FUNERAL

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

THE HOLY LAND IN WORDS - BY POPULAR DEMAND

Let me start by apologizing for the map.  I am working on a better presentation, but let me start with this one.

Some of you are aware that my spouse and I go to the Holy Land more often than most people.  At this point we have just returned from the Holy Land and I have been asked to talk about it for those who have never been and have no thought of ever being able to make it.
So, here goes, bad map and all.

We leave from Los Angeles airport (LAX) and fly for 14 hours straight until we touch ground again in Tel Aviv-Yafo.  This map shows the option of heading south to Jerusalem before turning north to Nazareth.  We prefer to go north first because that is where Jesus grew up and recruited his favored disciples.  It is also where He spent at least 80% of His life.  Then we head down the road that is on the western shoulder of the Jordan River until we get to Jericho.  From Nazareth to Jericho is a nearly 2 hour bus ride.  We spend sometime in Jericho (one of my favorite places) before heading up the hill to Jerusalem.  It is 16 miles and about 3,000 feet of elevation.  Jericho is 850 feet below sea level.  Jerusalem is at 2,500 feet above sea level.  Both cities are at about 31 degrees north of the equator.  For reference San Diego where we live is at about sea level and sits at about the same latitude (32 degrees north).

These are among the material things that strike anyone going to the Holy Land.
There are three categories of observation that the pilgrim to the Holy Land lives:
* Material - visual, touchable
* Traditional - landmarked up to several centuries ago
* Faith - Seen, accepted and believed, whether material or traditional
--Material - The locations named in the Bible...Nazareth, Cana, Nain, Capharnaum, Magdala, The Sea of Galilee, Samaria, Jericho, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, The Dead Sea and of course, the Jordan River.  Just seeing those signs is enough to get your heart racing.  You come to the immediate experience that this is real in more ways than one.  The one thing that always gets me is the sight of the remaining portions of the Synagogue in Capharnaum where Jesus and His earliest disciples worshiped.  It's real.

Other material realities and one that is very powerful is the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is the home of many traditional sites.  This is true because of the fact that Jerusalem was completely levelled by the Romans in 70 AD.  There are material remnants that point to the material facts, but there are also many buildings that commemorate the location of the material, historical facts. These are impressive and they strike the person of faith with great spiritual power.  The Way of the Cross, Calvary, the Holy Sepuchre, the pool of Bethesda, the remains of the Temple (Wetern Wall), the place of Peter's denial of Jesus, etc.  When you are there, you believe!  You do not doubt!  You know that this is the place.  After all centuries of faithful have been placing their faith here,why not me?

Bethlehem is the sweetheart of many pilgrims.  Why?  This is a happy place.  Jesus was born here.  David was born here.  The mother of Jacob and Esau was born and died here.  St. Jerome translated the Scriptures into Latin here.  This year, we were blessed with the priviledge of celebrating our daily Mass in a cave similar to the one in which Jesus more than likely was born.  This is the first time that I ever had this priviledge.  I'll never forget it.  The likely place where Jesus was actually born is covered over by a large church, one of the oldest Christian Churches still in existence in the world.  The spot is still marked but is not attainable by the ordinary person because it is beneath the floor of the church.

This year was special for us in two other ways.
1. The mayor of Bethlehem is a Catholic woman.  Since her election she has decreed that a Christmas tree would be erected in the central square of Bethlehem and a special lighting ceremony would be held every 1st Saturday of December.  We made it a point to be there this year.  Tens of thousands were there, in the territory of the West Bank.  There were no metal detectors at the entrance points of the square.  The military security personnel were apologizing for asking us to open our bags for them.  All the surrounding businesses, eateries and sundries stores were open and thriving.  The exceptional nature of this lies in the fact that 3% of Bethlehem is Christian and only 1% is Catholic.  

2. We were able to go to Nablus a hot bed in the West Bank.  There we were able to visit Jacob's well where Jesus had his famous conversation with the Samaritan Woman.  Of course, we drank of the water.  While there we stopped the bus in front of a local bakery and befriended the baker and his crew and of course bought some munchies for ourselves (42 of us).

I finish by saying that pilgrimages are one of the oldest forms of prayer known. They are not as solemn and somber as some people imagine them to be.  Every pilgrimage has its solemn moments and its wild moments.  Sometimes they happen together.  People take thousands of photos; they buy large quantities of souvenirs, they try to entice the "natives" into conversations; they get more adventurous with food than they ever thought they were capable of doing, and of course, they pray, they feel and they believe.
A pilgrimage is a hodge-podge of feelings that is difficult to sort out quickly.  A pilgrimage to the Holy Land doesn't just last for 8 or 10 days.  It starts long before a person puts the down payment on the table to reserve the ticket.  It slowly grows and mounts in intensity and doesn't ever wane into oblivion - never.  No person goes to the Holy Land and then gets over it.  It is a life changing experience.  It gives meaning to the Jewish saying, "See God and die."
The person who goes to the Holy Land dies to whom he/she was and is never the same.  

I pray that these few words have meant something to you all.

Peace and joy to you.  May you all have a very happy Leap Year.
And don't forget, there's no crying at my funeral.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

THERE'S MORE TO A JOB THAN $$$

I have been thinking a lot about the work that I have done during my life.  It has been an interesting period.  I say period because it has taken me across several weeks of introspection.  Not just because of the jobs I performed, not just because of the energy I expended in doing them but most especially the attitude that gave a soul to the process, the product and to the pay check that came as a result.
The work that I was asked to do around home was the process that taught me that it is not the money that is the most important reward for work.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I did learn that lesson by making the puerile mistake of asking for "pay" after a particularly hard session behind the home lawn mower.  I made the request just before supper on that fateful night.  My father looked me in the eye and simply said: "It's going to be on the table in five minutes.  Eat well."  I never again made the same mistake for anything that I did for the family.
As time went on, that event served as fertile ground for the growing understanding of the community benefits that work brings into being.  Not just around the house, everywhere.
I worked on the tobacco farms.
I dug ditches for an entrepreneur auto repairman's sewage sloughs.
I carried lumber for a construction company.
I worked in a printing company in a semi-technical department and got to be very good at it.
I worked as an indoor painter.
I worked as a switchoard operator for a telephone answering service.
I worked at a water filtration plant where I shoveled sand every day for two months.
I drove airport shuttle vans.
I drive non-emergency medical patient transport vans to transport people to and from dialysis.
I worked as an apartment manager.
I delivered newspapers.
I washed floors.  I had a regular clientele for about two years.
I taught theology classes - still do as a matter of fact.
I was a human resources director.
I work as a language translator.
I work as a pilgrimage travel organizer.
Everything I ever did in any field and for any person or company, I did as a result of a direct personal agreement for the person or company who was going to benefit from the fruit of my labor.  I never allowed myself to be separated from my employer, individual or company, by an agent.  The lesson that my father taught me stayed with me and grew and blossomed into the conviction that by my good efforts both I and the company would succeed and in spirit, if not necessarily in bodily presence, we would both profit by our relationship.
Yes, I worked for people, individuals and companies who did not share my understanding of life.  I would leave and go somewhere else.  I believe that work is a community process aimed in the same direction.  Just like a flock of geese.
I am convinced that many of the economic and social problems that we have are caused by the adversarial nature of our work relationships.  I have lived with that conviction for a very long time.
I pray that someday we will be able to overcome this "we vs them" relationship.  We have to find a better way to achieve the common good that we all say that we seek.  if it doesn't happen before my funeral, don't cry over the failure and surely don't cry for my departure.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

COME, SHOW ME WHO I AM -- VIENS, APPRENDS-MOI QUI JE SUIS -- VEN, MUESTRA ME QUIEN SOY

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?
What does that make me?
I have just returned from a religious trip "pilgrimage" to Israel, also known as the Holy Land.  This time, while we were there we heard a little used invitation:
Come often, bring your Catholic friends so that we can come  to know who we are.
At this time of the year it was a deep thought presented to us who were there to visit Bethlehem as well as the rest of the territory.  We thought that were there to come to know more about who we are.  After all, we were visiting Jesus in His home town and we certainly did not have any influence on His understanding of Himself.  But then, I've been thinking, the people of Bethlehem, our hosts, what were they learning about themselves?  We had not yet heard the invitation stated above.  So, now I think, what are these tens of thousands of people from the four corners of the earth, including the Bethlehemites, learning about one another, including their own identity? 
I ask myself, what are the Muslims learning?  What are the Orthodox, the Catholics, the Protestants and others learning about themselves?  What are the Politicians, the Clergy, the Police, the Soldiers, the Students and the Teachers learning?


Belle and I were there, among them, along with 40 other pilgrims.  We were in close quarters, almost body to body, smiling at one another, helping young lovers glide through the pack, making sure that young children did not get separated from nervous parents, speaking in soft, conversational tones while trying to decipher the language coming at us from the brilliantly lit stage by the side of the huge creche.

We all learned something this peaceful night.  The home town of so many of God's important relatives, including His own Son, taught us all a lesson: When Jesus celebrates His birthday, everybody gets along, everybody smiles, everybody gets soaked with memories of loving peace that will never be forgotten.
Belle and I send this to all of you in that spirit. 


Nous venons de rentrer d'un «pèlerinage» en Israël, aussi connu comme la Terre Sainte. Cette fois, alors que nous étions là, nous avons entendu une petite invitation avec une expression surprenante:
« Venez souvent, amenez vos amis catholiques afin que nous puissions arriver à connaitre qui nous sommes. »
À cette époque de l'année, c’était la une pensée profonde qu’on nous a présentée juste un jour avant notre visite à Bethléem.   Pour la plupart, nous pensions que nous étions venus non pour apprendre aux Palestiniens à se connaitre, mais que nous puissions arriver à mieux nous connaitre.   Après tout, nous visitions Jésus dans sa ville natale et nous n’étions certainement pas de l’avis que nous puissions avoir aucune influence sur sa compréhension de lui-même. Mais alors, j’ai pensé, la population de Bethléem, nos hôtes, que faisaient-ils (Oh-la-la-  ca c'est une betise et demi!) font-ils pour apprendre plus à propos d’eux-mêmes? Nous n’avions pas encore entendu le défi de l'invitation indiqué ci-dessus. Donc, maintenant, je réfléchi, je repense, qu’est-ce vont ces dizaines de milliers de personnes qui viennent des quatre coins de la terre, y compris les Bethléemites, apprendre les uns des autres, y compris de leur propre identité?
Je me demande, qu’est-ce que les musulmans apprennent?  Les orthodoxes ?  Les catholiques ?  Les protestants et les autres ?  Qu’est-ce qu’ils apprennent sur eux-mêmes? Et les politiciens ? Les clercs ?  La police ?  Les soldats ?  Les étudiants et les enseignants ?   Apprennent-ils quelque chose de personnel a leur propre propos?
Belle et moi étions là, parmi eux, ainsi que 40 autres pèlerins. Nous étions à l'étroit, presque corps à corps, souriant les uns aux autres, aidant les jeunes amants à se glisser entre les corps rassembles, coude à coude, hanche a hanche,  faisant le possible pour que les jeunes enfants ne soient pas séparés de leurs parents nerveux, parlant dans des tons de conversation doux tout en essayant de déchiffrer le langage provenant à nous de la scène brillamment éclairé au côté de l'immense crèche.
Nous avons tous appris quelque chose le long de cette nuit paisible. La ville natale de tant de la parente importante du Fils de Dieu nous a enseigné à tous une leçon: Quand Jésus célèbre son anniversaire, tout le monde s’accorde, tout le monde sourit, tout le monde est trempé avec des souvenirs d'amour et de paix qui ne seront jamais oublié.

Belle et moi ensemble nous vous envoyons nos meilleurs souhaits de paix et de joie dans cet esprit.


Acabamos de regresar de un viaje de "peregrinación" religioso en Israel, también conocida como la Tierra Santa. Esta vez, mientras estábamos allí nos escuchamos una pequeña invitación profunda:
“Ven a menudo, trae a tus amigos católicos para que podamos llegar a saber quiénes somos.”
En esta época del año era una profunda reflexión que se nos presentó antes de ir para visitar Belén, así como el resto del territorio. Pensamos que estábamos allí para llegar a saber más acerca de lo que somos. Después de todo, estábamos visitando a Jesús en su ciudad natal y no teníamos ninguna idea de causar influencia sobre la comprensión de los Palestinos de sí mismo. Pero entonces, he estado pensando, el pueblo de Belén, nuestros anfitriones, ¿qué estaban aprendiendo acerca de sí mismos? Todavía no habíamos escuchado la invitación se ha dicho. Así que, ahora que lo pienso, ¿cuáles son esas decenas de miles de personas de todos los rincones de la tierra, entre ellos los de Belén, aprendiendo unos de otros, incluyendo su propia identidad?
Yo me pregunto, ¿qué están aprendiendo los musulmanes? ¿ Los ortodoxos, los católicos, los protestantes y los demás, que aprenden sobre sí mismos? ¿ Los políticos, el clero, la policía, los soldados, los estudiantes y los profesores que aprenden?
Belle y yo estuvimos allí, entre ellos, junto con otros 40 peregrinos. Estábamos en lugares cerrados, casi cuerpo a cuerpo, sonriendo a unos y a otros, ayudando a los jóvenes amantes deslizarse a través del paquete, asegurándose de que los niños pequeños no se separen de los padres nerviosos, hablando en tonos suaves, de conversación al intentar descifrar el lenguaje que viene a nosotros desde el escenario brillantemente iluminado por el lado de la enorme creche.
Todos aprendimos algo esta noche tranquila. La ciudad natal de muchos de los familiares importantes de Jesus,  nos enseñó a todos una lección: Cuando Jesús celebra su cumpleaños, todo el mundo se lleva bien, todo el mundo sonríe, todo el mundo se empapa con recuerdos de amante de la paz que nunca será olvidado.

Belle y yo les enviamos esto a todos ustedes en ese espíritu.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

I AM WHO I AM, FROM THE WOMB TO THE TOMB

I AM WHO I AM AND JESUS AND MARY DON'T LET ME FORGET IT...
YOU SHOULD NOT EITHER.  SO, DON'T FORGET, DO NOT CRY AT MY FUNERAL.

The following is from Pope Francis...


"Our identity is not for sale.  Do not put it up for auction just because you want to be like everyone else. Uniformity of thought is the fruit of worldliness and leads to apostasy.  "The warning of Pope Francis on this morning Monday, November 16, at the St. Martha chapel came as a strong slap to the cheek not only of the laity but of the clergy as well. The Holy Father thinks of the World as a place where "it is forbidden to be different, where it is necessary for everyone to be equal," where "we change the name of religious holidays - Christmas of the Lord for example - to delete our identity."  He calls this “Uniformity of thought” and warns that it is the source of "destruction"
To explain the misleading effects of the Uniformity of thought, to which he applies the traditional name of Worldliness, the Pope went to the first reading of the day - an extract from the First Book of Martyrs of Israel - speaking of the coming of Antiochus Epiphanes, the descendant of Alexander's the Great, described as "a man of sin," who was seduced by unfaithful men, and ended by gradually imposing pagan customs in Israel.  He decreed that all the inhabitants of his kingdom were to form a single people in a unique Uniformity of thought.  It was controlled Worldliness.  It gradually began to seem so reasonable.  Look, “we are like everyone else, we are normal."  However, it turned into destruction.  If anyone was found with a book of the Law to conform to its rules, they threw the Book into the fire, tortured and killed the one who dared be different and  killed "the guilty" one. Thus began a real "persecution" against those who had the courage to resist.
Worldliness is indeed deceptive and contagious. 
Worldliness is to behave as the world does. It is "to auction our identity."  Pope insisted, "To be all the same" as those Israelites who "disowned their faith and moved away from the Holy Alliance." (1 Samuel 8:20 - Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.)  That’s how we arrive at apostasy and persecution. Worldliness is a "poisonous root" that leaves the Lord: "She goes off and slowly grows, is justified, rationalized and contaminates" the Pope explained.  And if "many evils come from there," he added, it is precisely because it is "misleading" and "contagious." Worldliness is the door to the Uniformity of thought - "everybody does it why not us?”   This humanism takes the place of Jesus, and destroys the specific Christian identity.

As he usually does, the Pope was true to his habit of inviting his listeners to personal reflection, inviting them to ask themselves the question, "What is my identity? Christian or worldly? Do I call myself a Christian because I was baptized as a child or because I was born in a Christian country where everyone is a Christian?”  He concluded with a special prayer for the Church, asking the Lord to protect her from "any form of worldliness," and for the Church and the Catholic faithful that they not lose their identity received through Baptism as desired by Jesus Christ, and not to reject it on the grounds of being like everyone else.


Friday, October 2, 2015

USA - UNITED STRONGLY AGAINST LIFE

Shame on them for killing these poor innocent souls.
We have to go over there and get rid of all those dastardly criminal mass murderers.  How can we stand by and not do anything about this?  Why aren't we  bombing them back to the stone age?  How can we stand by and allow vicious savages such as these to inhabit the planet?



It's easy for us to feel outrage at the human terrorist animals in the middle east and go quietly on our way as we are surrounded by the same kind of animals here at home. We don't hear the outcry from the halls of government to bomb our mass murderers back into the stone age. Not them.  It's not their fault that that they have anger management issues over other such emotional and mental unbalances.  Oh, and before I forget, I have to remind you all that this is the price that we pay for the great treasure of the freedom that we have in this country to bear arms according to our very constitution.

I and my spouse travel to Israel about once per year.  We lead pilgrimages to the holy sites.  Every year we get the same story from people whom we invite. They tell us that it is too dangerous to go to the part of the world.  Huh?  Too dangerous?  It's so dangerous that you can walk the city streets at night with no trepidation.  The mass murders in Israel can't compare with those we have here, yes, even on a pro-rata basis.  We are the champion murderers of the highly developed countries of the world.  Yep, American exceptionalism at its very best.

Before I leave the page, let me add the ever popular crusade of the "pro-lifers" to the mix.  They are not pro-life.  They are pro-gestation.  Once the baby is born, all bets are off.
Why don't they just say that they are anti-abortion?  Is it because then they would logically have to say that they are anti-capital punishment?  Would it be that they would then have to say that they are anti-war?  Or anti-drone?  Or, may lightning strike me!, anti-gun?  Or even for just a little bit of gun control legislation?

And finally, I will say this because no other commentator has dared to bring it before the camera... Oregon is a concealed weapon carrying state.  There were pistol packing students present on the campus in Roseburg when the savage killed ten people.  They did not, could not stop him.  One of those very armed students admitted so much before the cameras.  What happened there, Wayne?
Seems like the bad guy with the gun slipped one by the good guys with the gun.

I know that many of you will read this and your blood will boil. Good, let it simmer a while and then resolve that you will not shed one single tear at the news of my funeral.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

POSSIBILITIES OF AN "IMPOSSIBLE" SITUATION -- WE'RE TALKING MARRIAGE

This may have made you smile when you first let your eyes fall upon it.  That's OK. When I was looking for something to depict what I want to present, I smiled at this and moved on to something more "meaningful" and less humorous.  Well, as you can readily see, I changed my mind.
I changed my mind because the humor depicted here is also a part of the solution that I intend to propose concerning those Catholics who are in the "Impossible Situation" of an invalid marriage surrounded by children who are being taught to be faithful to Sunday Mass attendance.  That in itself, is half bad.  It gets worse when the children get to be eligible to approach the altar of communion while Mama and Papa must refrain.
Those who for some reason, and there are many reasons, must sit by and pray silently by themselves in the pew while many around them go to the altar for communion are certainly in a challenging position.  For some it is because they are in a second marriage after a divorce following a wedding in the Catholic Church;  for others it is because they simply did not follow the prescribed path to get married in the Catholic Church.  This writing is not intended to suggest means to rectify the situation.  This writing is offered under the presumption that the person who is not receiving Communion is in a life situation that doesn't have an immediate solution within the laws and practices of the Catholic Church for the time being.  It's like the person in the picture above. He and his load are underway and there is nothing that can be done to make the situation better except to keep it going in the hope that all will end well.

There are lines of misinformation concerning the life situation of people who for one reason or another are caught in the margin of the Church doctrine concerning the Sacrament of Matrimony. Those who live in that margin are told many things by people of all walks of life about their situation.  It is understandable  that much of the popular information about the sacrament of marriage is marginally true and exact, at best.  It takes some fairly well informed specialists to master the intricacies of Church Law and Doctrine about Marriage.
That is why Pope Francis and his pool of leaders are looking for ways to simplify the intricacies and clarify the doctrine.  This is a huge challenge not only because the Church must not change the doctrine but is must also be careful that whatever it does will be easy enough for the faithful to understand that the change is in the practice and not the doctrine.
Whatever happens will require some intense communication from the rectories of the world.  First, the priests will have to learn and fall in line.  Then they will have to instruct the faithful.  Second, the faithfull will have to learn and fall in line.  The priests must be ready to provide the truth, pure and simple. The priests will have to be far more reliable than the media outlets.
In the meantime, you who must sit and wait, must also pray and join your heart and soul to Jesus, sacrificed on the Altar for everyone's salvation.  Use the moment for intense communion of heart and soul and you will be supported by the Lord Jesus Himself.  Stay focused; Hold Jesus' hand;  You're alone with Him beside you in the pew.  Take advantage of that and talk to Him.  He's there and He never turns a dear ear to those who direct their ideas and their love toward Him.  Mostly, remember, you are not condemned.  You are loved.  Take advantage of the moment and invite Jesus to invade you in Spiritual Communion.

So get ready.  Fasten your seat belt and leave your handkerchief at home because after this you won't be tempted to cry at my funeral.

Monday, August 3, 2015

BLOOD MOON, BLUE MOON, GREEN CHEESE MOON

Love that predictable stuff!  Don't you?
Not as rare as 4 blood moons in 30 mos.!
But, very predictable
Now this one I like.  Nobody, but nobody, altar boy, censer bearer, Gospel Reader, bell ringer, bishop, priest, deacon, pope, patriarch, visionary, you name it/him/her, no one is ever going to be able to nail this next one down.
When this happens, good luck and God bless you all.
I am presenting my thoughts on the Bible based"prophecies" concerning natural phenomena that are making the rounds these days.  The one that is making the most impact at this time is the one making a big issue of the "Blood Moon" scheduled for September 28, 2015.  This is because it will be the fourth in a series of lunar eclipses occurring at intervals of about six months.  The present tetrad will present its final "Blood Moon" on September 28, 2015.
  
There are those who think that this tetrad is of special significance because all four of the blood moons are coinciding with significant Jewish holidays.  The prophecies that are being proposed all come from self-identifying Christians, not Jews.  They are all warnings of calamitous changes in the course of Israelite history.  The prophecies are all fashioned from specifically chosen Bible verses and are of course aimed at preparing people, Christians and Jews alike, to turn to Jesus in order to be in line for whatever will happen, up to and including the Rapture.

I do not think, and I do not believe that these astronomical phenomena have any religious significance whatsoever.  Not for Jews, not for Christians, not for Bhuddists, nor Taoists, not for Muslims, nor anybody else for that matter.  These are nothing but ongoing, very predictable actions according to the laws of nature. It is but natural and very predictable that some of these galactic events will coincide with religious commemorations that are based on the lunar cycles to begin with. There is absolutely no extra-natural (supernatural) significance to these recurring and predictable phenomena.  None.  There is no human nor divine reason to inflate the meaning of the coincidence between the date of a predictable astronomical (astrological?) event and the date of the coinciding religious high day to a level that reaches prophecy.

In addition, I do not believe in the interpretation of the meaning of Scripture as presented to me by those who tell me on the one hand that Sacred Scripture is all I need to come to know the plan of God but then try to convince me that they have the right to impose their interpretation of Sacred Scripture on me based on a predictable astronomical event that they say has a reference in the Bible.  No, thank you. 

Furthermore, I have a deep and abiding faith in the Universal Unity of God's management capability over the entire world.  I do not believe that God sends signs to Jews and Christians to the exclusion or marginalization of the rest of the human occupants of the planet.  God created us all.  God keeps us all alive.  When He decides to end the world, He will give us signs so terrible that no one will have any doubt about what is coming.  No one.

Deeper yet, I say that I trust in faith that God, the creator of the laws of nature doesn't play games with them.  He doesn't make them say one thing to me and another to you.  He doesn't make them behave one way on Jewish High Days and another way on Catholic and Orthodox high days.  He also doesn't play games with the Muslims and their high days, such as Ramadan. No, I don't think that God really gives a hoot about our mutiple calendars.  I believe that we are one with God and that He sees that we all have our good times and our bad ones.  He knows the righteous and He knows the sinner and He deals with each according to His will.  When the Hour comes when He will deal with us all, we will not need any "prophet" to tell us what is coming...It will be unmistakable...It will be the night of the Green Cheese Moon.

I will surely die before then.  You all now know that you surely will not cry at my funeral.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I TREASURE YOU IN MY HEART, OH MY GOD

The other day, the priest who was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass made a very powerful statement during his homily.  He warned us to be careful what we keep stored up in our hearts.  He said that if we are not watchful about what we have there, we could act in such a way that someone could be seriously hurt by a reflex action coming from our heart.  He warned us to work at storing only good things there so that our response from the heart would always be lovingly caring.
At the time that I heard this, I was moved and I wondered where he had encountered this piece of advice because it was not contained in any of the readings for that day.  To this day, I pray that if he had suffered an accident over which he was repenting, that his public confession would be recognized by God who would cleanse him and provide him with the courage to reconcile with the offended soul.
Furthermore, I have been thinking about this and asking myself why it was that I was so deeply moved by the warning.  I am becoming surer and surer that it is because I myself, like so many of us, I am sure, am not really totally pure in what it is that I treasure in my heart.  I know for a fact that it is not always loving kindness that leaps out of my heart during relationships with God's beloved people.  I was sitting there in church, happy and self satisfied that I had got out of bed in time to make it to Mass.  Then, the dynamic youthful pastor, shepherd of my soul, dug in, shook me and reminded me that I still have a long way to go.
The amazing thing about this warning is that it should not be new to me.  I know what Luke says about our Mother Mary, about how she kept loving things in her heart...
Besides the famous quote from psalm 119, 14, we have more places in the Sacred Scriptures where we are enjoined to keep our hearts clean so that what comes our of our mouth will always be holy.  For instance, Matthew quotes Jesus, "You brood of vipers, how can you say good things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.
A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil. (Chapter 12, verses 34 and 35)
Matthew has more to say about this in chapter 15 as well.  There is a lot to think about when we ponder about what to store in our hearts.  Let's all join together and work at making sure that what is stored within us is nothing but LOVE.

Peace to you all.


Friday, May 22, 2015

THEY ARE FILLED WITH NEW WINE -- ILS SONT PLEINS DE VIN DOUX -- ESTÁN BORRACHOS



“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
8 Then how does each of us hear them in his own native     language?
9 We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants       of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and     Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of          Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome,
11 both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and            Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own                  tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
12 They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to      one another, “What does this mean?”
13 But others said, scoffing, “They have had too much        new wine.”          [Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2]







Doesn't this sound familiar?  Of course it does.  We hear it every single day.  Let me start by one I've heard a lot, and still do, "Short man's syndrome cocky every step of the way!"  
"He's gotta be high on somethin'."
"If her brother weren't a cop she'd be in the 'big house.'"
"He's from the hills, he's got nothing to tell me."

The attitude of the people listening to the apostles wasn't new then and isn't new now. There is alway a possible denigration to anything that is said or created.  "I could'a been a doctor if I really wanted to."

We all suffer from this attitude to one degree or another. We practice it as a reflex action.  It is our way of asserting ourselves as being better that the other person.  The apostles were received with the same attitude that Jesus fought in the synagogue in His home town of Nazareth. No one said that He was drunk, but they sure put him down because He was just the carpenter's son.  It happened to him early in His public life and it happened early in the ministerial lives of the apostles. 

The Holy Spirit give us courage, zeal and wisdom because we need it.  The Holy Spirit is not a shield.  The Holy Spirit is a fire, a light, the wind in our sails.  Where are we sent to shine the light, to light the fire and to direct the ship?  Into the dark storm of reality.  That is what we learn on Pentecost Sunday.  We learn that Jesus knew exactly what He was saying when He told us, "Take up your cross daily and follow me."  (Luke 9:23)  We all know where that leads, to Calvary, to the Grave and to the Pearly Gates.



"Ces hommes qui parlent, ne sont-ils pas tous Galiléens?  8 Comment se fait-il alors que chacun de nous les entende dans son propre idiome maternel?  9 Parthes, Mèdes et Elamites, habitants de Mésopotamie, de Judée et de Cappadoce, du Pont et d'Asie,  10 de Phrygie et de Pamphylie, d'Egypte et de cette partie de la Libye qui est proche de Cyrène, Romains en résidence, 11 tant Juifs que prosélytes, Crétois et Arabes, nous les entendons publier dans notre langue les merveilles de Dieu!" 12 Tous étaient stupéfaits et se disaient, perplexes, l'un à l'autre: "Que peut bien être cela?" 
13 D'autres encore disaient en se moquant: "Ils sont pleins de vin doux!"


Ceci ne vous semble pas familier?  Bien sûr que vous l'avez reconnu!  Nous l'entendons chaque jour.  Permettez-moi de commencer avec ce que j'ai déjà entendu beaucoup, et que j'entends encore,
"le syndrome de l'homme court se voit a chaque pas de son chemin!" 
"Il est surement enivré de quelque chose."
"Si son frère n'était pas un flic, elle serait dans une chambre de la « grande maison »."
«Il est rien qu'un montagnard, il n'a rien à me dire."
L'attitude des gens qui écoutent les apôtres n'était pas nouvelle a cette occasion et ne l'est donc pas jusqu’à maintenant. Il est toujours possible de dénigrer tout ce qui est dit ou créé.  «J'aurais pu être médecin si je l'aurais vraiment voulu."
Nous souffrons tous de cette attitude à un degré ou un autre. Nous la pratiquons comme un acte réflexe.  C'est notre façon de nous affirmer comme étant meilleur que l'autre personne.  Les apôtres ont été reçus avec la même attitude que Jésus encontra dans la synagogue de sa ville natale de Nazareth. Personne n'a dit qu'il était saoul, mais ils l'ont insulte parce qu'il n'était personne autre que le fils du charpentier.  Ce qui lui est arrivé au début de sa vie publique, est arrivé au début de la vie ministérielle des apôtres.

Le Saint-Esprit nous donne le courage, le zèle et la sagesse, car nous en avons besoin.  Le Saint-Esprit n'est pas un bouclier.  Le Saint-Esprit est un feu, une lumière, le vent dans les voiles.  Où sommes-nous envoyés pour faire briller la lumière, pour allumer le feu et pour diriger le navire?  Dans la noirceur de la tempête de la réalité.  Voilà ce que nous apprend le dimanche de la Pentecôte.  Nous apprenons que Jésus savait exactement ce qu'il disait quand il nous dit: «Porte ta croix quotidiennement et suis moi."  (Luc 9:23) Nous savons tous où cela mène, au Calvaire, à la tombe et aux Portail Doré de la Jérusalem éternelle.


7 y se decían, llenos de estupor y admiración: «Pero éstos ¿no son todos galileos? ¡Y miren cómo hablan! 8 Cada uno de nosotros les oímos en nuestra propia lengua nativa. 9 Entre nosotros hay partos, medos y elamitas, habitantes de Mesopotamia, Judea, Capadocia, del Ponto y Asia, 10 de Frigia, Panfilia, Egipto y de la parte de Libia que limita con Cirene. Hay forasteros que vienen de Roma, unos judíos y otros extranjeros, que aceptaron sus creencias, 11 cretenses y árabes. Y todos les oímos hablar en nuestras propias lenguas las maravillas de Dios.»

12 Todos estaban asombrados y perplejos, y se preguntaban unos a otros qué querría significar todo aquello. Referencias versículo 1313 Pero algunos se reían y decían: «¡Están borrachos!»

¿Esto no suena familiar? Por supuesto que sí. Escuchamos algo parecido todos los días. Permítanme empezar por uno que he escuchado mucho, y todavía lo dicen, "síndrome del Hombre Corto engreído en cada paso del camino!"
"Tiene que ser alto en algo."
"Si su hermano no era un agente de la policía,  estaría en la 'casa grande'".
"Él es del rancho, que no tiene nada que decirme."

La actitud de la gente que escuchaba a los apóstoles no era nueva entonces y no es nuevo ahora. No todos los días una posible denigración a todo lo que se dice o creado. "Yo podria aver sido un médico si yo realmente quería."
Todos sufrimos de esta actitud en un grado u otro. La practicamos como un acto reflejo. Es nuestra manera de afirmar a nosotros mismos como siendo mejor que la otra persona. En la antiquidad se recibieron los apóstoles con la misma actitud que Jesús luchó en la sinagoga de su ciudad natal de Nazaret. Nadie dijo que él estaba borracho, pero seguro que lo dejó porque él era el hijo del carpintero. Se le sucedió temprano en su vida pública y ocurrió temprano en la vida ministerial de los apóstoles.

El Espíritu Santo nos da coraje, celo y sabiduría porque lo necesitamos. El Espíritu Santo no es un escudo. El Espíritu Santo es un fuego, una luz, el viento en nuestras velas. ¿Dónde estamos enviamos a brillar la luz, a la luz los abetos y para dirigir la nave? En la tormenta oscura de la realidad. Eso es lo que aprendemos el domingo de Pentecostés. Nos enteramos de que Jesús sabía exactamente lo que estaba diciendo cuando Él nos dijo: "Toma tu cruz cada día y sígame." (Lucas 09:23) Todos sabemos dónde lleva eso, al Calvario, a la tumba y las puertas del cielo.







Tuesday, May 12, 2015

CHURCH IN ONE HAND, JESUS IN THE OTHER, THE WAY TO HEAVEN

R.C. PRIEST - HERE TODAY
GONE TOMORROW
SEE YOU IN HEAVEN

There comes a time in every Catholic diocese during the course of every year when the faithful congregants struggle with the meaning of the changing of the guard, so to speak.  

The world of the Catholic Church is one that is focused on the end times, the final judgment, the moment of truth, the hour of death, the arrival of the Bridegroom, the meeting of our Creator/Father.  There are many elements of Catholic life that prepare us for the moment when we leave the temporal dimension and enter into dimensionless eternity.  One such element of this preparation is the call and the promise to continuity and unity of purpose in the life of the Church.  It is the factual, flint hard, day to day renewal of our Faith in the presence of God in every facet of our lives.  Besides the call to stay faithful to our families, to our jobs, to our country, to our own personal relationship with our friends and neighbors and finally to God through His Church.  Yes, all of these commitments require dedicated perseverance.  They require that we keep our hearts, souls and minds focused on the final reality, the rest of eternity in the presence of God.

We are brought up in the faith that says that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic (Universal) and Apostolic.  The greatest of these is its Unity.  It is one through time, one in mind, heart and soul every day and everywhere.  It is in its Unity, Holiness, Catholicity and  Apostolicity that Jesus could promise that the gates of Hell would never prevail against it.  We know that this is true because every day we get the opportunity to talk to someone clear across the world who has been to Mass in the morning; we say "God be with you" as we part company with an acquaintance; we get a telephone call from our Presbyterian friend asking for Catholic prayers before submitting himself to surgery; we travel anywhere on the continent and go to Mass in any language and we can relate; we travel anywhere and we know that there will be a daily Mass somewhere in which we can participate either to begin or end our day; we also know that at that Mass there will be warm hearted brethren willing to spend a joyful moment with us.  The priest may even be one of those who approaches us lovingly. Yes, the priest.  Ah, the priest.

Where does he come from?  How long has he been here?  For how long will he be here?  Is he the pastor?  Maybe one of the vicars?  Maybe from across town?  Maybe even traveling like us and just happens to be here for a couple of days?  Oh, he's from Africa!  We take that for granted these days.  We don't give it a second thought but in these two paragraphs we are living moments of preparation for eternity with the One, Unchanging Creator Father.  Eternity will be dimensionless, remember.  No time.  No coming and going.  Just constant measureless, wonderfully awesome love of God.  Our life in the Church prepares us for that.

We don't go to participate in the Mass because Father Mack is the celebrant.  We don't go to Mass at the cross-town church for the sake of the cross-town church.
We don't go to Mass where there are cushioned kneelers and pews for our comfort.  We don't have to worry about which priest will be celebrating the sacrament of Baptism next Sunday.  We don't worry about which priest is going to come to our death bed.  We know that if we are in our own country or a country far away, when we are there we are also in church, prayers and sacraments, tabernacles and sanctuary lights, pictures (icons) and statues, tabernacles and Stations of the Cross as well as incense and holy water.  It doesn't matter whether it is Bethlehem in Palestine or Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, it's all the same.

Finally, and to the point of all this, when the jolly merry-go-round of clergy changes happens every year, one priest leaves and one comes in behind him.  The Church doesn't move, they do.  You and I move too, but the Church doesn't move, we do.The Church is our heaven here below. It doesn't change.  The Church is the beginning of Heaven.  The Church is the bride of Jesus.  We hold Her hand and side by side with Her we hold His hand along the Way to heaven.  On the way to heaven we have to have the Church in one hand and Jesus in the other.  The occasional do-si-do of the clergy is nothing but the confirmation that the Church remains the Church and the rest is God's plan of using his human creatures as His collaborators along the way to Eternity.

We find the foundation of our faith in the Church in the mystery of Pentecost.  Jesus promised us the Advocate, the Counselor, the Comforter, the fire carrier who infuses our hearts and souls with the zeal for God's house.  The Holy Spirit showed the disciples the way of courage, penance, prayer and zeal.  We are in that same boat. The Ark that did not sink; the boat where the apostles were sleeping did not sink; the boat that we are in will not sink per the promise mentioned above.  This is a journey in a boat that leads to the Eternal Harbor of boundless, dimensionless love.  We know that because even in our short lives we see it weather so many storms.  Our contribution as faithful members of the Church is to keep our hearts and souls locked in to the eternal Light that never wavers because it is not human.  That is what the Church teaches us by its very existence.  

I firmly believe that and because I do, I am telling you, never cry at the transfer of the clergy because we don't own them, and do not even get tempted to cry at my funeral.

Amen.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT OH LORD

I have written many times about the experience of death in this space.  There has been quite a procession of saints that has passed before our eyes.  Some young people and some older people.  Some who died quickly and some who took a while to get it done.  There were some who died from violent causes and some who slipped into the night quietly.  There are some with who I exchanged pleasantries as we bade one another goodbye.  Each time it has been a learning experience in love.

I can't tell you how many times I have been the witness to death because they are too numerous for my aged memory to capture in a moment like this .  There have been those with whom I had good times and there have been those with whom I did not. That did not take the love out of the death experience.  Death is that moment when the gift of life becomes the gift of love because it is the gift of no return that has no boundaries.  It is the gift that defines the life of the deceased and in that definition we all participate in a moment of defining ourselves.  This is true even if we were not very close to the individual, in whatever way you want to define "close."
It is inevitable, that in the moment of death there is a lot going on right there on the threshold of eternity.  It's one of the most profound experiences of human learning with which we are blessed.

All that being said, today we said goodbye to Catalina Sotelo.  This simple, humble, hard working, loving, caring, dedicated person who was warm to everyone with whom she dealt.  She defied my 50/50 rule, I dare say.  My 50/50 rule states "At your funeral 50% of those present will be there mourning and 50% will be there to make sure that it's true."  I know, deep down in my heart that the nearly 500 people in church this morning were closer to 90/10, with only about 10% attending just to check it out.  No, Catalina filled the church because of her great love for people.

When someone fills the church even though they died at only 46 years old, you know that they did something right.  You know that God is showing us that this person had done what had to be done for Him.  It's a witness to a life well led and a faith-life shared with those in communion with you.  

As we pray for the eternal repose of her soul, let us also remember to thank God for the life that He gave her to share with us.  We enjoyed her help while she was warm and vibrant by our side.  Let us enjoy her vibrant spirit across the dimension of the spiritual existence and the physical existence.  

Into you hands, we commend our spirit Oh Lord!

Finally, don't forget that my 50/50 rule, part B is, "No Crying at MY Funeral."


Friday, April 24, 2015

CONTRITION (PERFECT OR NOT) BEGETS MERCY




Every year at this time we are challenged to live out the fulfillment of our Lenten season of penance, prayer and zeal.  This is the season of the Resurrection.  This is the season of the new dawn.  This is the season of the Divine Mercy.  This is when we realize that the Resurrection is the glory of the Mercy of God.  Ah, the Mercy of God is the caress of infinite Divine love.  Just as the sunrise is for everyone, so is Divine Mercy; just as the sunrise is manifesting itself somewhere to enlighten and comfort creation in its warm caress, so is Divine Mercy.  That is why the season of Resurrection is the season of Divine Mercy.

One of my heart movements this year as this new season rose over the spiritual horizon was about the "birth" of the Divine Mercy relationship that Saint Faustina was commissioned to bring to the world.  I was wondering what had happened to this spirituality over the centuries, and I do mean centuries.  I could not help but wonder how the faithful children of the merciful father could have failed to distil this faith conviction from the parable of the "Prodigal Son" that we hear every year.  

This sassy, disgruntled child carved himself out of his family's life with the money that should have been enough to support him had he behaved properly. When things went badly and he could no longer take it, he decided to go back to the "farm" where the owner's "hands" were eating better than he.  Yes, he went back home to his father in order to eat better.  He wasn't feeling super sorry that he had insulted his father, he was suffering from eating pig slop.  He did know one thing, though, he knew the depth of the love of his father.  He knew that in that deep pool of love was boundless mercy for sons such as he.  He was right.

We too are right.  We too believe in the boundless source of Loving Grace and Redeeming Mercy of our Divine Father.  We too know that we can come home.  Just as sure as the sun rises to meet us every day, so does God continue His loving and merciful vigilance over us.  We too can come back to Him, both from near and from far.  The distance doesn't matter.  The purity of our intentions doesn't even have to be at the 24 carat level.  When we come back and feel that warm and merciful embrace, we just know that the costume jewelry heart that brought us back is on its way back to the 24 carat grade that He created.

I leave you with an invitation to visit the wonderful, hope filled Bible book (Right after Jeremiah)  that goes by the name of Lamentations.  It is three chapters of beautiful, down to earth poetry full of hope in the mercy of God.  Yes, many centuries before Saint Faustina.  Just another reason to celebrate this powerful attribute of our Divine Creator.  As a blessing to you, I leave these few lines to you from the Word of God, coming to us from time immemorial in the Scripture entitled "Lamentations:"

19 The thought of my wretched homelessness is wormwood and poison;
20 Remembering it over and over, my soul is downcast.
21 But this I will call to mind; therefore I will hope:
22 The LORD’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent;
23 They are renewed each morning— great is your faithfulness!
24 The LORD is my portion, I tell myself, therefore I will hope in him.
25 The LORD is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him;

26 It is good to hope in silence for the LORD’s deliverance.  [Lamentations, chapter 3]

His mercy is limitless,it is tangible, it is always new, and it is near to you every morning.  Rest in the power of His Grace and let mercy greet you where you are. (Dawn Boyer, Journeysingrace.com)

Monday, April 20, 2015

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Be ready for you know neither the day nor the hour...
Yes, you're looking at a clock, believe it!
Dear brothers and sisters:
May these simple words find you in peace and joy.  I have have to tell you about s conviction that I have been nursing now for the last 15 or 20 years.  It has to do with a Gospel character who has become very dear to me.  I have to tell you that I have come to the personal conclusion that this individual is laboring under the effects of a "bad rap."  You all know him well.  He is the one a who is hardly never quoted as the tough character who was not afraid to say,  “Let us also go to die with him.” (John 11;16)
It's been a long time that I have been admiring him for his ability to stare death in the eye and not be afraid. So this year, during the Holy Week and Easter season I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on the strength of faith and it's victory over doubt as we see it in the Bible.  
May I start with Sarah and Abraham?  Of course Sarah is the one who giggled.
Then I have to jump to Peter on the water.
Then we see the eleven disciples in Galilee where Jesus had told them to meet him, and we read the words of Matthew:  "The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.  When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted."
This was after Mary Magdalene wondered if the body had been stolen.
After the apostles ran to the tomb to check it out.
After the two disciples from Emmaus had their theophany.

I say that we cut Thomas a little slack and admire him for the courage of his convictions.  This man is brave and humble at the same time.  Who among us can imagine standing in front of our community of love and fraternity and stand our ground?  Furthermore, who among us has the strength and courage to accept our doubt in humility and love and atone for it?  
The man who had the courage to "...go to die with Him" also had the courage to go and live the way that the Master directed,  
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28;18-20)

Yes, Thomas is a big hero of mine.  I never call him "Doubting" because it is not fair to single him out from among the other doubters, many of whom still populate today's world.
Keep what I have said here in mind if you are ever slightly tempted to cry at my funeral.

Monday, April 6, 2015

LOVE IS INFINITE AND ETERNAL

SERVANT KING by Melinda Gallone (www.melindagallone.com)























It was Holy Thursday.  My wife and I had celebrated our priesthood at the Chrism Mass on Tuesday evening.  It was the perfect introduction to the Sacred Triduum.  The immense church was filled and every person there seemed to be deeply engaged in the Sacrament.  The homily was very good, but stopped, rather than ended in what the French call "a fish tail."  It was a well-crafted 1,000 word effort.
Wednesday was a day of prayer, organizing the work area and preparing to spend a day or so at home, including Holy Thursday and Good Friday. You can tell by the lovely watercolor that this is about Holy Thursday, in a way, but, as the saying goes, "you really had to be there..."
So, let's go there.
After a lifetime of hearing Holy Thursday sermons and homilies about humility, service, the glories of the ordained priesthood and the role of the priesthood infused at Baptism, etc. I heard one that got my attention and sent me away the richer for the experience.
It turns out that it was the personal testimony of the Vietnamese Priest at the altar, young pastor of a relatively small parish in San Diego, part territory and part "national/cultural."
He started by telling us that the Sacred Triduum is a celebration of boundless love.  Jesus enveloped in a towel and washing the feet of the disciples is a picture of infinite, eternal love brought to us from heaven.  Now the parable part of the story.  (Not a quotation; a paraphrase)

You have heard parts of my life experience and you are living a part of it with me now.  You know that I escaped from Viet Nam with my brother and sister.  I was ten years old.  We got to a refugee camp where we lived for two years.  I was miserable.  My brother and sister did what they could for me.  Then one day a priest appeared.  A big white man who was a powerful presence in the camp.  He arrived there from Australia.  He was kind, but there was not much, if anything that he could do for me.
His presence there was a mystery to me.  Why would a person such as he come from a rich, comfortable country like Australia to a refugee camp?  How could a person such as he be happy in such a place as this?  Yet, there he was, always calm, always happy, always available, always kind, always more than anything, he was filled with love for everyone..  He was THERE.
It was he whom God used to convince me that I should be a priest.  Now I am not in a refugee camp any more.  I am no longer miserable.  I can't do much for anybody except to be present.  I can't do much for anyone except to love, just like Jesus, just like the priest in the refugee camp, be there in love.
I am comfortable with that, and here is why.
The priest could do small things for us, and he did.  Of course, it was never enough.
I can do small things for you and of course, they would never be enough.
When we give something to someone, or do something for some one, it always has limits.  We only have one thing that we can do that doesn't have any limit.  That is to give our loving presence.  Loving presence is a spiritual gift that has no bounds.  Love is infinite and it is eternal.  Love that is brought to the world, to those who need it, by our presence is God's infinite and never ending gift to them.  That's what Jesus brought to His disciples.  It is what Jesus brings to us.  It is what we can bring to others by being present.  It's what we will bring with us to heaven too, by the way.
When Jesus wrapped the towel around His waist, what He was giving is infinite, eternal love and it remains with us now and forever.

So, when you hear that I have died, don't buy a plane ticket for me, go visit someone who needs your presence, not in tears for me but with a smile on your lips and love in your heart.

Promise.












Monday, March 30, 2015

SUFFERING-PUNISHMENT? SACRIFICE?

Yes, Jose, not just Filipinos but MANY others
This is Holy Week.  This is the time when we will relive the passion and death of the most famous martyr of all, Jesus Christ, Only Son of the Almighty God, Creator of all.  We will relive this experience of His because both He and His Heavenly Father commanded us to do so.
His Father first, just before He was about to lead His Chosen People out of Egyt where they had been held as slaves for three plus centuries. (Exodus 12)  Then His Son, just before He was about to lead us away from the slavery of sin where we had been held for inumerable centuries.  Both gave us first the ritual and then the everlasting command, "You will do this in perpetuity/You will do this in memory of Me."

It is to be noted that neither time was an invitation to relentless comfort and easy living.  Both times we were pointed in the direction of the harsh realities of life, adversity of many kinds through which we must pass on the way toward the eternal reward. It is also to be noted that from about page 3 or 4 of  God's message to us(Genesis 3), we travel though one hardship (sacrifice) after the other.  We only have to absorb the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Naomi, Deborah, Gideon, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and the thousands of others who have followed them in obedience to the call from Jesus to "pick up your cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9; 23-24)

So often I hear or read words of blame aimed at God. "Why do I or anyone else have to suffer so much?  If God loves me that much, why does He make me suffer?  The answer to that is not too difficult to find.  We suffer because we are no better than He.  He, in and through His Son suffered.  He, in and through His loving, sinless creature, Mary, suffered.  If beings at that level of perfection suffered, should I expect to be any different?  No, of course not.  They suffered out of a sense of sacrifice, of pure offering as a life lesson to us all.  If we deserve it, so be it.  Make it a sacrifice no matter what.  If we don't "deserve" it, then we join Jesus and collaborate in His Passion for the eternal good of the Communion of Saints.  We must go through life side by side with the God who requires that we collaborate with Him out of obedience to His Will.  He knows and we know that our calling as His collaborators guides us through some tip-toeing through tulips and some hacking through the briars.  Like the great saints who have gone before us, let's do it and stay happy that what we do is for a divinely ordained reason.

So, when you look at what is left of me as I lay there in a pine box, don't waste your time crying because you'll know that I, like everyone else got to be there the hard way, just like everyone else.