The Study

It happens here.

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By the window

Where I write about our day, our lives.

Or sometimes in the kitchen or in the dining room. Wherever it hits me.

I don’t have the whole day to tell you as much as I want. But that’s fine. We all need to switch off to be fully present with those we’re with.

For further reflection, here’s a great article about Interior Quiet in the Digital World.

Peace.

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Once in a Lifetime

Sasha, Pio and their cousin Clare had their first Confession and Communion last week.

Fr Dennis, the Captain’s youngest sibling, flew in from the Phils to celebrate with us. He gave the kids their first holy communion.

First communicants

First communicants

The event was awe inspiring. I cannot describe the joy I felt when our children received Our Lord for the first time from the hands of their own uncle.

The family after Mass

The family after Mass

I wished I can freeze that heavenly moment.

We had morning tea at home with the family and our close friends from the parish, mostly those who attend daily Mass. It was a warm and lovely gathering. I wish we can have more of this.

With the parish community

With the parish community

The kids love Fr Dennis. This was the first time they met him. Hopefully not the last. They kept on asking about him when he left. Too soon.

With Fr Dennis

With Fr Dennis

Anton probably called his name 100x while he was around.

Nina with Ninong Dennis

Nina with Ninong Dennis

Hopefully one of our 4 boys turn out like him. That will be a great honor and grace.

Sunday Best

A lady from church once asked me how I am able to dress up all my kids to attend Mass on Sunday morning.

I only had 5 then.

It wasn’t always easy. We weren’t always on time for Mass. But it gets better as they grow older. The bigger ones can dress up themselves and help the younger ones while I take care of the baby.

I thought it’s nice to take a snap of them wearing their Sunday best. They don’t always look this good.

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Only managed to capture 3. The rest, well, were in wonderland.

First Confessions

I’ve been preparing Sasha and Pio for their first confession along with their Catechist at the local parish.

I thought it will be a daunting experience to be the one preparing them. The nuns prepared me for this sacrament. What are my qualifications compared to the religious?

While in the midst of the preparation, I realized a mother is actually the best person to prepare her children to confession. She has the grace of state. We all know that motherhood is divine. She knows her children more than any other teacher will get to know them. You are with them from morning to night. She loves them more than anyone else. She will give up everything for all her children to go to heaven. Is there any loftier ambition than this?

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Pio and Sasha: Still babies

True enough. The children respond with amazing positiveness and excitement towards this sacrament if you explain it to them in a way they will understand and touch God.

God after all is a forgiving Father.

They can’t understand why a person would be scared to go to Confession. They even showed me the list of their sins.

They are funny, cute sins to me but they were very contrite about it. Their father can’t stop laughing when he saw the lists.

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I think they are ready. I am very happy.

Family Prayer

We have finally decided to push the button and start the family rosary with the kids. This has been a resolution of mine since last year’s retreat.

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 We all agreed to gather together by 8 pm in the living room.

This is easier said than done. But it has to be done.

Here are the type of conversations which ensue while praying the rosary…


Pio: Mommy I can pray the “Glory be” on my own.

Mommy: Wow.

Nina: Mommy, Anton grabbed my rosary.

Luis: Starts playing with his Zoob toys

Dad: We don’t play when we pray. Stop that.

Pio: Sees the hula hoop and start to play with it.

Dad: (Exasperation building up) Hay naku…Do you really want to do this Honey?

Sasha: Can I turn off the candle Mommy?

Luis: Daddy what is 7 + 3? Is it 10?


 Suffice to say the boys were normally sent to their room before we even reach half the rosary.

The girls are staying put though. They give us hope. We will carry on.

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Our prayer time will only get better. There is no other way.

The family that prays together, stays together.

Best Parenting Book: God and Children

I was just telling my sister-in-law, Karen, how much I love Jesus Urteaga’s book, God and Children. I first read it after we had our second child. I’m reading it again now that I’m expecting the sixth child. It remains to have that profound and sublime effect on you as a mother.

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It is probably the best parenting book I’ve encountered. It is an indispensable spiritual reading book as well for any mother or parent who honestly wants to live an authentic Christian life.

I quote one of the passages on the chapter, Heroism of Parents:-

Mothers, do not complain. Here is St Teresa’s advice:

The continual moanings which we make about trifling ailments… seem to me a sign of imperfection: if you can bear a thing, say nothing about it. When the ailment is serious, it proclaims itself… Do not think of complaining about the weaknesses and minor ailments from which women suffer… Unless you get rid of the habit of talking about them and complaining of everything (except to God) you will never come to the end of them… Learn to suffer a little for the love of God without telling everyone about it.

Very well said, point taken.

Mother Knows Best

I am reading the book “The Wisdom of a Saint”, a compilation of stories about Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I quote this passage which struck me tremendously:

In an age of materialistic atheism, Mother Teresa points to Christ as our guide and goal. An American journalist once saw her washing a man who was covered with sores and he exclaimed: “I would not do that for a million dollars!” Mother Teresa replied immediately: “Neither would I”.

It made me ponder about my work of the home, my care for my family, my often unappreciated sacrifices. Neither would I do it for the money. It is all done for Love.

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Mother Teresa, truly inspiring.

I need a break

Don’t we all need one?

It’s the end of the week and I can literally feel my blood pressure rising up. I have swept the floor for the third time today. I have reprimanded the kids far too many times. The hot weather was making me more hot tempered. I can hardly find the inspiration to cook. It was just 2 pm and I was absolutely drained.

I was looking for chocolates in the pantry but there was none to satisfy me. Great I remembered Elmer bringing home ice cream last night.

Heaven

Heaven

Ice cream + banana + coffee + ROSARY = SERENITY.

I gave the kids ice cream sticks as a peace offering and a bribe to stay quiet while I took a nap. They were so happy with the treat.

Nina, my napping partner

Nina, my napping partner

When the body is rested, the soul sings.

Pope Francis’ Message to Families: DREAM

I never wanted to go home as much as when I saw the televised broadcast of Pope Francis in the Philippines. Here’s his inspiring message to families:

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Worth praying about. From Rome Report.


Dear Families,

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am grateful for your presence here this evening and for the witness of your love for Jesus and his Church. I thank Bishop Reyes, Chairman of the Bishops’ Commission on Family and Life, for his words of welcome on your behalf. And, in a special way, I thank those who have presented testimonies – thank you! – and who have shared their life of faith with us. The Church in the Philippines is blessed by the apostolate of numerous family movements and I thank them for their witness!

The Scriptures seldom speak of Saint Joseph, but when they do, we often find him resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams. In the Gospel passage we have just heard, we find Joseph resting not once, but twice. This evening I would like to rest in the Lord with all of you. I need to rest in the Lord with families, and to remember my own family: my father, my mother, my grandfather, my grandmother… Today I am resting with you, and together with you I would like to reflect on the gift of the family.

First, however, let me say something about dreams. But my English is so poor! If you allow me, I will ask Monsignor Miles to translate and I will speak in Spanish. I am very fond of dreams in families. For nine months every mother and father dream about their baby. Am I right? [Yes!] They dream about what kind of child he or she will be… You can’t have a family without dreams. Once a family loses the ability to dream, children do not grow, love does not grow, life shrivels up and dies. So I ask you each evening, when you make your examination of conscience, to also ask yourselves this question: Today did I dream about my children’s future? Today did I dream about the love of my husband, my wife? Did I dream about my parents and grandparents who have gone before me? Dreaming is very important. Especially dreaming in families. Do not lose this ability to dream!

How many difficulties in married life are resolved when we leave room for dreaming, when we stop a moment to think of our spouse, and we dream about the goodness present in the good things all around us. So it is very important to reclaim love by what we do each day. Do not ever stop being newlyweds!

Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him. In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us. He speaks to us in the reading we have just heard, in our prayer and witness, and in the quiet of our hearts. Let us reflect on what the Lord is saying to us, especially in this evening’s Gospel. There are three aspects of this passage which I would ask you to consider: First, resting in the Lord. Second, rising with Jesus and Mary. Third, being a prophetic voice.

Resting in the Lord. Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us. But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us. Joseph was chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. As Christians, you too are called, like Joseph, to make a home for Jesus. To make a home for Jesus! You make a home for him in your hearts, your families, your parishes and your communities.

To hear and accept God’s call, to make a home for Jesus, you must be able to rest in the Lord. You must make time each day to rest in the Lord, to pray. To pray is to rest in the Lord. But you may say to me: Holy Father, I know that; I want to pray, but there is so much work to do! I must care for my children; I have chores in the home; I am too tired even to sleep well. I know. This may be true, but if we do not pray, we will not know the most important thing of all: God’s will for us. And for all our activity, our busy-ness, without prayer we will accomplish very little.

Resting in prayer is especially important for families. It is in the family that we first learn how to pray. Don’t forget: the family that prays together stays together! This is important. There we come to know God, to grow into men and women of faith, to see ourselves as members of God’s greater family, the Church. In the family we learn how to love, to forgive, to be generous and open, not closed and selfish. We learn to move beyond our own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them. That is why it is so important to pray as a family! So important! That is why families are so important in God’s plan for the Church! To rest in the Lord is to pray. To pray together as a family.

I would also like to tell you something very personal. I have great love for Saint Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church! Yes! We know that he can do that. So when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath Saint Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words I tell him: pray for this problem! Next, rising with Jesus and Mary. Those precious moments of repose, of resting with the Lord in prayer, are moments we might wish to prolong. But like Saint Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act (cf. Rom 13:11). In our families, we have to get up and act! Faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it. This is very important! We have to be deeply engaged with the world, but with the power of prayer. Each of us, in fact, has a special role in preparing for the coming of God’s kingdom in our world.

Just as the gift of the Holy Family was entrusted to Saint Joseph, so the gift of the family and its place in God’s plan is entrusted to us. Like Saint Joseph. The gift of the Holy Family was entrusted to Saint Joseph so that he could care for it. Each of you, each of us – for I too am part of a family – is charged with caring for God’s plan. The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth. So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm.

Let us be on guard against colonization by new ideologies. There are forms of ideological colonization which are out to destroy the family. They are not born of dreams, of prayers, of closeness to God or the mission which God gave us; they come from without, and for that reason I am saying that they are forms of colonization. Let’s not lose the freedom of the mission which God has given us, the mission of the family. Just as our peoples, at a certain moment of their history, were mature enough to say “no” to all forms of political colonization, so too in our families we need to be very wise, very shrewd, very strong, in order to say “no” to all attempts at an ideological colonization of our families. We need to ask Saint Joseph, the friend of the angel, to send us the inspiration to know when we can say “yes” and when we have to say “no”.

The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. These are forms of ideological colonization. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.

I think of Blessed Paul VI. At a time when the problem of population growth was being raised, he had the courage to defend openness to life in families. He knew the difficulties that are there in every family, and so in his Encyclical he was very merciful towards particular cases, and he asked confessors to be very merciful and understanding in dealing with particular cases. But he also had a broader vision: he looked at the peoples of the earth and he saw this threat of families being destroyed for lack of children. Paul VI was courageous; he was a good pastor and he warned his flock of the wolves who were coming. From his place in heaven, may he bless this evening!

Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats! The Philippines needs holy and loving families to protect the beauty and truth of the family in God’s plan and to be a support and example for other families. Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself.

The future of humanity, as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through the family (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 85). The future passes through the family. So protect your families! Protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments. Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them! Instead, be living examples of love, forgiveness and care. Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation! So rise with Jesus and Mary, and set out on the path the Lord traces for each of you.

Finally, the Gospel we have heard reminds us of our Christian duty to be prophetic voices in the midst of our communities. Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God’s call to care for Jesus and Mary. In this way he played his part in God’s plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all of humanity. With Mary, Joseph served as a model for the boy Jesus as he grew in wisdom, age and grace (cf. Lk 2:52). When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world. Families can become a blessing for all of humanity! God’s love becomes present and active by the way we love and by the good works that we do. We extend Christ’s kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism.

During this year which your bishops have set aside as the Year of the Poor, I would ask you, as families, to be especially mindful of our call to be missionary disciples of Jesus. This means being ready to go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents. Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them. Today I was very moved when, after Mass, I visited a home for children without families. How many people work in the Church to make that home a family! This is what it means, in a prophetic sense, to build a family.

You may be poor yourselves in material ways, but you have an abundance of gifts to offer when you offer Christ and the community of his Church. Do not hide your faith, do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!

Dear friends in Christ, know that I pray for you always! I pray for families! I do! I pray that the Lord may continue to deepen your love for him, and that this love may manifest itself in your love for one another and for the Church. Do not forget Jesus who sleeps! Do not forget Saint Joseph who sleeps! Jesus slept with the protection of Joseph. Do not forget: families find their rest in prayer. Don not forget to pray for families. Pray often and take the fruits of your prayer into the world, that all may know Jesus Christ and his merciful love. Please pray also for me, for I truly need your prayers and will depend on them always! Thank you very much!