My deep sigh

Oh that ache
That longing
That You are causing…
You,
to whom
I give my heart.

You left
a permanent void
in my being
that this world
just cannot fill.

How should I respond?
Will you teach me?
Guide me, please,
my Beloved?

How should one respond to
a love as great
and as unconditional
as the one you have given me?

A love that overwhelms,
That consumes,
But at the same time,
frees?

An endless ache.
A deep longing.
I love you,
In the profoundest sense
That my humanity can make.

Raising my palms

On Palm Sunday, I was given the task to raise the palms and have them blessed for our family. So I stood at the entrance of my hometown cathedral, waiting for the Holy Mass to start. As I stood there and waited, my mind took me to that ancient time in Jerusalem… I was there at the stone gates – perspiring and waiting, waiting excitedly for Him! – the one they call the Messiah! He will free us! He will free me! I have heard of His coming! So I flocked as the others flocked, with green palms in my hands, to welcome Him, my King!

We raised our palms to welcome our King, yet we chastised him few days later… We raised our voices shouting Hosana, yet we condemned Him to die a criminal’s death when we cannot accept the truth of His kingship… 

His kingship is paradoxical: his throne is the cross; his crown is made of thorns; he has no sceptre, but a reed is put into his hand; he does not have luxurious clothing, but is stripped of his tunic; he wears no shiny rings on his fingers, but his hands are pierced with nails; he has no treasure, but is sold for thirty pieces of silver. [Pope Francis’ homily, Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, 20 November 2016]

I am back in the present, in my hometown cathedral, wearing modern-day clothes. O how fickle-minded am I, my Lord!… A lump was slowly forming in my throat. I tried to suppress my tears and my eyes started to moist. Sprinkles of holy water touched my arms and my face… Other mass-goers raised their palms and began shaking them, as if they were the people of Jerusalem. As I raised my palms, I offered up my sins, my weaknesses, my shortcomings. O my King accept them! Do not shun them away!

The cathedral bell rang, and the priest started to read the opening rites. 

Dry Well

Woo me, Beloved.
My heart has hardened,
and my eyes remain dry
even at the sight
of misery, suffering and death.
I have consumed,
yet I am empty.
I know that
this is the kind of heart
You would spurn.
Because it is
a clean one You want –
broken and humbled.
I am wrestling,
grappling with Your angel…
“Give me my blessing!”
This is my silent utterance.
Words are just 
too shallow to describe
my estrangement…
An unspeakable kind
of aridity is forming
at the depths of my soul.
“Why will You not respond?!”
This is my truthful cry…

Then comes the calm…
A downpour has begun.

My wounds for yours

Beloved, I ask you to see,
not only with your eyes,
but also with your heart…
these wounds that I bore.

Come closer,
and put your hands at my back.
Feel the scars on which I carried the wooden cross.
Here, on my knees,
are the marks of the times I fell,
on my way to my Crucifixion.
Here, around my head
a crown of thorns had been forcefully pushed, and been beaten…

Look at my hands and my feet –
You see the holes in which nails were hammered through?
At my side, a lance was pierced,
where blood and water gushed.

Most painful of all, dearly beloved,
Are the wounds in my heart,
And in my mind –
The memories –
of being betrayed by a friend with a kiss,
for thirty pieces of silver;
of seeing others run away
when I was being unjustly arrested and falsely accused…
of being denied by one of my most trusted ones,
before the cock crowed to signal the dawn of a new day;
of women wailing and crying,
of the people I love shouting,
“Crucify!”
…And seeing a most beloved mother
bear my Passion
in the most profound silence and humility.

Take a look at my wounds, my beloved,
I invite you to hide yours in mine.

Ireland

Kind wind, take me to the place where greens abound,
And the sun warmly shines over a cool mist;
Where strings and pipes create mystical rhythms,
pacifying my soul;
And where hearts and hands are kind,
and everybody smiles like the sunshine.

Oh, Land of the Celts,
Speak to me of your mystery…
A curious foreigner am I,
in blood, lineage, and ancestry.
But in the ancient Faith, I am one of your daughters.
All of us are but the gentiles of Israel,
gathered by the blood of Christ.

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Noontime Rendezvous

“I’ll meet you at noon,” I said.
I thought I could spare some time.
“I’ll wait for you,” You said.
I pretended not to hear.

At noon, I talked.
You listened.
I smiled quietly.
I may not have heard You speak of it
but Your eyes tell me, “I’m here.”

“Let’s do this again,” I suggested,
With a blush, with a bite of my lip.
“Sure!” was Your immediate response.
“Let’s meet at noon,” I concluded.
“Let’s!” You said with a smile,
and with Your beautiful voice trailing off…

At noon, I chattered a bit.
You listened.
Quietness filled the void.
And I was content.
You started to speak,
and I immersed myself
in Your beautiful voice,
in Your comforting words.

“Tomorrow? Again? Noontime?”
You concluded.
This rendezvous ending so soon?
I yearn for more time with You.
Thus I replied to Your question with a nod,
reassuring You with my silence.
“I am excited for tomorrow,”
I whispered.

And so, every noon time,
I meet You.
I recline to hear You,
To receive You,
To let You touch my heart.

“Jesus is there…”

Finally, after being away from home for what felt like an eternity, I was able to visit my home in Koronadal City, South Cotabato last weekend. This weekend was a very special one.

My parents and I have made the habit of attending the eight o’clock morning Mass every Sunday because there is greater probability of seeing my Ate’s family in the church. True enough, last Sunday, during the Holy Mass, before the offertory, two cute smiling little girls came into view, and giddily settled in our pew to smother their much-missed aunt (that’s me) with hugs and kisses. Soon after, I saw my sister and my brother-in-law take their seats in the row behind ours.

Since my small lap can only accommodate one toddler, my mother took Karol (Kay), the second child, while I held the eldest, Dominique (Dom). I just have to chronicle and share this particular moment with my inquiring and curious niece, Dom. My mother and I were kneeling, waiting for the Consecration of the Bread and Wine. Meanwhile, Dom and Kay were sitting on the armrest, with Dom in front of me, and Kay in front of my mom. When the priest finally said, “Do this in memory of me” and raised the Host, I opened both of my palms.

Dom suddenly asked me, “Bakit ka naga-ganyan?” (Why are you doing that?) referring to the opening of my palms.

I simply answered, “Andiyan kasi si Jesus.” (Because Jesus is there.) I remember feeling surprised by my reply. Surprised not because I was in doubt, but because I felt a deep tugging in my heart, affirming me that what I just said is completely true, and that it did not come from me. Surprised because a river of gratitude for the Lord flowed into my consciousness in view of that seemingly uneventful moment to teach the truth to a small and innocent child. Truly indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ is physically present in the Holy Eucharist.

“Saan?” (Where?) Dom asked again, meaning I have to point to or tell her where Jesus is.

“Yan O,” I said gently, “yung gina-raise ni Father.” I scrambled for the Hiligaynon/Tagalog word for “raise.” “Yung gina-taas ni Father na puti.” (That white one being raised by Father.)

She was sitting on the armrest, and turned her head towards the altar. Her head moved from side to side, as she was obviously trying to find where Jesus is. She turned her eyes to a statue of Jesus standing near the altar, and said “Yan O, yung statue?” (That statue?)

But I firmly said “No, the white, round one.”

Dom scowled, confused of what I said. I noticed she became restless, discontent of not being able to understand what her aunt has told her. Her curiosity, her quickness to things has always fascinated me, qualities which are common in my Ate’s kids (ahem, it’s the genes from our side of the family. hehe), and which I so admire. So, to appease her, I whispered, “Quiet muna tayo, mag-listen tayo kay Father.” (Let’s be quiet for a while and listen to Father.)

I let what happened linger – in my heart, in my soul. I felt immense joy for the given opportunity to teach a child, and I fervently prayed to God, that the conversation we just had will be etched in Dom’s memory, and that she may someday grasp what I said. “Andiyan si Jesus,” this time, I heard a comforting whisper from my innermost being. Thank you Lord, for the years of Catechesis – studying in a Catholic school, watching EWTN, reading theology books, Catholic websites and magazines – for finding a community and for a fruitful and consistent prayer time. The Lord knows how much I want to partake the Christian joy that is both in me and outside of me, especially with the kids in our small family. While writing this, few days later, I realize I happen to be one of Dom’s godmothers.

Lord, give us the grace to teach and pass on what is right, true and honorable to the young generation.