To Be Like a Child

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Pope and the Patriarch

I find it very cool that the Pope is at Mass with the Patriarch in Turkey.

And I find it very cool that the Pope celebrated a tiny Mass at Ephesus, where Mary was supposed to have lived at the end of her life.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Christ the King!!

Today is the Feast of Christ the King, the culmination of the Catholic Liturgical Year in the Latin Rite. All glory to Him!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Love at first sight, love in hindsight.

My friend Noel, a deacon preparing for his presbyterate ordination in Kentucky has a nice reflection on loving God at first sight, or loving God in hindsight.

Fr. Danny's talk.

originally posted on my other blog, but relevant here as well

Fr. Danny Huang, SJ, the Philippine provincial of the Jesuits, gave the faculty a talk yesterday about what it means for Ateneo de Manila to be a Jesuit, Catholic university in this day and age.

As one could expect from Fr. Danny, it was a very good talk; the complexities were well-articulated and his ideas were nuanced and forceful.

First he emphasized that the Jesuit's educational apostolate is only one among its many apostolates.

Second, he talked about Paul's letter to Philemon and reflected about how that letter demonstrates how Christ had transformed the world in that Christ's message allowed for a new way of looking at property, at freedom, at social justice, at money, at persons.

The Church's mission is not expansion, he emphasized, but the redemption of history. It is (and this is my rephrasing) the creation of a new world order in every and all areas of human life, such that the world here may begin to look more like the Kingdom of God. In my own words again: the Church seeks not to increase in number, but to transform the world. (Something that one can only understand, I think, when one stops seeing the Church as "a denomination.")

In this sense, the Church sharply rejects the privatization of faith, the notion that faith is something that is articulated and experienced only in one's private life.

What, then, does it mean to be a Catholic university?

Again, my rephrasing: it is not merely a question of adding a Catholic element (such as theology classes or a campus ministry) to the work of a university, more than that and more importantly, it is to be a university in a way that is oriented to the redemption of history.

It is to form and educate the youth as mature Catholics or at least mature Christians or at least youths with a mature sense of the transcendent, young people, then, who emerge from university "with their hearts transformed and their freedom reoriented." It is to prepare our students as future professionals -- but to do this in a way that has been touched by the mission of building the Kingdom of God here on earth. In other words, it is to form students to be citizens and professionals for service and (if you prefer) nation-building. It is to do research that reflects on questions in light of God's mission to redeem history, drawing from the Catholic tradition of wisdom in an integrated and appropriate way. It is to be, as an institution, a witness to and advocate of the message of the Gospel in society and the world.

To be a Catholic university, then, does not make the university less of a university in the interest of becoming more Catholic. Moreover, being a Catholic university is not to become a monastery, or a seminary, or an NGO. (Again, the university is just one among the many apostolates of the Jesuits, and for that matter, just one sector in the entire world that the Church seeks to transform.)

To be a Catholic university is to be a university, a good university, an excellent university, in a thoroughly Catholic way. (My own reflection: in the same way that to be a Catholic person is to allow the Gospel to transform and reorient my entire human life, to be a Catholic university is to allow the Gospel to transform and reorient its being a university.)

Fr. Danny ended with some reflections on the realities within which the university must discern on the best way to proceed in this. Some of those realities including the diminishing number of Jesuits in the province, the increasing pluralism in society and among our students and faculty. Given this, the university must discern how to accomplish this task appropriately. Some of the questions raised in the open forum articulated this more specifically: the university must discern, for example, when it is best to explicitly label its work as "Catholic" and when it is appropriate to be more implicit; it must discern which practices and symbols to publicly express; it must discern how to dialogue with other faiths in a way that is true to its Catholicism yet also ecumenical and non-exclusive in spirit.

Truly, it was an excellent, thought-provoking talk.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Being thirty.

Turning thirty makes one realize how short life is. Last week, when I met with my college buds, our conversation turned to parents and how sad we were about the realization that they were getting older. Turning thirty makes one realize that one's life may very well be half over. It's quite a surprise, really, considering that we've only barely just slipped out of youth. Suddenly there is so little time.

Turning thirty makes one realize that most people don't really change dramatically over the years. At thirty, I'm still plagued by many of the same insecurities I had when I was twenty. Sure, I'm a little bit wiser, a little bit more grounded, a little bit happier, a little less confused. But my mind still gets trapped in some old bad habits, I still find myself with some of the same self-doubt that I had ten years ago.

Turning thirty makes one realize how much of our time is consumed by the mundane. So many hours of the day are spent making a living; even the hours we don't spend making a living are spent recovering from the hours that we do. I'm lucky that my means to make a living is something I love to do and something that fulfills me; many, whether by choice or by circumstance, are not as fortunate.

Turning thirty makes one learn to let go. One realizes that some dreams need to be prioritized over others; that going through one door means closing others. We choose one career path over another, one battle over another, one vocation over another, one person over another, one life over another. And we learn that while choosing and letting go may sometimes be difficult, within it we find serenity.

Turning thirty teaches one to say, "I don't have all the answers. I don't know." The illusion of the omnipotence and omniscience of youth is shattered. We find that there are questions we cannot answer, mysteries we cannot understand, problems we cannot work out. And that it is okay. We learn to make the best of what we have.

Turning thirty, maybe, allows one to rediscover God in a new way. We learn, I think, to be more open. To be more accepting. To be more grateful. We inch just a tiny bit closer to being able to say, "Thy will be done."

Ayos lang. Ayos lang.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mass Readings on My Birthday

I wasn't able to go to Mass on my birthday, something that I regret. I looked at the readings for the day, however, and wonder of wonders, the first two readings were about being children of God! Isn't that a fantastic coincidence!

From the first reading:

Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma....

For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light.

The responsorial psalm was more explicitly about being like a child:

R. (see Eph. 5:1) Behave like God as his very dear children.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Behave like God as his very dear children.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

R. Behave like God as his very dear children.

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.

R. Behave like God as his very dear children.

The Gospel for the day was about Christ healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath, to the consternation of many in the synagogue. Christ replies, "Ought she not to have been set free on this sabbath day from this bondage?"

Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License