Saturday, September 19, 2020

Diary of St. Faustina: Divine Mercy in My Soul

         I first read the diary of St. Faustina when I was still in my teen years. I got her diary from the store of a local Divine Mercy  promoter here in my country. When I was young, the Divine Mercy prayer, called "the 3'o clock habit," was often aired in a few local channels. Now, only one local tv channel remains in airing the Divine Mercy prayer, but the airing was halted in that lone local network because they were not granted the permission to renew their franchise. Anyway, I'm still saying the prayer, and even playing the video prayer at work. As they say old habits die hard, and this is one habit that I don't want to stop. 

Maybe, most of you dear readers of this blog of mine knew that I got sidetracked for once in my life. I left our church for quite a while, and joined a Baptist (Protestant) gathering before. But do not worry I already returned to our church, and had a reconciliation with the help of a priest through confession. The devotion to the Divine Mercy helped me the most. Most of my collections of Catholic books were gone but there were a few I have kept. Among those that were gone was the diary of St. Faustina. She was still not a saint when I got that diary of hers. I just bought another one, a new edition of her diary, and in this diary we can see that she's already a saint! Time really flies fast! The cover of her diary was also changed. Before, the cover was her photo (painting version), now, we can see the image of the Divine Mercy, aside from St. Faustina's whole image. 

I bought this diary of hers from the Marian Fathers here in the Philippines. That is where I got the beautiful original Divine Mercy painting poster that I posted in our door post, and the Divine Mercy laminated prayer cards. I gave away the laminated card to my office mates, boss, and to the family of my fiance.

I have read a bit of St. Gemma Galgani, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and St. Therese of the Child Jesus, diary. Those diaries that I mentioned above (diary of St. Gemma and St. Margaret Mary), were a bit hard for me to digest because of the writing style, it's in old English. If you're like me, maybe you will prefer to read St. Faustina's diary. I admit that the written numbers on the side of every diary entry of hers is not that appealing. Anyway, the important thing is the message of her diary, and that is the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus for us. I was reminded by the late Msgr. Severino G. Casas, H.P. message to me before. He said that in reading diaries or autobiographies of Saints, the church grants an indulgence. So it is a good practice to read wholesome, and good books that is not only enriching to our mind, and heart, but also to our soul. Let us pray, that through this we may learn to draw near to God, and love Him more, and more each day. 

+ Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Movie Review: Divine Mercy No Escape

           After watching the docudrama movie about St. Faustina, and the Divine Mercy. I suddenly remembered this film that I have seen on tv during my teen years. It was an earlier film by the Marian Fathers, entitled Divine Mercy, No Escape. I was glad to have discovered that someone uploaded that movie on YouTube this week. I immediately watched it. I just finished watching it today. 

The movie was sort of a docudrama also. The narrator was the late American actress Ms. Helen Hayes. In the beginning of the film, we were shown a large copy of the Diary of Faustina Kowalska. I remember I also have the same copy of diary, it was the time when Faustina was not yet a saint. I bought the new edition of her diary from the Marian Fathers, and it has a new cover design. The movie was 50 minutes long. If you are just new to the Divine Mercy, or it's your first time hearing about it, then this short movie is for you.

The movie tells about the life of St. Faustina, the secretary of the Divine Mercy. My favorite scenes in the movie is about Pope John Paul II, being awarded by Marian priests. From the beginning of his ministry in Rome, Pope John Paul II has considered the message of the Divine Mercy his special task. He published it on his second encyclical (a kind of letter concerning Catholic doctrine), Dives in Misericordia, God who is rich in mercy. This movie is very timely. We can see God's great love and mercy for us. If you have not seen this movie, I suggest you must. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Movie Review: Therese (2004)

           I have wanted to see this movie eversince I saw a preview of it on YouTube, more than a decade ago. St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and of the Holy Face, also known as St. Therese of Lisieux, was very influential to me. When I first read her story, in a book (Lives of Saints) given to me by my late aunt, she made an impression on me. At a young age, she already knew her vocation, and that was to become a Carmelite, a religious cloistered nun. So, I too had a desire to be a nun someday. Yes, I tried contacting religious orders, and I became a Carmelite not a religious but a lay Carmelite. More than a decade ago I was a former aspirant, was able to profess promises (not vows) in a Carmelite convent within the city where I live. 

Why do people feel drawn, and many love St. Therese. There are no miraculous events that took place when she was still alive, yet many people pray to her and ask for her intercession. Why? Because of her simplicity, and humility. After her death, there were many numerous reports of miracles and healings, and up to now still many miracles are attributed to her. Like her promise, she said, "When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens,I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth."

Her autobiography is a classic, and still a bestseller. If you have not read her diary, entitled in English, "The Story of a Soul," you should!

I really love this movie. The film director Leonardo Defilippis has done a great job with this film. St. Luke productions, their company, continues to make good, relevant and inspiring movies of Saints. He starred in this movie along with his wife, as the parents of St. Therese. The music used in the movie was also good. I was able to watch the whole movie yesterday. I'm thankful to the one who uploaded it on Facebook. This is another addition to my favorite religious movies. Let us not forget to love, for God is love. Like what St. Therese said, her vocation is love. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Explaining The Faith Series: Fr. Chris Alar, MIC

          Do you believe in the saying love is lovelier the second time around? Well, I can say that I am a believer in that saying now. I returned to our church, after being sidetracked for quite awhile. I have this new passion, and enthusiasm to study more about our Catholic faith. I have learned a lot of good Roman Catholic teachers and speakers, like Dr. Scott Hahn, our very own local Dominican preachers, and Fr. Chris Alar, who hosts a series on YouTube called, "Explaining the Faith." It is aired in the U.S at around 11 a.m., every Saturday. I get to listen to the replay on Sunday, here in the Philippines. Fr. Chris is the Director, of the Association of Marian Helpers The Divine Mercy National Shrine, in Stockbridge, MA. 

I have finished his talks regarding the Shroud of Turin, and the Image of the Divine Mercy. In this talk, I have learned the amazing connection of the Divine Mercy image, and the Shroud of Turin. If you have seen the docudrama of St. Faustina entitled Love and Mercy, you already have an idea of what I am talking about. You will also learn about the veil of  Oviedo, this is not the veil of Veronica. 

The next series that I watched was about the Angels: The Forgotten Army. I was still a teenager when I became curious, and fascinated by the angels. I am familiar with the nine choirs of angels, guardian angel, and the archangels. 

I really enjoyed watching, and also taking down notes on Fr. Alar's lectures. I really learned a lot and I am looking forwars to his next talk. I am very much grateful to their congregation, because I am a devotee of our Lord Jesus, Divine Mercy. I am an official member of the Friends of Mercy. If you want to learn more about our faith, I suggest, you watch Fr. Chris Alar's talks in YouTube, Divine Mercy channel. You can also like their fb page.

Road to Forever: Pre-Cana

        Praise God! Last week we successfully finished our Pre-Cana seminar, but before that we had our Canonical interview. Our interviewer was Fr. Kali Llamado of Manila Cathedral. We learned a lot from our speakers, Bro. Egay and Sis. Vivian Cabuello, and Bro. Rene and Sis. Lily Perez, from the Commission on Life and Family.

We talked about lots of topics. Love languages of couples, financial matters, family planning, plans after the wedding, etc. Due to pandemic we had to do video conferencing. There were seven couples, including us who attended. We also practiced the marriage ceremony, we had a role-play. We also learned about the things that is used in weddings like the cord, veil and arrhae. It is good to have a talk like this before the wedding because, this is really helpful to every couple. 

I also love it that the speakers encouraged us to compose and make our own couple prayer. My fiance and I are saying our prayers every night. He edited the couple prayer that I composed before. I think it's good that couples are spiritually inclined, and it's a must that they put God in the center of their relationship. I'm counting the days to our wedding. May God watch over us always! To God be the glory!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Aquinas 101 - Thomistic Institute

      I have always been interested in studying things pertaining to God. I almost took up a Master's degree before at Maryhill School of Theology, but I did not pursue it. When I was still a student, I always look forward to our Religion class, not all students are very fond of it, I am an exception he!he!he!

Studying Distance Learning is expensive. I took two courses in English before, at Thompson Education Direct formerly known as International Correspondence School. Right now, I want to study Theology, apologetics, anything about the Roman Catholic faith. I asked a group online, Catholic Apologetics Geek, if they can recommend a free Distance learning course. They suggested a few, and one that caught my interest is the free course by the Dominicans from the Thomistic Institute. I enrolled within the same day, and I started my first course this week. I studied about the life of St. Thomas Aquinas. I also like the course offered by St. Paul website, the one by Dr. Scott Hahn, but it is not entirely free. 

I chose this Distance learning course because, I admire the Dominicans. As a teenager, and up to now I always listen to their 7 Last Words sermon, and my family is devotee of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. We also hear mass at Sto. Domingo church on feast days. 

I have two days off since the pandemic, and I like to partly spend it in studying. During these difficult times our mind can be polluted with negative thoughts, as St. Paul has mentioned in his letter to the Philippians chapter 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think of all these things."

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Lamb's Supper - Dr. Scott Hahn(Audio Review)

          I first heard about Scott Hahn through my priest friend, Fr. Steve Tynan. He served for a long time in our parish chapel, and was transferred in our parish, St. Benedict. He recommended the book to me after having a discussion with me with regard to the Protestant claim of the things that they found to be not right in the Roman Catholic church. 

I just finished last Wednesday, around past 12 in the morning, the audio recording of The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn. During this pandemic times I was not able to go to bookstores because for safety reasons. Anyway, if you want to purchase his books, a lot of his titles are available in Google Play Books.

Just a short information about the author. Scott Hahn, was a Presbyterian pastor who realized that the true church founded by Christ, and faithful to the early Church worship, and teaching is the Catholic church. He went to a Presbyterian college, he mastered Greek with an Oxford tutor. Translated the book of Revelation from Greek to English. According to his study, the word rapture does not appear a single time from the book of Revelation. The Battle of Armageddon occurs once in the end, and the anti-Christ doesn't occur but in the opening chapter. 

I have attended for a long time Protestant services. I noticed that there was indeed a connection of the Old Testament, with the New Testament. A lot of parallelism. Just like what Scott Hahn noticed in the book of Revelation. 

One thing that was favorable, when I attended a Protestant church is their eagerness to read the Bible. As a Catholic, I didn't really read the Bible much. But still, there is a caution. The Bible interpretation of the Protestant is of course different from the Catholic Bible, aside from the number of books included. According to one of our church fathers, St. Augustine, the New Testament is concealed in the old, and the old was revealed in the new. The pastor in the Protestant church that I went to before, studied in a Catholic university, I'm not sure if that was for his Masters or Doctorate, but that was the reason why he knows St. Augustine, and often quotes him too. 

Some examples of parallelism in the Bible that was discussed in the book was Moises and Jesus. Moises had the 12 tribes of Israel, and Jesus had 12 disciples. There were 72 elders from both of them. Moises was the giver of the law, and Jesus gave the sermon on the Mount, law of the New covenant. This is called typology. You can find a chart online describing the parallelism between the two of them. Jesus is the new Moises.

There are 2 parts of the mass (Liturgy of the Word, and the Eucharist) just like, there are two parts in the book of Revelation. 

Dr. Hahn mentioned that the greatest most significant event for Jews is the Passover, just like Thanksgiving and Christmas were for Christians. Jesus was the new Lamb of the Passover. You have to look back to the Old Testament in order to understand this. Moises gave the law, the law was to slaughter an unblemished lamb, sprinkle the blood of lamb, and you have to eat the lamb, this is non-negotiable. Just like when we eat the Body of Christ, at mass! I never really appreciated what we have before, and now I am very glad because of the realization of the precious gift that we have in mass. 

Dr. Hahn's wife told him that he needs to write down a book someday so that Catholics would appreciate what they have, because in the Protestant services, it isn't this deep, it isn't biblical, it isn't what they have, like what he has shown in the book of Revelation. 

As Dr. Hahn have said, "We all want to go to heaven, we just don't wanna die first. Well, the good news for Catholics, you don't need to die in order to go to heaven. All you have to do is go to mass, and heaven is where you are!... And the saints, and angels are who you were with, and when you read the book of Revelation, that their songs and prayers are identical to ours, and those songs, and those prayers, and that sacrifice of the Lamb is what releases God's power to vindicate His people, to rescue us, to give us the help that we need whenever we have hard times, and persecution. "

Jesus gave these visions to John when he was an old man. It is hard to take everything in, so Jesus told John to write down everything. John's vision of marriage Supper and the lamb, is the mass. The early church Father's were unanimous in the meaning of the great marriage, that Jesus is the bridegroom, as the groom gives himself to the bride. Jesus gave Himself to us, His church! In the book of Revelation, John called Jesus as the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei), 28 times! 

If you have not listened to the recorded audio online, you must! May God bless us all always! 


I dedicated this post of mine, to my Lord Jesus. My Lord, and my God! Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam! 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Waiting on God's Promises

          It has been almost 5 months now, since our country has been on quarantine. We are on Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine now or MECQ, due to the plight of our dear health workers who are also the most affected in this pandemic that has hit the entire global community. I can relate to them because I am also a frontliner in my work assignment in the public sector.

Right now, we are on skeletal work force. I'm off duty so, I have the time to write again. If you have read my previous blog, you know that I'll be getting married soon. The challenge nowadays for most couples, sweethearts, and lovers is that we need to do social distancing. It is so difficult because we, as human beings were made for physical interaction, and connection. The only consolation that we have is that, we are on a very modern-age, and communication is not that difficult, compared in the olden days, wherein, we wait impatiently for the snail-mails to arrive, and as well as long distance-phone calls. Now, everything is within reach, thanks to these smart phones, wherein we can send messages instantly, and use video call. Still, for me this arrangement is very hard. I'm even worried because there are a lot of scenarios running on my mind now, and one, is that our wedding might be cancelled. I also worry that I might get sick, and that is one of my main concern that I told to the priest whom I spoke to during our canonical interview yesterday. Because, we may never know since the Covid cases here in the Philippines are still climbing-up. He said we are all experiencing difficulties during this pandemic, and we should unceasingly pray.

There are a lot of Bible characters that has taught us to wait on the Lord, especially in difficult, and trying times. One was Job who was afflicted with a skin disease, and whose family, tragically died, Joseph who was sold and was taken as a slave to Egypt, Sarah who longed to have a child, and many more. I was searching for the right Bible verse to incorporate into this writing of mine, and I have discovered among the few, from the Song of Songs. It says that "Deep waters cannot quench love, nor rivers sweep it away." It means that true love can overcome any trials.

Love also conquers fear. It says on 1 John 4:17-19, "There is no fear in LOVE, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because He first loved us." In these trying times, the more we need to have more faith in God. The more we should call upon Him. As we recall, last Sunday's gospel. We know that if we get carried away by the heavy wind, and the crushing waves, we can rely on our Lord Jesus, that He will lift us up, and help us to rise again. We will be able to pass through any storms in our lives, through His guidance, help and protection.

... And I will wait with hope for our Lord's promises. I trust that HE will never fail me. I pray for my beloved, and I, that we will be safely together soon, in each other's arms, for He has brought the two of us together. What God has joined let no one separate.