Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What if I have only 1,005 breakfasts left?

by Kuya Vic Gutierrez

When I turned 67 recently, I saw an article in the New York Times which read, “Better to die at 80 than survive to 100 without some martinis.” I’m not a martini drinker but I can read in “pork chops” for martini and it would be a good statement.

The article cited a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association which said, “serious calorie restriction might best serve the quest for a long, disease-free life.” In short, watch your calorie intake and live long. I can accept that. But can you accept this: the daily calorie intake of the participants in the study is 890? It seemed to suggest that 890 calories be the daily intake if one hopes to live long. Say it this way: take no more than 890 calories daily and live long (or at least improve your chances of a longer life).

But who can take 890 calories a day and live? I mean, really live, not grumpily.

I dug up my old files and I found what I was looking for. It was a chart for figuring out our daily calorie need. It suggested that to get a general idea of the number of calories we use daily, take the desirable weight for a man of your height and multiply it by 18. At five feet seven inches, I should weigh 147 according to the chart. That’s thin but I’ll grant that, for the meantime. Multiplied by 18, my daily calorie intake may reach up to 2,646. I used to complain about this but compared to 890, this old chart suddenly took on some measure of credibility (or acceptability) to me.

Why complain about 890? Well, if I accept that measure, I can only take an 8-ounce hamburger in two slices of white bread and one raw tomato in one day. Sure, I can live on that but I will grow very thin in two weeks and our community will worry that I may have caught a serious disease like cancer or tuberculosis or something.

Nowadays, people’s preoccupation seems to be longevity. “How much longer can I live?” This has become a subject of much concern for many. For me, I prefer to indulge in the question: how well can I live my last years? I just turned 67 and if the Book of Psalms proves true for me, I can expect 3 more years or 13. Psalm 90: 10 says, “Seventy is the sum of our years, eighty if we are strong.”

Will I live the rest of my life following the 890-calorie principle? If I do, shall I say goodbye to Agnes’ excellent cream cheese in olive oil and roasted garlic. Or the Baguio longganisa, fried eggs and fried rice for breakfast? What then will my breakfasts be like?

Shall I shift to low-fat yogurt for breakfast? Oh, no! Yes, it is healthful, I know. But I may have only 1,005 breakfasts to go after my last birthday. Shall it be 1,005 healthful low-fat yogurt breakfasts? That is, if I live up to 70. Add 3,650 yogurt breakfasts to my 1,005 (if I live up to 80) and that makes a total of 4,655. That figure is a little less now at the time of this writing. But, praise the Lord, no one is forcing yogurt on me.

Really now, I am more inclined to make the most of my remaining 1,005 breakfasts. How about Baguio longganisa on some days, Nueva Ecija longganisa on other days, Lucena longganisa whenever they are available? Or shall I invite my friends to taste my homemade sun-dried beef tapa on some weekend breakfasts? I made them myself. I couldn’t wait to be invited to my friend’s house for a meal. She makes excellent tapa. So I experimented on making them myself. They turned out so good. They taste even better when dipped in sukang Iloko.

Will the enjoyment of such breakfasts shorten my life? Or will the sadness of taking low-fat yogurt do it for me? The mere thought of having to spend these 1,005 breakfasts on low-fat yogurt removes all the cheerfulness from my heart. Proverbs 17:22 says: “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.” I think that when your bones dry up, you get all sorts of pain, arthritic and all, and the joy of living goes out. On the other hand, I usually have a cheerful disposition after a longganisa and fried eggs breakfast. On those days, I think I give good pastoral advice, I am more understanding and more patient. Or am I just imagining it?

So you see, longevity is not my main issue. 67 years of joy and sadness has been good for my soul. I have fought the good fight. I have served when there was no one around to serve. I stepped aside when younger men stepped forward. I have done my praying and my fasting. And I still do. Now, I shall count my remaining breakfasts and enjoy them. Not irresponsibly, mind you. I do listen to my doctor. But I will just enjoy good food while there are still some. I will enjoy them while I still can. I know that God enjoys seeing me eat with gusto. A time will come when my digestive system will fail me or my teeth will go. In that time, not even my doctor and my dentist can help me. Only God can.

Responsible eating is what I am advocating. Eat enough. Choose the food you like but eat only those your doctor allows for your good health. Don’t starve yourself in a quest for a longer life. What’s the point in having 3 to 13 more years if, everyday, you are so afraid to eat the food that gives you enjoyment? That is, take as much as your health situation allows. Okay, the diabetics ought to watch their sugar intake. They should control themselves when they see Agnes’ irresistible rum cake. The hypertensive persons must watch their cholesterol level. They shouldn’t take too much of my sun-dried beef tapa. Others have their own special health conditions to care about. To each his own, as they say.

Take responsibility for your health. I do. For physical exercise, I walk briskly everyday at the U.P. grounds with Agnes. It’s fun. Okay, I admit, I started this routine only a month ago. But you should see my cardiologist, he is very happy about this new thing in my life. And he also noticed a drop in my weight too. That gave me confidence in the weighing scale in his clinic which I suggested that he replace with a more accurate one during my previous visits. For now, the weighing scale can stay.

The benefit of daily brisk walking with my wife is not confined to physical health. Agnes and I also have encouraging dialogue which builds up our souls. No, it’s not always about prayer and community and our children. There are some spontaneous dialogues which are unmatched in value. For example, one day while walking at U.P., we noticed a fat woman. Agnes said, “hindi naman ako ganoon kataba, ano?” I shot back very quickly, “to even think about that is really ridiculous.” My wife is not fat, she’s pleasingly plump. And I will fight anybody who disagrees with me.

On another day, as I drove the short distance to U.P., I took my son’s sunglasses from the dashboard and put them on. “Baka maging pogi ako kung suot ko ito,” I said lightheartedly. Agnes quickly retorted, “Vic, hindi mo na kailangan yan para pumogi.” So you see, the walking exercise has its physical benefits but the dialogue that takes place during the walk has far greater value. But don’t think it’s just mutual ego-massaging. No, we are quite in touch with reality. I know I am not pogi, I look like Sean Connery. I have not heard my wife disagree with that. But my sons do. They think I look like Morgan Freeman. But I tolerate them, I don’t mind them, they have poor judgment anyway. Sometimes, I ask myself where they got the poor judgment syndrome. Was it in their 12 years at La Salle or in their 4 years of Ateneo college education?

Do I have other passions than food? Excuse me, food is not my passion at all. Talking about food is. It is one favorite topic of conversation during the lull in our Familia Excom meetings. Oh yes, we don’t deny it, we love good food too. As a Batangueno, I take pride in my caldereta. And in my recent visit to Milan, Italy, I learned something new from our Familia brethren there: how to prepare spaghetti with ripe tomatoes marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and spiced with basil. Very Italian. Molto bene!

More seriously now, how shall I live my life if I have only 3 more years to live? To imitate a saint I once read, “I shall continue doing what I am doing now.” I shall continue praying and reading Scripture daily. I shall continue serving the Lord in and out of community, for as long as my health will allow. I shall repent daily of my shortcomings. But unlike the saint, I recognize that I must make greater efforts to grow daily in love and forgiveness. And I shall seek the protection of my guardian angels so that I may overcome temptation and sin. All these I will continue doing so that I may enjoy my remaining days and my journey into eternal life.

Oops, I almost forgot to add: if the Lord allows, I will continue to enjoy my longganisa breakfasts, and my caldereta and spaghetti dinners. Add to that, sinaing na tulingan and bulanglang lunches from Batangas in responsible portions, of course. I promise the Lord that I will stick to my physical exercise, take my daily maintenance medicine for hypertension and see my cardiologist regularly. You see, the Lord who is the giver of life wants us to enjoy what He has given us. Yes, all He has given, including the sufferings which I prefer not to talk about for now. I have had my fair share of them.

Now, who wants to share them with me?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Why the Creed Doesn't Mention the Eucharist

Q: Could you tell me why, in our profession of faith and creed, we don't profess our belief in the Real Presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist? -- D.K., Norwalk, Connecticut

A: The reasons are above all historical but also involve the purpose of the liturgy itself.

From a historical perspective the creed as we know it was first sketched out at the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381) although in its developed form it first appears in the acts of the Council of Chalcedon (451).

This creed was probably based on a baptismal profession of faith and encapsulated what were perceived as the essential tenets of the faith.

Above all it was a response to Arian and other heresies and defended the doctrine of the Trinity and Christ's true humanity and divinity. It was never intended to be an exhaustive exposition of every aspect of the faith.

Since it was necessary to defend the very foundations of the faith, such questions as the nature of the Eucharist were simply not on the theological horizon and would not be for several centuries more.

Also, during this early period, the fullness of Eucharistic doctrine was often explained only after baptism -- thus only after the new Christian had publicly recited the creed.

The practice of reciting the creed at Mass is attributed to Patriarch Timothy of Constantinople (511-517), and the initiative was copied in other churches under Byzantine influence, including that part of Spain which was under the empire at that time.

About 568, the Byzantine emperor Justinian ordered the creed recited at every Mass within his dominions. Twenty years later (589) the Visigoth king of Spain Reccared renounced the Arian heresy in favor of Catholicism and ordered the creed said at every Mass.

About two centuries later we find the practice of reciting the creed in France and the custom spread slowly to other parts of Northern Europe.

Finally, when in 1114, Emperor Henry II came to Rome for his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor, he was surprised that they did not recite the creed. He was told that since Rome had never erred in matters of faith there was no need for the Romans to proclaim it at Mass. However, it was included in deference to the emperor and has pretty much remained ever since, albeit not at every Mass but only on Sundays and on certain feasts.

Eastern and Western Christians use the same creed except that the Latin version adds the expression "filioque" (and the Son) to the article regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, a difference that has given rise to endless and highly complex theological discussions.

In spite of this difference, there is a common understanding among all Christians that the creed should be left as it is and that neither the creed, nor indeed the Mass itself, is a suitable place to give technical expression to every tenet of the faith.

On another level, however, the entire Mass is itself a profession of faith. It is the living faith celebrated and heralded in a great and sublime act of worship that is converted into a faith that imbues every aspect of daily activity.

Even though there is no explicit mention of the real presence in the creed, Catholics proclaim their Eucharistic faith through almost every word and gesture at Mass and especially by their Amen at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer and when receiving Communion.

In a similar fashion they liturgically express their faith in other dogmas not contained in the creed. Going to Mass for the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption also proclaims our faith in these doctrines.

Going to confession or receiving the sacrament of the sick affirms our faith in the sacramental system itself and our belief that Christ has granted the Church power to forgive sins.

In short, every act of liturgical worship is, by its very nature, also a proclamation of faith.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Help please...

I am publishing online this email from our e-group, hoping that a surfing generous soul might read the appeal for help. The message goes like this:

Familia Center wrote:

Good morning brothers and sisters!

I was awakened at 4 in the morning today from a 3-page text message from Marge Sacaben, reiterating her appeal for financial help for the dialysis of her husband Leo (both are Familia members of Northern Samar).

I was having difficulty editing the text message so I have decided to forward this via email, hoping to reach as many people as possible.

For a backgrounder, this is the 5th appeal received and the 1st 4 were forwarded via text. Leo have been in and out of the hospital for almost a year now. They have also been recipients of financial help from brothers and sisters who responded to their appeal.

Here are the text messages in full which I have received since June 17:

June 17, 2006

June 21

June 22

June 22, 2006

Brothers and sisters, it is obvious that they are in need of financial help for their medical expenses. They also need our prayers. They also need our loving presence.

The Sacabens are presently residing at # 21 Sto. Niño St., Tawiran Extension, Baranggay Santolan, Pasig. Marge can be contacted thru cell # 09103261922.

God bless you all brothers & sisters.

Familia Center

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Lies about Leonardo...

by Josua Jaena
I've read the preface and introduction of the Da Vinci Code before it became hit to the unsuspecting and the psuedo-Cristologists, the type that shows off with the hard-bound book while going to the office or having coffee break. I don't want to appear close-minded but coming up with something new by rehashing the trashed findings and unsubstantiated claims of shallow Catholic bashers turns me off at the initial read of the book. I believe Catholic faith and doctrines have been founded on solid ground, and that years of persecution has not erased the Church from the face of the earth-- proof that it's been guided by the Holy Spirit.

The Da Vinci Code is full of erroneous claims and one by one they were debunked, until the author himself became defensive of his works, citing that he merely quoted his sources and presented the objective facts. Facts which has been disproven long time ago. "By its fruits, you will know it", says the Holy Scripture. And so with the Da Vinci Code, now eroded by false facts and its commercial intentions brought to light.

The Da Vinci Code novel contains a claim that in Leonardo’s mural The Last Supper, which portrays Jesus and his twelve apostles at the meal he took with them on the night before he died, one of the twelve is not the apostle John but actually a woman who is Mary Magdalene.

Jesus Decoded offers new insight about the hoax of the Da Vinci Code. Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco says "some are merely distortions of hypotheses advanced by serious scholars who do serious research. "

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Origin of the word

The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days' fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. Still it has been used from the Anglo-Saxon period to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima (French carême, Italian quaresima, Spanish cuaresma), meaning the "forty days", or more literally the "fortieth day". This in turn imitated the Greek name for Lent, tessarakoste (fortieth), a word formed on the analogy of Pentecost (pentekoste), which last was in use for the Jewish festival before New Testament times. This etymology, as we shall see, is of some little importance in explaining the early developments of the Easter fast.

Origin of the custom

Some of the Fathers as early as the fifth century supported the view that this forty days' fast was of Apostolic institution. For example, St. Leo (d. 461) exhorts his hearers to abstain that they may "fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of the forty days" — ut apostolica institutio quadraginta dierum jejuniis impleatur (P.L., LIV, 633), and the historian Socrates (d. 433) and St. Jerome (d. 420) use similar language (P.G., LXVII, 633; P.L., XXII, 475).
But the best modern scholars are almost unanimous in rejecting this view, for in the existing remains of the first three centuries we find both considerable diversity of practice regarding the fast before Easter and also a gradual process of development in the matter of its duration. The passage of primary importance is one quoted by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., V, xxiv) from a letter of St. Irenaeus to Pope Victor in connection with the Easter controversy. There Irenaeus says that there is not only a controversy about the time of keeping Easter but also regarding the preliminary fast. "For", he continues, "some think they ought to fast for one day, others for two days, and others even for several, while others reckon forty hours both of day and night to their fast". He also urges that this variety of usage is of ancient date, which implies that there could have been no Apostolic tradition on the subject. Rufinus, who translated Eusebius into Latin towards the close of the fourth century, seems so to have punctuated this passage as to make Irenaeus say that some people fasted for forty days. Formerly some difference of opinion existed as to the proper reading, but modern criticism (e.g., in the edition of Schwartz commissioned by the Berlin Academy) pronounces strongly in favor of the text translated above. We may then fairly conclude that Irenaeus about the year 190 knew nothing of any Easter fast of forty days.

The same inference must be drawn from the language of Tertullian only a few years later. When writing as a Montanist, he contrasts the very slender term of fasting observed by the Catholics (i.e., "the days on which the bridegroom was taken away", probably meaning the Friday and Saturday of Holy Week) with the longer but still restricted period of a fortnight which was kept by the Montanists. No doubt he was referring to fasting of a very strict kind (xerophagiæ — dry fasts), but there is no indication in his works, though he wrote an entire treatise "De Jejunio", and often touches upon the subject elsewhere, that he was acquainted with any period of forty days consecrated to more or less continuous fasting (see Tertullian, "De Jejun.", ii and xiv; cf. "de Orat.", xviii; etc.).
And there is the same silence observable in all the pre-Nicene Fathers, though many had occasion to mention such an Apostolic institution if it had existed. We may note for example that there is no mention of Lent in St. Dionysius of Alexandria (ed. Feltoe, 94 sqq.) or in the "Didascalia", which Funk attributes to about the year 250; yet both speak diffusely of the paschal fast.

Further, there seems much to suggest that the Church in the Apostolic Age designed to commemorate the Resurrection of Christ, not by an annual, but by a weekly celebration (see "the Month", April 1910, 337 sqq.). If this be so, the Sunday liturgy constituted the weekly memorial of the Resurrection, and the Friday fast that of the Death of Christ. Such a theory offers a natural explanation of the wide divergence which we find existing in the latter part of the second century regarding both the proper time for keeping Easter, and also the manner of the paschal fast. Christians were at one regarding the weekly observance of the Sunday and the Friday, which was primitive, but the annual Easter festival was something superimposed by a process of natural development, and it was largely influenced by the conditions locally existing in the different Churches of the East and West. Moreover, with the Easter festival there seems also to have established itself a preliminary fast, not as yet anywhere exceeding a week in duration, but very severe in character, which commemorated the Passion, or more generally, "the days on which the bridegroom was taken away".

Be this as it may, we find in the early years of the fourth century the first mention of the term tessarakoste. It occurs in the fifth canon of the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), where there is only question of the proper time for celebrating a synod, and it is conceivable that it may refer not to a period but to a definite festival, e.g., the Feast of the Ascension, or the Purification, which Ætheria calls quadragesimæ de Epiphania. But we have to remember that the older word, pentekoste (Pentecost) from meaning the fiftieth day, had come to denote the whole of the period (which we should call Paschal Time) between Easter Sunday and Whit-Sunday (cf. Tertullian, "De Idololatria", xiv, — "pentecosten implere non poterunt"). In any case it is certain from the "Festal Letters" of St. Athanasius that in 331 the saint enjoined upon his flock a period of forty days of fasting preliminary to, but not inclusive of, the stricter fast of Holy Week, and secondly that in 339 the same Father, after having traveled to Rome and over the greater part of Europe, wrote in the strongest terms to urge this observance upon the people of Alexandria as one that was universally practiced, "to the end that while all the world is fasting, we who are in Egypt should not become a laughing-stock as the only people who do not fast but take our pleasure in those days". Although Funk formerly maintained that a Lent of forty days was not known in the West before the time of St. Ambrose, this is evidence which cannot be set aside.

Duration of the Fast

In determining this period of forty days the example of Moses, Elias, and Christ must have exercised a predominant influence, but it is also possible that the fact was borne in mind that Christ lay forty hours in the tomb. On the other hand just as Pentecost (the fifty days) was a period during which Christians were joyous and prayed standing, though they were not always engaged in such prayer, so the Quadragesima (the forty days) was originally a period marked by fasting, but not necessarily a period in which the faithful fasted every day. Still, this principle was differently understood in different localities, and great divergences of practice were the result. In Rome, in the fifth century, Lent lasted six weeks, but according to the historian Socrates there were only three weeks of actual fasting, exclusive even then of the Saturday and Sunday and if Duchesne's view may be trusted, these weeks were not continuous, but were the first, the fourth, and sixth of the series, being connected with the ordinations (Christian Worship, 243). Possibly, however, these three weeks had to do with the "scrutinies" preparatory to Baptism, for by some authorities (e.g., A.J. Maclean in his "Recent Discoveries") the duty of fasting along with the candidate for baptism is put forward as the chief influence at work in the development of the forty days. But throughout the Orient generally, with some few exceptions, the same arrangement prevailed as St. Athanasius's "Festal Letters" show us to have obtained in Alexandria, namely, the six weeks of Lent were only preparatory to a fast of exceptional severity maintained during Holy Week. This is enjoined by the "Apostolic Constitutions" (V, xiii), and presupposed by St. Chrysostom (Hom. xxx in Gen., I). But the number forty, having once established itself, produced other modifications. It seemed to many necessary that there should not only be fasting during the forty days but forty actual fasting days. Thus we find Ætheria in her "Peregrinatio" speaking of a Lent of eight weeks in all observed at Jerusalem, which, remembering that both the Saturday and Sunday of ordinary weeks were exempt, gives five times eight, i.e., forty days for fasting. On the other hand, in many localities people were content to observe no more than a six weeks' period, sometimes, as at Milan, fasting only five days in the week after the oriental fashion (Ambrose, "De Elia et Jejunio", 10). In the time of Gregory the Great (590-604) there were apparently at Rome six weeks of six days each, making thirty-six fast days in all, which St. Gregory, who is followed therein by many medieval writers, describes as the spiritual tithing of the year, thirty-six days being approximately the tenth part of three hundred and sixty-five. At a later date the wish to realize the exact number of forty days led to the practice of beginning Lent upon our present Ash Wednesday, but the Church of Milan, even to this day adheres to the more primitive arrangement, which still betrays itself in the Roman Missal when the priest in the Secret of the Mass on the first Sunday of Lent speaks of "sacrificium quadragesimalis initii", the sacrifice of the opening of Lent.

Nature of the fast

Neither was there originally less divergence regarding the nature of the fast. For example, the historian Socrates (Hist. Eccl., V, 22) tells of the practice of the fifth century: "Some abstain from every sort of creature that has life, while others of all the living creatures eat of fish only. Others eat birds as well as fish, because, according to the Mosaic account of the Creation, they too sprang from the water; others abstain from fruit covered by a hard shell and from eggs. Some eat dry bread only, others not even that; others again when they have fasted to the ninth hour (three o'clock) partake of various kinds of food". Amid this diversity some inclined to the extreme limits of rigor. Epiphanius, Palladius, and the author of the "Life of St. Melania the Younger" seem to contemplate a state of things in which ordinary Christians were expected to pass twenty-four hours or more without food of any kind, especially during Holy Week, while the more austere actually subsisted during part or the whole of Lent upon one or two meals a week (see Rampolla, "Vita di. S. Melania Giuniore", appendix xxv, p. 478). But the ordinary rule on fasting days was to take but one meal a day and that only in the evening, while meat and, in the early centuries, wine were entirely forbidden. During Holy Week, or at least on Good Friday it was common to enjoin the xerophagiæ, i.e., a diet of dry food, bread, salt, and vegetables.
There does not seem at the beginning to have been any prohibition of lacticinia, as the passage just quoted from Socrates would show. Moreover, at a somewhat later date, Bede tells us of Bishop Cedda, that during Lent he took only one meal a day consisting of "a little bread, a hen's egg, and a little milk mixed with water" (Hist. Eccl., III, xxiii), while Theodulphus of Orleans in the eighth century regarded abstinence from eggs, cheese, and fish as a mark of exceptional virtue. None the less St. Gregory writing to St. Augustine of England laid down the rule, "We abstain from flesh meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese, and eggs." This decision was afterwards enshrined in the "Corpus Juris", and must be regarded as the common law of the Church. Still exceptions were admitted, and dispensations to eat "lacticinia" were often granted upon condition of making a contribution to some pious work. These dispensations were known in Germany as Butterbriefe, and several churches are said to have been partly built by the proceeds of such exceptions. One of the steeples of Rouen cathedral was for this reason formerly known as the Butter Tower. This general prohibition of eggs and milk during Lent is perpetuated in the popular custom of blessing or making gifts of eggs at Easter, and in the English usage of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.

Relaxations of the Lenten Fast

From what has been said it will be clear that in the early Middle Ages Lent throughout the greater part of the Western Church consisted of forty weekdays, which were all fast days, and six Sundays. From the beginning to the end of that time all flesh meat, and also, for the most part, "lacticinia", were forbidden even on Sundays, while on all the fasting days only one meal was taken, which single meal was not permitted before evening. At a very early period, however (we find the first mention of it in Socrates), the practice began to be tolerated of breaking the fast at the hour of none, i.e., three o'clock. We learn in particular that Charlemagne, about the year 800, took his lenten repast at 2 p.m. This gradual anticipation of the hour of dinner was facilitated by the fact that the canonical hours of none, vespers, etc., represented rather periods than fixed points of time. The ninth hour, or none, was no doubt strictly three o'clock in the afternoon, but the Office of none might be recited as soon as sext, which, of course, corresponded to the sixth hour, or midday, was finished. Hence none in course of time came to be regarded as beginning at midday, and this point of view is perpetuated in our word noon which means midday and not three o'clock in the afternoon. Now the hour for breaking the fast during Lent was after Vespers (the evening service), but by a gradual process the recitation of Vespers was more and more anticipated, until the principle was at last officially recognized, as it is at present, that Vespers in lent may be said at midday. In this way, although the author of the "Micrologus" in the eleventh century still declared that those who took food before evening did not observe the lenten fast according to the canons (P.L., CLI, 1013), still, even at the close of the thirteenth century, certain theologians, for example the Franciscan Richard Middleton, who based his decision in part upon contemporary usage, pronounced that a man who took his dinner at midday did not break the lenten fast. Still more material was the relaxation afforded by the introduction of "collation". This seems to have begun in the ninth century, when the Council of Aix la Chapelle sanctioned the concession, even in monastic houses, of a draught of water or other beverage in the evening to quench the thirst of those who were exhausted by the manual labor of the day. From this small beginning a much larger indulgence was gradually evolved. The principle of parvitas materiae, i.e., that a small quantity of nourishment which was not taken directly as a meal did not break the fast, was adopted by St. Thomas Aquinas and other theologians, and in the course of centuries a recognized quantity of solid food, which according to received authorities must not exceed eight ounces, has come to be permitted after the midday repast. As this evening drink, when first tolerated in the ninth-century monasteries, was taken at the hour at which the "Collationes" (Conferences) of Abbot Cassian were being read aloud to the brethren, this slight indulgence came to be known as a "collation", and the name has continued since. Other mitigations of an even more substantial character have been introduced into lenten observance in the course of the last few centuries. To begin with, the custom has been tolerated of taking a cup of liquid (e.g., tea or coffee, or even chocolate) with a fragment of bread or toast in the early morning. But, what more particularly regards Lent, successive indults have been granted by the Holy See allowing meat at the principal meal, first on Sundays, and then on two, three, four, and five weekdays, throughout nearly the whole of Lent. Quite recently, Maundy Thursday, upon which meat was hitherto always forbidden, has come to share in the same indulgence. In the United States, the Holy See grants faculties whereby working men and their families may use flesh meat once a day throughout the year, except Fridays, Ash Wednesday, Holy Saturday, and the vigil of Christmas. The only compensation imposed for all these mitigations is the prohibition during Lent against partaking of both fish and flesh at the same repast.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Baguio Family Day

by Emily Bogayong

Family Day of the Baguio-Benguet Area was held in the Brent School grounds on December 11, 2005. It was a whole-day affair from 8 in the morning till 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The day before was a very rainy day prompting brothers and sisters to get down on their knees to ask the Lord's intervention and to command the rains to leave Baguio. True enough, the sun was out on December 11! Answered Prayer! After the registration, Bishop Carlito Cenzon celebrated Holy Mass and gave a timely homily on keeping us focused on the reason for the season and to try not to give in to the temptation to give importance to material things. He joined us, too, at lunch time enjoying fellowship with brothers and sisters.

Parents were asked to bring inexpensive little presents for the kids to enjoy which were distributed before heading for home in the afternoon. Raffle prizes were given away to lucky winners as a means of fundraising to take care of the expenses incurred that day. There were song and dance numbers in the morning participated in by different parishes from La Trinidad, Cabuyao, Baguio Gold and Baguio, of course. In the afternoon, a big number of skits were presented by each unit.

We look forward to another Family Day this year and with an increasing number of brothers and sisters. Someone commented: "Ang laki na pala ng Familia!" Truly, this is God's work.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Piso Para Kay Kristo

by: Rosemarie S. Rancap

Everyday, these two young fellow – Mickey (a college student) and Denise (a high school student), save P50 and P20 out of their “baons” of P250.00 and P80.00, respectively. They have practiced this value of saving since they were young for they have been encouraged and inspired when they have something to spend during their yearly summer vacation, when they want to buy something special, when they have something to share for the outreach program, and/or just merely enjoy seeing their money grow in the bank. One day, to the surprise of their parents – they volunteered and offered to save P1.00 daily as their love offering and gratitude to the Lord through FAMILIA. And they are still doing this act of love until at present.

Adults can learn a lot from these children especially on how we corrupt our life with our pride, selfishness, greed and lies. It is these young people who remind us the way to God’s Kingdom. It is precisely their honesty and sincerity that make them open to God’s Kingdom. I am proud to let the world know that these two young fellow are my children – two of the greatest creations of God; two of the best things that ever happened to me.

Inspired by this act of love, the FAMILIA Marcelo Parish Servants thought that this could be a good idea to educate and catechize our members to show that financial giving is part of a mature Christian life. And as a committed member of FAMILIA, it is our responsibility to financially support the operations and growth of the Community and fulfill its missions.

Winning regular tithe givers is one of our plan of actions for 2006. And we thought that P1.00/day could not be a burden anymore to any member. Dubbed PISO PARA KAY KRISTO, this vision is realized by providing a “canister” to each member (including children upon their request) where they could drop daily their One Peso. I found myself scribbling again … putting my God-given imagination and creative thinking into action. The unique label of the canister came out and looks like this:
PISO PARA KAY KRISTO - a P1.00 saved daily by each member and/or their children is a solid and real gratitude to God for all the blessings and earthly comforts that HE has generously provided us. They can deposit P1.00 or more everyday and/or on top of their regular tithes. The accumulated savings will then be acknowledged by Official Receipt and turned over to FAMILIA Head Office for its operations and missions.

Gratitude / Gratefulness – that is the spirit of “PISO PARA KAY KRISTO”. Consistently and religiously done, sharing - even in the smallest and modest way, but coming from the bottom of the heart will surely be rewarded by Christ’s promise of eternal life. FAMILIA Marcelo who spearheaded this project emphasizes that PISO PARA KAY KRISTO is not compulsory, but tests our financial stewardship and treminds us that God loves a cheerful giver—one who gives as a sacrifice, who gives as an offering.

Everyone who feels the love and blessings of God and wishes to thank Him even in the smallest way possible and share it with others in a consistent manner are all welcome to avail of the canister. FAMILIA members from other areas who are interested to implement this project in their respective areas and parishes may avail of the canister from Familia Marcelo, South 1 for a reasonable price.

Go, Grow and Glow with the Lord. Let us spread and continue to throw the fire of love in our hearts.

Pasasalamat ng FAMILIA sa Hatid NIYANG Biyaya ….

“Kahit Piso….. Basta galing sa Puso,
Pangako ni Kristo….. Ay mapapasa-Iyo!”.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Lingkod Ako

Click here to view the whole composition
by: Rosemarie Rancap
Marcelo Parish

“Pinoy ako! Pinoy Tayo!” I heard one of the elevator passengers saying it while talking to his mate.

What’s in the Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) anyway? Everywhere, a lot of people are talking about it. And I am one of them. Me and my children passed by the Pinoy Big Brother house to have a closer look at the building where Pinoy Big Brother housemates lived.

What’s fun with it? People enjoy watching video taken by spy cameras installed everywhere the buildings, including CRs. But actually, what prompted me to regularly watch this reality TV show (except of course when I have a “date with the Lord”) are the punishments and/or sacrifices that each housemate will be doing in exchange of a good deed.

“To serve others, you have to think like a servant – the way Christ Jesus thought of himself and borne the sacrifices.

Inspired with that value and the message of what Ministry is in the book Purpose Driven Life, I found myself scribbling the lyrics of a song to the tune of this Big Hit Theme Song of PBB – “Pinoy Ako, Pinoy Tayo”.

I wish and hope that we can use this song as a bonding tool for our cell groups. – Just for fun!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Chronicles of Narnia

Christian author C.S. Lewis' beloved children's fantasy, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," to finally make it to the big screen!

Aslan: "a willing victim ... killed in a traitor's stead"
The world of Narnia

The Rosary

The word rosary comes from Latin and means a garland of roses, the rose being one of the flowers used to symbolize the Virgin Mary. If you were to ask what object is most emblematic of Catholics, people would probably say, "The rosary, of course." We’re familiar with the images: the silently moving lips of the old woman fingering her beads; the oversized rosary hanging from the waist of the wimpled nun; more recently, the merely decorative rosary hanging from the rearview mirror.

After Vatican II the rosary fell into relative disuse. The same is true for Marian devotions as a whole. But in recent years the rosary has made a comeback, and not just among Catholics. Many Protestants now say the rosary, recognizing it as a truly biblical form of prayer—after all, the prayers that comprise it come mainly from the Bible.

The rosary is a devotion in honor of the Virgin Mary. It consists of a set number of specific prayers. First are the introductory prayers: one Apostles’ Creed (Credo), one Our Father (the Pater Noster or the Lord’s Prayer), three Hail Mary’s (Ave’s), one Glory Be (Gloria Patri). read more...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Abortion: An Issue of Life, Not Choice

We can trace our individual, personal being and existence back to the moment of conception. Therefore, "you" and "I" were once this little one-celled, or two-celled, or four-celled human being. Not only does human life begin biologically at conception, but the ineffable mystery of the person does, as well. The ending of a life in the womb is the ending of the personal "I" that would have been conscious of itself later on. The absence of the means of consciousness in the womb, as at any stage of life, does not mean the person is not present, any more than being mentally deficient, asleep or in a coma means that "Betty" or "Bill" or whomever has ceased to be human person. The continuity of human personhood is the same as the continuity of human life, otherwise, we are reduced to the illogic that it depends on the human will when personhood begins - the mother accepts it, or the state accepts it, or it is conscious of itself, or some other subjective criteria. read more...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hearing God's Voice

As we read about Jesus hearing a “voice from heaven,” perhaps we are wishing that we too could hear God in some spectacular way. Maybe we are hoping for some kind of spiritual breakthrough in our lives. Or perhaps we have serious needs in our lives, and we’d like God to speak more directly to us about them. read more...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Love one another. (1 John 3:11)

The call to love is at the heart of our faith. What could be a more simple or more effective way of evangelization? The close, loving relationships we form with our families and fellow Christians are meant to be the source of our ability to evangelize. No matter that such relationships are rare in the world today. No matter that they seem virtually impossible apart from God. The fact remains that peaceful, joyful, united lives are still capable of speaking volumes to the world about the power and love of God.

Many of us think of evangelization as persuasive, clear, words that inspire others about Jesus and his gospel. As accurate as this may be in theory, in many practical instances, we can have an even greater effect on people’s faith through the witness of our loving actions than by our many words. Love has the power to melt hearts and convince minds far better than an abundance of eloquent doctrine, theology, or defenses of Christianity!

Love in practical ways. Show respect to people. Look for ordinary needs that you can meet. Taking dinner to someone who is sick or who just had a baby; shoveling snow for, or alongside, a neighbor; teaching a teenager how to build a bookshelf; taking time to visit with an elderly person—all of these are ways to begin evangelizing. As John wrote, we are to love “not in word or speech, but in truth and action” as well (1 John 3:18).

Begin evangelizing today! Is there anyone in your family who has left the church or needs to be brought back to Christ? Be kind to them, and let the Lord do the work. If you are divided from that family member, ask the Lord how to build bridges, for “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Take small steps to build relationships at work or in your neighborhood with people who are searching for hope and meaning in their lives. As you do, believe that you will be giving them a dynamic witness, not just good feelings or happy thoughts. Remember Jesus’ promise: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

“Lord Jesus, give me a softer heart for those around me. Teach me to love as you have loved me that others would be drawn to you.”

source: WAU

Staying on the Evagelization Course

By Arben C. Visenio

Matthew 28:16-20

16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

God wills or desires to use all believers, including every Familia member, to make known to others the authentic saving message of the Gospel. Man’s only true hope of eternal life lies in Jesus Christ. We see that it is indispensable that the Gospel be proclaimed to all and that we have an essential role in spreading of the good news and in making disciples of all nations. Yes, all believers without exception – even those with some doubts (see verse 17.) However, while we know that Jesus has all power and authority in Heaven and earth and He is with us, why do we sometimes still hesitate to proclaim Him and let Him manifest His love and power through us?

There is the reality that the devil would not want us to evangelize because he knows that God can reach others through us. He would try to make us believe that evangelization is not important or a priority; or that we are not gifted for that; or that our efforts will not really make a difference so why bother at all. He can really tailor fit his temptations to deceive us and make us lose interest, indifferent, lazy, and not care at all. Fear is another obstacle that the devil can use that can immobilize us -- fear of being rejected, made fun of or ridiculed, being left out, being called fanatic or closed-minded conservative, not knowing what to say or how to convince others, saying the wrong things and turn them off, etc. He can make these lies seem very reasonable that we can easily accept them. Do you see evidences of these in your own situation?

This would be a good time to pause a moment and honestly reflect on why we at times hesitate to evangelize… Bring them before the Lord…Listen to what He might say about it. The Holy Spirit might lead you to a passage in Scriptures or a sense from the Lord or some inspiring thoughts to enable you to overcome your hesitations. Stay with it for some time… and then prayerfully ask for the grace to overcome your hesitations and make a personal response to the Lord. Pray also for the opportunity to bring the Gospel to someone.

One time in my college years, (when I was still far from being a committed Christian) a group of young people went from classroom to classroom sharing their experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and their personal testimonies. I saw expressions on my classmates’ faces saying something like: “Ano ito? Ang weird ng mga ito, pare.” I am a nice kind of guy and so I must have been politely smiling but not really sure what I was going on. But inside me, I felt a respect for them – for their conviction and courage. I had never envisioned myself doing what they did. I would be so nervous and would probably get sick at the last moment. The effect of the seed planted in me by that proclamation prepared me to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Shortly after my baptism I found myself giving my personal testimonies in Life in the Spirit Seminars and in school recollections and retreats. That’s the power of God demonstrated through the cooperation of believers. I praised God that those young people overcame their fear and proclaimed the power of the Gospel to me.

How do we evangelize? Because of the limited space available here, let me just share how I got initiated into the charismatic renewal and pick out some helpful principles.

Sometime in 1974, I had a friend who shared with me her own experience of being guided by the Holy Spirit in her decisions. She shared how they ask for something in prayer and how they were granted by God through some mysterious ways or seeming coincidences. I became curious and asked many questions. She was very calm and nice and tried to answer me. Then the question: Have you attended a prayer meeting? I said, no. Then the invitation: How would you like to attend a prayer meeting? I said, Why not? So we went and she introduced me to the greeters team and all the people she knew in the prayer meeting. After that she asked me how my experience was. She accompanied me at the next prayer meeting. And that’s how I got hooked on the Lord.

Let’s look at some principles:

TALK: Simply talk to others about your experience of God. Share blessings and answered prayers. Do not hesitate to share biblically based wisdom.

BE A WITNESS TO YOUR FAITH: Be patient, kind, loving, respectful, and righteous. Be a friend. Be a good neighbour. Offer to pray for him and his personal needs. Let the love of God be demonstrated in relating with others.

INVITE: At the proper time, invite the person to attend a spiritual activity like a prayer meeting, a bible study, or an ECLS. You may also invite the person to make a commitment to the Lord, if the situation calls for it.

FOLLOW UP: Accompany him or her during the ECLS. Call them up during the week to see how they’re doing, e.g., some questions they may have, some problems, blessings, etc.

PRAY: Pray for intercession and protection.

RELY ON THE HOLY SPIRIT: John 14:12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit. Be guided by the urging of the Spirit on what to say and what to and when to do them. The person who is too confident and relies upon his abilities will be much less effective than the person that relies upon the Spirit’s power.

Most people aren’t really looking for bible scholars who can explain everything to them, or powerful preachers. They need ordinary people like you and me who can speak to them honestly from the heart about the greatest need in their life: their need to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Let me end by saying that evangelization is spiritual warfare as well. It is a serious and important responsibility. It will have its difficulties. Someone said: "If you take your eyes off your goals, all you see is obstacles." Our goal is to bring the Gospel message of love and salvation to everyone we meet. Let’s be encouraged by Jos 1:9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." The commands of God come with His enablements. He commits himself to accomplishing those things in and through us. God is always faithful.

Pray with me:

"Lord, I offer my whole self for your purpose. Use my life to spread the Good News of the Gospel. I pray that You will lead me to the people whom you want reach through me. I pray that You will give me the appropriate words to say and proper timing. Here I am, Lord, send me. Amen."

source: Familia Matters, July 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Maligayang Pasko sa Lahat!!! Kumain lamang ng tama at baka tumaba!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Operation Rescue

Christmas Carols Bring Good News To Abortion Workers’ Neighborhoods

December 21st, 2005

Wichita, KS – Accompanied by the Truth Truck, Operation Rescue conducted Christmas caroling in the neighborhoods of abortion workers Edna Roach, Sara Phares Brown, and Marguerite Reed, all employees of late-term abortionist George R. Tiller. All three women have been involved in botched abortions resulting in the emergency hospitalization of abortion patients, including one death in January.

The first stop was the neighborhood of Edna Roach. As neighbors returned home for the day, nine rescuers sang traditional Christmas hymns near Roach’s residence. It appeared that no one was at home and that Roach’s car had not been moved for several days. The caroling went off without incident, in sharp contrast to a previous visit to the neighborhood when OR staffers were attacked during a prayer walk.

Roach is known for accompanying ambulances to the emergency room when women are injured during abortions.

Next, the carolers spread Christmas cheer to the neighborhood of Sara Phares Brown, the clinic worker who drove Tiller to the Emergency Room the day 19-year old Christin Gilbert died from abortion complications.

Rescuers offered prayers of Brown’s repentance and salvation. “Sara has recently filed for divorce and is probably going through a difficult time in her life,” said OR spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger. “We hope she finds the peace that only a true relationship with God can bring.”

The final destination on OR’s Christmas caroling tour was the neighborhood of Marguerite Reed, the abortion worker who placed the evasive 911 call as Christin Gilbert lay dying at Tiller’s abortion mill on January 13, 2005.

As carolers sung, Reed returned home from work and OR President Troy Newman spoke to her of Gilbert’s death and her need for repentance and forgiveness thought Jesus Christ.

One agitated neighbor was clearly not in the holiday spirit, and stood in her front yard yelling at carolers. Police arrived and informed her that the carolers were well within the law. Prayers were offered for Reed’s repentance and salvation.

“The Good News that Christ came to Earth to atone for our sins was clearly heard in these neighborhoods,” said Newman. “We are aware that abortion workers live often troubled lives. We pray that in this season of peace and good will toward men that these women will repent from the sin of child-killing and find true peace through Jesus Christ and good will toward the pre-born they now persecute.”

View More Photos
Operation Rescue is one of the leading pro-life Christian organizations in the nation. Its activities are on the cutting edge of the abortion issue, taking direct action to restore legal personhood to the pre-born and stop abortion in obedience to biblical mandates.