December 26, 2007

For T. Mena

On December 17, 2007, I lost someone very dear to me. She was the mother of a very good friend from law school; much later on, the entire family would become part of me, literally. On many occasions, she was literally like a mother to me (and to my classmates because many of us spent much time at her house) During her funeral mass, I had wanted to volunteer to say a few words but I knew that I would not be able to think or say anything.

For Susan (and Danny), Dada (and Charlie), Jing (and Fourdie), Frays, Cathy (and Dan) and of course Tito Noli and the next generation: China, (Joaquin+), Pat, Po, Nikki and JD -- there are very few words that will suffice to remember and celebrate the blessing that Tita Mena was to me. These words from the late (and much missed) Fr. Jim Donelan, S.J. (a priest whom Dada and I would find time to listen to when we were still both working in Makati) might put everything in perspective though:

Saying Goodbye
James F. Donelan, S.J.

Goodbyes have always been an inspiration to poets, and what has caught their poetic fancy most is the contradictory nature of the experience. Emily Dickinson says partings are all we know of Heaven, and all we need of Hell. Shakespeare's Romeo puts it simpler: Partings, he says, are such sweet sorrows. We smile through our tears and cry through our laughter.

But goodbyes are more than sentimental moments. They are one of nature's sacraments--sacraments in that they involve a mystery, an insight into the heart of things. there is a mystery involved in going away, in that simple experience of saying goodbye that touches each one of us, sometimes lightly, sometimes heavily.

Goodbyes reveal something about the meaning of our lives, the great tides that rise and fall, the joys and sorrows that inundate our hearts at different moments of our lives. We may hate goodbyes but we cannot avoid them because they put us in touch with something fundamental about ourselves--our rootedness in time and place.

Going away reminds us of our uniqueness, our identity, and how it depends on certain people. Our hearts have many anchors, but when the great tides call us to catch the wind and sail away, we will be missing life itself if we fail to go.

True, it is hard to say farewell, especially the milestone goodbyes of our life--leaving home, leaving country. But part of maturity lies in realizing that there is no genuine growth in life that doesn't gather us together and lead us to a point where we pull apart to find out who we are and what we must do with our lives. It is hard especially for parents to allow those we love their private places to be sad and to cry, to be lonely, to experience sorrow and defeat. Yet, going away is our daily spiritual bread. If we don't recognize that, then we haven't completely grown up.

The great secret, of course, that lies at the heart of the mystery is that saying goodbye or allowing others to be free to do so never truly separates us from what we have known and loved and shared. We can lose material things by separation, but absence only increases love.

The feeling we experience when we say goodbye adds to, rather than takes away from, our experience of life. And because we have had the courage to travel deep into love's mystery of going away, we can one day celebrate the joy of coming together again. And so life goes on, strengthened and encouraged by the hope and promise of reunion.

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Tita Mena, thank you for your life and for the way you lived it. As China said, 20 years (which is how old she is) is too short; yet, I know and am reassured that you are in that blessed eternity already. . . waiting for us. And, somehow, that gives me much, much comfort. Until we see each other again, maraming salamat Tita.

December 24, 2007

A King has Come!

Isaiah 9:2b, 6: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shined. .. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder and His Name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Luke 2:10-11: "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

The sweetest words that I have ever heard -- "for to you is born this day . . .a Savior."

Never has "Emmanuel" been so richly felt; indeed, God with us becomes a mere play of words had the incarnation never happened. But God with us becomes reality, becomes truth, becomes fact when we consider God's choice--to be born, live and die as flesh and blood.

After four weeks of expectant and hopeful waiting, Christmas is finally here--"for to you is born this day. . . a Savior."

Thank you, my King, for choosing to be born as one of us; for choosing to live as one of us; for choosing to know the pain, the struggles, the trials, the temptations, the frailties of humanity, of living as human and not simply as God.

Thank you, Jesus, for being God's light shining forth, piercing the darkness forever, renting the veil for all time.

Thank you, Light of God, Glory of God (Titus 2:13), that Moses' and our hearts' cry--"show me thy glory (Exodus 33:18)--has finally been revealed and we see Your glory face to face.

I come before your manger and see You , my God, in Your glory--amidst the squalor, the dirt, the grime, the stench, the disorder, the abject poverty, the simplicity and the neglect of man--and my heart sings Your praise--Emmanuel, what are we that we are loved so well? (Psalm 8:4) What kind of King are you, that you would be born and die for me?

The waiting has ended, the King has come! Come let us adore Him!

A Blessed Christmas!


December 12, 2007

Musings on Eternity, Waiting and Hope

In this very short season of Advent, amidst all the preparations for Christmas, some passages to help us keep things in perspective as we wait for the coming of the King:

Psalm 39
[1] I said, "I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will bridle my mouth,
so long as the wicked are in my presence."
[2] I was dumb and silent;
I held my peace to no avail;
my distress grew worse,
[3] my heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:

[4] "Lord, let me know my end,
and what is the measure f my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is!
[5] Behold, Thou hast made my days a few
handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing in Thy
sight.
Surely every man stands as a mere
breath!
[6] Surely man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nought are they in turmoil;
man heaps up, and knows not who
will gather!

[7] And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in Thee.
[8] Deliver me from all my transgressions.
Make me not the scorn of the fool!
[9] I am dumb, I do not open my mouth;
for it is Thou who hast done it.
[10] Remove Thy stroke from me;
I am spent by the blows of Thy Hand.
[11] When Thou dost chasten man
with rebukes for sin,
Thou dost consume like a moth what is
dear to him;
surely every man is a mere breath!

[12] "Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and give ear to my cry;
hold not Thy peace at my tears!
For I am Thy passing guest,
a sojourner, like all my fathers.
[13]Look away from me, that I may know
gladness,
before I depart and be no more!"

Psalm 42
[1] As a hart longs
for flowing streams,
so longs my soul
for Thee, My God,
[2] My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
[3] My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me continually,
"Where is your God?"

[4] These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul;
how I went with the throng;
and led them in procession to the
house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of
thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
[5] Why are you cast down, O my souo,
and why are you disquieted
within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
My soul is cast down within me,
therefore I remember Thee
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
[7] Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of Thy cataracts;
all Thy waves and Thy billows
have gone over me.
[8] By day the Lord commands His
steadfast love; and at night His song
is within me, a prayer to the God of
my life.
[9] I say to God, my rock:
"Why hast Thou forgotten me?
Why go I mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?"
[10] As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me, while they say
to me continually, "Where is your God?"
[11] Why are you cast down, O my soul;
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise
him, my help and my God.

December 06, 2007

crossing the line

Much has been said about the pros and cons of the warrantless arrests made by the PNP NCRPO and SAF of the media members and support crew during the Pen caper.

The PNP has said that the warrantless arrests were justified because: 1. they could not determine whether the media members were indeed from media because some Magdalo members were posing as media (right, as if Sonny Trillanes could look like Pinky Webb or Ces Drilon) and 2. they had been warned off already and because they chose to stay, then they could be arrested.

One thing must be made clear: a line was crossed on November 29, 2007; and it was crossed by the police. That line was drawn by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press and until very recently (February 2006), that line had been held sacred--at least from 1986 onwards.

I unequivocally support my friends from the media who have condemned the arrests. Clearly, they were not only an overkill, they were also illegal and in violation of the constitution.

A difference must be struck between the refusal of some media members (particularly from ABS-CBN) to not obey the directive to leave the pen and the decision of the police to arrest (not process) the members of the media.

The only legal consequence of refusing to leave the pen is that the media who stayed waived their right to be protected from harm and cannot sue the police if they are injured or killed. That, I believe, the members of media who stayed knew very well and accepted fully.

Such refusal, however, cannot result in a valid warrantless arrest. Under the Rules of Court, a warrantless arrest may only be made on three (3) occasions and the pen caper did not fall under any of the three occasions. Moreover, refusal to leave did not justify the treatment accorded--handcuffed and paraded like ordinary criminals.

In doing so, the police crossed the line and considered, in blanket fashion, the media as combatant, as partisan, as enemy, By arresting media together with Trillanes, Lim et al, the police spoke loud and clear: the media are part of the rebellion.

True, often the media doth speak too much, complain too much but this is not one of those times. This time, they are in the right.