Segundo domingo de Adviento 2019

EVANGELIO DE LA MISA
(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Mateo 3, 1-12)

Por aquel tiempo se presentó Juan Bautista y empezó a predicar en el desierto de Judea; éste era su mensaje: «Renuncien a su mal camino, porque el Reino de los Cielos está cerca.» Es a Juan a quien se refería el profeta Isaías cuando decía: Una voz grita en el desierto: Preparen un camino al Señor; hagan sus senderos rectos. Además de la piel que llevaba colgada de la cintura, Juan no tenía más que un manto hecho de pelo de camello. Su comida eran langostas y miel silvestre. Venían a verlo de Jerusalén, de toda la Judea y de la región del Jordán. Y junto con confesar sus pecados, se hacían bautizar por Juan en el río Jordán. Juan vio que un grupo de fariseos y de saduceos habían venido donde él bautizaba, y les dijo: «Raza de víboras, ¿cómo van a pensar que escaparán del castigo que se les viene encima? Muestren los frutos de una sincera conversión, pues de nada les sirve decir: “Abrahán es nuestro padre”. Yo les aseguro que Dios es capaz de sacar hijos de Abrahán aún de estas piedras. El hacha ya está puesta a la raíz de los árboles, y todo árbol que no da buen fruto, será cortado y arrojado al fuego. Yo los bautizo en el agua, y es el camino a la conversión. Pero después de mí viene uno con mucho más poder que yo, – yo ni siquiera merezco llevarle las sandalias – él los bautizará en el Espíritu Santo y el fuego. Ya tiene la pala en sus manos para separar el trigo de la paja. Guardará el trigo en sus bodegas, mientras que la paja la quemará en el fuego que no se apaga.

* E * L * F * I * L * I * P * I * N * I * S * M * O *

Hoy también es la fiesta de la Purísima Inmaculada Concepción, un día santo de obligación para los catolicós romanos.

Inmaculada Concepción (Tiepolo).jpg

“Inmaculada Concepción”, óleo sobre lienzo por Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (pintado desde 1767 hasta 1769).

Dios te salve María
llena eres de gracia
el Señor es contigo;
bendita tú eres
entre todas las mujeres,
y bendito es el fruto
de tu vientre, Jesús.
Santa María, Madre de Dios,
ruega por nosotros, pecadores,
ahora y en la ahora
de nuestra muerte. Amén.

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Primer domingo de Adviento 2019

EVANGELIO DE LA MISA
(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Mateo 24, 37-44)

La venida del Hijo del Hombre recordará los tiempos de Noé. Unos pocos días antes del diluvio, la gente seguía comiendo y bebiendo, y se casaban hombres y mujeres, hasta el día en que Noé entró en el arca. No se dieron cuenta de nada hasta que vino el diluvio y se los llevó a todos. Lo mismo sucederá con la venida del Hijo del Hombre: de dos hombres que estén juntos en el campo, uno será tomado, y el otro no; de dos mujeres que estén juntas moliendo trigo, una será tomada, y la otra no. Por eso estén despiertos, porque no saben en qué día vendrá su Señor. Fíjense en esto: si un dueño de casa supiera a qué hora de la noche lo va a asaltar un ladrón, seguramente permanecería despierto para impedir el asalto a su casa. Por eso, estén también ustedes preparados, porque el Hijo del Hombre vendrá a la hora que menos esperan.

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A la Virgen del Pilar

PEPE ALAS

Nuestra Señora del Pilar en el Catedral de Imus, Provincia de Cavite.

A LA VIRGEN DEL PILAR
(Pepe Alas)

Cuantiosas sangres e idiomas:
taco del tiempo.
Numerosas islas, montes:
un reto histórico.

Vinieron Cruz y galeones,
un maremoto
de fe y civilización
que los unieron.

Taco y reto: conquistados
por la corona
no del Monarca sino de
la firme Virgen.

Los rayos que brillan de su
digna corona
son aquellos pueblos que ella
ha ministrado.

Esto es el cuento de nuestra
historia: cómo
nos convertimos en uno
de sus estrellas.

Derechos de reproducción © 2019
José Mario Alas
San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna
Todos los derechos reservados.

¡Feliz Día de la Hispanidad!

 

How to celebrate the rites and blessings of Epiphany

Epiphany is one of the Chuch’s major and spectacular feasts. It occurs on January 6th, the final day of the 12 days of Christmas (in some locations it is transferred to the Sunday between January 2 – 8). In some places it is also called Twelfth night or Three Kings Day. This is the day the Church commemorates the Magi arriving to give homage to the newborn King of Kings with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, symbolic of all the Gentile nations coming into the Kingdom of God. In many places around the world, this was the traditional day of gift-giving in celebration of Christmas.

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There is a long-standing Epiphany tradition of marking churches, homes, schools, and other buildings with a special ‘holy formula’ over the entryway using chalk that has been blessed for this purpose on Epiphany. This formula includes the current year along with the initials C, M, and B in the order shown below.
20 + C + M + B + 18 
The C, M, and B are placed in between the numbers of the current year, with crosses in between each symbol. The three letters have two significations: the invocation Christus Mansionem Benedicat (Christ bless this house), as well as the first initial of the names of the three Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.

Click here for the rest of the article (by Gretchen Filz). Happy Three Kings!

2019 for the win!

At the start of every year we always ask ourselves, “what’s in store for me this year?” I’m sure many of you asked poor 2019 about it when it has not even lasted a full day yet. But didn’t it even occur to you that it is us who create our own destiny? A year is not like a box filled with all of life’s goodies. A year is not a sentient being. We should not liken life to a calendar year. While life may be a box filled with chocolates, a year is an empty box. And we have an obligation to fill it up. Therefore, it is good ‘ol 2019 who should ask us instead:

“What are you gonna fill me up with?”

A year is just a number. But with our own perseverance and faith in God, we have the capability to make it come alive. Don’t falter whenever you encounter bad-tasting chocolates; that is part of life which Forrest Gump’s mom failed to tell him. Just spit it out and move on. As we say in Spanish: así es la vida.

So let us make 2019 a meaningful one. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! And may God bless and guide us all!

Why is Rizal a hero to you?

What’s your favorite Rizal poem? Chances are, you won’t be able to name one save for, of course, the usual stuff they taught us in school: the very last one he wrote. Do you even know how many poems he wrote? Are you even aware how exquisitely beautiful his verses are, and what are the usual themes of his poetry?

(as expected, I hear crickets chirping)

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You see, Rizal was first and foremost a POET, a passionate bard who masterfully versified his profound love for Filipinas. He began his writing career as a poet and ended it as a poet. He is not all about the Noli and the Fili. He is not all about the Propaganda Movement. It is most unfortunate that he can no longer be understood by today’s generation when, at the turn of the 20th century, our forebears were cut off from his culture by a new language —THIS language I’m using right now— imposed by a nation experimenting with imperialism. When Rizal and his contemporaries were already soaring like Cervantes and Clarín, those hapless Filipinos who came after them had to learn anew the ABCs of another culture. So now we read him through bastardized and oftentimes annoying English translations. Unfortunately, we never soared like Shakespeare and Tennyson using the English language.

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There was one, however, who came close: Nick Joaquín. But he was on a league of his own: his first language was Spanish, and many attribute his mastery of English, aside from his being an indefatigable bookworm, to his proficiency of his mother tongue (English and Spanish are cognates). It can even be argued that his translation of Rizal’s valedictory poem was more superior than the original. Perhaps among all Rizal translators, it was only Nick who was able to capture the imagination and depth of the national hero as well as the spirit of the Filipino.

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But since we have been linguistically cut off from that faraway culture, our REAL culture, not all of us can be Nick anymore. Not all of us can be Rizal anymore.

Why is Rizal a hero to you?

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Rizal is a hero not because of his defiance to authority. He is a hero because of his deep love of country, a burning love that can only be understood by reading his verses (NOT his novels) in the language in which he wrote them. This is something that all patriotic Filipinos should think about every time Rizal Day falls, so that its celebration will not be rendered futile.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC)

It is sad to note that the essence of Rizal’s heroism today has degenerated into mere hero worship and opportunistic commercialism. There is nothing wrong in honoring Rizal, but it is best that we thoroughly understand what his heroism really is all about. Understanding him is the best way of honoring his memory.

A year after

Exactly a year ago, I was hospitalized due to tuberculosis (TB). It was the third time I suffered from the disease: the first was as a toddler (for kids, they call it primary complex); the second was a few weeks before college graduation. I wasn’t admitted for the first two. Medications did them in. But the third was the most frightening: I was coughing up too much blood I thought I was the victim in some slasher film.

A few days prior to that, we really thought that I was going to die because no hospital would admit us: no pulmonologist was available because of Christmas break. The medications prescribed by a clinic didn’t suffice as they didn’t deter the bleeding (I started coughing up blood before Christmas Eve). I was weakening up so fast, and the burning night fevers were numbing.

Finally, I was admitted in a hospital in Alabang. I thought that I only had TB. But when the doctor read out to me the findings, I was shocked when I was told that I also had pneumonia. Two killers were murdering my already weakened lungs. And there was already a hole in my right lung. But there was no pain, only severe weakness and high fever. I just wanted to drift off, do nothing, and watch the ceiling from my sick bed. What really frightened me were the surgical needles. I contracted trypanophobia ever since my bout against dengue when I was in Grade II. It was embarrassing each time I had to face nurses who were out to get my blood sample, or who regularly had to apply intravenous medication. There was one time when my visitors had to restrain me while a nurse was getting my blood sample. Arnaldo witnessed it and was having a good laugh at the way I squirmed and shook and cried like a sicko strapped a straitjacket. 😝

ASIAN HOSPITAL

A view of my room. The only view that I had of the outside world for two lonely weeks.

I thought my hospitalization would last for only a few days, and that I’d get to celebrate New Year’s Eve with my family. I was mistaken. I celebrated New Year’s Eve alone. My wife had wanted to accompany me, but I said she had to be with our children. Nothing should spoil the little ones’ Christmas feasts.

Even after the Christmas revelry I was not given an exact date on when my release would be because they were still monitoring the severity of my TB, i.e., if the bacteria were resistant against the medications given to me. I prayed and prayed for my immediate release. Finally, I was given a clean bill of health on January 9, or thirteen days later, on the Feast of the Black Nazarene of which I am a devotee. Me and my wife attended afterwards to give thanks, even when still weakened. I had not missed a single traslación ever since becoming a devotee in 2011.

PEPE ALAS.jpg

The closest I could get to the Black Nazarene of Quiapò. And the first time I didn’t get to touch the ropes pulling its carriage due to weakness from two weeks of hospitalization. I almost fainted here because of the crowd. This was also my wife’s first time to join the procession.

How does one contract TB? From what I have gathered, almost everyone has TB bacteria. Healthy people are unaffected. But once the immune system has weakened, that’s how TB bacteria start to affect the lungs. My immune system weakened due to lack of sleep and missed meals. That is why after my third bout with TB, I took it easy. I haven’t been reading and writing that much since. I stopped blogging for several months (resuming only in June). It’s difficult continuing to do so anyway, considering the sad fact that I’m a nocturnal corporate slave commuting several kilometers nightly on polluted highways.

TB may no longer be as deadly as it was nowadays compared to a few decades before (some of its most famous Filipino victims were Graciano López Jaena, Marcelo del Pilar, José María Pañganiban, and Manuel L. Quezon; Rizal almost had it, but survived). But it is deadlier the third time around, especially when it has an accomplice (pneumonia) to assist it in its hushed killing spree.

And it’s a real pain in the pockets because of the six-month medication. The following people, however, made it easy for us to survive the ensuing months: thank you so much to Gemma Cruz Araneta, former Mayor Calixto Catáquiz, Mama Beth Córsega and her daughter Jonafel, Señor Guillermo GómezNonia Tiongco, my mother-in-law, and my dad. Special thanks to Ate Christina Capacete and Riah Ramírez (Chief Nurse, City of San Pedro) for assisting my wife on the treatment side of things.

Now, because I live in a place where the air is polluted, I could no longer afford to go out of our apartment without wearing a face mask. And I usually experience shortness of breath whenever I do strenuous physical activities. I long for the day when I get to live in a place surrounded by nature, where it’s safe for my lungs.

Thank you to all those who prayed and showed concern for me during my fight against tuberculosis and pneumonia. May God bless you all!