Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year 2009:Bringing Hope in the Year of our Lord in my Life

In the Philippines, it is still 9:00 O'Clock in the morning of the last day of 2008, December 31, 2008. Few hours from now, all Filipinos from various sector of the society, rich or poor families,whether living within the country or abroad are desirous of gathering in a Spirit of Joy as they welcome another Year of OUr Lord bringing in their hearts new hopes and aspiration, in whatever forms of communication they can.Unlike Christmas which is predominantly given meaning into by Christians all over the world as the celebration of the birth of the Son of God, perfect God and perfect Man, who chose to live among His Creations to give us gift of salvation, New Year is celebrated even to those who do not profess the same faith of a Christian, because whatever one believes or do not believe, the idea of welcoming another year brings everyone to a Spirit of Joy!
Despite the economic crisis that affects everyone's life and the terrorist acts that plagues the world today, all of us is possessed of power within our hands to choose HOPE and LOVE for the year to come. That we are all empowered to be the beacon of hope and spread them to every people near us, first our husbands/wives, children, parents, grandparents,sibilings, nephews and nieces, aunties and uncles, in-laws, relatives, friends and neighbors and the different communities we choose to belong and feel more associated, most productive and get our talents more useful.Personally, the year 2008 passed really so quickly for me. I get myself involved in so many things. First of being a wife trying my best to become a mother with my husband whose public and political life changes the once so private minor services and volunteerism I made as a young university student, as a young law student and as a professional extending myself to others in communities, a person who makes all my knowledge into income potential, a loving daughter to senior citizen parents, a loving aunt to my nephews and nieces, a good aid to my brothers and sisters in their married and single life, a niece showing love and affection to aged aunties and uncles and giving honor to those who already passed away, a daughter and sister-in-law trying to get myself loved and belong to these families whose culture are so much different from mine, a worker of the Parish where I belong, a loving elder ("ate") to children in the neighborhood,a first lady trying her best to be known not as a mere wife to an honorable elected official but to get myself known as I am including the not so good things about me and get myself one of them despite the distance that people tend to place on me as a wife of the man they respect. I only want to convey love to them and show them all that despite my imperfections, I am willing to extend myself whole free from pretense and not as a mere symbol and illusion. And of being an active advocate to a global work of God in Gawad Kalinga and the Couples for Christ where both me and my husband are involved as a couple. And there are still many, many things I want to do and I want to be and people want me to be. The pressure is hard and difficult. I messed up too!But today is such a beautiful day as I started a reflection with my husband on how to make our marriage work better. That we are able to truthfully expressed things that we do not want each other do and only do the most constructive ones. I feel like I am starting it right because I cannot do many other things if I am unable to do things right with the husband to whom I choose to be in this marriage vocation.So the New Year 2009 is full of hope for me. I want to be better, if not best, in the many facets of my life. And just as what I had asked my husband to do, that he will lead me everyday in prayer to God together as married couple bonded in this great Sacrament of Marriage. I do not want to take the lead anymore, I asked him to lead because every husband must bring his wife in adoration to God and lead his children and family into Him.And I asked God too that I may be able to fill things that I failed to do and refrain from doing things that could hurt and destroy him. I feel like I started it right and I choose not be bothered by the preparations of external things like food in the table, parties to make, round fruits on the table to present and only with very simple celebration.
I want to offer myself to God and make the New Year the most happy as it can be as I choose to wait for it with the Lord in the Holy Eucharistic Celebration filled with reflections and resolutions.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Christmas

It's Christmas time again!

Peoples from all races celebrate Christmas in many ways. But I am most inclined how Christmas is celebrated in my own beloved country. Although a very good friend and mentor of mine who is a foreigner now living back to his country after sharing his life with the people from Mindanao for almost twenty (20) years, Fr. Michel de Gigord, MEP, described that most of his countrymen celebrated it away from the true essence of Christmas by alluding the celebration to Sta. Klaus instead of Christ Himself, the commercialization of the celebration makes people shy away from giving real love to others if they are not able to give gifts, all these and other activities misguided the people of who and what we are celebrating for. It could indeed be alarming but it is a reality in most First World Countries. He further supposed that Philippines is still celebrating it with grand sharing of love with families, friends and small various organizations despite the few and cheap foods found in the table.

Then his observation and comparison brings me to reflect as to what is actually happening here in our country. Has his observation that we Filipinos celebrate it with much love remains the way we celebrate Christmas? Then, I begin it myself, with my own experience of Christmas celebrations. And in so doing, it brings me back to my childhood and all the years that follows.

I was born on Christmas eve to parents who desires for the gift of a child of their marriage of five years. Being born into that circumstance gave me the privilege of a being a child surrounded and raised with love. Every Christmas was a joyful occasion of the family, my birthday added to the bonding of love, not just to my family, to my relatives but also to the Catholic faithfuls in our little chapel, who for lack of priest, do it by "Katilingbanong Pag-ampo". There are years when money is available but when my father became jobless, we celebrated it very,very simply but the most important ingredient remains felt, the sharing of love to one another, the deliberate effort to make others feel that he/she is very much love despite shortcomings as a family member. It has always been a time of showing unconditional love. I remembered the hugs and kisses from my parents, my sister and brothers, my aunties and my uncles. All these made my birthday and Christmas celebrations a beautiful time for love.

When I grew up, I learned to make it my own too! Despite lack of finances, I always try to find ways in making my love expressed to all my love ones especially to my parents who as I observed had so much difficulty and trouble in their married life together. I always make it an opportunity to make them aware how deeply grateful I am, that amidst difficulty they stayed together as married people and continued to show to us their deep love and concern. It was also a time to call on all my brothers to stay together in our house at least for one day just to feel one another's presence. And all of us are looking forward to it!

Time flies and all of us are married except my fourth brother. Although I am the eldest, I married late so there was a time when my being single brings a lot of opportunity in uniting the entire family, my brothers and sister, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and this time I am already a "Tita" to new members of our family. All the same, with or without much food in the table, it always feel good to be with one another's presence. I always bring my niece and nephews to sing a birthday song to Jesus. And it feels good knowing that the reason why we gather is because we are remembering Him who created us all, on the day He made Himself like one of us.

But my own marriage seems to almost change it all. I do not share the same ways of celebration as my husband does. To him, all this food matters, the system do matter. It's not that I cannot appreciate it, but if all these replace the essence of my Christmas, replacing LOVE with food availability in the table, then it could make me utterly miserable in my Christmas and my birthday as well. All Iwant is to spend it with my love ones.

It brings me back to my reflection: It is not the outward celebration that matters. If I have no finances to bring food to my table on Christmas, then only the spirit of love could make the celebration of Christmas truly an occasion of joy that comes from Christ. He who is God and became our Savior born in a manger of Bethlehem can only be the reason why Christmas is here! Oh Holy Night!

Tomorrow, the Misa de Gallo will start. I have a special intention to pray for. And most of all, I pray that everyone will come back to celebrate Christmas centering it on Christ alone and a veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mother who so willingly made herself a Mother to this God becoming man and to the chaste Spouse St. Joseph. May the image of this Holy Family brings all families together in their knees in joyful coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.