Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I have seen the Lord

Early Easter Sunday morning, I awoke at the sound of fireworks in our parish. In my country, we have a tradition called “salubong” where an angel unveils Mother Mary’s face and encounters her Resurrected Son at dawn.  

My ears strained for more like church bells and the choir singing but there was a deafening  silence after the “salubong”. The thought excited me, perhaps Jesus wanted to surprise me.

I greeted the Lord and spent time with Him in the Scriptures, He immediately brought me to read Aaron’s page where he talked about facing death. 

 It was a good reflection that stayed with me the whole day.
We celebrated the Easter Mass at 10 and my family spent time in the mall. Towards the end of the day, I watched Korina’s rated K episode of the “Our Father”.  It featured sundry stories of faith and hope that usually came after an experience of an uphill situation in one’s life.

Aaron wrote in his page that we don’t need an illness to change, we could change even without it. I agree but I suppose that  we all need a STRONG experience of God in our lives in order to fully recognize Him (not necessarily an illness,as it may take other forms)...

A particular conversion story struck me and it was his question that reverberated the whole Holy Week. “Why?” “Why me?”… I don’t have a ready answer for that question… but later on as we reread our hiSTORY then we are able to see the light.

He grew up without parents. The  street was his home. He scavenged for food and slept on a small piece of carton at night for many years. Filthy and unrecognizable, this man soon started stealing which led him to kill. He stayed in prison at a young age and bullied the other prisoners around. He was the “king” until he got sick with TB...

He met God in his sufferings and vowed to serve Him. 
It was on His 27th birthday that he received news of his release, “Happy Birthday… from Jesus” was written on his cake.

His ministry soon took place in the form of preaching. He visits prisons, shares the Good News to them and how he has experienced transformation during his prison term.

God never fails to amaze me with His great love for us.

I encourage you to ask “WHY?”…”Why me?”…then please, please share your story…

“I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me…”-Jn 20,18 

and we're never the same after that...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lenten Reflections through Sacred Art

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you”.
"Hapag ng Pag-asa" (Table of Hope) by Joey E. Velasco
 Lord, you desire us, you desire me.
You eagerly desire to share yourself with us in the Holy Eucharist, to be one with us.
Lord, awaken in us the desire for you.”
-Pope Benedict XVI, Holy Thursday Homily 2011

Lord, I seek and desire you… my soul yearns for you…

I was deeply saddened that no retreats were available in our parish in preparation for the Easter pre-triduum this year. Last year, we spent three nights reflection with the Dominicans.

However, God surprised me by leading me into another form of prayer and reflection this year through sacred art. It was even more profound than I thought.

"Beyond Life" features Joey E. Velasco, a famous "heartist" as he fondly calls himself.

It was my brother who originally introduced Joey's works to me in 2003.  He gifted me with a poster on my way to my first mission abroad. As an artist, I've naturally seen many religious paintings of which I particularly like the Madonna and child theme. 

Joey's works, however, captivated my heart as they produce creative tensions, a sense of moral awareness, in what I see in his canvas.

 What made the impact more incredible was his journey through life and art.
Stricken with cancer, he underwent Kubler-Ross' DABDA...struggling for five years with his illness that affected his kidney. 

"That We May Be One" by Joey E. Velasco

He was not alone. He involved other suffering people in his art works. He looked for them...
And Jesus was constantly present there....

It was what his wife shared yesterday in the seventh last word reflection that struck me...
She asked, "Why him? If God loves him...why him?"
and the Pink Sister comforted her,
 "It is precisely because God loves him, that's why He chose Joey. God has His special purpose for Him."

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped, Rather He emptied Himself, Taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness… 
-Philippians 2,6-7-

The resistance could be overwhelming, I saw and felt how dying patients reacted to their illnesses...

but I believe that God also gifts us with the grace to accept and trust the process...

and Joey cooperated with God's grace... 

"He humbled Himself becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross."
-Philippians 2,8

“ Kenosis (self-emptying) is an invitation to be like an empty blank canvas, flat and seemingly insignificant; in total surrender to whatever He (God) really wants me to paint.-  Joey Velasco

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Deus Sitit Sitiri"

Have you ever felt this way?
You were fed… 
given drink… 

and yet there’s this insatiable hunger inside you… 
an unquenchable thirst within you…
that beckons you
 and asks you for
for something more….

"God thirsts to be thirsted for..." - St. Augustine


lyrics/music by Fr. Manoling V. Francisco, SJ
performed by Ms. Lea Salonga

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Heart's Thanksgiving first part

"Hi Melissa, check out my blog I think You might enjoy
 it today!!!,”
greeted  my friend Jim of Monday night
(11th of april).

I have been looking forward for his next series of photos since morning...
But instead he gave me a wonderful surprise…
He posted a picture I truly liked  
honoured me with a Versatile Blog Award…


Since I just passed through the “meme” tradition, let me just share seven blessed trivias about myself ...

One, I love nature and I like gardening.
but what I like most about it is the feel of soil in my hands...  and seeing the plant grow day by day...
then I like lying on the grass on retreat days and looking at the sky by day... and the stars at night...

Two, for fun and mind exercise, I’d check out the etiology of one’s name… and play around words.

Alpana, for example, means delighted (in Sanskrit) and beautiful (Hindu)
Alejandro  (Spanish of Alexander) is defender
Jessica (in Hebrew) is He sees
Jim means “Yahweh may protect” (in Hebrew)
Simran is “gift of God” (Hindu)

my soul sister2, Sancheeta calls me "Meli" greek, mel  means sweet... and in arabic if you put i or y at the last, the word becomes "possessive"... for example, habib (beloved)... becomes habibi  (my beloved)... so Meli, means my sweet  (ant :P)

Three, I find studying Hebrew, Chinese and Arabic characters fascinating.

I’m still stuck in contemplating the word busy…
but let's reserve this for another post ;)

Fourth, there was a long line in Sta. Sabina, but God gave me the chance to shake hands with Pope Benedict XVI on Ash Wednesday 2008.

Fifth, I had the opportunity to meet Saif al-Islam personally in one Easter celebration on my second year in Libya.

Sixth, God granted a miracle after I left my missionary ground (we never engaged in proselytism  :P) and  He gifted the church Magdi Allam’s baptism Easter of 2008  (I was there to witness it).

Seventh, my first love is……………………..
Finally, the much awaited blogs… it isn’t without difficulty that I chose only seven… i have about a thirty of them right now... and i wish i could give them all credit... i still have to spend time with most of them... 
this time, i give the floor to my list of "pianticelle"...  we have fertile ground in We The Bloggers... and i thank the administrators of this page...
abhisek panda and soul sister, alpana jaiswal ;)

Allow me to introduce them by the "why"s in your mind :

stories/fiction/creative writing
if they were compiled as a book, i'll surely buy them:
an architecture student originally from bhutan...i read most of his writings in WE HAVE A STORY... so you actually have two choices to read his works... by lisa marie farfalla
it was "farfalla" (butterfly) that initially caught my attention... a person with great intensity... 
she speaks of her dreams which are very much part of our existence...
and she has the gift to decipher her dreams into useful reflections...

feelings... by sumit chakraborty
he has earned fans all over the world for his talent... he works well with his emotions translated in beautiful lyrical verses...

travel by sheril benedict
i’m looking forward to my adventure in his blog page…

I fondly call her my little one with our twenty year age gap… she has this deep source of inspiration for she truly comes out with the most inspiring poems in her page… I always ask her if she has indeed felt those things she wrote… ;)

faith and contemplative prayer
I read her posts in preparation for prayer… then I go deep through the Words of the Lord in her contemplative experiences…

photography/art style by anirban saha
every artist has his/her own art style… what I like most from him are the stories he creates with his photos…

let's water them and watch them grow by reading their interesting posts ;)

 my deepest gratitude to

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mysteries of the Magical Monastery

Che strano spettacolo (what a strange scene) -  un monaco senza gambe seduto ai piedi di un muro, che chiedeva ad ogni passante: "Cosa hai da darmi? Cosa hai da darmi? (a monk without legs sitted at the foot of a wall, asked each passerby: "What have you to give me? What have you to give me?)

Mi sentii obbligato a fermarmi e a scusarmi: "Anch'io sono un monaco, mi spiace non ho niente da darti". (I felt obliged to stop and excuse myself: "I am also a monk, I'm sorry I have nothing to give you".)

"Dammi il tuo dispiacere", disse. Fu cio' che gli diedi. ("Give me your sorrow". And that was what I gave him)

Teofane Il Monaco, Fiabe dal Monastero Magico, XI:Che Cosa Aspetti?, Cosa Hai Da Darmi? (Torino:Piero Gribaudi Editore,1988), 82.

Fresh from the Magical Monastery where I drew the wisdom of the ages, I thought of the prayers I had made these last couple of years (or even more)... I always say that I pray, I don't know how... but God seems to always understand my heart's deepest desires...

I have often been told to make my prayer petitions concrete, that is detailed... God might not give it the way I wanted it to be, but He answers... He does, even after ten or fifteen years or a whole lifetime... A lot of the questions I had when I was sixteen were answered just right now...

The best thing about a life of struggle and pain is the presence of people who continually speak of God's love, maybe not through words, but by their very lives... simple people --- from the streets, children, friends, their music and art... they have lots of gifts to offer...

God says give everything to me... we are not so poor as we always have  something to give.

What have you to share?

Monday, April 11, 2011


I have been tagged by my soul sister ALPANA JAISWAL,
What immediately came to my mind was lullabye... it's what "meme" means in our language... but as it truly is... i ask for a "youyou" next time :P

As per tradition, the person tagged with “MEME, has to answer a questionnaire….

1.If you could go back in time to relive one moment, what would it be?
                A day in Susa, Libya.

2. If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be? 
My final decision in my Ignatian retreat. But whatever happened next were all in the hands of God. It opened new doors for me, I just wished I was more sincere to my heart back then.

3. What movie or TV character you think you resemble most in personality?
Maria of The Sound of Music.
4. Which TV or movie character would you like to be?
               Movie scene: The Jesuit superior in ‘The Mission’ ;)… highly recommendable for
               watching :)  
               On TV: Barney or Dibo the Gift Dragon :P
5. If you could push one person in the whole world off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be?
“Push off the cliff” would be something figurative for me… but I’d rather face that side of me which I don’t like.
6. Name one habit you want to change in yourself.
7. Describe yourself in one word.
8. Describe the person who named you in this MEME in one word.
9. Why do you blog? Answer in one sentence.
               It’s an effective way to communicate and reach out to people.
10. Name at least 3 people or more people to send this MEME, and then inform them.
I am tagging you all, please do follow the pattern,and continue the chain.

·        Fher Ymas Visual Artist
·        Jim Brandano
·        Jessica Mokrzycki
·        Lisa Marie Farfalla
·        Mari Sterling Wilbur
·        Ma Faye Liana Balatbat
·        Mohini Puranik
·        Sogyel Tobgyel
·        Souvick Mazumder
·        Ana Peterson

11.Link back to the person who tagged you in this meme.

My soul sister,Alpana Jaiswal:*… thank you very much…

this terracotta was given by my colombian friend "nury" (which means "my light" in arabic) as a Christmas present... she went all the way to italy to get me one...
 it was given to her "gratis" by  "graziealcielo"...
i just had to pray for them...

as i pass it to you dear friend...
i ask a "meme" (lullabye) for all the children around the world...
and a short prayer for me...

i give you my love...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Digging the Roots

For a time now, as I go on with my daily tasks, reflecting on the issues at hand in our country (most of which have moral implications) like a divorce bill and induced abortion, questions keep arising from my mind... 

in my a diverse story...

Measures are created to ease life and provide comfort---what with our modern technology and liberal thinking---but,oftentimes,they only act as temporary solutions to problems with deeper roots...


Gabriela, the petitioners of the divorce bill, is well-known for airing women's voices, advocating human rights and defending women victims of abuse. We share the same sentiments for its ideals but I reckon a few holes against the divorce measure.

Again, I write to look into the heart of the matter...nothing I say here is absolute... I open myself to the experiences of married couples and those who have decided to separate.

It has been an endless argument:Should we or should we not allow divorce in our country?

Is it a question of readiness?
How about values?
Sanctity of Marriage?
Family Life?

On reality's side, annulment is very costly, so many couples resort to separation without any legal processes at all... is divorce a better option?

Looking Into the Roots part 2 

Why do couples separate? Many reasons are provided...

Most of the women who sought counsel were victims of domestic violence---based on studies and observations, manifestations of abuse are present in the bf-gf stage...if the abuse is recurring, does one decide right away not to marry this abusive person?

Third parties--- a priest-friend once asked me, if it was mere lust that married men chase after other women (vice-versa)? A very close person gave me a hint: something's missing in the relationship...again, the question, is a third party, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth resolve the issue? If the need is insatiable, how does one cope with it?

Psychological incapacity/immaturity---Many have motioned for this in their annulment...How do we gauge the maturity of the person? Is this not manifested in the earlier stages of the relationship before marriage?

It isn't the pain, the suffering nor who gets to be blamed that I want magnified in this reflection...Instead, I seek for enlightenment...

The call is for total honesty...true discernment and plenty of humility...

Retracing the Values: Are There Roots At All? part 3

Do we marry for:

convenience--- a comfortable life, secured future?
compatibility on bed---sexual satisfaction?
procreation---forming a family?

Others have opted not to marry at all... Some have chosen the path of single motherhood... Others suggest a marriage contract renewable every year (huh?)... trial in... Others introduce open relationships... 

Some do marry but adopt dogs as children...

I ask... dove sta il valore dell'AMORE? (where is the value of love?)
perche' l'amore ,prima di tutto, e' una scelta... (love is a choice)...e' per cio', un impegno (and for this, is a commitment)...e' responsibilita' (is a responsibility)...---adapted from grace shangkuan

I open my space and raise my questions in respect of the younger generation and the children who will be benefitting from the bills we pass today... What kind of world are we creating for them? What values do we impart on them?
... ... ... 

Looking Together At The Heart of the Matter part 4

To initiate my reflection by stating we are a Catholic country and start quoting from the Bible that divorce and abortion are against God's will would be confounding and biased... 

The reflection isn't one-sided and is therefore, open to whatever aspects may grow in the ideas others may present... 

Many people think that the married life is in crisis... but I say, even the religious life is... because they are left behind by a world that is continuously evolving... Many issues are discussed in the guise of a punishing God... who commands "You shall not... do this nor that..." projecting on God our own wants, needs and beliefs...

Listening to a pro-life representative the other night while being asked why abortion shouldn't be legalized in our country said, "It is against God's will..."..."killing is a sin..."

It becomes an adage that fails to shock people... We have to look into the heart of the laws presented to us not as something that curtails our freedom but instead something that invites us to an inner, more profound freedom... we are offered something eternal... not fleeting... the problem I see is that the Church is not able to communicate this properly to the people... 

 The Church doesn't tell us what to do... instead it helps the people to criticize and look more into the issues with eyes of faith...