Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Greater the Struggle, the Deeper Faith

The darker the night the stars shine more brightly.

Life’s hardship can be overwhelming. Our fears, anxiety and emotions can overpower us. They can devastate us and bring us down to our knees.

Adversities reveal to us who we really are. It shakes all that is superficial and leaves what is real. Strength can only be confirmed when it is tested. The strength of a tree and its roots can only be tested amidst the winds of a storm. The strength of ship can only be known if it survives the tempest of the sea. And the strength of a building if it still stands after a major earthquake. All that is weak shall fall.

Hardships reveal to us how weak we are. Our imagined self-confidence and faith will not stand the blows of life. Anything that is not deeply rooted in reality will wither and die.

How do we survive life’s adversities? Will we be overcome by the darkness?

That is up to us. If we choose to quit, then it is “the end.”

But for those who want to move on, grace is available. There is a light that no darkness can overcome. It is the Son-light. The light of the Son of God, Jesus.

Many of us are living in the illusion that we have great faith and confidence, specially when things are going well around us. But it is a whole different matter when things go downhill. It is really hard to feel good when you are just desperately keeping your head afloat.

It is in these dark times where God offers us a deeper kind of faith. It is in these times thate we can really put our trust in the Lord. Deep faith lives in the darkness. It is trusting God when all evidences says not to. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." – John 20:29.

If our faith is born in adversities, it is a faith that is tried and tested. It is a faith that is real, and not just something our imagination made up. It is a faith that trusts God stubbornly.

With this faith we can say:

“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:35-37

Deep faith can only be found in Jesus. Faith is a grace, a gift of God. It is something we decide to ask and receive or ignore and deny.

So if you feel you are being crushed or overwhelmed by life’s trials, call out for Jesus. Ask Him for the grace of real faith that is firmly rooted in the Rock, who is Christ Himself. And He will give it generously.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24

Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

Written by Daxx Bondoc

Friday, July 22, 2011

Has All Your Hurrying Led You Somewhere?

We live in the society who is on “the go”. We are always hurrying somewhere and rushing something. The last thing you can say about our society is lazy.

But I am saying it.

We are a lazy society!


We work more than 8 hours a day, even on weekends. We have sacrificed our families for the sake of work. How could we be lazy?

We are lazy. We are lazy in the important things in life. We are busybodies on things that are fleeting and unsubstantial. We are “on the go” and going nowhere.

Our being busy is just an excuse for our laziness for the things that matter. Like loving God and our neighbor. We create an atmosphere where we can excuse ourselves not to help our needy brothers and sisters. We are even too busy that we have no time to pray.

Yet we always have time to “chill out” or “unwind”. We say we deserve it, and maybe we do. But it is amazing how much down time we can afford. Yet when it comes to visiting an orphanage or a shelter, we are simply just too busy for it. “I need that time to rest.” is our excuse. But when it comes to going out, even sleep deprivation cannot hinder us.

Our Holy Mother Mary teaches us about the right hurrying.

"In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah" to help her pregnant cousin Elizabeth. Even though Mary herself was pregnant, she endured the long hours of travel and harsh landscape just to help her cousin who was in need. She set aside her own inconvenience for the sake charity.

And she went in “haste”. Mary did not procrastinate nor made excuses, which she could have since she was pregnant. But she did not. We are so unlike our Mother. We find a bit of traveling already an excuse not help. It took days for Mary to reach Elizabeth. And she was riding a donkey! And we find a bit of commuting bothersome.

Mary is the model of service. Her service does not delay. Her service goes out to the needy and does not wait for the needy to come to her.

True love hurries towards the beloved.

Love is not passive, but active.

Love does not sit lazily at home. Love goes out seeking those who are unloved and unwanted.

Let us be like our Mother Mary, who is always in “haste” in loving us.

Written by Daxx Bondoc

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Have a Life Filled to the Brim

Living an empty life is one of the most miserable experiences. We can all drown ourselves with distractions, but when the music fades and you are left to yourself, there is no running away from our own emptiness.

The world, especially the media, has taught us to pursue everything else, except real abiding fulfillment. To them getting emotionally high and pleasuring your senses is more important than real joy and peace. Now, we have emotionally unstable people who are addicted to pleasure. And they are all miserable.

So how do get the real deal?

How do we have a full and filled life?

Listen to our Holy Mother Mary!

Our Mother, who is full of grace, can teach us a thing or two how to have a life that is full.

And this is her words to us.

“Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you.” – John 2:5

Our Mother points us to her Son, the source of all fulfillments in this life and especially in the next.

In the Wedding at Cana, Jesus turned water into wine.

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. When he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” – John 2: 6-10

The key to a fulfilling life is full faith and full obedience to Christ.

When Jesus asked the servants to fill the jars with water, the water Jesus was pointing to was the water used for washing of feet. Just imagine what the servants must have thought. Putting this water to jars meant for drinking. And Jesus asked them to fill it to the brim.

And if that is not disturbing enough, Jesus asked the servants to give this water to their master. Just imagine the servants’ fear. They could lose their jobs because of Jesus.

But they believed and obeyed Jesus. And so a miracle happened.

If we want our boring life turned into a life of intoxicating joy and peace, Jesus can make that miracle happen. But He needs a faith that is filled to the brim. He wants our full obedience, even if He asks us to do something beyond our understanding. Even if it means risking ourselves. Just like what the servants did.

God’s grace is overflowing. But we can only receive what we accept. Give God a half filled jar, you get half filled fulfillment.

God is not stingy… we are.

True fulfillment comes from Christ alone, for He is our fulfillment. A fulfilled life comes from living in Christ and like Christ. And that is a life of faith and obedience to the Father.

To have Jesus is to be filled.

To live like Jesus is to find fullness.

Written by Daxx Bondoc

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Studies Find Contraception Makes Women Obese and Newborns Too Thin

The 7 Highly Effective Habits of Hobbits (Part 7: Self-sacrifice)

Hobbit Habit #7: Self-sacrifice

One of the great things about Lord of the Rings is that is not your typical fairy tale. The typical fairy tale is often about a quest on getting something, like Prometheus stealing fire from Zeus, Jason and his Argonauts questing for the Golden Fleece and Jack carrying away with the Golden Goose. But the Lord of the Rings is the opposite. It is about a quest to destroy something, the Ring. While the other fairy tale is about the grabbing an item of power, Lord of the Rings is about letting it go.

One of the main themes of Lord of the Rings is about “letting go”… letting go of the self that is.

All the member of the Fellowship was ready to let go of their very lives for the greater good. They were ready to lose their lives for the mission. Near the end of the epic we hear this from the Fellowship:

Aragorn: Not for ourselves. But we can give Frodo his chance if we keep Sauron's Eye fixed upon us. Keep him blind to all else that moves.

Legolas: A diversion.

Gimli: Certainty of death, small chance of success... What are we waiting for?

Together with Aragorn and Gandalf, Frodo is one of the Christ figures of the epic. Aragorn represent Christ the King, Gandalf the Prophet and Frodo the Priest. Frodo is the priest figure because he was the one who was going to sacrifice his life for the sake of the many.

“But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.”Jeremiah 11:19

Frodo went straight to Mount Doom, ready to be slaughtered by the Orcs, just to destroy the Ring. He knew that he could die if he took on the mission. But still, he did. It was his selfless act that saved Middle Earth.

This is how Jesus saved us. He too came into this world, not to gain worldly power, but to destroy sin. He conquered sin not by a sword, but being pierced by one. Jesus conquered the world by his self-sacrificing love. Like Frodo who went to depths of Mount Doom to destroy the ring, Jesus too went to the depths of sin and God forsakenness, and from there He let love explode and thus defeating sin.

And since then, sin lost its sting.

Self-sacrifice is one of the most powerful things that could change the world and defeat the “enemy”. “There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.” says Jesus. And of all the virtues, love is the greatest says St Paul.

One cannot be a Christian without self-sacrifice. For one cannot be a Christian without love.

Our Lord and our God sacrificed Himself for us.

Is the servant better than the Master?

Written by Daxx Bondoc

Monday, July 11, 2011

The 7 Highly Effective Habits of Hobbits (Part 6: Humility)

Hobbit Habit #6: Humility

Of all the powerful characters in the Lord of the Rings, it was to an unlikely little Hobbit that the Ring was entrusted. You might wonder why Tolkien, the author, would make an almost helpless chap be the Ring Bearer. Frodo was one of the least in regards to strength and speed in the Fellowship. But he was the one chosen to carry the burden of saving Middle Earth.

So why did the whole epic relied on a Hobbit to save the day?

Because only a Hobbit can carry the Ring.

One of the Rings power was to tempt the bearer of power. Man has been proven unable to resist such temptation when Isildur decided to keep the Ring to himself. And being killed because of it. Even the elves were not immune to the temptation of the Ring. Galadriel experienced this when she try to receive the Ring from Frodo.

So who could carry the Ring?

The one who has no desire for power.

A hobbit was the only one who can withstand the temptation of the Ring, long enough to be destroyed that is. Frodo did not desire the power men, dwarves and elves seek. He only wanted to save Middle Earth for the sake of the Shire. He just wanted to keep his home safe and to go home.

The Bible is filled with passage condemning man’s pride. The proud never survives the Bible. The people of Sodom and Gomorra experienced this first hand and all those who followed in their footsteps of claiming the power of God.

“He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things But has sent the rich away empty.” Luke 1: 51-53

Blessed are the poor in spirit (humble), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The proud on the other hand is not blessed because they don’t want no “bleeding charity” from God. What they wants is to “take over” heaven. They want to kick God out of the throne and sit on it themselves. This might sound too arrogant, but we are all guilty of it in some way. Every time we decide to create our own morality, to be the judge what is good and evil, to control the universe, to be the captains of our lives and everything that denies what is due to God alone, is pride.

And there are no proud people in heaven. Proud people do not like another person lording over them. So there is only one place for proud people after death. Hell.

St. Teresa of Avila says “Humility is truth.” What does she mean? To be humble is to know and accept the Truth. And the truth is that we are all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God, as St Paul puts it. A humble person knows that God is everything, and apart from God, he is nothing. A humble person give God His due… everything.

Humility comes from the word “humus” meaning soil. A humble person is “grounded”, grounded in reality that is. And the reality is that man is not God. Man does not control the universe. He does not sustain his life. God does all of those. And all the good that has comes from him, comes from God. “And Jesus said to him: Why dost thou call me good? None is good but God alone.” Luke 18:19

Humility is one of the few things Satan has no defense against, for he has none of it.

A humble man is always in favor with God.

“Humiliation followeth the proud: and glory shall uphold the humble of spirit.” Proverbs 29:23

So be humble, for our Master is.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours.

Written by Daxx Bondoc

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Contraception Linked to Massive Rise in Abortion Rate

Real Joy Vs Shallow Happiness

We live in a time where “personal happiness” is the ultimate good. It has stepped over all other goods, even Good Himself, God. And the media is doing a really good job promoting this new god.

There is nothing wrong about personal happiness, it its right context. God commands us to be a cheerful giver, so we know He is not a kill joy. But when personal happiness becomes king, here is where the problem starts.

When our personal happiness goes before love and before God, it now becomes “personal selfishness”. People have sacrificed everything and even everyone for the sake of finding personal happiness (even though he himself does not know what it is).

The personal happiness gospel is often promoted by T.V shows and movies. We watch an unhappy woman leaving everything behind to eat, pray and love. So she ate. She prayed. She loved.

But did she?

I will not go to the eating part, nothing to explain there.

But did she really prayed? One aspect of prayer is losing oneself. For Christians, praying is more about God than ourselves. But her prayers were self-centered. She was not reaching up to God. She was grasping herself, hoping to find herself.

Did she really loved? Love as St Thomas Aquinas puts it is “to will the good of the other as other”. How about her definition? She wanted to love the man on her own terms, and she wanted the man to love her on her own terms. There was no “other” on the equation. Just her.

These kinds of movie and show reinforce our selfishness, all under the banner of “personal happiness”. A mother leaves her family to “find herself”. A father goes off with another woman because she “gives him what he is looking for”. Children abandon their parents to “explore the world”. Mother’s murder their own unborn child so that her “life won’t be disturbed”.

So what happen to these people who have gone off to leave everyone behind to find themselves?

They find the same self they supposedly left behind. Just more selfish.

The paradox of personal happiness is that it can only happen when you forget yourself in love. It is in loving Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last, that you will find J-O-Y.

There is no joy apart from love. And real love is always joyful.

Love (God) created us for love. Love is the air we breathe. And love is not selfish.

If you want to find personal happiness, then don’t take it personal. Be a person for all. Then, true happiness, real joy will happen behind your back.

“For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.” Matthew 16:25

Written by Daxx Bondoc

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Discovering God’s Love in Pain and Adversity

Most of us like to box God’s love.

Many of us have a check list on how God should love us. The check goes like, if God loves me then He should make me rich, famous, powerful, give me what I want and the list goes selfishly on. If God loves us in a way that is not in the “The-Way-God-Should-Love-Me” checklist, we feel that God as abandon us.

When God asked Moses to take the Israelites out of Egypt, the Israelites was ecstatic. They have a preconceive notion on how things will work out. They thought that the path to the Promise Land was all sunshine. But it was not so. And so they complained. And complained some more.

What Israelites failed to understand that their time in the desert was something necessary if they want to reach the Promise Land. The Promise Land was God’s land and there are no other gods permitted on it. Because of the years they stayed in Egypt, the Israelites have absorbed the idolatry and pagan ways of the Egyptians. And they needed to be cleansed off it before they step into the Promise Land. So for 40 years in the desert, God cleansed the Israelites. And it was a painful cleansing for the Israelites was not as cooperative as they should have.

God takes us to our own desert. Not because He enjoys seeing us suffer, but because we need to be cleansed. We need to be cleansed of the idolatry of our own ego and greed. We need to be cleansed of our pagan ways, the ways of the world. Most of all we need to be cleansed of our sins. Sometimes taking us to the desert is the only way it can be done. For in the desert, we are free from distraction and superficialities. In the desert we are confronted by our very survival. There, we cannot run away from our demons. And like Jesus, in the desert, God shall help us defeat our demons.

Sometimes, God’s love comes to us in what seems to be pain and suffering. But that pain and suffering are sometimes needed to save us. A cancer patient needs to go through a painful operation to get the cancer out of his body. He needs to endure the pain so that he might be cleansed of the cancer cells. We sinners have something worst than cancer, we have sin in our being. Cancer kills the body, Sin kills the soul. The Divine Operation sometimes uses pain and suffering to bring our souls back to health.

Jesus can give us His crown of gold or His crown of thorns to us. Both of them come from His loving hands.

We should stop selfishly defining how God should love us. We should learn to see God and His love outside of the box. The box is a very small and dark place to live in.

There is no box can contain God’s love.

Let us let God love us the way He does and not the way we want to.

God loves us more than our tiny boxes can imagine.

Written by Daxx Bondoc