Keeping the faith

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In this Year of Faith, two messages provide inspiration and promise for our troubled times.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Christmas Eve Mass from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome which I viewed live on EWTN, reminded us to “Make room for God,” recalling how Joseph and Mary, full with the Child, had no room for them in an already crowded inn, to end up in a stable where the Baby Jesus was born in a manger of hay. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said, in his Christmas message, “’Tis the season for renewal of faith in God.”

Last Monday, the traditional Midnight Mass with the Pope was preceded by the pealing of bells and the blare of trumpets, symbolizing Christmas joy over Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, with the resounding joy in the voices of the Vatican boys’ choir.

These Christmas messages were inspiring, as they are relevant to our “hectic, technology-driven lives” and those of our children, and the homeless, old and poor.  Cardinal Tagle, in his Christmas message, said the season should also  be “an opportunity for Christians to renew their faith, which should lead them to ‘solidarity with our neighbors, especially the poor.’”

Michael Tan, in his Philippine Daily Inquirer column “Christmas old and new”, further clarified on the interchange of the terms Misa de Gallo and the Misa de Aguinaldo which I touched on in my column last week.  He also mentioned changes that have come about in our observance of “pasko”, old and current, citing earlier sources. He also mentioned the evolution in the country of the Christmas tree as introduced by the Spaniards, together with Christianity. I do remember learning from another media source about the origin in the use of the Christmas tree, which I cannot recall as of now. But the evolution our star-shaped “parols” we know evolved after the Christmas star. And interestingly, the Three Kings”, were actually the Magi, Wise Men of the East, who, like the shepherds before them watching their flocks in the field, were led by the Christmas Star after they heard the angels singing about the Sacred Birth.

Thanks to media, both press and TV, I have kept mostly in touch with what is happening in the world, ours and that of others. Regarding  press columnists,  following  them daily, I feel l hold a regular discussion with them, if silent and one-sided. It is more like, “Yes, I agree”, “is that right”?, or “Hmm-m,” etc.

Another Christmas Eve remote broadcast later last Monday, was that from the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D. C.  I noticed one of the multi-lingual intentions after the homily was given by a Filipino gentlemen, considering that there is a considerable number of Filipinos there, as also on the west coast, particularly in California.

During this Christmas season, traditionally one of joy and celebration, the other side this season is that in the wake of Typhoon Pablo and its consequences on the people in Mindanao, particularly in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, and recently,  the mindless shooting massacre of young students in Newtown, Connecticut by a youth gone tragically berserk. Thank God for the almost immediate response in generous donations for the tragic victims from others more fortunate, but also even from those who have been victimized in the past and are now paying forward the kindness and generosity they also received in their time. God bless them all!

And now, to cap the series of my civic group Christmas parties I have attended this season, was that of our Cebu Council Girl Scouts of the Philippines Christmas Gathering at Papa Kit’s Place in Liloan. The resort is owned by the Mendoza Family of the Associated Labor Unions, whose Radio station dyLA I have happily served for some 34 (!) years and where I still hold my monthly radio program “Womens’ Kapihan”.  Papa Kit is longtime ALU-TUCP President Democrito “Papa Kit” Mendoza.

Papa Kit’s place is built on bamboo stilts over one of the many vast ponds in Liloan surrounded by lush mangroves, an environmentally beautiful site. It was a fun party with singing of Christmas carols, amusing games, and Gangnam Style dancing with cash prizes galore for winning groups.

Christmas Day, which I usually celebrated in Manila with my youngest son Ramon and his family until they migrated to Canada a couple of years ago,  have been quietly spent here at home in Cebu.

Christmas Day last Tuesday after Mass at our Alliance of Two Hearts Parish, while I was waiting for a taxicab, a happy surprise that made that morning for me was a ride home offered by an across-the-street busy couple whom I rarely see, Bomboy Loyola and his wife Amy Lucero-Loyola who had also heard Mass.

Then later in the evening, I was invited to dinner by Joel and Grace Ferreros to their new beautifully appointed rented residence up in cool Busay heights. Last year, they also brightened my Christmas at home in lunch at their then next-door residence here in Banawa. It was a beautiful evening with the “Barangay Ferreros” as they signed on in their Christmas gift to me, with happy conversation at dinner on a beautifully set dinner table.

There were busy career woman Tina, deeply involved in women’s rights and empowerment in Indonesia where she regularly goes, but is now residing back in Cebu; her sister Cherie and husband and daughter; brother Jonjo and pater familia Ralph Ferreros, and Grace and Joel’s son Pepeton, among other Ferreros relatives and in-laws. A truly Christmas get-together with a  lighted Belen and Christmas tree.

The day after this most meaningful Christmas day for me, it was back to the news of the day, much  of it depressing, with the continuing impasse at the Provincial Capitol situation, and the usual political pre-election year wrangling. Let current and later news developments, including the good news, hold for next week’s Bystander-ing.

For now,  happy Innocents’ Day today to you, and in advance, a blessed and happy New Year with God’s blessing on us, one and all!

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