Saturday, October 20, 2012

Year of Faith: On Christian Marriage

Year of Faith 20: On Catholic Marriage: I was surprised once when a parishioner told me that they can not get married yet in church because they had not been civilly married yet. I told them that sacramental marriage and civil marriage maybe done at the same time in church. In fact, that is the requirement in every church. When you apply for church marriage, you will be required to present the app
lication for civil marriage. Pastors apply for a license to marry citizens civilly. Thus, it is not true that couples need to have a civil marriage first before they can apply for sacramental marriage.
Once, I was invited to officiate the marriage of a parishioner. I was told that the place of marriage was in Paco Park. I assumed it will be in the church. When I arrived for the wedding, I realized that it will be done in the garden outside the church and that another pastor, licensed to marry citizens civilly, will preside. I asked my parishioner about it and it turned out that it was a civil wedding! I explained to him that I can not take part in the celebration. At another time, I was invited by a parishioner to their wedding reception. I did not question anymore why I was not invited in the wedding rites. I thought they had another priest who officiated. When I got to the reception, I came to know that their marriage was civil and not church. I told them that they should still get married in church. The answer I got was they thought, having been civilly married, they are already considered married and can now live together. I clarified to them that they were married according to law, and thus, are considered married legally. However, as far as their faith is concerned, they are still unmarried.
I was also told by a number of people that sacramental or church marriage is easier to "annul" than civil marriage. The answer is both yes and no depending on how you would look at it. One clarification, sacramental marriage, when valid from the very beginning can not be annulled for whatever reason. Thus, when "annulment" cases are heard in church, what is being determined is whether there was defect at the time they are being married. In that case, the declaration of nullity in the church is actually a declaration that there was no marriage from the beginning. In civil marriage, "annulment" means more. Even if civilly valid, marriages may be invalidated for some reasons, the famous being psychological incapacity on the part of a partner.
Sacramental marriage is more than just a rite. It is a sacrament as the name suggests. As a sacrament, it is a channel of grace from God. Couples are married not only for their own purpose. God has a purpose for them. The couple serve to witness to the love of God for us and our love for Him. Couples have the responsibility to mirror God's presence and care for us. This is clear in the marriage rite. Unfortunately, couples who are married in church do not take very important note of this. Marriage is a vocation not only for the couples themselves, but for God's purpose. Yes, they need to pro-create, and build a family where God's love may find a concrete relevance for the couple and the children. But it is not a private affair. They have the responsibility to share that love and faith to others. From here, all other challenges regarding married life are founded. Whatever problems, issues, questions, confusions, and other concerns, will find a satisfactory response in God's loving invitation and purpose.
Therefore, Sacramental Marriage is sacred! It is a means to salvation. Let it be that way!

Service Not Lordship

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time is about servant leadership. This is a most wanted quality among leaders in Jesus' time and most specially today. The leader, for Jesus, forgets himself and focuses on those entrusted under his care. This is attested by the proliferation of corruption, as an example, nowadays. Corruption is motivated by selfish intentions. Corruption happens when a leader asks 
for what he will get in return for what he will give in service. Precisely, Jesus reminded the apostles and Christians of today to take care not to fall under this trap. Service, that is being the slave of all, dominates the Christian heart!
Many times in the olden days, during political campaigns, candidates will visit places, reach out to thier constituents, and shake hands with them saying, "Ang inyong lingkod, pag-utusan po ninyo!" it was a perfect translation of what Jesus meant. If they were true to this promise, their people will definitely be served! But alas, such an attitude are already missing. If ever, they are good for a certain time but not during their whole term.
For Jesus, leadership is others first and self last! It is making use of what God has given for the service of others. Leaders usually are equipped with experience, responsibility, commitment, goodness of heart, intelligence, and conviction. If they use all of these for service and they have the willingness to give to the fullest, they are real servants according to the standards of Christ.
This is a great challenge for the leaders of today. Hopefully they will start with themselves here and now. They could not point to the next leaders to make the sacrifice. The call is today, wherever they are.
Jesus knew what He was saying. When we serve others, all will benefit. When we serve only ourselves, few will benefit.
A story is told about heaven and hell. It says that heaven and hell are mostly the same save for those souls who are in it. In hell, as in heaven, all food are abundant and all souls possess stiff and straightened hands, and unbendable bodies. They walk like zombies. Hell is hell because each resident soul tries to feed himself. But because of the stiff and straight hands, he could not feed himself. He is left salivating for the food around him. Heaven on the other hand is the same except that all souls serve each other! They reach out for food and serve that food to everyone. In the end, others serve him too. Thus, everybody savor the food around.
If we do the same here on earth, we will have heaven on earth! As it is, hell seems to be the prevailing experience!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time reads the final part of the sixth Chapter of John's Gospel, the Bread of Life Discourse of Jesus. We really can not get enough of this teaching. Repeatedly and without bore, Jesus tells His disciples who He is. He went as far as telling them to eat Him! The sincerity of Jesus in the message broke the camel's back to many. They could not accept being made cannib
als. They who left their families, homes, livelihood, and lands, felt shortchanged. It would not be far fetched to say that they thought Jesus was too much inebriated with wine that He did not know what He was saying. Or that He was affected by His hunger due to too much fasting and living in austerity! They thought He was the Messiah they were waiting for. With those words, He failed them!

Twenty-Eight Sunday in Ordinary Time: Eternal Life, Anyone?

Twenty-Eight Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Gospel is direct to the point; you want eternal life? Then, free yourself from everything and if I may add, everyone! The scene is very vivid. Here we have a rich man who may have only wish for one thing more. That one thing could not be acquired by his riches nor his talents. That one thing can only be given. And it is the Lord Jesus who can. I am sure he
 humbled himself before Jesus confident that his track record as a believer suffices. Then, he got the shock of his life. It turned out that none of what he has could obtain that one thing! Worse, when confronted with the choice between his many possessions and that one thing, he chose the former!

What do we have here? Simply that what is of the world is of the world. The created world has no value and place in eternal life. When we finally leave this earth, we should be free from them. We can even say that unless one has become completely free from the world he can not attain eternal life. The words of Jesus reverberate here; "For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his own soul?" Even the whole of the world can not do anything to merit eternal life.

Which brings us to the main issue here. How important is eternal life to you? The answer here will determine the way we relate with this world. If, like the man, our possessions or life here ranks better, then we will also leave Jesus. If not, then we will be willing to give up everything for that one thing which is eternal life.

Jesus does not really meant hat as soon as we make this decision, instantly we will gather everything we have and dispose them. No. Jesus just wanted to establish who is most important to us. That whenever it is required, we must ready to give them all up. St. Ignatius calls it "inordinate attachment". We can have ownership but never enslaved by them. Sabi nga sa wika natin, "Kung meron, salamat. Kung mawala, salamat din!" Our life does not stand on those things but only on God. At most, we use them to advance our relationship with God. And yes, even our life is included in this. Martyrs are good examples of that. As St. paul said, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God". Nothing too should stop us from attaining eternal life. This is very timely because in a week's time, another Filipino saint and martyr will be recognized by the Church. They exemplify the very message of he Gospel today. Different from the rich man, Lorenzo and Pedro heeded Jesus and abandoned their very lives to follow Him!

Beauty Is In The Heart Of The Holder

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder." I say, beauty is in the heart of the holder!

The Gospels these days are about the response of strong response of Jesus on the hypocrisy of the pharisees, scholars of the law, and the scribes. He criticized them for not being witnesses to what they teach. He reminded them not to just show off but work with humility. He pointed out to them the non-value of b
eautifying externals if the internals stink with ugliness and evil.

What is being beautiful before the Lord?

If you are, for the world, physically wanting in beauty and your attitude is found wanting too, you are beauty-less.

If you are, for the world, physically wanting in beauty but possess a good heart, you are beautiful!

If you are full of physical beauty but have a bad attitude, you have lost that beauty.

But if you are physically and internally beautiful, then you are full of beauty not only with people but also before the Lord!

Year of Faith 06: On Angels

Year of Faith 06: On Angels. They are all over Scriptures. It attests to the fact of their existence at least as far as our faith is concerned. God had sent angels in order to bring His message to His people. Angels are messengers of God. They are believed to be pure spirits. Lucifer was an angel. His decision to disobey says that angels have wills. But their existence is determined by their faith
fulness to God.
We believe that God had assigned a guardian angel to each one of us. It is meant to assure us of God's presence. They guide and protect. As long as we do the will of God, we are safe for salvation.
We have the archangels;

St. Michael, which means "who is like God". He was given the following offices;
-To fight against satan
-To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death.
-To be the champion of God's people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament; therefore he was the patron of the Church, and of the orders of knights during the Middle Ages.
-To call away from earth and bring men's souls to judgment

St. Gabriel, which means, the "strength of God". He appeared to the Virgin Mary to reveal the plan of God.

St. Raphael, "God has healed". He is given the office to heal and deliverance form evil.

Year of Faith 07: On Saints

Year of Faith 07: On Saints-On October 21 another Filipino will be canonized Saint, Pedro Calungsod. The first was San Lorenzo Ruiz. Who are Saints? Why do the Catholic Church believe in Saints? 
Saints are models of faith. They are not Gods. They are being recognized through the process of CANONIZATION. After examining their lives which were found in accordance with God's Will and crediting some 
miracles to them, they are elevated to persons worthy of emulation. They have proven that God is right. They obeyed God with their lives.
CANONIZATION did not make them Saints. Canonization recognized that they had been Saints all along. It was only during the canonization that they were officially and universally declared as Saints in the Catholic-dom. In a way, it is an offer to all Catholics to look at their lives and find things to imitate so that they will also benefit from their live.
We celebrate All Saints Day during the first of November. During the mass for the day, we include all the Saints declared by the Church. We specially recognize those who do not have a particular day during the year with which we celebrate their memorial or feast. Many of us go to the cemetery on this day. It is an expression of our faith. We believe that our love one, though still not canonized, is already one as far as we are concerned.
The second of November is reserved for All Souls, our faithful departed who had died but had not yet entered God's Kingdom. We continue to pray for them that they may soon be worthy of God's Kingdom. We want them to finally become saints.
Lastly, being a saint, contrary to what many think, is the normal fate of a Catholic Christian. They are not exceptions to the rule. Rather, they are the norm. We are called to holiness. We belong to God. Therefore, our destiny is God's Kingdom.
Be a Saint! God expects you to be!

Year of Faith 08: On Religious Images

Year of Faith 08: On Religious Images: Catholics have always been under fire from other sects or critics regarding worship of idols and images. There is less debate on living persons being idolized. Catholics are aware that they can only go as far as being a fan or even a fanatic but not to regard them as gods. 
But the attitude towards images which represent saints and God is always brought up. W
e Catholics are faulted due to our regard for them Fellow Christian religions accuse us of violating Scriptures due to the proliferation of images in our churches, houses, etc. They claim it is Idolatry of the highest degree. But we do agree with them that images should not be idolized. But we allow them as symbols and representations. We REVERE our saints and WORSHIP our God. Reverence involves respect and appreciation of what they had done out of faith. Worship is a recognition of God as our Creator and Savior. I believe, deep inside, every Catholic knows this and live this. Unfortunately, we can agree, the external manifestations are too much to some that they come across as worship those images.
Two things are involve here. In the Catholic Faith, religious images are acceptable given the proper regard. The idolatry committed by our ancestors must be understood in context. Then, they worshipped a created golden calf as their god. They were punished because of that. But we are and should not be committing the same mistake. We know who our God is. And whenever we kneel and pray before His image, we relate not with the image but with God Himself. The same holds true with our reverence for saints. We possess those images and relate to those whom they represent through them. If there are Catholics who are acting beyond or outside of this, they are bordering on idolatry. But who are we to judge unless they openly express it.
Thus it must be set straight that the Catholic Faith allows or encourages images to promote faith. As what I have said in another Catechism (On The Sacrament of Reconciliation) we are sensitive people. We act better via our senses. Images satisfy our vision and need to touch. If they help us become closer to God and be holier and better, why not?

Year of Faith 09: On Creation

Year of Faith 09: On Creation: God created the everything. Genesis makes an account of those "seven days". For five days God filled the world with His creation and found it good! On the sixth day, God created man and He found it very good! Man is God's greatest creation. Man is God's crowning glory in creation. God also made man the steward of creation. It means man may make use of every creation 
for God's greater glory and man's salvation.
But man must respect creation. They are his sources of living too. If abused, then he will be his own victim. The present situation is already a testimony to it. While God assigned all creation under his authority, creation must be taken cared of and not misused, abused, and even underuse!
Since God is the author of creation, man should respect it. Any offense against creation is an offense against God. Thus, we can consider a disrespect on creation as a disrespect on God.
God promised not to destroy the world anymore after that Noah flood event. Until now He is true to His promise. But the world may still suffer destruction. This time, man, because of his greed and abuses, will instead effect the world's destruction. Global warming is a proof of this.
The Christian loves God and he expresses it by loving everything that God created!

Year of Faith 10: On Dogmas and Doctrines

Year of Faith 10: On Dogmas and Doctrines- The Catholic Church, as a religion, has a lot of dogmas and doctrines. For easy understanding, we can understand doctrines as teachings given by the Church e.g. seven sacraments, Mary's virginity, Trinity, etc. Dogmas on the other hand are required teachings or doctrines to be believed if one claims to belong to the Catholic Faith. Examples of dogma are T
rinity, Jesus is true man and true God, The Assumption, The Resurrection, and Immaculate Conception. Dogmas are considered revealed truths. It is revealed through by God through Scriptures and Tradition and was transmitted by the Apostles and proposed by the Church for its believers. Since it comes from God, it is obligatory. Efforts maybe made to understand them but it is not required. One may believe it without a clear and complete understanding because it was revealed by God. Note that dogmas are not man-made.

Belief in them defines the membership of the faithful. They are what makes one a Catholic!.The pope, bishops, and priests are tasked with the responsibility to teach them. They must try to help the faithful accept that truth. They do not have the authority and power to change it. This last should be clear to everyone who belongs and deals with the Catholic Church. At times groups and intellectuals who think otherwise will advise, encourage, or even challenge the Catholic hierarchy to change the teaching for various "legitimate" or "practical" reason. But it does not work that way. Only God can change it. But if it comes from God, then it must be the perfect truth and right. Also, it is not about the majority preferring it or not. Popular or not, majority or minority, if it is a dogma revealed by God, then it should stand. We (apostles, popes, bishops, priests, and laity) are trustees of these truths. It is for us to hand them from generations to generations. The reason why we have these truths now is because those who were before us did their responsibility. It has become our responsibility now to hand on these truths to the next generation!

Thus, the claim to be Catholic does not only mean calling one as such or believing some of its dogmas. All the dogmas held by the Catholic Faith should be believed to be a true Catholic! We can not choose to believe and live in some and discard the others we do not like.

Be Catholic! Live the Catholic Faith!

Year of Faith 11: On The Creed

Year of Faith 11:On The Creed:  If you will be asked what do you believe in the Catholic Faith, what will be your answer? There is one prayer that contains basically everything we believe. The prayer is called "The Apostles Creed". If you want the more elaborate one, pray the "Nicene Creed" version. Contained in these prayers are the basic teachings of our Catholic Faith. The Creed should be known to all believers. Each day he must try to believe and live those truths.

Year of Faith 12: On The Examination of Conscience

Year of Faith 12: On Examination of Conscience - This is part of the meaningful reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is important because this determines the attitude and intention of the penitent. It is one big step to admit one's sins but it is another big step to be contrite about it. Contrition involves resolution never to commit the sin again in particular and be free anymore from
 any sin in general. It appreciates greatly the loving relationship between God and penitent. Because of that love, the presence of since becomes an abhorrence. Thus, the penitent should see it as an opportunity to reconnect with God. As the Act of Contrition states, "...I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell." Losing heaven means a big loss. Being worthy of it again is a great blessing! The forgiveness of sins come second to the renewal of ties with God. Thus, the feeling and mind-set is not just having been relieved of the sins but more of having regained the favor of God and be renewed or born-again!

Contrition involves the heart and the mind. Heart provides the deep and sincere will to change and mind provides the will to make the decision!

Contrition effects an authentic reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It may not guarantee perfect and lasting change, but it will launch a constant quest to achieve it!

Year of Faith 13: On Praying the Rosary

Year of Faith 13: On Praying the Rosary. Catholics had been criticized for praying the rosary. Repetitions, they say, are at least nonsense and utmost, pagan. Maybe pagan but we do not agree that it is nonsense. You only have to ask those w
ho sincerely pray it to know how much it had helped a lot of faithfuls in their faith.
The style of the rosary as an instrument of praying and the prayer it self is not original.Even before Christianity, similar prayer objects and praying already exists. In the Catholic tradition, St. Dominic is credited with it because he fully developed in his time.
Significant was the Battle at the sea of Lepanto, where Christendom was saved through the praying of the rosary from the invasion of the infidel Turks. Popes have declared a day for the intercession of our Lady with the devotion to the praying of the rosary due to the so many benefits obtained by the faithful and the Church.
Contrary to what other religions and even some Catholic faithful think, the rosary is Christ-centered. Its very content helps us meditate on the mystery of faith. It honors the Redeemer and His mother on the role they played in God's plan of salvation through the fifteen mysteries which later became twenty due to the addition of the luminous mysteries. This is very apt for prayer because the very object of each Catholic is to meditate on these truths. The very method used in praying the rosary; slow, repetitive, and reflective. Praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Glory Be, seriously and letting their words penetrate our hearts makes us delight in the Lord and even welcome repeating those words of appreciation of the works done by Jesus and His mother.
Even bible-based and bible-fanatics should have no complaints because the psalms alone are full of repetitions. For us Filipinos, it is not a problem. In fact, it is a sign of sincerity ad endearment! Try saying "I love you!" three times in escalating tone and feelings to your love one and you will see the look of happiness on her/his face!
Let us pray the rosary!

Year of Faith 14: On Labor

Year of Faith 14: On Labor: Is work purely a secular activity? Does it have a spiritual value? In the Collectio Rituum, a book of blessings, compiled by Msgr. Moises B. Andrade, Jr., it says in the introduction of the blessing of places of work,

"When we faithfully work, we present to God our activity thereby cleansing ourselves, continuing the work of creation in our endeavor, helping the needy
 and joining Christ the Redeemer in fulfilling His love."

Msgr. Andrade captured the very essence of work in the life of a Christian. Whenever I will bless an office, factory, or place for selling, I always remind the employees of this truth. Yes, they are there to earn a living, "maghanap-buhay!" But "buhay" is not just here on earth. We also regard the "kabilang-buhay". Thus, as Msgr. Andrade reminds, work with faith is a participation with God's work. It is a fulfillment of what God had entrusted in Genesis when He put us as stewards of Creation.

Work should make us holy! While the prospect of earning is always there, work should be seen as service to others. It is making good use of the time and talent God had given us. In the process, we are sanctified.Thus, when we get our pay, we should also be aware that we are receiving God's blessing. We are sustained physically and spiritually.

It is interesting to note that there are times when offices will ask a certain part of the building to be blessed because there were sightings of the supernatural. It produces a certain fear and anxiety to many. I always tell them that it is true there are spirits. But not all are bad spirits. If all employees try to live faithfully, morally, and honestly, there is no way the bad spirit can thrive in their place. Sometimes, the presence of the so called negative vibes in offices is because of the negative way of life of employees.

But going back, as Catholics, we see work, paid or unpaid, as a participation in God's work. God had never stopped working. He continues to work in and through us. Let us be sanctified by our work!

Year of Faith 15: On Indulgences

Year of Faith 15:On Indulgences- The question on this issue is one of the most controversial not only for non-Catholics but also for serious Catholics. Its treatment should include not only laws made by the Church but also its history.
Canon 922 (1983) defines it as a divinely recognized remission or removal of temporal punishment for sins whose guilt has already been forgiven. The conditions to r
eceive it are also specified; prayer together with the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.) The principle behind it is that the Church as a minister of redemption authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasure of satisfactions of Christ and the Saints.

But a problem arose with regards to sins committed before and after Baptism. When we are baptized, all our sins are forgiven and all punishments that go with it. However, sins committed after Baptism are forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation but not the punishment. We believe that we still have to deal with the punishment in the after life. Here is where the indulgence plays its role.

Three convictions are available: 1.)they are brought to forgiveness by God's grace but not without personal engagement in a process of self-denial and prayer, 2.) either Christians can help them because of the solidarity existing between the disciples of Jesus, and 3.) through the ministry of the Church, such repentance after baptism leads to divine forgiveness of guilt as well as pardon with regards to eternal punishment deserved for serious offenses but with the possibility that penance must yet be done before his union with the Trinity.

As to the merits of the Saints, those were made available after their martyrdom. Since they will not need it, the Church then saw it as available to incorporate back those members who had lapses (lapsis) in faith during the persecutions. Luther objected to this. For him, indulgences are not necessary and made churchmen prone to avarice and errant faith. Luther was heard and the second Vatican dealt with it.

Paul VI, in response to the aggiornamento called by Cardinal Dopfner agreed that it should not treated as a commodity for commercial exchange and limited its availability. He also added that it is a heritage of the Church and it is up to the church members to avail of it or not.

Thus, nothing is lost if one does not receive an indulgence. But availing it properly does not bring harm and may give the benefit it was meant to be. So, why not? For our salvation, anything that will help should be available and acquired.

(Source: Dictionary of Theology by Joseph A. Komonchak, et al.)

Year of Faith 16: On Purgatory

Year of Faith 16: On Purgatory: From the very word itself, it means that a certain time for cleansing should still happen to a faithful who still has to undergo temporal punishments for his forgiven sins at the time of his death. It follows that after temporal punishments have been served, the soul will now enter God's Kingdom.
We also believe that we can pray and do good works for those souls in 
Scriptures is rich with passages encouraging everyone to pray for the dead. These in themselves anchor the belief. Tradition does not define how and where purgation happens. It just teaches that purgatory exists and those detained there maybe aided by the prayers and good works of the faithful. Other possible explanations and positions that are not sound and do not add to the advancement of ones relation to God specially those that only satisfy idle-curiosity, superstition, or money-making is prohibited.
It does give a sign to the faithful and the theologians to reflect more on this doctrine. Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger thought that it is impossible the moment of this encounter in our terms. It is neither long nor short in terms of Physical time. He stressed that its true measure should be taken in terms of the depth of the resistance in the human person that must be broken down or "burned" away in the encounter of the divine.
Thus, the purgation process is not seen as a paying of debt caused by sin more than a maturation of the human person who had died.
The doctrine makes a lot of sense since God is a forgiving God. Many Catholics now question the dynamics of sin and forgiveness. If God will certainly forgive us of our sins, why avoid sin? Justice expressed in temporal punishment is the answer. Justice requires that even if we have been forgiven, we still have to undergo purgation from the effects of those sins and justification. The less the sins, the faster will be our maturation in purgatory.
The human body is a perfect analogy of this. If we want to be cleansed physically of unwanted toxins and substances, we have to undergo a certain cleansing. We may not be using the word "purgation", but it is actually what we are doing for our bodies as it happens too for our souls!

Year of Faith 17: On Devotions

Year of Faith 17: On Devotions: Do you have a devotion? These are religious activities usually associated with praying combined with visiting a church and done regularly like: Novenas to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, St. Jude, Sacred Heart, Sto. Nino, Black Nazarene, St. Anthony of Padua, San Juan Nepomuceno, St. Alphonsus of Liguori, St. Fr. Pio, etc. These devotions are part of the heritage of t
he Catholic Church and had greatly assisted so many Catholic faithfuls.
Devotions are seen as the feeling or emotional side of the faithful. It maybe mostly motivated by the need to ask for particular graces, but it actually links faith and action. A true devotee does not measure the devotion on the gifts received but on the maturity he/she acquires in living a truly Christian life. In other words, devotions should make him/her a better Christian both in word and in deed.
The act of devotion itself has a lot to do with accomplishing this. The prayer contains certain truths that are being repeated and stressed. The goal is not to inform but to remind. It is like a mantra, when constantly uttered and imbibed mentally, will prod the devotee to act. The regular praying of the devotion, e.g. every Wednesday, Friday, or any day, commits the devotee to the devotion and is always refreshed by the same prayer. Needless to say, the devotee always look forward to the devotion and not burdened by it. The devotee is never bored in it. The devotee is not only concerned with just doing it again and again but with what to do with it in facing life's challenges.
The devotion should not be seen as a magical instrument that when done, lo and behold, something spectacular will happen. Precisely, in adopting it, the devotee believes that it is effective. And if the devotee sees the the devotion as a catalyst between faith and action, then he had entered into a meaningful and fruitful exercise of worship!

Year of Faith 18: On Being on Time for Mass. The common question here had always been up to what of the mass may one still come in and still be not considered as late or discredited for it? Different answers may have been given to this question but it will always miss the point. Barring any reasonable excuse, one should always be at mass at least in time, or earlier at most. The reasons for this a
re too many and important.
Foremost of these is that it is about meeting the Lord. It is not just any kind of meeting. It is meeting with the most important person in your life! God deserves your full attention and commitment. A date with God should not be missed for the world. If you give importance to some people in your lives by seeing to it that you meet your meetings and dates with them, why not with God?
Second, every part of the mass is important. They are parts that make the whole. Saying that you can enter at a certain time and still believe that you had fulfilled your participation, is being guilty of minimalism. You should should know better and not fall into the devils temptation and goal for you to settle for less! Each part also connects to the next. The liturgy is made in such a way that you are treated to a meaningful and fruitful encounter with the living God. Missing some parts amounts to being out of context and disconnected in the celebration.
Third, it is a community celebration. You attend mass to pray with the community and not alone. Thus, it is best that everyone is there at the same time. Being on time is a sign of respect too! As a community of believers praying, praising, singing, asking, and glorifying together, is the best sign for God's presence.
Next time, be on time!