Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Week with No Priests and other randomness

You heard it right.

Our priests--almost all of them--are at the World Trade Center in Pasay City currently attending the Second National Congress of the Clergy (or maybe I could abbreviate it to NCC II), that would follow the one held last 2004. The theme for this congregation is "Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests" which is also synonymous to and in line with Pope Benedict XVI's declaration of Annus Sacerdotalis--the Year of/for Priests. What made me blog this stuff is that because there is something that wondered me most.

The NCC II coincided with our preliminary examination (which is a week late than the other colleges in UST); and every examination, I attend a morning Mass (and if ever, confess to a priest) out of impulse desire to be inspired in the middle of the exam. I thought the Dominicans were also in the clerical retreat, so I still went to the chapel to at least pray to God that He would inspire me as I take the papers on that day. To my surprise, I still heard Mass and there are still priests saying it. The assumption that I made was: "Maybe they do not want to attend because they have this passion of serving the faithful even if their brothers (their fellow priests) are in renewal of themselves; or maybe how they wished to attend the clerical retreat, but at least they have to consider their pastorate before setting off to Pasay. Anyway, Pasay is just about thirty minutes from Sampaloc, Manila."

Anyway, that was just an assumption. Of course in one way or another they would like to participate, though they also have to say the Triduum Masses for Saint Thomas Aquinas (our University's patron saint), for by the time I am writing this blog, St. Thomas' feast day is just six hours away....

Yeah, that was just a piece of random fact I made here. Nothing extraordinary. Let's just pray for and with our priests that they may serve the Lord with all they are just as we serve Him through ourselves and the best of us.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Ballad of the Counter-Productive Bum

Relaxed and deflected.
Victorious yet defeated.
Typing the weirdest of lines
and making the worst of faces
while listening to the poems of Serj Tankian
and having myself a day all alone with my brother.
8:45 on the clock
and with no intentions of ceasing
I write these lines
out of randomness.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Santo Niño: A Filipino Epiphany

Synopsis: Lk. 2:41-52

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when He was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.

After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. Thinking that He was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for Him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding Him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him. After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers.

When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And He said to them, "Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father's house?" But they did not understand what He said to them.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced (in) wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

Homily of the Celebrant: Fr. Antonio “Tony” Roxas

Celebrated on the third week of January, the Feast of the Santo Niño commemorates the Childhood of Jesus Christ who is the Word made flesh. Only the Philippines holds this celebration and is duly recognized by the Vatican (My opinion of this matter would be tackled in my reaction) for the following reasons: (1) The fact that the Filipino’s devotion to the Holy Child seemed fluid and flowing like a river; and (2) the history of the Philippines and the history of its devotion is intertwined.

The former reason is self-explanatory because of the latter. Therefore, the latter explains the advent of Christianity in the country courtesy of Fernando Magallanes’ (Ferdinand Magellan) exploration of the island of Cebu, where the chief of the island, Rajah Humabon, his queen, Juana, and all his subjects were baptized. The image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was dubbed as an “anito” due to its dark color, small size, and tribal look. This image was Magellan’s gift to Cebu and was presented to Queen Juana. After this act, the devotion to the image, and the substantiation of the meaning of the image, spread throughout the Pearl of the Orient like wild fire.

Soon after, the Santo Niño is enthroned everywhere, and was dressed in any way the owner of the image wants Him to look like—a prince (symbolizing His royalty as King), a simple child (an ordinary kid in Nazareth), a soldier in camouflage uniform (Lord of Hosts), among others. By this enthronement, we have put Jesus near our hearts—to possess Him and to be our lifeblood. No wonder Jesus is called Emmanuel, the God-with-us.

However, Father Tony disliked the people who dressed their Santo Niños with the finest robes. Yes, He is King and God, but though He is aware of this, He let go all of these so that He may stoop down to our level; to be childlike, NOT childish, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

There are traits of a child the priest emphasized in his lengthy, but worthwhile speech:

First, every child born into this world is a symbol of hope. But there are countries which are killing this hope and are now facing the consequences. Some Asian countries, like China, are tycoons in all aspects, but are the lowest of paupers in the eyes of God for their unpopular “one-child policy,” and Japan, where a zero-birth rate made them change their minds about prenatal life. In the contrary, Filipinos love to have a large family, for part of their philosophy is that a child is a bundle of God’s grace (an argument I would use in the reaction later).

Second, a child is resilient. He always dauntless in any petty challenge he face; in flowery words, the ability to “bounce back” to how they were before.

Third, children are naturally meek. They survey the presence of the Lord out of innocence. The examples were the Marian apparitions at Fatima and Medjugorje, where the Blessed Mother appeared to children because of their meekness.

And finally, a child knows and humbly accepts his limits. He depends on others and is easily beheld. Moreover, this humility marks the start of his faith in God.

And before concluding the homily, the priest tackled another set of points—the responsibilities of parents to their children that:

1. They should respect the right of children to education;

2. They should give them ample food, shelter, clothing, and care;

3. They, especially fathers, should give their children blessing wherever they go, for blessing begets blessing; and

4. They should, at all times, protect their children from all kinds of abuse, even if it comes from them.


Cebu, Aklan, Iloilo, Tondo, and Pandacan: What is their commonality? The answer: They venerate the Santo Niño more than all the other areas of our country. In Cebu, there is the Sinulog Festival; in Aklan, Ati-Atihan; in Iloilo, Dinagyang; and in Tondo and Pandacan in Manila, they have their respective images of the Child Jesus.

But the real meaning of the previous paragraph is to show that the Philippines is a country, a nation, and a family where majority of its citizens value the children and the youth, basing Christ in them, through His image as a Child. It is of great honor to have the Holy See’s consent in celebrating the feast of the Epiphany of Christ to the Filipino People—as a child (The Visitation of the Magi and the Baptism are the two epiphanies generally celebrated by the Church).

To substantiate this, I would discuss three points for this part of the reflection:

1. What is the connection of the Gospel and the celebration?

2. How relevant are they to each other and to the status of the society today? and

3. How come the Filipinos are so devoted to it?

The Gospel for this celebration narrates the twelve-year-old Jesus being considered “lost” by His parents and the latter’s astonishment of the former’s knowledge to the Scriptures and to the Laws of Moses being showcased to the scribes and the teachers. But what really intrigued even the holiest of souls was Jesus’ reply to Mary: “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father's house?” A cynic will not agree that He is doing errands as the Son of the Father, though in covert. But for those who would believe Him, the answer why Jesus did this is far-fetched, but would discern that Christ knows His duty; Christ knows His mission; Christ knows His purpose. Linking it with the celebration, each of us have felt this urgent feeling that there must be something that we should do; for me, not just to formulate literature and reading it for academic purposes. All of us are challenged, maybe not to be in the Father’s House, but to carry out His will. The connection between them, therefore, is simple: That there is more to prayer when it comes to faith; that by materializing the Kingdom of God through our words AND actions, our Mother would not ask us why are we doing something for she already understand that we are serving her Son along with her.

It may seem not relevant, but, in a very special manner, it is. The innocence of Christ as a Child was shown in the Gospel; His curiosity lead Him to dauntlessly, and easily, move away from Mary and Joseph. The curiosity that was featured in the Disputation is the same curiosity that some Filipino children are into. They are in search of God, and sadly, some found Him too late, or have never found Him at all as they reach adulthood. One example is the primetime program “May Bukas Pa.” The series tackle on the innocence of a child named Santino that have lead to debates over the faithful whether or not Christ could be casually called “Bro.” Government side says it is okay calling Him such, just so it would not be a violation on the doctrines and teachings of the Church. Opposition side says otherwise; that though Jesus is a Brother that consolidates everyone, it is awkward to say “Bro” to the Lord, especially at Mass; thus, that side of the house declares that mass media is fooling the faithful because of, and through, this show. Until now, even though a minor issue for the Christian Catholics of the land, it is not fully resolved.

How come Filipinos devote themselves to the Santo Niño, aside from the image of the Black Nazarene? By becoming human, Christ was determined to carry out the Father’s plan of salvation, even if He has to strip off His identity as God, of course, without having His title as the Second Person of the Trinity being taken from Him, and even if He has to go to the natural process of human life—that means, starting from birth. The meeting point of the substantiation of this celebration to the norms of Filipino life is that a child, as the priest said in this reflection, is a bundle of God’s grace. But, it is alarming that a great number of Filipinos are saying that children are a curse to the family, which is NOT, in any way, parallel to the teachings and mores of the Filipino Church, and the Catholic Church as a whole. What these people do not realize is that their ignorance and carelessness is the cause of their resentment to children. In a lighter sense, Filipinos, again paraphrasing our celebrant, made a way for the Santo Niño to be close to their hearts and hearths. By enthroning Him as King and Lord over the Philippines, we have been reminded to have a heart like that of a child to enter His Father’s, or should we say OUR Father’s Kingdom.

“Why were you looking for Me?” This is the question Jesus wants you and I to answer. Was it because we want to serve Him out of nothing but obligation? Was it because we want to serve Him for the sake of service? Or was it because we want to serve Him to have a better relationship with Him?

If you chose the first or second reason, you better not read further, for you have a long way to discern the following paragraphs, or may take you forever to understand.

But if you chose the third reason, or you have chosen the first or second, yet have the guts to defy the caveat I have written, this is the reason why you are serving God: You want to have a better and more intimate relationship with Him by having an intimate relationship with your peers and neighbors. You could achieve this, if and only if you have a childlike heart. I myself am in this process, so do everyone else. We still have to learn how to be childlike, so does that mean our efforts in serving the Lord are useless and in vain? No. Our efforts in service are very useful to us, and it is okay for Him for He appreciates how we have done His will, of course, in the condition that we are guided accordingly.

To wrap it all up, we should keep our yearning for God and our service to Him and to our neighbor constant. Our bodies may, age, our joints fail, our skin become dry, our ability to communicate abandon us, but there is one thing that would remain fresh, young, and vibrant—God’s love for us. For no matter how high the waves are, how destructive the earthquakes, how devastating a volcano is, or how gloomy is the night, a Child would remind us that He is near, He is waiting, and He will never leave us no matter what.

(Please bear in mind that all the reflections I post until March are the same ones I would be passing to my Theology professor.)

Opening Blog

January 19, 2010

Welcome to Media, Society, and God: Random Thoughts of Ian Riñon Going Online!

What you would about to see here are a mishmash of blogs concerning what is going on. Here, I would be posting:

1. Poetry;
2. Gospel Reflections;
3. Today's issues and concerns;
4. Some of my experiences about anything; and
5. Reviews and Analyses (that's plural for analysis).

And before I end, I would like to offer this blog site to the One who gave me the freedom to express myself and is teaching me to use it in the right way.

I hope all of you would enjoy my randomness.

God loves y'all!

With respect,
Ian Riñon


Heads' Up!