The Blind Sees

So, I just burnt a black pair of pants I use at work and in church. It’s one of the 5 pants I had tailor-made this year that actually fits and whose zipper works but then, life happens. You know what I was doing when the incident happened? I was googling tips on how to safely operate a steam iron. Seriously. I bought a new one for our house in Bulacan last weekend, similar model to the one I have in our condo though I had always used it as a dry iron. It’s saddening and it scared me a bit because even after I turned the iron off, the burning continued, with smoke quickly filling up half the room. Good thing I did some a lot of shopping yester night. Before I lost, I already gained. Could it be that subconsciously I was thinking I have no need of those pair of pants already? Enough of this. I’ll let it go from here on.

Anyway, have you heard of Amazing Grace by Hillsong? I cannot share a video but there’s the Youtube link with more than 2M views already. Hillsong is a Christian worship singing group and have very good, heart-felt and well-meaning songs (the last three adjectives are all understatement as my vocabulary finds no words for the songs). I first liked “I Believe” when I discovered it last Holy Week. It’s my first favorite from the group. I’ll research more of their songs in the next few days but for now, I just want to play Amazing Grace on repeat all day long. The chorus is my favorite which goes like this:


Sometimes, when I like a melody, I don’t want to know the exact lyrics of the song. I invent words which seems more personal according to my interpretation of the music.It’s just that this time, I can love both lyrics and melody.

Last Sunday, we were commissioned again as Lectors and Commentators. It’s an annual thing. It was a Sunday like any other special Sunday, that is, before the 11AM Mass started. But when we started walking down the aisle it felt, different. As usual, I cried silently because of joy. There’s something about like more than 50 of us, dressed in the same garb, and me just staring at the altar while walking straightly an approximate of 200m stretch. The opening song also mentioned about Christ being the “joy in our song” and it just moved me because it’s indeed true. He is the joy in my song!


The newly commissioned Lectors and Commentators (Leccom) of Immaculate Concepcion Parish. It’s the second year of us being commissioned after St. Pope John Paul II’s Feast on October 22. He is our patron saint.

I must say it’s a blessing to have this Leccom family. Aside from being given a privilege I so not deserve, I get to know a lot of people, a way of God bringing me back to the society much like what He did to a leper (that’s another story). Honestly, I’m really bad at names and facial recognition. Years of being an introvert killed those brain cells responsible for good social skills. But the few that I know, are all a mix of interesting, kind-hearted sinners who continuously opens up their hearts to the Lord.

Pretty much all of them are my mentors, trust-worthy substitute and volunteers of aid to my weakness. Pretty much all of us are a mess as well. When people ask how my weekend went, and when I tell them that I sometimes attend one Sunday mass three times, and they tell me that I might get way past heaven, I just accept that as a  pleasantly-said snide remark because we both don’t know any better way to react.

You should have seen how disorganized we were come lunch time after the commissioning and you can say that that’s how pretty much messed up our lives are too. But then, nobody promised that life following Jesus is ever going to be easy. As the song above goes: We’re all lost but found, we were blind but now we see.


For two years now, our ministry arranges the exhibit for the feast of St. John Paul II. This fishbowl of quotes is a part of the exhibit and the displayed one, of a dear priest’s homily.

In my case, fatigue is still my number one enemy when it comes to this ministry. There are mornings when I really have to battle it out with the devil just so I can wake up out of bed. There are time when I’ll sleep at 2AM and have to wake up at 4AM, then travel more than 2 hours to reach the cathedral. I work in the corporate world and sometimes I feel like this ministry is meant for retirees. But as Ate Conching said, “The Holy Spirit wakes me.” It is God’s amazing grace manifesting every waking hour of each day.

Father Mameng, our rector and the priest who commissioned us, said, ” Hindi ka lektor dahil maganda ang boses mo o dahil gandang-ganda ka sa sarili mo.(You’re not a lector because you have great voice or because you think you’re beautiful). I know each one of us, especially those who have served for decades now find deeper and more meaningful reasons already. For me, not walking away from God’s grace is one. Serving also paved the way to teach me how to be thankful, to let go of burnt things no matter how much I thought I needed them because now I know that I really don’t, to recognize God working in all of our lives every day starting every morning and even in our sleep. All the pieces, broken and scattered, in mercy gathered, mended and whole. I’ve been set free and I’m not going back. Never again. Never again to that worst prison which is a closed heart.




Faith Healing

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. James 5:14

Is Anyone Among You Sick?

We all are. We all need healing.

One week before the healing mass, Ate Conching already told me that next Saturday’s mass will be extra special. There’ll be more than one priest leading the Holy Mass and maybe she thought that as a relative newbie I’ll be more comfortable as a lector. So she volunteered to be the commentator, even if it wouldn’t be her turn.

 Ate Conching is a 60-year old something woman, someone who must be enduring the aches and pain old age is accompanied with. She always wear this smile that reaches her kind eyes. When I am nervous about reading the word of God inside Mass, because up until now the nervousness doesn’t fully go away and some days the nerves are even stronger, she would tell me, “Don’t be afraid. Just pray, God is in charge.” She also has one daughter who is a monk and during some Saturdays when she couldn’t make it to serve, she probably went to the monastery to visit her.

Then came Saturday! It fell on 24th of September, Padre Pio of Pietrelcino’s feast day aka death anniversary. You can tell that Padre Pio is a very well loved priest and a modern saint for very good reasons. The first time I knew him was because of My First Pilgrimage. Invoking Padre Pio of Pietrelcino’s help in prayers is known to grant miracles of healing among many other types of other answered prayers.

Of course all Holy Mass are healing mass. What’s different, as I observed, was that some parts on the Liturgy of the Eucharist were said in Latin and there was that extra part I’d like to call a pray-over led by a second priest. I’m sure there were a lot said that were needed to be heard by the mass goers. I myself was holding back tears. Trust that most who attended really needed healing. I felt it in the air. Ordinarily, Saturday morning mass has a lot fewer attendance but that morning, what was different, too, was that the cathedral was as full as a Sunday.

Legion of Mary was also in attendance. Legionaries the world over are known to do acts of kindness for neighbors in need at least once per week. They assisted on the praying over for the healing session after Mass.

From Father’s homily, I got it that when Legion of Mary applicants are officially installed as members, they also officially and symbolically lift everything up to the Lord. Totus Tuus is a phrase (Latin, meaning “totally yours”) I would often associate with St. Pope John Paul II and his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. By surrendering all to God, we trust God to handle everything. We trust that He’ll never leave our side even pain from illnesses seem not to subside. We trust God to take care of worries and ignorance, from fear of not knowing for sure if technology and science and the doctors are already competent enough. We also lift up to Him our emotional pain from knowing too much – that the medication, the operation, further tests will hurt the body, the spirit and finances of ourselves and of our family and loved ones, from the knowledge that all efforts to stay alive can still eventually lead to death! We lift up to the Lord our perceived useless and short life, our regrets of what could’ve been and what should’ve been, of remorse and guilt, of not doing and feeling enough. But above all, “Totus tuus” is a phrase for an act of surrender, that despite all these negative things, God only has to say the word and our soul and body shall be healed.

Faith may be some people’s either last or only resort. But it’s the only thing that offers real healing. Most people fear death and I know in my heart that I fear death and pain too. But I’d still tell my parents, who are ageing as much as every person in this world, that death and sickness are inevitable truths. Everyone must die, in ways and time no one can really tell.Psalm 30:2-3

What I know is that the Knight of Columbus (KofC) in Malolos conducted their annual Lingap Kalusugan also on that same Saturday. They offered basic components of an executive checkup for just Php290. Weeks before this, I inquired at Sacred Heart of Malolos through phone if they offer packages with similar testS such as Urinalysis, Fasting Blood Sugar, ECG, etc. They said tests are done individually. In Clinica Manila in Megamall, packages are at Php5000-Php8000. This Lingap Kalusugan program is very timely and practical so I urged my parents to avail of it. Results can be obtained a week later on the same Sto Nino KofC Chamber. KofC has this thrust to provide brotherly love to its neighbor by serving God through the community.

Pray, hope and don’t worry. These often quoted words from Padre Pio must be very comforting for people who are fighting sicknesses. Many diseases are born out of emotional turmoil and spiritual emptiness. Going to Mass, the Church’s highest form of prayer can really help with whatever complication we are facing. If it couldn’t make one physically healed, it can teach ways on how to face our battles, on how to carry our cross each day similar to as how Jesus would do given the same circumstance. Because in reality, who can boast to have it all easy?

After Mass, I ate at the Lay Minister’s area the breakfast that thoughtful Ate Conching brought me, while she lined up for the healing session. Not for long, she then went back to the sacristy passing by me, smiling with her usual confidently peaceful smile. She did not simply tell me that she was done with the session. She could’ve just told me, “Let’s go. I’m done.” Instead, in a silently profound manner she declared to me, “I am healed!”

She believes. She is healed.That to me is Faith Healing.


Pope Francis on Instagram

An Instagram post of Pope Francis under the handle, “Franciscus”, showing him with three young people taking selfie. It goes with a caption in six languages which in English says, “Your happiness has no price. It is not an app that you can download on your phones.” More than 172,000 of his 2.4 million followers liked this photo.

Popes on Twitter and Instagram   

                It was December 12, 2012 when Pope Benedict XVI made history as the first pope to join Twitter. The Pope used the handle @Pontifex, which means bridge builder, with at least 9 extensions to translate his tweets in several languages. He was able to compose 39 messages (an aide typed the tweets) until he stepped down on 2013. On March 17, 2013, his successor, Pope Francis, took over the same handle and from then on became one of the most influential personalities on this micro-blogging site, with more than 25 million followers. March, 2016, Pope Francis shook Instagram, with 1 million followers, merely 12 hours after joining this photo and video sharing application with the handle, “Franciscus”.

Reason for touching this new digital continent

                So why does an institution as old as 2,000 years decided to step into this digital realm? An obvious answer could be because a large member of the Church’s flock is in social media. Case in point, there are now more people on Facebook than there are Catholics! The need to evangelize this new “digital continent” is now being presented as both a major task and an opportunity to spread the Good News.

                 Pope Benedict on his message for the 43rd World Communications Day (May, 2009) acknowledged the benefits of this new culture of communication by means of the internet. He cited that its popularity should not surprise us, as the desire to connect and communicate with other people is a “call that is imprinted in our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of God, the God of communication and communion”. The following year, Pope Benedict presented to priests the challenge to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources alongside traditional means to open up the new “agora” or public square for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.

Guidelines and Reflections

                    Numerous ministries and church organizations responded to this call and became active in this new media ushering in a large pastoral presence in the world of digital communications. Guidelines and reflections, consequently had to be shared both to religious and lay people to ensure that contents are in accordance to parish and diocesan policies and of course, the Church’s teachings; and that communication amongst online community members are being conducted according to certain rules of conduct.

                 The youth, often dubbed as the digital generation who has an almost spontaneous grip of social media, are being called to be heralds of new evangelization.

                Catholics are encouraged to make good use of their digital presence. They are being warned of the limits of digital communication such as “the one-sidedness of interactions, the tendency to communicate only some parts of one’s interior world, the risk of constructing false image of oneself”.

                Time and again, Catholic citizens of the net are reminded what social media is not: it is not a substitute for face to face encounter; it is not meant to further widen the gap between the privileged and the marginalized; it should not be an instrument to demean people of different views; or to in any form diminish human right. Instead, Catholics are encouraged to communicate in honest, responsible and respectful manner.  In a world of speedy flow of information, we are also encouraged to intently listen and consider silence, too, as an effective way of communication.

New spaces for evangelization

                 Technology can be beneficial or destructive depending largely on how it is utilized. Social media with its tremendous effects is undeniable. It is clear that we must proclaim the Gospel there, too. By our own actions online we define a factor of our response on the call to “Go into the entire world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation.”

                 Social media clearly provides new spaces for evangelization. The means by which people connect and communicate is always going to evolve. What is more important is the message than the means by which that message is conveyed. To quote Pope Benedict XVI, “if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts. Trust in the power of God’s work must always be greater than any confidence we place in human means.”


This article was originally published in our parish’s official newsletter, “Ang Gintong Uhay”, released July 03, 2016.

Recollection of My Dream To Be an Angel

Write down the readings from your second-to-the-last serve.

From which book or letter did it come from? What was the response (if it was a Psalm)? Or if all else fail, what is the main thought of that reading? This is the first activity given by Father Divino during our ministry’s latest recollection. Simple but profound activity. It reveals if we really take the readings we proclaim to heart or not.

This also happens to be my first recollection ever.So what did I learn?

  1. That recollection adds no “new” knowledge, just a remembrance of ideas you knew before but have forgotten or of thoughts which are with you all along, but without you realizing it.The recollection  revolved mainly with readings from the bible with the theme: Lectors in Easter.
  2.  That I wasn’t wrong when I said that my dream to become an angel came true,  somehow, because angels (angelos = messenger) and evANGEList (bringer of good news) have the same root word.Recollection 1
  3. That like Mary Magdalene to whom Jesus showed himself after resurrection, the common priesthood we have as lay lectors is not a privilege that is solely intended for us. Or as our spiritual director said, being a lector is a privilege but not a privilege above the rest.
  4. True happiness comes from the word of God.Recollection 2
  5. That our initial intentions in becoming a lector aren’t as important as our reason to stay. To be still and stay with the Lord until the end, that is the challenge.

Some good reads for meditation on becoming a reader of God’s word inside the Holy Mass:

  • Revelation 10Recollection 3
  • Nehemiah 8Recollection 4
  • Isaiah 6Recollection 5

When I Learned What Exultet Means



I’m still on a “high”, so to speak. This year’s Holy Week makes me happy, surprisingly because for years, happy means spending Holy Week in a beach or any travel escapade. I myself, can’t believe that I’m loving what little things I do now  to serve in Mass and the parish.To be honest, those “little” things are energy-draining and a different kind of taxing. But amidst the buzz, stress, nervousness, and error, it’s all worth it. Fulfillment was just a word before all of these,  you know what I mean?

As said, all things when done with love becomes easy, so maybe love fuels the things I do.  The calling I responded to  opened opportunities for me to experience God more. I know I’ll always be in love with the beauty of the Liturgy no matter where I experience it. Needless to say this year is so far, my happiest Easter.


We, in the Commission on Social Communications,  attended the Chrism Mass in the Cathedral, also attended by the priests of St. Ildephonse of Guiguinto and all the other priests of Malolos Diocese. The cathedral was jam-packed so we had to hear Mass standing outside. A simple lunch was served back in the parish where the parish priest gave us guidelines on what to post for Holy Week.

At night, Lectors and Commentators Ministry had its turn for the vigil of Eucharistic Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.



Spot my siblings! There they are (5th, 6th, 7th folks from right) singing the Lord’s Prayer.Photo from Facebook page of PCY Malolos Cathedral.

Slowly, I am inviting my whole family to join church activities as well. Maybe that’s also one of the reasons of my gladness. I’m praying this is the start. Upon scanning the photos from the official Facebook page of the Parish Commission on Youth, I found out my siblings were caught in more photos than me in the ambo – which is good, which is nice. 🙂


During Good Fridays the faithful remembers the Death of Jesus on the Cross. This year is my second time to witness this.

Tears are falling from the people around. I’m holding back mine as the recently concluded meditations on the Seven Last Words of Jesus are beyond heartfelt.

The Seven Last Words was from 12noon – 3pm. One by one, The 7 Last Words were  read by a lector, then a priest or a religious explains it followed by a prayer of the faithful then by a song. One must be physically prepared to do this. If one had been lacking sleep due to the numerous activities from previous days, staying inside the cathedral – with summer scorching outside seeping through the church’s walls – is a challenge.

I was able to pick up a few lessons for my daily life and here’s my favorite: Do not think God abandons you during tough times. It’s in those moments that He is more at work and in touch with you. It’s simple, practical and doable. I have an inkling to words that can be applied everyday, because for me religious teachings don’t have to be “other worldly” all the time. This life, though it’s just a preparation for the next, is still life before eternity. Jesus Christ walked this Earth! And that must be for a very good reason.

Surprise: My whole family lasted until 3PM! I can imagine them feeling a bit tortured 😂but I’m happy they experienced this. Hopefully, we could be able to do this with more devotion in the years to come.


Before, I didn’t know Easter begins on Saturdays. I thought Easter begins after a child playing the role of an angel starts singing Regina Coeli.

The beauty of teaching others is that one can relearn or teach himself also in the process. I learned and shared this post from Catholic Link on our parish Facebook page about Holy Saturday. On this day, we celebrate: The Body of Jesus in the Tomb, Awaiting for the Resurrection, Jesus Descended into Hell and the Loneliness of Virgin Mary.

At night, paschal candle was lighted, Exultet (The Proclamation of Easter) was sung, the choir was awesome, there were lots of priests who co-celebrated the Mass and the bishop was there.


Happy Easter! With Father and Monsignor and the rest of the Lectors for the first Mass after Holy Thursday.

I was assigned to proclaim the First Reading. I was nervous hours before but on the event itself, I was at peace.

I wanted to say that the Easter Vigil felt magical, enchanting, grand, but Filipino couldn’t have put it much better. This celebration is “maringal”! I am just so thankful that I was given this opportunity to witness how Easter Vigil is being done. It’s splendid, it’s joyful, and yes, Easter is happier than Christmas! Everything seems and feels brand new.

I’m hoping the effects of Easter will accompany me the rest of the year. If I were to get an image now for my room, or my own future house, I’d choose the image of the Risen Christ. “We are the Easter people! Alleluia is our song!”

Ashes and Dust Randomness

_Remember, man, you are dust, and to dust you shall return_

Ash Wednesday, though not a day of obligation, marks the start of Lent, and I together with most Filipino Catholics observe this tradition.


Can they really make or break your entire day? Why do we give mornings such big authority? I gave this privilege of deciding my today to the night before. I wrote on my journal and it’s really my kind of prayer and connecting with myself. I told myself our game plan and how we’re going to approach today and the days hereafter. We just stopped talking when we reached March because really, that would be too much future-planning for both of us. Not much of what we plan come into fruition so to avoid too much disappointments and waste of time, we stopped at March.

Is that weird? I live alone with 5 other people in our condo unit so I think it’s natural and expected that I just talk to my self after work. I don’t hear voices. Yet. I’m gonna write about it once I do.

Battling Weight.

So yesternight had a good job of psyching me up for today. I woke up early and rose early. Sometimes, those two are really two different steps. I can just wake up early and spend 3 hours checking my social media accounts looking and finding nothing. Such a waste of life! Such an entertaining way to waste life. So I rose from bed and decided to make my dreams come true. I jogged and walked to a nearby mental hospital where they let outsiders use their premises for jogging or biking. This is my strongest run/jog since last year. I was able to jog 2.5rounds without rest. I weighed myself after and I found out I’m .15kg heavier than the 1st of February. Great! I’m aiming to lose 1kg per month. For January I failed – I have a lot of reasons why, I accept the result and moved on to February. I still have a couple of alibi but today is beautiful. That exercise was good!

Fasting and Abstinence.

Fasting and Abstinence Guide for Catholics.

Fasting and Abstinence Guide for Catholics. (Photo not mine.)

Induction cooker in our condo doesn’t work for some unknown reason. I brought it to the office and had our repair service department do the works. Hopefully it gets fixed so I won’t have to buy a new one. Nevertheless that broken induction cooker helps me with fasting and abstinence today because hey, it’s Ash Wednesday! I’m 27 and is a Catholic all these years but this is the first year that I really got to know what fasting and abstinence means. Abstinence = no pork. Fasting =less than 2 full meals for the entire day (not 3, without snacks). All Fridays during Lent, ages 14-59 have to fast. Fasting and abstinence is required again on Good Friday. Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lenten season, by the way.

What fasting reminded me? This part of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si.

  1. The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others. That is why the New Zealand bishops asked what the commandment “Thou shall not kill” means when “twenty percent of the world’s population consumes resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive”.

Money, which will be otherwise spent on food and cravings should be given to those who need them more. Why not just eat normally, and by normally it means excessively for some, then give alms? The homily for this Ash Wednesday at Our Lady of Fatima Parish brought up one point. Because by then, you’ll just be giving your excesses. Whereas when we fast, we give up something we really, really, really need (I’m hungry right now) for other people. Isusubo mo na lang, ibibigay mo pa sa iba. It’s a small gesture of self-sacrifice, a tiny imitation of how Jesus showed us that He loves us. “Thou shall not kill” has taken on additional meaning.

Ash Wednesday.

From last Sunday’s homily, Father Chi said that from the readings we can see that the Lord speaks to his people in:

1.) church or temple

2.) on the streets

3.) by the beach!!! (Peter Simon as a fisher of man)

***Like any homily, maybe those are not what were exactly said, but those are what I heard (I just love beaches, the sea and the sand, hmmmmm). To encounter God and to make this Lent meaningful, I think I have to concentrate on number 2. I’m doing number 1 and 3 already. Or am I really?

There’s just too much to be done – with street children, senior citizens, young mothers and their babies, physically handicapped, mentally retarded, etc. It’s true that it’s wrong to put all the responsibilities, hope and blame to the government. We’re all too aware they can’t do it all especially when they’re all busy trying to win the next election.

More Randomness.

I was happy yesterday because I found out Maine Mendoza approved my comment on her VDAY post! Simple joys.

Venice Piazza in McKinley Hills, Bonifacio Global City is now open to the public for picture taking and closed to the public for gondola riding. There were some who are kind of privileged to take the first rides but they are invited guests. The canal is not as long but is wider than the one inside Venetian Hotel in Macau.

Traffic in BGC is horrible!

Journalyn is now on Twitter! (@journalyn18) Link on the sidebar. ———->


Bro. Carmelo Cortez and White Rose Petals

It’s the Feast of St. Ildephonse de Toledo on January 23. Novena is being held in the parish and after Holy Mass on the 4th day, Bro. Carmelo Cortez was invited to conduct his healing session.

I had this chance to participate and witness how he conducts healing session. For every one’s information, Bro. Carmelo is known for some extraordinary happenings in his presence. Holy images are  being imprinted on rose petals he uses during his healing sessions. He can also turn water into healing oil. Please know that I am trying hard not to refer to this as “miracle” as the things he can do are still not declared official.It will take looooong before it could be declared as such.  All I can say is that the current bishop -and the two bishops before him- endorses Bro. Carmelo. January 9, he was accompanied by Bishop Jose F. Oliveros, D.D., also for a healing session, in a church in Brgy. Tabang, Guiguinto, Bulacan


The rose petal placed on my upper chest during the healing session bears the image of Crucifixion.

. Bro. Carmelo also had an audience with Pope Francis.

Right after Mass, people started to line up so lay ministers could put oil in their forehead and palms. After that, they had to line up another for Bro. Carmelo to put one rose petal in their upper chest, “close to the heart”. I also lined up, and we were instructed to say a prayer before looking at the rose petal. It took me some seconds to recognize what image was imprinted on the rose petal placed on me. Mine had the image of crucified Christ (and St. Pope John Paul 2?).


Our Lady of Perpetual Help image on the rose petals my father got.

My father fetches me every after mass so I urged him to also come to Bro. Carmelo. He was one of the lasts so from the excesses, my father was given two handfuls of white rose petals.  We observed them upon reaching home and we were delighted to see image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the one we also have on our living room altar. (I have another story regarding the images we keep at home but I’ll save it for next future posts.) Some petals do not bear an image. Others in the parish got Sto. Niño, images of Mother Mary, saints, the Holy Host, etc.


Petals used in the healing session were plucked from ordinary white roses inside the sacristy as witnessed by lay minister.

A comrade lay minister claims to have seen how the rose petals were plucked inside the sacristy from ordinary white roses, then placed into a metal bowl which Bro. Carmelo carried with him the entire healing session. Objectively speaking, Bro. Carmelo couldn’t have had ample time to maliciously put images on hundreds of petals one by one, on his own, without anyone seeing it. If you know of ways on how we could have fraudulently done it, please share your thoughts.

Now, it may be a question if God uses Bro. Carmelo to heal. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We really should question things –  without being afraid of the answer. One thing sure is that Jesus heals! His love surprises us in ordinary and extraordinary ways. And if we only look around, it’s not hard to see miracles happening every second. There’s clearly not a drought of miracles but amazing displays of them in each rose petals may be very welcome additions.

My personal take, if anything doesn’t violate the Scriptures and it helps people be closer to God, then it’s a good thing.

2016 Calendars were also given to each family. Just to help spread the information printed there, a shrine called Diocesan Shrine of Mary Mother of the Eucharist and Grace located in San Vicente, Santa Maria, Bulacan, 3022 Philippines holds the following:

Sunday Mass-10AM

Healing Mass-(Every 1st Saturday)-12NN

Counseling (Every 1st Saturday)-Before the Mass

Prayer for the Sick (Every 1st Saturday)

Mass for Priest (Every 1st Thursday)- 6PM

Confession – before and after the Holy Mass

Bro. Carmelo may be reached through


You may follow or visit Bro. Carmelo’s Facebook account (search for “Carmelo Francesco Villanueva Cortez”). He can no more accept more friends but most vital posts are public. Every first Saturday of the month, he conducts healing sessions inside the shrine with vicinity map shown below for directions which is followed by Holy Mass at 12 noon.


You may also contact Tito Mon at (+632) 917 271 9917 for his travel schedule or how to meet him. May God bless us all.





Christ the King: Welcome to His Reign


For years, I wondered who I am talking to. The Adoration Chapel heard all the deepest, most sincere, most significant prayers I said in life. And all those answered prayers were uttered without me knowing what’s on the other side of the glass. I can remember being doubtful if there’s really something there. Should I go inside? How to behave, with shoes on or without? Are there prayers or prerequisites before going inside? Why are there not so many people going in? But why are people going inside the adoration chapel even without Holy Mass ongoing? Why are the people there pray like their life depended on it?



HOLY SACRAMENT inside the church of Brgy. Atlag, Malolos, Bulacan where a “novernario” was also being held that time. Photo taken shortly before the procession started.

Now, I serve on the Saturday, 7am Mass. This is the only ordinary schedule when I fit in because I’m 2 hours away from the Cathedral from Mondays-Fridays. After this, it’s when the Exposition of the Holy Sacrament is routinely done.

It’s Him behind those glass! And it suddenly dawned on me why what I then called fate plays favorite on me when I “wish” in that place. It’s like a one-on-one session with Him. An exclusive interview that’s a two-seat distance where you could almost touch Him, almost see Him.

What I know now are collaborations of various homilies, processions, catechism and reflections I hear and read.

What I still don’t know are far greater that what has been revealed to me so far and I’m excited to find out. That excitement’s coupled with acceptance that I might exhaust this lifetime not knowing everything but I’ll still try. I’m gonna spend everyday walking that path to knowing Him in everything tangible and unseen. Anyway, this physical world we live in is not His kingdom. Earth is too small to contain all the might of his reign. Better look for Him with heart and eyes of faith instead of just physical eyes wide open.

I spent months clueless on what is being sung during Exposition. Because I’m in a ministry now, the more I learn, the more I discover that there are tons more to learn. Song is in Latin and though I’m interested in learning Latin, it’s no easy feat.


IT’S CLEAR NOW. The Holy Sacrament in one of the stations prepared during the Feast of Christ the King. Photo taken on the Patio of Malolos Cathedral on November 22, 2015.

Quae caeli pandis ostium.
Bella premunt hostilia;
Da robur, fer auxilium

Uni trinoque Domino
Sit sempiterna gloria:
Qui vitam sine termino,
Nobis donet in patria.


O SAVING Victim opening wide
The gate of heaven to all below.
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow.

To Thy great name be endless praise
Immortal Godhead, One in Three;
Oh, grant us endless length of days,
In our true native land with Thee.


Salutaris Hostia is from the last two verses of Verbum Supernum, one of the five Eucharistic Hymns written by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) at the request of Pope Urban IV (1261-1264) when the Pope first instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi in 1264.(Source:

After the procession from the altar to the Adoration Chapel, while people led by the priest are still kneeling, this prayer will be said (thrice) followed by Our Father and/or Hail Mary and/or Glory Be or the priest’s own:

O Sacrament most Holy,
O Sacrament Divine,
All praise and all thanksgiving,
Be every moment Thine.

This year, I’m glad to have joined the procession for Corpus Christi and Christ the King, the two times we conduct procession not for the Holy Virgin Mary nor saints but for the Christ, the King Himself. Pray and hope we recognize His kingship and companionship as we walk the streets of life.


Patio in front of Inmaculada Concepcion Basilica Minore of Malolos, Bulacan where different stations are waiting for the Holy Sacrament.



Ang Basileia Agosto-Setyembre 2015


Nagbigay ng panayam sa loob ng gym ng Immaculate Concepcion Seminary si Msgr. Pablo S.Legaspi, Jr. para sa mga “Senior” LecCom mula sa lahat ng bikarya ng Diyosesis ng Malolos


Ginanap ang Taunang Pangkalahatang Kapulungan ng mga Lector at Commentator (LecCom) ng Diyosesis ng Malolos noong ika-22 ng Agosto, 2015 sa Immaculate Concepcion Major Seminary, Brgy. Tabe, Guiguinto, Bulacan. Ang kapulungan ay dinaluhan ng mga LecCom sa loob ng labindalawang parokya ng bikarya ng Malolos.

Naging pangunahing tema ng kapulungan ang, “Ang mga Sakramento ng Pagpapagaling sa Buhay ng mga Tagapaglahad ng Salita ng Diyos”. Para sa pagtalakay ng naturang tema na tumutukoy sa Sakramento ng Kumpisal at Pagpapahid ng Langis sa Maysakit, hinati ang mga dumalong LecCom sa tatlong pangkat ayon sa edad at bilang ng taon ng paglilingkod.

Ang pangkat ng mga “Young” ay binubuo ng mga LecCom na may edad labing-walong gulang pababa. Naging tagapagsalita sa panayam si Fr. Nap Baltazar. Ang mga LecCom naman na may edad labingwalo pataas ay ibinilang sa pangkat ng mga “Junior” kung nakapaglingkod ng isa hanggang limang taon o sa pangkat ng mga “Senior” kung nakapaglingkod na ng higit sa limang taon. Si Fr. Anthony Chan, Spiritual Director ng LecCom Ministry ng Diyosesis, ang nagbigay ng panayam sa mga “Junior” habang si Msgr. Pablo S. Legaspi, Jr. naman ang naging tagapagsalita sa mga “Senior” Nagkaroon din ng karagdagang presentasyon ni Sis.Maritoni Suarez.


Pinangungunahan ang Ministry ng LecCom ng Parokya ni Bb. Guia Margarita Mena-San Gabriel bilang Pangulo at G. Romeo Jacinto bilang Pangalawang Pangulo (kanan) sa paggabay ni Rev. Fr. Gino Carlo Herrera bilang Spiritual Director.



Ang mga LecCom ng Parokya pagkatapos ng pakikinig ng mga panayam at pakikibahagi sa pag-awit at pagsayaw ng mga pampasiglang bilang.


Sinimulan ang Pangkalahatang Kapulungan nang ika-7:00N.U. sa pamamagitan ng pagdiriwang ng Banal na Misa at natapos bandang ala-1:00N.H.

On Favoritism: Which Doesn’t Even Have to Happen

I’ve said before in an IG post that life did not necessarily get easier when I started to know God more through the ministry. That was pulled from the challenges our family faced recently. While going through the lowest point of that ordeal I understood one point. From then on, I learned not to prefer a priest on the sole merit of whether he delivers powerful homilies or not.

Guilty as charged. I made this post for a contest (which my dear friend won). It's just that when I think of what makes me happy right now, this is definitely one of the reasons.

Guilty as charged. I made this post for a contest (which my dear friend won). It’s just that when I think of what makes me happy right now, this is definitely one of the reasons.

Years ago, when it was transition time for parish priests, the outgoing one said that he requests comparisons to be avoided – between him and the incoming priest. It’s not about the priests, he said, but about the One who sent both of them. It was seconded by Kuya Romy, the vice president of the Lectors and Commentators Ministry. There were times people don’t attend Mass anymore – they attend the priest instead.

Proclaiming God’s words are one of priests’ main missions as I understand from my very little knowledge of all things religion. This mission cannot be more amplified than when they are in the ambo during mass. For most people, and I can say this because for long, I am the usual lay person too, the only encounter they have with the priest is during Mass. That’s why what we perceive priests to be are based on how they deliver homilies. I know people who avoid mass schedules presided by priests they do not fancy – he speaks incoherently, he’s too old, he’s boring, he looks strict, etc. Now everyone likes a lively homilist, no question about that. But when I look at it closely, I can easily turn the table and just do my part in the interaction and that is to listen intently. Never minding how the message was delivered I ask myself instead on how to receive the messages properly. It’s totally up to the listener if a homily is moving one or not. After all, listeners are the ones being called for action.

For me the best priests are those who are there when they are needed. Availability is key. When our family needed counseling, having encountered a tough situation we didn’t knew how to handle; we rushed to a church and a convent at two different instances. Two priests attended to us, not knowing who we are or any of neither our whereabouts nor background. We were there as family members asking for help, searching for answers. I’d be very vague about that situation as it is not only my story to tell. They listened intently, counseled us and prayed with us and for us. We met them without their priestly vestment on, in their “ordinary human” composure, just like an old friend.

Aside from the two of them, I’m also thankful for priests who take time to sincerely ask how I am – that simple. They make you feel like if you have problems you can share with them. If you’re happy then they’re happy for you, too. I appreciate priests who sincerely wanted to know about a person they encounter – they emulate how Christ is personal to each one of us. I know for a fact that priests are busy, especially these days when there are reports of declining number of people who join religious life. So for those who were there for me during those troubled times, during those few seconds when they expressed so much without really saying anything (when you ask for their hands in blessing), I’ll forever be grateful. Oh, and let’s not forget the priests who actually answers facebook chat! They are reachable. Those favors they do in serving the people means a lot more than the title they hold. I mean, I love Pope Francis but chances are he may not be there to officiate my wedding or hear my confession. Those who make themselves available for ordinary lay people are now my new favorites.

My First Pilgrimage Part 1

My first pet. My first doll. My first trip to the beach. I remember those phrases as imposed subjects cum title of the essays given during grade school. Those words sounds child-like to me and are very apt to what I experienced for the first time last week – my first pilgrimage.

I’ve been to few churches – sometimes as a side trip to a city tour or because I had to attend a baptism or a friend’s wedding. But being a pilgrim is a first time to me. The difference, I think, lies on the purpose of visit. Pilgrimage, I discovered, is definitely more than just sightseeing of structures or shrines, or knocking on church doors followed by wishing just because it is a first time. For me, it was taking baby steps in deepening one’s faith.We are on earth but we are not of this world and so we are always in search of something. There’s always ideas we can not understand and maybe some ancient walls, sculptures and paintings, or falling bricks and dusted windows can provide clarity or validation somehow.


We started early morning, around 3AM was our assembly time in front of Malolos Cathedral. Our group, the Ministry of Lectors and Commentators of Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Malolos Basilica Minore occupied one whole bus. We departed after 4AM and started the trip by praying the rosary. Before 6AM, we were on our first stop – Saint Pio Chapel in Libis, Quezon City.

How ignorant am I when it comes to religion? I didn’t know who St. Pio was before this pilgrimage. Well, I did some research the day before and here are what I fount out which struck me most:

  • His body remains incorruptible despite his death on 1958.
  • He was quoted saying that he won’t enter paradise until the last of his spiritual children enters. Wow!

Our Ministry’s first group picture for the day in front of Saint Pio Chapel in Libis, Quezon City. Girls were ordered to wear pink and the boys blue.


Statues inside the shrine.


A garden of rosaries can be found here. It’s tradition for people who asked graces trough Padre Pio’s intercession to come back and leave a rosary.

The shrine houses a garden of rosary. Rosaries of answered prayers through his intercession.

The chapel is a silent chapel – no loud prayers aloud. We arrived very early even before the shrine opened so there were still few people aside from our group. As a general rule and as posted on signage, you can line up to touch the image of St. Pio and utter your prayer for 15 seconds each only. This is to give equal chance to all. One may leave written prayer to be deposited in a clear box in front of the image.

In every church we visit, we pray from the book of “Ang Tatlong Araw na Pagdiriwang ng Pagpapakasakit, Kamatayan at Pagkabuhay ng Panginoon”.

Mass schedules can be found in this link:


We headed next to Antipolo, Rizal for Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage National Shrine or simply Antipolo Cathedral. It wasn’t my first time here since I worked in Rizal for almost three years. The mass officiated by the Bishop was just starting when we entered around 7AM but we had an itinerary to follow. We’ll attend mass in another church.


Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage continues to attract pilgrims from in and out of Antipolo.

We said our station prayers after marveling at the cathedral’s structure. Once again, loud prayers are not allowed especially inside the adoration chapel.


In front of the cathdral. We made sure to be silent as there was an ongoing Mass that time. Photo Credits: Guia Mena San Gabriel

Somehow, trips would not be complete without “pasalubong” and here in Antipolo, it’s gotta be “kasuy and suman”. There is a store which was strongly recommended by our tour guide where most of us bought food. They give rosary bracelets as free treat.  The place surrounding Antipolo Cathedral is greatly commercialized. Every where you turn, there’s always someone who wants to sell you something. It’s a bit hard to solemnize your experience in a place like that. Good thing, it’s different inside the church itself.


The place is as wide as the statue of Our Lady is tremendously high. Real, live sheep roam around the hills below the 71-foot statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, creating a somewhat biblical scene right before your eyes or as a magnificent selfie backdrop.


Queen of the Holy Rosary on top of a hill. Photo Credits: Guia Mena San Gabriel

RICA is a word that means rich and it also stands for Rosarii Institute Contemplation in Asia. Regina RICA is still so new being dedicated for only two years now. We waited for the Holy Mass to start but after thirty minutes, a nun, took hold of the mic and asked if there is a priest in the crowd who could preside over the Mass. There was some miscommunication regarding mass schedules. Unfortunately, there was none so to make use of the idle time, the nun gave a lot of information regarding Regina RICA. She discussed the parts of the shrine and the materials and paintings that made the chapel, its MOM (Mary’s One Million) Project, the statues and other trivia and histories regarding the place.


CONTEMPLATA ALIIS TRADERE.Latin phrase spelled out on the stage/altar meaning to contemplate and share the fruit of that contemplation.

After an hour of waiting, Mass started and it was well worth the wait. After the Mass, all those who wanted to have their religious items blessed just have to raise them up and the priest went around to bless every pew with holy water. I didn’t have any religious item with me. I left my rosary inside the bus but I still raised my right hand thinking that I might as well be the religious item myself. When we visited St. Pio, I asked to be considered as one of his spiritual children. Here in Regina RICA, I prayed to be blessed as a Lector and as a writer for the Social Communications Commission.

Anointing of healing oil followed. RICA is starting to be known for healing even cancer so once again, people lined up for their heads and both palms to be anointed one by one. I guess, people without physical sickness lined up, too, including all of us in the ministry. We all needed spiritual healing after all. By the time our group started our station prayers at around 2PM, all of us were starving or dizzy already.


You may not see it but all were famished by this time that our activity ended at Regina RICA.

I could not agree more that RICA is a place for contemplation. The place still has a lot of plans for development and I’m excited to come back with my mother maybe next year. I got an extra prayer booklet for healing for my godmother.


A painting inside the chapel beside the altar. Regina RICA, Tanay, Rizal.


A painting inside the chapel beside the altar. Regina RICA, Tanay, Rizal.

Find out the rest of the churches we visited on My First Pilgrimage (Part 2).

My First Pilgrimage Part 2

My First Pilgrimage Part 1



St. Peter of Alcantara Parish or Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba

A few hours of travel brought us to Pakil, Laguna, where a church which prides itself to remain as authentic as it was built centuries ago is located. It stands just a few meters beside a river and in a very narrow street – its front filled with souvenir and merchandise stores not to mention basketball court. Laguna is home to the most renowned sculptors in the Philippines and so as expected, every inch of the church, be it made of stone or wood, as long as there is sculpture, it was delicately labored by the artists of the province. St. Peter Alcantara Church is old but strong and sturdy, the altar magnificent. Maybe because the churches I’ve been in Bulacan and Manila aren’t made like that, I was silently in awe when I saw not one, nor two nor three images of saints in the altar but fourteen icons. Let me be loose in saying that the main altar looks like a collection of dolls in boxes.


The century-old images at the main altar.


Our ministry in front of the altar of St. Peter of Alcantara Parish. Photo Credit: Guia Mena San Gabriel

We spent a great deal of time listening to a devotee of the Virgin Mary, telling stories about the church and its history. This church houses the image of Virgen of Turumba. There is also a 9×11 image of the Virgin Mary at the second floor which, according to the parish priest himself, doesn’t want to be photographed on some occasions. It is said that when once captures a comprehensible photo of that image, that goes to show that the photographer has a good heart. Otherwise, you know the drill.


Top left clockwise: The oil canvass painting of Virgen of Turumba, the Our Lady devotee passionately telling stories of the church to our group, the dresses and accessories used by the image

Some parts of the ceiling and walls are already corroding but the church decides not to have it renovated or fixed at all as they want the authenticity of all aspects of the church preserved. It is till so safe structurally since processions are still done up to the top of the church. For it to hold that weight frequently says a lot about its stability.



Facade of St. James the Apostle Parish in Paete, Laguna

A few minutes from Pakil, we headed to nearby Paete, Laguna. We did a bit of walking since our bus cannot get in the narrow streets leading to the church from the main road. It was about dawn and the church’s main front door was closed. We entered through the door on its right side. A mass will be starting in a few minutes so we hurriedly took group pictures and uttered our prayers in front of the image of the Risen Jesus which was beside the altar.

There is an image of Jesus which the locals bathe in an alcoholic drink called “lambanog”. The “lambanog” is then consumed by the people after. Its cloth is also cut into pieces and given to the parishioners and pilgrims thought that time that we came, since it was not a week after Easter Sunday, there wasn’t any available.


Me holding the book, “”. Before I started in our ministry, I didn’t even know what Triduo means or that the image at my back is that of the Risen Christ.

Saint James the Apostle Parish became our last church to visit. We were supposed to visit one in Baras, Rizal but it will already be very late by the time we get there and we may not be allowed entry anymore so we just started our way home to Bulacan.


Our group in front of the altar of St. Jame the Apostle Parish in Paete, Laguna. Photo Credit: Guia Mena San Gabriel


So what did I learn about pilgrimage from an entire day spent in church hopping? Before, I thought pilgrimage is only to the Holy Land. I didn’t think we can do pilgrimage in the Philippines. Apology for my ignorance but I’m just being blunt about it. So for lesson number 1, every place can be holy. It’s especially true for churches where two or more people meet everyday getting in touch with God, God is in it. Maybe the same spirit which called me to be a lector inspired the painters, sculptors, engineers and architects who built the church lots of years ago. Maybe that same force allows the parishioners to maintain the cleanliness of the churches, to keep the altar adorned with flowers and keep those churches operating still despite and in spite of every thing.

Lesson number 2. Prayer is still what makes a pilgrimage. Visita Iglesia sometimes become “Rampa Iglesia”. Sometimes it’s meaning is reduced as part of a tourist itinerary. The priest in Regina RICA asked during the homily, “Why are you here?”. A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey with the Lord through things that are visible and tangible. It’s about searching for Him in places unfamiliar and finding Him walking beside us all along. Every step was a prayer, every marveling at paintings and icons were prayers.

Lesson number 3. Pilgrimage accents the need of humans for miracles – for cancer to be cured, for loved ones to love us back, for pockets to be filled, for exams and schooling to be passed, for contest to be won, for few pieces of bread and fish to be multiplied a hundredfold. At one point, I am amidst a see of church goers and I thought, what were all these people telling God simultaneously. My answer: the same things I tell Him. More or less the things I need are also their needs. The sins I confess, those things I thought only God knows, might also be the things they ask forgiveness for.  We are all in dire need of a saviour; for grandiose and minute displays of miracles and everyday salvation.

Click My First Pilgrimage Part 1 for the firs part of our journey. 🙂