Several decades ago, we were all strangers from different lands, with varying backgrounds and upbringing, but the Lord plucked us out from our individual comfort zones, and put us in a place inhabited by men in black and white. There, we were honed in the black and white tradition and discipline, but some of us opted to pursue different directions. Despite this seeming divergence, the black and white dots in us have become indelible. Thus, the convergence in the brotherhood we call Filii Sancti Dominici Philippinensis, Inc.
I challenge all my Filii brothers to bring out the black and white in them not only during this Christmas season but always in their daily secular lives as true sons of St. Dominic.
In this happiest season of all, I wish you and your families a blessed Christmas and a prosperous 2018!
Malipayon nga Pascua! (Merry Christmas!)
I am on the way to completing the nine dawns of the Simbang Gabi as my thoughts turn to my Filii Sancti Dominici brothers, who have been among the best things that happened to me in 2017.
For each one of them this Christmas, I pray that, like the shepherds and the Magi, the call towards the Messiah may never wane nor waver in their hearts, and like John, they may give witness continually, boldly, and joyfully, in word and in deed, that the Emmanuel is very much a reality in our daily lives. A blessed Christmas to every Filius and his loved ones!
Once again, it’s this time of the year when warm memories and cherished Christmas traditions fill our minds and hearts in welcoming baby Jesus born in a manger. My prayers and wishes to all of you, that you and our loved ones may have a Blessed Christmas and a New year of peace and happiness!
Malipayon nga paskua kag mahimungayaon nga bag-ong tuig! (Merry Christmas and prosperous new year!)
As we celebrate Advent 2017, we set our hearts and minds to the promise of Joy, Peace and Love brought by a Savior born in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. This is the message of Christmas, and men tasked to preach it have no further need of any other topic in the pulpit to rouse political or anti-government sentiments during the Misa de Gallo masses.
Let us allow the faithful to hear the gospel truth about the real meaning of Christmas without recourse to irony, malice and calumny, but with the aim to sanctify the lives of Christians and to edify the works of the Christian community daily. Seen and done this way, from the very perspective and practice of the early Church, we will surely have a different Christmas this year – a simple observance of Christ’s birth with neither hatred, nor rancor, nor prejudice to anyone but rather only goodwill to all.
The word “holiday” came from the Old English word “haligdæg”, meaning “sacred day”, with reference to the Sabbath. It wasn’t used to refer to the Christmas season until 1937 when Camel cigarettes started using it in their advertisements in the United States. So whether you enjoyed a puff or not, here’s wishing you happy holidays!
Christmas is all about love. God’s love for man. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believe in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16) “Greater love no man has than to lay down his life for his friends.” ( Jn 15:13)
By human standards, it is easier to love someone who is lovable – pleasing to behold, beautiful, handsome, well mannered, etc. On the other hand, it is hard to love someone who is so unlovable – those who hurt us, those who malign us, those who are doing evil to us.
Human standards. That is our limitation in loving. We put so many conditions in our act of loving. We love only those who are up to our standards. And not so many can live up to our standards.
God’s love is different. There are no standards. It is unconditional. What is so amazing about this love is, God loves us even in our most wretched state – in our sinfulness. “God proved his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) How lofty a love.
And what is even more marvelous about this love is “though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God, something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied Himself and took a form of a slave being borne in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2:6-7) From God to man without leaving God. From one with the absolute holiness of God to one with the being of sinful man. How remarkable.
God’s love is something concrete. It is manifested. It is an event. It is historical. We can feel it. We can experience it.
Jesus is the tangible expression of God’s love. His birth is a joyful beginning of that love. His whole life is a lived manifestation of that love. His death is the ultimate and supreme expression of that love. “Greater love no man has than to lay down his life for his friends.” ( Jn 15:13) When you give your life, there is nothing more you can give for you have given it all.
We are the object of that love. The reason for that love. We are the reason why Jesus came into this world. We are the reason why there is Christmas.
That makes Christmas a celebration of God’s immense love for us men and our response to that love. It is where Jesus is leading us to. “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6) and “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12) Jesus said. It is about Jesus as the way. It is about loving as Jesus loves. Loving with an unconditional, sacrificial, altruistic, forgiving and everlasting love.
Ultimately, it is our sanctification and salvation.
A Christmas celebration leading us “to love as Jesus loves” can truly and meaningfully be a blessed Christmas.