Posts

Showing posts from 2007

A TREASURE WELL-KEPT IN THE HEART

Catholic Homily/Reflection
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

We all have our own storehouse of what we consider precious in our lives. I remember my maternal grandmother had a wicker chest (baul) full of a great many and varied stuff, from pieces of cloths (retazos) to old clothes, and a number of old little boxes containing more trinkets. It dawned on me only when I was already an adult that that chest was grandma’s storehouse of memories of times gone by.

Up until quite recently, I, too, had my own version of this chest. It contained a whole lot of memorabilia from my first assignment as a practical trainee in a small start-up parish that was no more than 3 years old then, as a student of theology, as a young priest, of my various travels in the U.S. and in Europe. Everything precious…everything memorable…everything worth reminiscing…we keep them for posterity. We treat them as some kind of a priceless treasure.

But there are things that we cannot keep or hold on to. We cannot hold on …

FAMILY COMMUNION: A COMMITMENT AND A CALL

Catholic Homily/Reflection
Feast of the Holy Family

The first two readings today almost sound Pollyannish – an ideal situation, a too-good-to-be-true kind of thing that many people in our times may find close to impossible to attain, let alone, aim after. At a time when, in many places in the world, 50 % per cent of marriages end up in divorce within the first ten years, when we can easily delete one another’s presence in our lives as fast as we can delete each other’s names from our electronic address books and PDAs, marriage – and family life, for that matter – do not appear as rosy and saccharine as how Sirach may paint it to be. When the average number of years marriages last in America has fallen down to only seven years, in a culture where adults long to remain young, and young people cannot wait to “grow up,” and fly the roost, and build one’s own nest by age 18, Sirach’s exhortations just cannot compete with what the age of reality TV offers, day in and day out.

In third-world co…

A PILGRIM PEOPLE IN GREAT REJOICING

Catholic Homily/Reflection
Christmas Midnight Mass
N.B. I am posting here a homily I preached last year in Waldorf, MD

All our preparations for Christmas pays off tonight … the sleepless nights, the patient waiting in lines at shops, or in our traffic-clogged thoroughfares, our participation (at least for many, many Filipinos all over the world) at the now fabled and proverbial “simbang gabi” (done everywhere there are enough Filipinos, as it is done in Dubai with a nightly attendance of no less than 4,000 people!). We are a people in deep rejoicing … from the hovels and palatial homes in and around Manila, to the snow-covered and chilly “maisons au ville du Montreal,” from cold and chilly majestic Milan churches, to more humble, but no less gaily decorated chapels at Marilao in Bulacan, or Mendez in Cavite, and beyond … yes, even in Metuchen, NJ, and that city by the Hudson river that is home to Philippine Bread House that is responsible for most of those ubiquitous “pan de sal” and “e…

SEEING TRULY, GRASPING FULLY (Christmas Day)

Catholic Homily/Reflection
Solemnity of the Birth of Christ

By Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB

Preaching during the Christmas liturgy is a truly challenging one for a variety of reasons. For one, there are four different liturgical moments that revolve around Christmas: the Vigil Mass, Midnight Mass, Dawn Mass, and the Mass during the day, each of which points to a second reason – the sheer richness of the readings, the breadth and depth of insights contained therein, and the unfathomable mystery they all try to shed light on. Having been preaching for the last 24 Christmases, I would personally add a third, no less difficult, challenge … the utter exhaustion and tiredness of the adults in our midst, battered limp and listless by so much partying, stressful shopping (particularly if one’s budget is tight), and being at their wits’ end trying to guess what gifts to whomever that will most likely not end up in the recycle bin.

No, I am not speaking about the GUI icon that made Bill Gates the riche…

SET APART, NOT FOR GLORY, BUT FOR SERVICE

Catholic Homily/Reflection
4th Sunday of Advent - Year A
By Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB

This Sunday, just as we are stepping onto the threshold of the much-awaited time of fulfillment of the promises of the Lord, we are told stories of tests, trials, failures, and flying colors!

Ahaz is given the opportunity of a lifetime. He is told by the Lord to ask for a sign … “a sign as deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky.” He is, to use a contemporary figure of speech, given some kind of blank check, a capital he could use to show his faith in the word and promises of the Lord. Ahaz, we are told, fails the test. False modesty and feigned piety do him in. “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord.”

Joseph, betrothed and practically joined in marriage to Mary, as was the Jewish custom at that time, also undergoes a particularly trying ordeal. Already given to him in a marriage that only needed the formalities as set by the law, Mary was “found to be with child.” Just one step towards the consumm…

WAITING IN TEARS, REJOICING IN HOPE (3rd Sunday of Advent)

Catholic Homily/Reflection
3rd Sunday of Advent - December 16, 2007

Not only is there a collage (and a seeming clash!) of images in today’s readings – deserts coming to full bloom, farmers waiting for rain and harvest, prison and prophetism; one also comes to grips with a mélange of feelings ... Isaiah waxes hopeful, painting a picture of regeneration, with the “desert,” the “parched land,” and the “steppe” all coming to full flowering, and all exploding in joyful song. James, for his part, extols patience through the image of a farmer waiting “for the precious fruits of the earth.” With a tone that seems to speak of ambivalence, John the Baptist, gives a puzzled question to Jesus through his emissaries: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”

Gaudete Sunday, which is meant to be a day of “rejoicing,” midway as we are through the liturgical period of “waiting” and “preparation” for the “parousia” or the coming of the Lord, finds us with a mixed bag of images and …

MARY, HANDMAID OF THE LORD

Catholic Reflection/Homily
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - December 8, 2007


So many people want to be recollected. But so few understand what it means. Still fewer do not know what it entails. The world keeps on telling us: Produce. Do something. Don’t just sit there; be productive. People who claim they want to be recollected often don’t really want to be recollected. What they really want is collect things, collect souvenirs. Just like people who spend their recollection day gathering up stuff to bring home from the gift shop, or taking pictures, especially the digital kind that you can easily crop, drop, or otherwise reject, without guilt, or dump into one’s digital dust bin of overflowing memories.

For one reason or another, to be recollected is almost always seen as being hopelessly passive, wasting time gracefully, (and money, for one usually pays for an excursion to a monastery or retreat house), and waiting passively for the next talk or powerpoint presentation, or the n…

CADENCES OF HOME, IMAGES OF HOPE

Catholic Homily/Reflection on the 2nd Sunday of Advent - Year A
By Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB

One thing I love doing most is going up mountains (as I get older, these coveted mountains get lower and lower, I must confess). The best part, of course, is not the grueling climb up the peak. Neither is it going down from the peak. The best part is being at the peak, looking down and far in the fading horizon, or at least, looking down with ill-concealed sense of triumph at seeing the winding path one has traversed. On a clear day, or a moonlit night, the best yet is to extend one’s gaze in the undefined distant horizon, soaking oneself up in the oceanic feelings brought about by the breathtaking beauty of nature, conjuring up visions of yet better and greater things, as only the human spirit can do. There is something deeply awesome in being up a mountain on a clear day, looking towards the direction of one’s dreams and visions. Somehow, buoyed by the success of making it to the top, one canno…

IT IS NOW THE HOUR! (1st Sunday Advent-A)

Catholic Homily/Reflection
1st Sunday of Advent- Year A

The second and third readings’ insistence, not without a tone of urgency, to “rise and shine” and “conduct ourselves properly as in the day,” is striking. There is no mistaking it. It is urgent. It is important. And it is imperative that one gets to realize that, while waiting for something imminent and sure, one really has no time to lose, no moment to spare, no opportunity to waste and let go.

The insistence can be summarized simply thus: it is now the hour!

It is now the hour! Whilst it is true and obvious that in our days, people are hard pressed for time, and are quite incapable of waiting, it is also true that for many people in a mad rush towards something undefined, the sense of urgency can often be more a sign of neurotic attachment to being occupied and busy with something. People rush out of their work places, only to kill time in front of the TV screen, watching and getting involved in telenovelas, or let time fritter awa…

BEYOND VAGUE OPTIMISM

Catholic Homily/Reflection
1st Sunday of Advent - Year A

By Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB

Advent has come once again. The rhythm of the Church’s liturgical calendar once more reawakens us to a fresh start, a new beginning, a renewed sense of expectation. There is newness all around us. In temperate zones, the breathtaking sights of “Goldengroves” of once lush greeneries turned orange, crimson, ochre, red, yellow, and then brown, fade away gradually, and give way to an apparent starkness and barrenness of winter, giving way to images of life preparing to burrow under cover of cold, chilly snow. In the rest of the world gifted with more sunshine and warmth, cool, dry, refreshing breezes take the place of wet, wild, and windy storms, or scorching heat, as the sun withdraws a bit from the scene, causing longer nights and shorter days – and milder weather. All over the world, there is a reason that comes with the season, to start afresh, make new plans, and adapt oneself to the changing conditions…

THE CROSS AS THE ULTIMATE REVERSAL

Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection
Solemnity of Christ the King

By Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB

Over the past few weeks, we have been reflecting on some reversals that the Gospel accounts present: the Pharisee and the Publican, Zacchaeus the tax collector, and his dramatic turn-around towards the Lord and his fellowmen, and the powerless widow who nevertheless influenced the unjust judge by her persistence. Make no mistake about it. Scriptural evidence is clear with regards to whose side God is on. He is on the side of the powerless, the poor, the orphan, and the widow. More than that, He has a soft spot for those who call on Him in trust, in unflinching and unflappable faith.

Today, we are face to face with one more such reversal … the ultimate reversal of the cross, an overturning of something that all of humanity associated with defeat, with death, with shame, and utter humiliation.

No matter contemporary and past society’s attachment to a culture of power and prestige, pomp and circumstance…