Tag Archives: Lent

Ashes to ashes

My planner told me Ash Wednesday occurs twice this year…but of course that’s just a misprint. I had to double check when Ash Wednesday really was so I won’t forget to hear mass on that day. And yes, it was yesterday, a month exactly before my birthday.

It’s been crazy the past two weeks — work and extra curricular ate up all my time and I had to sacrifice work out days and sleep just to finish everything that I need to do. I even did some work at home and on a weekend just to get rid of some backlog. I know it’s really bad when I can’t even enjoy doing the things I do because I keep on thinking of the things I still have to do. Like I can’t enjoy dancing because work is on the way, or my mind keeps on wandering off during mass because I have to work. Sigh.

I know that one thing has been missing in my life a bit, and it’s praying. I’m trying I don’t think I am even trying too hard to get my prayer time back. I used to knock on God’s door everyday, now I don’t think I can do that, much less ring His doorbell. It’s been annoying, especially since I know I should do it, but every morning, I don’t pray. I don’t take the time off on my own to talk to God. I don’t even open my Bible now, and it’s getting dusty on my shelf.

That’s why yesterday’s celebration of Ash Wednesday felt a bit foreign. Like it was some kind of thing that I used to do but don’t anymore. I still believe in it, I believe in God, and I know He’s listening, but I felt like I was far, far away, so out of reach.

I want this Lent to be different. I want this to mean something.

Dear Father, please help me get to You this season. Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see You.

I was thinking of what my Lenten sacrifice is for this year, since I didn’t really do anything last year (and no, no boys this year). There’s the computer and Internet fast on Holy Week, and abstaining from meat from Fridays, but for the other days, what do I give up? I was thinking of giving up chocolate (as with the other Catholics all over the world do, I heard), but ever since I followed my diet, I hardly eat a lot of chocolates anyway. It hit me last night what I will fast from this Lent:

BOOKSTORES. And buying books.

It’s no secret that I love books, and I can’t possibly stop reading (besides, that’s just wrong). I love going to book stores too and just wandering around, and maybe buying something before I go out. I kind of spend a bit too much on books that I don’t even have that much time to read, and my TBR list is just growing and growing…and well, buying books can be like a drug to me sometimes (or…maybe not. That is kind of extreme).

But it’s something I really like doing, and sacrifice isn’t sacrifice if it’s not self-denial. So…this lent, I’m sacrificing my book store visits and book buys. I did a  book ban for more than five months before, I can do this again. It stops me from doing impulse buys, too. And while I’m at it, I can use the time I save to do more meaningful things, like pray, and pray for the people who have no access to book stores and proper education. And maybe, at the end of Lent, I can finally get to give the books I don’t read to a charity or a library, and maybe even sponsor another kid so they can study.

I hope that by posting here, it keeps me accountable, and would help me find God and make this Lent more meaningful, and hopefully jump start my prayer life again.

Jesus, please help me get to You this season. Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see You.

If I Were There

While I was on a long and quite different Good Friday yesterday (more to this on a later post), I suddenly wondered (for the nth time in the my entire life): how did the people who knew Jesus back then felt during this very day?

I try to put myself in the crowds. If I were present in that time, where would I be? Would I be one of Jesus’ followers? Or would I be one of the people shouting for His crucifixion? Would I even care at all?

If I were one of Jesus’ followers, and He asked me to come with Him to Gethsemane, would I stay awake for Him while He prayed? (I’m afraid I kind of know what the answer to this question is. :( )

If I followed Him when He was taken, and I was asked the same questions that Peter was asked, how would I have answered? Would I tell them the truth even if it meant I could die too, or would I answer like Peter, even after swearing my loyalty to Jesus?

If I didn’t follow Him there, would I have followed Him the way John did as Jesus walked to Calvary? Would I have stood at the foot of the cross, heart breaking at the sight of my friend who is being punished unjustly before my eyes? Would I have stood beside Mary as she cried for her only Son?

Or would I have hid in the upper room, scared to be found and connected with Him, confused on why all these is happening?

If I were one of the people in the crowds and the guards asked me to help Jesus to carry His cross just as how Simon was asked, would I have said yes, too? Or would I pretend it wasn’t me they were calling and hide instead? Would I have said an excuse just so I wouldn’t have to accept the responsibility?

If I were one of His followers back then, one of the women who helped bury Jesus in the tomb, how would I have felt after doing so? Would there be a sense of hopelessness, the feeling of “What now?” after? What would happen now? I believed in Him, but He’s in the tomb, and it is over. How do I go back to the way it was before?

Why did He have to die?

Or…would I be a Judas Iscariot, selling Him out and then being so wracked with guilt afterwards that I couldn’t ask for forgiveness? Would I be so blind and crazed that I would decide to just end it all myself by tying a rope around my neck and hanging on a tree?

Or would I even really care about all that happened at all?


This week has got to be the most book-filled week. I think I finished four books this week, and not all of them were short. Wow. Talk about enthusiastic reading.

But that is what happens to me when I take away one thing that has become more or less an essential to me every night and day – my computer and the Internet (okay, so they’re two things). And although I have successfully avoided them last year (I don’t know how I did that, really), this year proved to be a bit more difficult. Not only in this particular fast, but also in the other fast. Let’s see how I fared this Lent:

  • The first fast I told myself I’d be doing this year was the 40 days of prayer and fasting…which I failed miserably. Last year I did the seven days of prayer and fasting, which I was kind of successful in doing. This year was just…hard. Every Friday of the fast, I’d end up eating too much. I didn’t even mentally prepare for the fast. And come Holy Week, I had it in my mind to really fast…but then the Holy Week started with my birthday! Ack.
  • The next, which was what I mentioned earlier, was the no computer and Internet fast. I almost made it…but not without me going online for an hour each on Thursday and Friday, and finally breaking the fast yesterday. How about that for conviction. :( I bet even taking away my laptop wouldn’t help; I probably would’ve just stolen some online time from my dad’s or from some laptop rental out there. :(
  • And to top it all off, I didn’t get to confess this Lent. :(

So conviction and fasting wise, I had a pretty crummy Lent. I did manage to stay away from meat every Friday…but it doesn’t feel like it’s a worthy offering, you know?

I’m sorry Lord.

I know I shouldn’t be too hard on myself with that, but I just feel like I took away some of the gifts that I planned to give to someone special. Or that I broke a promise to someone and although he says it’s okay, I can’t help but feel guilty.

Or like Peter, who promised that he would never turn his back on Jesus, but denied Him not once, but three times, a few hours later. How’s that for conviction.

There’s one book I’ve always loved reading and going back to especially during Holy Week: Max Lucado’s No Wonder They Called Him the Savior. Here’s the particular part that always makes my eyes fill with tears:

Look in Mark, chapter 16. Read the first five verses about the women’s surprise when they find the stone moved to the side. Then feast on that beautiful phrase spoken by the angel, “He is not here, he is risen,” but don’t pause for too long. Go a bit further…the verse reads like this: … “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.”

…If I might paraphrase the words, “Don’t stay here, go tell the disciples,” a pause, then a smile, “and especially Peter, that he is going before you to Galilee.”

What a line. It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall — and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again. “Be sure to tell Peter that he’s not left out. Tell him that one failure doesn’t make a flop.”

pp 93-94, No Wonder They Called Him the Savior by Max Lucado

St. Peter is one of my favorite saints (together with St. Paul). His stubbornness (“No, you won’t wash my feet!”) and his short temper (he cut off an ear!) were definitely his flaws, but I can’t get over his intense devotion that made him say those words, “Even though all the others fall away, I will not.” (Mark 14:29) I’d like to believe that Jesus gave him a rueful smile before he foretold of his denial, to which Peter stubbornly insisted, “Though I have to die with you, I will never deny you.” (Mark 14:31)

I see myself in that moment, especially in the past Lent. As much as I’d like to be John, who stuck by Jesus’ side all through out, I think I was more of Peter, who promised such and such to Jesus, but didn’t follow through. And I knew Jesus knew that would happen to me this year, just like He knew Peter would deny him.

I’m not saying that what I failed to do in the last few weeks was excusable, that I shouldn’t do it again next time since I failed this year and still God loves me anyway. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t bother to fast or confess next time. That’s not the point. The thing is, even in my lack of faith, in my lack of willpower, God still grants me the grace and forgives me. Jesus knows that this would happen, and yet He forgives me. And although I know God appreciates that I promise to try harder next time, He’s asking me to accept the grace He is offering. Because He wants me — as in the WHOLE me — more than He wants any of my sacrifices, just as how He wanted Peter more than His promise of sticking by Him. :)

It sounds a bit absurd in some ways, I know, but what’s faith if you’re certain about everything?

As we start on this Easter season today, I leave you with a quote I got from one of the books I finished reading this weekend:

Easter cannot exist for you and for me without a deep willingness to embrace the mystery of love at its most fundamental: he who was dead now lives; I who was lost am found. I don’t ever pretend to understand that. Even that willingness is a gift…His death paid for my sin; his Resurrection opened the door for me to new life.
– p. 264, May Crowning, Mass and Merton: 50 Reasons I Love Being Catholic by Liz Kelly

Happy Easter, everyone. :)

My Lenten Sacrifice

Since we’re on the topic of Lent, and Ash Wednesday just passed, I found this piece I wrote last year for Jun, for his email distribution list. I find it funny how the thing I wrote really happened, and how many emails and text messages I received that day because of this thing. True, love life is a big thing for everyone, even if a lot of people deny it. :P

Anyway, this was posted on Godchicks, but since the site is kind of hibernating right now, I’m reposting it here for everyone’s…I don’t know, enjoyment? Haha. I hope you guys will be blessed with this one as I was blessed writing and reading it. :)

My Lenten Sacrifice
(March 9, 2007)

Two years ago, I gave up boys for Lent.

Continue reading My Lenten Sacrifice

Ash Wednesday

Today is the start of the Lenten season, and I think that this is the earliest Ash Wednesday I can remember. This year holds the earliest Holy Week too — with Holy Monday falling on my birthday. I have mixed thoughts on that, but let me get back at that later. :)

Earlier today I heard mass with some officemates and I was amazed at how many people heard mass today — the usually not-so-full chapel overflowed outside, all the way to the street. I remember my dad and I joking about how the church is filled to overflowing during Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve mass, and suddenly we realize how many people really live in the village. Only in the Philippines. ;) But it’s nice to see the chapel overflowing with people; it gives me hope that people still care.

I was listening to Lifeteen‘s Lent Overview podcast earlier and Mark Hart mentioned how he used to not like Lent as much as he liked Advent when he was a kid, because Lent means sacrificing a lot of things, and it always happens to be Friday whenever he wanted to eat the most meat. I have to admit that I used to think the same thing. I hated how during Holy Week, there’s nothing to watch on TV. I hated how we all have to be inside and stay inside and be forced to attend masses, go through the entire Bisita Iglesia in the heat of summer. I was happy when Easter rolls by because that means I can finally eat normally, and there’s no somber mood around the place.

It was only recently that I started to appreciate the entire season, and that’s what I plan to impart to you for the next few weeks until we reach the “climax”. I think this is really something we should take time to reflect on. :) You don’t have to be a real estate agent or a priest or a really “holy” person to appreciate this season.

In the meantime, here’s the podcast I mentioned earlier for your listening pleasure. :)


If you haven’t heard mass yet, there’s still time! I’m sure there’s another one (or two) masses before this day ends. And I’m also inviting you to join the 40 days of prayer and fasting led by Bo Sanchez. Click on the link for more details. :)