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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Regarding the Need for Healing

At the beginning of Lent, I attended our parish mission. A parish mission can be thought of as a time for the parish to rekindle zeal and grow in faith, especially during special liturgical seasons (like Lent!). We usually bring in Franciscan Friars of the Renewal to lead our parish mission, which for us occurs over the course of three consecutive evenings (not every parish mission is done the same). This year we had Fr. Juan Diego--Canadian by birth, beard by choice. And then there was Fr. John Anthony, who is still a toddler priest since he was ordained sometime after Rio last summer (because I met him in Rio since he was with that other Texas group we happened to share the hostel with, and he was only a deacon then).

They covered three different topics each of the night. The first one was on the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. The second night was on Confession. The third night was on healing.

Of all the three days, the third one stood out to me the most. 

Fr. Juan Diego gave the talk, and he began by reading from the Gospel about the hemorrhaging woman. She suffered some sort of blood flow illness for twelve years, but had heard that Jesus was nearby. Knowing that He could heal and perform miracles, she made the effort, in faith, to get near Him. While He was teaching, she touched His garment or a part of His garment, and upon doing so, His power flowed and healed the woman. Jesus, noticing that power had gone forth from Him, asks the crowd, "Who touched me?" and the woman tells Him the truth. He says to her, "Daughter, your faith has made  you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."

After reading this account from the Gospel, Fr. Juan Diego carried on with his talk. He recounted various stories in his life as a friar where people recognized their need for healing. One particular experience he had was rather gut wrenching. When he was newly ordained as a priest, he was assigned to go to Central America. Upon arrival, he got to know a beautiful family with many kids. One tragic day, one of the youngest, Francisco, was run over by a bus. The family was utterly devastated, and Fr. Juan Diego was called upon by the family to pray, to counsel, and to help with the burial process. Not only that, but he had to deal with the families on both sides of the tragic accident including the bus driver and his family. In telling us this, Fr. Juan Diego made the point that God allows bad things to happen so that a greater good can come out of it. Inevitably, the question, "Why, God, why?!" comes up. While I won't discuss the problem of evil, the point is that even though bad things happen, it ultimately points back towards God. We can respond in despair or seek healing. The reality is that we're going to suffer at some point. The question do I deal with it? Do I let God help me through it? Or do I cast Him aside?

I wish I can convey the cohesiveness and fullness of Fr. Juan Diego's explanation of these stories that he told to illustrate the need for healing, but it's one of those, "you had to be there!" sort of things.

The last part was the procession. Before explaining that, I've mentioned in other blog posts how Catholics believe that the Eucharist, under the appearance bread, is really, truly Jesus Christ present: body, blood, soul, and divinity. Each of the nights, during the friars' talks, we had Jesus exposed in the monstrance (the gold thing, Spanish "mostrar" means "to show"...see the etymology, kind of?). This last night of the mission, we had a special kind of Eucharistic procession that really brings to life the account in the Gospel with the hemorrhaging woman. We become the woman in all our brokeness, our sickness, and our need for healing. In this kind of procession, the priest walks from person to person while holding the monstrance containing Eucharist. He is cloaked in a humeral veil to cover his hands, and this physically signifies (which points to the spiritual reality) that it isn't the priest who is walking around from person to person, but rather Jesus Himself. As He goes from person to person, we have the opportunity to "touch His cloak" like the bleeding woman in the Gospel.

I was one in of the first few groups of people-in-the-pews to approach the altar rail of our sanctuary where Fr. Juan Diego was processing with Jesus. But of course I was moved because I really prayed about something where I needed healing (future blog post(s), maybe). When I returned to my pew, I reflected on how much I need the healing love of Christ, and in a very tangible way, I experienced this opportunity to allow Him to heal me.

Apart from the very real, truly personal effect of this Eucharistic procession for me, I was probably more intrigued at seeing everyone else have this opportunity to touch His cloak. Like I said, I was one of the first few groups of people to do so, therefore I got to glance up every now and then and see others experience Jesus as healer. I could tell by the look on many of their faces that they really needed this. Some were in tears...many had solemn faces (not in a sad, depressing way)...and some had a look of joy! Now, I don't know each person's story, but over and over again, seeing everyone's response after they touched His cloak really drove home that we all have this very real need for healing for our sufferings.

Obviously, when I've got bronchitis or some other sickness, I'll go to the doctor (maybe that happened once...or thrice...). When I have chipped my tooth, busted up my face, and potentially suffered a concussion, I'll go to the ER and dentist (maybe that happened once...). When I'm suffering in these physical ways, I obviously don't want to let it keep bothering me or causing me to suffer. I will go seek help to get healed. I mean, that's not an unreasonable response, right? Not only that, but I obviously wouldn't go to my podiatrist to give me a root canal. My doctor probably wouldn't be able to give me a prescription for my contacts. In other words, when I'm dealing with certain ailments and problems, I'll go to the correct person to help heal that problem.

So what about when I'm sick on the inside? This totally happens from time to time where I suffer in a way that isn't physical yet my mind is clear but heart is troubled. Who can help heal me when the problem isn't necessarily something tangible that a normal doctor can heal? How can I have a restored sense that I'm genuinely loved? How do I break away from despair, from sadness, from hopelessness? How can I endure all my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual sufferings? To whom shall I go?

The hemorrhaging woman knew.
- JD

Picture of bleeding woman from Wikipedia
Picture of Pope Francis with monstrance from Catholic Sun

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Religious Sister Rockin' Out On THE VOICE (IT)

I saw this floating around in the Catholic blogosphere and other Cath social medias (be sure to turn on the captions, which you might need to click the YouTube button in the corner below to actually go to YouTube to do so):

Incredible! I just loved the judges' reactions when they hit the buzzer to turn their chairs around to see who was singing. They totally didn't expect it to be a religious sister. I also really loved just her absolute joy in having this opportunity to share her God-given gift of singing so well!

Looking at the judges' comments and the crowd's reaction, you can tell that they were touched and amazed by this performance. Psh, even blog site Jezebel, which isn't necessarily a friend of the Catholic Church (both authors and commenters) agreed!

There's something about Beauty that resonates within us as human beings. When we encounter something objectively beautiful,  we are moved. That beauty points to something greater (as beauty is meant to), and Sr. Cristina is a beautiful witness to that. Seeing her and her fellow sisters rootin' for her really gives me a sense of what real Catholic joy is.

So, the title of my blog is "En Fuego". Sr. Cristina is being who God created her to be...she's being herself as God created her...and this is audio/visual proof of her setting the world on fire.

18+ million hits.
- JD

Picture of Raffaella Carra surprised from
Picture of joyful nuns from Jezebel

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not So Fast After All

I was in California a few weeks ago visiting family, particularly  my cousins who I haven't been in a long while. It makes me feel old that they have kids now, but that's okay because it is such a blessing to see my (extended) family growing and growing!

The trip was a little challenging to me because I have family who live in the Los Angeles area and the San Diego area. I had this brilliant idea of renting a car to freely move about between the two major SOCAL cities to see my cousins.

OH! But such danger it is to be a single, engineer who has the power to rent cars!

What made my brilliant idea even more radiant is that I decided to rent a convertible to traverse the streets of California with the top down! (#BucketList)

My loyal steed during my trip: a 2014 white Mustang convertible.

I think I was driving in California completely wrong. How is it that I, in the fast car, wasn't driving fast enough?

I knew something was going horribly wrong when 30+ Prii (Prius, plural) passed me during my 4 days in southern California...

And suddenly the notion of humility became very real to me.

- JD

Prius photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A New Look

I'm quasi-back from my blogging break. Since going on break, I've updated the look of this blog and upgraded some elements on it. 

I changed and tweak the theme to something a little more simple, Windows 8-inspired look that's easier on the eyes.

Now I have Follow links to my other social networks, share buttons on the left side, a new Recommended For You section at the bottom of every page, a new "You may also like" section at the bottom of each post, and a new page, "Why 'En Fuego'".

Hope you enjoy! Let me know your feedback!
- JD