Sunday, January 28, 2007

When God Writes Your Love Story

Each and every month I get to sit down with one of our priests. It is so much a privilege to see their private side (mind you they could be really, really funny). Even though I'm busy with work, spending time with family and friends, I always look forward to spending an hour (that always stretches to a minimum of three hours) a month with our priests. I always stand in awe at how God worked in their lives. Calling them to their vocation. Believe me, becoming a priest as I have seen is no easy path to take.

So what does it have to do with the business of loving?

I was sincerely touched with Fr. Lito's revelation about his calling and the challenges he went through during his studies. He had no inkling whatsoever in his youth that he would become a priest. But through a book he read (“The Greatest Love of All”) he felt the “tremendous, overwhelming” love of God. Through Fr. Lito's sharing I felt it. I felt how much love God showed him and how this love made him overcome all the trials he faced before he became a priest.

And Fr. Lito faced one of the greatest challenges that a human could face choosing between his service and the love of his life. It was a struggle, but he overcame it because God loved him. I felt so sad then. I realized how hard it must be for our dear priests who had sacrificed that side of their humanity to serve God. And it is quite hard to fathom when you're just a lay person.

Which now brings me to another side of loving. The romantic kind of love.

Recovering from a broken engagement a few years ago, I came across this book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris. At that time I did kiss dating goodbye and when I came across the book at my favorite bookstore I thought, “Interesting huh!”.

The book didn't talk about not dating or falling in love. It put love in a better context, a better way of approaching it with all the hullabaloo about love in movies, TV etc. you'd tend to get really lost on what it is really. Joshua Harris shared that he gave up dating. He came to believe that “the lifestyle of short-term relationships was a detour from serving God as a single”. Huwhaaat?!? I didn't stop dating because I wanted to use my time to serve, I stopped because I just didn't want to get into a rebound relationship. But Joshua Harris stopped dating because he started to question how his faith affected his love life. “The main point of `I Kissed Dating Goodbye' was “If you're not ready for marriage, wait on romance.”” The book further explained that there's more to your faith and your love life than merely not having sex or dating only Christians.

It took a few months for the message of the book to sink in with me. I just went along my way, not dating, and became regular again in attending to my service through the Sun Valley Music Ministry. After a few months I came across Joshua Harris' second book “Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship”. Abah, naka-lovelife na si Joshua, I thought. So I got the book and became fascinated with what it had to say. With the first book it just basically said, “Don't date or get into a relationship unless your ready for marriage”. At that time the thought of getting married made me hyperventilate, so it wasn't any problem for me. But of course you got to move on right?

“Boy Meets Girl” bridges the gap between not dating and preparing for marriage. It's message is similar to the book “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy. It answers the question, “So how would you know if the time is right and whether he or she is the one?” Both books are love stories written by the grace of God. In the kind of world we have right now it makes you think “How do I actually find someone who has the same values or the right values? How do I find somebody who's going to be like my Mom and Dad who's been married for 46 years?”

Both books espouse that you just have to leave the navigating to God. Leave your love life to God? What does He have to do with that? It is probably one thing that's difficult to just leave to God's Will because let's face it, we all want action. When it comes to this part of our lives, we want it immediate and siguardo. No room for uncertainty.

Bo Sanchez has a new bestseller in his book “How to Find Your One True Love”. It details steps on how to “attract God’s best for the single person”. Another must read book for single people (and I think even married people should read this to remind them about being with the right person). I think it is a life-saving book (as it claims) because it explains really well questions that single people have – mostly on why you’re single. But what’s great about it is that it outlines things that you should do. It takes a proactive stand and tells you not to wait for “the right one” to “fall off from the sky”. Very practical, straight to the point, be ready to get a whole new view on loving.

And that is precisely the point of having faith in God. Leaving everything to Him. Yup, even your love life. It may take a while, it may not be the first guy who will show interest in you, may take more than a couple of guys showing their interest in you… God will weed them out for you because He has your best interest in His heart. Huwag magmadali! Hold out for the higher standard! And while waiting for Him to write your love story, it's better to transform your energies towards serving Him and serving others (kaya mag-volunteer ka na sa The Beads! Hehehehe) and, of course, spending time with your family.

Books to Read while you're waiting for God to write your love story (they're a fun read!):

I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris
Not Even a Hint by Joshua Harris
When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy
How to Find Your One True Love by Bo Sanchez

*This was originally published in the May 2006 issue of The Beads, newsletter of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, Paranaque City, Metro Manila.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Yesterday, Fr. Ramon Ramos, C.P. delivered a 45-minute passionate sermon during mass. He spoke about why one goes to hear mass. He said that China has more than 100 martyrs and the Philippines only has one, Lorenzo Ruiz. He said that worldwide there are only 1 billion Christian Catholics, just one-sixth of the total world population. In other countries there are less than 20% Christian Catholics, but in the Philippines there are more than 80% Catholics, but if you notice very few hear mass, much less serve during mass.

Unlike in other countries, like Indonesia, a Muslim country, where there are 300,000 active Catholics. I could say that is true because I was just there and I saw that people were more devoted, more active and people actually lived as Christian Catholics. My 17-year nephew who grew up in Jakarta, prefers Hillsong CDs over rock band music and he actually gives out talks for his YFC activities and speaks about Jesus a lot.

Fr. Ramon also shared that there are 168 hours in a week and God only requires us 1 hour per week to hear mass, leaving us with 167 hours to do other things. And during mass he pointed out that we should participate. Sing, reply to responses, listen to the homily and the readings because it is only for one hour.

But then, why is it we go to mass? Fr. Ramon shared that in China they managed to have over a hundred martyers because they died for their faith, unlike here where only a handful lives for their faith. Would you die for your faith?