Advent Season 2018

Advent Season 2018


Advent season comes every year at this time before Christmas. Outside of the liturgical services, it is not really felt by the people. They are busy with Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, and Noche Buena preparations.  People are in their festive moods. Christmas songs are played everywhere especially in stores and malls. So most people skip the spirit of Advent and switch to Christmas mode.

The gospel for the first Sunday of Advent speaks of cosmic disasters to usher the coming of the Son of man. We are to “stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen and to hold our ground before the Son of man (Lk. 21: 36).”

It is good to pause for a while and leave the daily busy-ness of life to ponder on our life’s journey: what were the lessons learned, the new aspirations and hope. We hope and pray that we can survive!

At present, we have global warming, weekly typhoons, tsunami, earthquakes, man-made wars and destructions of our ecosystems, etc. People just take all these in a stride. Life goes on. The journey continues.

Advent offers a consolation: “stand erect, hold your heads high because your liberation is near at hand.” Lk. 21:28

Let us open our hearts to welcome Jesus! Let us live each day waiting for him in vigilant prayer since each moment counts!

Let us live each day in charity: mindful of the needs of others, extending help where needed, forgiving ourselves and others for our weaknesses and limitations. Let us offer joy and love especially to those who are thirsting for these.

Advent is a time of waiting and each moment, a time of joy because the coming of Christ is a gift of grace and salvation.

Are we waiting for Christ?

Or is Christ waiting for us?

Blessed Advent to you all!

Estrella (Star) del Mar

CLFC, Talamban
Cebu City, Philippines


Our Empty Tomb


By: Estrella (Star) del Mar



Our old sins, old weaknesses, old bad habits are part of our old selves.

If they are still part of us now.  Then there is new life to talk about.

But let us suppose that during the Season of Lent, we had made a good confession, a good reflection and good resolutions of a new self to welcome Easter.

Old selves are our tomb.  Can we step out of our tombs?

Do we need assistance to roll away the stone?

Who will roll away your tomb stone?

It is not always easy to recognize the risen Lord!

We are given the signs but we do not pay much attention to them.  We have the Word and the Eucharist as signs of God’s presence among others.  For example, do we really recognize Jesus in the Eucharist? Or does He vanish when we leave the Church? Or do we continue to live the usual routine of the day as if Jesus is not there?  Do we find time to read the Word, reflect on God’s message, and live it?

People do not need preachers, they need witnesses who can share their faith!

The Lord has a mission for each one of us.  We need time to be quiet and listen to His Word and message.

We are busy with livelihood and a lot of things that use up a lot of our time and energy.  We need to try our best and exert effort to cooperate with God.  Ours is the human effort and God’s is the divine grace.

In Scripture, we read the text and reflect on our lives as the context.

Let our lives become the text and the Scripture as the context.

Then Easter becomes a reality in our lives!









Pope Francis’ Christmas message.

A beautiful message from Pope Francis:
“Christmas is usually a noisy party: we could use a bit of silence, to hear the voice of Love.”

Christmas is you, when you decide to be born again each day and let God into your soul. The Christmas pine is you, when you resist vigorous winds and difficulties of life. The Christmas decorations are you, when your virtues are colors that adorn your life.

The Christmas bell is you, when you call, gather and seek to unite.

You are also a Christmas light, when you illuminate with your life the path of others with kindness, patience, joy and generosity.

The Christmas angels are you, when you sing to the world a message of peace, justice and love.

The Christmas star is you, when you lead someone to meet the Lord.

You are also the wise men, when you give the best you have no matter who. Christmas music is you when you conquer the harmony within you.

The Christmas gift is you, when you are truly friend and brother of every human being. The Christmas card is you, when kindness is written in your hands.

The Christmas greeting is you, when you forgive and reestablish peace, even when you suffer.

The Christmas dinner is you, when you shared bread and hope to the poor man who is by your side.

You are, yes, Christmas night, when humble and conscious, you receive in the silence of the night the Savior of the world without noise or great celebrations; you are a smile of trust and tenderness, in the inner peace of a perennial Christmas that establishes the Kingdom within you.

A very Merry Christmas for all those who look like Christmas.

Pope Francisco





We all agree that the invention of modern devices like the smart phone, tablets, internet, has brought enormous advantages for human communication worldwide. Yet we cannot deny the fact that the use of modern gadgets has drawn family members apart. Parents and their children are estranged from each other. How can we restore family bonds? Learn the art of Storytelling, particularly Bible Story Telling. Sr. Emma Gunanto OSU from INDONESIA will teach you the techniques, and you will get some practice too!

Story Telling 2017Join our BIBLE STORY TELLING Workshop at Cebu Lay Formation Center (CLFC), Talamban, Cebu City (at the back of San Isidro Parish Church) on November 30, 2017  (Thursday) from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM  for Christian Living Teachers, Religious Educators, Campus Ministers.


Another schedule on December 1Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM for CATECHISTS and PARENTS from the parishes and Organizations.

For further details & information, please call Star 511-6471 or CLFC 4160089 & 3440170 or email Star:

Come Join Us





John 20:1-9

 “On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them.  “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”  So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.  When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.  Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believedFor they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”

Do we need to see to believe?  How come we do not yet understand?  How deep is our faith to believe and not see? To believe in the unknown?  To believe in God’s Word?

I did this exercise …

I tried to empty myself from everything:  achievements, success, prestige, honor, pride, position, power, and all material things painstakingly accumulated through the years.  And yes, even my dearly beloved ones: family and friends.  What are left? The life that God gifted me and the love He gave me and what I received and shared with others. And most of all my Faith in God.  I have always believed in a God of love, mercy and compassion.   I believe in a God who does not count my wrongs but is happy with all that I do right.  I believe in a God who is ever patient to wait for my growth.  Once upon a time, Jesus told me “you are still young; when you grow up, you will understand.”  I have grown in age and understood many things.  And yet, there is still so much to understand. Please Lord, help me to grow in faith and understand more.

I know that on the last day of my life on earth, I have to leave everything earthly behind.  I can only hold on to my spirit and all the spiritual treasures I received from God and the people who made my life meaningful with a purpose.

And when that time comes, don’t look for me in my tomb.  It will be an empty tomb.  As Jesus has risen, so I will rise with Him.  Alleluia!!  Thank you Lord for saving me!  Thank you for saving us all!  Thank you for your love, mercy and compassion!

For now, I am very much alive and happy with life!  In spite of my asthma attacks, broken spine, muscular spasms, bleeding ulcers, heartburns and refluxes, I have survived with the help of my patient Doctors and friends.  I have befriended my pains.  I continue my work joyfully and do them as if nothing happened.  But I have to accept my limitations now.  My body is ageing and my ailments are reminding me of that.  There is still so much to be done.  I have hope and trust that the good Lord will allow me to continue my work.

Easter is victory over death!  Easter is new life!  Easter is hope!  Easter is joy!


By:  Estrella (Star) Cui del Mar

April 15, 2017



Image result for Blessed Christmas

“Flash news!  The image of Baby Jesus, Santo Niño of Cebu, appeared at the back shell of a turtle!”

I looked closely at the camera shot, it does look very much like the Sto. Niño posters at the Basilica.  Whether it is a miracle or not, it made me reflect and ponder on God’s ways.  For one, He chose to be born in a manger but that was because no one allowed him in a better place.  And this time, to put his image on the turtle’s back shell? It’s incredible!  Then I saw many people lining up bringing a bottle to get the water where the turtle is placed for healing purposes.

The “miracle” is for “healing” of some kind.  I guess everyone needs healing in one way or another.  Healing from a physical ailment.  Healing from a broken relationship.  Healing from misunderstandings of sorts.  Healing from a spiritual confusion and religious inconsistencies.  Healing from deep hurts as a child.  Healing from disappointments and frustrations due to wrong expectations and/or wrong decisions.  There are more that you can add to these.  I pray for your healing.

Christmas is known to be the “happiest time of the year”.  There are lots of gift-giving, sharing, parties, exchange of happy greetings, gatherings of family and friends.  Christ, our Savior, was born on Christmas day!  It’s a reason to rejoice even just to remember that event.  Christ was born to a family and started his life on earth as an infant, like any other mortal.  So Christmas highlights the Family!  Christmas is coming home to where we were coming from! What and who we are today, can better be understood if we know where we were coming from.  Christmas celebrates LIFE!

I wish everyone a very blessed Christmas! To bless you with a joyful and fulfilling life.  To bless you with so many graces to thank for. To bless you with a loving and supportive family.  To bless you with people who love you truly and whom you can depend on.  To bless you with friends who inspire and encourage.  To bless you with opportunities to grow and develop into the person that God plans you to be. To bless you with love, mercy and compassion.  To bless you with inner peace and inner freedom.

Wish you all the blessings of Christmas and a heart full of hope to welcome the New Year 2017 to be a good year for all!

Estrella (Star) Cui del Mar

And CLFC staff:  Grace and Arnie

CLFC, Talamban, Cebu City


Image result for merry christmas and happy new year manger

Rejoice! Former Guest of CLFC Now A Saint!

Rejoice! Former Guest of CLFC Now A Saint!

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Cebu Lay Formation Center (CLFC) joins the Universal Church in rejoicing for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on September 4, 2016

Mother Teresa, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, was already known as the “living Saint” even when she was alive.  This is due to her works and words that are summed up in one statement:  total obedience to God’s will by doing what Christ asked each one of us to do.


Mother Teresa’s Visit to CLFC with Star and Missionaries of Charity

When she came to Cebu City to visit her Sisters here, we met her at the airport and straight from there, she visited first our Cebu Lay Formation Center (CLFC) in Talamban.  She is a short woman and looks very fragile and yet her mind is sharp and her heart is centered on Jesus Christ.  Her mission is to love and help the poorest of the poor in every way as Christ loves them.

Fr. Willi was very proud to introduce to Mother Teresa our Institute for Lay Spirituality.  Mother Teresa reacted to that.  She said “what lay spirituality?  There is only one spirituality and that is the Christian Spirituality.  There are many religious congregations claiming the spirituality of their founders.  But there is only one spirituality and that is the spirituality of Jesus Christ!” She was so emphatic when she said that.  That is why what she said stayed in my memory.

00. CLFC-2Then I brought her around the building, which at that time, had a veranda all around it.  Fr. Willi was busy entertaining the other Sisters so I had Mother Teresa all to myself walking around the veranda of the CLFC building.  She asked me if the vacant lot next to our property belongs to us.  I told her that it belongs to a rich Doctor.  She said, we should get it since our property is too small for a retreat house. I told her that it is not for sale and we do not have money to buy it anyway.  Then she whispered to my ear how we can at least use it and pray to Mother Mary that the good owner will donate it to us.  I smiled, half believing it will happen.  Fast forward:  the good Doctor allowed us to use it for parking and for retreatants to walk around.  So I opened a big gate to the property.  Only that we could not develop it for our purpose since it is not ours.

Mother Teresa is a kind, generous and loving person but firm in her beliefs and aggressive in her plans with full trust and faith that God will help her in every way.

She said many things and I wanted to record them but I did not have the gadget for it at that time.  I did not have a00. CLFC-13 camera too. Someone took that one group picture at the airport and I was happy to get a copy of it.

But picture or not, it does not matter.  What matters more is the encounter with someone who speaks the words of Jesus Christ and inspires others to do what Jesus did if only to assure everyone, especially the poor, that God loves each one of them! God loves us so much that we cannot but love others as well.

Mother Teresa did not only preach.  She lived her preaching.  She lived her faith.

Mother Teresa, pray for us, that we find the time and the courage to help the poorest of the poor in our midst!

Estrella (Star) del Mar

CLFC, Talamban, Cebu City, Phil.


The two Saints that I was privileged to meet when they were still here on earth…Saint John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta …         *Star

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Saint Teresa of Calcutta…pray for CLFC….and me!