THE EMPTY TOMB

THE EMPTY TOMB

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!

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!

By:  Estrella (Star) Cui del Mar

April 15, 2017

BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND A HOPEFUL HAPPY NEW YEAR!

BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND A HOPEFUL HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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“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

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

LET US BE EASTER PEOPLE!

EASTER IS HOPE

I am writing this on Good Friday.  In the recollection, the priest asked us:  What makes this Friday good? There were some answers from the participants.  One said:  Through His death, He saved us.  Another said: In dying He destroyed our death.  All good answers.

Easter_HOPEWhat I observed that made Good Friday good are the following:

  1. I see more people going to Church.

  2. I see more people going to confession to repent their sins.

  3. I see more people praying individually and in groups.

  4. I see more people participating in recollections.

  5. I see more kindness, generosity and forgiveness in people.

Jesus has died physically two thousand years ago, but we remember that day every year. We recall the sufferings of Jesus.  We hear again the people who welcomed him joyfully on Palm Sunday and shouted “Crucify him!” on Good Friday. We see again the torture of the crucifixion.  We hear Jesus cry out “Father, why have you abandoned me?” and in the end “Into Your hands, I commend my spirit!” Jesus offered his life for us! No one can kill him. He willed it so in total obedience to His Father who loves us so much. It is love!

Christ’s total obedience to the Father completed the covenant between God and man. We are all liberated through Jesus Christ.  Mission accomplished! We are connected again in our journey towards eternity with our loving, merciful, compassionate, generous God!

As Jesus freely offered his life on Good Friday, he also took it back on Easter Sunday, the day of his resurrection!  He lives again! We, too, live if we do not separate from Christ, from God.

We, too, have our own Good Fridays.  We have our own sufferings caused by ourselves and/or by others.  It can be sickness, disabilities, financial difficulties, family problems, broken relationships, addictions and others. Sometimes we dwell on the problems as if reaching a dead-end.  But SUNDAY IS COMING!  There is HOPE!  There is GOD! God ought to be our first recourse, not the last one.  Nevertheless, God waits to be called upon.  God waits for our cry for HELP!  Our merciful God would say “Bear with me, be patient, soon it shall pass.”  We shall overcome because God leads us to freedom from all these.  This is HOPE!

It does not mean though that we will not suffer anymore.  As long as we are in the world and sin is tempting, suffering will always be there.  But Sunday comes!  Easter comes!  EASTER OFFERS HOPE! There is a way out with God’s guidance and help.

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!  LET US BE EASTER PEOPLE!

 

By Estrella (Star) del Mar

CLFC, Talamban, Cebu City

Easter 2

 

PIT SENYOR! FIESTA STO. NIÑO DE CEBU!

PIT SENYOR! FIESTA STO. NIÑO DE CEBU!

Sinulog 2016a

It’s Fiesta Senyor in Cebu once again!

It always moves me to tears to see the millions of crowds at the Basilica del Sto. Niño when they wave their arms that look like the sulog or the waves of the river flowing, as the chorus of the gozos is sung!

Sto. Niño reminds us that God chose to be born in the normal process of childbirth, growing up as a child to adulthood.  God wants to show to human beings how special we are that He chose to be one like us to save us.

The gospel this year reminds us of the Child Jesus being lost in the crowd while Joseph and Mary were looking for him.  “Did you not know that I have to be in my Father’s house?”

Sinulog 2016bJesus was born with a mission from the Father to be fulfilled on earth.  So it is with every one of us and every child born day by day.  Each one has a mission from the Father.  It is the responsibility of the parents to nurture the child to be able to fulfill this mission in his/her life.  The child needs to be guided to his/her life direction, meaning and fulfillment.  Sad to say that many of our kids have gone astray.

Looking at the child image of Jesus in Sto. Niño, reminds me to celebrate “original innocence”.  The innocence of a child that is threatened and affected by the presence of evil in the world.  The child who needs the protection from parents and adults around him so as not to be drawn to a life of idolatry, crimes and destruction.

Pit Senyor! Let us celebrate childhood and all the joys that are unique only to children.  Let us protect our children from laziness and all kinds of addiction that destroy them.  Let us provide every opportunity to the child to develop into a mature and responsible adult to lead the future of the world!

Sinulog is a life dance.  We dance through life from the womb to the tomb.  We dance to the beats of the joys and pains in life.  We try to move on no matter how tired we become and move back once in a while to see where we need to learn more from the past. Sinulog is a dance of moving forward more steps and moving backward a few steps to go with the rhythm of life. The rhythm continues – of falling and rising and moving on with new hopes and greater faith.

Senior Sto. Niño, pray for us and protect us always!

Star del Mar

Sinulog 2016

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2016! 

We cannot erase the past,

we must ‘let it go;’

We cannot change yesterday,

we must accept the lessons learned;

We cannot stop time, we

must abide by its demands;  

We cannot predict tomorrow,

we must allow God to take control.

Let love, faith and hope be

the answer to the mysteries of life.  

Let it go… 2015! Welcome… 2016!

Happy New Year to one and all!

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Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Mary

Heavenly Father, You blessed the Virgin Mary with the fullness of grace. She is my model of faith, hope, and love. I give this New Year 2016 to her intercession and ask for her holy prayers. Place my needs into the protection of her motherly love. With her help, I want my faith to grow. Give me an increase in the virtue of hope when troubles tempt me to despair. Guide me in understanding Your infinite love. And join my heart, dear Lord, to the Holy Mother’s Immaculate Heart, so that I may improve in loving everyone unconditionally, in imitation of my Savior, Jesus.

Amen.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

 

 

It’s Christmas 2015!

You are hereIt’s Christmas 2015! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas full of God’s love and blessings expressed in many ways: through our family members, friends, and community.

imagesThe joy we feel in this Season comes from the joys we give to others in one way or another, in small or big things through tokens of things but more so in showing to them that we care, we remember, we love and we wish them the best.

We want to thank all those who had come to visit us at the Cebu Lay Formation Center to have retreats, recollections, seminars, training or simply a friendly visit. Thank you very much! We hope to see you again in 2016.

Let’s pray for PEACE and true service from our government leaders in the Philippines and in other countries. We pray for true prosperity in the coming year!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

FROM THE CLFC STAFF:

STAR, GRACE AND ARNIE

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