Star Wars and the More Important Family Tree

star-wars-family-treeTwo nights ago, we were among the first to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens, during the fundraising premiere of Chris’s batch. It was an entertaining movie and you’ll be smitten by it even if you’re not a Star Wars fan like me.

For two days, our family discussions swirled about the Star Wars family tree. Who’s the son of who, who is the daughter of who? “There must be a twist somewhere,” my husband surmised because the family tree we were consulting looked like it had its descendants mixed up. Whatever it is, they’re one big messed-up family. (I’ll stop here lest I let out some spoilers.)

Then there’s another genealogy that was also the talk of the town yesterday, this time during the simbang gabi. Yesterday’s Gospel was the genealogy of Jesus — which traced His lineage all the way back to Abraham. It was a messed-up family too. There were cheaters and liars in that list, as well as prostitutes, adulterers and murderers. And from them would spring forth the Son of God, the Savior of the world?

What a strange way to save the world — for an almighty, omnipotent God to send His only Begotten Son to be born among us, in the mess of our sinful families and be one of us. God could have said, “Let there be salvation,” in the same way He created the heavens and the earth and the rest of creation, and I’m sure it would have worked fine too. But, no, God wanted to display His love to us, in a way we can hear, see, understand and feel — and forever know: Jesus is Emmanuel, God who is with us, not a cosmic God who lives in another realm far, far away.

That’s the message of Christmas that I pray I never overlook in the revelry and hype of our celebrations.

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A Time to Heal

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Today’s Gospel hit me in a very different way. From John 2:14f

He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. 15 He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, 16 and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” 17 His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. 18 At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his Body. 

I went the ER yesterday after my body caved in last Friday when I arrived from a weeklong seminar in Singapore. I wanted to rule out pneumonia because the kids were already being treated for mild pneumonia. After all the tests, praise God everything was clear. The diagnosis was systemic viral infection and upper respiratory tract infection. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and two to three days of rest. When she said, “two to three days of rest,” I almost cried. It wasn’t anything that rest couldn’t cure. And, yes, I have license to rest! I’ve been so tired for weeks and I just want to crash out for days on end, even if I had spent most of the weekend just asleep.

Then I read today’s Gospel. My body of 46 years was being abused. I’ve been “peddling” it around with too much activity and not according it the reverence and holiness (“being set apart”) it deserves as God’s temple. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” It’s a promise of healing that I claim. Jesus’ zeal for my house — my body, my health — consumes Him. It should consume me too, as a good steward.

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Our Lady of Sorrows?

Today we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. I wondered why the Catholic Church celebrates this. Why not our Lady of Joy? Or Our Lady of Ecstasy? Or better yet, Our Lady of Champions?

But it’s easy to celebrate. You don’t need anyone to walk you through a season of joy or success. I was surprised to learn that one of the top issues that women today face is depression. Our depression may be hormonal. We may be depressed because of our health. Others may be depressed because of marital or family problems. Or even issues at the office.

I was struck by our priest’s homily one timeour_lady_of_sorrows_by_wooferduff-d4hjfj9 when he said, “Mary is called Our Lady of Sorrows, not Our Lady of Depression.” Mama Mary had her own sorrows and they were not trivial. She suffered the torture and death of her only Son. But she did not give in to depression. She pondered things in her heart. She reflected on them. She sought to understand what God was teaching and doing through all that.

We will always face grief and sorrow. But let’s not allow it to overtake us and overwhelm us. Knowing that Jesus is the Emmanuel — the God who is with us, Who walks with us, cries with us, rejoices with us — helps us to see that whatever desolation we are going through will soon pass. And these trials will leave us better than when it first found us.

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A Model for Priests

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Who Are You?

“Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible
God, the firstborn over all creation.”
– Colossians 1:15

The Gospel was perfect for the occasion during Fr. Peter Coching’s
last Mass in our parish before his reassignment. It was the story of John
the Baptist saying, “(Jesus) must increase, I must decrease.”

Fr. Peter told the story of a family who had invited him for
a despedida lunch. The parents came not just with their kids but
with grandparents and an aunt, too. They thanked the priest for
his touching sermons while he served at our parish.
But throughout lunch, none of them called him by his right
name. The parents called him Fr. Bong. The kids corrected them
by saying, “He’s not Fr. Bong; he’s Fr. Raul!”

Fr. Peter began to doubt if he was really the one they wanted
to treat or they had invited the wrong priest. But this he realized:
“In the end, it wasn’t my name that was important. What’s
important was that I fulfilled my mission in this parish.” Just
like John the Baptist, Fr. Peter was content to leave the mark of
Christ in the hearts of the parishioners he served.

Friends, are we the “image of the invisible God” to people
who encounter us? Rissa Singson Kawpeng (

Reflection: “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous
conversion — it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and
more like Christ.” (Billy Graham)

Lord, bless our priests and all those who’ve offered their lives to serve
You. May we be Christ to our world. Amen.

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Merciful Father

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Miracle Happens

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His Healing Power

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6 Ways to Add Wow to Your Holy Week

By Rissa Singson Kawpeng


My recollections of Holy Week as child was that it always sizzled. Literally. It was the hottest week of the year — or at least that’s how it seemed when Mommy would take us to church to attend the Lenten services. But coming to know the Lord in a personal way gave me a deeper understanding of what Jesus’ sacrifice means.

Today, I’m grateful that as Catholics, we have 40 days every year when we focus on the Lord and grow in the practice of our faith.

Here are seven ways to add wow to your Holy Week:

1.   Attend “Scandalous Grace,” a Holy Week Retreat hosted by The Feast Alabang.

Cost: Free

Going on its fifth year, the attendance for this event just keeps rising every Lenten season. This year, its organizers expect 4,000 people to come. Its popularity springs from the lineup of powerhouse speakers like the gifted lay preachers of The Feast Alabang headed by Arun Gogna, and charismatic priests like Fr. John Paul del Rosario, Fr. Arnel Aquino and Fr. Sobrejuanite.

This happens on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday at the Filinvest Tent in Alabang from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.

2.   Join “Reinvent 2015,” Bo Sanchez’s Holy Week Retreat at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

Cost: ₱₱₱-₱₱₱₱

“I’ve realized that sometimes, God’s no is His sweetest yes. Through each of those failures, God was telling me, ‘I love you,’” said Bo Sanchez, Catholic lay preacher and bestselling author. In his “live-out” retreat, receive a powerful touch from God through power-packed talks, music and reflection points. Aside from Bo, his lineup of speakers this year includes Kerygma preachers and passionate, insightful priests like Fr. Joel Jason, Fr. Mario Sobrejuanite and Fr. Bob McConaghy. Check out for more information.

3.   Attend a Latin Mass.

Cost: Free

Have a “throwback” Lenten experience by attending a Tridentine Mass. This Eucharistic celebration takes place with the priest facing the altar instead of the congregation and is recited entirely in Latin — the way Masses were celebrated before Vatican II. You will depend heavily on your missalette, which has the English translations. As the Mass readings are read softly in Latin, thankfully, another lector reads it in English for you to understand. Here are some places where you can catch a Latin Mass:

  • Christ the King Parish, Greenmeadows, Quezon City – Saturdays at 8:30 a.m.
  • Shrine of St. Therese, Pasay City – Sundays at 9 a.m.
  • St. James the Great Parish, Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa City – every last Saturday at 3:00 p.m.

Click here for more info on Latin Mass schedules near your area.


4.   Spend an hour a day at an adoration chapel on Holy Week

Cost: Free

Beholding the Holy Eucharist exposed instead of hidden in the tabernacle gives you an intimate experience of Christ’s presence. Many parishes have an adoration chapel that’s open 24 hours just waiting for you to come. Some of my favorites include the ones in Christ the King, Mary the Queen on Madison in San Juan and Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, St. James the Greater in Alabang.

5.   Join a Holy Land or a Marian pilgrimage. 

Cost: ₱₱₱₱₱₱

On April 6-19, Bo Sanchez will be having his “Come Home” Spiritual Pilgrimage 2015 where he will take you to Belgium, France, Spain and Italy. In this traveling retreat, go back to your spiritual home in three ways: by coming home to Mama Mary, to your brother and sister saints, and to your Mother Church as Catholics in Rome. This is a trip of a lifetime that will leave an indelible mark on your faith and your person. For more information, click here.

6.   Get my book Shhh! Kinakausap Ka ni Lord.

Cost: ₱₱₱

Its chapters will lead you to reflect on the way God speaks to you in your own life. If you prefer a book in English, grab Discover Your Inner Beauty Queen. I promise that even if you’re a guy, you will learn a lot of things that will help deepen your walk with the Lord. Order at

Shhh bookcover

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