A Cafeteria Catholic Meets Father Robert Reyes

We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe. — Venerable John Henry Newman

I am not ashamed to admit that I am not a devout Catholic. You can say, a Cafeteria Catholic. Ah, I can just imagine my dear departed dad worried about my eternal salvation. Is that what you call it? I believe in God, though. I pray and meditate a lot. Praying and meditating are ways to take care of my spirit and it is not necessarily connected to organized religion. I try to live a meaningful life by being of service to others. But I don’t attend sunday mass except Christmas day or Easter Sunday. Does that make me a sinful person? I will let God be the judge.

Photo Credit

I can’t remember when my disillusionment with the Catholic Church started. My husband and I joined Couples for Christ in the nineties and politics within the system disbanded us when we needed each other most. Yes, politics. Then, I travelled with my then pre-teen girls during their choir tour to different churches in the USA and Canada. I loved the spontaneity of prayers in the Christian churches so unlike the rote praying in the Catholic Church. Some priests just don’t have the gift to deliver inspirational homilies and reflections. I loved the fellowship and the community support groups. When I started looking for a room for my grief advocacy, Compassionate Friends in my parish church, they had no room to accommodate my ministry. Why would they care anyway? The Compassionate Friends is a non-denominational group. Greenhills Christian Fellowship took us in through my friend, Cathy for the past 4 years. Then came the Reproductive Health Bill 5043 which the Catholic Church opposed, of course despite rise in poverty and maternal deaths. Philippine Congress is supposed to be deliberating on its passage this week but it is postponed again. Are they afraid of the wrath of the Catholic Church and lose votes in the process?

Yes, politics.

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Charice Performs Note to God at The Oprah Show

If I wrote a note to God
I’d say please help us find our way
End all the bitterness, put some tenderness in our hearts

Youtube Video Link of Charice’s Note To God or view a clearer and larger video at the oprah.com media player.

Take note: Charice’s first international debut single, “Note To God” is now #1 in Amazon MP3 downloads all in one day. That is some kind of a record , don’t you think? The song is also #5 in iTunes while Lady gaga in 6th and Beyonce in 9

What an awesome, beautiful voice from a small big singer with a very big heart and big dreams. When she sang this song, I had goosebumps all over. Charice is amazingly brilliant. Yes, Charice Pempengco now goes by one name Charice in her career in Hollywood, like Jojo and Beyonce. Note To God was written by bestselling songwriter Diane Warren and produced by David Foster. The song was originally recorded by pop singer JoJo in 2006. This time I am enamored by such amazing vocal control, The “birit” style is not so dominant now but I notice her low notes vastly improved in a span of two years … truly AMAZING! Charice’s performance is part of a special episode marking the finale of ““Oprah’s Search for the World’s Smartest and Most Talented Kids”.

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From Cradle to Cross: A Mother’s Joy and Pain


Every Good Friday was just like any other day for me. The streets are empty. Everything is still. At 3:00 PM, I’d bow my head in prayer and reflect on Jesus’ death. That is before the death of my son. I never knew what it felt to be the mother of Jesus, losing a son until of course, I lost my precious son 8 years ago. Even if Mother Mary knew that Jesus died to save us, she was just as inconsolable as any mother who lost a child. My son was “clinically dead” when I got to him and I did not see him suffer. Not that I am diminishing my own pain but I bet Mother Mary suffered one thousand times more than I did for every nail and insult given to her beloved son.

How does this pain feel? Imagine…

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Holy Rosary Podcast

rosary.jpg The blue rosary in the photo belongs to Luijoe. A month before he died, he placed it lovingly on the rear view mirror of my car so mama, you will always be protected. Little did he know that he would be in heaven a month later, watching over me and the rest of the family. The Holy Rosary played an important part in my son’s life. My heart often tugs at the memory of my son chastising me for not saying my regular prayers. One night, he pulled me over to our bed because he wanted to pray the Rosary. This lazy mother begged off saying “I don’t feel like it…it’s too long to pray”. That memory often brings me tears of regret that I wasn’t supportive enough of my son’s staunch faith in the Holy Rosary. I should have just prayed along with Luijoe even if I didn’t feel like it. In the eulogy given by Luijoe’s pre-school teacher, she talks of Luijoe as he prayed the rosary:

One time I assigned him to lead the rosary. He was murmuring. One of his classmates told him to speak louder. So loudly but seriously with a big voice he uttered the prayers. At the end of the rosary, all of his classmates clapped their hands. Then, he shouted innocently,”This is not a program..This is a prayer!”

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Loida Nicolas Lewis Talks on Grief and God’s Love

Loida LewisYesterday, I caught up with Loida Nicolas Lewis at her condo somewhere in Makati just before her flight to New York. I have heard so much about her as an industrialist and philanthropist. It was my task to interview her for a University of the Philippines’ (UP) centennial book project to be launched next year for the 100th anniversary of the state university. I read up on her before our meeting to make sure that I didn’t repeat facts already found in the internet or her books. Based on my research, Loida was married to Reginald Lewis, considered as one of the most successful and richest African-Americans and has been described as instrumental to her husband’s business success. After her husband died from brain cancer in 1993, Loida took over the family business and was successful in the company’s growth. At the moment, she is the Chairman and CEO of TLC Beatrice, LLC (the Lewis Family investment firm), TLC Beatrice China (operates retail convenience stores in four major cities in China) and TLC Beatric Foods Philippines (operates a meat processing plant in Naga City).

I am fascinated with her life, her success and faith in God.

tattlerHer secretary showed me the September 2007, 6th Anniversary issue of Philippine Tatler. It features their 834 Fifth Avenue Manhattan home which the Lewis family moved in a few weeks before Reginald succumbed to brain cancer. Reginald became the first African-American to live on Fifth Avenue and one of its “A-plus apartments”. But let not this wealth fool you. Loida is busy with the family-run Lewis College in Sorsogon where they offer college courses and a nursing assistant certificate. Not only that she funded a part of a micro finance project in Sorsogon called PALFSI (People’s Alternative Livelihood Foundation of Sorsogon, Inc.)., She is also Chairman of Business for Integrity and Stability of our Nation Foundation, Inc. (Bisyon 2020). She is such a busy woman and I am indeed fortunate to have been accommodated for this interview.

My interview with Loida lasted for 2 hours which you will read when the book comes out next year. In the course of the interview, I asked her about the loss of her husband and how she dealt with it knowing it can help a lot of readers in this blog. This is what she told me.

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Eternal Life

I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John11:25,25)

resurrectionI have so much faith in the above biblical passage. Most bereaved families derive comfort from that verse with the hope of reuniting with their loved ones. It gives me hope that one day Luijoe and my family will be reunited in heaven with God. [tag]Resurrection day[/tag] or [tag]Easter day[/tag] reminds us that we will have life after we die – a resurrected life in heaven for eternity with Jesus!

Do you believe in [tag]eternal life[/tag]? Do you believe that our life here on Earth is temporary and our real home is heaven? How does one deserve to be in [tag]heaven[/tag]?

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I am uh sarcastic. Bless me Father for I have sinned….

You will have to surf through the comments in Yuga’s entry Blogging is a privilege, not a right to understand why this blogger by the name of Blogie of (ittalks.robilloblog.com) starts to judge my spirituality because of a “sarcastic” comment I supposedly made. It’s funny that I am “condemned” like this on a Good Friday. Now I know how poor Jomar felt when his stand on the invocation was ripped to pieces. Here is what the offended Blogie posted:

Before you even try to argue what bourgeoisie or the concept of bourgeoise is with me, I suggest you look them up in the dictionary first. I will engage in a debate with people only when both parties are on the same intellectual plane.

I’ve seen your blog — how can you purport to write about God and spirituality when you can be as sarcastic as you are in your last comment?? Sarcasm, Noemi, has no other purpose but to hurt. Sarcasm has no place in intellectual exchange because it leads to nowhere. If you aim to have a meaningful discussion with me, stick to sober language.

Must have hit a raw nerve on this blogger.

I am so not in the same intellectual plane as he is. So bless me for my feeble mind, dear readers…and allow me to rant about it here as I am not worthy to be in a meaningful discussion. This is my space after all.

Anyway, I replied to Blogie’s comment that sarcasm can be compared to a glass which is half-empty or half-full.

But see, this person doesn’t know me so he judges me on the surface of one or two entries. So let’s give him some slack.

I have seen comments in many blogs about the Philippine Blog Awards. I didn’t realize how a situation can be overblown or overreacted.

Let’s count the ways again…

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God as We Understand God

God is subtle , but he is not malicious– Albert Einstein

Love one anotherIn the course of my grief recovery and encounter with other recovery groups, I learned that recovery is an intensely spiritual process that prods us to grow in our understanding of [tag]God[/tag] . My understanding of God is based on my Catholic upbringing (now verging on being cafeteria catholic to Baptist) that God is real. Loving. God is Good. The more I turned my mind and heart to a positive understanding of God, the more God validates me.

I often meet parents who are disappointed that God did not save their child from death, or made their child suffer. I also met parents who are grateful to God that even in death, they feel blessed. Not everyone shares the same feelings towards God.

In the Twelve Steps program, words like “A Power greater than ourselves….” “God as we understood Him” introduces spirituality. In that program, the person has the freedom to define and understand , our Higher Power—God–as we choose.

And what about the Geeks who are often Atheists…

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Heaven is a Real Place

heavenAlmost 7 years ago, my adorable son sat beside me while I worked on my computer.

With both hands planted firmly on my cheeks, he asked, ““Where is Heaven? Are the clouds heaven?”

Unsure of the answer, I mustered to say something based on what I learned from my Grade school [tag]Religion[/tag] subject…

““I’m not sure if the clouds are heaven, but it’s somewhere up there and hell is down there,” I said, kissing his fat cheeks.

Luijoe asked all of these questions two weeks before his untimely death.

What a lame answer! I wish I knew more what heaven is like.

Luijoe never tired of asking the same questions over and over again, as though reassuring himself that there were angels that protected him and that heaven was a beautiful place to go when someone died.

As I wrote in the book , Fallen Cradle, it seemed that my son was preparing himself for heaven even fearful he would go to hell because like any little boy, he could also be naughty.

““I don’t want to go to hell,” he hugged me.

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All For Jesus

all for jesusIf you studied at a Catholic School during the sixties, the nuns required you to scrawl “All for Jesus” on the top page of your notebook or pad paper. As a little girl, I had no inkling what “All for [tag]Jesus[/tag]” meant. Nuns during those days threw those beady mean eyed looks if you didn’t follow their commands. I merely wrote those words like a robot. Perhaps the daily ritual of scribbling those words “All for Jesus” carried a subliminal message which I carried on during times of stress. I find myself scribbling “All for Jesus” at the top page of my monthly sales ledger.

Of course you know that any business has fixed cost which needs to be covered immediately. During the first week of the month, I usually freak out if my sales are not meeting targets. But I learned along the way. There are few aspects of our life we can control . Sales can be unpredictable. Market forces are out of our control. Controllable forces are innovative marketing tools, prompt service and quality . I’ve learned that I don’t have to obsess over my goals. I don’t have to constantly watch and mark my sales . I do my job, set my goals and Let Go and let God.

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