Stoker of the flame

“no matter how difficult it is to be persistent in the openness to God’s call whenever and however it may be. Because fire is a duality that destroys what is unnecessary and evil, even as it purifies what is good and valuable.”

President’s Corner


The Jesuit paleontologist- theologian Pere Pierre Tielhard de Chardin wrote: “Throughout my whole life, during every moment I have lived, the world has gradually been taking on light and fire for me, until it has come to envelop me in one mass of luminosity, glowing from within…The purple flush of matter fading imperceptibly into the gold of spirit, to be lost finally in the incandescence of a personal universe…” ( Le Milieu Divin, p. 13)

When the founder of the Jesuits, Ignacio de Loyola, sent out his follower Francis Xavier into uncharted mission lands, he had but one exhortation: Go and set the world on fire!

For those of us who were there in those beginnings that eventually merged into what is now known as Dilaab, the journey has not been easy. We have gone through a long dark night that tested our faith and persistence; trekking on a circuitous track that was daunting in its seeming indirectness. Oftentimes, we did not know where the next help would come from, in order to meet monthly financial obligations. But help would always be available, by God’s grace! Wonderful persons joined us and later went on their separate ways, leaving us somehow enriched. On the other hand, new young volunteers invigorated the group.

As Dilaab, we had to transfer when our office building was demolished for the construction of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) Pavilion. Soon after, we had to move again. Being homeless, we were led by God to a house in Espina Village and the establishment of the San Jose Training Center for Companions (SJTCC).

Throughout the journey, our “circle of discernment” (very Ignatian!) has kept us on track, focusing on the divine plan in the midst of turmoil and the temptations thwarting us from what we set out to be. It has provided the space where we managed to replenish the faith flame wherever we go, with whomever we find ourselves.

And so we continue to stoke the flame, no matter how difficult it is to be persistent in the openness to God’s call whenever and however it may be. Because fire is a duality that destroys what is unnecessary and evil, even as it purifies what is good and valuable. Like Pere Pierre, we must strive to nurture an inner luminosity in each of us, to bring about an ultimate incandescent Christian universe.



This concept of home


I was watching a scene from the movie version of “Peter Pan” where a flying Wendy got shot down by an arrow of one of the Lost Boys in Neverland.

When she landed on the ground, they thought she was dead…but Peter told the boys to build an instant house around Wendy. And she recovered, finding herself sheltered from the elements. The Lost Boys, you see, wanted to have Wendy as a mother, telling them stories before they went to sleep. So with hope, they built her that house.

When children play, they instantly get proprietorial and claim: “Hey, get out! This is our house!” (Usually the girls do this…shooing away boisterous boys.) Then they go about putting things in order in their “house,” adding knickknacks to make it beautiful. After all that work, they can at last feel smug that they really have a house. One must work hard in order to have a house.

Yet, what we in Dilaab see in the space at the IEC Pavilion is not just a house, but a home! More than the concrete walls and roof, the air-conditioned convenience and the other facilities — for which we are deeply grateful — we feel that we have found our home. It is a venue where all Dilaab members, and friends, can be afforded a haven where peace dwells, yet instigating invigorating discussions on issues divergent though vital. It is a venue where, in faith, the Holy Spirit perks up each mind and enkindles each heart. It is a venue where hope is ever fostered and nurtured, for seekers of any persuasion across the age divide. And where there is faith and hope, so will love reign in a haven of peace.

Nonetheless, like all homes, much work awaits us as goals are attained only through constant effort — varied sacrifices done for the good of many; painful decisions reached after mission and vision reevaluation; uncomfortable transitions occurring in most unexpected ways. Yes, a lot of hard work is to be done to make a house attain the atmosphere of a home. So, we now roll up our sleeves, in every sense, to get down to the essential task of transforming our home into a compelling one…through prayers and the best of efforts!

We open our doors to those, who in turn, may want a needed space for discussion and re ection, along their individual journey towards the ful llment of God’s Will in their lives. Any manifestation of divine praise will be welcomed, as man can be surprisingly creative in his spiritual quest for his God. Girding our home will be sparks of hope, reminders for us to keep on doing the mission we have set out for ourselves.

With this solid concept of home, we shall celebrate the realization of the Dilaab presence in the Seminary Complex, even as we reiterate our sense of duty — which evolved naturally over recent years — to be at the beck and call of His Grace, the Archbishop of Cebu, Jose Palma. We do what he wants us to undertake, and we go where he wants us to oversee.

Welcome to our home!




Que soy Immaculada Conceptiou


So claimed the Beautiful Lady to the young, sickly, illiterate peasant in the southwestern French village of Lourdes, near the border between France and Spain. According to Bernadette Soubirous, the Beautiful Lady treated her with utmost respect, without a tinge of condescension, and even spoke in her own local dialect called Provencal. Despite her debilitating asthma which made her suffer most of her life, St. Bernadette became a Sister of Charity, caring for the sick and in-firmed.  She became a model for healthcare workers.

February 11, 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of the World Day of the Sick as proclaimed by St. John Paul II, annually commemorated at Lourdes.  For this year, Pope Francis recalls the interpersonal experience of Bernadette with her Beautiful Lady: what a sweet feeling it was for the 14-year-old to be “seen” and not ignored, to be spoken to with kindness, and not looked down on, just because she was sickly and uneducated. The Pope contends, thus : ” This reminds us that every person is, and always remains, a human being, and is to be treated as such.”

Isn’t it significant that it is usually the downtrodden and the despised who are chosen by God to be His messengers? And then they overcome their limitations, with God’s grace!  When the Chief of Police of Lourdes  – a formidable character – barked at Bernadette that he was not convinced of the purported apparitions, the puny teenager looked up at him and replied: “The Lady did not tell me to convince you, but to tell you!”

Thomas Rosica, who volunteered as a young man to be “brancardier” (stretcher-bearer) in Lourdes, wrote on February 10, 2017, of his faith experience and the strength he draws from St. Bernadette’s steadfastness and  acceptance of God’s call through the Beautiful Lady. That, as Christian witnesses, we should not be cowed into silence, afraid to divulge personal stories of our religious encounters and convictions, in the face of pervasive indifference, outright hostility and scathing ridicule, even of being sidelined into submission.

In Dilaab, we sometimes feel overwhelmed by the tasks at hand because we are aware of our limitations, like Bernadette.  Yet, we do what we have to do because the times point us to be where we should be, under the direction of Archbishop Palma, in accordance to the Petrine ministry of Pope Francis: to be with our brothers and sisters who are needing help in the peripheries of our society.

“The Church was born going out,” so points out Pope Francis to the 140 Superiors General of Religious Congregations in a closed-door assembly last November 25, 2016. The Holy Father reminds them that the Church initially incubated in the Cenacle, then She went out and She must remain outgoing. Pope Francis encouraged the Religious Superiors to insert themselves fully into the diocesan churches, to act in favor of the poor of the “existential and social peripheries,” of welcoming migrants and refugees. He further points out that “it is possible to find an excellent terrain for the ecumenical dialogue: it is the poor that unite the divided Christians. Mercy is God going out. You too must go out!”

We now share with you what we have been doing for the marginalized, as prioritized by the Archdiocese  — the socio-spiritual intervention in the rehabilitation of former drug dependents, in tandem with the efforts of the local government in the pilot project of Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City. (Kudos to Punong Barangay Ernie Manatad and his team.) These surrenderees  are not statistical data, without names nor faces — they have become our family!  Through weekly gatherings in prayer and songs, these former drug dependents know that they are accepted for who they are and nurtured for what they can become. We have graduated the first batch of successful ex-drug dependents who have initially reintegrated themselves back to society.

Another undertaking is the continued efforts to encourage our street children proteges, in two key areas, to go back to school by coordinating with canteen operators to give them food when they attend classes, tutoring them in their various subjects, teaching them the basics of hygiene and values, and being there for them as “ate” and “kuya” to answer their emotional needs.  This weekly youth ministry will hopefully find a better framework with the realization of “Abtanan sa Kalooy” (in the Mabolo Parish Complex), to be tackled further when this IEC-impelled Archdiocesan project will be officially launched.

I would like to end by going back to the Beautiful Lady of Lourdes who was herself a teen aged virgin already betrothed to Joseph, in a poor unknown place called Nazareth. But God called her to be the Mother of the Messiah. Her fiat was so simple, so ready!  So that at Lourdes, she announced her distinct title as the Immaculate Conception — the perfect link of man with God! Mary has become mankind’s untiring Advocate and Mediatrix, our Mother and the woman who conquered the serpent.



FATIMA of Our Times


     One hundred years ago this year, the Mother of God appeared to three Portuguese children — they who had to tend sheep to augment their families’ meager income, who were unable to get an education, malnourished, yet nurtured well in their elders’ simple faith.

     One hundred years ago, Our Lady of Fatima shared with the three children – Lucia and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta — her deep sorrow over mankind’s continued senseless disregard of the loving call of the Divine Mercy…so graphically portrayed in the Crucified Christ and continually experienced in the Eucharist, supposedly until the end of time. And yet, His presence in the Blessed Sacrament had been taken for granted, even desecrated!

      With a mother’s heart, Mama Mary pleaded with God to give us, people of this century, one last chance to redeem ourselves from eternal perdition.  So great was her anxiety on man’s precarious state, that Our Lady showed the three children a vision of hell! To what extent of desperation Mama Mary must have been to have her do this to the innocent visionaries. Her plea was for mankind’s repentance. For us to do reparation for our sins!

     The ravages of world wars were attendant to the Fatima apparitions. The first was ongoing; the second was prophesied to be worse than the first. The miracle of the dancing sun made converts of non-believers who witnessed it out of initial curiosity, while those with faith were blessed with various miraculous healings, of the body and of the spirit. Yet, how easily we go back to our usual ways.

     There are two things that Our Lady taught us in Fatima: 1) the importance of silence — it is that interior space we must make in our lives to be able to nurture prayer; 2) the value of listening — this is the discipline to switch off all the aberrant static that today’s techno savvy individuals are attuned.  Let me try to convey this in another level —

                             silence                                                                listening

            like Mary’s heart cushioned                                  first one must teach the

                  on the sonorous notes                                             the inner eye

            of the Master’s many tales                                    to go blind… a leap, really.

           deaf to the clanks and thuds                                  this takes patience and not

                    in Martha’s kitchen                                                   for the faint-hearted

           hands knead the needed food;                               undertaking a blinding feat

           like the first peep of the sun                                   then, the ear must follow

                   dawn soundless, still                                                 a soundless path

           just before daylight intrudes                                   providing a basic bower

           that’s the gentle benediction                                  for the spirit to draw strength

                    of God on the earth                                                  and take flight

           the heart’s secret sanctuary.                                  in unfettered focus, in bliss.

         It is in our interior silence that we can listen to God’s voice and discern His Will in our lives. If we are so engrossed with “things of consequence” we miss out on the daily graces that give meaning to our existence.  Our Lady stressed the daily praying of the rosary and at the end of each decade, the short exhortation she taught us: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell and bring all souls into heaven, especially those who need most of your mercy.” 

       In times of great need, Our Lady always shows herself to us to guide us.  Fatima is her greatest intercession in our century.  She appeared to children who were victims of what we now know as child labor. Portugal was under a repressive atheist government at the time.. similar to various military ruled nations today.  During the recent canonization of St. Jacinta & St. Francisco Marto, Pope Francis reminded us that we must not forget that we have a mother in the Blessed Mother.  That when Jesus ascended into heaven, He carried with him his humanity which was made incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Mother — our mother!


       So it is with great joy that we in Dilaab are obeying the instructions of Our Lady of Fatima in our continuing batches of the Thirty-Three Days to Morning Glory.  We are in turn forming our Militia Immaculata, after St. Maximillian Kolbe: “To lead all men and every individual through Mary to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” 

       Prayer is the key to bring about the consecration of the world to the Mother of God, the third secret of Fatima that Sr. Lucia assured St. John Paul II (the pope who asked her) has already been fulfilled.




President's Corner

marlinda-tanStoker of the flame

And so we continue to stoke the flame, no matter how difficult it is to be persistent in the openness to God’s call whenever and however it may be. Because fire is a duality that destroys what is unnecessary and evil, even as it purifies what is good and valuable. Read More

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2/F IEC Pavilion, Pope John
Paul II Avenue, Mabolo
6000 Cebu City, Philippines

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Telephone +63 32 2626145

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