Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Life is hard--Pray Harder!

A good number of our batch mates started our formal education in the cramp classrooms of Naga Parochial School. From June 1969 through March 1976, we endured the long sermons of the late Monsignor Belleza during masses. Our religion teachers, including Fr. Pan, taught us how to pray to our Lord and seek His help.

When we all moved to Ateneo De Naga, Jesuit priests like Fr. Bob Hogan SJ, Fr. Jack Phelan SJ, Fr. Francisco Mallari SJ, Fr. Juan Bonafe SJ, Fr. Nemy Que SJ, Fr. Marasigan SJ, Fr. Millar SJ, Fr. Moran SJ, Fr. Clintworth SJ, Fr. Martinez SJ, Fr. Ibabao SJ, Fr. Natividad SJ, and Fr. Moreta SJ taught us the value of worship and prayer to our Creator. All of them pointed to our school motto, Premum Regnum Dei, as the three words that should serve as a guiding lighthouse to assist us in navigating through the unpredictable and sometimes treacherous routes of our lives

Twenty nine years after we sang our last Ateneo school song to bid farewell to our high school life, does the message of that song still resonate in our hearts? Did you guys know that Premum Regnum Dei (Seek ye first the kingdom of God) is a call to seek Christ and not carnality?

During our senior year in Ateneo, the fiery Jesuit, Fr. Juan Bonafe, pervaded his sermons with the urgent call to detach ourselves from the need to satisfy our selves with earthly things. Fr. Bonafe once asked, “What do you fervently seek in life? If it is something from this world then you are on the wrong road! If it is heaven that you seek then you are on the right road!”

In the movie E.T., the alien pointed to the evening sky and said, “E.T. Phone Home”. The alien knew that earth is not its home and yearns to join its kind living in a place galaxies away. As Ateneans, we had been taught that there is a place called Heaven and souls who dwell there rejoice with gladness. If you consider Heaven as your ultimate home, you should ask yourself this question—Do you phone home? Do you PRAY (phone) to God?

I remember back in February 1980, final exam was just a week away and I was trembling in fear. My best friend Rogel Valenzuela and I made it a daily ritual to go to Naga Cathedral every afternoon after school to pray and ask God to guide us through the last academic hurdle of high school. I always brought with me a small prayer booklet and one of my favorite prayer in it is the bible verse Luke 11:9-10 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” I remember looking up at the cathedral ceiling asking God to give me a sign that he is listening to my prayer and is willing to grant me my supplication. The stillness and silence of my surroundings did not give me any assurance that my prayer is being heard. The small chirping birds that once in a while would fly from window to window at the cathedral ceiling did not seem to qualify in my young mind as a credible sign from God. (Minsan dapat mag iling ako sa taas pag may gamgam ta tibaad tamaan ako ning ipot pag nagpapangaji ako. Idtong mga paniki sa laog kang simbahan ay mas matindi ta jingle ang matama saimo)

On the left side of the main altar was a candle rack. I dropped a 50-centavo coin in the alms box and lighted three 2-inch red candles and said a short prayer. The following day, I went back to the same candle rack and on the very same spots where I lighted my candles the previous day stood three lighted tall white candles. The candles looked like they have not been burning for a long time and so I looked around to find out who was the owner of the candles. The handful of people who were inside the cathedral that day were deep in their prayers and none looked at me.

Were the three candles placed there by God to assure me that He heard my prayers? Or was it just pure coincidence that a person lighted three candles on the same spot I lighted my candles the previous day? Whatever the case may be, I know that God heard me and Rogel because He answered both our prayers.

My fellow batch mates, I would like to ask all of us to pray for each other because our earthly life is not eternal. What lies beyond our last breath could be an abysmal place where tormented souls cry out in gut wrenching agony. Please do not fall into the notion that God will weigh the good things that we have done in life with our bad deeds and decide if we should go to heaven or be cast in total darkness. Please search the truth in the bible. Please find out why Jesus is called the Messiah.

Praying for our batch.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by Prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's as heartening and inspiring that you wrote about prayer. Indeed, Ateneans are supposed to be steep in Christian spirituality. In the U. S., there's the tendency to suppress "religious" expression at times, but Jesus is clear we do not hide the light under the bushel. Shine on!

7:53 PM  
Blogger said...

Nice article. I would just like to inform your batch that Fr. Bob Hogan and Fr. Francisco Mallari are now both in Ateneo de Manila Infirmary. Fr. Hogan just turned 79 last Feb 16, 2012. He's diagnosed to have Parkinson's Disease. It's not yet in the advanced stage but the slight tremors in his hands are noticeable. Meanwhile, Fr. Mallari was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. It's quite on the advanced stage. After Ateneo de Naga, they served for 25 years in Ateneo de Davao where I studied. Now that I am in Manila, I visit them as often as I could. I hope your batch will visit them to. They need to feel that they are still wanted and loved especially now that they are retired and are sick.

To God be the Glory,

9:12 AM  

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