PGH TOY GIVING by Sabrina Soriano

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The Hospital Ministry visits the various hospitals it supports on a weekly basis to give medicines to the patients. This past week though, we were blessed by a kind family that donated toys that were gifts for their child’s birthday. They also added toys that their daughter didn’t use anymore so that other kids could use and enjoy them. Though the medicines are much needed to ensure their recovery from their illnesses/infections, you could really see the kids’ faces light up when they received a toy. One of those kids (the cute little boy sitting on the wooden cart) was actually abandoned by his parents after bringing him to the hospital for treatment. Despite his situation, receiving a toy made him break out into a huge smile!

So nice to be able to help them, not just with their medical needs, but also to bring smiles to their faces. Thanks so much Pia Lacerna and family for this!

If you have old toys, books, school bags and supplies that you can spare, to give and to share, I hope you can consider donating them to our Hospital Ministry (you can look for Nimfa Dumago at the parish office). Such a small gesture means a lot to these charity patients. Their big smiles are proof this.

Please also support our upcoming Francisfest fundraising this first week of October. We have a slew of activities lined up for all of you.

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, A Reflection by Fr. Robert Manansala, OFM

The gospel passage this Sunday, which contains a teaching on treasures in heaven and three parables on vigilance and faithfulness, can be summarized by the following line that we read in the text: “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” The Jesuit biblical scholar Joseph A. Fitzmeyer says “this maxim has parallels in secular Greek literature, but none of them is so succinctly put as this.”

Gerald Cowen, in his beautiful elaboration of the significance of the heart in the Bible, speaks of the heart as “the center of the physical, emotional, mental, moral and spiritual life of humans.” According to him, “the conscience, for instance, is associated with the heart.” On the negative side, depravity is said to issue from the heart. In Matthew 15:19, Jesus speaks that out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. “In other words, defilement comes from within rather than from without.”

Cowen further notes that “because the heart is at the root of the problem, this is the place where God does His work in the individual.” For example in Romans 2:15, St. Paul speaks of the work of the law as “written in their hearts,” and conscience is the proof of this. In some gospel parables, “the heart is the field where seed or the Word of God is sown. Finally, the heart is the dwelling place of God. God resides in the heart of the believer.

Jesus does not say in the Gospel, “Where your heart is, there will be your treasure also.” He says, “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Jesus knows that if we want to know what is in people’s hearts, we first find out what is in their treasure boxes or what they consider as their treasures.” Considered as the seat of human yearning or longing, the heart is attracted and directed towards that which it considers its treasures.

Etymologically, treasure comes from the English term “thesaurus,” a word that refers to a “storehouse.” Literally, it means “a receptacle of valuables.” What one keeps, maintains, safeguards, protects and accumulates as his valuables are his treasures. Indeed, what we store is our treasure. Denis McBride is right in saying that if we want to know the condition of one’s heart, find out what one stores in his treasure box. Tell me what you consider as your greatest treasures and I will tell you about the condition of your heart.

Last Sunday, Jesus warned against storing treasures up that do not last. More concretely, he warned against greed and strongly reminded that one’s life does not consist of possessions. What is important is to be rich in what matters to God.

Biblical revelation, Christian spirituality and theology tell us that the heart’s proper and prime attraction must be God. The New Catechism of the Catholic Church starts by declaring that the longing for God is planted in the heart of every person. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells us “to seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” In the gospel today, Jesus says that the Father is giving us this treasure of the Kingdom of God, “the inexhaustible treasure in heaven than no thief can reach nor moth destroy.”

If we anchor the rest of the Gospel on this fundamental challenge of receiving and making the God and Kingdom of God as the greatest treasure of our hearts, we then find at least three important lessons on the basis of our gospel passage.

First, everything, including material possessions and even basic needs that we have, becomes relative to the absoluteness of God’s Kingdom. We seek God and His Kingdom first and above all else. If we truly believe that God’s Kingdom has already started with the coming of Jesus, and the present is oriented towards the completion of this Kingdom in Jesus’ return or second coming, we strive to cooperate with God’s grace to really make God the center of our lives. One of the results of this is that we become more trusting in the providence of God and we acquire a more non-clinging and non-accumulative attitude towards everything, including possessions.

The gospel passage last Sunday made it very clear, “One’s life does not consist of possessions” and thus, we must avoid greed in any forms. In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi and many other saints, everything is a gift from God and everything ultimately belongs to God. Obsessive and greedy appropriation and accumulation of goods are not traits of people who trust in God as their loving and benevolent Father. If God takes care of the sparrows, how much more he will take care of us.

Second, knowing that one’s greatest treasure is God’s Kingdom leads one to share what one has and possesses with others, especially with the poor. The relative and fleeting character of possessions makes one share with others and impels him to work for transformation of the world so that what truly reign in the world are the Kingdom values of love, peace, justice and equality. God the Father of all humans and of all creation has given the resources of the world to be shared by all. This experience of the Fatherhood of God and the absoluteness of his Kingdom makes us work for a new world order where no one is neglected, oppressed, abused and dehumanized.

Finally, because God and His Kingdom are our greatest treasure, the proper disposition in this world is that of a faithful and prudent servant and steward who is always ready to make an accounting to the Lord for the life and resources that He has given us and for the quality of lives that we have lived and the quality of persons that we have become. The gospel passage has a strong reminder on this: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” At the hour of our death and at the eschatological coming of Jesus at the end of time, an accounting has to be made. Blessed is the servant and steward who is faithful, prudent and wise for living well and for relating well with others, especially the poor and the weak, according to the Kingdom values of love, peace, justice and equality.

A faithful and prudent servant and steward is vigilant. The first reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds us of the need for preparedness for the ultimate coming of the Lord as the Israelite people waited and prepared for their liberation from the slavery of Egypt.

A faithful and prudent servant and steward also possesses faith. The person who knows that his real treasure is God and His Kingdom will possess the faith exemplified by Abraham as recounted in the Letter to the Hebrews. Maryanne Williamson says that “the greatest treasures are those invisible to the eye but felt by the heart.” One can only apprehend these treasures by faith for “faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”

We find in St. Augustine of Hippo, the sinner turned saint, an embodiment of the heart’s search for what can truly satisfy it. In his life story, we find a succession of desperate searches for fulfillment: excessive pleasures, false religions, philosophy, dissipation and distractions—futilities that left him so weary of himself he could only cry out, “How long, O Lord, how long?” In the midst of this cry for divine help, the Scriptures showed him that he could be freed from sin and that he could start living a godly life. The transformation of St. Augustine began when he finally believed in and surrendered himself to God.

In his beautiful work entitled Confessions, considered one of the greatest autobiographical testimonies of God’s interaction with a soul that has found rest in its Creator, with a heart bursting with the reality of God, St. Augustine directly addresses the Lord. He declares: “Great are you, O Lord, and greatly to be praised, great is your power, and your wisdom is infinite.

In contrast to God, he asks, “What is man?” Yes, he finds the connection between God and man. In spite of sin, each person feels the longing to reach out to his Creator. Whys is this so? St. Augustine realizes that this itself is God’s doing: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they find rest in you.”

Blaise Pascal, the 17th century mathematician, philosopher and author declared: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator made known through Jesus.”

Our hearts know that nobody and nothing in this world can completely satisfy us. St. Poemen knew this very well when he said, “Give not your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart.” If we give our hearts to God, we give God everything and God becomes our All.

Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself,
and so bring us at last to your heavenly city
where we shall see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,y
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

About Fr. Robert and his reflections

The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine by Lianne Tiu

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Marriage, like diamond, is forever.

Most videographers capture the most important part of the wedding rite when the bride and groom express their consent in church, “…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

As years go by, the “happily ever after” seems to exist only in fairy tales, but not in real life. We realize that loving someone for one’s entire life can actually be difficult. These difficulties, which come in all shapes and sizes, may be an aspect of the other’s personality that gradually emerged when the knot is tied, differences in beliefs, priorities, and value systems, different ways of dealing with conflict, changes in mind and body as we age, etc.

Today, there is prevalence of marital infidelity and extra-marital affairs, of marriages ending in separation or divorce (especially in the Western world). The blame is not entirely with the couple, however, but with the narcissistic society that promotes the violation of marital vows, which is no longer pleasurable or easy to fulfill. The media and a “Me” generation contribute to a kind of mind-set, which seeks a life that is free from pain, discomfort, boredom, or unhappiness. Short-term affairs or extra-marital affairs become normal; while divorce becomes acceptable, and even commendable.

It’s about time we lovingly remind people of the word “commitment” – that we honor a marriage vow for life. In the present age, people are getting used to trendier terms, like “freedom,” ”choice,” and “having it our way.” Commitment, however, is to stay married because we vowed we would. It requires self-giving to continue when we don’t always “feel like it.” It entails patience to bear with each other’s faults until death. It needs loyalty to be faithful as long as we live. It requires humility and forgiveness to continue when there are hurt and anger. And most of all, commitment needs help from God, the author of marriage, to continue being one in flesh through prayers and the sacraments.

Our family, which we claim we truly love, is worth the struggle in spite of the obstacles and differences. Our children and grandchildren may gather some fortune and fame from us, but they will definitely inherit an immeasurable trust through our examples of faithfulness and commitment.

Pop star Rihanna sings about shining bright like a diamond. Marriage is like this precious diamond, which comes the Greek word adámas meaning “unbreakable”. It is a beautiful partnership; it is a lifetime commitment.
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(Reference: “Raising Catholic Children” by Mary Ann Kuharski; “Marriage is Love Forever” by James Socias; Catechism of the Catholic Church; Wikipedia)

63rd Luke 18 Weekend by Alexa Tordesillas and Henry Tordesillas Harrison

An event very special in the hearts of the members of our Faith Family happened last August 1-3. It was the 63rd Luke 18 Weekend.The Luke weekend is a retreat for 11-15 year olds who want to meet new friends and find a new home in the church. We, the Lukers, have one important goal in mind and that is to spread God’s love.

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Alexa Tordesillas – Last May, I remember receiving a message from Tita Yenyen Chan asking me to team for the 63rd Luke 18 Weekend in August. At first, I wasn’t so sure because I still had school to manage. But looking back at it today, I am glad to say that I took that chance because teaming for the weekend proved to be one of the best experiences of my life. Although it was my second time to team (the last time being the 59th weekend) and I already knew how the process and preparations went, it was still much different because this time, I was a team leader along with Franco Celiz. All of us 14 teamers seemed very different from each other at first but as the months went by, we were able to develop a special bond that helped us manage the weekend and make it a great and worthwhile experience for the candidates. After 2 months of learning how to sing in the right tune, memorizing lyrics and writing talks, the weekend we were all waiting for finally came.

Before we welcomed candidates into the room, we, including the Adult Leaders and Bridge Builders said prayers to guide us throughout the whole weekend. Those 3 days had gone by so fast. Before I knew it, we were standing up after the mass and jamming to all the songs we knew by heart, and are now stuck in the heads of the new Lukers. All the new people that I met have changed my life in one way or another. Seeing everyone there just made me so happy. One thing’s for sure, I’ll be at the meeting this week, bonding with everyone and spreading God’s love.

Henry Tordesillas Harrison – During this past weekend, I had the time of my life. Even though it only lasts 3 days, team had to meet every Friday and Saturday for two months to prepare for the weekend. Our preparations included: work-shopping talks, practicing for share-groups, singing the Luke songs (over and over again)and, most importantly,praying. Getting to know the 13 other people on team during the meetings was some of the best time spent in my life. After the first meeting, it was like I had already made 13 new friends who I could talk to whenever I wanted without thinking about whether they thought I was weird or too quiet. Everyone on team was so accepting of each other and we all grew to love one another as if we were all brothers and sisters.

When the weekend finally came, I was equally excited as I was nervous. I was nervous about singing, nervous about meeting the candidates. “Will the candidates like me?” “Will they listen to my talk?” questions like these were running through my head on Friday night, while waiting for everyone to arrive. When everything was finally underway and all the lessons we learned in Team meetings started to make sense, I realized that everything was alright and that my previous worries were useless. The candidates were all so nice. They shared their experiences with us, laughed with us, cried with us and, for the most part, sang with us. The 25 candidates I met and talked with over the weekend are some of the most warm-hearted, loving and wise people I have met since joining Luke. Although I didn’t have much time to talk with all of them, I will hopefully be getting to know each and every one of them in the upcoming meetings.

After everything was done and we had all returned to our normal lives, I couldn’t help but miss the weekend. I missed the candidates, I missed the SS and I missed my fellow teamers. Not seeing them every Friday and Saturday is going to take some getting used to, but I pray that we will all stay as close as we were before and during the weekend. This weekend and the time spent preparing for it helped develop me not only as a Catholic but as an individual. I learned so many things that I previously didn’t know about myself. I came out of my shell and started to interact with everyone more than ever before. Without the 63rd weekend and all the people involved, I don’t think I would be the person I am today.

For those interested to join the next Luke 18 weekend, pls. contact Rocky Chan (rocky.wangchan@gmail.com). There will be one, tentatively, set for November this year. Applications will be available closer to the event.

R A N D O M T H O U G H T S: Voices from yesterday and today . . . by Peachy Maramba

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ST. LAWRENCE of ROME :
Patron of Cooks

d. 258:
August 10

A Likely Tale
If you believe that all saints are dry, sedate joyless types you should hear the tale about St. Lawrence. No one is really certain how much of this story about him is true but as the Italians say,“Se non e vero, e ben trovato” or “Even if it isn’t true it makes a fascinating story.” Famous Christian writers such as St. Ambrose, Damasus and St. Augustine thought so as they faithfully recounted the details of the martyrdom of one of the earliest martyrs of the church in Rome to show how early Christians viewed the prospect of dying for their faith.

Not only did the account of Lawrence’s martyrdom amuse people, more importantly it made such a deep and lasting impression on the early Church that many were converted to the faith on hearing the oral tradition about this saint.

According to Tradition
Lawrence, it is said, was born in Huesca, Spain around 230. He was the first of seven deacons (clerics ranking just below a priest) who served the Roman Church in the third century. Besides assisting the Pope when celebrating Holy Mass and giving Holy Communion to the people, Lawrence was tasked with being the almsgiver who had the grave responsibility of being in charge of Church property and distributing to the poor the offerings and alms given by the Christians.

He was a deacon of Pope Sixtus II with whom he was on intimate terms. When Sixtus was condemned to die at the Catacombs of St. Calixtus in 258 during the oppressive persecution of the Christians conducted by Emperor Valerian, Lawrence was overwhelmed with grief that he could not die along with him.

But as the Pope together with four other deacons were being led out to die, the Pope said, “Do not cry, my son. I am not leaving you. In three days you will follow me.”

Overjoyed and believing wholeheartedly his beloved pope’s prophecy, Lawrence immediately began to prepare for his own leave-taking. Following the order of the pope he first sold many of the treasures of the Church such as the chalices and even the sacred vessels. Then he assembled as many of the 1,000 unfortunates of Rome the church had been caring for. To them he distributed all the money he had amassed.

You can imagine the anger of the prefect of Rome when he heard of Lawrence’s unheard of charity and mass disposal of Church valuables as he felt that the Church’swealth should rightfully go to the government to maintain the Emperor’s forces.

Being a “worshipperof gold and silver” the prefect also thought of all the other treasures the Church must have in hiding. So he summoned Lawrence andtold him, “I am told that to adorn your ceremonies you Christians burn tapers in silver candlesticks and that your priests make offerings in bejeweled cups of gold. Bring these and your other treasures out of hiding. The emperor needs them.”

On being commanded to immediately reclaim and hand over the other treasures of the Church in his charge, Lawrence begged for three days time to be able to reassemble and inventory them.

By the third day he had gathered all the poor, crippled, orphaned, blind, ill, old, lepers, widows and dispossessed of Rome that the Church maintained. Instead of the gold and silver the prefect was expecting these he presented grandly to the prefect of Rome as the riches of the Church. “These seeming wretches are truly what our Church treasures most,” Lawrence insisted.

Martyrdom
Failing to see the humor in this and enraged beyond belief the prefect shouted at Lawrence, “I know that it is your mad wish to die a martyr and so you shall. But not in the way you imagine. You will not die quickly as I will make sure that your flesh will be destroyed bit by bit, inch by inch.”

Immediately ordering a huge gridironto bebrought forth he had hot coals placed under it. Then after having Lawrence stripped he had him bound to this red-hot griddle where his flesh would be roasted in slow motion. He wanted to be sure Lawrence would die a slow and painful death.

However after some considerable time Lawrence now bathed in light but apparently feeling no pain seemingly immune to the tortures of his persecutors smiled at the prefect and said, “I think I am now well done on this side, so you can turn me over.”

After complying with his macabre request and when he was near death. Lawrence again spoke and cheerfully said, “There. I believe that I am now thoroughly cooked. Let the feast begin.”

Wide-awake to the end, Lawrence bore the agony with unbelievable equanimity and even prayed for the conversion of Rome and the spread of the faith throughout the Roman world. And on that note he breathed his last.

It is said that several people including some senators and soldiers who witnessed the final moments of Lawrence were so moved by his heroic death that they immediately became Christians on the spot. It is said that it was they who gave Lawrence a decent burial on the Via Tiburtina. According to the poet Prudentius it was the death and example of Lawrence which signaled the end of paganism and led to the conversion of Rome. God had answered Lawrence’s prayer! His death which had inspired a great devotion in Rome spread quickly throughout the Church. In keeping with his name Lawrence won great “laurels” for the Church.

Veneration
Thus the beautiful basilica of San Lorenzo was built over his grave just outside the walls of Rome in a cemetery on the Via Tiburtina by Emperor Constantine. It became one of the centers to which the newly baptized were taken during Easter week.

Few martyrs have been as venerated as Lawrence with a cult growing up quickly around him probably because of his sense of humor in the midst of his fiery end. His rare courage which encourages others in times of persecution could only come from a firm faith in the promises of the Lord and made him one of the most famous Roman martyrs.

In the 4th century the name Lawrence was included in the Canon of the Roman Mass immediately after Saints Peter and Paul.

St. Lawrence is understandably the Patron of the Poor as his job as deacon was to distribute alms to them.

He is named Patron of Firefighters because of his fiery death. And with a hint of his own humor, Lawrence was appropriately named Patron of Cooks.

His feast day which falls on August 10 was first observed early in the 4th century.Falling shooting fiery stars which are periodic swarms of meteors often seen in Rome at that time of his feast are known as “the tears of St. Lawrence.”

He has even given his name to a river in Canada, a cathedral in Spain and to many churches the world over.

However while later historians revealed that our saint was actually beheaded, his death (or the likely tale of his death) did actually lead to the conversion of Rome. This is probably why while little is known about him the Church has given him extraordinary honor.

His burial place in St. Lawrence Outside the Wall (San Lorenzo fuori le Mura) has become not only one of the seven principal churches in Rome but a favorite pilgrimage site in Rome. It is said that in Rome alone there are 30 Roman Churches dedicated to him and countless churches worldwide.

SOURCES of REFERENCE
ST. LAWRENCE of ROME
August 10

Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Vol. III – pp 297 – 299
Pocket Dictionary of Saints – p 304
The Watkins Dictionary of Saints – p 141
A Calendar of Saints – p 152
A Year With the Saints – August 10
Butler’s Saint for the Day – pp 374 – 375
Illustrated Lives of the Saints – Vol. I pp 355-356
My First Book of Saints – pp 176-178
Saint Companions – pp 295-296
Saints for Our Time – pp 167-168
Saint of the Day – pp 200 – 201
Saints – A Visual Guide – pp 84-85
Voices of the Saints – pp 66 – 67
The Everything Saints Book – p 270
The Lion Treasury of Saints – p 215; p 64 – 65
The Flying Friar – pp 54-57
Best Loved Saints – pp 38-40
The Way of the Saints pp 274-275
Book of Saints – Part I – pp 16-17

Koro Ilustrado: Higher

4The torrential rains did not dampen the spirit of Koro Ilustrado nor did it stop their family, friends and supporters from the parish – headed by our beloved Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Reu Jose C. Galoy, Music Ministry Head Mr. Edmund Lim and other members of the Parish Pastoral Council – as the all-male choir staged their fourth major concert last Saturday, August 2, with higher aspirations and a higher purpose.3
Dubbed as Koro Ilustrado: Higher, the concert was both a kick-off to the choir’s fundraising activities — as it aspires to participate in festivals and compete at international choral competitions abroad next year — and also share part of the proceeds with the disadvantaged children of the Bahay-Ampunan nina Hesus, Maria at Jose.
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Bahay-Ampunan was founded in 1998 and situated within the convent grounds of the Blessed Sacrament Missionaries of the Poor Brothers by providing for the primary needs of disadvantaged children like food and medicine. Five boys from Bahay-Ampunan accompanied by a brother were part of the audience. One of the boys even rendered a song, acapella, as their way of participating in the night’s musical treat and showing gratitude for the generosity of all donors that evening.
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Meanwhile, Fr. Efren Jimenez led the opening prayer and Koro Ilustrado praised and thanked God with the first song “Confitemini Domino” (Psalm 106:1), a sacred motet by Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina. The Ilustrados sang their hearts out throughout the evening with a broad repertoire which included a German Lied by Franz Schubert “Die Nacht,” contemporary arrangement in Latin of the prayer “Anima Christi” (by John August Pamintuan) and a text from the Canticle of Simeon “Nunc dimittis” (by Joy Nilo), a modern Ilocano folk song “Ubing a Battit,” as well as 80s hits like Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the inspirational “Warrior Is A Child” and Depeche Mode’s “People are People.” Koro Ilustrado, known for their flair for entertainment, also showcased their versatility by belting out and dancing up to recent hits like Beyonce’s “Halo” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” mashed up with Psy’s “Gangnam.” 1
The rains may have continued heavily outside but the support and appreciation for the Ilustrados were similarly outpouring inside the Santuario de San Antonio.In the end, Koro Ilustrado obliged two encore numbers and ended with a high-energy, celebratory rendition of Shakira’s “Waka-waka.”

The concert was not made possible without the full support of the parish and with this, Koro Ilustrado is sincerely grateful.
Koro Ilustrado is a member of the Santuario de San Antonio Parish Music Ministry and serves during the 4:30pm Mass every 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month. For information on their activities and other performances, you can check out http://www.koroilustrado.weebly.com or add them on Facebook (facebook.com/KoroIlustrado) and/or Twitter (twitter.com/KoroIlustrado).