Friday, July 5, 2013


Unborn babies dream. We fight so that our littlest dreamers can survive.
By Raj Rojas,  Jul 04, 2013

July 2, 2013 (NRLC) - When he was about six months old, my grandson and his mom came to my home for a  visit.  In the middle of one night, he roused the entire household with his screams. These were not normal newborn cries – this child sounded as if he were in serious distress.

My daughter immediately picked him up and tried to comfort him.  But he was inconsolable, he wasn’t soothed by his mom’s voice, or smell, or even her just being there.

Amid his screaming and as she rocked him back and forth, I lit a dim light in the corner of the room so we could wake him up gently.  When he opened his eyes and saw familiar faces and sounds he immediately began to calm. There were a few deep sighs, an occasional quick sob, but he fell back to sleep almost immediately.

My six month old grandson had just experienced a nightmare and I couldn’t imagine what a 6 month old could have been dreaming about.   I wondered what could have caused such a small baby to have a night terror.   My ignorance led to a bit of research, and what I discovered was enlightening and interesting, and sobering.

I found several articles on infant nightmares but a peer reviewed article by Dr. Alan Green, M.D. is the one who stood out and from which I will quote heavily.
Dr. Greene quoted a study by scientific research group Roffwarg and Associates who at the start of their research believed that they would find that infants do not have REM sleep because they do not dream.

But by the end of their study the researchers were startled to discover that not only do newborns dream – even on the first day of life – they actually dream more than the college students in those same studies. (Science, 1966; 152:604)

“This study has been repeated several times,” writes Dr. Greene, “confirming and expanding our knowledge.  We dream more in the first 2 weeks of life than at any other time. The visual part of the brain is more active during newborn REM sleep than during adult sleep.”

Then Dr. Greene asks and answers the question that is as amazing as it is troubling:

“If children dream from the moment that they are born, might they dream before that time?”
He continues:
“We now know that they [unborn children] begin to sleep at as early as 4 weeks of gestation (Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 1975;38:175). Dreams appear to be a kind of parallel processing by which we integrate our experience, making new connections in our brains.   In the uterus, babies probably dream about the muted light they see and the sounds they hear such as heartbeats, voices and music.   Shortly after birth, they dream about the explosion of new sights, sounds, tastes, smells and textures as they delight in getting to know their parents.”

Here was scientific, peer reviewed proof that unborn children dream.  I read those articles over and over and I couldn’t shake-off the thought of those children who survive late term abortions, and who dreamt as they were placed in linen or broom closets to die.

I’m sickened with the thought of an unborn child’s dream being interrupted by the slice of a curette, or the ingestion of poison, or the “snip” of her neck.

We fight, we work, we live in the trenches, so that our littlest dreamers can survive.  Please join us.

Pray Venerable Fulton Sheen’s prayer at least once daily.  Lord Jesus, spare my adopted spiritual child from abortion.  Amen.

Thursday, July 4, 2013



Prince Williams was baptized with water taken from the Jordan River.  It was in the Jordan River that Jesus was baptized by John.   It was the waters of the Jordan that washed the body of Jesus.  Prince Charles and Princess Diana desired that the waters that washed the body of Jesus wash the body of Prince William in the cleansing bath of baptism.

There was no need to get water from the Jordan River for the baptism of Prince William. 

The waters that washed the body of Jesus flowed downstream to the Dead Sea.  There in the course of time, it evaporated.  And even along the way, the water was already evaporating. 

The water vapor rose and there it was distributed by the winds all over the world.  There is no water anywhere in the world which does not contain water which has not touched the sacred body of Jesus.  Jesus came to sanctify everyone wherever he is, however far he may be.

The sun was needed to supply the heat to evaporate water.  Gravity was needed for warm and lighter air to rise.  There in the cool atmosphere, the vapor condensed to allow water to fall as rain.  Again gravity was needed to make the rain fall to the earth. The uneven heating of air over land and water and the spinning of the earth insured the rise of a variety of winds.  So many players were needed to distribute sanctifying water everyplace.

When the prophet Elisha told Naaman, a Syrian general who was a leper, to wash in the waters of the Jordan to be cured of his leprosy,  Naaman complained, “Are not the waters in my country better than all the waters of Israel?” But he swallowed his pride and was cured.   Today, anyone, prince or pauper, the poorest of the poor can say, “The tap water distributed by Manila Water is as good as the waters of the Jordan for baptism?”  

This is graphically illustrated in the wall mural by the famed painter, Ade Bethune, in a church in Victorias, Negros Occidental, Philippines.   Jesus is portrayed being baptized by John and the waters flowing over his body flows to the floor of the baptistery.

Sunday, June 23, 2013



The same air is breathed by prince or pauper, sinner or saint.  We can last for 40 days without food, for two weeks without water but we cannot last three minutes without air.  We have to buy food and water but air is free. 

We breathe without our knowing it or willing it.  Just as the heart beats without our knowing or willing it.  But we can make ourselves aware of our breathing. 

We can develop a sensitivity for it.  We are aware of our breath when we pant, when we are stressed, after physical effort, when short of breath, etc.
We can start by taking deep breaths.  Breathe in and hold your breath.  Slowly breathe out.  Inhale-exhale.  Do several times.  Then breathe regularly and concentrate on your feeling of the air as it brushes your nostrils.  Hear the faint wind.  Smell the scent.

Air is a gift, a gift from God.  As we breathe in we can be aware of the gift and the Giver.  Indeed the gift cannot exist without the Giver.  So as we breathe in air, we breathe in the Giver.

Air is free.  It is a gift.  It is everywhere.  There is air even in the ocean which the fish breathe.   The air is abundant, 20 percent of the atmosphere is oxygen, free oxygen molecules.  Free oxygen molecules are found only in our planet.

In our lungs, oxygen is absorbed by the blood, in particular by the red blood particles, the haemoglobin.  And the oxygen is sent to all the cells of the body.  Without oxygen the cells dies.   When the brain is deprived of oxygen we suffer a stroke.

What does it matter if one has all the riches in the world if one does not have oxygen?

My hand on a stone on the surface of table.  When I release my hand the stone will not move.  It will move only if I or someone moves it.  If I hold a stone two feet from the floor, it will move to the floor if I release my hold on it.  It moves to the floor without my doing anything to it.  All I did was release the stone by opening my hand.  In the case of creation.  As God holds in being the stone, when he stops creating it, it just vanishes into nothing.  Creation is an ongoing act.  A stone once created cannot be left alone to just exist without God continuously creating it.   Air is continuously kept in existence by God each moment creating it, each molecule I breathe.

In artificial breathing, we alternately compress the lungs to expel the air and breathe in through the mouth, keeping the nostrils pinched until the patient starts to breathe on his own.  Once the patient breathes again, we can go away.  In natural breathing it is God making me breathe.  And he never stops until it is time to die.   As long as I breathe it means he is with me, in me, around me.

I breathe air.  Air that God created.  The air I breathe is air kept in being as I breathe it in.  I breathe in air and I breathe in God who is keeping It in being.

Air is a gift.  Gift is a symbol of the heart of the giver.  But the gift is the Giver himself.  God is the Giver and He is the Gift.

God gives me air so I can live.  This means he gives me life.  As long as I breathe, he is giving me life, loving me.

Dan Schutte, a St Louis Jesuit,  penned a wonderful line about this surrender that Ignatius reminds us is at the core of our relationship with God – “When the darkness falls on my final days, take the very breath that sang your praise.”

When one feels consolation as one ponders a thought, do not proceed to another thought.  Stay with it.  Quietly.  Enjoy the consolation.   Listen.  Pray with body.  Just be conscious, and aware.  This is the prayer of awareness,  the prayer of passivity.



The air I breathe is the very air Jesus breathed in, and breathed out.  Air is nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, argon, etc.  Only oxygen is absorbed by his body and that partially.  Also air enveloped his body, the wind and breeze caressed it.  All this did not stay in the Holy Land but spread all over the world.  There is no air that does not contain air that was part of Jesus.  Air entered his lungs, travelled in his arteries, went to the cells, oxidized fuel, became carbon dioxide, travelled in his veins, out into the air.  In one hour we breathe about six to ten liters of air.  That’s a lot of air.  Much air was breathed by Jesus during his 33 years on earth.

It is the air he breathed from the time he was born until his last breath on the cross.  All that air circulated and is still circulating around the world and breathed by every person alive.  It circulates so that no one can say he had no chance to breathe the air of Jesus.

When one feels consolation as one ponders a thought, do not proceed to another thought.  Stay with it.  Quietly.  Enjoy the consolation.  Dialogue.  Listen.  Pray with body.  Just be conscious, and aware.  This is the prayer of awareness.

To breathe is to praise and pray. 

The air God gives me is not just good air, but a special air, air of Jesus.  Air that caressed his skin, entered his lungs.  I imagine wiping the sweat on my brow with a handkerchief that Jesus used to wipe his sweat.   That is how the air that caressed his skin is now caressing mine.  What awe I feel.  How grateful and how close He is to me.  How much He wants to be with me.

Air is all about me, in me.  In air I live and and move and have my being.  Air is so much like God the spirit, the invisible. Air is a sacrament.  Air is my contact with divinity.  It is hard to imagine God who is a spirit.  So God created air so that I can more easily imagine him and his creating and loving activity.  He has no reason for creating me but love for me.

Isaiah found that God was not in the strong wind, not in thunder, but in the whisper of the breeze.  But God is in the strong wind and in the thunder and in all things.  But how often is there thunder and strong wind.  All the time there is the gentle almost imperceptible air.

How wonderful God chose to be with us in the form of food and drink.  But there are intervals between meals.  On the other hand, there is no interval when there is no air.  At all times, even when in deep sleep.

I have to take care of air and not pollute it.  It will be used by others.  Others cannot live without it.

O my dear beloved air.

All material creation has been touched and transformed.  Now material creation is the matter for all the sacraments.  No longer does it have to groan to be saved.  It has become the instrument of salvation.  It has become the instrument by which man can live the life of God.

It was not only the water that washed Jesus in the Jordan that touched the body of Jesus.  There is water everywhere.   In the water he drunk, in the wine he drunk, in the food (meat, vegetables, fruits) he ate, in the waters with which he bathed.

Jesus used it in his healing ministries, in his saliva, in the feeding of the multitude, in the bread he took, blest, broke and distributed to be eaten.  In the wine he took, blest and distributed to be drunk.  In the blood and water that flowed from his pierced heart.

Jesus was 95% water.  What he drank became part of his body.

That is why water is superabundant.  No excuse for not having it when needed.  And don’t we need it.

Jesus breathed.  All the air he breathed is now all over the world, in the air we breathe.  Without air we cannot live more than a few minutes.   We cannot help but breathe.  If so, we cannot breathe without breathing the air the Jesus breathed. 

 It is air that allows us to hear the words of forgiveness, the word proclaimed.

Saturday, June 22, 2013



Sometime around 1943 we were invited to celebrate the fiesta in Maabod, Taal.  We were finishing our lunch when we were told that someone wanted to see our host.  Curious, we went to the yard entrance.  There we saw a caromata, a horse drawn vehicle.  No gasoline was available during the Japanese occupation.  The caromata has two large wheels and the carriage is about a meter from the ground.  The carriage has three planks of wood, each seating three.  Seated on the front bench was a vision of loveliness.  I was struck motionless.  I could not breathe.  I was paralyzed.  It was Milagring Barrion, the loveliest girl in Taal.  She was about 17 and I was about 13.  My sisters, who were women, they too was overwhelmed by the sight of such beauty.

I do not remember what I saw.  So blinded was I that I cannot even recall if she had a companion.  All I can remember are the emotions what overwhelmed me.  I guess she must have had a friendly smile.  Her face must have shone with health.  Her father, Vicente, had married Catalina, a Spanish girl when he was abroad. They had eleven children.  Was Milagring the prettiest of the girls?  She had other sisters.  Juanita was older and so I did not see how she looked when she was younger.  How would Alicia, a younger sister, have looked when she became older?   Alas, no one will ever know!

A flower starts as a bud.  But before it fades and becomes a fruit, there is a phase when it is most attractive in shape, color, fragrance and other attributes.  All this so that insects will be attracted to ensure not only the survival but the improvement of the species.  This is true of animals too.  There is nothing they can do about it.  It is in the natural flow of events.  After the peak, then the fading.  But this is not so with men.  To get to be beautiful, there is no substitute for suffering. 

We have it in our power and it is our duty not only to prevent the fading of beauty but even to enhance and intensify it.  We are gifted with liberty and reason.  We are made in the image of God. This can be done by our actions, our choices under the inspiration of grace.  Kindness in thought and speech.  More intent on the needs of others over ours.  A life in service for others at any cost.  And then there is the passage through the crucible of suffering, whether due to sickness, age, rejection, betrayal.

In little less than a year, Milagring went through that crucible.  In 1945 the Japanese knew that they had been beaten and so they made sure that Filipinos died with them.  When we learned that the Japanese were massacring civilians in the town proper of Lipa and other towns, we responded by abandoning the town and fleeing to the farms.  While we fled to Abilo near present day San Nicolas, the Barrions fled to Maabod, the ancestral home of the Barrions.  Alas, the Japanese went to the hills.  They were in Maabod in Feb. 16, 1945. They massacred many Barrion families, one of them Milagring’s.   She was in critical condition after having been stabbed several times. She survived with Juanita and a young brother, Vicente Jr.   She was saved by Benjamin, younger than her, who covered a grenade with his body.  While Catalina  shielded her suckling son with her body from bayonet stabs.  Heroic life giving deaths abounded.

In Maabod greater love conquered death.   


BAYUHAN (Husking of Palay) in POOK

When WWII started we were in Taal, Batangas for the town fiesta of December 8.  We abandoned our home in Manila to live in Taal for the duration of the war.  We lived in the poblacion.  But we scampered to the hills with every rumor.  In the early days of 1942, one such rumor sent us running to the farm of Nanang Mitang, our grandaunt, in Po-ok, north of the town.  It was a short walking distance from the town.  We lived in the farmer’s house, a nipa hut.  It was a house on stilts.  The floor was about a meter above the soil.  The floor was made of bamboo strips set some distance apart to allow the flow of air.  The roof and walls were made of nipa and the pillars of bamboo or madre de cacao.  It was built through bayanihan, neighbors working together. There was no need for fans or air conditioners.  Built for one family, it now had to accommodate three families.  But Filipinos are adaptable and flexible.
After supper in the light of dim and flickering coconut oil lamps, we went to bed.  Mats were laid on the floor and our bodies were aligned like sardines. After getting up in the morning, the mats were rolled up and placed upright in a corner.  Since it was only in sleeping that we were all together, there was no need for a bigger space.  We went to bed early lulled by the sounds of night.

 Before the sun was up we were already awake or awakened by the crowing of the cocks, and by a rhythmic sound of bayuhan (pounding) and of joyful laughter.  Palay was being husked by pounding in mortar and pestle (lusong at pambayo).  Only the amount needed for the day was husked.  The pounding was done by four, all of them young girls, daughters of the farmer.  The procedure was for each maiden to enter one at a time. The first one pounded the palay.  Then the second moved her pestle but not to the extent of reaching the palay.  When she felt the rhythm, she alternately pounded the rice with the first maiden.  In the same way, the third and fourth came in.  In the cool of the early morning, they made the chore a joyful socializing.  Each person pounded with a different strength so there was no monotonous sound but a four note melody.

          Then the ipa or husk has to be separated from the rice grains, or winnowed.  The mixture from the mortar was placed at one end of a bila-o, a shallow bamboo basket. The elongated basket was roundish at one end and pointed in the other.  The mixture was placed in the pointed end. It was jerked up sending the mixture up in the air.  The grain fell first.  In a deft motion, the girl caught the grain and pulled back the basket so that the husks fell to the ground.  After several such motions all that was left in the basket was grain.  But this was a mixture of grain without husk and palay.  So these had to be separated.

The shallow basket was given a rotary motion.  This resulted in the heavier palay (unhusked grain) moving to one place and the grain to another.  The palay was then tossed to a mat.  These are gathered to join palay being pounded.

The husked rice is brown rice or grain still with the bran which is colored brown.  When brown rice is furthered milled, then it becomes white rice.  It is mostly starch.  The bran has proteins, oils and vitamins.  Commercial brown rice costs more than white rice though it costs less to produce. This is due to less demand for it.

In the farm, it is brown rice that is eaten.  Little or nothing is bought, for the rest of the meals consisted  of vegetables freshly harvested from the land.  These were all kinds of talbos or tender shoots of vegetables, flowers of calabasa or squash, puso ng saging, kamote, string beans, etc.  Very healthy and tasty.  Yummy. 

After a month, we were back in town.  Each rumor brought us to different farms in four years.  But I never again saw palay being pounded by four people.  To see and feel the joy of the huskers is to desire to join them.  Just as to see the joy of the young Jesuits teaching in high school was to desire to be one of them.


O God,
giver of heavenly gifts,
who in Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
joined penitence to a wonderful innocence of life,

grant through his merits and intercession, that,
though we have failed to follow him in innocence,
we may imitate him in penitence.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.   –  Amen.

The prayer above is the Opening  Prayer, 
that immediately before the readings, or Collect in the pre-Vatican liturgy.   One can see the Roman style in the prayer.   It is short and does not wander around.

An address to God, followed by a brief description of the life of the saint, and then a petition that is specific to the saint, ending with the customary Per Jesum Christum  etc.