Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fierce Episode


A fiercely horrifying conversation that was blown out of a proportion. I never thought I would experience such humiliating encounter again and hear those vilifying and disparaging attack I already suffered more than three years ago.

It happened all because of misinterpreting  the real context of the conversation. But it's too useless to press my point. It's useless especially if you won't be heard fairly, because all they do is allow anger to reign.  So I just lift it to God. I maintained my position on the issue, I did not slander their community. What I was expressing was my honest observation that "that" preacher seemed like "tiptoeing" into the other side of the ministry. It's not a remote possibility because most preachers now are creating their own group or community and established their own style of evangelical mission.

These preachers insisted they are Catholics but what confuses me is their actuations. Why creating a group when there are parishes ready to accommodate worshippers? If your intention is not to confuse believers, you must abide with the programs of the diocese. It's okay to preach of course but be sure the activities are under the turf of the diocese. There are plenty of spiritual programs that each parish offers. Example Family Groupings, Family Life Apostolate, GKK where you can have all the opportunity to preach, to share the good news of the gospel in the community, to conduct a bible study.

But a potential trouble emerges when these Catholic preachers start to create their own group, having their own worship place because aside from luring believers to a different environment, it opens a dangerous possibility of creating a different interpretation of the Catholic practices.

The celebration of the Holy Mass of the Catholic Church is always solemn, the sacred ritual never changes since the Roman times, it highlights the sacrifices of Jesus while conducting His ministry on earth. Archbishop Romulo Vales said there's no need to sing and dance and shout praises because the exposition of the Eucharist (a part of the mass before and after the singing Holy, Holy Lord) is the most precious act of commemorating Jesus and it is the highest form of prayer.

So when groups began to create a different style outside the framework of this sacred ritual they are directly opposing and contradicting what the church instituted.  They are already creating their own style away from the traditional approaches which made them appear like Born Again Christians which are no longer Catholics and this is where my discomfort rooted.

Everytime I am invited to join a certain spiritual group, I always make some observation and assessment if it still  aligns with the practices and principles of my faith to avoid confusing my self where to put my loyalty and what practices to follow. There's nothing wrong with being a non-Catholic it's true but my point is, if I will look on the other backyard it seems I am not confident with my faith, it seems I did not understand the core of my religion and not satisfied with its message of salvation. It's a total betrayal.

And this is where the whole conversation pointed out  which seemed did not set well to the other party. I was only expressing what I'd observed in their community. I did not personally attack their group. When you established your own group it seemed like you are convincing believers to detach from the church, it could be very confusing to their part as loyalty will now be put into question.

So why fire vicious attack right away without even assessing the situation and comprehending the content of the conversation? It's a clear sign that he himself did not know how to defend the community and how to give an enlightenment what their ministry is all about. 

Religion is not something we should window shop, as if we are looking what's the best item on sale and what's glamorous, it's a vocation that we must embrace and fully understand, we are part of the mission, so we should never allow ourselves to be easily duped by the charm of other groups. Modern interpretation of the catholic doctrine is  something that never encourage by the universal church.

So why they will get angry when I just expressed what I'd observed? When I said it was not already what the universal church preaches? Rage and anger are not traits that a spiritual leader should tolerate. If you want to take up the mission you should know how to handle tension and throw back an argument, you should be prepared with the criticism because it's part of the package, you must know how to mellow your impatient character.

Well, that's the real truth, they are misleading Catholics in the real sense of the word, they are the fundamentalists dreaded by the Vatican, if not then why they have to set up their own worship place when there's a parish church to go to every Sunday. Their set up is more like a Born Again group which is no longer a Catholic church by practice. Encouraging to share a tight? It's totally crap, a big deception, the universal church never encourage it, because that's part of the old testament and the church is breathing a life on the new testament.

The idea that their leader never got a cent from that online brokerage is a total hypocrisy. I am not ignorant with the way online stock trading is conducted. All online stock brokers can gain from the investment of each trader, when the trading would not go on well and the trader losses a cent it would go directly to the broker's account. There are fees to be collected in the transaction and large part of it will go to the brokers. And why online stock brokers are rampant now? It's because it entails big money, big profit. That online brokerage they promoted among its members is not a work of a saint either.

When I said it signifies a conflict of interest, I am telling the truth. When you serve the church your intention is purely to preach the gospel and evangelized the people so why you will mix it with business in the first place and why you busy yourself promoting your entity? And it's too blatant with all the splendour of convincing members to take part of it, how will you assess it?

The Holy Father even declared he wanted a poor, more austere church without brushes of extravagance and splendour of worldly goods. And those who want to serve, those who want to assume the responsibilities of becoming preachers are expected to follow suits.

The trouble with people is the way they impulsively react on issues without assessing the whole situation first, as if they never know how to defend. They keep their eyes shut to the shuddering truth that they are being deceived and yet they don't detect it because they are blinded with the saintly facade of those deceivers.

Deceivers remain undetected if your mind is too focused on its beautiful surface. They are gifted with a unique charisma in speech and interpersonal skills so people are easily convinced.

I am not saying that the Roman Catholic church is perfect, it's a vulnerable church fighting controversies committed by emotionally weak authorities, but what I am defending is its doctrinal values and principles.

All Roman Pontiffs rejected the modern interpretation of the doctrines urging believers to stick with the traditional approaches because that's what the ministry of Jesus is all about. Roman Pontiffs are very liberal on social issues but they want the doctrines to remain as they are. But these fundamentalists confused Catholic believers by luring them to another dimension of faith.

This is what I was trying to explain but it was not heard constructively, it was interpreted as a slander to their community and judged me as a repulsive individual, accusing me with things I never assumed to myself: self-righteous, conceited, repulsive, and all those demeaning personal attack, even in my wildest dream I never put it in my head to show to the world that I am self-righteous. He was the one who put it to myself who labelled me and to aggravate the issue and look for sympathizers, posted the grievances in a social networking site. Is it logical?

A social networking site is not a confession booth where you have to unload your emotional baggage and anger. It's like washing dirty linen in public which is very unethical. I resented people who treated social networking sites as their repository of troubles and complains, it's totally immature because it appears you are hopelessly seeking attention. why not confess your burden and grievances to God or to a priest? God knows what's happening around, even if you won't splash it to the world, He will know it.

The encounter made me vomit in disgust. Well, I am a stubborn, strong-willed person and far from being pious and for all the years I existed in this world, I never pretended to be somebody else, I never assume any fake identity, I am always honest and true to myself even if it costs me a hell of trouble. I am always transparent. I never hide under somebody's skirt.

I am always polite and courteous but when it comes to my religion, I can blow up a mountain defending it. I know what I am doing and I want to defend the core of my faith up to my last breath. I am proud of my faith it's the only thing I cling to when times get rough, it always rescued me from tribulations. It greatly defined my existence and I never put that into question. I have no issue with myself, not sure with theirs.

If you want to become a spiritual leader in the community that promotes peace, fairness, humility and justice then you should know how to refine your words, understand the context of the conversation and know where to put your best foot forward, defend your sector politely without resorting into insolence and anger. That's how a good leader should act. The essence of leadership is influencing others through good traits. You must always do the right things and not what is right.

I can forgive but the episode will ever hardly forgotten. The pain I felt and the personal attack I received helped me realized why God did not allow things to take its course and why He did not grant one thing I kept praying for the past years.

Someday I know I would be vindicated just like what happened three years ago.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pope Francis: I want Church to be Poor


Last March 19, 2013, the pontificate of His Holiness, Pope Francis, officially began and with it comes the revitalized hope of a more active pastoral mission of the Catholic Church whose mission according to the new Pope is "to defend the poor, the weakest, the least important, the disabled, the disadvantaged and the environment".

Early on, after he was elected as the new Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis, already hinted that he wanted a poor church ready to serve others, he also sets tone for a humbler papacy, simple and modest.

How he got the name "Francis"

In a press conference held days after he became the 266th Vicar of Jesus Christ, His Holiness, Pope Francis  emphasized his intention to renew the Catholic Church and bring back the Catholic faithful to its fold after some of the believers became fascinated with evangelical groups. 

Speaking before the members of journalists, the 76-year old successor to the throne of St. Peter shared how he came up with the name "Francis".

"Let me tell you a story", he begins, describing the tension of the last few hours inside the Sistine Chapel when the deliberation became "a bit dangerous" that he would reach the required two-thirds of the votes,   his friend, Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil approached him.

"He hugged me and kissed me and said don't forget about the poor, that's how in my heart came the name of St. Francis of Assisi", the Pope continued. "St. Francis devoted his life to the poor, to the nature and taking care all of God's creation". Pope Francis also said he thought about his concern for wars and remembered St. Francis as a man of peace.

He also commented that some have wondered whether his name was a reference to the co-founder of the Jesuit order he formerly belonged, Francis Xavier, but Pope Francis reiterated he got an inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi because "he was the man of the poor who gave up his fortune to serve God".

"Oh how I would like a poor church and a church for the poor", the Holy Father sighed. His declaration sounded like a signal what he wanted to do with his leadership. He already showed signs that he does not want pomp and grandeur. A day after his election he returned to a hotel where he stayed after arriving from Argentina for the Conclave and paid his bill.

The Charming Pope

He already won multitude, including the media, with his unique charm and fresh air of naturalness. He smiled too often and dashed to the crowd without bothering too much about the risk of his life much to the horror of his security guards who scrambled to their feet to protect him while shaking hands to people. People began noticing the stark difference between him and his introvert and scholarly predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. 
Greeting the crowd that assembled at St. Peter's sqaure

On Sunday, March 17, he surprised everyone in the Vatican when after celebrating the mass, he stood at the church entrance, smiling, opening his arms and greeted the tourists and pilgrims. He also hugged and kissed the children. This change of style of the Pope which was very rare and last seen from Pope John Paul II,  gave so much anxiety to his security details who feared that his openness might posed risk to his life.

But the new Pope is determined to get nearer to the people especially the underprivileged and the weak. Last week, he was also seen reaching to a disabled man and gave his blessing.

"He has a special relationship with creation", according to one Italian broadcaster.

The Papal Inauguration 

Pope Francis was officially installed as Supreme Head of the Universal Church and Head of the State of Vatican last March 19, 2013 at St. Peter's Square in a ceremony attended by thousands of faithful and heads of state around the world.

Before the ceremony started he went to the tomb of St. Peter to pray and toured around the square to greet the crowd in an open jeepney, breaking tradition again of riding in a bullet proof papal mobile.

At the start of the mass, the Pope received the fisherman's ring, used as both symbol of papacy and papal seal.

The inauguration started with a mass. In his homily he pleaded for world peace and harmony "Please," he said, "Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God's plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment, do not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world".
With Argentina president, Cristina Kirchner 

He said he wanted to open his arms to the whole humanity, especially to the poorest, the weakest, the least important, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked and the prisoners.

"Today amidst so much darkness we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others, to protect creation, to look upon them with tenderness and love

In Argentina, thousands had gathered in the plaza before the big screen to watch the ceremony in Rome and the crowd were surprised when the Pope called from Vatican and announced, his voice boomed in the loudspeakers installed in the plaza, "I want to ask a favor", he said, "I want to ask you to walk with me and take care of one another and don't forget that this bishop who is far away loves you very much. Pray for me".

Early on, he told a church official in Argentina to tell Argentines not to come to Rome for his inauguration instead donate the money they intend to spend traveling to various charities.

More than 100 official delegations came into Vatican composed of heads of states, presidents, European royals and leaders of different religious organizations. The united states was represented by Vice President, Joe Biden, a Roman Catholic. Argentina was represented by its President, Cristina Kirchner, who had a thorny relationship with Pope Francis when he directly criticized her of approving same sex marriage and  the use of contraceptives. Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country in Asia, was represented by Vice President, Jejomar Binay. Catholic royals in Europe also attended. Prince Albert of Monaco with his wife, Princess Charlene, Prince Felipe of Spain and his wife, Princess Letezia and others.

Marked with Simplicity

Determined to live in less grandeur and pageantry, Pope Francis shunned the elegance and sophistication of  papal wardrobe and accessories and chose to wear just simple religious fashion. For his installation ceremony, he wore a white cassock without an elegant red cape and like the Blessed John Paul II, the new Pope also declined to wear a pair of red velvet shoes traditionally wore by Popes.

His Holiness, Pope Francis, shunned elegance and chose to wear a simple papal robe 
during his inauguration last March 19, 2013, he also turned down wearing a pair of red velvet Prada shoes, traditionally worn by Roman Pontiffs, because it represents luxury

Instead of a golden cross, Pope Francis wore the iron version which he had been wearing since 1992. He also chose to wear a modest silver papal ring, officially known as a fisherman's ring, instead of gold.

According to Rome jeweller, Paolo Picciotti "The pope's decision to renounce precious things and avoid materials such as gold is in keeping with his intention to emphasize the religious symbols themselves and not what they are made of. It's not great news (considering the profit they will loss) for us goldsmiths, but I personally think it is a potent gesture which holds a message of renewal for the church".

Strong Hope for Renewal

With Pope Francis's desire to renew the Catholic church and reignite the faith of the believers, there's a strong hope for a more solid ministry with purpose of transformation. It is high time to address the pressing issue of the Catholic church whose members slowly drifting apart to other evangelical groups.

Visiting his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Last March 23, 2013, another history in the 2,000 years life of the Catholic church unfolded--the meeting of the two Popes, something that had never seen in the last seven centuries. Pope Francis flew to Castel Gandolfo where his predecessor, Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, had lived since he vacated the Vatican.
Meeting of the two popes

The scene saw the weak and frail Benedict who rarely moved his head and who walked with the aid of a cane. Pope Francis brought a gift to his predecessor, which he called a "Madonna of Humility". It was thought possible that the Pope Emeritus expressed his vow of obedience to his successor something he promised in the last days of his resignation.

When the two reached the prayer room Benedict offered Francis the privileged to kneel first as an act of allegiance to the new Pope, but Francis declined saying "we are brothers, we will pray together", so the two prayed side by side.
Praying side by side

Pope Francis thanked the Pope Emeritus for his ministry, "I thought of you. You gave us so many signs of humility and gentleness in your pontificate".

The two will be living together few throw stones away when Benedict will moved to the renovated nunnery within the Vatican walls in the coming weeks. But he reiterated he will spend the rest of life in prayer hidden to the world.


Friday, March 15, 2013

His Holiness, Pope Francis: New Inspiration!

Long Live Pope Francis!

His election surprised everyone, including me, I thought the Cardinal Electors would choose someone younger as advanced age was the center of Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, resignation, not knowing that this person as a Cardinal has a remarkable background and inspiring lifestyle.

A day after he was elected, the official site of the Vatican published a detailed story about his life and why he chose to reign under the mystical name of Francis.

It was only then that I understood why God allowed him to win the Papal election. The Conclave follows a very sacred process of casting votes with a severe punishment given to those who will be caught divulging details of the conclave, it's the best-kept secret process of the centuries old existence of the Catholic Church and Vatican Palace, known with its legendary secrecy, made sure no one will eavesdrop at the sacred deliberation. Each Cardinal elector will be under oath before God and the Holy Bible upon entering the Conclave, it has no other influence to consider except divine intervention, thus a papal election is the most secretive and intensely sacred deliberation in the world. The Cardinals sought guidance from the Holy Spirit when casting their votes putting each ballot at the chalice, so whoever wins the election many believed is personally chosen by God.

The tricky thing is that Cardinal electors will meet the gaze of Jesus Christ inside the Sistine Chapel each time they will cast their vote because the table they occupied is directly facing the image of Jesus, and when they raise their head they will face "The Last Judgement" which depicts scenes of the second coming of Christ, the scenes in heaven and hell and the disgruntled souls of the sinners. This scenario prompted Cardinals to choose a candidate based on wisdom and morals.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is said to be the lone rival of Pope Benedict XVI during the 2005 Conclave so his election came as no surprise to the inner circle of Cardinals and Vatican Palace officials. But to the outsiders who had no clue who is this man who earned the trust and respect of fellow Cardinals might be left wondering with his election. There must be something extraordinary in him.

And when I read thoroughly the story of his life and the testimonies of people who knew him I was amazed with his personality, his humility, his modesty and simplicity and his great love for the poor, truly he magnifies the true essence of the servant of God "majestic simplicity and humility". His choice of regnal name also reflects his life style and his intention to "purify" the universal church. Francis is taken from the name of St. Francis of Assisi, who was known with his simplicity and great humility. He gave up his fortune to live in poverty and served God with all his heart. He was also a man of peace who loved the nature and animals. And the new Pope exactly wanted to be like that, he wanted Church to be poor that cares for the downtrodden and the oppressed. He wanted peace and harmony among God's creation. He wanted church leaders and believers to live in simplicity and away from grandeur and luxury. He wanted to preserve life and promotes public morals.

Truly he is God's answer to the cries of the Catholic church to renew the morals of the faithful, to protect God's creation, to remind everyone that each one of us has a mission to fulfill in this world through our faith, to inspire Catholics to remain loyal and devoted to the church especially those who are confused, who are easily deceived by other groups, who are looking into the other directions of life appreciating and joining fundamentalist groups that shook the very foundation of the Catholic   church.

Now I began to adore and love the new Pope. The Holy Father is such a great inspiration just like Blessed John Paul II whom I greatly admired. One of the great lessons I'd got from the life of Pope John Paul II is the act self-mortification which I often exercised on some instances especially during Holy Week. Self-mortification is a total self denial indulging on things you are used to and comfortable with, especially luxurious things. I often mortified myself on Holy Thursday and Good Friday by not texting, not using laptop, not eating comfortable foods. Back in the province, we considered Good Friday as the day wherein you have to experience sufferings in any form, refusing to take a bath, engage in excessive talking, and eat rice is one way of carrying your cross.

The newly elected Holy Father is noted with his monk- like lifestyle and frugality back in Argentina. I want to make him as a great inspiration in my life---to remain faithful to the Catholic Church's traditional teachings and to keep a very simple and humble human existence not fascinated with expensive things and luxurious lifestyle.

Inspiration from the New Pope


When I first heard that the 76-year-old Cardinal from Argentina was chosen as the new Roman Pontiff, I was stunned and almost dismayed with the result of the 2013 Conclave because like most Catholics across the globe, I was hoping for a younger Pope to head the universal church and help reignite the faith among passive Catholics who are increasingly attracted to evangelical and fundamentalist groups. But when I read the profile of the Pope and the testimonies of the people who knew him personally, I was astonished how admiring he is, how, as a Cardinal responded to his pastoral mission to care for the poor and defend the teachings of the church.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis. Vatican officials stated that the new pope should not be called "Francis I" because no Francis before him had reigned as Roman Pontiff, he is the first Francis to ascend the throne of St. Peter, so he is simply His Holiness, POPE FRANCIS.

Pope Francis is God's answer to the cries of the Catholic Church seeking for a new leader that could inspire every believer to remain faithful to the church's teachings and traditions. At 76, he is not new to criticism and issues on morality and the challenges that confronted the foundation of the universal church. He is largely seen as someone who can unite the divided church.

According to one Vatican observer: "The rise of secularism, fundamentalists and evangelical groups that confused Roman Catholics has been a great challenge to the Vatican".

With the election of Pope Francis, I have high hopes he can help reignite the passion of the faithful. I am confident he can keep the "flock" intact and inspire them to remain faithful and loyal to the traditions and pastoral mission of the Catholic Church.

The Holy Father took the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, a great reformer of the universal church who was famous for his simplicity, deep spirituality and humility, characteristics that best described also the new pope.

May his detachment from luxury and extravagance will serve as inspiration to the rest of humanity. I am more inspired to remain simple and modest and to remain devoted to my Catholic faith.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

We have a New Pope!


Long live Pope Francis!!

A cardinal from Argentina, often described in the media as a simple, humble and conservative man with liberal views on social justice, was chosen yesterday as the 266th Vicar of  Jesus Christ and successor to the throne of St. Peter.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Argentina, reportedly the lone challenger of Pope Benedict XVI during the 2005 Conclave, won the Papacy after the five rounds of voting in the 2013 Conclave. He took the name Francis as his regnal name in honor of the great reformer of the Catholic Church, St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th century founder of the Franciscan order. It is unheard for a name of a Pope in recent memory but analysts believed the new pope chose the name to signify his intention to revitalize the universal church which is heavily marred by controversies.

St. Francis of Assisi personifies simplicity and humility, two qualities that best describe the newly elected Pope. The papacy also evokes humility and who ever sat in the throne of St. Peter expected to follow this representation of majestic simplicity and naturalness.

Pope Francis is known for his very humble life in Buenos Aires almost living like a monk and would spend his weekend at his simple apartment in deep solitude. He reportedly refused to live in a luxurious Apostolic palace in his archdiocese. His attitude towards living almost like St. Francis of Assisi will be tested now that he will forever live in the grandeur of Vatican Palace with body guards and waiting staff. 

Analysts were stunned with the result of the election as they were expecting a younger Pope to succeed Benedict XVI. 

A keen evangelist and staunchly orthodox on issues of morality, Bergoglio impressed fellow Cardinals with his views on how to map out the problems haunting the universal church during the pre-conclave meeting in Vatican. He is a theologian conservative but liberal on social justice and viewed inequalities in the society as "cries of pain that reached to heaven". In Argentina, he is well-known for his deep humility, simplicity and love for the poor. 

One Vatican worker commented "Cardinal Bergoglio is a solid, pragmatic and efficient man who can do something concrete to reform the Roman Curia (the central government of Vatican)".

A surprising winner! 
His name was rarely mentioned in the news about the Papabili (potential popes) but just like the great Pope, Blessed John Paul II, who was also the darkhorse in the 1978 Conclave, Cardinal Bergoglio secured votes and went on to become the first non-European to be elected as Roman Pontiff in nearly 1,300 years.


The 2013 Conclave of the College of Cardinals astonished everyone when they elected the 76 year-old Cardinal from Argentina. Everyone was expected to see a younger Pope mount the throne of St. Peter after Pope Benedict XVI resigned due to advanced age. But Princes of the Church around the world saw exceptional qualities in him that could help revitalize the universal church and reignite Catholic faith particularly among young people.

Pope Francis is already in his advanced age, at 76 years old he is just 2 years younger than Pope Benedict XVI when the latter was elected in the 2005 Conclave.  Many were surprised (including me) with the decisions of the Princes of the Church to elect an older candidate. Observers thought the cardinals would choose someone who is young and dynamic because the issue of the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI centered on his old age and failing health. Cardinal Bergoglio is hardly mentioned among the Papabili (potential popes). But people who knew the Argentinian cardinal argued he is the right choice for the Papacy.

A son of an Italian immigrant railway worker, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who had lived his life with just one lung even before becoming a Priest, is a former Jesuit, he is a theological conservative known for his negotiating skills, love for the poor and simplicity. Said to be a very humble, modest and solemn man who followed a lifestyle of a monk, Bergoglio turned down the opportunity of living in a luxurious Archbishop house to stay in a simple apartment and spends his weekend there in deep solitude.

According to a church employee in Buenos Aires who had known the new pope most of his life, "He is a very pleasant, accessible person who used to walk to a cathedral and prayed silently in the last rows of pews".

He is deeply attached to centuries-old Roman Catholic traditions. His ability to connect with the masses, views on liberalism, social issues and conservative approach to the Catholic faith reminded everyone with the late great Pope, Blessed John Paul II. By a strange twist of fate, Bergoglio is also a soccer fan just like the late John Paul II.

His Holiness, Pope Francis, greeted the faithful who waited eagerly at St. Peter's Basilica to catch the first glimpse of the new Pope. 

He is the first non-European Cardinal in 1,300 years to become a Pope and the first from Latin America. His election into the papacy many believed is the result of the desire of the Church authorities to revitalize the Roman Curia, the central government of the Vatican, and to bring back the morals of the Catholic faithful including the prevention of the disintegration of the life of the universal church. Pope Francis I is capable of uniting the divided church and influencing the Catholics around the world.

"He is a balancing force", according to his biographer, Francesca Ambrogetti.

"He is absolutely capable of undertaking the necessary renovation without any leaps into the unknown, he shares the view that the church should have a missionary role that is active and gets out to meet people. He also traveled underground by a bus and not on a private vehicle and when visiting Rome, he would fly on economy class.", she added. 

The new Pope is fluent in three languages: Spanish, Italian and German. He entered the priesthood quite late in life and was ordained priest in 1969. In 1958 at the age of 22, his one lung was removed due to a respiratory illness. He was appointed titular bishop of Auca and Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and named Archbishop in 1997. He officially made a Prince of the Universal Church (official title of Cardinals) on February 21, 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

Sources: Yahoo!News, BBC News, Vatican News

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The 2013 CONCLAVE

Banner of the 2013 Conclave section at the Vatican official site

The 2013 Conclave of the College of Cardinals that would elect the successor of Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, begins today at 5:35 in the afternoon when the door of Sistine Chapel closes.

The intense process of deliberation started with a pre-conclave mass in the morning held at St. Peter's Basilica attended by the Princes of the Church (the official title of the Cardinals) and celebrated by the Dean of the Cardinals, Angelo Scola. 

The Conclave, which is traditionally held inside the Sistine Chapel, is an intensely secret process of choosing the next pope. Days before the proper deliberation, workers thoroughly searched the place ensuring no secret cameras and other electronic devices are installed. 

According to Vatican News, The Cardinal Electors will remain lock up inside the chapel until the new Roman Pontiff is elected. 

The Cardinal Electors will enter the Sistine Chapel at 4:20 in the afternoon. 

Before the door closes, there are some traditional ceremonies to be performed inside the chapel first. Cardinal Electors must swear first on the Holy Bible never to reveal their deliberations inside the chapel or face a severe punishment of excommunication from the Catholic Church. 
The Princes of the Church known as Cardinals gathered at St. Peter's Basilica for a pre-conclave mass
Wearing their official scarlet robe, the Cardinal Electors entered the Sistine Chapel 

They will take their seats based on the order of precedence and will pause for a moment of silence while hearing a meditation prayer established by Apostolic Constitution governing the Papal transitions. The table where they will seat to start the deliberation centers on the image of Jesus Christ so the Cardinals will have to face the gaze of Jesus while casting their vote.

They will swear an oath of obedience and fidelity to the next Pope too, maintain secrecy and never to support favor or interference. After this process, the master of the Papal ceremonies,  Msgr. Guido Marini, will order all individuals inside the chapel who are not electors to vacate the place. He then stands at the big wooden door of the chapel pronouncing the phrase "Extra Omnes!" (Everyone Out!) which signals the locking of the door.

The only signal to the world on the progress of the deliberation is a smoke that passes through the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel. A black smoke indicates no pope is elected while a white smoke signals a new pope is elected.

There are three cardinals frequently mentioned in the media as front-runners. Cardinal Scola of Italy, Cardinal Scherer of Brazil and Cardinal Ouellet of Canada. But history of the past Conclaves tell us that the front-runners are not always the one elected. In 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland was not a front-runner, in fact he was not mentioned as one of the favorites, he was young (only 58) and came from a communist country, but the Cardinal Electors of the 1978 Conclave saw greatness in him and guided by the Holy Spirit, Wojtyla secured votes on the second balloting and proclaimed Pope John Paul II.

There were 8 Conclaves held in the 20th century and only three of these elections lasted longer than  3 days.  In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI was elected on the second day of the Conclave while Pope Pius XII was elected in 1939 with just 3 ballots.

The Sistine Chapel

Every Roman Catholic dreamed to visit this grand chapel, I, myself is wishing and hoping I could visit this place one of these days. It is located inside the Vatican and arguably one of the most elegant and thought-pondering structures in the world. Upon entering the place, according to Vatican site, you will be greeted with Theological riddle of images and representations.

It is very famous for its delicately carved decorations of religious figures and fascinating images which were designed and created through fresco, a technique of mural (painted or directly applied on the wall) painting executed upon freshly laid lime plaster. Its ceiling was personally designed by Michaelangelo depicting the Last Judgement and thought to be Michaelangelo's masterpiece.

The chapel was named after Pope Sixtus IV who also celebrated the first mass at the chapel on August 9, 1483 during the feast of our Lady of Assumption but its architectural design was made under the patronage of Pope Julius II.

The Last Judgment, an imposing canonical fresco of Italin artist, Michaelangelo,
 that dominated the ceiling of Sistine Chapel.

The chapel hosted religious and functionary papal activities including the Conclave of the College of Cardinals that would elect a new Pope. Sistine is surrounded with extraordinary theological scriptural riddle accomplished by the best Italian artists during the Renaissance period. Other images in the chapel include the depiction of Old and New Testaments, the Heavenly Father who divides the light from darkness

Scenario at the Sistine Chapel

The chapel, as with the rest of the Vatican City, is protected by the Swiss Guards, the official guards of the Roman Pontiff. The moment Cardinal Electors enter the chapel, the door will be locked and would not open until the new pope is elected.

As the electors enter this sacred place, the first thing they will see is the "Handing of the Key" image designed by Italian artist, Pietro Perugino. The Handing of the Key image depicts Jesus Christ entrusting the Kingdom of God to His Vicar, St. Peter. The image represents harmony, peace, deep silence and solemnity which also signifies the image of a Roman Pontiff--majestic simplicity and striking naturalness. 

All these representations melted in the air when the Cardinal Electors dart their eyes above the ceiling as they will see the Last Judgment, the depiction of the Second Coming of Christ where St. Peter returns the key to Jesus Christ. The images include the souls of humans rise and descends to their fates as judged by Christs and surrounded with saints, angels and demons who fight for the souls of the resurrected and the fire and hell.

The most striking fresco in the chapel is perhaps the whirlwind of angels in flight carrying the instruments of the passion: The Pillar of the Scourging, the Cross and the Crown of Thorns. This fresco will serve as a terrifying warning and reminder to the Cardinal Electors about the gravity of their responsibility.

SOURCES: Yahoo!News and Vatican official website


Monday, March 11, 2013

2013 World's Billionaires

This list of world's richest people is taken from Forbes magazine. 

The ranking of wealthiest people around the globe is tallied and monitored by Forbes's global wealth team to provide the readers with accurate information about the net worth on world's billionaires.
Carlos Slim Helu, a Mexican telecommunication mogul, is still the world's richest person 
with a net worth asset of $73 billion

This year's listing is quite shocking, while other billionaires continue to amass fortune and increase their asset, there are some who slipped from the ranking.

Bernard Arnault of France, the founder of luxury goods company, LVMH, moved far away from the fourth spot last year to the tenth this year. Christie Walton of USA (Wal-mart) was eliminated in the top ten list (from number 10 last year to number 12 this year) and she was replaced by Europe's richest woman, Lilian Bettincourt, the only child of L'Oreal founder, Eugene Schuller, as the world's richest woman. 

Li Ka Shing of Hongkong, one of my favorites, moved one notch higher and Brazilian Ike Batista was no longer part of the top 20, he was the 7th richest person in 2012. 

For the first time in 13 years (to my great horror and sadness), another favorite, Warren Buffet, slid to number 4 losing his place in the magic 3 to Spanish fashion mogul, Amancio Ortega, the founder of the high street brand, Zara.

But the big revelation is Google co-founder, Larry Page, who leaped higher in the ranking from number 32 last year to number 20 this year, wow!What a fortune :-)

This year, the listing is dominated by Americans followed by French. Asian has one, Li Ka Shing. The ranking listed two brothers in the top ten. David and Charles Koch who are owners of Koch Industries, a manufacturing and oil refining company based in Wichita, Kansas, USA. 

HERE IS THE COMPLETE LIST (their name followed by their net worth asset):

1. Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico - $73 billion
2. Bill Gates of USA - $67 billion
3. Amancio Ortega of Spain - $57 billion
4. Warren Buffet of USA - $53.5
5. Lawrence Ellison  of USA- $43 billion
6. Charles Koch of USA- $34 billion
7. David Koch of USA- $34 billion
8. Li Ka Shing of Hongkong - $31 billion
9. Lilian Bettincourt of France - $30 billion
10. Bernard Arnault of France - $29 billion

Grueling Comprehensive Exam in MBA


Our comprehensive exam in MBA started last night and it was tough!

Our first exam was Human Behavior in Organization (HBO) and oh God!It was very challenging, there were only 6 questions but it seemed my brain labored hard to press hard core ideas. Thank God our exam was held at the computer laboratory and we were allowed to type our answers. Had it not for the computer my output might be very worst.

My earnest wish now is to finish this very exhausting ordeal so that I can create an itinerary for my Hongkong trip!My mind is so preoccupied with this first travel abroad that sometimes I could not concentrate studying notes on each subject, excitement swirled in during the day!hehehe.

But I want to stay focus on my examination as much as possible, I don't want to make a "repeat performance" with some of the subjects it's too costly and I cannot afford to squander my budget, I am saving hard for my foreign trip, so help me God, I am really asking for your heavenly mercy as if I've never asked before.