The United Families International Blog

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s rebuke of the Canadian government last week finally confirms what pro-family groups have been saying for decades: when they say family planning or reproductive health, they mean abortion.

If you are unaware of the foreign affairs fiasco we are referring to, here is the back story.

As rotating head of the G8 this year, Canada is leading efforts to promote maternal and child health in developing countries. These efforts will be the primary theme at the upcoming G8 summit in June.

In outlining the initiative for the upcoming summit, conservative Prime Minister Harper specifically left out reproductive health topics, specifically abortion and contraception, preferring to focus on actual healthcare.  The choice led to a national controversy and pressure from pro-abortion lobbies.

In response to a campaign by a Canadian policy group, Harper did concede and include contraception in the initiative but refused to include…

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1st Week and Missions in Michoacán!

 

I’ve been away from blogging for a week since we’ve been here in Cotija and without giving as much detail on everything we’ve done so far; I’ve finally found the time to do so.

The first week seemed to be the slowest week of my entire life! It was filled with days of cleaning, learning the house rules, learning the names of everyone, and basically trying to make our way through the language and Mexican culture! The first week was also very surprising for Annina and I because it hadn’t been the middle of the week yet and we were already in for a huge SURPRISE! We were going to have our very first Mexican experience of Missions. It wasn’t the typical though because it was only for 4 days and we didn’t really sleep in the towns assigned to us. It was more of a Colab Missions rather than your typical Extreme Missions. Nonetheless, being in small town in Mexico are always so heartwarming most especially having our first Missions here in Michoacán.

My team was assigned to El Barrio. The first day was the typical “hi-hello” and visiting the different homes making our presence known to them and inviting them to join us for rosary while the kids would play before that. I think the first day was the hardest for me not because of the language or the type of Missions we were about to have but more of the fact that the rain poured as if there were no tomorrow. By the way, after that day, the weather here in Michoacán has been the craziest. Mornings would be the coldest; the afternoons would be sooo hot with the sun blazing its rays and brightness before us, late afternoons were met with a breeze and a cloudy sky – a signal that it would be raining soon. The rains would last till about 7:30pm with the sky still brightly lit, but the rain would be around. Hence, our evenings were a mix of a very cold night just like Baguio and Tagaytay. ANYWAY! Going back to Missions, that was the first day for you. I was soaking wet around 3pm and we had to brave the downhill stream of water as we were a bit up the mountain. You can imagine how wet I was without an umbrella! My jacket was soaking wet, my shoes were soooo wet that it had to be dried for 2 and a half days! @_@ BUT, that was just the 1st day. The 2nd day to the 4th day seemed to be more of blessings for us. My group in the team didn’t get to go to many houses each day due because a lot of things were happening. But the houses that we did go to were the houses with amazing stories. And each day we spent going around these houses, I understood more and more the family life that Mexicans had. Everyone is always tight-knit. I didn’t really get to understand much due to the fast paced speaking of the Mexicans but everything I did understand, I pieced together making the experience much more deeper. All the families we did visit were all Catholic which made it easier to talk to them. Well for my group anyway! BY THE WAY, on a side note, God seemed to always guide us to these houses and make us stay for as long as we needed to then when it was time again, the crazy outpouring of the thunder storms came, then the sun would come back up just in time for our play with the kids and the youth, and our rosary time. This routine would be a part of our schedule for the last 3 days. Though, our last official day, Friday, was the most heavy that I have experienced in my entire life!

The Friday of our Colab Missions was one day that I will never forget in my entire life. We had visited a house that we stayed for what seemed to be like forever. It was actually the only house that we got to visit for such a period of time. Anyway, we met with a woman and her youngest son, along with her daughter. Without going too much into the story, it was basically the story of the feud between the mom and her other son, middle child I presume. The story went like this; the son is a 13-year-old boy who had the common case of rebellious angst towards his mom. The mom who seemed to be a very lovely woman and really strong as she seemed to be firm in everything she had said. She said that her son started becoming rebellious because the mom had been “too controlling” for him and that she didn’t make him do things he wanted and that she “punished” him too much. Another part to this story was that he had a motorcycle that she had given him but because of his attitude and the way he was living his very young life wasn’t something a child of that age would do, she took it away for the mean time. A lot of things happened in between, but the worst was when he ran away to his grandparents’ house. They supported him in every single way and the worst thing was, they were his mother’s in-laws and they agreed that she seemed to be a bad mother for everything that she was doing. In the side, the son had been saying bad things about his family that would hurt them in every single way. The mom had been trying everything to get her son back even telling him that she would give the motorcycle back just for him to go home. The sad thing about this is that the son is 13 years old and his life choices from drugs and hanging out with tattooed men, and that he was starting to lose interest from school. So she sought counseling in Cotija in the Parish with the priest to help her and we recommended a Consa for spiritual direction and guidance. Anyhow, the main point I got from this experience was how much we have to value how much our mother’s discipline us. Sometimes it can be suffocating and that it is different with other children but that doesn’t mean that we should be rebelling just because of something so simple. Because of a motorcycle was the shallowest thing in the world because the mom was just merely teaching her son a lesson. In fact, the boy already had so much freedom having a motorcycle at the age of 13. The sister I would understand; she also gets the same treatment from her mother but that didn’t push her to disrespect her mother. Throughout the Missions experience and the love everyone has for their families was an amazing testimony because they will really fight for what they believe and to have a strong family no matter what.

AND FINALLY, our last day in Missions! We said goodbye to the homes we’ve visited and invited them to rosary and asked their children with us. The most exciting thing though was seeing a lot of people in town because it was a Saturday and El Barrio has an image of the Santisima Virgen that a lot of people are devoted to so they make visits to her every Saturday! This reminded me so much of the devotion that Filipinos have for the Blessed Virgin Mary. I know that Mexico has always been known to have such a strong love and devotion for Mary, most especially to the Our Lady of Guadalupe. I think that is why I feel so at home here in some way and that is why the Saturday Devotion here was such an amazing experience because people from different towns would really come and pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was such a great sight to end an amazing week of Missions!

Image

Next post will be about the little highlights of our 1st week in Cotija!

God bless everyone!

Althea ❤ 

Finally arrived Mexico!

Well actually this post is kind of late. I arrived in Mexico coming from a vacation in the US for a while before I go back there. So arrived in Guadalajara last Saturday to prepare myself for the Cursillo which would start the next day. I stayed with the SUPER AMAZING Consas in La Rioja, Guadalajara. Since it’s still summer here, not all the Consas were around. The others were either with the ECYD Co-workers, having a Giro camp, or whatever activity there would be. SOOOO technically it was a rest day for everyone. I got to hang out with some pretty awesome Consas! Rebeca (The spiritual guide of one of our RC girls in the Philippines), Dani, Lourdes, Marta, and of course Guadalupe (who picked me up from the airport), and also Tia Pina! She’s 99 year old already! Anyway, it was a chill day if we can call it that. So we had lunch, then watched Celine Dion, and then dinner. It isn’t normally like that, but it was awesome to get to know the side of the Consas on what seemed to be there “day off”! But after that, it wasn’t basically much. I had to sleep early to pick up another Colab from the Philippines at the airport at 5:30am. Her name is Annina and you can visit her blog here. She is super amazing because she answered God’s call for the Mission at such a young age of 16! Will post more about her next time.

Fast forwarding to the next day, Guadalupe and I finally picked Annina up from the airport and we went straight back to the house to rest and have breakfast. There we met two new friends! Colabs Brenda and Paulina! They are so great! We got to talk about why we were all in the Colaboradora Program of Regnum Christi and where we are from, etc. And much more fast forwarding, our driver to Cotija, Michoacán came to pick us up. It would be a 4 hour drive from where were to our Cursillo destination…. then FINALLY! We arrived to Cotija! Cotija is such a beautiful, quaint, and small town. Something I really love about Mexico because it’s the Mexico we want to see.

But since I have to go now, will update you again about our arrival to Cotija! 🙂 God bless you always! My prayers are always with you!

 

In Christ,

Althea

One more week!

These past few days have been nothing but a mix of emotions from pure excitement to nervousness. I’m not usually the type to count down the days of the significant moments of my life, yet, God seems to be showing me sides of myself I would have never have thought of “unleashing”, so to speak. I guess it is also a mix of pure nerves that have brought these emotions due to the fact that I feel somewhat pressed for time in every single sense. I have even brought it upon me to visit some relatives and some family friends in Cebu! The fact that it is just exactly ONE MORE WEEK TODAY!

So, what exactly will I be doing? I mean, I have been talking about my Co-worker year these past few entries but I haven’t really exactly gone down what it really is. Well, first of all, I won’t become a nun… well not unless God calls me. But we’ll have to see his plans! Basically, I will be taking part in this program of Regnum Christi Mission Corps wherein we give up basically a year our two of our life to serve the Lord. Specifically, “It is a program through which a Regnum Christi member volunteers for one or two years to work full time, exclusively for the Church. The Mission Corps is a vital support for Regnum Christi’s work to help build up the Church. Serving for this time period is a concrete way to live and spread your love for Jesus Christ. It is an opportunity to serve people through active apostolate, and to help other young people find the meaning in their lives in Christ. Missionaries help build up the Church and fulfill the Great Commission Christ gave His followers before he ascended to the Father: “Go into the entire world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mt 28:19).”

I will be doing full time work for Regnum Christi and most especially for the Church. Through this year that God has asked much more of me, through his grace, I am able to deeply express the love I have for Him and the entire Church, and of course, being an instrument of His love to bring His Good News to all the nations. Difficult as it may seem, it has been a task I am very much willing to take. Through everything that will be given of me and through everything that I know I will be receiving, I believe that Christ still wants to show me much more of His love and that I have to be willing to allow Him to enter my life completely. Since we are already the temples of Christ, we must open ourselves fully, and detach our lives completely to what is in this world to what is not of this world.

Though I have nothing much to say other than the fact that I can’t believe it’s just one more week left, every minute of every day that passes before I leave, I will continue to strive to have a Heart Like His. Though I may be pressured or stretched in many places because of the fact that I only have a few days left in the “real” world before I enter the REAL WORLD that Christ wants me to be in.

It’s 2:55am right now as I am writing this! Have a flight in an hour soooo till then, May we continue to strive to have a heart as pure and grateful as the heart of Christ who accepts all things with an open heart!

Yo canto para alguien…

The video I posted below has become somewhat an anthem for me and my good friend, Annina who too will be doing her Missionary year for Regnum Christi. We first found out about the song through one of our Consas here in Manila, Gudelia Guerra. The song is basically talking about “Looking For Paradise”. Hence the title. Alicia Keys starts the song with the lines: 

Driving in a fast car

Trying to get somewhere

Don´t know where I´m going

But i gotta get there

 

These lines tell us about how much we constantly look for paradise, but we’re not sure how to get there, but we have to get there. The song then goes on about “Yo canto para alguien,” that we are singing for somebody. Someone who speaks to our hearts, to our souls. This then leads me to what the song epitomizes; Prayer. We know that singing is another form of prayer that is so powerful because of the messages songs can send out. But without going through the entire song, that’s basically what it is telling me. We sing and pray to somebody who will lead us to paradise. Someone who is like you and me but even GREATER! 

Enjoy the song by Alejandro Sanz and Alicia Keys! 

 

–Althea G. 

 

Yo canto para alguien!

Video

Everybody say oh oh oh oh

Driving in a fast car
Trying to get somewhere
Don´t know where I´m going
But i gotta get there

A veces me siento perdido
Inquieto, solo y confundido
Entonces me ato a las estrellas
Y al mundo entero le doy vueltas

I’m singing for somebody like you
Sorta like me baby
Yo canto para alguien como tú
Pon la oreja, nena

Oh oh oh oh…

Estoy buscando ese momento
La música, que cuando llega
Me llena con su sentimiento
Con sentimiento, vida llena

Walking down the sideway
Looking for innocence
Trying to find my way
Trying to make some sense

Yo canto para alguien como tú
Sólo como tú, baby

I’m singing for somebody like you
What about you

I’m singing for someone
Someone like you
Tú, dime a quién le cantas
‘Cause there’s something about you there
Speaks to my heart
Speaks to my soul

I’m singing for someone
Sorta like you
Yo canto para alguien
Someone like you, someone like me
Sólo como tú, oh, my sister
Todo el mundo va buscando ese lugar
Looking for paradise

Oh oh oh oh…

A ese corazón herido
La música le da sentido
Te damos con la voz tus alas
Le damos a tus pies camino

Oh is anybody out there
Feel like i feel
Trying to find a better way
So we can heal

I’m singing for somebody like you
Sorta like me baby
Yo canto para alguien como tú
Sólo como tú
What about you?

Yo canto para ti
I’m singing for someone
Yo canto para alguien
‘Cause there’s something about you there
Speaks to my heart
Speaks to my soul

I’m singing for someone
I’m singing
Sorta like you
Yo canto para alguien
Someone like you, someone like me
Sólo como tú, oh, my sister
Todo el mundo va buscando ese lugar
Looking for paradise

18 days…

A few hours ago, Thursday, we had our usual Thursday Eucharistic Hour. Only, it wasn’t the usual as we didn’t have Fr. Eric or Fr. Michael to do the Exposition and the Benediction. Basically, we just Holy Hour. But anyway, going to Holy Hour and doing adoration is always a very enlightening and an uplifting moment because I always get the opportunity to really listen to what Christ is telling me and also, I get the opportunity to adore His life by listening to the reflections that the assigned preacher gives and really reflect on my own on what Christ wants from me.

So… A few hours then, because I am writing this at 2:00am, we reflected on the Gospel for the day: Mt. 6: 7-15. It was about the Lord’s Prayer that He taught to all the people. Basically, He is teaching us how to pray in the sense that, we don’t have to be like the “pagans” who babble and kneel and keep on asking on when in fact, as said in the Gospel, He already knows what we are asking for. Hence, He teaches us His prayer. A prayer that already has the essence of everything we hope to strive for our in our lives as Christians, in my case, as Catholics. Let me share you then what our preacher, Anthony Militante, shared with us. He broke down the prayer in 6 parts as you can see below, but on my own interpretation of it. 

  • Our Father who art in heaven… He is our Father that unites us in Faith.
  • Hallowed be Thy name… He is HOLY!
  • Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven… It should be His will for us that rules our lives.
  • Give us this day our daily bread… We have to be clear in what we ask because He already knows anyway.
  • And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespassed against us… We must remove all doubts and second guesses in our lives. We must completely raise everything to Him because He is the only one that can forgive us if we set ourselves free from the imprisonment of our faults and grudges.
  • Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil… Lord, protect us because we know that we are weak. Help us to overcome all life’s trials without having to resort to the wrong and being tempted to do the negative. 

Through the Lord’s prayer, we ask to receive the grace from God to be able to forgive others who have wronged us with no hesitation. 

 

This was actually the most perfect reflection for us because really, how often do we really ask God for things that are really of pure intentions? How often do we pray to Him asking for things and get angry when it is not exactly how we wanted it? These are somethings we always have to remember. God isn’t a one stop shop just to keep asking for things when we need something. If we do not place all our trust in Him, how can we completely accept what He wants to give us? We may think that He gave us the wrong thing, but in fact, it is the RIGHT THING. 

For such an empowering Gospel that is so important to the life of every Christian as it is the simplest and most fullest prayer He has given us, this was in someway the perfect Gospel for me especially now that I have 18 days left before I leave for my Co-worker year. I always pray to God about so many things, but how often do I actually get to do the work He places in front of me, accept what He has given me, and really thank Him for being my EVERYTHING? 

It is like what I am currently reading, and the author quotes Jesus, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me” (Jn 14:1). Sometimes we have difficulty in placing all our cares to Christ for fear that whatever we had prayed for will not be given to us. We even get caught in getting mad at Him because He didn’t give us what we want. We sometimes fail to realize that whatever He wants is what we are supposed to want. He asks us to believe in Him and believe in His Father, Our Father! Believe in them and trust them that whatever they give us in the moment of wait is actually the best thing for us, and not otherwise. Obviously God does not give us things we can’t handle. That’s why I think that the reality of going for my Co-worker year in less than a month has actually brought me to be at peace with the idea and with no hesitation because I know and have realized that God knows what He is doing. He knows I can handle it because I have allowed myself to be in His grace! Thanks be to God! It is surreal because it’s coming too soon, but at the same time comforting because I am glad that I am doing my Mission for Him this year. There really is no turning back in any way. 

As such, Holy Hour last night, well, Thursday… was the best even if we weren’t A LOT! It was still the best because it was so solemn and really centered on prayer the entire time. We really had an opportunity to focus on our prayers and reflections. All I can say is that, I will really miss Thursday Eucharistic Hours while I’m away for my Co-worker year. Though I will have the same opportunity abroad, the company of my friends really making strong prayer intentions is what I will miss the most. Knowing that God has continued to inspire all of them, most especially the group of cousins and friends who aren’t even a part of Regnum Christi yet. I really see that there is hope in cultivating our Faith in the future with people whom Christ has called to really know and love Him in a deeper and prayerful way. 

I pray that everyone around the world opens their hearts to the Eucharist and adore Christ in a special way. To paraphrase the words of a very good friend of mine, We always want to be at the front of row of concerts and important events, but there is this One Being who always wants to be at the front row of our lives, CHRIST. He is already there front row and center, we just have to make the time to be there for Him. To show Him that we need Him and love Him. Not just when we feel like it. He must always be at the front row and center of our lives above all others. He must always have this special place in our hearts where He already lives. 

As I end this entry, let me leave you with the lyrics to the song, In My Heart: 

REFRAIN:
In my heart I know my Savior lives
I can hear Him calling tenderly my name
Over sin and death He has prevailed
In His glory, in His new life we partake

I know He lives as He has promised
For me He’s risen that from fear I may be free
Not even death can separate me
From Him whose love and might remain in me (REFRAIN)

For I have seen and touched Him risen
To all the world will I proclaim His majesty
With joy I sing to tell His story
That in our hearts may live His memory (REFRAIN)

And all the earth shall bow before Him
His blessed name all will adore on bended knee
His truth shall reign, so shall His justice
In Christ, my Savior, let all glory be (REFRAIN)

CODA:
In my heart I know my Savior lives
In His glory, in His new life we partake

 

Christ is the center of our lives. God, Our Father has given Him to us as our friend, brother, and most especially our Savior. We must remember that He is that One being in our lives that we should glorify and entrust our entire life to. He who already knows us, gives us what His Father wills for us. No questions asked. 

 

–Althea G. 

19 Days left before my “life begins”…

Eagerly awaiting the next couple of days. 19 Days to be exact before I leave my home, Manila, Philippines for an adventure that I know will absolutely and definitely last a life time.

I’ll be away from the Philippines for a year for my Missionary Year with Regnum Christi. Everything has been so surreal up to this moment that I am writing this entry. Better start typing away now! I’m such on a high right now because I still can’t believe that it is happening like for real!!! My decision to become a part of the Regnum Christi’s Mission Corps program though didn’t come so easily. There were a lot of factors to consider with my leaving and it has been going on the same way for the last 2 years, and finally God has made His move and put things into perspective for me. And yes yes, you can consider me being so attached to whatever was holding me back. Just to give you a highlight of why there are so many things to consider and why I’m soooo attached… The first is the fact that my younger sister is abroad for her schooling and my mom has this rule that no daughter can be out of the country at the same time for a long period of time. Point being, my sister is a scholar abroad for the next 4 years. The second, is the fact that I work full time with my Parish being the President of the Youth Ministry. It really gave me a hard time accepting what God wants and detaching myself from the idea of being away for a year from everything that meant to me, most especially considering what would happen to the Parish youth ministry if I was away for a LONG time. BUT… This year though was a whole different ball game. God changed the rules completely. And I’d like to think that because it is Him who puts things into perspective and really is the Playmaker of my life, I was able to understand more what it meant to be called to serve Him and to completely allow Him to let the ball rolling.

As such, being exposed to so many things that could help in my formation as a Catholic and most importantly having a devout Catholic Family, I was able to have a deeper understanding of what Christ said, “Many are called but few are chosen” and of course really letting go, and really, LET GOD!

I strongly believe that having been formed as a Catholic in a deeper sense, and the fact that I was very active in my Parish life ever since I can remember, most especially these last couple of years from all the formation and Spiritual guidance I have received from Regnum Christi, these opportunities allowed me to really lift up whatever I was feeling and really placing Christ at the center of my life with no hesitation whatsoever and really putting all my trust in Him. And I think, without being surrounded by my family who not only were very religious and spiritual, (I also had several relatives who have their own religious vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, and being nuns), I would have turned away from the vocation that is Regnum Christi. As such, being surrounded as well by young people in the Movement alongside my family, really gave me the courage and hope that there really is a chance for this world to be a better place to live and serve in if we put Christ at the center of our lives and to truly have a sincere friendship with Him, and to just really understand and listen to Him completely. With God placing all these people around me, He made a way to make me realize that it is He and Christ that have to be at my center. Though I have my support around me, and being interconnected with just one Being – The Lord, Jesus Christ, nothing really is impossible.

So, going back… I mentioned earlier about God putting everything into place and really putting everything into perspective for me. I was caught between two worlds in the sense that, I thought was already completely for Him. But I realized that that wasn’t enough. I had to let go of “what was” and embrace tightly the “what is”. I strongly believe that God makes things happen for a reason because He has already mapped it out for us. Think the Adjustment Bureau meets reality. We know by faith and trust that there is an upper hand writing our path and adjusts it when He feels we’re losing our way. He wants us to reach His ultimate goal for us without losing focus. Yes we lose focus because we get caught in what we think is “reality”, but in fact, the reality is HIM. There is no other goal than to live in eternity with Him. My point is, without Him making me realize what He wants me to do for Him, if I didn’t place all my cares up to Him, and if I didn’t listen to Him with an open mind and heart, then everything that I have been doing for Him would have all been such a waste. Then that’s when it HIT ME like a being hit by brick on the head! I have been focusing my life and everything I did for Him for the “not so complete” reason, and though I listened to what He was trying to tell me, I was still completely at a crossroad in why I have been doing everything I did. Then earlier this year, God wanted me to make a bigger commitment both in my spiritual and apostolic life. I had been thinking about it for quite sometime, then I realized that this was God’s way of telling me that He wanted me to have a deeper relationship with Him in all that I do, not just ALL that I do, but completely in EVERYTHING that I do. [Does that make sense?] Anyway, I decided to give myself in a deeper way to the Movement by becoming 2nd Degree. My commitments became “harder”, but when I realized I had already been doing all of it, I understood that He wanted me to cultivate it more in such a way that it would make me more disciplined, focused, and really making my life for Him. It is in fact unusual for anyone who goes into the Co-worker program to become 2nd degree before they go through the program. It isn’t even a necessity because it, too, is a vocation. But I understand completely that this is what God wants for me. This was His way of preparing me for the Co-worker program and really making me fully detached to the idea of what will happen to everyone I will be leaving behind and all the work I will be postponing, etc.

And… As I come to terms with the fact that everything is starting to be sooooo real in my life right now, I know that this is really one decision I will not be turning my back on. This is what God wants and I am glad that I have taken this call with open arms and with completely no hesitation at all. And as the days go by till I say goodbye to the Philippines for a year and say hello to my life-changing journey, I continue to lift up everything to God and I thank Him earnestly for calling me to serve Him in a deeper way. I thank YOU DEAREST LORD for giving me the courage and the strength to really leave everything behind and really live out what you said to your apostles, “Go out to all the world and preach the Gospel.” With my Missionary year beginning very very soon, I completely entrust to you my life. Dearest Lord, You who always loved everyone despite who they are, You who never made anyone feel as though they are less of an importance, as I go on my Mission for You, make my heart more like Yours.

–Althea G.