February 9, 2023

Series of aftershocks continue to rock the Cordillera. Uncertainty leads to fear that leaves a troubled mind. What will happen tomorrow if earthquakes continue to shake us?

The Book of Ecclesiastes pessimistically narrates a fundamental truth. “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities. All things are vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

“But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus, will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are rich in what matters to God.” (Luke 12:20-21)

Greedy people will never understand service and participation. Selfless people will understand servanthood.

Selfless people will always find joy participating in the church. Joy and happiness are not synonymous. Joy is a virtue and happiness is something we want to attain.

Smile and laughter are signs of hope. We must sustain happiness with joy. Joy and happiness do end on earth but will be completed in the next life. “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20). Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, in one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Luke 12:13)Once there was a catechist who spent most of her years serving the children. She said, “I served almost of my life as a catechist and I did not become rich.”

Participating in the mission of the church is not a profession but a vocation that will not make one rich materially but assures one to the next life.

Participation in the church is not about enriching oneself materially but for the spirit to be nourished and sustained. I did not receive pay or an honorarium but I simply found love and joy. My neighbors have cars and big houses. I was not jealous. I am happy that I was able to help them see God in their wealth.”

It was a happy surprise when five boys from Kilong, Sagada, Mountain Province have volunteered to serve at a mass. I accepted them but I have to explain and encourage them to undergo catechesis.

Bro. Camsor Ached and Bro. Arnel Nafortic gave the boys series of lectures and workshops to imbibe the beautiful meaning of participation and service.

The new sacristans come regularly at 6 a.m. to prepare the holy mass and to serve.

I asked once, “Why do you want to participate in the church as sacristans?” The common answer was, “We like the black and white dress and we like to stay at the sanctuary looking at Jesus.”

I added, “Are you happy serving the Lord?” The chorus was, “Yes padi, we are happy!” Smiling at them, “Will you be priests someday?” They simply smiled and said, “It’s enough to be sacristans for now .”

The participation of the boys in the church is already a big contribution to the Basic Ecclesial Community. They indeed understood the beauty of lay participation and it’s a ministry not actually a job or an obligation.

Let us love these young boys and form them to be active participants in the mission. Vocation to the priesthood is not a magic. It starts somewhere and from something.

Our participation and service to the church mean a lot in the Lord. We are not paid and yet we continue to serve and participate.

My niece, Janeah Castañeda, surprised me when she volunteered to teach basic violin lessons to the Broken Guitar Project (BGP) batch 30 at St. Joseph rectory in Kilong.

Likewise, the BGP will continue serving the people as long as volunteers come and find joy serving their fellow youth.

Janeah is currently mentoring the Sagada youth to include some adults from Tetep-an, Sagada. She is a gifted lovely lady preparing to venture college life in the city. We thank her for her generosity to share her talent. It is my prayer that the violin learners will also generate their learnings.

I am pleading to your generosity, just in case you have violins at home unused, send them to BGP and many people will benefit from it. Gratitude to Ria Masedman and family for the first donated violin.

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