It is with deep gratitude to the hosts and sponsors of the U.S.A. Carigara Fiesta 2004 that I share this reflection on the
Holy Cross. It was indeed an honor and privilege to be invited to preside over the two Eucharist Celebrations honoring the
Holy Cross from coast to coast in U.S. of A = July 3 in Las Vegas, Nevada and July 17 in Bethesda, Maryland. To you all, my
Dear Carigaran-ons and devotees:
The Cross is part of our lifes journey not only as Carigaran-ons but as Christians. In Carigara, it is the glorious cross
that we emulate. It means that we are mindful that Christ has sacrificed for us because he loves us. And how must we respond
to Gods sacrifice and love for us? What must we do to show him also our love? The response is simple: WE HAVE to love also
our cross or crosses (if it is more than one) whether its a physical cross (ailment), emotional or psychological. And this
Cross should be considered something positive, it is a plus + you see. Now what do we mean by this? It means that it is a
cross that builds and adds LOVE to life. It is not something that seeks to destroy life. The Cross always seeks the good of
another person because its not self-seeking, as exemplified by Christ our Savior.
Dear fellow Carigaran-ons, this is a very challenging Christian demand. And I am speaking from my own experience. Let me share
with you my present ministry as an example since many are asking: What is my job now as a priest Well, I am an NPA; not the
New Peoples Army. It means: No Parish Assignment, No Permanent Address. In 1998, when I was the Parish Priest of Ormoc City,
I was requested to answer a call to a new ministry, a kind of Cross, caregiver to priests in difficulties and in various ministerial
crosses. And since I have also a cross of my own, I did not respond to the call. So, I recommended a priest-friendly cleric
and a bit younger than myself to take my place. Of course, I did some legwork to convince the priest. What happened was traumatic
for me. After a month orientation on the supposed ministry, the priest died of an intense heart attack. (Fr. Cris Pacheco,
may he rest in peace!) And so I have no choice but to respond and accept the cross of the ministry. From that time on, I said
to myself, it is no longer my way Lord, but your way! Thanks be God, I am still alive and still carrying this cross in my
heart, even here in U.S.A.
Dear devotees, why am I telling you this? Just simply to illustrate that sometimes crosses in life are not our own making.
They are given to us even if we do not look for it. But when it is there, and carried in obedience and with love, then the
cross becomes so to say a positive stress. Why? It builds people. It reconstructs life. After five years in my present ministry,
I am very grateful for having touched lives of more than a hundred priests and even family members with difficulties. Now,
I can say that I have learned lessons from our patron feast, the Cross! I firmly believe that the Cross is not a mistake.
It is a lesson that gives beauty to Life. It is like the thorns in the roses. If are aware of the lessons of the cross, then
we look at the beauty of roses unmindful of the thorns. The attitude should be: kay ganda ng bulaklak, may tinik. Not ayaw
ko ng bulaklak kasi may tinik.
Dear devotees of the Cross, what is your cross tinik right now? Is it something that helps you reconstruct and build lives?
If you have the cross and are trying to destroy it or to run away from it, as I did before, then this is a reminder: Jesus
said: If you want to be my disciple, take up your cross daily and come follow me.(Matthew 16:24) Imagine daily! Do not tell
me that you do not have a cross in life. If you say so, then you are not alive to life. Just think for example of cleaning
a house. A house occupant who cannot take up the cross of cleaning will not mind the trash or even the smell of the house.
Either he escapes from cleaning or will not just mind the mess, the disorder. Or consider a person who is lazy to clean oneself
or to brush ones teeth, he will not mind if he smells or if he has a bad breath. Why? He does not understand the cross. This
person definitely is not alive to Life. In the Filipino parlance: Buhay (life) buhay nga ngunit hindi naman gumagalaw!
Dear People of God, we have to move on in life despite difficulties. Satan, the contravida & or demon in our lifes journey,
will always be there to tempt us. It is Okay. Temptation is not a sin. Just do not fall into it. Be happy if you are tempted,
because Satan is uneasy with you. If you say that you are not tempted, then maybe you are the tempter or temptress, working
in Satans secret service. The swindler, mind you, is no longer tempted. He is always seeking for someone to devour. So, if
you are tempted NOT to wake up in the morning for work especially if you sleep late at night, get up take courage. For those
of us who are aging, growing old and becoming sick, life can be depressing at times. But please let us not make this an excuse
to be irritable, angry all the time. Be careful, Satan can use us as his agent to hurt others. Sending what we call Foreign
Aid to our loved ones back home can be discouraging at times. Satan will tell us to stop helping. He will whisper to our ears,
Why are you carrying the Cross of family members? They say that being married to the same person for more than 20 years can
be boring and difficult. Why continue to carry the Cross? The tempting urge is to destroy the sanctity of marriage.
Dear devotees, we are aware that we have been given in our modern life is journey several behavioral approaches to our problems,
Therapy, Counseling and Spiritual Direction. We have to avail of them. But the bottom line is: Always have the spirit of Jesus
who said: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life! And he continued: Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden
light. If we allow him to be with us and just follow his way of carrying the Cross, then it is no longer ourselves alone who
carry the cross, but Christ our Savior who carries the cross for us. It means, singing a different song in life, no longer
I did it my Way Sorry for the fans of Frank Sinatra, but I did it your Way Lord! And so, as we finally face our final curtain
in our lifes journey (Remember the song), we can proudly sing: I face it all and I stood tall, I did it your way. And with
St. Paul in his writings to the Colossians in todays second reading, we say: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.
And in another writing, he said: I never boast in life except in the cross of Jesus Christ. ALLELUIA!