(Text by Anton Diaz, Photos by Rich Estuesta of DV Tech)
Christ’s message was clear and profound during Pope Francis’ visit. This long Papal Visit weekend was like a retreat, to reflect on the important things in life, especially in the family. The timing was perfect, and I felt like he was speaking to us parents on how to raise our children in holiness and help them live a meaningful life.
I would like to share with you my reflection on the 10 Holiness Imperatives for Young Filipino Families…
1. Raise Holy Young People–say NO to Museums of Young People
I must admit, I am guilty of unknowingly raising our kids to be in the museum of young people.
In the world of Minecraft, Skylanders, Lego Land, and Star Wars, it is easier to make our kids “happy” by giving them material things, external experiences, and worldly information.
Last December, my friend Marco Victoria invited us to celebrate Christmas with 500 street children in the He Cares Foundation. We brought our kids to help serve lunch to the street kids, and they were very helpful during meal times ever since. We need to do more of these for our children.
The imperative is very clear–raise holy young people and teach them how to love. But how do you do that in the era of worldly information?
We pray for all the young Filipino parents, that we step up to the challenge and raise our kids to be holy.
Pope Francis’ Message:
“Today, with so many means of communication we are overloaded with information. Is that bad? No. It is good and can help. But there is a real danger of living in a way that we accumulate information. We have so much information but maybe we don’t know what to do with that information.
So we run the risk of becoming museums of young people who have everything, but not knowing what to do with it. We don’t need young museums, but we do need holy young people.
You may ask me: Father, how do we become saints? This is another challenge. It is the challenge of love.
What is the most important subject you have to learn at university?
What is most important subject you have to learn in life?
To learn how to love.
This is the challenge that life offers you: to learn how to love.
Not just to accumulate information without knowing what to do with it. But through that love let that information bear fruit.“
2. Say “No” to Ideological Colonization
Financial problems and materialism are the biggest threats to the family.
We should strive to say “No” to situations that would compromise the unity of the family, especially in matters of employment or entrepreneurial projects.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as a miscommunication in the family that introduces the crack in the relationship, or a complacency mentality that leads you to take your promises for granted when it comes to family.
How do we reduce materialism in the family?
How do we improve our income more than our expenses so that we are not easily tempted by the devil?
How do we find people who share the same aspiration for the family?
We pray to St. Joseph to guide us and our family to identify ideas and for the strength to say “No” to these destructive ideologies.
Pope Francis Message: “Beware of the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family. It’s not born of the dream that we have from God and prayer – it comes from outside and that’s why I call it a colonization. Let us not lose the freedom to take forward the mission God has given us, the mission of the family. And just as our peoples were able to say in the past “No” to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and strong to say “No” to any attempted ideological colonization that could destroy the family. And to ask the intercession of St. Joseph to know when to say “Yes” and when to say “No”.
The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.“
3. Learn How to Beg
Indeed, this is very hard to understand in a competitive world, where we are raised to succeed, to get out of the rat race, and be self-reliant. Just think of all the “Think Rich” programs out there, how to earn from the Stock Market, and how to succeed as an entrepreneur. We are bombarded with “Become Rich” messages in Manila and here’s Pope Francis asking us to “Become Poor”.
Such a profound contrast! It got me thinking about the last time I begged for something from the Lord, or the community around me.
We strive to be the best and think about entrepreneurial projects as a way to earn more money and not as a way to serve and learn more from others.
We pray for enlightenment for all the Filipino families to learn how to beg and receive in humility.
Pope Francis Message: “Become a beggar. This is what you still lack. Learn how to beg. This isn’t easy to understand. To learn how to beg. To learn how to receive with humility. To learn to be evangelized by the poor, by those we help, the sick, orphans, they have so much to give us.
Have I learned how to beg?
Or am I self-sufficient?
Do I think I need nothing?
Do you know you too are poor?
Do you know your own poverty and your need to receive?
Do you let yourselves be evangelized by those you serve?
This is what helps you mature in your commitment to give to others. Learn how to open your hand from your very own poverty.“
4. Learn How to Weep for the Poor
I’m guilty of succumbing to useless, worldly compassion. Giving alms or excess food to the street children without really understanding their plight. Doing your Christian duty of giving money and spare coins to the Church, hoping these will be given to the poor.
I can’t remember the last time I wept for the poor or the children on the streets.
How can we teach our kids to cry for poverty and injustice instead of crying to get the latest toy this season or to get even with their siblings?
I don’t know the answer. Perhaps you, our readers, have a wise suggestion to share with us.
We pray to the Holy Spirit to teach us to have real compassion and how to weep for the poor.
Pope Francis Message: “There is a worldly compassion which is useless. You expressed something like this. It’s a compassion that makes us put our hands in our pockets and give something to the poor. But if Christ had had that kind of compassion he would have greeted a couple of people, given them something, and walked on. But it was only when he was able to cry that he understood something of our lives.
Dear young boys and girls, today’s world doesn’t know how to cry. The emarginated people, those left to one side, are crying. Those who are discarded are crying. But we don’t understand much about these people in need. Certain realities of life we only see through eyes cleansed by our tears. I invite each one here to ask yourself:
Have I learned how to weep?
Have I learned how to weep for the emarginated or for a street child who has a drug problem or for an abused child?
Unfortunately, there are those who cry because they want something else.“
5. Sleep well with the Family–Rest in the Lord in Prayer
My 4-year-old son Raphael would sometimes insist and beg me to sleep beside him at night.
One of the dangers of working from home is you are faced with the dilemma of choosing whether to finish one last blog post or to sleep beside your kids. Sometimes you can only get the work done when the kids are in school or when they are sleeping.
But one of my happiest moments in our everyday life is praying together with the family before we eat or sleep together.
I yearn for these moments and I’m energized to start new praying traditions with the family, like praying the rosary together and praying when we travel.
We pray for strength to resist the temptation of working without pause, and to spend time to rest in the Lord in prayer.
Pope Francis Message: “To hear and accept God’s call, to make a home for Jesus, you must be able to rest in the Lord. You must make time each day for prayer. But you may say to me: Holy Father, I want to pray, but there is so much work to do! I must care for my children; I have chores in the home; I am too tired even to sleep well. This may be true, but if we do not pray, we will not know the most important thing of all: God’s will for us. And for all our activity, our busy-ness, without prayer we will accomplish very little.
Resting in prayer is especially important for families. It is in the family that we first learn how to pray. And don’t forget when the family prays together, it remains together. This is important. There we come to know God, to grow into men and women of faith, to see ourselves as members of God’s greater family, the Church. In the family, we learn how to love, to forgive, to be generous and open, not closed and selfish. We learn to move beyond our own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them. That is why it is so important to pray as a family! That is why families are so important in God’s plan for the Church!“
6. Dream about your Family
I love dreaming about the family, about how my kids will grow up and contribute as the best Filipino Generation the country has ever produced.
I love dreaming about my sexy Chinese wife–growing old together and still being intimate.
I love dreaming about my son Aidan being the best food and travel influencer in the world.
I love dreaming about my son Joshua growing up just like his Papa–loving, entrepreneurial, and wise.
I love dreaming about my son Raphael becoming a fierce, compassionate corporate or political leader of his time.
I love dreaming about my son Ysrael becoming a priest and maybe the next Pope.
We pray that Your Holy Will be done, Lord, and for You to guide our family to our utmost potential.
Pope Francis Message: “It is important to dream in the family. All mothers and fathers dream of their sons and daughters in the womb for 9 months. They dream of how they will be. It isn’t possible to have a family without such dreams. When you lose this capacity to dream you lose the capacity to love, the capacity to love is lost.
I recommend that at night when you examine your consciences, ask yourself if you dreamed of the future of your sons and daughters.
Did you dream of your husband or wife?
Did you dream today of your parents, your grandparents who carried forward the family to me?
It is so important to dream and especially to dream in the family. Please don’t lose the ability to dream in this way. How many solutions are found to family problems if we take time to reflect, if we think of a husband or wife, and we dream about the good qualities they have.
Don’t ever lose the memory of when you were boyfriend or girlfriend. That is very important.“
7. Think well, Feel well, and Do Well–Use them in Harmony
As Christians, we know what to do, but sometimes we only act for appearance’s sake, or for taking a selfie and letting everyone know that you’re doing it. Pope Francis in his most intimate moments with the poor and the victims of Typhoon Yolanda did not want media coverage for it.
In times of calamities, we know we have to help out and follow through on making donations. But are these really heartfelt gestures? How can we teach our kids to think about it, to feel it, and act on it at the same time?
We should emulate the vision of Gawad Kalinga’s motto of Walang Iwanan and How to End Poverty in 2015 and beyond.
We pray for wisdom and guidance for our family and all the young Filipino families to think well, feel well, and do well in service of the Lord.
Pope Francis Message: “To be wise, use three languages: think well, feel well, and do well. And to be wise, allow yourselves to surprised by the love of God.
What you think, you must feel and put into effect. Your information comes down to your heart and you put it into practice. Harmoniously. What you think, you feel and you do. Feel what you think and feel what you do. Do what you think and what you feel.“
8. Become Prophetic Voices in your Community
We are all called to be prophets in the community.
How can my blogging be a prophetic voice in the online world?
How can food and travel be a blessing to promote bonding in the family?
How can our work or our job be a living testimony of Christ’s love to the world?
I love how Pope Francis set the example of how to be cool by following Christ–not only in his insightful homilies, but also in his Christ-like actions and angelic smile.
We pray that our ideas, actions, and works be a prophetic force to extend Christ’s Kingdom in this world.
Pope Francis Message: “Finally, the Gospel we have heard reminds us of our Christian duty to be prophetic voices in the midst of our communities. Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God’s call to care for Jesus and Mary. In this way he played his part in God’s plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all of humanity. With Mary, Joseph served as a model for the boy Jesus as he grew in wisdom, age and grace (cf. Lk 2:52).
When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world. God’s love becomes present and active by the way we love and by the good works that we do. We extend Christ’s kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism.
During this year which your bishops have set aside as the Year of the Poor, I would ask you, as families, to be especially mindful of our call to be missionary disciples of Jesus. This means being ready to go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents. Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them.“
Sometimes our biggest temptation is not obvious. Sometimes it is about being indifferent and filling our schedule with ephemeral pleasures and superficial pastimes. We tend to forget over time what truly matters in life.
We need to fight against complacency, busy-ness, and having no money that distract us and occupy our minds day in and day out.
We need to open our eyes and never give up in finding our purpose in life and seeking the Will of the Lord.
During the Pope’s visit, if you read the news coverage in Manila, it distracts us from his true message by featuring the pogi people around the Pope, reporting on the people and personalities who got a chance to meet the Pope, and the various selfies and shameless branding.
We pray that the Pope’s visit would be a catalyst for us to change our life and devote it to what truly matters.
Pope Francis Message: “Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up. It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie.
The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern”, “like everyone else”. He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter.
We forget to remain, at heart, children of God.That is sin: [to] forget at heart that we are children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.“
10. Remember: Reality is Superior to Ideas
The most insightful messages from Pope Francis were those that were delivered from the heart in Spanish, and the words that were not said, but expressed in action instead.
Our ideas don’t matter if we ignore the reality around us, especially in Manila.
What is your reality in relation to the community around you?
We pray for the discernment to reconcile our reality with our real purpose in context of fulfilling God’s Will.
Pope Francis Message: “There are some points I have prepared. The first, I already told you: to learn how to love and to learn how to be loved. There is a challenge which is a challenge of u. This is not only because your country more than many others is likely to be seriously affected by climate change. There is the challenge, the concern for the environment. And finally, there is the challenge for the poor, to love the poor, with your bishops. Do you think of the poor? Do you feel with the poor? Do you do something for the poor? Do you ask the poor to give you the wisdom they have?
This is what I wish to tell you all today. Sorry if I haven’t read what I prepared for you but there is a phrase that consoles me: that reality is superior to ideas. The reality that you have is superior to the paper I have in front of me. Thank you very much. Pray for me!“
Thank you to Santo Padre for blessing us immensely with your visit and for your powerful message. It got me thinking and redefining what it means to “Live an Awesome Life” with my family and the community around us.
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.
P.S. Thank you to Rich Estuesta of DV Tech for the wonderful photos and for the awesome company in walking to see the Pope. 🙂