Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Poem: About Alzheimer's

Thank you to the author, whoever you are!

Hello There! 

It's a pleasure to be here. My silence is merely a sign that I'm more active in the ordinariness of life. I would have liked to leave you a note or two, but rest was all that I could embrace at the end of the day.

Somehow, though life presents a distant touch of this poem, it reminds me to be compassionate to whomever I meet in the journey. Christ calls us to be compassionate. Christ calls ME to be compassionate. 

I hope to be more genuinely understanding -- compassionate, yes! -- to those who exhibit signs of forgetfulness, a feeling of being lost, alone, or depressed. I hope to be a channel of love for them. Join me in this endeavor. 

See you in the ways love of Christ and neighbor are exercised!

Your friend in Christ

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Movie Date with My Husband

Gently do I warn you that this post presents different levels. If it pleases you, choose the one that inspires you.

I have known my husband for thirty-eight years; the first ten of those were spent in getting to know each other, being friends, and developing a deeper friendship that led to being best of friends. This past Sunday we celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary. Part of our social life when he was in post graduate and I in graduate years was watching movies and having dinner on a Saturday. Now that our children are older, my husband and I are finding ourselves engaged in activities we enjoyed doing before marriage.

We had a great time! The second movie we watched was McFarland, USA. It left us an overall good feeling, a sense of awareness of realities outside our environment, and a calling to continue doing good beyond common boundaries. We were glad to have watched it last!

Dates are a treasure to my relationship with my husband. Special moments such as watching a good movie and having a meal in a restaurant are a time of enjoyment of God's gift of the moment. Because our wedding anniversary always falls on Lent, our celebration of it goes readily into my space of contemplation. I think about our marriage, our children, and about our life as a whole.

One thing I have learned in life is establishing a paradigm or model that helps me to see things through the lens of faith and teachings of our Church. Oftentimes, the paradigms I create revolve around my vocation as wife and mother. For instance, there is this simple lateral paradigm of priorities: God-Husband-children. God first. My husband next. Then my children. I also recognize our Church teaching that my husband and I are the main teachers of our children (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church #2223). Having understood that, I choose paradigms that help to solidify my role as mother and teacher. How do I do that? How is it done?

We are all broken somehow. Recognizing our brokenness is essential to our journey, so that we can allow the grace of God to work through us, to transform us. Part of our role is to read and study---to make room for growth. In our search of knowledge we understand better. Understanding leads to creating of stronger foundation. When one has a strong foundation, one will not be easily shaken (cf. Matthew 7:24-27).

Here is a paradigm that I use for my children's curriculum. The more I use it, the more I see that this paradigm can be used for almost anything, e.g., watching a good movie, being engaged in a project, working with others, etc. Called Observation-Comprehension-Synthesis, it can be used in our Lenten journey, reading of Scripture, this Holy Week through Easter Triduum, and Easter Sunday---then beyond.

Observation: Key word: senses. In observation, we use the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. As we know, these are functions of the body through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and hands---portals of our body---that make us aware of what is around us and what is happening. This includes color, texture, movements, living beings, etc. All that the body takes in through the body parts go into our hearts and minds.

Comprehension: Key word: understanding. In comprehension, we use the different aspects of the activity, movie, or book. These aspects are: persons or characters, images used, plot, events that took place. These so-called aspects are used to understand each segment, chapter, different phases of a project, etc. This is when we begin to understand that the story or event is about friendship, adventure, struggles, or love.

Synthesis: Key word: judgement. In synthesis, we gather all information and bring them to a pool where we can see the bigger picture. Here is where we can make sense of the whole story or experience; then we put them into words according to our enriched understanding of it. So here is where we relate the story or experience with others, adding what we have learned.

The entire process, when used frequently, will help to build a better foundation.

Two things: First, with this paradigm---Observation-Comprehension-Synthesis---I am able to appreciate my husband in my life more. I watch him and all he does: the many ways he cares for me (Observation) and understand that his love for me grows (Comprehension). Seeing the whole picture, I see both of us growing in love for one another by doing more things with and for one another (Synthesis). Second, the movie McFarland, USA parades realities of manual labor, struggles in the field, and brokenness in relationships (Observation to Comprehension). We take all these in and we understand what people do to either get by or to keep the family together; and, what can be done to raise awareness of the dignity of the person (Synthesis).

Try this paradigm if you will. This Holy Week presents to us wonders of Jesus' struggles in the final stage of his ministry on earth. Listen. Listen to the stories carefully. Observe. Comprehend. Synthesize. (Newly added: Read entering into the mystery of the Easter Triduum by Pope Francis.) The process, believe me, will keep anyone from just drifting into the waves that life throws to our direction; in fact, it will bring more meaning to the gift of life that was wonderfully crafted by God for us (Psalm 139:14). Someone said that life is too short. I say, live each moment to the full (St. Irenaeus).

By Easter Almuena, MPT
Copyright © 2015 Easter Almuena

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How's your 1st Week of Lent?

How well are you doing on your Lenten journey this 1st Week of Lent? This is not an interrogation of any sort, but merely a gentle prodding that in our struggles we need to be more focused. The beauty of being in the cyberspace is that wherever we all are, we are able to commune and support one another---in the infinite presence of God.

Check out this video for reassessment perhaps. It may serve as a catharsis in the sense that when we face the darkness that lurks within us we turn to God and then find which areas of our life we ask him for most needed grace. There is no need to fret. In God is peace and grace available for all. One way of approaching God this Lent is to be a child needing assurance of his forgiveness and love at the time we are weakest. That's what he is there for. There is also no need to wait for the penance service scheduled before the Holy Week. To avail of the Sacrament of Penance this week might serve very valuable for the journey ahead.

Let us journey on with the hope that each step of our Lenten walk is necessary in giving glory to God, as this video tells us. Imago Dei. God's image. As Jesus lived his life giving glory to God, each of us being an image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27;  CCC #1701-1704cf. CCC #2231), of Jesus Christ, we are called to do the same. Jesus did not bail out in his 40 days of Lent. Let us be in imitation of that "god-image" and "likeness," calling upon him day and night to show us what darkness to toss and how. Yes, in one Spirit, as St. Paul urges us to do: Let us run the race! (Philippians 3:18) Doing so is an act of childlike obedience that gives glory to God.

Easy for me to say! That is true. In my life, the 1st Week of Lent is the hardest to go through. Let us then pray for one another; for, in our communion and prayer, God's grace abounds.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Poem for the New Year

Photo by Easter Okalani Almuena

I thought of you and prayed that your Advent and Christmas would be a delightful one. I hope it was so. The New Year has rolled in and seems to be comfortably set, with its own time and similar schedules. I am hoping though that you are doing something new, or something challenging, something that will delight your heart, something that will make you grow. Christmas brought into our lives the newness of Jesus who is born into the world -- for us -- making us refreshed daily. That "newness" inspires us to reach for greater heights (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas on faith, Summa Theologica).

I'm happy to share with you a poem that I wrote three years ago. I hope it brings your heart hope and joy, as it did mine.

I'm on a different terrain of my journey. My husband Joe and I were in a five-year diaconate program that recently ended. He will be ordained a deacon this 31st of January. This marks a poignant stroke of the years ahead of service. A certain priest says it is a demotion, not a promotion. To me, these are beautiful words to cherish, a reminder that central to our service is Jesus Christ. Not us. For now, I pray God bless you all immensely in ways that will make you grow and shine with God's light.

Happy New Year!

Here is my Poem for the New Year published in the Hawaii Catholic Herald. Enjoy! Thank you for your friendship and precious time! Aloha nui.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Advent Cares

Time is in a sense a matured possession in my home. My children care less for Advent cut-outs of Fall and purple things or colored paper and glitters. We are evolving more maturely into a gathering of faith enthusiasts of the Liturgy of the Hours and book discussions; for this year's Advent it is Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen. Both my husband and I relish in the gift of this type of maturing. I remind our children, however, of the importance of keeping traditions in the family that contribute to its stability. You can count on activities of tradition such as the lighting of Advent candles and taking turns with prayers, which do not force but rather encourage family members to gather to be present for God and for one another. That counts for stability of family structure.

Packed with wisdom tucked away in good chosen words, the book with wisdom from Henri Nouwen takes us to a place of waking to hidden meanings that lead to a deeper conversion. I look into my children's faces and am filled with wonder as their brows furrow and their eyes twinkle -- as they witness an unfolding of a meaning, coming to them as a treasure to keep. They bring wisdom to the table. By listening to them speak their minds, I become a more fulfilled teacher and mother. In reality, they are maturing more as they become more distanced from me in their ways of pursuing wisdom. I step back and realize the greater gift a mother has when she is able to let her children be. Perhaps this is the unfolding treasure for me. How I praise God for Advent!

Needing some music to go with an Advent reading or meditation of God's words? The book suggests Gregorian chants since, truly, it isn't Christmas yet.

Have a most blessed and joy-filled Advent!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Advent Resources 2014

For Daily Prayer:

The Magnificat:

-- Available on-line at http://www.magnificat.com/
-- Copies available at the Pauline Books and Media Centers

Liturgy of the Hours: 

-- Christian Prayer for Roman Catholics available on-line for individual or group/family prayer; book may be purchased at http://divineoffice.org/.

Pauline Books and Media Centers have the following:

Advent and Christmas Wisdom with Pope John Paul II
By John V. Kruse, PhD

Live Advent at Home: Daily Prayers and Activities for Family
By Patricia Mathson

Advent and Christmas Wisdom from G. K. Chesterton
By G. K. Chesterton, compiled by Center of the Study of C.S. Lewis and Friends

Rediscover Advent
By Matthew Kelly

We Light the Candles
By Catherine Brandt

Magnificat Advent Companion 2014 (sold out on-line)
Copies still available at Pauline Bookstores

By the Daughters of St. Paul

Exploring Advent with Luke (Site is on Amazon)
By Timothy Clayton

Advent and Christmas (Site is on Amazon)
By Henri J. M. Nouwen 

Joyous Expectation (Site is on Amazon)
By M. Jean Frisk

On-line year-round Meditation sites:

Imitation of Christ by Thomas O'Kempis -- available in print at Pauline Books and Media

On-line Advent Discussion based on books:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Song: Ten Thousand Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman

What are some things you do so you don't lose your connection with God?

I surmise praying and Scripture reading are some of your answers. Nice! We must be grounded in prayer and Scripture to begin with. During the course of the day, what do you do? One of the ways I find helpful is singing or humming a song. This one particular song I'm sharing with you, which is quite popular, is what reverberates into my heart these days as I go about my daily routines.

You must already know the words of St. Francis, "Singing is twice praying," so much so that you do sing to God. Wonderful! There's one great connection between God and you that gets you going throughout the day because as you sing for him you are honoring God, blessing him, and thanking him: for all that he is, all that he is about, and the ten thousand reasons he blesses you.

Music as a way of prayer brings us to the words of St. Paul, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:11), which then brings us to the continuity of our connection with God: that when we sing to God we continue to be in tune with him.

What is your favorite song for God? Enjoy the moment of being with him as you sing it.

"Music is among the many and great gifts of nature with which God, in Whom is the harmony of the most perfect concord and the most perfect order, has enriched men, whom He has created in His image and likeness.Together with the other liberal arts, music contributes to spiritual joy and the delight of the soul" (Pope Pius XII, Musicae Sarcae #4).

"Music, that is the science or the sense of proper modulation, is likewise given by God's generosity to mortals having rational souls in order to lead them to higher things" (Quote by St. Augustine, Musicae Sarcae #5 by Pope Pius XII).