Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A perfectly ordinary day

What makes March 25th a special day? Nothing. A little over two thousand years ago, on a day very much like today, ordinary, sleepy (or stressful... insert your own adjective here) and unassuming, something inconceivable happened.

An angel, not just any angel, mind you, an archangel — one of those who perpetually contemplate the face of God — was sent to a humble teenage girl, a teenage girl who had consecrated herself to remaining virgin, to ask her, if she would be the Mother of God.

This mystery in the God's plan of salvation has been the subject of many writings of the Church Fathers and theologians and saints alike. I am not going to pretend that what I write here will hold candle against any of their simplest quotes, but I would like to share this image (below) that I found of the Annunciation.

This is a painting set in the modern times, in a modern suburbia, and yet it captures the "ordinariness" juxtaposed with the loftiness of Mary's vocation. Many paintings of the Annunciation reveal the depth of the mystery beheld by their painters, of this divine logic. Imagine Mary as a young girl, going about her daily household tasks, or studying, or working, like what any of us are doing today. And then an archangel asked for her permission—we can imagine all of the inhabitants of Heaven holding their breath at this moment—for the Son of God to take flesh, to be amongst His people.

This "plan" of God to enter into time, into the lives of His people in carne, is nothing short of genius. Like told in the story of the Lord of the Rings, it was told that the Enemy could not conceive that the weak race of Man may seek to destroy the One Ring instead of wielding it for their own gain. Who'd have thought the Son of God would take on human nature and lay down his life to redeem a race of Lost Men?

The story did not end here. It did not end when Mary said yes. It did not end when the Savior was born. It did not end when He died and resurrected either. It is still happening in our days. Our perfectly ordinary days, like today. Each day the Lord is waiting to hear our assent to His will, and to gift us His graces. And each day we are invited to ponder anew and repeat, with Mary, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I didn't know I could make money praying!


H/T to TechCrunch.

As a business this is a novel idea. Solid business model too!

Now, can a thing without soul pray to God? Can a computer pray on our behalf? Can someone accept the Sacraments on our behalf? :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Aborted babies as organ donors anyone?

This bone-chilling suggestion was given by Sir Richard Gardner, an 'advisor to the Royal Society and the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority' at an Oxford International Biomedical Center.

Another professor interviewed, Stuart Campbell, said he had no objection, since "if they are going to be terminated, it is a shame to waste their organs."

While this is horrifying and morally repugnant on so many levels, it comes as no surprise. Ironically, the argument of the "pro-choice" crowd is that it is no baby but 'a blob of tissues' that is being removed from its mother's womb. How can a 'blob of tissues' conveniently have organs that might go to many patients on the transplant waiting list?

Read the article here.

Once the baby is not treated as a person, it becomes either a property of its mother, or creatures made in the lab. Whatever happens next is anybody's guess.

Rosary Widget: crossing a milestone!

It's always an amazing discovery when you realize someone else is linking to your product without you asking your friends to do it :) (OK, enough narcissism for the day!)

The Rosary Widget, I just found out, has been made available for download from several websites, other than the original Yahoo! widget home. Technically, it is a form of content-leeching. But hey, since it is free anyway, they can do that even if none of these sites have asked for permission from the author.

They are linked from here: (338 downloads) (111 downloads) (467 downloads) (4,353 downloads)

In total, more than 5,000 people have downloaded the Rosary widget since it is first released! I hope it has helped many to discover the Rosary and pray it more fervently :)

OK, here's the end of this short post to encourage you to pray the Rosary this Lent. If you have been praying, please keep it up and remember to pray for me ;) If you have not, what are you waiting for?

Monday, March 16, 2009

A note from the desert

How's your Lent going? I dread this question, although my spiritual director had not asked this to me, as of today... I must confess this Lent has been difficult. Not that I've ever experienced an "easy" Lent. It's only slightly more than a week; and I'm already thinking of all the sharp and sarcastic things I could say after Lent, the things I could do after Lent, all the things I could allow myself to imagine after Lent. Unbelievable!

And then the moment of epiphany came when I read in one of Adoro's posts (in which she wrote about her discernment) that she hasn't been able to "give up sins" for Lent as she had planned. Duh! My first reaction was, how can we give up sinning for Lent when our feet are made of clay? And what's with this "attachment" to sins? I first encountered "attachment to sins" while reading about indulgences and conditions to gain the indulgences. Duh! Can anyone be attached to sins? How silly...

What an abrupt awakening I had when I realize that I too am attached to my sins. Attached to all those things that I told myself not to do during Lent. To these judgments, to these remarks that 'put people in their place', to these private thoughts that my way is the only correct one... The sharp retort that I swallowed back had no place neither during Lent nor after. Rich!

Embarrassment aside, thinking more deeply beyond a little suffering that we Catholics customarily allow ourselves during Lent, it makes no sense at all to be believing the way I had been acting. It makes no sense to tell myself to wait until Lent is over..., because Lent is not a period of self-imposed suffering that the Church made us go through. We have come to the desert voluntarily. Well, to a certain degree. When I consider how we have come freely to enter the Catholic Church, I remind myself how I *did* sign up for all these.

On the other extreme, before you examine how many donuts you did not pass, or how many times you said the rosary today, if you think your Lent has been going badly, let's take a look at the Mass reading from Monday 3rd Week of Lent, on the cure of Namaan, the Syrian (2 Kings 5:1-15ab):

Namaan, a commander in the Syrian army of the King of Aram, was struck with leprosy. His Jewish maid-servant suggested that he goes to Elisha the prophet, to ask for cure. Thus, with a letter from the king, and endowed with treasures in gold & silver, he went to Israel seeking for a cure. Elisha told him to bathe in the Jordan seven times, and this was met by a ludicrous response. Fortunately, he had wise servants who made him see the value of trying out this suggestion. He bathed, was cured and came back not only cured but enriched with the faith in the One God.

His story is amazing for its lesson in faith and humility: whenever we are tempted to think that God is asking us to do 'great acts' (of penance) to 'be cured' during Lent, only to be discouraged when we inevitably fall. For our lives, for whatever it is worth, are composed of 'little moments' of struggle fortified with grace. There is no shame in falling and rectifying all over again, since we know that Jesus had already won the battle.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

For the Holy Father...

I read the (English translation of the) letter of the Holy Father to the bishops, concerning the controversy surrounding the lifting of the excommunication of the 4 Lefebvrite bishops and the seemingly anti-Semitic statement made by one of them, released yesterday.

It was lucid, concise and brilliant, as usual :) But also heart-breaking to read (for me). In it he explained the rationale behind the lifting of the excommunication, what it meant and what it did not imply, what it effectively did for these separated brothers as well as what it cost him:

I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who ultimately could have known better how things stand, have thought it necessary to strike at me with a hostility ready to attack.
Sometimes one has the impression that our society needs at least one group for which it does not reserve any tolerance; which one can unperturbedly set upon with hatred. And if someone dares to approach them - in this case the Pope - he too loses the right to tolerance and even he may be treated with hatred without fear and restraint.

Pray for him and show our support for him! Ora pro pontifice!

"What to Do if Your Startup Is Failing"

I used to think (well, I still do sometimes) that nobody likes failure and even more so, nobody likes to talk about failure. I must admit, that must have come from my own deep-seated insecurities :)

Jason Calacanis wrote in BusinessWeek, somewhat philosophically, but managing to be practical about the whole thing, about "What to Do if Your Startup Is Failing".

Coming from a first-timer scrawny start-up, I will say that my company has never been far from "flailing", and what Calacanis wrote has been somewhat the way of life around here. Even if you are not a flailing entrepreneur (perhaps you're just a flailing student, or a flailing office worker, or a flailing member of the Communion of Saints!), Calacanis' essay is still worth a read about how to handle such a difficult situation.