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22 May 2008

Si Maria at ang mga Bulaklak

An extraordinary Flower Offerings based on the virtues of the Blessed Mother

Day One
By Patty de la Rosa - Paat
22 May

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me according to your word". Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:38)

ANLUWAGE.COMWe Christians view humility as "a quality by which a person considering his or her own defects has a humble opinion of himself and willingly submits himself or herself to God and to others for God's sake ". It is also a submission to God and legitimate authority. When the angel of God announces to Mary her vocation of motherhood she responds freely and completely. She expresses the humble and obedient faith characteristic of God’s great servants. These characteristics have been shown every now and then as she continues to do God’s Will with trust and confidence. By that time, she was identified as a young and single woman. There’s a risk because her reputation would be destroyed. And yet, she decided to help God in saving the world.

If we are really devoted to Mary, then our motto should be "YES, this is the will of GOD; I will offer myself to HIM". What really makes me admire Mama Mary is her simple living with her family after she gave birth to Jesus Christ. She lives like an ordinary woman or mother and never experienced a luxurious life like a queen. She did not ask for power and wealth in spite being the Mother of God. Her humble living strikes everybody’s heart. Though she knew that she ranked high in dignity, she did not expect others to serve her. To love more, to give more, and to sacrifice more these are the true meaning of her life.

Almighty God, we thank You for this life and we pray for the forgiveness of our sins. May we follow the humble life of Mary, the mother of Jesus and our mother too. As we follow her footsteps we entrust our life to You.

We pray for our country and for the complete reconciliation of our political leaders. Give them the strength to make definite resolutions to develop patience, to be generous and charitable, to be helpful, fair and to make faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy. Take away pride and selfishness from their hearts that have made this country divided and discouraged. May they rightly administer our country and provide good governance in accordance to Your Will. God, on You we depend for the light and strength for this daily battle. Amen.

Let us offer One Our Father, One Hail Mary and One Glory be for the gift of humility.

Flower Offering
We offer to you, our dear Mother, this violet as a sign of our wish to become humble servants of God. Through your intercession and example, may we constantly be at the Father's beck and call. Amen.

Day Two
By Mark Rodney Vertido
23 May

"Your faith and hope are in God." (1 Peter 1:21)

ANLUWAGE.COMMary, the Mother of God and our beloved Blessed Mother, by her ways and examples invites us in every way to come and be closer to God. Our Blessed Mother’s own faith in God is the most perfect of all.

If Eve’s disobedience brought death to the world, Mary's faith brought Life to it. Mary, the simple town girl who was engaged to Joseph, the just man, by her simple faith in the words spoken to her by God’s messenger, Gabriel the Archangel, gave her unconditional Yes to God.

She was afraid at first for she does not have a husband to be pregnant. But because of her strong faith in her Master she willingly accepted the task to bear in her womb Christ our Life. She, with assistance from his just husband, raised faithfully the Son of God. When the time has come for her Son to proclaim the Divine revelations she generously gave her Son because she knew that He is not only for her but for us all. On the foot of the Cross, she gladly received the mission entrusted to her by Jesus to be the Mother of all men. From then on she never stopped to be our Mother for she does not cease to intercede and pray for us. Her presence with the apostles in Pentecost as well as the numerous apparitions across the world would attest to this. And by her example as well as the messages she conveyed in her apparitions she wants us to be closer to God, to have faith in Him. Having faith in God means walking in His ways. Simply said, being faithful is avoiding sin which wounds our relationship with the Lord.

In our society today we lack faith, especially faith in God. We are very bothered with all the problems and trials in our society but in all of these we do not always have faith in God that all of these will be resolved. Quite disturbing too are the unfaithfulness of our leaders and other people who should be our models. We should imitate Mary’s faith that all will be well. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said that being successful is not the important thing in life, rather it is being faithful.

Lord, we thank You that Mary, our Blessed Mother, was given to us. She who has the perfection of faith because she willingly obeyed the Father.

Lord, increase our faith in all Your words so we will always follow Your will. Teach us not to be afraid.

Blessed Mother, our model of faith, in your loving hands we entrust ourselves. Like you, may we be God's faithful people. Amen.

Flower Offering
We offer you, dear Lady, this water lily which symbolizes your faith in the living God. As this flower follows the flow of the river, so too you follow the will of the Father. May we too who call on you do our best to remain faithful till the end. Amen.

Day Three
By Pietro S. Albano
24 May

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (Psalms 42:11)

ANLUWAGE.COMPope Benedict XVI issued an Encyclical Letter entitled "Spe Salvi" ("In hope we were saved") which focused on the theological virtue of hope. In this document, the Holy Father exhorts us to put our hope in God and in God alone. This exhortation in the midst of our society hoping FOR rather than hoping IN. "We normally hope for something," said Fr. Javier Gonzalez, OP, "The problem, however, comes when such hope has not been fulfilled!" We hope for a better job, for good grades, for health, etc. And what happens when that job or grades become elusive? What happens when our health fails? In Mary's case, the thought of Joseph turning his back on her once he knew her pregnancy and hailing her to the elders to be stoned to death would have crossed her mind. Like anyone of us, she would have felt downcast, yet she did not allow herself to be a victim of despair. She put all her hope in God and did what was right (i.e. to love and care for the baby in her womb). Reading the Sacred Scriptures, we would never fail to witness how she hoped in God, entrusting herself without any reserve in a God who saves. Going back to our own situation, things would or might not work according to what we hope for. What is needed is to keep focused in doing our daily duties and leaving the rest to God. As the Filipino saying goes, "Kung may buhay, may pag-asa" (where there is life, there is hope).

United with Mary, woman of hope, let us sing:

My life is in You, Lord
My strength is in You, Lord
My hope is in You, Lord
In You, it's in You
My life is in You, Lord
My strength is in You, Lord
My hope is in You, Lord
In You, it's in You
I will praise You with all of my life
I will praise You with all of my strength
With all of my life
With all of my strength
All of my hope is in You
My life is in You, Lord
My strength is in You, Lord
My hope is in You, Lord
In You, it's in You
My life is in You, Lord
My strength is in You, Lord
My hope is in You, Lord
In You, it's in You
In You, it is in You!

Flower Offering
We offer you, Blessed Mother, this ylang-ylang whose verdant blossoms signify hope. Through this simple act, may we be reminded of how you put your trust in Him more than in your own abilities. Help us that we too may become people full of hope "in a world which by its very nature is imperfect" (Spe Salvi, 31). Amem.

Day Four
By Anabelle Payod - Balla
25 May

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

ANLUWAGE.COMFrom all the women in the world, God has chosen Mary to be the mother of His only begotten Son. He saw a chaste dwelling in Mary, a holy temple of His. And Mary responded humbly and willingly to God's call and offered her body and life to mother our Savior Jesus Christ.

I remember when I was young I was not conscious and not so in control of my thoughts and of my actions. I have allowed sinful desires to overwhelm me. Luckily, God has drawn me near Him and made me understand that I am His holy temple. I learned that whatever comes out of me can either make God's holy temple (that's me) clean or dirty. Jesus said in Mark 7:21 “From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”

To combat sinful desires, evil thoughts and actions which defile our souls, we need to embrace chastity as our virtue. Chastity is keeping God's temple (us) free from evil thoughts and sinful desires and allowing God to use us to bring salvation to those who are lost. Chastity moderates desire for sexual and sinful pleasures. The practice of chastity is control of our thoughts and discipline of our senses and use them to give greater glory to God. We can always make conscious decision to stop and avoid temptations, places, things, or people that will lead us to impure thoughts and sinful acts. Let us strive to keep God's temple inside us clean and glowing by spending more time knowing, thinking, and serving God. Let us follow Mary's example, to offer our body and life to God and allow Him to use us in bringing more souls to heaven.

Let's start cleaning our temples today and keep them ever shining for God!

With Mary let us recite the Magnificat:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Flower Offering
We offer to you, our beloved Mother this young white rose as a sign of our intention to lead pure lives and avoid occasions of sin. Be with us, O Virgin undefiled. Amen.

Day Five
By Elizabeth R. Eguia
26 May

"So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12)

ANLUWAGE.COMFrom the beginning, we witnessed how our Blessed Mother was obedient to God. When the Angel Gabriel spoke to her and told her that she will be the mother of the Son of God, she never hesitated, never doubted. She just replied "I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word." She has this unique characteristic of complete self denial in response to her love to the Father.

In this troubled times, we are now reminded with this question…have we been obedient to the will of God? If your answer is yes, then I salute you. Otherwise, what are we suppose to do now? We hear different events happening around us. Issues about corruption, of scandals, scams, rice hoarding, violence. Being a Catholic country, we were taught about moral values, with teachings from the Bible, etc. But how come we commit sin so easily? How come we find it easy to disobey God? I asked the same question to myself, but I felt ashamed to answer that because I was unworthy to.

God love us so much that He gave us free will to decide on doing the right thing or not. However, we choose to follow the wrong way. We overuse our freedom and we just find it easy to use other peoples’ money for our own benefits, to hoard rice so we can sell it at a much higher price, etc.

Obedience requires free will to do what is right out of love. It is a selfless act of submitting to His will without reservations. It is not easy to be like Mary, to follow what she did. But let us take this as a challenge for us. How do we do it? It requires sacrifice and love. If we love someone, we don’t just say it but we show it in our actions. God is not asking us to make a 360 degree move immediately but let us make an effort to at least move one step forward day after day until our love is perfected by our actions. It will not be easy that is why we need Mary’s intercession and guidance to accomplish this, to be selflessly obedient to the Father.

Let us meditate on the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus, recalling very well how the Lord obeyed His Father until the end, an obedience He must surely have imitated from His Mother.

1 Our Father...10 Hail Marys...1 Glory...1 O My Jesus

Flower Offering
We offer to you, our dear Mother, this white lily as a sign of our desire to be obedient children of the Father like you. Guide us that we may always strive to follow HIs will and not ours. Amen.

Day Six
By Maria Theresa Ballo
27 May

"Be patient and wait for the Lord to act; don’t be worried about those who prosper or those who succeed in their evil plans. (Psalms 37:7)

ANLUWAGE.COMAfter four years of hard work, perseverance and sleepless nights I finally graduated from college. Looking back, coming from an exclusive school for girls to a big university, adjustment became an issue. After a year, I found my clique. Then on Junior year, along with conflicts in the family, as a defense mechanism, I displaced the difficulties in becoming a student leader, spending most of my time in school. Finally, in Senior year, a lot more personal conflicts came in, being a “sponge” in the family, issues with gender and leadership skills, need for a partner, peer pressure and future plans and goals. The stress and personal conflicts I had left me hanging right after graduation yielding to a momentary bliss of being unemployed -- by choice.

In today’s fast–paced society where everything instant is available, youth tend to get things in the fastest and instant way. I am one of them. I did things to satisfy or compensate my “needs” in a subtle way. While most of my colleagues where already adjusting themselves to the working environment I am sitting at the comforts of our home, losing motivation to find a job. I see things and people in a hurry and perceive that I should do the same where I am in no hurry to obtain the virtue I need, being patient. In the dictionary patience means "bearing pains or trials calmly and without complaining". Patience is both a command and a gift from God. Patience is a critical test of character among youth, rooted in the simple acknowledgement that we might be wrong. Our error may be in character rather than in conviction. Growth among youth is usually slow. So while learning to be patient with others, I should never forget to continue learning being patient with myself and trusting everything to God’s grace and in God’s time.

Mary is the exemplary woman of patience. She waited for the Lord to reveal His wonderful works even if it meant bearing hardships especially the death of her only son. Let us then reflect on the second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation, recalling how she patiently bore the hassles of travelling to see her cousin Elizabeth in order to share with her the Good News - Jesus Himself.

1 Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, 1 Glory, 1 O My Jesus

Flower Offering
We offer you, dear Lady, this aster which symbolizes patience. In the midst of the trials and challenges we need to face, may we see these as God's way of pruning us so we could serve Him and others better.

Day Seven
By Rose Markell
28 May

"Therefore, I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient, and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you the unity of spirit through bonds of peace. Let there be one body and one spirit, for God, in calling you,gave the same spirit to all.One God, one faith, one baptism. One God, the Father of all, who is above all and works through all and is in all." (Ephesians 4:1-6)

ANLUWAGE.COMPaul names enthusiastically that we have one in common through Christ and through the work of the Holy Spirit. Having so much in common is a call to union, love and peace. There is even more particular gifts that must be placed at the service of the community in the same way as stones or bricks of a building. And what is being built is not just any building nor is it simply a temple, it is the Body of Christ or the Perfect Man, made up of the millions of members now forming humanity and those of the future. Some day, when all are united, we will form this "Perfect Human" with countless members. Let's pray to Mama Mary who has shared her Son and all so that God would be glorified by all.

Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. Thank You for dying on the cross for our sins. Please forgive our sins and give us the gift of eternal life. We ask You to reign in our life and heart. We want to serve You always.

Mama Mary, teach us to be one with God and one with each other. Amen.

Don't be afraid to lift your wings
And soar through life each day
Find joy and love and happiness
As you go along your way

Life is steeped with ups and downs
And troubles not so far
Keep your chin up high and shoulders back
As we meet them one by one

Don't be afraid when sorrow comes
The answer is quite clear
Just get down on your knees and pray
For God Our Savior is always near

Flower Offering
Mama Mary, we offer you red roses, as a sign of our love for you, and just like the thorns on the roses, which you carry in your heart from all the sins we have done, that hurt your Son Jesus Christ, may we strive to live better lives. Please listen to our pleas, enlighten the minds of mankind and lead them back to your Son Jesus Christ. Please ask Him to stop all disasters that is happening around the world and the doings of Satan on earth. May all mothers be like you and follow your footsteps, protect and guide us always, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Day Eight
By Pietro S. Albano
29 May

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

ANLUWAGE.COMYou might have read in a forwarded e-mail message the story of a father who got mad at his son for accidentally scratching his prized car that he hit the boy's hands with a tool. So hard did he hit that his son's hands became paralyzed.  Perhaps we may not be as violent as this man was, but like him we have those moments when anger (or any other bad qualities such as jealousy or pride) would get the better of us. We make remarks that are hurtful to others.  We backbite others. We give in to chismis. We jump into conclusion quite easily.

The Virgin Mary gives us a good example of how it is to be prudent. She could have boasted about her divine maternity when the shepherds and wise men paid homage to the baby Jesus. She could have looked down on the teachers of the Law who heaped praises on our Lord when she found her in the Temple after 3 days of searching . All her life, she was prudent and so was able to distinguish if actions were appropriate or not, holy or evil.

Mama Mary, you have treasured and pondered in your Immaculate Heart the things done for you by the Lord. Teach us to do the same so that we may "take counsel carefully with oneself and from others, judge correctly on the basis of the evidence at hand, direct the rest of one's activity according to the norms determined after a prudent judgment has been made". Amen.

Floral Offering
We offer you, O Virgin Most Prudent, the hyacinth which symbolizes prudence. Help us to judge correctly, mirroring the sound, reliable, and fair judgment of Jesus our Judge. Amen.

Day Nine
By Elizabeth R. Eguia
30 May

"You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear! Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord's mother comes to visit me? For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness. How happy you are to believe that the Lord's message to you will come true!"(Luke 1: 42-45)

ANLUWAGE.COMA simple but unique scene caught my eyes on one Thursday morning at the balcony porch of our condo unit. While I was looking over the surroundings, a bird flies over a tree and then pass on a tree vine to another bird. I realized that they were building a nest for the female bird to lay her eggs. Three times, I have seen the male bird went away just to get another vine and again, pass on to the female bird. The nest they were constructing was perfect. I was so amazed on how beautiful that moment was that I utter the words “thank you” to God for letting me experience this. It was a very simple scene that is happening daily but is beautiful! You learn to value it like a treasure. Tomorrow, we will celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. It was also an ordinary scene but it has a wonderful message for us.

Every time I recite the second Joyful mystery, I pause for a while and smile. I felt Mama Mary was talking to me considering her cousin and I have the same name. It was a simple scene but I never reflected what it really meant, not until this morning. I realized that Mother Mary is there for me, for all of us. She is our mother, our sister, our friend, whom we can talk to anytime. She is there ready to help us when we seek her intercession. She is our link to Jesus and she intercedes for us. This scene also portrayed Mary’s virtue of humility. She never bragged to her cousin for being chosen as the mother of Christ. She just mentioned how overjoyed she was and all she did was to glorify and praise God. She humbly obeyed God's commands right from the start up to her last days on earth.

Dearest Mother Mary, please continue to intercede for us. Continue to inspire us in reaching out to our needy brothers and sisters. Like you, may also bring Jesus to others so that they too may believe in a loving and saving God. Amen.

Flower Offering
We offer you, Blessed Mother the flower Sampaguita, small and simple, inspiring and refreshing, symbolizing your virtue of charity. May we follow your good example so we could live as God's children. Amen.

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