Why Do We Receive the Ashes

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Following the example of the Nine vites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told “Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.” Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

The Ashes.

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

The first day of Lent

#ashwednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is cheifly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too.

The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Alternatively, the priest may speak the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.

It is important to remember that Ash Wednesday is a day of penitential prayer and fasting.

It is not required that a person wear the ashes for the rest of the day, and they may be washed off after Mass. However, many people keep the ashes as a reminder until the evening.

Should you desire to reflect more with the meaning of Ash Wednesday, watch Fr. Mike:


Source: http://www.catholic.org

Look Beyond Your Anxiety

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A gallbladder stone – cholelithiasis – was found during my pre-employment medical examination. This postponed my supposed employment abroad. It was a huge setback of my career.

Before my employer gives me another contract, I need to undergo a surgical operation – laparoscopic cholecystectomy – to remove the stone which will amount to around P80, 000.00 ($1, 600.00). But the last salary check I received was twelve months ago.

I was broke. I was anxious.

My anxiety did not care about my situation though. I had to make a decision- whether to stay in the problem or to look for a solution. Ideally, I chose the latter.

I searched for all the possible options to get the operation done – public hospitals, social welfare, friends and relatives.

I did not give up. I persist.

Until, fortunately, I found one- Amosup Hospital. I could not be more than grateful for my operation was fully covered- meaning I spent no dime. Moreover, I am equally grateful to those people who encouraged me to be strong and who stayed by my side during this difficult time. Because of you, beyond my anxiety I found renewed hope, fortified persistence and people who genuinely care.

It is true. Worrying makes things harder than they need to be.

We become anxious when we come across a point where we think a certain situation is challenging us beyond our ability- failing grades, depreciating performance at work, unhappy relationship, worsening depression, dying loved ones, insecurities, disapproval, validation… the list never ends.

Then, we become susceptible to getting hopeless and upset.

“Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice.”

– Epictetus, Discourses

Meanwhile, if we could step back and see our situation objectively, maybe we would be able to see what is beyond the known. That maybe our current disposition is preparing us to become more than our present selves- to become stronger mentally and emotionally, to be more hinged to our principles and ideals and to believe more in ourselves and in what we are capable of.

The next time we will find ourselves getting anxious, ask, “Is my anxiety doing me any good? What lies beyond my anxiety?”

February inspiration from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.

Anger Makes the Situation Worse

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This morning, I watched a video clip of a couple fighting over something. The man was shouting angrily at the woman. When the audio turned clear, he was shouting at her because instead of buying him his medicine, she bought many other things which seemed to be quite unnecessary. The video ended with a man still in rage.

Imagine yourself being shouted at by your parents, partner, teacher or manager for whatever justifiable reason. Raising your voice as a form of defense will surely result to more issues and misunderstanding- hurtful words, break-ups, trust issues. Instead of reacting in a confrontation like this, retain your composure and evaluate.

Leaning on anger does not resolve a problem. It might even make the problem worse. And when it gets worse, you get upset, the other person gets upset and everybody gets upset. But the issue remains unsolved.

Look. Some athletes talk trash their opponents to incite reaction. Making them distracted and derailing their focus. Hence, making them an easy target for knock-out. It is important to not bite the bait of your emotional outbursts and to quickly shutdown all of the signalled provocation. If you easily give in, your defeat will be certained.

Anger is not impressive or powerful or a resolve when what we want is not granted, when what we need is overlooked, when our position and opinion are questioned, when we need to repeat ourselves multiple times because the person we are speaking with is not attentively listening – it is perhaps a mistake, a damaging mistake.

Manage and mitigate the triggers of your anger that are constantly tripped.

Remember, peace of mind does not come from the outside, it comes from the inside.

February inspiration from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.

Make The World A Better Place

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At first, reading a book is challenging. We get sleepy as we read through the pages. And there are times our understanding of what we read is vague if not zero. But we try to read more and understand more no matter how we badly do it until we unconsciously cultivate the habit of reading. This is a way to look at how habit grows from within and unnoticeably becomes a part of our daily routine.

Habit, good or bad, cannot be absolutely blamed on poor parenting and environment but rather to our lack of vigilance to what we think, what we say and what we do.

We fail to develop good habits because we are indolent to do so. Indolent in a sense that we put ourselves into repeated disregard to make an effort or simply we are just being lazy.

On the other hand, we can hone good habits if we are persistent to acquire them and to have repeated regard to make efforts or incline ourselves to active attempts.

Habit is a learned behavior from the deliberate repetition of action. Like an archer, s/he has to practice a thousand times hitting a cherry with the correct body posture, proper arm angle and right focus for his/er arrow to land on the intended aim. Until hitting a cherry becomes a part of his/r athletic pulse.

We should not lose guard of our own mind or else we will miss the aim. Occupy it with anything that will manifest the best version of our own self.

Keep asking if we have the right reason to do what we do and why we do them and if it is good for us.

Only then we will be able to amend our bad characters and develop a habit that is worthy to be spoken of with honor to others.

Next to making our habits well-kept is making the world a better place.

Clarity: A Way To Achieving Serenity

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Everybody deserves serenity. Some of us succeed in finding it- in our career, in our family, in our relationship- but some of us fail. It is not easy. We have to identify what is within the boundary of our control in order to find it.

The Daily Stoic said that desire, opinion, anger and everything of our own doing is within our control. People, position, reputation and everything not of our own doing is outside our control. But we sometimes face situations that generate unbearable disturbance and uncontrollable emotional imbalance. Absolute prevention is impossible. The only way to bring things in order again is to make a choice – our choice to own up and to be responsible with our actions – that has a potential to bring forth meaning and understanding.

Clarity is also important in achieving serenity. It is not only about having a clear vision, clear perspective, clear objective, it is also about allowing ourselves to be encapsulated by Euthymia.

Euthymia is believing in ourselves and trusting that we are in the right path and not being in doubt by following the myriad footpaths of those wandering in every direction.

It is not to say every thought on how it is going to be will fall to its place as they are thought to be. No. There are external forces that will shake our heart, fog our path and blur our vision. If we worry about these external forces and put our focus on them, we will fail to attain serenity. Because instead of controlling anything that can be, we waste our energy, time and effort to anything that cannot be. Energy, time and effort are all non-reimbursable.

We will never be able to eliminate negative influences that can hinder us from having a quiet mind. But we can regain the control of our mind when we are able to redefine our goals, reclarify our intentions and redirect our efforts at a cause or meaning. And if we can stay clear with the things that we can control and focus on them, we will surely be able to reach a point where our mind is at the state of serenity.

January inspiration from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.

Money Is Not Everything

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Earning money becomes a reasonable need for many people to survive and to live a decent life. It has numerous utility- to pay for educational fees, to acquire health insurance coverage, to own properties and to buy anything that has a price tag on. As we grow older, money becomes more and more necessary to our life.

Some do earn a lot and become obsess with it. It turns out to be as an insatiable desire to anyone whose mind has been occupied by what money can do. But many wrongly thought that money can do everything. No. It cannot.

Money cannot buy peace of mind.

Money cannot buy happiness.

Money cannot buy friendship.

If anyone thinks it can buy these, he has a misconception of its proper utilization and overlook that money can only momentarily change a life but cannot make life free of problems or even resolve internal battles.

Who does not need it? We all do. So be in charge of finding the clarity of why we need to earn and for what good we plan it to be used for.

Control our thoughts over the impulse of unnecessary purchases and the involvement of it to any form of corruption. And direct our actions in ensuring that we use it for a better cause and building a more stable future.

January inspiration from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.

Making a Choice is Power

Some are born rich, some are born less privileged. Some have it instant, some have it the hard way. We come from different walks of life and we have different statuses in society. Whoever we are, what really matters most is our choice.

After the second semester of my second year in college, I had to stop. Leaving the university with debt. My brother couldn’t finance my college anymore. Surely, it is devastating to postpone something we desire to finish. We just cannot get everything we want just because we want it.

That time, I was powerless to do something about my financial incapability. But it did not mean I was without an option. I worked as a customer service representative and saved money for the next semester. Working and studying at the same time is not for faint-hearted people. Juggling work performance and school requirements and examinations are thrice as much the struggles of typical student and employee. It takes a lot of determination to be able to thrive through in difficult times. More than the determination is the inspiration behind: the reason why we keep on going and the answers for why we do what we do. It is the clarity of our purpose for walking that path and the meaning that unfolds as we hold on that breeds the fulfillment of our aspiration.

Education is an important possession. It is ours forever and cannot just be taken away. As what the famous aphorism by Lao Tzu says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” After nine long years, I marched in my black toga while holding my head up high.

Whoever we are, wherever we are, what matters most is our choice. Our ability to make our choices should not be underrated and not be taken lightly. We make choices every day and in everything. Whether it is to simply buy groceries in the market, which movie to watch or even when to clean our room. When we can make a choice for ourselves, we have the power to change our life.

Reading the Daily Stoic lead me to know the serenity prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the thing that I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

We should be able to differentiate the things that are in our control and the things that are not, the things that we can influence and the things that we cannot. In this manner, we would be able to do the things that really matter to us. Failure to realize this will bring us to choices that will hurt us, ruin our lives or even lead us to the destruction of our own dreams.

Choice plays a vital role in finding clarity of our purpose and meaning to whatever we do. There is no way to undo the wrong things that transpired out of our inability to make the right choices. But we can reflect now and try to make better choices and change our future.

January inspiration from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.