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ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Emmanuel, 2010: A Celebration

Celebrating the birth of Jesus, we are happy and grateful to reprint here a poem written by Rev. Francisco R. Albano, and two documents he sent us to highlight the significance of this Christian holy day. We join our clan pastor, friend, and brother in greeting everyone a Happy Christmas.


May the Word-Made-Flesh, Light and Life of the world be yours and mine -- that we may be his Flesh become his word of justice, love and peace. That we may bring light and life to dark times and places of heart, mind and spirit. That we may enable people to care for one another and for the earth. That in all things God may be glorified.


The way it was:
A newborn baby’s cry broke silence of one night.
The cow mooed, the donkey brayed,
A chicken cluck-clucked and laid an egg.
Carpenter Joseph uttered: “It’s a boy!”
“Of course it is, silly,” Mama Mary said.
The swaddled one took to her breast,
And the heavens burst into De Angelis
Gloria in excelsis Deo, peace on earth!
The rest is history of slow but sure recognition
And firm affirmation of presence of Word-
Made-Flesh, Emmanuel, God-with-us,
Of a separate peace in violent Pax Romana,
Of space-time reordered in redeemed relations
As planned for a new heaven, a new earth.
You see it too. Let’s from the stable go
Into land-time of armed Pax Capitalista
And defensive emerging Pax Socialista
And sing his story.

-- Francisco R. Albano

The Bishop of Ilagan (in the Northern Philippines, province of Isabela) --- where Rev. Albano serves as Rector of the Catholic Seminary --- delivered the following Message for the Season of Christmas. May the meaning of this holy day be reinforced in the hearts of all believers.


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The Lord give you peace.

We, Catholics, sanctify our day with a short theological reminder of the history of salvation. We call it the Angelus Prayer which, traditionally, we used to recite at morning, noon, and evening. And it is drawn from the affirmation of John: “The Word became a human being, and full of grace and truth, lived among us.” (Jn 1:14). In other versions of the translation, the phrase reads “the Word became man.”

The Latin phrase “et Verbum caro factum est” translates the Greek original of the Gospel of John: “Kai ho Logos sarx egeneto.” That is an astounding use of terminology. The use of the Greek word “sarx” to express the reality of the Incarnation is even more emphatic. Notice that the phrase does not say “The Word became a Jew.” Instead it says “the Word became man.” So then, there is something here that transcends culture or cultures.

The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity becoming a man in Jesus entered our human conditions of lostness, of sin, of negativity, and in all the dysfunctional conditions of human life. All that and more is contained in that one word “sarx.” And yet it also points to a direction towards which we all have to strive for, simply because all life is teleological. This is so only to ground ourselves in the reality that there is a tremendous challenge contained in this affirmation. The challenge is to transcend all these limitations and negativity and weakness and sin, and by the grace of God, work at grounding ourselves in the values that promote life instead of death.

I am not a scholar dedicated to the study of the Scriptures nor am I a professional theologian. But in this, I see here the end and the aim for which you and I, as human beings, are called to. We may discover that only when we strive to be “full of grace and truth” both individually and as a community can we really affirm the fact of “God with us.” This also means that Jesus, the Christ, becomes “incarnated” once more in man of whatever “race, tribe, nation, and language”, in short, from any culture of the world. The Incarnation, therefore, is a living parable that God in His wisdom uses to point out our vocation. And we are no longer discouraged by the obstacles that try to hamper our efforts at becoming truly a human being in the pattern of Jesus Himself.

Years ago, there was a book published with the tile “The Road Less Travelled.” And it opens its first chapter with a startling affirmation. It began “Life is hard.” And one may assume a position regarding life in time and space. We may either flee from it, keep fighting it, and simply flow with creatively. Jesus took the third option: to flow with life in creative fashion. He underwent all that you and I undergo: learning, struggling to discover one’s vocation, committing himself to what is good and just and honest, and being faithful until the end. He suffered, was misunderstood, was rejected, and finally, put to death as the sacrificial Lamb. And He endured all that trusting in His Father’s promise and confident that this trust will not be deceived. And, indeed, the Book of Revelation later affirms: “The Lamb who was killed is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, and strength, honor, glory and praise.” (Rev. 5:12).

Our Pope Benedict XVI quotes the medieval theologian William of St. Thierry who said that God – from the time of Adam – saw that His grandeur provoked anxiety in man, that man felt limited [and insecure] in his own being and was threatened in his freedom. Therefore, God chose a new way. He becomes a child. He made Himself dependent and weak, in need of our love. Now this God who became a child says to us: ‘you can no longer fear Me, you can only love Me.”

May this truth be our guide during this Christmas Season. May it be a truly blessed occasion of grace for all of us. God bless you all.

+Joseph Nacua OFMCap., D.D.
Bishop of Ilagan
Given at the Chancery
16th of December, 2010
Launching of the CBCP Year of the Youth


( The Wall Street Journal first published this editorial in it’s Christmas issue in 1948. It has been republished every year since then. )

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too.

There was oppression – for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave larges to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners – to quite those whom the Emperor prescribed.

What was man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying: Render unto Caesar the things that are God’s.

And the voice from Galillee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

So the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man would still believe salvation lay with leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in diverse places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness knoweth not wither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterwards Paul of Tarsus, too, was so afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the ‘lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets.

Then might it come to pass that men would not look upwards to see even a winter’s star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians the words he would have us remember afterwards in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ was made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. #

--- The Casuga Clan in Canada

December 25, 21010, Canada

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