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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, July 22, 2016
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala
OPINIONS

Rock & Refuge

Redeeming birthdays

There's need to redeem our birthday celebrations from the many banalities into which they have fallen. We need to redeem them from the grip of paganism. We have to recover their original importance and go deeper than just being greeted and gifted by friends, relatives and acquaintances. While all these are always good and welcome, we need to go much further than them.

One's birthday is always a special day. It just cannot be treated like it's just one more day in one more year of one's life. Nowadays, with all the hustle and bustle of modernity, birthdays can lose their true significance and would simply be celebrated with some candle blowing on a cake, some banquet and some singing and partying, all very trite ways of celebrating birthdays.

But birthdays are good occasions to be most joyful, most grateful and most resolved to be true and faithful to life's meaning and purpose.

They should be celebrated accordingly, with the celebrant visiting some basic truths and realities, and doing the necessary adjustments to see to it that he is on the right track in life.

Birthdays are moments to realize more deeply the source and end of our life, the why's and wherefore's of our life. They should shed light on the fact that our life follows a certain plan that has to be pursued, of course, with freedom. They should cause us to ask some ultimate questions about our life.

Yes, we have to be most thankful to our parents who bore us into existence and took care of us. We can never thank them enough. All the sacrifices and love and affection they unstintingly showered on us go beyond quantitative costing. They can somehow be repaid only with our sacrifices, love and affection for them.

But our life, which is actually a gift, comes from a much more radical source than our parents. It comes from God. God is our creator. Our life just cannot be separated from God, even much more than it is inseparable from our parents.

Our parents are procreators. They only cooperate in God's creation and as such are our first and indispensable link with God. They are the ones who teach us the rudiments of what is true, good and beautiful, and who initiated us into knowing and loving God and others. That's why they are so precious and crucial to us.

Since our life comes from God, it also has to follow a certain plan set for us first of all by God. If we have the faith, we would know that our life is not just a random and aimless occurrence in the whole of God's creation. Everyone is created, conceived and born for a purpose.

Thus, birthdays are a good occasion to discern more sharply what God's plan is for us. We need to know more about the specific details of such plan. Everyone has a vocation from God, and we need to correspond to it as faithfully and generously as possible.

Let's hope that starting with our own personal way of celebrating our birthdays, we can create a culture that would encourage everyone to meditate more deeply on the purpose of his life on his birthday.

 

This should be done ahead of the usual merrymaking on one's birthday.

And no, this should not be made to conflict or compete with the merrymaking. The two can go together very well and can, in fact, mutually help each other.

And that's simply because a deeper realization of what God wants of us would necessarily make us joyful and grateful, even if sacrifices will also be unavoidably involved.

Redeeming our birthdays from banalities should not be a serious- faced affair. It can and should be a happy task, though an urgent one, considering that the general environment seems to be hostile to that concern.

For sure, such happy task would constitute an improvement in one's life and in that of the whole society. When one gets to know the meaning of life, the purpose of his very own life and the role he needs to play, we can only expect goodness and joy to come, and eliminate or at least lessen the unnecessary pain and suffering in life.

With all the atrocities taking place in the world today, we can aspire a radical diminution of such ugly occurrences if we just know how to celebrate our birthdays. We go to God, we can pray and attend Mass, we meditate and get to know more details of God's plan for us, etc.—all these will go a long way in making a better world for all of us!*

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