*FAITH, *MARRIAGE, Down Memory Lane, Relationships

MIKAtolika: What’s in a Name?

Let me start by saying that this blog (which I started a little over a decade ago) isn’t new when it comes to “change.” It has experienced several theme changes, rebranding, etc. in the past years. But what makes this “new” different from past changes is that personally, I also experienced a major change in my life.

A new chapter. A transition. A change in life season — I GOT MARRIED! 😉

Photo by Creative Juices Photography

And with it comes a mix of different preferences and priorities compared to when I was still single — including the topics I want to write about. A few months into my engagement, I already thought about the word play for the topic closest to my heart: my (Roman) Catholic faith.
[I’m particular with the “Roman” part because the Catholic Church has other members who belong to other “rites.” The Philippines, though, predominantly practices the “Roman rite” that’s why we’re called “Roman Catholics” — but there are also Byzantine Catholics, Greek Catholics, Maronite Catholics, etc. who are all in communion with Rome — and that’s for another blog post altogether!]

Anyway, I prayed about it and true enough, I was able to incorporate my nickname into it with the help of the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

“Mika” is my nickname and “Katolika” is the Filipino term (I’m from the Philippines!) for “Catholic” —

Hence, MIKAtolika! ❤

YOUR NAME IS PART OF YOUR ANOINTING

I’m maintaining this blog so I can learn more and go deeper when it comes to my own faith. I don’t claim to be an expert nor a perfect person because just like YOU, I’m an unworthy and perfectly imperfect person who is loved by a perfect God! I’m a work in progress. What I do know is I’m a cradle Catholic who used to have weak faith — “weak” in the sense that I didn’t really have a personal relationship with Jesus back then. It was only a few years back when I was “re-converted” to the true essence of my Catholic faith (thanks to my different Catholic charismatic communities — more about them in another post, too!), and I will be honest with you, it has been a daily (spiritual) battle ever since.

Even as of this writing.

But I’m always grateful for the Lord’s grace and mercy that empower me every. single. day. Part of that is His daily reminders of what my life’s mission really is, which is already present in my given names.

In one of the Jesuit-inspired silent retreats I attended, there was one passage we were required to read and I’m convinced that God revealed to me who I am through my name because my fellow retreatants read the same passage but received different messages. The passage I’m talking about is entitled “Recover the Stars” by Fr. Jojo Magadia, SJ.

There’s a line in that passage that talked about the “tiller of the soil.” Fr. Magadia wrote that tillers of the soil learn to wait on nature, which teaches them that her cycles cannot be hurried, that she ripens the harvest in her own good time, if she decides to ripen it at all. The tiller still tills the soil, nevertheless, but with “great patience and great placidity,” willing “to watch the grinding mills of God.” They have this almost “blind belief” that in the end, nature, “lush, inscrutable, irresistible—shall work her will in the end,” guided by a God who ceaselessly labors in creation.

Tillers of the soil also labor tirelessly, who plant and water and weed, but in the end can only wait on God who alone can bring new life from the earth and make it bear fruit.

Since that retreat was Jesuit-inspired, I was also made aware of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual exercises and prayers, such as the Suscipe. I’ve always known that my first name, “Mikhaela,” is the female counterpart of the Archangel Michael’s name, which means “who is like God. On the other hand, I researched my second name, “Georgette,” before and I’ve always known it means “farmer. But when I Googled it again on the same day I read the passage, I was blown away to read its other meaning: “tiller of the soil. When I found that Google search, I couldn’t help but receive God’s meaning for my life through my two combined names, “Mikhaela Georgette.” I realized that I’m a “farmer” or “tiller of the soil” “who is like God” (as in holy or made in His image). Add to that the season I was in then, and having complete trust or surrender to God (the meaning of Suscipe) made perfect sense to me.

It’s like the nature in the passage means God in my life, the cycles as my seasons (pruning, waiting, etc.)—and I’m a tiller who surrenders all to Him!

Except surrendering to God isn’t easy. You and I know that.

And surrendering to God? That’s a whole new and wide topic to write about.

Well, I’m starting with THIS. 🙂

❤ ❤ ❤

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!


Do you know your name’s meaning?
What’s your reaction to God’s call for your life through your name?

P.S.: “Mika” means “beautiful fragrance”
when used on its own. Mine’s just a nickname,
but it’s still wonderful to know the meaning behind it.

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Mi Familia y Mi Amigos, The World (TRAVEL)

Euro Trip 2018 Highlights: Italy and The Vatican

Here’s the next stop on my Euro Trip/Greco-Roman Adventure 2018 photo blog series: Italy and the Vatican! 😀
(Click here to see the first! haha)

So why did I decide to visit the aforementioned countries? Simple: I’m a devout and practicing Roman Catholic Christian and visiting the heart of my church/faith (a.k.a. The Vatican) has always been a dream of mine! Add to that that I’m a history buff, and Italy has always been on top of my “dream destinations” all the way back when I was still in high school!

To be honest, when my sisters were planning this trip, the original plan was really just to go to Greece. But since I’m the only one among us who hasn’t been to Italy/The Vatican, I sort of begged them to add the two countries to our itinerary — hence achieving our so-called Greco-Roman adventure! So, thank you, sistahs!!! 😛

By the way, one of the reasons why my ates agreed to go to Italy again is because they wanted to finally visit San Giovanni Rotondo — the place where St. Padre Pio spent most of his life and where his body/ultimate relic rests today! As I’m writing this, talking about the Saint is really timely because his heart relic is currently being toured in my country, The Philippines. 🙂 I think I’ll have a separate blog entry on how to go to San Giovanni Rotondo because it’s four hours away from Rome, so we literally had to spend an entire day (out of our total of five days in Italy) just for that visit alone.

For now, I’ll just give you a rundown of the places you can go to in Rome and Vatican City, when like me, it’s your first time, you have limited time, but you still want to make the most out of your trip!

So, where did the “Roman” part of this adventure take me? 😉

ITALY

Rome

-where we stayed at one of the amazing suites of Domus Spagna (highly recommended!) located in Via Frattina — and just a stone’s throw away from other must-see tourist spots in Romaaa…

…such as:

Piazza di Spagna / Spanish Steps

Trevi Fountain

Pantheon

The Pantheon used to be a Roman temple but is now a Roman Catholic church

Piazza Navona

Colosseum

Arch of Constantine

P.S: Of course, a visit to Italy won’t be complete without some authentic gelato! YUM!!!

San Giovanni Rotondo

And then, off we went to St. Padre Pio‘s place — which is, like I mentioned, four hours away from Rome — but totally worth it!!!

Inside you can also find relics of St. John Paul the Great and St. Teresa of Calcutta

As I mentioned in my social media post when this shot was taken:

Today’s one for the books. I saw the body of one of the saints I always ask for prayers: St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. Yes, that’s right — I don’t pray TO them, I ask them to pray FOR me just like asking a friend to intercede or pray for me. As a devout and practicing Roman Catholic Christian, my devotion to saints has been one of the things questioned by other faiths. But I’m not posting this to argue or debate. In fact, there are many things about my own faith that I’ve still yet to discover; it’s a lifetime process, and I’m falling in love more with the Roman Catholic Church each and every time. When it comes to saints alone, the Roman Catholic Church isn’t the only church that has them. The Eastern Orthodox has ’em (I just came from Greece and have been a witness to the Greek Orthodox Church), the Anglican Church does too. But I don’t have all the answers; nobody does because only God has ’em. That’s why it’s more important to show love and respect. As another saint, St. Teresa of Calcutta, once said, “…for you see, in the end it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ❤️

Personally, what I like about St. Padre Pio is his story on how he died to himself every day when he bore Christ‘s wounds (stigmata) when he was still alive. He helped and inspired A LOT of people, too, along the way (he still does). And the best thing about this is, he was just like you and me: a person. And if he did it, so could I. So could YOU. We are all saints in the making — we just have to accept that first and foremost.

And that’s why I love asking saints (canonized or not) to pray for me. They remind me that this world is temporary and the ultimate goal is eternal life with God in heaven. 😇

So, how’s your journey to sainthood so far? Me, I still have a looong waaay to gooo, but I thank God that His mercies are new each and every day 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

THE VATICAN

And of course, there’s Vaticano! Someday, I pray that I’ll be able to return here with my future husband and attend the Pope’s sposi novelli wherein newlyweds are allowed “to appear for the papal blessing within the first two months of marriage…” Heehee. But until then, here are the places that sufficed:

The Vatican Museums

…yes, plural! Haha!

Warning, though: The museums are jam-packed with tourists! But you’ll definitely be in awe at all their collectionsss 🙂

I was finally able to see “The School of Athens” by the renowned Renaissance artist, Raphael, up close!!!

St. Peter’s Basilica

The Pieta

Aside from where St. Peter is buried, the Basilica also serves as the burial place of most popes, just like this: the tomb of Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul the Great)

You can confess inside, too! I DID!!! 😀

St. Peter’s Square

There was no papal audience when we visited (it was summertime, and we were informed that the audience is canceled during that season), but hey, at least I got these decent jump shots! Wahahahaha!

And that’s it! Haha! I know, bitin. Five days may sound long, but that wasn’t enough to tour Rome alone! Heck, you might need a month or more to tour entire Italy — which I plan to do in the future!!!

I’ve said before that my priorities are changing and it might take a long while before I step on European shores again, that’s why I’ll forever be grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to achieve my travel dreams in my twenties. ❤

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

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Mi Familia y Mi Amigos, The World (TRAVEL)

Euro Trip 2018 Highlights: Greece (and Turkey)

My dream to visit my “dream” continent, Europe, was planted in my heart I think a decade ago. Since then, I’ve been there three times — in three consecutive years nonetheless! God, indeed, is faithful!!! 🙂

In 2016, I traveled to my ultimate dream destination, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (with a bonus trip to the Republic of Ireland).

In 2017, I was privileged to visit Central/parts of Eastern Europe (Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria), and I knew then that I wanted to see more of the EU!!

This year, 2018, I went on a Greco-Roman adventure — fulfilling my dream to visit the heart of my Catholic faith: The Vatican ❤

It has been a little over a month (time flies fast!) since I came back from this memorable experience. I have a feeling that my next Euro trip won’t be as soon as the previous ones (priorities are changing! *ehem, ehem*), but I’ll definitely be back! Europe is such a great continent, and one of the things I love about it is that each region offers a different experience!

And since I know it’ll take some time before I get to explore another European region (Nordic countries, anyone? Haha!), allow me to relive and savor my latest adventure through this photo blog.

For this Greco-Roman adventure, I went to Greece, a side trip to Turkey, then on to Italy and the Vatican.

So, where exactly did I go in the “Greco” part of this adventure? 😉

GREECE

Athens

-where I saw remnants of Classical Greece and then some

Parthenon

Theater of Dionysus

original modern Olympic stadium

Delphi

-where I was transported back to the time of Greece’s ancient civilization

en route the Oracle of Delphi

it was raining, but that definitely didn’t stop us from exploring this historical place!

Meteora

-where God allowed me to once again be amazed by His natural creations

at a monastery on a hill

Mykonos

-my favorite part of Greece! I want to go back here with the love of my life, hehehe 😉

with the famous windmills at the back

at the famous Little Venice

Patmos

-where I saw the cave where St. John wrote the book of Revelation (no photo, though, because it wasn’t allowed! More info here)

Crete

-where I learned about the ancient Minoans (even the Parthenon was built at least after a century since the Minoan civilization!)

Santorini

-another dream come true — totally felt like a part of the cast of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” haha 😛

one of the blue domes of the Greek Orthodox churches

“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 3,” anyone? Haha! (Shout-out to my friends Nicole, Tanya, and Bec!)

TURKEY

Kusadasi

-where I think Aladdin got his magic carpet! CHAAAR haha

handmade carpets being sold by Mr. George Clooney look alike!

Ephesus

-where I walked on the same grounds as St. Paul when he was preaching to — you guessed it — the Ephesians!

ruins of the library of Celsus

AND THAT’S A WRAP!!!

Next stop on this photo blog series: ITALY! Ciao!

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