*FAITH, *MARRIAGE, Down Memory Lane, Gathered Thoughts, Marked on the Calendar

#MikaIshTheOne: Some Wedding Traditions Done with a Twist!

First off, my heart goes to all those in the middle of wedding preparations during these very trying times. Experiencing a pandemic in this lifetime is really hard. Planning a wedding is stressful enough — then add a pandemic to that equation? I don’t even want to think about it. For some, this may sound trivial, but married couples who went through the same ordeal AND engaged couples going through THIS ordeal would understand. My prayers are with you! May this strengthen your relationship with each other and with God. 🙂

Anyway, it has been almost a quarter since me and my husband got married. Nobody said marriage is easy, but I’m blessed to have a partner in life who makes it easier somehow. (Shout-out to my husband, Ish! I LOVE YOU!). I decided to create this post to also give engaged couples some ideas not just about their upcoming weddings, but also about the more important aspect of their entire preps: marriage.

Those Godless and Silly Myths

I’d like to mention that I don’t believe in superstitions (including feng shui, zodiac signs, etc.). Let me just put this out there. Sure, there was a time when I believed in those and I realized that instead of being progressive, superstitions just instilled fear — I believe it’s aim was to control a person using exactly that: FEAR! And where does “fear” come from? Definitely NOT from God (1 John 4:18). Besides, if you think of it, superstitions make no sense. Most people say that there’s nothing to lose (“wala namang mawawala” in Filipino) when they follow superstitions. But based from personal experience, it shows lack of TRUST — especially, TRUST IN GOD! Yes, I realized that when I believed and followed superstitions, I was subconsciously losing trust in God: trust in His provisions (Matthew 6:25-34), trust in His plans for my life (Jeremiah 29:11), trust in His perfect love (John 3:16). And truth be told, losing trust in God is a BIG DEAL! That’s why I don’t subscribe to superstitions. As a practicing Catholic, I follow traditions approved only by the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

“Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness.” –1 Timothy 4:7

Our wedding day was one perfect example of how I wanted to glorify and honor God, and I did my best not to restrict myself from that — there are many superstitions connected to weddings, and they are actually limiting and restrictive! To be honest, aside from God, the most important ones for a wedding to take place are only the bride, the groom, the priest presider (for a Catholic wedding), and the two witnesses. Others are just extra. But since God has been really faithful in our lives, Ish and I made sure that the “celebration” of our union would be some sort of thanksgiving to Him and to the people who’ve been part of our individual lives and journey as a couple. From my bridal march song (“Thank You Jesus” by Hillsong Worship – instrumental version) to our wedding reception, we made sure that our guests knew how Jesus played a very big role in our relationship.

What else? Well, we added a twist to some of the known wedding traditions! 😀

Some Wedding Traditions Done with a Twist

  • Additional bearer for our Papal Blessing (instead of just the usual: Bible, Coin, and Ring bearers)

Usually, a wedding entourage has only three bearers for the Bible, arrhae/coins, and wedding rings. Since we had an intimate wedding with an equally intimate entourage (mostly family members), we decided to also include the Papal Blessing parchment we received from the Vatican. By donating to the Papal Charities Office, you can receive an official blessing from the Pope across the miles. More information can be found here.

  • Bible verse engraving in our wedding rings (instead of wedding date)

Aside from engraving our names inside our rings, we decided to also include a Bible verse — Romans 1:12.

“…or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” –Romans 1:12

Ish and I decided to make this our “marriage verse” — so that anytime, especially in difficult times, we can be reminded that we couldn’t do this whole marriage thing without Christ at the center of it.

  • Coins from travels in our arrhae (instead of the usual modern arrhae coins)

When I was searching for wedding suppliers, I came upon a store that was selling 13 arrhae coins with engraved symbols for almost Php2,000. I was like, NO! That was too expensive! So I researched the history of the arrhae and found out that originally, real coins were used for it — and since I love traveling and collected coins while at it, I decided to use my leftover coins. What’s important is the priest’s blessing, anyway.

According to Wikipedia (haha), “the thirteen coins today have the alternative meaning of Jesus and the twelve apostles. The exchange of the coins represents the groom’s promise to provide for his family and the bride’s trust in his ability to do so.”

At present, the arrhae with coins is located at our home altar (as well as our Papal Blessing).

  • Washing of the feet by the groom (instead of the garter toss)

Holy Week just passed; the tradition of washing one’s feet is traditionally done on Good Friday to commemorate Christ’s humble act of “servant leadership” to His apostles. Ish and I decided to do this at our reception to signify what true love really means — it’s not a feeling, it’s not just a decision, but it’s about dying to one’s self for the good of the other. Did you get that? Authentic loving means dying — selfless, not selfish.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” –Ephesians 5:25

As for me, well I also have my own commandment to follow as a wife: submit to my husband as I submit to Christ, trusting that he only wants what’s best for me (Ephesians 2:22-24). Will definitely write more about this topic in another post! 😉

  • Flowers for single ladies from the bride (instead of the bouquet toss)

When I was single, one of the awkward things I did when attending weddings was join the bride’s bouquet toss (no choice, they usually call pre-selected names!). I would go in front with other single female participants and would “fight” over the elusive bouquet! Haha!

When it was my turn to be a bride, I decided to give an artificial single-stem rose (bonus souvenir!) with an attached vocation prayer to each of my single ladies so they wouldn’t feel the same way I did when I was still single and in a wedding. I pray that they also heed God’s call in whatever vocation they’re called to. ❤

Don’t get me wrong. I know that each wedding is unique, and there may be times that some couples wouldn’t be able to let go of following certain traditions out of respect for their elders, culture, etc. I’m just sharing what worked for me and my husband. Also, always check your heart for your intent. If you’re doing a tradition with some uncertainty in your heart (meaning, you don’t really know or understand it), you might want to reconsider. But if your heart’s at peace, then that’s a good sign.

What matters most is getting married to the love of your life in front of Love Himself:
Jesus Christ.
(Revelation 19:6-9)

❤ ❤ ❤

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!


What are your favorite wedding traditions?
What are your not-so-favorite wedding traditions?
Do you know why you feel that way toward these traditions?

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*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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