"GOD IS A HAPPY GOD" by Bo Sanchez

Let me describe to you a hard-headed, stubborn-viewed, narrow-minded, obstinate-thinking, stiff-necked man.

Two guys bump onto each other on the street.

And one says, “Tom? Wow, Tom! My, you’ve changed! You were so stout before, and now, you’re soooooo thin! And you used to be short, but now you’re incredibly tall. And my goodness, you were so fair-skinned before, but you’re dark now! And your clothes! You’ve changed your style! You’ve changed soooooo much!”

The other guy says, “Uh, I’m sorry sir, but I’m not Tom. My name is James.”

“Gosh!” exclaimed the first man, “You funny boy! You’ve even changed your name!”

There are creatures like that in the world today. About 99.99% of the earth’s population, I think.

They’ll insist on what they think, perceive, and feel—no matter what reality is screaming at them.

Another example: Like I always believed I was ugly. But all the girls around me keep telling me I’m kinda good-lookin’. So what do you think should I do? Be stubborn or open to the truth?

Some may not like that example very much, so I’m giving you another one.

Every time I see a gorgeous sunrise, or play with a baby, or hear glorious music, or stand on top of a mountain, or run on the beach, or catch a child smile at me—I automatically think that perhaps God must be having fun at that particular moment.

I think: God must be a happy God! Laughing and having a grand time when He’s creating and recreating stuff.

Or why would He make those lovely things?

That’s reality. It screams the truth to me!
"Uh, I’m sorry, but I’m not Tom. My name is James.”

But you think I’d still believe the truth the next day?
“Gosh, you funny boy! You’ve even changed your name!”

For when I start my routine of the day, I immediately forget all about my great discovery. In the monotony of my existence, I revert back to my programmed idea of who God is, the image I carried in my brain since I was a scared child spanked by my religion teacher, scolded by a parish priest, and severely warned to be silent in church by my parents: Gray throne, long beard, long face, angry eyes.

Suddenly, I’m uneasy with Him. Because He’s too serious. If I really want to have fun, I’d do it when He’s not watching.Too bad. ‘Cuz He wants to have fun with me.

I wonder. When will I ever get real?

Please heal my stiff neck, Lord.

(Click here to view the many articles you can find in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )


In my life, I have found three places that give me a deep sense of the presence of God: 1) A scenic mountain with lovely forests; 2) A tranquil beach under a blue sky; 3) And the passenger seat of Roger's red '86 Corolla.

You see, my friend Roger drives like a mad man. Once he starts driving, those riding with him instinctively reach for their wallets and tearfully kiss the photos of their loved ones.
Every time I ride with him, my prayer life is enhanced. Deepened. Invigorated. It feels as though Heaven becomes so near to my soul.

One fateful day, I was riding with him again. We were blazing through a highway like a cruise missile. Roger looked at me and said, "Bo, I have good news and bad news for you."

"What's the good news?" I inquired between my Hail Mary's.

"We're efficiently moving at an average speed of 140 kph."

Involuntary spasms shot through my body. "Are you trying to tell me that we'll be arriving at our destination in no time?"

"That's the bad news..."


"We're lost. I have no idea where we are."

"Stop this car NOW!" I screamed.

We screeched to a halt, asked around, got info, and turned back: We were efficiently and swiftly driving towards the opposite direction. At 140 kph!

I realize that's no isolated incident among human beings. We're prone to commit the same idiocy: We get busy, do a million things, hop here and there, move fast, get efficient.

But gosh, efficiently going where?

What are your highest dreams, anyway?

Your deepest aspirations?

What do you think will give you gut-level, soul-deep joy?

Stop for awhile.

Take a break.


Listen well.

Pray desperately.

Read a map of life.

Know His dreams for you.

When I was thirteen years old, I saw myself doing two things: preaching to a crowd of people and helping the poor. After many years, those two dreams are reality.

I'm a preacher.

And I built ANAWIM, a home for the abandoned elderly and a few orphans.

I've made a decision.

I'm not riding with Roger again until I'm 80. (No matter how much he assists me with my spiritual life.)

Because I think I still have a few more God-Dreams to fulfill

(Click here to view the many articles you can find in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )


from “Bo’s Soulfood,” a ParishWorld blog by Bo Sanchez

They tell me that the average speed of a car in Manila is 25 kph. That's catastrophically slow, about 12 mph. That's just the speed of a turtle injected with steroids.

Aside from traffic, there are two other things that make vehicles go slow: Humps and potholes.

Between these two, I'd rather choose humps.

Especially those that are painted bright yellow and smooth on the curves, with nice signs to tell us they're coming.

But I don't like potholes, period.

They come in all sizes: tiny Mickey Mouse holes to nuclear bomb testing craters.

And they never come announced. They just appear when you're one inch away, and kabloom. And kablagblagblag... Life's like that.

When God wants you to slow down, He'll send you potholes. But He can never give you humps, because that's something that you should deliberately make for youself. (More on this later.)

Potholes are the small and big problems of your life.

When you have a bleeding hangnail, an expensive Italian shoe isn't very beautiful. When your doctor tells you that you have malignant cancer, your Mercedes or BMW suddenly lacks oomph. And when you discover that your teen-age son is on drugs, your jewelry doesn't shine as brilliantly as before.

Like potholes, problems come suddenly. No one warns you they're coming. And your whole life goes kabloom and kablagblagblag...

But because of these kablooms, you're forced to stop and think. You ask fundamental questions, like, "What's life all about? Where am I going?"

Overnight, your hierarchy of values changes. The most important things in life--such as your soul, your family, your God--become painfully obvious. And what used to be so pressing and insistent and noisy, reveal themselves to be cheap.

Humps, on the other hand, are deliberately made.

By you.

You plan them out. (And fight for them with your life.)

A quiet time for prayer each day.

Or Mass during lunch hour.

Perhaps a weekly prayer meeting.

A personal retreat every year.

Humps are special times when you'll ask the very same fundamental questions: "What's life all about? Where am I going?" But this time, not because you're forced to, but because you want to.
Take a lot of humps.

Perhaps potholes won't come as often.

(Click here to view the many articles you can find in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )



I now own a cell phone.

People who have been reading my stuff for a few years know how I love the simple lifestyle, ala St. Francis of Assisi. I've always wanted an uncluttered and free life. I didn't want ringing, beeping, and vibrating things disturbing my prayer time. And for the sake of humility (or so I thought), I didn't want the status symbol of a cell phone hanging from my belt.

So except for my computer where I write my books, for many years I've avoided all sorts of personal gadgetry, equipment, and other luxuries: no car, no cellular, no beeper, no wristwatch, no walkman, no girlfriend, etc.

But slowly, I had to face harsh reality.

My once friendly, gentle, and otherwise mentally balanced staff of seventy-five people -either working forSHEPHERD'S VOICE (publisher of this book), or my Catholic community, or ANAWIM (our work for the poor) - have become more and more violent these past few months.

I hear screams like, "Where were you? Planet Mars?! We've been looking all over the world for you these past three days!" Suicide attempts have been reported to me. A few have been acting weird every time the moon is full. And I have received a few death threats from otherwise very loving people, if I don't get a cell phone.

I've realized that there is one law above every other law. Yup, even above my desire for simplicity. Or prayer. Or humility. It's called the demand of love.

If I love these people, I'm going to get a cell phone. Whether it'll interfere with my simple lifestyle, my prayer life, and my great humility. (You see, I'm the most humble person in the world. I get awards for my profound humility. You know, I'm so humble that blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...)

What does love demand in your life?

Disturbing your prayer time because your little son wants you to carry him? Not attending your prayer meeting this week because its Mom's birthday? Saying "yes" to a leadership position even if you really want something low-key? Saying "no" to an abusive friend even if everything about you wants to say yes?

For me, it was the simple act of getting a cell phone.

I also got myself a girlfriend who later became my wife, but that's another chapter in this book.

(Click here to view the many articles you can find in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )



When I was a kid, I sort of liked getting sick.


Not only because I could miss school and stay home. I liked being sick because Mom would bring me milk and cookies as I stayed in bed.

In all the times I got sick as a kid (which was about every other month), I never saw my Mom get too tired not to serve me, or feed me, or fuzz over me. In my mind, the earth may shake, the moon melt, and the sun explode, but she was the one thing in this universe that will never ever change.

Many years later, already as a lay missionary, I remember getting terribly sick. And there she was, just as if the decades folded up into mere days, as she went up to my room for her hourly visits, bringing food, warm clothes, medicine, prayer, etc. Again, it felt good having a loving mother to watch over me. All I had to do was ask, and she'd be there for me.

But this time, as her visits progressed, I noticed how she entered my room almost panting, her breath short, her words faint, her movements slow. I also read in her eyes the acceptance of a painful loss: for the first time, she was discovering that she couldn't care for me much longer.

My suspicions were right. A few days later, she tearfully shared with me her emotional realization. "I'm just getting older, Bo. I got so tired these past few days caring for you. I began thinking that perhaps it'll be good for you to get married and have a wife now." That was the first time she ever said that to me -- someone who for years always wanted me to be a priest.

One day, Mom got sick. A rare event when it happens. So I went to her room, sat beside her, and chatted about everything she wanted to talk about. (To her, talking to me is better than all the milk and cookies in the world.) I felt good just being beside her.

I'm writing this to you, Mom.

I know I travel a lot and I'm rarely at home, because that's the life of a missionary. And I do thank you for your all-out support for me in my decision to serve the Lord.

But if you do get sick, and no one's at home to give you milk and cookies, I want you to know that all you have to do is call me, and I'll be there for you. Yes, we can talk as much as you want.

You're the best mother I can ever wish for.

You may be too old to care for me the way you did, but I'm old enough to care for you now.

In my pride, I don't show it as much as I should, but I just want you to know that I love you, Mom.

I really, really do.

You have given me your life.

I thank you.

(Click here to view the many articles you can find in, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )