Monthly Archives: October 2016

He is not Bro. Diony for Nothing

img_0172I used to have profound conversations with my parents, specifically my father, about anything under the sun. I normally would ask him just one question and he would enumerate several answers. My father who was a journalist back in Mindanao, being the city editor of Davao Sentinel and a contributing writer of ‘The Mindanao Daily Tribune’ have tons of stories hidden in his pandora box. I would unearth all those untold stories by interrogating him time and again.

My dad, Diony Cifra Jr, a born journalist endeared  by his fellow legionaries as bro. Diony is likewise a born legionary. Just as he would always tell me that I was born for music. I am a witness to his unconditional love and devotion to the Blessed Mother. He started attending the Legion of Mary when he decided to leave his career as a journalist and decided on becoming an under bar lawyer instead by enrolling in San Beda Law school. He considers the Legion of Mary as his second family next to us. He made it a point that he continues on with his journalistic talent by becoming a ghost writer for several priests and officers of the apostolic community while he was attending the Legion meetings every Sunday with no absence. To him, not attending a Legion meeting or making excuses like being busy with whatever reason is a crime, unless he is deeply sick and about to drop dead, attendance is a must.  The Legion of Mary is his top priority.

Years after his devotion as a member of the Legion, he rose from a member to a Curia officer and later on became the president of the Senatus of Northern Philippines, off and on. He found a venue to continue his love for writing. As a writer, he is passionate, firm but polite, straight to the point with no qualms about any subject he would write about. When I see him typing with his manual typewriter, without looking at the keyboard (he’s great in typing) , he will not allow disturbances. When an idea comes to his mind, he would start typing his idea non-stop. The story  just naturally flows from his brain to his fingers. As soon as the sound of the typewriter stops, we all know that his story is done. Most of his stories are about his love for the Blessed Mother, his parish, his Monsignor, him being the legionary of Mary, the junior members, the officers’ responsibilities towards the Legion, the role of the Catholic Church, the Vatican, Legion Handbook, apostolate, how to be a faithful servant, how to build a family based on Christian values and I could go on and on.

When my father read the first essay I wrote in high school, he uttered, ‘Sweetheart, (he calls me , Tart) , (now I am missing him dearly), you have talent for writing’. I just shrugged my shoulders and I said I was just writing from my heart and soul. Then he follows it up with, ‘you are not only good in music but writing as well’. ‘Anak, that’s how writers are, you write because your heart tells you to do so’. I don’t need writers like Ophelia Dimalanta, who was my professor in literature way back, to validate my knack for writing. My father’s validation is more than enough.

As soon as he came up with the idea of printing the first Senatus Bulletin, he wasted no time and had confidence that the Bulletin will be his legacy. I just keep on praying that the wisdom he instilled to his fellow legionaries would continue that legacy. The Bulletin gave him life and rejuvenates him  issue after issue even after his first heart attack.  My brother Pipo and I are privileged and grateful to the Senatus officers to be given the opportunity to keep the Bulletin circulating to this date.

27th October is my dad’s first year death anniversary. I want to pay tribute to my father and my mentor in life, by announcing to the world that his legacy continues while every legionary reads the Senatus Bulletin, while a legionary regularly attends  weekly meetings, while humility is continuously observed, while apostolate works are being done wholeheartedly without expecting anything in return. To us, his children, he is the best father one can ever have. He is a legionary and he is not Bro. Diony for nothing. We miss you so much and we love you Dad.

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Nativity and the Legionary

     To neglect someone’s birthday is to say we do not love them. God forbid that we would even forget our own mother’s birthday. Yet, this is what many Catholics do with Jesus’ mother. There is only one reason why we should celebrate. It is the birthday of the mother of Jesus our Savior and Mary being our heavenly mother. It is just the same as saying that to forget our own mother’s birthday is unthinkable.
     

     In conception, Mary was created and filled with spiritual gifts and blessings but she was shrouded by the mystery of the womb. When She was born, she was introduced into the society of man. Born to the light of the world, her mission to be the universal mediatrix and co-redemptrix officially began, much in the same way the birth of Jesus Christ had. 

     I have had the privilege to have endless conversations with my father, (known to many of the legionaries as Bro. Diony), about his love and devotion to our Blessed Mother and his undying support to the Legion of Mary. He opened his publishing business after realizing that being in mainstream journalism would only endanger his life and he named his company, Madonna Printing Press after the The Madonna and Child or The Virgin and Child and is often the name of a work of art which shows the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus. The word ‘Madonna’ means “My Lady” in Italian. Artworks of the Christ Child and his mother Mary are part of the Roman Catholic tradition in many parts of the world including Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, South America and the Philippines. Paintings or otherwise known as icons are also an important tradition of the Orthodox Church and often show the Mary and the Christ Child. That was the first manifestation of my father’s profound love to Mama Mary. 

     He met my mother through the Legion of Mary which my father thinks is the best gift he ever received. She was a legionary too. His prayers to Jesus through Mary was to be blessed with a loving wife and obedient children to the Catholic faith. In my opinion, Mama Mary answered all his prayers. His love for Mary never ceased till his last breath as we celebrate his 1st year death anniversary on October 27, 2016. I know that in exchange for all the blessings and the goodness of the Lord to his family , there were sacrifices to be made, and that is his one hundred percent devotion and attention to the Blessed Mother. He missed some of his family’s celebrations such as birthdays, bienvenida and despedida parties and many more, all because he had to go to a retreat, or attend a Curia meeting, go to the darkest and deepest streets of the slums to bring the message of Christ, September functions, Nativity, Immaculate Concepcion, Assumption celebrations and what not. All about the Blessed Mother. My mother would be disappointed and one time in my early teens, I confronted my father. I literally told him that he is never around on family gatherings. He simply uttered, ‘we are blessed because of my absence at home’. His love for the Blessed Mother got us to better schools, live decently and experience the finer things in life. I am not saying that he was not around all the time, rather, he spends more time with the Legion. I know how much he loves us all. Not even going through heart infractions stopped him from serving. To my father, it was through the Blessed Mother that despite the turmoils we face, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves up, see the light at the end of the tunnel and continue to live a spiritually fruitful and happy life. 

     Let us make a space to remember always in our hearts on what the ‘Handbook’ says: ‘Especially does the Legion aspire after her humility and above all her faith, that virtue which has in her alone been found in its utmost extent and never equalled.’ And it is the one thing each of us prays for every day. Again, Humility and Faith. 

     As I write this, I believe in my heart that my father is in control of the keyboard, typing these words and I am just his messenger. As legionaries of Mary, we look at her as our heavenly Mother and the Queen of all queens. Is it appropriate to question whether her birthday has to be celebrated or not? Let us not forget the reason why we chose to be in the Legion. We are given the opportunity to show our affection and respect to our Heavenly Mother. On behalf of my father, Bro. Diony Cifra, Happy Birthday Mama Mary. You will be forever loved, adored and hailed as the Mary full of grace.