My Name means “God is Gracious”

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A reader from South Africa sent me a WhatsApp message today. She named their boy child “Jonel” and tomorrow will be his baptism.

In their country, the name “Jonel” is rare and she would like to know if the name had some special meanings she is not aware of. All she knows was that the name is one of many derivations from the Biblical name “John”.

My parents never told me how they came up with my name and I never asked. So, knowing the same thing she knew, I began searching online, and to my surprise, I discovered the meaning of my name. “Jonel” means “God is Gracious” which originated from the Hebrew language.

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The info comes from sites that offer no detailed explanation. But there is a high probability that the information is correct because the common name of God in Hebrew is “El” (last letters of my name), “Elohim”, and “Eloah”. “Yahweh” is the proper name. (Catholic Encyclopaedia)

I will need to do further research and I will update this post in the future as needed.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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A Foggy Morning Walk in the Village

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A lovely early morning walk in the neighbourhood right after dawn here in the Quezon Province. This phenomenon is rare in a region with warm climate. I jogged a bit and stopped to take some photos. Hope you’d enjoy them!

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Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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CNY 2021, My First Holiday Off

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Not because I celebrate CNYs but because in my entire working life, for the first time, I was asked not to work on a holiday. In the contrary, I was asked to take my holiday off today. In my new job, my team allows us to take our holidays off provided there are enough resources left to take care of the workload. And since I am still on training period, I need not to go to work and can enjoy the holiday off. Happy as a free bird! Gong hey fat choi!

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Roster in Excel: The Best Work Scheduling Template

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Hi! Like many, I work in a company with a group of colleagues to perform daily tasks according to our defined job roles and responsibilities. We have a manager or a team lead who manages our schedule to make sure enough resources are available in a given hour or day. For sure you also notice how difficult it is for your team lead to manage your work schedule. It is not easy and is time consuming. It can be annoying sometimes, too. There are even times when team leads spend the entire working day just to plan for the next week or next month’s work schedule. It is a bothering task especially when he or she has other tasks to do. Schedule management causes stress which could affect the whole team and its performance.

So I developed Roster in Excel to help managers, team leads, and individuals to manage a team work schedule more efficiently. And believe me, nobody yet has dedicated much time and skills to come up with a similar tool like this. You can watch free tutorials videos online on how to create a work schedule in Excel from scratch but nobody ever bothered to create an automated template that everybody can use. There are also other app-based and online based schedulers available that not only they are not very user friendly but also the costs are way too high that it’s not worth to purchase them.

Download the Demo File here!

Roster in Excel is Microsoft Excel-based so no need to download a software or anything since most of us have Microsoft Excel in our computers. You simply need to get a copy of the template and you can open it and start using it. You have an option to use Roster in Excel online on your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone too but the features and functionality will not be the same as managing it on your laptop or computer.

Since Roster in Excel is a template, you do not need to be an expert Microsoft Excel user to avail of it. It is very easy to use as there is very less effort from the end user to manage the schedule. I designed it in such a way that what you need to do is to assign a shift to each of the team members. The template will then tell you the number of hours or days plotted for a team member on the right side. On the bottom part of the tool, you will see clearly the number of resources or headcount per hour.

And this template is copied into the other 11 months so that you do not need to do extra repetitive work which really saves you a lot of your time. To move from one month to another, you can either click the month that you want or you can use the next and previous month buttons.

This tool can accommodate up to 100 team members. You just need to unhide the rows to allow more names in the list. The freeze dates and freeze names buttons are available to help you scroll more efficiently. I suggest you hide unused rows to make your schedule look better.

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Download the demo file now so you can play with it and learn the tricks on how to easily manage the tool. And whenever you are ready, please support this initiative by getting your own copy with any amount you are comfortable giving. Send me an email to rosterinexcel@outlook.com.

But before you get a copy of Roster in Excel please take note of the ff:

  • There is no free support provided for this tool. I can respond to your emails in a best effort basis.
  • You have used Microsoft Excel before.
  • You have watched at least the introduction video OR have tried the demo file online or on your desktop and are familiar with how the tool works.
  • Your shifts are either 9 hours or 12 hours or both with 1 hour lunch break.
  • Your shifts start at an exact hour (example: 8:00 am and not 8:30 am).
  • Your shifts end at an exact hour (example: 5:00 am and not 5:30 am).
  • You have a team with less than 100 members.
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Why I Gave up Netflix for Good!

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Reasons why I don’t need Netfix anymore.

  1. Expensive. The standard plan at $15.98 per month offers unlimited access to all contents (with a catch see #5). I can share the access to another person who is willing to split the fees but is a real hassle. The price is expensive for me since I only watch in average one movie per week. And mostly my reason is that I have spent money on it and not because I like Netlix’s contents. And it takes me at least half an hour to find a movie that suits my mood.
  2. Ultra HD plan even more expensive. Basic and Standard plans work OK (but not that good) in small screens only. If I have bigger screens (good thing I don’t have them), I will need to upgrade to a better quality Ultra HD plan at $19.98 per month.
  3. Not enough content. Netflix has around 10,000 movies and TV series in their database. The number looks huge but very few of them (really!) are of my interest especially because I hate watching movies while reading subtitles. There are many non-English programs without English audio.
  4. Search displays ZERO result almost all the time. I search for a movie I want to watch and it’s not in Netflix. 99% of my searches displays zero result and would only give me suggested movies related to my search keywords which I don’t really like.
  5. Some movies not watchable in other countries. I travel across two to three countries in Southeast Asia and I can observe some contents are viewable in one country but not in another.
  6. The things I like can be accessed elsewhere. I love watching health documentaries, films about the planet earth, and some TV series. However, they can all be accessed somewhere else, even for free. And I have already watched most of them so there is no reason to spend money in Netflix and watch the same.
  7. The things our toddlers love can be watched elsewhere. YouTube has it all for our kiddos who loves rhymes and children’s programs. There are other apps too that we can download for free or with a minimal lifetime fee that could satisfy our kid’s viewing needs.
  8. Very few good Christian movies. Of all the 10k movies in Netflix, there may only be less than 100 good Christian movies for the whole family. Because #9…
  9. The majority of contents promotes sin and immorality. I would say around 90% of Netflix’s contents promotes lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, anger, envy, luxury, and pride. Sins that are considered source of all other sins and immorality in the world. The more we watch them the more we believe that they are normal and we lose that awareness of God our soul.
  10. Most “Catholic” movies they have attack the Catholic Church and her teachings. Besides the fact that Catholic movies are rare in Netflix, most of these movies do not actually praise the Catholic Church and her teachings. In the contrary, it criticizes and makes fun of her members and her doctrines.
  11. It’s just not for me. Considering all the first 10 reasons, Netflix is just not for me. As a Christian father of three kids, I need good contents to watch with my whole family.
  12. Not worth it. We only access it once or twice a week, not even consistently. After a year and a half on Netflix my wife and I got tired of the seeing the same contents.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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About my Motto “Christi ubique incitantis”

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In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher (Qohelet) talked about how he indulged himself in worldly pleasures including the accumulation of wealth and wisdom. However, he found all these as “meaningless”. So he gave a simple advice to us his readers – to fear (or revere) God and keep his commandments in every single thing we do.

Vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas.

Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun? Fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing whether good or evil.

— Ecclesiastes 1:2-3; 12:7,13-14

I derived my practical outlook on life from these beautiful lines of my favorite book in the Sacred Scriptures and two other sources. I wanted to develop a motto of my own to remind myself of this duty as a person who believes in God. A motto that would remind me of Christ in every single thing I do to avoid any occasion of sin. A motto that would remind me to always try to find time and ways to worship him and serve him. But how to serve Christ and how do we recognize him in our world today?

Venerable Aloysius Schwartz, a founder of a school I attended, has helped me understand this part after reading his book The Starved and the Silent. He wrote, “CHRIST LIVES ON in the world today and exerts his influence upon it in three ways: 1) the Eucharist, 2) the inspired word of Scripture, and 3) the person of the poor.” This was my second source.

The third and the last source is a line from one of the Vatican II documents Apostolicam Actuositatem. This decree by Pope Paul VI encourages the laity to “ad servitium Christi et Ecclesiae ubique incitantis” or to serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances. This is where I grabbed the wordings of my motto Christi ubique incitantis or Christ in all circumstances.

While it is true that it is difficult to involve God in everything we do in life, especially with what the world can offer, it is not impossible. As a proof, numerous holy people from different parts of the world, living and dead, have overcome the world and lifted their eyes to heaven. For example this man who stayed in a desert pillar for 37 years. He is not even a priest or a religious. He is a layperson. So, it is difficult but not impossible.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Diploma in Theology via Distance Learning

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Theology courses can now be availed via distance learning. Yes! It is possible to study Theology without quitting your job. You can opt to have short certificates, diplomas, undergraduate degrees, master degrees, and doctorate degrees. Many universities and religious schools offer distance learning to people interested in learning more about the Christian faith.

This one school in India run by the Society of Jesus is my top recommendation for those who are starting to do formal theology education. I chose this one because everything can be done online and the two exams can be arranged at a location near you. Here is everything you need to know about it:

Course: Diploma in Theology (DipTh) via Distance Learning

Course Outline: There are two phases. One phase per year (normally) and each phase is composed of 30 credits – a total of 60 credits. Each module is equal to one credit (for elective courses) or two credits (main courses) so there are at least 15 modules per phase. Important topics such as Introduction to Scriptures and Theology of the Triune God are covered in the curriculum.

Dedicated Time required: 10 – 20 hours per week for up to two years

Location: Vidyajyoti College of Theology’s Institute of Religious Studies, 4-A, Raj Niwas Marg, Delhi – 110054. Website: http://www.vjdepth.in/courses

Qualification: At least Secondary / High School graduate with above average level in English, computer and internet savvy.

Mode of Study: The school director will send and email with modules and response sheets. You are given at least a month to complete two modules. Each module has six questions that you need to respond before you can proceed with the next set of modules. There is no interaction with other learners.

Language: English only

Exams: One written exam per phase so there is a total of two exams. There are exam centers in India and Kuala Lumpur. For those who are not in these regions, exams can be arranged with a parish priest or a Jesuit priest near you.

Tuition: 250 US Dollars all-in, bank transfer to an India bank

Application: Submit a letter of intent to director@vjdepth.in. Should you be qualified, you will then be required to pass some documents and the instructions for the tuition payment. The course will start immediately after your payment is received.

Studying with Vidyajyoti has really improved my knowledge in God, in Jesus Christ, His Church and her teachings. I am on my last modules of the second phase and hopefully I can finish my studies in few months. My next step is getting a Bachelor Degree in Theology and I am looking at either doing it traditionally at a normal school or doing it online again but with DOMUNI Universitas which is run by the Dominicans.

I hope this blog post has helped you with your decision. Do help me share this info to others.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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11 Books That May Also Help Keep Your Faith Alive

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The Holy Bible

For us Christians, the Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God (DV24, CCC135). The Holy Bible is a product of the Sacred Tradition handed to us by the Holy Apostles and the first disciples of Jesus. It was compiled only in 380 A.D. by Pope Saint Damasus I. The Holy Bible is the only book that sold at least five billion copies. Bibles are everywhere; they are in houses, in schools, in offices, and in other establishments.

The version that I prefer is the Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition because of its easy to understand translation and commentaries. This is the book that I read almost every day. I cannot imagine life without the Bible.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Bible has been read by billions of people before us and has been interpreted officially by that Church that Jesus built. Private interpretation is prohibited (2 Pt 1:19) to avoid a divided Christianity into different sects and cults. There is only one God and One Church. The church came up with catechisms to sum up the beliefs of the faithful. This copy of the official Catechism of the Catholic Church (one in Spanish) is a work of Cardinal Ratzinger during the pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul the Great.

The Starved and The Silent

A holy priest, now a Venerable Servant of God, went to Korea to carry out missionary works. The country, recovering from the devastating war was at one point one of the poorest countries in the world. Monsignor John Phillip Aloysius Schwartz or Father Al wrote his own account of his own struggles and the many kinds of suffering of the Korean people. The heartbreaking story of his young friend Michael Rhi is the highlight of the book.

YouCat or Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church

Created especially for the young ones, this abridge version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church comes in an easy to read question and answers form accompanied by tidbits of interesting trivia in the side notes – a must have for the youth. I love the layout, fonts styles, and the images in the book.

Las Cronicas de Narnia

This is Spanish for ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. It’s one of C.S. Lewis’s best sellers that contains seven interrelated stories. Films were made for the three of those stories namely, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008), and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010). The fourth film The Silver Chair is on its way. Narnia is my first choice of all works of fiction out there because of its strong Christian messages.

The Sermons of the Cure of Ars

When I feel the need of something to boost my lukewarm soul I turn to the words of Saint John Marie Vianney, the Cure of Ars. His sermons are so striking one could imagine being admonished by God himself. Some would say his messages does not apply to our own times but for me personally they remind me of the God’s love for each of us.

The Liturgy of the Hours

I have this one volume set of the Liturgy of the Hours bought by my wife for my birthday. Other names for this is The Divine Office or The Breviary. They are mostly used by the religious and the ordained but the laity are also encouraged to pray it. I love praying and reading the Liturgy of the Hours especially the first readings of the day. I love the fact that old testimonies, letters, sermons of great saints of the Church are made available and accessible for us to read.

Handbook of Catholic Apologetics

Authored by Dr. Peter Kreeft and Fr. Ronald Tacelli this book is a must have for Catholics especially those who are doing studies in Apologetics, Philosophy, and Theology. I heard one time in the radio Trent Horn (Catholic Answers apologist) saying this is one of the books that has helped him in his studies in the past and would recommend it to everyone.

Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul

Saint Faustina wrote in her diary her private conversations with Jesus. Her hand written account was converted to a book and this became the result. She wrote her life story from her childhood days until the time she received the message of the Divine Mercy and started to propagate the devotion.

Cries of Jesus from the Cross: A Fulton Sheen Anthology

I recently received this book from Catholic Answers. I was surprised to see and love its content. Our dear Venerable Fulton J Sheen links the seven last words of Jesus from the cross to the deadly sins of anger, envy, lust, gluttony, and pride. He counters these vices with the practice of virtues in order to overcome them.

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Marcelino

I was fortunate to grab this 1960 copy of this book in a church book sale in Malaysia. It’s a story of a young orphan boy left (when he was infant) in a Franciscan monastery because of civil unrest in the nearby village. The boy became a joy of the entire community despite of his misbehavior. Things changed after an encounter with someone alive who has been staying for a while in the friary’s upper room. I wont go further :-).

I already knew about the story in a Spanish movie Marcelino: Pan y Vino prior to reading the book but I assure you I appreciated the story even more when I read it.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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The Two Vianneys of My Life

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Saint John Vianney and my son Jonel Vianney

Saint John Vianney has been my hero since my childhood. He was a holy priest in a small county in France called “Ars”. He lived a simple life and found no pleasure in foods and other earthly pleasures. He heard confession more than 12 hours a day and he could read the hearts and mind of the penitents. Many sinners were converted during his ministry. This was the reason why he was called “The Cure of Ars”. He died 1859 and canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925. He is a patron of confessors and the patron of parish priests.

At one point in my life I wanted to follow his footsteps and desired to be a priest. However, I was called instead to bring up a family of my own with souls to protect and guide. My wife and I got married in 2014 and shortly after that our first child, a boy, was conceived. I told my wife about Saint John Vianney and how he changed my life for good. It did not take much to convince her and she willfully agreed to honor God by naming our son with a name of one of his holy saints.

So this is our son, “Uno” (his nickname). He is five years of age now. He is struggling socially with Autism Spectrum Syndrome but he is improving day by day. Thanks to my wife’s untiring efforts and the intercessions of Saint John Vianney.

Saint John Vianney, please continue to pray for our Uno and all of us!

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