The Catholic Chic is a personal and faith-based blog on the life of a Catholic woman in the modern world.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Soldier and the Saint (as featured in CBCP News)

Dear Readers, 

I am reposting an article I wrote for the CBCP News during the 2015 Papal Visit for posterity's sake.

See the original CBCP posting here.

God bless you!



The soldier and the saint

by  Jacqui Acop – Paraguya
As I calmly lined up together with the other members of the Presidential Security Group to meet the Pope in person, I was humbled and joyous at the realization that I was  going to personally meet Christs representative on earth.
Colonel Dennis Acop (Retired) was a former soldier in the Philippine Army. He studied at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and later went to the United States Military Academy (USMA), more popularly known as West Point. He served the Philippine government for close to 30 years before retiring and entering the private sector. He is a lector at the Parish of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Quezon City, together with his wife, Joji.
Colonel Dennis Acop (Retired) was a former soldier in the Philippine Army. He studied at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and later went to the United States Military Academy (USMA), more popularly known as West Point. He served the Philippine government for close to 30 years before retiring and entering the private sector. He is a lector at the Parish of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Quezon City, together with his wife, Joji.
Col. Dennis Acop (ret.) was part of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos. He had prior encounters with PopeSt. John Paul II because of his trips to the Vatican for ocular inspections prior to the visits of FVR to Italy and the Vatican.
When Pope St. John Paul II came to the Philippines for World Youth Day in January 1995, Col. Dennis was automatically involved in the pope’s protection. At the time, he was the commander of the Presidential Security Group-Special Reaction Unit (PSG-SRU).
As he was both the leader of the Catholic faith and head of state, Pope St. John Paul II was accorded the highest level of protection possible both from local and international security and intelligence groups.
Just before the good Pope’s departure from the country, everyone involved in securing his trip lined up at the Manila Archbishop’s residence to bid the Pope farewell and to receive a personal blessing from him. Col. Dennis described that rare privilege of experiencing a blessing that deepened his faith on the Catholic church.
A Pope of Peace 
According to Col. Dennis, protecting the pope was simply part of protocol for him and his team. The methods they used were the same across all VIPs they had protected. However, there was something unique about the Pope that set him apart from other VIPs. Being allowed to have close encounters with the Pope, he observed that there was a different aura surrounding him.
He narrated:“There was something about being around a holy man of God. St. John Paul II was that kind of a person. He was not like the usual VIPs we were used to protecting. In the midst of this materialistic world, being around Saint John Paul II suddenly yanked me out of that world. His world of holiness was laid out before me. It was a simplistic but very real holiness.”
Once when they were at MalacaƱang with the Pope, a colleague in the military who was dying begged the PSG personnel to let him be blessed by the Pope. After he was visited and blessed by the Pope, the soldier said he was ready to face death. One thing Col. Dennis will always remember and treasure about the Pope was his gentleness and peacefulness, which comforted his suffering colleague.
Graces of the Encounter
Ever since he was a neophyte in military school, Col. Dennis dreamt of becoming a successful five-star general. However, his encounters with the face of Christ throughout his life pushed him toward a different direction.
In his encounter with St. John Paul II, Col. Dennis was deeply inspired by the pope’s humility. St. John Paul II has always been known to be the pope who visited and forgave enemies–even the person who attempted to assassinate him. He is also known to humbly reach out to the leaders of other religions, calling them to peace and unity with the Christians.
Witnessing the humility of the leader of the Catholic faith, Col. Dennis decided to leave his military career, which guaranteed worldly success but also of temptations leading to corruption. He retired from military service at the early age of 46.
One of his favorite quotes from the late Fr. James Reuter, SJ, which summarizes his journey sparked by that encounter with St. John Paul II, is:“Man is noblest not when he is riding on horseback but when he is kneeling before his God.” His decision to leave his military career in humility to follow the example of St. John Paul II during the crossroads of his life was not an easy feat. He had his doubts and storms, but he kept praying for guidance and he was never led back by God to his previous life.
At present, Col. Dennis is working for the private sector but has involved himself actively in the service of his parish as a lector.
Col. Dennis is my dad, and I’ve witnessed God’s power through him and my family as I was growing up. I breathed a word of praise and thanksgiving as he affirmed me:“If you want to be truly happy in life, you have to go for the truth and surrender to Christ everything, even your ambitions, in all humility.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

3 Things that Cause UNthankfulness

This is just a quick post as I don't want to forget these little things I learned from the Homily of Father Jojo Monis of Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish. The topic he discussed was about the top 3 things that cause us to be "UNthankful." 

1. Taking Things for Granted

Father Jojo said that this is one of the main reasons why we become unthankful - when we forget how blessed we already are. 

Sometimes when huge or even little challenges come into my life, I dwell on them until I feel like I've solved them. Though I pray to God to help me surrender these worries, I must admit that I sometimes have a hard time doing a "full surrender" to His will. 

The homily reminded me that despite my problems, I am still blessed with a loving family and a brand new day to make better decisions and become a better person. All of us are blessed. We just have to make an everyday effort to acknowledge these truths.

2. Envy and Selective Blindness

One day I had a meet-up with my girl friends and we were updating each other on what's going on with our lives. One of my friends said, "Oh have you seen the Facebook account of (some girl's name)? I can't believe she is now a (insert awesome career here). I hope I can do the same thing. She used to be not good in school. I can't believe she's a (once again, insert the career here)."

That conversation got me baffled. I am actually very happy for people who were once struggling adolescents but have now become better individuals. Likewise, I am also happy for myself and my journey through life. Sometimes, I just hope that we don't get too engrossed in this "it's-greener-on-the-other-side" mentality and simply be happy where we are now. Let's all be happy for each others' successes because we all have something unique to celebrate about our lives. Let's choose to see the good things instead of what we feel are wrong in our lives.  

3. The Feeling of Self-Entitlement

"I achieved things without the help of God."

Some of us may tend to think that we are self-entitled of our achievements. Like everything that happened in our lives were solely from our own efforts. No one helped you get to where you are. No one blessed you with your talents, gifts, and opportunities. It's all just you.

Father Jojo reminded us that although this arrogance can well up in our hearts, we should be reminded that there is someone out there bigger than us and taking care of us despite our ingratitude.

I have a friend who seemed to have it all. He's very proud of his achievements because he was top of his class while in university and recently, has passed all tests for a much awaited career promotion. When the time for promotion came, he apparently, was not chosen. He was so used to his success that when he did not get what he wanted, he became resentful of his work and secluded himself from his workmates. 

The call for us in our times of pride and arrogance is to regain the virtue of humility in our hearts. Sometimes there will be things that we will not get in life but this should not stop us from appreciating the rest of what's great about our lives.

Live Life to the Fullest! God bless you! :)


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

About Humility

I have been reading Pope Francis' book entitled The Way of Humility and so far I have learned a lot from this very wise man. 

Let me share some of his quotes as I also narrate personal struggles in my life.

"Negative criticism leads us to focus on the faults and failings of other people; as a result, we can feel superior."

Lately, I experienced a huge setback in my life. Someone stole a huge amount from my bank savings. I confided it to my closest friends and family. Sadly, some of my family members I sought refuge from and look up to were the first ones to criticize me and what happened to me. 

After I read the book, I realized that it is easy for people to criticize than to really listen and to empathize. It is easier to hurt others than to comfort. All my ailing heart needed was comfort.

I realized that maybe my condition was not really the issue at hand when they decided to criticize me. Maybe they also had an ailing heart or were going through some tough times of their own. I can only try my best to understand them. But I thank God for all my friends who supported me through it all. Even if they weren't blood relatives, they proved to me how they are true sisters and brothers in Christ.

"Those who have fallen into the habit of being suspicious about everything little by little lose the peace of mind that comes from trusting confidence in God."

After I have learned of this huge setback, I also fell into anxiety even to the point of not being able to sleep. After months of agony, I realized that worrying is causing me to become faithless and prideful because I am not able to surrender these feelings to God. Thankfully, God touched my heart and now I'm back to doing my regular prayer time, Gospel reading, and have grown to constantly rely on praying the rosary to help me. It is true that in the worst case scenarios of life, when I have no one to turn to, it is God who is left available to turn to. It is saddening to realize that I sometimes tend to try to resolve things on my own before considering the power of Christ to save me. But today I am humbled. I need and accept His saving grace and I surrender.

"But if we carefully seek out the root cause of our disquiet, we always find the same: the fact that we do not practice self-accusation. This is why we feel crushed and never at peace. It is not surprising that all the saints say there is no other road than this."

I was very disquieted. Inside I had bombs exploding in my chest asking the Lord, "why me?!" But then Pope Francis reminded me, "why not you?" As Christ, my Lord, died on the cross, so too must I carry my cross. And this is the cross He allowed me to carry. And by His grace I can carry it. As the Lord is crushing my prideful heart, He is replacing it with a more humble one. A new heart that is stronger than the one I once had. A heart capable of truly sharing in His pain now and later on, His glory. 

"Look at a beast of burden. If it is sturdy, it cheerfully carries the heavy burden that is loaded onto it; if it loses its balance it gets up straightaway and suffers no harm. If it is weak, however, any load is too much for it; and if it falls, it needs a lot of help to get back on its feet. The same is true with the soul."

"Christ knows better than I whether I should obtain satisfaction, and he himself will take care of this thing or this food." 
On the day I learned I lost most of my life savings, I realized that maybe God is telling me I really do not need those things. I do not need to be secure in myself. I only needed to be secure in Him and to trust Him that He will take care of me. I should have 100% faith.

"But in his wisdom the prophet knew well that nothing attracts God's mercy upon the soul as much as trials, especially those that come in the time of misfortune and persecution."
And I trust in these words. I put them in my heart. I feel God telling me to relax. He will take care of me no matter how hard and no matter how impossible circumstances seem to be. 

And as I end this entry, I would like to leave you with a final quote I love:

"Everything happens by God's providence, according to what is best for each person."

God bless you! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

October Month of the Holy Rosary: How can we Pray for You?

October has begun and it signals the beginning of the month of the Holy Rosary

My husband and I decided to pray the Rosary everyday for the next 30 days to celebrate the Rosary month. Call it the #RosaryMonthChallenge.

When we prayed the Rosary on Day 1, we lifted to God our intentions as a couple and the intentions of our friends that we know of.

The next day, I decided to post a Rosary on my instagram and asked friends to send me their prayer intentions if they want us to pray for them. Thankfully, 2 of my friends contacted me so we were able to pray for their intentions on Day 2. Yay!

I believe that prayer is a very powerful ally. I also believe that having more people to pray with you about your intentions is even more powerful. And utilizing the Rosary in praying and seeking the assistance of the Blessed Mother is an even nuclear prayer! 

Let us not be shy in proclaiming our faith nor in asking our Christian peers to pray for us. 

We are very willing to pray for you!

If you have specific petitions that we could help you pray for, please send me a comment or an e-mail at and I assure you that WE WILL BE PRAYING FOR YOU and will keep your intentions confidential too for your own privacy. God bless you!

Let us also encourage each other as we take on this challenge of praying to Mama Mary this October. 

Lots of love,

The Catholic Chic

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Three Qualities of a Missionary

"He said to them, 
'Take nothing for the journey, 
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, 
and let no one take a second tunic.'" 
- Luke 9: 3

Last Wednesday, Fr. Ruper Solis, SVD celebrated the Holy Eucharist at the Couples For Christ Global Mission Center. I memorized the homily he said because it was something very useful to us missionaries. The homily was in line with the Gospel which was taken from Luke 9:1-6.

Being a missionary priest in Argentina for the last 7 years, Fr. Ruper has so much to share about how to really be a missionary.

Fr. Ruper Solis

"Do not take anything with you"

In the homily, he shared with us the Three Qualities of a Missionary.
Number 1: You are a messenger.

Fr. Ruper reminded us that as missionaries, we do not send ourselves but it is the Lord who sends us. Sometimes, when we go to a place, we tend to be arrogant and think "I will save these people." But not really.

He reminded us to remember that it is Christ who sent us. We are merely bearers of the message and servants ready to do His will. We are there not to do what we want but to open ourselves to do exactly what God wants for the people through our presence.

We are but instruments.

Number 2: You should Live Simply.

Before Fr. Ruper went to Argentina, he carried with him 2 large suitcases of personal belongings enough for the 7-year trip. When he got back to the Philippines after 7 years, he also brought back 2 large suitcases with him. That was all he had.

He found it funny that his entire possessions fit in only 2 large suitcases. But that story reminded me of how we are but nomads in this life. Earth is not our final destination but Heaven.

We came here on earth with nothing and we will leave with nothing.

As missionaries, we are to live simply and be ready to surrender much material wealth for the call of the Lord.

Number 3: You must be a Positive thinker.

Being a positive thinker is one of the most necessary 'skills' of a missionary. According to Fr. Ruper, being a missionary is not a walk in the park. There are times when you will face rejection, persecution, disillusionment, and hopelessness in your journey. It is best to think positive and focus on God despite the many oppressions that come your way.


Those are my notes from his homily and I hope these will inspire you in your journey as a missionary for Christ.

God bless you!!! 


The Catholic Chic

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

God's Providence: Birthday Edition

For my 29th birthday dinner, I decided to make it intimate and celebrate with my immediate family. I planned to have a simple dinner, just an assorted range of pizzas.

I was a little bit anxious because I knew I had little money to spare on my birthday. I only bought something fit for 7 people though I feel like there will be more people visiting me that night. Aside from that, I also did not have a 'Pizza card' which entitles the bearer to a 'Buy 1 Take 1' pizza promo. 

The pizza delivery guy came and handed me 3 family size pizzas. While carrying it to the table, I was staring at it thinking "This is not gonna satisfy 7 hungry people..." It made me a little bit down that I can't afford more but I kept silent about it and focused on the joy of eating with my family.

After a few minutes of enjoying pizza, my mom bit on something hard in her slice. We were shocked to find that it was a screw!!! I immediately reported the incident to the restaurant to prevent accidents in their kitchen. For all I know, there might be a broken oven which may cause a fire in their kitchen. I hung up the call after I filed the report.

A few seconds later, their representative called me up and told me that they would be replacing all the pizzas we ordered with new batches of freshly-baked pizza. We almost emptied all the boxes out but they will be replacing everything!!! Praise God!

Aside from this, my mom made me fruit salad while my husband bought me chocolate cake for dessert!  

Talk about providence! 

Cake surprise!

My cake box. <3

A few minutes later, more of my family members came to celebrate with me and I'm glad we had more to feast on than what I expected. We were satisfied to the brim. We even had a lot of leftovers! All thanks to the Lord's providence.

After this experience, I reflected on how God truly provides for me. When there are times when I feel like there is no hope, He suddenly does a little something to allow me to feel His presence. 

May we always remember God's providence and allow ourselves to surrender and be cared for by the King.

For that may God be praised!

Note: I did not sue the Pizza company as my peers suggested. No one in my family got sick or injured in the event and I just felt like imparting God's mercy and compassion on my birthday. <3

Lots of Love,

The Catholic Chic  

Pre-birthday Road Trip Musings

Last Saturday was the eve of my birthday. My husband initiated we go on a road trip together because he knew I love road trips!

Going up north.

While in the car, I was reminiscing how my husband wasn't with me on my birthday last year. Until today it still brings me much sadness remembering that year.

This year, he came home and chose to stay with me. I praise God that he is here. And as I look at him while he is driving, I think to myself, 'How blessed am I'.

In my country, you will often meet families wherein either the husband or wife would be working abroad to financially support the family. Due to the lack of jobs here, many opt to earn elsewhere. 

It brings me great pain that the Filipino people have to go abroad to earn. Citizens of 'first world' countries don't have to do that. I hope someday our country is run better so we don't have to send husbands, wives, fathers, or mothers, abroad as this situation brings much challenge to marriage, and later on, the family. 

For now, I will just praise and thank God for giving me this moment to appreciate the existence of my husband. It was hard not having him around. I'm glad that year is done. He's back. <3