MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

The People Who Changed My Life

with 8 comments

Sir Isaac Newton said that we always stand on the shoulders of other people. In other words, our lives are shaped by our encounters with people, who shared generously their time, talent and treasure with us. On the top of my list are these people who changed my life:

1. Bro. Paul Aguas – My Dad. A selfless, loving and compassionate man, who to this day remains my model in the way I live my life. He spent his short but fruitful life serving God and helping people. He did not only inspire me, but he also inspired the countless number of people he met through his ministry both here and abroad.

2. Sr. Marie Jose Garcia, SSpS – Religious of the Holy Spirit Sisters, Social Worker and Missionary. Above all, dear friend for 40 years. She introduced me to the practice of Zen meditation. Never did I imagine that the practice of Zen meditation would have such a powerful repercussion in my life, and would tide me over during the most difficult and challenging times of my life. I consider her as a friend, mentor and guide to this day.

3. Dom Fil Cinco, OCSO – Abbot of the Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Monastery. Our conversations in the open fields of the monastery, under the blue skies, about the spiritual life, especially about the Desert Fathers, remained etched in my memory. 30+ years later it seems that those conversations took place only yesterday.

4. Sr. Elaine MacInnes, OLM – Catholic Nun and Zen Master. She patiently and generously guided us, a group of young college students, myself included, 40 years ago, in the practice of Zen meditation by conducting Zen retreats for us. The seeds she planted would later bear fruit in our lives. In my case, it just took a little longer to do so.

5. Sr. Sonia Punzalan, RC – Religious of the Sisters of the Cenacle and Zen Teacher. It was on my first Zen retreat with her that I had one of the most powerful spiritual and transformative experiences of my life. It goes without saying that it profoundly impacted my life. Almost 20 years later that experience continues to inform and affect my life. I am very grateful for her guidance and friendship.

6. Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO – Trappist Monk, Writer and Artist. He is considered as one of the great contemplatives, and among the most significant spiritual writers of the 20th century. I’ve never met him in person, but his books on the Christian monastic and contemplative tradition, which I read when I was 15 or 16 years old, changed my life forever.

I humbly owe them a debt of gratitude. They’ve made me the kind of person that I am today…


Written by MattAndJojang

August 27, 2018 at 1:15 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Thank you for sharing. One of these days, I must find the time to make a gratitude list of people who have affected my life.

    Corito reyes

    August 27, 2018 at 1:50 pm

  2. You’re welcome, Corito.

    I heard a priest once said that it’s sad that we honor people when they’re already gone. That’s why I thought of writing this post to honor the people who touched my life. Fortunately, except for my Dad, all of them are still alive.




    August 27, 2018 at 1:53 pm

  3. Dear Matt,

    What a fascinating and intimate record. Thank you for sharing this. Thomas Merton would certainly head up my list.

    God bless you loads

    Senan of Somerset

    Senan of Somerset

    August 27, 2018 at 4:35 pm

  4. Hi, Senan!

    Happy to know that you liked my post.

    It’s sad that we often honor people who changed our lives when they’re gone. Why not honor them while they’re still with us?

    I consider myself very fortunate to have encountered them in my life. They’ve taught me to be a better person. And I will always carry in my heart the life-lessons they’ve shared with me…




    August 27, 2018 at 5:05 pm

  5. Thank You Matt ! It is such a wonderful Gift to see how God’s Spirit has flown and connected in your life through other people and thus to my life through your generosity of sharing. And I do not know if, you will understand this – “but at times like this we are in Cenacle together”. Thanks again

    Christopher H

    September 2, 2018 at 7:47 pm

  6. You’re welcome, Christopher.

    Life indeed is a circle of blessing. Other people bless us, so that in turn we could also be a blessing to others. Through it all, the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of unity and love, connects us with each other in mysterious and wonderful ways!

    Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog and sharing your thoughts.




    September 2, 2018 at 8:05 pm

  7. Greetings of peace. We used to sing a song attributed to Bro Paul about 1 Cor 13. I would appreciate it if you can help me find the song. Thanks and God bless.


    November 21, 2018 at 12:30 am

  8. Hi, Arben,

    I can vaguely remember a song based on 1 Corinthians 13 that we often sang in the 70s. I can only remember a line from that song which goes:

    If I have no charity,
    If love doesn’t flow from me,
    I am nothing.
    Jesus, reduce me to love…

    Aside from that, I can no longer remember the lyrics of the song. Tried to look for it in the internet but couldn’t find it.

    By the way, my Dad didn’t compose the song, but we often sang it way back then…



    November 21, 2018 at 7:15 am

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