Monday, December 29, 2008

Over par and over the top

The Pinoy blogosphere is in an uproar over the recent fracas in the fairway involving a 27-year old small-town mayor, his Cabinet Secretary father and their bodyguards on one hand, and a 14-year old boy, his 56-year old father and his 18-year old sister on the other hand. As in any harsh conflict, there are two sides on the issue. The first side of the coin is narrated in a first-hand blogpost here, while a direct interview on the contending side is reported here.

It’s amazing how two directly-involved, first-hand accounts paint completely different versions of the same incident. As both of them cannot be truthful at the same time, it is obvious that one or the other is plainly lying through the teeth. One’s emotions will certainly tend to side with the kid and his quite elderly father, as a cursory glance on numerous bloggers’ entries and comments shows that public sympathy definitely goes this way. Which is not surprising, as one pictures the one side wielding guns and goons in a shameless and overpowering display of violent arrogance - against a hapless 14-year old kid and a 56-year old father. The mayor allegedly screamed: "Hindi nila kami kilala! Sabihin mo nga sa kanila kung sino ako!" - as he and his bodyguards reportedly proceed to beat up the kid and the father a second time. The DAR Chief however, denies this and says that it was the De la Pazes who “ganged up on him” (JR, his mayor-son). Lets see whose nose grows.

It started out as an altercation on golf etiquette. Simple fairway right-of-way and good manners. I can imagine the internal script that goes with the scenario:

"HEY, you do not have any golf etiquette, YOU @###$$!!!"
"REALLY?? It’s you who do not have any etiquette, you rude son of a @#&&#$!!!"
"Why you…"

It seems far-out to talk about golf etiquette when you see blood spilling after a misunderstanding on its meaning. These kinds of incidents make me wonder how far humankind has matured in its sense of civility, coming from its feudal or early mankind roots. I guess some things never change, from the prehistoric jungle setting to the modern, "civilized" setting. Maybe the title of this post should be: from golf swing to fist swing, or vice-versa.

I was just writing about the Beatitudes on my recent post. I guess some people never heard of the Sermon on the Mount, either. Or maybe they are just prone to quarrel violently over a dispute on the meaning of humility.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A sign of contradiction

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Jesus is presented at the temple (Luke 2:22-40)

Mary and Joseph went to the temple to fulfill a Jewish ritual. Jesus, being
a firstborn male, must be consecrated to God. Here Mary and Joseph encounter
the two prophets Simeon and Anna. Simeon prophecies that Jesus will
stand as a sign of contradiction.

The Gospel accounts of Jesus' preaching indeed presents an emphasis on struggle, conflict and final reversal of status, contradictions that were often unsettling to its hearers, then and now. They appear in stories and parables depicting the first shall be last; those who exalts themselves will be humbled; those who humble themselves will be exalted; the hungry will be filled; the rich will go away empty... This theme of reversal may have had its most dramatic expression in the Beatitudes. Christ is God's light that enlightens people, but it also blinds, confuses and leads to opposition. It moves people to look at the world and their values in a new way.

But there was also a joyful element in what He proclaimed. During his ministry, Jesus calls those who suffer in his name to leap for joy (Lk 6:23). The 70 disciples whom Jesus sent out, returns with joy. Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit at what they had done. Heaven rejoices when one sinner repents. Zacchaeus welcomes Jesus with joy and repents. At Jesus triumphant entry to Jerusalem, the whole multitude of disciples praise God with joy. Following his ascension, the disciples return to Jerusalem with great joy. It is not suprising then, that Paul calls joy the second fruit of the Spirit and places it between love and peace (Gal 5:22). Joy is difficult to describe. While it can be manifested as an outward sign of happiness, it is more often interior - a deep sense of well-being. All of us can probably name a person who, while struggling with suffering, adversity and pain, has also experienced profound inner joy and peace. If God's kingdom had a future dimension, his parables also proclaim that God's reign is already active in this world, here and now.

Thus, in today's Gospel, the prophet Simeon declares:

"See him; he will be for the rise or fall of the multitudes in Israel.
He shall stand as a sign of contradiction,
while a sword will pierce your own soul.
Then the secret thoughts of many may be brought to light".

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I went to the mall today for some last-minute gift shopping. Driving on the way, I was caught in some traffic and I noticed these homeless families by the roadside. I took some quick pics with my camera phone.

I wonder what this Christmas season means to these poor families. Gift-giving would be farthest from their minds. A decent meal and a warm abode might be all that they aspire for, but they cannot find it in this world. This world has shut them out and there is no room for them. May they experience the true meaning of Christmas sometime, somewhere... and may we all find room in our hearts to experience and share the true joy of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Do you trust me?


..."Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
(Lk 1:26-38)

In spite of Mary's deep devotion to God, it must have been a startling and fearful experience when the angel Gabriel appeared to her: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus...".

Today it is easy for us to say that it is natural for Mary to accept outright without any deliberation, as it is obviously an honor to be chosen as the mother of the Messiah. Mary had free will to decide either way, but consider putting yourself in the place of Mary at the time. Do you think anybody would really believe that the child was conceived of the Holy Spirit? Wouldn't it be more likely that ill-thinking people will surmise it was borne of an affair with some Roman soldier who were then frequently roaming Nazareth? Mary was then engaged to Joseph. Others might even conclude that Mary and Joseph had gone too far in their relationship with each other and had disobeyed the law of God. In either case, was there not the possibility that Mary could be charged and stoned for fornication?

And what would Joseph think? He would know that he was not responsible for Mary's condition. What would he say? Would he still be willing to marry her? Was she willing to give him up if it would come to that? And what about the child? If these difficult thoughts crossed Mary's mind at the time and made her waver, no one can probably blame her.

Mary was a meditative woman, at least twice we are told that she kept certain things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19, 51). But she did not take very much time to make up her mind here. She answered forthrightly: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
Her decision was to submit to God's will and to trust Him with the consequences. By her obedience, Mary becomes truly the "Mother of God', the "Mother of the living", and the model of our faith.

Submission to God's will, almost always involves some risk. But many times in the bible, God tells his followers from Abraham down to the apostles: do not be afraid. God is always there to work out all the details together, and it is our choice to believe Him if we want to enjoy His peace and power.

Today, God is asking each one of us the same question: "Do you trust me?"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


A bit of news from UK...

Teenage pregnancies go UP (despite free contraception and sex education for five-year-olds)

"The number of teenage pregnancies leapt last year, despite all Labour's efforts to increase sex education and contraception among children and the young.

...The sudden rise may have inspired a series of new efforts by ministers to intensify sex education and persuade more girls to use contraception...

In October Schools Minister Jim Knight ordered that primary school pupils should for the first time have compulsory sex education from the age of five..."
Lets see, it's still not working so there is a need to further "intensify sex education". Right now sex education in Britain is already compulsory from the age of five. I say intensify it further - make it compulsory from the age of two! If that still won't work, from the age of one!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Priest held up (again)

Priest held up on his way to Mass at Quiapo Church

MANILA, December 15, 2008—A Catholic priest became a victim of a holdupper on his way to officiate Holy Mass in Quiapo Church. Fr. Genaro O. Diwa, director for Liturgical Affairs of the Manila Archdiocese, was on his way to celebrate Holy Mass at Minor Basilica of the Black Nazerene in Quiapo, Manila, when he was held-up and carted away his cell phone. The priest told to the holdupper that he is a priest. The robber replied, “So what? I want your cell phone.” Diwa handed over his cell phone without further argument for fear of untoward incident. The incident happened recently around the vicinity of Quiapo Church. According to the priest, he has lost several cell phones in the past to robbers. The latest was his sixth.
My footnotes:

- Is it right for the priest to just surrender his cellphone to the robber? Shouldn't he have resisted gallantly?

If one is under duress or under threat of personal danger, forced material involvement in an evil act is excused. Material involvement in an evil act must be wilfull for it to be considered as a sin.

- Was it right for the holdupper to rob a priest?

No, and it is not right to rob anyone for that matter, priest or otherwise.

- What should the holdupper do to gain forgiveness for his sin of stealing?

He cannot make amends by contributing 10% of the cellphone proceeds to the church.
He should return the cellphone, ask forgiveness from the priest, take a confession, and mend his ways.

- What should the priest do?

Pray for the robber, as all of us should. And next time, avoid isolated passageways while walking to the church. It's a pity that this is already his 6th cellphone that was stolen. Consider acquiring a cheap, old, outdated, basic functional cellphone that no one will even consider stealing. A solid, used Nokia 5110 will do just fine.

- What I'd like to see?

The next time the priest is accosted by a holdupper who says “So what? I want your cell phone.”
The priest should say "Son, you can try and get it." and strike a pose like this

Sunday, December 14, 2008


3rd Sunday of Advent

"This was the testimony of John when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him, "Who are you?"...
(Jn 1:19-27)
A popular fictional anecdote is told as to when the Pope once decided to switch places with his driver. The driver reluctantly agreed as the Pope had a little fun driving around the Vatican, with the driver taking the passenger seat for a change. The Pope soon breached the speed limit unknowingly, and in a little while a Vatican police patrol flagged down the vehicle for overspeeding. The cop, needless to say, was greatly surprised when he saw the occupants of the overspeeding vehicle, and so he decided to call and consult his chief. 

Cop: Chief, I have a problem. I pulled over this very important person.
Chief: Just give him a speeding ticket! I don't care even if he is as important as the mayor, governor, senator, whatever.
Cop: Well, you see, he's more important than those people.
Chief: More important??
Cop: I don't know, but he's got the Pope driving for him!
..when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him, "Who are you?", John recognized the truth and did not deny it. He said, "I am not the Messiah"...

John the Baptist did not deny who he was, he was clear on his role and identity.

And they asked him, “Then who are you?" Elijah?”
And he answered, “No.”
Then they said to him, "Tell us who you are, so that we can give some answer to those who sent us. How do you see yourself?"
And John said, quoting the prophet Isaiah, “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord,’”...

The authorities were wondering who was this person that on his own initiative has begun to preach? The Messiah is the name the Jews gave to the expected Savior. They also expected the Prophet, but it was not clear whether or not the Prophet would be someone other that the Messiah. It was then believed that the the prophet Elijah would reappear before the Messiah's arrival. It was John who awakens the expectation of the Savior, but the Jews were confused with mistaken identities. At these times, it is easy for us to say that the saviour was Jesus, but in those days, they who were hearing John found it difficult to imagine what this savior might be.

Today we are called to a commitment in preparing for the second coming of our Lord and Savior, in making straight His paths. We cannot do that without identifying with Jesus Christ and seeing Him in one another. We must see Him in the poor, the prisoner, the sick, the driver, the policeman, and in each end every one around us. In this 3rd Sunday of advent, we are reminded not to mistake our identity and the identity of our neighbors. Otherwise, we may not recognize Him when He comes.


cross-posted at CatholicFriends

Saturday, December 13, 2008


The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has just released Dignitas Personae (Dignity of the Person), the first "instruction" on reproductive technology in more than 20 years. The 33-page instruction updates a 1987 document, Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life), which then asserted the integrity of the human embryo.

Full text---
This instruction of a doctrinal nature is expressly approved by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. It therefore falls within the category of documents that "participate in the ordinary Magisterium of the successor of Peter" (Instruction Donum veritatis, n.18), and is to be received by Catholics "with the religious assent of their spirit" (Dignitas personae, n. 37).

A short excerpt with respect to those questioning the beginning of life:

As is known, abortion is "the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth".45 Therefore, the use of means of interception and contragestation fall within the sin of abortion and are gravely immoral. Furthermore, when there is certainty that an abortion has resulted, there are serious penalties in canon law.46. 43 The interceptive methods which are best known are the IUD (intrauterine device) and the so-called "morning after pills". 44 The principal means of contragestation are RU-486 (Mifepristone), synthetic prostaglandins or Methotrexate. 45 JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 58: AAS 87 (1995), 467. 46 Cf. CIC, can. 1398 and CCEO, can. 1450 § 2; cf. also CIC, can. 1323-1324. The Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law declared that the canonical concept of abortion is "the killing of the fetus in whatever way or at whatever time from the moment of conception" (Response of 23 May 1988: AAS 80 [1988], 1818).

And a short excerpt to guide Catholics who profess to stand "in good conscience":

57 Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 73: AAS 87 (1995), 486: "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection". The right of conscientious objection, as an expression of the right to freedom of conscience, should be protected by law.
Thus, the instruction enshrines the embryo not only as a human being but also as a whole "person" with all the "philosophical and legal consequences that such recognition might entail", according to Bishop Rino Fisichella, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It also reprises the Church's condemnation of in vitro fertilization and the "eugenic mentality" arising from advances in genetic engineering, saying: "In the attempt to create a new type of human being, one can recognize an ideological element in which man tries to take the place of his Creator."

The instruction comes at a time when:

- US president-elect Barack Obama, who is to take office on January 20, is expected to act quickly to reverse an executive order by President George W. Bush banning embryonic stem cell research. Obama also promised to immediately sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act, which removes restrictions on abortion.

- French bioethics law is set for review next year.

- Hybrid Human-Animal Embryo Research is being challenged in The UK.

- The Philippines RH bill (HB 5043), which aims to coercively promote abortifacients, is being deliberated in Congress.

May the dignity of the person prevail. Amen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On the Immaculate Conception

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8

Short history

Doctrines are defined formally only when there is a controversy that needs to be cleared up or when by the magisterium the faithful can be helped by particular emphasis being drawn to some already-existing belief. The definition of the Immaculate Conception was prompted by the latter motive; it did not come about because there were widespread doubts about the doctrine.

It was clear in the first centuries that only a perfect holiness, including absence of sin, was fitting in view of the dignity of her role. By the 8th century belief that Mary’s holiness was both flawless and immense was firmly established throughout the East, and it was in that century that the feast of her conception was first celebrated liturgically. In the West the belief grew more slowly, but by 1099 St Anselm could write: “It was fitting that she be clothed with a purity so splendid that none greater under God could be conceived.”

The belief in the Immaculate Conception was initially met with theological difficulty. If Christ was the redeemer of all, as the Scriptures affirm, he would have been the redeemer of Mary too. But then how was it possible that she was conceived immaculate and therefore was not in need of redemption? St Thomas Aquinas, unable to resolve the difficulty, concluded that Mary was conceived in original sin but was cleansed from it before her birth.

The decisive argument came from the Franciscan John Duns Scotus (1264-1308), who reasoned that Mary too was in need of redemption, but she was redeemed from the moment of her conception through the merits of her Son’s death on the Cross many years later. Duns Scotus laid the foundations of the true doctrine so solidly and dispelled the objections in a manner so satisfactory, that from that time onward the doctrine prevailed.( more on Catholic Encyclopedia - Immaculate Conception) .

While theologians continued to debate the question for several more centuries, by the end of the 17th century there was practically universal agreement on Mary’s immaculate conception. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was officially defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. When Fundamentalists claim that the doctrine was "invented" at this time, they misunderstand both the history of dogmas and what prompts the Church to issue, from time to time, definitive pronouncements regarding faith or morals.

The dogma

In the Encyclical Ineffabilis Deus by Pope Pius IX:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

...Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Its Pacquiao by TKO

The entire Filipino nation must have watched this much-awaited, grand boxing event of the year. It was a match where Manny Pacquiao was the definite underdog against a much bigger, taller, and more experienced boxer, the celebrated Golden boy of boxing - Oscar DelaHoya. The betting odds were decidedly against Manny. Most boxing experts predicted a gross mismatch in favor of DelaHoya. They were in for a great shock. After the first two rounds which Manny Pacquiao clearly dominated, it was apparent that the Manny Pacquiao that DelaHoya now faced was an entirely different boxer from what he expected. Manny expertly bobbed and weaved, displayed elegant footwork, and unleashed crisp, jarring combinations. The eighth round saw Manny punching at will the hapless and badly bruised DelaHoya. By the end of the eighth, the outcome was evident. DelaHoya failed to answer the bell for the ninth round. Manny had won by TKO.

Manny deserved to win. When DelaHoya was interviewed after the match, he never offered any excuses except to say that he had lost to a great fighter. I noticed it was a vastly different Pacquiao. This time he moved gracefully with deft footwork, weaving in and out, left to right, and throwing combinations with blinding speed. It was understandable if DelaHoya's gameplan was upset. Manny had prepared very well. It was Manny's gameplan that worked, and it was obvious that he trained and prepared very hard for this defining moment. DelaHoya said he trained and prepared very hard too. I believe him and he is an awesome fighter, though I believed it was Manny who trained and prepared hard correctly. That spelled the big difference.

I can't help but make the connection to today's Gospel. John the Baptist was called to prepare the way for the Lord. The call for for the Lord's coming takes a lifetime of preparation. It is an on-going process of conversion to the way of Life by following Jesus. If Pacquiao had Roach as an excellent trainer, we have the Catholic Church that Jesus himself instituted to train and guide us to the one true path of salvation. The Church guides us to the correct way of preparation, where we can not lose if we choose to prepare to win.

By the way, Manny Pacquiao is a staunch ProLife advocate. During Humanae Vitae's 40th anniversary at the UST grounds, he exclaimed on the stage: "Kung nag-contracept ang mga magulang ko, wala nang Manny Pacquiao ngayon !" (If my parents used contraceptives, there won't be any Manny Pacquiao now !)

Mabuhay ka Manny Pacquiao!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

We invite You to our homes and our hearts...

Saturday, Week 1.
A beautiful prayer from 'The Advent Wreath Prayer Guide' of the Filipino Family City Foundation, Inc.

Jesus, You ask us to tell others that You are coming to make us better persons. We can do this not only in words, but in actions. Help us to be like You, loving and caring to our brothers and sisters, obedient to our parents and teachers, generous and forgiving to those around us. In this way, when people look at us, they shall see the goodness and beauty that we see in You.

O Lord, as we reach the end of our first week of Christmas preparation, we thank You for letting us know You a little better. We learned that the word Advent means "coming" and stands for your coming. We invite You to our homes and our hearts, our families and our communities, our nation and the nations of the world.

We learned that Advent starts four weeks before Christmas and lasts until Christmas Eve. That is why there are four candles on our Advent wreath. We pray, Lord, that the spirit of Christmas will live in our hearts.

We learned that the candles stand for Christ, the Light of the world. He is our guiding light. We continue to offer Him our hearts, which we hope are now more loving than they were a week ago.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Love means never having to say ...?

Thailand’s ambassador protested yesterday comments by deputy presidential spokesperson Anthony Golez and Sen. Richard Gordon on the political turbulence in Bangkok, saying they insinuate the Thais lack political maturity.

Read the story here, and here.

Gordon said it was not his intention to brand the Thais “politically immature,” but he added that even if he said so, there is nothing wrong with it since the Philippines is a free country. “Assuming for the sake of argument that I did say that the Thais are politically immature, this is a free country and every citizen is entitled to an opinion,” he said.

For his part, Golez denied saying the Thais lack political maturity.  He said last week the turmoil in Thailand was unlikely to happen in the Philippines -
 “because our people have reached a high degree of political maturity whereby our people respect due process and the rule of law.”


Both Golez and Gordon refused to apologize.
Whatever Gordon and Golez meant and said in effect, it certainly resulted in the Thai envoy getting offended personally and in behalf of his countrymen.
Was the Thai envoy being overly sensitive to a fault, at the point of being unreasonable and overbearing?
Was an apology from the two gentlemen in order?
How much would it cost either way?


Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Arrest order sought vs Bolante runner

MANILA, Philippines—The House Committee on Agriculture Tuesday resumed taking its turn at questioning Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante, and said he might have violated the budget department’s rules when he realigned part of the P728-million fertilizer fund to officials who were not on the list of beneficiaries that he had earlier submitted….

In Iloilo City, Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo expressed dismay over the inquiry into the purported diversion of the P728-million fertilizer fund to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign supporters.

“I can sense the feeling of many people—one of disappointment that the truth did not come out as expected,” Lagdameo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the sidelines of a forum on corruption and governance…Last month,
Lagdameo and several other bishops issued a statement on the alleged worsening graft and corruption in government, which, they said, was the biggest culprit and major cause of our nation’s poverty and hunger.”

Tuesday, Lagdameo said government employees and officials should be reminded to be honest.

“I’m appealing to all responsible people to be true in their service of the government, to put uppermost the good of the country,” he said.

Lagdameo said that if graft and corruption could be cut by just one-half, “there will be more people fed and more students entering college.”
Note: I just highlighted parts of Bishop Lagdameo’s statement above, there is no need to emphasize and explain further.


Why P728-M fertilizer fund was a scam

CoA finds P173-M "excess amount" in fertilizer fund

The 728M scandal is far from being an isolated case, to put it mildly. Like the
many corruption cases before it, the investigation appears to be headed to the usual oblivion where some initial noises are made, no satisfactory conclusions are reached, the major players remain scotfree, and all is forgotten.

According to
this, the challenges to national development in the Philippines are graft and corruption, which are manifest in many various forms including bribery, kickbacks, embezzlement, vote buying, cronyism, and nepotism… the magnitude of the problem, is staggering.

Meanwhile, pro-administration legislators are busy gathering signatures, pushing for a
charter change that will eventually prolong the terms of office of those in power. Meanwhile also, many of them are pushing for the immediate passage of HB 5043, the touted piece of legislation that is supposed to "help" this country out of poverty.

God help us.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

You better watch out, I'm telling you why

First Sunday of Advent

"...May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!"
(Mk 13:33-37)

The first Sunday of Advent heralds the Christmas season. This occasion prompts us to ponder the first coming by the birth of the Lord our Savior, His second coming at the final judgment, and our preparation in between. Over the past days, I noticed that all the daily Gospel readings speaks of the Final Judgment and how to prepare for it.

In this I am reminded again of my college days when our professors used to give us "take-home" essay exams. The exam questions are given way in advance, and we have the luxury of thoroughly researching in the library, discussing with our fellow students, and consulting with the upper-class as we compose our answers. As is usual in my case, I postpone the effort until the last minute, preferring to cram for the exam until the day before or even minutes before final submission and grading. A few times I get lucky but many times I do not, which is just as to be expected.

I guess this pretty much illustrates most of our attitudes towards the Final Judgment. Life is like one big take-home exam. We have been given the questions and enough guidance beforehand, we know very well and have so much time and resources to prepare, yet we choose to ignore or even hope to cram at the last minute. As it comes "like a thief in the night", it reminds us of the good fortune of the thief on the cross, and somehow hope we can likewise pull a fast one. Today’s Gospel reminds us to "Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning..". We usually think it comes in the distant future that is so much far from worry, yet the Scriptures clearly reveal that it can come at any time. It can even come in the next few seconds as one reads this piece! Those of us who choose to gamble with our souls would probably not have enough time to regret our bets.

The story is told of one of St. Thomas More's friends who was a great gambler. St. Thomas used to admonish him that it was time to stop his reckless living and turn to God.

"Oh, I always win in the end", was the reply.

"But what if you die suddenly, with no time to get a priest?", said Thomas More.

"I'll take the risk. Luck is always on my side. If it ever comes to that, I rely on three little words to save me. I would at least have the time to say the three words: 'Lord, forgive me', and I should be saved".

One day as they were both riding home, their horses got nervous crossing a bridge. The gambler's horse suddenly reared and he was flung over the bridge rails. As he was pitched through the air headlong down to the rocks below, he had enough time to loudly exclaim his three last words: "What the hell...".


Part I here.
The following comment of TE deserves a part II. (Thanks!)

The Americans just had their Thanksgiving last Thursday. Thanksgiving was instituted as a holiday by President Lincoln in 1863 in the midst of the civil war. If you read President Lincoln's proclamation at you'll notice that he intended Thanksgiving to be a religious holiday. After mentioning that the nation still prospered, though in the midst of a civil war he acknowledged the blessings God gave to his nation and went on to say that "the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

Their declaration of independence boldly proclaims: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." America was founded on values that acknowledge God and life. Many of their leaders, like Lincoln, espoused and were guided by great life-affirming values. This is (was?) their strength for such values are God-affirming and I believe that as long as the country, through its leadership, espouse and uphold these values that country will enjoy God's providence.

Those that espouse the opposite, life-negating values will suffer and be eventually destroyed. Like Egypt under the Pharaohs who espoused slavery and had to learn a bitter lesson from God through Moses. Like Babylon, whose own grandeur made it listen more to its pride rather than to God. Hitler. Mussolini. Saddam. South Africa and Nelson Mandela. Those who espouse life-negating principles will reap the very fruits of the very same seeds they sow.

No one escapes God. For our rewards, what we harvest, are determined by what we ourselves sow. Sow deceit and you shall see yourself being deceived. Corruption, because it is not life-affirming, will at best result in only a temporary advantage to the perpetrator. Thereafter the perpetrator him/herself will suffer. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

The die was cast when the perp decided to be corrupt. At that point he/she sowed the seed. The only way to reap a different harvest is to sow the seeds of forgiveness and atonement. And atonement, that is, at-one-ment, requires reparation before the perp can be at one with God and with the people again.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tama na. Sobra na. Alis na. Kami naman!

Fighting Graft and Corruption

To steal is wrong. It is a crime. It is a sin. When stealing is done by those high up in power and authority, it carries a greater culpability. The corruption of the best is the worst. The social problem of graft and corruption in public life in our country has reached abominable and embarrassing proportions. How shall we describe graft and corruption in our country? It is systemic. It is rewarding. It hurts the poor the most.

Graft and corruption is systemic and structural. It is not only individual or isolated persons who corrupt and get corrupted. The present system, the elected and the electors, the employers and the employees, the appointed and the appointing powers has become so corrupt that what we do need is a radical, systemic, interior change. Changing personages through the electoral process or even through legal processes like impeachment and court suits will not necessarily result in reform unless there is a willingness to change from the heart and soul. Pinning our hopes on legal processes unaccompanied by conversion from within will lead us to nowhere but deeper frustrations. We can hear the protest “Tama na. Sobra na. Alis na. Kami naman!”. It is important that those who investigate or prosecute corrupt officials will not gain political or financial benefits from convicting or absolving the accused.

Graft and corruption is rewarding and rewarded. It is hardly punished. The politicization of the judiciary and the perennial rumors about rogues in robes are problems we need to address urgently. Vigilance is lacking. Political will is weak. Prosecution plays favorites. The penal system is flawed. Pardon and clemency is cheap. Among our people, there is an increasing level of tolerance for corrupt officials. Corruption does not seem to anger many of us anymore. We are not outraged enough by graft and corruption. Widespread graft has sadly numbed our morals.

The public money that goes to graft is money stolen from the poor. Because of graft and corruption, schools buildings cannot be constructed and teachers are not paid; public hospitals cannot protect us from untimely death; soldiers are deprived of their just wages.

Our biggest problem in our country is graft and corruption. This problem must be faced courageously now. We are risking the life of our nation if we continue to ignore it. I appeal to the consciences of our countrymen. Do not leave the solution of graft and corruption to corrupt officials. Our problem cannot be our solution. Let us come together as Catholic faithful to fight the sin of graft and corruption. We cannot profess faith in God and not get angry at widespread graft and corruption. Faith in God and outrage at sin go together. Outrage is not enough; it must lead to action. If we are not outraged by the sin of stealing happening all over our once beautiful land, could it be that our faith has turned cold and uncaring? If your faith has turned cold and uncaring, how can you be saved? Fight corruption or lose your soul!

I place this appeal at the feet of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

From the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, Balanga City, November 27, 2008

Bishop of Balanga
P.S. - In related news:
2 bishops open to ‘extra-legal’ means
Arroyo administration continue to suppress truth, says Palawan bishop
Search for truth does not end with junking of impeach rap – Archbishop Lagdameo
Priest calls people to support CBCP’s call for vigilance
Corrupt public servants exploit ignorant poor, says Cardinal Rosales
Commitments of some legislators for sale, says Manila prelate

Thursday, November 27, 2008


“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1)
On a brief visit to the Iwahig penal colony in Palawan some years ago, I struck up a conversation with the driver of the tricycle my wife and I were riding inside the compound. The tricycle driver himself, a minimum security inmate, is in for life imprisonment.
(in the vernacular)
So...what brought you here?

I killed three men. come?

We were having a drinking session, there was a brawl.
In a fit of rage, I went home, got my bolo, came back and hacked them all.
I was beside myself, I didn't know what I was doing.


The greatest problem here, loneliness…
“Pinagsisihan ko na ang lahat”.
I am so sorry now…

This CBCP news item reports on the International Prison Chaplains’ Association Worldwide (IPCA), which had a meeting hosted by the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care of the CBCP. IPCA, an ecumenical Christian movement, is a conference of prison chaplains committed to serve the unity of the Churches. In the meeting, Rev. Birgitta Winberg, ICPA President, was noted to have said that the conditions in our country’s jails are “unacceptable”, particularly the conditions of prisoners in Manila City Jail. She also said that prison conditions indeed mirrors what kind of government a country has.

“But it’s worse here. The overcrowding and the standard of the prison system here are falling actually,”

Indeed, local BJMP head Director Rosendo Dial admitted in a budget hearing that "In Metro Manila it is 1000% overcrowding.” and that some 10 inmates will have to squeeze in to fit every square meter. The nationwide congestion rate, the jails director added, is much "looser" at 225 percent congestion or an average of four to five inmates per square meter, he said.

For his part, administration senator Juan Miguel Zubiri remarked that the hellish congestion should be made a deterrent against crime. “He should allow media... to show they are in a living hell in this prison camp. That's enough to deter crime I think, the crime rate will go down," Senator Zubiri said.

While it may be true that the prospect of imprisonment in hellish conditions may deter crime, it is also true that oppressive social conditions instigate a crime-prone society. I believe the greater deterrent to crime is an equitable, just and humane society. A criminal environment breeds a criminal mentality. While it is true that criminal acts deserve just retribution, it is also true that every inmate deserves the basic dignity of a human being made by God. The laudable efforts of the ecumenical Christian movement in reaching out to these inmates provides the only hope in providing inner dignity to these chained brethren. It is an inner dignity that comes out from reconciling with God who eases all pains and loneliness. May these inmates find Christ in themselves and in their co-inmates, and may all of us find Christ in them. May they find true freedom, and look beyond this temporal imprisonment - to an eternity that has no chains.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Go forth and multiply responsibly…

The title is not the exact quote from Genesis 1:28, but the first ever commission that God gave to mankind comes with it the obligation for responsible parenthood and stewardship of resources. To this day, Adam and Eve’s multiple descendants remain confused on how to conscientiously fulfill this mandate. It is worthwhile to go forth, or rather go back to examine some passages in Humanae Vitae and hopefully multiply our understanding on how to multiply.

"With regard to man's innate drives and emotions, responsible parenthood means that man's reason and will must exert control over them.

With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.

Responsible parenthood, as we use the term here, has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society."

Hence according to the Church, there are four considerations in planning for the number and spacing of children according to the objective moral order:

1) Physical
This pertains to the physical health of the parents, especially the mother in terms of her capability in nurturing a child in her womb and delivering without incurring grave danger to herself and the child. This aspect also considers the physical demands in rearing the child.

2) Economic
If physical health is considered, economic health must be considered as well. Prudent discretion and an inclination towards generosity is exercised when assessing the couple’s material capability on the number and spacing of children, with the consequent economic responsibility in raising them up and providing for their basic needs.

3) Psychological
Both parents must have the psychological ability to raise them "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). The family being the basic unit of society and a domestic church, requires parents to fulfill their primary role as educators and spiritual formators to mold their children both as responsible citizens and witnesses for Christ.

4) Social conditions
Cases of severe social unrest like those which occur in times of war, serious civil disturbance or depression, leads to an external environment that is far from being conducive to pregnancy, delivery, and raising of children. The environment conditions must be able to offer a stable situation wherein safe delivery and child nurturance can be reasonably accommodated.

Thus, responsible parenthood with respect to planning for the number and spacing of children takes into serious consideration the above four factors, according to Church teaching. The Church never, ever said "go forth and multiply irresponsibly". The Church actually encourages responsible family planning, the natural way. The size of their families is left for the parents themselves to decide, based on their *own* carefully discerned assessment of the above criterion. As such, there is no prescribed number, no "ideal family size", even as HB 5043 wants to "encourage" the ideal family size composed of *two* children (Now how on earth was the bill able to arrive at that magic number?). The ideal number of children can go anywhere from zero to twelve or perhaps even more, as long as all the above factors are taken into serious consideration by the married couple. The moral aspect involves the total giving of love in its unitive and procreative aspect that is inherent in the exercise of Natural Family Planning (NFP), as against the use of artificial contraceptives. It must be noted that NFP can also be used immorally, when the couple that exercises it is driven by selfish motives not to bear children despite the fact that they have been blessed with ample resources and inexistent constraints with respect to the four factors. It must be noted further that the above factors may change over time for a married couple, so that they have to continually assess their own particular circumstances over time. Sadly, sterilization and some harmful permanent side-effects of contraceptives, permanently closes the door to further assessment. The door however, is always open to reconcile our hearts and minds to the first commission.

Monday, November 24, 2008


The usually rather sedate L' Osservatore Romano, Vatican's semi-official newletter, came out recently with a lengthy editorial praising the Fab Four from Liverpool. The Vatican newspaper has apparently forgiven the late English singer John Lennon for saying four decades ago that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus". In an article praising The Beatles, L'Osservatore Romano dismissed Lennon's much-criticised remark as a youthful joke. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of The Beatles' "White Album", the paper also praised The Beatles for what it called their "unique and strange alchemy of sounds and words". It is noted that the Vatican newspaper recently got a new editor. It has been reported further that although Pope Benedict has criticised many aspects of modern pop culture, he now allows the newspaper of the tiny independent Vatican state to reflect the reality of the world outside in a way that would have been unthinkable in the days of Pope Paul VI who reigned during the heyday of The Beatles.

I guess the change in the editorial policy is worth trying out, as Catholics do not exist in a vacuum apart from realities such as pop culture, as long as it is recognized in the proper perspective. Hey, Catholics are cool too. I myself enjoyed Beatles music very much, and even keep a collection to this day. The Beatles are famous for their music, not for speaking words of wisdom. I wouldn't put too much attention now to Lennon's past remarks as it were, and I think nobody took it seriously either, although it caused a big uproar at the time. The paper though, made no mention whether the song "Imagine" was condemned anathema. Not that it matters anymore, let it be. Yeah.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Atty Jo Imbong of CBCP: Life begins at conception.

Rep Jannete Garin of Iloilo: Life begins at implantation.

Meanwhile Rep Lagman in a House hearing says the RH bill would protect human life "from implantation".
Maureen Condic, a senior fellow of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person,recently published a white paper on the subject. In the report she addresses the topic using current scientific data in human embryology.

Condic was interviewed for Zenith recently. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

“The central question of "when does human life begin" can be stated in a somewhat different way: When do sperm and egg cease to be, and what kind of thing takes their place once they cease to be?

To address this question scientifically, we need to rely on sound scientific argument and on the factual evidence. Scientists make distinctions between different cell types (for example, sperm, egg and the cell they produce at fertilization) based on two simple criteria: Cells are known to be different because they are made of different components and because they behave in distinct ways.

These two criteria are used throughout the scientific enterprise to distinguish one cell type from another, and they are the basis of all scientific (as opposed to arbitrary, faith-based or political) distinctions. I have applied these two criteria to the scientific data concerning fertilization, and they are the basis for the conclusion that a new human organism comes into existence at the moment of sperm-egg fusion.”

“...It is not important to somehow define a "moment" or a "process" of fertilization in the abstract. It is important to base conclusions and judgments about human embryos on sound scientific reasoning and on the best available scientific evidence.

Had this analysis led to a different conclusion -- for example, that fertilization is a "process" -- I would have accepted this conclusion as scientifically valid. However, a scientific analysis of the best available data does not support the conclusion that fertilization is a "process"; it supports the conclusion that fertilization is an event that takes less than a second to complete.

The events of the first 24 hours following sperm-egg fusion are clearly unique, but they are also clearly acts of a human organism, not acts of a mere human cell.”

“...That is not to say that the scientific facts lend equal support to any and all views of when human life begins. While people are free to formulate their opinion on when human life begins in any manner they choose (including belief and politics), not all opinions are equally consistent with factual reality. Those who choose to ignore the facts cannot expect their opinions to garner as much respect or to be given as much credibility as those who base their opinions in sound scientific observation and analysis.

The opinions of members of the flat-Earth society should not carry as much weight as those of astrophysicists in formulating national aerospace policy. The opinions of those who reject the scientific evidence concerning when life begins should not be the basis of public policy on embryo-related topics, either.”

More here and here.

The Lord Reigns

34th and Last Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

'Jesus said to his disciples:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,

and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,

and all the nations will be assembled before him.

And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me,

ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’...

(Mt 25:31-46)

Through the encyclical Quas Primas, The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism, a way of life which leaves God out of man's thinking and living and organizes his life as if God did not exist. The feast is intended to proclaim Christ's royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations. In 1969, Pope Paul VI gave it a new title – the "Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe" – emphasizing the encompassing power and love

of God.

God is the beginning. Today’s Gospel also reminds us that our Lord

Jesus Christ the King is the end, and that when we see Jesus Christ in each other, we begin to see the real meaning of how our Lord Jesus Christ reigns.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

For the Nth time...

In todays Philstar opinion column of Domini Torrevillas. a certain Dr. Bugnosen is quoted with respect to the RH bill, as follows:

"...I received a handwritten letter from Dr. Andy R. Bugnosen, my doctor brother Nell’s friend from way back, in Sagada, Mt. Province. In the early 60s, Dr. Bugnosen became involved with family planning under the aegis of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines. He won the FPOP’s Most Outstanding Family Planning Private Practitioner of the Philippines Award.

Andy expresses his view on the Reproductive Health bill which is pending in Congress. He writes: “As we all know, the Roman Catholic Church prelates are opposing the passage of the bill, basing their objection on the biblical mandate to ‘go forth and multiply.’ They approve only the Natural Family Planning method. But this does not work for women with irregular menstruation...".

First of all, I have never heard of even one anti-RH bill advocate citing the ‘go forth and multiply’ biblical passage. There are many strong arguments used against the bill, and ‘go forth and multiply’ is certainly not one of them. Secondly and most importantly, the NFP method is always maligned as not working for women with irregular menstruation. This is either a gross misconception or a malicious and blatant lie, and it always gets repeated time and again to attack NFP. Todays NFP method, based on the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM), undoubtedly and most assuredly works even for irregular cycles.

Again for the Nth time: NFP should not be equated with the Calendar or Rhythm method.

For more than 40 years now, the Rhythm method is not anymore being recommended as an NFP method by Natural Family Planning advocates. Note that Dr. Bugnosen, in the article quoted above, was said to have worked as a Family Planning Practitioner "in the early 60s". That is more than 40 years ago, almost half a century if you wish. It is most unfortunate that Dr. Bugnosen's ideas on Family Planning remained in the 60s, and most unfortunate likewise that an opinion columnist becomes an unwitting(?) party in disseminating this error which is either a gross misconception, or a malicious and blatant lie.


This is a recipe I am sharing that is simple enough to prepare for quick salu-salos. No culinary breakthrough here, really. Thank God for ready-made mixes that saves us time and effort. I am posting this recipe and some others to remind me of the winning formula for future reference, under the tag 'recipes'. I whipped it up the other day for our CFC Chapter household and it was a resounding success, modesty aside. Actual results may vary with picture shown. Kitchen adventurers may try it out at their own risk.


- Fresh shrimp bits (about 200 grams or more)
- Sotanghon noodles 600 grams (Longkow brand for me)
- 3 packs McCormick pancit malabon sauce mix
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 3 bits garlic, crushed
- Crushed chicharon (fried crunchy pork skin)
- Sliced hard-boiled egg
- diced onion shoots (dahon ng sibuyas)
- shredded tinapa (smoked fish)
- fried tokwa bits (tofu)
- squeeze drops of calamansi (sour lemon) to taste
1) Dissolve pancit malabon mix in 3 cups water
2) Saute shrimp in garlic and onion (very little cooking oil only)
3) Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil
4) Lower heat to a simmer
5) add dissolved mix and stir continuously until creamy consistency
6) Add water and/or salt to taste, (easy on the salt)
7) cook sotanghon in boiling water just enough to soften
8) drain sotanghon, pour lukewarm water over it (to prevent sogginess)
9) Pour cooked mix over drained sotanghon, add garnishings to taste
The whole procedure will take about 15 minutes.
Generously serves 12-15. Total cost is around P400, depending on amount of shrimps.
Don't forget to bless the food first.
Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Joking while praying, or Praying while joking?

Dureza: Even God has a sense of humor

MANILA, Philippines -- Press Secretary Jesus Dureza made light of his prayer that put President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the spot during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, saying even God has a sense of humor.

Arroyo covered her face with her hand, looking embarrassed, after Dureza said in his prayer that she continue leading the country "even beyond" the end of her term in 2010.

Ms Arroyo, as she covered her face with her right hand in apparent exasperation, muttered: “Oh my God.”

“Bless the Senate President,” Dureza continued, referring to Enrile. “He’s the most volatile, the oldest. But we feel now—although not really comparable to St. Thomas More—[he’s] the man for all seasons.”

Dureza later said he was "drowned out" and actually said that the President could serve beyond 2010 "in her personal and private capacity." He clarified that the prayer was meant as a joke.

"I'm sure the Lord has sense of humor."

Members of the Black and White Movement, however, said they did not find Dureza's joke amusing.

"Pagbibiro ba iyan? Iyung nagbibiro habang nagdasal senyales ng taong arogante. Binibiro niya ba ang Diyos.... I think that's height of agenda to even pray for something like that as a joke (Is that a joke? Somebody who jokes during prayers is an arrogant person. Why should he joke about God?)" said group convenor Leah Navarro.

Was it proper for Secretary Dureza to crack jokes while praying? Were the jokes just incidental and did not deter from his prayerful conversation with God? I honestly don't know. Most likely it is only God who can tell, as the prayers were directed to Him. Perhaps the following little story might shed some light on the matter.
Juan and Max, both smokers, are walking from a religious service.
Juan wonders whether it would be all right to smoke while praying.
Max replies, “Why don’t you ask the priest?”
So Juan goes up to the priest and asks, “Father, may I smoke while I pray?”
The priest replies, “No, my son, you may not! That’s utter disrespect to our religion.”
Juan goes back to his friend and tells him what the good priest told him.
Max says, “I’m not surprised. You asked the wrong question. Let me try.”
And so Max goes up to the priest and asks, “Father, may I pray while I smoke?”
To which the priest eagerly replies, “By all means, my son, by all means."
"You can always pray whenever you want to.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is Humanae Vitae reformable? How???

Granting of course that Humanae Vitae is not infallible.

Just for the sake of argument, let us assume that the teaching which says "contraceptives are intrinsically wrong" is reformable, meaning that the infallibility accorded to the ordinary and universal magesterium, when it teaches consistently in a definitive and authoritative manner - does not apply in the case of this core teaching of Humanae Vitae. Let us look at a hypothetical instance wherein the Church actually decides to make a complete turn-around and has to repudiate Humanae Vitae, in order for the Church to be "relevant to the times" and "responsive to its flock".

1. First of all, it has to infallibly reinterpret Vatican II's declaration on the ordinary and universal magesterium's infallibility (Lumen Gentium # 25). It has to reverse or drastically reinterpret the repeated affirmations of Pope John Paul II, the affirmation of Pope Benedict XVI, and the declaration of Pope Pius XII. I see at least five papal encyclicals it has to reverse, drastically reinterpret, or throw out altogether: Castii Conubii, Humanae Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, Familiaris Consortio, and Veritatis Splendor. On top of that, we still have to consider what the Early Church Fathers and the Patriarches had to say in the intervening years. All the reversals must be pronounced ex-cathedra, or else the argument will just run around in circles. That requires a mighty bit of undoing, and would presumably be the first ever time the Catholic Church will take a stand of demonstrating the right to be essentially wrong and to reverse itself if need be. Anglicans would make for good company here.

2. Forty years since Humanae Vitae (HV) is a long time. The Church must prove that the lessons of the past 40 years only serves to disprove HV, necessitating its reversal. The empirical equation must now take into consideration Pope Paul VI's four dire predictions, and whether they were proven true or not. It will now be tasked to investigate statistical data on teenage pregnancies, unwed mothers, marital abuse, abortions, promiscuity, venereal diseases, coercive legislations, forced sterilizations/ abortions, broken families, eugenics...and offer to prove empirically and infallibly that in our experience over the last 40 years, Pope Paul VI's predictions are nothing but thin air.

3. This move will actually boil down to essentially adopting the Anglican Church's position in the Lambeth Conference of 1930, which states: "Where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, complete abstinence is the primary and obvious method, but if there is morally sound reasoning for avoiding abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of Christian principles.". With this retroactive stand, the Church will retire the "intrinsic evil" in contraception, but it has a lot of explaining to do why in the first place it disagreed with the Anglicans 78 years ago, only to take the same, same position today.

4. The Church will also have to address the issue of the so-called "demographic winter", an irreversible demographic crisis arising from low birth-replacement rates, a natural consequence of a high penetration of artificial contraceptives combined with an averse attitude to child-bearing. To justify a reversal, the Church must offer a workable solution here, something the European countries, Japan, and Singapore are still at a loss on how to solve.

5. Again, is Humanae Vitae reformable? Has the Ordinary and Universal Magesterium displayed enough ambiguity for ample wiggle room? Are there other workable ways around it?
It is said that there are many ways you can skin a cat. But not when you're down to the bones.

Lapid says there's nothing he can do

Lapid on Enrile vote: Nothing I can do

MANILA, Philippines -- Senator Lito Lapid has admitted to voting for Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile as Senate President because there was nothing he could do.

(pregnant pause)
There's nothing I could say.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

On God-given talents, and how to drive

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

"...For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth..."

The Parable of the talents - Mat 25:14-30


During the time of Jesus, a talent was an amount, thirty grams of precious metal, but in this parable when Jesus spoke of talents he referred to the abilities given by God to each of us. Since then, people came to understand the word "talent" in this sense.

This reminds me of the priest and the taxi driver who both went to heaven. In heaven, St. Peter led the taxi driver to a spacious mansion, while the priest was led to a modest cabin. "Isn't this a mixup? Shouldn't I get the mansion instead?", protested the priest. "After all, I was a priest, and I preached sermons every day". 'Yes, that's true", St Peter said "But during your sermons, people slept. When the taxi driver drove, everyone prayed.".

To be fair, it is really about how we use our talents with the right intentions. God really looks at our hearts, and He will take care of the results. The parable of the talents narrates ..."to one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one-- to each according to his ability." God won't give us more than we an handle, but whatever gifts He bestows upon us, we must use for His glory, for "the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.". The parable is best understood with the one that comes before it - "The Parable of the Ten Virgins", and the passage that comes after it - "the Judgement of Nations". ..."For you neither know the day nor the hour.." and, "for I was hungry and you gave me food...".

In retrospect, the priest in the story above is doing a good thing on earth, although it might be said that he could have improved on his teaching talent. On the other hand, the taxi driver must understand that the end does not justify the means. He could have just preached to his passengers while driving carefully. Preaching though, is a difficult job and requires continuous mastery. Whenever I myself am invited to deliver a CLP talk, I usually warn the participants upfront:
"Hindi po bawal ang matulog. Ang pinagbabawal po ay ang maghilik. Kasi baka magising ang katabi nyo".
(It is allowed to sleep. What is not allowed is to snore. Your seatmate might wake up.)

Each one of us has been given certain talents in certain degrees. Whatever we do with our God-given talents, we can be sure God is watching and listening attentively. and He never sleeps.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Galileo, Galileo…

"First, the truth of Scripture must be held inviolable. Secondly, when there are different ways of explaining Scriptural text, no particular explanation should be held so rigidly that, if convincing arguments show it to be false, anyone dare to insist that it still is the definitive sense of the text. Otherwise, unbelievers will scorn the Sacred Scripture, and the way of faith will be closed to them."
- St Thomas Aquinas (13th Century)

Whenever Catholic bashing comes around, you can be sure these three all-time favorites always crop up: the Inquisition, the (In)fallibility of Popes, and that classic Galileo controversy. It is no surprise then that these three items are gleefully raised as talking points by the pro RH-bill camp in the on-going debate. Some people even went to the extent of referring to the 14 Ateneo professors as “the Galileo-14”, in an attempt to highlight the supposed contrast between scientific progress and “blind, religious dogmatism”. It is both exasperating and amusing in a way that most of these critics who use the Galileo argument continue to misinterpret the historical facts and issues, almost four centuries since the events transpired. (sigh)

Contrary to the misconceptions of critics,

- the Roman Inquisition did not charge Galileo with heresy - it censured him with violating the 1616 injunction against supporting the then dubious Copernican theory. Big difference there. No, he was NOT excommunicated either.

- Galileo was neither imprisoned in a dungeon or tortured. As noted scientist and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead remarked, in an age that saw a large number of "witches" subjected to torture and execution by Protestants in New England, "the worst that happened to the men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof.". He was placed under house arrest, under secure and comfortable circumstances, all the better for his own protection from extremists.

- At the time, Galileo could not offer proof of his theory. Cardinal Bellarmine of the then Holy Office said, had Galileo been able to offer scientific proof, “.. then it would be necessary to proceed with great caution in explaining the passages of Scripture which seemed contrary, and we would rather have to say that we did not understand them than to say that something was false which has been demonstrated… the heliocentric theory might indeed be correct, but until it was conclusively proven it should not be treated as fact since it differed from the current interpretation of the Bible." The trouble is that critics tend to view early 17th century with 21st century eyes.

- Although three of the ten cardinals who judged Galileo refused to sign the verdict, his works were eventually condemned. Anti-Catholics often assert that his conviction and later rehabilitation somehow disproves the doctrine of papal infallibility, but this is not the case, for the Pope never tried to make an infallible ruling concerning Galileo’s views. The Church has never claimed ordinary tribunals, such as the one that judged Galileo, to be infallible. Church tribunals have disciplinary and juridical authority only; neither they nor their decisions are infallible.

- Galileo actually taught that the sun was at the center of the universe, not just the solar system; later evidence showed that the sun also orbits the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Thus, both Galileo and his opponents were partly right and partly wrong. Galileo was right in asserting the mobility of the earth and wrong in asserting the immobility of the sun. His opponents were right in asserting the mobility of the sun and wrong in asserting the immobility of the earth. Had the Catholic Church rushed to endorse Galileo’s views - and there were many in the Church who were quite favorable to them - the Church would have embraced what modern science has disproved later.

- The 14 Ateneo professors, are no Galileos. Modern science has already proven that life begins at conception: the main argument against abortifacient drugs and devices. On this point, modern science, the Catholic Church, and the Constitution, are united.

- Let us put Galileo to rest. May he rest in Peace. Amen.