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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


According to this report, a Protestant Church bishop said Catholic Church leaders should also be blamed for the Philippines’ reputation as among the most corrupt countries and must offer their resignation if they continue to insist that President Macapagal-Arroyo step down from office.

Bishop Pedro Maglaya of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines said some Catholic Church leaders have called for the resignation of Ms Arroyo but they have themselves to blame for failing to teach humility to their flock, who count her among them….

I suddenly remembered my university student days. I had a very difficult time getting the grades I wanted. It’s not that I had a lofty yearning to be a Dean’s lister, as I was already gratefully contented with just scraping by with three's. When I got quattros or cincos, it was fairly convenient enough to criticize the professors who “didn’t know how to teach”. It didn’t help any that I was a gallivanting, happy-go-lucky student back then. It didn’t help too that I wasn’t paying any attention to the lessons in class, as I was more interested in those ladies, my cute seatmates in class. That, and those all-too-often drinking binges with my fraternity brothers. Ah, those days…

Now Bishop Pedro Maglaya of the United Church of Christ puts to task some Catholic Church leaders, who “have themselves to blame for failing to teach humility to their flock”. Hmm, perhaps…, and I presume Bp Maglaya himself is so eminently successful in teaching humility to his own flock. That being the case, I wonder if Bp Maglaya will consider crossing the Tiber.

“Whose fault was this? Was it God’s fault? Is it the Church who failed?” he asks. It always feels good to do some finger-pointing. Usually when one does this sort of thing, you notice that the thumb part usually points back to the person. He said this means “Church leaders are also accountable”. Sure enough, but then each and every one of us are actually accountable in one way or another. That excludes the good bishop Maglaya, I suppose. I now regret that Maglaya wasn’t my professor in my university student days. Who knows, I could have been a Dean’s lister despite my careless attitude. Either that, or I see him throwing up his hands in despair and resigning as my teacher.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Solomonic doctor

(emailed by bro DBC of CFC ProLife)

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said:

'Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 yr. old and I'm pregnant again. I don't want kids so close together.'

So the doctor said: 'Ok, and what do you want me to do?'

She said: 'I want you to end my pregnancy, and I'm counting on your help with this.'

The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: 'I think I have a better solution for your problem. It's less dangerous for you too.'

She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request.

Then he continued: 'You see, in order for you not to have to take care of 2 babies at the same time, let's kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we're going to kill one of them, it doesn't matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you chose the one in your arms'.

The lady was horrified and said: 'No doctor! How terrible! It's a crime to kill a child!

'I agree', the doctor replied. 'But you seemed to be ok with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.'
The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The mother of all churches

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

...His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me....
(John 2:13-22)

Today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Saint John Lateran Basilica.

St. John Lateran is the Pope's cathedral or principal church of the Bishop of Rome. It was once a royal palace and basilica which belonged to the ancient Roman Emperor Constantine and his family. After Constantine’s conversion in A.D. 313, the Emperor gave the palace and adjacent church to Pope Miltiades.

It is here that the most powerful pope of the middle ages, Innocent III, had a curious dream of a magnificent church breaking apart. In that dream he stood looking out over the Lateran Church and watched with fear as the proud building shook, the tower swung, and the walls began to crack. Suddenly, a small common looking man, barefoot, in peasant garbs, with a rope tied as a belt, came towards the Lateran. Rushing to the falling Church, he set his shoulder in under the wall and with a mighty push straightened the whole falling church, so that it again stood aright.

Soon afterwards, a group of beggars from Assisi arrived, led by a man named Francis, asking for his approval for their lifestyle and work. The Pope, still wary of the trouble caused by sects like the Albigensians and Waldensians, was at first hesitant. As Francis passionately pleaded his cause, the pope then remembered the man in his dreams. Having recognized the hand of God, he encouraged the movement of Francis of Assisi that renewed the Church.

Today, the church building whose dedication we celebrate is not as important as the reality it symbolizes. Every church building, no matter how large or small, symbolizes the Body of Christ, with Jesus as the cornerstone, the apostles as the pillars, and each member as a living stone that together comprise the edifice. As todays Gospels narrates how Jesus drove out the merchants from His Temple, we recall the words of the Scripture: "For the zeal for your House consumes me".

May our celebration today draw us closer to the Lord Jesus, the One who promises us that the Church will prevail even against the gates of Hades.

Friday, November 7, 2008


"It is of course undisputed that one must follow a certain conscience or at least not act against it. But whether the judgment of conscience or what one takes to be such, is always right, indeed whether it is infallible, is another question. For if this were the case, it would mean that there is no truth - at least not in moral and religious matters, which is to say, in the areas which constitute the very pillars of our existence."

- Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger in his 1991 address: CONSCIENCE AND TRUTH)

That is a very good point, TE. I actually have problems understanding what is meant by the terms half-Catholics, progressive Catholics, thinking Catholics, liberal Catholics, conservative Catholics, whatever. Just being a plain, persevering Catholic is fine by me, and it is a choice to be one. When we choose to be a Catholic, we choose to be in unity with the body of Christ, known as full communion with the Church. It is a unity that must of necessity be unbroken by heresy or schism, and requires agreement on essential doctrine and practise. This is not to mean that we have to be in absolute uniformity in theology and usage, provided that essential unity is maintained. When Catholics find cause in their consciences to express dissent to the Church, it must be worthwhile to determine whether this dissent involves any essential doctrine or practise. In today's challenging times when the faithful finds themselves in constant deliberations on public issues that concerns their faith, it is of essence to take note of Pope Benedict XVI's address on the three non-negotiables in the public sphere:

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable.

Among these the following emerge clearly today:


- protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;


- recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;


- the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity.

The Church’s action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.


To choose to be Catholic, is to respond to the call to be “credible and consistent witness[es] of these basic truths”.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dominican's turn

What is similar about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders?

They were both founded by Spaniards, St. Dominic for the Dominicans, and St. Ignatius of Loyola for the Jesuits. They were also both founded to combat heresy: the Dominicans to fight the Albigensians, and the Jesuits to fight the Protestants.

What is different about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders?

Well, have you met any Albigensians lately?


The difference also appears to be that we won't be seeing any UST professors coming out in support of the RH bill.

According to this CBCP news report:

The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas (UST) will focus on the promotion of "faith and life issues" and continue to support the stand of the Filipino Bishops against the reproductive health bill. As a Catholic university of the Philippines, the Dominican-run UST will stress on "faith and life matters" more in the backdrop of the on-going debate on "Reproductive Health (RH)" bill pending in the Congress, said Fr. Filemon I. de la Cruz, Jr., Op, Vice-rector for Religious Affairs. Asked if UST professors, like that of the state-run University of the Philippines, Diliman and Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, would come up with an independent ‘position paper on RH bill’, De la Cruz said, "that would not happen." ...

Interesting, and most welcome. UST has a larger faculty than Ateneo. With 40,000 students, UST is the largest Catholic university in the world in one campus. Another interesting thing is that the Jesuits and the Dominicans appears to have this supposed rivalry that had its roots in a theological dispute about grace and free will. No wonder as I remember back in my high school days when Ateneo was still in the NCAA, our priests were as keen in cheering "ARRIBA LETRAN!" whenever we had a big game against Ateneo. Oh well...


The joke above is obviously told from a Dominican perspective. The Jesuit response would be: "That's because we didn't use swords!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


"The first thing I'll do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." - OBAMA

Patrick of CMR says:

"I know that all I have said about FOCA and the Supreme Court is true if history continues on its current path. But God is in charge of history. Not Obama, not the Dems, not me, and not you. God. My faith is in you Lord. We pray that our nation is spared the horrible effects of the choices we have made. We pray, if it is your will, that we turn from the path we have chosen and repent. We pray for that repentance so that we may be spared your righteous anger. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

I say: Amen.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Five bishops speak out

"The time to prepare ... is now"

"Corruption in such an extensive degree in the Philippines is a crime that cries to heaven for vengeance. Corruption in this country has become endemic, systemic, from top to bottom in government. Perhaps they may be given the punishment they deserve by the human justice system, but that’s not enough. Someone else in the Higher Authority will punish them as they deserve,"

- Archbishop Lagdameo

Very good and well said, Bishop.

A standout though, is another well-said snippet from one of my favorite high school batchmates.

"We are not here to bring you peace. We are here to disturb you. I’m praying to God that after this meeting, may the Lord trouble you because the trouble that comes from the Lord is going to make you a better person and it’s going to make the country a better country."

- Bishop Soc Villegas

Let's hope and pray that a lot of people are troubled, especially those whose consciences are not "blinded through the habit of committing sin" (CCC #1791)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The COST of implementing HB 5043

(Thanks, TE)

Based on the current population levels, implementing the bill would mean at least the following. This does not take into account future growth. This is just to hit par for the course.

1. The birth rate is around 25,3 per 1000 population. With a population of 80 million, this averages around 2.024 million per year. There are around 1610 municipalities in the country. This averages to around 1,257 births per year per municipality or 3.44 births a day.

The professors' paper, (page 4) says "Section 6 of the bill enjoins every city and municipality to endeavor to employ adequate number of midwives or other skilled attendants to achieve a minimum ratio of one (1) for every hundred fifty (150) deliveries per year."

This averages to 10 midwives or skilled attendants for every municipality. I admit this would help employment levels but can each municipality afford it?

Note that the bill delegates implementation to the municipalities. Because of the differences in how much municipalities can afford, implementation is sure to be uneven. This is exactly what the professors decry in their paper - see page 3. Moreover the wording of the bill using the words "enjoin" and "endeavor" (see quote above) clearly implies that this is not mandatory. The cities and municipalities can opt not to do this at its own discretion. How effective do the lawmakers really want this to be?

BTW, while implementation seems clearly discretionary, the curtailment of freedoms are clearly mandatory. Are we slowly moving towards a police state?

2. As we already calculated, at 5 hospitals per 500,000 (or 10 hospitals per million people), we would need to have a total of 800 hospitals or around 10 hospitals per province. The wording of the bill here, again also implies this is not mandatory - "instructs each province and city to seek to establish..."

In other words the bill is telling the provinces to try to come up with the needed hospitals and the municipalities to try to hire the personnel. And how should that work? The hospitals will be run by the provinces and the midwives will be employed by the municipalities. How do you get the health care services to be consistent? What if the provincial government builds the hospitals but the municipalities will not hire the staff?

But by constructing it this way, the complexity the authors of the bill built into it makes it easy for corruption to be practiced. I wonder how many millions the senators and congressmen will make out of this.

3. Playing some more with averages. 1610 municipalities, 81 provinces averages to 20 municipalities per province. At 10 midwives per municipality, that comes to 200 midwives per province. At 10 hospitals per province, that averages to 20 midwives per hospital.

Add doctors, nurses and administrative staff, it looks like the smallest such hospital could theoretically be a 40-staff hospital. My guess would be around a 20-bed hospital. At 3.44 births a day, the hospitals would have to operate at least 2 shifts a day plus on-call duties. Some of them would be operating 24x7. I'm estimating an operating budget of at least 12 million a year.

To build a hospital this size, I'd estimate around say 25 million to build. Equipment would be probably be another 5 million. These might be low, Willy, but each one of these could take 30 million to build and equip and another 12 million a year to run.

To build 800 hospitals would need around 24 billion pesos and another 9.6 billion a year to operate. If we add a 50% corruption factor it would require an expenditure of 36 billion or roughly 2.5% of GDP just to build the hospitals. According to FDC: "The proposed (2009) P1.415-trillion total budget obligations would be funded by P1.393 trillion worth of revenues thus creating a deficit of P21.66 billion. P302.650 billion will go for interest payments of outstanding debts.

However, the budget does not count the principal amortization for outstanding debt, which is pegged at P378.866 billion. In truth, this makes the real deficit to be at P400.53 billion pesos instead of P 21.66 billion, according to FDC.
Without this bill, the government is already planning to spend 130% of expected revenues next year!

If this bill passes, does the country really have the money to implement it? Shouldn't the lawmakers be concentrating on creating wealth instead?


"If today you hear my voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb 3:15)

The primacy of conscience must lead us to the objective truth. It is the primacy of truth that we seek.

In a previous post here it is discussed how ones conscience can be erroneous.

When two persons debate on diametrically opposed positions on an issue, they cannot be both true at the same time, only one of them is. The other one stands only on a personal notion that he is correct. Conscience is said to be right or correct when it is in accord with objective truth. When there is disaccord between the two, it is called erroneous.

A good Catholic conscience can never accept a position of dissent against central Church teaching. Moral truth is the key to conscience, and this is very difficult to deny coherently.

For example, how can anyone deny the sacredness of life in all its stages? How can one deny the sanctity of the family as a domestic church? How can one deny the primary right of parents to educate their children? The moment one argues against these moral truths, the more one takes a relativist stance, farther and farther away from the objective moral truth. Catholicism is not a moral supermarket in which one can pick the stances that seem more acceptable to any individual. Rather, it is a religion that has the promise of divine guidance for its magisterium in moral matters, and that, after all, is a better guarantee than the rest of us can claim as individuals. What better guarantee do we need than Jesus himself who asserts : “I will send the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father" (John 15:26)

Saturday, November 1, 2008


(I received this text message early today) 

Tinatamad ka bang dalawin ang iyong loved one sa sementaryo?


at i-send sa 2366.

At sila mismo ang dadalaw sa iyo!

Text na!


Today, November 1, is all Saints day, when Filipinos troop to the cemeteries to pray for their dear departed. Curiously, the ritual is supposed to be observed on November 2 - All Souls Day, while todays All Saints Day is supposed to honor saints and martyrs. How these days ever got mixed up, I have no clue whatsoever. That is not important anyway but the tradition is faithfully observed yearly by Filipino Catholics, not only in remembrance and to offer prayers for their dear departed, but also as a sort of reunion event with family and relatives. The viguor to which this is pursued can be seen by the dogged mass exodus to the provinces, seen everywhere in the teeming, heavy traffic that clogs all major routes to the North and South.

The significance of this practice cannot be described without mentioning the belief in Purgatory: the Church Suffering. In Catholic doctrine, it is the condition of souls which in the moment of death are in a state of grace, but which have not completely expiated their faults, nor attained the degree of purity necessary to enter heaven. How would we know that a soul goes to purgatory, to heaven, or to hell? (God forbid!). We cannot know. Only God knows. Thus we pray for our dear departed on the implicit acknowledgement that their souls have been transported to be part of the "Church Suffering". We hope that our prayers will lighten and shorten their suffering. Our prayers will have no effect on the saints in Heaven, they do not need it as they are already "triumphant". We can only ask for their intercession. Neither will our prayers have any effect on the souls in hell - they are beyond redemption. Our prayers can only help our brethren suffering in purgatory. 

On this subject, the Church defines two truths as the dogmas of faith: 1) that there is a Purgatory, and 2) that the souls in Purgatory may be assisted by the suffrages of the faithful. There are doctrinal questions though, that are under development: 1) the location of Purgatory; 2) the nature of the suffering; 3) the duration of the suffering; and 4) the application of suffrages. We need not concern ourselves too much with these as our hope is enough, and praying for others is an act of charity that is "is pleasing to the eyes of God".

"If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

(1 Cor 3:12-15)