The New Year's prayer-resolution of one anonymous elderly goes:
"Lord, grant me the grace and senility to forgive and forget the people I never liked anyway,
The good fortune to run into the ones that I do,
And the eyesight to tell the difference.".
One's New Years resolutions changes to a certain relevance with the passing of years, although I know of one guy who makes the same resolution year, after year, after year. Usually, he would keep up with some determined, painstaking effort to fulfill his resolution for about a month, then his willpower would give in by the next. This year, I good-naturedly advised him not to make any New Years resolution anymore, instead he should just make a New Months resolution month after month. That seemed to please him. In turn, he advised me to make a New Weeks resolution every week. I said fine, but from now on I'll be keeping a close watch over him, or else I would advise him to make a New Days resolution day after day.
The Catechism says that our human nature is burdened by concupicence - a certain struggle of tendencies between "spirit" and "flesh" (CCC 2516). Thus the secular view insists that it is futile to battle natural tendencies. Such a worldview however, discounts the necessity of cultivating cardinal virtues (CCC 1805-1809) without which our world will be a world of chaos once we all give reign to our "natural tendencies". But how do we win in the "struggle"? Our sheer willpower alone would be sorely lacking, so much so that St. Paul says in Ephesians 4:13:
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Everything is possible through Jesus Christ, even the fulfillment of New Years resolutions. I myself resolve to keep more healthy and fit, as I am not getting any younger either. Thus my New Years resolution would be to adapt a more healthy lifestyle. I will research and read a lot more about health and physical fitness. That is, if my eyesight does not fail me. So, may God strengthen my eyesight, and my will overall.
Happy New Year to everyone, and may you all have meaningful resolutions blessed and strengthened by the Lord.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
The New Year's prayer-resolution of one anonymous elderly goes:
Thursday, December 24, 2009
My youngest son participated in a Christmas play recently. These school nativity plays abounded the past few days. In once such play, the two main child actors are dressed up as Joseph and Mary. They cross the stage on their way to the inn at Bethlehem. Meanwhile, farther back is a boy in a shepherd's costume on his mobile phone.
He is calling the inn desperately trying to make a reservation.
Luke's account of the birth of Jesus (Lk 2:1-20), narrates that Mary "wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn". Various reasons have been proposed as to why Joseph and Mary ended up in an apparent stable, which was certainly far from being an appropriate accommodation for a mother about to give birth. The situation was that the governor Quirinus issued a decree for an empire-wide census, and Joseph had to register in his hometown. Naturally as a consequence, there could be a dearth of accommodations in Bethlehem due to the heavy influx of registrants. Joseph and Mary were obviously too late to secure their accommodations ahead of the rest. The straight distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 70 miles - a tough call for a woman heavy with child, riding a donkey, with her husband patiently walking beside her. But then again, Bethlehem was Joseph's birthplace, and presumably he was supposed to have many relatives in the area that could strive by any means possible to provide decent accommodation for a relative with a pregnant wife about to give birth. Surely, an expectant mother should have been given priority accommodation over the rest. However, much as the popular rendition suggests, there is no biblical record of an innkeeper actually turning down the couple. At any rate, assuming Bethlehem was filled with others who needed to be counted for a census, guest rooms in homes would have had multiple people in them. Not a good place for childbirth, adding the need for privacy and isolation according to Jewish customs. We cannot dismiss the customs of the times, and we have to understand that childbirth rituals would have rendered any vicinity "unclean", and would have displaced a multitude of residents at any inn for quite a time. Perhaps the stable, usually located in the inner or lower area instead of the upper room, was a more suitable compromise after all.
Reasoned guesses and plausible speculations aside, we can be sure of certain things. Jesus our King came as a Messiah stripped of the trappings of pageantry, power and riches. He was laid in a manger, amidst the most humble of surroundings. Our God is revealed in ordinary and bare circumstances -- because He came to serve and not be served
God is with us.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The King and the humble Maiden
My former teacher in the subject Revelation at the Loyola School of Theology shared with us a story by the famous Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard:
Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden who lived in a poor village in his kingdom. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist-no one dared resist him. But would she love him?
She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at his side? How could he know for sure? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross the gulf between them. For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal.
The king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend to her. Clothed as a beggar, he approached her cottage with a worn cloak fluttering loose about him. This was not just a disguise - the king took on a totally new identity - He had renounced his throne to declare his love and to win hers.
Monday, December 21, 2009
ELEPHANTS ATTACK IN ORISSA EXACTLY AFTER ONE YEAR OF PERSECUTIONS
Recently a strange and dramatic event took place in Orissa, which has many people talking and wondering.
In recent months, herds of wild elephants have begun to storm villages that are home to some of the worst persecutors of Christians during the troubles. In one village, where in August a year ago the Christians had to run for their lives while their homes were being destroyed by rioters, a herd of elephants emerged from the surrounding jungle exactly one year later, in July 2009, at the same time of the day of the attack.
These elephants first attacked a rock crusher machine owned by a key leader of the persecution movement. They then went on to destroy his house and farms...Gaining momentum, they rampaged through other non-Christian homes, demolishing gardens and singling out the home of persecutors, leaving Christian homes untouched.
Sisters willing to stake life on Aquino’s integrity
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – “I can stake my life on it: my brother will not tarnish our family name and steal in office,” Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Aquino Abellada said of her brother, the late-blooming presidential aspirant, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Oh great. The presidential contest is all about who does not steal and who does. Integrity should be a given! Let's forget about platforms, track record, and competence.
Estrada, Revilla top senatoriables survey
MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Jinggoy Estrada leads the senatoriables in the latest Pulse Asia Pre-Election Survey, with 55.1 percent of respondents saying they would include him in their senatorial line-up if the elections were held today...
Following Estrada is Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. (52.7 percent) ...
4th Sunday of Advent
Mi 5:1-4a; Heb 10:5-10; Lk 1:39-45
"...For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy"
I could still remember when I was a kid and my mother was expectant with our youngest sibling. There were times when she made me observe whenever the baby in her womb did some calisthenics. I was delighted when I actually saw my mom's tummy alternately bulging and receding in different places with what I thought was the playful acrobatics of our baby inside our mother’s womb. Amazing!
In the Gospel narrative when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb "leaped for joy", whereupon she cried out in a loud voice and said:
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.".
Mary greeted Elizabeth. It was not specified what exactly was the wording of Mary’s greeting which elated Elizabeth and the child in her womb, but it was probably the precursor of the earliest “Merry Christmas” greeting of all time. In today’s world, the greeting of “Merry Christmas” has been mostly separated from its rightful meaning. Some even just say “Happy Holidays”, disposing entirely of the reason for the season. The very reason is the child Jesus coming to us - through the “yes” of our Mother Mary. It is really for this that the child in each one of us leaps out in joy. And with that, I greet each and every one of you my dear Catholic friends…
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Marriage is good for the health -- global study
WELLINGTON – Despite the barbs of comedians and the spectacular bust-ups documented in the gossip magazines, marriage really is good for you, international research has found.
A study of nearly 34,500 people in 15 countries found married people are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse, clinical psychologist Kate Scott of New Zealand's University of Otago said Tuesday...
The study was based on the WHO World Mental Health surveys across developing and developed countries conducted over the past decade.
If it is good for the health of the people, then it must be good for the health of society, which is good for mankind. The study just confirms there is a life and death reason behind natural law. Marriage is naturally designed to benefit people and society. Traditional marriage, that is.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
3rd Sunday of Advent
Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD narrates that there was this story of a priest who blessed the congregation by saying: "Peace be with you...nobody, nobody but you.". Thereupon the people started dancing to the tune of the popular song "Nobody, Nobody But You". That tune by the Wonder Girls is such a smash hit that virtually every Christmas party I have attended so far featured a group presentation dancing to the beat. Why, I've even learned a few steps myself! No big deal, even my 4 year-old son can swing it.
Christmas parties abound, and the joy of the season is in the air. Fittingly, the liturgical theme on this 3rd Sunday of Advent is Joy.
"Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! " (Reading 1 Zep 3:14-18a)
"Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel." (Responsorial)
"Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always." (Reading 2 Phil 4:4-7)
In the Gospel, St. John the Baptist exhorts his listeners to show their conversion. (Lk 3:10-18)
“Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
"do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”
Anyone who has felt that the Lord is near is joyful in living the righteous way and sharing the blessings around. We rejoice in the Way, the Truth, and the life - nobody, nobody but Jesus. In the homily today, our priest succinctly emphasized what real joy is:
J esus O ver Y ou
Saturday, December 12, 2009
"The Voice of "
By Bob Perks
He had been a long time member of the church but refused to show up for services let alone join.
He was an integral part of the Christmas Choir, but would not attend rehearsals.
Still, everyone looked forward to seeing him once a year. So much, in fact, they would hold a seat for him at the candle light service everyChristmas Eve.
Many of the congregation would arrive early to get a good seat nearby the gentleman.
Was it his personality? No, he really kept to himself rarely sharing a word with anyone.
It was his voice. "Oh " was his song.
Throughout his life he often wished for the chance to perform it at a local church. Although the had left his heart years ago with the passing of his wife, this one song, those special lyrics, belonged to him.
It was said that it was her favorite song and although poor, the richness of his voice was his gift to her. This church, that night, was always theirs.
As the service progressed anticipation would build. Everyone joined in singing " ," "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" and others.
Then the big moment would arrive.
The choir would stand, the church organ would begin to play. "O holy night, the stars are brightly shining" was the intro sung by the 12 member choir. Then, as if Heaven had open its doors, the choir softly faded and the man began to sing...
"It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."
You could feel the excitement as music began to build to the refrain...
"Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, , O night divine!"
By this time there was never a dry eye.
After the service the man would blend into the crowd and exit the rear door.
The tradition lived on until a month before Christmas that year.
He had joined his love, his reason to sing.
"What will they do?" one of the elders asked. "Who could take his place?"
No one. No one would dare attempt to fill his spot. It would be difficult indeed to come close to that long treasured moment.
"We will do the song in his memory" the choir director declared.
"But who among us will sing his part?"
"God had blessed us with his voice and His earthly choir is not made of only one single voice," he assured them. "He will bless us again."
That Christmas Eve, as everyone filled the church, you could hear the choir warming up in the basement.
A small piano began playing followed by, "O holy night, the stars are brightly shining" then silence.
The minister began by welcoming everyone and in particular the visitors, "Family and friends who return home each year." "In the center of the church you will notice a single seat holding a bouquet of Christmas flowers. It is in memory of a man we called, "The Voice of Christmas."
The service began building to that very moment they all waited for. Lights dimmed and a young child holding a single candle in his hand walked toward the front.
The organist began the intro and the choir stood to sing, "O holy night, the stars are brightly shining.."
There was a sudden hush and the faint sound of one small voice singing...
"It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."
The organ stopped. The choir remained standing as everyone looked to see where the voice was coming from.
"Over there! I couldn't believe it. That beautiful voice was the child. The child holding the candle."
He slowly, nervously turned around toward the crowd and said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..." and he began to cry.
The choir director rushed to his side and assured him everything was fine.
Then the young boy said, "I always sang along but no one could hear me. Some man was
always louder than me."
Laughter filled the church.
The minister declared, "God has indeed answered our prayers. We are blessed once again with "The Voice of Christmas."
The organist began again as the young boy was lifted up to sing and they all joined in...
"Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!"
We are each called to be His Voice not only at Christmas but all year long.
For the purposes of this thread, it is good to limit ourselves to the historical validity of Sola Scriptura vs. Tradition and Scriptures. Either approach must be based on sound theology, applicable at all time periods in history. It is good that we agree that Christ never left the Church. We can further debate on what the Church means and the keys to the Kingdom later on.
Sherlock Holmes used to say that when you have eliminated the all the impossible, whatever remains -- however absurd it may appear in one's own opinion -- must be the truth. Sola Scriptura is based on assumptions that call for the impossible. You ask: "How many Catholics study the bible? How many even have a bible?"
That is precisely my point. If one had the means and capability to acquire and study the bible, then certainly one would be seriously remiss if one did not do so. But what if the follower cannot afford to buy one? (don't be suprised that here in the Philippines, most people can't even afford to buy food) What if the follower is illiterate by force of circumstance?
Sola Scriptura is based on assumptions that call for the impossible. It presupposes many things. For one, the bible must be easily accessible. This is the major point I was emphasizing in my previous messages, that Sola Scriptura was largely contingent on the invention of the printing press. Secondly, it is premised on a high level of literacy. Take note that in medieval times, the flock was largely composed of illiterate peasants. How could they read, much less understand the bible? The same would be true for the underprivileged brethren in our modern times, and here we must recognize the irony of it all! especially when we consider the Scripture's preferential option for t he poor. Third, one must have the time, energy and the exceptional mental faculties that qualify for a cohesive reading and correct understanding of Scriptures. The bible contains 31,000++ verses. You have to read much if not all of it to get the context right. Not to mention that you must be able to process and distill the information very well. Now who and how many among those in the middle ages possess these qualities? Who and how many among us in these modern times as well?
Granted that the above three conditions are met (an incredible proposition at that), personal, unregulated interpretations tend towards chaotic divisions. God does not desire disunity in the Church. The global presence today of 30,000+ Christian denominations who disagree on essential doctrines attest to this fact. Contrast that with the Roman Catholic Church with a single and consistent belief system that has endured 2000++ years to this day.
Yes, the road is narrow and only a few will find it, but at the same time, scriptures also say that Jesus desired many to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. If Jesus desires many to be saved, will He impose something that severely contradicts His own desire? Again, considering all of these, is Sola Scriptura justified, both theologically and historically?
You will be familiar with the disciple Philip who caught up with a certain court official who was reading a page from Isaiah with much confusion. (Acts 8).
Philip asked: "Do you understand what you are reading?" The answer was: ""How can I, unless someone instructs me?"
Sunday, December 6, 2009
My Protestant friend JDR raises the issue in our high school alumni groupmail that there are "differences between the bible and the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church as compiled by the Magisterium". He maintains there are a "thousand and one issues", and proceeds to list 10 of them. He concludes by saying: "The list goes on and on. Isn't it better to just drop the bible altogether than to claim belief in it as the word of God, claim allegiance to God and then diametrically oppose it?".
The "thousand and one issues" - 10 of which you raise here, disingenuously implies a dichotomy between the Bible and the Roman Catholic Church. You know that we have already tackled some of those items (was it more than a year ago?). There is no dichotomy between Scriptures and Sacred Tradition, but there is an inextricable link between them. Catholics always say that Tradition serves Scriptures, and in no way contradicts them.
Your top ten list is obviously written from a Protestant perspective, just by the way they are framed: "the bible teaches..(whereas)
Let us take for example your first issue:
1) The bible teaches that grace is a free gift (Romans 11:6). RCC teaches that grace is merited by good works (2010, 2027).
The Catholic doctrine correctly understood is Faith AND Works, and not by good works (only). In fact the sections of CCC you cited states:
"2010. Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions. "
"2027 No one can merit the in itial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods."
Nowhere in those two sections is it stated that grace is merited by good works alone. Catholics just emphasize BOTH Faith AND Works, for in CCC 2029 it says further
"2029 If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me".
Surely that last one is biblical, is it not? (Mt 16:24).
The other nine issues in your list would be tackled in similar manner. Only a selective reading (or a selective misreading) of the Bible along with the Cathechism, would seem to show that there is a dichotomy between the Bible and Sacred Tradition. There is none.
As I have said in my previous post, these are old issues which have been already addressed as early as the 16th century. What you are doing is just revisiting the issues. We are only having a disagreement because Protestants individually interpret the bible without a central authority. The analogy goes like saying that all lawyers are free to personally interpret the Constitution and there is no need for the judiciary or the Supreme Court.
Bishop Fulton Sheen once said:
"There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is of course, quite a different thing."
Saturday, December 5, 2009
2nd Sunday of Advent
While I was pondering this Sunday's Gospel, I suddenly remembered that I wrote a related piece just a little over a year ago. My first post in CF actually: on the 1st Sunday of Advent - 2008. Check it out here.
Anyway, it is the second Sunday of Advent 2009, and the gospel is about St. John the Baptist's call for repentance - to prepare the way of the Lord. I want to share part of an amusing poem titled 'Repentance', by the writer-poet Robert William Service.
If you repent, the pastor said,
Your sins will be forgiven.
Yes, even on your dying bed
You're not too late for heaven.
That's just my cup of tea, I thought,
Though for my sins I sorrow;
Since salvation is easily bought
I will repent . . . tomorrow.
I guess that poem hits the mark in a sort of satirical way. When John the Baptist, the voice of one calling in the desert, called to prepare the way of the Lord, he meant immediate reconciliation and repentance. The word "prepare" automatically carries with it the inherent quality of immediacy. We simply cannot prepare and procrastinate at the same time. When we prepare our minds and hearts for the Lord, we profess our utmost love as in now, asap, pronto, a segundo mismo. After all, can we say to someone we heartily cherish that: I love you... tomorrow?
With repentance comes true reconciliation, and only then can we be ready and prepared to face the salvation of God. Imagine if today we postponed repentance for tomorrow or the day after, and then right in the very next minute the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. The adage "better late than never" always poses a huge gamble, especially when we bet with our souls.
From David Pekrul, here is another short poem:
To be on time is not my thing,
For I'm "Procrastination King",
But one day, be it late or soon,
I'll sing a very different tune.
Hmm. I hope the procrastination kings amongst us even get to sing tunes after the long haul. Otherwise, it would more like moaning.
On this, all of us pilgrims will surely need St. Paul's prayer in the second reading:
"---that your love may increase ever more and more, in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness, that comes through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God."
(x-posted for CatholicFriends)
Monday, November 30, 2009
Meanwhile, in the department of things I cannot understand...
Woods takes blame for 'embarrassing' crash
Well, he can't blame the fire hydrant nor the tree for blocking his way.
For one thing, he forgot to yell FORE!!!
But how can one cause such a disaster just by backing out of the garage?
PNP to seize Ampatuan’s 19 guns
What on earth does he need 19 guns for?
And why on earth does the government allow that many?
Arroyo can’t ignore "clamor to run"— ally
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Whenever particularly sensational crimes are committed in this country, talks of reviving the death penalty are bound to resurface. The rationale is not entirely unfounded. My recent post elicited some well-informed arguments for and against imposing the death penalty. At this point, I would venture to suppose that capital punishment must be founded, if at all, on an impartial, extensive due process. Do we have such an extensive due process here in the Philippines where the playing field is level for the rich and the poor? Before we pose the question, it might be appropriate to ask first if the current police system is similarly impartial and effective in the enforcement of existing laws.
In 1999 when the death penalty was still in place, about a thousand inmates were in New Bilibid Prison's death row. According to this report, a survey of 425 death row inmates showed that most earned less than $6 a day when they were arrested. Three-quarters of them were farmers, truckers, laborers and so on. Few can afford the $30 that attorneys charge to attend the death sentence hearings. It is estimated that only 12%-15% of those charged in capital cases can afford private representation. So much so for an enforcement system and "extensive due process" which appears to be missing its blindfold.
A similar thread transpired in this blog earlier this year when the death penalty issue was similarly revived due to notorious drug traffickers. From there I will quote from my good friend TE:
"But one thing is sure. When God created your life it wasn't a temporal event, it was a divine one. Could it be that the temporal act of killing represents a divine problem which requires a divine solution? As Yoda would say, how would you address a disturbance in the Force?"
The Catholic position on capital punishment allows room for legitimate diversity in opinion. To quote Pope Benedict XVI:
3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
If the government will not act decisively on this one, it will be denying justice to the entire Filipino people, to humanity.
May consciences prevail.
God help us.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan is at once a refresher course, an inspired homily, a deeper exploration of marriage than you’ve ever seen in one place, and a call to turn away from false contemporary views in order to reinvigorate our culture through the vocation of marriage. It succeeds admirably on all counts. It should be required reading not only for marriage preparation but for all married couples, no matter how long their marriages have so far endured. - CatholicCulture.org
Excerpt from the introduction:
"While marriage is a special blessing for Christians because of the grace of Christ, marriage is also a natural blessing and gift for everyone in all times and cultures. It is a source of blessing to the couple, to their families, and to society and includes the wondrous gift of co-creating human life. Indeed, as Pope John Paul II never tired of reminding us, the future of humanity depends on marriage and the family. It is just such a conviction that has led us, the Catholic bishops of the United States, to write this pastoral letter. "
1. Introduction: The Blessing and Gift of Marriage
2. I. What is Marriage
3. I. Male-Female Complementarity Is Essential to Marriage
4. I. The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage: Unitive
5. I. The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage: Procreative
6. I. How Are the Two Ends of Marriage Related?
7. I. Fundamental Challenges to the Nature and Purpose of Marriage: 1. Contraception
8. I. Fundamental Challenges: 2. Same-Sex Unions
9. I. Fundamental Challenges: 3. Divorce
10. I. Fundamental Challenges: 4. Living Together Without Marriage
11. II. Married Life Affected by Original Sin
12. II. Marriage Restored in Christ
13. II. Christian Marriage as a Sacrament
14. II. Marriage as a Reflection of the Life of the Trinity
15. II. The Family as Domestic Church
16. II. Marriage as a Vocation
17. II. Growth in Christian Marriage
18. II. Growth in Virtue (introductory section)
19. II. Growth in Virtue: Chastity
20. II. Growth in Virtue: Gratitude
21. II. Growth toward Perfection
22. II. Marriage and the Eucharist
23. II. Marriage Fulfilled in the Kingdom of God
Download full text here.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Comelec OKs 2 bets for president, 2 for Senate, nixes 4
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 3) Six aspirants to the presidency have so far filed their candidacies, but only two were accepted by the Commission on Elections...
The poll body also approved the CoC of Rigoberto Madera, who identified himself as a “Messiah” and a member of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.
Madera, who is nicknamed N.N.N. or Najananan, which means diamond general and commander-in-chief on earth, filed his CoC at 8:40 a.m. and was the first one to do so.
[Should have been nicknamed N.N.N.N. instead. The first N standing for Nuisance...the definition of which should be sent out to the Comelec.]
Jesse Jackson Says Black Men 'Can't Vote Against Healthcare'
If a prominent white man said all white men in Congress should vote for or against a pending piece of legislation, what do you think the media firestorm would be like?
As you ponder, consider that Reverend Jesse Jackson on Wednesday told a reception held by the Congressional Black Caucus, “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”...
[How I wish some Catholic bishops were as firm as Rev. Jackson.
But Matthew of CMR asks: I guess my only question is that excommunicated Catholics can always become Episcopalians, but where do former black people go?]
UN: Fight climate change with free condoms
LONDON – The battle against global warming could be helped if the world slowed population growth by making free condoms and family planning advice more widely available, the U.N. Population Fund said Wednesday...
[To which R.O. says: The UN should close down for the breathtaking diagnosis.
Agreed. At least the hot air will be reduced...]
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Note: 3rd in a series.
The following article by Mr. Antonio Montalvan II appeared in the November 8 issue of the Inquirer, under his regular opinion column: "Kris-Crossing Mindanao".
Reprinted here with the permission of the author.
Conversations with Noynoy
By Antonio J. Montalvan II
Philippine Daily Inquirer
INCREDIBLE as it may seem for a son of Cory Aquino, has Noynoy Aquino seems to have made double-faced pronouncements on his stand on reproductive health? That question must be asked, much to the consternation, I know, of anti-life/pro-choice advocates. But on two separate occasions of recent knowledge, Noynoy has been heard to have said entirely contradictory positions on reproductive health.
One making the rounds of the short messaging world has since been disowned by Aquino’s Manila headquarters as “inaccurate,” but it has not denied that the conversation had indeed taken place. But for the sake of intellectual argument, let’s have the reprise of the conversation that Noynoy had supposedly made in Tagbilaran City after visiting the Bishop’s House there last October 16. The “excerpts” run this way:
MM (name of a Bohol Catholic monsignor): Is it true that you are for the reproductive health bill?
Noynoy: Yes, monsignor, it is the key to the ills in our country, especially overpopulation. I always remember the poor couples in Payatas with 11 children; they got to be helped with contraceptives that should be made available to them.
MM: You believe in overpopulation and contraception?
Noynoy: Yes, monsignor, it is what you see around us. Contraception per se is not bad, as what my Jesuit priest friends told me in the Ateneo.
MM: That’s the idea of the Jesuits. They are not the magisterium, they don’t represent the Pope.
Noynoy: But that’s what my conscience tells me.
MM: Are you sure? Consciences need to be formed under the teachings of the Church. If you insist on your pro-RH stand, I will assure you the entire clergy will campaign against you.
Noynoy: Thank you for the conversation, monsignor.
Now contrast that with a conversation Noynoy had with a family friend, a religious nun whose identity we shall not divulge, but whose connection with Cory’s family, beginning in 1986, remains intimate. The venue of the conversation alone tells you the close ties of the good sister with the Aquino family: on Cory’s grave side during the family gathering for the 40th day of the late president’s death.
The nun relates to me that conversation by summing up what Noynoy had said on the same issue of reproductive health: that he is against abortion, that he is against the legislation of artificial contraception and that couples cannot be coerced into contradicting their faith.
One thing in private, another thing in public. That about sums up Noynoy’s position on reproductive health. That is not just an enigma. That spells danger for the Filipino electorate who now count, as the survey demographics say, by probably the millions who now look up to the young senator as this country’s next president. We are hitching the future of this country to a man who, as the two conversations suggest, has seemed to have learned the crafty world of traditional politicians and their proclivity for double talk.
How now to explain that enigma? Search us please, but we do know that political statements are measured to please a myriad of interests. Perhaps he is only playing lip service to the “popularity” of artificial contraception as computed by survey numbers, as if to say that faith and morality are dictated by a count of heads. It is like saying that if more heads say abortion is okay, then it is truly okay and so it becomes the norm. The wisdom of Church magisterium is made of less fickle stuff.
What we do know, however, is that Noynoy Aquino, since his days as Tarlac congressman, is a member of PLCPD. That stands for Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development which is the main lobby for the legislation of artificial contraception in Congress. Noynoy is surrounded in his provincial sorties by PLCPD stalwarts, some of whom are the most militant advocates of reproductive health. Politics is more addition and less subtraction, and Noynoy is playing that game like a pro.
Last week, a blogger who is a regular in a talk show on national television made a plea to bishops and cardinals not to mobilize people to not vote for candidates who espouse reproductive health. Needless to say, that was said to the wrong people. Bishops and cardinals are not the only ones who constitute the Church. It is the right of lay people, who too want to see the Cory phenomenon sustained, to express contrary opinions to Noynoy Aquino the candidate.
There are three conditions for membership in the Church: baptism, communion of faith, communion with the Pope. Communion of faith means believing every truth the Church teaches. Anything less than those three conditions do not make one a Catholic. At best, one is only a nominal Catholic, but that is really a misnomer for one can only be a Catholic or not, no matter if you are a Jesuit priest, albeit a wayward one.
Having said that, we should not fear bishops and cardinals who do not “endorse” Noynoy Aquino. What we should fear instead are leaders who disperse our people into believing myths and fallacies that destroy the natural dignity of the human being. That is the real threat to the moral fabric of this already decadent country of ours that lives on lies.
I would rather see Noynoy go down in defeat than compromise his faith.
Antonio J. Montalvan II, PhD
Director of University Publications
Director-Curator, Museum of Three Cultures
Monday, November 16, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Honestly, who would want to harm a 79 year-old priest who runs a remote foundation helping disabled children from impoverished families? And he has been at it for decades! In a primitive, rebel-infested, impoverished, rural setting! And he is raring to go back to continue his work, for another few years! And through it all, even with the harrowing kidnapping, the good priest remains jolly with undiminished "energy and passion for missionary life" !!
Honestly, there are millions like these missionaries around the world. There is zero publicity for them, as they prefer to work silently. Of course the liberal, church-bashing press don't notice them at all. Until the kidnapping, the media was clueless as to the existence of missionary priests like this. I know, I know. There's nothing here to criticize and sensationalize anyway.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Do we know what Catholics want?
The above title of Rina Jimenez-David's latest opinion piece in the Philippine Inquirer begs the question in a manner of speaking that what the majority 'Catholics' want, must surely be accorded superiority in the public sphere by weight of argument. If many of them want something, they must be right? Of course it goes without saying that it is a source of mystery as to what she means by the word 'Catholics'.
Just by her opening salvo, it is not difficult to predict where the rest of the column is leading to, going by her previous diatribes against the Catholic Church here, here, and here.
Again, she laments the involvement of the Church in the RH bill, going as far with an allegation that "there’s word that the Catholic hierarchy has talked to Arroyo and wrangled an agreement that in exchange for their continuing support, the President would prevent passage of the bill by talking to her congressional allies..". Never mind if it is plain hearsay because just after a few more sentences, Ms. David quickly reveals her foregone conclusion:
In sum, Ms. David's idea of the Church's role is to flex political muscle and moralistic bullying at the expense of the 'greater good of citizens'. So, to Rina David, the Church is just a terrorist organization, being hostage-takers? But then again, it is another source of mystery as to what she understands by the word 'greater good of citizens', let alone the word 'moralistic'.
Ms. David now draws parallels with the health care debate in the United States. She devotes much of the rest of her column into extolling the advocacy of the US-based group "Catholics For Choice". This group, which calls themselves Catholics, advances the hotly-debated health care reform by the Obama administration. This group is also unabashedly pro-abortion, and that is why they label themselves as pro-choice Catholics: "for choice". That is, for choice of abortions. It's website states that: "Catholic support for legal abortion is grounded in core principles of Catholic theology, which respect the moral agency of all women". Apparently, this group has also invented its own catechism.
On a related note, Rhode Island Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has released an open letter to Congressman Patrick Kennedy, in response to the public statement of Congressman Kennedy that: “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues (read: abortion) does not make me any less of a Catholic” .
Here is an excerpt from Bishop Tobin's letter:
The same question may be directed to our own sari-sari-store 'Catholics'.
Back to Rina David's column. She concludes her piece by saying:
Well Rina, first of all: Do you know what being a Catholic means?.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
(x-posted in CatholicFriends)
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
November 8, 2009
As the story goes, a man being mugged by two thugs put up a tremendous fight. Finally, the thugs subdued him and took his wallet. Upon finding only two dollars in the wallet, the surprised thug said “Why did you put up such a fight?” To which the man promptly replied “I was afraid that you would find the $200 hidden in my shoe!”
The gospel account of the widow who offered two coins in spite of her poverty is well-known.
We still remember this nameless widow more than 2,000 years after she put her last two cents into the treasury.
"...Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents..."
Some say that this biblical account gives credence solely to the adage: Give until it hurts.
Does it? While it is certainly virtuous to sacrifice ones own interest in order to offer something for others, in this instance the account also points out the higher order in things. This is revealed by the contrast demonstrated between rich people giving large sums and the poor widow giving two small coins. It simply shows that generosity and devotion to God is not measured by the amount given but rather in what lies at the heart of the giver. Jesus confirms this when He said: "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.".
The rich might even have felt nonchalance and some reluctance in parting with their money, while the poor widow sincerely gives everything with all joy in her heart, in spite of her spare means. This is what St. Paul refers to when he said: "Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor 9:7)
God knows how much we can afford to give, as he knows all the money that we have (even those hidden in our shoe). It is the full devotion to God that the gospel speaks of, and it may not really matter whether one is rich or poor materially. The important thing is that one's heart must be for God -- selflessly, entirely, physically, and spiritually. Jonathan Swift put it nicely: “A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.”
The poor widow had God in her heart, and for that alone, she is infinitely rich.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
These guidelines were issued by the CFC International Council to define CFC's GK work. An article containing such guidelines was also reported in the CFC Ugnayan supplement of the recent CBCP Monitor issue for Oct 26-Nov 8, Vol 13, No. 22.
For informational purposes.
Chapter 2 of the book deals with the temptations of Jesus. (Mat 4:1-11)
The three synoptic Gospels tells us that after Jesus' baptism, he was led by the Spirit into the desert "to be tempted by the devil" (Mt 4:1). In relation, CCC 540 states: "Jesus' temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is the Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes". Pope Benedict also observes that it is a "descent into the perils besettling mankind" - for there is no other way to lift up fallen humanity. "Jesus has to enter into the drama of human existence...to bear it on his shoulders".
This leads into the Pope's very incisive reflections on how these temptations address what truly matters in human life.
"At the heart of all these temptations, as we see here, is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives..."
"Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation. It does not invite us directly to do evil -- no, that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we finally abandon our 'illusions' and throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world into a better place...".
Such is the true yet sad commentary for our times. Many people in the modern world - including some professed Christians - fall prey to the beguiling wiles of the devil, all the while thinking there is a better way than what divine revelation really tells us. Worse, many are lured into false "moral posturing", as we take note that the devil in the temptations took it upon himself to even essay and twist Scriptures according to his evil intent. Thus today around the world, we see many activist, "humanitarian" efforts in "making the world into a better place". The liberalization of abortion under the guise of protecting freedom of choice. Public funding of abortions and biased medical rationing under the guise of affordable, universal health care. Promotion of abortifacient contraceptives under the guise of managing population and helping the poor families. Redefining marriage to protect equal rights and "natural tendencies". Destruction of human embryos under the guise of medical research to save lives. Promotion of euthanasia, even child euthanasia, under the guise of compassionate, humane treatment. All of these and more succumb to panem et circenses - the false lure of earthly bread, power, and artificial spectacle that evil tantalizingly offers.
The account of Jesus' temptations ends with Jesus refuting the devil: "Scripture says: worship the Lord your God and serve Him alone", whereupon the devil left him.
Worldly activists might ask: but what did Jesus actually bring if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world?
The answer is very simple: Jesus has brought God.
Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. "Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope and love. It is only because of our hardness of heart that we think this is too little. Yes indeed, God's power works quietly in this world, but it is the true and lasting power."
The only thing that truly endures and saves.
Friday, October 30, 2009
UN committee to RP: Pass reproductive health bill !!!!!
MANILA, Philippines – Voicing “serious” concern over inadequate reproductive health services and information, low rate of contraceptive use and difficulties in access to artificial methods that contribute to teen pregnancies and high maternal death, a United Nations panel urged the government to pass the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. The UN panel likewise urged the Philippines to ignore the meddling of the Catholic Church in state affairs. The UN panel of course, can always meddle.
A report released this October containing the concluding observations on the Philippines of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that the government should “adopt as a matter or urgency the Reproductive Health bill awaiting approval by Congress and ensure that the bill reflect the rights of children and adolescents as enshrined in the Convention [Convention on the Rights of the Child].”. The report added that "the right of the unborn from the moment of conception, as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution, does not need to be discussed.". This is because the UN Committee is still clueless whether a child grows out of a fertilized egg at conception.
“The UN Committee remains seriously concerned at the inadequate reproductive health services and information, the low rates of contraceptive use [36 percent of women relied on modern family planning methods in 2006] and the difficulties in obtaining access to artificial methods of contraception, which contribute to the high rates of teenage pregnancies and maternal deaths,”. The report also urged the government to strengthen formal and informal sex education for girls and boys with focus on the prevention of early pregnancies. The UN Committee cited the success story in Britain (read it here), where sex education is mandatory for kids starting at age five, while contraceptives are absolutely free and readily accessible, yet teenage pregnancies and abortions continue to increase. Oops...wrong example, the red-faced UN spokesperson quickly added. What the UN Committee further emphasizes is "strengthening of HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns". Take for example the success story in Thailand (read it here), which embarked on an aggressive promotion of free condoms, yet HIV cases rises by cumulative figures each year. Oops...wrong again...
Monday, October 26, 2009
Tucked somewhere among the remote hills of Antipolo is this modest church which serves as a venue for an ongoing CFC Christian Life Program where I was invited to deliver a talk yesterday. It is located in the Lower Antipolo area where the last stretch leads one through bumpy, rough roads. Having been accustomed to well-appointed churches and formation centers in the city, I was quite awestruck by the bare simplicity of this church and its verdant surroundings. The building is quite unfinished, unpainted and unfurnished. The lower floor serves as the main church-cum-formation center, while the upper floor serves as the priests' modest quarters. The parishioners are mostly from the nearby relocation settlement areas, composed of former squatters who were forcibly relocated from the city. CFC has established GK communities in the area, started around 6 years ago. I heard that more displaced settlers have been recently hauled into the site by the government, poor victims of the recent Ondoy storm devastation. These are people that need the most pastoral care.
I did not get to talk with the parish priest although an incoming assistant priest dropped by and we had the chance for a little chat. It appears they are missionary priests from the Augustinian order, and I guess they chose the right assignment. God bless them. They may have bare facilities, but they certainly know how to build the church.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
What a neat economic lesson from a chief economist from UP (wow!) .
PROBLEM: Environment problems = growing population
STEP 1 - Population growth x zero = Lower divisor for GDP,
STEP 2 - Lower divisor for GDP = Increase in per capita income !
STEP 3 - Increase in per capita income = Less environmental problems,
STEP 4 - Less environmental problems = Less people,
STEP 5 - Less people = Less casualties !!!
Absolutely brilliant !!! Who wuda thunk it? According to Pernia, "Nobody has mentioned the population issue..." (oh, but the incorrigible Rep. Lagman did), and we have to be extremely grateful for such an elegant, no-brainer, economic solution.
But wait --- there's another step.
STEP 6 - Less people = Less economists = Less problems !!!
Friday, October 23, 2009
All I know about it is that it seems like an ecclesiastical structure for flexible dioceses with no geographical boundaries. It is supposed to be called Personal Ordinariates, Personal Ordinates, Personal Ordinarinates,... whatever. Patrick of CMR says he simply cannot say this term three times in a row with a blood alcohol level of .04 or above. On the other hand I simply cannot say it three times in a row without suffering a nosebleed. At any rate, I had to understand what it really means after the Vatican announced that "the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church...".
It's a good thing I had my friend Doctor G. to supply some enlightening information. Here goes.
First of all, the announcement speaks of the promulgation of an "Apostolic constitution." An Apostolic Consitution is the highest level of decree issued by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It will be a formal charter establishing the canonical terms and conditions upon which the "personal ordinariates" which it creates are to come into being and to continue to exist within the Roman Catholic Church. Now as to the personal ordinariates: they are an amalgam of two already existing structures in the canon law of the Church: personal prelatures and military ordinariates.
Personal prelatures and Military Ordinates
A Personal prelature is an institutional structure of the Roman Catholic Church which comprises a prelate, clergy and possibly laity who undertake specific pastoral activities. Personal prelatures, similar to dioceses and military ordinariates, are under the governance of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops. These three types of ecclesiastical structures are composed of lay people served by their own secular clergy and prelate. Unlike dioceses which cover territories, personal prelatures - like military ordinariates - take charge of persons as regards some objectives regardless of where they live. Opus Dei is an example of a personal prelature (and the only one to date), established by Pope John Paul II in November 28, 1982 thru the apostolic constitution Ut Sit. On the other hand, an example of a military ordinariate is the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines or MOP. It has jurisdiction over all military, police and coast guard personnel, their dependents, and the civilian employees of all branches of the armed forces.
Personal prelatures were made a feature of the 1983 Code of Canon Law after they were established by Pope Paul VI following a recommendation by the Second Vatican Council. Canons
294-297 deals with this feature. Here is Cann 294 to wit:
Can. 294 After the conferences of bishops involved have been heard, the
Apostolic See can erect personal prelatures, which consist of presbyters and
deacons of the secular clergy, to promote a suitable distribution of presbyters
or to accomplish particular pastoral or missionary works for various regions
or for different social groups…
Again we welcome our Anglican brethren to Rome Sweet Rome.
And again from Patrick, here’s the refrain from the ditty ‘Romeward Bound’,
with his apologies to Simon and Garfunkel and Anglicans everywhere.
I wish I was,
Rome - where TAC's escaping,
Rome - where fear's allaying,
Rome - where my Lord lies waiting,
Patiently for me.