Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A night with the priests from Leyte

Our parish has four visitor priests who are participants in the ongoing 2nd National Congress of the Clergy at the World Trade Center. They are from the Diocese of Maasin, Leyte and are staying at the homes of some parishioners for the duration of the five-day congress. Our family is hosting one of them - Fr. Van Caabug-Os. I'm not sure how to pronounce his surname right. Tonight, our parish priest, the PPC, and some of the parishioners shared dinner with them at the church patio, and we had this short program for them. It turned out the four priests had a surprise number for us too, and so they dished out a wonderful song in the Cebuano dialect, with one of them playing the guitar. Glorious voices. Come to think of it, I have yet to meet a priest who doesn't have a good singing voice.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Holiday for eternity

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21

...He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Imagine worldly liberation being declared right then and there.
It is an astounding message, even as it promptly makes its hearers skeptical of the bearer: "Isn't he the son of Joseph?".

In the third chapter of "Jesus of Nazareth", Pope Benedict XVI writes:

The core content of the Gospel [the evangelium] is this: The Kingdom of God is at hand. A milestone is set up in the flow of time; something new takes place.
And an answer to this gift is demanded of man: conversion and faith. The center of this announcement is the message that God's Kingdom is at hand. This announcement is the actual core of Jesus' words and works.

Conversion and Faith. No wonder the message of the Gospel is very difficult to internalize then and now. The thing is, I am always amazed for example, by the very rich people who continue amass unnecessary power and wealth by unscrupulous, violent means. As the law is written in the heart of every man, why then is there unbridled selfishness and greed that trample upon universally understood norms, even as nothing really compels? Where is the motivation?

C.S. Lewis has an idea in the "Weight of Glory":

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he
cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.

And may I add, the holiday package is free, and the ticket is good now and forever.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Odds and Ends 1/22/10

Marlene Aguilar implicates Briton in Ebarle slay

MANILA, Philippines—If the mother of road rage suspect Jason Ivler is to be believed, Renato Ebarle Jr. was killed by mystery shrouded bodyguard to set up her son on orders from people who supposedly did not like what she has written in a book.

"There are powerful people who want me to stop writing what I know and they set up Jason with the help of my bodyguard, because Jason is my weakest link,'' Marlene Aguilar told the Inquirer in an interview.
Really. Her book must be a rousing bestseller?? It's like saying the powerful atheists of this world are scheming big-time against me for my writing in this blog. Ho-ho.
Police claim drop in crime due to gun ban

MANILA, Philippines—Director Roberto Rosales, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, claimed Friday there has been a decrease in the incidence of crime and attributed it to the gun ban being enforced nationwide by the Commission on Elections and security forces in the runup to the May 10 national elections...

He did not cite any comparative crime figures, however, to back up his claim..
Good job, but c'mon. Are you saying that a gun ban is the solution to decreasing crime?
2 ex-finance execs seek dismissal of plunder raps

MANILA, Philippines – Two former finance employees are asking the Sandiganbayan to throw out the plunder charge filed against them over an alleged tax credit scam from 1994 to 1997 that allegedly deprived the government of more than P73 million in taxes...

But in their motion to quash, Magdaet and Asuncion said: “There is absolutely no finding that the accused public officers ‘amassed, accumulated or acquired’ any part of the alleged amount of P73 million.’”

“On the contrary, the resolution [of the Ombudsman] expressly stated that it was accused private persons, the ‘spouses Faustino and Gloria Chingkoe’ who ‘unjustly enriched themselves’ and not any of the accused public officers,” they said.
Oh? P73 Million at any rate. No guns here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Seriously merry

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Wedding at Cana
(John 2:1-11)

After commenting on the immortality of the human soul in "The Weight of Glory", C.S. Lewis says:

"This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously."

The very first time I read St John's account of the Wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-11), I was quite mystified at Jesus' response to the concern of mother Mary that the wine has run out:
“Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”
It becomes clear however, that Mary's subsequent actions did not regard Jesus' response as a refusal, proven by the fact of her immediate direction to the servants: "Do whatever he tells you."

From the outset, Mary had been aware that the child Jesus was destined for a divine plan. At the earliest times of her blessed motherhood, Mary kept all the sayings and doings of Jesus in her heart (Lk 2:15; 2:51). As Jesus was already "about 30 years old" (Lk 3:23) when he began his public ministry, we can be certain that the special and private bond within the Holy Family enriched and deepened throughout the years prior to Jesus' public ministry,
at the time when "Jesus advanced in wisdom, age and favor before God and man." (Lk 2:52)

When the wine ran out, Mary understood that Jesus would favorably respond to her concern, and Jesus understood likewise, inspite of his initial seeming words to the contrary. There is something special that exists between Jesus and mother Mary, and there are simply so many things in there that are not directly conveyed by the printed word. Now we realize that the Wedding at Cana is a testament to Mother Mary's powerful intercession, in as much as we also understand that Jesus accorded so much love and honor to his mother. And that is why we love and honor Mary likewise. That is also why, all the more, we have much reason to be seriously merry.

Please pass the wine.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Pope Calls for Prayers, Emergency Aid
Dateline 1/13/2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, JAN. 13, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is appealing for aid for victims of the earthquake that devastated Haiti and killed the archbishop of the Port-au-Prince Archdiocese.

Today in his general audience, the Pope also called for prayers for victims of the "dramatic situation currently being experienced in Haiti."

"My thoughts go in particular to the population hit just a few hours ago by a devastating earthquake which has caused serious loss of human life, large numbers of homeless and missing people, and vast material damage," he said.

The Pontiff invited "everyone to join my prayers to the Lord for the victims of this catastrophe and for those who mourn their loss."

He continued: "I give assurances of my spiritual closeness to people who have lost their homes and to everyone who, in various ways, has been affected by this terrible calamity, imploring God to bring them consolation and relief in their suffering.

"I appeal to the generosity of all people so that these our brothers and sisters who are experiencing a moment of need and suffering may not lack our concrete solidarity and the effective support of the international community."

The Holy Father affirmed that the "Catholic Church will not fail to move immediately, through her charitable institutions, to meet the most immediate needs of the population."

This quake, which was followed by 12 aftershocks ranging between a magnitude of 5.0 and 5.9, was the strongest in that region since 1770.

Although the death toll is uncertain, it is estimated that some 3 million people were affected by the disaster. There is concern that the country's impoverished economy will leave the people without adequate emergency services.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

CFC Leaders Conference Jan 2010

"Fullness of Life in Christ"

CFC Leaders Conference
January 9, 2010
Araneta Coliseum, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines

for 2011 event click here

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Prepared for Baptism?

The Baptism of the Lord
(Luke 3:15-16, 21-22)

Before performing a baptism, the priest approached the young father and said solemnly:

"Baptism is a serious step. Are you prepared for it?"

"I think so," the man replied. "My wife has made appetizers and we have a caterer coming to provide plenty of cookies and cakes for all of our guests."

"I don't mean that," the priest responded. "I mean, are you prepared spiritually?"
Jesus' baptism in the river Jordan heralded his public ministry.
In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI relates the theological dimension of Jesus' baptism:

"Because of the cross and resurrection it becomes clear to Christians what had occurred: Jesus took on his shoulders the weight of the sin of all humanity; he took it with him into the Jordan. From the beginning of his activity he takes the place of sinners. There begins the anticipation of the cross...Thus one understands the reason why in his own discourses Jesus uses the word baptism to refer to his own death. (Matt 10:38; Luke 12:50)".

To us followers in turn, baptism refers to our own initiation into Christianity. It opens to us the one true path to salvation, by the grace of God. Thus in CCC 1214: This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature.".

Yet we still need to cooperate with God's grace freely given, as CCC 1254 says "... faith must grow after Baptism...for this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter Vigil the renewal of baptismal promises. Preparation for Baptism leads only to the threshold of new life.." and in CCC 1255 : "For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important..."

And that is why before performing the baptism, the above priest asked the young father:

"I mean, are you prepared spiritually?".

To which the young father replied: "Oh sure, I’ve got a keg of beer and a case of whiskey.".

Friday, January 8, 2010

Parliamentary horse-trading

Backers of RH bill vow to block Charter change attempt

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman will lead more than 130 lawmakers in holding the Cha-cha and text tax measures hostage until the House of Representatives tackles the reproductive health bill which, he pointed out, had been languishing in Congress for over a decade.

The reproductive health bill, which requires the government to promote natural and artificial birth control methods, is not on Speaker Prospero Nograles’s list of priority measures to be taken up in the last nine session days of Congress....

If the Con-con measure and other major bills on the House agenda are taken up on the floor, Lagman said he would either question the quorum or keep up an interpellation of its sponsor to prevent the measure from being put to a vote.

“If they do not consider [the RH bill] and vote for it, no Con-con or tax measure will be passed … if it has no chance, then the other measures will have no chance. All of us will just have no chance,” he told reporters at the Serye news forum on Thursday.

I'd say parliamentary horse-trading if ever there was one, and one side seems bent on trading an ass for an entire stable of horses.

Dirty tactics, anyone?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On Private Revelations

The topic of private revelations, especially where ecclesiastical approvals are in suspense mode, certainly proves to be a touchy and divisive topic even among orthodox Catholics. It is no wonder that Catholic Forums bans discussions on private revelations where no ecclesiastical approvals have yet been given. Recently, CMR posted something on Medjugorje, which elicited an avalanche of entries in the combox (99 and counting). Patrick probably had an inkling of what was about to transpire when he noted at the bottom of his post: Please try not to destroy the furniture here at CMR discussing this one. Lately in CatholicFriends, a similar discussion coincidentally was going on. Well, I could see some furniture flying as well. Anyway, here is my take on the topic as a response to some of those posts.
Certainly Catholics are not obliged to believe in private revelations. In this regard, there are two kinds of beliefs that must be taken into consideration: 1) the belief requiring the assent of human faith; and 2) the belief requiring the assent of divine faith. We can not be obliged to give an assent of divine faith in private revelations nor is it possible to do so, for the simple reason that it does not add to the deposit of faith. It is on the assent of human faith that we are afforded some leeway by the Church. In your post above, the Bishop of Lincoln admits "the possibility of venial sins of pride and lack of prudence in such doubt or denial". Since the good Bishop did not state outright that the venial sins of pride and lack of prudence automatically follow with non-belief (he only mentions the possibility), there must be a qualifying condition/s on the part of the disbeliever that could give cause for the instantaneous or subsequent commission of the venial sins mentioned. When Catholics of good standing do not make an assent of human faith to a matter that the Church officially declares as "worthy of belief", there must be a charitable way of doing so while avoiding the venial sins of pride and lack of prudence, and without challenging the decision of the Church. Perhaps you have more Catholic material expounding on this aspect.
I think we can all agree that the Church has not come up (yet) with an official, definitive and final declaration for or against the supernatural nature of the facts of Medjugorje. To quote from the article you posted from CUF:

"Until the Church renders her official judgment, the faithful are free to accept (or reject) any private revelation if nothing in the message or concurring phenomena is contrary to faith and morals."

In emphasis, when we claim that something is contrary to faith and morals, we look for guidance from the official statements of the Magisterium. The 1991 declaration made by the Bishops' Conference of the former Yugoslavia supposedly apparently still holds, which partly states:

"On the basis of the investigations so far it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations".

The statement does not affirm - yet we must also note that it does not condemn.

Fr Colin B. Donovan, STL, provides an answer for EWTN that is quite instructive, from which I will quote from its ending statements (emphasis mine):

"...This means that once a private revelation has achieved Papal approbation it is unreasonable, i.e. imprudent but not against the faith, to not accept it as authentic. The contrary would also be true. If Rome judged a private revelation to not be supernatural, the reasonable person would be satisfied with that conclusion. Would they sin if they did not accept it? They might sin by imprudence, rash judgement or the like, but not against the faith or the obedience they owed the Holy Father. Catholics must always, however, following the external precepts imposed by the Church in such matters, that is, what they may or may not do, as opposed to what they think.

As far as theological judgments made at the local level, therefore, the standard could not be any higher, and is certainly lower. The issue of Medjugorje, therefore, cannot be resolved solely on the basis of the local Church's finding that there is no evidence to date of supernaturality. This is even more clear in light of the statement of Archbishop Bertone that the Bishop of Mostar's 1998 statement that it is certainly "not supernatural" is his own personal opinion. Others are therefore entitled to their personal opinions, also.

What the Church permits. As the already cited statements note, Catholics may go to Medjugorje. Such pilgrimages may even include priests acting as chaplains, as opposed to officially sponsoring them. Also, the Church has not suppressed discussion of Medjugorje, therefore, it is allowed. Common sense, however, says that Catholics on both sides of the Medjugorje issue should exercise prudence and charity in speaking of others who believe differently. Medjugorje is not a litmus test of orthodoxy, though every Catholic will have a moral obligation to accept the judgment of Rome, in the manner Pope Benedict explained, should it ever be rendered...."
Not a litmus test of orthodoxy. Please pass the chair. Oops...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Quotations of the day - 1/6/10

"This was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had."

- President Obama, after meeting with national security advisers about a terror plot to bring down a commercial jetliner on Christmas Day.

Translation: "We were just plain stu...".
"In the next few days you will see the actions of the PNP principally and all other agencies to dismantle private armies...We can do it. Just wait and see."

- Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, expressing optimism that the Philippine National Police could beat the deadline set by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the eradication of private armies in the country.

Translation: "We can do it, just wait and see... in the next few centuries".
"We’re scheduling another inquiry as soon as possible when Congress convenes. The inquiry will determine what more can be done to effectively prevent maritime accidents and save lives"

Bacolod Representative Monico Puentevella, chairman of the Congress transportation committee commenting on the spate of recent sea accidents.

Translation: "Rewind, rewind, then replay everything that was said again and again every time a maritime accident happens".

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Perfect Wife

A repost dedicated to my wife of 22 years by today.
(From Proverbs 31:10-31)

When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands.
Like merchant ships, she secures her provisions from afar.
She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household.
She picks out a field to purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms.
She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed.
She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing.
Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness.
Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her:
"Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all."
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.