Monday, July 28, 2014

Prayer of St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier, Patron of the Missions

At the end of the Ramadan, I would like to invite you to pray this prayer by St. Francis Xavier, Patron of the Missions:

O God, the everlasting Creator of all things, remember that the souls of unbelievers we made by Thee and formed in Thine own image and likeness.

Remember that Jesus, Thy Son, endured a most bitter death for their salvation.

Permit not, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy Son should be any longer despised by unbelievers, but do Thou graciously accept the prayers of holy men and of the Church, the Spouse of Thy most holy Son, and be mindful of Thy mercy.

Forget their idolatry and unbelief, and grant that they too may some day know Him whom Thou hast sent, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Salvation, our Life and Resurrection, by whom we have been saved and delivered, to whom be glory for endless ages. Amen.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Buried Treasure

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Christian property marked for confiscation
The Muslim terrorists who took over the city of Mosul in Iraq declared a caliphate and started calling themselves the Islamic State (IS). They started marking Christian properties with the letter Nun (the Arabic equivalent of our letter N) which stood for Nazarene, the name which Muslims call Christians even from the time of Mohammed. These Christian properties were marked for confiscation by the Islamic State. Thursday 2 weeks ago, they made announcements that all Christians living in Mosul may choose from the following: Convert to Islam, Pay heavy taxes, Leave Mosul, or face death. The Christians were given until the next day, Friday, to comply with these demands. The Christians packed a few of their belongings and started to leave the city. But at checkpoints, they were told to surrender their cars, their jewelry, money, public documents and were allowed to bring nothing except the clothes they were wearing. For a week now, the city of Mosul, which was once inhabited by the highest number of Christians in Iraq, is now empty of Christians for the very first time in 1, 800 years.

These Christians could have chosen the easier alternative. They could have chosen to simply convert to Islam. In that way, they would have kept their properties and even their lives. But no, they chose to keep their Christian faith. They chose to abandon everything they had except their faith in Jesus. This is how much they valued their faith. To these Iraqi Christians, the kingdom of God is indeed a treasure buried in the field and a pearl of great price. To them, the kingdom of Christ is worth giving up everything they have in order to keep it. They would rather give up everything they owned than abandon their faith and convert to Islam. And now, they are suffering on account of their loyalty to Jesus. As if being reduced to poverty were not enough, these Christians continue to suffer because the Muslims have cut off the electrical and water supply of the towns that adopted them. Their miserable condition is indeed a very difficult test of faith. However, in their present suffering, they are being conformed to the image of Jesus who is the “firstborn of many brothers and sisters.” There seems to be no end yet to their sufferings and yet we are confident. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.” The Iraqi Christians are giving a fitting witness to Jesus, a testimony which is a spectacle to the eyes of men and angels. Men see their sufferings but angels see their victory. “Those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he in turn glorified.”

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Nurturing the Seed which is the Word of God

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Like any seed, the Word of God possesses so much potential for life. It has the capacity to germinate so long as it is accepted by hearts that present no obstacles for its growth. The parable of the Sower is fulfilled in this very place where we are. The same Word of God was heard by everybody here present. But it will not produce the same fruits in all of us because we received the same Word of God in different ways. Some heard the Word but did not listen simply because they never considered God’s word as worth listening to. There is an outright rejection by hearts that chose not to believe in anything God says.

Some were willing to give the Word of God a try but they immediately give up at the sight of the Cross that comes with discipleship. They simply do not want to suffer for the sake of Christ. Some are willing to accept the Word of God but are overcome by love of material things and worldly anxieties. Only those who are willing to renounce attachments to worldly things and to embrace the Cross are the ones who will bear abundantly the fruits that the Word of God promises to bring into their lives.

The secret to cultivating the Word of God into our lives is rather simple. First, we have to listen to it, accept it and believe in it. “Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ears of your heart…welcome it and put it to practice,” so said the Rule of St. Benedict (prologue: 1)

Then, we should allow the Word of God to convert our hearts. We should be willing to let go of worldly attachments that stifle the desires of the spirit. We should will to be free from “slavery to corruption” in order to live in the “glorious freedom of the children of God.” “Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ; discipline your body; do not pamper yourself, but love fasting.” (Rule of St. Benedict 4:10-11)

Then, of course, we must embrace the Cross because there is no authentic discipleship without it. Willingness to endure sufferings for the sake of obedience to the will of God is a necessity for following Christ. “The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience.” (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue:2) It is difficult to obey the commandments of the Lord but this is the only way to real life. “All who come to Christ will live forever.” (alleluia verse)  “Sufferings of this present time are nothing as compared with the glory to be revealed for us,” so said St. Paul in the 2nd reading.

This is the part which the Lord asks of us. For his own part, the Lord will always water the seed planted in our hearts with the Holy Spirit whom he gives to us through the sacraments we should frequently receive. Therefore, let us constantly draw from the well of the sacraments the water of life which we need to nurture the seed of the Word of God planted in us. Christ plants the seed, we cultivate it with our cooperation, and the Holy Spirit provides the growth. Let us strive to bear the fruits of the Spirit so that we may be able to present to the Lord a rich harvest! 

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The King is Meek and Humble of Heart

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

In our celebration of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, we saw that when the Lord Jesus established his Church, he gave St. Peter the keys to his kingdom. When we talk about kingdoms, we often have images of kings and queens, royalty and nobility, palaces and vast territories. There is always something grand in our idea of kingdoms. Thus, we think that those invited into the kingdom should be the best, the brightest, and the strongest. Thus, the words of the Lord might come as a surprise for he invites the humble into his kingdom, he reveals the secrets of the same kingdom to the little ones: Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.

The Catechism teaches us: “The Kingdom belongs to the poor and the lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to ‘preach good news to the poor’; he declares them blessed, for ‘theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.’ To them, the ‘little ones’, the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.” (CCC, 544.)

The Kingdom belongs to the poor and the lowly because he, the King himself, is humble, meek, and gentle of heart. He is rich and powerful for “all things have been handed over to (him) by the Father.” And yet, he is “meek and humble of heart.” He is in possession of the most profound secrets for “no one knows the Father except the Son,” and yet, he hides this secret from the wise and the learned and reveals them to little ones. “Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst, and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love towards them the condition for entering his Kingdom.” (CCC, 544.)

Here we see how the mind of God is so much different from the mind of the world. We see here how the way of the Spirit is so much different from the way of the flesh. Power, wealth, influence, pleasure – all these deemed as important by the flesh are unimportant to the Holy Spirit. In fact, these are even dangerous for “if you live according to the flesh, you will die.” Being the little ones to whom the Lord Jesus revealed the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven, we should put to death the deeds of the body and take Christ’s yoke upon ourselves. Christ’s yoke is his humble submission to the Father’s will. He humbled himself, obediently accepting even death on a Cross. And this is the irony: the more we insist on doing our will, the more we live according to the flesh, the more enslaved we become, all the more we become burdened. But when we die to our will and take up the yoke of Christ, the more we find rest for ourselves, all the more do we become truly alive.

Therefore, let us live by the Spirit. Let us take his yoke upon ourselves and learn from him who is meek and humble of heart. Striving to fulfill his will, we have no fear of being burdened. For the Cross which we embrace is his Cross. The will we submit to is His will. His yoke is easy and his burden is light!

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Solemn High Mass: Saints Peter and Paul A.D. 2014

Our Solemn High Mass on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul at the Holy Family Parish, Roxas District, Quezon City, Philippines: Dei praesidio fultus: Saints Peter and Paul A.D. 2014

At the Asperges
Gloria in excelsis

Consecration of the Body of the Lord

Consecration of the Blood of the Lord

The True Religion


Caesarea Philippi was a forested area where pagan worship of the spirits abound. Numerous shrines were built to honor the false gods. It was there where Jesus posted the question to the disciples: Who do people say that I am? The many answers given were all wrong. And so, Jesus asked them: Who do you say that I am? Simon Peter, having received the revelation from the Father who alone knows the Son, responded: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. This declaration of faith was made amidst the idols that were worshipped in that forest. Simon Peter gave witness to the one true God and by doing so, he declared all the others as false. There is only One and that is you, O Jesus the Christ. All the rest are false gods that have eyes but do not see, have ears but do not hear, have nostrils that have no life in them.

Because Peter glorified Jesus by declaring the truth of his divinity, the Lord in return declared the new identity of Simon: He is Peter upon which Christ builds his Church. The Lord once said that the wise man build his house upon solid rock so that even if the winds blew and torrents fall, the house would stand for ever. More than a wise man, Jesus is himself the Wisdom of God. So he established his house upon solid rock and that rock is Peter. His Church will withstand not only wind and hale. The Gate of hell will not prevail against it!

At Caesarea Philippi, Peter singles out Jesus as the true God from amongst the false gods. At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus singles out the true religion from amongst the others. He clearly said that he was establishing only one religion…only one Church: On this Rock, I will build my Church. Notice that he said Church, not churches. The Only Begotten Son of God established only one Church. Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, he and no other. He established only One Church, that and no other. But as we see, there are many who make claims that they are the one. But if there can only be one Church that he founded, it would mean that the rest are false. Because there is only one God, the rest are false deities. In like manner, if there is only one Church established by the only Begotten of the Father, then the rest are false churches, false religions. Now, which one of them would be the true Church established by Jesus? Jesus said to Simon: You are Peter (Rock) and upon this Rock I will build my Church. The one true Church, the one true religion was established by Jesus upon St. Peter. Therefore, which Church can present evidence of an unbreakable chain of leaders from St. Peter to the present Pope? It has to be the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church! Which Church could present the bones of St. Peter? Still, it would be the Holy Catholic Church. The bones of St. Peter rest underneath the Papal altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Rome, where the seat of the true Church is, is home to the bones of both Peter and Paul. Some “churches” take pride in their centennial anniversary. However, the true Church will be 2,000 years old on the year 2033 AD. The Catholic Church in the Philippines is even older than the Iglesia because while they celebrate their 100 years of existence this year, we in the Philippines are on our way to our 500th year in 2021.

Many people dismiss the need for religion: We do not need religion so long as we have a relationship with some gods. Well, we cannot call simply on any god and hope to be saved because if we call on a false god, that is, a god that does not exist, we cannot expect to be helped by someone who does not exist. Our relationship with a deity is called “religion”. Therefore, if the god we relate to does not exist, how can a so-called relationship with someone who does not exist prosper? We cannot say that all religions are the same because the true religion is not the same as the false religions. Even in human courts of law, the truth and only the truth is worth considering and lies cannot be evaluated as equal to the truth. How you be saved by something that is not true? Because we need to be saved, we need to call on God. But we cannot call on just any god…only the true and living God can deliver his promised salvation: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. It cannot be just any religion, it had to be the True Religion: You are Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church.

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Drawn to the Most Blessed Trinity

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

During the joyful celebration of Easter, we saw how God worked out our salvation: the Father sent his only begotten Son to save the world through the sending of the Holy Spirit. Today’s gospel reading is a fitting description of the entire Paschal Mystery: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. When we look back at the wondrous things God has done for us through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, we ask: Why did God do all these for us? And the only answer is: It is because he loved us.

He loves us because that is who he is – “God is love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (CCC, 257) The 3 divine Persons, each of them is God whole and entire, are distinct from one another on account of the relationships which relate them to one another: “In the relational names of the persons, the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both.” (CCC, 255) Their relationship with each other is marked by communion in love: The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and the Holy Spirit is that love they have for each other. “Because of that unity, the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son.” (CCC, 255)

Because he is love, “God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the ‘plan of his loving kindness,’ conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: ‘He destined us in love to be his sons’ and ‘to be conformed to the image of his Son,’ through ‘the spirit of sonship.’ This plan is a ‘grace (which) was given to us in Christ Jesus before all the ages began,’ stemming immediately from Trinitarian love. It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.” (CCC, 257)

In communicating to us the glory of his blessed life, the Blessed Trinity draws us towards himself. He wants us to have access to his Divine Life. “The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity. But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity: ‘If a man loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home in him.’(Jn 14:23)” (CCC, 260) What a loving God we have! He comes to us and makes his home in us because he loves us. Patiently, he leads us to himself so that we might find our home in him. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” Indeed, he is the Lord, “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” He does not desire our condemnation but our salvation. Truly God is love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen. 

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!