Sunday, July 31, 2011

Whispering Hope

This week, a young man started serving at my daily Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. He wanted to be a priest so that he could offer the Mass in the extraordinary form.

Yesterday, a seminarian from the Philippine Mission Society stayed with us the whole day for a mission appeal on behalf our Filipino missionaries. At the end of the day, as we ate supper, he told me that when he was in Mindanao, he was a servant leader of a basic ecclesial community. He was inspired by the "defensores fidei" who introduced him to the extraordinary form. He said that he wished that Summorum Pontificum be implemented more generously in the Philippines.

Sometimes I feel disheartened by the opposition of many bishops and priests to the reform of the reform. But then, seeing these young men...there is hope.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

On the multiplication of loaves and fish

Aside from the passion and resurrection narratives, the story of the multiplication of the loaves is the only one story that is found recorded in all the 4 gospels. This only shows the importance of the narrative to Christianity. It is important because of the Eucharistic character of the story. Clearly, the multiplication of the loaves is a Eucharistic lesson because the 4 actions which Christ performed are the 4 actions that determined the pattern of the Eucharistic Sacrifice: Jesus took bread, blessed, broke the bread and gave it to the disciples.

Thus, we see the centrality of the Eucharist in the Christian mysteries. A true Christian is a believer in the Eucharist. A true Christian cannot live without the Eucharist because the Lord Jesus himself said: “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you cannot have life in you.”

This makes me wonder how non Catholics can afford not to believe in the Eucharist even in spite of the wealth of Scriptural proof and Apostolic witness. How could they get past St. John’s chapter on the Bread of life without seeing the clear Eucharistic doctrine? I once chanced upon a non-Catholic commentary on the Bread of life chapter of John’s gospel which tried to explain that the Bread of life is actually the Word of God because Jesus, at the temptation in the desert, quoted to Satan an Old Testament passage which said: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.” Thus, the center of non-Catholic worship is the sermon of the pastor. The center of the non-Catholic sanctuary is the pulpit.

But the story of the multiplication of the loaves proves this point wrong. If the Bread of life were simply the word of God, then the multiplication of the bread should not have taken place. After all, the Lord spent the whole day preaching and healing the people of their infirmities. But the Lord would not dismiss the crowd without feeding them. Thus, he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to the crowd to eat. The center of worship is not the sermon but the Eucharistic sacrifice. Blessed John Paul made it clear that the proclamation of the Word of God prepares us to recognize the Lord at the breaking of the bread: “It is significant that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, duly prepared by our Lord's words, recognized him at table through the simple gesture of the ‘breaking of bread’. When minds are enlightened and hearts are enkindled, signs begin to ‘speak’. The Eucharist unfolds in a dynamic context of signs containing a rich and luminous message. Through these signs the mystery in some way opens up before the eyes of the believer.” (JPII, Mane Nobiscum Domine, 14.) Although we all appreciate a good sermon, let us not forget that the real reason we are here is to assist at the offering of the Lord’s body and blood to the Father and to receive him through Holy Communion. The Lord himself made it clear that what he wanted to give for the life of the world is his body: “My flesh is the food that I give for the life of the world.” Let us heed the invitation of the Lord: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat…Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well.” Having listened to the word of the Lord, assist now at the offering of the Eucharist. Eat his body and drink his blood so that you may have life in you. “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed,” says the Lord.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Communion on one's knees

CNA has this article on His Eminence Antonio Canizares Llovera's recommendation that the faithful receive Communion on the tongue, while kneeling:

Lima, Peru, Jul 28, 2011 / 01:56 pm (CNA).- Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera recently recommended that Catholics receive Communion on the tongue, while kneeling.

It is to simply know that we are before God himself and that He came to us and that we are undeserving,” the prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said in an interview with CNA during his visit to Lima, Peru.

The cardinal’s remarks came in response to a question on whether Catholics should receive Communion in the hand or on the tongue.

He recommended that Catholics “receive Communion on the tongue and while kneeling.”

Receiving Communion in this way, the cardinal continued, “is the sign of adoration that needs to be recovered. I think the entire Church needs to receive Communion while kneeling.”

“In fact,” he added, “if one receives while standing, a genuflection or profound bow should be made, and this is not happening.”

“If we trivialize Communion, we trivialize everything, and we cannot lose a moment as important as that of receiving Communion, of recognizing the real presence of Christ there, of the God who is the love above all loves, as we sing in a hymn in Spanish.”

In response to a question about the liturgical abuses that often occur, Cardinal Canizares said they must be “corrected, especially through proper formation: formation for seminarians, for priests, for catechists, for all the Christian faithful.”

Such a formation should ensure that liturgical celebrations take place “in accord with the demands and dignity of the celebration, in accord with the norms of the Church, which is the only way we can authentically celebrate the Eucharist,” he added.

“Bishops have a unique responsibility” in the task of liturgical formation and the correction of abuses, the cardinal said, “and we must not fail to fulfill it, because everything we do to ensure that the Eucharist is celebrated properly will ensure proper participation in the Eucharist.”

Spanish cardinal recommends that Catholics receive Communion on the tongue :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Satan Hates the Latin Mass

Over at Rorate Caeli is a report about a priest who was beaten up for offering the Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

Priest attacked, guilty of celebrating the Latin Mass
Tue, 26/07/2011 - 15:24

"You have been tough, but we will smash your head. Signed, Your friend Satan". That was one of several threatening messages sent to Father Hernán García Pardo, parish priest of San Michele, in Ronta [Mugello region of the Province of Florence, Tuscany]. His fault [was] that of celebrating the Latin Mass, liberalized by Benedict XVI in September 2007.

The warnings, which had been recurrent for some time, had not made the priest, who despite everything has continued to say Mass according to the ancient rite, give up. The last chapter [took place] last Wednesday, when he was beaten up by a 'faithful' in the town's rectory in the presence of his aged mother. The beating led to bruising on his back; having been sent to the emergency room of Borgo San Lorenzo, he was medicated.

The news item was published today in the Giornale della Toscana; the accusations made against Father Hernán are those of scattering the flock; above all, he is not forgiven for distributing communion in the mouth [to the] kneeling [faithful], instead of on the hand, in the same manner as Benedict XVI. For others, the Italian-Argentine priest has only brought back some sacred austerity to the parish, excluding guitars from the functions and bringing back to within the walls of the church the ancient Gregorian chant. ...

Clearly, "Satan loathes the Latin Mass", as one commentator said. Not only is the extraordinary form meeting so much opposition from within the ranks of the Church, it is also being opposed by Satan himself. Most of the priests who offer the Mass in this form suffer so much harrassment which are obviously orchestrated by the Prince of darkness. Let us continue to pray to St. Michael the Archangel and also to Our Lady who is destined to crush the head of the Serpent for the protection of our valiant priests who offer the Mass of all times.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

The Womb of St. Anne

Blessed are you, St. Anne, for in your womb the Mother of God was immaculately conceived. In your womb, the ancient prophecy was fulfilled: the perpetual emnity between the Woman and the serpent. In your womb, the Woman crushed the serpent's head. In your womb, God the Almighty has done great things for her. Holy is His Name!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Spiritual Warfare and Santiago Matamoros

I joined our Diocesan Clergy Renewal in Dapitan. When we were there, we visited the Parish Church which was under the patronage of St. James the Greater (Santiago Major). I was amused by the tour guide who spoke about the town fiesta which is called the "Kinabayuhan Festival" in honor of the town patron. When asked why the name "kinabayuhan", he said that it is because Santiago rode a horse ("kabayo") in order to bring peace between the Christians and Muslims in Spain. Of course, those who are familiar with the story would immediately laugh as the story of the apparition of St. James in Spain was not to bring peace between the two groups. Rather, St. James led the Christian forces to victoriously defeat the Muslims who then subjected Spain to their rule. Thus, he is called "Santiago Matamoros" or St. James, the Moor slayer.

I read a prayer to St. James in that Church. This prayer tried to make sense of the image of St. James as a warrior leading men to victory. I could not remember the exact text but, as far as I could remember, it invoked St. James to lead us in our struggles against our spiritual enemies. This calls to mind what St. Paul said about the Christian life being a struggle, a warfare, not only against human beings but against powers and principalities in high places. The image of Santiago Matamoros reminds us of the militant character of our Christian faith.

But how are we to engage in this spiritual warfare? The iconography of Santiago Matamoros shows us the answer. Usually, saints (especially Martyrs) are shown as people who are tortured or executed. Seldom do we see a saint in the act of "killing" somebody or something else. Aside from Santiago Matamoros, the only one I could think of at present would be St. George slaying the dragon. Santiago is depicted as one wielding his sword over the sarecenes. Santiago shows us that in order to engage in this spiritual warfare, we have to "kill" somebody - and that "somebody" would be our own self.

St. Paul said: "We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh."

The paradigm of the world associated victory with might. Gladiators, Greek and Roman soldiers are depicted as brawny men. We do not even have to look so far. The popular wrestling icons are bulky mascular men. But this is not the paradigm of the spirit. Ironically, victory in spiritual warfare is achieve not by the strength of the body but by its weakness. The spirit and the body pine against each other. When the body is comfortably pampered, the spirit is weak. But when the body is mortified, then the spirit is strong. Thus saints engaged in the mortification of their flesh in order to win the struggle against the spiritual enemy. The spiritual battle is won through self-denial. "For it is when you are weak, it is then that I am strong...My grace is sufficient for you," so said our Lord to St. Paul.

The Lord told Sts. James and John that they will have to drink his chalice. What is the Lord's chalice? In the garden of Getsemane, the Lord Jesus asked the Father to "let this chalice pass me by. But it is not my will, but your will be done." The chalice marked the death of our Lord's own will so that he could submit it to his Father's will. Is it not ironic that it was when he died on the Cross that our Lord conquered sin and death?

Our Christian life is a spiritual warfare. It is a struggle against very powerful enemies: principalities and powers in high places. The only way to defeat these spiritual enemies is by dying to our own selves - by drinking the chalice which the Lord drinks!

Viva Santiago Matamoros! Viva!

The Docile Heart

The Holy Father's Angelus Message for July 24, 2011 focused on the prayer of Solomon:

"Solomon asked God for 'a docile heart.' What does this expression mean? We know that in the Bible the 'heart' does not only mean a part of the body, but the center of the person, the seat of his intentions and his judgments. We might say that it is the conscience. 'Docile heart' therefore means a conscience that knows how to listen, which is sensitive to the voice of truth, and because of this it is able to discern good from evil. In the case of Solomon, the request is guided by the responsibility of leading a nation, Israel, the people through whom God had chosen to manifest his plan of salvation to the world. For this reason the king of Israel must seek to be in harmony with God, listening to his Word, to lead his people in the ways of the Lord, the ways of justice and peace.

"But Solomon's example is valid for every man. Each of us has a conscience to be in a certain sense 'king,' that is, to exercise the great human dignity of acting according to a properly formed conscience, doing good and avoiding evil. Moral conscience presupposes the capacity to hear the voice of truth, to be docile to its instructions. Persons who are called to the office of ruling of course have a further responsibility, and therefore -- as Solomon says -- have even more need of God. But each person has his own part to perform in the concrete situation in which he finds himself. An erroneous mentality suggests that we ask God for nice things and privileged situations; in fact, the true quality of our life and social existence depends on each person's properly formed conscience, on the capacity of each and every person to recognize the good, separating it from evil, and to attempt patiently to realize it.

So, let us ask for the help of the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Her "heart" is perfectly "docile" to the Lord's will. Although she is a humble and simple person, Mary is a queen in the eyes of God, and as such we venerate her. May the Holy Virgin help us also to form, with God's grace, a conscience always open to the truth and sensitive to justice, to serve the Kingdom of God.

ZENIT - On Solomon's Heart

Friday, July 22, 2011

Feast of the Magdalene

St. Mary Magdalene at the PLDM Holy Wednesday Procession

By announcing the resurrection of Christ, Mary Magdalene became an Apostle to the Apostles; may she be our loving advocate with the God who chose her! (Magnificat Antiphon)

My paternal grandmother used to bring out the Magdalena for the Holy Week procession in her little town of Sara, Iloilo. When she died, the care of the image was passed to me. Although I never had the opportunity to bring the image out in the yearly procession in Iloilo, I saw to it that we brought her out wherever I am assigned as pastor. This little custom deepened my relationship with the Apostle to the Apostles. Sinner turned saint, the Magdalena is an eloquent witness to the Redeemer's triumph over sin and death.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On Cremation

I chanced upon an interesting article on the practice of cremation. Although I do not know who Bishop Michael Evans is, I would recommend this article because of the important consideration on the traditional view on this practice.

"As far as I know, since the publication of a decree in 1963 there is nothing to stop a Catholic from being cremated, even if the Code of Canon Law (1983) "earnestly recommends the pious custom of burial be retained" (n. 1176). The Church also usually requires that the body must be present for the public Requiem Mass - so that the temple which housed the Living God may be properly reverenced. Since 1997, though, the Holy See has allowed some Bishops' Conferences to permit cremation before the funeral, as long as the urn is placed on a stand next to the paschal candle during the Mass. After cremation, the Church teaches that the ashes must be kept in an urn for burial or deposition in a place such as a Columbarium - as far as I know, the scattering of ashes is still forbidden. Also, of course, the Catholic Church teaches that cremation should not be used to "demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body" (CCC n. 2301).

"Right from its earliest days, and rooted to its Judaic heritage, the Church taught that cremation was an abhorrent practice - both a denial of the resurrection of the body and a desecration of the work of God's hands. According to Fr John Dietzen, though, in his book Questions and Answers (quoted in a Catholic Culture article), "the first general legislation banning the burning of bodies as a funeral rite came from the Vatican's Holy Office in May 1886, noting the anti-religious and Masonic motivation behind the movement. The 1918 Code of Canon Law continued that ban because cremation was still considered a flagrant rejection of the Christian belief in immortality and the resurrection." To this day, though, even though it normally lacks any anti-religious motivation, many traditional Catholics remain opposed to the notion of cremation, and the practice is still banned in the Orthodox Church - in which those who normally choose to be cremated, unless it is for some "good cause", are usually denied an ecclesiastical funeral or the Church's official prayers for the dead. "

Follow the link: A Reluctant Sinner: Bishop Michael Evans' body will be cremated. Is th...:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mercy for both sinners and saints

We might immediately judge the parable today as a lesson in bad gardening. After all, we were always taught that pulling out weeds is a good gardening habit. Weed, so we were told, compete with the good plants for the nutrients of the soil. And so weeding them out would eliminate competition and would maximize the use of the soil.

Perhaps that was in the mind of the slaves who suggested to the Master: “Do you want us to go and pull them out?” It must have surprised them that the Master decided to keep both the wheat and the weeds till harvest time when the segregation will take place: “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Let us remember that the parable is not a lesson on gardening. Rather it is the Lord’s explanation on the co-existence of good and evil people: “He who sows good seeds is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, the enemy who sows them is the devil.” When confronted by the reality of evil people who make the lives of the just miserable, we always ask: “Why does the Lord allow them to thrive? Why does he not simply eradicate them from the face of the earth?” The answer is given by the Book of Wisdom: “There is no god besides you who have the care of all…though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with lenience you govern us…And you taught your people by these deeds, that those who are just might be kind, and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.”

Why does God allow evil men to thrive? It is because he is merciful. He does not want the sinner to die but rather to repent and live! In fact, the Lord does not only patiently wait for the evil man’s conversion. He does not simply wait and ask: “Kailan kaya mauuntog sa katotohanan ang taong ito?” No, the Lord aggressively acts. He produces opportunities for conversion. And he makes repentance accessible. To St. Faustina, the Lord Jesus said: “Write, speak of my mercy. Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is in the Tribunal of Mercy (confession). There the greatest miracles take place and are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony. It suffices to come with faith to the feet of my representative and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no hope of restoration and everything would be lost, it is not so for God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores the soul in full. How miserable are those who do not take advantage of this miracle of God’s mercy! They will call out in vain but it will be too late.” (Diary 1448)

But you may protest that God’s mercy spoils the evil men. What about the just? Should he not take care first of those who strive to be faithful to him? To St. Faustina, the Lord said: “Both the sinner and the righteous have need of my mercy. Conversion, as well as perseverance, is a grace of my mercy.” (Diary 1577) “Let souls who are striving for perfection particularly adore my mercy, because the abundance of graces which I grant to them flows from my mercy. I desire that those souls distinguish themselves by boundless trust in my mercy. I myself will attend to the sanctification of such souls. I will provide them with everything they will need to attain sanctity. The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to me, because I pour all the treasures of my graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is my desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when souls ask for little when they narrow their hearts.” (Diary 1578.) as St. Paul wrote to the Romans: “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness.”

When the Master chose to let the wheat and the weeds grow together, his choice was on account of his mercy. On account of his mercy, he prolongs his patience towards evil men in the hope that his grace will bring them to repentance and to salvation. On account of his mercy, he fortifies the just with his graces so that they may be sanctifies and by their perseverance they may win their lives.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mary, Mt. Carmel, and the Church

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily. It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise: the glory of Libanus is given to it: the beauty of Carmel, and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord and the beauty of our God.
(Is. 35:1-2)

Mount Carmel, on account of its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and by abundant dew, is marked by its luxurious vegetation, aromatic plants, and wild flowers. Its beauty accounts for the meaning of its name: “the garden.” On this mountain the prophet St. Elijah lived, fasted, and prayed. On this mountain the Lord revealed himself to the prophet in a gentle voice. On this mountain, the prophet challenged the priests of Baal to a contest that would prove the God of Israel as the true God. This mountain is sacred to the Lord. It is a privileged place of encounter with the Lord. Even from olden times, Mount Carmel has attracted seekers of God to find him in prayer along its slopes. It is a beautiful garden conducive for this privileged encounter with God – the place where one can be still to know the He the Lord is God.

In a way, we can see that Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, is like Mount Carmel. She is the garden enclosed spoken of in the Canticle of Canticles: “Hortus conclusus soror mea, sponsa, hortus conclusus, fons signatus" ("A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up.”) (4:12). She is the garden enclosed who is open only to her Divine Spouse who is the Holy Spirit. A beautiful garden she is so that men and women of the Spirit loved to apply to her the name mentioned by the Prophet Isaiah: Décor Carmeli – the Flower of Carmel, the Beauty of Carmel. Made beautiful by the fullness of grace which the Lord bestowed upon her at the first instant of her conception, Mary was the garden untouched – totally reserved for God alone. Her heart was the fitting dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, her womb for God the Son. Hers was the singular dignity of being God’s daughter, God’s spouse, and God’s mother. “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” – these words of St. Luke show Mary as the teacher of interiority, teacher of the things of the Spirit. She was already living out what her Son would later on teach: “When you pray, go to your room and close the door and pray to your Father in secret.” Mary does not only pray. She teaches us how to pray. Her greeting disposed Elizabeth for the reception of the Holy Spirit. After the Lord’s ascension, the disciples “gathered in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.” Like Mount Carmel that disposes hermits to meet the Lord, Mary disposed the disciples to encounter the Holy Spirit.

In this way, Mary is the pattern, the image of the Church. Towards the end of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, Blessed John Paul pointed out “that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness.” (Novo Millenio Ineunte, 30.) He spoke of the high standard of ordinary Christian living which cannot settle for “a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity” (NMI, 31.). Training in holiness is an imperative. This training in holiness calls for “a Christian life that is distinguished above all in the art of prayer.” (NMI, 32.) Recognizing the widespread demand for spirituality despite widespread secularization, Blessed John Paul made reference to the great mystical traditions of the Church as our response to this demand. He mentioned in particular the legacies of the great Carmelites St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross. “Our Christian communities must become genuine ‘schools’ of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly ‘falls in love’” (NMI, 33.).

And here is where Mount Carmel, Mary, and the Church meet: they all are genuine schools of prayer. And we are here, at the foot of Mount Carmel, sons and daughters of Our Lady, gathered as Church. We come here as disciples, as learners in the school of the Spirit. We repeat to the Lord the request made of him by his disciples: “Lord, teach us how to pray.” To this request comes the Lord’s response: “When you pray, go to your room and close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” Let us enter the inner room, the enclosed garden. Let us search for him. Let us seek his face. Let us climb the mountain of the Lord.

O Mary, Décor Carmeli, Beauty of Carmel, glory of Libanus, purest of lilies, mystic rose in the flowering gardens of the Church, pray for us.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Statement of Bishops Before The Blue Ribbon Committee

This is how the vehicles were used!

Thank you, dear Bishops for your witness! In humbling yourselves, you stand very tall!

"Honorable Members of the Senate:

"We thank this august body for inviting us to shed light on an issue that has deeply saddened not only the seven of us but all the Catholic faithful. We hope that our presence will aid your work of legislation. We shall reply with great respect to your questions as far as the facts enable us.

"We are from provinces that have some of the most difficult areas that we as Bishops have to reach. Most of us are from calamity or conflict-stricken areas. We serve communities some of which are the poorest of the poor. Our vocation is to help them in so far as we can with our resources. When we lack resources, we seek the assistance of others, especially from those whose mandate is to provide assistance, particularly in health services and in charity. Some of us received service vehicles from PCSO that are heavy duty 4 x 4 pick-ups in order for our social, health, and charitable services to reach remote areas. Others received vehicles that have multiple purposes of bringing indigent sick people to hospitals or distribute food, medicines, and clothing to calamity stricken families.

"We are very grateful for the help extended to us. We still believe that we have not violated any law, or even the Constitution. We express our sadness that our sincere desire to help people and receive necessary assistance for doing so has confused, disturbed and even scandalized many of the Catholic faithful. As our pastoral statement has said, we honestly “failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead.” We also express our “readiness to do everything that is necessary to heal this wound so that we can all move forward in hope.”

"For this reason, regardless of whether the acquisition of the vehicles has been lawful or unlawful, constitutional or unconstitutional, we are returning the vehicles. The vehicles in Mindanao are ready for immediate turnover to a duly authorized PCSO official. The vehicles in Luzon are right now outside the Senate for immediate turnover to PCSO officials.

"Again, we thank Your Honors for this opportunity to voice our sentiments on this matter.

"Thank you and God bless you."

Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, O.M.I.
Bishop Rodolfo Beltran
Archbishop Ernesto Salgado
Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian, SVD
Archbishop Romulo Valles
Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos

July 13, 2011

Statement of Bishops Before The Blue Ribbon Committee

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monks according to St. Benedict

The New Theological Movement has this article on the community life in the Rule of St. Benedict. I found the classification of monks very enlightening.

"It is well known that there are four kinds of monks. The first kind are the Cenobites: those who live in monasteries and serve under a rule and an Abbot.
“The second kind are the Anchorites or Hermits: those who, no longer in the first fervor of their reformation, but after long probation in a monastery, having learned by the help of many brethren how to fight against the devil, go out well armed from the ranks of the community to the solitary combat of the desert. They are able now, with no help save from God, to fight single-handed against the vices of the flesh and their own evil thoughts.
“The third kind of monks, a detestable kind, are the Sarabaites. These, not having been tested, as gold in the furnace (Wis. 3:6), by any rule or by the lessons of experience, are as soft as lead. In their works they still keep faith with the world, so that their tonsure marks them as liars before God. They live in twos or threes, or even singly, without a shepherd, in their own sheepfolds and not in the Lord's. Their law is the desire for self-gratification: whatever enters their mind or appeals to them, that they call holy; what they dislike, they regard as unlawful.
“The fourth kind of monks are those called Gyrovagues. These spend their whole lives tramping from province to province, staying as guests in different monasteries for three or four days at a time. Always on the move, with no stability, they indulge their own wills and succumb to the allurements of gluttony, and are in every way worse than the Sarabaites. Of the miserable conduct of all such it is better to be silent than to speak.
“Passing these over, therefore, let us proceed, with God's help, to lay down a rule for the strongest kind of monks, the Cenobites.”

Secularism as the Enemy of the Word of God

We cannot deny the waning of the Catholic faith in many parts of the globe. The recent legalization of divorce in Catholic Malta is a recent proof of this claim. The world is rapidly sliding into secularism where the teachings of our Lord which once preserved social order is being discarded and rendered irrelevant.

Is it true that the word of God has lost the power which was referred to in the first reading? What stifles the word of God? The parable of the Sower gives us answers worth considering. “Some seed fell along the path...others on rocky ground…others fell amongst the thorns.” The seed is the word of God and the various kinds of soil upon which the seed fell stand for the different hearts of men. Of course, the word of God did not survive in the hearts of those who outrightly rejected it. But there are those who have accepted the word of God and yet, end up stifling that word they received. These are the ones represented by the rocky ground and the thorns. In the Gospel, the Lord mentions 2 factors that stifle the word of God: love for the things of the world and fear of suffering.

Basically, these two characterize the secular spirit of the world: worldliness and fear of suffering. We have a term for this – we simply call it the “good life.” This kind of life is one that mistakenly associates comfort with goodness and, on the opposite end, suffering (or inconvenience) with evil. Pleasure is something which we should pursue and discomfort should be avoided. Basically, this is the fear of the Cross. This mentality is all around us. Artificial contraception is attractive because it separates sexual pleasure from the responsibilities that go with it. Now, you can enjoy the sex without worrying about its consequences – parang Coke Zero: real coke taste without the calories. Divorce is very attractive because it separates the pleasures of marriage from the obligation of “till death do us part.” I once heard a DJ over the radio say that he is allergic to sacrifice. “Basta enjoy lang nang enjoy. Pag naging mahirap ang sitwasyon, talikuran mo.”

And this is dangerous because secularization shortens our vision and limits it to the horizons of the visible world. Secularization falsifies reality by limiting it to only what is visible and makes us oblivious of the greater part of reality which is the invisible world. By instilling in us too much love for the things of the world, secularization condemns us to the world that passes away. By instilling in us the fear of suffering, secularization deprives us of that one instrument by which man is truly saved by Christ – and that is the Cross. In our shortsightedness, we fail to appreciate the redemptive value of our sufferings when they are endured in union with Christ. “Our sufferings in the present are nothing as compared to the glory that is waiting to be revealed in us,” so said St. Paul to the Romans in the 2nd reading. Remember that our sufferings and sacrifices are good for us. On the human level, such create in us a sense of character. On the supernatural level, such prepare us for the glory of our revelation as children of God.

If we want the word of God to bear fruit in us, we have to engage in self denial as an antidote to worldliness. We have to face our fear of suffering and carry our Cross because only in such way can we follow Christ who conquered the world and makes all things new. St. Paul tells us that athletes deprive themselves of many things in order to win a crown of leaves. Let us do the same. Let us cast away everything that encumbers our steps. Let us run the race so as to receive from him the crown of victory.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Casting out Evil Spirits

"Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out..." (Mt. 10:1)

Unclean spirits (demons) possess the angelic nature which is superior to the human nature. Scripture speaks of man as made "lower than the angels." And so, when our Lord bestowed the authority to drive away evil spirits to his apostles who were mere human beings, he gave creatures of inferior nature the authority to cast out creatures of superior nature. In this way, the Lord humiliates the pride of Lucifier."He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly."

The humiliation of Lucifer began with the promise of the Woman who will crush the serpent's head. Not only did the Lord give this sublime honor of crushing the serpent's head to a human being who was created "lower than the angels." He made the humiliation even worse by declaring that this human being be a Woman.

Christ gave bishops and exorcists this power to cast out evil spirits. Bishops and exorcists are ordained men. Those who have engaged in this ministry have constantly called upon Our Lady to assist them in casting out demons. And those who call on her do not call in vain. To his most humble of all creatures, the Lord has bestowed the singular dignity of crushing the serpent's head.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Beautiful Prayer to the Blessed Sacrament

"O living Host, O hidden Jesus, You see the conditions of my soul. Of myself, I am unable to utter Your Holy Name. I cannot bring forth from my heart the fire of love but, kneeling at your feet, I cast upon the Tabernacle the gaze of my soul, a gaze of faithfulness. As for You, You are ever the same, while within my soul a change takes place. I trust that the time will come when You will unveil Your countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet face. I am astonished, Jesus, that You can hide Yourself from me for so long and that You can restrain the enormous love You have for me. In the dwelling of my heart, I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart.

St. Faustina, Diary, 1239

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Wise and Fools

More than a hundred years ago (1904), Pope Pius X was lamenting about the world that has grown tired of the light of the Christian faith and has engaged in an outright rejection of the supernatural order which is falsely regarded as knowledge. The rejection of the existence of God, of the Divinity of Jesus, his Incarnation and his Resurrection, the supernatural origin of the Church, and the other dogmas of holy religion is deemed intellectually fashionable and those who are swayed by such modern erudition find themselves losing their faith or at least, feel that their faith is shaken. So many so–called “enlightened” people “now shout around Us proclaiming that the Church has gone beyond her time, that her doctrines are passed away for ever, that the day is at hand when she will be condemned either to accept the tenets of a godless science and civilization or to disappear from human society.” (Pius X, Iucunda Sane, 9.) To those men who arrogantly bask in their new-found “intelligence” Pope Pius applied the words of St. Paul: “it is painful to have to apply to men not lacking in acumen and application the rebuke addressed by St. Paul to those who fail to rise from earthly things to the things that are invisible: ‘They became vain in their thoughts and their foolish heart was darkened; for professing themselves to be wise they became fools’ (Rom. i. 21, 22). And surely foolish is the only name for him who consumes all his intellectual forces in building upon sand.” (Pius X, Iucunda Sane, 18.)

The wise and the learned in the ways of the world turn out to be the real fools, deprived of the wisdom of Christ. For all their arrogance and erudite arguments, they have not received the secrets which the Lord reveals only to the little ones: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to little children.” What the world-wise people regard as valuable information turn out to be trivialities for the Lord – knowledge that does not save nor gives eternal life. And they are going to oblivion where their predecessor are now: “Kingdoms and empires have passed away; peoples once renowned for their history and civilization have disappeared; time and again the nations, as though overwhelmed by the weight of years, have fallen asunder; while the Church, indefectible in her essence, united by ties indissoluble with her heavenly Spouse, is here today radiant with eternal youth, strong with the same primitive vigor with which she came from the Heart of Christ dead upon the Cross. Men powerful in the world have risen up against her. They have disappeared, and she remains. Philosophical systems without number, of every form and every kind, rose up against her, arrogantly vaunting themselves her masters, as though they had at last destroyed the doctrine of the Church, refuted the dogmas of her faith, proved the absurdity of her teachings. But those systems, one after another, have passed into books of history, forgotten, bankrupt; while from the Rock of Peter the light of truth shines forth as brilliantly as on the day when Jesus first kindled it on His appearance in the world, and fed it with His Divine words: ‘Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass’ (Matth. xxiv. 35).” (Iucunda Sane, 8.)

Anyone who wishes to receive the wisdom that counts must turn to Jesus who said: “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” And to whom did the Son reveal the Father? He revealed the Father to the Church – to his disciples whom he called his friends “for I have revealed to you everything I received from the Father.” Mankind can learn from Christ only by turning to the Church. We need to be reminded of “the absolute necessity of having recourse to this Church in order to have eternal salvation, to follow the right road of reason, to feed on the truth, to obtain peace and even happiness in this life.” (Iucunda Sane, 9.) “Wherefore, to use the words of the Holy Pontiff (Gregory the Great), ‘Turn your steps towards this unshaken rock upon which Our Savior founded the Universal Church, so that the path of him who is sincere of heart may not be lost in devious windings’ (Reg. viii. 24, ad Sabin. episcop.). It is only the charity of the Church and union with her which ‘unite what is divided, restore order where there is confusion, temper inequalities, fill up imperfections’ (Registr. v. 58 (53) ad Virgil. episcop.). It is to be firmly held ‘that nobody can rightly govern in earthly things, unless he knows how to treat divine things, and that the peace of States depends upon the universal peace of the Church’ (Registr. v. 37 (20) ad Mauric. Aug.).” (Iucunda Sane, 10.)

As for ourselves, it would do us well to keep in mind what St. Paul said to the Romans: “You are not in the flesh; on the contrary you are in the Spirit…We are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Let us learn not from the world but from the Lord who is meek and humble of heart. In him let us find our rest for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Our Lady of Manaoag in PLDM

Thanks to Karen Buensuceso for the pictures!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sacred Heart, Precious Blood

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus this year coincides with what was formerly known as the Feast of the Precious Blood of Jesus. This coincidence emphasizes so much the humanity of the Lord for when you speak of heart and blood, you speak of components of the human body. While we are accustomed to look at the Sacred Heart as the symbol of the love of the Lord, let us not forget that “the proper and direct object of (the devotion) is the physical heart of Christ.” (C. Marmion, Christ in his Mysteries, 423.) And heart and blood belong to each other inasmuch as the heart is the organ that pumps blood to the various parts of the body. Biologically, the beating of one’s heart is actually the pumping of blood. Blood, which is the life force of the human body, flows through the veins by means of the beating of the heart. When the heart stops beating at death, the blood stops flowing through the veins. When the Lord died, his Sacred Heart stopped beating and when it was pierced open by the lance of a soldier, it brought out blood and water. The heart was drained of its blood – this is the mark of the consummation of Christ’s sacrifice and the fulfillment of what St. John said, “He loved his own even unto the end.”

“The Lord has set his heart on you and chose you,” Moses affirmed in the first reading. “God loved us,” John affirmed in the second reading. But with what did God love us? “He has loved us with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation is quite rightly considered the chief sign and the symbol…of that love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings without exception.” (CCC, 478.) He, who in his divinity is so much unlike us in every way, loved us with a human heart, that is, loved us in his humanity which is so much like us in every way except in sin. That is why he tells us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened.” He invites us to draw to him – not as someone who does not understand human toil and burden. He understands our toil and burden because he has his own: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Indeed, the human heart of Christ, as well as his blood, are worthy of our adoration “because it is part of Christ’s human nature, and because the Word united himself to a perfect nature. The same adoration we give to the Divine Person of the Word extends to all that to which he is personally united, all that subsists in and through the Person of the Word. This is true of Jesus’ human nature as a whole; it is true of each of the parts of which it is composed. The heart of Jesus is the heart of one who is God.” (Marmion) The blood of Jesus is the blood of one who is God. Because this is the heart of one who is God, it is the symbol of the love which the Incarnate Word bears for us. Because this is the Blood of one who is God, it is the price of our redemption.

Before this tremendous mystery of the Divinity and the humanity of Christ, let us humble ourselves like little children – for only by doing so will we be the objects of his love: “The Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations.” He reveals the secrets of his heart to children: “although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to little children.” We toil and bear our burdens like adults. Let us surrender these “adult things” to him who, though is Lord and God, is also meek and humble of heart. From him, let us learn. In him, let us rest “for my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”