Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saints and Jesus Christ

It had sparked a controversy sometime ago the practice of veneration of saints in the Catholic Church. Maybe just because of misunderstanding of the very gist of the matter. Veneration is giving honor, while adoration is acknowledging worship or total dependence, as to a divinity. Hence in Catholic concepts worship and adoration is given only to God, the very source of our being and existence, while our veneration of saints is because they are faithful servants of God and His beloved Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore even veneration of saints as also the respect for parents, elders and constituted authority is ultimately directed to God.

That is the very reason why St. Paul in his letter to the Romans says this: "You must obey all governing authorities. Since all government comes from God, the civil authorities were appointed by God, and so anyone who resists authority is rebelling against God's decision, and such an act is bound to be punished" (Rom. 13:1). This is understood, of course, that the human authority that can command obedience must also conform itself and its directives to the very source of all power and authority -- God Himself
No command merits obedience if it goes against God's laws and commandments.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lights and Shadows

Bishop Wilfredo Manlapaz, talking about and describing perspectives and advantages of BECs in Mindanao, included also some areas of deepening or improvement in the way of BECs (GKKs, in local name). Sometimes man-made rules make enforcement burdensome for the people, especially when some local requisites tend to be stricter than universal Church law, which we call Canon Law. We must try to avoid such a situation.

Hence the mind of Jesus is expressed in the phrase: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:27). Yes, all legalities, liturgies and rules were or are intended to make man a better person, more humble, loving and considerate to his neighbor, not a hypocrite pretending to be what he really is not. And this conversion is obtained through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that comes through prayer, the word of God, and the sacraments, not by the intricacies of the Law. St. Paul was saying clearly: “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). So Canon Law advices us on this when it proclaims: Suprema Lex est salus animarum (The supreme Law is the welfare of souls). Man is saved by God’s grace. Graces come in as result of prayer and the sacraments.

The Sinful Part

(RH controversies)

Without pointing accusing fingers at others, it would be good to be sincere with ourselves in really searching for the truth in the contraceptive issue of the RH Bill which certain legislators are proposing. What is the moral truth behind, seeing that the Catholic Churchis opposing it.

The Catholic Church teaches that sexual relations outside of legitimate marriage is a grave sin, in fact part of the messages of Fatima were attesting that many souls go into Hell precisely because of sins of impurity. It would be a disgraceful thing if we would come to know why this Bill is being proposed by some legislators because of the money being offered, under the table. As you know, the contraceptives would entice people to sex, without the possibility of bringing in the concomitant responsibilities of unintended pregnancy. Even marital infidelities may be concealed this way, thus providing temptation to worse and continuing sins of the flesh.

The anti-life (culture of death) groups argue that no life is being violated by the contraceptives, only the union of sperm and ovum is being blocked. That is a very cunning style of arguing since the natural potential life is being blocked. Moreover, many of thesecontraceptive devices are abortifacient, thus killing a newly conceived fetus. This is against the first right of man: life, from which proceeds all others. Don't we understand that proliferating the contraceptive devices is tantamount to blocking future births of humans. Can you imagine the earth almost entirely depopulated?

"Perhaps you think that we are again apologizing; but no: we speak in Christ and before God, and I do this for you, dear friends, to build you up. I fear that if I go and see you, I might not find you as I would wish, and you in turn, might not find me to your liking. I might see rivalries, envy, grudges, disputes, slanders, gossip, conceit, disorder. Let it not be that in coming again to you, God humble me because of you and I have to grieve over so many of you who live in sin, on seeing that they have not yet given up an impure way of living, their wicked conduct and the vices they formerly practiced" (2 Cor. 12:19-21).

"Nothing unclean will enter it (the holy city Jerusalem), or anyone who does what is evil and false but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life" (Rev. 21:27).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Open and Fearless Speech

(Lk. 12)

We know that expression quoted from the Bible by the great Pope John Paul II: “Duc in Altum”, which translates in the complete citation, as follows: “When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fishes that their nets began to tear, so they signaled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point. When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus, saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid, from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him” (Lk. 5:4-11)..

Jesus only came to teach us truth and love, both by word and example. His life shows us that true love is humble, patient and forgiving (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4). He extends his love even toward his enemies. Why I imply here that our mission be open and fearless speech is because I mean by truth — the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You know what a lie consists in – a lie is a half truth or a part of the truth. It would not be evangelization if we hide part of the truth. “Everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places will be proclaimed in the housetops…. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell” (Lk. 12:2-6).

A previous nuncio to the Philippines , Archbishop Gian Vincenzo Moreni had left me a souvenir medal with some significant inscription in Latin – Robur Pacis Veritas. The medal showed the picture of Jesus and St. Peter kneeling before him. The Latin saying (translated – truth is the strength of peace) intends to say that truth is the very foundation of peace. Evangelization therefore or education in the Christian truth is what can bring peace to our world because it is entirely based on truth and love. “The truth shall set you free” (Jn. 8:32).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Conquest by Ideas

This happens in the world around us—that erroneous ideas are conquered by better ideas.. For example the ideas on war are conquered by those ideas that deal on peace, which is a normal aspiration of man, just like water seeking its own level. So too a culture of death is substituted by the culture of life, a culture that aims to terminate life is replaced by the culture that saves and not destroys life, a culture of greed replaced by one of generosity and love.

Hence the culture proposed by the Church is based on God’s revelation that brings to man fullness of life. The commandments of God that propose purity, chastity, stability, and unity of the family are all intended to save and protect life. These are opposed to the world’s ideas of revelry, unchastity, violence, and greed that only bring chaos and death to humanity. Look at the dwindling and aging populations, fruit of man’s desire for fleshly pleasures through the constant spread and use of the contraceptives for purpose of prolonging the quest for these selfish pleasures of the world. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, came to our world, not to terminate life but to bring it to fulfillment. Life here and in the hereafter. “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10).

The ideas of peace and love are described by the prophet Isaiah: “The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will take rest with the kid, the calf and the lion cub will feed together and a little child will lead them. Befriending each other, the cow and the bear will see their young ones lie down together. Like cattle, the lion will eat hay. By the cobra’s den the infant will play. Into the viper’s lair the child will put his hand. No one will harm or destroy over my holy mountain, for as water fills the sea the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord” (Is. 11:6-9).

Monday, February 8, 2010

Damascus Experience

The Damascus experience of St. Paul, when he fell from his horse and was blinded by a great light that he saw (Acts 9), became the occasion of his conversion, whereas previously he was a strong persecutor of the early Christian believers. You analyze the event and learn from such a happening. Many times the Lord uses events or trials in our lives as stepping stones for our conversion.

But deep in his heart St. Paul had that essential characteristic that we all need.. He was sincere in seeking for God's truth and God's will. You can read that in the narration of his conversion (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 9). That is what all of us need, whatShakespeare says in Hamlet: "To thine own self be true and it will follow as night follows day, you will be true to every man." Actually it means truthfulness or sincerity in oneself. Do you really desire and seek what is your true good and perfection?

St. Paul too was conscious that good and perfection comes by the grace of God, as he admitted, saying: "by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).. Even St. Alphonsus de Liguori had said: "Who prays is saved." That is why if you fall into eternal perdition you have only yourself to blame because the Lord, source of grace and power, had promised to answer the prayers of those who ask Him.

St. Luke writes: "One day Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.' And Jesus said to them, 'When you pray, say this: Father, hallowed be your name, may your kingdom come, give us each day the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive all who do us wrong, and do not bring us to the test.' Jesus said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says: 'Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is traveling has just arrived and I have nothing to offer him.' Maybe your friend will answer from inside: 'Don't bother me now; the door is locked and my children and I are in bed, so I can't get up and give you anything.' But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a bother to him, and he will give you all you need. And so I say to you, 'Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened. If your child asks for a fish, will you give a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give a scorpion? Even you evil people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more then will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those who ask him!"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

True Freedom

Freedom is the freedom to do good, not the license to do evil. Even in sexual ethics, we do have to respect the normal course and result of the love between man and woman, which is life, a new human life with basic rights. These basic rights are life, liberty and property.

That is why, the Church following the precept of Jesus, decrees that sexual relationships are only to be done within legitimate marriage. Why? Because it is the normal fruit of such sexual relations to have the possibility of birth of a new life. Outside marriage such use of sex is considered gravely sinful. You can see why, because such acts may originate new life, human life possessing fundamental rights. For example, children have rights to be nurtured and educated. Life is sacred. You have only one life for which you will answer before God for the things you do.

In a message to the US Bishops, Pope John Paul II truly said: "Describing the sexual union between husband and wife as a special expression of their covenant of love, you have correctly said: The sexual relationship is a human and moral good only within the sphere of marriage: outside marriage it is immoral."