Friday, April 30, 2010

What Leads to Peace?

As we dedicate time and efforts to dialogue on peace and how to obtain peace in our land, we must try to find the answer to the above query: What leads to peace? I remember the age-old Latin proverb which I heard quoted by the late Archbishop Alberto Piamonte of Jaro, Iloilo, an expert canonist or one well-versed in Canon Law: Ideae regunt mundum (translate: It is ideas that rule the world). If the prevalent ideas ruling in a group or community are ideas of envy, revenge, hatred or suspicion, ambition and greed for material gains and pleasures, we may always have sparks of trouble here and there. But if people are guided by the "truth that sets us free", then we may enjoy more lasting peace and tranquility.

Let's consider the ideas irrespective of where they come from so long they are true. Partisan prejudices (even religious) can cloud our minds from the truth. Think about the validity of the ideas that follow.

Such for example: "Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets" (Mt. 7:12). "Do all you can to live at peace with everyone. Never try to get revenge; leave that, my friends, to God's anger. As scripture says: "Vengeance is mine -- I will pay them back, the Lord promises. But there is more: "If your enemy is hungry, you should give him food, if he is thirsty, let him drink. Thus you heap red-hot coals on his head. Resist evil and conquer it with good" (Rom. 12:18). "If you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either" (Mt. 6:14-15). Shall we not open our eyes to consider the consequences of the conflicts: waste of lives, the evacuations, the tears of mothers and children, the anguish of people in distress, just because some want to vent their anger and hatred on fellow human beings. Listen then to the words of wisdom: "What will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?" (Mt. 16:26). The value of life is unique, sacred and priceless. Is it worth multiplying the loose, unlicensed firearms that become the tools of death? "Love does no harm to the neighbor; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments" (Rom. 13:10). "The time has come: you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon-- Let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark let us arm ourselves and appear in the light. Let us live decently as people in the daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no jealousy. Let your armor be the Lord Jesus Christ; forget about satisfying your bodies with all their cravings" (Rom. 13:11-14). Look at the scenario of the world. Can there every be peace if we don't ever learn the virtue of forgiveness? When will we ever learn?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Humility and Happiness

a happiness formula)

For the occasion of the Year of the Priest, June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010, Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao gave us a copy of a litany of humility for everyone, composed by Cardinal Merry del Val. It describes certain aspects of humility which corroborate the statements of Jesus for our benefit: "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk. 18:14); "There is more happiness in giving than in receiving" (Acts 20:35). Perhaps this could help counteract that spirit of envy or resentment that shows unhappiness at others' achievements. They term that as "crab mentality" in the pejorative sense, like crabs pulling down others climbing up. The right attitude is "to rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow" (Rom. 12:15). Of course, the lasting happiness is that experienced by Jesus and the saints who follow His way: "Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted. Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be comforted....Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven...(Mt. 5:5, 10); "Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce you as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets" (Lk. 6:23).

Herewith the Litany of Humility for Everyone: (composed by Cardinal Merry del Val who often recited it after the celebration of the Holy Mass). Since love and humility are God's spiritual gifts, it is incorporated in a litany prayer asking it from the Lord Jesus who had assured us: "the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him" (Mt. 7:7).
Litany of Humility for Everyone

O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That in the opinion of the world others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it .
That others become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Artificial Contraceptives

With the RH Bill issues connected to the stand of several politicians running on these Philippine elections 2010, the contraceptive controversy has gained the forefront. The stand of the Church has been clear since the issuance of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae (on Human Life) of Pope Paul Vi, in 1968. Just as today the minds of people tend to revert to natural cures (or as close to nature) as remedy for sicknesses (vis-a-vis side effects of artificial medications), so also it seems the Church favors the responsible parenthood, only through natural ways of self-control, not the artificial devices of contraception. The production of such devices has become a booming business, that is what has accentuated the issue since money is involved here. The Church favors respect for life, the first right of man, over such other considerations, much more so, since the issue is very much connected to the morality of sex, family, and the purity of morals. The corruption comes in, precisely, since "the love of money is the root of all evils" (1 Tim. 6:10). It does bespeak a lack of trust in God's care when we hear the "lumang tugtugin - matiwas ang caldero ko dahil sa kahirapan ng buhay" (life is so harsh and I will barely have enough to eat, literally translated: "my kettle will be turned upside down for lack of food to cook."

At the beginning of creation: "God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God blessed them saying to them, 'Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it'" (Gen. 1:27-28). To follow God's will, let us choose the candidates who have a deep respect for life. Rather than limit the guests to the table of life, we must rather increase the resources of food, clothing, and shelter so we may have better citizens of the earth and future citizens of our final destiny of heaven with God and His saints, in our true and final home.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Is it that important to believe in Jesus, if He is the truth. Evidently. If He shows the true way to God’s kingdom, it must be extremely important to believe in Him. Belief in the sense of doing or acting in accord with His word and example. At least let’s be sincere in finding out and searching the truth in all sincerity. Why? Because ultimate salvation might depend on that. Specially since He has shown by word and deed His divine powers, through clear signs and miracles that only God can do. A normal person will proceed by the evidence of deeds and facts, as the principle states: Contra factum non valet argumentum (translate: You do not argue against clear facts.)

“God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son” (Jn. 3:18). Shall we not follow that person who in His word and deed only manifests love, truth, purity and justice? Are we not afraid of eternal condemnation? At least let us be true and sincere in humbly searching for the truth. The truth will set us free (cf. Jn. 8:32). Time is too short to waste, especially in the matter concerning our eternal salvation. God is infinitely merciful, compassionate and just. Even so, we can never abuse of such Divine Mercy by ever postponing our conversion. It must be here and now. “If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts, as at Meribah and Massah in the wilderness” (Ps. 94:8). Presumption of God’s mercy is one of the unforgivable sins against the Holy Spirit about which Jesus has sternly warned us (cf. Mt. 12:32). We must trust, but not abuse God’s mercy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Matter of Pride

Pride would be at the root of the violent contentions in our world. Yes, pride and worldly interests. The fitting disposition would be to adopt the position of humility that allows space and freedom to others for development, success and reputation. We must avoid that monopoly that desires everything for oneself which was the mindset of dictators in the past who committed such ghostly massacres of numberless lives (1 mean by the millions).

We have therefore to shun such attitudes of ambition, envy or hate, and be willing to undergo humiliation, contempt or ridicule for the sake of peace. Let's do away with the crab mentality that desires others' downfall, but rather let us show happiness at others' success or achievements. This would be following an attitude that gives a chance for the truth to prove itself amid an air of freedom and democracy that respects others' rights and opinions. Let us follow the advice of Gamaliel that is narrated at the Acts of the Apostles.
as follows.

"So they brought them (the Apostles) in and made them stand before the Council and the High Priest questioned them. 'We gave you strict orders not to preach such a Savior; but you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend charging us with the killing of this man.' To this Peter and the apostles replied, 'Better for us to obey God rather than any human authority! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a wooden post. God set him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to grant repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses to all these things, as well as the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.' When the Council heard this, they became very angry and wanted to kill them. But one of them, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law highly respected by the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin. He ordered the men to be taken outside for a few minutes and then he spoke to the assembly. 'Fellow Israelites, consider well what you intend to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas came forward, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed and all his followers were dispersed and his whole following was scattered. So, in this present case, I advise you to have nothing to do with these men. Leave them alone. If their project or activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. If, on the other hand, it is from God, you will not be able to destroy it and you may indeed find yourselves fighting against God.' The Council let themselves be persuaded. They called in the apostles and had them whipped, and ordered them not to speak again of Jesus Savior. Then they set them free. The apostles went out from the Council rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the Name. Day after day, both in the Temple and in people's homes, they continued to teach and to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah" (Acts 5:27-42).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Truth Sets Free

(Jn. 8:32)

As we look at the violent chaos in different parts of our world, we begin to wonder, and ask the question: why? The answer must delve deeper. Is the violence inside us or outside us?

Let’s examine a grain of truth in that Spanish proverb: Tu enemigo peor eres tu (translate: You are your own worst enemy). We keep pointing accusing fingers at others when the fault and problem lies within ourselves. Jesus said so: “Do not judge and you will not be judged; because the judgments you give are the judgments you will get, and the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How dare you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye” (Mt. 7:1-5).

Sometimes people make lots of fuss about the kinds of food we eat. Jesus answers that problem in the gospel of Matthew: “He called the people to him and said, ‘Listen and understand. What goes into the mouth does not make a man unclean; it is what comes out of the mouth that makes him unclean…. Can you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes through the stomach and is discharged into the sewer? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and it is these that make a man unclean. For from the heart come evil intentions: murder, adultery, fornication, theft, perjury, slander. These are the things that make a man unclean. But to eat with unwashed hands does not make a man unclean’” (Mt. 15:10-20). These evil intentions and hatred in your heart cause all the trouble in the world, the evacuation problems, the needless loss of precious lives, the human rights violations, and in the end will bring us, if we do not repent, to the eternal fires of hell.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life is a Battle

God’s word relates that life is a battle. “Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle….” (Ps. 144:1). But this is mainly a battle against the Devil and his angels. Since Satan has been permanently excluded from the heavenly bliss, he wants to bring as many as possible to his kingdom, which is the hell fire of everlasting torment and punishments (cf. Rv. 12:7-17). The very finality of each and every person is either heaven or hell. Yes it’s true there are 4 last things: death, judgment, hell or heaven. But the very last, depending on your conduct is either eternal punishment in hell or eternal bliss in heaven. Find this out for yourself by reading Mt. 25:31-46, before it’s too late. In that part of the Bible Jesus shows who will be rewarded or punished eternally, that is, who goes to heaven or to hell.

Earthly life is constant battle against temptations from within and without. The devil makes use of our pride and vanity to tempt us to worldliness. So Jesus warns us: “What will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26).

Doing battle also means using the right strategy. It’s different from facing a lion or a dog, because in such case, if you run away the dog or lion will run after you and bite you. In the spiritual battle of fighting off temptations to sin, the strategy to win relies on prayer, the sacraments, and God’s word. Meditating on God’s word will surely bring many benefits to the soul. Jesus has assured us: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). Some saints, like St. Alphonsus, had said you have only to blame yourself if you get to Hell of eternal fire since God in His mercy has provided for the means of repentance and conversion, if you ask for it sincerely, seek for it sincerely, knock for it sincerely. “For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him” (Mt. &:7-12). God’s word cannot lie nor be mistaken. We need the graces that are the fruits of prayer, meditation on God’s word and the Sacraments to strengthen us against temptation. “Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things” (1Pt. 5:8). The Lord Jesus had said—“The truth shall set you free” (Jn. 8:32). Consider therefore the triviality and transient nature of all things in the world and learn the eternal truths. With the help of prayer and grace you may come to realize the grain of truth in the sentence: When you reach the bottom you have only to go up. Of course this implies the attitude of being humble and therefore more considerate and kind towards others, more understanding, and happy at the success of others. “The Lord Jesus Himself said: “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35). Is there reason to be proud of earthly beauty or virility? There’s a food for thought from that Spanish rhymed expression: hoy en figura, maƱana en sepulture (today a figure of beauty, tomorrow in the grave). There’s no room for pride in the passing things of earth that blossom today and vanish as quickly like a delusion. So God’s word keeps on convincing us to be humble and rely on God. “If you live in the shelter of Elyon and make your home in the shadow of Shaddai, you can say to Yahweh, “My refuge, my fortress, my God in whom I trust!” (Ps. 91:1-2). “Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night. He is like a tree that is planted by water streams, yielding its fruit in season, its leaves never fading; success attends all he does. It is nothng like this with the wicked, nothing like this!” (Ps. 1:1-4).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Are All Religions the Same?

Some express as if all religions were just the same so as to be accommodating and appear permissive. But such an attitude does a disservice to the truth. Surely “the truth sets us free” (Jn. 8:32). But to water down the truth and say all religions are the same is tantamount to saying there is nothing true at all. Just like that Spanish saying that runs like this: “amigo de todos, amigo de ninguno” (friend of all, friend of none). If you consider some as your friends, it’s because they are familiar and in good relations with you.

In the world we have to be persistent seekers of the truth. Why? Because the devil who is a murderer and the father of lies (Jn. 8:44) keeps on working with his many agents to bring as many as possible to hell, which is a place of endless woe, despair, and punishment. Amid the confusion and distractions of our world we must learn to be discerning and have a critical mind in constant search for what is truly good, right and just in opposition to the agents of the devil who keep on twisting the truth. That’s a false statement to say – all religions are the same. What is truthful is that we have to respect man’s conscience and freedom to search for the truth. The first letter of St. Peter, the first pope, says: “Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things. You will have to suffer only for a little while: the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will see that all is well again: he will confirm, strengthen and support you. His power lasts forever and ever. Amen (1 P.5:8-11). We have to constantly be in search of where and what is the truth since you cannot say that even if there are conflicting statements all of them are true. Let us respect the freedom of every person to seek for the truth.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Worries of Today

We need to re-focus our minds so as not to be burdened by the distressful worries of our day that only affect our health. And worrying much will not solve the problems, like the bills to pay, the food to buy, the clothes we need, the relationships we need to mend. Jesus invites us to a solution. And where is that re-focusing? He says: "Come to Me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28). Is it necessary to worry? The Bible says: "Unload your burden on to Yahweh and he will support you; he will never permit the virtuous to falter" (Ps. 55:22; 1P 5:7). Of course, instead of worrying, do what you can, leave the rest to God.

Common sense may tell us this common proverb: "If you can do it, why worry; if you can't do it, why worry." The refocusing we need rather means trusting in God fully and endeavoring with all our might to seek to keep His will (cf> Mt. 6:33). Just be true to yourself and consider whether you are God's servant or a slave to money, worldly pleasures and things of the world. If you are God's servant, seek to do His will with all your heart, in the simple sincerity of a little child (cf. Mk. 10:15, Mt. 18:3).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Approach of Faith

Some put on airs as if they were bright and knowledgeable of mysteries but then they miss the point and lose their faith or true knowledge. Even in the matter of knowledge in the world there is need of humility to listen and obey, how much more as regards the mysteries and secrets of God’s kingdom. One related the story of a monk who had a visitor intent on learning the secrets of a life that is truthful. As he poured coffee liberally into the cup of his visitor, the coffee spilled from the cup. The monk told the visitor “That’s your first lesson.” In order to learn you have to be like an empty cup ready to receive the pouring of water, otherwise you will not learn much when you believe you already have all the answers. Then you will fall into that pitiable feature of a proud person – a “little knowledge is dangerous”. The truly wise person is willing to listen since he knows there is still so much to learn.

Jesus has clearly outlined the approach to faith. It does not mean a total absence of signs or motivations but rather as expressed several times by our Lord, it is an attitude of sincerity and simplicity as of a little child. “’I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing” (Mk. 10:15); refer also to Mt. 18:3 and Lk. 18:17. Such should be our attitude to the life and miracles of our Savior Jesus Christ. St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the only priest stigmatist, once spoke to a certain convert of his, Federico Abresch: “Faith is not to be argued over, either you accept it with your eyes closed, admitting the inadequacy of the human mind to understand its mysteries, or you reject it. There is no middle way. The choice is up to you.” You can see therefore in world history how those who prided themselves in their knowledge of the world were not able to grasp the divine truths and teachings of Jesus and His Church in spite of the miracles He had performed by His divine power. The culminating miracle in His life was His Crucifixion and Resurrection from the dead, a fact witnessed by hundreds of people, which goes to prove the way of Jesus as the way of love, truth and goodness. Hence St. Paul in the letter to the Corinthians describes love as: humble, patient and forgiving (cf. 1 Cor. 13: 4-13).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Does God Provide?

The language of non-believers and the worldly is usually negative with respect to God’s merciful care for humans. They keep on talking of overpopulation and food shortages plus a thousand other mixed problems. But when the Son of God, Jesus, came to our world, He indicated the clear facts to us. “Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father takes care of them. How much more of you, are you not worth much more than they? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith? So do not worry; do not say, ‘What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?’ It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mt. 6:25-34).

Even the great Carmelite mystic, St. Teresa of Avila, expresses a fact --“God took care of us in the past, till this very moment he has taken care of us, therefore there is no doubt he will take care of us in the future.” Trust in God is a reality. God is alive. Yet he works His miracles when we deeply and sincerely trust in Him. So He says in Mk. 9:24: “Everything is possible for anyone who has faith” - and in Mk. 11:24 “I give you my word, if you are ready to believe that you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer, it shall be done for you.” Many people have found this statement true based on their true and sincere faith in God and deep personal experience.

Psalm 33:16 expresses the deep trust in God thus: “A large army will not keep a king safe, nor does the hero escape by his great strength; it is delusion to rely on the horse for safety, for all its power it cannot save. But see how the eye of Yahweh is on those who fear him, on those who rely on his love, to rescue their souls from death and keep them alive in famine.”