Monday, May 31, 2010

Gutta, Gutta, Cavat, Cavat Lapidem

(drop by drop wears out the rock)

What’s stated above is a famous saying from writers of Latin literature, which I repeat here for its meaningful content. Something similar is meant in – repetitio est mater studiorum (repetition is the mother of education). It could sound boring but many times it’s the way we communicate a truth. It’s the way the hammer lets the nail penetrate a board, by repeatedly hitting it on the head. I know some jokingly or ignorantly twist the above expression to– repetitio est mater stultorum (repetition is the mother of fools).

But God, who knows all things, said it in the very words of holy scripture: “Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience—but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). The same here is the purpose of the Church in refuting repeatedly the use of artificial contraceptives and the practice of abortion, if only to implement God’s decree in the creation of man. “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). This is written at the very first chapter of the Bible. Surely it is not God’s wish that we have more and more of the old and gray-haired while the future generations in the children would be disappearing, due to abortion or artificial contraceptives. Yes to responsible parenthood, no to artificial contraception and abortion. We know, of course, the hidden motives in the contraceptive uses, that is, to cover up indecent indulgences or also make lots of money from the sale of the birth control devices. The Church’s stand is for truth, morality and the eternal salvation of each human soul for whom the price was the very shedding of the blood of God’s beloved Son, Jesus Christ. We must always make it a point to search for the truth. Whether as regards civil and political life as citizens, or as regards the eternal destiny of our souls, this saying holds true for both categories: ignorance of the law excuses no one. You will pay for violations in one sector or the other. God knows all things, even the hidden agenda or thoughts.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Election Fever

The usual feverish tempo of elections seems dying out, with joys and sorrows of people whose ambitions were either won or lost in the first automated elections. Certain things have to be kept in mind always, besides keeping elections clean and honest. We should realize God knows all secrets, frauds and dishonest actions.

As we trudge on forward, we must remember history. In the past history we know of despots or autocrats who made use of power tyrannically or arbitrarily, like a Herod, a Hitler or Stalin. We must remember history so we may avoid future mistakes that cost us lives. The ambition of such tyrannical leaders did sacrifice lives by the millions. Check history yourself, it would be too horrendous to mention the staggering numbers of the victims of war and violence. That’s why that expression was coined – “There never was a good war nor a bad peace” (B. Franklin).

Let us remember that what has straightened the concepts of authority are the words and example of Our Lord Jesus Christ who showed us that authority means humble service for the good of the community. “You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:41-45). This is the real and true leadership, an authority that is there to serve, not to dominate or exploit.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Faith Makes a Difference

Why? God works His miracles in answer to our faith. For example, in the gospel of Matthew is narrated the cure of the Roman centurion’s servant who was paralyzed. This was how the gospel put it. After Jesus observed the faith of the centurion, He told him: “Go back then; you have believed, so let this be done for you.” And the servant was cured at that moment. (cf. Mt. 8:13).

Even while still on earth, our faith can be a source of grace and change. Jesus refers to that when He commented after curing or forgiving a person – “Your faith has been your salvation” (cf. Mt. 9:22, Mk. 5:34, Lk. 7:50). This is one basic point in our religion that we realize its teachings and sacraments are a source of righteous deeds. St. Paul described it this way: “I am not ashamed of the Good News (Gospel): It is the power of God saving all who have faith… scripture says: “The upright man finds life through faith” ( Rom. 1:16). Many skeptics want to deny this astounding effect of God’s marvels and miracles that comes from faith in Jesus Christ. But much of this is verified and documented historically, especially in the lives of saints and the very historical evolution of the Catholic Church amid all the trials and persecutions in the past and present. That is what precisely Jesus refers to when He talks about the forgiveness of sins. It means a change in persons and personalities for a better life of love and faithfulness to God. “So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem . You are witnesses to this” (Lk. 24:46-48).

Empowerment of the Laity

This growing phenomenon of the Laity’s empowerment came as fruit of Vatican II Council 1962-1965. We began to see the sprouting of the basic ecclesial communities where the laity was given more active voice and participation in liturgy and the proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord and Savior. It could be a normal evolution of what is really innate in the initiating sacrament of baptism when through this very sacrament, we partake of Jesus’ role as priest, prophet and king. “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15).

The recent canonical process for the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) of England only shows the timeliness of the move for increased involvement of the laity, always within the bounds of legitimate discipline allowed by Church Canon Law. Cardinal Newman was espousing such idea much ahead of his time. The treatises of the Apostle Paul, that the Church is one body of Christ clearly confirms how much we need to listen to our lay brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of greater harmony and progress in the Church. “Just as a human body - so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptized, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink” (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13). The Church too recognizes what we call magisterium ordinarium, i.e. the daily usual uniform teachings of the Catholic Church is protected from error by God’s ever abiding Spirit. You will therefore see from historicity that the present fundamental teachings of the Catholic faith are basically the same as those from the very beginning of Christianity. This is the fruit of the combined evangelizing work of both clergy/religious and lay people, and there are prominent saints in all categories and groupings of society. Today too we find zealous and fervent Christians in different social sectors. True indeed: “the spirit blows wherever it pleases” (Jn. 3:8). In the Church, as the one body of Christ, each one has a role to play. Hence, we understand why St. Paul commented” It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church” (Col. 1:24).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Christus Vincit

The expression above – Christus Vincit (translated: Christ is victorious), only indicates the continuing victory of Jesus, as He himself predicted: “In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world” (Jn. 16:33).

The truths and teachings of Jesus are all based on facts, signs and miracles open to all. Even the promise made to St. Peter, the first pope, is realized in actual history: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:18).

Since the teachings of Jesus, being spread through the evangelizing mission of the Church, are based on truth and facts, no wonder then that it leads to continuing and ultimate victory. After all, people are after the ultimate reality, that is, eternal salvation. Just as in business, people are after the real thing to their satisfaction, as once said – the customer is always right; so too in the real world people seek the truth, the sources of grace, the ultimate reality, the doctrines based on truth and facts, and accompanied by supernatural approbation of signs and miracles proven beyond doubt. The Bible’s words confirm the evangelizing work of the Church, saying: “And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it” (Mk. 16:18-20). Throughout the moral controversies of our world, it is the truth that will come out victorious. Jesus is the “way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6). Amid confusion, ignorance, diversity and deception, people seek a guarantee of the truth and their ultimate salvation. Based on fact, not just on hearsay. For example, the Resurrection of Jesus is based on fact and many witnesses.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Evils in Pornography

Since the arrival of the Internet and the continuing media development there is no doubt that pornography (the depiction of bold images) has infiltrated the minds of people, both young and old. What is unfortunate is its exploitation for lucrative purposes without any regard for the good of society or possible scandal to the young. Besides having an addicting effect on people’s minds, it’s such a waste of time when the concerned individual loses control of self. At the bottom line what is being violated is what St. Paul wrote to Timothy: “The love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim. 6:10). This principle is also being violated in many categories of social life when people lack the consideration for the common good of the human person, just because they want to make money. This shows a lack of trust in God’s ever faithful providence which always cares, so long we do our duties to God and the fellow men and women.

In the face of this invasion of pornographic images, here and there, open to the public gaze, we have only to rely on God and His grace amid the tempting circumstances of our day, in the worsening of public morals. Let us remember what St. Paul advices in this same first letter to Timothy. He wants us to rely on prayer and God’s word. You must have heard the saying – “Prayer will make us leave off sinning or sinning will make us leave off prayer.” It’s true as God’s creation, reality is good, nature is good. It is man who perverts God’s designs, since in us still remain the vestiges or weaknesses of original sin, the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. But God’s redeeming grace comes to us in our Savior, Jesus Christ. We may apply here the advice of St. Paul to Timothy: “Everything God created is good, and no food is to be rejected, provided grace is said for it: the word of God and the prayer make it holy” (1 Tim.: 4:4). We must do away with the debased uses of the pornography of our day to corrupt the young, the pedophilia, the traffic of women and minors, the desire to exploit human weakness and the natural curiosity and attraction between male and female, and the natural beauty of the human body.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Apprehensive or Defensive

(The Search for Truth)

In the matter of world religions which do have various differences, in today’s era we are approaching the trend of dialogue. After all, the truth is for the benefit of all men and women, therefore we ought to be open to dialogue and sharing truth and good ideas with one another. We know there are some so closed and fearful to dialogue. We must help one another find the truth. “It is the truth that sets us free” (Jn. 8:32), whether it is in this or that category of human living. Let’s not forget that the search for truth is everyone’s obligation since on it depends our eternal salvation or eternal perdition. Precisely the devil’s stratagem is intent on deceiving us with false earthly promises and attractions.

If you have the truth, why will you be so defensive or apprehensive other ideas or truths may enter. They are for your benefit and progress if they are of the truth. Let’s not forget the nature of a lie – a lie is a half truth. So we all have the obligation to search for the complete truth. This too is important since God is a God of truth (cf. Is. 65:16). The devil is a murderer and the father of lies (cf. Jn. 8:44). In the book of Revelation this is how heaven is being described: “I saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it. The pagan nations will live by its light and the kings of the earth will bring it their treasures. The gates of it will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there—and the nations will come bringing their treasures and their wealth. Nothing unclean may come into it: no one who does what is loathsome or false, but only those who are listed in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:22-27). So let’s endeavor to be sincere and true to ourselves from the very start since God Almighty knows our very inmost thoughts, desires and actions.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Table of Life

A likely comparison to our world perspective is looking at it as if it were a table wherein humans participate. In the first pages of the Bible where creation is narrated, God decreed that man “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it” (Gen. 1:28). It would not be right therefore that our focus be controlling the guests to the table of life rather than multiplying the food and other resources for the good of man, to make him or her exemplary citizens of the earth and future citizens of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

In fact in the Bible’s New Testament, the Savior constantly talks of putting our trust in God, saying: “Why keep on worrying about food to eat or clothes to wear; life is more important than food and the body, more than clothing. Look at the birds of the air or the flowers in the field; the birds do not sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father takes care of them. Even of the flowers which never have to work or spin, God takes care of them and they are more beautiful than the best regalia of king Solomon. If that is how God takes care of the birds in the sky and the flowers in the fields, how much more of you, you people of little faith? Rather seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be given you as well. Do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mt. 6:25-34). St Teresa talks of actual facts when she comments thus: ‘The Lord took care of us in the past, up to now He cares for us, therefore there is no reason to doubt He will take care of us in the future.’

The reason for the comparison is because I heard from a Bishop talking about situations in our world where they did not heed the voice of the Church against the use of artificial contraceptives and abortion, he observed that in the big gatherings of the people, instead of hearing the usual cries of babies, mostly it was the coughing of the old, men or women. In the Tagalog song – Hiram sa Diyos ang aking Buhay, part of the text says: “Ligaya ko nang ako’y isilang ‘pagkat tao ay mayroong dangal” (My joy to be born because I was given a chance to live and to be loved). So Jesus tells us, as we give chance to guests of life’s table: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:25).