Sunday, June 27, 2010

False Prophets / False Teachers

(the Ravenous Wolves)

When Jesus talked about false prophets as being ravenous wolves, surely being God Himself, as Second Person of the Holy Trinity, He must have had in mind the whole of human history, past, present and future. He sternly warns us against the deception of false prophets (teachers) who come in the guise of sheep but in reality are ravenous wolves. And Jesus adds: “You will be able to tell them by their fruits….A sound true cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit” (Mt. 7:15). The characteristic deception by the devil is this, he even makes unauthorized use of personalities identified with the Church in order to pretend credibility and be able to recruit members. That has been our experience of past history in various parts of the Philippines and the world, and because of the anger and hatred being infused in opposing groups, we know it has caused loss of countless lives here in the Philippines, or even in other parts of the world, just because it follows the line of class struggle, whereas Jesus teaches us to love and reconcile with our neighbor. “If you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering” (Mt. 5:23-25).

Not only that, the infiltration of Marxist thought connected to class struggle has occasioned even the loss of many religious vocations, because the ideas happened to be on the wrong track. They keep on angrily parading justice but have forgotten the very source of justice – God’s word: “Man’s anger does not fulfill God’s justice” (Jas. 1:20). Is that the reaction of our one and only Savior, the true lamb who takes away our sins by offering His life on the cross? False prophets constantly utter justice, but the results will tell whether they only meant, not true justice, but a parody of justice. You don’t have to go too far in studying or analyzing the fruits of such wrong teachings or ideas, to Russia and Germany where millions died, even to Spain where the victims of the civil war (around 1936) reached countless thousands and are buried in that famed site called “Valle de los Caidos” (the Valley of the Fallen Ones) in Madrid, Spain. Think of our own history in the Philippines in the 1980+ encounters and troubles. Remember history, or you will keep on repeating the past errors, mistakes and false ideas.

Check for yourself then. How right Jesus was. “What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22). The ravenous wolves, check for yourself, under a guise of harmless lambs, are disrespectful, angry, impatient, hateful, unhappy, and temperamental, as part of what you may observe. But then what if violence ensues, as it did in the past. You cannot, even with so much compensation, pay for the inestimable value of one life. So was it said by B. Franklin: “There never was a good war or a bad peace.”

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Old Tune

(Lumang tugtugin)

False theories or teachings, like old tunes, do pass away, but since they are connected to human feelings and weaknesses, tend to reappear once in a while. Let’s not repeat the past violent confrontations we have had in the Philippines . The false prophets try to incite and wake up those feelings of anger and hatred for some earthly purpose and the end result are victims of conflicts. And what can you pay for the value of life, yes, even of one life?

This is what happens when people keep on judging the neighbor, for various reasons, as if they were holier than the rest. What happens is the somehow division of groups between rightists and leftists, although it’s not so defined what can make a person belong to this or that group. The best probable example would be the biblical portrayal at the last judgment when people would be divided into two groups, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats (sheep at the right, goats at the left). There must be a deeper reason why Jesus chose this comparison ( see Mt. 25:21-46). It seems the goats make lots of noise, specially in their moment of crisis, while sheep are more quiet and trusting.

That, in my humble opinion, ought to be the way we face reality, with faith in God, hope and calmness, not with lots of noise and judgment of the neighbor, as goats do during time of slaughter. The representation paints the sheep as more positive and the goats, as negative in attitude, that is, the people who keep grumbling, judging the neighbor, and making a disordered, violent society. Here I remember the deep insight of St. Teresa of Avila , in her popular expression: “Much wrongdoing would be avoided if we realized our business is to be on guard, not against men but against displeasing the Lord.” This only shows her great devotion to the ways of God, who always wants us to live a life loving one another, including our enemies. We ought to correct evils in society, not in an adversarial manner but rather producing fruits of harmony and love. After all, we are only passing guests to life’s drama. What is important is that in everything we do, we give glory and thanksgiving to God in the spirit of love and humility. Let’s not resurrect the past forms of class struggle in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world that caused so much loss of lives, vocations, and harmony. They were surely based on a shallow perception of the truth and false ideas because a lie is a half truth.

St. Paul reminds us to walk according to the Spirit: “You can easily recognize what comes from the flesh: immorality, impurity and shamelessness, idol worship and magic, hatred, jealousy and violence, anger, ambition, division, factions, discord and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I again say to you what I have already said: those who do these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God . But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy and peace, patience, understanding of others, kindness and fidelity, gentleness and self-control. For such things there is no Law or punishment. Yet those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its vices and desires.” (Gal. 5:19-24).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Magisterium

The above word usually refers to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church which implies the guarantee of truth and infallibility promised by Our Lord Jesus Christ to St. Peter, the first Pope. “Simon, son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on 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. 16:18-20).

Church magisterium is thus delineated this way: The solemn or the ordinary magisterium of the Church is the norm of faith in truths revealed by God. The solemn magisterium consists of papal or conciliary dogmatic definitions. The ordinary magisterium is the unanimous teaching of the bishops united with the Pope (cf. Canon Law 748-749). For the same reason as above, the daily ordinary uniform teaching of the Church in every place in the whole world is infallibly true because it is one with the universal Catholic Church under the successor of Peter and the Bishops united with him.

Canon 748 – [1.]. All persons are bound to seek the truth in those things which regard God and his Church and by virtue of divine law are bound by the obligation and possess the right of embracing and observing the truth which they have come to know. [2.] No one is ever permitted to coerce persons to embrace the Catholic faith against their conscience.
Canon 749 - [1.] By virtue of his office, the Supreme Pontiff possesses infallibility in teaching when as the supreme pastor and teacher of all the Christian faithful, who strengthens his brothers and sisters in the faith, he proclaims by definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held. [2.] The college of bishops also possesses infallibility in teaching when the bishops gathered together in an ecumenical council exercise the magisterium as teachers and judges of faith and morals who declare for the universal Church that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held definitively; or when dispersed throughout the world but preserving the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter and teaching authentically together with the Roman Pontiff matters of faith or morals, they agree that a particular proposition is to be held definitively. [3.] No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.

In the confused teachings of our world, the divergent doctrines, and the malicious errors that originate from the Devil who is “a murderer and the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44), we need the guiding light of the Roman Catholic Church to guide us towards love, purity, morality, justice and righteousness and reach the final destiny we all aim for – heaven with God as Our Father, source of every good and happiness. Jesus, being God’s only begotten Son, knew how necessary is that guarantee of protecting the Church from wrong teachings since He Himself gave that final instruction for the Church and its missionaries. “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16). The universal body of the faithful who have received the anointing of the holy one (see 1 Jn. 2:20,27) cannot be mistaken in belief (Lumen Gentium 12).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Pro-Life Stance

(Ligaya ko nang ako’y isilang, pagkat tao ay mayroong dangal)
(my happiness for a chance to be born, life is worth living)

We keep on wondering what’s behind the pro-life stance and why. First of all, that has been the stand of the Church, ever since, especially after the Encyclical of Pope Paul VI Humanae Vitae (1968). To save and protect life, not only the actual existing life, but also to protect those lives about-to-be born that are the natural consequence of the union of human male and female persons. We are thereby safeguarding the first right of man which is human life. When you prevent the normal consequence of human births as natural result of sexual union, for example by the contraceptive devices, you are acting contrary to God’s decrees and designs. The Lord who decreed “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it” (Gen. 1:28), has promised to care for us, if we only trust in His Providence. His infallible word attests to that. He would rather, that through industry and honest work, we strive to educate and develop ourselves to become productive citizens, so there be sufficient food and sources of livelihood, instead of worrying too much on the control of births by contraceptives. The end result would be the dearth of young workers or professionals and the growth of the aging population. More old people, less young people.

“That is why I tell you not to be worried about food and drink for yourself, or about clothes for your body. Is not life more important than food and is not the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow, they do not harvest and do not store food in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than birds? Can any of you add a day to your life by worrying about it? Why are you so worried about your clothes? Look at the flowers in the fields how they grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his wealth was clothed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass in the field which blooms today and is to be burned tomorrow in an oven, how much more will he clothe you? What little faith you have! Do not worry and say: What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? Or: what shall we wear? The pagans busy themselves with such things; but your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart first on the kingdom and justice of God and all these things will also be given to you. Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (M6. 6:25-34).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gamaliel’s Proposition

We know of secret societies covertly militating against Church teachings on faith and morals. They ought to be reminded to check twice on their policies and actuations, and endeavor to delve deeper in the search for truth and the lessons of history. All the Church doing is to communicate truth and goodness according to the mind of God. Yes, Truth is interchangeable with reality. As Philosophy attest the principle, Contra factum non valet argumentum (translated: Arguments are no better than the fact itself). That is why in the Catholic Church. miracles, history and facts are being accurately documented because we are trying our best to give the truth to our people, with sufficient witnesses to support allegations or statements.

We have heard of sinful lapses in our own ranks. But that is only to prove the point that, human as we are, without God’s grace we are all prone to commit sin. We can always reecho St. Paul ’s thankful expression of gratitude to God—“It is by the grace of God that I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

Why I mention here in the title Gamaliel’s intervention is because we know of secret societies or people who maliciously or ignorantly oppose Church teachings in the faith and morals. You know, if you study or remember history, it oftentimes repeats itself. It had been commented sometime ago: “Those who do not remember history will repeat the mistakes of history.”

“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 or disappeared. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared at the time of the census and persuaded many people to follow him. But he too perished 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 5:34-42).