Thursday, May 31, 2012

Contra Factum Non Valet Argumentum

The above Latin proverb (translated freely:you do not argue against facts or there are none more valid arguments than hard facts or the fact itself is stronger than any argument whatsoever.) asks us to give more weight to facts or reality rather than words or hearsay alone.  We know in our world, even considering past history, there is a clash of religions.  But naturally, in case the topic turns towards us in the Catholic religion, the query may be why we are Catholics or why is Catholicism among the more numerous groups of believers?  (Presently, 1 billion and 181 million Catholics worldwide, as reported by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals.)  The reason alleged might be the principle or title of this article.  Certainly, basically we have to admit there is that principle of freedom of religion.

It is passé, outmoded or a thing of the past to force people into this or that denomination or religion.  Let’s do away with the past times when acts of violence were perpetrated in the name of religion.  Being more educated and rational, let us respect peoples’ consciences and internal beliefs.  Jesus did not force people to follow Him but respected their conscience and freedom.  Check this out in chapter 6 of the Gospel of St. John when Jesus asked His disciples after many Jews left from listening to Him when He talked on the Eucharist.  He just asked His disciples: “Are you also going away and leaving me?”  That was when St. Peter, in the name of the other apostles answered: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  We have come to believe and we know that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn.6:67-69). 

The fact of the Resurrection was witnessed by hundreds, see 1 Cor. 15; there is also the known fact of Church history, ever since the beginning, for the Vatican to declare a person or persons as officially canonized saints there is that prerequisite to ask from God through the intercession of the concerned candidate for canonization (saint) or beatification (blessed) a first class sign or miracle (2 or 3 signs) to show God’s intervention and consent that such a particular person may be declared saint or blessed.  That’s even mentioned at the end of the Gospel of St. Mark (Mk.16:17-20) that God accompanies with miraculous signs the true believers of Jesus Christ.  Hence even our Catholic religion proves itself, not just by pure hearsay or words, but by the confirmation of miraculous deeds and facts possible only through the finger of God’s Almighty Spirit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No Other Name

We may look to the pages of history and observe how true the prophetic words of God’s word concerning His Church.  For example in the book of the Acts of the Apostles 4:12 God’s word relates this: “Of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Literally the name Jesus in Hebrew or Aramaic means “God saves” (see Mt. 1:21).  God’s action concerning His Church and the many Saints in history has shown multiple feats of power and miracles that serve to prove the trueness and credibility of the Catholic Church.  This is following the principle ‘you do not argue against facts’ (in Latin the principle is stated as follows ‘contra factum non valet argumentum’).  For example the fact that the present standing of the Catholic Church numbers 1 billion and 181 million in totality is one sign of God’s protection after more than its 2,000 years of existence in the world in spite of the many trials and persecutions undergone through the years.

That was precisely the point of Gamaliel, a Pharisee, as recorded in Acts 5:34-42.  It is good to argue from facts of history lest people will criticize us for just being good at gossiping on inaccurate information.  So Gamaliel argued to give the apostles the freedom to continue on their mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ and His teachings so that they may not be preventing an activity that is really willed by God, as some false prophets and seers were previously doing and gathering crowds of people which later were dispersed and disbanded as they were only begun from human initiative or ambitions, ultimately ending in failure.  His exact words may also guide our relations with our fellow men and women involved in teaching moral truths and values.  “What I suggest, therefore, is that you leave these men alone and let them go.  If this enterprise, this movement of theirs, is of human origin it will break up of its own accord; but if it does in fact come from God you will not only be unable to destroy them, but you might find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39). 

The end of St. Mark’s gospel emphasizes the importance of the assistance from above.  “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. 16:19-20).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Noise of the World

 (vs. silence of the mind)

It is said that ‘silence is the mother of truth’.  No wonder the contemplative religious orders prefer the ambience of silence for the sake of indulging into deep meditation and communion with God.  And such indeed is an environment yielding deep ideas that may be creative in the realm of science as well as theology (the knowledge of the divine).

So you see how progressive are those areas and places which tend to cultivate silence.  Isn’t it a widely known proverb – silent waters run deep?  Just observe nature around.  The deepest oceans are called the Pacific Ocean or peaceful seas.  Contrariwise observe peoples fond of loud messy music, can you expect some productive minds there?  It is not conducive to depth of thought.  We heard it sometime before:  ‘a thinking mind is always striking out something new’.

Even the Lord wants to commune with man in silence.  This word in the prophet Hosea talks about that precisely: “That is why I am going to lure her and lead her out into the wilderness and speak to her heart” (Ho.2:16).  You want to delve deeper in the realm of prayer and ideas, you must learn to cultivate silence.  “He who meditates on the Law of the Lord day and night will bear fruit in due time like a tree that is planted by water streams” (Ps. 1:2-3).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bravado vs. Humility

Just for pretense of bravery or bravado people show off signs of strength to create an impression of power and superiority.  How many wars, acts of violence, victims of bloody skirmishes have resulted from such a disposition of human pride!

But that’s not the one that’s really great in the sight of God.  Referring to the virtue of humility, Jesus spoke thus to His disciples: “I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3-4).  Isn’t that wonderful?  Why?  Just observe the happiness of the little children.  That’s what you want too, in addition to your maturity, if you’re already grown up.

The only thing that could spoil our happiness is what we may have acquired through the years, a sense of sensitive pride, some ambition and greed.  This is what may be behind the gnawing unhappiness that might creep inside you.  But maintaining that supreme trust in God amid the trials in life can help reacquire that psyche of a little child who is ever happy in the little things or happenings of life.  Jesus wants you to be happy when he asks you to be humble.  “I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mk. 10:15).  You better decide.  If you want to be happy, leave those thoughts of greed and pride and become as that happy child whose destiny is God’s eternal kingdom.  The Son of God, Jesus, humbled Himself till death on the cross.  “But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth, and in the underworld, shall bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Ph.2:9-11).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

When Loved Ones Depart

The departure of loved ones certainly does bring a vacuum of sorrow in our hearts, because we miss them somehow.  But this is part of life and a situation we must learn to face.  It’s no use brooding over it negatively.  But let’s keep in mind what God tells us in Scripture.  “Man’s life, a mere puff of wind, his days as fugitive as shadows” (Ps. 144:3-4). 

We console ourselves with the consolation that the Preface I for the funeral Mass of Christian death provides for us, which in essence means that there is actually no death but only a change of status.  “Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended.  When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.”

Let’s pray for our dearly departed since theirs is the time to face the prospects of God’s justice and we are still one with them in the consoling teaching of the Church on the Communion of Saints, that is, for those in Heaven, on earth and in Purgatory can still be of help to one another by praying, interceding and good works.

The Money Game

People can get disillusioned by the glitter of money and then make many wrong moves and mistakes.  It’s not supposed to be the right motivation for human acts, rather a concommitant effect of human living.  God’s word precisely warns us against such common deception and pitfall.  “The love of money is the root of all evils and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith, and given their souls any number of fatal wounds” (1 Tim. 6:10).

This so significant a quotation from  the Bible and you should do well to read it from those letters of St. Paul.  They used to say: “Haste makes waste.”  How many lives have been lost just for the hurried and crazy pursuit of money; they made many mistakes and involved themselves and others in so many life tragedies and catastrophes.  Just imagine the many accidents at sea where so many lives perished and drowned just because people threw away discretion to the winds for the desire to make money.

Wrong economy indeed!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I Have Conquered (Jn. 16:33)

If Jesus was able to stave off his opponents, it was not by the force of arms, violence or deception, but simply by the force of truth and love.  You can observe how the Church of Christianity has prospered throughout history.  In fact it had been through the sacrifice of many lives (martyrs).  Jesus, who only used the attraction of love, gentleness and truth had not forced people to follow Him or His Church, even till our days at present.  There is respect for the religious convictions of people (see Jn. 6).

            It’s of course important we look at the facts of history and events.  People gravitate towards goodness and truth.  Hence, we can ask Catholics what made them select membership in Catholicism when there are many other religious denominations, Christian and otherwise.  I guess people look at the attraction of reality, truth and facts.  Even the fact that Christianity stands on the historical evidence of miracles and the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus and the multiple miracles in the life of the Saints, mostly documented, is argument enough that can attract the simple or the reasonable-minded people to join their ranks.  You have only to look around and study the pages of history.  There is reason enough for those encouraging words of Jesus: “In the world you will have trouble but be brave: I have conquered the world” (Jn. 16:33). 

            There is strong reason why we should desire to belong to Jesus and His Church, to which He referred, saying: “Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man!  Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:17-20).  It would be a source of comfort to any person, after all the search for the truth, to be able to discover and belong to that authentic Church to which Jesus refers in the biblical quotation cited above.  After all, so many claim to have the truth, but which group shows those marks which identify and derive them from the original which Jesus founded upon the apostles producing many saints, teaching the same doctrines everywhere and serving the whole of the human race, rich or poor, young and old, irrespective of race and color.  Remember that Jesus talks of extraordinary signs or miracles accompanying and confirming the believers in the true faith (see Mk. 16:17-20; Lk. 10:17-20).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Sincere Faith That Overcomes

(Many of them, however, believed in Jesus, even among the rulers, but they did not acknowledge him because of the Pharisees, lest they be put out of the synagogue. They preferred to be approved by people rather than by God” - Jn. 12:42-43)

In his parting words to the disciples, Jesus refers to a faith that is victorious over obstacles in our transitory life on this earth. “In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world” (Jn. 16:33). If we keep our trust in Jesus and continue following His ways, most surely we are assured of victory and salvation, since God’s word cannot lie nor be mistaken. Of course, it is presupposed here that we are sincere and truthful in our hearts since God knows all, even our deepest secrets. I guess that’s what Shakespeare implied when he states in Hamlet (act i, sc.3: “to thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man..”

That is why in Psalm 91: 8-13 God asks us to look around, study or contemplate human history of persons and events – “You have only to look around to see how the wicked are repaid, you who can say, ‘Yahweh my refuge,’ and make Elyon your fortress. No disaster can overtake you, no plague come near your tent: he will put you in his angels charge to guard you wherever you go.”

In that same Psalm 91:7 God’s protection is assured for His faithful and believing people: “Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, you yourself will remain unscathed, with his faithfulness for shield and buckler.” This means, of course, as in the life of Jesus and the Saints, we have to have frequent recourse to God in prayer and conversation, as to a faithful friend. Such prayer and trust is based on our firm reliance on His very word that tells us: “We can be sure that we love God’s children if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us; this is what loving God is – keeping his commandments; and his commandments are not difficult, because anyone who has been begotten by God has already overcome the world; this is the victory over the world—our faith” (1 Jn. 5:2-4).

 Trust in the ever reassuring and unfailing word of Jesus: “Ask and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 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. 7:7). God will answer our prayers if we persevere, and with the help of the Saints we can always invoke or call upon, since we may ourselves feel weak and unworthy, we must keep on full of trust and doing God’s will.