Friday, October 31, 2014

How confuse are we regarding the nature of marriage?

Here is an interesting article from CNA and here is an excerpt [emphasis supplied]

The fact that there are Catholic couples and people who have re-married, and therefore can’t come to Communion, the fact that they would desperately like to do so, and the Church recognizes the good of that; the question is, 'how do we do that while being faithful to the teaching of the Church concerning the bond?' That brings us to the question of an annulment, the declaration that there never was a bond in the first place,” Cardinal Wuerl commented.

My comment:  Couples and persons in irregular relationships, if they realize the love of God and the need for communion with God and the church must also realize that the graveness of their situation, and that the solution is repentance and amendment of life.  This is indeed a difficult situation.  The disciples of Christ said, "therefore it is no good to get married".  This was the typical reply of the disciples as they perceived how difficult the teachings of Christ about marriage, divorce and adultery.  But Christ never budge in.  In fact Jesus Christ rebuked the pharisees and told them that it was their  hardheadedness  that cause Moses to relent and allow them to divorce their wives.  But Christ emphasized that from the beginning it was not so. What the church should do is to give pastoral programs to help these people, but not to circumvent the rules that would dilute or even cause a distortion of the gospel of Christ.  The Church must renew the face of the earth and it should not be around-the world pressuring the church to bend her doctrines.  What is important is the salvation of souls not the "inclusivity" spoken of by the world.  The world seeks tolerance without making judgement.  Indeed we are not suppose to judge persons because Christ said that we must not judge.  But as individual Christians we need to make judgements on actions because we need to do what is right and shun wrong doing.  The only way we can do it is calling sin a sin and a spade a spade.  But our compassion for the erring brothers and sisters must always be characterized by a compassion that seeks the conversion and a heart full of pity and love.

“The whole concept of 'graduality' – that surfaced but you don’t find it in the final document,” he said.

 My comment:  Yes the Cardinal is correct, there is a need for a clearer definition of this term.  In the gospel we saw how Christ spoke with the woman of Samaria in Sycar's well.  Little by little Jesus open the understanding of the woman and in the end Christ made it clear to her that she was living in sin because the man he is living with is her 9th.  But as of the moment the word "graduality" far from providing coherence creates confusion for lack of meaning.

The world is watching us.  And it is naive to think that the world would ever be sympathetic to the Church.  So we need to work hard to convert the world.

For the salvation of souls is the supreme Law.
 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A New Name



My Personal Reflection for this Sunday
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Readings: Isaiah 22:19-23; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16: 13-20)

“A New  Name.”

I could imagine the Lord walking the streets of Caesarea Philippi and speaking with the disciples.  The Lord was asking his disciples who the people think he was.  As humans we put a premium on our identities because it is the only one that separates us from the others.  But sometimes our perceptions of others are not as perfect as it should be.  We identify ourselves and the others based on our perceptions.  That is why in our reading for this Sunday we saw Jesus asking his disciples about what others say about him.  Of all these discussions Simon the son of Barjona got the right answer.  Simon said to Jesus: “YOU ARE THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.”  Thereby Jesus blest Simon and Jesus gave him a new name.  From now on Simon shall be called Peter (Petrus in Latin means Rock).  And upon this rock, Christ said, “I will build my church and the netherworld [or death] shall not prevail against it. And I give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, whosoever, you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whosoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  What a profound declaration from our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said it was not human wisdom or knowledge that revealed this to him but it was God himself, the one we call Heavenly Father who revealed this to Simon Peter.

For indeed, apart from God we can do nothing.  Have you we given this a thought that Jesus during his ministry on earth called people who were not educated but simple fishermen.  Simon Peter was fisherman.  He was practically an ignorant man whose daily occupation was to catch fish in order to live day after day.  But when Christ saw him he called him and said that from now on you will no longer catch fish but you will be gathering men and women.  To cut the story short, Simon Peter became the leader of the Church, he became the first Bishop of Rome and together with St. Paul the apostle to the gentiles, they founded the Church of Rome.  And today we are happy to be members of the Roman Catholic Church because we know that we have this connection with the apostles.  For we are built on that rock.  For as long we remain steadfast in our faith we shall received what the Lord has promised to us.  The way to salvation is not easy.  In fact it is a narrow way filled with persecutions and self-denial.  For here we seek not a permanent city but we look forward and seek a city and a kingdom not built by men but by God.  And with this short reflection I would like to close this with a quote from the scriptures: [Jesus said] “He, that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches : to him that overcometh, to him will I give the hidden manna, and will give him a white counter, and in the counter, a new name written, which no man knoweth, but he that receiveth it.” Revelations 2:17 (Douay-Rheims Version).

Happy Sunday to everyone. 


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Be Filled with Hope

MY PERSONAL REFLECTION:
“The Contradiction of Stewardship”
My reflection on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1.     The first reading gives me the assurance that God’s Word and His promises are true.  One could imagine with the prophet Isaiah with the vision of dew drops coming from heaven and spreading themselves and nourishing a verdant earth.  So is the Word of God. The assurance is clear that what He promised He will do.  But will the Son of Man find faith on the earth when He comes again?  Have we forgotten about the reality of the second coming and the truth about the resurrection?  Why is it that as if all our plans are directed on earthly concerns?  Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto thee, says our Lord.  For the pagans seek for money and food, but we are reminded that God knows that we need of all of these.  Are we in doubt of God’s providence that we take into our own hands our lives and future?  We have to be reminded that our charitable work and even our social action is the product of a deep spirituality and not vice-versa.  We should not mistake “integral evangelization” so called, as emphasis on social justice and anti-poverty alleviation.  Some said, an empty stomach is not capable of receiving the gospel, so they say they have to fill the stomach first.  But I beg to disagree.  This is a wrong notion.  In the Bible we read that Christ first preached the gospel to the people and confirm it with miracles of healings.  It was only after the preaching that He multiplied the loaves of bread and the fishes. Let us make our Sunday worship the most beautiful.  Let the Church and her priests attend to the sacraments and the teaching of the Word of God.  Only after doing an excellent job on this can the feeding of the literal bodies is done.  For even the daily food that we eat is a token of God’s providence and not solely by our own effort.  For without Him we can do nothing.

2.     Reflecting on the second reading – I was impressed by the thought that the Sin of Humankind is so great that even the whole of creation was affected and was corrupted because of original sin.  The corruption of material things is a sign of our own struggle with sin and suffering.  These thoughts move us to come to the foot of the cross and behold what redemption it took to bring us to the door or paradise.  For we behold Him, the pledge of our redemption.  His grace sowed hope in our hearts.  Each time creation is renewed we are given hope that God will someday bring to a close the cycle of decay and bring us to the glorious redemption of our Bodies to be in God’s Kingdom.  Let us be filled with hopeful thoughts and trust in His grace all the time.  Let it be by prayer and supplications.

3.     In the gospel reading for today, I was initially confused when Our Lord said, “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Does it look that the master was unmerciful to take away even the little things that remains with the least of these men?  I don’t think so.  I got the idea that perhaps our Lord was telling us that as Christians we are expected to be fruitful to abound with fruits.  The Lord emphasizes the gravity and the importance He places on stewardship.  Once he entrusts us with something good then we have to capitalize on it.  For anyone who hears the Word of God and keep it will have an abundant life in Christ.  Let us thank the Lord for giving us this grace to see and understand and let us ever pray that we will always have this grace.


Be filled with hopeful thoughts this Sunday!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

THE IMAGE OF THE TEACHER

“MEEK AND HUMBLE OF HEART: MY IMAGE OF THE TEACHER”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Reflecting and meditating on this Sunday’s gospel reading, I see in the face of my Lord, the face of a teacher.  As Pope Francis said...that indeed Jesus is more than a teacher, He is our friend.  No one indeed has seen the Father, but Jesus as the source of knowledge seeks to convey to us what the Will of God is.  Are we going to look somewhere else for the truth when the teacher of the truth is in our midst?

Unlike the Pharisees and the Jews who burdened their adherents with so many added laws and regulations, Jesus summed up the commandments into simple formula, to love God and to love one’s neighbour.  To say that we love God is easy but that love is manifested the way we love our neighbour.  How do we show love to our neighbour?  Jesus has illustrated this through the Parable of the Good Samaritan (the unpretentious and sincere love of others even to strangers and to those excluded by society risking one’s good standing and defying established values and assumptions), in the way Jesus conversed with the woman of Samaria (communicating and showing love for those despised by society), in the way Jesus forgave Mary of Magdala (unconditional forgiveness), in the way Jesus raised Lazarus from death to life (love for close friends), and many more examples.

Those who like the Pharisees seeks to be righteous by their own efforts are bound to be disappointed.  For it is futile to obtain righteousness by one’s effort.  But amidst this impossibility, Jesus offers Himself as the teacher who will teach us the way and to make learning easy.  Why is Jesus’ teaching easy compared to the Pharisees?  It is because the teachings of Jesus is the source of Love, unlike the Pharisees whose teachings are full of anathemas but they themselves do not lift a finger to obey and at the same time hinders others who are seeking the way to eternal life.

Jesus be our teacher, comfort our wounded and weary hearts and show us the way to the Father and we shall be saved.  Amen.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul


Did you ever wonder why in many Catholic Churches here in the Philippines you always find the images of St. Peter and St. Paul side by side in the facade? It is because St. Peter and St. Paul are considered the Patron saints or the founders of the Roman Church. That is why in Rome you have the St. Peters Basilica, the location where St. Peter was buried and also the Church of St. Paul outside of the walls, two prominent churches in Rome. If Constantinople claims St. Andrew and if Alexandria claims St. Mark, Rome claims St. Peter and St. Paul. An ominous sign that it is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ when before Simon, later Peter profess his faith in Caesaria Philippi. The Church of God founded on the ROCK (Peter), the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. On the SOLEMNITY OF ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL, may they intercede for us all.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

THE BREAD THAT CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN




A Personal Reflection on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord


1.     The solemnity of Corpus Christi reminds us that the Eucharist is the summit of Christian life. It is the culmination of our religious experience and practice as revealed by the historical experience of the Church.  The two disciples on the road to Emmaus, felt that their hearts were burning while discussing with Him the events in Jerusalem and How the Lord, yet unrecognized by them, expounded to them the scriptures and how it should be fulfilled by the Son of Man.  The acts of the breaking of the bread finally opened their eyes.  Applying these thoughts to contemporary issues, it can be  observed  that our liturgy, the Mass, is arranged in such a way that the Word precedes the liturgy of the Eucharist, the proclamation of  the Word instructs but it is only in the Eucharist that Christ gives himself to us Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  Christ told the unbelieving Jews that unless they eat of this bread and drink of His Blood, they have no life in them. 

2.     The Church has grown steadily in the appreciation of this great mystery.  The richness of her rites and liturgies has demonstrated the love and adoration for the Eucharist.  There is however, an erroneous belief or perception which says that the bread of the Eucharist is supposed to be eaten and not to be looked at.  This erroneous belief led some to minimize if not neglect the adoration and exposition of the consecrated Host.  I would suppose that this erroneous belief is protestant in origin but sadly for a time it has had its influence on some segment of the Church especially after the confusion that ensued after the Second Vatican Council when the liberals had their free ride in the reforms being undertaken as if to legitimize their erroneous beliefs.  Akin to this erroneous belief is the practice of relegating the Blessed Sacrament on the side or hidden corner of the Church away from the altar.  As they said it was a confusion to put together in one place the repository of the Host and the place where the act of transubstantiation happens.  But I would opine that it is more confusing to place the Blessed Sacrament on the corner of the altar in full view of the faithful while the Mass is being held at the altar.  But I am glad that today in renovations and in many churches where the Blessed Sacrament is displayed; they have brought back the Blessed Sacrament at the center of the altar.  In some churches, I have observed that they have a place where they put the Bible on one side and the Blessed Sacrament on the other side.  I would think that it is illogical to create a repository for the Bible side by side with the blessed Sacrament because it creates confusion.  The Real Presence is a true presence of the whole person of Christ, while the presence of Christ in the proclamation of His word is not as the same as the Real Presence.  In the proclamation of the Word Christ is present because he is the origin of the Word, He is the logos.  It demonstrates His omnipresence.  But the Eucharist is indeed a Real Presence because it is Christ Himself offered as a sacrifice of Calvary but in unbloody manner.

3.     I refuse to take the idea that; the Bread is to be eaten and not to be looked at.  The practice of exposition of the Sacred Species for adoration is not an aberration, but rather the practice of doing so is the product of the long collective experience of the Church and her growing appreciation and love for the Holy Eucharist.  It is also an appreciation for the Most Holy Sacrament that produced such intimacy between the Lord and His Bride-the church.  This practice became popular during the time of St. Thomas Aquinas.  The angelic doctor has composed numerous prayers and hymns on the adoration of the Eucharist.  This practice also arose as the church’s affirmation of the real presence which at that time was being challenged by the heretics. 

4.     Imitating the two disciples at Emmaus, let us open our eyes that Christ may fill us with faith to believe and accept. Amen. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

MY THOUGHTS ON PENTECOST



PERSONAL REFLECTIONS: “My thoughts about Pentecost”

1.      The Holy Ghost is the proof of Christ presence in the church and the enduring promise of his Second Coming.  His presence proves to us that we have the foretaste of what it is to be in the life of God.  One of the greatest proof of his enduring presence is Love.  We saw that during Pentecost the infant church were filled with love, they shared everything.  They sold the things that they have, laid it down at the apostles feet to be distributed to the poor and be shared.  They were steadfast in the celebration of the Eucharist daily, which they called the breaking of the Bread.  Life is a journey through time.  The church as a human organization also journeys through time. Through this journey it is possible that somehow we can become lukewarm.  If we read in the Book of Revelation Chapter 1we read about the messages of Christ to the seven churches of Asia.  Some were faithful while others were not.  As we journey in this faith let us pray and be vigilant and listen and obey to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  The infant church of the New Testament is a living proof and is model picture of what the church should be.  IT IS NOT THE CHURCH THAT WE WOULD WANT TO SEE, BUT IT SHOUD BE A CHURCH THAT WHAT CHRIST WOULD WANT TO SEE.  I am amused to see some dioceses or even parishes formulate their own vision, mission and objectives (VMGO), as if the church is a corporation.  The church may be ahuman organization but it is divine in origin so it is not the human members that should formulate the VMGO, but it should be the gospel and the will of God.  Are we following ourselves or are we following Christ?

2.      In a special way I saw ecumenism as the work of the Holy Ghost.  We should however distinguish between false and genuine ecumenism.  When two groups of people seek to overcome their differences with sincerity and try to honestly communicate with each other to reach a level of understanding that is what we call ecumenism.  The prayer of Jesus was “that that they maybe one just as we are one”.  If we are animated by the Trinitarian love, we shall be move to seek ways to come to unity with our brothers and sisters.  The bitter division at the great schism in the eleventh century and the protestant reformation has rend the body of Christ.  As Christians we should listen to the voice of the Holy Ghost to heal and to mend the bitter division.  As Christians we must support our Pope in fulfilling the Petrine ministry of fostering unity in the church, in confirming the faithful in their faith and to be a tower of strength.  True ecumenism is not syncretism but it is a genuine desire to understand each other and to honestly work to overcome divisions.

3.      Pentecost also offers us the hope and the faith that with the help of the Holy Ghost, we can cleanse ourselves and that the church would be cleansed of the sin that plagued some of her members.  To overcome the issues of child abuse and financial mismanagement.  Far from being negative these are opportunities for us to cleanse the church with the blood of the Lamb.  The Holy Ghost will always be there to help and to renew the face of the earth.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Until the end of the Age"

My Personal Reflection for Ascension Day.
          In the pre-Vatican II Roman Liturgical Calendar, May 29 is supposed to be the Ascension Day counting forty days from the celebration of Easter.  But in the revised calendar Ascension Day is celebrated Sunday.  Whatever the reasons for such changes may not be as important for us now, but what is important is the eschatological significance of the Christ’s Ascension into heaven.  Allow me to share some of my personal reflections on this topic.
          The ascension of Christ into Heaven being the first fruit is of so much significance for us Christians.  Jesus of Nazareth the Christ was the new Adam prophesied in the Old Testament and by His testimony declared that He came to fulfil the Law and the prophets.  “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world!” exclaimed John the Baptist.  On that morning of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene was about to touch Jesus.  But Jesus forbade her and told her “touch me not for I have not yet ascended unto my Father and your Father, but go tell my Brethren.”   Like the ancient Hebrews Christians believed in the resurrection of the body.  There is a tendency among the heretics of ancient times and even today to spiritualize the resurrection because of the incomprehensibility of the idea that a corrupted body can still be restored to life.  Here lays, the call of faith. Only the apostles and a few others witnessed the resurrection.  Why was this important event exclusively given to a few? Perhaps the most obvious reason is to make us inheritors of the Kingdom of God by faith.   St. Paul, in his theology gave a primary role to the resurrection of the body and even said that without this central tenet of the gospel, we are the most miserable of all men.  For why would we accept suffering and humiliation for the sake of the gospel if we are not going to be rewarded with what we seek for? –eternal life.  We carry the cross not for the sake of carrying it but as a means to obtain what we seek for. Sometimes there is a tendency to relegate this very important doctrine to oblivion.  As if after death men and women would simply become disembodied spirits.  But this is not the case.  St. Thomas Aquinas, that erudite Dominican borrowed the hylophomorphic theory of Aristotle to give us a glimpse as to why the resurrection of the body is necessary.  The being of man is like matter and form.  Every form has matter and every matter should take on form.  So is man.  Man cannot be a man without the body.  Hence, there is the necessity of the resurrection.  This is the reason why we pray for the dead because we believe in the resurrection of the body. 
          The ascension of our Lord into heaven defines the hope that we have.  Just as the angels said, that the way you see Jesus ascended and taken up into the clouds so will be the second coming.  Christian living is more contextualized when we see things in the light of Christian eschatology or in the light of the end times.  Our Lord said: “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  These parting words define the way we should live.  How easy it is be waylaid by the trivialities of this world.  How easy it is to be waylaid by the concerns for social justice that we forget that this world has been judged and that Christ commands us to look forward to the coming Kingdom of which He will finally inaugurate at Hs second coming – a time when we shall sit at the banquet of the supper of the Lamb. Have we forgotten that whatever things we do for others, the charities, the fight for justice and the way we defend the poor are suppose to be the reflection of the values of the Kingdom of God implanted in us and which we are hoping for?  Today some people think that the end of everything is on this earth.  That if we could make this earth better then we have established God’s Kingdom.  This is the pitfall that held some Christians trapped in worldly ideology.  Imagining as if Christ came to establish an earthly Kingdom.
          If only we could see what is stored for us in the new heavens and the new earth.  But human as we are, we simply cannot comprehend these things until we reach the beatific vision.  God, however, in His goodness has not left us helpless.  But He gives us the faith to comprehend and to cling to this hope in the promise given by God through Christ.  For there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain.  Heaven was gained for us by Christ and that should be our goal.  May the Ascension of Lord remind us of the need to trust in Him, for He is with us till the end of the ages.  This promise is not in vain but a living promise that we affirm each time we partake of the Eucharist – Christ’s pledge of salvation for us.  Of which we are eternally grateful.


          

Sunday, May 11, 2014

REFLECTION FOR THE GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY



Reflecting upon the theme of the readings for this Sunday (Good Shepherd Sunday), St. Peter emphasized the message of our Lord, describing our Christian experience as an act of coming to Christ, who seeks the goodness and salvation of our souls.  The more the message of the readings become more meaningful at this time when the clergy sex scandals has received much attention.  Many thought that these scandals would overturn the faith of many.  I, for one as a layperson beholden to my pastors, I never doubted in my heart the Will and plan of God for His Church.  The scandals do not diminished my faith, because in my weakness I have set my eyes on Jesus, who is my shepherded.  Indeed Christ is the model and the prototype of the perfect pastor to whom the Bishops and the clergy must look up to as their perfect model of what a pastor should be.  But the recent problems involving some leaders should not discourage us but all the more we are reminded of the saying of St. Paul which says that in our weakness the power of God is made perfect.  God wanted to show to us that His grace and His mercy are very much in operation in the middle of situations where sin abounds.  For where sin abounds, the grace of God is much more bountiful as St. Paul says.  But let us be careful lest we presume that the grace of God is a licence to commit sin.  Far from it.  For where sin is there is also the grace of God.  This grace beckons us or summons us to be at the foot of the Cross.  Considering the great amount of price God paid for our redemption, are we not moved to repentance?

Aside from shepherding us, Christ our Lord is also our guardian.  He keeps us safe from error through His pure doctrine as made manifest to us by the Church.  Increasingly, the modernist idea of false ecumenism keeps us from convincing others of accepting Christ and joining His One True Church.  For Christ is the only door that leads to salvation.  Otherwise He would have not drunk the cup of crucifixion and Calvary.  In false ecumenism there are many voices, and there is a syncretism in the way the teachings of other religion are mixed with the Christian religion.  For Christ cannot sit in the table with Satan.  Thus in false ecumenism it is always Christ who is the first one to leave.   Jesus said I know my sheep and my sheep know my voice.  In the increasing crescendo of voices, one who belongs to Christ can never be mistaken; he will always hear the voice of the true Shepherd who laid down His Life for His Sheep.