Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Lesson of Mercy

"I will arise, and will go to my father, and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee: I am not worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck, and kissed him. And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son. And the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry: Because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." Luke 15:18-23 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition.)

While browsing the internet I happen by chance to read the article of Dr. Alcuin Reid as featured in the NLM Site about the new approach to the SSPX Question. And his reference to the prodigal Son provided me with new insight into the whole situation. Indeed in many ways the teachings of the gospel is like a gem that pops up in times when we are searching for answers. There were misgivings on the part of those who cannot accept the decision of the Holy Father to lift the censure of excommunication on the four SSPX Bishops. I am very much convinced that when the Holy Father made this decision it was out of paternal mercy and a desire to foster unity. The schism which resulted from the episcopal consecrations in 1988 was a blot in the unity of the Church especially when the events came as a result of questions about the teachings of Vatican II. But the events that led to the lifting of the excommunications has proven that the balm of Mercy is more productive than the use of coercive means of discipline. The Pope has exercised the powers of the Key. The secular world may criticized the Pope and some of the liberal Catholics may criticize also but let it be. The most important is the process of healing has began. The Holy Father has been courageous in making these decisions which the world judges as politically incorrect. But what is the world? As Christians, our standard is the Gospel and not the world. The world is out there and everyone in the world is invited to accept the gospel and be saved. The Pope has done that which is right and he needs our prayers and support. Indeed, I am very grateful to this pope. As a Traditional Catholic I cannot but express my appreciation for his profound understanding of ecclesiology, combined with a sincere and intimate devotion to the Gospel of Christ.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Positive Note for Ecumenical Dialogue

Assumption Cathedral in Smolensk

The election of the Metropolitan Kirril of Smolensk and Kalingrad as the New Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox was hailed by the Roman Catholic Curia in Rome as a boost for Ecumenism between the two churches with claims to apostolic succession. "We have known Kirill for many years now," Cardinal Walter Kasper explained to Vatican Radio. "He has a firm stance, but with him, one can dialogue." []. both the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church considers the Christian roots of European Civilization as the foundation for the survival of culture threathened with secularism. indeed it interesting that despite the difficulties facing the ecumenical relations among churches, both sister churches have expressed a positive note on the future role of Christianity on the continent shaped by centuries of Chriatianity. Indeed Christianity has endured as a unifying factor and transmitter of culture in Europe and has survived longer than all the civilizations that has appeared on the contenent. Let us pray for the Grace of God that all Christians will realize the need to pray and work hard to fulfill the Great Commission given by Christ. let us also pray for the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bishop Bernard Fellay Attributes Grace to the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Vatican Lifts Excommunications of Four SSPX Bishops

On January 21, 2009, it was reported by Vatican Radio that the Holy See has lifted the excommunications of the four Bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefevbre in 1988, namely Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta. The Pope expressed his paternal solicitude and recognized the pain and sufferings of the four Bishops as a result of the excommunication. The hope was expressed that this step will lead to more fruitful action on the part of the concerned individuals to accomplished unity and full communion with the Church. Let us pray that the Lord will ultimately heal the rift caused by the schism. The text of this can be read from the Vatican Website. The NLM run a translation of this decree in English. The decree was received with gratitude by the Four Bishops as Bishop Fellay expressed in the press release: "We express our filial gratitude to the Holy Father for this gesture which, beyond the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, will benefit the whole Church. Our Society wishes to be always more able to help the pope to remedy the unprecedented crisis which presently shakes the Catholic world, and which Pope John Paul II had designated as a state of “silent apostasy.” Besides our gratitude towards the Holy Father and towards all those who helped him to make this courageous act, we are pleased that the decree of January 21 considers as necessary “talks” with the Holy See, talks which will enable the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X to explain the fundamental doctrinal reasons which it believes to be at the origin of the present difficulties of the Church." [emphasis supplied]. The press release by the SSPX was reported by DICI.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Opinion

There is a very interesting news item I read at yahoonews. A quote from the article runs this way:

"Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane on Wednesday wants a representative from the Catholic Church to help the department in ensuring transparency in the bidding of government projects. Ebdane made the proposal after the World Bank blacklisted seven construction firms that allegedly rigged bids for local road projects funded by the agency." [Yahoo News emphasis supplied]

My simple opinion is that while it is good that government agencies recognize the Church hierarchy as a moral force for honesty, it is not a good idea however that the Church should be involve in direct activities of public life such as the bidding of government projects. The Church teaches the gospel and encourages her members to live the gospel values, yet it is not prudent to be directly involve in bidding projects just to make sure that honesty and transparency is observed. The mission of the church is not to get involved in government activities but to teach the gospel of Christ. It is only when the gospel teachings have sunk into the hearts of men and women that they can be honest and transparent. Hence, it is not the presence of a church representative that could make the process transparent but the living gospel if lived by men and women will make all these process a good one. - This is just my opinion.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sto. Nino De Cebu: Icon of Philippine Evangelization

Today the Philippine Church celebrates the feast of Sto. Nino. If there is ever an icon of faith well loved and appreciated by the Filipinos is the Sto. Nino. Ferdinand Magellan gifted the chieftain of Cebu and His wife with a statue of the Sto. Nino as a token for their baprism and conversion to the Catholic Faith. Several decades when the Spaniards came to reclaim the Philippine Islands, they found the statue of the Sto. Nino in Cebu. To me this historical accounts are significant in some ways: (1) The Childhood of Christ means a show of good favor. God loves the child. In many instances Christ made the child as an example and picture of the Kingdom of God. (2) The discovery of this image signal the start of the evangelization of the Philippines, through enough after years of evangelization this islands are now reclaimed for Christ. This is the main reason why I always love this image because it is a symbol of God's providence for the Filipino people and we ought to be grateful of this favor from God. The many cultural aspects attached to this feast such as ati-atihan, dinagyang, sinulog, etc... are good in themselves. These are forms of indigenous expression of love and devotion. But this activities should not deviate our attention from the real objectives of this feast. The objective of this feast is to make us realize that we must become like children if we want to enter the Kingdom of God. This means holiness, humility, submissiveness and the willingness to obey the word of God. This obedience should be coupled with understanding as illumined by the Scriptures, enriched and preserved by tradition and should culminate in a stronger devotion to the Eucharist. Our real blessedness will rest upon these. Street dancing, parading of images are simply outward forms of expressions whose objective is to preserve the feast for posterity and to serve as a reminder but the meat of the feast is the spiritual dimension of growing in our faith, our love and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. To know more about this feast you may visit the website of Basilica del Santo Nino.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The New Religion?

There are many things I appreciate about our Filipino Culture and I am equally proud as I am grateful for this aspect of our culture that openly declares faith in God. In many offices, both public and private, in homes, commercial centers we always have these symbols of our Catholic faith displayed openly and unabashed. Despite of the so called “separation of Church and State”, it does seem that we Filipinos can happily mixed religion with our public life. Indeed it can be interpreted that separation of Church and State does not necessarily mean that the state forbids the display of religion but rather the state will not fund religious activities in order to ensure that the freedom of religion is guaranteed. But the state under this principle of separation does not mean that religion should not be promoted. The state should indeed promote the practice of religion because every religion promotes moral living and therefore directly promotes good citizenship. But sometimes it saddens me when I see that in other countries particularly in some western countries that the open display of faith is forbidden in public but atheism and agnosticism is promoted openly under the guise of civil liberty. I don’t know where they got the idea that civil liberty is equivalent to atheism or agnosticism. Or this is this simply a regime of secularism espousing atheism and agnosticism as its religion?

In relation to this there is a very interesting news item I came across yahoo news. Let me quote a portion of this news. You can visit their website if you wish to read the whole story.

"I was just about to board and there it was staring me in the face, my first reaction was shock horror," driver Ron Heather told BBC radio. "I felt that I could not drive that bus, I told my managers and they said they haven't got another one and I thought I better go home, so I did," he said. [Emphasis Supplied]

The story was about a bus driver in London who was about to drive his bus but found that there was this advertisement that proclaims – THERES PROBABLY NO GOD: Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy your life. Indeed this bus driver should be commended for showing his indignation for this abuse. In a free society everyone has a right to express, but this public expression is not absolute. Public expression should not insult or spite the beliefs of others. For just as we want to exercise our right it should not infringe on the rights of others. Indeed I am worried when people begin to say that there is no God. For indeed when humans become a god to themselves, there is tyranny and pride.

The simple implication for us Filipinos is that we should preserve our innate tendency to trust in the Lord. For indeed why should we follow this line of thinking. Why should secularism enter our consciousness? I hope and pray that our society will not come to this point where there are people who will openly declare their defiance of God. This is the sin that cries out to heaven. God is a good God but He too is just and will not allow unbelief passed by unpunished if not repented by the sinner.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Christ and the Church

There is an interesting story featured on Catholic World News (CWN) about Pope Benedict’s reflection on the Epistles of St. Paul. Here is the quote [Emphasis supplied]:

The Church recognizes Christ as "greater than herself, because his lordship extends beyond her confines," the Pope said. Yet it is the Church, not the universe, that is recognized as the Body of Christ. "This means we must give positive consideration to worldly things," Pope Benedict said, "because Christ recapitulates them in Himself, and at the same time we must fully live our specific ecclesial identity, which is the closest to the identity of Christ Himself."

The Holy Father has touched on one of the most important aspect of the Church today. With the proliferation of ecumenism and including the proliferation of distorted views on ecumenism, here the Pope has emphasized the central teaching of the Church regarding its relationship to Christ and to the world. Here Christ is recognized as the Lord, that his lordship covers not only the church but also those of the world. Second the Holy Father has emphasized the unique role of the Catholic Church as the Body of Christ. Christ is the savior of the Church and as such it stands opposite those who are not saved because of unbelief. Indeed the church is exclusive not inclusive. The Church is a community, a community of the Baptized and believers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gloomy Days Ahead

Surrounding Hills of Legazpi City Covered with Haze

This morning coming through a Cebu Pacific Flight to Legazpi City from Manila, I was enthralled by the windy day and almost unending clouds that has been hovering our region for almost two weeks. The weather bureau said this may last till February. Well nonetheless, whether cloudy, windy, wet and cold, the love of the Lord will not be dampened in our Hearts. For they that trust in the Lord shall renew their strength.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Putting our Devotions in Proper Context

If there is one thing I appreciate about our Holy Roman Catholic Faith is because it has a chestful treasure of Devotions to supplement the Sacraments. However, in the myriad of these devotions it is always easy for someone who is uninstructed in the faith to loose the way. This is the main reason why I always feel that there is the extreme need to constantly educate the faithful about the faith. Today this is very difficult to achieve because of our secular education. Majority of the faithful send their children to public schools where religious instruction is voluntary and is even scarce or non-existent in some areas. Most often, the Sunday Mass is the only opportunity for the faithful to listen to religious instruction. Yesterday I came across an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer reporting about how the homily of His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales of Manila was disrupted by a small group of people who were intent not on listening to the Homily, nor participation in the Mass but on getting nearer and touching the image of the Black Nazarene. This shows how these small groups of people driven by fanaticism fail to grasp the true context of the devotion. A quote from the PDI says: "“The small group that fanatically climbed to get to the Lord, that’s the example of what it should not be. That part has to be purified,” Rosales said. “The emotions, the fanaticism in it should not be there and that’s exactly what we are trying to tell the people.”(Source PDI Jan 10, 2009) The Holy Mass is more important than the processions because it is the apex of our worhsip of God. These devotions should in their proper context lead us to the Eucharist. The folkish expressions of the faith are good provided they are put along these context. There is a simple but clear explanation from Mother Angelica. According to Mother Angelica, novenas and devotions are like vitamin pills that supplements our diet. Hence these devotions are supplements to help us grow in our faith and in the realization of the true objective of our faith - holiness, love, hope and ultimately union with God. The Holy Eucharist is the most vivid and tangible expression of this ultimate goal. It is the window that gives us a foretaste of eternal life. For Christ said, that if we eat His flesh and drink His blood we shall have eternal life.

Towards a Mature Faith

Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Our Father Jesus Nazarene)

Dinarangal ka namin (We honor you)

Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Our Father Jesus Nazarene)

Niluluwalhati ka namin (We glorify you)

Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Our Father Jesus Nazarene)

Dinarangal ka namin (We honor you)

Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Our Father Jesus Nazarene)

Niluluwalhati ka namin (We glorify you)

The celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo is one of the most celebrated Catholic feasts in the Philippines. This devotion dates back to the period of evangelization in 1606. The Augustinians brought this image of the Black Nazarene to the Philippines. It was said that its arrival to the Philippines from New Spain (as Mexico was called then) was miraculous. It was rescued from the fire that destroyed the ship where it was taken. Hence its burnt color of black. Every January 9, the image is processed around the streets in Quiapo, Manila. This year's procession took 12 hours to complete. Its devotees believe that by touching the image during its feast will bring healing to their illness, or receiveanswers to their prayers. Hence the frenzy and intense manifestation of folk religiousity. Indeed no one should judge or condemn this practice especially those who are not Catholics and those Catholics who do not understand the nature of this devotion. Some say that the frenzy and the intense emotionalism of the entire celebration is verging on superstition. It may appear outwardly that it is but I am inclined to accept the point of view that this expression of religious devoition is an indigenous form of genuine expression of love and devotion for Our Lord. Like the woman who touched the hem of Our Lord in order for her to be healed of the bleeding. Immediately after touching the helm of his clothing the woman received healing. Despite of the shoving of the crowd around Jesus, Our Lord recognize the miracle that happend to the woman. The simple, unabased and spontaneous devotion of the woman is similar to that of the Filipino devotees of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno. Why do many people receive healing, wishies granted, relationships restored, and many similar graces both actual and spiritual graces? It is because of their faith in the Lord. The Lord said that if we have faith as a mustard seed we could command the mountains to be moved into the sea. Fait is a gift from the Lord. No one can believe unless it is given to the person. But faith also undergo several stages. It is not a onece and for all gift. It has to be nortured, it passes through infancy and it has to move on. This remind me of a similar situation in the Bible when St. Paul wrote the Corinthians thus: "I fed you milk not solid food because you were unable to take it. Indeed you are still not able even now." (1 Corinthians 3:2 NAB). There is another interesting verse that also speaks of spiritual infancy, - "When I was a child, I used to talk as a child , think as a child, reason as a child: when I became a man, I put aside childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11, NAB). I would opine that these kind of folk expression of religion should not be discouraged but what should be discouraged are the actions that encourages superstition. Superstition is the attribution of supernatural powers to objects and created things. Such as beliefs that pictures or statues posseses supernatural powers. The healing powers comes from Christ who is the healer and not from objects. Objects may be used as instruments but they are not the ultimate source. These folk practices can be guided by constant Catechesis and patient teachings of the doctrine. It is not the intention of the gospel of Christ to eradicate culture but the intention of the Gospel is to purify culture so that it may conform to Christ who is our master and Lord. A mature faith is sober, serene and to some extent understand the reason behind the practice of the faith. This calls for vigilance and patience on the part of the Hierarchy, and we ought to support and help our hierarchy towards this end. To whom will I compare this situation? This is comparable to a child. When a child delights in the gifts of his father will always react by jumping, kissing, hugging and shouting. But as the child grows and mature to become a fully matured person, will express his love and appreciation in a serene manner. A simple "thank you" sometimes suffices and summarizes everything he means to say. Thus our devotional practices should evolve in the same way. Our maturtion in the faith will prove that the most tangible portion of our faith is the expression of love, not only for God but for our neighbors as well. We love God not because we receive benefits but because He is the fulfillment of all our desires. Did not Christ said: " Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Poong Jesus Nazareno: Pouring Blessings and Saving Assurance

Christ with the Cross [Photo Source: Wikipedia]

January 9 is the feast of Jesus the Nazarene of the Basilica Minore of the Black Nazarene. Quiapo, Manila. Once again the fervency of faith of the Filipinos will be manifested on this feast. May Jesus the Nazarene fulfill the wishes of his suffering people.

This feast is one of the celebrated and popular folk expression of Catholicism. To the simple folk who wanted to meditate, reflect and relive the passion of Christ, the Black Nazarene is a form of expression. Indeed, God sees the heart of the devotees and He rewards them according to their faith. When the Ark of the Covenant was being carried to Jerusalem, King David danced like an ordinary person if only to offer God his best. So when Filipinos join the vast crowd for the barefoot procession, it is a sign of a deep faith, a simple faith that touches the heart of our Lord. It is sad that some of our leaders are trying to alter this tradition to suit their modernistic world views. But let us keep steadfast and continue with our walk with Jesus to Calvary. Beyond Calvary there is the Radiant Light.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ordo on Line

Of interest to Devotees of the Traditional Latin Mass, there is now the Ordo online. It can found at the Latin Mass Society.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Star of Bethlehem

January 6, 2009 marks the feast of the three Magi who paid Jesus homage in Bethlehem. The Novus Ordo marks the feast on the closest Sunday of January 6. The church has decreed that this important feast in the Church should be celebrated on a Sunday in order to give the faithful the chance to celebrate it in Church. The occupations of the ordinary people will not allow them to be in Church hence the church has wisely decided to hold this on a Sunday. However, we who are attached to the Rites of 1962 by dispensation will celebrate this feast on January 6, 2009. [Photos below belong to Dr. Herbert]

The Nativity Scene at the Plaza fronting the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Archdiocese of Caceres, Naga City Camarines Sur, Philippines. Notice the Star of Bethlemen in the background and the peculiar cart in front of the manger which is characteristically Filipino.

The Biblical account of this event is recorde in Gospel of Matthew in Chapter 2. It was said that the magi or wisemen came from the east (some scholars put it from persia). The word Magus is actually the term use for the priestly class of Zorastrians in Persia. Zoroastrianism is the religion of ancient Persia (Nosw most of the territory of Iran is what was refered to in ancient times as Persia). And at that time Astrology was highly steemed as an art among orientals. It was said that these wisemen saw the star of Jesus and this gave them the idea that today the Child was born who is to be the King of the Jews and to destined to be a great King whose kingdom will have no end because God will give to Him the throne of His father David. It was providential that Christ was born in Bethlehem, the city of David. When Herod the Great came to know about the birth of the Messiah he instigted a persecution and the killing of innocent chidren in Bethlehem. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy about Rachel's mourning and that Rachel was inconsolable for this tragedy. We can also reflect on this theme that Herod represents Satan our enemy who keeps on looking for ways to destroy us. But it is always the providence of God to protect His people. This is why we need toseek the Faith that comes from God to make us believe in his providence for us.

The Adoration of the Magi, Nativity Scene at the Basilica Minore of Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia, Archdiocese of Caceres.

It was said that the Magi brought gifts of GOLD, MYRRH, and FRANKINCESNE. This three gifts are symbolic of the triple function of Christ. Gold - symbolizes the Kingship of Christ, that He is King, to rule and will inherit the throne of His father David, and His kingdom will have no end. Here lies the schathological nature of the History of Salvation. MYRRH - the role of Christ as the Oblation for the propitiation of the faithful. For He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Then Frankincense - symbolizes the priestly function of Christ. Of which after offering the eternal sacrifice He entered into the Holy of Holies, now at the right side of God interceding for us. The ONLY MEDIATOR between God and the Human Race. May the star of Bethlehem guide us to life everlasting. Amen.

A New Year's Resolution: To Improve Prayer Life

The year 2009 has come and we are entering a new phase in our lives. Each year is celebrated with a bang and many of us have some sorts of new years resolutions. Things we thought we should have done better but missed the mark somehow. But new year brings new hope, a stronger resolve to make things better. For if there is a sincere heart to make things better, each day is a new opportunity to improve.

To increase devotion to the Lord and to his passion......
To make it a part of my daily life, a recourse in hours of temptation, and assurance of salvation...

To love our Family Altar, and to make Christ King of our home....

To ever have recourse to the Blessed Virgin Mary .......

To give more time for reading the Scripture.......

To pray daily as guided by the Divine Office.........