Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Catholic Church always prevails: a historic fact

The gates of hell shall never prevail against my Church, so proclaimed Jesus Christ who speaks the truth.

Christ's mystical body, his Catholic Church, always prevails against all odds thrown against it.

This is historic fact.

The Roman empire persecuted the Catholic Church and burnt Christians at the stake. A few centuries after, the Roman empire converted to Christianity and Europe became Christendom, a haven of light, building the university system, bringing about the birth of modern science, the Renaissance arts, the hospital system, international law, the human rights movement, and many other precious contributions to humankind.

Napoleon declared that he will destroy the Church, and took Pope Pius VII prisoner. After Waterloo, Pius VII returned to Rome in triumph and took care of Napoleon and his family while Napoleon was in prison.

Prussia waged a ferocious culture war on the Catholic Church in the 19th century called the Kulturkampf. By the mid-20th century, Prussia was no more. And today, Bavaria, one of the targets of the Kulturkampf, is the original home of the present Pope, Benedict XVI, who with his brilliance and simplicity is re-evangelizing the world.

Catholics suffered violent persecutions in Korea in the 19th century. Now, over the past 10 years, Catholicism is the fastest growing religion, having grown by 70%.

Anti-Catholicism has been the called the "deepest held bias" throughout the history of America and its "last acceptable prejudice". However, Catholicism is the single largest Christian denomination in the United States, and it has the fourth largest Catholic population in the world.

During the martial law years, Ferdinand Marcos arrested many Catholic church personnel, raided church offices, and closed down its radio stations. In 1986, Catholic priests, nuns, and laity, instigated by Cardinal Sin, led the historic EDSA revolution that toppled the dictatorship, making "people power" the world's preferred way of radical but peaceful government transition.

While the dictatorship of relativism holds sway over the land, Christians have envisaged that it will one day fall like a house of cards. While the secular culture of death seem to advance, John Paul the Great has seen this millennium to bring about a new springtime of Christianity. This new springtime will surely come, Benedict XVI is fully convinced, if we Christians remain faithful to prayer, the sacraments, and evangelization and rediscover the beauty of praying with scripture.

God, the owner of the universe, did not come with pomp and majesty. He came as a child, whose victory lies in truth, love and humility. Thus he wins, through his Church, his body, throughout the centuries.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to think about Halloween as a Catholic

By SIMCHA FISHER in CERC

How delightful it is to be Catholic, when so few things are forbidden — so few things are out of the question....

People are attracted to spooky stuff for a reason — that God made us so that we enjoy small doses of peril and tension, because it prepares us to deal with the real thing, which will surely come along sooner or later. (This is where the adorable and extremely relevant, but adorable fighting kitties comes in.) So as long as we don't spend our lives wallowing in gore and ghoulishness, it's healthy and normal and perfectly fine to indulge in a little dramatic scaring and screaming from time to time. Therefore, spooky Halloween stuff? A-OK.

[This] reminds me of something my sister once pointed out: that when Daddy tosses the baby up in the air and baby laughs, it's because there really is a joke there, albeit a very simple one. The situation says, "You're in danger!" but the baby knows, "But it's Daddy! I'm fine!" See? Funny stuff right there, if you're a baby. And a pretty good analogy for the delightfully childlike question, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Whee! There's yet a third answer to the question of whether creepy, gory costumes and other Halloweeny practices (or scary stuff in general) are appropriate for Catholics to indulge in: some Catholics argue, "This isn't just a little holiday from the somber demands of my Faith — it's actually my way of laughing at the devil! I'm spitting in ol' Nick's eye and reaffirming the truth of the triumph of the Resurrection when I . . . um. . . buy this rubber mask of a clown with an axe splitting his forehead open. See? Ad majorem dei gloriam! Wooooooooooooooo!" I used to roll my eyes over these rather contrived arguments, thinking, "Gee whiz, just admit that you want to have fun sometimes, and stop trying to make some big religious deal out of everything."

But honestly, now I think that even overthinking it can be a perfectly legitimate Catholic approach, if that's what appeals to you.

And also legitimate is yet a fourth approach: skipping Halloween altogether, because it just doesn't seem right.

Because that's the nice part about being a Catholic: as long as we're living our lives in a way that is pleasing to God, we can either be practical and science-based, or we can be analytical and deliberate, or we can be cautious and guarded, or we can be giggling babies.

Read the rest here: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0163.htm

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Quick survey: top 3 formational needs of Filipino Christians

Kindly answer this quick survey on the Divorce between Christian faith and Real-life:

What do you think are the top three formational needs (or faith-moral failings) of Filipino Christians, which if effectively addressed will have the greatest impact on Filipinos' personal and social life?

1.

2.

3.

I will post here a summary of the replies.

I sent this out via email last October 2. As of today, October 8, there have been replies from around 70 plus people, including Archbishop Soc Villegas, Frank Padilla Servant-General of CFCFFL, a member of a Secular Order of Carmelites, Theology Professor of Ateneo, Dr. Bernardo Villegas and Dr. Jesus Estanislao, Theology Professor of Don Bosco, JC de los Reyes, the former presidential candidate of Kapatiran, etc.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Basis of Philippine Claim to the Scarborough Shoal


A short contribution to Wikipedia. Thanks to Jemy Gatdula for explaining these points to me. 

The Philippines claim is based on the juridical criteria established by public international law on the lawful methods for the acquisition of sovereignty. Among the criteria (effective occupation, cession, prescription,conquest, and accretion), the Philippines said that the country "exercised both effective occupation and effective jurisdiction over Bajo de Masinloc since its independence." Thus, it claims to have erected flags in some islands and a lighthouse which it reported to the International Maritime Organization. It also asserts that the Philippine and US Naval Forces have used it as impact range and that its Department of Environment and Natural Resources has conducted scientific, topographic and marine studies in the shoal, while Filipino fishermen regularly use it as fishing ground and have always considered it their own.
It said that "The name Bajo de Masinloc (translated as "under Masinloc") itself identifies the shoal as a particular political subdivision of the Philippine Province of Zambales, known as Masinloc." As basis, the Philippines cites the Island of Palmas Case, where the sovereignty of the island was adjudged by the international court in favor of the Netherlands because of its effective jurisdiction and control over the island despite the historic claim of Spain. Thus, the Philippines argues that the historic claim of China over the Scarborough Shoal still needs to be substantiated by a historic title, since a claim by itself is not among the internationally recognized legal basis for acquiring sovereignty over territory.
It also asserts that "there is no indication that the international community has acquiesced to China's so-called historical claim," and that the activity of fishing of private Chinese individuals, claimed to be a "traditional" exercise among these waters, does not constitute a sovereign act of the Chinese State.
Since the legal basis of its claim is based on the international law on acquisition of sovereignty, the Philippine government explains that its Exclusive Economic Zone claim on the waters around Scarborough is different from the sovereignty exercised by the Philippines in the shoal.



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Reawakening enthusiasm for real-life practice of faith: CBCP Pastoral Letter on the Era of New Evangelization, 9 July 2012

A few days ago, the CBCP announced a nine year "spiritual journey" towards the 500th year anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines on 16 March 1521 with the arrival of Magellan.

This spiritual journey, focused on the New Evangelization, seeks to reawaken enthusiasm for the "real-life practice" of the faith. It is a beautiful way to be faithfully aligned with the desires of the Pope who just declared a Year of Faith. Thus, the journey starts on 21 October 2012, ten days after the start of the Year of Faith, and ends on 16 March 2021, a Jubilee Year.

These are exciting times.

Read the document here.

CBCP Pastoral Letter on the Era of New Evangelization

LIVE CHRIST, SHARE CHRIST

Looking Forward to Our Five Hundredth

Go and make disciples... (Mt. 28:19)

We look forward with gratitude and joy to March 16, 2021, the fifth centenary of the coming of Christianity to our beloved land. We remember with thanksgiving the first Mass celebrated in Limasawa Island on Easter Sunday March 31 that same blessed year. We remember the baptism of Rajah Humabon who was given his Christian name Carlos and his wife Hara Amihan who was baptized Juana in 1521. Our eyes gaze on the Santo Niño de Cebu, the oldest religious icon in the Philippines, gift of Ferdinand Magellan to the first Filipino Catholics that same year. Indeed the year 2021 will be a year of great jubilee for the Church in the Philippines.

We shall therefore embark on a nine-year spiritual journey that will culminate with the great jubilee of 2021. It is a grace-filled event of blessings for the Church starting October 21, 2012 until March 16, 2021.

How opportune indeed that on October 21 this year, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will add another Filipino to the canon of saints of the Church, our very own Visayan proto-martyr Pedro Calungsod who gave his life for the faith on the morning of April 2, 1672 in Guam.

The canonization of Pedro Calungsod will take place under the brilliant light of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the twentieth year of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the declaration of the Year of Faith from October 11, 2012 until November 24, 2013 by the Holy Father. The XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops with the theme “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” will take place in Rome from October 7 to 28 this year.

FAITH AND EVANGELIZATION

All these events happening this year are bound together by the themes of “faith” and “evangelization”. Evangelization indicates proclamation, transmission and witnessing to the Gospel given to humanity by our Lord Jesus Christ and the opening up of people’s lives, society, culture and history to the Person of Jesus Christ and to His living community, the Church.

This “New Evangelization” is primarily addressed to those who have drifted from the Faith and from the Church in traditionally Catholic countries, especially in the West.

What we are being called to do by this task of “New Evangelization” in Asia is to consider anew “the new methods and means for transmitting the Good News” more effectively to our people. We are challenged anew to foster in the Church in our country a renewed commitment and enthusiasm in living out the Gospel in all the diverse areas of our lives, in “real-life practice”, challenged anew to become more and more authentic witnesses of our faith, especially to our Asian neighbors as a fruit of our intensified intimacy with the Lord.

WHAT WILL THIS ERA OF NEW EVANGELIZATION FOR THE PHILIPPINES CONSIST OF?

The task stands on four pillars:

First, fostering and fulfilling the “missio ad gentes”, as a special vocation of the Church in our country, effectively involving our laypeople, our “Christifideles” brothers and sisters; our priests and seminarians; men and women in consecrated life.

Secondly, “bringing Good News to the poor.” Again and again, Filipino Catholics coming together to discern priorities, have seen that the Church here must become genuinely “a Church for and with the poor.”

Thirdly, reaching out to those among us whose faith-life has been largely eroded and even lost due to the surrounding confusion, moral relativism, doubt, agnosticism; reaching out to those who have drifted from the Faith and the Church, and have joined other religious sects.

Lastly, awakening or reawakening in faith, forming and animating in Christian life our young people and youth sector groups, in both urban and rural settings; A nine-year journey for the New Evangelization has already been charted climaxing with the Jubilee Year 2021: Integral Faith Formation (2013); the Laity (2014); the Poor (2015); the Eucharist and of the Family (2016); the Parish as a Communion of Communities (2017); the Clergy and Religious (2018); the Youth (2019); Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue (2020); Missio ad gentes (2021). These are the nine pastoral priorities of the Church in the Philippines.

In the time before us, we will focus on these dimensions of faith, evangelization and discipleship, one by one. And it is most propitious that as we received the faith 500 years ago, so with the Year 2021we envision to become a truly sending Church.

In the face of a secularism which in some parts of our present world has itself become a kind of a “dominant religion”, in the face of the reality of billions who live in our time and who have not truly encountered Jesus Christ nor heard of His Gospel, how challenged we are, how challenged we must be, to enter into the endeavor of the “New Evangelization”! We for whom Jesus has been and is truly the Way, the Truth and the Life, -- how can we not want and long and share Him with brothers and sisters around us who are yet to know and love Him, who are yet to receive the fullness of Life for which we have all been created, and without which their hearts will be ever restless – until they find Jesus and His heart which awaits them?

May our Lady, Mary Mother of Our Lord, lead us all in our longing and labors to bring her son Jesus Christ into our time and our world, our Emmanuel – our God who remains with us now and yet whose coming again in glory we await.

Maranatha, AMEN.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

+ JOSE S. PALMA, D.D. Archbishop of Cebu President July 9, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations

By Mary Eberstadt and Mary Anne Layden

Source: http://www.internetsafety101.org/upload/file/Social%20Costs%20of%20Pornography%20Report.pdf

FINDING ONE Unlike at any other time in history, pornography is now available and consumed widely in our society, due in large part to the internet. No one remains untouched by it.

FINDING TWO There is abundant empirical evidence that this pornography is qualitatively different from any that has gone before, in several ways: its ubiquity, the use of increasingly realistic streaming images, and the increasingly “hard-core” character of what is consumed.

FINDING THREE Today’s consumption of internet pornography can harm women in particular.

--Women typically feel betrayal, loss, mistrust,devastation, and anger as a result of the discovery of a partner’s pornography use and/or online sexual activity.

--A markedly increased likelihood of divorce and break-up

--Heightened health risks as a result of the increased likelihood of the consumer’s exposure to other partners.

FINDING FOUR Today’s consumption of internet pornography can harm children in particular.

FINDING FIVE Today’s consumption of internet pornography can harm people not immediately connected to consumers of pornography.

--HARM TO VICTIMS OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

--HARM TO FEMALE ADOLESCENTS

--HARM TO ALL OF SOCIETY RESULTING FROM THE BREAKDOWN OF FAMILIES

FINDING SIX The consumption of internet pornography can harm its consumers.

--PORNOGRAPHY USE UNDERMINES MARITAL AND OTHER INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS.

--PORNOGRAPHY USE CAN MAKE MEN SEXUALLY INCOMPETENT WITH A REAL PARTNER.

--PORNOGRAPHY USE APPEARS TO BE FOR SOME A SLIPPERY SLOPE UPON WHICH THE CONSUMER FINDS HIMSELF ULTIMATELY DRAWN TO INCREASINGLY “EDGY” MATERIAL.

--PORNOGRAPHY USE IS GENERATING A SERIES OF COTTAGE INDUSTRIES AS SOME USERS ATTEMPT TO CURTAIL OR CEASE THEIR CONSUMPTION. THESE INDUSTRIES PROVE THAT SOME USERS PERCEIVE THEMSELVES TO BE HARMED BY SUCH CONSUMPTION.

FINDING SEVEN Pornography consumption is philosophically and morally problematic.

FINDING EIGHT The fact that not everyone is harmed by pornography does not entail that pornography should not be regulated.

Why Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals

By ARTHUR C. BROOKS, Published: July 7, 2012, in the New York Times

WHO is happier about life — liberals or conservatives? The answer might seem straightforward. After all, there is an entire academic literature in the social sciences dedicated to showing conservatives as naturally authoritarian, dogmatic, intolerant of ambiguity, fearful of threat and loss, low in self-esteem and uncomfortable with complex modes of thinking. And it was the candidate Barack Obama in 2008 who infamously labeled blue-collar voters “bitter,” as they “cling to guns or religion.” Obviously, liberals must be happier, right?

Wrong. Scholars on both the left and right have studied this question extensively, and have reached a consensus that it is conservatives who possess the happiness edge. Many data sets show this. For example, the Pew Research Center in 2006 reported that conservative Republicans were 68 percent more likely than liberal Democrats to say they were “very happy” about their lives. This pattern has persisted for decades. The question isn’t whether this is true, but why.

Many conservatives favor an explanation focusing on lifestyle differences, such as marriage and faith.

Read the rest here.

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute and the author of “The Road to Freedom” and “Gross National Happiness.”

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dramatic rise in premarital sex due to contraception or RH: From 6% in 1900 to 75% of women today!

Three out of four women are now engaging in premarital sex in the US compared with only 6% in 1900 due to contraceptive technology, according to a University of Pennsylvania research.

Social Change: The Sexual Revolution.

Greenwood, Jeremy and Nezih Guner. 2009.

University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

In 1900 only six percent of unwed females engaged in premarital sex. Now, three quarters do.

The sexual revolution is studied here using an equilibrium matching model, where the costs of premarital sex fall over time due to technological improvement in contraceptives.

1 Introduction

There may be no better illustration of social change than the sexual revolution that occurred during the 20th century. In 1900 almost no unmarried teenage girl engaged in premarital sex; only a paltry 6 percent By 2002 a large majority (roughly 75 percent) had experienced this. What caused this: the contraception revolution. (Sources for the U.S. data displayed in all …figures and tables are detailed in the Appendix, Section 12.5.)

Both the technology for contraception and education about its practice changed dramatically over the course of the last century.

Another reflection of the change in sexual mores is the rise in the number of sexual partners that unmarried females have. For women born between 1933 and 1942, the majority of those who engaged in premarital sex had only one partner by age 20, presumably their future husband. By the 1963-1972 cohort, the majority of these women had at least 2 partners.

Notwithstanding the great improvement in contraception technology and education, the number of out-of-wedlock births to females rose from 3 percent in 1920 to 33 percent in 1999. Despite great public concern about teenage sexual behavior in recent years, there has not been any attempt to build formal models of it. The current work will attempt to fill this void.

PDF FILE HERE: http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=psc_working_papers&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.ph%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Duniverssity%2520of%2520pennsylvania%2520sexual%2520revolution%2520social%2520change%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D2%26ved%3D0CFYQFjAB%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Frepository.upenn.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1011%2526context%253Dpsc_working_papers%26ei%3DcKnvT6ywG8n-mAX1w9zJDQ%26usg%3DAFQjCNE44de13aJ11aialAM-Izk46MTaMQ#search=%22universsity%20pennsylvania%20sexual%20revolution%20social%20change%22

Monday, June 25, 2012

Spirituality of Work according to John Paul II

In Laborem Excercens (John Paul II) 25. Work as a Sharing in the Activity of the Creator As the Second Vatican Council says, "throughout the course of the centuries, men have laboured to better the circumstances of their lives through a monumental amount of individual and collective effort. To believers, this point is settled: considered in itself, such human activity accords with God's will. For man, created to God's image, received a mandate to subject to himself the earth and all that it contains, and to govern the world with justice and holiness; a mandate to relate himself and the totality of things to him who was to be acknowledged as the Lord and Creator of all. Thus, by the subjection of all things to man, the name of God would be wonderful in all the earth"27. The word of God's revelation is profoundly marked by the fundamental truth that man, created in the image of God, shares by his work in the activity of the Creator and that, within the limits of his own human capabilities, man in a sense continues to develop that activity, and perfects it as he advances further and further in the discovery of the resources and values contained in the whole of creation. We find this truth at the very beginning of Sacred Scripture, in the Book of Genesis, where the creation activity itself is presented in the form of "work" done by God during "six days"28, "resting" on the seventh day29. Besides, the last book of Sacred Scripture echoes the same respect for what God has done through his creative "work" when it proclaims: "Great and wonderful are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty"30; this is similar to the Book of Genesis, which concludes the description of each day of creation with the statement: "And God saw that it was good"31. This description of creation, which we find in the very first chapter of the Book of Genesis, is also in a sense the first "gospel of work". For it shows what the dignity of work consists of: it teaches that man ought to imitate God, his Creator, in working, because man alone has the unique characteristic of likeness to God. Man ought to imitate God both in working and also in resting, since God himself wished to present his own creative activity under the form of work and rest. This activity by God in the world always continues, as the words of Christ attest: "My Father is working still ..."32: he works with creative power by sustaining in existence the world that he called into being from nothing, and he works with salvific power in the hearts of those whom from the beginning he has destined for "rest"33 in union with himself in his "Father's house"34. Therefore man's work too not only requires a rest every "seventh day"35), but also cannot consist in the mere exercise of human strength in external action; it must leave room for man to prepare himself, by becoming more and more what in the will of God he ought to be, for the "rest" that the Lord reserves for his servants and friends36. Awareness that man's work is a participation in God's activity ought to permeate, as the Council teaches, even "the most ordinary everyday activities. For, while providing the substance of life for themselves and their families, men and women are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society. They can justly consider that by their labour they are unfolding the Creator's work, consulting the advantages of their brothers and sisters, and contributing by their personal industry to the realization in history of the divine plan"37. This Christian spirituality of work should be a heritage shared by all. Especially in the modern age, the spirituality of work should show the maturity called for by the tensions and restlessness of mind and heart. "Far from thinking that works produced by man's own talent and energy are in opposition to God's power, and that the rational creature exists as a kind of rival to the Creator, Christians are convinced that the triumphs of the human race are a sign of God's greatness and the flowering of his own mysterious design. For the greater man's power becomes, the farther his individual and community responsibility extends. ... People are not deterred by the Christian message from building up the world, or impelled to neglect the welfare of their fellows. They are, rather, more stringently bound to do these very things"38. The knowledge that by means of work man shares in the work of creation constitutes the most profound motive for undertaking it in various sectors. "The faithful, therefore", we read in the Constitution Lumen Gentium, "must learn the deepest meaning and the value of all creation, and its orientation to the praise of God. Even by their secular activity they must assist one another to live holier lives. In this way the world will be permeated by the spirit of Christ and more effectively achieve its purpose in justice, charity and peace... Therefore, by their competence in secular fields and by their personal activity, elevated from within by the grace of Christ, let them work vigorously so that by human labour, technical skill, and civil culture created goods may be perfected according to the design of the Creator and the light of his Word"39. 26. Christ , the Man of Work The truth that by means of work man participates in the activity of God himself, his Creator, was given particular prominence by Jesus Christ-the Jesus at whom many of his first listeners in Nazareth "were astonished, saying, 'Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him?.. Is not this the carpenter?'"40. For Jesus not only proclaimed but first and foremost fulfilled by his deeds the "gospel", the word of eternal Wisdom, that had been entrusted to him. Therefore this was also "the gospel of work", because he who proclaimed it was himself a man of work, a craftsman like Joseph of Nazareth41. And if we do not find in his words a special command to work-but rather on one occasion a prohibition against too much anxiety about work and life42- at the same time the eloquence of the life of Christ is unequivocal: he belongs to the "working world", he has appreciation and respect for human work. It can indeed be said that he looks with love upon human work and the different forms that it takes, seeing in each one of these forms a particular facet of man's likeness with God, the Creator and Father. Is it not he who says: "My Father is the vinedresser"43, and in various ways puts into his teaching the fundamental truth about work which is already expressed in the whole tradition of the Old Testament, beginning with the Book of Genesis? The books of the Old Testament contain many references to human work and to the individual professions exercised by man: for example, the doctor44, the pharmacist45, the craftsman or artist46, the blacksmith47-we could apply these words to today's foundry-workers-the potter48, the farmer49, the scholar50, the sailor51, the builder52, the musician53, the shepherd54, and the fisherman55. The words of praise for the work of women are well known56. In his parables on the Kingdom of God Jesus Christ constantly refers to human work: that of the shepherd57, the farmer58, the doctor59, the sower60, the householder61, the servant62, the steward63, the fisherman64, the merchant65, the labourer66. He also speaks of the various form of women's work67. He compares the apostolate to the manual work of harvesters68 or fishermen69. He refers to the work of scholars too70. This teaching of Christ on work, based on the example of his life during his years in Nazareth, finds a particularly lively echo in the teaching of the Apostle Paul. Paul boasts of working at his trade (he was probably a tent-maker)71, and thanks to that work he was able even as an Apostle to earn his own bread72. "With toil and labour we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you"73. Hence his instructions, in the form of exhortation and command, on the subject of work: "Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living", he writes to the Thessalonians74. In fact, noting that some "are living in idleness ... not doing any work"75, the Apostle does not hesitate to say in the same context: "If any one will not work, let him not eat"76. In another passage he encourages his readers: "Whatever your task, work heartly, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward"77. The teachings of the Apostle of the Gentiles obviously have key importance for the morality and spirituality of human work. They are an important complement to the great though discreet gospel of work that we find in the life and parables of Christ, in what Jesus "did and taught"78. On the basis of these illuminations emanating from the Source himself, the Church has always proclaimed what we find expressed in modern terms in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council: "Just as human activity proceeds from man, so it is ordered towards man. For when a man works he not only alters things and society, he develops himself as well. He learns much, he cultivates his resources, he goes outside of himself and beyond himself. Rightly understood, this kind of growth is of greater value than any external riches which can be garnered ... Hence, the norm of human activity is this: that in accord with the divine plan and will, it should harmonize with the genuine good of the human race, and allow people as individuals and as members of society to pursue their total vocation and fulfil it"79. Such a vision of the values of human work, or in other words such a spirituality of work, fully explains what we read in the same section of the Council's Pastoral Constitution with regard to the right meaning of progress: "A person is more precious for what he is than for what he has. Similarly, all that people do to obtain greater justice, wider brotherhood, and a more humane ordering of social relationships has greater worth than technical advances. For these advances can supply the material for human progress, but of themselves alone they can never actually bring it about"80. This teaching on the question of progress and development-a subject that dominates presentday thought-can be understood only as the fruit of a tested spirituality of human work; and it is only on the basis of such a spirituality that it can be realized and put into practice. This is the teaching, and also the programme, that has its roots in "the gospel of work". 27. Human Work in the Light of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ There is yet another aspect of human work, an essential dimension of it, that is profoundly imbued with the spirituality based on the Gospel. All work, whether manual or intellectual, is inevitably linked with toil. The Book of Genesis expresses it in a truly penetrating manner: the original blessing of work contained in the very mystery of creation and connected with man's elevation as the image of God is contrasted with the curse that sin brought with it: "Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life"81. This toil connected with work marks the way of human life on earth and constitutes an announcement of death: "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken"82. Almost as an echo of these words, the author of one of the Wisdom books says: "Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it"83. There is no one on earth who could not apply these words to himself. In a sense, the final word of the Gospel on this matter as on others is found in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. It is here that we must seek an answer to these problems so important for the spirituality of human work. The Paschal Mystery contains the Cross of Christ and his obedience unto death, which the Apostle contrasts with the disobedience which from the beginning has burdened man's history on earth84. It also contains the elevation of Christ, who by means of death on a Cross returns to his disciples in the Resurrection with the power of the Holy Spirit. Sweat and toil, which work necessarily involves the present condition of the human race, present the Christian and everyone who is called to follow Christ with the possibility of sharing lovingly in the work that Christ came to do85. This work of salvation came about through suffering and death on a Cross. By enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity. He shows himself a true disciple of Christ by carrying the cross in his turn every day86 in the activity that he is called upon to perform. Christ, "undergoing death itself for all of us sinners, taught us by example that we too must shoulder that cross which the world and the flesh inflict upon those who pursue peace and justice"; but also, at the same time, "appointed Lord by his Resurrection and given all authority in heaven and on earth, Christ is nòw at work in people's hearts through the power of his Spirit... He animates, purifies, and strengthens those noble longings too, by which the human family strives to make its life more human and to render the whole earth submissive to this goal"87. The Christian finds in human work a small part of the Cross of Christ and accepts it in the same spirit of redemption in which Christ accepted his Cross for us. In work, thanks to the light that penetrates us from the Resurrection of Christ, we always find a glimmer of new life, of the new good, as if it were an announcement of "the new heavens and the new earth"88 in which man and the world participate precisely through the toil that goes with work. Through toil-and never without it. On the one hand this confirms the indispensability of the Cross in the spirituality of human work; on the other hand the Cross which this toil constitutes reveals a new good springing from work itself, from work understood in depth and in all its aspects and never apart from work. Is this new good-the fruit of human work-already a small part of that "new earth" where justice dwells89? If it is true that the many forms of toil that go with man's work are a small part of the Cross of Christ, what is the relationship of this new good to the Resurrection of Christ? The Council seeks to reply to this question also, drawing light from the very sources of the revealed word: "Therefore, while we are warned that it profits a man nothing if he gains the whole world and loses himself (cf. Lk 9: 25), the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one. For here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of foreshadowing of the new age. Earthly progress must be carefully distinguished from the growth of Christ's kingdom. Nevertheless, to the extent that the former can contribute to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the Kingdom of God"90.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Year of Faith (11 Oct 2012-24 Nov 13): A Commentary on Porta Fidei of Benedict XVI

The Year of Faith (11 Oct 2012-24 Nov 2013) is a powerful opportunity to renew the entire Church.

You might find this useful: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/64318356/PORTA%20FIDEI.ppt

It's a commentary I made on the Pope's Porta Fidei, explaining the Year of Faith.

The Year of Faith is a singular opportunity we have to seize-- and prepare well for to maximize its impact! For this we have to know the mind of the Pope.

Carpe annum!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Visita Iglesia


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/58/Visita_Iglesias_Manila_Cathedral.jpgYou may download a free Visita Iglesia Guide here or here. (two forms).

This practice among Filipinos on Holy Thursday is rooted in a practice in Mexico (as most of our practices are), and in turn this Mexican practice is rooted in a Roman practice.After some search in the internet, I found this explanation which I thought was the most meaningful:


The Seven Churches Visitation or Visita a las Siete Casas in Mexico commemorates:

the stops (visits or stations) that were made by Jesus on his way to Calvary:

1st Visit: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22: 39-46)
2nd Visit: Jesus bound and taken before Annas (John 18: 19-22)
3rd Visit: Jesus taken before the High Priest, Caiaphas (Matthew 26: 63-65)
4th Visit: Jesus taken before Pilate (John 18,35-37)
5th Visit: Jesus taken before Herod (Luke 23: 8-9; 11)
6th Visit: Jesus taken before Pilate again (Matthew 27: 22-26)
7th Visit: Jesus given the crown of thorns and led to his crucifixion (Matthew 27: 27-31)

Upon entering the church one kneels, makes the sign of the cross, reads the above noted scriptures, reads a special meditation and ends with 5 Our Fathers, 5 Hail Marys and 5 Glorias. After this, one makes a personal reflection before moving on to the next church. In Mexico they sell small booklets outside the churches with the prayers to be used as a guideline. However, most eliminate the actual scripture leaving only the meditation (which may or may not coincide with the scripture). Many Mexican Catholics perform a “Holy Hour” (Hora Santa) after the last visit.

I translated a Visita Iglesia Guide and you can download it here or here

Source: http://jimmyakin.com/2005/02/seven_churches_.html

Other sources:
http://www.churchforum.org/visita-a-siete-casas-familia.htm - with a sample prayer in Spanish
http://www.archdioceseofanchorage.org/documents/HolyThur06Bklt.pdf - prayers in English
http://www.zenit.org/article-34584?l=english - a bit of history

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How to renew the world

That's a big title. But Christians are here to do big things. For with God, nothing is impossible (Lk 1:37).

So how do we renew the world? By renewing the Church.

And how do we renew the Church?

The solution comes from the greatest analyzer of present-day affairs: Pope Ratzinger.

To a great extent, the renewal of the Church throughout the world depends on the renewal of the practice of Penance and the growth in holiness which that sacrament both inspires and accomplishes.

The liberating power of this sacrament needs to be rediscovered and owned once again by every Catholic.

Let's start in our beloved Catholic country: let each Filipino Catholic rediscover the liberating power of Confession, so we can renew the Church and the world. That's our mission.

To help in this renewal, you might want to spread the use of these leaflets: Confession: Simple Reasons, Simple Steps. In Filipino: Kumpisal: Simpleng Dahilan, Simpleng Paraan.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chastity

by Mary Beth Bonacci in Stay Catholic

It’s not about avoiding teen pregnancy. It’s not about avoiding sexually transmitted diseases. It’s not even about preventing AIDS. All of those goals are good, mind you. But the concept of chastity is about so much more. Chastity is, quite simply, about finding and living real love. It is about living our human sexuality the way it was designed to be lived, and in the process putting that sexuality at the service of real, authentic love.

Chastity is the radical notion that sex has a meaning. It speaks a language -- the language of self-gift. Everything about sex is about permanence. It says, "I give myself to you. And I give to you my potential offspring, knowing that if a child is conceived, you and I will always be together to raise and form this product of our love." Sex brings new life into the world. New souls, destined to live forever, come into the world through the love of a man and a woman, through their sexual union. And that fact alone makes it a sacred, holy act.

Our bodies conspire in a myriad of ways to make sex a permanent, self-giving act. Hormonally, sexual arousal and intercourse set off a chain reaction designed to keep married couples bound together. Women experience a flood of oxytocin -- the same hormone which they produce in labor and in nursing a baby. Oxytocin causes a woman to be forgetful, decreases her ability to think rationally -- and causes an incredibly strong emotional attachment to form with the man she is with. Men also produce some oxytocin during sexual intercourse. But their bodies also produce a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin, called "the monogamy molecule," kicks in after sexual activity, and its impact is to heighten a man’s sense of responsibility. It encourages that part of him which says, "My gosh, she may be carrying my child! I’d better get serious about life! I’ve got to get to work, to provide for this family!"

Sex flourishes in the context of permanence. It speaks the language of marriage. Within a marriage, it’s an incredibly powerful expression of self-giving love. It helps to bind a couple together, for better or for worse. It’s an instrument of the grace of matrimony. It helps a husband and a wife live out their commitment to each other.

But what about sex outside of marriage? Simply put, it’s speaking the language of the body in a lie. It’s physically saying, "I give myself to you forever" when that is not in fact the case. It is putting the other person at physical risk -- of pregnancy and of disease. It is, more importantly, putting the other person at emotional and spiritual risk -- allowing a bond to form with no commitment to back it up. It puts relationships at risk, by creating uneven and inconsistent levels of communication. The body is saying one thing, but the relationship says something else. Love means wanting what is best for the other person. Real Love would never put the other at any kind of risk. But sex outside marriage does just that -- it puts one’s "beloved" at significant risk. And that, my friends, is not real love.

Chastity -- respecting the language of sex and saving sexual expression for marriage -- frees us to find real love. It helps to insure that our dates care about us for ourselves, and not just as a way for them to find sexual satisfaction for themselves. It weeds out those who would use us. And it helps to insure that we treat our dates as the images and likenesses of God that they are!

Chastity is the way -- the only way -- to find and live real love. And isn’t that what we’re all looking for, anyway?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Vast re-evangelization: some keys

A key to vast re-evangelization is to turn those who actually go to church into zealous evangelizers.

Those who go to church have to frequently hear these truths:

1. The Command of Christ, his last words on earth: "Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you."

If we are to teach Christians to follow all of Christ's commands, we should never miss to include his last and most crucial command: Go and make disciples, the very continuation of his divine mission to save all men. It's a command, an imperative command --not a request nor a mere plea-- that is self-perpetuating and self-multiplying.

2. CBCP's Catechism for Filipino Catholics: Today, we realize that "each disciple of Christ has the obligation of spreading the faith to the best of his ability" (LG 17) PCP II asserts: "All are called to mission...all --without exception-- are called to evangelize." (PCP II 402) (bold in the original)

Take note it says, Today we realize... This shows how the church has been cleric-centered in its approach to evangelization for some time. It is up to us today to be thoroughly faithful to Christ's commissioning of the laity into his saving work.

3. Catechism of the Catholic Church:

> The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. - CCC 863

> "To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer. ...Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization." - CCC 904

> The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. - CCC 2472. This discussion of the 8th commandment in the CCC shows that evangelization, apostolate, is a clear obligation.

Second, the laity have to allow grace into their life, because only the grace of God is capable of bringing people to his divine level. If Christians are not habitually in the state of grace, if do not have the life of Christ in their soul, no evangelization can take place. Thus, Benedict XVI has lately said that the beginning of all evangelization is confession. The premise of a vast re-evangelization is a vast evangelization on the healing and sanctifying power of confession. A powerpoint presentation, entitled Sin and Confession, can be found in this dropbox link.

Lay leaders, influential Catholics and priests have to keep on reminding Christians --other Christs!-- of these fundamental truths, if we want the new evangelization to take place.

Of course, these truths are not enough to turn Christians into evangelizers. They need to study Christ's revelation so they can truly fall in love with Christ and transmit all of his teachings to others. Here below are some internet resources for this work.

Resources:

> Course of Catechesis in Catholic Doctrine - 60 powerpoint presentation on the Catechism of the Catholic Church
> Beginning Catholic
> Catholic Home Study Service
> Explore your Faith

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Science Facts on Contraception


Download the flyer herehttp://sntpost.stii.dost.gov.ph/frames/OcttoDec03/grapix/contraceptives.jpg

The world’s leading scientific experts and extensive research found in peer-reviewed science journals have already resolved the key questions surrounding the use of contraceptives.

1. The pill and the IUD kill children.
When does human life begin? At fertilization, when the sperm penetrates the egg. This was the “overwhelming agreement in countless scientific writings”, and of top experts (including scientists from Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic) at an eight day hearing of the US Senate.

Do birth control pills and the IUD kill the young human being?
Yes, the pill also kills the young baby when the contraceptive effect fails, according to the scientific journal of the American Medical Association. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of 2005 pronounced that the intrauterine device brings about the “destruction of the early embryo.”

2. The pill injures women’s health.
Is the pill safe? The International Agency for Research on Cancer in a 2007 study made by 21 scientists reported that the pill causes cancer, giving it the highest level of carcinogenicity, the same as cigarettes and asbestos. A 2010 study showed that it “carries an excess risk of breast cancer.” It also causes stroke, and significantly increases the risk of heart attacks. Several scientific journals have stated that the natural way of regulating births has no side-effects, and is 99 % effective.

3. Wide use of contraceptives destroys the family.
Will the greater availability of contraception improve the stability of families? Wide contraceptive use leads to more premarital sex, more fatherless children, more single mothers, more abortions, according to the studies of Nobel prize winner, George Akerlof.

4. Wide contraceptive use leads to greater poverty.

Is contraceptive use correlated with poverty? Since widespread contraception increases the number of fatherless children and single mothers, it is linked with greater poverty. In a separate article, Akerlof concluded that contraception leads to a decline of marriage, less domesticated men, more crimes and more social pathology and thus more poverty.

Isn’t population control connected with economic development?
“No clear association” is the answer of Simon Kuznets, Nobel Prize winner in the science of economics. Many later studies confirmed this, including a 2003 study of the RAND Corporation, a world leader in research associated with 30 Nobel Prize winners.

5. Wide condom use promotes the spread of AIDS.

Will the use of condoms lower the rate of HIV/AIDS in a country? It will increase it, according to the “best studies”, concluded Harvard Director for AIDS Prevention, Edward C. Green. Availability of condoms makes people willing to take greater sexual risk, thus worsening the spread of the disease. He showed that fidelity and abstinence are the best solutions to the AIDS epidemic.

Help dispel ignorance of these science facts. Make copies and pass on to many, including our leaders. TODAY!

This one-page flyer is based on Science Facts on the RH Bills, whose first version was written in November 2010.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Benefits of All-boys and All-girls Schools: Q&A on what the best research says



By Dr. Raul Nidoy
Parents for Education Foundation (PAREF)
Association for Single-Sex Education in Asia (ASSEA)


Download the article in brochure form here.


Are there benefits to single-sex schooling?


The best research on this topic was sponsored by the U.S. government in 2005. The research demonstrated “a single-sex school advantage by far” over coed schools.

Do those results refer to academics?


Yes, they found better results in math, science, English, and social studies achievement. But advantages extend to social and emotional development of the children too.

But isn’t this just one study?


The U.S. study is a meta-analysis covering 2221 studies worldwide. Then they culled the 40 best. The review showed that “positive results are three to four times more likely to be found for single sex schools than for coeducational schools in the same study for both academic achievement and socio-emotional development.”

That’s quite impressive. Do they explain why girls’ schools and boys’ schools are better?

There are more than a dozen reasons! For one, teachers observe that there are less distractions. Children are prone to distraction. What more when they are with the other sex who have a different learning style, and who can catch their attention. 

In single-sex schools children compete on fairer grounds. Girls develop faster than boys, and boys can easily get discouraged when faced with such competition. Then boys can pull down the performance of the girls.

But aren’t the kids helped by the presence of the opposite sex to behave better?


Not in the majority of cases. Based on studies, when kids of the same sex are together, they give themselves more mutual support, a sense of community and greater confidence. Thus, they participate more and are more engaged.

Won’t coed schools make children more well-rounded?


The opposite is true. Coed schools tend to perpetuate stereotypes of girls as good in creative arts and boys as strong in math, science and leadership. In single-sex schools, teachers can address the unique needs and interests of the students, making them strong in areas where they are usually weak. This is another explanation why students in single-sex schools perform better in academics.

Let’s not forget too that children don’t want to appear having some of the good habits of the other sex, lest they be teased as being girlish or boyish.

But isn’t it that kids get inspired by the opposite sex to study harder?


Again, you are talking about exceptions. In most cases, based on recent research findings, the effect of the interaction between the two sexes means less homework done, less enjoyment of school, lower reading and math scores.

You mentioned earlier that there are social and emotional advantages.

U.S. government research points to less sexual harassment, less delinquency and other student behavior problems, more community involvement, more positive self-concept among children, more positive student role models, more leadership opportunities, and higher career aspirations. Children in these schools put more value on grades and leadership rather than on attractiveness and money. These schools also allow for more opportunities for social and moral guidance.

I am concerned that my high schooler will not learn how to deal with the opposite sex.


As you might already have observed, the alumni of the top single-sex schools of this country are very capable of dealing with the other sex, and in fact they are known to have an edge on the basis of their culture, manners, and self-confidence. Boys’ schools and girls’ schools have the privileged condition of providing age and gender-appropriate guidance and social skills training to their students.

One of my concerns is that my children go to the best colleges.

Your child will have better chances to achieve that through a single-sex school. There was a randomized experiment done on this in Korea, whose results were published on January 2012. A randomized experiment is the most reliable evidence in all scientific research, since it eliminates bias and pre-selection. The study found that 45% of boys from single-sex schools entered college compared with only 39% of the boys from coed schools. For the girls, it’s 44% of girls from all-girls schools and 40% of girls from coed schools. So the research concluded that “Attending all-boys schools or all-girls schools rather than attending coeducational schools is significantly associated with higher average scores.”

Could it be that single-sex schools are effective because well-to-do students enroll there?

Another surprise: Four studies have actually found that these type of schools “are significantly favorable for students who are historically or traditionally disadvantaged--minorities and/or low and working class and/or at-risk students.”

But if all of this is true, why isn’t single-sex schooling the mainstream way of educating the kids?

The news has not yet spread. That’s the reason behind this Q&A! And for your information, there is a revival of single-sex schools even in the public schools in the U.S. From only 4 single-sex public schools in 1998, there were already 540 such schools by 2010. An expert said that “21st Century education will be single-sex schooling.”

References:


1. Mael, F., Alonso, A., Gibson, G., Rogers, K., & Smith, M., (2005). Single-sex versus Coeducational Schooling: A Systematic Review. Washington D.C. http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/other/single-sex/single-sex.pdf
2. Riordan, C. (2007). The Effects of Single Sex Schools: What Do We Know? Building Gender-Sensitive Schools: First International Congress on Single Sex Education. Barcelona.http://www.easse.org/docs/1209565580_Congreso%204.07.%20Ponencias%20y%20comunicaciones.pdf
3. Riordan, C., Faddis, B., Beam, M, Seager, A., Tanney, A., DiBiase R., Ruffin M., Valentine, J. (2008). Early Implementation of Public Single-Sex Schools: Perceptions and Characteristics. Washington D.C. http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/other/single-sex/characteristics/characteristics.pdf
4. Riordan, C. (2009). The Effects of Single Sex Schools: Alced. Argentina. http://www.alcedargentina.com.ar/images/libroponencias.pdf
5. Park, H. , Behrman, J, Choi,, J .(2012) Causal Effects of Single-Sex Schools on College Entrance Exams and College Attendance: Random Assignment in Seoul High Schools. Philadelphia, PA. University of Pennsylvania, PSC Working Paper Series.
6. Martin, A. J., Marsh, H. W., McInerney, D. M., Green, J. Young People’s Interpersonal Relationships and Academic and Nonacademic Outcomes: Scoping the Relative Salience of Teachers, Parents, Same-Sex Peers, and Opposite Sex Peers. Teachers College Record. March 23, 2009, 1-6. http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=15593

Download the article in brochure form here:  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/64318356/Benefits%20of%20Single%20%20Sex%20Education.doc

These one-page leaflets have started going viral around the world. One leaflet was posted in the website of the Archdiocese of Westminster in London ("The Mother Church of England"), in the Corpus Christi Parish in Canada,  in Kenya and in Macau. To get the full collection, please visit see this: One Page Leaflets for New Evangelization Starting to Go Viral!

You might also be interested in:

Giving Real Love to Your Child: an outline on how parents can educate their children in human sexuality

Strategies for a Great Family

Purity and the Best Remedy for Lust

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Celibacy in the First Two Centuries

by Fr. Michael E. Giesler. The sub-titles and formatting were added to facilitate reading. Taken from Stay Catholic.

Highly valued in ancient times

It is a fact that virginity and continence (restraint from sexual activity) were highly regarded in ancient times. Many non-Christian peoples valued these practices for their ascetical example as well as for their religious significance.1

Hebrew priests were asked to abstain from intercourse in order to prepare themselves for certain rituals, the Roman vestal virgins were considered sacred guardians of the city, and many tribal religions considered sexual abstinence, at least for a time, as a way to win favor from God.

Closer to the time of Christ, a religious group of Jews called the Essenes seems to have practiced a form of celibacy in expectation for the coming of the Messiah. From what we can gather from Scripture, John the Baptist was celibate, along with two of the greatest Hebrew prophets, Elijah and Jeremiah.

Occasionally we also hear of Jewish scholars, such as the Rabbi Akiba in the second century A.D., who with the permission of their wives lived long periods of continence in order to devote themselves more completely to the study of the Law.2

Jesus and the biblical record

But while most first-century Jewish rabbis were expected to marry, in the hope of adding to the numbers of the chosen people and raising children well-formed in the Law, we do know of one egregious exception to this practice, the young rabbi from Nazareth named Jesus Christ. He did not choose to marry, and there is clear evidence that he also asked his apostles to live celibacy in order to follow him.

As a matter of fact, many scholars believe that he was making a defense of his own and his apostles' celibacy when he affirmed that "there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive this" (Matt. 19:11). In other words, Jesus and his apostles had freely renounced their right to have a wife and children, in order to spread the kingdom of God.

And he later declares that this generosity will not go unrewarded: "For everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life" (Matt. 19:29). Luke's Gospel specifically mentions the leaving of a wife for the sake of God's kingdom (Luke 18:29), along with the reward that God will give.

Christ also speaks of the kingdom of God as the definitive state of mankind, where there will be no marrying or giving in marriage (cf. Mark 12:25). Though at that point he was answering a question about eternal life posed by his opponents, his response highlights the power and beauty of celibacy: those who practice it in this world are truly anticipating the final state of man in paradise, where God's love is the greatest and most exclusive reality.

Therefore virginity for the sake of God's kingdom can truly be called the "pearl of great price" (Matt. 13:46), to use the expression of one of Christ's parables.

It is clear then that the origin of virginity or celibacy is intrinsically connected with love for God, and as a result of that love, with evangelization. Implied in both love and evangelizing is closeness to Christ; we can surmise that this was the main motive of the apostles, at least at first, when they made their commitment to celibacy. We know that one of them, Peter, had married, though we are not sure if his wife was still living at the time of the Gospels, since we never hear of her. We can assume that some of the others were married also, but again, we hear nothing of their spouses, since the main message of the Gospel is that they gave up everything to follow the Master. They wanted to be close to the Messiah, and therefore practiced his way of life; they were deeply and personally drawn to his holiness and mission.

This exclusive love of Christ seems to have been experienced particularly by one of his apostles, John, who according to Catholic tradition lived virginity all of his life. And the Master requited his dedication in a deeper way than to the others; for it was John, the youngest of them, who was called the "disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23), and it was to him that he entrusted his virgin mother.

It is also clear from the Gospel text and later Church history that Christ did not restrict his invitation to celibacy and the hundredfold to the apostles or to priests. At the time of their calling the apostles were not priests, but simply his disciples. The very wording of Christ's invitation is purposefully general — let him who can take it, take it; that is, virginity for the kingdom of God is open to all those who have received this grace, and who wish to follow him in this special way.

Certainly, among all the apostles, Saint Paul understood this most clearly, and manifested it in his letters. In 1 Cor. 7 he speaks of his own celibacy, and encourages as many men and women as possible to embrace this state in life, in order to be more concerned with the Lord's affairs (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32-35). Though some think that he was originally addressing only Jewish Christians and their marital concerns in this text, the early Church always understood his words in a broader way, referring to the gift of celibacy and its power to free a man or woman for spreading Christ's kingdom, as Paul himself had done so assiduously.

Another reason that the Apostle gives for endorsing celibacy is the fact that time is passing by quickly: "I mean, brethren, that the time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning" (1 Cor.7:29). Obviously Paul has his eyes on the coming of Christ and the definitive kingdom of God, as did so many of the early Christians; in this context human marriage, like all earthly realities, is a temporary condition and will pass away. Given this reality, it is much easier and more advantageous for people of faith to live continence, including within marriage.

The other great apostle, John, was himself a virgin and celibate all of his life, as we mentioned above. In the fascinating book of Revelation, which many believe to be his work, there is a vision of celibate men "who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb" (Rev. 14:4). Again, as in the case of the Gospel and the text of Paul, there is no indication that these men were all clerics.3 The main point of the vision is that they had given up everything, including their right to intercourse with women, in order to follow Christ.

Testimony of the early Church

In immediate post-apostolic times we have clear testimony that men and women throughout the Roman Empire had received the charism of celibacy and lived it fervently, though we have no specific numbers of them. One of the earliest post-apostolic documents that we possess is the letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, from around the year 95, which gives witness to the charism of continence or celibacy. In this letter, as the head of the church of Rome, Clement is trying to restore order to the church in Corinth, which had been divided into factions and was not loyal to their bishop.

In speaking of what God intends for them, he mentions the various gifts received in the church of Corinth, including wisdom and charity, and states that each one has its place. For those who practice celibacy or continence he simply says: "Let him who is continent (literally holy in the flesh) not boast of it — knowing that it is another that giveth him the power of continence."4 Obviously continence was highly esteemed in Corinth, but it had to be accepted and practiced with humility. The persons receiving this gift had to realize that it came from God, and not from human virtue or power alone.

Writing only ten years later, Ignatius of Antioch, on his way to martyrdom in the Colosseum in Rome, wrote to Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna about those who practiced celibacy and the need to be humble: "If anyone is able to remain continent, to the honor of the Flesh of the Lord, let him persistently avoid boasting."5 This particularly significant text places the source of celibacy's greatness in Christ; those who give up sexual experience are really honoring the Flesh of Christ, who himself was a virgin. This is without doubt a great gift and privilege, but it should not give way to pride. Apparently in Smyrna there was a danger that some men (or women) would fall into boasting.

In another text he speaks of the Flesh of Christ in the Eucharist, which unites all of us in himself, "for one is the Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with his Blood, and one altar, just as there is one bishop assisted by the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow servants."6

Other very early works, such as the Didache and the Letter of Barnabas, contain strong moral exhortations to charity and sexual purity, but they do not directly mention the gift of continence or virginity. Perhaps the reason for this is the purpose of the documents themselves. The Didache was written for recent converts, and highlighted the basic morality of the Church and how to follow it. Continence or virginity was a more advanced gift to be considered later for some of them. The Letter of Barnabas was probably written to Jewish Christians suffering persecution by the Jews during the first decades of the second century; it exhorts them to have purity of life and self-control, but does not directly mention celibacy.

The Letter to Diognetus, which appears to be an apology and defense of Christianity written to a certain educated pagan, contains a moving passage about Christians living in the middle of the world, as the soul is in the body, and how they lived personal and marital chastity; the fact that some men and women lived total continence is implied, but not stated. Aristides of Athens in his Apology (ch.15) to the Emperor Hadrian also highlights the Christians' cleanness of life, contrasted to the lives of non-Christians.

Justin Martyr, on the other hand, writing his Defense of Christianity around A.D. 150 to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, refers specifically to individuals who have given up marriage to practice continence, and whose lives and dedication are well known to the other faithful (cf. Apology I, n.29). He does refer to one Christian youth, who actually had asked to be made a eunuch, but the Roman authorities refused him (cf. Apology I, n.29). Earlier in his Defense (n. 15) he reports how widespread the practice of celibacy and virginity had grown throughout the Roman Empire: "And many, both men and women, who have been Christ's disciples from childhood, have preserved their purity at the age of sixty and seventy years; and I am proud that I could produce such from every race of men and women."7

Remaining pure (in Greek, aphthoroi) could refer either to leading a chaste life or to embracing a continent or celibate life from the time of baptism. He cites these examples because he obviously considers that Antoninus, who was a practicing Stoic, would understand the meaning of virtue and self-denial, and would be impressed with this asceticism. Referring to the Christian community in general, he also speaks of the sexual purity of Christians; they marry to bring children into the world, and they do not abandon them or expose them, nor practice promiscuity. He obviously states these facts in order to contrast the family life of Christians with that of the pagans, many of whom practiced contraception and abortion.

It also appears that Justin himself never married and spent many years teaching at a school that he founded in Rome, trying to show the underlying unity between Christian and Greek philosophy. Some speculate that he could have been a deacon, but it is just as likely that he was a layman who had received the gift of celibacy and had dedicated himself completely to spreading Christ's truth through his words and classes. He apparently converted many young people to Christianity but earned the enmity of certain pagan philosophers in Rome who denounced him as a Christian. He was beheaded under Marcus Aurelius in 165, along with several of his students.

Shortly after this time another Christian apologist, Athenagoras of Athens, wrote a plea to Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus, also defending the Christians, while asking them to consider objectively the virtues of the Christians. As Justin did, he reiterates that Christians marry for the sake of having children, not to gratify lust, then adds significantly that "one might find many amongst us, both men and women, who are growing old in virginity, their hope being to have greater fruition of God."8

In line with Justin's statement mentioned earlier, we hear that there were many (in Greek, pollous) men and women who lived the charism of celibacy, most likely dwelling in the major cities of the Empire. We also note that the dedication of these faithful Christians was lived over a lifetime; it was not restricted to young people only, and its purpose was not to possess moral excellence in itself (the Stoic ideal), but to have a life of closer communion with God. In the next chapter he refers to the persecution that Christian celibates had to endure from the non-Christians.9

Yet not all non-Christians were so hostile. Galen, the great physician and philosopher of the second century, and contemporary of Justin Martyr and Athenagoras, was particularly impressed at the high standards of morality practiced by the followers of Christ. After praising their continence and fearlessness before death, he states that the Christians "also number individuals who, in self-discipline and self-control in matters of food and drink, and in their keen pursuit of justice, have attained a pitch not inferior to that of genuine philosophers."10 To be called a "philosopher" was a great honor in the minds of non-Christians of that era; it was also one of the central aspirations of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Writing at the end of the second century, Minucius Felix in his apologia entitled Octavius speaks of those who practiced perpetual virginity of body. In this dialogue Octavius, a Christian, does not describe their life in detail, but is simply trying to show the pagan Caecilius that the Christians were not low-life criminals, as they were accused of being, but that they had very high moral standards.

We should note that all of these apologists were addressing pagans, and wanted to impress them with the holiness and purity of Christians, often in contrast to the immorality of non-Christians. Believers in Christ had been maliciously slandered and portrayed as fanatics and criminals. In general these early apologists do not state the greatest reasons for celibacy — to be close to Christ and to spread his kingdom. These reasons must have been very obvious to the Christian community from the start, but there was no need to mention them to pagan emperors or leaders. Not only would they misunderstand these reasons, but also, since Christianity was proscribed, they could have these celibate men and women arrested for being zealots. Therefore the Christian apologists stressed personal virtue and moral conduct instead, emphasizing asceticism, which noble pagan minds would find more impressive.

We saw earlier that there was a danger of pridefulness in some celibate faithful even at the end of the first century. This tendency would actually develop into a heresy during the second century under the influence of Gnosticism, which despised marriage and marital relations as unclean and material. The heretic Marcion was tainted with this view, since he would admit and baptize into his church only those who practiced continence. The mere fact that his heretical group was so successful demonstrates the large number of Christians who were actually practicing continence in the second century. Apart from spiritual ideals, it seems that many of them were simply repelled by the sexual excesses of the pagan society in which they lived; practicing celibacy or continence was a dramatic way of showing their independence and conviction.

One of Justin's students, Tatian, author of the Diatesseron, actually took the ideal of continence too far, and he left the Catholic Church to found his own sect, called the Encratites, which eschewed marriage and considered themselves to be the "self-controlled," as opposed to those who married. Many apocryphal writings of Gnostic origin, including parts of the Gospel of Thomas made famous in the spurious novel The Da Vinci Code, actually scorned marriage, and even went to the point of saying that Christ did not really exist in the flesh, but was a kind of spiritual apparition. The apocryphal work entitled the Acts of Peter and Andrew is also of this variety.

But there are many other apocryphal writings of the second and third centuries that show the real value of celibacy, connecting it with dedication to God and the mission to evangelize. One of the most famous of these is the Acts of Paul and Thecla, which narrates the life of a dedicated virgin and disciple of Saint Paul from Iconium (Asia Minor).

Without question the power and appeal of celibacy in the first two centuries came above all from the direct example of Jesus Christ, his mother and the apostles, and from the dedicated lives of both male and female Christians. The fact that the charism of virginity and celibacy was highly esteemed, and that it was extended and thriving among both sexes is clear from the above early writings. How much influence did these celibate men and women have on the Church and pagan society? Judging from the lives of persons such as Saints John and Paul, Cecilia and Seraphia, it must have been great, equivalent in some ways to martyrdom in both pagan and Christian eyes. We know from later Church writings that both virgins and martyrs were called "Christopheroi," or "Christ bearers."

How they lived their dedication

We don't know with certainty how the early faithful lived their dedication. Many celibate women seemed to have lived at home; that was the case of the famous virgins and martyrs Cecilia and Agnes. But other women, either individually or in groups, appear to have served the Church from earliest times through their domestic work. This custom surely began with the services of the holy women to Christ and his apostles mentioned in the Gospel (cf. Luke 8:1-3). From that example other dedicated women continued to serve the apostles and presbyters in the years ahead as sisters in Christ (see 1 Cor. 9:2-6). Since they had more social independence, celibate Christian men may have lived alone or in communities. Since Christ himself and his apostles lived as a group of celibate men in complete dedication to God and his kingdom, it is quite possible that in subsequent decades other groups of faithful, particularly men, would want to imitate them in some way. Certainly Saint Justin in the middle of the second century seemed to have formed some kind of community around himself as he taught Catholic philosophy to his students, particularly about Christ as the Logos, or Saving Word, who recapitulated and elevated the best of Greek philosophy in himself. Since Justin himself seems to have been celibate, it is quite likely that many of his students would choose the same path, though one of them after Justin's death erred from the Church's teachings, as we saw above.

In the first part of the third century we have two letters, originally attributed to Clement of Rome, that are addressed to virgins of both sexes who lived in community. They are certainly praised and encouraged for their commitment, which is said to be like that of Christ and the apostles, but are severely warned against lack of charity and temptations against chastity.11

In the latter part of the third century continence and virginity were more and more connected with special consecrated states of life, which separated celibate men and women from other Christians. This was the beginning of the religious phenomenon, from the era of Saint Anthony onwards. By the time of Saint Augustine (late fourth century), many virgins had actually taken a kind of public vow and were called spouses of Christ; a Church ceremony was also established in the fourth century called the velatio, in which these women were given special veils to wear, signifying their mystical marriage with Christ. In the third century a ceremony began for the public profession of consecrated virgins before the bishop, which has been restored to the Church in recent times.

We do know however that in Saint Augustine's time there were still virgins and continent men called confessors who continued to live in the world; they most likely lived alone or with their families, and would meet frequently in groups for common prayer and support. In 590 Gregory the Great also refers to celibate men and women living in the world, encouraging them to be generous, and not to fall into a lukewarm dedication.

In later centuries however, perhaps due to the barbarian invasions with the resulting chaos in society, and also due in part to the phenomenal growth of monasteries and convents, the charism of continence among the lay faithful in the middle of the world — motivated by the desire to imitate Christ and to spread his kingdom — largely disappeared from the Church. The practice of virginity or celibacy became almost exclusively restricted to ordained ministers and to those in religious orders.

End Notes

Cf. Gran Enciclopedia Rialp, Vol.5, section on "Celibato" n.1 (Madrid, Spain: Ediciones Rialp, 1991), 450.

A text from the Jewish Mishna (Keth.62b) speaks of the famous Rabbi Akiba who abstained from marital relations with his wife for twelve years in order to study the Torah. The Mishna (meaning Second Law) was a series of oral traditions on the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures; they were compiled and handed down by rabbis in the century following the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

With regard to the celibacy of the clergy, Stefan Heid and others have given ample evidence that the practice of continence, or abstaining from sexual relations, was part of a priest's and bishop's commitment, even if they were married. Through a scholarly analysis of New Testament sources and early Church documents, they demonstrate that the celibacy and continence of the clergy, including deacons, is a perennial tradition that has its roots in the life of Christ and his apostles, and was not a mere man-made law or juridical discipline from the fourth or fifth century. See Stefan Heid, Celibacy in the Early Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000).

Clement of Rome, Letter to Corinthians, Ch. 38.2. Quoted from Ancient Christian Writers, edited by J. Quasten and Joseph Plumpe (Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Bookshop, 1946), 32.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to Polycarp (n.5). from Ibid, p.98.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to Philadelphians (n.4). from Ibid, p.86.

St. Justin Martyr, Apology to the Emperor Antoninus Pius nn.15 and 29, taken from Ancient Christian Writers, (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1997), 32.

Athenagoras of Athens, Apology to Marcus Aurelius, chapter 33, taken from Ancient Christian Writers, (London: The Newman Press, 1956), 74.

Ibid., chapter 34.

This statement was preserved in an Arabic document (see Leslie W. Barnard, Athenagoras [Paris: Editiones Beauchesne, 1972], 55). Also R. Walzer, Galen on Jews and Christians (Oxford, 1949), 19-20.

See Joannes Quasten, Patrology (Vol. I), (Utrecht-Antwerp: Spectrum Publishers, 1966), 58-59.

Copyright © 2008 Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Rev. Michael E. Giesler obtained his doctorate in theology form the University of Navarre (Spain). He is the author of a book and several articles on Sacred Scripture and the natural law, along with a series of audio tapes on the marks of the Church and the writings of Pope John Paul II. He has also recently published two books of historical fiction on the lives of the early Christians. He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and co-founder of the Midwest Theological Forum, an educational service that sponsors conferences and workshops for diocesan priests. Father Giesler is a priest of the prelature Opus Dei; he was raised in Chicago and since 1989 has been stationed at the Wespine Study Center in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to his service to lay people, he has given many reflections and retreats to diocesan priests, along with individual spiritual direction.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Root causes of homosexual feelings

A survey of 250 men who are seeking to overcome homosexual desires

1. Father and son relationship was characterized by abandonment, extended absence, hostility or disinterest.

2. Conflict with male peers, making them feel that they were not man enough, and do not belong with men.

3. Mother-son relationships characterized by over-dependence that led to viewing the world from a woman's perspective.

4. Sexually abused in their youth.

Read more at People Can Change: Root Causes, Homosexual Consequences.

Another important insight from the Family Research Council:

There is a difference between:

1. Homosexual attraction - in vast majority of cases is not a choice
2. Homosexual behavior - this is a choice, because 50% of people who performed homosexual actions before age 15 never did it again.
3. Homosexual self-identification - a choice of what to label oneself.

See Top Ten myths of Homosexuality.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Without these fasts, all others will not be accepted - St. Bernard

Let the eye fast from beholding objects, which are only calculated to excite curiosity and vanity; that being now humbled, it may be restrained to repentance, which before wandered in guilt.

Let the ear fast from listening to idle stories and words that have no reference to salvation.

Let the tongue fast from detraction and murmuring, from unprofitable and sacrilegious discourse; sometimes also, out of respect to holy silence, from speaking what appears necessary and profitable.

Let the hand also fast from useless works, and from every action that is not commanded.

But above all, let the soul fast from sin and the doing of its own will.

Without these fasts, all others will not be accepted by the Lord.

St. Bernard of Clairvaus, Serm. 2 de Jejun. Quad

http://haydock1859.tripod.com/id20.html
http://acontinualfeastcontinued.blogspot.com/2010/03/advice-on-fasting-from-st-bernard-of.html

Friday, February 3, 2012

International expert praises Filipino wisdom in halting AIDS

Jason Evert, an international expert on sexuality and family, who was in Manila a year ago this month, heaped praises on the "wisdom of the Filipino approach to halting AIDS" and said that they are "living proof that self-control always trumps birth control," in his book If You Really Loved Me. He offers prestigious empirical research to support his statements.


If people abstained from sex at least six months between partners, the odds of HIV transmission would be deci­mated. Therefore, countries that encourage monogamy and self-control enjoy much greater success in preventing HIV than coun­tries that simply hand out condoms.

A key example of this is in the Philippines, where condoms are rare, and so is HIV. A New York Times article entitled "Low Rate of AIDS Virus in Philippines Is a Puzzle" reported that the Church in the Philippines is "conservative and politically power­ful." As a result, "the government has no AIDS-awareness pro­gram of its own and restricts the public campaigns of independent family-planning groups."289

But, the article reported, "public health officials say they are stumped by a paradox in the Philippines, where a very low rate of condom use [4 percent] and a very low rate of HIV infection seem to be going hand in hand." In this conservative Catholic coun­try that shuns condoms, about twelve thousand of the eighty-four million residents are infected with HIV. Jean-Marc Olive of the World Health Organization said that he's not sure why this is, but he thinks they're "lucky." One gets the impression that "experts" would rather look puzzled than be forced to give credit to a chaste culture.

To appreciate the wisdom of the Filipino approach to halt­ing the spread of HIV, contrast their efforts with the "safe sex" program implemented in Thailand. Both countries reported their first case of HIV in 1984. By 1987 there were 135 cases in the Philippines, and 112 in Thailand. The World Health Organization predicted that by 1999, 85,000 people would die of AIDS in the Philippines, and 70,000 in Thailand. In an effort to prevent this tragedy, Thailand enacted a "one hundred percent condom use program" and promoted widespread availability of condoms.290 Meanwhile, the Filipino government backed the Church's plan to prevent the epidemic.By 2005, Thailand's HIV rate was fifty times as high as the Philippines (580,000 vs. 12,000).291

But because Thailand's rate of new HIV infections is not as high as it used to be, it is hailed by "safe sex" experts as the model of how to protect a country against HIV. Health officials warn that an HIV epidemic has "the potential to explode" in the Philippines, but they are slow to acknowledge that if Filipinos hold fast to their morals, they'll have nothing to fear.292 Com­pared to Western culture, Filipinos have a delayed sexual debut and a reduced number of partners.293 They are living proof that self-control always trumps birth control.

While some people see the Catholic Church as an obstacle to HIV prevention, the British Medical Journal noted, "The greater the percentage of Catholics in any country, the lower the level of HIV. If the Catholic Church is promoting a message about HIV in those countries, it seems to be working. On the basis of data from the World Health Organization, in Swaziland, where 42.6 percent have HIV, only 5 percent of the population is Catholic. In Botswana, where 37 percent of the adult population is HIV infected, only 4 percent of the population is Catholic. In South Africa, 22 percent of the population is HIV infected, and only 6 percent is Catholic. In Uganda, with 43 percent of the population Catholic, the proportion of HIV infected adults is 4 percent."294 In the Philippines, over 80 percent of the population is Catholic, and only .03 percent of the population has HIV!295

References:

289 Seth Mydans, "Low Rate Of AIDS Virus In Philippines Is a Puzzle," The New York Times (April 20, 2003).

290 Human Life International, "Condom Expose" www.hli.org, 16.

291UNAIDS "Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic," 2006, Annex 2

292 Mydans.

293 Cecile Balgos, "Philippines Proud of its Low Infection Rate, Number of Cases," San Francisco Chronicle (May 21, 2003).

294 Amin Abboud, "Searching for Papal Scapegoats Is Pointless," British Medical Journal 331 (July 30, 2005), 294.

295 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, "International Reli­gious Freedom Report 2004," U.S. Department of State (September 15, 2004); UNAIDS "Philippines" Country Situation Analysis (www.unaids.org).