Thursday, June 30, 2005

Pope John Paul II and discipline

It is often commented that Pope John Paul II did not do enough to discipline dissidents during his papacy. We have been dissidents in some way and great sinners in other ways. We have committed sins grievous enough to make it rain fire and brimstone. And yet God was quiet. He said nothing. Did you notice that? Could it be that Pope John Paul was just behaving like his God?

Saints and Popes know the importance of their jobs and tend to be very careful in that they did only God's will. Even Christ reminded us that "I came not to do my will but the will of My Father in heaven." Pope John Paul II was a prayerful man. Maybe disciplining dissidents was not God's will for him just as building the temple was not God's will for king David, and being a priest and a preacher was not for St. Therese, the little flower.

On the other hand, disciplining was God's role for then Cardinal Ratzinger. Maybe it is still now, or maybe it is not.

Finding out God's specific will can be very tricky. It is usually reserved for contemplatives. And while it is difficult for the person concerned, like Pope John Paul, to find out God's will, it is impossible for spectators to find out God's will for him. And so to the comment why Pope John Paul II did not discipline the bad buys? Well, God's ways are not man's ways. Maybe, it was not God's will!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Catechism - World Youth Day - meditation for Africa

The ignorance of Catholics with regards to their Catholic religion is unimaginable. Ignorance is common among laymen, seminarians, priest and even a few bishops. And news show that the situation is world-wide.

Parents and godparents are totally incapable of transmitting religious knowledge to children. Catholic schools and universities have long abandoned their role of giving their students a Catholic education as John Newman had laid down. Sunday homilies of priests are either empty or pure entertainement. When Pope John Paul II came to Asia 27 years ago he encouraged the bishop's conference to evangelize. The committee formed for it is still figuring out how to go about it. We, already, have a new Pope.

The worst politicians are catholics and the most corrupt law enforcers are also Catholics. And most of those in jail are Catholics. Ronald Knox, famed Anglican convert to Catholicism decried the fact that he would rather leave his umbrella in a Wesleyan service house than in a Catholic chapel. He would return to the Wesleyan chapel with the umbrella still there but gone in a Catholic chapel.

Add to this the fact that we live in an atmosphere of relativism wherein sound doctrines are repugnant to modern mankind.

The Catholic Church have many Catechisms that summarize the truths of Christ. From the Catechism of St. Cyprian, St. Peter Canisius, St. Thomas of Aquinas, St. John Vianney to the countless penny catechisms available. One can go and visit the information highways and learn everything about the Catholic Church. And still, ignorance is the common denominator of Catholics when it comes to the Catechism.

As a young seminarian I have been hearing about evangelizations and re-evangelizations. But nothing happened. No one had defined what evangelization meant and how to go about it. So it never began.

Here in Asia, whenever the state raises up an issue that goes against Catholic morals, the reponse from the Church is so ineffective, confused and unclear.

The local Catholic radio station did not have a program on Catechism though it had all kinds of programs. They were glad when I volunterred to hold the program on catechism. I use the present Catechism of the Catholic Church with explanations from St. Thomas of Aquinas and St. John Vianney.

Faced with such a situation, can we still look forward to our next generation as our future?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Ecumenism or Martyrdom- World Youth Day - meditations for Africa

The Holy Father has plans to meet the bishops of Africa. Of course, there is hope for an ecumenical dialogue between the Catholics there and other religions or sects. Though it seems to be the policy of the Holy Father to have ecumenical dialogues with other groups, which is a mandate of the Gospel, the idea of ecumenism is futile. It is based on a wrong theological assumption. St. Paul mentioned that he is sent to the elect. And because he does not know who is the elect he preached to all that in some way he might reach the elect. Let me forgo the idea of predestination since it is complex and stick to ecumenism.

The Church is the bride of Christ. The other groups are not parts of this bride that had been cut off or dismembered. They are completely other entities. The others are alien branches that cannot in anyway be grafted to the main branch. Today's ecumenism is based on the wrong notion that the Church founded on earth has, in process of time, been split into many fragments and can be easily be reunited, noted Ronald Knox, a convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism. "To us Catholics such language is meaningless; we have not so learned Christ. For us, the Church is nothing less than His temple, his Bride, his own Body; and the idea that it could, by any conceivable historical circumstance be split into fragments, is a blasphemy."

Ronald Knox continues "The reunion of the Churches is to us not merely impossible, it is unthinkable. You cannot reunite what has never been divided. For the Catholic Church to take part in a reunion of the churches would be a ...contradiction in terms."

The process should be "conversion" and not ecumenism. It is a process wherewith both born Catholics and non-Catholics are transformed and grafted into the Mystical Body of Christ. And if the great dissent made manifest by the elevation of Pope Benedict XVI shows how difficult to graft born-catholic theologians into the True Body of Christ, how much more those of other groups.

Of course, there is such a thing as the grace of conversion. This is given to converts from all religious groups. But this is not given to busloads of souls. It is given to specific individuals as is happening right now. One, two or three converts here and there and no more. Attempts, therefore, at ecumenical synods and the like are futile. It is not God's way. Most converts I know are not the products of an ecumenical effort but merely by an individual effort in cooperation with God's grace.

Africa, therefore, should concentrate on Catechizing the Catholics. Because of what Gilbert K. Chesterton said, that Catholics will always be persecuted because our claim is not that ours is just one of the religions but that ours is the only true religion. That should make everybody else angry. And what we expect is persecution and not ecumenism.

Today, Africa is described as one of great growth for Catholicism. As in the early times, when the Church is growing, it is purified through martyrdom. In the process it becomes small but fervent. Could this be the fate of the Church in Africa? The Church can only be prepared for martyrdom if they have a complete and pure knowledge of the teachings of Christ ....and trained in obedience to those teachings.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Onslaught on the Family.

Today, the family is being assaulted from every side, even from the men of the Church! Why? Well, the family had always been assaulted. First, in the garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve demonstrated how not to be good parents. And God, after having expelled Adam and Eve pronounced an eternal warfare between the devil and his co-horts and the woman and her children. Why, that's an eternal warfare between the devil and the family.

Have you not noticed that all the problems of the Church today are demonstrative of that conflict? Homosexuality, gay marriages, abortion, family planning, and contraceptives are aimed at the destruction of the family. The very secularistic system of our society militates against the family. When the child leaves the home early to go to school, the father goes to work, when the mother goes her own way, isn't this a disruption of the family life? Our generations is spiritually mained to fight the battles of life.

The family is the target of destruction by the very brains in hell because, it is the natural place destined by God to be the workshop wherewith a soul can work out the salvation of his soul. Though the convents and monasteries are very good alternatives, the home is the God-given first choice. Then, of course the family must work out each member's sanctification within a family that is within the Church, Pope Benedict reminds us in an address in St. Paul outside the walls.

The holy family is an eloquent model for us. Besides, the family is the only place where man can maintain his sanity amidst this world that has gone mad, G. K. Chesterton reminds us.
It is a place where man and woman can find their fulfilment and where each member can experience the freedom that the world cannot offer. Why, that sounds like heaven. And that was God's mind in creating the family, to be a foretaste of heaven here on earth. Chesterton, again, reminds us that the family is the only institution on earth that is entered into with complete freedom by both parties and created out of love... and for the purpose of child-bearing for the kingdom of heaven. And the promises made in the Sacrament of Matrimony and the very natural institution of marriage are directed towards the welfare of the child.

The child is important. Because he is a reminder on what is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven. Christ said:"unless you become like little children..." There is the model for adults.

Now, do you wonder why the devil hates this institution so much? And do you wonder why the Church is so easy in granting annulment? Well, Pope Paul VI, warned us that the devil had entered the Church. And his presence is all over: among dissident priests and nuns, among some Catholic media... but I think they have all gathered around the marriage tribunals that show greater enthusiasm in annulling marriages rather than in preserving them.

Pope Benedict XVI had mentioned this anarchy that had enterered all aspects of Catholic life, including Matrimony. The bases for the annulment is hardly 50 years old. That makes it a little older than the younger heresy, the liturgical novelties, that has devastated the Church. Well, it could'nt be a teaching of Christ or the apostles if it is only 50 years old.

Homosexuality, the falling of priests, family planning, abortion, women who want to be priests... all these problems wouldn't have arisen if these Catholics had good family lives. These evils are symptomatic of the absence of family life. The seminary and the convents should have solved these problems, but unfortunately, those running the seminary were fruits of the same non-existing family life syndrome. So what can you expect?

God had already warned us of this impending battle even from the time of creation. We were not ready; we were not equipped for battle. The way things are now, it will be a continuosly losing battle.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Enemy of the Cross - World Youth Day - meditation for Africa

The enemy of the cross is what Pope Benedict XVI referred to as the dictatorship of relativism. It is, in fact, what spiritual writers in the last century, like Coleridge, Chesterton and Belloc, referred to as the return to paganism, a return to idolatry. The cross says: "Deny oneself." The dictatorship of relativism says satisfy one's every desire.

St. Paul writing to the Phillipians described this enemy as a spiritual malaise wherewith the mind is set on the things of the earth, where their glory is their shame and their god is their belly.

A simple illustration: a germ that has survived a dosage of anti-biotics becomes resistant to the medicine. We will need a stronger anti-biotic or at least a higher dosage of the same to hopefully overcome the virus. If, as some scientist had predicted, we have made the strongest anti-biotic and some germs or virus develop resistance to this then the world is in trouble.

The Catholic Church had conquered every evil in the world during her earlier history. A potent anti-biotic. But present Catholics who have been born within the Church (the anti-biotic) have developed resistance to this watered-down church and have become evil. The consoling thought is that the Catholic Church had been watered down through the centuries and it was understandable that she could not cure certain spiritual illness. Well, the only way to cure her, today, is to apply the full dosage of Catholic doctrine. And hope the illness of the dictatorship of relativism which is the enemy of the cross might be healed.

Their god is their belly. Monasticism is the only medication for such a terminal case. Well, there is fasting and Christ's command to "deny oneself," to cure the idolatry of the belly. And there is "fuga mundo" that should separate men from the world thus curing their sickness of having minds that are focused on the things of the earth. And there are the different monastic practices, spiritual readings, lectio divina, divine office and meditations that should make them realize that their sins are not the sources of glory but of shame. Chesterton and co. foresaw the coming doom of civilization. They proposed some semblance of monasticism in distributism but failed to prose monasticism as a whole.

Monasticism is an imitation of the 30 years of hidden life of Joseph, Jesus and Mary. By its very nature it must be hidden; that is why Christ, when preaching about good works, fasting and prayer, the three elements of the life of repentance, bade us to do all these "in secret."

"You have cancer." A doctor will truthfully declare to help you prepare yourself spiritually. "You need monasticism." The Holy Father had declared to enable us to be free from the dictatorship of relativism and attain the freedom of true children of God.

The Cross - "By This Sign.." World Youth Day-Meditation for Africa

"By this sign, thou shall conquer." Seemingly heared by Emperor Constantine, he eventually conquered and became a Christian. By the Cross, we shall conquer... well.. didn't Christ conquer death through the cross?

The cross as a Christian symbol consist of a "way of life" that consists in three things: voluntary act of poverty, chastity and obedience. That is the symbolism of the cross which all must carry and, if possible, be crucified. Many have the idea that these three, often called, religious vows or the Evangelical Counsels are for religious, only. No! It is for everyone; not the vows but the spirit of it. If Charity is needed to enter the kingdom of heaven, Charity had always been defined as obedience to the commands of Christ: "If you love Me, keep my commandments." But obedience can only be done if we train ourselves, first, in poverty and chastity. Didn't you notice the world had been trying to abolish poverty? That would be the work of the devil to prevent us from being chaste and obedient. No wonder St. Francis of Assisi preached it and every religious is vowing it. Of course, we must alleviate physical or economic poverty but we must practice evangelical poverty.

Some priests, part of the problem of the Church, are unable to keep their chastity because they failed to practice poverty. If they practiced poverty there won't be any homosexuality or sexual abuses. And if Charity, today, have waxed cold, it is because Christians have no spirit of poverty and chastity. Briefly, the spirit of poverty consists in believing that we need nothing except the basic essentials, like food, clothing and shelter, to attain the kingdom of heaven. It is a spirit of detachment from the things of this world.

Chastity is detachment from the pleasures of the body or flesh. Isn't the Sacrament of matrimony for the populating of heaven and not for the pleasure of the flesh? And Charity, the love of God, is detachment from one's own will. Or putting it positively, attachment to God's will.

Through poverty, chastity and obedience, a soul can conquer all... even the kingdom of God. "By this Sign...."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Cross - "Come Down." (World Youth Day) - a meditation for Africa

When Pope John Paul II was ill, the suggestion must have come to him to retire. And the news informed us that the Pope asked: " Did Christ come down the cross?" "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross and we will believe." Those words came from the Jews insulting the Crucified Son of God. The ways of God are strange. It was by staying up on the cross that we believed!

St. Gregory the Great stated: "Had He, yielding to their insults, then come down from the Cross, He would not have proved to us the power of patience. He waited for the little time left, He bore with their insults, He submitted to their mockery, He continued patient, and evoked our admiration." Patience!!! A Pope never retires; nor should any priest or christian. . . when they are up on a cross. They must prove their patience and their Catholicity. Pope John Paul II died on the cross. If he went down we would not have admired him.

Why did Christ refuse to come down the Cross? Because it is more important to rise again from the sepulchre. More did it matter so to rise from the sepulchre than to descend from the Cross. A far greater thing was it to overcome death by rising from the sepulchre, than to preserve life by descending from the Cross.

The Jews saw that despite their insults Christ would not descend from the Cross and when they saw Him dying, they rejoiced thinking He would be forgotten. But it was by rising from the dead that He has grown in honour and come to His glory. . . and now He is remembered.

So we must not come down from our crosses. It is our only link with the Cross of Christ. There is no comfort or glory in coming down from the cross. It is by resurrecting with Christ that we shall share the glory of Christ.

The Scandal of the Cross - World Youth Day (meditations for Africa)

There are two kinds of scandals. One is the Christian scandal where we find doctrines or teachings that could cause bewildernment in people because they are either so contrary to the fallen human nature of man or at least too difficult to understand by the ordinary mind. There is the other kind of scandal which Christ condemned wherewith the lapse, carelessness or disobedience of one soul encourage others to do the same.

Christ worked to prevent the first kind of scandal in His disciples. The disciples were going to see both the humanity and divinity of Christ. This would be filled with contradictions. They must see the paradox in Christ and be able to unite both concepts to understand the true Christ. And so when the apostles were about to witness the passion of Christ, Jesus had to show them His Transfiguration so that the passion may not be a source of scandal as an unseemly conduct of a Divinity. The inability to integrate both the humanity and Divinity of Christ had been the major cause of heresy in the Church, as shown in the case of the notification sent by then Cardinal Ratzinger to Fr. Tissa, a SriLankan priest.

Examples of the second kind of scandal would be the behaviours of certain priests and nuns toward the orthodoxy of the Pope, which is outright schism and, therefore, scandal to others; or the attempt of some women to be ordained to the priesthood... which encourages lapse of faith in some or disobedience in others. This is the scandal Christ condemned with such words as: "It is better for them to tie a mill stone around their neck.."

The purpose of the Transfiguration was to remove the scandal of the cross, (the first kind.) St. Leo the Great in his work "The purpose of the Transfiguration" states: "And so in the presence of those chosen witnesses the lord unveils His glory, and clothes with such splendour the Body which is His in common with all other men that His face shines as the sun and His garments appear white as snow. By this tranfiguration He desired to remove from the hearts of His disciples the scandal of the Cross, and then that the lowliness of his voluntary Passion might not trouble the faith of those to whom He now reveals the perfection of His hidden glory."

The Body of Christ was given in the passion in exchange for the glory that His followers might see coming.

The cross, therefore, is a symbol of what St. Paul declared: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared to the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. .... For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory."

In the cross we see Christ who died for us on the cross. But at the same time, we see the Transfiguration that we shall share with Him if we die with Him. Thus the cross does not become a sad symbol but a symbol of hope.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Cross-- World Youth Day (meditations for Africa)

The Cross is a sacrament so highly valued in our Church. It is a reminder that God, Himself, died for our sins. No other religion can make the same claim of having their God die for them. As such, Christians should value the thought of the cross. It is something we can boast of and treasure in our minds. It is a sacrifice that was not to be forgotten: it was not to be, it could not be. It must remain present, though past.

When Christ was crucified, this was a necessary act to appease the Divine Justice for the sins of mankind. It was sufficient to appease God for all the sins man could ever commit. After the crucifixion, Christ resurrected from the dead and ascended to heaven. Though Christ had ascended to glory the sacrifice is renewed daily and perpetuated.

Before He ascended to heaven, he promised to send the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descended upon the Church on Pentecost day. Thus was the birth of the Church or the Mystical Body of Christ. With the Church or the Mystical Body of Christ, the Son of God remained, in some manner, on earth. And His Sacrifice on the Cross continues. For there is always somewhere in the world where the Church is crucified...where His mystical Body is crucified. And the identification between Christ and the Mystical Body is so real that when St. Paul was still Saul, a persecutor of the Church, Christ appeared to him and asked him, "Why does thou persecutest Me." Christ identified Himself with His Mystical Body! When Saul was persecuting the Church he was, in fact, persecuting Christ. And today, the world is crucifying the Church, thus still crucifying Christ. Though thou, O Christ, canst not suffer pain and death thou dost still subject thyself to indignity and persecutions.

Everyday Christ, in the Church, is still being crucified as sacramentally commemorated in the Mass. And John Henry Newman reminds us that the Crucifixion of Christ was not an event in the past. Christ's death is ever present. It is ongoing today in the Holy Sacrifice of the mass. The mass reminds us of the past, on the ongoing sacrifice and the hope of eternal life in heaven with Christ as our priest forever.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Promise of the Gospel

Forty years ago, as a young priest, I would have never preached "To seek God's kingdom first and the rests will be given you." After all, in my order, we always worked hard to have an income. In fact, in our school, I had to hold at one time, four positions or offices to increase the income of the order. In my preaching, I had to water down the Gospel, which Pope Benedict XVI said we should never do.

Most of the religious congregations, I have noticed, are all working so hard to have enough income for their communities. So where does "Seek first the kingdom of God" come in? Where does all "the rest will be given you" come in? The text seems to infer that if you seek God's kingdom fully, He will provide all your needs. Maybe, most religious orders are not seeking God's kingdom fully, that's why they have to work for an income or solicit donations.

Unfortunately, I have never seen this promise fulfilled in actuality. So why should I preach it? I wasn't sure it was true. I have never seen any religious community, not even the strictest contemplative, free from having to work for an income for their sustenance, at least by selling Holy Cookies and the like.

In the life of St. Benedict of Nursia, which I am sure Pope Benedict is conscious of, there was an incident where the monks had to give away all their supplies to the needy. And St. Benedict told them not to worry. Assuring them there will be much food the next day. And true enough, when the procurator opened the monastery gates the next morning, ample supply of food was there waiting.

I have read many times in the lives of saints where they did not have to work to have any means of income. They simply served God with all their hearts, etc.... and everything else was given to them. Wasn't St. Francis of Assisi another example?

In the lives of the saints and even ordinary Christian with great faith, it is noticed that those who observed the fulness of the Gospel, i.e. having the maturity of faith that Our Holy Father described, did not have to do anything to earn an income or even to solicit donations to sustain themselves. Everything just came....whatever they needed. But when they did not observe the fullness of the Gospel, the promise of the Gospel did not apply and they ended up needing to do something to sustain themselves.

"Ora et Labora" is a Benedictine motto. But the monks do not work as a means of income. They work as a means of disciplining themselves. Their sufficiency is completely in the providence of God which could come from their manual work but most of it comes from nowhere... or more exactly from the promise of the Gospel. Now I preach the Gospel without watering it down, "Seek first the kingdom of God". . . but I sound like an economic impossibility.

A Few Jesuits

It is sad that a few Jesuits had been tagged as part of the present problems of the Church. But with so many priests and even Bishops becoming part of the problem, this is really a small matter. I have been with the Jesuits for more than 10 years. I took my Clinical Psychology with them. And always had high regards for them.

The rule in the spiritual life is that holiness or salvation must be worked out within the context of a community. That's why Christ stayed with the Holy family for 30 hidden years; that's why the apostles lived in community; that's why the Catholic Church is a family; that's why the monasteries are referred to as monastic families. In fact, every religious congregation was established with community life in mind. It is no secret that the Diocesan priesthood had always been reformed by attempts to make them live with other priests in community, like the efforts of St. Phillip Neri.

St. Ignatius of Loyola did not see the need for this because of the Company's role at it's founding. There was a need for an order where community or family life may be dispensed with. But in Catholicism, nobody gets dispensed. He must have a substitute. And the substitute for community life was their zeal to do battle for the Church and defend the Pope. We may say that their zeal could have been the substitute for community life.

But these days, their task of fighting for the Church and being the army of the Pope seems to have been forgotten by some. And so we see the necessary substitute for community or family life had disappeared. Some found themselves lacking an essential element in seeking holiness. This made some vulnerable to experimentations that had caused them to be "notified."

St. Ignatius, when he was on retreat in Manresa, learned from the spiritual exercises of Abbot Cisneros, the Benedictine Abbot of Montserrat, Spain. It might help the Jesuits to harken to the call of Pope Benedict XVI to go back to St. Benedict of Nursia to rediscover the foundation of their spirituality.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Pope Benedict XVI used these words to describe the re-growth of the Church. He described the Church as in need of prunning so that new young branches may grow. He, also, mentioned, that he got this motto from St. Benedict. Though I am a Benedictine monk, I don't remember reading this motto until I opened a brochure of the famed Abbey of Montecassino in Italy. And there VOILA!! The emblem of the monastery: a picture of an oak tree broken almost up to the root and with a young sapling growing from within, with the words "Succisa Virescit." This was one of the first monasteries St. Benedict established after he abandoned the monastery of Vicovaro where the monks tried to poison him for being too orthodox. Many of Pope Benedict XVI's critics, if words can poison, would have done the same today. How relevant!

The motto of the Benedictine monastery of Montecassino is "Succisa Virescit." And the emblem consists of an oak tree, devastated by a strong storm, practically uprooted, and a small sapling from within growing upwards. This very well exemplifies Pope Benedict's mind on how to resurrect the Church. Like Monte Cassino that had been built by saints, like Saturnius, a disciple of St. Boniface, evangelizer of and founder of German monasticism, Theobald, Richerius and Frederick of Lorraine who later became Pope Stephen IX, the Church had been built by saints. And there was Desiderius, right hand friend of the Pope, who helped in the reform of the Church by Pope Gregory VII. He, also, became Pope, Victor III. Pope Benedict XVI wants to let a small sapling grow from within, a small Church with strong and mature faith, to grow up from within the old decrepid and dead trunk of the present Church.

Montecassino, like the oak tree and much like the Church today, had been devastated by the Saracens in 883, by an earthquake in 1349 and lastly by the bombardment in 1944 where the monks and countless civilians taking shelter there were killed.

Montecassino, by many historical events, may truly be a symbol of the Catholic Church, like the centuries-old oak tree, which although broken by the storm, remains green and alive again, growing from within; stronger than ever: thus "succisa virescit."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Christianity and Fantasy.

Christianity looks at the sacrament of the present moment. A Christian must be conscious of the present moment because that is when God expresses His will... not in the past nor in the futre, generally speaking. When a culture or a civilization decays, its people engages in fantasies, Gilbert K. Chesterton noticed. And our age, with its Star Wars, Matrix and witch-craft falls under the realm of fantasy. Chesterton describes pornography as the height of fantasy and indicative of the decadence of an era... because pornography is purely in the realm of fantasy.

Any topic that falls under the category of fantasy is contrary to the very spirit of Christianity or Catholicism. Of course, there is a difference between fantasy and fairy tale. But it seems that fairy tales only existed some time ago. Modern writers find it difficult to write fairy tales because one has to be a child again to do so. We don't see new fairy tales anymore. What we see is fantasy which is both harmful and contrary to the spirit of Catholicism that emphasizes the "sacrament of the present moment. "

This sacrament forces one to be realistic because he must see the totality of the present moment. With such an attitude he cannot deny but must face reality. He cannot day dream. When Pope Benedict mentioned the dictatorship of relativism as one of the great evils of our times, he took this from the writing of St. Paul, who mentioned, in fact, the evil signs of the coming times. Paul mentioned the refusal to accpet sound doctrine, following one's desire (which is the dictatorship of relativism) and insatiable desire for what is new and unknown. These three defects go hand in hand. And our age of Fantasy would fall under the third.

Just as the sacrament of the present moment trains a mind to be realistic always, entertainning fantasy is a sign of neurosis.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Original Sin

Original sin is the state wherewith all those born of Adam And Eve are bereft of sanctifying grace. In popular language, we may say that all those born of Adam and Eve, given the choice between good and evil would most probably choose evil. Or putting it in another way more descriptive of what Adam and Eve did, given a choice between doing their own will and God's will, they would choose their will.

This is the basis of the dictatorship of relativism the Holy Father mentioned. It was the sin of Adam and Eve and it seems to be the state of the world today... everybody is doing what they want in complete disregard of the will of God. This is a consequence of the lost of a sense of God. If God does not exist why should we do His will?

This had been the burden of mankind. All the evils in the world is because man had been acting as if there is no God. And the world is doing exactly the same thing. The United Nations is doing it, the European Union is doing it.

St. Augustine noticed this when one day he stole some figs which he eventually threw away because he wasn't crazy about figs anyway. So he asked himself, why did I do that. And he discovered the existence of evil within man, the expression of original sin. Young Ratzinger could only see the same truth when he beheld the cruelty of the German Nazis around him. This and only this explains why the Russians, the British, the Cambodians, and the Africans are so cruel to their own kind. St. Paul complained about this when he noticed the good things he wanted to do he found he could not do; and the evil he was trying to avoid is what he ended up doing.

This original sin, the trademark of man's fallen nature, is like a raging current towards destruction. To succumb to this tendency is easy. It is like a leaf bending to the direction of the wind or a piece of drift wood floating on a raging current. Going against this tendency is the life of the cross. The cross is the only anti-dote against the dictatorship of relativism; in fact it is the only cure for all the evils in the world.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Cross

The cross is standard image in a church, though some had been substituting the dying Christ with the resurrected Christ on the cross. It is common figure in cemeteries and, of course, it is carried during world youth days.

We must realize the important symbolism of the cross. God became man to save mankind. And he could have done it anyway other than by being crucified on the cross. But if He used another manner of redeeming mankind, He would not have been able to demonstrate His love and perfect humility. Christ described love as a man laying down his life for a friend. The laying down of one's life takes center stage.

The life of Christ, from birth to death, is a life of suffering, or a life of carrying the cross till its summit by death on the cross. The lesson is clear. To learn how to love, one must learn how to undergo suffering as Christ underwent it. Love of God and neighbor cannot be learned in any otherway, except by taking up His cross and following Him. How we wish there were another way. But there is none. The very first command of Christ, "to deny oneself" is the beginning of the way of the cross. The crucifixion or the life of martyrdom is the apex.

The early Christians were convinced of this, that martyrdom was every Christian's dream. It was the only way that one fulfills the entire Gospel. And when martyrdom went out of style, the monastic life, commonly referred to as white martyrdom, became the trend.

Most Christians, today, cannot see martyrdom, or death on the cross as the goal of Christianity. Of course, white martyrdom is described by St. Paul as dying to the world. This means dying to oneself or dying to one's desire. The monks describe it as becoming as dead men, with no will of one's own but desirous only of doing God's will.

It is good to remind the youth what the cross means. It should inspire their idealism to the purity of Christ's teachings. It might even fill up monasteries.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sheep without Shepherd.

Christ took pity on the people because they looked like sheeps without a shepherd. The world can be considered like a flock of animals. Then, Christ came with the message of the Gospel. This Gospel was meant to divide the flock into sheeps and goats. Then Christ sent his apostles to gather the sheep and shepherd them to eternal life. Note that the apostles were meant, first, to preach the Gospel so as to distinguish the sheep from the goats, and then to become laborers to harvest the sheep.

Sometimes, we feel that God has not sent enough laborers and we have to pray for such laborers. This puzzles me in that I cannot imagine a God so negligent as not to sent laborers when there is a need for it. But then, there might not be a need for it because there is nothing to harvest. The state of Europe, for instance, is so deplorable that there is nothing to harvest there. So why will God send laborers?

Knowledge of the Catholic faith is what transforms a soul into a sheep. And a sheep knows its master's voice and the master, in turn, knows his sheep.

It is amazing to see that when Pope John Paul II passed away, a few spent vigils in the Vatican in sorrow. They were like sheep without a shepherd. The rest of the world, though probably sad, really didn't care. And then, when Cardinal Ratzinger was chosen, the same crowd rejoiced. They were glad they had a shepherd. As usual the rest of the world didn't care. Did these sheep recognize their master's voice and were saddened by its silence? Are these the same ones who rejoiced when they once again heard their master's voice? The Church, the sheep looks tiny, indeed.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Family Life and Monastic Life.

The monastic life is patterned on the Holy Family, who lived together for 30 years in what we describe as the "hidden life of Christ." The word "hidden" is why monasteries have walls. St. John Chrysostom has a treatise on how to live the monastic life, as he described it, within the family. Hans Urs von Balthasar described the early life of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the little flower, as monastic in its rigor and discipline.

There is nothing special about monastifc life. It was first instituted for Christians who wanted to live the Gospel seriously. It was not meant, only, for religious, priests or nuns. It was, in fact, first instituted for lay people. Charlemagne was described as to have imposed it on his kingdom.

And so, since monastic life is simply the life of the Gospel lived by laymen, it is a formula for the family and for the local church to attain maturity of faith.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton noted that the family is the only institution in the world that one enters into freely and out of love. No other human institution may be described thus. Well, the monastery is, also, a place where one enters freely and out of love for God and neighbor. Both are described as the pillars or foundation of any society. Both are the foundation of Christian civilization.


The Latin title of Pope Benedict XVI, "Gloria Olivae," in the list of St. Malachy, had sparked conjectures on the impending end of the world, since "gloria olivae" is the second to the last Pope in the list.

Well, for those who die, that is the end of the world for them. Let us not deal with all the complications of raptures and the following millenium; nor attempt to note dates. What St. Peter said is enough for us. We prepare for our death or the end times with a pure heart and an unblemish soul. That's all. We leave everything else to the Providence of God.

The Benedictine way of life, which tragically is not reflected in many monasteries today, is supposed to show the union of three visions: the vision of the life in the monastery, the celebration of the liturgy of the Mass and the Apocalyptic vision of heaven. The life in the monastery is the process by which one purifies his heart, the mass is the sacrament by which he expresses his communion with the will of God, and hopefully this will make him deserving to be part of the joys in heaven as portrayed in the Apocalypse.

Catholics do not look at the end times the way other Christians do. The concern of other Christians is on the chastisements, the raptures, the dates, the scientific explanations and the anti-christ. Unfortunately, Catholics are not interested at the end times at all. But one's true concern must be in preparing one's soul to face the Divine Judge with a pure heart and unblemish soul. And this the soul does through a fervent monastic life, by daily expressing his desire in the Divine Liturgy with the hope of being part of that heavenly host pictured in the Apocalyse. In this sense, a true Christian soul lives in the sacrament of the present moment, a witness to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and hopeful of eternal life in heaven.

The PAROUSIA is the combination of a way of life in communion with God's will, the celebration of the Liturgy that expresses the desire to be in communion with God's will and the hope that one attains eternal life in communion with God in heaven.

Pope Benedict XVI - Gloria Olivae

St. Malachy assigned the latin phrase "Gloria Olivae" to the Pope after "de labore solis." Ronald Knox, convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism, who later on became a Catholic priest, in his homily on the feast of St. Benedict observed that the Benedictine way of life was the way to obtain the peace of Christ, which the world could not give. And so the word "peace" had been the singular trademark of the Benedictines.

I studied in a Benedictine Monastery and the word "Pax" was all over the place. It was on top of door posts, on vestments, on stationaries, on the floor tiles. And the word was framed by two olive branches. This was standard symbol in Benedictine monasteries. And Knox noted that there is only one other place that has the same word plastered all over. And that is in a cemetery. The Benedictine monastery is meant to be a place where one becomes dead to the world to be alive in Christ. Thus the comparison.

Because the Benedictine monks lived in such a way enabled them to combine the wisdom of the Greeks, the skills of the Romans and the religion of the Jews which today is exemplified in Western Civilization. Christian Europe was the product of Benedictine monasteries. Europe was raised from the darkness of paganism to the bright light of Christian Civilization by the followers of St. Benedict.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger is aware that the whole world had sunked back into paganism. And he knows of no other way to raise the world back to the light of Christ except in the way St. Benedict of Nurcia did it before... by the sparks of little monastic communities living the maturity of their faith.

He was no Benedictine. And "gloria olivae" did not refer to any Benedictine. The latin phrase referred to a way of life by which we can gain the peace of Christ which the world cannot give - "PAX". Ronald Knox reminds us that this is an inheritance given by God to the Benedictines, who once upon a time raised civilization from paganism to Christianity. St. Benedict did it once. Cardinal Ratzinger knows of no other way of doing it. Bent on doing exactly the way St. Benedict did it, he takes the name of "Benedict" as his papal name.

One sister of our Lay Benedictine monastery wished that Cardinal Ratzinger would be Pope but was not certain of the Holy Spirit's choice. But she seemed to have gotten an insight into St. Malachy's prophesies. She blurted out, almost with certainty, the next Pope will have to take the name "Benedict." She got it right on the name. And she got Card. Razinger to boot.

Pope John Paul - "De labore Solis."

The sun shines and sheds its normal light and heat. Imagine if it has to give more light and heat. As of now, we have the right amount of light and heat. Though Rome is too hot during summer.

The prophecies of St. Malachy, now familiar with so many, assigns the short latin phrase "de labore solis" to Pope John Paul II who just passed away. Prophecies are easier to interpret either when they are happening or have already happened. It can describe many things; the origin of birth of the Pope, his coat of arm or the manner in which he served as Pope. In the case of Pope John Paul II "de labore solis" describes how he served his office.

Pope John Paul labored in making the message of Christ known. He wrote much and traveled much. He met with all religions. Even when he was weakened by his illness, his efforts to continue with his task was heroic. He was like the sun attempting to bring the light with great effort to an unbelieving world. And after he passed away comments were... he showed the world that the Christian solution is the only solution, or at least the more reasonable alternative.
This was evident to all who attended his funeral. It is admirable that St. Malachy had described the efforts of John Paul II the way the head of states did. Don't you think "de labore solis" fitted him well?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Small Communities with Mature Faith

Pope Benedict XVI does not expect busloads of both converts and born Catholics to be flocking to the standard of the Catholic Church. He expects them to come in trickles.

To establish small communities of souls with mature faith, one has to expect a few to come in. A big crowd will be unmanageable and, nearly impossible to attain mature faith. And like the Chosen people in the Old Testament, they have to be separated from the rest of the world. The Jews did not observed this necessary separation, so they found themselves, constantly, contaminated by the paganism of their neighbor.

We are surrounded by modern paganism, which is worst than the paganism of old. And this for only one reason. The modern pagans came from the Catholic Church. They could only be worst than the first pagans because the corruption of the best is the worst.

Pope Benedict XVI - Crisis in the world.

Pope Benedict XVI enunciated that we are faced with a crisis of great proportions, because it is not merely a social or economic crisis but a spiritual one. Of course, the Catholic Church has a catholic solution to all problems but will man take up that solution or invent his own, once more.

We have a crisis of faith wherein the very existence of God is being denied, not by any logical reasoning but a way of life that excludes everything divine from the human picture of the world. The thought of God is an obstacle to man's desire for instant pleasures. It has to go.

The crisis is world wide, including in known Catholic nations. It had been existing for many centuries but the Catholic intelligentsia noticed it only at the beginning of the first world war. The Jesuit spiritual writer Coleridge, Gilbert K. Chesterton, Hilaire Beloc noticed it and wrote about it. They described it as a return to paganism. Pope Benedict described it as the dictatorship of relativism.

Renewal "Ad Intra" - Pope Benedict XVI

St. Benedict of Nursia promulgated in his Rule that the monks should stay inside a monastery. The walls are his protection against the encroachment of the world. He must not leave the walls that protect him from the corrupting influence of the world that has turned pagan. He can only grow in maturity of faith inside the walls.

And it is their maturity of faith inside the monastery that will attract outsiders to follow and be one with them. They cannot, ordinarily, go out and recruit. The pagan world will swallow them up. So when St. Boniface and his small community went to Germany to evangelize them, he followed the same procedure. He brought the monks there to live a community and monastic life hoping that the German pagans would be attracted to the life and join them.

Today, both Benedictine monks and nuns had committed the fatal mistake of leaving the safety of the monastery to go out and "save" the world. Most of them, if not all had been swallowed by the paganism of our world.

New Pope takes "Benedict" as Papal name.

The new Pope took "Benedict" as his Papal name. This spells the way he will run the Church, a sure model of the early Church that, once upon a time, evangelized Europe. St. Benedict of Nursia is one of the patron saints of Europe. His monk, St. Boniface, and a small community evangelized Germany. And the Benedictines are known in Bavaria. There are twelve Benedictine monasteries there. So Joseph Ratzinger would have been acquainted with the order.

His contacts with the Benedictines in Italy, specially in Monte Casino and Subiaco, had made him a familiar figure in their monasteries. But it was the theologically minded Pope that saw the spirituality of the order and the keen realization that this spirituality is the solution to the present evil of relativism that has engulfed the Catholic world, that inspired him to choose the name "Benedict" as his papal name. His plans for the future of the Catholic Church is 1,500 years old.